Catholic News Headlines

Jun. 23 Saturday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, Weekday

According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the Vigil of St. John the Baptist. The Birth of St. John the Baptist is a solemnity, and so observance still begins with Evening Prayer I in the Liturgy of the Hours of the preceding day. The liturgical day is from midnight to midnight in the Church's observance, except for Sunday and solemnities which begin with the evening of the preceding day.

Pa. court indefinitely blocks release of clergy sex abuse report

CNA General News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 7:02 PM

Harrisburg, Pa., Jun 22, 2018 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The release of a Grand Jury report detailing cases of clerical sex abuse in six of the eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania has been blocked by the state’s Supreme Court for unspecified reasons.

The court released the unsigned order June 20, but did not state which individuals or groups had applied for the stay or the reason behind the application. It also does not state for how long the stay applies or when the report could be published in the future.

“And now, this 20th day of June, 2018, the Applications for Stay are granted. The Honorable Norman A. Krumenacker, III, and the Office of the Attorney General are enjoined from releasing Report No. 1 of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury pending further order of this Court,” the order, issued by the state’s Supreme Court, reads. Krumenacker is a Cambria County judge who has overseen the Grand Jury proceedings.

The stay indefinitely delays the release of a report that has been more than two years in the making, during which time victims of past abuse have recounted incidents of sexual abuse to the jury. Legal experts have told local news sources that the depth and breadth of this investigation is almost unprecedented among clerical sex abuse investigations that have taken place in the United States.

The two non-participating dioceses in the report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, have already undergone similar investigations.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has headed the investigation, said in a May 21 statement that he believed dioceses and bishops were behind the push to block or delay the publication of the report.

However, the participating dioceses - Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Harrisburg, and Scranton - and their bishops have all said that they did not apply for the stay, and that they support the publication of the report.

“We anxiously await the Supreme Court’s decision on this matter, and support the release of the report which will give victims a voice,” Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie said in a statement. “Until the report is released, we will continue our efforts to identify abusers and provide counseling and assistance to victims.”

“The contents of the report will be painful, but it is necessary for the report to be released in order for us to learn from it and to continue in our efforts to be responsive to victims and to create safe environments for our children,” the Diocese of Scranton said in its statement. “With regards to the stay, it's important that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court take all the steps it deems necessary.”

“The Diocese of Harrisburg has fully cooperated with the Office of the Attorney General. The Diocese and Bishop Gainer strongly support the release of the Grand Jury report and have not filed anything to cause the stay ordered (Wednesday),” spokesman Mike Barley said in a statement. “However, as we have stated before, it is critical that this report is accurate.”

Diocesan officials told CNA that they were unaware whether those who had applied for the stay had ties to the Church.

Ed Palattella, a reporter for the Erie Times, wrote that it is believed that those who filed for the stay petition were not diocesan officials, but others who were named in the report.

Because the majority of those named in the report would be priests, it is likely that a priest or group of priests named in the report filed for the stay.

According to an order from Krumenacker written earlier this month, anyone who is named in the Grand Jury report is given notice of their inclusion in the report and is allowed to file a rebuttal. However, once approved by a Grand Jury, written reports cannot be amended. All documents regarding the report remain sealed and so the identity of the party or parties who filed for the stay cannot be confirmed.

Victims said that the delay of the release of the report is causing further harm to those who have experienced clerical sex abuse.

State representative Mark Rozzi told The Inquirer that the stay order was a “travesty of justice and insult to all victims of childhood sex abuse.”

“It’s just like it’s been since Day One with me, kick us to the curb. Let the trash on the curb get old, maybe we’ll rot and die and go away. We’re not going away. I’m not going away, and I can promise that to all the victims across the commonwealth,” he said.

Last month, Krumenacker rejected an attempt by defense lawyers to stall the publication of the report. Defense lawyers said that the state’s interest in protecting their unidentified clients’ reputation and due process were enough to halt the publication of the report.

Krumenacker dismissed the request, arguing that “The commonwealth’s interest in protecting children from sexual predators and persons or institutions that enable them to continue their abuse is of the highest order.”

The request was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, which ordered the stay June 20.

During trial, former Vatican diplomat admits viewing child pornography

CNA General News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 6:01 PM

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At the start of his Vatican City trial Friday, Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a former diplomat for the Holy See, admitted to charges of the possession and distribution of child pornography while working in the U.S.

Capella, 51, a former Vatican diplomat, was recalled from the U.S. nunciature in Washington, D.C. last September after the U.S. State Department notified the Vatican of a “possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by a diplomat.

The first hearing in the civil trial was held the afternoon of June 22. Present alongside Capella were his psychologist, Tommaso Parisi; the Vatican's Promoter of Justice, Roberto Zannotti; and judges Giuseppe Della Torre, Venerando Marano, and Carlo Bonzano.

In his testimony, Capella outlined the history of his diplomatic service to the Holy See and admitted his guilt, saying his crimes were the result of a “personal crisis” stemming from his transfer to Washington D.C.

Originally from Capri, Capella was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Milan and in 1993 was asked by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini to enter the diplomatic service of the Holy See.

In 2004, after studying at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, he was sent to the apostolic nunciature in India, and three years later, in 2007, was transferred to the nunciature in Hong Kong.

Capella was then transferred back too the Vatican in 2011, and worked in the Secretariat of State's office for Relations with the States.

In his testimony, Capella said he was happy there and enjoyed his work, and that prior to his time in Washington D.C., he had never viewed pornography or expressed interest in that type of content. But when he received a call June 30, 2016, asking him to move to D.C., Capella said he was unhappy with the move, but did not say anything.

“Unfortunately out of respect to the hierarchy, out of the sense of duty, I did not create problems. Instead of making my discomfort known to them, I thanked them for the transfer,” he said during the trial.

After arriving to the U.S., Capella said he had no enthusiasm for his work. The first four months, he said, were “bland,” and he felt “empty” and “useless.”

Problems began to arise, Capella said, when he started looking for funny memes and pictures of animals online to relieve his boredom. Referring to the use of pornography, he said “this kind of morbidness was never part of my priestly life” before this time of desolation.

When questioned by the Vatican's prosecutor and lead judge about how this boredom led to the use of child pornography, Capella said he had started to use the micro-blogging site Tumblr July 23, 2016, to find the amusing images, which led to a slow slide into pornographic images.

This eventually turned into child porn, Capella said, explaining that he began using Tumblr's chat function to exchange images, and had “vulgar” conversations with other unmarried persons.

The U.S. State department flagged Capella's activity and informed the Vatican of a possible violation Aug. 21, 2017.

In September of that year, Canada issued a nationwide arrest warrant for the priest, who was then recalled to the Vatican. Police in Ontario said he had accessed, possessed, and distributed child pornography while visiting Windsor over the 2016 Christmas holiday.

Msgr. Capella has been held in a Vatican jail cell since April 9, 2018, and was indicted by the Holy See June 9.

In his own testimony during the hearing, Parisi said he met Capella after the priest had come back to the Vatican in October 2017, and that the priest had specifically asked for his services.

Capella had trouble sleeping when he first came back, Parisi said, explaining that he prescribed medication to help the priest sleep. The two have held counseling session twice a week since the priest came back to Rome.

According to Parisi, Capella is “aware of his role” in the crimes he committed, and has admitted his errors.

Gianluca Gauzzi, a computer engineer who works for the Vatican Gendarme, said that during the investigation he looked through three cell phones, two USB drives, and several hard drives.

In addition to the images he found on these, Gauzzi said he found additional images on a cloud storage which had been deleted from other devices, totaling in 40-55 images in all.

Gauzzi said he divided the images into two primary categories, one for images from Japanese comics, and the other for images of children aged 14-17. At least one video showed a child depicted in an explicit sex act with an adult.

The images, Gauzzi said, had been exchanged in chats.

Capella's trial will resume the morning of June 23.

'Not one more death' - Nicaraguan bishops appeal for peace

CNA General News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 6:00 PM

Masaya, Nicaragua, Jun 22, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Amid continued unrest in Nicaragua, Church leaders traveled to the city of Masaya Thursday to pray and appeal for peace.

Protests began April 18 after Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.

More than 200 in the country have been killed in the violence, according to estimates.

On June 19, government-linked paramilitary groups entered Masaya, clashing with protesters. Six people were killed and 35 wounded. Masaya is one of the cities in the west of the country which has shown resistance to the paramilitaries and pushed for Ortega to be removed from office.

With reports of government forces surrounding Masaya again on Thursday, Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes, Bishop Silvio José Báez and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Stanislaw Waldemar Sommertag traveled to the city in hopes of mediating the situation there and calling for an end to the violence.

Bishop Báez, who was born in Masaya, led a procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets filled with hundreds of people, some crying and on their knees. When they arrived at San Sebastián church in the Monimbó neighborhood, he spoke to the crowds, voicing solidarity and grief.

The bishop called Masaya a “martyred” city and compared it to “Jesus crucified,” according to the Managua archdiocese’s Facebook page. He said that like Jesus, the city will rise again.

Bishop Báez said that as they were walking through the city streets, he heard cries for justice but reminded the people that justice is not vengeance.

“Here at the church of San Sebastián I want to remind [everyone] of one of the commandments of God: ‘Thou shalt not kill’.”

The bishop then appealed to “those who came to the city to kill… not one more death in Masaya.”

Archbishop Sommertag echoed the call for peace.

“We cannot respond to violence with…more violence, because remember that any death here is an outrage to God, that is why you have to become aware, it's a call to everyone to be responsible for your actions small or great.”

In a follow-up to the day's events, the Archdiocese of Managua posted on Facebook that Cardinal Brenes spoke for an hour with the police commissioner, who “committed to stop the attacks.”

The cardinal and the nuncio asked for the release of all those who had been arrested, presenting a list of detainees, and the police commissioner agreed to release them.

 

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

Give space peace a chance, Holy See says

CNA General News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 4:37 PM

Vienna, Austria, Jun 22, 2018 / 02:37 pm (CNA).- After U.S. President Donald Trump called Monday for a new military branch referred to as the “space force,” the Holy See has encouraged a unified, peaceful approach to space exploration.

“The Holy See wishes to stress the importance of ensuring that outer space remains peaceful and that all outer space activities and efforts protect and promote this goal,” said Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, director of the Vatican Observatory.

“The potential for development through space technology is immense and that the best way to make use of this potential is through international cooperation,” he said, in a June 21 statement to United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

Brother Guy is also the president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation and led the Holy See’s Delegation at UNISPACE+50, a conference which took place at the Vienna International Centre in Austria from June 18-21.

UNOOSA described the purpose of the symposium as to “consider the future course of global space cooperation for the benefit of humankind.”

The conference occurred shortly after President Trump directed Pentagon officials to move toward establishing a “space force” in support of national security. He said the branch presence would create jobs and that the regulation of space traffic management should not fall to other countries.

"I'm hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” he announced at a June 18 meeting of the National Space Council.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

“There’s no place like space,” Trump added.

The sixth branch of military would have to be approved by U.S. Congress before it was established. President Trump also challenged rich Americans to pursue private, commercial space industry on U.S. soil.

Brother Consolmagno encouraged a different approach to space study and exploration. “The Holy See wishes to stress the importance of ensuring that outer space remains peaceful and that all outer space activities and efforts protect and promote this goal,” he said in remarks at the conference.

“It would be a most dangerous and alarming development, and one that could impact every single man and woman on Earth, if outer space were to become another theatre of armed conflict, just as the land, sea and air before it.”

“When the Earth is viewed from space, the atmosphere is the only border that matters, he said. “In seeing the Earth from space, we realize that our own borders are insignificant in comparison. The Earth’s atmosphere is a global environment that needs to be protected by a global vision of this limited, shared natural resource and must be utilized for the benefit of all humankind,” he added.

Consolmagno said the benefits of space exploration, and the data from space research, should be publicly available. Space travel, he continued, should be made more affordable, and viewed as a benefit to mankind and the planet.

“We need to reflect on how we can transform the space economy from one of very expensive space services and products available to a few, to one that harnesses the abundance of space-derived data and services for the good of all, creating opportunities to engage more actors and opening up new markets for space-derived data and services to meet the needs of the poor in a financially sustainable way.”

Murdered nuns' opposition to death penalty leads to life in prison for killer

CNA General News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 2:21 PM

Jackson, Miss., Jun 22, 2018 / 12:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A man convicted of the 2016 slayings of two religious sisters in Mississippi will not receive the death penalty and will instead spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Rodney Earl Sanders, 48, pled guilty on Thursday to murdering Sr. Margaret Held, SSSF, and Sr. Paula Merrill, SCN, as well as the theft of Held’s car. The two were found stabbed to death and sexually assaulted at their home in Durant, Mississippi, on August 25, 2016. They worked as nurse practitioners at a medical clinic near their home. Their bodies were discovered after they failed to arrive to work.

Sanders did not give a motive for his crimes. At the time of the murders, he was living in a shed across the street from the sisters’ home. He was arrested and charged the day after the crime. Police said he was a person of interest from the beginning of the investigation.

Held was a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis, which is based in Milwaukee, and Merrill was a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, from Kentucky.

While Sanders was indicted for the sexual assaults, those charges were not included in his guilty plea, according to the Associated Press. Sanders was eligible for the death penalty, but was sentenced to life in prison after the judge took into account the fact that Held and Merrill were opposed to the death penalty and would not want their killer executed.

In a statement at Sanders’ plea hearing, Sister Susan Gatz, president of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, said that the two sisters were “two of the most gentle persons you could ever know,” who based their lives on “peace, justice, and the love of God.”

Gatz said the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth were in favor of the plea agreement as it took away the possibility of the death penalty for Sanders.

“We have longed for justice with regard to our two beloved sisters,” she said. “And so, we support this plea agreement for life in prison without parole. It is justice that recognizes all life is valuable. It is justice that holds out hope, always, that love can break through the hardest barriers.”

Speaking directly to Sanders, Gatz said that her congregation would “never forget what you did to them,” and that many people had suffered as a result of his actions.

“But, because we believe in Christ and his gospel, we forgive you. We have learned over these couple of years that your life has had much turmoil and pain. We want you to know that we will pray that you can find peace.”

Held and Merrill were “examples of goodness, examples of Christ-like love,” said Gatz, “and nothing and no one can ever take that away.”

SPECIAL FEATURE: Pope Francis Speaks to ZENIT – An Inside Look Into Pope’s Landmark Trip to Geneva

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 1:47 PM

Pope Francis has made a landmark ecumenical day trip to Geneva on June 21, 2018 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches.

Zenit’s Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov covering trip on the papal flight

Zenit was on the papal flight, traveling with Pope Francis, and was present at various events, and getting voices on the ground. During the return trip to Rome, Zenit represented the English-speaking journalists aboard to ask the Pope a question, along with the French, German and Spanish representatives.

The journalists, many of whom had woken up by 3:30 in the morning made their way to Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport, to go through security, get a special sticker on their passport, and follow various other steps of protocol, including a necessary caffè at the bar, once they reached the gate. Given the brevity of the flight, they were able to hold on to their passports; for longer trips, they are taken in the beginning and returned at the end.

When it was time to board the journalists got on a bus, which brought them to the flight. Then there was the mad rush for getting good seats, given that basically only photographers and some others have assigned seats. Then orange juice, iced tea, and snacks with nutella were distributed. Then breakfast boxes. Many chowed down. Others may not have had much appetite as they knew their one on one moment with the Pope was moments away. After taking off, the Pope would said hello to journalists, thanked them for their work, and expressed his sincere hope that this June 21 visit be one of unity. Then he would personally greeted each journalist.

The theme of the visit is an “Ecumenical Pilgrimage – Walking, Praying and Working Together” and the meeting began with a prayer service at the Ecumenical Center chapel.

He then visited the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, which is connected to the World Council of Churches and is involved with theological formation. There, 30 men and women of different countries study and share everyday life. After followed an ‘ecumenical lunch,’ which, during the papal flight press conference, the Pope told journalists that they spoke about human rights and against ‘proselytism.’

At this lunch, we can inform our readers was the following menu (though we were not present): vegetable tartare served with salad; Grilled fish & rice and sautéed vegetables. For dessert, there was lemon tart, fruit and maracuja. Bishop Swensen had blessed the meal and the lunch was in English, but the Pope’s translator was present. 

Unimaginable Beauty of Knowing Jesus

During the ecumenical meeting yesterday at the WCC headquarters, the Pope reminded: “We are called to be a people that experiences and shares the joy of the Gospel, praises the Lord and serves our brothers and sisters with hearts burning with a desire to open up horizons of goodness and beauty unimaginable to those who have not been blessed truly to know Jesus.”

“What is really needed is a new evangelical outreach,” Francis stressed. Reflecting on the day’s motto of walking, praying and working together, the Holy Father also gave some advice: “Let us ask ourselves: How much do we pray for one another? The Lord prayed that we would be one: do we imitate him in this regard?”

Cardinal on Pope’s Desire for Ecumenism

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told ZENIT:

“According to Pope Francis, to be open to other churches means first of all brotherhood and closeness. After his election as Pope, I remember, I met him and asked what he would desire for the ecumenism.”

“He replied with only one word, ‘brotherhood.’”

Friendly and fraternal relationship between different churches, the Swiss Cardinal explained, is the foundation for ecumenism. Once this is established, he added, the practical ecumenism can follow, in which churches can work together on cultural, political and social issues.   

Meeting for Dinner Once a Year Isn’t Authentic Ecumenism

Nigerian priest, Father Lawrence Iwuamadi, is the dean of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey. Before Father Lawrence, the institute had never had a Catholic dean.

“The fact that I am the first Catholic dean of the Institute,” he shared, “I think has to do with the

Spirit that Francis brought, a spirit that is difficult to explain with just one word: it is a spirit of trust, thanks to which I live and I work here, among 90% of non-Catholics, I have seen over the years how the attitude towards the Catholic Church has changed: now they appreciate what the Catholic Church does and says.”

The Catholic priest noted that even if the Christians all get along pretty well, but they do not interact much, other than ‘maybe a dinner once a year’ that doesn’t constitute much ecumenism.

“What is the main novelty that Francis brought?” he said, “As I always say, Pope Francis has a way of speaking that reaches everyone’s heart, whether they are Protestant, Orthodox or Pentecostal, so as to make them say: ‘”With this Pope, I could also associate myself with what he says.'”

“For example, when the encyclical Laudato si‘ on protecting Creation was published, the World Council of Churches held several conferences on the encyclical of a Catholic Pope. In addition to this, Pope Francis is cited very frequently in the WCC documents.”

“We must take more seriously what the Pope says, have the courage to go out and meet, is what I also understood as a professor of this institution, with 30-35 people from 25 countries and 20 Christian churches represented.”

“When people sit in front of each other, they walk together, they can understand who the other really is, then ecumenism becomes easier. First, however, there are prejudices, that is so, that other is so, but when we live together they no longer exist.”

We Will Not Stop Here

In the afternoon, Pope Francis again visited the Ecumenical Center, where the WCC does much of its work. The Catholic Church and the WCC work together for joint peace initiatives in many areas and concretely work together in projects to help the poor, counter injustices, help migrants, and so on.

The Pope cited the active Catholic presence in the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism; collaboration with the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, most recently on the important theme of education for peace; and the joint preparation of texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

General secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “This day is a landmark. We will not stop here. We will continue, we can do much more together for those who need us.”

During the Holy Father’s Mass to some 40,000 faithful of all races and ages, who were so eager to see him that they were standing on their benches to catch a glance, the Pope reflected on the words ‘Father,’ ‘Bread’ and ‘Forgiveness.’

Speaking on prayer, he said: “Every time we make the sign of the cross at the start of the day or before any other important activity, every time we say “Our Father”, we reclaim our roots. We need those roots in our often rootless societies.”

“Let us never tire of saying “Our Father”. It will remind us that just as there are no sons or daughters without a Father, so none of us is ever alone in this world.”

Turning to bread, he stressed: “Our “daily bread”, we must not forget, is Jesus himself. Without him, we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5). He is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes, however, we treat Jesus as a side dish.”

“God frees our hearts of all sin, he forgives every last thing. Yet he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving,” he said, speaking on forgiveness, adding: “We should take a good x-ray of our heart, to find out if there are blockages within us, obstacles to forgiveness, stones needing to be removed. Then we can say to the Father: “You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it.’”

“Forgiveness renews, it works miracles,” he said.

The Pope trip shortly thereafter came to an end, and before we knew it, we were back on the flight. And it was time for the flight, where the Holy Father noted his satisfaction for the ecumenical fruits of the visit and answered four questions to journalists for different speaking language groups.

In 2017, Roman Catholic and Protestant Lutherans jointly commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Pope Francis’ Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016, visit to the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund. Zenit’s Deborah Castellano Lubov had covered the Pope’s trip to Sweden.

On the flight to Geneva, Deborah Castellano Lubov also had a moment to greet the Holy Father where she gave him a personal momento tied to a family in Buenos Aires very close to the Holy Father’s heart, which upon seeing, he stopped a moment, closed his eyes and blessed, and her recent book ‘The Other Francis’ (L’Altro Francesco) currently in Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian, and in English in 2018 and possibly in German.

Then, during the return flight, Deborah Castellano Lubov asked the Pope the following question. Here is the Vatican-provided translation of the question and answer in Italian:

***

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Your Holiness, in your address today at the ecumenical meeting, you referred to the enormous power of the Gospel. We know that some of the Churches of the World Council of Churches are so-called “Churches of peace”, who believe that a Christian cannot use violence. Let us recall that two years ago, in the Vatican, there was a conference organized to reconsider the doctrine of the “righteous war”. So, Your Holiness, my question is, do you think it would be right for the Catholic Church to join with these so-called “Churches of peace” and to set aside the theory of the “righteous war”? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

A clarification: why do you say that they are “Churches of peace”?

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

They are considered “Churches of peace” because they have this concept, that a person who uses violence can no longer be considered Christian.

Pope Francis:

Thank you, I understand. You have put your finger in the wound … Today, at lunch, a Pastor said that perhaps the first human right is the right to hope, and I liked this, and it relates a little to this theme. We talked about the human rights crisis today. I think I have to start with this to arrive at your question. The human rights crisis appears clear. We speak a little of human rights, but many groups or some countries keep their distance. Yes, we have human rights but … there is not the strength, the enthusiasm, the conviction of, I do not say 70 years ago, but 20 years ago. And this is serious because we must see the causes. What are the causes for which we have arrived at this? That today human rights are relative. The right to peace is also relative. It is a human rights crisis. This I think we have to think about it thoroughly.

Then, the so-called “Churches of Peace”. I believe that all the Churches that have this spirit of peace must come together and work together, as we said in the speeches today, both I and the other people who spoke, and at lunch, it was discussed. Unity for peace. Today peace is a need because there is a risk of war … Someone said: this third world war, if it takes place, we know what weapons will be used, but if there were to be a fourth, it would be with sticks because humanity will be destroyed. The commitment to peace is a serious matter. When you think about the money that is spent on armaments! For this reason, they are “Churches of Peace”: but it is God’s mandate! Peace, brotherhood, united humanity … And all conflicts, we must not resolve them like Cain, but resolve them through negotiation, dialogue, and mediation. For example, we are in crisis of mediations! Mediation, which is a very precious legal tool, is in crisis today. Crisis of hope, crisis of human rights, crisis of mediations, crisis of peace. But then, if you say that there are “Churches of Peace”, I ask myself: are there “Churches of War”? It is difficult to understand this, it is difficult, but there are certainly some groups, and I would say in almost all religions, small groups, I will say simplifying somewhat, “fundamentalist”, who seek wars. We Catholics also have some, who always seek destruction. And it is very important to keep this in view. I do not know if I answered …

They tell me that people are asking for their dinner, that it is the right time to arrive with a full stomach …

I would like to say only one word clearly: that today was an ecumenical day, truly ecumenical. And at lunch, we said something very nice, that I will leave to you to think about and reflect upon, and to consider well: in the ecumenical movement we must remove a word from the dictionary: proselytism. Is that clear? There can be no ecumenism with proselytism, we need to choose: either you are of an ecumenical spirit, or you are a “proselyte”.

***

ZENIT:

On-flight Press Conference (Full Text): https://zenit.org/articles/holy-fathers-in-flight-press-conference-on-return-from-geneva-full-text/

Pope’s Address to WCC Ecumenical Meeting (Full Text): https://zenit.org/articles/geneva-holy-fathers-address-to-wcc-ecumenical-meeting-full-text/

Pope’s Homily at Mass in Geneva: https://zenit.org/articles/the-popes-homily-at-mass-in-geneva-full-text/

The post SPECIAL FEATURE: Pope Francis Speaks to ZENIT – An Inside Look Into Pope’s Landmark Trip to Geneva appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Can US Catholics attempt racial truth and reconciliation?

Natl Catholic Reporter - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:53 PM
NCR Today: We Catholics, white Catholics specifically, need the will to open our eyes and examine our own racist behavior. Safe spaces in parishes could help in admitting bias.

Riot police withdraw as bishops, priests visit besieged Nicaraguan city

Natl Catholic Reporter - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:53 PM
Clergy from the Archdiocese of Managua, Nicaragua, had planned to pray for peace June 21. Instead, bishops from the archdiocese, Archbishop Waldemar Sommertag, apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua, and about 30 priests from the capital traveled to pray in the besieged city of Masaya. 

Des Moines diocese defends legality of school grants

CNA General News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:49 PM

Des Moines, Iowa, Jun 22, 2018 / 10:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After reviewing $844,000 worth of grants that were given by Polk County, Iowa to local Catholic schools a few years back, the Diocese of Des Moines said that it believes the grants complied with state law.

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines has concluded that there is nothing improper associated with the technology grant,” the diocese said in a June 21 statement.

It added that after reviewing the relevant facts and law involving the Polk County grant, “We agree completely with Polk County that the Community Development Grant was entirely legal and proper.”

Iowa state law says that government officials “shall not appropriate, give, or loan public funds to, or in favor of, an institution, school, association or object which is under ecclesiastical or sectarian management or control.”

In 2011, after the Polk County Board of Supervisors learned that it could not give grant money directly to church-affiliated schools, Catholic school supporters formed a separate corporation through which to route the grant money.

Called Education for the 21st Century, the corporation is now defunct. During its two years in operation, 100 percent of its reported revenue came from Polk County grants, according to the Des Moines Register.

The grant money was taken from gambling revenue accrued by the Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel.

The Polk County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in 2012 to give $400,000 to the corporation. The year after, the board approved $444,000 to the corporation.

With the money, new technology equipment was bought for St. Anthony, St. Joseph, St. Augustin, St. Pius X, St. Theresa, Christ the King, Holy Trinity, Holy Family, and Sacred Heart schools. The money was used to purchase iPads, cameras, computers, projectors, and whiteboards.

“If Iowa taxpayer money was, in fact, intentionally funneled to religious schools, that is unacceptable and a misuse of the taxpayers' public dollars,” said Mark Stringer, executive director of ACLU Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register.

However, county supervisors have defended financial assistance to Catholic schools. They say that going forward, such assistance can be given directly to the schools, thanks to a 2017 Supreme Court ruling which held that states cannot discriminate against religious schools by making them ineligible for non-religious amenity funding programs.

The Diocese of Des Moines stressed that the Catholic Church “did not manage or control the foundation that received the grant,” and that grant money was not used for religious purposes, but “for purchasing learning technology that was provided to Christian and parochial schools.”

The diocese noted that Catholic schools already receive state funding for transportation and textbooks, “in recognition of the fact that families choosing a religious education are taxpayers.”

“Providing this form of support that does not directly advance religion is entirely consistent with the law,” the diocese said. “In fact, as the US Supreme Court has recognized, a law or policy that expressly discriminates against an otherwise eligible recipient and disqualifies them from a public benefit because of their religious character, is a clear violation of the United States Constitution.”

The former legal advisor for Polk County’s School Board, Michael O’Meara, told the Des Moines Register that he had told the board that they could only support Catholic schools if they did so via an entity that was not under ecclesiastical control.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman said she will not review the case. Her chief of staff and legal counsel noted that the county attorney appeared to have been consulted and approved the grants.
 
 
 

 

As illegal immigration woes rise, U.S. lawmakers can't agree on solutions

Catholic Register Canada - News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:48 PM
WASHINGTON – Bipartisan disagreement on how to fix the country's immigration system led to failure once again as lawmakers on Capitol Hill turned down one immigration bill June 21 and postponed a vote on a second proposal, which also has a slim opportunity of passing, until June 22.

Each side blamed the other for the failure to advance the first piece of legislation, which did not clear the initial hurdle of passing in the House of Representatives.

The remaining proposal, seen as a "compromise" bill, seeks to find a way to help youth brought to the country illegally as minors and a $25 million advance for a wall along the border with Mexico, a major campaign and yet-unfulfilled promise made by President Donald Trump. Though Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, he is now asking Congress for U.S. taxpayer money for the structure.

"It's not a compromise. It may be a compromise with the devil, but it's not a compromise with the Democrats," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, of the remaining bill.

Though House Democrats voiced opposition to both bills, some Republicans, too, disagreed within their ranks.

Republican Congressman Will Hurd, of Texas, said in a statement released by his office June 21 that he opposed money for the border wall, saying it was "an expensive and ineffective fourth-century border security tool that takes private property away from hundreds of Texans." He also expressed concern about taking away something from one immigration program in exchange for helping another.

The remaining proposal seeks to do away with family-based migration, which allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for a visa, but at the expense of providing a legal path for the youth brought into the country as minors, popularly known as "Dreamers."

As lawmakers retreated to salvage what they could and to haggle with others before the June 22 vote, a short distance away, Catholic groups joined other faith organizations in speaking out on Capitol Hill during a June 21 demonstration against the detention of children at the border who have been separated from their parents.

Religious leaders – including priests and women and men religious, the Franciscan Action Network, members of the Sisters of Mercy, the Columbans and others – surrounded a group of children wrapped in aluminum insulation blankets in a building at the Capitol and called for prayer and fasting to bring an end to the misery of separated families on the border. The insulation blanket was like those handed out to children in detention centers at the border.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network also issued a press release voicing support for a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposing both measures and asked Catholics to contact their representatives in Congress. In the June 18 letter to House members, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, expressed concern with the compromise measure's cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the "harmful" changes to the asylum system and its lack of protections for unaccompanied children .

"Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it," he said.

US: New Edition of Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:40 PM

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is publishing the sixth edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a revision that implements modifications regarding collaborating with non-Catholic partners.

The health care system in the United States is marked by both extraordinary challenges and immense possibilities for good, according to the release issued by the USCCB.

In these revised directives, approved by majority vote during the USCCB Spring General Assembly 2018, the bishops reaffirm the Church’s commitment to Catholic health care ministry, in faithful imitation of Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician. The Directives aim to reaffirm ethical standards of behavior and provide authoritative guidance on moral issues that face healthcare today.

This new edition offers a helpful update of Part Six, “Collaborative Arrangements with Other Health Care Organizations and Providers.” This section offers background and guidelines for collaborative arrangements between Catholic and non-Catholic health care institutions.

The Directives are especially relevant to institutionally based Catholic health care services, and they are directly addressed to “sponsors, trustees, administrators, chaplains, physicians, healthcare personnel, and patients or residents” of Catholic health care institutions. The Directives are also useful as a teaching tool to give sound guidance to students and faculty at Catholic medical schools, Catholic medical associations, Catholic hospitals and medical facilities, and to all pastors, administrators, doctors, nurses, and staff involved in the health care ministry and related pastoral care.

CONTENTS:

″           Preamble

″           General Introduction

″           Part One: The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services

″           Part Two: The Pastoral and Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Health Care

″           Part Three: The Professional-Patient Relationship

″           Part Four: Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life

″           Part Five: Issues in Care for the Seriously Ill and Dying

″           Part Six: Collaborative Arrangements with Other Health Care Organizations and Providers

″           Conclusion

The USCCB has made the book available for order online 

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Pope Francis: Jerusalem must be protected from political disputes

CNA General News - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:23 PM

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2018 / 10:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis stressed Friday the important role the Eastern Catholic Churches play in spreading the Gospel given that many of them are concentrated in the Holy Land, and said Jerusalem in particular should be protected from tensions and political disputes.

“The Oriental Catholic Churches, as living witnesses to their apostolic origins, are called in a special way to protect and pass on a spark of Pentecostal fire,” the pope said according to prepared remarks June 22. “They are called daily to discover anew their own prophetic presence in all those places where they dwell as pilgrims.”

This, he said, begins with Jerusalem, “whose identity and particular vocation needs to be safeguarded beyond different tensions and political disputes.”

Pope Francis spoke at the Vatican's Consistory Hall to members of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches, who are in Rome for their 91st plenary assembly, which this year coincides with the 50th anniversary of their founding.

The organization unites funding agencies from countries worldwide in order to provide services such as houses of worship and study, scholarships, and social and health care facilities to struggling areas.

Christians, though small in number in the area, are primarily called to this task, and must draw strength from the Holy Spirit “for their mission of witness,” he said, adding that in today's context, this mission “is more urgent than ever before.”

Francis then prayed that holy places such as Jerusalem, “where God’s plan was fulfilled in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” would be the birth place of “a renewed spirit of strength to inspire Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East to embrace their special vocation and to offer an account of their faith and their hope.”

He voiced hope that the Eastern Catholic Churches would not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel in settings “that are often even more secularized than in the West, where they come as immigrants or refugees.”

The pope also prayed that they would be welcomed on both a practical and ecclesial level, “as they seek to preserve and enrich the patrimony of their various traditions.”

Thanks to organizations such as ROACO, members of the Eastern Churches, he said, “can bear witness to us, whose hearts are often dulled, that it is still worth living and suffering for the Gospel, even as a minority, or the object of persecution, for the Gospel is the joy and the life of men and women of every age.”

The pope said the organization's landmark anniversary is a testament to the help they have given to Christians throughout the Middle East through the various initiatives they lead.

These projects, he said, allow Eastern Catholic Churches to thrive not only in their native lands, but also in the increasing diaspora, enabling them to continue bearing witness to the Gospel despite being “severely tested” by persecution.

This persecution, he said, has arisen “first by the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and then, more recently, by forms of allegedly religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, to say nothing of apparently interminable conflicts, especially in the Middle East.”

Solidarity shown by organizations such as ROACO, he said, have helped to ensure the continued existence of the Eastern Churches at risk of extinction, and have allowed these churches to continue spreading the Gospel.

Pope Francis said the work of ROACO has also helped him to continue his mission of “pursuing possible paths to the visible unity of all Christians,” and stressed that Christians who are members of Eastern Churches, though distant, “are no less loved, and certainly not forgotten.”

“With your help,” he said in closing, “they are always listened to and helped to continue their journey as the Church of the Risen Christ, amid every challenge, and every spiritual and material suffering, in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.”

Francis' comments on Jerusalem come after the United States on May 14 opened an embassy in the city, making the U.S. the only country to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since the state was established in 1948.

Israel has claimed Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community, and all countries but the US have embassies in Tel Aviv. Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, then, was met with fierce backlash not only from international interlocutors, but also by the Vatican.

After Trump announced the change last December, Pope Francis expressed his “deep concern” and issued an appeal to the international community to ensure that “everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.”

Pope Francis also urged the necessity of maintaining the status quo in his meeting with Theophilos III, patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, in October 2017, in which the two discussed the patriarch’s concern for the Christian community amid aggression by Jewish settlers.

“Any kind of violence, discrimination or displays of intolerance against Jewish, Christian and Muslim worshipers, or places of worship, must be firmly rejected,” the pope said, adding that “the Holy City, whose status quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all.”

South Sudan: Bring Peace so Refugees can Return Home

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:12 PM

The “greatest gift” that could come from the long-awaited meetings between the President of South Sudan and the country’s rebel leader would be a lasting peace so huge numbers of refugees can, at last, go home – so says a bishop who cares for migrants.

Amid reports that four million people have been displaced by the conflict in South Sudan, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur of Khartoum spelled out the privations of refugees desperate for food, shelter, and medicine.

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Adwok described providing pastoral care in the Kosti region of neighboring Sudan, where up to 200,000 people are living spread out across nine refugee camps.

He said that the refugees in Sudan and other neighboring countries were closely following events this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where South Sudan President Salva Kiir is meeting rebel leader Riek Machar in a bid to bring lasting peace to the fledgling African nation.

When relations between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Riek broke down in late 2013, violence erupted in South Sudan, claiming at least 50,000 lives, with four million displaced and famine, declared in several regions.

The talks this week in Addis were the first time the men had met in two years and afterward, a South Sudan government representative indicated that little progress had been made but another meeting is due early next week in Khartoum, Sudan.

Speaking just as the peace talks got underway, Bishop Adwok said: “The people in the refugee camps need to go back and rebuild their broken homes.

“They look at the meeting taking place in Addis and they say that the greatest gift that could come from all this would be the gift of peace.

“This peace would allow them to go back to their homes and live in a dignified way, not as they do in the camps where there are so many difficulties.”

The bishop said the refugees he helps support in the White Nile region of Kosti, south of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, black plastic sheeting for shelter and food supplies are rationed resulting in malnutrition for many people.

He said: “The food they have in these camps is not enough. Some of them get only one meal a day.”

The bishop added that some refugees were able to support themselves after being given permission from the Sudanese government to work in the fields.

He said humanitarian support for the camps in his area was coming from the Government of Sudan, which was continuing to stop international aid agencies accessing the refugees in the country.

The bishop stressed the plight of up to 16,000 people who have come to the camps within the last few years and who he said: “are not properly settled and especially need help”.

Bishop Adwok thanked Aid to the Church in Need for helping the three Sisters and two priests who regularly carry out pastoral work in the camps where there are numerous Christians of many denominations.

The charity also provides Christian education programmes, training in ethics and some emergency help for those most in need, including food items.

 

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Catholics criticize House farm bill that includes benefit cuts, work requirements

Natl Catholic Reporter - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:00 PM
In a second effort, the House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly passed its version of a farm bill, a blow for Catholic organizations opposing it in part due to stricter work requirements it attaches to federal food assistance.

Archbishop Follo: The Birth that Prepares the Birth

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:51 AM

Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

XII Sunday Ordinary Time – Year B – June 24, 2018
Roman Rite
Is 49.1-6; Ps 139; Acts 13.22-26; Lk 1,57-66.80

Ambrosian Rite
V Sunday after Pentecost
Jan. 17b-16; Ps 105; Rm 4,3-12; Jn 12.35-50
V Sunday after Pentecost

1) The birth of John: the precursor, the prophet, the martyr, the baptizer.

Today, June 24, just a few days away from the summer solstice, the Church solemnly celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist. Within six months, a few days before the winter solstice, the Liturgy will make us celebrate the birth of the Savior with even more solemnity. On December 25 the hours of daylight begin to lengthen, on June 24 they begin to shorten.

Referring to Jesus, John says: “He must increase and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). The logic is that when the sun shines the lamps are turned off because they are no longer necessary to see people and things. In any case, St. John, even if he is not the light, is “the lamp that burns and shines” (Jn 5:35) to witness the light.

Even in the astronomical data there is an evident parallelism between the Christmas of Christ and the feast of the birth of Saint John, the precursor, whose father Zacharias at his birth, proclaims: “And you, who are now little, you will be called the prophet of the Most High, you will walk before the Lord “(Lk 1:76). In this way, came to the world “the one who is the greatest among those born of women … more than a prophet” (Lk 7,26.28).

Therefore, St. John is not only the precursor, he is also a special prophet. The prophets before him spoke of Christ, announcing his coming, John indicated him, present among us, saying “Behold the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world”. He is the last (in order of time) of the prophets but the greatest and closest to the Savior. He was also the first witness of Christ that gave his life for him, so he can and must be called a martyr.

This prophet and martyr was given the name “John”, which indicates his task: “God gives mercy”. In fact, in Hebrew, John means “God is merciful”. Already in the name, it is expressed the fact that one day this newborn will announce God’s plan of salvation.

The noun Baptist is almost always linked to this name of “John”, because this Saint, who has shown to the world the incarnated mercy, has preached and given “the baptism of conversion” in the Jordan where he baptized Christ himself. In doing so, he allowed the Redeemer to unveil two aspects of His mystery: humility and charity the humble God of mercy and the Son, the Beloved, the anointed by the Lord.

2) God of mercy.

As I mentioned above, the Gospel passage also speaks of the name given to the newborn: John. It is also important what we read in the first reading and in the responsorial psalm of today’s feast.

The first reading, taken from the book of Isaiah, says: “The Lord has called me from the womb, from the mother’s womb he has pronounced my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, he hid me in the shadow of his hand, he made me a sharp arrow, he put me in his quiver. ” The responsorial psalm returns to the concept that God knows us from our mother’s womb: “You created my entrails and you have woven me in the womb of my mother … Your eyes saw me unformed ” (Ps 139).

Commonly, we have a very reductive and legal idea of a person that generates a lot of confusion in the debate on abortion. It seems that a child acquires the dignity of a person from the moment he is recognized as so by the human authorities. For the Bible, a person is the one who is known by God, the one whom God calls by name; and God knows us from the womb, his eyes saw us when we were “still unformed” in our mother’s womb. Science tells us that in the embryo there is, in becoming, the future man designed in every particular detail; faith adds that it is not just an unconscious project of nature, but a project of love by the Creator.

The figure of John is really a special figure and the name he receives indicates an action of the God of mercy, the “bending over” of God, and the radiating of God over his people.

He is the man whom the Provident Mercy has chosen to prepare the entrance in history of the Eternal One.

If it should also be remembered that John is not only the baptizer, the martyr, the prophet and the precursor of Jesus only with regard to birth, mission, and death. He is also the friend of the groom who, after having introduced the bride to the groom and organized the wedding party, disappears from the scene of this world. It should not be forgotten that John the Baptist says of himself: “I am the voice of one crying in the desert: Make the way of the Lord straight, as the prophet Isaiah said” (Jn 1: 23).

If I had to give a definition of John the Baptist, I would have to do nothing but repeat what I have just written. If I should give a broader sense to the question: “Who is the Baptist?”, I would write that the baptizer is each of us. Having become children of God through Baptism, unwanted by us but wanted by the Above, we are called to keep the words of our parents, pledging ourselves to truly live as children of God, resurrected, and  obedient to the will of the Father that will not ask us for things superior to our strength, but who is on our right to defend us.

We are like the Baptist when we obey the will of God, when we meet one another, when we make ourselves little so that Christ may grow great in the heart of everyone we meet.

The life of every human being is the fulfillment of a design of God. As the Baptist was pre-announced, every birth is a pre-announcement. God has a design about us like he says: “I have drawn you on the palm of my hand” (Is 49, 16).

From the womb of my mother, you said my name, even before I was born you knew me (Id) and Psalm 139 says: “You have woven me in my mother’s womb, that is, you are more mother than my mother. In your eyes, I am a prodigy because God sees me with a mother’s eye”.

To understand that our birth is the fulfillment of a plan of love means a very precise thing. It means that our life comes from love that is its source and its source is also what it contains. If our source is poison, death, nothingness or hate, our life will be either one or the other. If, on the other hand, at its beginning there is the design of love that has thought of me, has cured me, has woven me: “All my days were counted even before there was one; they are written in your book and not only the days but also all my tears pour, Lord, into your wineskin “.

Nothing is lost of the human being; everything is seen, foreseen, loved and welcomed or forgiven by God.

Seeing birth means seeing the person in a different way. Every birth is an aspect of this tenderness of God that expands over all of creation and it is a source of joy. This joy is there not only when there is a natural birth, but also, and above all, when there is a spiritual birth. The consecrated Virgins are special witnesses of this spiritual fruitfulness.

Pope Francis teaches: “Even today, the Church receives a great benefit from the exercise of the spiritual motherhood of many consecrated women … who nourish the thought for God in souls, strengthen the faith of the people and orient the Christian life towards ever higher peaks”.

And St. John Paul II wrote: ” Virginity according to the Gospel means renouncing marriage and thus physical motherhood. Nevertheless, the renunciation of this kind of motherhood, a renunciation that can involve great sacrifice for a woman, makes possible a different kind of motherhood: motherhood “according to the Spirit” (cf. Rom 8:4). For virginity does not deprive a woman of her prerogatives. Spiritual motherhood takes on many different forms. In the life of consecrated women, for example, who live according to the charism and the rules of the various apostolic Institutes, it can express itself as concern for people, especially the most needy: the sick, the handicapped, the abandoned, orphans, the elderly, children, young people, the imprisoned and, in general, people on the edges of society. In this way, a consecrated woman finds her Spouse, different and the same in each and every person, according to his very words: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Spousal love always involves a special readiness to be poured out for the sake of those who come within one’s range of activity. In marriage this readiness, even though open to all, consists mainly in the love that parents give to their children. In virginity, this readiness is open to all people, who are embraced by the love of Christ the Spouse. “(Mulieris dignitatis, 21).

Finally, the consecrated Virgins bear witness to the fact that virginity, as a woman’s vocation, is always the vocation of a person, of a concrete and unrepeatable person. Therefore, spiritual motherhood is also profoundly personal, a maternity of grace that makes itself felt in their vocation. With their yes (fiat) docile, generous and faithful to Christ, these women “allow” God to keep his promise of fruitful and sanctifying love.

 

Patristic reading

Saint Augustin of Hippo (354 -430)


THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

  1. At that time: The time was fulfilled for Elizabeth to give birth, and she brought forth a son(Lc 1,57). In this Gospel two things are noted: the birth of the Forerunner, and his naming.

(THE BIRTH OF THE FORERUNNER)

  1. The birth of the Forerunner: The time was fulfilled for Elizabeth. Mary remained three months in the house of Zacharias, ministering to her kinswoman until she should give birth; and “It is read in the book of the Just that the Blessed Virgin was the first to pick up the new-born John.”1 The time was fulfilled: the word ‘fulfil’ is frequently used in Holy Scripture in connection with the birth, death or activity of good men, signifying that their life has the fullness of perfection. Thus:It came to pass that Mary’s days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. (Lc 2,6Abraham died, being full of days. (Gn 25,8)

    On the contrary, the days of the wicked are empty and vacant. So, The time was fulfilled for Elizabeth to give birth. Zacharias, as Luke tells, went into the Lord’s temple to offer incense, when Gabriel appeared to him and said, ‘Elizabeth your wife will bear you a son’ (cf. Lc 1 . What was told him in the month of September, when the solemn feast was celebrated which is called the ‘Day of Expiation, or Propitiation’, was fulfilled today. Let us see the moral significance of Zacharias (‘remembrance of the Lord’ or ‘remembering the Lord’) and Elizabeth (‘the seventh of my God’).

    3. Elizabeth is the faithful soul, who is well-named ‘seventh of my God’ on account of three ‘sevens’ which belong to her especially: of gifts, petitions, and blessings. The first ‘seven’ justifies the second moves on from good to better, the third perfects. Alternatively, ‘seven’ refers to the Sabbath (or ‘rest’), in which God rested (cf. Ex 31,15 Ex 31,17); since she rested from all servile work. “The soul of the just is the seat of wisdom.”2 His place is in peace (cf. Ps 75,3), that is, in the peaceful soul. Of this sabbath Isaiah 58 says:

    Thou shalt call the sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious. (Is 58,13)

    ‘Delightful’ suggests pleasurable experience; the ‘delights’ are those three ‘sevens’ mentioned above, with which the soul is fed, so as to make a delightful Sabbath, fed with holiness of life and glory of conscience.

    This Elizabeth conceives by Zacharias; so that the Psalm says:

    I remembered God, and was delighted,

    and was exercised, and my spirit swooned away. (Ps 76,4)

    A woman conceives with pleasure, and the soul conceives in great delight, from the remembrance of the Lord. So the Psalm says:

    I have been delighted in the way of thy testimonies, as in all riches, (Ps 118,14)

    that is, ‘in the way of your martyrdoms’, your sufferings. The crown of thorns, the Cross, the nails, the lance and the other instruments of Christ’s Passion, are the delight of the just man, in which he takes more pleasure than in all the riches of this world, saying, I remembered God, and was delighted. Two things come from this delight, the exercise of works of charity, and a failure of self-confidence in spirit; or else the two things the Psalm mentions:

    My flesh (my carnality) and my heart (the pride of my heart) hath fainted away: thou art the God of my heart, and God is my portion for ever., (Ps 72,26) from whom I may conceive and bear the child of eternal life.

    Note that Elizabeth conceived in the seventh month, September, and gave birth in June. Even so, the soul conceives in the ‘seventh’ (the Sabbath), that is, in stillness, by devotion of mind; and she bears her son, good work, in June, called ‘Siban’ in Hebrew, meaning ‘rightness of gift’. The gift of grace which she conceives in her mind, she brings forth in rightness of action.

    4. Now Elizabeth’s full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and the congratulated her.(Lc 1,57-58)

    The Gloss says, “The coming forth or birth of saints brings joy to many because it is a common good. Saints are born for the common benefit. Justice is a common virtue, that is, for the common profit of all, and so in the birth of a just man signs of his future life are given beforehand, and the grace of the virtue which is to follow is shown in the prefiguring joy of the neighbors.”

    Morally. The ‘neighbours’ are the angels, the ‘kinsfolk’ are just men, who congratulate the soul on the birth of good works. So Gabriel said:

    And many shall rejoice in his nativity; for he shall be great before the Lord and shall drink no wine nor strong drink. (Lc 1,14)

    Truly, many rejoice: Christ, angel, and neighbor. Christ, because as Luke 15 says,

    When he hath found the sheep, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. (Lc 15,5)

    The Gloss says, ” The ‘shoulders’ of Christ are the arms of the Cross. There he carried my sins, on that neck of a noble gibbet he rested.” The angel, because:

    I say to you, there shall be joy before the angels of God upon one sinner doing penance. (Lc 15,10)

    The Gloss says, “The angels, being rational, rejoice that man is reconciled to them; which should motivate us to goodness of life, to do what is pleasing to them whose patronage we should desire, and to offend whom we should fear. The neighbor, as the Apostle says in II Corinthians 7:

    I rejoice because you were made sorrowful unto penance. (2Co 7,9)

    He will be great. Note that ‘great’ is used in reference to mind, ‘largeness’ to the body. If your work be small in your own eyes, it will be great before God. I must decrease, he must increase (cf. Jn 3,30), he says. When you lessen yourself by humility, grace grows in you by virtue of soul. Before the Lord, not before men, who deceive and are deceived, who call evil good, and good evil. What a man is before God, that he is, and no more.3 If you want to consecrate your good work to God, beware, lest you drink the wine of vainglory and the strong drink of unsuitable mirth. So the Lord says to Aaron, in Leviticus 10:

    You shall not drink wine nor anything that may make drunk, thou nor thy sons, when you enter into the tabernacle of the testimony, lest you die. (Lv 10,9)

    And Numbers 6:

    When a man or woman shall make a vow to be sanctified, and will consecrate themselves to the Lord, they shall abstain from wine and everything that may make drunk. (Nb 6,2-3)

    Whoever wants to consecrate his work to the Lord, and be received into the tabernacle of the heavenly Jerusalem, should beware the drunkenness of vainglory and foolish mirth.

 

 

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Pope to Verbites: Renew Trust in Divine Providence

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:19 AM

Pope Francis on June 22, 2018, encouraged the Society of the Divine Word (SVD to renew their trust in Divine Providence and proclaim the word of God without fear.

His comments came to members of the order – commonly known as Services – participating in their General Chapter, with the theme “The Love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14). The event was reported in Vatican News.

The Pope said their theme has a “clear Pauline and missionary flavor” and urged the Verbites to return to their roots and origins as envisioned by their founder Saint Arnold Janssen.  He encouraged them to trust in Divine Providence, to proclaim the Word of God and to be a community of brothers.

The Holy Father reminded the participants that proclaiming the Word of God to all people, in every time, place and culture, using every possible means, is their charism.  Besides being a legacy it is also a challenge that awaits them today, especially in their mission to those who don’t know Christ as yet as envisioned by their founder.

He told the Verbites that going back to their origins is not an abstract spirituality but are roots that give life, for which they must be cared for and loved. And he said they should do this as a community of brothers united in their mission.

“The world, like the Church,” he said, “needs to feel this fraternal love despite its diversity and interculturality,” where “everyone is at the service of others and no one more than the other.”

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Pope Francis: Christian Witness in Middle East Severely Tested

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 10:42 AM

Pope Francis on June 22, 2018, expressed his gratitude to participants of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), for their Christian witness in the Middle East, while lamenting the threats inherent in that work. He spoke to the group in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

“The study of various projects and their financing, made possible by the generosity of so many of the faithful worldwide, has enabled the Oriental Catholic Churches, both in their native lands and in the diaspora, to carry forward their witness to the Gospel,” the Holy Father said. “That witness has been severely tested, often amid sufferings and persecution, first by the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and then, more recently, by forms of allegedly religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, to say nothing of apparently interminable conflicts, especially in the Middle East.

The Holy Father’s Address

I am pleased to meet you at the conclusion of your Plenary Assembly, which this year coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of ROACO. I offer a cordial greeting to Cardinal Sandri and I thank him for his words of introduction. My greetings and my appreciation go likewise to the Papal Representatives of the countries of the Middle East, who daily accompany the aspirations of Christians and people of other religious traditions in lands tragically marked by conflict and suffering. I also greet with gratitude the representatives of the Catholic agencies and the benefactors of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as well as all those who in the past have offered their services and are present for this important anniversary.

In the wake of the recent celebrations marking the centenary of the Congregation, ROACO now celebrates its own jubilee year. According to the Scriptures, every fiftieth year was heralded by the shofar, the horn that proclaimed the year of freedom for slaves, the cancellation of debt, the restitution of land, all based on the people’s acknowledgment of God’s gracious gift of the Covenant and of the land that was its sign. I invite you to think back with gratitude on the years that have passed, and especially on the faces of so many people – some of whom have already ended their earthly pilgrimage – that have worked in the Congregation and in your various agencies in support of their works of charity and assistance. The study of various projects and their financing, made possible by the generosity of so many of the faithful worldwide, has enabled the Oriental Catholic Churches, both in their native lands and in the diaspora, to carry forward their witness to the Gospel. That witness has been severely tested, often amid sufferings and persecution, first by the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and then, more recently, by forms of allegedly religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, to say nothing of apparently interminable conflicts, especially in the Middle East. The concrete solidarity that you have shown has helped meet emergency situations resulting from wars and movements of migration, but above all, it has helped ensure the very existence of the Churches, their activities of pastoral care and evangelization, and their social and charitable works. All these make manifest the face of Christ’s Church, which proclaims the Gospel in action and in word, thus making present God’s charity for mankind. Indeed, the “year of grace” of the Lord is always marked by liberation, both within the heart of sinful human beings and without, in the new life of the redeemed, which prefigures the new heavens and that new earth where justice will dwell.

Saint Peter, on the day of Pentecost, recalled the prophecy, so dear to me, of Joel: “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Joel 2:17). The Oriental Catholic Churches, as living witnesses to their apostolic origins, are called in a special way to protect and pass on a spark of Pentecostal fire. They are called daily to discover anew their own prophetic presence in all those places where they dwell as pilgrims. Beginning with Jerusalem, the Holy City, whose identity and particular vocation needs to be safeguarded beyond different tensions and political disputes, Christians, even though present as a small flock, draw strength from the Spirit for their mission of witness. Today that mission is more urgent than ever before. From the holy places, where God’s plan was fulfilled in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, may there come about a renewed spirit of strength to inspire Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East to embrace their special vocation and to offer an account of their faith and their hope. May the sons and daughters of the Oriental Catholic Churches cherish their prophetic charge to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, even in settings that are often even more secularized than in the West, where they come as immigrants or refugees. May they find a welcome, both on the practical level and in the Church’s life, as they seek to preserve and enrich the patrimony of their various traditions. These men and women, thanks also to your help, can bear witness to us, whose hearts are often dulled, that it is still worth living and suffering for the Gospel, even as a minority, or the object of persecution, for the Gospel is the joy and the life of men and women of every age.

Allow me to offer a final word of thanks and encouragement. Because of the work of ROACO, through the attentiveness and the acts of charity that sustain the life of the Oriental Churches, the Successor of Peter is able also to continue his mission of pursuing possible paths to the visible unity of all Christians. In the effort to extend a cordial and sincere hand to our most distant brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters are no less loved, and certainly not forgotten. With your help, they are always listened to and helped to continue their journey as the Church of the Risen Christ, amid every challenge, and every spiritual and material suffering, in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.

Dear brothers and sisters, may God’s constant assistance always accompany you in your activities. To all of you, I impart my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the agencies you represent, your families and the communities to which you belong. And I ask you, please, to please pray for me. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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FEATURE: An Inside Look at the Pope’s Landmark Trip to Geneva

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 10:24 AM

Pope Francis has made a landmark ecumenical day trip to Geneva on June 21, 2018 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches.

Zenit’s Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov covering trip on the papal flight

Zenit was on the papal flight, traveling with Pope Francis, and was present at various events, and getting voices on the ground. During the return trip to Rome, Zenit represented the English-speaking journalists aboard to ask the Pope a question, along with the French, German and Spanish representatives.

The theme of the visit is an “Ecumenical Pilgrimage – Walking, Praying and Working Together” and the meeting began with a prayer service at the Ecumenical Centre chapel.

What is really needed is a new evangelical outreach,’ the Pope stressed during an ecumenical meeting yesterday.

Cardinal on Pope’s Desire for Ecumenism

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told ZENIT:

“According to Pope Francis, to be open to other churches means first of all brotherhood and closeness. After his election as Pope, I remember, I met him and asked what he would desire for the ecumenism.”

“He replied with only one word, ‘brotherhood.’”

Friendly and fraternal relationship between different churches, the Swiss Cardinal explained, is the foundation for ecumenism. Once this is established, he added, the practical ecumenism can follow in which churches can work together on culture, political and social issues.                

Meeting for Dinner Once a Year Isn’t Authentic Ecumenism

Nigerian priest, Father Lawrence Iwuamadi, is the dean of the Bossy ecumenical institute, linked to the World Council of Churches, where 30 men and women of different countries study and share everyday life. Before Father Lawrence, the Institute had never had a Catholic dean.

“The fact that I am the first Catholic dean of the Institute,” he shared, “I think has to do with the

Spirit that Francis brought, a spirit that is difficult to explain with just one word: it is a spirit of trust, thanks to which I live and I work here, among 90% of non-Catholics, I have seen over the years how the attitude towards the Catholic Church has changed: now they appreciate what the Catholic Church does and says.”

“What is the main novelty that Francis brought?” he said, “As I always say, Pope Francis has a way of speaking that reaches everyone’s heart, whether they are Protestant, Orthodox or Pentecostal, so as to make them say: ‘with this Pope, I could also associate myself with what he says.’

For example, when the encyclical Laudato si‘ was published, on the protection of creation, at the Ecumenical Council of the Churches several conferences were held, on the encyclical of a Catholic Pope. In addition to this, Pope Francis is cited very frequently in the WCC documents.

“We must take more seriously what the Pope says, have the courage to go out and meet, is what I also understood as a professor of this institution, with 30-35 people from 25 countries and 20 Christian churches represented.”

“When people sit in front of each other, they walk together, they can understand who the other really is, then ecumenism becomes easier. First, however, there are prejudices, that is so, that other is so, but when we live together no longer.”

We Will Not Stop Here

The Pope began the visit by joining in prayers in the chapel of the Ecumenical Center in Geneva after flying in from Rome and then visiting the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, which is involved with theological formation.

In the afternoon, Pope Francis again visited the Ecumenical Center, where the WCC does much of its work.

The Pope cited the active Catholic presence in the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism; collaboration with the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, most recently on the important theme of education for peace; and the joint preparation of texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

General secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “This day is a landmark. We will not stop here. We will continue, we can do much more together for those who need us.”

In 2017, Roman Catholic and Protestant Lutherans jointly commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Pope Francis’ Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2017, visit to the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund.

The Catholic Church and the WCC work together for joint peace initiatives in many areas and concretely work together in projects to help the poor, counter injustices, help migrants, and so on.

On the flight to Geneva, Deborah Castellano Lubov also had a moment to greet the Holy Father where she gave him a memoria of a family in Buenos Aires very close to the Holy Father’s heart and her recent book ‘The Other Francis’ (L’Altro Francesco) currently in Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian, and soon in English and perhaps German.

***

ZENIT:

On-flight Press Conference (Full Text): https://zenit.org/articles/holy-fathers-in-flight-press-conference-on-return-from-geneva-full-text/

 

 

 

 

 

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Holy Father’s In-Flight Press Conference on Return from Geneva (Full Text)

Zenit News - English - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 10:11 AM

Following is the Vatican-provided transcript of the in-flight press conference Pope Francis held on his flight from Geneva to Rome, at the end of his ecumenical pilgrimage to observe the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Church.

ZENIT’s Vatican and Rome correspondent, Deborah Castellano Lubov, was one of the reporter’s engaged in the session with the Holy Father.

The Press Conference Transcript:

Greg Burke:

Thanks, in the meantime. “Walking, praying, working together” [theme of the trip]. We walked, we prayed, several times, and now we have to work a bit – and even eat, afterward. However, we see that walking together brings fruit: today, acceptance. We have seen that, after so many years of dialogue, there is mutual respect and something more: there is also friendship. But there is still a lot of work to do and many challenges, and this is of interest to us normally: the challenges.

Maybe you want to say something first …

Pope Francis:

Thank you for your work! It was rather a heavy day, at least for me. But I am happy. I am happy because the different things we have done, both the prayer at the beginning, then the dialogue during lunch, which was beautiful, and then the Mass; these are things that made me happy. Tired, but they are good things. Thank you very much. And now, I am at your disposal.

Greg Burke:

Good. Let us begin with the Swiss: Arnaud Bédat, from the journal “L’Illustre”:

Arnaud Bédat:

Holy Father, you have been to Geneva, but also to Switzerland. What images, what important and powerful moments, struck you during this day?

Pope Francis:

Thank you. I believe that – I would say – there is a common word: encounter. It was a day of encounters. Variegated. The right word of the day is encounter, and when one person meets another and feels the pleasure of the encounter, this always touches the heart. These were positive, even beautiful, encounters, starting with the dialogue with the President [of the Swiss Confederation], at the beginning, which was not only a dialogue of courtesy, normal but a profound dialogue, on deep world issues and with an intelligence that impressed me. Starting from this. Then, the meetings that you have all seen … And what you have not seen is the meeting at lunch, which was very profound in terms of touching on so many topics. Perhaps the topic on which we spent the most time was the young, also because all the Confessions are concerned, in a good sense, about the young. And the pre-Synod that took place in Rome, from 19 March onwards, attracted some attention because they were young people of all Confessions, even agnostics, and of all countries. Think about it: 315 young people present and 15 thousand connected online who “came and went”. This perhaps inspired a special interest. But the word that perhaps for me sums up the whole trip is that it was a journey of encounter. The experience of encounter. Not mere courtesy, nothing purely formal, but human encounter. And this, between Protestants and Catholics, means everything … Thank you.

Greg Burke:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Now from the German group, there is Roland Juchem, from the German Catholic agency CIC.

Roland Juchem:

Thank you, Holy Father. You often speak about concrete steps to be taken in ecumenism. Today, for example, you referred to it again, saying “Let us see what we can do concretely, rather than grow discouraged about what we cannot”. So, the German bishops recently decided to take a step [on the so-called “inter-communion”], and so we ask how come Archbishop Ladaria [prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] has written a letter that seems somewhat like an emergency brake. After the meeting of 3 May last, it was affirmed that the German bishops would have found a solution, possibly unanimously. What will the next steps be? Will intervention on the part of the Vatican be necessary to clarify, or must the German bishops find an agreement?

Pope Francis:

Good. This is not new, because the Code of Canon Law provides for what the German bishops were talking about: Communion in special cases. And they looked at the problem of mixed marriages: whether it is possible or not possible. However, the Code says that the particular bishop of the Church – this word is important: particular, if it is from a diocese – must manage the issue: it is in his hands. This is in the Code. The German bishops, because they had seen that the case was not clear, and also that some priests did things not in agreement with the bishop, they wanted to study this theme and they carried out this study that – I do not want to exaggerate – was a study of more than a year, I do not know precisely, but more than a year, done well, done well. And the study is restrictive: what the bishops wanted is to clearly say what is in the Code. And I, too, read it, I say: this is a restrictive document. It was not “open to everyone”. No. It was well thought out, with an ecclesial spirit. And they wanted to do it for the local Church: not the particular one. They did not want to. The thing has slipped up to there, that is, saying it is for the German Episcopal Conference. And there is a problem because the Code does not provide for this. It foresees the competence of the diocesan bishop, but not of the Episcopal Conference. Why? Because something approved in an Episcopal Conference immediately becomes universal. And this was the difficulty of the discussion: not so much the content, but this. They sent the document; then there were two or three meetings for dialogue and clarification; and Archbishop Ladaria sent that letter, but with my permission, he did not do it alone. I told him: “Yes, it is better to take a step forward and say that the document is not yet mature – this was what the letter said – and that we have to study the matter more”. Then there was another meeting, and eventually, they will study the thing. I believe this will be a guiding document so that each of the diocesan bishops can manage what canon law already permits. There was no brake, no. It was a matter of managing the thing to get on the right track. When I visited the Lutheran Church in Rome, a question of this type was asked and I responded according to the spirit of the Code of Canon Law, the spirit that they [the bishops] are now seeking. Maybe there was not the right information at the right time, there is a bit of confusion, but that is the issue. In the particular Church, the Code permits it; in the local Church, it cannot, because it would be universal. That is the issue.

Roland Juchem:

The local Church is the Conference?

Pope Francis:

… It is the Conference. But the Conference can study and give guidelines to help bishops in managing particular cases. Thank you.

Greg Burke:

Now, from the Spanish group, there is Eva Fernández of Cope, the Spanish radio.

Eva Fernández:

Thank you, Holy Father. We have seen that even the general secretary of the World Council of Churches has spoken about aid to refugees. Recently we have seen the incident of the ship “Aquarius” and other cases, such as the separation of families in the United States. Do you think that some governments exploit the drama of refugees? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

I have spoken a lot about refugees and the criteria are in what I said: “welcome, protect, promote, integrate”. These are criteria for all refugees. Then I said that every country must do this with the virtue of governance that is prudence because a country must welcome as many refugees as it can, and as many, as it can integrate: integrate, that is, educate, give work … This, I would say, is the quiet and peaceful plan of refugees. Here we are experiencing a wave of refugees fleeing war and hunger. War and hunger in many countries of Africa, wars, and persecution in the Middle East. Italy and Greece have been very generous in welcoming them. For the Middle East – regarding Syria – Turkey has received so many; Lebanon, many: Lebanon has as many Syrians as there are Lebanese; and then Jordan, and other countries. Spain too has welcomed them. There is the problem of trafficking in migrants. And there is also the problem of cases in which they return because they have to return: there is this case … I do not know the terms of the agreement well, but if they are in Libyan waters they have to return … And there I saw the photographs of the prisons of traffickers. Traffickers immediately separate women from men: women and children go God knows where … This is what the traffickers do. There is also a case, I know, in which the traffickers approached a ship that had received refugees from the boats and said: “Give us women and children and take the males away”. These are traffickers. And the prisons of the traffickers, for those who have returned, are terrible, they are terrible. These things were seen in the lager of World War II. Even mutilations, torture … And then they throw them into the mass graves, the men. This is why governments worry that they will come back and fall into the hands of these people. There is worldwide concern. I know that governments are talking about this and they want to find an agreement, even to amend the Dublin Agreement. In Spain, you have had the case of this ship that arrived in Valencia. But all this phenomenon is a disorder. The problem of wars is difficult to solve; the problem of the persecution of Christians also, in the Middle East and also in Nigeria. But the problem of hunger can be solved. And many European governments are thinking of an urgent plan to invest in those countries, to invest intelligently, to provide work and education, these two things. In the countries from which these people come. Because – without wishing to offend, but it is the truth – in the collective subconscious there is an ugly motto: “Africa must be exploited” – Africa es para ser explotada. This is in the subconscious: “Eh, they are Africans! …”. Land of slaves. And this must change with this plan of investment, education, development because the African people have so many cultural riches. And they have a great intelligence: the children are very intelligent and can, with a good education, go further. This will be the medium-term road. But at the moment governments must agree to move forward with this emergency. This, here in Europe.

Let us go to America. In America, there is a big migration problem in Latin America, and there is also the internal migration problem. In my homeland there is a migration problem from the north to the south; people leave the countryside because there is no work and they go to big cities, and there are these megalopolises, slums, and all these things … But there is also an external migration to other countries that give jobs. Speaking concretely, towards the United States. I agree with what the bishops of that country say. I support them. Thank you.

Greg Burke:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Now, the English group: Deborah Castellano Lubov, from the Zenit agency.

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Your Holiness, in your address today at the ecumenical meeting, you referred to the enormous power of the Gospel. We know that some of the Churches of the World Council of Churches are so-called “Churches of peace”, who believe that a Christian cannot use violence. Let us recall that two years ago, in the Vatican, there was a conference organized to reconsider the doctrine of the “righteous war”. So, Your Holiness, my question is, do you think it would be right for the Catholic Church to join with these so-called “Churches of peace” and to set aside the theory of the “righteous war”? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

A clarification: why do you say that they are “Churches of peace”?

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

They are considered “Churches of peace” because they have this concept, that a person who uses violence can no longer be considered Christian.

Pope Francis:

Thank you, I understand. You have put your finger in the wound … Today, at lunch, a Pastor said that perhaps the first human right is the right to hope, and I liked this, and it relates a little to this theme. We talked about the human rights crisis today. I think I have to start with this to arrive at your question. The human rights crisis appears clear. We speak a little of human rights, but many groups or some countries keep their distance. Yes, we have human rights but … there is not the strength, the enthusiasm, the conviction of, I do not say 70 years ago, but 20 years ago. And this is serious because we must see the causes. What are the causes for which we have arrived at this? That today human rights are relative. The right to peace is also relative. It is a human rights crisis. This I think we have to think about it thoroughly.

Then, the so-called “Churches of Peace”. I believe that all the Churches that have this spirit of peace must come together and work together, as we said in the speeches today, both I and the other people who spoke, and at lunch, it was discussed. Unity for peace. Today peace is a need because there is a risk of war … Someone said: this third world war, if it takes place, we know what weapons will be used, but if there were to be a fourth, it would be with sticks because humanity will be destroyed. The commitment to peace is a serious matter. When you think about the money that is spent on armaments! For this reason, they are “Churches of Peace”: but it is God’s mandate! Peace, brotherhood, united humanity … And all conflicts, we must not resolve them like Cain, but resolve them through negotiation, dialogue, and mediation. For example, we are in crisis of mediations! Mediation, which is a very precious legal tool, is in crisis today. Crisis of hope, crisis of human rights, crisis of mediations, crisis of peace. But then, if you say that there are “Churches of Peace”, I ask myself: are there “Churches of War”? It is difficult to understand this, it is difficult, but there are certainly some groups, and I would say in almost all religions, small groups, I will say simplifying somewhat, “fundamentalist”, who seek wars. We Catholics also have some, who always seek destruction. And it is very important to keep this in view. I do not know if I answered …

They tell me that people are asking for their dinner, that it is the right time to arrive with a full stomach …

I would like to say only one word clearly: that today was an ecumenical day, truly ecumenical. And at lunch, we said something very nice, that I will leave to you to think about and reflect upon, and to consider well: in the ecumenical movement we must remove a word from the dictionary: proselytism. Is that clear? There can be no ecumenism with proselytism, we need to choose: either you are of an ecumenical spirit, or you are a “proselyte”.

Thank you, I would continue to speak as I like to, but …

Now, let us ask the Substitute [of the Secretary of State] to come forward, because it is the last trip he will make with us, as now he is “changing color” [becoming a cardinal]: but not from shame! We would like to wish him well, and there will be a Sardinian cake to celebrate.

H.E. Msgr. Giovanni Angelo Becciu:

Thank you! It is a dual surprise, to call me here and thank me in front of all of you. And then a Sardinian cake … good! We will taste it with pleasure. I truly thank the Holy Father for this occasion, but for everything, for everything, because he has given me this wonderful experience of traveling with him frequently. At the beginning, he frightened me, he said: “No, I make only a few trips”, do you remember? And then, after one he added another, and another, and we said: “Thank goodness he said they would only be a few!”. And they were many. A magnificent experience: to see the Holy Father courageously spread the Word of God. My service was only this: to help him in this. Thanks to all of you and to those who have helped us. Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Enjoy your meal, and many thanks. And pray for me, please. Thank you.

 

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