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Updated: 1 hour 37 min ago

Cardinal Veglio: European migration policy less "Christian"

0 sec ago
(Vatican Radio) The President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People has called European refugee policy “less human” and “less Christian”, adding that Europe has never had a proper immigration programme, but instead tries to “patch up” emergency situations. Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio was speaking about the EU’s reaction to the recent migration crisis, which he said ignores the root causes of migration. “What is the cause of immigration and refugees? For immigration, poverty. For refugees, war,” he said. “Until there is an end to poverty and war, nothing will change.” Cardinal Veglio said it is the Church’s mission help the “most poor, the most dispossessed, abandoned”, and said these are the migrants. “If the Church did not do these things, then truly she betrays her mission,” he said. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Civilization’s Progress Is Measured by Its Ability to Protect Life

33 min 27 sec ago
“The degree of progress of a civilization is measured by its ability to protect life, especially in its most fragile stages.” These were the words of Pope Francis during an audience with the Science and Life Association, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary. Listen to Junno Arocho's report: The Holy Father began by thanking them for their service in promoting the protection of human life in a society marked by the negative logic of discarding.” “The love of Christ urges us to become servants of the small ones and the elderly, of every man and every woman, through which the primordial right to life is recognized and protected,” he said. The Pope encouraged the association to keep their gaze fixed on the sacredness of life and the human person, “so that science may truly be at the service of man, and not man at the service of science.” Continuing his address, Pope Francis stressed that society’s progress is measured by its ability to protect life rather than technological advances. Attacks against life, he said, must never be forgotten. “The scourge of abortion is an attack on life. Leaving our brothers on the boats in the Sicilian channel is an attack on life. Death at work is an attack on life because it does not respect the minimal security conditions,” the Pope said. The 78 year old Pontiff also cited malnutrition, terrorism, war, violence and euthanasia as attacks on human life. Concluding his address, Pope Francis urged the association to continue their work in promoting a culture of life. He also called on them to embark in fruitful dialogue with the world of science, even with those who profess as non-believers but “remain open to the mystery of human life.” (Junno Arocho Esteves) (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican: The elderly are a valuable component of family, society

2 hours 24 min ago
(Vatican Radio) “The Church, starting with her local and missionary realities, has always been in the front line in caring for the person and people, aiming at Salus, that is to say the psychological and spiritual wellbeing of everyone, everywhere.” This was the message of Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, to a conference organized on Saturday by Italian Society of Functional Medicine (SIMF) on the sidelines of Milan Expo 2015. His intervention was about how aging affects health care systems. “Even when a person is of an advanced age he or she constitutes a valuable component of a family and of society,” said Msgr. Mupendawatu. The full text of Msgr. Mupendawatu’s intervention is below I am very happy to be here with you today and to be able to take part in an initiative of this seriousness and value which has been organised in a context such as the World Exhibition of 2015 which has been organised here in Milan. Thanks to the very many official stands which represent rich countries, but also various economically disadvantaged countries, we can indeed range across international horizons and remember what we can, and must, still do to guarantee all people wherever they are adequate alimentation and the possibility of being born, growing up and living their lives in an environment that is as healthy as possible.      The Church, starting with her local and missionary realities, has always been in the front line in caring for the person and people, aiming at Salus, that is to say the psychological and spiritual wellbeing of everyone, everywhere. The very existence of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, of which I have the honour to be the Secretary, is a further proof of this care and attention. This is a commitment which is carried out in various sectors and through diversified activities with at their centre, always, the person. Even when a person is of an advanced age he or she constitutes a valuable component of a family and of society.      And today, indeed, we are addressing an important aspect of health where, as will be explored later, correct nutrition performs a role of primary importance. One is dealing here with the increase in the number of elderly people in populations and the prevention of chronic pathologies.     ‘To grow old is a privilege and a goal of society. It is also a challenge which has an impact on all aspects of the society of the twenty-first century’.      This is one of the messages offered by the World Health Organisation on the subject of the health of elderly people. This is a subject that has acquired increasing relevance in a society that is undergoing  a sort of ‘demographic revolution’: in the year 2000 in the world there were about 600 million people over the age of sixty; in the year 2025 there will be 1.2 billion;  and there will be 2 billion in the year 2050. In addition, women live longer than men in virtually all societies. As a result, in the age band of the population made up of very old people the ratio of women to men is 2 to 1.     In European countries, as in many other rich countries, one person in every 5 is over the age of sixty. This ratio declines to 1 in every 20 in Africa but, as is the case in other areas of the planet that are economically disadvantaged, the process of the ageing of the population is more rapid than in the so-called ‘rich’ countries and there is thus less time to adopt those measures that are needed to tackle the consequences of the increase in the part of the population made up of elderly people and the increase in the frequency of chronic pathologies which are typically connected with ageing amongst the elderly.     Ageing is a very complex biological process that is inevitable and determined by genetically programmed modifications and by an accumulation of (social, environmental and alimentary) injuries (and also injuries caused by our lifestyles and our experience). These involve a steady reduction in the capacity of an individual to maintain  homeostasis  when he or she is under stress both of an internal (physio-pathological) character and of an external (environmental) nature, with a consequent increase in that’s person susceptibility to illnesses.      One begins to age even before one is born and one ages every day of one’s life. Although the risk of illness increases with age, health problems are not an inevitable consequence of ageing.      Ageing does not mean, therefore, ‘illness’. It is accompanied, however, in a very underhand way by various pathological processes –  with great variability from one person to the next –  which with the passing of the years become chronic illnesses.      Indeed, the ageing of a population is typically accompanied by an increase in the burden of non-transmissible diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative pathologies, tumours, chronic obstructive lung diseases, and muscular-skeletal problems.      As a consequence. the pressure on the world’s health-care system is increasing, Chronic illnesses impose on the elderly part of the population high burdens in terms of health and economics specifically because of the long duration of these illnesses, the decrease in quality of life that is involved, and costs due to care and treatment.      According to a report of the Italian Ministry of Health on ‘State of Health and Health-care Services in the Elderly Part of the Population’, the elderly part of the population today in Italy is responsible for 37% of ordinary hospital admissions and 49% of days of admission and the related estimated costs.      Chronic illnesses today constitute the principal cause of death in almost the whole of the world. In general, these are illnesses that have their origins in childhood and youth but which may even require decades before manifesting themselves in a clinical sense. Given their long duration, they require long-term care, but at the same time various possibilities at the level of prevention exist.      At the basis of the principal chronic illnesses there are common and modifiable risk factors, such as not very healthy alimentation, the consumption of tobacco, the abuse of alcohol and a lack of physical exercise.     Chronic illnesses are, therefore, an increasingly grave problem. They are far away the principal cause of mortality. Indeed, they are responsible for 86% of all deaths in the European Union. Every year two million people die of cardiovascular diseases and it is calculated that 8% of the population suffers from diabetes.      It is possible to prevent many chronic illnesses by reducing the risk factors: smoking, the abuse of alcoholic spirits, incorrect alimentation, and insufficient physical exercise.     The epidemiological data, which relate principally to the Western world, indicate that 50% of deaths because of chronic pathologies can be attributed to incorrect forms of behaviour in people’s lifestyles. These are forms of behaviour that concern in particular certain aspects such as incongruous dietary habits and a reduction in, or the absence of, physical activity.      Food, in terms of its relationship to wellbeing/illness, has a dual importance. It can be a risk factor in the development of pathologies (one need only think of obesity and its correlated pathologies)  but is can also be a promoter of health. Indeed, beyond its intrinsic nutritional value, an optimal diet (which is characterised by essential components and ones that are strategically useful) can perform an important role as regards the prevention of chronic diseases not only of a primary character but also at a secondary level.      Clinical and epidemiological evidence, which is increasingly relevant, indicates, however, that diet alone cannot be sufficient if it is not associated with ‘virtuous’ life habits and in particular ones relating to physical activity. For example, important risk factors in chronic pathologies are a sedentary life and a diet rich in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol and thus the instrument of prevention for these pathologies involves simultaneously a suitable diet and regular physical exercise.     The principal pathologies correlated with nutrition are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.      Cardiovascular disease and cancer make up about two-thirds of overall illness in Europe. A third of cases of cardiovascular disease are to be attributed to inappropriate diet; similar percentages (a third) have also been indicated for cases of cancer correlated to dietary lifestyles. A report of the Word Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that with an improvement in dietary habits, regular physical exercise and an optimal body weight, it would be possible to reduce the incidence of cancer by 30-40%.      Important research has been carried out to identify what components of people’s diets bear the greatest responsibility for pathologies with an important socio/health-care impact. such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.     Fats probably represent the components on which researchers have concentrated their attention.      Obviously enough, other nutritional factors can be associated with an increase in the risks of having cardiovascular disease or cancer. There is substantial agreement on the fact that an excess of calories (an imbalance between ingestion and consumption) and alcohol play an important role in the development of certain tumours (of the mouth, the pharynx, the larynx, the oesophagus, the liver, and the colon/rectum and that protective action against these diseases can be engaged in through the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Further facts in support of this relationship derive from an observation of the role played by a deficit of vitamin A, of other vitamins with anti-oxidant properties and of non-nutritional components that are present in fruit and vegetables. An analysis carried out in Europe on the potential preventive effect of eating fruit and vegetables documented how a considerable number of deaths because of cardiovascular disease and cancer could have been avoided if counties with a lower consumption of these foods had been aligned with those which have higher levels of their consumption.     Indeed, the objective of the World Health Organisation is to assure at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables a day per person for the whole of the year. Other components of people’s diets have been studied to detect their possible association with cardiovascular disease and cancer, in particular milk (with specific attention being paid to milk lipids) and fish. It is relevant to emphasise that the adoption of national and supranational strategies directed towards increasing the use of milk with a low fat content, vegetable fats and fish has been shown to be capable of reducing the prevalence of these pathologies.      Increasingly strong evidence suggests that there is also a close causal relationship between obesity and cancer. This relationship acquires an important significance, which is not only clinical but also social, in the light of the constant increase in Western countries of people who are overweight or obese. It is believed, indeed, that about 30% of the European population is overweight; greater percentages (up to 60%) have been observed in American populations. The most significant complications of excess weight are, in addition to tumours, type 2 diabetes, arterial hypertension, heart disease, cerebral vascular disease and pathologies of the joints.      In addition, it is known that obesity is on the increase in children and in adolescents and that, as a consequence, pathologies correlated with incongruous alimentation are on the increase in these groups as well. Although acquiring a correct dietary lifestyle constitutes an instrument of prevention that cannot be forgone, recent data indicate that physical activity play a synergic and irreplaceable role in every strategy of primary and secondary prevention.      Indeed, an active individual compared to a sedentary one has a 50% lower risk of myocardial heart attack or strike, a 30-50% lower risk of fracture of the femur, a 30% lower risk of arterial hypertension, a 40-50% lower risk of colon-rectal cancer, and a 20-60% lower risk of diabetes.      In addition, there is a 25-50% reduction in the risk of developing functional deficits and as a consequence there is an  extension of the period of self-sufficiency.     The establishment and perpetuation of a virtuous circle – physical activity/correct alimentation, prevention/slowing down of pathological processes/psycho-physical wellbeing – has objective important consequences as well. It brings about savings for society in terms of social and health-care costs.     Eating healthily, doing physical exercise and keep the brain in training – this is advice to follow at every age but even more during that stage of life when mental health is most at risk.      Respecting these simple recommendations, in addition to monitoring of vascular and metabolic risk factors, seems to be effective in slowing down cognitive decline in elderly people and preventing the emergence of dementia. This news comes from a study, the first controlled randomised study of this kind, which was published in The Lancet.     Dementia is a syndrome that is characterised by a deterioration in cognitive functions, such as the memory, understanding, orientation, calculation and capacity for language. It begins with moments when things are not remembered, cognition of time is lost and even the most familiar places become suddenly unknown. Then memory gaps arrive about more recent events, about the names of people, and the first difficulties in communicating and taking care of oneself until the arrival of a total loss of awareness of place and time.     Senile dementia is a descendant parabola which sucks in an elderly person and all of his or her family relatives into its vortex, with an enormous social and economic impact. In the world 47.5 million people, with an average age of sixty, suffer from senile dementia – this is an army destined to arrive at the figure of 75.6 million in 2030 and even to triple by 2050 when there will be 135.5 millions of people with dementia.     Every year there are 7.7 million new cases of dementia and the phenomenon is recognised as being an authentic emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).     Although it afflicts above all elderly people, dementia is not a normal component of ageing.  Not to grasp something is normal but in the case of dementia illnesses and lesions intervene that affect the functions of the brain – Alzheimer’s disease first of all but also stroke.      Today, according to the World Health Organisation, dementia constitutes the principal cause of disability in the elderly and overwhelms at various levels all those who attend to the elderly: the family relatives first of all, and then caregivers and the whole of society.      In the year 2010 the global social costs of dementia were calculated as being 604 billion American dollars, that is to say 1% of world GDP.      At the moment we do not have any treatment for dementia and prevention is based upon measures of prevention that act upon already known risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking and physical activity.      On the occasion of the World Brain Day (16-22 March 2015), the Italian Society of Neurology (SIN) wanted to emphasise the importance of nutrition in protecting the brain against the emergence of cognitive disorders and dementias.     The role of prevention is therefore crucial as regards neurodegenerative diseases as well, and it is based primarily on correct nourishment of the brain, both in a strict sense, through correct and healthy alimentation, and in a wider sense, through physical exercise and a training of the intellect.      In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the commonest cause of dementia and in Italy afflicts over 700,000 people, the experts of the SIN advise a diet poor in cholesterol and rich in fibres, vitamins and anti-oxidants derived from fruit and vegetables, and the unsaturated fats contained in olive oil, all of which, it has been demonstrated, reduce the incidence of dementia.      Some vitamin deficiencies, foliates and vitamin B12 in particular, can facilitate the outbreak of dementia causing an increase on homocysteine which is toxic for vessels and neurons. Moderate quantities of coffee and red wine also do good. With their numerous anti-oxidant substances  they seem to play a protective role as regards the development of dementia.      I will end with what in 400 BC Hippocrates observed: ‘food is our medicine’. This assertion, dictated by observation and good sense, has found increasing confirmation and still finds confirmation in numerous studies and in the scientific observations of our times. (from Vatican Radio)...

Interview with UGCC Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk

2 hours 42 min ago
(Vatican Radio) While in Rome for the preparatory commission for October’s Synod of the Family, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk spoke to Vatican Radio about the situation in his country.  A complete transcription is provided below. Click to listen to Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk’s interview: During the interview the Major Archbishop spoke about the ongoing fighting in the region, the growing refugee crisis (2 million at present), how the Church is providing support to those affected by the conflict and the importance of maintaining a presence as the conflict continues. Transcript of the interview between Philippa Hitchen and the Major Archbishop of the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk:  Despite so-called Minsk agreement of ceasefire, that never happened in that place.  Each day we receive news about new killed, people new wounded, not only soldiers, but even civilians.  So many people are in danger.  The number of those who are forced to leave their homes is increasing.  Right now there are almost two million of displaced persons who had to flee from their homes.  In that territory of Donbass, which is under occupation of the Russian troops, each day receive news of incoming of heavy weapons.  What strikes me personally, that in last few months, more than seven hundred tanks entered tanks entered in that territory.  My question is “Why”?  If we agreed to ceasefire, if we agreed to start a political process, if we are in favour of saving human beings in that territory, why somebody is investing in war?  We have a fact of the most difficult humanitarian catastrophe after the end of the Second World War in the Eastern Europe.  Why we would not invest in saving human lives? Philippa Hitchen:   What are you trying to do there for your Greek Catholic people?  How many priests do you still have there, and how are you trying to support them in this extremely difficult situation?  Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk:   First of all, on that occupied territory, we have twelve parishes.  It was a period when our priests were forced to leave that territory.  But step by step we came back, even if our priests are in constant danger, direct threat against their lives.  In the city of Donestk, we have three priests and three parishes, Greek Catholics, at the moment there are not any of the Roman Catholic priests, and it was a very touching moment that in the Feast of Easter, Greek Catholic priests were serving both the Roman Catholics and to the Greek Catholics as well, in both calendars.  But in other parishes we do not have a possibility to have a pastoral assistance for our priests.  Because on that occupied territory, there is no local authority which takes responsibility for the security of the people.  That territory is fragmented between different bands, who are in constant fight against each other.  So travelling in that territory is getting extremely difficult.  My question was “Why those so-called military leaders on that territory are tolerating the presence of our priests?”  And my answer is because they are very active in saving lives.  They are going back and forth crossing the front line, bringing food.  Many people simply are dying not because of the bullets, not because of the bombs, but because of the lack of food.  So I think our presence on that territory brings hope to those people.  We are trying to be there in order to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.  To be with our people.    Philippa Hitchen:   You also have a number of priests in the military chaplaincy, don’t you?  Who are in extreme danger, you are caught in the crossfire.  Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk:  In that territory which is under control of the Ukrainian government, we are trying to develop kinds of chaplaincies and presence of the Church according to the necessities, for those who are in danger or in need.  We are developing many different programs to assist the refugees, many programs to assist the Ukrainian soldiers, we as a Church we never would ask or provide some sort of weapons, but we do have to provide some sort of protection vestments for the soldiers, because Ukrainian army is in its period of rebirth and there is a lack of elementary things in order to be able to defend our country.  It is why we are trying to support our soldiers and to provide to them, even the spiritual care.  Our chaplains, right now are present in almost whole front line, everywhere, especially in the most dangerous places.  But we see our presence there as an encouragement and a help to save human lives, to prevent the escalation of anger and hatred, and also to help our soldiers to remain Christians, even in those unhuman situations.  It is very interesting to listen to those chaplains, who are giving assistance not only to the soldiers, but even to their relatives.  Right now, whole Ukrainian society, the soldier and civilians in that zone are affected by so-called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and we are trying to, through the presence of our priests, to help, even to prevent and treat that kind of stress disorder.  Which can be very dangerous, which can be a cause of many deaths afterwards.  Philippa Hitchen:   You mentioned the more than two million refugees, who have fled the fighting there, how much are you able to support this extremely needy population.  Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk:   The Ukrainian Caritas, is the biggest humanitarian aid association in Ukraine after the Red Cross.  So we are assisting refugees in different ways.  Almost 50,000 people are under the direct assistance of Caritas through different programs.  We are providing assistance, not only in that territory which is close to Donbass, but we are also developing our programs of welcome of those refugees and persons in whole territory of Ukraine, especially where we have our communities.  Because many of those refugees, are present in the territory just nearby the front line.  Many of them are present in the southern Ukraine, especially those from Crimea.  Many of them are present in the capital of Ukraine, in Kiev.  Some of them are trying to integrate their families in different parts of Ukraine, especially in western Ukraine.  It depends where they are and what kind of needs do they have.  We are trying to develop pastoral programs, and programs of assistance to those people.  Philippa Hitchen:   What are the most urgent practical needs? Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk:   First of all, the needs are much bigger than our possibilities, but even the Ukrainian state in the present moment, is not able to assist those people in the way which they are in real need.  There are some primary needs, first a place to stay, so homes, then we have to provide for them medical care and psychological and spiritual assistance, we have to help them to find a job and to integrate into Ukrainian society as well, the economic crisis which also affects Ukraine right now, does not help at all.  We have to provide a special assistance to the children, because they have to go to school somewhere, and also we have to create some sort of network in order to study the needs and urgent appeals.  But most important thing is not to forget those people.  Pray for them and we are very grateful that really the Catholic solidarity, worldwide, right now is very efficient.  And I would take this possibility to transmit our gratitude to everybody who is helping Ukraine, spiritually, financially, through the organisation of Caritas Internationalis and in the other ways.  Those people are praying for you in Ukraine each day. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: Motu Proprio revises Vatican’s Pension Fund

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 11:22
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio which revises the statutes governing the Vatican’s Pension Fund was released on Friday (May 29th). The Director of the Holy See’s Press office, Father Federico Lombardi, said whilst there are some revisions in the Fund’s statutes, the regulations governing the Vatican pensions themselves remain the same with no changes being made to them for now.  In particular, the Pope’s Motu Proprio introduces changes in how the president of the Fund’s Board of Directors is appointed. Previously, the president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) more or less automatically became president of the Pension Fund but from now on the president will be directly appointed by Pope Francis who will choose from a list of three candidates proposed by the Council for the Economy and they could include lay people. Father Lombardi said another important change is that four external candidates who are experts in the field of insurance and pension fund management will be named to the Board of Directors of the Vatican’s Pension Fund by the Council for the Economy. Father Lombardi said the revisions contained in the Motu Proprio were considered necessary in the light of the new situation concerning the Holy See’s financial framework following the setting up of the Council and the Secretariat for the Economy.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Evangelize with a language of merciful love

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 07:06
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization at the end of their Plenary session. Listen to Lydia O’Kane's report During the course of their Plenary session the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization has been discussing the relationship between evangelization and catechesis and it was on that theme that Pope Francis addressed members of the Council, including its President Archbishop Rino Fisichella. Speaking to them at the end of their session the Holy Father told them that the Church is called to evangelize at a time of great change. But he stressed in order to proclaim the Gospel, the language used needs to be renewed so it can be understood by all who hear it. The Pope went on to say that people want a Church that can walk with them, offering a witness of faith, a Church for the marginalized which expresses solidarity with those on the “outskirts of existence”. Then, getting to the heart of what the true meaning of the new evangelization is, the Holy Father said,  it is this: to become aware of the merciful love the Father has for us and also to become instruments of salvation for our brothers. Turning his attention to the Catechesis, as part of the process of evangelization, Pope Francis explained that “it needs to go beyond just the school sphere of educating believers, from childhood because it is an encounter with Christ who awakens the desire to know him better and then to follow him to become his disciples. Concluding, the Holy Father underlined that the challenge of the new evangelization and catechesis together is played on this fundamental point: “how to meet Christ, and what is the most consistent place to find him and follow him.” The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization is undertaking the preparations for the Jubilee of Mercy which opens on December 8th 2015.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: help the Church not to succumb to profiteering

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says an authentic faith is open to others and forgives and urges God to help Christians and the Church not to succumb to a selfish, sterile and profiteering type of religion. His words came during his morning Mass celebrated on Friday (May 29th) at the Santa Marta residence. Jesus condemns spiritual egoism Taking his inspiration from the day’s readings, the Pope’s homily reflected on three proposed ways of living out our lives, using the images of the fig tree that produces no fruit, the dealers in the temple and the man of faith. He said the fig tree symbolizes a sterile life that is unable to give anything or be good to others. “It (the fig tree) lives for itself, calm, selfish, it doesn’t want any problems. And Jesus curses the fig tree because it’s sterile, because it has not given of itself to produce fruit. It symbolizes a person who does nothing to help (others), who always lives for him or herself, as long as nothing is lacking. In the end these people become neurotic, all of them. Jesus condemns a sterile spirituality, a spiritual egoism. ‘I live for myself and may I lack nothing and the others can fend for themselves.’” Don’t make religion a business Pope Francis said the second way of living was that practiced by the profiteers, the dealers in the temple who were busy changing money and selling animals for sacrifice. He said they are the people who make religion a business because they used God’s sacred site to trade and do deals. There was also the story of a priest who urged the faithful to make offerings and collected a lot of money, even from poor people. The Pope stressed that Jesus did not mince his words when he drove the dealers out from the temple, saying “’My house shall be a house of prayer but you have turned it into a bandits’ den.’ “The people who went on a pilgrimage there to implore the blessing of our Lord, to make a sacrifice: Those people there were exploited! The priests were not teaching them to pray or giving them a catechesis… it was a den of thieves. Pay and come in … they were performing the rites in an empty way without piety. I don’t know… maybe we’d do well to reflect on whether we encounter similar things going on in some places.  It’s using God’s things for our own profit.”  Faith helps others to do miracles The third way of living, the Pope continued, was a life of faith as shown by Jesus. Having faith and praying to God helps bring about miracles. “This is the lifestyle for a person with faith. ‘Father, what must I do for this?’ ‘Ask the Lord who will help you to do good things and with faith. But there’s one condition: when you begin praying to ask for this thing, if you bear a grudge towards somebody, pardon that person. This is the sole condition because your Father who is in heaven also pardons us for our sins.’ This is the third way of living. It’s faith, a faith to help others to draw closer to God.  This faith creates miracles.” Pope Francis concluded his homily with a prayer to God that “He may teach us this life of faith and that he helps each of us and the Church never to succumb to sterility and profiteering.”       (from Vatican Radio)...

Audience with the prime minister of Slovenia: continue constructive dialogue and the process of national reconciliation

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:54
Vatican City, 29 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience the prime minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States. In the cordial discussions the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Slovenia were highlighted, and the Parties confirmed their common will to continue constructive dialogue on bilateral themes regarding the relations between Church and State, with particular reference to the process of national reconciliation, human and religious values, and joint collaboration to promote the common good of society and of the poorest....

Vatican FIA says IOR on track

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:07
(Vatican Radio) The Financial Intelligence Authority of the Holy See and the Vatican City State – Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria or AIF for short – gave a briefing to journalists on Friday at the Press Office of the Holy See to present the annual report for 2014.  The report reviews the activities and statistics of the AIF for the year 2014, which the AIF says present a continuous strengthening of the legal and institutional framework of the Holy See and the Vatican City State to regulate supervised entities, fostering international cooperation of the Vatican competent authority with its foreign counterparts and to consolidate the prevention and countering of potential illicit financial activities.  The President of the AIF, René Brülhart, explained that expansion of the Authority’s cooperation with other national and international financial oversight organs has improved the AIF’s ability to carry out its mandate. “By signing Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) with other Financial Intelligence Units of 13 countries, including Australia, France and the UK as well as with the Regulators of Germany, Luxembourg and the United States of America, we have also massively strengthened international cooperation,” Brülhart said. Click below to hear extended excerpts from AIF President René Brülhart's remarks AIF Director Tommaso Di Ruzza explained that 2014 also saw the first ordinary on-site inspection of the IOR to verify the implementation of the measures taken to prevent and counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism. “The first on-site inspection of the IOR is an important consequence and a concrete sign of the effectiveness of the AML/CFT system adopted by the Holy See and the Vatican City State”, he said, adding that close monitoring of implementation and compliance with the new regulatory framework will be one of the key tasks of AIF in the near future. The inspection has shown no fundamental shortcomings at the IOR. As a result of the inspection, AIF has developed an action plan for the full and systematic adjustment of existing procedures to the required standards in accordance with the law. (from Vatican Radio)...

Programme of Pope Francis' pastoral visit to Sarajevo

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 09:32
(Vatican Radio) Details of Pope Francis’ forthcoming visit to Sarajevo on Saturday June 6th were released by the Vatican press office on Thursday. The one day visit, focused on the themes of peace and reconciliation, comes 18 years after Pope John Paul II visited the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina that had recently emerged from the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. Philippa Hitchen reports:  ‘Peace be with you’ is the motto for this 8th pastoral visit of Pope Francis, encapsulated in the logo depicting a dove with an olive branch in its beak. It’s a poignant theme for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, still trying to recover from the devastating three year war which followed the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The country of just under four million people is divided into the majority Bosnian Muslim community, or Bosniaks, who number about 40 percent. They’re followed by a sizeable Serbian, mainly Orthodox, population and a smaller group of largely Catholic Croats, comprising about 15 percent of the nation’s inhabitants. Around two million people, or half the population, fled from their homes during the war that was brought to an end by a peace deal, signed in Dayton, Ohio. That agreement set up a Bosniak-Croat Federation and a separate Bosnian Serb Republic, under a central government with rotating presidency. Overseeing the fragile peace is an international administration that was backed first by NATO forces and later by a European Union-led peacekeeping force. On June 6th, the Croat member of the three-man presidency will welcome Pope Francis at the airport in Sarajevo at 9am and accompany him to the presidential palace for a private meeting. After that he will give an address to the civil authorities and diplomatic corps before travelling to the city’s Olympic stadium to celebrate Mass. After a private lunch with the six bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Pope will meet with local priests, religious and seminarians in the Catholic cathedral, before travelling to a nearby Franciscan student centre for an ecumenical and interfaith encounter with leaders of the local Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox communities. Pope Francis’ final stop in Sarajevo will be at a youth centre dedicated to Pope St John Paul II, where he’ll hear firsthand about the many challenges facing young people in the country which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe today. The papal place is scheduled to leave Sarajevo at 8pm and arrive back in Rome at around 9.20 on Saturday evening. (from Vatican Radio)...

Monsignor Tighe: Putting humanity at the heart of technology

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 08:04
(Vatican Radio) “Good communication is always a human rather than a technical achievement.” That was at the heart of an address given by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Monsignor Paul Tighe, on Wednesday to the World Summit on the Information Society, during their 2015 session for High-Level Policy Statements, which is currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland. Speaking to Vatican Radio following his speech, Monsignor Tighe said he wanted to stress that, it was important to avoid the presumption that “just because the technologies are there we are going to have a better sense of the unity of the human family or that solidarity and development are automatically going to happen.” He said that what he wanted to underline was the view taken by Pope Francis that, “ultimately, at heart is good communications and good communications is always a human rather than a technical achievement.” Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Monsignor Paul Tighe   Asked whether he thought that people should be thinking in terms of “responsible communications”, he said, the term was appropriate because he added , “I would be nervous if people thought that technology alone could achieve the goods that we want to achieve. It’s going to require responsible determination and choices by individuals.” Looking to the future and addressing how the Vatican media and its multimedia platform can be at the forefront of “good communications”, the Council Secretary said, that “we need to make sure that we’re able to present our teachings our ideas, our perspectives in ways that are going to properly be present in a very different kind of environment. So, I think the challenge for us is always about trying to find ways of being able to speak about our core values…” He also said that, “we are lucky in the Vatican to have so many very strong well prepared very highly motivated professional communicators and technicians”, I think it’s to ensure that we can find a way that we can all work together to be ever more powerfully the voice and the presence of the Church in the emerging digital arenas.” World Summit on the Information Society continues through to May 29 th . (from Vatican Radio)...

The Pope receives the president of Croatia: collaboration between Church and State to support the family and youth

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 06:36
Vatican City, 28 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the president of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial discussions, the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia, further reinforced by the recent Agreements stipulated between the Parties, were affirmed. Furthermore, themes of common interest were considered, such as the collaboration between the Church and the State for the common good of Croatian society, especially the support of families and the young. Attention then turned to the social consequences of the global economic crisis, and the main challenges at a regional level, with particular attention to the situation of Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina....

To the bishops of the Dominican Republic: pastors of the Church cannot be indifferent to pastoral and charitable attention to immigrants

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 06:36
Vatican City, 28 May 2015 (VIS) – Fraternity with nearby Haiti, attention to marriage and the family, the battle against drug trafficking and the exploitation of minors, the continuing formation of priests and the laity, and the defence of the environment are the central themes of the written discourse the Pope handed this morning to the bishops of the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate, where the evangelisation of the American continent began. “Today the Church, which continues her progress in these beloved lands with her children in search of a happy and prosperous future, encounters the great challenges of our time which affect social and ecclesial life, and families in particular”, writes the Pontiff. “Therefore, I would like to make an appeal to you to accompany the faithful, to reinforce the faith and identity of all members of the Church”. Francis begins with marriage and the family, that is experiencing a “serious cultural crisis”. However, this does not mean it has lost its importance, but rather that the need for it is felt more than ever. He urged the prelates to pay special attention, in this upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, to matrimonial and family reconciliation, as keys to peaceful coexistence: “A broad-ranging catechetical effort regarding the Christian ideal of conjugal communion and family life, and the spirituality of fatherhood and motherhood, is necessary. Greater pastoral attention needs to be paid to the role of men as husbands and fathers, as well as the responsibility they share with their wives with respect to marriage, the family and the upbringing of children”. The Pope goes on to invite the prelates to dedicate time to and to look after their priests, and remarks that the Dominican clergy is distinguished by its fidelity and coherence to Christian life. “May its commitment to the weakest and neediest help it to overcome the worldly tendency towards mediocrity”, he writes. “The seminaries must not neglect human, intellectual and spiritual formation, ensuring a true encounter with the Lord, while cultivating pastoral commitment and emotional maturity so as to prepare seminarians able to embrace priestly celibacy and to live and work in communion”. “Pastoral and charitable attention to immigrants, especially those from neighbouring Haiti, who seek better conditions of life in the Dominican territory, cannot allow indifference on the part of pastors of the Church”, he underlines. “It is necessary to continue to collaborate with the civil authorities to find fraternal solutions to the problems of those who are without documents or deprived of their basic rights. It is inexcusable to fail to promote initiatives of fraternity and peace between the two nations that form this beautiful Caribbean island. It is important to know how to integrate immigrants into society and to welcome them into the ecclesial community. I thank those who are close to them and to all who suffer as a gesture of loving care towards the brother who feels alone and helpless, with whom Christ identified”. The Pope assures the bishops that he is aware of their efforts and concerns in appropriately facing “the serious problems that affect our people, such as trafficking in drugs and persons, corruption, domestic violence, abuse and exploitation of minors and social insecurity. The intimate connection between evangelisation and human development means that every action of the Mother Church must be directed towards the care of the most disadvantaged. Everything that is achieved in this respect will increase the presence of the Kingdom of God that gave us Jesus Christ, while enhancing the credibility of the Church and the relevance of the voice of her pastors”. With regard to the Dominican laity, which has an important presence in works of evangelisation, Francis emphasised the need for “constant support, so that it is able to bear witness to Christ, penetrating those environments that frequently the bishops, priests and religious cannot reach. … Those engaged in this service and this educational mission must not lack a vigilant and courageous attitude, so as to provide in schools an education that conforms to the moral and religious principals of families”. The final part of the discourse is dedicated to the protection of the environment. The Pope, considering “the beauty and the colourful landscapes of the Dominican Republic” urged the prelates to “renew commitment to the conservation and care of the environment. Man's relationship with nature must not be governed by greed, manipulation or unfettered exploitation, but should instead conserve the divine harmony between creatures and creation to place it at the service of all, and of future generations”. ...

Pope: coherent Christians draw people to Christ

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 05:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ homily this morning focused on the Gospel account of Bartimaeus, the blind man who cried out to Jesus to be healed, and whom the disciples called to be silent. The Gospel led the Holy Father to reflect on three different groups of Christians. First, there are Christians who are concerned only with their own relationship with Jesus, a “closed, selfish” relationship, who do not hear the cries of others: “This group of people, even today, do not hear the cry of so many people who need Jesus. A group of people who are indifferent: they do not hear, they think that life is their own little group; they are content; they are deaf to the clamour of so many people who need salvation, who need the help of Jesus, who need the Church. These people are selfish, they live for themselves alone. They are unable to hear the voice of Jesus.” Then, the Pope continued, “there are those who hear this cry for help, but want to silence it,” like the disciples when they sent away the children, “so that they would not disturb the Master”: “He was their Master — He was for them, not for everyone. These people send away from Jesus those who cry out, who need the faith, who need salvation.” In this group one finds the “men of affairs, who are close to Jesus,” who are in the temple. They seem “religious,” but “Jesus chased them away because they were doing business there, in the house of God.” There are those who “do not want to hear the cry for help, but prefer to take care of their business, and use the people of God, use the Church for their own affairs.” In this group there are Christians “who do not bear witness”: “They are Christians in name, parlour room Christians, Christians at receptions, but their interior life is not Christian, it is worldly. Someone who calls himself Christian and lives like a worlding drives away those who cry out for help from Jesus. And then there are the rigorists, those whom Jesus rebukes, those who place such heavy weights on the backs of the people. Jesus devotes the whole of the twenty-third chapter of St Matthew to them: ‘Hypocrites,’ he says to them, ‘you exploit the people!’ And instead of responding to the cries of the people who cry out for salvation, they send them away.” There is, finally, a third group of Christians, “those who help [people] draw near to Jesus”: “There is the group of Christians who are consistent in what they believe and in how they live, and they help to draw near to Jesus, to the people who are crying out, seeking salvation, seeking grace, seeking spiritual health for their souls.” “It would be good for us to make an examination of conscience,” the Pope concluded, in order to understand whether we are Christians who drive people away from Jesus, or who draw people to Him because we hear the cry of the many people who are seeking help for their own salvation. (from Vatican Radio)...

General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies: "How to support the universal mission today and tomorrow"

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 02:33
Vatican City - The Annual General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies , begins next Monday, June 1, at the Retreat House of the Salesians in Rome. The National Directors of the PMS from all continents, together with the President and the General Secretaries of the four Societies will meet for their annual pastoral Session and Ordinary Session . The Assembly will be opened by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the PMS. The session will be dedicated to the pastoral theme "How to support the universal mission today and tomorrow" and the speaker will be Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato . On Thursday, June 4 the Ordinary Session of the Assembly will begin, during which the general Secretaries of the four Pontifical Mission Societies will present the report of the past year, the budget estimate and requests of subsidies regarding the various projects that were submitted. The Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Fr. Ryszard Szmydki, OMI; Fr. Fernando Domingues, MCCJ, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle; Ms. J. Baptistine Ralamboarison, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood; Fr. Vito Del Prete, PIME, Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union as well as Director of CIAM and Fides will take the floor. The final report will be held by Mgr. Silvano Rossi, Administration Delegate. On Friday, June 5, the Holy Father will receive in audience the participants in the Assembly. The agenda also provides for meetings of the National Directors for each continent, an overview of the decisions taken during the assembly, the approval of budgets and projects. The closing speech of the President of the PMS, Mgr. Rugambwa, will close the proceedings of the Assembly on Saturday, June 6....

Monsignor Paul Tighe at Information Society Summit in Geneva

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 08:50
(Vatican Radio)   During his address at the World Summit on the Information Society currently being held in Geneva, Switzerland, Monsignor Paul Tighe, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication of the Holy See, discussed issues of new technologies, inclusiveness, isolation, as well as the role and responsibilities of emerging digital networks with regards to promoting individual and social well-being of the users. The full text of his address is reproduced below: Statement by Monsignor Paul Tighe,  Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication of the Holy See,  World Summit on the Information Society – 2015,  High-Level Policy Statements,  Geneva, 27 May 2015 Mr. Secretary General, The Holy See is pleased to have this opportunity to address this High Level Segment of the WSIS Forum and continues to be convinced that humanity is ‘entering a new era of enormous potential’ (WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, 67) for human growth through emerging technologies and stresses the importance  of recognizing and celebrating the capacity of these technologies to facilitate human communication, to allow for the sharing of words and images almost simultaneously across enormous distances and with people who might previously have been isolated.  This in turns allows people to use the technologies to promote greater understanding and harmony  among people, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all (Pope Francis, 2014).   These technologies, however, will not automatically lead to a change for the better: there is a need for a determined commitment from individuals and institutions if this is to happen.  Good communication is always a human rather than a technical achievement. Just because social communications increase the possibilities of interconnection and the dissemination of ideas, it does not follow that they promote freedom or internationalize development and democracy for all. To achieve goals of this kind, they need to focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of fraternity. The Holy See renews its commitment to work with all relevant stakeholders to build a people-centred Information Society (WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, 20).   There is a role for Governments and International Organizations to play in regulating this environment, but there is an equally important moral or ethical obligation on all of us as individual agents to ensure that these environments are safe and humanly enriching (WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, 56 – 59).  Commentators frequently speak of user generated content with reference to the social networks, but we must remember also that the very culture of the social networks is user generated.  If the networks are to be spaces where good positive communications can help to promote individual and social well-being then the users, the people who make up the networks, need to be attentive to the type of content they are creating, promoting and sharing.  The Holy See acknowledges the unfortunate reality that discrimination and violence are being promoted on-line and invites all to avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable.    The Holy See urges all stakeholders to ensure that the benefits of the Information Society are accessible to all (WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, 51).  The more we grow in appreciation of the mutual understanding and solidarity that is achieved in authentic communication, the more we will desire that it is truly inclusive and that our conversations are accessible to all. This inclusiveness requires that we are attentive to ensure that the developing nations are not excluded from those digital networks which are promoting development and educational opportunities; in the developed world, we must also be careful that the increased digitalization of Governmental services does not serve to deny access to the elderly, the poor and the marginalized. The Holy See wishes to reiterate the importance of dialogue (WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, 52). If the digital networks are to achieve their potential in promoting human solidarity then we must foster the art of dialogue.  If we are willing to listen to others, we will learn to see our world with different eyes and we will grow in appreciation of the richness of the human experience as revealed in other cultures and traditions.  Our engagement with others will alert us to those basic desires to love and be loved, for protection and security, for meaning and purpose that are shared by all humans.  Attentiveness to our human condition, and to the one world which we all share, alerts us to the truth that ultimately these desires can only be satisfied if we construct a society that is committed to a shared concern for the well-being of all rather than to an ethos of unbridled competition where the happiness of some can only be achieved at the expense of others.  Many of the greatest threats to our future from climate change to food insecurity, and from war and terrorism to criminality, can only be addressed by dialogue and agreed forms of action.  With a commitment to mutual understanding and dialogue, we will best realize the potential of the new technologies to promote a better future for all. Thank you, Mr. Secretary General (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope tells fiancés to prepare for marriage with deep awareness

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 06:41
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday spoke to couples who are engaged to be married and told them not to be superficial as they prepare to enter into a life-long covenant of love. In yet another catechesis dedicated to the family, the Pope chose to speak of the importance of engagement as  preparation for marriage. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:     Engagement – the Pope said – has to do with trust and reliability. He said it is beautiful that two people who are engaged to be married undertake a path together during which they learn from each other, sharing and participating in this profound commitment. It is love itself – he said – that demands deep reflection and an approach that is fully aware of what it means to enter into marriage. “The alliance of love between a man and a woman is an alliance for life. It cannot be improvised, it is not something you do from one day to the next” he said.       And reflecting on God’s alliance with his People the Pope compares it to an “engagement”, pointing out that in passages of the Bible the Church is identified as the bride betrothed to Christ. Speaking off the cuff to the many fiancés gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly audience, Pope Francis encouraged them to read the Italian literary classic: Alessandro Manzoni’s “The Betrothed”. He described it as a “masterpiece” on engagement as it tells of how the two fiancés who are the protagonists of the novel are called to trust in each other deeply as they overcome difficulties and obstacles in their contrasted journey towards marriage. Mentioning how today’s society and culture are increasingly indifferent to marriage and do not help young people in this delicate moment of their lives, Pope Francis encouraged engaged couples to follow courses of marriage preparation which he described as a precious aid as they help them reflect together on their love, their future and on the importance of faith and prayer in the life they are about to share. The Pope concluded asking for prayers for young people looking forward to marriage, that they may prepare for the wedding day not in a worldly or banal way, but with the wisdom, hope and joy born of their faith in Christ.                 (from Vatican Radio)...

Card Parolin: economic reform must focus on human dignity

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 05:38
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Vatican, has addressed the International Conference of the C entesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice Foundation, which is meeting this week at the Vatican.   The conference, on the theme Rethinking Key Features of Economic and Social Life , featured speakers from around the world, covering topics such as: Can Growth Continue without Compulsive Consumption? Merit and Dangers of the ‘Informal’ Economy An Urgent Message for Today’s World: Can Catholic Social Teaching be spread even without the Christian Faith? In his address on Tuesday evening, Cardinal Parolin said the theme of the Conference recalled the challenge of Pope Benedict XVI to “further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations” (from the Encyclical Caritas in veritate ). He emphasized that the “main point of reference must be the dignity of the human person and the promotion of the common good.” Cardinal Parolin noted that the Conference participants had also reflected on Pope Francis’ concerns about the current crisis, which “is not only economic and financial but is rooted in an ethical and anthropological crisis.” He continued “In these two days you have engaged in a disciplined reflection in response to these observations of Pope Francis.  You have considered issues linked to the world of labour, and also economic and financial problems which can lead such activity away from its calling to the service of integral human development.” The full text of Cardinal Parolin’s remarks can be found below: International Conference of the Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice Foundation “Rethinking Key Features of Economic and Social Life” Intervention of Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin Vatican City, 26 May 2015 Your Eminence, Dear Friends, We have now come to the end of this most stimulating International Conference of the Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice Foundation. This two-day meeting has confirmed once again how your Foundation – by remaining faithful to the responsibility entrusted to it by Saint John Paul II in 1993 – can render valuable service for a wider and better knowledge of the social doctrine of the Church.  It does so by promoting the application of this doctrine through robust dialogue among specialists, economists, university instructors and others who bring their life experience to the world of economics. The theme chosen by the Conference, Rethinking Key Features of Economic and Social Life , is thus particularly significant. It recalls the challenge of Pope Benedict XVI to “further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations” ( Caritas in Veritate , 32). It is important that the Foundation is taking up this challenge with dedication and competence, in the light of the Church’s social teaching.  Its main point of reference must be the dignity of the human person and the promotion of the common good.  We live in a time in which, unfortunately, the prevalent economic model reveals numerous shortcomings, dysfunctions and deviations which weigh heavily on the state of the planet’s health.  These affect the ethical and moral principles which guide many forms of behaviour within the human family. Nonetheless, it is important to realize that there are increasing demands from various sectors of society for a careful examination of how best to respond to these distortions.  The ethical principles underlying the Church’s social teaching can serve as a scheme of reference and a key to interpretation in this effort. In this context, the Foundation is awarding its second biennial Economy and Society Prize.  In doing so, it helps to draw attention to the quality of original projects which can aid in developing new areas of application of the principles of Catholic teaching, and increase its influence on concrete decisions. I give warm thanks to Cardinal Marx and to the entire jury, made up of specialists from ten countries, for their careful study and selection of the proposed texts. It is most significant that the prize is being awarded for a book which offers a Christian view on the world of finance.  This calls for an attentive, in-depth historical analysis, for already in the Middle Ages within the Catholic Church original thought and research was being developed on monetary and financial issues.  History is the teacher of life, as Cicero reminds us ( De Oratore , II, 9, 36).  In this field too, our rich history can undoubtedly orient an in-depth investigation into this matter of great contemporary import. We are all aware that such a reflection is today even more necessary in a globalized world where financial activity is carried out with considerably complex means and instruments, and at times risks losing sight of its original aims, which must always be anchored in the dignity of the human person, and the common good. The jury wished also to draw attention to two doctoral theses which show the increasing depth and number of studies on the social doctrine of the Church being pursued in different universities of the Catholic world. Dear friends, His Holiness Pope Francis has addressed you on several occasions, emphasizing that “the current crisis is not only economic and financial but is rooted in an ethical and anthropological crisis” ( Address to the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation , 25 May 2013).  In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium , he has stated that at the heart of this ethical and anthropological crisis is, and I quote, “the denial of the primacy of the human person. We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.  The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption” (No. 55).  Symptomatic of this is the culture of waste which the Holy Father has frequently denounced, a culture which conceals a rejection of ethics, and frequently a rejection of God as well. In these two days you have engaged in a disciplined reflection in response to these observations of Pope Francis.  You have considered issues linked to the world of labour, and also economic and financial problems which can lead such activity away from its calling to the service of integral human development. Retrieving this calling in economic life is one of the principal tasks for a Foundation such as yours, whose goals include “promoting informed knowledge of the social teachings of the Church and of the activity of the Holy See among qualified and socially motivated business and professional leaders” ( By-Laws of the Foundation , Art. 3(a), Section 1, 25 June 2004). Pope Benedict XVI frequently stated that “every economic decision has a moral consequence” ( Caritas in Veritate , 37).  Retrieving this calling necessitates returning to the fundamental meaning of such concepts as economy and development, finding adequate ways of applying them for the integral development of every person and the whole person, as Pope Paul VI encouraged in Populorum Progressio (No. 14), not only for the short term, but for the long term too. Once again, the key to this is the moral formation of individual persons needed at every level, which can lead them to rediscover the meaning of personal and collective work in the service of integral human development. I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you these reflections.  I offer you my best wishes for fruitfulness of the Foundation’s work, which I trust will be oriented ever more fully towards the planning and structuring of the economic and financial sphere within a healthy and robust ethical framework. (from Vatican Radio)...

Religions together for humanitarian action

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 08:42
(Vatican Radio) Experts, academics and religious leaders will gather in Geneva at the United Nations Headquarters on May 27 for a day-long debate. Entitled “Religions Together for Humanitarian Action” the Symposium organized by the Sovereign Order of Malta has been conceived within the framework of its participation in the World Humanitarian summit next year in Istanbul. During the Symposium policy-makers, religious leaders and academics aim to tackle sensitive issues related to the 2016 summit, which is an initiative of UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon. As the Order of Malta’s Gran Chancellor, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager explains to Vatican Radio, these issues include the contribution of faith-based organizations in war theatres and the role of religions in promoting reconciliation. Listen to the interview :      Baron von Boeslager says the idea of holding the Symposium arose following discussions regarding what could be the contribution of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. He explains that the Summit will focus mainly on four different themes, the fourth being “Serving the needs of people in conflict” and he says that the Order he belongs to is deeply committed to providing humanitarian aid in armed conflict, so this is the theme they have decided to concentrate on. He says it is also an occasion to “elaborate what the special vocation and possibilities of religious-based organizations is, or could be, to help during armed conflicts” he says. During the Geneva Symposium von Boeslager says participants will also start a discussion with representatives of other religions to find out what could be a common proposal to the World Humanitarian Summit. He says that recent and ongoing conflicts show that civilians continue to pay the highest price and those human rights are increasingly ignored.  “To start with one figure: until the First World War, 90% of all victims were soldiers and 10% were civilians, and now it is exactly the other way around” he says. He points out that not only are 90% of the victims civilians today, but they are mostly women, children and elderly people. “So the situation for the civilian population in areas of armed conflict has dramatically worsened” he says. Von Boeslager calls for action as world conventions that were drawn up after the 2 world wars conflicts to protect human rights in conflict situations are increasingly ignored. He comments on how the values of religion, which are key for reconciliation and peace, are too often manipulated for pursuit of power and profit through violence.         (from Vatican Radio)...

Bishops’ Conferences of Europe and SECAM to hold a seminar on family

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 08:08
CCEE and SECAM hold a Seminar on The Family in Europe and Africa The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) and The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) will hold a joint seminar on the theme: The joy of the Family .   The seminar is scheduled for Maputo in Mozambique from May 28- 31, 2015. This is according to a statement issued by SECAM Tuesday. Below is the full statement:   Following a process of growing pastoral collaboration, the two bodies have been organizing meetings for bishops from both continents to strength communion and collaboration and a reflection on major challenges facing the Church . In the light of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation and in continuity with the reflections which will be tackled in the course of the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015 on the Family, the bishops will deliberate on issues relating to the family on the two continents. The aim of the Seminar of European and African bishops will be to study the family in Africa and Europe as protagonist of evangelisation and at the same time in need of being evangelised.  Topics to be treated include the following: Anthropological, social and ecclesial challenges for the Family. The Joy and sufferings of the Family: Pastoral challenges. The Mission of the Bishop in proclaiming the Gospel of the Family. The role of the Church and the Bishop in dialogue with Society and States in family matters. The bishops at the end of the Seminar are expected to issue a Final message on their deliberations. The Seminar is being hosted by Bishop Lucio Muandula, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Mozambique. It will be presided over by Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Angola, Presidents of SECAM and a representative of Cardinal Peter Erdő of Hungary, President of the CCEE.  The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) comprises the 37 National Episcopal Conferences and the eight (8) Regional Episcopal Conferences. The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of  Europe (CCEE) encompasses the current 33 European Bishops’ Conferences, represented by their Presidents, the Archbishops of Luxembourg, of the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishop of Chişinău (Moldova Rep.), the Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo and the Apostolic Administrator of Estonia. The programme of the meeting and the list of participants are available on the website of CCEE (www.ccee.eu) and SECAM (www.secam.org) e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va (from Vatican Radio)...

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