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Updated: 53 min 15 sec ago

Santa Marta: ‘To Dream is to Open the Door to the Future’

5 hours 35 min ago

“To dream is to open doors to the future,” said Pope Francis at the Mass on December 18, 2018, at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

In his homily reported by Vatican News, the Pope meditated on the figure of St. Joseph, presented in the Scriptures as “a righteous man, an observant of the law, a worker, humble, lover of Mary…God reveals to him his mission, Joseph embraces his role and accompanies the growth of the Son of God “in silence, without judging, without speaking, without repeating”.

Saint Joseph helped Jesus “to grow, to grow,” continued the pope: “He sought thus a place for his son to be born; he took care of him; he helped him grow up; he taught him his charge: so many things … In silence. He never saw his son as a property: he let him grow in silence. He lets him grow: that would be the word that would help us a lot, we who by nature always want to put our noses everywhere, especially in the lives of others. And why is he doing this? Why the other …? And we start to behave … And he lets him grow. He protects. He helps but in silence. ”

The pope also pointed out that St Joseph is “the man of dreams…The dream is a privileged place to seek the truth because there we do not defend ourselves against the truth … And God also speaks in dreams. Not always, because usually, it’s our unconscious, but God often chooses to speak in dreams … it shows in the Bible, does not it? Through dreams ”

“Joseph was the man the man of dreams, but he was not a dreamer, eh? He was not a fancier. A dreamer is something else: he who believes … come, he is in the clouds, he does not have eyes on earth … Joseph had his feet on the ground. But he was open,” assured the pope.

He urged “not to lose the ability to dream the future”, encouraging: “Each of us: dream for our family, for our children, for our parents. Look how I would like their life to go. Priests too: to dream for our faithful, to what we want. To dream as young people dream, who are ‘shamed’ in the dream, and they find a way. ”

This, he concluded, “does not lose the ability to dream, because to dream is to open the doors in the future. It’s to be fruitful in the future. ”

During the celebration, the Pope specially prayed for the handicapped children of Slovakia who made the ornaments of the Christmas tree installed near the altar of the chapel.

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Comprehensive Response to Sexual Abuse Crisis Needed, Otherwise Mission of Church in the World Will Be in Jeopardy, Stress Vatican Meeting to Protect Minors’ Organizers

8 hours 20 min ago
Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world.

The Organizing Committee of the meeting on “The protection of minors in the Church,” February 21-24, 2019, in the Vatican, stated this in a letter they sent to the encounter’s participants.

It was signed by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, USA; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India, and President of the Episcopal Conference of India; Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Father Hans Zollner, SJ, President of the Center for the Protection of Minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and appointed as referent of the Committee.

The letter begins by encouraging those reading it to reach out to and meet with abuse victims, to understand the gravity of the situation and collect information ahead of the meeting. The bishops also are directed to answer the questionnaire attached to this letter.

The questionnaire, the committee expressed, is to provide a tool for all the participants of the meeting in February to “express their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the Church.”

The Holy Father, they explained, asked them to thank all bishops reading the letter for their support in completing the attached questionnaire to better prepare for the meeting, and “to urgently invite you to take up this road together. The Holy Father is convinced that through collegial cooperation, the challenges facing the Church can be met.”

“But each of us needs to own this challenge,” it continued, “coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable.”

Following the publishing of the letter, Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, made the following comments: “The organizers are urging participants to meet with victim survivors  in their own countries before coming in February. This is a concrete way of putting victims first, and acknowledging the horror of what happened.”

“The meeting on the protection of minors will focus on three main themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

Here is the full Vatican-provided English text of that letter:

***

Dear Brothers in Christ,

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). With these words Pope Francis began his Letter to the People of God (August 2018) in response to the abuse crisis facing the Church. Those abused by clerics were also damaged when “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.” And so, “If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.”

Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world.

The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened. For this reason, we urge each episcopal conference president to reach out and visit with victim survivors of clergy sex abuse in your respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome, to learn first-hand the suffering that they have endured.

Additionally, we ask you to answer the questionnaire attached to this letter. It provides a tool for all the participants of the meeting in February to express their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the Church.

With this in mind, the Holy Father has asked us to thank you for your support in completing the attached questionnaire to better prepare for the meeting, and to urgently invite you to take up this road together. The Holy Father is convinced that through collegial cooperation, the challenges facing the Church can be met.

But each of us needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable.

Please note that we would be grateful to have your responses as soon as possible, but no later than January 15.

God bless in this Advent season,

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich
Cardinal Oswald Gracias
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna
Fr. Hans Zollner SJ

[Original text: English]

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Pope Appoints Andrea Tornielli Editorial Director of Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications

8 hours 47 min ago

Pope Francis has appointed Italian Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli, 54, editorial director of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications.

Announced in a Holy See Press Office bulletin, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, Tornielli will hold this position which coordinates Vatican media. In the same bulletin, it was announced that the Pope nominated Andrea Monda as Director of L’Osservatore Romano.

Born in Chioggia, part of Venice in northern Italy, on March 19, 1964, Andrea Tornielli graduated in the History of the Greek Language from the University of Padua. He was editor at the monthly magazine 30 Giorni, then worked from 1996 to 2011 for the daily Il Giornale.

Since April 2011, he worked at the daily La Stampa, where he coordinated the website Vatican Insider . Married and father of three, he lives between Rome and Milan, according to his short biography published by the Holy See.

In a statement, the prefect of the Dicastery, Paolo Ruffini, assures that with Andrea Tornielli, “the editorial direction (which he is responsible for, in coordinating all the media of the Vatican) will have a safe, authoritative and visionary conduct; conscious of both the great history of the Vatican media and the future that can only be built if we are not afraid, and together.”

The new and first editorial director expresses his gratitude to the pope.

Mentioning the “long history” of the Vatican media, he points out that “these media continue to convey the message of the Successors of Peter and to give voice to the one who does not, thanks to a service in many languages, unique to world.”

Today, he believes, “we need a journalism that tells the facts first before commenting. A journalism that, at the time of the slogans, is able to analyze the reality while always taking into account all its factors.” Andrea Tornielli is committed to serving the Holy See “to help communicate, with all means and using all platforms, in a simple and direct way, the magisterium of the Pope who – as shown by the homilies of St. Martha – accompanies the people of God in every corner of the world. “

Article 9 of the Statute of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications notes that the editorial direction has as its mission: the orientation and the coordination of all the editorial lines of competence of the Dicastery; strategic development of new forms of communication; the effective integration of traditional media in the digital world, with constant attention to the universal dimension of the Holy See’s communication.

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Pope Calls to Protect Children from War & Exploitation in Message for 52nd World Day of Peace

9 hours 53 min ago

Children must be protected, not exploited or abused.

Pope Francis has underscored the importance of this in his Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1st, on the theme: ‘Good politics at the service of peace,’ which was presented today in the Vatican.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, speaking at the presentation, stressed the importance of affirming children’s human rights and futures, as he explored the Holy Father’s message.

Young people, the African cardinal said, “should not be deprived of their future by depriving them of an experience of peace, even now…”

“We should make peace happen,” Cardinal Turkson stressed, in all aspects of life, at home, community, work, and nations.

The message reflected on children currently living in areas of conflict, and all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights, and lamented “that one out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups.”

“The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.”

The Pope’s message, which places a great emphasis on the need to protect human rights, begins focusing on “Good politics at the service of peace”

“Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.”

“The ‘house’ of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination,” and also our ‘common home.'”

Next addressed was the challenge of good politics, pointing out that peace “is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence.”

When political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, Francis noted, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction, and reminds: “Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).

“Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of people, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.”

Next, “Charity and human virtues: the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace,” was explored, recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s words: “Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family.”

The Pope reminded the importance of voting, noting that “Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law.”

“One thing is certain,” the Pontiff affirmed, “good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.”

Next, the message explored political vices, noting many are the fault of personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, it said, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall.

The Pope reflected on the various forms of corruption: “the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power.” In addition, he decried “xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.”

In the next section, Francis examined how good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others.

“When politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces,” he said, adding: “It becomes a confident assurance that says, ‘I trust you and with you I believe’ that we can all work together for the common good.”

“Politics is at the service of peace if it finds expression in the recognition of the gifts and abilities of each individual.”

Today more than ever, Pope Francis urged, our societies need “artisans of peace” who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.

The sixth section was on: “No to war and to the strategy of fear,” where the Successor of Peter reminded: “peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear.”

“To threaten others,” he decried, “is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity. This is why we state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace.”

“Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace. Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable.”

Rather, he continued, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person…

“Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights,” lamenting that one out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups.”

“The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.

The last section presented “A great project of peace.”

Recalling we are celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War, we ought to remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: ‘Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties…The possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others.’”

“Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings.” But, he said, “it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew.”

“It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects”: peace with oneself, peace with others and peace with creation.

Concluding, Pope Francis recommends: “The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Savior and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind.”

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Message: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-message-for-52nd-world-day-of-peace/

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Pope’s Message for 52nd World Day of Peace

10 hours 57 min ago

Below is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Francis’ Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1st, on the theme: ‘Good politics at the service of peace:’

***

Good politics at the service of peace

1. “Peace be to this house!”

In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).

Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.[1] The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”

2. The challenge of good politics

Peace is like the hope which the poet Charles Péguy celebrated.[2] It is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence. We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.

Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). In the words of Pope Paul VI, “to take politics seriously at its different levels – local, regional, national and worldwide – is to affirm the duty of each individual to acknowledge the reality and value of the freedom offered him to work at one and the same time for the good of the city, the nation and all mankind”.[3]

Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.

3. Charity and human virtues: the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace

Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”.[4] This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.

In this regard, it may be helpful to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
Blessed be the politician who is without fear.[5]

Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.

4. Political vices

Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony. We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power. To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.

5. Good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others

When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals, the future is compromised and young people can be tempted to lose confidence, since they are relegated to the margins of society without the possibility of helping to build the future. But when politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces. It becomes a confident assurance that says, “I trust you and with you I believe” that we can all work together for the common good. Politics is at the service of peace if it finds expression in the recognition of the gifts and abilities of each individual. “What could be more beautiful than an outstretched hand? It was meant by God to offer and to receive. God did not want it to kill (cf. Gen 4:1ff) or to inflict suffering, but to offer care and help in life. Together with our heart and our intelligence, our hands too can become a means of dialogue”.[6]

Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home. Authentic political life, grounded in law and in frank and fair relations between individuals, experiences renewal whenever we are convinced that every woman, man and generation brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies. That kind of trust is never easy to achieve, because human relations are complex, especially in our own times, marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security. Sadly, it is also seen at the political level, in attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need. Today more than ever, our societies need “artisans of peace” who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.

6. No to war and to the strategy of fear

A hundred years after the end of the First World War, as we remember the young people killed in those battles and the civilian populations torn apart, we are more conscious than ever of the terrible lesson taught by fratricidal wars: peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity. This is why we state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace. Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace. Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.

Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights. One out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups. The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.

7. A great project of peace

In these days, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War. In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”.[7]

Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:

– peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;

– peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;

– peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Saviour and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).

From the Vatican, 8 December 2018

FRANCIS

_________________________

[1] Cf. Lk 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased”.
[2] Cf. Le Porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, Paris, 1986.
[3] Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (14 May 1971), 46.
[4] Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 7.
[5] Cf. Address at the “Civitas” Exhibition-Convention in Padua: “30 Giorni”, no. 5, 2002.
[6] BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Authorities of Benin, Cotonou, 19 November 2011.
[7] Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963), ed. Carlen, 24.

[02049-EN.01] [Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided text]

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INTERVIEW: American Priest’s New Book Emphasizes the Christmas Message & May Help Faithful Prepare for Lord’s Nativity

11 hours 52 min ago

A new book on the fundamental Judeo-Christian belief that God is One and that He searches for us long before we search for Him, is on bookshelves near you.

It was written by Father Jeffrey Kirby, the Pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Indian Land, South Carolina, who studied in Rome and received his doctorate from the Pontifical Holy Cross University.

This Advent, Zenit spoke with him about his latest work, which emphasizes as well, the Christmas message and how we can prepare for the Lord’s Nativity. Here is our conversation:

***

Zenit:  Father Kirby, tell us about your new book, God’s Search for Us. 

Father Kirby:   Thank you for this opportunity. My new book came from different parts of the research I did for my doctoral thesis a few years ago. The work was on conscience formation and, in order to argue for a moral teacher, I returned to some basic biblical beliefs. In particular, I returned to the core belief: God is One and He searches for us long before we search for Him.

This was an accepted perspective throughout salvation history. It was the view that helped us to understand the Incarnation, the Lord’s coming to us at Christmas. It was the context within which we understood the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This view, however, has been a neglected one in more contemporary times. Modern philosophy and contemporary thought accentuates our search for God or for meaning in this life. The emphasis has become solely our own journey or on our own effort to build a world for ourselves as we seek to create meaning and value for ourselves. While we certainly have a part to play in knowing God and seeking Him, the task can be a lonely one when God is removed or when He becomes a mere actor in our play. In such a scenario, our journey only leads to ourselves. It leads to emptiness and misery. In contrast, by putting first things first, we realize that God is the source of the meaning, value, and purpose of life. In accepting this reality, our search for Him builds on and complements his search for us.

Zenit:   So there’s a lot in this little book…

Father Kirby:   Yes, you could say that. But with that said, I want to stress that there’s nothing in the book that anyone would find overwhelming or confusing. In the end, the book is about God’s love for us. It is a love that is active and that pursues us. It is a love that searches for us and offers us fellowship.

Zenit: What about the subtitle: Five Truths from a Missing Coin. Could you explain how that fits into the book.

Father Kirby: In writing the different parts of the book, I realized that there was an inner harmony among them. I wanted to stress this unity and so I looked through the Sacred Scriptures. In its pages, I came across the parable of the Lord Jesus about the woman who lost a coin. It’s in Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 15, and was given as an encapsulated story of salvation history by the Lord. It emphasizes God’s search for us. It was the perfect context for the book and so I borrowed it as the unifying story of the book’s themes.

Zenit:   You mentioned the Christmas message earlier. Is this a good book for our Christmas preparation?

Father Kirby: Definitely. If anyone wants to really dive into the depths of the Christmas mystery, then God’s Search for Us can certainly help. It’s basic message – God is looking for us – is the story of Emmanuel, God-with-us. Hence, it could certainly help anyone prepare well for the Lord’s Nativity.

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LITURGY Q & A: Singing or Reciting the Alleluia

13 hours 58 min ago

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

Q: As lectors during weekday Masses, should we not all follow the same order? One sings the Alleluia, the other recites the Alleluia. Is not the Alleluia sung even during weekday Masses? — R.L., East Hartford, Connecticut

A: According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

“62. After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the Alleluia or another chant indicated by the rubrics is sung, as required by the liturgical season. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the assembly of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and professes their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by all while standing and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated if this is appropriate. The verse, however, is sung either by the choir or by the cantor.

“a. The Alleluia is sung in every season other than Lent. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale.

“b. During Lent, in place of the Alleluia, the verse before the Gospel is sung, as indicated in the Lectionary. It is also permissible to sing another psalm or tract, as found in the Graduale.

“63. When there is only one reading before the Gospel,

“a. During a season when the Alleluia is to be said, either the Alleluia Psalm or the responsorial Psalm followed by the Alleluia with its verse may be used;

“b. During the season when the Alleluia is not to be said, either the psalm and the verse before the Gospel or the psalm alone may be used;

“c. The Alleluia or verse before the Gospel may be omitted if they are not sung.”

No. 62 clearly recommends and promotes the singing of both Alleluia and verse and offers several solutions in order to achieve the singing of both Alleluia and its corresponding verse.

Since the missal desires that Acclamation and verse both be sung at each and every Mass, Sundays and weekdays, then any order that favors this objective may be employed.

If the reader is incapable of singing the Alleluia verse, he or she may be replaced by a choir or cantor who can sing the verse without having to come to the ambo.

Although not the ideal, and as a last resort, at daily Mass the Alleluia may be sung by the assembly and the verse recited by the reader.

Otherwise, if all else fails, it may be either omitted or recited by assembly and reader.

I believe that this possibility is implied in No. 63.c when it says that the Alleluia may be omitted if not sung. This “may” implies a possibility but not an obligation.

* * *

Follow-up: “Healing Masses”

With respect to our December 11 follow-up on offering the sacrament of the anointing of the sick during so-called Healing Masses, a reader, who is also a judicial vicar in his diocese, made the following observations.

“With regard to the celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick during Mass, I understand that people are not to be anointed unless they meet the ‘normal conditions’ for receiving the sacrament. However, it seems that we have to leave it up to the individual person to make that determination. While we can explain to people who ‘qualifies for the reception of the sacrament,’ it seems to be impossible to question a person at Mass as to their ‘qualifications.’

“Also, as to not repeating the sacrament for a month, except for a grave illness, the problem arises in which a person is anointed today and then is near death tomorrow. We are then asked to administer the ‘Last Rites,’ as if it is somehow different from the sacrament which was celebrated yesterday. Pastorally speaking, it does not appear advisable to start a discussion about sacramental theology with a distraught person or his or her family. While I am all in accord with the guidelines, there are exceptions, which I trust the Lord understands.”

I am substantially in agreement with these observations. But the original context of my reply was the practice of offering the sacrament at Mass on a monthly basis in a parish setting and probably along with other prayers for healing. It was this situation which could give rise to an indiscriminate administration of the sacrament.

I also agree that we should not make indiscrete inquiries to people who approach the sacrament during Mass. But we must be careful in our explanations and preparations so that it is received by those who can actually benefit from it.

Since the possibility of celebrating this sacrament during Mass is now well established, pastors have mostly learned how to best organize it from a pastoral perspective so that those who need it can receive it and those who are blessed with good health can be united in prayer for and with those who are afflicted.

* * *

Readers may send questions to zenit.liturgy@gmail.com. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city, and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

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Niger: Hope Persists for Return of Kidnapped Fr. Gigi Maccalli

19 hours 51 min ago

Three months have gone by since the kidnapping of Father Pier Luigi Maccalli, a priest of the Society for African Missions, SMA. There is no news on the place where he is held prisoner or on the steps taken to release him, Fides News Agency reported December 17, 2018.  His mission in Bomoanga, in Niger, where he worked for more than 11 years, has been closed: the missionaries and nuns had to take refuge in Niamey, the capital. The few remaining Christians are in despair. How will their Christmas be this year? And how will Father Gigi live it?

“Through some writings of Fr. Gigi himself, all of us, his SMA confreres, keep hope alive,” said Fr. Marco Prada, SMA.

For the 2013 Christmas celebrations Fr. Gigi wrote: “In the evening, in my mission, I often look at the sky. Today I understand why there are so many bright stars: they are the stars of the innocent. In Niger alone, malnutrition has already caused the death of more than 2,500 children between the month of January and September this year. We must also remember the news of last October: the macabre discovery of 92 bodies of migrants found at about ten kilometers from the border with Algeria. The truck that carried them broke down in the Nigerian desert. The victims were 7 men, 37 women, and 48 children. Even then there was a massacre of innocent: Rachel continues to cry her children and does not want to be consoled.

In 2014, the abducted missionary said: “This year, Christmas will be in the new church, even if it is still under construction and there are no doors or windows. For now, it is more like a stable: goats and sheep take refuge to protect themselves from the sun and the hens lay their eggs in the hidden corners.

Christmas 2017 – the last one spent freely in his community – Fr. Gigi urged not to give up hope: “Life is a network of two threads: joys and sorrows. Only the shepherds heard the angels sing in the sky on Christmas night, but many heard the broken sorrow of the women of Bethlehem who mourned the innocent saints. Christmas among tears of joy and sorrow, which merge together in a single embrace, in the river of life. So it is on a mission: an intertwining of experiences and strong emotions that tell the beauty of human adventure, which even God wanted to share and embrace …. but we do not abandon the hope that one day the desert will flourish!”

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Antonio Martín de las Mulas Wins 3th Fernando Rielo World Prize for Mystical Poetry

20 hours 36 min ago

With the poetry book Viernes Santo (Good Friday), Antonio Martín de las Mulas Baeza (Madrid, Spain, 1977) has won the XXXVIII Fernando Rielo World Prize for Mystical Poetry, awarded on December 13, 2018, in New York, at the Instituto Cervantes. The prize is € 7,000, publication of the work and a commemorative medal. The Laureate is a lawyer by profession. As a poet, he has received several recognitions and his poems have been published in some literary magazines and anthologies. Of the work Viernes Santo, the jury has said that the voice of the poet expressed in its verses is the voice of Jesus in Golgotha, that from the heights of the cross, regards with a unique vision the littleness of the poet, transformed now in the lyric you.

From that view the crucified makes his own the situation of humanity, its weaknesses and its fears: “My blood is being poured out throughout the world, my heart dreams you in the eternal city”.  There is a special sensitivity regarding loneliness and human suffering, that the poet assumes out of the total disposition of the crucified one, that is no longer a passive victim, but an omnipotent maker for one who the cross is a throne, unconquerable rock, a saving altar.  It expresses, not without a certain/ apocalyptic bent, a profound theological content full of salvific hope through which Christ brings humanity to the Father:  He will come like a torrent wind in the fields/ like a wind that agitates green crests / opening the entire soul to the intense love of the Father.”Honorable mention has been granted to the poetic work Desnudando el alma of the Spanish writer Desamparados Escriva.  A work of great beauty and sensitivity proper of an enamored soul.  It is composed with excellent verses full of expressive recourses that spring forth from the wound of love: “No, it was not I who found Love, / it was He who found me…/ I got lost in that encounter / and I meander lost in its sea.”  The experience of absence and presence is not missing, just like that of the final union: “With You, there are moments in which I do not know if I am / I do not know if You are / I only know that we are.”The other finalists were: Antonio Bocanegra (Cádiz), Miguel Sánchez Robles (Murcia); Adela Guerrero Collazos (Cali); Theresia Maria Bothe (Sicilia, Italia); Pilar Elvira Vallejo (Madrid, España); María del Pilar Galán García (Valladolid, España); Marcelo Galliano (Buenos Aires, Argentina); Fernando Raúl Matiussi (Tucumán, Argentina) and Desamparados Escrivá Vidal (Tarragona, España).

The Jury was composed of Jesús Fernández Hernández, president of the Fernando Rielo Foundation; José Mª. López Sevillano, literary critic and permanent secretary of the Prize; Annalisa Saccà, poet and professor of Language and Literature at St. John’s University of New York; Hilario Barrero, poet, prose writer, translator and professor at the City University of New York; Marie-Lise Gazarian-Gautier, professor of Spanish and Latinoamerican Literature at St. John’s University of New York, and David G. Murray, literary critic and philologist.

The President of the Fernando Rielo Foundation, Fr. Jesús Fernández Hernández, in his message in the award ceremony, recalled the words of Fernando Rielo: “Mystical poetry begins where religious poetry ends. The referent of mystical poetry is a divine personal relationship with the Most Holy Trinity and what in this life can be conceived of a life eternal, familiar, intimate. (…) He also expressed that “mystical poetry, far from any ideology or manipulation, is empowering, inclusive and dialoguing; for that reason, it can cover all the registers and forms of literary expression. Nothing is opposed to the creative freedom of the mystic.”

The event featured a harp concert by the famous María Rosa Calvo-Manzano, which has more than three thousand concerts across five continents and numerous awards, in addition to being a member of several Academies of Fine Arts and World History.

The prize is for unpublished works in Spanish or English and has been awarded in venues such as the UN; the UNESCO; the French Senate and the Roman Campidoglio. Every year, it has the support of a wide Committee of Honor composed of Academicians of Language, History and Moral and Political Sciences, as well as writers, poets, university professors, and university rectors.

The ecumenical nature of the prize has made it possible for it to be awarded to poets from different Christian confessions -as a matter of fact in most cases-, but also non-Christian, demonstrating how mystical poetry can unite cultures and religions.

Biographical data of Antonio Martín de las Mulas Baeza (Madrid, 1977)Antonio Martín de las Mulas (Spain, Madrid, 1977) graduated in Law at the Universidad CEU-San Pablo in Madrid, although he had a vocation as a philosopher, a career in which he studied for two years. He devoted himself freely to law with considerable success for nearly fifteen years until 2015 when he decided to move to Medellín (Colombia) and dedicate himself, as a father of a family, to missionary life. He is a catechist for children in one of the most underprivileged neighborhoods of the town of Bello and is also part of the group “Queen of Peace” of Medellín, linked to the Catholic spirituality of Medjugorje. As a poet, he has received several recognitions, including the first prize in the XII Rodrigo Caro Poetry Contest in 2003. His poems have been published in various literary journals and anthologies.

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Uzbekistan: Advent a Time for Spiritual Renewal

20 hours 37 min ago

“Every year during the week before Christmas, we, the community of Catholic priests and religious in Uzbekistan, gather for two days of spiritual renewal and to exchange Christmas season greetings, since we cannot all be together on December 25th. This year our two-day celebration falls on December 17-18, 2018. It will also be the occasion to organize celebrations for Christmas share our activities to prepare a festivity dear to the faithful”.

The Apostolic Administrator, Franciscan Friar Jerzy Maculewicz, told Fides News Agency about Advent preparations in the small community of 3,000 Catholics in Uzbekistan. The scarcity of priests last Summer when one of the religious had to return to Poland for surgery, has been overcome.

“We are a small flock. We live the season of Advent with great intensity. We are all well and able to make progress. Our hope is strong,” said the Franciscan recalling his brief pastoral visits to each of the local communities. The most recent he made were to Urgench, about 1000 km from Tashkent, for the celebration of the parish feast of Mary Mother of Mercy and the parish of Buhara, to celebrate the patron, Saint Andrew.

The 3000 Catholics in Uzbekistan, spread out in the five main cities are a small minority in a population in which 80 percent are Muslim, 8 percent belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and there are other small minorities.

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Caritas Offers Stories from ‘Share the Journey’ Campaign

20 hours 42 min ago

On International Migration Day, December 18, 2018, Caritas is sharing glimpses of its global “Share the Journey” campaign with migrants and refugees. Through events and activities across the world, people founded friendships, built solidarity, and forged hope for the future.

Here are some inspiring examples of how people shared the journey this past year.

Global Solidarity Walk

In October, Caritas launched a 1 million kilometer global pilgrimage with migrants and refugees. Caritas president, Cardinal Luis Tagle, led a walk through Rome that ended up in Saint Peter’s Square. Watch Pope Francis’ words of encouragement for all Share the Journey pilgrims:

Since October 2018, communities, migrants, and refugees walked together all over the world. Walks have taken place in counties including Somalia, Chile, Greece, Iraq, Syria, Honduras, New Zealand, Jordan, Sweden, Thailand, Canada, the United States, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

In Iraq, Caritas gathered almost 500 people to run 10 kilometers in their first ever solidarity marathon.

Caritas Iraq’s 10km Share the Journey race

Share a meal with migrants and refugees

The Caritas global week of action in June saw communities sitting down and sharing a meal with migrants and refugees in many places across the world. Find out which countries participated. The week promoted the culture of encounter by bringing people together to eat, talk and share. The week coincided with World Refugee Day on June 20, 2018, so many events took place on this day.

Caritas Syria gave a beautiful testimony of how communities who have suffered the tragedy of war can find moments of healing when they sit down together to share: “Those who came to the meal have told us we not only fed hungry people with a rich meal, but we were also able to touch their hearts deeply and to help them start forgiving and connecting with others.” Read this blog from Caritas Syria.

Meal sharing took a quirky turn in Belgium where Caritas Belgium International conducted a social experiment. They arranged for a migrant or refugee to invite themselves to sit down with people eating in a restaurant. With such a request, who could say no? Watch the Caritas Belgium film in French.

Catholic Relief Services (one of Caritas’ US member organizations) challenged people’s perceptions of migrants and refugees with its “Be Unafraid” roving photo exhibition. They showed us that the fears that often tear communities apart can also be something that unites us. Watch this film about the Be Unafraid project.

Caritas Ambrosiana in Milan meanwhile organized abseiling down one of Milan’s skyscrapers. They were raising awareness of the difficulties migrants and refugees face. On the same day, they launched the Share the Journey/Scendi Dalla Pianta photo contest.

Global Compacts on migrants and refugees

The year closed with an important moment for the future of migration. On 10 December, International Human Rights Day, the UN adopted the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular migration. Caritas, as a member of Civil Society, contributed to the drafting process. Our advocacy staff was in Marrakesh for the signing. We urge governments to work towards implementing the Global Compact and ensure migrants and refugees have access to social services. Read our statement on the Global Compacts on migrants and refugees.

Cardinal Tagle’s Advent message

As the end of 2018 draws near, Advent reminds us how closely the journeys of migrants and refugees tie in with that of the Holy Family. Cardinal Tagle reminds us that “Like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds and the Magi, we are all called on journeys which require strength, perseverance, humanity, wisdom, and courage.”

Read Cardinal Tagle’s Advent message in full

From Caritas Internationalis in Rome and from our 165 organizations around the world, we wish migrants, refugees and communities around the world a joyful International Migrant Day and a Christmas where hope is reborn.

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Holy Father Affirms Call to End Death Penalty

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 4:26 PM

Pope Francis on December 17, 2018, affirmed the recent change in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to oppose the death penalty and he called on nations that still have the penalty on their books to impose a moratorium on its use.

His comments came in remarks prepared for an audience with the delegation of the International Commission against the Death Penalty. The Holy Father stressed that every life is sacred and human dignity must be protected “without exception” and that the death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel.”

“In past centuries, when the instruments available to us for the protection of society were lacking and the current level of development of human rights had not yet been achieved, recourse to the death penalty was sometimes presented as a logical and just consequence,” the Pope explained. “Even in the Papal State, this inhuman form of punishment was resorted to, ignoring the primacy of mercy over justice.

“That is why the new wording of the Catechism also implies taking responsibility for the past and recognizing that the acceptance of this form of punishment was a consequence of a mentality of the time, more legalistic than Christian, that sacralized the value of laws lacking in humanity and mercy. The Church cannot remain in a neutral position in the face of the current demands for the reaffirmation of personal dignity.”

The Holy Father said the revision of the wording in the Catechism (no. 2267) doesn’t contradict past teaching and that the Church always has defended the dignity of human life. But he said that “the death penalty is always inadmissible because it counters the inviolability and the dignity of the person.”

“The resolutions of the United Nations on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, which aim to suspend the application of the death penalty in member countries, are a path that must be traveled without implying rejection of the initiative of universal abolition,” Francis said.  “To the States that continue to apply the death penalty, I urge you to adopt a moratorium with a view to the abolition of this cruel form of punishment.”

Address of the Holy Father

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

I greet all of you cordially and wish to express my personal gratitude for the work that the International Commission against the Death Penalty carries out in favor of the universal abolition of this cruel form of punishment. I also appreciate the commitment that each of you has dedicated to this cause in your respective countries.

I addressed a letter to your president on March 19, 2015, and I expressed the Church’s commitment to the cause of abolition in my speech before the United States Congress on September 24, 2015.

I shared some ideas on this topic in my letter to the International Association of Penal Law and the Latin American Association of Criminal Law and Criminology, on May 30, 2014. I explored them further in my address to the five major world associations dedicated to the study of criminal law, criminology, victimology and prison issues, of 23 October 2014. The certainty that every life is sacred and that human dignity must be safeguarded without exception has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to work at different levels for the universal abolition of the death penalty.

This was reflected recently in the new wording of no. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which now expresses the progress of the doctrine of the most recent Pontiffs as well as the change in the conscience of the Christian people, which rejects a penalty that seriously harms human dignity (cf. Address on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,11 October 2017). It is a penalty contrary to the Gospel as it implies suppressing a life that is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator, and of which only God is the true judge and guarantor (see Letter to the President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, 20 March 2015).

In past centuries, when the instruments available to us for the protection of society were lacking and the current level of development of human rights had not yet been achieved, recourse to the death penalty was sometimes presented as a logical and just consequence. Even in the Papal State, this inhuman form of punishment was resorted to, ignoring the primacy of mercy over justice.

That is why the new wording of the Catechism also implies taking responsibility for the past and recognizing that the acceptance of this form of punishment was a consequence of a mentality of the time, more legalistic than Christian, that sacralized the value of laws lacking in humanity and mercy. The Church cannot remain in a neutral position in the face of the current demands for the reaffirmation of personal dignity.

The reform of the text of the Catechism in the point dedicated to the death penalty does not imply any contradiction with the teaching of the past, because the Church has always defended the dignity of human life. However, the harmonious development of the doctrine imposes the need to reflect in the Catechism that, notwithstanding the gravity of the crime committed, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is always inadmissible because it counters the inviolability and the dignity of the person.

In the same way, the Magisterium of the Church understands that the perpetual penalties, which deny the possibility of moral and existential redemption of the condemned and of the community, are a form of death penalty in disguise (cf. Address to a Delegation of the International Association Penal Law, October 23, 2014). God is a Father Who always awaits the return of the son who, knowing that he has made a mistake, asks for forgiveness and starts a new life. No one, then, can be deprived of his life or of his hope of redemption and reconciliation with the community.

As occurred in the heart of the Church, it is necessary that a similar commitment be assumed in the concert of nations. The sovereign right of all countries to define their legal system cannot be exercised in contradiction with their obligations under international law, nor can it represent an obstacle to the universal recognition of human dignity.

The resolutions of the United Nations on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, which aim to suspend the application of the death penalty in member countries, are a path that must be traveled without implying rejection of the initiative of universal abolition.

On this occasion, I would like to invite all States that have not abolished the death penalty but do not apply it, to continue to comply with this international commitment and that the moratorium be applied not only to the execution of the sentence but also to the imposition of death sentences. The moratorium cannot be lived by the condemned as a mere prolongation of the wait for the execution of the sentence.

To the States that continue to apply the death penalty, I urge you to adopt a moratorium with a view to the abolition of this cruel form of punishment. I understand that to reach abolition, which is the aim of this cause, in certain contexts it may be necessary to go through complex political processes. The suspension of executions and the reduction of crimes punishable by capital punishment, as well as the prohibition of this form of punishment for minors, pregnant women or people with mental or intellectual disabilities, are minimum objectives with which leaders around the world must engage.

As I have done on previous occasions, I would like to call attention to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which are a regrettably recurrent phenomenon in countries with or without legal death penalty. These are deliberate homicides committed by state agents, which are often passed as a result of confrontations with alleged criminals or presented as unintended consequences of the reasonable, necessary and proportional use of force to protect citizens.

Self-love is a fundamental principle of morality. It is therefore legitimate to enforce the right to life itself, even when it is necessary to inflict a mortal blow on the aggressor (CEC, No. 2264).

Legitimate defense is not a right but a duty for the one who is responsible for the life of another (ibid., N.2226). The defense of the common good requires placing the aggressor in the situation of not being able to cause harm. For this reason, those who have legitimate authority must reject any aggression, even with the use of weapons, whenever this is necessary for the preservation of one’s own life or that of the persons in their care. As a consequence, any use of lethal force that is not strictly necessary for this purpose can only be considered an illegal execution, a state crime.

Any defensive action, to be legitimate, must be necessary and measured. As Saint Thomas Aquinas taught, “such an act, in regard to the preservation of one’s own life, is not illicit, since it is natural for all beings to preserve their existence as far as possible. However, an act that comes from good intention can become illicit if it is not proportionate to the end. Therefore, if one, to defend his own life, uses more violence than is called for, this act will be unlawful. But if he counters aggression moderately, the defense will be lawful, since, according to law, it is lawful to repel force with force, moderating the defense according to the needs of threatened security” (Summa Theologiae, 2-2, q. , a.7).

Finally, I want to share with you a reflection that is linked to the work you do, to your struggle for a truly human justice. Reflections in the legal field and philosophy of law have traditionally dealt with those who injure or interfere in the rights of others. Less attention has been paid to the omission to help others when we can. It is a reflection that can no longer be postponed.

The traditional principles of justice, characterized by the idea of respect for individual rights and their protection from all interference by others, must be complemented by an ethic of care. In the field of criminal justice, this implies a greater understanding of the causes of behavior, its social context, the situation of vulnerability of offenders to the law and the suffering of victims. This method of reasoning, inspired by divine mercy, should lead us to contemplate each individual case in its specificity, and not to deal with abstract numbers of victims and victimizers. In this way, it is possible to address the ethical and moral problems that arise from conflict and social injustice, to understand the suffering of the specific people involved and to reach other types of solutions that do not deepen those sufferings.

We can express it with this image: we need a justice that besides being a father is also a mother. The gestures of mutual care, characteristic of love that is also civil and political, are manifested in all actions that are intended to build a better world (Cf. Encyclical Letter Laudato si‘, 231). Love of society and the commitment to the common good are an excellent form of charity, which affects not only the relations between individuals, but also “macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate, 29 June 2009, 2: AAS 101 [2009], 642).

Social love is the key to an authentic development: “In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural – must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 582). In this framework, social love moves us to think about great strategies that encourage a culture of care in the different areas of life in common. The work that you do is part of that effort to which we are called.

Dear friends, I thank you again for this meeting, and I assure you that I will continue working together with you for the abolition of the death penalty. The Church is committed to this and I hope that the Holy See will collaborate with the International Commission against the Death Penalty in the construction of the necessary consensus for the eradication of capital punishment and all forms of cruel punishment.

It is a cause to which all men and women of good will are called and a duty for those of us who share the Christian vocation of Baptism. All people, in any case, need the help of God, Who is the source of all reason and justice.

I invoke, therefore, for each of you, with the intercession of the Virgin Mother, the light and strength of the Holy Spirit. I bless you with my heart and, please, I ask you to pray for me.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Vietnam: Holy See Working Group Sets 7th Meeting

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 3:58 PM

The seventh meeting of the Joint Vietnam-Holy See Working Group will be held in Hanoi on December 19, 2018, according to a statement issued December 17, 2018, by Greg Burke, Director of the Vatican Press Office.

According to Burke, the meeting is intended to deepen and develop bilateral relations, following what was agreed at the end of the sixth meeting of the Working Group which took place in the Vatican in October 2016, and subsequently during the visit of H.E. Mr. Hà Kim Ngoc, deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam to the Vatican in August 2017 and that of Msgr. Camilleri to Hanoi in January 2018, as well as the recent visit to the Vatican by H.E. Mr. Truong Hoà Binh, first deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, last October 20, when he was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis.

During its stay in Vietnam, from December 18-20, the delegation will also meet the bishops of the country who will be present in Hanoi to take part in the Mass in which the new Metropolitan Metropolitan Archbishop of Hanoi, the Most Reverend Joseph Vu Van Thien, will take possession of the see.

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Advent in the Vatican’s Parish of Sant’Anna

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 1:56 PM

Help for the poorest, the missions and seminarians are among the Advent initiatives of the Vatican’s parish of Saint Anne, reported by L’Osservatore Romano on December 16, 2018.

The church’s parish priest, Father Bruno Silvestrini explained that during time of preparation for Christmas, parishioners distribute foods, clothes and meals every Friday and sell crafts in favor of the missions and seminarians.

The “Christian Mothers” Association also organizes initiatives for the poorest, in collaboration with the parish Caritas. The Vatican’s daily also listed the parish’s activities this year, among which were monthly pastoral meetings on the family, with the intervention of experts, and a free advice service on the marriage bond from the canonical, civil and criminal point of view.

Every week “cultural Wednesdays were held with conferences on art, history, music . . . and every month prayer meetings took place with the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, Monsignor Guido Marini, which ended with a supplication to the Virgin “who undoes knots,” dear to the Pope. Finally, the Charismatic prayer group “You Are Peter,” met every Wednesday, encouraged by Pope Francis.

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During Angelus, Pope Addresses Children & Blesses the “Bambinelli”

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 1:12 PM

“And now I address myself very especially to you, dear children of Rome, who have come for the blessing of the Bambinelli [figures of Baby Jesus], said Pope Francis after the Angelus on Sunday, December 16, 2018, the Third Sunday of Advent knows as “Gaudete” Sunday, marked by liturgical joy and the rose-colored priestly vestments.

The Holy Father greeted the Auxiliary Bishop for the Center of Rome, Monsignor Gianrico Ruzza, who accompanied the families and the school representatives, and he thanked the Roman sponsors and volunteers of the Center.

It’s a tradition in Rome for children, their families, the schools, the communities and the parishes to come to have the figures of the “Infant Jesus” of their Cribs blessed in St. Peter’s Square by their Bishop on the Third Sunday of Advent.

The Pope explained to the children that they would be “astonished” when contemplating the Infant in the Crib. “Dear children, when you gather in your home to pray before the Crib, when fixing your gaze on the Infant Jesus, you will feel astonished . . . “

An astonishment that the Pontiff explained thus: “You are going to ask me what does “astonishment” mean? It’s a stronger feeling and more than an ordinary emotion. It’s to see God — astonishment before the great mystery of God made man.”

The Holy Father also stressed the humility, tenderness and goodness that emanates from the Crib and from Jesus. “And it’s the Holy Spirit that will put humility, tenderness and the goodness of Jesus in your heart. Jesus is good, Jesus is tender, Jesus is humble. That’s the true Christmas! May it be so for you and all the members of your family. I bless all the Bambinelli.”

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Pope Francis! Ad Multos Annos

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 12:22 PM

Happy 82nd Birthday, Pope Francis! Ad Multos Annos…

For the Holy Father’s birthday, December 17, he will enjoy a mango-variety birthday cake made by the gelateria Hedera, a few blocks from the Vatican on Borgo Pio, who now traditionally makes the Pope’s birthday cake.

For the Pope’s 81st birthday, he also enjoyed a Hedera cake, and celebrated with children and pizza, from the Santa Marta Pediatric Dispensary, the same group he met in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall yesterday, before his Sunday Angelus.

Today, the Pope is receiving greetings from all over the world, through social networks, letters, official messages, and in numerous languages.

Vatican institutes, such as the Vatican Library, through social media, extended their wishes through them. Various Embassies to the Holy See also wished the Pope from Argentina a Happy Birthday on Twitter.

President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, sent a message to the Pope welcoming his invitation to “face with courage and justice, the challenges of today, calling for dialogue and understanding to heal social wounds and lead people to the reconciliation.”

Vatican Media posted a video containing alternating images of Pope Francis, from his youth to the present, and best wishes by Vatican employees in English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, German, French, English, and Portuguese.

 

 

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Migration Appeal: Pope Urges International Community to Exercise Responsibility

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 11:42 AM

Pope Francis has urged the International Community to act responsibly on matters of migration.

The Holy Father did so, on the eve of his 82nd birthday, after his Angelus address Sunday, December 16, 2018in St. Peter’s Square, as he recalled the recently concluded Marrakesh Compact “for safe migration,” which took place in the Moroccan city, Dec. 10-11, 2018.

“The Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration,” the Holy Father recalled, “was approved last week in Marrakesh, Morocco. It is intended as a framework of reference for the International Community.”

The Pontiff underscored how this marks a call to “responsibility,” but also “solidarity” and “compassion.”

“I hope, therefore, that thanks also to this instrument, the International Community will be able to act with responsibility, solidarity and compassion towards those that, for different reasons, have left their country, and I entrust this intention to your prayers,” he said.

On December 10, 2018, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, head of the Vatican’s delegation spoke twice at Marrakesh. There was speculation the Pope would make a visit to the encounter, after having been invited; Francis has, however, accepted the Church and government’s invitation to visit Morocco on March 30-31, 2019.

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US: Bishops Approve $9.5 Million in Grants to U.S. Mission Dioceses and Eparchies

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 8:23 AM

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions announced on December 12, 2018, that it is providing $9.5 million in grants to assist 79 dioceses and eparchies at the subcommittee’s meeting October 9-10, in Spokane, Washington.

“Many dioceses and eparchies throughout the United States cannot provide basic pastoral services without outside assistance. Through the generosity of Catholics to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, we can help strengthen the Church here at home,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Chairman for the Committee on National Collections.

Subcommittee grants assist dioceses and eparchies that would otherwise struggle due to difficult geography, impoverished populations, and limited resources. Catholic Home Missions funding supports various pastoral programs, including religious education and youth ministry, priestly and religious formation, prison ministries, and lay ministry training.

Projects approved for funding include the following:

● Migrant Ministry in the Diocese of Stockton, California, to provide pastoral care and evangelization to thousands of farmworkers and their families.
● Seminarian Education and Formation in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, to develop vocations, provide personal assistance with discernment, and support current seminarians as they prepare for ordained ministry.
● Mission and Ministry Fund in the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, to help rural and mountain parishes develop their missionary presence and action in Appalachian Kentucky.
● Young Adult Ministry/Community College Outreach in the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas, to extend outreach ministries to young people between the ages of 18-39 through events, mission trips, and other programs for prayer and fellowship.
● Manua Mission in the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, American Samoa, to provide missionary services and pastoral support to children and families who are isolated from the main island of Tutuila and live in the outlying islands of Manua.

The Subcommittee’s grants are funded by donations to an annual collection, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. The national date for the annual appeal is the fourth Sunday in April.
More information on Catholic Home Missions can be found online at www.usccb.org/home-missions.

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US: Bishops Approve $10 Millions in Grants for Aid Around World

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 7:21 AM

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) on December 12-13, 2018, approved through its various subcommittees grants totaling $10 million for Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe ($4 million), Church in Latin America ($3.2 million), Hurrican Relief in the Carribean ($800,000), and the Church in African ($1).

Central and Eastern Europe projects receiving funding include:

● Charitable support for single mothers in areas of Armenia experiencing high emigration rates of men. Through Armenian Caritas, mothers and children in need will receive food, hygienic items, school supplies, fuel, medicine, and other necessities.
● The construction of a rehabilitation center in Georgia to provide services to children, people with disabilities, and others living in poverty. The center, which will be managed by the Georgian branches of the Camillians and the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Christiana, will offer rehabilitation, mental health, and speech therapy services to the people of South Georgia and northern Armenia.
● Financial support to help young people from Latvia participate in World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama, in January 2019.
● Translation of Papal encyclicals and other important Catholic social teaching documents into modern Ukrainian, many for the first time. The translated documents will be published in both printed and electronic format and presented through a series of workshops in different areas of Ukraine.
● Support for the development of the most rapidly growing seminary in Eastern Europe in Kyiv, Ukraine, where the number of seminarians has increased from 39 to 79 in the last five years.

In Latin America, there are 173 grants to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, and seven grants for recovery and reconstruction projects in areas devastated by earthquakes in Haiti and Mexico and Hurricanes Matthew, Maria, and Irma.

Projects slated to receive funding through the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa include the following:

● Strengthening the availability and accessibility of Natural Family Planning services in Uganda
● Creation of a continent-wide platform of Catholic student action movements, through the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM)
● Ongoing leadership and child-protection formation of local clergy in Zambia
● Integration of Catholic social teaching during priestly formation in the African Great Lakes region

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US: Thousands of Catholics Sending Aid to Poor Children in Central America

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 5:47 AM

Box of Joy, a ministry of Cross Catholic Outreach, helps tens of thousands of Americans create a spirit of joy over the holiday season in the lives of more than 70,000 children living in extreme poverty in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Families are encouraged to fill shoeboxes with small gifts like toys; school supplies; essentials like bar soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes; and a few treats like hard candy and coloring books for children in these nations.

There is still time for families and individuals to participate in the Box of Joy ministry. They can pack their Box of Joy and ship it before Christmas to the National Screening Center:

Cross Catholic Outreach – Box of Joy
c/o RMT Logistics
10239 NW 62nd Street
Doral, FL 33178

Or, they can Create-A-Box Online at the Cross Catholic Outreach website, where, for the cost of the gifts and shipping, a Box of Joy will be packed and shipped on their behalf.

Anyone can learn more at CrossCatholic.org/BoxOfJoy or share the cause by texting “spreadjoy” to 71777.

This year, 177 Catholic schools, 249 parishes, and 194 groups, as well as thousands of individuals and families, participated in the Box of Joy ministry.

“While gift-giving is not the meaning of Christmas, it does help us remember the reason for Christmas — the birth of Jesus — and how our Lord received gifts,” said Jim Cavnar, president of Cross Catholic Outreach. “Serving Jesus through helping these children experience the joy of opening up presents is a beautiful way to show the love of Christ, and to see that love reflected in their happy faces.”

About Cross Catholic Outreach
Based in Florida, Cross Catholic Outreach is an official Catholic nonprofit 501(c)(3) relief and development organization that, since its founding in 2001, has given more than $1 billion in aid to help “the poorest of the poor” in more than three dozen developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. For more information about Cross Catholic, visit CrossCatholic.org or call 800-914-2420.

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