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Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis to lead Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and DRC

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is to preside over a Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 23rd in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5.30pm Rome time.

Solidarity with South Sudan” in association with the Justice and Peace office of religious organizations worldwide, has organized the Prayer and confirmed that when Pope Francis heard of the initiative he made it known that he wanted to be personally involved. 

Christians across the world are invited to pray together on that day and time for Peace in the world, and above all in South Sudan and in DRC, two conflict ravaged nations in which millions of displaced people are suffering the effects of terrible humanitarian crises.

Sr. Yudith Pereira Rico, the Associate Executive Director of Solidarity in Rome, told journalists that the main thing people ask her to do when she travels to South Sudan, is to tell the world what is happening in their country.

The world’s newest country spiraled into civil war in late 2013, two years after gaining independence from Sudan, causing one fourth of the 15 million-strong population to flee their homes.

Sister Yudith described the continuing violence and abuse taking place in South Sudan as “Silent Genocide”.

She told Linda Bordoni what it means for the suffering people of South Sudan to know that the Pope and Christians across the world are praying for them:

Listen:

Sister Yudith said that for them, to know that people outside of South Sudan, in Rome, and in other places are praying for them, is to know that “we have the world with us”.

“For them it a source of strength and hope for the future to feel that they are not alone, and this is important because otherwise where can they find the courage to resist what they are enduring now as refugees, victims…” she said.

And highlighting the many abuses the most vulnerable people are enduring including the use of rape as a weapon of war, Sr Yudith said “to know that people are talking about this means that they too, as human beings count”.

“They feel they don’t count for anybody: for politicians they don’t count, they don’t exist – they are only fighting for power and for money.”

She says most people don’t even know where South Sudan is or the fact that it is the newt country.

To acknowledge and to pray for them, she said, is to give them dignity and saying “we are with you”.

She said that notwithstanding the terrible events that caused the new nation to disintegrate into conflict the people still want to be one.

She explained that they came from 20 years of war, they did not have a national identity, and while the warmongers are vying for power and control the new generations, the women and all ordinary people are convinced they can all live together peacefully.

Sr Yudith also spoke of Pope Francis’ interest in the nation and of how it has positively impacted the desire to set in motion some kind of peace process.

“He is waiting for them to begin something so he can come and lend his support, but they have to begin…” she said.
       

Vatican Weekend for November 19th, 2017

Vatican Weekend for November 19th, 2017 features our weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading, “There’s more in the Sunday Gospel than Meets the Eye,” plus our resident Vatican watcher Joan Lewis reviews the past week’s events in the Vatican.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges:

Vatican Weekend for November 18th, 2017

Vatican Weekend for November 18th, 2017 features a report on Pope Francis’ general audience where he speaks of the Mass as a living encounter with the Lord, an interview with a Curial official about the Church’s first World Day of the Poor called for by Pope Francis, we talk to one of the participants at the recent Vatican symposium on disarmament and development and the Archbishop of Detroit tells us more about the figure of Fr. Solanus Casey, ahead of Saturday’s Beatification Mass in the U.S. city.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges: 

Archbishop of Detroit on Beatification of Fr Solanus Casey

(Vatican Radio) The Catholic Archbishop of Detroit spoke of his joy and gratitude for the beatification of Father Solanus Casey who is only the second U.S.-born man to be beatified. The beatification Mass was taking place in the U.S. city of Detroit on November the 18th.

Father Solanus was born in Wisconsin and joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit in 1898 and quickly became known for his closeness and sympathy towards all those who were poor, sick and needy.  It was not long before reports of miraculous favours attributed to his prayers began to spread throughout the region. He died in 1957 at the age of 87.  His beatification came after the miraculous healing of a Panamanian woman was attributed to his intercession.

To find out more about the personality of Father Solanus and the importance of this beatification, Susy Hodges spoke to the Archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron:

Listen to the interview: 

Archbishop Vigneron said the beatification “fills us with gratitude and joy” and confirmed "our own sense of the holiness” of Father Solanus. He described the Capuchin priest as a “most beloved figure” within the Catholic community of Detroit and far beyond that. “He was very humble and devoted to his vocation” …… "and connected to people very powerfully,” Archbishop Vigneron said.

Card. D’Rozario: Pope’s visit will be a "pilgrimage to the soul of Bangladesh"

Bangladesh’s prominent Catholic Church leader regards the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the ‎country as a “pilgrimage to the soul of Bangladesh”.   At the same time it is also the pilgrimage of the ‎people to their guest, Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka, explained to ‎Vatican Radio in an interview ahead of the Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 papal trip, after the Pontiff visits neighbouring ‎Myanmar, Nov 27 to 30.   ‎

With over 86% of its estimated 156 million population (2016) adhering to Islam, Bangladesh is home to ‎the world’s 4th largest Muslim population after Indonesia, Pakistan and India.   Around 10% of the ‎people are Hindus, and Christians and Buddhists make up less than 1 percent each of the population.   ‎As of 2016, there are some 350,000 Catholics, or approximately 0.2 percent of the population. ‎

To know more about this visit of Pope Francis to the overwhelmingly Muslim nation, we called ‎Cardinal D’Rozario on the phone.  Speaking from his office in Dhaka, the cardinal, who is the president of the ‎Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCP), explained what the Catholic Church of Bangladesh and the ‎nation expect from Pope Francis and his visit.  ‎

Click below to listen:

Card. D’Rozario first spoke about what the Church expects from the papal visit.  First of  all, he ‎said, it will be “a pilgrimage of the Holy Father to all the people of Bangladesh – a pilgrimage to the “soul of Bangladesh”.  Secondly, it will be ‎a pilgrimage of the people to the Pope - to see him, meet him, listen to him and be near him.  This, the cardinal said, they will do by ‎praying and worshipping together on the same ground. The Pope’s programme includes the ordination ‎of 16 sons of the soil to the priesthood and meetings with bishops, clergy, religious and lay people.‎

Regarding what the nation expects from the Pope’s visit, the Archbishop of Dhaka pointed to three areas.  Besides being ‎a spiritual leader, the Pope is also the head of Vatican City State.  In this regard, he said, the Pope’s ‎visit will be a celebration of diplomatic relations between the two states, which was established 46 ‎years ago, soon after Bangladesh’s independence. This relationship, the 74-year old cardinal said, is “very unique…. mainly based on human, ethical and spiritual values.”‎

The Pope’s visit will also be a “celebration of harmony” of Bangladesh’s culture, as indicated by the logo and theme of the papal visit, “Harmony and Peace”.  Cardinal D’Rozario said there will be a gathering of people of other religions and other Christian denominations. It will also be a “celebration of harmony of inter-religious relationship” involving young people in festive mood. 

Thirdly, the papal visit will also be an encounter between the Pope and the poor of Bangladesh, some of whom, the cardinal explained have rich evangelical values.   The visit will provide Pope Francis with an opportunity to listen to the voice of the country’s poor and take it to the ‎whole world, especially regarding issues such as climate change, human rights and Rohingya refugees.  ‎

Card. D’Rozario also said that during his visit to Bangladesh, Pope Francis will recognize the ‎achievements of Bangladesh that is “now considered a role model for development.” 

Pakistan bishops urge fair voting system for minorities

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan has appealed in a Nov 10 statement  to the government to create a just and fair system for minority candidates before the next general election.

The Bishops’ statement disapproves the political parties making appointments to reserved seats which they say do not represent the community and so they urge the government to create a just and fair system. 

Of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, only 10 are set aside for ethnic and religious minorities. The election is scheduled to be held before Sept. 3, 2018.

According to the bishops the upcoming elections, which will strengthen the democratic process, should be as transparent as ever. To have a stable government the elections are to be free and fair. The Election Commission of Pakistan must be totally independent and impartial they said. 

The bishops demanded "an honest interim government that will bring in fair practices and not interfere with the election campaigns and the voting process."

They also called upon all political parties to address and include issues that concern minorities in Pakistan in order to build a "solid and inclusive democracy."

The Bishop's National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) was instrumental in restoration of the 2002 joint electorate system, under which 2.99 million minority voters elect local representation in the national and provincial assemblies. Muslim political parties then select minority MPs through a proportional representation system.

The 10 representatives of religious and ethnic minorities are often criticized for representing political parties and not their communities and are regarded as token representatives who are excluded from real government decision-making. Christians, who total 2.5 million, are the most outspoken of the religious minorities in Pakistan.(UCAN)

Pope at daily Mass: The Kingdom of God is within us

(Vatican Radio) The kingdom of God is not a show, much less a carnival; it does not go looking for publicity. Its growth comes from the Holy Spirit, rather than from “pastoral plans.” That was the message of Pope Francis in his daily homily at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday.

The point of departure for the Pope’s homily was the Pharisees’ question in the day’s Gospel about when the Kingdom of God will come. It is a simple question, the Pope said, which can be asked in good faith, as appears in numerous passages in the Gospel. John the Baptist, for example, when he was imprisoned, sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the Messiah, or if they should look for another. Later, in another passage, the same question is turned around: during His Passion, the bystanders say to Jesus, “If you are he, come down from the Cross.” Pope Francis said there are always doubts, there is always curiosity about when the Kingdom of God will come.

“The Kingdom of God is in your midst”: That is the answer of Jesus. That is the “glad tidings” in the synagogue of Nazareth, when Jesus, after having read a passage from Isaiah, says that that Scripture is fulfilled “today,” in their midst.

Like a seed, when it is sown, grows from within, so the Kingdom of God grows “in hiding,” in the midst “of us,” the Pope repeated. Or it is like “the gem, or the treasure,” but always in humility:

“But who makes that seed grow? Who makes it sprout? God, the Holy Spirit, who is within us. And the Holy Spirit is the spirit of meekness, the spirit of humility, He is the spirit of obedience, the spirit of simplicity. It is He who makes the Kingdom of God grow with, not pastoral plans, the great things… No, it is the Spirit, in hiding. He makes it grow, and the moment arrives, and the fruit appears.”

In the case of the good thief, the Pope asked when the seed of the Kingdom of God was sown in his heart. Perhaps it was his mother, Pope Francis suggested, or perhaps a rabbi when he was explaining the law. And then, perhaps, it is forgotten – but at a certain point “in hiding,” the Spirit makes it grow. What this means, the Pope said, is that the Kingdom of God is always “a surprise,” because it is “a gift given by the Lord.”

Jesus explains that “the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way that it attracts attention, and no one will say, ‘Look, there it is,’ or ‘Look, here it is.’” “It is not a show, or, even worse, a carnival,” he said, although often times we think of it that way.”

“The Kingdom of God is not seen with haughtiness or pride; it does not love publicity. It is humble, hidden, and thus it grows. I think that when the people saw the Madonna, those who followed Jesus [said]: ‘That’s the mother, ah…’ The most holy woman, but in hiding. No one knew the mystery of the Kingdom of God, the holiness of the Kingdom of God. And when she was close by the Cross of her Son, the people said, ‘But the poor woman, with this criminal as a son, poor woman…’ Nothing, no one understood.”

The Kingdom of God, then, always grows in hiding, the Pope said, because it is there, in our midst, that the Holy Spirit “makes it sprout, until it bears fruit.”

“We are all called to take this road of the kingdom of God: It is a vocation, it is a grace, it is a gift, it is given freely, it is not purchased, it is a grace that God gives us. And all we who are baptized have the Holy Spirit within [us]. How is my relationship with the Holy Spirit, Who makes the Kingdom of God grow within me? A good question for all of us to ask ourselves today. Do I believe this? Do I truly believe that the Kingdom of God is in the midst of us, it is hidden? Or do I like spectacle even more?”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by asking the Holy Spirit for the grace to make “make the seed of the Kingdom of God” grow in us and in the Church, with strength, “so that it might become large, give refuge to many people, and give the fruits of sanctity.”

Pope meets with members of Apostolic Confederation for the Clergy

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held an audience with international members of the Apostolic Confederation for the Clergy in the Vatican on Thursday.

He invited participants to reflect on the ordained ministry, "in, for and with the diocesan community". 

The Pope said, "One becomes an expert in spirituality of communion primarily thanks to conversion to Christ, to the docile opening to the action of the Spirit, and by welcoming one’s brothers."

The following is the Pope’s address to those present:

Dear priests,

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133,1). These verses of the psalm go well after the words of Msgr. Magrin, impassioned president of the International Confederation Apostolic Union of Clergy. It is truly a joy to meet and to feel the fraternity that arises among us, called to the service of the Gospel following the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd. To each one of you I address my cordial greeting, which I extend to the representatives of the Apostolic Union of the Laity.

In this Assembly you are reflecting on the ordained ministry, “in, for and with the diocesan community”. In continuity with previous meetings, you intend to focus on the role of pastors in the particular Church; and in this rereading, the hermeneutic key is the diocesan spirituality that is the spirituality of communion in the manner of the Trinitarian communion. Msgr. Magrin underlined that word, “diocesan”: it is a key word. Indeed, the mystery of the Trinitarian communion is the high model of reference for the ecclesial community. Saint John Paul, in his Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, recalled that “the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning” is precisely this: “to make the Church the home and school of communion” (43). This involves, in the first instance, “[promoting] a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed” (ibid). And today we have a great need for communion, in the Church and in the world.

One becomes an expert in spirituality of communion primarily thanks to conversion to Christ, to the docile opening to the action of the Spirit, and by welcoming one’s brothers. As we are well aware, the fruitfulness of the apostolate does not depend only on activity or on organizational efforts, although these are necessary, but firstly upon divine action. Today as in the past the saints are the most effective evangelizers, and all the baptized are called to reach towards the highest measure of Christian life, namely, holiness. This is even more applicable to ordained ministers. I think of worldliness, the temptation of spiritual worldliness, so often concealed in rigidity: one calls the other, they are “stepsisters”, one calls the other. The World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, which is celebrated every year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, constitutes an ideal opportunity to implore of the Lord the gift of zealous and holy ministers for His Church. To achieve this ideal of holiness, every ordained minister is called to follow the example of the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for His sheep. And from where can we draw this pastoral charity, if not from the heart of Christ? In Him the celestial Father has filled us with the infinite treasures of mercy, tenderness and love: here we can always find the spiritual energy indispensable to be able to radiate His love and His joy in the world. And we are led to Christ every day also in the filial relation with our Mother, Mary Most Holy, especially in the contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary.

Closely linked with the path of spirituality is commitment to pastoral action in the service of the people of God, visible today and in the concreteness of the local Church: pastors are called to be wise and faithful servants who imitate the Lord, who don the apron of service and bend to the lives of their communities, to understand their history and to live the joys and sufferings, expectations and hopes of the flock entrusted to them. Indeed, Vatican Council II taught that the right way for ordained ministers to achieve holiness is in “[performing] their duties sincerely and indefatigably in the Spirit of Christ”; “by the sacred actions which are theirs daily as well as by their entire ministry which they share with the bishop and their fellow priests, they are directed to perfection in their lives” (Decreto Presbyterorum Ordinis, 12).

You rightly highlight that ordained ministers acquire the right pastoral style also by cultivating fraternal relations and participating in the pastoral journey of the diocesan Church, in its appointments, its projects and its initiatives that translate the programmatic guidelines into practice. A particular Church has a concrete face, rhythms and decisions; it must be served with dedication every day, bearing witness to the harmony and unity that is lived and developed with the bishop. The pastoral journey of the local community has as an essential point of reference the pastoral plan of the diocese, which must take precedence over the programmes of associations, movements or any other particular group. And this pastoral unity, of everyone around the bishop, will bring unity to the Church. And it is very sad when, in a presbytery, we find that this unity does not exist, it is apparent. And there gossip reigns: gossip destroys the diocese, destroys the unity of presbyters, the unity among them and with the bishop. Brother priests, remember, please: we always see bad things in others – because cataracts don’t appear in this eye – eyes are always ready to see ugly things, but I urge you not to arrive at gossip. If I see bad things, I pray or, as a brother, I speak. I do not act as a “terrorist”, because gossip is a form of terrorism. Gossiping is like through a bomb: I destroy the other person and go away calmly. Please, no gossip, they are the like the woodworm that eat through the fabric of the Church, of the diocesan Church, of the unity among all of us.

Dedication to the particular Church must then be expressed more broadly, with attention to the life of all the Church. Communion and mission are correlated dynamics. One becomes a minister to serve one’s own particular Church, in obedience to the Holy Spirit and one’s own bishop and in collaboration with other priests, but with the awareness of being part of the universal Church, which crosses the boundaries of one’s own diocese and country. If the mission is an essential quality of the Church, it is especially so for he who, ordained, is called to exercise the ministry in a community that is missionary by nature, and to educate in having a world view – not worldliness, but a world view! Indeed, mission is not an individual choice, due to individual generosity or perhaps pastoral disillusionment, but rather it is a choice of the particular Church that becomes a protagonist in the communication of the Gospel to all peoples.

Dear brother bishops, I pray for each one of you and for your ministry, and for the service of the Apostolic Union of Clergy. And I pray also for you, dear brothers and sisters. May my blessing accompany you. And remember: do not forget to pray for me too, as I am in need of prayers! Thank you.

Pontifical Council for Culture’s Plenary Assembly looks at the future of humanity

The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology, that’s the title of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s Plenary Assembly which is taking place in Rome this week.

How is the image of the human person changing in the present world and is science and technology changing fundamental anthropological concepts? Those are just two of the questions that will be addressed during the gathering.

The Plenary is also examining the anthropological changes in three specific areas: the possibilities of body transformation offered by medicine and genetics; the ethical implications of neuroscience; and the social and anthropological transformations caused by the development of technology.

The meeting will include experts from around the world as well as members of the Council.

Bishop Paul Tighe is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, he spoke to Vatican Radio’s Lydia O’Kane about the link between culture and science and the relationship between scientific research and the Christian tradition.

Listen to the interview:

Bishop Tighe explains that the basis of this Plenary, “is an attempt to look at what it means to be human; what it is that gives value to human life; what does it mean for us to be individuals, but individuals who live in society and how that expresses itself culturally. He goes to say that, “our interest is in looking at the developments that are happening in the area of science, that are causing us maybe to think again about what it means to be human…”

Science and Christian tradition

Asked whether there can be harmony between the Christian tradition and scientific research, the Bishop says, “I think we would always want to say absolutely. We believe that the human person is made in the image and likeness of God; part of our being made in the likeness and image of God is being made with an intelligence with a capacity to understand our environment and to understand our world.” Bishop Tighe also emphasizes that, “science is hugely important. Science has contributed so much to this world, scientists in particular have sacrificed themselves in so many ways to help the human race…”

The Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council of Culture continues until 18th November.

Pope Francis receives Uruguayan Bishops in audience

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday received in audience the Bishops of Uruguay who are in the Vatican for their ad limina visit.

They will be in the Vatican until November 22nd and are scheduled to meet with officials at various Vatican Dicasteries, including a meeting with members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints where they will discuss some ongoing beatification and canonization processes.

On Sunday, November 19th, they will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 1st World Day of the Poor.    

Bishop Heriberto Bodeant of Melo told us that the bishops of Uruguay are very close to Pope Francis also thanks to the geographical proximity of their homelands. 

Listen

Bishop Bodeant notes that the Uruguayan bishops come from the same ‘neighbourhood’ where Cardinal Bergoglio used to live, and they speak the same kind of Spanish as he does.

He says that they also recognize in him the echo of their Latin American ‘way’ in communion with the whole Catholic Church and in line with the directives of the Aparecida document which Bergoglio himself penned.

He says they are listening to his appeal to go forth and into the existential and geographical peripheries and in this appeal they recognize a Latin American voice: “this is very encouraging for us”.

“Pope Francis knows deeply our country and the Uruguayan church” he said and is very aware of the reality the Catholic Church works within after more than a century of secularized culture.

“Religion is banned in public schools, religious ignorance is frequent, the charisma must be permanently announced” he said.

After this session with Pope Francis, Bishop Bodeant concluded: “we felt our hearts burning, we are ready to go on the road and to continue inviting all our people to live a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in His Church.”