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Pope offers comfort to friends and relatives of Nice attack victims

11 hours 41 min ago
Pope Francis on Saturday sought to comfort relatives and close friends of the more than 80 victims of the attack in Nice in July, who were run down by a man driving a truck as they celebrated France's national day. The pope began his solemn address by apologising for not speaking French because he said his was not "bon". Then, shifting to Italian, he urged those who were "attacked by the demon" to respond with "forgiveness, love and respect for your neighbour" rather than giving in to the temptation to react with hate and violence. Among the some 1,000 people who attended the ceremony were members of Nice's Jewish community and a local Muslim imam. "It makes me happy to see that inter-religious relations are very vibrant among you, and this cannot but soothe the wounds left by this dramatic event," Francis said. Islamic State (IS) militants claimed responsibility for the July 14 Nice attack. Less than two weeks later, IS militants killed an elderly French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, in his church, prompting the pope to declare the "the world is at war". But the pope also insisted the war was not a religious one, and that it was wrong to "identify Islam with violence", suggesting instead that the lack of economic opportunities for young people in Europe was one of the causes of terrorism. After speaking briefly, the pope descended from the pulpit and spent more than 45 minutes meeting those who attended the ceremony, many of whom were in tears....

Pope meets with Hospital Sisters of Mercy

11 hours 59 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday held an audience with the “Hospital Sisters of Mercy,” and encouraged them in their mission despite challenges posed by secular culture. Listen to Ann Schneible’s report: Delivering his address in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the sisters, and said they are “a concrete sign of how to express the Father’s mercy”. He recalled how Servant of God Teresa Orsini Doria Pamphili Landi, a noble lay woman who was supported by two priests, established the congregation in accord with Jesus’ call to care for the sick. In the face of the weakness brought about by illness, “distinctions of social status, race, language, and culture cannot exist,” the Pope said. “All of us become weak, and we must entrust ourselves to others.” Pope Francis stressed the Church’s commitment and responsibility towards those who suffer, and reflected on the particular charism of the sisters, which is to care for those in hospitals. He urged the sisters to persevere in their work, despite the difficulties they may face. “At times, in our days, a secularist culture aims to remove even from hospitals every religious reference,” including the sisters themselves, he said. Despite this, the Holy Father encouraged the sisters to never tire of “being friends, sisters, and mothers to the sick,” and reminded them that “prayer is the life-blood which sustains [their] evangelizing mission.” Finally, the Holy Father reminded the sisters of how Jesus is always present in the person who lies suffering in the hospital bed. “The closeness to Jesus, and to the weakest, is your strength.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Card. Toppo will be special Papal envoy to the XI Plenary Assembly of the FABC

12 hours 18 min ago
(Vatican Radio) The Holy Father has appointed the Card. Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi (India), as his special envoy to the XI Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), to be held in Colombo (Sri Lanka) from November 28 to December 4, 2016. The Plenary Assembly is the supreme body of the FABC, where all committees and officers are answerable to it. The Plenary Assembly meets in ordinary session every four years. Membership of the Plenary Assembly comprise of all presidents of member conferences or their officially designated episcopal alternates and bishop-delegates elected by member conferences. The 10th Plenary Assembly of the FABC was held in Xuan Loc Pastoral Centre, Dong Nai Province, northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, December 2012. On that occasion, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila was the Papal legate to the Assembly, communicating the message of Pope Benedict XVI to the Asian bishops. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends messages to two Argentina communities

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 10:45
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message marking the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Quilmes in Argentina. “I know that you are preparing enthusiastically for this anniversary,  and I join you in thanksgiving to God for the gifts received from His divine goodness,” – Pope Francis wrote to Bishop Carlos José Tissera – “He has remained faithful, giving you shepherds, from the first bishop, Jorge Novak, to this day; many priests and consecrated persons have given their lives to make Christ present among you. This fills me with joy.” Pope Francis said he urged the people of the Diocese to be attentive to the Lord “passing before them,” and to help Him present in those who are “oppressed, exploited, disillusioned, sick, or suffering because of any other needs.” Pope Francis also sent a message to the Diocese of San Carlos de Bariloche to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Argentinian town, Ingeniero Jacobacci. Noting the damage to the town once caused by the Puyehue volcano in nearby Chile, Pope Francis said “after the ashes came the cloud of solidarity and a renewed effort to move forward,” and he noted the “creative solidarity” expressed by the town’s citizens. (from Vatican Radio)...

Statute for Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications published

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 09:55
(Vatican Radio) The Statute for the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications was published on Thursday, saying its aim was "to respond to the current media reality, characterized by the presence and development of digital media and their increasing social interaction." It said this evolving situation called for a reorganization of the Apostolic See’s various media outlets in order to proceed towards a merger of them under a united management. The Statute has been approved on “an experimental basis” for three years and is part of a wider ongoing reform of the Roman Curia and the Holy See's institutions.  Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:  Role The Statute confirms that the Secretariat for Communications was established by Pope Francis in his Motu Proprio, issued on 27th June 2015, with the aim of uniting all those entities within the Apostolic See which are involved in communications, in order to respond ever better to the needs of the Church’s evangelizing mission. It said new technological advances or media models that may emerge in the future will be adopted and also come under the umbrella of the Secretariat. When carrying out its functions, the Secretariat will coordinate its activities with the other Vatican Dicasteries and especially with the Secretariat of State.  Structure The Statute confirmed that the Prefect, Secretary, Members and Consultants of the Secretariat for Communications have all been appointed by Pope Francis for 5-year terms. It said the Secretariat will be divided into 5 Administrative Departments: the Department for General Affairs, the Editorial Department, the Department for the Holy See’s Press office, the Technology Department and the Theological and Pastoral Department. All of them will come under the control of the Prefect and the Secretary and each Department will have its own Director, to be appointed by Pope Francis, having been proposed by the Prefect and including input from the Secretariat of State. The Prefect can also propose setting up “other entities” or organizations linked to the Holy See and each department can also avail themselves of “independent services.” Department for General Affairs Its duties and responsibilities include: the general management of the various departments, human resources, dealing with all legal and copyright matters and coordinating any international initiatives. Editorial Department Its duties and responsibilities include: giving guidelines and coordinating editorial policies pertaining to the Secretariat for Communications, developing new forms of communication and ensuring the effective integration of traditional media with today’s digital world. Department for the Holy See’s Press Office Its duties and responsibilities: include publishing and releasing official communications concerning both the activities of the Roman Pontiff and the Holy See, following the guidelines of the Secretariat of State, hosting and moderating press conferences and briefings, giving official replies to queries from journalists about the activity of the Pope and the Vatican in general, after having consulted the Secretariat of State. Technology Department Its duties and responsibilities include: managing the technological side of communications activity and keeping pace with and adopting new advances in this field, defining and applying methods that conform to Vatican and international norms and to best practices in the sector. Theological and Pastoral Department Its duties and responsibilities include: drawing up a theological vision of communications, promoting the pastoral activity of the Pope through words and images and providing a theological context to support them, promoting a pastoral-theological formation by setting up a network with local churches and Catholic associations active in the field of communications and making Christians more aware of the importance of communications methods for announcing the Christian message and promoting the common good. Staff and Offices All staff and consultants are to be chosen from people of proven reputation, free from any conflict of interest and possessing an adequate level of professional experience. Any conflict of interest that may arise during their mandate must be made known and appropriate measures taken to resolve it. Documents and Data All the documents, data and information held by the Secretariat for Communications will be used exclusively for the reasons stipulated by law and they will be protected in order to guarantee their safety, integrity and confidentiality, covered by office secrecy.  Archives The Secretariat for Communications will have an archivist responsible for keeping the Secretariat's archives and storing them “in a secure place within the Vatican City State or in an extraterritorial Vatican area.” The Prefect will be in charge of drawing up procedures for the best storage and preservation of documents including audiovisual and audio files, in both analogue and digital forms. Working language The working language used by the Secretariat for Communications will be Italian. Transitional Norms The Statute is of a transitional nature where, as already spelled out in the Moto Proprio, the organziations merging and becoming part of the Secretariat for Communications are: the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television Centre, L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Printing Press, Vatican Photographic Service and the Vatican Publishing House. The Secretariat for Communications also will take over responsibility for the institutional website of the Holy See and take on the management of the social media outlets reporting on the activities of the Pope. “All these organizations will continue their activities, observing the current norms, yet following the guidelines given by the Prefect until the date when they will be incorporated into the Secretariat for Communications, at which time they will be disbanded.” During the integration process, the various organizations involved will follow the regulations, guidelines or other instructions as issued by the Secretariat “within the framework of the general norms of the Holy See and respecting the acquired rights of the staff.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to journalists: truth and respect for human dignity

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 07:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, telling them that truth, professionalism and respect for human dignity were essential elements in their work. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report Meeting with the assembled Italian journalists in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Thursday, Pope Francis told them that there were few professions that have “so much influence on society like that of journalism.” He noted that they are usually the ones who are there to record what he called,  the "first draft of history”, “the building of the news agenda and introducing people to the interpretation of events.” He also noted that the journalistic profession was one that was continually adapting to changes in the way people digest news through new forms of media. In his discourse the Pope stressed three essential elements in the work of a journalist, that he said, could serve to “improve the society in which we live”: To love the truth, to embody professionalism and to respect human dignity. Truth He said that loving the truth meant not only stating it, but living it  and bearing witness to it in their work, adding, even in journalism we must be able to discern between shades of grey surrounding the events that we are called to tell.” Speaking about the second element, professionalism, Pope Francis underlined that when there was professionalism, journalists remained “a cornerstone, a fundamental element for the vitality of a free and pluralistic society.” Respecting human dignity On the subject of human dignity, the Pope stressed the importance of responsible journalism and he reiterated earlier comments he made about rumours being a form of "terrorism", and  how you can kill a person with language. The Holy Father went on to say that “journalism cannot become a '' weapon of destruction "of people and even nations.” Criticism, is legitimate, he added, “as well as the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life, his affections”. Holy See communications Pope Francis during his discourse also commented on the changing communication’s environment of the Holy See. He said that it was experiencing a renewal process from which journalists should benefit, adding “the Secretariat for Communication will be the natural point of reference for your valuable work.”           (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Vanity is osteoporosis of the soul

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 07:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis contrasted the anxiety that comes from the Holy Spirit and the anxiety that comes from a dirty conscience. During his homily during the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, he also spoke about vanity, which “masks” life, making it look like something it is not.  Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  Two forms of anxiety The Gospel of the day describes King Herod (Antipas) as being perplexed or anxious because, having had John the Baptist killed, he now felt threatened by Jesus. He was worried just as his father, Herod the Great, was troubled after the visit of the Magi. There can be two different kinds of anxiety in the soul, Pope Francis said, a “good” anxiety, which “the Holy Spirit gives us” and which “makes the soul restless to do good things”; and a “bad” anxiety, “that which is born from a dirty conscience.” The two Herods tried to resolve their anxiety by killing, going forward over “the bodies of the people”: These people who had done such evil, who does evil and has a dirty conscience and cannot live in peace, because they live with a continual itch, with a continual rash that does not leave them in peace… These people have done evil, but evil always has the same root, any evil: greed, vanity, and pride. And all three do not leave the conscience in peace; all three do not allow the healthy restlessness of the Holy Spirit to enter, but bring you to live like this: anxiously, with fear. Greed, vanity, and pride are the roots of all evils. Vanity, the osteoporosis of the soul The day’s first Reading, taken from Ecclesiastes, speaks about vanity: The vanity that makes us swell up. The vanity that does not have long life, because it is like a soap bubble. The vanity that does not give us true gain. What profit comes to the person for all the effort he puts into worrying? He is anxious to appear, to pretend, to seem. This is vanity. If we want to speak simply: vanity is covering up real life. And this makes the soul sick. Because in the end, if they cover up their real life in order to appear or to seem a certain way, all the things they do to pretend… What is gained? Vanity is like an osteoporosis of the soul: the bones seem good on the outside, but within they are totally ruined. Vanity makes us a fraud. A face like an image in a picture, but the truth is otherwise It’s like con men who “mark the cards” in order to win, the Pope continued. But “this victory is a fiction, it’s not true. This is vanity: living to pretend, living to seem, living to appear. And this makes the soul restless.” Pope Francis recalled the strong words Saint Bernard had for the vain: “Think of what you will be: food for worms.” Following on the saint’s thought, the Pope said, “All this ‘putting make-up’ on life is a lie, because the worms will eat you and you will be nothing.” What power does vanity have? he asked. Driven by pride to wickedness, it does not allow you to see your mistakes, “it covers everything, everything is covered”: How many people do we know that appear one way: ‘What a good person! He goes to Mass every Sunday. He makes great donations to the Church.’ This is how they appear, but the osteoporosis is the corruption they have within. There are people like this – but there are also holy people! – who do this. This is vanity: You try to appear with a face like a pretty picture, and yet your truth is otherwise. And where is our strength and security, our refuge? We read it in the psalm between the readings: ‘Lord, you have been our refuge from generation to generation.’ And before the Gospel we recalled the words of Jesus: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ This is the truth, not the cosmetics of vanity. May the Lord free us from these three roots of all evil: greed, vanity, and pride. But especially from vanity, that makes us so bad. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican Sec of State warns against increasing antimicrobial resistance at UN

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 04:34
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, called for ‘the enhancement of infection prevention and control, including good sanitation and hygiene both in health care settings and in communities’ in response to the danger of antimicrobial resistance. His comments came in an address to a high-level meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance at the UN headquarters in New York during the General Assembly. Cardinal Parolin warned against the potential causes of an increasing resistance to antibiotics and current medical methods. ‘These causes include inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in human, animal, food, agriculture and aquaculture sectors; lack of access to health care services, including diagnostics and laboratory tests; and the contamination of soil, water and crops with antimicrobial residues.’ He concluded his address by reminding world leaders of the need to leave no one behind in regard to universal health care access. ‘On behalf of these hundreds of millions of people who have no access to health care and are most susceptible to diseases related to antimicrobial resistance, the Holy See appeals to the International Community to take their concerns and basic needs into greater consideration, without viewing them as burdens supported merely out of duty, or as problems raised as an afterthought. Leaving no one behind means giving greater attention to these persons who are left farthest behind.’ Cardinal Parolin’s full address is below: 21 September 2016 Mr. President, The Holy See shares the deep concern repeatedly expressed by the United Nations General Assembly and by the governing bodies of the relevant Specialized Agencies with regard to the prevalence and impact of antimicrobial resistance in all parts of the world. With tens of thousands of health care centers and institutions of higher medical education in many parts of the world, the Catholic Church is deeply and extensively engaged in health care and in preventive health education. Thus the Holy See is keenly aware of the catastrophic situation that could develop if effective measures to control this global health threat are not adequately taken by the international community, and thus calls for the enhancement of infection prevention and control, including good sanitation and hygiene both in health care settings and in communities. Experts have pointed to the interrelated causes of this complex public health challenge. These causes include inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in human, animal, food, agriculture and aquaculture sectors; lack of access to health care services, including diagnostics and laboratory tests; and the contamination of soil, water and crops with antimicrobial residues. In this regard, Pope Francis has warned that “the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly.” [1] The Political Declaration rightfully points out that antimicrobial resistance makes it more difficult to safeguard the health and well-being of people most vulnerable to life-threatening infections, especially women giving birth, newborns, patients with certain chronic diseases, and those undergoing chemotherapy or surgery. Insufficient attention seems to be paid, however, to those who are socially and economically deprived, including the poor, marginalized and minority populations, refugees, migrants, and those internally displaced. Their lack of access to quality health care drives them to buy medicines on informal markets, where they are vulnerable to being sold false or counterfeit products. Mr President, My Delegation earnestly hopes that public health measures, medical research and diagnostic development will provide accessible and equitable solutions leading to, as Pope Francis has emphasized, “a genuine service… to care for our common home and the integral development of persons, especially those in greatest need”. [2] On behalf of these hundreds of millions of people who have no access to health care and are most susceptible to diseases related to antimicrobial resistance, the Holy See appeals to the International Community to take their concerns and basic needs into greater consideration, without viewing them as burdens supported merely out of duty, or as problems raised as an afterthought. [3] Leaving no one behind means giving greater attention to these persons who are left farthest behind. Thank you, Mr. President. [1] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 34. [2] Pope Francis, Address during Visit to the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya, 26 November 2015. [3] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 49. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope tells us 'not to judge, not to condemn, but to forgive'

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 07:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged the faithful to be as merciful as the Lord, because – he said – that is the best way to be “a sign, a channel, a witness of His love”. He was speaking on Wednesday morning during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Reflecting on the reading from the Gospel of Luke on being merciful, “just as your Father is merciful”, Pope Francis said that is not a mere slogan, but a commitment for life. That reading he observed,  is where the motto of the Holy Year of Mercy comes from.   And pointing out that Jesus’ call to humanity to be as merciful as the Father can appear daunting, he said Jesus is not referring to “quantity” because of course it would be impossible for us to tend towards God’s absolute perfection, he is just asking us to try and be like Him: full of love, compassion and mercy. Pope Francis also quoted from the passage which says “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven”. “All Christians – he said – must forgive! Why? Because all of us, each one of us here in the Square, has been forgiven. During our lives we have all been in need of the Lord’s forgiveness – and if God can forgive me – Francis continued – why should I not forgive the other? Am I greater than God?” He also explained that by forgiving one another we express the free gift of God’s love and respond to Jesus’s invitation to give freely of our own love, because – he said: “all we have has been freely given to us by God, and we will receive only in the measure that we freely give to others”.  So don’t forget  - the Pope concluded – mercy and gift, forgiveness and gift – that’s how to make your hearts bigger and full of love.   And after the catechesis and greetings in various languages, the Pope recalled the XXII World Alzheimer Day marked today on the theme “Remember me”.  He invited all those present to ‘remember’ those who are affected by the disease and their families with the care of Mary and with the tenderness of Jesus making them feel we are close to them. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican launch of UNCTAD report: 'Development is new name of peace'

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 06:27
(Vatican Radio)  A press conference was held on Wednesday at Vatican Radio to launch the 2016 UNCTAD Trade and Development Report, lead by Fr. Michael Czerny, S.J., spokesman for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: In a speech prepared by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who heads the Council but was unable to be present at the launch, Fr. Michael Czerny launched the UNCTAD report entitled ‘Structural Transformation for Inclusive and Sustained Growth’. In the speech, Cardinal Turkson said there was a ‘significant resonance between the Council’s mission and the work of UNCTAD’. The Holy See is a member of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which helps developing countries diversify their economy to benefit from the globalized economy more fairly and effectively. During the launch, Cardinal Turkson said economic developments ‘should help to overcome the immense hardships of humankind; and that such development should promote progress, which today must be integral human development.’ He said the Holy See was present at the founding meeting of the UNCTAD in 1964 in the person of Blessed Pope Paul VI, who ‘identified the ultimate horizon towards which UNCTAD at its best would always be working, when he declared: “Development [is] the new name of peace.”’ Cardinal Turkson noted the advances in technology since that time, but said the fundamental question remains: ‘What kind of trade, growth and development are going to meet the pervasive challenges of poverty, of inequality and lack of progress? Pope Paul VI defined true development with perfect clarity: true development must foster the development of every person and of the whole person. This means each individual person (man, woman and child), each human group, and humanity as a whole.’ In conclusion, Cardinal Turkson said fair trade among nations promotes the sharing of the riches given by God. ‘Our world is abundant with riches, thanks to the generous Creator. Human survival and prosperity are also thanks to the coordinated human efforts to produce and to trade throughout history and around the globe. Trade is certainly a key driver of development, and fair trade will do much to promote authentic human development.’ Below is the full text of Cardinal Turkson’s press conference: Press Conference to launch the 2016 UNCTAD Report Sala Marconi, Vatican Radio Rome, 21 September 2016 Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, President The UNCTAD 2016 Trade and Development Report is entitled “Structural Transformation for Inclusive and Sustained Growth”. Its launch is a meaningful and hopeful occasion. I am happy, as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to host this event as an expression of the significant resonance between the Council’s mission and the work of UNCTAD. Ours is the younger of the two bodies, founded in 1967 at the request of the II Vatican Council. The Council was deeply concerned with “the immensity of the hardships which still afflict the greater part of mankind today.” Therefore Vatican II wanted a Church body “to stimulate the Catholic community to promote progress in needy regions and international social justice.” [1] Everyone would surely agree, that such development should help to overcome the immense hardships of humankind; and that such development should promote progress, which today must be integral human development. Three years earlier, in 1964, the United Nations established its Conference on Trade and Development to deal with development issues, particularly international trade. The Holy See was present at the founding meeting, and Blessed Pope Paul VI identified the ultimate horizon towards which UNCTAD at its best would always be working, when he declared: “Development [is] the new name of peace.” [2] Over the subsequent 52 years, new technologies have broken down traditional borders between nations and opened up new areas of economic opportunity. Moreover, a less polarized political landscape has provided new possibilities for worldwide trade. In addition, economic power has become more dispersed, mostly due to globalization and to industrialization and rapid growth in East Asia, with corresponding changes in the workings of the international trading system. But the basic question remains: what kind of trade, growth and development are going to meet the pervasive challenges of poverty, of inequality and lack of progress? Pope Paul VI defined true development with perfect clarity: true development must foster the development of every person and of the whole person. This means each individual person (man, woman and child), each human group, and humanity as a whole. [3] Given the increasing environmental challenges, Pope Francis has extended this fundamental definition to include future generations.  “The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us.  We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently.” [4] Human leadership or governance still seems to have a lot to learn about how to order economic affairs for the welfare of everyone and for the safeguarding of the environment. In the words of Pope Francis: “With due respect for the autonomy and culture of every nation, we must never forget that the planet belongs to all mankind and is meant for all mankind; the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity.” [5] And world governance, including institutions of the U.N. family, need to appreciate the poor, as St John Paul II put it, “not as a problem, but as people who can become the principal builders of a new and more human future for everyone.” [6] The launching of the 2016 Trade and Development Report takes place under the long shadow of the financial and monetary crisis dragging on since 2008. It results from a combination of ethical and technical breakdowns. Have the right lessons been learned yet? It is not evident that the organizations, institutions and decision-makers responsible for ethical and technical breakdowns have acknowledged their role, much less made the necessary repairs. We must do better. Our societies need to find ways of exercising greater corporate, financial and governmental responsibility for the economy and the environment. [7] The world economy has been marooned in growth doldrums for the past six years, and this state of affairs is in growing danger of becoming accepted as the ‘new normal’. Dialogue and cooperation are not easy. But the ‘old normal’ of isolated sectors and competing institutions will not meet the challenges. “A fair globalization will not come about only through disjointed decisions on trade, or finance, or labour, or education or health policies, conceived and applied independently. It is an integrated phenomenon: it takes integrated solutions and, obviously, integrated policies.” [8] Integrated policies will require persistence and generosity, with quite different voices being heard: banking, finance, commerce, business, politics … as well as workers, the unemployed and migrants, youth and the old, and indeed the natural environment. Nearly 50 years ago, Pope Paul VI enshrined the link between development and peace. Peace is not the mere absence of violence. It bespeaks human fulfilment, integral in all its aspects – material, social, spiritual. Trade and development must aim at the fullest human flourishing if we are ever to have real peace. Our world is abundant with riches, thanks to the generous Creator. Human survival and prosperity are also thanks to the coordinated human efforts to produce and to trade throughout history and around the globe. Trade is certainly a key driver of development, and fair trade will do much to promote authentic human development. Let us join in encouraging UNCTAD to fulfil its mission, in taking the 2016 Trade and Development Report on board. May the report assist UNCTAD and other institutions of international governance to face the great challenges of the coming decades.   [1] Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, § 90. This “body” was to be the future Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. [2] Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, § 76. [3] Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, § 14 quoted by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, § 181. [4] Pope Francis, Laudato si’, § 159. [5] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, § 190. [6] World Day of Peace, 2000, § 14. [7] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority, 2011. [8] Juan Somavía and Renato Martino, The challenge of a fair globalization, International Labour Organization, 2005, p. 41. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Audience: English summary

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 04:43
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday. In his catechesis, the Holy Father relflected on St Luke's Gospel account of  how the Lord calls us to be merciful. Below, please find the official English language summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis for the General Audience for 21 September 2016: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our Gospel passage this morning, we are reminded of our call to be merciful even as our heavenly Father is merciful (cf. Lk 6:36).  When we look at salvation history, we see that God’s whole revelation is his untiring love for humanity which culminates in Jesus’ death on the Cross.  So great a love can be expressed only by God.  Jesus’ call to humanity to be as merciful as the Father, however, is not a question of quantity.  Instead it is a summons to be signs, channels and witnesses to his mercy.  This is the Church’s mission, to be God’s sacrament of mercy in every place and time.  As Christians, therefore, God asks us to be his witnesses, first by opening our own hearts to his divine mercy, and then by sharing that mercy towards all people, especially those who suffer.  In this way, our works of mercy and charity will offer to the world a glimpse of the face of Christ.  In the Gospel, Jesus explains that we especially show the Father’s mercy when we pardon one another, for we express the free gift of God’s love, and help one another on the way of conversion.  Jesus invites us also to give freely, for all we have has been freely given to us by God, and we will receive only in the measure that we freely give to others.  Merciful love is the only path, for by it we are able to make known the Father’s mercy that has no end.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis concludes World Day of Prayer for Peace

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 13:35
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over the closing ceremony of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi on Tuesday afternoon. The ceremony followed an early afternoon of prayer – not in common, but separately, according to religious tradition. Listen to Chris Altieri's report:  Thirst for peace: religions and cultures in dialogue was the theme of this 30th anniversary celebration of the World Day, which Pope St. John Paul II first convoked in the city of St. Francis in 1986. “We have come to Assisi as pilgrims in search of peace,” said Pope Francis to the gathering of more than 400 leaders from dozens of different traditions of faith and religion. “We carry within us and place before God the hopes and sorrows of many persons and peoples:  we thirst for peace; we desire to witness to peace.” “[A]bove all,” said Pope Francis, “we need to pray for peace, because peace is God’s gift, and it lies with us to plead for it, embrace it, and build it every day with God’s help.” Before the closing ceremony, the Holy Father delivered a meditation on peace to a gathering of leaders from various Christian Churches and ecclesial communities in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis. “Before Christ Crucified, ‘the power and wisdom of God’ (1 Cor 1:24), we Christians are called to contemplate the mystery of Love not loved and to pour out mercy upon the world,” Pope Francis told the ecumenical gathering of Christian leaders come together to hear his meditation in the lower basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, ahead of the closing ceremony. “On the Cross, the tree of life,” continued Pope Francis, “evil was transformed into good; we too, as disciples of the Crucified One, are called to be ‘trees of life’ that absorb the contamination of indifference and restore the pure air of love to the world.  From the side of Christ on the Cross water flowed, that symbol of the Spirit who gives life (cf. Jn 19:34); so that from us, his faithful, compassion may flow forth for all who thirst today.” Much has changed in the three decades that have passed since Pope St. John Paul II held the first event: the Cold War has ended, while the shadow of international terrorism has grown and spread, and our failure to exercise good stewardship over creation has created new challenges to peace. The “spirit of Assisi” however, remains unchanged, and each of us has a part to play in realizing the hope for peace that animates this event. “Here, thirty years ago,” recalled Pope Francis in concluding his remarks, “Pope John Paul II said: ‘Peace is a workshop, open to all and not just to specialists, savants and strategists. Peace is a universal responsibility.’ Let us assume this responsibility, reaffirming today our ‘yes’ to being, together, builders of the peace that God wishes for us and for which humanity thirsts.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Assisi: Pope Francis' appeal for peace

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 13:00
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday made an appeal for peace at the closing ceremony of the World Day of Prayer for Peace gathering in Assisi saying, "nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer.  Everyone can be an artisan of peace." Below find the English translaton of Pope Francis' appeal for peace. Appeal for Peace of His Holiness Pope Francis Piazza of Saint Francis, Assisi Tuesday, 20 September 2016 Men and women of various religions, we gather as pilgrims in the city of Saint Francis.  Thirty years ago in 1986, religious representatives from all over the world met here at the invitation of Pope John Paul II.  It was the first such solemn gathering that brought so many together, in order to affirm the indissoluble bond between the great good of peace and an authentic religious attitude.  From that historic event, a long pilgrimage was begun which has touched many cities of the world, involving many believers in dialogue and in praying for peace.  It has brought people together without denying their differences, giving life to real interreligious friendships and contributing to the resolution of more than a few conflicts.  This is the spirit that animates us: to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism.   And yet, in the years that have followed, numerous populations have nonetheless been painfully wounded by war.  People do not always understand that war harms the world, leaving in its wake a legacy of sorrows and hate.  In war, everyone loses, including the victors.  We have prayed to God, asking him to grant peace to the world.  We recognize the need to pray constantly for peace, because prayer protects the world and enlightens it.  God’s name is peace.  The one who calls upon God’s name to justify terrorism, violence and war does not follow God’s path.  War in the name of religion becomes a war against religion itself.  With firm resolve, therefore, let us reiterate that violence and terrorism are opposed to an authentic religious spirit.  We have heard the voice of the poor, of children and the younger generations, of women and so many brothers and sisters who are suffering due to war.  With them let us say with conviction: No to war!  May the anguished cry of the many innocents not go unheeded.  Let us urge leaders of nations to defuse the causes of war: the lust for power and money, the greed of arms’ dealers, personal interests and vendettas for past wrongs.  We need a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life. May a new season finally begin, in which the globalized world can become a family of peoples.  May we carry out our responsibility of building an authentic peace, attentive to the real needs of individuals and peoples, capable of preventing conflicts through a cooperation that triumphs over hate and overcomes barriers through encounter and dialogue.  Nothing is lost when we effectively enter into dialogue.  Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer.  Everyone can be an artisan of peace.  Through this gathering in Assisi, we resolutely renew our commitment to be such artisans, by the help of God, together will all men and women of good will.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Peace, a thread of hope that unites earth to heaven

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 12:49
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis told those present the closing ceremony for the World Day of Prayer for Peace gathering in Assisi, Tuesday, "we have come to Assisi as pilgrims in search of peace."  He said that, "God is calling us to confront the great sickness of our time: indifference", adding we cannot remain indifferent.  The Pope recalled his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos along with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, where they saw the sorrow of war in the eyes of the refugees there at first hand. "All of them have a great thirst for peace.  We do not want these tragedies to be forgotten", he said. "We do not have weapons", the Pope underlined.  "We believe, however, in the meek and humble strength of prayer." Speaking about the importance of prayer the Pope stressed that,  "prayer and concrete acts of cooperation help us to break free from the logic of conflict and to reject the rebellious attitudes of those who know only how to protest and be angry." The Holy Father during his discouse described peace as, "a thread of hope that unites earth to heaven, a word so simple and difficult at the same time", adding that, "we who are here together and in peace believe and hope in a fraternal world". Below is the English translation of the Pope's discourse Address of His Holiness Pope Francis Piazza of Saint Francis, Assisi Tuesday 20 September 2016 Your Holinesses, Distinguished Representatives of Churches, Christian Communities, and Religions, Dear Brothers and Sisters, I greet you with great respect and affection, and I thank you for your presence here.  We have come to Assisi as pilgrims in search of peace.  We carry within us and place before God the hopes and sorrows of many persons and peoples.  We thirst for peace.  We desire to witness to peace.  And above all, we need to pray for peace, because peace is God’s gift, and it lies with us to plead for it, embrace it, and build it every day with God’s help. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). Many of you have travelled a great distance to reach this holy place.  You set out, and you come together in order to work for peace: these are not only physical movements, but most of all movements of the soul, concrete spiritual responses so as to overcome what is closed, and become open to God and to our brothers and sisters.  God asks this of us, calling us to confront the great sickness of our time: indifference.  It is a virus that paralyzes, rendering us lethargic and insensitive, a disease that eats away at the very heart of religious fervour, giving rise to a new and deeply sad paganism: the paganism of indifference. We cannot remain indifferent.  Today the world has a profound thirst for peace.  In many countries, people are suffering due to wars which, though often forgotten, are always the cause of suffering and poverty.  In Lesbos, my dear brother, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and I saw the sorrow of war in the eyes of the refugees, the anguish of peoples thirsting for peace.  I am thinking of the families, whose lives have been shattered; of the children who have known only violence in their lives; of the elderly, forced to leave their homeland.  All of them have a great thirst for peace.  We do not want these tragedies to be forgotten.  Rather together we want to give voice to all those who suffer, to all those who have no voice and are not heard.  They know well, often better than the powerful, that there is no tomorrow in war, and that the violence of weapons destroys the joy of life. We do not have weapons.  We believe, however, in the meek and humble strength of prayer.  On this day, the thirst for peace has become a prayer to God, that wars, terrorism and violence may end.  The peace which we invoke from Assisi is not simply a protest against war, nor is it “a result of negotiations, political compromises or economic bargaining.  It is the result of prayer” (John Paul II, Address, Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, 27 October 1986: Insegnamenti IX,2 [1986], 1252). We seek in God, who is the source of communion, the clear waters of peace for which humanity thirsts: these waters do not flow from the deserts of pride and personal interests, from the dry earth of profit at any cost and the arms trade.   Our religious traditions are diverse.  But our differences are not the cause of conflict and provocation, or a cold distance between us.  We have not prayed against one another today, as has unfortunately sometimes occurred in history.  Without syncretism or relativism, we have rather prayed side-by-side and for each other.  In this very place Saint John Paul II said: “More perhaps than ever before in history, the intrinsic link between an authentic religious attitude and the great good of peace has become evident to all” (Address, Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, 27 October 1986: Insegnamenti IX,2, 1268).  Continuing the journey which began thirty years ago in Assisi, where the memory of that man of God and of peace who was Saint Francis remains alive, “once again, gathered here together, we declare that whoever uses religion to foment violence contradicts religion’s deepest and truest inspiration” (Address to the Representatives of the World Religions, Assisi, 24 January 2002: Insegnamenti XXV,1 [2002], 104).  We further declare that violence in all its forms does not represent “the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction” (Benedict XVI, Address at the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, Assisi, 27 October 2011: Insegnamenti VII,2 [2011], 512). We never tire of repeating that the name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone, and not war, is holy! Today we have pleaded for the holy gift of peace.  We have prayed that consciences will be mobilized to defend the sacredness of human life, to promote peace between peoples and to care for creation, our common home.  Prayer and concrete acts of cooperation help us to break free from the logic of conflict and to reject the rebellious attitudes of those who know only how to protest and be angry.  Prayer and the desire to work together are directed towards a true peace that is not illusory: not the calm of one who avoids difficulties and turns away, if his personal interests are not at risk; it is not the cynicism of one who washes his hands of any problem that is not his; it is not the virtual approach of one who judges everything and everyone using a computer keyboard, without opening his eyes to the needs of his brothers and sisters, and dirtying his hands for those in need.  Our path leads us to immersing ourselves in situations and giving first place to those who suffer; to taking on conflicts and healing them from within; to following ways of goodness with consistency, rejecting the shortcuts offered by evil; to patiently engaging processes of peace, in good will and with God’s help. Peace, a thread of hope that unites earth to heaven, a word so simple and difficult at the same time.  Peace means Forgiveness, the fruit of conversion and prayer, that is born from within and that, in God’s name, makes it possible to heal old wounds.  Peace means Welcome, openness to dialogue, the overcoming of closed-mindedness, which is not a strategy for safety, but rather a bridge over an empty space.  Peace means Cooperation, a concrete and active exchange with another, who is a gift and not a problem, a brother or sister with whom to build a better world.  Peace denotes Education, a call to learn every day the challenging art of communion, to acquire a culture of encounter, purifying the conscience of every temptation to violence and stubbornness which are contrary to the name of God and human dignity. We who are here together and in peace believe and hope in a fraternal world.  We desire that men and women of different religions may everywhere gather and promote harmony, especially where there is conflict.  Our future consists in living together.  For this reason we are called to free ourselves from the heavy burdens of distrust, fundamentalism and hate.  Believers should be artisans of peace in their prayers to God and in their actions for humanity!  As religious leaders, we are duty bound to be strong bridges of dialogue, creative mediators of peace.  We turn to those who hold the greatest responsibility in the service of peoples, to the leaders of nations, so that they may not tire of seeking and promoting ways of peace, looking beyond their particular interests and those of the moment: may they not remain deaf to God’s appeal to their consciences, to the cry of the poor for peace and to the healthy expectations of younger generations.  Here, thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II said: “Peace is a workshop, open to all and not just to specialists, savants and strategists. Peace is a universal responsibility (Address, Lower Piazza of the Basilica of Saint Francis, 27 October 1986: l.c., 1269). Let us assume this responsibility, reaffirming today our “yes” to being, together, builders of the peace that God wishes for us and for which humanity thirsts. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope decries indifference before the cry of victims of war

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 10:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has warned humanity against “the deafening silence of indifference and selfishness” before the cry of those who live under the threat of bombs and plead for peace. Pope Francis’ meditation was delivered during an ecumenical prayer ceremony with representatives of other Christian denominations in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis during the closing of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi. The Pope spoke of the ‘thirst’ of Jesus in which we can “hear the voice of the suffering, the hidden cry of the little innocent ones to whom the light of this world is denied, the sorrowful plea of the poor and those most in need of peace.  The victims of war, which sullies people with hate and the earth with arms, plead for peace; our brothers and sisters, who live under the threat of bombs and are forced to leave their homes into the unknown, stripped of everything, plead for peace”. And before concluding with a prayer for full communion between all Christians, he said that like Jesus, the victims of war are “frequently given the bitter vinegar of rejection.  Who listens to them?  Who bothers responding to them?  Far too often they encounter the deafening silence of indifference, the selfishness of those annoyed at being pestered, the coldness of those who silence their cry for help with the same ease with which television channels are changed. Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ Meditation during the Ecumenical prayer ceremony: Meditation of His Holiness Pope Francis Lower Basilica of Saint Francis, Assisi Tuesday, 20 September 2016 Gathered before Jesus crucified, we hear his words ring out also for us: “I thirst” (Jn 19:28).  Thirst, more than hunger, is the greatest need of humanity, and also its greatest suffering. Let us contemplate then the mystery of Almighty God, who in his mercy became poor among men.    What does the Lord thirst for? Certainly for water, that element essential for life. But above all for love, that element no less essential for living. He thirsts to give us the living waters of his love, but also to receive our love.  The prophet Jeremiah expressed God’s appreciation of our love: “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride” (Jer 2:2). But he also gave voice to divine suffering, when ungrateful man abandoned love – it seems as if the Lord is also speaking these words today – “they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (v. 13).  It is the tragedy of the “withered heart”, of love not requited, a tragedy that unfolds again in the Gospel, when in response to Jesus’ thirst man offers him vinegar, spoiled wine.  As the psalmist prophetically lamented: “For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Ps 69:21). “Love is not loved”: this reality, according to some accounts, is what upset Saint Francis of Assisi.  For love of the suffering Lord, he was not ashamed to cry out and grieve loudly (cf. Fonti Francescane, no. 1413).  This same reality must be in our hearts as we contemplate Christ Crucified, he who thirsts for love.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta desired that in the chapel of every community of her sisters the words “I thirst” would be written next to the crucifix.  Her response was to quench Jesus’ thirst for love on the Cross through service to the poorest of the poor.  The Lord’s thirst is indeed quenched by our compassionate love; he is consoled when, in his name, we bend down to another’s suffering.  On the day of judgment they will be called “blessed” who gave drink to those who were thirsty, who offered true gestures of love to those in need: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Jesus’ words challenge us, they seek a place in our heart and a response that involves our whole life.  In his “I thirst” we can hear the voice of the suffering, the hidden cry of the little innocent ones to whom the light of this world is denied, the sorrowful plea of the poor and those most in need of peace.  The victims of war, which sullies people with hate and the earth with arms, plead for peace; our brothers and sisters, who live under the threat of bombs and are forced to leave their homes into the unknown, stripped of everything, plead for peace.  They are all brothers and sisters of the Crucified One, the little ones of his Kingdom, the wounded and parched members of his body.  They thirst.  But they are frequently given, like Jesus, the bitter vinegar of rejection.  Who listens to them?  Who bothers responding to them?  Far too often they encounter the deafening silence of indifference, the selfishness of those annoyed at being pestered, the coldness of those who silence their cry for help with the same ease with which television channels are changed. Before Christ Crucified, “the power and wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24), we Christians are called to contemplate the mystery of Love not loved and to pour out mercy upon the world.  On the cross, the tree of life, evil was transformed into good; we too, as disciples of the Crucified One, are called to be “trees of life” that absorb the contamination of indifference and restore the pure air of love to the world.  From the side of Christ on the Cross water flowed, that symbol of the Spirit who gives life (cf. Jn 19:34); so that from us, his faithful, compassion may flow forth for all who thirst today.  Like Mary by the Cross, may the Lord grant us to be united to him and close to those who suffer.  Drawing near to those living as crucified, and strengthened by the love of Jesus Crucified and Risen, may our harmony and communion deepen even more.  “For he is our peace” (Eph 2:14), he who came to preach peace to those near and far (cf. v. 17).  May he keep us all in his love and unite us, so that we may be “one” (Jn 17:21) as he desires.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: War is shameful, prayers to ‘God of peace’ in Assisi

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 06:27
(Vatican Radio)  The world needs to go “beyond the divisions of religions,” and feel the “shame” of war, without turning a “deaf ear” to the cries of those who are suffering: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass at Santa Marta Tuesday morning.  The Holy Father was speaking just hours before he was to leave for the Umbrian hill town of Assisi where he was to take part September 20, 2016 in the closing ceremony of an international summit of interfaith leaders to pray for world peace.  The first such gathering in Assisi was convened by Pope St. John Paul II in 1986. "There is no god of war". War, the inhumanity of a bomb that explodes, killing and injuring people, and cutting off humanitarian aid so that it cannot get to children, the elderly, the sick, is uniquely the work of “the evil one” who "wants to kill everyone," said the Pope.  For this, it is necessary for all faiths to pray, even cry for peace - united in the conviction that "God is a God of peace." Do not turn a deaf ear: the world is suffering! At the start of his Homily, Pope Francis observed, "today, men and women of all religions, we will go to Assisi - not to make a show: simply to pray and to pray for peace.” He recalled his letter to all the bishops of the world  calling on them to organize prayer meetings on this day, inviting “Catholics, Christians, believers and all men and women of good will , of any religion, to pray for peace,"  because, he exclaimed, " the world is at war! The world is suffering! " "Today's First Reading,” the Pope continued, “ends like this: 'He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard.’  If we now shut our ears to the cry of these people who are suffering under the bombs, who suffer the exploitation of arms dealers, it may be that when it happens to us, we will not be heard. We cannot turn a deaf ear to the cry of pain of our brothers and sisters who are suffering from war. " War begins in the heart “We do not see" the war, Francis maintained. "We are scared"  by "some act of terrorism" but "this has nothing to do with what is happening in those countries, in those lands where the bombs, day and night,  fall and fall" and "kill children, the elderly, men, women…"  "The war is far away?"  asked the Pope. "No! It’s very close" because "the war touches everyone…war begins in the heart ." "May the Lord grant us peace in our hearts,” Pope Francis prayed.  May He “take away all desire for greed, covetousness, for fighting. No! Peace, peace!” the Pope exclaimed again.  So that “our heart is the heart of a man or woman of peace. And beyond the divisions of religions: everyone, everyone, everyone! Because we are all children of God. And God is the God of peace. There is no god of war.  He who makes war is evil; it is the devil who wants to kill everyone. " We should feel the shame Faced with this, there can be no divisions between faiths, Francis insisted. It is not enough to simply thank God because maybe the war "does not affect us."  Let us be grateful for this, yes, added the Pope,  “but we must also think about the others" who are being affected by it. We think today not only about the bombs, the dead, the wounded; but also about the people - children and the elderly – for whom humanitarian aid has yet to arrive so they can eat. Medicines cannot arrive. They are hungry, sick! Because the bombs are preventing the aid from getting to them. And, while we pray today, it would be nice if all of us were to feel ashamed. Ashamed of this: that humans, our brothers, are capable of doing this. Today, a  day of prayer, penance, crying for peace; a day to hear the cry of the poor. This cry that opens the heart to compassion, to love and saves us from selfishness. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis in Assisi for World Day of Prayer for Peace

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 05:43
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has landed in Assisi, the hilltop town in central Italy where Saint Francis was born. His one day visit to Assisi sees him taking part  in the closing of the interreligious World Day of Prayer for Peace, organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio. The theme of the 3-day international meeting this year is “Thirst for Peace. Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace that St. John Paul convened back in 1986, an historic event which saw world leaders of different religions come together for the very first time to pray for peace.  . The Pope has travelled to Assisi by helicopter and after his landing near the  Basilica of St Mary of the Angels where Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi and the local authorities greeted him, the Pope travels by car to the Holy Convent of Assisi. Here he is welcomed by Father Mauro Gambetti, Custodian of the Holy Convent, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, a Muslim reprepresentative, Dr Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, the Syro-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Efrem II, a Jewish representative and the Supreme Head of Tendai Buddhism (Japan). They then move to the Cloister of Sixtus IV where the representatives of Christian denominations and World Religions are waiting.  Pope Francis will greet all participants at the World Day of Prayer for Peace before having lunch in the  refectory of the Holy Convent that also will be attended by several war victims and refugees. During the afternoon Pope Francis meets individually with the following: Bartholomew I, a Muslim representative, Archbishop Justin Welby, Patriarch Efrem II and a Jewish representative. At 4pm local time Prayers for Peace take place in different venues. The Ecumenical Prayer of Christians takes place in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis, after which all the participants exit from the Lower Basilica and meet with the Representatives of other religions who have prayed in different places and they move to the podium in the Square. A closing ceremony is schedule to take place at 5.15pm in St. Francis Square with messages read by Pope Francis, by a victim of war, Patriarch Bartholomew I, a Muslim representative, a Jewish representative, Japanese Buddhist Patriarch and by Professor Andrea Riccardi, Founder of the Sant’Egidio Community. A Letter appealing for peace will be handed to children from various countries followed by  a moment of silence for the victims of war, the signing of an Appeal for Peace and the lighting of two candles, and the exchange of a sign of peace Pope Francis is scheduled to depart from Assisi at 6.30pm and arrive back at the Vatican City Heliport 1 hour later.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Parolin addresses refugee issues at UN summit on migration

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 00:30
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, addressed world leaders on Monday at a summit aimed at tackling global issues surrounding refugees and migrants at the United Nations. The event was sponsored by the Vatican’s Permanent Observer mission to the UN, together with Caritas Internationalis and the Geneva based International Catholic Migration Commission. Listen to Cardinal Parolin's full address: The one day meeting at the UN headquarters in New York marks the first time the General Assembly has called for a summit on this issue. Organisers hope it will point the way towards a more responsible and predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants. Cardinal Parolin's full statement to the summit is below: Statement on Roundtable #1: Addressing the Root Causes of Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants By His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State of His Holiness Pope Francis Mr. Chair, During the preparatory phases of this Summit, much attention and effort have been dedicated to the search for durable solutions and more effective ways of sharing responsibility in the face of large movements of refugees and migrants. The greatest challenge before us, however, is to identify and act on the root causes that force millions of people to leave their homes, their livelihoods, their families and their countries, risking their very lives and those of their loved ones in the search for safety, peace and better lives in foreign lands. [In his report In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, the UN Secretary General maintained that causes of refugee movements include “conflict, violence, persecution, political repression and other serious human rights violations.”] The primary cause of today’s refugee and migrant crisis is man-made: namely, wars and conflicts. Since human choices provoke conflicts and wars, it is well within our power and responsibility to address this root cause that drives millions to become refugees, forced migrants and internally displaced persons. The Holy See thus pleads for a common commitment on the part of individual governments and the international community to bring to an end all fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue peace and reconciliation. The Holy See remains firmly convinced that, as Pope Francis has often stated, the way to resolve open questions must be that of diplomacy and dialogue. Moreover, in the last few years religious persecution has become more and more a cause of displacement. Although other groups are heavily targeted, many reports confirm that Christians are by far the most persecuted faith group, speaking of “religious-ethnic cleansing”, which Pope Francis calls “a form of genocide”. Some of those persecuted, even in asylum countries, are facing harassment in refugee settings. We must not abandon them. The preparatory document for this Roundtable rightly highlights that the availability and use of low technology weaponry has resulted in the spread of conflict, especially in countries and societies where the rule of law is fragile and poverty is widespread. Mr. Chair, The Holy See has repeatedly called to limit strictly and to control the manufacture and sale of weapons, where the likelihood of their illegal use and their falling into the hands of non-state actors is real and present. The proliferation of any type of weapons aggravates situations of conflict and results in huge human and material costs, provoking large movements of refugees and migrants and profoundly undermining development and the search for lasting peace. Addressing the root causes of displacement of peoples requires strength and political will. As Pope Francis has said, this “would mean rethinking entrenched habits and practices, beginning with issues involving the arms trade, the provision of raw materials and energy, investment, policies of financing and sustainable development, and even the grave scourge of corruption”. Finally, the Holy See feels itself compelled to draw urgent attention to the plight of those migrants fleeing from situations of extreme poverty and environmental degradation. While these are not recognized by international conventions as refugees and thus do not enjoy any particular legal protection, nonetheless they suffer greatly and are most vulnerable to human trafficking and various forms of human slavery. For this reason, in our efforts to address effectively the root causes of large movements of refugees and other forced migrants, we should also strive to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, provide access to quality education, and give appropriate protection to the family, which is an essential element in human and social development. Thank you, Mr. Chair. 1. Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See for the Traditional Exchange of New Year Greetings, Vatican City, 13 January 2014. 2. Pope Francis, Address to the UN Systems Chief Executives Board for Coordination, Vatican City, 9 May 2014. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: Don't be a 'mafioso' but live in the light of faith

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 07:38
(Vatican Radio) Don’t envy the rich and powerful or conspire against your neighbour, but instead nurture the light of faith in your lives. That was Pope Francis’s message in his homily at the Santa Marta Mass on Monday morning, as Philippa Hitchen reports: Listen  Reflecting on the reading from St Luke’s Gospel the Pope talked about the many ways in which we hide the light of faith, through jealousy and arguments, by plotting evil against our neighbours or simply by putting off until tomorrow the good that we should do today. The light of faith, he said, is a gift that each one of us receives from God on the day of our Baptism. He recalled that Baptism was called ‘Illumination’ in the first centuries of Christianity, a term that is still used in some of the Eastern Churches today. But just as Jesus warned the crowds not to conceal the light, so the Pope said if we hide that light we become lukewarm Christians. He talked about the many ways in which we risk putting out that light, starting with delaying the help that we’re called to give to our neighbours in need. Never put off doing good until tomorrow, the Pope said, because it’s a form of injustice and you can’t put ‘good’ in the fridge. Pope Francis went on to warn about those who plot evil against their neighbours instead of responding to the trust placed in them. Anyone who conspires againsta neighbour and takes advantage of that trust is a “Mafioso”, he insisted and the darkness of every mafia puts out the light of faith. The Pope also spoke about the temptation to argue, even with those who haven’t done us any wrong. Arguments wear us out, he said, so it’s better to pardon and to let these things go. Finally, Pope Francis said we should not envy those who are powerful, successful or violent because God spurns them and calls the righteous to be His friends. To be jealous of power and wealth is another way of hiding the light, he said, yet the same worms who devour our corpses will eat the bodies of the rich and powerful too. The Pope reiterated Jesus’ words, urging his listeners to be ‘children of light’ and to take care of the light, rather than hiding it under a bed. May the Holy Spirit which we received at Baptism, he concluded, help us to avoid these bad habits which hide the light and let us instead nurture the light of friendship and humility, the light of faith and hope, the light of patience and goodness.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Tauran on Pope's Assisi visit

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 07:32
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will travel to Assisi on Tuesday, to participate in the concluding day of the World Day of Prayer for Peace event, organised by the Sant’Egidio Community. The theme for this year is  “Thirst for Peace. Religions and Cultures in Dialogue.” The President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran  spoke to Vatican Radio’s Oliver Bonnel about the Pope’s visit and the impact of the spirit of Assisi. Listen:  The Cardinal says that a message of “fraternity and peace will be at the heart of the visit", and goes on to say that dialogue is the unique means in which to promote justice and peace. Asked about how the  the spirit of Assisi can have an impact on political leaders today, Cardinal Tauran answers by saying, "I think what is  important is to improve that religions are not a danger but that it’s a richness for society because unfortunately now when you speak about religions you think of war of persecution.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

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