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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 57 min 16 sec ago

Sri Lankan Christians Still Fear Going to Church

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 6:24 PM

Many Christians in Sri Lanka are still too scared to go to church – in spite of security put in place following the Easter Day bombings.

Returning from a fact-finding and project-assessment trip to the country, Veronique Vogel, head of Sri Lanka projects for the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, said: “Many told me that they are afraid to enter a church or feel fear when they hear bells ringing.”

She described a sense of tension in the capital, Colombo, and elsewhere across Sri Lanka, where more than 250 people were killed and 300 injured on 21st April 2019 in attacks targeting churches and leading hotels.

Vogel said: “The security measures throughout Sri Lanka were very strict during our visit. Security forces and the military were everywhere.

“But fear persists, particularly among the Christian population.

“Everyone knows that somewhere out there extremely dangerous people are running around who could attack again at any time.”

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan government’s apparent failure to act on Indian government intelligence ahead of the Easter attacks, has demanded more security during church services in the aftermath of the violence.

Vogel said many Christians had felt encouraged by the response of the cardinal, who has refused special protection for himself.

She said the people’s faith had been strengthened by their suffering, especially those who lost loved ones or who had life-changing injuries.

Many, she added, were profoundly shocked by the attacks which had come after a period of relative calm and stability in the years following the civil war and other conflicts which date back to the 1970s.

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Priest Kidnapped in Nigeria June 16 Released

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 6:21 PM

Fr. Isaac Agubi, a priest who serves at the Holy Name church of Ikpeshi, 230 km away from Benin City, capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria was released by the police, Fides News Agency reported on June 19, 2019. The priest had been kidnapped on June 16 along the Auchi-Igarra road, around 5 pm, as he was returning home after having celebrated mass. The police forces, helped by some hunters in the area, managed to identify where the kidnappers were in the forest. During the release of the priest, one of the bandits was injured.

The kidnappers seem to belong to a group of Fulani, a nomadic shepherd ethnicity, who in Nigeria and other West African countries (where they are known as Peuls) have become protagonists of violent raids against other populations. In the last week in northern Nigeria, violence linked to the Fulani issue and others committed by Boko Haram, caused the death of over 150 people, while nine others were kidnapped.

In the State of Sokoto on June 15, 25 people lost their lives in raids, probably committed by the Fulani, in three villages. In a separate incident, a woman, and her stepson were kidnapped by a gang of shepherds on Airport Road, in the city of Osi, in the state of Ondo, on their way to Sunday mass.

On 12 June an officer and 20 soldiers in the State of Borno were killed in the attack on a military formation. The Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA), then claimed responsibility for the attack.

On June 14, at least 34 people were killed in an assault by an armed group that attacked three villages in the area of Shinkafi in the State of Zamfara. The bandits, who arrived on motorcycles, set fire to the houses and shot all those they encountered.

A few days ago His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, had denounced “the unprecedented level of insecurity” (see Fides, 6/6/2019) and the “complete impunity” of who sows chaos and destruction in the Country.

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Mexico’s Bishops Affirm Commitment to Peace After Shooting of Catechist

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 6:13 PM

A catechist instructor was shot dead in the municipality of Acacoyagua, in a chapel in Chiapas state – another example of how the violence consuming Mexico is impacting the Catholic Church. The Bishop of the Diocese of Tapachula (Chiapas), Mgr. Jaime Calderón Calderón, in a video sent to Fides News Agengy, talks about the dynamics of the murder: “We were victims of the generalized violence that exists in the country. Yesterday (Saturday, June 15) at the end of catechists’ training course in the church of the Immaculate Conception, of San Marcos Evangelista parish, two young men entered and started shooting, one of the bullets injured Margeli Lang Antonio, who died almost immediately. We are close to her family. As a diocesan family, we cannot get used to these acts of violence that demonstrate a social and moral degradation of the human community.” Mgr. Calderón asked the authorities to find those responsible as soon as possible.

During a press conference on Sunday afternoon, June 16, the Bishop stressed that “social decomposition is due to a lack of integral health of communities. When there is no work, when there is injustice, when there is impunity, when there is an excessive ambition for money when people’s lives have a price, what is put at the center is money, then everything has a price and whoever has the money is the one who commands … When there are changes of the government there is a certain emptiness of authority and power … ”

On June 17, Fides received the statement of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico (CEM) on the meeting of the CEM Presidency with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of the Republic, in order “to begin a fraternal dialogue with the will to collaborate in the construction of a more just society”. The Bishops, the statement said, touched two fundamental themes: migration emergency and the construction of peace.

Regarding the first, “the Church continues to offer its resources: 95 dioceses, 10 thousand parishes, more than 130 hotels and thousands of pastoral workers throughout the Mexican territory engaged in the humanitarian mission and in the defense of human rights”. The Presidency of the CEM, therefore, stressed that “greater joint collaboration is needed to guarantee the safety of migrants”.

On the second issue, the Bishops intend to give their contribution to the reconstruction of the social fabric and the strengthening of the rule of law, through the Peace Building Plan, “which includes listening centers, centers for the defense of human rights, accompaniment of the victims and peace education workshops”. “The suffering of so many Mexican families for violence and insecurity urgently calls for our fraternal collaboration”, the text emphasizes.
The CEM statement concludes by recalling that other topics were also discussed at the meeting, and stressed that the Church intends to fulfill its mission by participating in the search for the common good, “in a line of positive secularism, in which the full exercise of religious freedom strengthens democracy”.

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Interfaith Prayer Held for Kidnapped Father Maccalli in Niamey, Niger

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 6:01 PM

“After nine months of Father Pierluigi Maccalli’s absence, there was the first common moment of prayer with the Muslim leaders of the capital,” said Father Mauro Armanino, priest of the Society for African Missions, to Fides News Agency. The missionary organized a prayer meeting in Niamey, Niger’s capital, on the occasion of the ninth month since the abduction of his confrere, on September 18, 2018.

“During the prayer meeting in Niamey, in the chapel of Sainte Monique de la Francophonie, yesterday, June 17,  saw the presence of the bishop of Niamey, a pastor and other members of the intra and interreligious dialogue,” Fr. Armanino said. “It was possible for an hour, to imagine that peace, the ‘conviviality of differences’, as Father Gigi called it, could make its way through the wounds of all. Muslims and Christians united in the pain of families for the many, too many faithful who have been killed or have disappeared.

“There are heavy absences, creative absences, fruitful absences, absences like wounds in which a different future can be sown. Just two days ago they attacked some churches in the economic capital of the country, Maradi. We continue to pray and hope for Father Gigi.”

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Holy See Co-Sponsored UN Event Honors Global Day of Parents

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 6:00 PM

On June 10, together with the Permanent Missions of Djibouti and Belarus and the Universal Peace Federation, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN co-sponsored a side event entitled “Good Parenting Builds Society: The Importance of Motherhood and Fatherhood” to honor the Global Day of Parents.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Mohamed Siad Doualeh, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Djibouti to the UN, pointed out that the family is the natural unit of society and plays an important role in the eradication of poverty, in the building of intergenerational solidarity and in the reduction of inequalities. He mentioned that every society requires families composed of a mother, father, and children and that good parenting is fundamental to boost a child’s confidence and openness to others.

Ambassador Valentin Rybakov of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the UN noted that observing the Global Day of Parents, normally celebrated on June 1, is a crucial reminder of the importance of roles of mothers and fathers. Protecting and supporting motherhood is a priority for Belarus, a country that is part of the Group of Friends of the Family, he said. He closed his intervention by reiterating that the family is the most important element for thriving society and for creating a better future.  

Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, Monsignor Tomasz Grysa stated that the family is not only essential for healthy children, but also for healthy societies. 
“Growing up in a family with a mother and a father helps children achieve emotional maturity and learn how to recognize the beauty of the two sexes,” he said. 
Some segments of our society, he said, “cannot adequately comprehend the real meaning of the gift of persons in marriage, responsible love at the service of fatherhood and motherhood, and the true grandeur of procreation and education.”
He also noted that parents have rights as the primary educators of their children and have the “grave duty to take responsibility for the well-rounded personal and social education of their children.” The loving relationship between parents and children is irreplaceable and “therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.”
Children also have “the right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s full and harmonious development and emotional maturity.”

Providing sexual education, he added, is likewise primarily the role of the parents, as children are faced “with a culture that, all too often, reduces the human sexuality to the level of entertainment.” He urged parents to “aim firmly at a training in the area of sex that is truly and fully personal: for sexuality is an enrichment of the whole person – body, emotions, and soul – and it manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love.”
There is an “urgent need,” he concluded, to promote a new alliance between parents, schools and society that can offer a positive education and thatrespects the primary responsibility of parents in cooperation with the educational work of teachers.”
The panel of experts included Erica Komisar, a licensed social work, a parenting coach, psychoanalyst, and author of Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. She spoke about the scientific and neurological evidence that highlights the damaging consequences for children who experience a difficult family life. Among American children today, there are more cases of mental disorders due to parents’ absence during a child’s first three years of life than ever before. 
Ms. Komisar’s research showed that the reassuring and nurturing presence of a mother is essential for “buffering young children from feelings of stress and to ensure their natural development. Children who have a mother present in their lives, particularly in the first three years, develop secure attachment relationships, whereas those that are separated from their mothers at an early age often experience stress and emotional difficulties particularly with attachment.”
The role of fathers is equally crucial in the lives of their children in providing secure places for them to develop mentally and emotionally, she said.
Komisar presented evidence from US social studies that indicated 1 in 5 children living in the US today have been diagnosed with a mental or emotional disorder, that there is a 400 percent increase in children taking anti-depressants and a 119 percent increase in eating disorders for children under 12. 
While it may not always be possible for women to be present to their children in early childhood, she encouraged the young women in the audience hoping to balance career and family, saying that life has seasons and that women should not feel under pressure to choose family or work. “Work will always be there, but children will not.”
Grace Melton of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation spoke about some of the benefits of marriage for both children and society. “Children deserve both a mother and a father. Men and women are equal in dignity and worth, but they are not the same,” she said. 
As married parents are important for children, the institution of marriage is important for society. 
“Strong families are the best resource every society has for caring for and raising children into healthy and responsible adults”. Marriage, Ms. Melton said, encourages men and women to “commit permanently and exclusively to each other and to take responsibility for their children,” creating a more harmonious society.
Melton shared the findings of prominent social scientists in the U.S. and from national surveys and stated that all available data indicate that children who live in a stable family home with married mothers and fathers have better physical, emotional and mental health.
 “It is easy to see the social and economic cost that communities shoulder as a result of family breakdown,” Melton said: 77.9 percent of children suffering in long term poverty come from broken or never-married families, while children living in a family with a mother and a father are 82 percent less likely to live in poverty, 
The data also demonstrate a correlation between family life and violence, with “women and children less likely to experience domestic violence in intact married families than in other family norms.”
Melton expressed her hope that the UN and the European Court of Human Rights seek to protect children and families: “By safeguarding and harnessing the many social benefits that the family bestows, we will facilitate achievement of the UN’s [sustainable development goals], and leave a better world for our children.”
Jonathan Schweppe, Director of Policy and Government at the American Principles Project, described the family as “the most important natural institution in the history of the world,” but noted that the family has now arrived at a state of crisis thanks to the loss of fathers in the home. Children are paying the price for this social failure with one in four or 19.7 million American children living at home without a father, he said. These children face incredible obstacles and are more at risk for destructive behaviors.
With women often left to raise children on their own and parenthood clearly in crisis, the US should stop incentivizing family breakouts he said. Maternity and paternity leaves should be made an affordable option. 
 “We must do better, and I’m certain we can,” he said. 
Following the presentation of the expert panel, the floor was opened for questions and comments. The delegate from Russia noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the family as the natural unit of society and called upon UN agencies and States to harness the potential of the family for development and harmony in society. A delegate from Comoros said that it is crucial to help young people recognize the importance of family. 

Copyright © 2019 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

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General Audience Meeting of Pope Francis and Tawadros II, Head of Coptic Orthodox Church

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 5:46 PM

The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Tawadros II, has participated today in the general audience, June 19, 2019, in the Plaza de San Pedro, and has warmly greeted Pope Francis at the end of the event.

Theodore II (or Tawadros II) is the 118th  Patriarch of Alexandria and the Patriarch of Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of  Saint Mark.

On the occasion of the day of friendship between Orthodox Copts and Catholics, the Holy Father Francis sent a message to his holiness, Tawadros II, on May 11, 2017. The day of friendship is a feast of fraternal love between both Churches, an idea proposed by Teodoro II (name in Spanish) to the Catholic pope, with the wish that this date was the first of a long series of encounters.

Welcome in Cairo

“After my visit to Egypt and the blessed meeting with His Holiness in Cairo , on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of our fraternal meeting in Rome on May 10, 2013, I take this opportunity to express my best wishes for peace and health, together with joy and gratitude for the spiritual ties that unite the See of Peter with the See of Mark, “said Francisco.

Similarly, on May 10, 2013, Tawadros II made his first trip as patriarch by visiting Pope Francis in the  Vatican City. The meeting was an attempt at a reciprocal rapprochement “towards the full unity” of Christianity.

Historical meeting 

It is the second time that a Catholic and a Coptic Pope have met since the separation of both churches at the Council of Chalcedon and after the meeting of Popes Shenouda III and Paul VI.

The meeting between Francisco and Tawadros II thus marked a historical milestone, took place 40 years after Paul VI and Shenouda III, which united one and another, said Francisco, “in an embrace of peace and fraternity after centuries of reciprocal estrangement. “

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Cardinal Sandri Visits Mundelein Seminary in Chicago

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 1:33 PM

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, visited Mundelein Seminary in Chicago and celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus, reported “Vatican News” in Italian, on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

Mundelein Seminary houses some 200 seminarians, including students of the Oriental Catholic Churches, such as the Syro-Malabar Church, whose headquarters, in the United States, are in Chicago. The Syro-Malabar Church has 4,500,000 faithful, the majority in Kerala, India.

Last January, a spiritual retreat was organized in the Seminary for American Bishops. Italian Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Papal Household Preacher, led the retreat.

On his visit to Mundelein Seminary, Cardinal Sandri went to the church, to the large library, and to the museum, before returning to the city where he presided over the Eucharistic Celebration.

From there, he went to the Little Italy neighborhood, to pray at the Shrine of the Virgin of Pompeii, where he was welcomed by the Rector and a Jesuit priest of Italian origin.

Then, in the afternoon, the Cardinal went to the Center of the Carmelite Fathers, where he dined with the priests and Religious of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy, gathered for a few days of spiritual retreat.

The Cardinal answered questions on subjects such as the spiritual, theological, human and affective formation of candidates to the priesthood, and the beauty and richness of the Oriental Liturgy, particularly the Syro-Malabar.

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Holy Father Continues Catechesis on Acts of the Apostles at General Audience

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 1:20 PM

“Prayer is the ‘lung’ that gives breath to disciples of all times, without prayer it is not possible to be a disciple of Jesus, without prayer we cannot be Christians!” Pope Francis proclaimed on June 19, 2019.

His remarks came during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, where he continued his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, using the “Tongues of Fire” passage from Acts 2:3: “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.”

The Holy Father set the scene with the disciples in the Cenacle, their home, with Mary. As they prayed, something happened they did not expect — the arrival of wind and fire with the sending upon them of the Holy Spirit.

“In the fire, God delivers His living and energetic word (see Heb 4: 12) which opens up to the future; fire expresses symbolically His work of warming, illuminating and infusing wisdom in hearts, His care in proving the resistance of human works, in purifying them and revitalizing them,” Francis taught. “The Church is thus born of the fire of love, and of a ‘fire’ that breaks out at Pentecost and which manifests the strength of the Word of the Risen One imbued with the Holy Spirit.

The new and definitive Covenant is founded no longer on a law written on stone tablets but on the action of the Spirit of God Who makes all things new and is engraved in hearts of flesh.”

The Pope compared the Holy Spirit to the conductor of an orchestra who creates “a symphony of sounds that unite and harmonically form diversity” while creating the music to praise God. “The Holy Spirit is the creator of communion, the artist of reconciliation who knows how to remove barriers between Jews and Greeks, slaves and freemen, to make a single body.”

The Holy Father concluded his instruction by praying that all the faithful would experience this spirit of Pentecost.

After summaries of the catechesis in various languages, the Pope greeted the groups of faithful from all over the world present in the square, including those who speak English:

“I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Australia, India, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Youth Peace Messengers from Japan. I also greet the winners of the traditional Bible Contest of the Holy Land. Upon all of you, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!”

At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted, among others, the pilgrims from the diocese of Léon,  accompanied by their bishop, Msgr. Julián López Martín. Addressing Polish pilgrims, he mentioned that tomorrow will be the feast of Corpus Christi, “a special opportunity to revive our faith in the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. The celebration of Holy Mass, Eucharistic adoration and the processions in the streets of towns and villages are testimony of our veneration and following of Christ Who gives us His Body and Blood, to nourish us with His love and to make us participants in His life in the glory of the Father.

The day after tomorrow will be the liturgical memory of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, an admirable example of austerity and evangelical purity. “Invoke him to help you build a friendship with Jesus that enables you to face your life with serenity”, said the Holy Father.

Full Text of Catechesis of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Fifty days after Easter, in that cenacle that was by then their home and where the presence of Mary, Mother of the Lord, was the cohesive element, the Apostles experienced an event that exceeded their expectations. Gathered in prayer – prayer is the “lung” that gives breath to disciples of all times, without prayer it is not possible to be a disciple of Jesus, without prayer we cannot be Christians! It is the air, it is the lung of Christian life – they are surprised by the irruption of God. It is an irruption that does not tolerate being closed: it throws open the doors with the force of a wind that recalls the ruah, the primordial breath, and fulfills the promise of “strength” made by the Risen Christ before He took leave of them (see Acts 1: 8). Suddenly “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2: 2). The wind was then joined by the fire that recalls the burning bush and Sinai with the gift of the ten words (see Ex 19: 16-19). In the biblical tradition, the fire accompanies the manifestation of God. In the fire, God delivers His living and energetic word (see Heb 4: 12) which opens up to the future; fire expresses symbolically His work of warming, illuminating and infusing wisdom in hearts, His care in proving the resistance of human works, in purifying them and revitalizing them. While at Sinai the voice of God is heard, in Jerusalem, on the feast of Pentecost, it is Peter who speaks, the rock on which Christ chose to build His Church. Though His word is weak and even capable of denying the Lord. when the fire of the Spirit passes through it, it gains strength, becomes capable of piercing hearts and moving to conversion. God, in fact, chooses what is weak in the world to confuse the strong (see 1 Cor 1: 27).

The Church is thus born of the fire of love, and of a “fire” that breaks out at Pentecost and which manifests the strength of the Word of the Risen One imbued with the Holy Spirit. The new and definitive Covenant is founded no longer on a law written on stone tablets but on the action of the Spirit of God Who makes all things new and is engraved in hearts of flesh.

The word of the Apostles is imbued with the Spirit of the Risen One and becomes a new word, different, that can, however, be understood, as if it were translated simultaneously into all the languages: indeed, “each one heard their own language being spoken” (Acts 2: 6). It is the language of truth and love, which is the universal language: even the illiterate can understand it. Everyone understands the language of truth and love. If you go with the truth of your heart, with sincerity, and you go with love, everyone will understand you. Even if you cannot talk, but with a caress, that is truthful and loving.

The Holy Spirit not only manifests Himself through a symphony of sounds that unite and harmonically form diversity but presents Himself as the conductor of an orchestra that plays the scores of praises for the “great works” of God. The Holy Spirit is the creator of communion, the artist of reconciliation who knows how to remove barriers between Jews and Greeks, slaves and freemen, to make a single body. He builds up the community of believers, harmonizing the unity of the body and the multiplicity of the members. He makes the Church grow by helping her to go beyond human limits, sins, and any scandal.

The wonder is so great, that one might ask if those men were drunk. Peter then intervenes on behalf of all of the Apostles and rereads the event in the light of Joel 3, where a new effusion of the Holy Spirit is announced. Jesus’ followers are not drunk, but they live what Saint Ambrose defines as the “sober intoxication of the Spirit”, which ignites prophecy in the midst of the people of God through dreams and visions. This prophetic gift is not reserved just to a few, but to all those who invoke the name of the Lord.

From then on, from that moment, the Spirit of God moves hearts to welcome the salvation that passes through a Person, Jesus Christ, He Whom men nailed to the wood of the cross and Whom God revived from the dead, “freeing Him from the agony of death” (Acts 2: 24). And He emitted that Spirit that orchestrates the polyphony of praise and which all may hear. As Benedict XVI said, “Pentecost is this: Jesus, and through Him God Himself, actually comes to us and draws us to Himself” (Homily, 3 June 2006). The Spirit works through divine attraction: God seduces us with His love and thus involves us, to move history and initiate processes whereby new life filters through. Indeed, only the Spirit of God has the power to humanize and fraternized every context, starting from those who welcome Him.

Let us ask the Lord to let us experience a new Pentecost, which opens up our hearts and harmonizes our sentiments with those of Christ, so that we are able to announce His transforming word without shame, and bear witness to the power of love that recalls to live all that which it encounters.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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INTERVIEW: Andrea Tornielli on the Islam That Wants to Dialogue; Never Respond to Hatred with Hatred

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 10:42 AM

It is important to promote real, professional information, not constructed from hatred and ideological simplifications, in order to have dialogue between people and religions, says Andrea Tornielli.

In an exclusive interview with ZENIT in Amman, Jordan, the Editorial Director of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and a trusted man of Pope Francis in the relationship with the world of information, affirmed this.

The international conference “Media and their role in defending the truth”, reflecting on dialogue between religions and people in the Middle East, is taking place in the Jordanian capital, June 18-20, 2019. The meeting is promoted by the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East, the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan, with the collaboration of the Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation between Religious Leaders and Institutions of the Arab World” and the Jordanian Office of Tourism.

Zenit Senior Vatican correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov is in Amman to attend the conference during the session on “Media and truth: what is the relationship?”

Pope Francis visited Jordan, home to the Baptism site of Jesus, in 2014, during the journey to the Holy Land. He did so in the footsteps of Benedict XVI (2009) and St. John Paul II (2000). Jordan, with a large Islamic majority, where Catholics are less than 1% of the population, has a reputation as a peaceful and tolerant country in the Middle East.

Below is the exclusive Zenit interview with Andrea Tornielli done in Amman;


ZENIT: What is the significance of this meeting in Amman, in which you too take part as editorial director of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication?

Andrea Tornielli: It is an important meeting not only because the Christians of the Middle East organized it, but above all, because its purpose is to promote dialogue, information not made of hatred nor of clashes between believers of different faiths, and above all, to counteract the phenomenon of fake news. There are many problems in many Middle Eastern countries, of course, due to the control exercised on information, but also because, in the Middle East, as in the whole world, there are groups that use social media to try to manipulate information.

ZENIT: How can this phenomenon be contrasted?

Andrea Tornielli: I am convinced that the answer can never be a legislative response, that is, made up of laws that block people’s freedom. The answer can only be education. Hatred is not answered with other hatred. Criticism, on the other hand, can be discussed. One may criticize when one disagrees. But when there are attacks based on hatred and bad faith, one cannot respond by going down to the same level. Readers must be educated and informed with good information, which means professional information, which takes into account the truth, tries to communicate the truth, and which manages to explain the context of the news. What is lacking today in so much information conveyed by social media is the context, that is, the story preceding the news, giving an account of what really happened, of elements that have really been affirmed …

As I said this morning, in my speech, if a communicator can also inform about the context of news or their story, that is a good service of communications. Today, however, the context one should give to news is too often lacking. Also, unfortunately, often professional information is often lacking. The reason is also the fact that journalists today have to play different roles and be timely. But it also takes time to learn, read, think …

ZENIT: On February 4, 2019, during the Pope’s travel to Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Ahzar Al Tayeb signed the historic joint declaration on human brotherhood. I had the pleasure to be there having followed the trip from the papal flight. This document condemned religious extremism. Would you say that even here in Amman, there is the same spirit of that encounter?

Andrea Tornielli: Yes, it seems so, also because the experience in Jordan is a positive experience of dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The spirit is one of fighting hatred, extremism, fanaticism and striving instead for dialogue. And dialogue does not mean giving up one’s principles, one’s identity, but it means recognizing others, recognizing that others can also move forward …

ZENIT: Is there a certain element in that document, which you believe is most important to highlight?

Andrea Tornielli: The interesting point about Abu Dhabi is that for the first time, there was a strong commitment by an Islamic authority to walk in a certain direction. Some might ask, “will it be enough?” No, of course! “Is that authority recognized by the whole Islamic world?” No. But that is how a journey begins. And I believe that establishing human and personal relationships is always a positive step, to recognize ourselves as brothers and not to hate each other because of faith.

ZENIT: What are Pope Francis’ hopes today, in your opinion, around that document? What concrete fruits is the Holy Father hoping for, and would be most appreciated after that historic signature?

Andrea Tornielli: I believe that the Pope’s hope, after the signing of the human fraternity document in Abu Dhabi, is to be able to show and make it clear, that there is an Islam that wants to dialogue, engage in respect for human rights and is also committed to making concrete progress, make significant steps!

For example, I was very impressed by the passages of the declaration about the dignity of women. The great hope of Francis, I believe, is that those words gradually turn into facts.

ZENIT: What then, is the truth about Islam that should find space in the media?

Andrea Tornielli: The truth is that there is an Islam that dialogues and with which, a peaceful coexistence can be built. It is true that there are already so many stories of good coexistence, you just need to know them and tell them. This is not to forget the ugliness that happens because of fanaticism, but to show that reality is not all the same. It is complex. And when I talk about the complexity of reality, I mean we need to be able to understand what is happening inside Islam. The real “battlefield” today is within the Muslim camp, in the clash between Shiites and Sunnis, in the great movements we observe internationally … Never give way to ideological simplifications like those of Daesh, like the final clash between Islam and crusaders … not like this!

ZENIT: Here in Amman, at this encounter of Muslims and Christians, there is such a positive climate. It feels like in little steps like this, that such interfaith encounters between these two faiths are feeling more and more normal…

Andrea Tornielli: These opportunities for meeting must be multiplied. The last time I had been in Amman was three years ago, because my book ‘The Name of God Is Mercy’ had been translated into Arabic. We presented it here in Jordan and there was the Grand Imam of the Mosque of Amman, who greeted me. Then we talked about mercy with a theologian of the Islamic faculty. It really struck me, really, to talk about a theme like the mercy of God that is considered common, because Muslims too speak of God Almighty and Merciful. It is true that Jordan is a place where this dialogue is possible, while unfortunately in many places fanaticism is moving forward … so here is the importance of meetings like that in Abu Dhabi and like this one!

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Pope to Conclude ‘Theology after Veritatis Gaudium in the context of the Mediterranean’ Congress

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 2:07 AM

The Faculty of Theology of Southern Italy (Section San Luigi), based in Naples, will be the venue of the congress “Theology after Veritatis Gaudium in the context of the Mediterranean”, to be held from June 20-21, 2019. As suggested by its title, it will focus on the Apostolic Constitution on ecclesiastical universities and faculties, issued by the Holy Father last January.

On “the joy of truth” in the context of the Mare Nostrum, here and now, theologians and professors from various universities – Naples, Bologna, Comillas (Madrid), and Jerusalem – will discuss topics such as migrations, interculturality, art as a locus for encounter and dialogue, interreligious dialogue and discernment as a method of resolving antithetical tensions.

Pope Francis will close the work of the conference on Friday 21, with an address and a blessing to all the participants.

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Archbishop Scicluna Addresses Polish Bishops’ Conference

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 1:00 AM

I am an eyewitness of the determination of St. John Paul II to combat sexual abuse of minors when such cases were brought to his attention. I believe that those who question the competence or determination of St. John Paul II in the treatment of this phenomenon should brush up on their knowledge of history, said Metropolitan Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in an interview with the Polish Catholic News Agency KAI, carried out during his visit to Poland.

In an interview with KAI, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spoke about the approach of John Paul II towards the abuse of minors. “I believe that Poland is and should be justly proud of John Paul II, a magnificent man. I am an eyewitness of the determination of St. John Paul II to combat sexual abuse of minors when such cases were brought to his attention,” observed Archbishop Scicluna.

Responding to a question of KAI about the role of St. John Paul II in combatting such crimes, the Archbishop of Malta recalled that it was John Paull II who had appointed him in October 2002 the Promotor of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith led by Cardinal Ratzinger, to investigate cases of clerical sexual abuse. “I did it also during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, until October 2012, for a full ten years. Some of these years were during the pontificate of John Paul II. At that time, every Friday Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would visit the Holy Father with many cases of sexual abuse. The Pope, with utmost dedication and determination, always took into consideration the opinion of the Congregation”, said Archbishop Scicluna.

The Archbishop recalled the words of John Paul II from 23 October 2002, from a meeting with the Cardinals from the United States: “there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young”. According to Archbishop Scicluna, these words by John Paul II are “the most significant statement that Catholics both in Poland and elsewhere should know” and implement the world over. “I, therefore, think that those who question the competence or determination of St. John Paul II in the treatment of this phenomenon should brush up on their knowledge of history”, stressed Archbishop Scicluna.

At the invitation of Polish bishops, Archbishop Charles Scicluna took part in the second day of the plenary meeting of the Conference of Polish Bishops, on June 14. The Archbishop shared his experience concerning the protection of children and young people in the Church.

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Polish Bishops Plenary Meeting Focuses on Protection of Children and Young People

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:52 AM

Protection of children and young people, as well as the pastoral agenda for the years 2019/2020, were the principal topics of the plenary meeting of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. The bishops convened in Wałbrzych, Diocese of Świdnica, on June 13-14, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the diocese. Metropolitan Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was a guest of the meeting. He conducted a study day and shared his experience.

Archbishop Scicluna of Malta was invited by the Polish Bishops’ Conference last year to share his expertise on the protection of children and young people against sexual abuse by the clergy. Apart from the meeting with Archbishop Scicluna, the bishops heard a report of Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, e.g. on the system of prevention and assistance to victims of abuse. Moreover, Fr. Prof. Piotr Majer discussed the implementation of the Motu Proprio issued by Pope Francis: Vos estis lux mundi, in operation in the Catholic Church since June 1, 2019.

The bishops moreover discussed topical questions concerning the Polish Bishops’ Conference and pastoral care. On the first day of the meeting, the bishops elected Secretary General of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Bishop Artur Grzegorz Miziński was re-elected in the first vote for his second five-year term, while Fr. Jarosław Mrówczyński will for one more term serve as his deputy. Furthermore, the bishops discussed the pastoral program of the Church in Poland for the 2019-2022 period, carried out under the motto “The Eucharist Gives Life”.

Pastoral outreach to families and the protection of personal data in the Church were some of the other issues raised during the debates. The bishops noted many precious family-friendly initiatives which protect human life from the moment of conception to natural death. In the communiqué adopted at the conclusion of the meeting, Polish bishops thanked the lay faithful for the organization of and mass turn-out during Marches for Life and the Family. Furthermore, they warned against the promotion of ideologies inimical to natural law and Christian values and against the attempts at introducing such ideologies to schools under the guise of sexual education. The bishops expressed their concern about the increasing brutalization of social life and recent acts of sacrilege.

The bishops moreover addressed the question of accompanying the pilgrims leaving for the Holy Land. In addition, they were introduced to the results of studies indicating a substantial positive impact of limiting commercial trade on Sundays on Poles’ family ties. Polish bishops stressed the importance of women in the life of the Church and encouraged participation in pastoral initiatives dedicated to women in dioceses and parishes.

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Save the Children Urges Action as Ebola Spreads to Uganda

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:48 PM

Save the Children urges the international community to step up its fight against the Ebola virus, even though the WHO today decided not to declare the outbreak in the DRC and Uganda a public health emergency of international concern.

Ian Vale, Regional director for Save the Children in East and Southern Africa said:

“It was only a matter of time before this terrible disease surfaced in Uganda and the fact that it has should be a clear warning that not enough is being done to curb the virus. The death rate of this outbreak is around 67 percent, which is even higher than the 2014 outbreak in West-Africa.

“Our teams in the field in the DRC see the devastating effect of the virus on children every day – they have died, have seen parents and family die in the most gruesome way, they live in fear, schools are closed.

“The international community must step up support and do all it can to stop the disease in its tracks in the DRC, and to prevent it from spreading any further in Uganda.”

The agency said international donors should prioritize supporting community awareness campaigns to ensure that people have accurate information about how to prevent the spread of the disease, recognize the symptoms and know what to do in response. Misinformation and lack of community engagement have been a major barrier to tackling the outbreak in the region so far.

In recent days, one five-year-old boy and his grandmother died of Ebola in Uganda and another three-year-old boy has been confirmed with the disease.  There are four other suspected cases reported in the country. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 1,400 people in the DRC, including well over 350 children.*

This Ebola outbreak, the 10th in DRC, was declared on 1 August 2018. Since then, Save the Children has reached around 1 million people in the country with information on how to recognize symptoms and how to keep the disease from spreading.

In Uganda, Save the Children has been working with local communities and district authorities to help mitigate the spread of the outbreak. More than 1,000 Ugandan health workers, volunteers, teachers, village health teams and laboratory staff have so far been trained to prevent and respond to cases. Save the Children has also distributed prevention information in health facilities and border crossings and installed handwashing facilities to reduce the risk of contamination.

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Australian Bishops on Pilgrimage Ahead of Ad Limina Visit

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:44 PM

Australia’s Catholic bishops have arrived in Italy and are preparing for their pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul with a period of prayer and discernment.

Almost 40 bishops will be in Rome next week for the Ad Limina Apostolorum visit, translated as “To the Threshold of the Apostles”.

The visit, typically held every five years, sees active Australian bishops celebrate Mass at the four papal basilicas, including those dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul, meet and pray with the Pope and hold conversations with officials from the various agencies of the Holy See.

Due to delays in the rotation of Ad Limina visits for other episcopal conferences, this will be the Australian bishops’ first visit in Pope Francis’ six-year pontificate. The last visit was in 2011.

“We are very much looking forward to hearing from and speaking with Pope Francis,” Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

“For many of the bishops, this will be their first time meeting Pope Francis and, for quite a few, their first Ad Limina visit. It’s an important opportunity to reflect on the apostolic witness of St Peter and St Paul, and to enter into pastoral dialogue with the Holy Father, the successor of Peter.”

Archbishop Coleridge said that among the topics to be discussed in the Vatican will be the Church’s ongoing response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the preparations for the Plenary Council and the Church’s changing profile in Australian society and what this means in areas like health care, education, and social welfare.

“The visit is a time for us to celebrate our communion with the Pope despite the separation of distance. It’s also a time for us to learn from those who serve in the offices of the Holy See and for them to learn from us,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

”We will also pray for our people at the tombs of the apostles, and I ask the Catholic people of Australia to pray for the bishops as we enter into this pilgrimage of faith.”

This week the bishops are on retreat, as part of their journey of the Plenary Council. They will reflect deeply on the meaning of discernment and will reflect upon the Council’s six National Themes for Discernment, which were announced at Pentecost.

“When the bishops decided to convoke a Plenary Council to consider the Church’s place and mission in contemporary Australia, we knew it would have to be a journey of prayer, a time to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“This week, we are going more deeply into that experience of listening to the voice of God in our lives and in the Church in Australia at this complex time – and doing so in the shadow of the great feast of Pentecost.”

Archbishop Coleridge said the bishops last year agreed to hold a retreat in 2019. The decision to hold it in Italy was made when the Holy See confirmed the dates for the Ad Limina visit.

Regular updates on the bishops’ Ad Limina visit will be posted at www.catholic.org.au

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Presentation of International Youth Forum, Promoted by Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:07 PM

The Holy See Press Office on June 18, 2019, hosted a press conference to present the International Youth Forum, organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life: “Youth in action in a synodal Church”, to be held in Sassone di Ciampino, Rome, from 19 to 22 June 2019, and whose aim is to promote the reception and continuation of the synod Path of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held in the Vatican from October 3-28, 2018: “Young people, the faith and vocational discernment”.

The speakers at the conference were Rev. Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello, I.Sch., secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; Rev. Fr. João Chagas, head of the Youth Office of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; Desfortunées Kuissuk Feupeussi, head of youth of the Emmanuel Community in Cameroon, member of the youth group of Douala, Cameroon, auditor of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; Isabella McCafferty, member of the Council for Youth of the Episcopal Council of New Zealand, engaged in youth pastoral care in the Archdiocese of Wellington, New Zealand, present at the pre-Synodal meeting in March 2018; and Michele Borghi, delegate of the Communion and Liberation Movement and present at the pre-Synodal meeting in March 2018.

In his intervention, Rev. Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello recalled that the new Apostolic Exhortation that that governs the functioning of the Synod of Bishops – the “Episcopalis Communio”, signed by Pope Francis, provides not only a preparatory stage and a celebratory stage but also a stage of the application of the Synod. “This novelty aims to ensure the reception and implementation of the conclusions of the Synodal assembly”, he said. 2Putting into practice what is said by the Synod is a task for all the particular Churches and Episcopal Conferences, but which – on the part of the Roman Curia – must be promoted in particular by bodies competent on the theme of the Synod”.

One of these entities is, without doubt, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, which has as its mission – among others – expressing “the Church’s special care for the young, promoting their agency amid the challenges of today’s world. In this sense”, he continued, “our field is youth pastoral care. We, therefore, took the initiative of promoting this International Forum, which concentrates especially on the consequences of the Synod for the work that the Particular Churches and the ecclesial movements carry out with regard to this specific environment”.

“Encouraged by the whole Synod process, which was a real kairós in the life of the Church, young people will consider in particular the Final Document of the Synod and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit”, explained the under-secretary, noting that the young delegates of the Episcopal Conferences and the main movements and ecclesial communities with great international range, including some young auditors of the Synod, were invited to the Forum, so that they can communicate their experience. “They will be accompanied by some Youth Ministry experts at the international level, but the protagonists will be the young people themselves, who will have space for discernment in community, maintaining the synodal missionary style, promoted by the Synod”.

The general theme of the Forum will be: “Young people in action in a synodal Church”, and each day will have a specific emphasis. Wednesday 19th will be dedicated to the phase of the Synod path and its impact on the local Churches. The second day will be dedicated to the reception of the Pope’s exhortation: “Christus vivit, the ripe fruit of the Synod for young people”. “It will involve perceiving in panels and working groups the concrete ways in which Christus vivit inspires the reality of young people”, explained Mello. The third day will address the practical contribution that the young people present can give to the ecclesial communities to which belong so as to continue to advance in a Synodal way. Finally, on Saturday, there will be an audience with the Pope.

A total of 246 young delegates aged between 18 and 29 will participate in the Forum, representing 109 countries and 37 communities, movements and ecclesial associations. They will include eighteen young people who were auditors at last year’s Synod of Bishops. It will also be attended by fifteen heads of youth pastoral care from various countries.

With regard to participation “from a distance”, the secretary explained, “all young people will be invited to accompany the news, photos and videos that will be published with the official hashtag #youthforum19 in the social media of the Dicastery (Twitter, Instagram), the photos on our Flickr account and also our site www.laityfamilylife.va. We also wish to motivate and to ask young people from all over the world to share through the social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) all that is being done to apply the synodal process and Christus vivit in their local circumstances, again using the same hashtag #youthforum19”.

“It is worth making a final observation”, he concluded. “The former Pontifical Council for the Laity held ten International Youth Forums similar to his, with the aim of treating themes specific to youth pastoral care. The first were directly linked to the WYDs. The last was in 2010. This shows that the Roman Curia’s concern for the young originated some time ago and is not a current trend, momentary and transient”.

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Secretary for Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Invites Participation in ‘The Time of Creation’

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 1:58 PM

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has sent a letter to priests all around the world inviting them to prepare for the Time of Creation, a global ecumenical initiative of prayer and action to protect our common home.

The letter encourages priests to celebrate the Time of Creation and includes an invitation from the Dicastery, the World Catholic Movement for Climate and the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network, to Catholic communities, with ideas for celebration, such as the incorporation of the care of creation in the liturgy, pastoral formation that promotes integral ecology, and participation in mobilization.

During the Time of Creation (September 1 to October 4, 2019), Christians from the six continents will work to put Laudato si’ into practice. They will participate in community events to deepen their love for the Creator, for creation and for others. The events will vary according to each community, from worship services and prayer to picking up trash or actions asking for changes in policies to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

These celebrations will be integrated into the annual calendar of parishes and dioceses around the world. Many parishes are planning their events now, and the letter to parish priests and the invitation to Catholic communities are intended to encourage them to organize events. More information about the events can be found on the Time of Creation website, SeasonofCreation.org.

An ecumenical steering committee will suggest a theme for each year’s celebration. The theme for 2019 is “The Network of Life”, a theme that reflects both our role as stewards of creation, and the urgent need to protect the rich tapestry of biodiversity woven by the Creator. The loss of species is accelerating, and a recent report by the United Nations estimates that our way of life threatens the extinction of a million species. That is, approximately one in every nine species on Earth.

The invitation to Catholic communities describes in more detail the connection between this theme and the next Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which will focus on the application of an integral ecology. The synod begins on October 6, just after the end of the Time of Creation.

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SPECIAL: ZENIT on the Ground in Amman, Jordan

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 10:47 AM

ZENIT is on the ground in Jordan.

Zenit English’s Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Castellano Lubov, is there to speak at and participate in the international conference titled, “Media and their Role in Defending the Truth in Amman.” The encounter is being organized by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan and the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East.

On Way to #Jordan: Zenit Sr. Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov is on her way to #Amman to bring our readers updates this week. @DeborahLubov will speak at international event of Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East & Jordan’s Catholic Center for Studies & Media pic.twitter.com/8klOnrMk82

— Zenit English (@zenitenglish) June 17, 2019

Pope Francis visited Jordan, home to the site of Jesus’ Baptism, during his 2014 visit to the Holy Land, along with his predecessors Benedict XVI in 2009 and John Paul II in 2000.

The Muslim-majority nation, where Catholics, make up less than 1 percent, is known as a peaceful country of coexistence among religions and peoples and tranquility.

‘The Document on Human Fraternity, signed by #PopeFrancis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, in #AbuDhabi, is being published in Egyptian publications,’ Armenian Catholic Bishop Krikor Kousa, tells Zenit Sr Vatican Correspondent @DeborahLubov in exclusive interview coming soon! pic.twitter.com/rC6d7mByVu

— Zenit English (@zenitenglish) June 18, 2019

At the encounter, various patriarchs, prelates, and religious and government leaders are participating, from throughout the Middle East. From the Vatican, also participating is the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications’ Editorial Director, Andrea Tornielli, and the Director of Vatican Radio’s Arabic Section, Father Jean-Pierre Yamin.

Panoramic view of #Amman, #Jordan. With less than 1 percent Christians, the majority Muslim nation has welcomed numerous refugees, especially from #Syria, and is known as a model of peaceful coexistence and tranquility in the world.

(via Zenit’s @DeborahLubov on the ground) pic.twitter.com/VAeWaujUFH

— Zenit English (@zenitenglish) June 18, 2019

Deborah Castellano Lubov is speaking at today’s panel: “Media and Truth: what is the relationship?”

According to the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency), as of January 2019, Jordan, situated between Syria, Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia, has welcomed some 762,460 refugees living within its borders.

There are 57 refugee nationalities living in Jordan, 83 percent of whom, living in rural areas. Seventeen percent of the refugees live in the camps of Zaatari, Azraq and Emirati Jordanian Camp.

At the opening session this morning, Andrea Tornielli, spoke about Vatican reform, the importance of having free and truthful press, and Pope Francis’ appreciation for media.

Lamenting those who participate in toxic debates online, on blogs and social media, he noted: “We shouldn’t respond to attacks made in bad faith, because we put ourselves on same level as them. Instead we are to share the good news.”

In #Jordan, Andrea Tornielli speaks about Global #Media Scene. Acknowledging at times toxic debates online, states: ‘We shouldn’t respond to attacks made in bad faith, w/c puts ourselves on same level, but instead we should promote the Good News’ @Tornielli (via @DeborahLubov) pic.twitter.com/Blgj28m8Qg

— Zenit English (@zenitenglish) June 18, 2019

The Director of the Catholic Center for Catholic Studies and Media in Jordan, and of abouna.org, Father Rifat Bader, giving the introductory remarks, told about the Code of Ethics that was being circulated, in Arabic, and would be signed at this encounter.

Pope Francis, he recalled, called for media freedom and condemned fake news, even observing that the first fake news was when the devil, posing as a serpent, told Eve lies in the Garden of Eden.

Father Rifat emphasized how useful media is, but stressed how important it is to differentiate and distinguish news properly, in order to help our young and all people “be able to know how to use the news and do so responsibly.”

Dr. Mohammed Dawoudiyeh, chief of the board of directors of Ad-Dustour newspaper, noted this code essentially constitutes “guidelines, or a ‘roadmap,’ that if we follow faithfully, we can avoid harm and ‘fake news.’

“We need to avoid fake news, which is a disaster,” he said.

Journalist Giselle Khoury spoke about her experience, in particular at the BBC, while Nidhal Mansour, director of the Center for the Protection of Journalists, asked: “What is next after Facebook and Twitter?”

Noting the rapid evolution of new platforms and even expectations for journalists, he noted: Ten or 15 years ago, we never could have imagined all the platforms we have now.”

ZENIT in #Jordan. Senior Vatican Correspondent @DeborahLubov is there to learn about the region’s realities and has been invited to speak at the international conference ‘Media & Their Role in Defending the Truth,’ organized by Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East pic.twitter.com/NXUu2v1nTq

— Zenit English (@zenitenglish) June 18, 2019

“Nowadays, if a journalist thinks, I just write an article, without knowing how to handle social media, editing and so on, he or she is out of a job.”

Speaking on autonomy, he acknowledged, “It is not about being bought or owned by someone, by an institution or government, the question is: Do we have an independent journalist.”

The panelists unanimously agreed that having credibility is everything.

Patriarch #Twal of #Jerusalem, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem for the Latins, with Zenit Senior Vatican Correspondent Deborah Lubov in #Amman, #Jordan

(@DeborahLubov is on the ground in #Jordan, learning about the realities in the #HolyLand and region) pic.twitter.com/YjwsjPnTHJ

— Zenit English (@zenitenglish) June 18, 2019

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Priest’s Role in the Passion Reading

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 6:00 AM

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: We recently had a discussion surrounding the Ordo statement that the “role of Christ should be reserved for a priest.” According to a 1988 Holy See circular letter on the Easter celebrations, in article No. 33, which deals with the readings of the Passion, it was determined that during the Passion reading the role of Christ should be reserved for the priest. Could you help direct me toward the liturgical theology that would support such a statement? The word “should” implies to me that it is not an absolute but more of courtesy out of respect – a way of involving the priest in the Passion reading at an important part of the liturgical cycle. Secondly, should a deacon be removed from the reading of the Passion completely in order to allow lay readers and lectors to engage in their ministry? — M.T., Winnipeg, Manitoba

A: The text of the 1988 circular letter referred to (Paschale Solemnitatis) is the following.

“33. The passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is, by three persons who take the part of Christ, the narrator, and the people. The passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers. In the latter case, the part of the Christ should be reserved to the priest.

“The proclamation of the passion should be without candles and incense; the greeting and the sings of the cross are omitted; and only a deacon asks for the blessing, as he does before the Gospel. For the spiritual good of the faithful, the passion should be proclaimed in its entirety, and the readings that proceed it should not be omitted.

“66. [On Good Friday] The readings are to be read in their entirety. The responsorial psalm and the chant before the gospel are to be sung in the usual manner. The narrative of the Lord’s passion according to John is sung or read in the way prescribed for the previous Sunday (cf. n. 33). After the reading of the passion, a homily should be given, at the end of which the faithful may be invited to spend a short time in meditation.”

The Roman Missal phrases the question slightly differently:

“The narrative of the Lord’s Passion is read without candles and without incense, with no greeting or signing of the Book. It is read by a Deacon or, if there is no Deacon, by a Priest. It may also be read by readers, with the part of Christ, if possible, reserved to a priest.”

In order to determine any priority involved, we should observe the order mentioned above: deacons, priests and lay readers. This implies a clear preference while giving some scope for practical solutions.

The ideal situation is that the Passion be sung or read by three deacons. In some places, the choir, or even the assembly, can take up a fourth role as the multitude as is done at papal celebrations.

If three priests are available, but no deacons, then they would have a preference in proclaiming the Passion.

If there is a combination of priests and deacons, the above norms would imply, but not require, that the priest take up the role of Christ. This would be a practical question depending on who can best sing or read the text.

The role of Christ is specifically reserved to the priest only in the case that the other two readers are lay readers. The rule of reserving the role of Christ to the priest when accompanied by lay readers obeys a certain liturgical logic insofar as he normally represents Christ in his ministerial role.

In this context, although the Missal says that the role of Christ should be carried out by a priest “if possible,” there would be few situations where it would not be possible for a priest to carry out this role, especially considering all of the other things he has to sing or say during this rite.

It is not, however, an absolute rule, and there may be exceptions if the greater good of the celebration requires it. For example, the Passion could be solemnly sung by lay cantors in situations where the priest or deacon might lack the necessary gifts to sing the requisite parts.

This throws some light on our reader’s second question: Should a deacon be removed from the reading of the Passion completely in order to allow lay readers to engage in their ministry? The short answer is no. He should not be removed if the only reason is to allow space for lay readers. The deacon has a certain priority even over the priest.

However, as mentioned above in the case of the priest, the deacon’s participation may be limited in order to favor a more solemn proclamation of the Passion, especially if sung.

* * *

Follow-up: “Handing Over” a Mass

Pursuant to our question regarding a change of principal celebrant (June 4), especially during a wedding Mass, a deacon wrote: “If the deacon in question received the vows and was not the celebrant, would the sacrament still be considered valid yet illicit? Could this be grounds for a defect in form?”

Provided that the deacon had received the proper delegation to celebrate the wedding, the sacrament of matrimony would be valid and licit. The priest or deacon acts as an official witness, but the ministers of the sacrament are the spouses themselves.

The error involved does not affect the sacrament as such but the proper manner of celebrating the rites inherent to the nuptial Mass in which there should be no change of presiding celebrant.

There is also an error on the part of the parish priest in granting a delegation while knowing that a nuptial Mass will take place.

There is a caveat, however: The Vatican document I quoted is an official private reply but is not law as such. It is solid liturgical reasoning but is not legally binding. This being the case, some dioceses have given express permission for a deacon to preside at weddings during Mass “for pastoral reasons.” The bishop is within his right to grant this permission until such time that the Holy See deems that the issue merits an official clarification.

Such pastoral reasons should be objective, and one could think of several real-life situations that would justify an exception. For example, it sometimes happens when the spouses are from different cultural backgrounds, and the Mass is in one language and the wedding rite in another. If only the deacon knows the language of the wedding rite, he could officiate.

The fact that such permissions exist shows that there is no doubt regarding the validity and liceity of the sacrament – even though they may not respect the normal logic of liturgical precedence.

One clear exception does exist, and which has been recently reconfirmed in 2016 by Pope Francis through several changes in canon law. If one of the spouses belongs to an Eastern Church, either Catholic or non-Catholic, in which the presence of the priest is deemed essential to validity, then, in such cases, a deacon may never preside at the wedding. This holds true even if the actual ceremony is carried out in the Latin rite.

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Sri Lankan Government Establishes Council for Reconciliation Between Religions

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 11:23 PM

The Sri Lankan government has announced that it will establish a special “Council for reconciliation between religions”, with the aim of building interreligious coexistence in society and avoid any form of polarization.

As stated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the idea of the Council comes from representatives of Buddhist monks: the Council will include religious leaders of all faith communities present in Sri Lanka. Wickremesinghe recalled that, regardless of religious beliefs, everyone should have the right to freely practice their faith, even if the Constitution of Sri Lanka assigns a sort of “priority” to Buddhism.

The government is working to formulate laws and regulations necessary to establish the Council. The decision to establish the new body comes in the wake of the Easter attacks, claimed by the Islamic State, which shook the country on April 21, killing over 250 people and wounding another 500.

Robert Thilakaratne, a local Catholic layman, told Fides News Agency: “Establishing a Council for religious reconciliation and committing directly to building coexistence in society is a wise move by the government. It will serve to promote solidarity, understanding, harmony, peace, and brotherhood, which the country really need.”.

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic nation with 22 million inhabitants, mostly Buddhists, but includes Christian, Muslim, and Hindu minorities. Muslims represent almost 10% of the population; Christians are 7.4% (6.1% Catholics and 1.3% Protestants).

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Australia: Church Announces National Themes for Discernment

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 11:11 PM

The Plenary Council 2020 moves into its next phase of preparation today with the announcement of the National Themes for Discernment that emerged from a historic process of listening to the voices of more than 222,000 people.

In October 2020, the Catholic Church in Australia will gather for the first Plenary Council to be held since the Second Vatican Council. In 2018, the entire People of God in Australia began preparing for this historic moment by listening to God, by listening to one another’s stories of faith.

More than 222,000 people participated in listening and dialogue encounters and contributed 17,457 submissions during the first stage of preparation for the Australian Plenary Council.

Between May 2018 and March 2019, almost 17,500 submissions, from individuals and groups of all sizes, addressed the Plenary Council’s central question: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”

Over several days of listening to what the people of God said, with intense moments of prayer and discernment, the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council and its Executive Committee, joined by the Facilitation Team, considered what people were longing for. Six National Themes for Discernment emerged.

“The National Centre for Pastoral Research was able to pinpoint more than 100 recurring subject areas from those 17,500 submissions,” said Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, president of the Plenary Council.

“In some ways, those subject areas described what one might call ‘the messy reality’ of Catholic life in Australia today. The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia.

“We worked to discern what people were yearning for as we move into this next stage of preparing for the Plenary Council.”

Archbishop Costelloe said there was a clear desire expressed for the Church to renew herself and focus on the person of Jesus Christ.

“Accordingly, the six National Themes for Discernment flow from that primary goal of being a Christ-centred community of people,” he explained.

The six National Themes for Discernment invite people to reflect, to pray and to consider how God is calling the People of God to be a Christ-centred Church in Australia that is: 

  • Missionary and Evangelising
  • Inclusive, Participatory and Synodal
  • Prayerful and Eucharistic
  • Humble, Healing and Merciful
  • A Joyful, Hope-Filled and Servant Community
  • Open to conversion, Renewal and

Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said many topics relate to one or more of the National Themes for Discernment and this next stage of preparation – “Listening and Discernment” – is a time of prayerful consideration of the “big” questions that have been raised by the faithful.

“The emergence of the National Themes for Discernment is an important moment in our journey towards the Plenary Council. It is an expression of the sense of the faith from the faithful and, from this, we can proceed in our discernment of what the Spirit is saying to us in Australia,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.

Part of that progression will take place later this month, when the Australian bishops gather for a retreat prior to their Ad Limina Apostolorum visit in Rome.

Archbishop Costelloe said: “We will take the opportunity to reflect carefully on the National Themes for Discernment and share our reflections and conclusions with the Plenary Council’s Facilitation Team and the Executive Committee, based on our own prayerful discernment and pastoral experience.”

Ms Turvey-Collins said those reflections and conclusions will be supplemented by a period of several months, beginning in August, when people across the country will again be asked to engage locally with the Plenary Council process.

“This discernment process will involve establishing working groups for each National Theme for Discernment. People in faith communities across Australia will also be called to participate locally in their own communal Listening and Discernment encounters,” she said.

“The fruits of what is discerned during this time will shape the agenda for the first session of Plenary Council in October 2020.”

More information on the National Themes for Discernment can be found on the re-launched Plenary Council website: www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au

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