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What does the Church really teach about nuclear war?

Catholic News Agency - 4 hours 41 min ago

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Vatican conference discussing “A World Free From Nuclear Weapons,” held Nov. 10-11, is the latest step in a long-term commitment from the Holy See to work for nuclear disarmament, which itself is considered by the Vatican to be a step toward the goal of integral disarmament.
 
The conference was held after 120 nations voted this July to pass the UN’s Comprehensive Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  The treaty prohibits signatories from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and prevents them from using these weapons. To date, only three countries have ratified the treaty.
 
The Holy See actively took part in the treaty’s negotiations, and is among the three nations that have ratified the treaty
 
The Holy See has a “Permanent Observer” status at the United Nations, although with “enhanced powers.” That means that the Holy See can take part in the negotiations of treaties, but does not usually have the right to vote.
 
For the July 7 vote on the nuclear treaty, the Holy See was accepted by the UN to participate in negotiations as a full member, and was permitted to vote on the matter before the adoption of the treaty. This was the first time the Holy See has been afforded such a status at the UN, which Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s “foreign minister,” described as a milestone during the treaties ratification ceremony Sep. 20.
 
This diplomatic initiative shows the strength of the Holy See’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.
 
In fact, the Holy See has understood for decades the perilous potential of nuclear weaponry.
 
During the Second World War, Pius XII understood that new scientific developments could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction.
 
Pope Pius XII’s concerns were expressed in three different speeches delivered at the Pontifical Academy for Sciences between 1941 and 1948.
 
Talking on Nov. 30, 1941, Pius XII said in the hands of men, science can be a double edged weapon, able to heal and kill at the same time. The Pope also said that he was following “the incredible adventure of the men committed to research on nuclear energy and nuclear transformation” thanks to Max Planck, Nobel Prize Laureate in 1918, who served as member of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences.
 
Pope Pius XII warned about nuclear danger again, in a meeting with members of the Pontifical Academy that took place Feb. 21, 1943. On that occasion, the Pope warned that because of the development of nuclear weapons, “there could be a dangerous catastrophe for our planet as a whole.”
 
Finally, in a speech delivered to the Pontifical Academy for Science on Feb. 8, 1948, the Pope talked about the atomic bomb as one of the “most horrible weapons the human mind has ever conceived,” and asked: “What disaster should the humanity expect from a future conflict, if stopping or slowing the use of always more and more surprising scientific inventions would be proven impossible? We should distrust any science whose main goal is not love.”
 
Like Pius XII, St. John XXIII urged the need for an “integral disarmament” in his encyclical Pacem In Terris, and the Second Vatican Council’s Apostolic Constitution Gaudium et Spes stressed that “power of weapons does not legitimate their military and political use.”
 
Speaking at the UNESCO June 2, 1980, Pope St. John Paul II explicitly mentioned the “nuclear threat” on the world that could lead to “the destruction of fruits of culture, products of the civilization built in centuries by generation of men who believed in the primacy of the spirit and did not spare efforts nor fatigues.”
 
John Paul II noted the “fragile balance” of the world, caused by geopolitical reasons, economic problems and political misunderstandings along with wounded national prides. But, he said, this balance can be destroyed at any moment, following “a mistake in judging, informing, interpreting.”
 
He then asked: “Can we still be certain that breaking the balance would not lead to war and to a war that would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons?”
 
Benedict XVI also confronted the issue many times. It is especially noteworthy to recall what Benedict said in his May 31, 2009 Pentecost homily.
 
Benedict XVI stressed that “man does not want to be in the image of God any longer, but only in his own image: he declares himself autonomous, free.”
 
A man in such an “unauthentic relation” with God can become dangerous, and “can revolt against life and humanity,” as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies showed, the Pope said.
 
Pope Francis has warned many times about the risks of the nuclear proliferation. In a message sent to the UN Conference for the Negotiation of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Pope Francis stressed that “International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.”
 
“We need – he added - to go beyond nuclear deterrence: the international community is called upon to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security”.
 
The Holy See has followed a clear path on nuclear disarmament, which it continued with this month’s conference. The words of Pope Francis at the conference carry the legacy and tradition of the Church’s teachings on nuclear weaponry and its danger.

We can not “fail to be genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices,” the Pope said.  

“If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.  For they exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race.  International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms.  Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security.  They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family."

 

 

Hannah Brockhaus contributed to this report.

 

Commentary: Don’t buy fake agendas; defend the pope!

Catholic News Agency - 8 hours 41 min ago

London, England, Nov 17, 2017 / 03:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For years now, I have bemoaned the growing number of so-called progressive Catholic figures, in academia, the media and the outer curial orbit, who fancy themselves to be the Pope’s ideological vanguard, amidst what they have taken to calling their “intra-ecclesial battle.”

The agenda they push is an obvious rehash of seventies liberalism: a “progressive” approach to sexual ethics, acceptance of divorce and remarriage, recognition of same-sex relationships, “creating a space” for those who disagree with the Church on life issues. This rather tired agenda has been dressed up in the language of woke university students and twitter social justice warriors, but its core premise remains the same as it ever was - to push the fallacy that Vatican II was part of the cultural revolution of the sixties, rather than the Church’s answer to it. Their efforts are easy to spot, just look for the people endlessly invoking the council but never actually quoting a document from it.

Their main objective is to fracture the continuity and authority of the Church’s essential teaching on the dignity and nature of the human person, relationships with God and other people, and society. In this fight, they have identified the key battleground, their greatest enemy, and their biggest opportunity: Pope Francis.

Pope Francis, from the moment of his election, has been a gigantic figure on the global stage. Through a combination of his personal charisma and the age of viral social media, his every soundbite gets attention and circulation that his predecessors couldn’t have imagined. Being seen to be “with” the pope is more powerful than ever before.

Conversely, being painted as “anti-Francis” is now the fastest way to find yourself beyond the pale of acceptable Church discourse - a far cry from the days when the progressive ‘cool kids’ seemed to take a juvenile kind of pride in forcing St. John Paul II or Benedict XVI to discipline them. Many of those who previously wore dissent as a badge of distinction have become the first and fiercest to label those they dislike, whether journalists, academics, or even cardinals, as “disloyal” to the pope, and opposed to his teaching authority.

Yet those who cry the loudest against the pope’s supposed opponents are themselves at the sharp end of a campaign of double deception. They insist that they are with the pope, or rather he is with them, and so to oppose them, on anything, is to oppose the pope. This is a falsehood.

The list of subjects on which Pope Francis is at odds with his self-appointed enforcers has grown to a comical length. In the last few months alone, Pope Francis has sided with the parents of Charlie Gard in defense of life, contrary to statements from the remade Pontifical Academy of Life, headed by Archbishop Paglia, and he has publicly echoed Cardinal Sarah’s call for a rediscovery of reverential silence in the liturgy, even as the Pope’s supposed-supporters demanded that Sarah be sacked.

Just days ago, the election of Archbishop Joseph Naumann as chairman of the US Bishops’ Conference pro-life committee was railed against by prominent liberal Catholics, who shouted themselves hoarse arguing that this election was an explicit rejection of the pope, and of his entire vision for the Church.

Pope Francis has, of course, called abortion a “horrendous crime,” a “very grave sin,” and, just last month, part of a “eugenic tendency” against the disabled. None of this made it into liberal coverage of the vote, nor was it held to be a factor in the election of an archbishop with sterling pro-life credentials over another who once discouraged his priests from participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign.

This is a group doing everything they can to take the pope’s public image and message hostage, and replace it with their own. The extent to which these voices are trying to define a “Francis agenda” contrary to the clear teaching of the Pope himself would be laughable, if their spurious arguments didn’t seem to gain so much traction.

Their biggest success thus far has been the confected row over communion for the divorced and remarried, an idea the pope has repeatedly refused to endorse, even categorically refuting the claim that his call for “full integration into parish life” meant receiving communion. The motivating force behind this campaign has nothing to do with pastoral concern for the tiny minority of catholics in this situation, in fact many of them have been hurt by the confusion and speculation of this effort. Rather, the goal is to force a crack, in practice if not yet in theory, in the Church’s absolute adherence to the indissolubility of marriage. It has also served to successfully suppress any discussion of the actual content of Amoris Latitiae, a document which not only reaffirms the permanence of marriage, but actually endorses the teaching of Humanae Vitae, the great liberal bête noire of the last sixty years.  It also rejects, in stark terms, the great progressive causes of the moment: a softened stance on abortion and euthanasia, same-sex unions, and gender theory.

Successfully convincing huge swathes of the Church that the pope is in favor of the very things he has condemned, while the evidence to the contrary is there for all to see, is the result of an incredibly brazen slight of hand, unwittingly abetted by the pope’s indifference to television and the internet. It has sown division and discord across the Church. There needs to be an urgent and unflinching response, one which takes true filial pride in the real papal magisterium and uses it to confront those who knowingly abuse the name and authority of Pope Francis and Vatican Council II for their own ends.

 

 Ed Condon is a canon lawyer working for tribunals in a number of dioceses. On Twitter he is @canonlawyered. His opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Catholic News Agency.

Ahead of Myanmar visit, Pope says he's coming to promote peace

Catholic News Agency - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 18:29

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 05:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Pope Francis sent a video greeting to the people of Myanmar ahead of his Nov. 27-30 trip, saying he is coming to proclaim the Gospel and promote peace in a country gripped by a heated humanitarian and political crisis surrounding the Rohingya Muslim minority.

In the video, published Nov. 17, the said he wants to “confirm the Catholic community of Myanmar in its faith in God and in its testimony of the Gospel, which teaches the dignity of every man and woman, and demands (us) to open our hearts to others, especially to the poor and the needy.”

Above all, Francis said he is coming “to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and) a message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.”

The visit to Myanmar is the first part of two stops in a  Nov. 27-Dec. 2 trip that will also take Pope Francis to Bangladesh.

It also takes place amid an uptick in state-supported violence against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim community – an ethnic and religious minority – which in recent months has reached staggering levels, causing the United Nations to declare the situation “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

With an increase in violent persecution in their home country, many of the Rohingya population has fled to neighboring Bangladesh, with millions camping along the border as refugees.

In his video message the Pope thanked everyone working in preparation of his visit and asked for their prayers, that it would be “a source of hope and encouragement for everyone.” He said he also hopes to visit the country in a “spirit of respect and encouragement,” so the nation may endeavor to “build harmony and cooperation in serving the common good.”

Many people at this time, both believers and people of goodwill, feel an increasing need to grow in mutual understanding and respect as “members of the only human family,” he said, “because we are all children of God.”

The Pope’s pastoral visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh was officially announced by the Vatican in August and a first-draft of his schedule was released Oct. 10.  He will be in Myanmar, also called Burma, Nov. 27-30 and in Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

Pope Francis will leave the Vatican in the evening on Nov. 26, landing the following day in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, where he will stay during the first portion of his trip. After the official welcoming, he will have time to rest before the full-schedule begins the next day.

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, he will fly to Nay Pyi Taw, where there will be another official welcoming and arrival ceremony and an official visit with President Htin Kyaw.

He will then meet with the state advisor and minister of foreign affairs, before an encounter with other government authorities, leaders of civil society and the diplomatic corps, where he will give his first official speech of the visit.

The following morning Francis will celebrate Mass at the Kyaikkasan Grounds park. In the afternoon he will give speeches at separate meeting with the Supreme Council of “Sangha,” a term referring to Buddhist clergy in the country, and in a meeting with the bishops of Myanmar.

He will conclude his visit to Myanmar with a Mass for young people at the Cathedral of St. Mary’s in the morning of Nov. 30 before departing for Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Catholics in Myanmar are a small minority, only making up approximately 1.3 percent of a population of nearly 52 million. However, there are even fewer priests, both diocesan and religious, who number only one per every 742 Catholics.

Who was Albino Luciani, the 'smiling Pope'?

Catholic News Agency - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 16:01

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Last week Albino Luciani, better known by his papal name, John Paul I, took the next step on the path to sainthood. Yet apart from the fame garnered by various theories that sprouted due to the enigmatic nature of his death, for many little is known of his saintly life and brief pontificate.

Born Oct. 17, 1912, in Italy’s northern Veneto region, Albino Luciani, known also as “the smiling Pope,” was elected Bishop of Rome Aug. 26, 1978. He made history when he became the first Pope to take a double name, after his two immediate predecessors, St. John XXIII and Bl. Paul VI.

He sent shock waves around the world when he died unexpectedly just 33 days later, making his one of the shortest pontificates in the history of the Church.

In addition to the novelty of his name and the surprise of his death, Luciani was also the first Pope born in the 20th century, and is also the most recent Italian-born Bishop of Rome.

Yet behind all the novelty of the month before his death and mystery of those that ensued, John Paul I has been hailed as a man of heroic humility and extraordinary simplicity, with a firm commitment to carrying forward the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and a knack for explaining complicated Church concepts in a way everyone can understand.

Life and background

Coming from a northern region in Italy that borders Austria, Luciani grew up with people from all cultures and backgrounds passing through. The area saw high levels of immigration and strong activity on the part of Catholic movements.

The priests around whom Luciani grew up had a keen social awareness and involvement with the faithful.

While all the basic needs of his family were met, Luciani grew up in relative poverty, with his father gone most of the time for work. However, according to Stefania Falasca, vice-postulator of his cause for canonization, this background gave the future Pope “a huge cultural suitcase” that he was able to bring with him in his various endevours.

Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Belluno e Feltre July 7, 1935, at the age of 22, Luciani was rector of the diocese's seminary for 10 years. He taught various courses throughout his tenure, including dogmatic and moral theology, canon law, and sacred art.

In 1941 he received a dispensation from Ven. Pius XII to continue teaching while pursuing his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was named Bishop of Vittorio Veneto by St. John XXIII in 1958.

In 1969 he was named Patriarch of Venice by Bl. Paul VI. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1973, and was elected Bishop of Rome five years later.

Literature also played a key role in Luciani's formation. According to Falasca, he had a library full of books in different languages and a special fondness for Anglo-American literature.

Though he knew English, French, German and Russian, his favorite authors were from the Anglo world, and included authors such as G.K. Chesterton, Willa Cather, and Mark Twain.

As cardinal, he wrote his own book called “Illustrissimi,” which is a series of letters penned to a variety of historical and fictional persons, including Jesus, King David, Figaro the Barber, Austrian Empress Maria Theresa Habsburg, Pinocchio, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Christopher Marlowe.

Luciani, Falasca said, was considered by Paul VI to be “one of the most advanced theologians” of the time, and was held in high esteem because he not just knew theology, but also knew how to explain it.

The clarity he had was “highly considered right away among the Italian bishops,” she said. “He was considered the brightest pen because of this 'cultural suitcase,' which knew how to synthesize in a very delicate writing, but clear and full of references.”

Luciani, she said, had “an ease of language” in his writing, which was coupled with “a solid theological preparation,” making him both credible and accessible.

Pontificate – 'an Apostle of the Council'

John Paul I above all else was “a son of the Council,” Falasca said. Luciani “translated and communicated the directives in a natural and simple way … So he was an apostle of the Council in this sense.”

“He explained it, he put it into practice, he put the directives into action in a crystalline way.” It was this desire to carry the Council forward that formed the basis for his priorities during his 33 days in office.  

Among these priorities was a “renewed sense of mission” for the Church, Falasca said, explaining that for Luciani, to accomplish this mission it was important “to go back to the sources of the Gospel.”

“This, you can say, was the meaning of the Council for Luciani.” And for him, going to the sources also meant “communicating the Gospel in simplicity and conforming his ministry” to it.

In addition to mission, John Paul I also placed a special emphasis on spiritual poverty in the Church and the search for peace and ecumenism.

Ecumenism and dialogue in particular are topics Luciani felt were “a duty that is part of being a Christian.”

Collegiality also was another key topic for Luciani, and it was the subject of his only written intervention during the Council, which he contributed in 1963.

Luciani also placed a strong emphasis on mercy, Falasca said, explaining that in many ways he was “was the Pope of mercy 'par excellence,'” and was known for his warm and friendly demeanor.  

These priorities can be clearly seen in the four general audiences John Paul I gave during his pontificate, with the subjects being poverty, faith, hope, and charity.

And the way he spoke about these and other topics, with “the simplicity of his approach (and) of his language,” left “an indelible memory in the People of God,” Falasca said.

John Paul I, she said, moved people with his naturalness and his ordinary way of speaking to the faithful.

Luciani had put this quality into writing long before his pontificate when in 1949, he published his first book, titled “Catechesis in Crumbs,” which focused on how to teach the essential truths of the faith in a simple and direct way, understandable to everyone.

Death

When John Paul I died 33 days after his election, his sudden and unexpected death led to various conspiracy theories that Luciani had been murdered.

However, in a book titled “John Paul I: The Chronicle of a Death” and published Nov. 7 to coincide with the announcement that Luciani's sainthood cause was moving forward, Falasca dispels the theories by outlining the evidence gathered on John Paul I’s death while researching for his cause.

In the book, she recounts how the evening before his death Luciani suffered a severe pain in his chest for about five minutes, a symptom of a heart problem, which occurred while he was praying Vespers with his Irish secretary, Msgr. John Magee, before dinner.

The Pope rejected the suggestion to call for a doctor when the pain subsided, and his doctor, Renato Buzzonetti, was only informed of the episode after his death.

Heroic Virtue

Luciani's prime virtue was humility, which is “the base without which you can't go toward God.” Humility, Falasca said, “was so embedded in him, that he understood it as the only way to reach Christ.”

Luciani's connection with the Lord was also evident in the way that he spoke about God, she said, explaining that he was able to make the love of God close to people, and felt by them.

Falasca said she believes he is an ideal model of the priesthood. To this end, she recalled how during her time working on Luciani's cause, many young priests came to her saying they felt the call of their vocation when they saw his election on TV.  

Another sign of his sanctity was the “spontaneous reputation” that grew over time, and is a “distinctive sign” in determining the heroic virtue of a person.

“The reputation for holiness is the condition 'sine quo non' (without which it could not be) to open a cause of canonization; there must be a reputation,” she said, and “Luciani enjoys much of it, and he enjoys it not in an artificial way.”

Many people pray to him and have continued to travel to his birth town over the past 40 years, she said, because people are attracted “by his charm.”

“He won over many with his stand in the face of contemporaneity, his closeness to the people of his time with that simplicity and with that familiarity of communication.”

Luciani opened “a new season in being and in the exercise of the Petrine ministry...with his charm, which knew how to conjugate in perfect synthesis, in my view, what was old and what was new.”

He also lived an extraordinary sense of poverty of spirit as seen in the Beatitudes, and had an “extreme fidelity to the Gospel in the circumstance and the status that he embraced.”

In a testimony given for documentation in the Luciani's cause for canonization, Benedict XVI said that when Luciani appeared on the balcony in his white cassock after his election, “we were all deeply impressed by his humility and his goodness.”

“Even during the meals, then, he was took a place with us. So thanks to a direct contact we immediately understood that the right Pope had been elected.”

Benedict XVI's testimony regarding John Paul I is four pages long and is one of the documents included in Falasca's book. In her comments to CNA, she said they had originally planned to interview him in 2005 while he was still a cardinal, but he was elected Pope on the same day he was scheduled to speak, and since a Pope is technically the one judging a saints' cause, he is not allowed to give testimony for it.

However, there are currently no previsions for a retired Pope, so when Benedict XVI resigned in 2013, Falasca and her team advancing Luciani's cause reached out again, receiving the testimony that has now been published in her book.

In his testimony, Benedict recalled that he first met Luciani while the latter was Patriarch of Venice. He had decided to visit the seminary in Bressanone with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, for vacation in August 1977, shortly after becoming a bishop.

Luciani came to visit the brothers after learning of their visit, and to go out of his way to do this in the oppressive heat of August “was a expression of a nobility of spirit that went well beyond usual,” Benedict wrote. “The cordiality, simplicity and goodness that he showed to me are indelibly impressed in my memory.”

Benedict said he was shocked when he received news of John Paul I's death in the middle of the night and didn't initially believe it, but slowly accepted the news in Mass the next day, during which the celebrant offered prayer for the “deceased Pope John Paul I.”

Speaking of John Paul I's pontificate, Benedict noted that in 1978 it was evident that “the post-conciliar Church was passing through a great crisis, and the good figure of John Paul I, who was a courageous man on the basis of faith, represented a sign of hope.” And this figure, he said, still represents “a message” for the Church today.

Benedict also noted that during the various public speeches Luciani gave, whether it was a general audience or a Sunday Angelus, the late Pope “spoke several times off-the-cuff and with the heart, touching the people in a much more direct way.”

Luciani often called children up to him during general audiences to ask them about their faith, Benedict said, explaining that “his simplicity and his love for simple people were convincing. And yet, behind that simplicity was a great and rich formation, especially of the literary type.”

So far hundreds of graces and favors have been recorded for those who pray to Luciani, and there are already two miracles being studied and considered for his beatification and eventual canonization. Falasca said they are currently trying to decide which to present first.

End of life care must acknowledge our mortality, Francis reminds physicians

Catholic News Agency - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 04:05

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2017 / 03:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to medical professionals Thursday, Pope Francis said that when it comes to end-of-life care, treatments should always be based on human dignity and with the patient's best interests in mind.

He also stressed that the various medical options provided must avoid the temptation either to euthanize a patient or to pursue disproportionate treatments which do not serve the integral good of the person.

When it comes to caring for those at the end of their earthly life, “it could be said that the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick,” the Pope said Nov. 16.

The anguish of being faced with our human mortality and the difficult decisions we have to make “may tempt us to step back from the patient,” he said, but cautioned that is the stage when we are most called to show love, closeness, and solidarity.

Each person – whether they are a parent, child, sibling, doctor or nurse – must give in their own way, he said, and even though there is not always a guarantee of healing or a cure, “we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death.”

In this sense, he pointed to the importance of palliative care, “which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome – pain and loneliness.”

Pope Francis offered his words in a message sent to participants in the World Medical Association's Nov. 16-17 European Meeting on End-of-Life Questions, organized in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The Pope said “greater wisdom” is needed today when it comes to end-of-life care, “because of the temptation to insist on treatments that have powerful effects on the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person.”

The increase in the “therapeutic capabilities of medical science” have made it possible to eliminate various diseases, improve health and prolong a person's life, he said, noting that while these are certainly positive developments, there is now also the danger “to extend life by means that were inconceivable in the past.”

“Surgery and other medical interventions have become ever more effective, but they are not always beneficial: they can sustain, or even replace, failing vital functions, but that is not the same as promoting health.”

Referencing a speech given by Venerable Pius XII to anaesthesiologists and intensive care specialists in 1957, Francis said that “there is no obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy” for an illness, and that in specific cases, “it is permissible to refrain from their use.”

“Consequently, it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be called 'due proportion in the use of remedies,'” referencing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 1980 Declaration on Euthanasia.

The key element of this criterion, according to the CDF, is that it considers “the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources.”

This “makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal of 'overzealous treatment',” the Pope said.

“Such a decision responsibly acknowledges the limitations of our mortality, once it becomes clear that opposition to it is futile.” He quoted the Catechism in saying that “here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted.”

“This difference of perspective restores humanity to the accompaniment of the dying, while not attempting to justify the suppression of the living,” he said.

“It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment; from an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.”

When it comes to concrete clinical situations, Pope Francis noted that various factors come into play that are not always easy to evaluate, and to determine whether a medical intervention is proportionate or not, “the mechanical application of a general rule is not sufficient.”

“There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved.”

Francis emphasized that when caring for any given patient, decisions must be made in light of human dignity. “In this process, the patient has the primary role,” he added.

“The patient, first and foremost, has the right, obviously in dialogue with medical professionals, to evaluate a proposed treatment and to judge its actual proportionality in his or her concrete case, and necessarily refusing it if such proportionality is judged lacking. That evaluation is not easy to make in today's medical context, where the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly fragmented and medical care involves any number of technological and organizational aspects.

Compounding this difficulty, the Pope said, is the “growing gap” in healthcare opportunities, which he said is due to “the combination of technical and scientific capability and economic interests.”

What this means, then, is that sophisticated and costly treatments are increasingly available to “ever more limited and privileged segments” of the population. This then raises questions regarding sustainable healthcare delivery and “a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care.”

This tendency, Francis said, “is clearly visible” on a global level, especially when comparing different continents. However, he noted this is also seen within wealthier countries, where access to healthcare “risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment.”

In this context, as it relates to both clinical practice and medical culture in general, “the supreme commandment of responsible closeness must be kept uppermost in mind,” he said.

Given the complexity of issues surrounding end-of-life care and the moral and ethical questions they raise, the Pope said democratic societies must address them “calmly, seriously and thoughtfully,” in a way open to finding agreeable solutions whenever possible, including on the legal level.

“On the one hand, there is a need to take into account differing world views, ethical convictions and religious affiliations, in a climate of openness and dialogue. On the other hand, the state cannot renounce its duty to protect all those involved, defending the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being living with others in society.”

Special attention must be paid to the vulnerable, who need help when it comes to defending their own interests, he said, noting that if this “core of values essential to coexistence” is weakened, then “the possibility of agreeing on that recognition of the other which is the condition for all dialogue and the very life of society will also be lost.”

Healthcare legislation must adopt this “broad vision and a comprehensive view” of what will most effectively promote the common good in each concrete case, he said, and closed by offering his prayer for the discussion.

“I also trust that you will find the most appropriate ways of addressing these delicate issues with a view to the good of all those whom you meet and those with whom you work in your demanding profession.”

Climate change a problem we can't ignore, Pope Francis says

Catholic News Agency - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 01:08

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2017 / 12:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent a message Thursday to a conference on climate change, telling participants the problem is something that can't be ignored, but must be met with a proactive desire to develop effective solutions.

“I would like to reiterate my urgent invitation to renew dialogue about the way in which we are building the future of the planet,” the Pope said Nov. 16.

“We need a solution that unites everyone, because the environmental challenge that we are living, and its human roots, involves and touches us all,” he said, noting that unfortunately many of the efforts to seek concrete solutions “are often frustrated by various motives that range from negating the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation or blind trust in technical solutions.”

Francis said we have to avoid falling into the “perverse attitudes” of denial, indifference, resignation, and trust in inadequate solutions, which “certainly do not help honest research and sincere dialogue on building the future of our planet.”

Pope Francis offered his words in a message to Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, for the U.N. COP-23 Climate Change conference taking place Nov. 6-17 in Bonn, Germany, and which is being presided over by the government of Fiji.

He noted how the gathering is taking place two years after the Paris Climate Agreement was reached, which reached a consensus on the need to develop “a shared strategy to counteract one of the most concerning phenomenons that our humanity is living: climate change.”

The Paris Agreement was an international climate accord reached in 2015 after representatives of more than 150 countries met for COP 21, or the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Signatories pledged on various levels to help reduce global carbon emissions and aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius, as compared to average temperatures from the pre-industrial age, by the end of the 21st century.

When the agreement was initially reached, Pope Francis hailed it as “historic” and said it would require “a concerted and generous commitment” from members of the international community. Over 190 countries have signed on to the agreement.

However, United States President Donald Trump decided earlier this year to pull out of the accord, arguing that the requirements would harm the U.S. economy and jobs.

In his message to the COP-23 conference, Pope Francis said the challenge of climate change requires the commitment of every country, some of whom “must try to assume a guiding role,” with due consideration for vulnerable populations.

He noted how in this year's conference participants are trying to implement a new phase of the Paris agreement, which is “the process of defining and building guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms so that it can truly be effective and capable of contributing to the achievement of the complex objectives it proposes.”

In coming up with solutions, the Pope cautioned against limiting them only to the economic or technical dimensions, because “technical solutions are necessary but insufficient.”

Rather, he said “it's essential and desirable to also keep in attentive consideration the ethical and social aspects and impacts of the new paradigm of development and progress in short, medium and long-term.”

To this end, Francis emphasized the need to focus on an education and lifestyle that are based on an integral ecology capable of assuming “a vision of honest research and open dialogue” where the various aspects of the Paris Agreement are intertwined.  

The agreement, he said, calls for “serious responsibility to act without delay as freely as possible from political and economic pressures, overcoming particular interests and behaviors,” and requires a “responsible awareness” of our common home.

Pope Francis closed his message voicing his hope that the work done in the conference would be animated by the same “collaboration and proactive” spirit of the COP-21 conference in 2015.

“This will accelerate awareness-raising and the consolidation of the will to make effective decisions to counteract the phenomenon of climate change while at the same time fighting poverty and promoting a true integral human development.”

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

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 23:07
(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 Ric o, 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.         (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis makes surprise visit field hospital in St. Peter's Square

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 22:44
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis made a surprise visit on Thursday afternoon to a small "field hospital" set up in front of St. Peter's Square to provide medical care for Rome's poor. During the short visit, the Pope greeted volunteers and poor people waiting to receive care ahead of the first World Day of the Poor, taking place on Sunday, November 19. He was accompanied by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation. The healthcare structure is an initiative connected to that Day and announced by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation . Pope Francis called for the celebration of the World Day of the Poor at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. A statement from the Holy See Press Office said the tent hospital run by the Italian Red Cross offers "free medical visits for the poor and needy throughout the week from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM". Red Cross medics staffing the field hospital are specialized in clinical analysis, cardiology, dermatology, gynecology, and andrology. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope meets with members of Apostolic Confederation for the Clergy

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 22:20
(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. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends letter to COP23 climate conference in Bonn

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 21:35
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to participants in the COP-23 UN Convention on climate change, taking place in Bonn, Germany on 6-17 November. The letter was sent to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of the Fiji Islands, which is officially hosting the event, and was read out to COP-23 participants. Pope Francis congratulated the world leaders present at the COP-23 event and invited them "to maintain a high level of cooperation". He renewed his "urgent call" for renewed dialogue "on how we are building the future of the planet." "We need an exchange that unites us all," he said, "because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all." The Pope warned participants not to fall into "four perverse attitudes" regarding the future of the planet: "denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions." Finally, Pope Francis sent his well-wishes that the COP-23 would be "inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21" event at which the historic Paris agreement was signed. Please find below the official translation of the Pope's message: Excellency, Nearly two years ago, the international community gathered within this UNFCCC forum, with most of its highest government representatives, and after a long and complex debate arrived at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement. It saw the achievement of consensus on the need to launch a shared strategy to counteract one of the most worrying phenomena our humanity is experiencing: climate change. The will to follow this consensus was highlighted by the speed with which the Paris Agreement entered into force, less than a year after its adoption. The Agreement indicates a clear path of transition to a low- or zero-carbon model of economic development, encouraging solidarity and leveraging the strong links between combating climate change and poverty. This transition is further solicited by the climatic urgency that requires greater commitment from the countries, some of which must endeavour to take a leading role in this transition, bearing in mind the needs of the most vulnerable populations. These days you are gathered in Bonn to carry out another important phase of the Paris Agreement: the process of defining and constructing guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms so that it may be truly effective and capable of contributing to the achievement of the complex objectives it proposes. In such a path, it is necessary to maintain a high level of cooperation. From this perspective, I would like to reaffirm my urgent call to renew dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet. We need an exchange that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all. [...] Unfortunately, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis are often frustrated for various reasons ranging from denial of the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation, or blind trust in technical solutions (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 14). We should avoid falling into the trap of these four perverse attitudes, which certainly do not help honest research or sincere and productive dialogue on building the future of our planet: denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions. Moreover, we cannot limit ourselves only to the economic and technological dimension: technical solutions are necessary but not sufficient; it is essential and desirable to carefully consider the ethical and social impacts and impacts of the new paradigm of development and progress in the short, medium and long term. From this perspective, it is increasingly necessary to pay attention to education and lifestyles based on an integral ecology, capable of taking on a vision of honest research and open dialogue where the various dimensions of the Paris Agreement are intertwined. It is useful to remember that the Agreement recalls the “grave … ethical and moral responsibility to act without delay, in a manner as free as possible from political and economic pressures, setting aside particular interests and behaviour” (cf. Message to COP-22). This means, in effect, propagating a “responsible awareness” towards our common home (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 202; 231) through the contribution of all, in explaining the different forms of action and partnership between the various stakeholders, some of whom do not lack to highlight the ingenuity of the human being in favour of the common good. While I send my greetings to you, Mr President, and to all the participants in this Conference, I hope that, with your authoritative guidance and that of the Fiji Islands, the work of these days will be inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21. This will enable an acceleration of awareness-raising and consolidate the will to make effective decisions to counteract the phenomenon of climate change while at the same time fighting poverty and promoting true human development as a whole. This commitment is supported by the wise providence of God Most High. (from Vatican Radio)...

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

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 21:24
(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.” (from Vatican Radio)...

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

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:24
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. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets with President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the President of Austria, Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, in the Apostolic Palace on Thursday. A statement from the Holy See Press Office said "the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Austria were evoked." The two heads of State also spoke about "matters of mutual interest, such as the defence of the inviolable dignity of the human person, the promotion of a culture of encounter, and concern for the care of creation." Pope Francis and Mr. Van der Bellen also spoke about "the international community in the search for peaceful solutions to ongoing conflicts in various regions of the world, also reiterating their joint commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons." President Van der Bellen subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope addresses end-of-life issues

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 19:26
(Vatican Radio) When faced with the new challenges that arise with regard to “end-of-life” issues, “the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick.” In a letter to participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association on end-of-life issues, Pope Francis said: “The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient.  Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity.” In his message, the Holy Father called for “greater wisdom” in striking a balance between medical efforts to prolong life, and the responsible decision to withhold treatment when death becomes inevitable. “It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment,” the Pope said. “From an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.” Pope Francis acknowledged that it is often difficult to determine the proper course of action in increasingly complex cases. “There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved,” he said, pointing to the traditional criteria of moral theology for evaluating human actions. But in this process, he insisted “the patient has the primary role.” The Holy Father also raised the issue of “a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care,” both globally – especially between different continents – and within individual, especially wealthy countries, where options for health care often depend more on “economic resources,” than the “actual need for treatment.” It is important, Pope Francis said, to find agreed solutions to “these sensitive issues.” He emphasized the need to recognize different world views and ethical systems, but also noted the duty of the state to protect the dignity of every human person, especially the most vulnerable. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ letter: To My Venerable Brother Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia President of the Pontifical Academy for Life   I extend my cordial greetings to you and to all the participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association on end-of-life issues, held in the Vatican in conjunction with the Pontifical Academy for Life. Your meeting will address questions dealing with the end of earthly life.  They are questions that have always challenged humanity, but that today take on new forms by reason of increased knowledge and the development of new technical tools.  The growing therapeutic capabilities of medical science have made it possible to eliminate many diseases, to improve health and to prolong people’s life span.  While these developments have proved quite positive, it has also become possible nowadays to extend life by means that were inconceivable in the past.  Surgery and other medical interventions have become ever more effective, but they are not always beneficial: they can sustain, or even replace, failing vital functions, but that is not the same as promoting health.  Greater wisdom is called for today, because of the temptation to insist on treatments that have powerful effects on the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person. Some sixty years ago, Pope Pius XII, in a memorable address to anaesthesiologists and intensive care specialists, stated that there is no obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy and that, in some specific cases, it is permissible to refrain from their use (cf. AAS XLIX [1957], 1027-1033).  Consequently, it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be called “due proportion in the use of remedies” (cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration on Euthanasia , 5 May 1980, IV: AAS LXXII [1980], 542-552).  The specific element of this criterion is that it considers “the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources” (ibid.).  It thus makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal of “overzealous treatment”. Such a decision responsibly acknowledges the limitations of our mortality, once it becomes clear that opposition to it is futile.  “Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted” ( Catechism of the Catholic Church , No. 2278).  This difference of perspective restores humanity to the accompaniment of the dying, while not attempting to justify the suppression of the living.  It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment; from an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death. Needless to say, in the face of critical situations and in clinical practice, the factors that come into play are often difficult to evaluate.  To determine whether a clinically appropriate medical intervention is actually proportionate, the mechanical application of a general rule is not sufficient.  There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved.  In caring for and accompanying a given patient, the personal and relational elements in his or her life and death – which is after all the last moment in life – must be given a consideration befitting human dignity.  In this process, the patient has the primary role.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this clear: “The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able” (loc. cit.). The patient, first and foremost, has the right, obviously in dialogue with medical professionals, to evaluate a proposed treatment and to judge its actual proportionality in his or her concrete case, and necessarily refusing it if such proportionality is judged lacking.  That evaluation is not easy to make in today's medical context, where the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly fragmented and medical care involves any number of technological and organizational aspects. It should also be noted that these processes of evaluation are conditioned by the growing gap in healthcare possibilities resulting from the combination of technical and scientific capability and economic interests.  Increasingly sophisticated and costly treatments are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population, and this raises questions about the sustainability of healthcare delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care.  This tendency is clearly visible at a global level, particularly when different continents are compared.  But it is also present within the more wealthy countries, where access to healthcare risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment. In the complexity resulting from the influence of these various factors on clinical practice, but also on medical culture in general, the supreme commandment of responsible closeness , must be kept uppermost in mind, as we see clearly from the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37).  It could be said that the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick.  The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient.  Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity.  Let each of us give love in his or her own way—as a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother or sister, a doctor or a nurse.  But give it!  And even if we know that we cannot always guarantee healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death.  This approach is reflected in palliative care, which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome—pain and loneliness. Within democratic societies, these sensitive issues must be addressed calmly, seriously and thoughtfully, in a way open to finding, to the extent possible, agreed solutions, also on the legal level.  On the one hand, there is a need to take into account differing world views, ethical convictions and religious affiliations, in a climate of openness and dialogue.  On the other hand, the state cannot renounce its duty to protect all those involved, defending the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being living with others in society.  Particular attention must be paid to the most vulnerable, who need help in defending their own interests.  If this core of values essential to coexistence is weakened, the possibility of agreeing on that recognition of the other which is the condition for all dialogue and the very life of society will also be lost.  Legislation on health care also needs this broad vision and a comprehensive view of what most effectively promotes the common good in each concrete situation.  In the hope that these reflections may prove helpful, I offer you my cordial good wishes for a serene and constructive meeting.  I also trust that you will find the most appropriate ways of addressing these delicate issues with a view to the good of all those whom you meet and those with whom you work in your demanding profession. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin Mary protect you.   From the Vatican, 7 November 2017 (from Vatican Radio)...

World Day of the Poor: A day for giving and receiving

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 13:48
(Vatican Radio) This Sunday parishes in Rome and around the world will mark the first World Day of the Poor which is just one of the fruits of the Jubilee of Mercy. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has been tasked with the organization of the initiative called by Pope Francis. “The Holy Father announced this initiative, occasion, this opportunity for grace during the Jubilee when he reached out to those who are socially marginalized and so this is an opportunity for the Church around the world to not only celebrate and assist and be with those who are poor, but also to change our attitudes about poverty”, says Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Council. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization: Giving and receiving He points out that, “this World Day of the Poor, it’s so beautiful because it’s nothing about power, it’s nothing about anything else but reciprocity, giving and receiving.”  “We are all poor in some way” … notes Mons Sylva, “and everybody’s got something to give, something to offer and this day can serve to open our minds and hearts, our attitudes towards the poverty that exists every day of the year.” He goes on to say that, Pope Francis, “continues to focus the Church, its attention towards how is it we respond to poverty institutionally, but also to people individually.” Marking World Day of the Poor The World Day of the Poor is being marked not only in Rome, but also in parishes around the world and Mons Sylva says that the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has published information on its website in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this initiative Some of the events organized in Rome include a prayer vigil in the church of St Lawrence Outside the Walls on Saturday 18th at 8pm. There will also be a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday morning the 19th which will see some four thousand needy people take part, followed by a lunch in the Paul VI hall. (from Vatican Radio)...

General Audience: Holy Mass is the prayer "par excellence"

The Vatican Today - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 19:42
Reading: Luke 11,1-4 [1] He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” [2]He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. [3] Give us each day our daily bread [4] and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” (Vatican Radio) At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the Holy Mass. The Mass, the Pope said, is prayer – or rather, it is “the prayer par excellence , the highest, the most sublime, and at the same time, the most ‘concrete’ … it is an encounter with the Lord.” “But what is prayer, really?” Pope Francis asked. “it is first of all dialogue, a relationship with God.” Man, he continued, “was created as a being in personal relationship with God, who finds his full realization only in the encounter with His Creator.” God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is Himself “a perfect relationship of love that is unity.” Because we are created in “the image and likeness of God,” we too are called to enter into a perfect relationship of love. And it is the Mass, the Eucharist, that is “the privileged moment to be with Christ, and, through Him, with God and with our brothers.” But dialogue also means knowing how to remain silent, in the presence of the other. The Holy Father emphasized the importance of moments of silence when we go to Mass – the liturgy, he said, is not a time for chatting, but a time to recollect ourselves, to prepare our hearts for the encounter with Jesus. Jesus Himself often went off to “a place apart” in order to pray; and His disciples, seeing His intimate relationship with the Father, asked Him how to pray. “Jesus says that the first thing necessary for prayer” is to be able to call God “Father.” Pope Francis said, “If I cannot say ‘Father’ to God, I can’t pray. We have to learn to say ‘Father,’ that is, to put ourselves into His presence with filial confidence.” In this sense, he continued, we must be like children, able to entrust ourselves entirely to God, as children do with their parents. And, like children, we must also have a sense of wonder, we must “allow ourselves to be surprised.” When we speak to God in prayer, the Pope said, it is not talking to God “like parrots.” Instead it means “entrusting ourselves and opening our hearts to allow ourselves to wonder.” The encounter with God in Mass, he said, “is always a living encounter, it is not a meeting in a museum.” Pope Francis recalled the Gospel account of Nicodemus’ meeting with Jesus. In their encounter, Jesus spoke about the need to be born again. But how is this possible, the Pope asked? “This is a fundamental question of our faith,” he said, “and this is the desire of every true believer: the desire to be reborn, the joy of beginning anew.” Pope Francis asked his audience, “Do we have this desire? Does each one of us have the desire to always be reborn in order to encounter the Lord? Do you have this desire?” In fact, the Pope concluded, “the Lord surprises us by showing us that He loves us even in our weakness.” In the Mass, in our encounter with Jesus, “the Lord encounters our fragility in order to bring us back to our first calling: that of being in the image and likeness of God.” This, Pope Francis said, “is the environment of the Eucharist, this is the prayer.” Listen to our report:  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis got a Lamborghini, and he's raffling it for charity

Catholic News Agency - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:09

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2017 / 05:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis became the proud new owner of a special papal-themed Lamborghini Huracán, which was given to him by company execs at the Vatican and will be auctioned off for charity.

The sleek white Huracán with gold lines running along the hood and angles of the car's body was presented to Francis in front of his residence at the Vatican's Saint Martha Guesthouse Nov. 15, which he blessed and autographed in the presence of top executives from the luxury Italian sports car brand.

It will be auctioned at Sotheby's and the Pope has decided to give the proceeds to three different charitable causes: the restoration of villages on the Nineveh Plain in Iraq, assisting victims of human trafficking, and missionary work in Africa.

At a base cost of roughly $250,000, the Huracán made its debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto show, and was released in the second quarter of the year, quickly becoming Lamborghini's most popular and best-selling car.

The name, which is Spanish for “hurricane,” is reminiscent of the fighting bull “Huracán” that fought in the late 1800s and was known for its courage. The choice of the car's name follows suit with Lamborghini's style, as they typically use historic Spanish fighting bulls as a scheme for naming their vehicles.

It was designed based on the hexagonal form of the carbon atom, and has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive, as well as a naturally aspirated V10 engine and a full-LED lighting system. In 2014, the Huracán was named “Supercar of the Year” by car magazine Top Gear.

With six different models of the Huracán on the market, the papal-version marks a special 7th edition created specifically for Pope Francis.

In terms of proceeds, funds will go toward initiatives led by papal charity Aid to the Church in Need to rebuild properties that were destroyed by ISIS in Iraq.

One of their projects, titled “Iraq, return to the roots,” was presented at the Vatican in September. From 2014-2017, the project has financed various programs for Christians in Iraq, amounting to an approximate total of $35 million.

Among the structures destroyed or damaged since the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plains in 2014, it is estimated that some 13,000 homes, schools, hospitals and religious buildings were completely or partially destroyed. The project, with a total estimated cost of $250 million, aims to continue providing a concrete response to Christians from the Nineveh Plains who want to return to their homes.

Proceeds from the raffle will also directly benefit the Pope John XXIII Community, which assists women who have been victims of human trafficking and prostitution. Pope Francis has met members of the community at the Vatican on several occasions, and he visited them in August 2016 as one of his “Mercy Friday” outings during the Jubilee of Mercy.

Funds from the raffle will also support two Italian associations that carry out missionary work in Africa, one being the “GICAM” project of hand surgeon Professor Marco Lanzetta, and the other being the “Friends of Central Africa” organization, which for two years has led projects dedicated primarily to care for women and children.

Francis has done similar raffles for high-end gifts in the past, with each item going for well beyond its market sale price.

In 2013 he was given a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide, which was sold to a private buyer for roughly $327,000, far exceeding the $16-22,000 presale estimate.

After his September 2015 visit to the United States, during which FIAT Chrysler made a pair of FIAT 500Ls available for the Pope to use during his time in Philadelphia, both of the cars were auctioned off to support local charity.

Similarly, in April 2016 a white skullcap – known as a “zucchetto” worn by prelates in the Catholic Church – was sold for around $18,000, after the owner had bought it and exchanged it with the Pope during a general audience. At least part of the funds went to support a children's charity.

Pope Francis: The Mass needs silence, not 'chit-chat'

Catholic News Agency - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 16:49

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2017 / 03:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis called out the common habit of chatting with people around you before Mass, stressing that this is a time for silent prayer, when we prepare our hearts for an encounter with the Lord.

“When we go to Mass, maybe we arrive five minutes before, and we start to chit-chat with those in front of us,” the Pope said Nov. 15. However, “it is not a moment for chit-chat.”

“It is a moment of silence for preparing ourselves for dialogue, a time for the heart to collect itself in order to prepare for the encounter with Jesus,” he said, adding that “silence is so important.”

Continuing his new catechesis on the Eucharist, the Pope recalled his message the week prior, that the Mass is not a show, but a place where we encounter the Lord. In this encounter, he said, silence is what “prepares us and accompanies us.”

But to really understand this, first we have to answer a question, he said. And that is: What is prayer?

Prayer is, “first and foremost dialogue, personal relationship with God,” he said. And in prayer, just like in any dialogue, it needs moments of silence “together with Jesus.” This, he said, is because it is only in the “mysterious silence of God” that his Word can resound in our heart.

Francis explained that to pray is not difficult, and is something that Jesus himself taught us to do first of all by example, when in the Gospels he withdraws to a secluded place to pray. And second, he teaches us again when he tells his disciples that the first word in knowing how to pray is “Father.”

This is “so simple,” the Pope said. “So we have to learn, ‘Father.’” Then, we must take on the attitude of a small child before his or her parents. One full of trust and confidence, knowing that God “remembers you and takes care of you,” he said.

The second attitude we should take is one of childlike surprise and wonder. The child, he said, “always asks a thousand questions because he wants to discover the world; in our relationship with the Lord, in prayer, wonder,” he said, telling pilgrims to “open the heart to wonder.”

When it comes to prayer, he noted that often we are busy with many different activities or projects and say we don’t have time. “We lose sight of what is fundamental: our life of the heart, our spiritual life, our life of prayer with the Lord.”

However, Jesus surprises us in truth by loving us and calling us even in our weaknesses, he said, adding that just as Christ called his disciples, he also calls us to him at each Mass.

“This is therefore the greatest grace: to be able to experience the Mass, the Eucharist. It is the privileged moment to be with Jesus, and through Him with God and his brothers.”

Pope at General Audience: English Summary

The Vatican Today - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 16:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday told the faithful that at every Mass we encounter God in his Word and in the body and blood of Christ. His catecheses, which is part of a new series of reflections focussing on the Sacraments, was delivered before the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience . Please find below the English Summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis:   Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In this new series of catecheses on the Eucharist, we begin by reflecting on the fact that the Mass is first and foremost a prayer, indeed the prayer par excellence.  For at every Mass we encounter God in his word and in the body and blood of Christ.  Made in God’s image and likeness, we were made to know him, to love and to serve him.  In prayer, we experience God’s closeness and love; we speak to him, but we also learn to listen to his voice speaking in our hearts.  Jesus himself teaches us, as he did his disciples, how to pray.  From him we learn to call God our Father, to trust in his love, and to be constantly surprised by the signs of that love.  When Jesus speaks of our need to be “reborn” (cf. Jn 3:15), he is in fact inviting us to accept his gift of new life in the Spirit.  By his sacrifice on the cross, he has atoned for all our sins and enabled us to make a new beginning, to lead a truly spiritual life.  In our encounter with him in prayer, and above all in the Eucharist, we experience the consolation of his presence, the grace of his forgiveness and the joy of his invitation to live fully our vocation as God’s beloved children. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican announces initaitives for first World Day of Poor

The Vatican Today - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 23:20
(Vatican Radio) This Sunday, November 19th marks the first World Day of the Poor , which Pope Francis called for at the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation on Tuesday announced a number of special events that are taking place throughout the week to highlight this annual initiative. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: On Sunday morning in St Peter’s Basilica, some four thousand poor and needy people, accompanied by volunteers from Italy, France, Spain, Brussels, Luxembourg and Poland will take part in a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. Following the Eucharist, 1.500 of the visitors will be invited to lunch in the adjacent Paul VI Hall, while the other 2.500 guests will be taken to lunch in some of the Catholic colleges, seminaries and charitable organisations in the vicinity of the Vatican. Festive lunch in Paul VI Hall Those dining in the Paul VI Hall will be served a meal of gnocchi with tomato sauce and veal stew with vegetables, plus tiramisu and coffee for desert, all prepared by papal chef Sergio Dussin from Bassano del Grappa in Italy’s northern Veneto region. The Vatican police band and a children’s choir will provide background music for the festive lunch, which has been organised in collaboration with a number of local charity organisations and parishes. Prayer vigil at St Lawrence Basilica On the previous evening, Saturday 18th at 8pm, there will also be a prayer vigil in the ancient Rome Basilica of St Lawrence to remember volunteers all over the world who offer their services in support of the poor and marginalized. Throughout the week of the 13th to 19th November, meanwhile, a mobile clinic has been set up just in front of St Peter’s Square offering free specialized medical services between the hours of 9am and 4pm. Free medical services A special booklet marking this first World Day of the Poor has also been published in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this important initiative. (from Vatican Radio)...

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