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Papal condolences for victims of Texas shooting

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 22:45
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of a deadly shooting Texas . Twenty-six people were killed in the attack, including the unborn child of a young mother, who was also killed. The dead ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years. Twenty others were wounded, with 10 still in critical condition late on Monday. In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin noted Pope Francis was “deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of senseless violence perpetrated at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs .” The Holy Father, the Cardinal said, “asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the wounded, to the members of the congregation, and to the entire local community.” Cardinal Parolin said Pope Francis was praying to “our Lord Jesus Christ to console all who mourn and to grant them the spiritual strength that triumphs over violence and hatred by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: 'Salvation is not for sale'

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 21:20
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged Christians not to lose the capacity to feel loved. Speaking during the homily on Tuesday morning at the Casa Santa Marta , the Pope said that while it is possible to recuperate a lost capacity to love, if one no longer has the capacity feel loved, all is lost.  Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Pope Francis reflected on the reading from the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus says “Blessed are those who will take food in the Kingdom of God” and explained that the Lord asks us to open our doors to those who cannot reciprocate. The parable of the man who gave a dinner to which he invited many   The parable tells of a man who gave a great dinner to which he invited many. But when the time for the dinner came, those who had been invited declined the invitation because they were taken by their own interests which seemed to them more important than the invitation itself. They were asking themselves – the Pope noted – what benefit they could get out of the dinner, just like that man who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God. They were so concerned with their own interests the Pope said they were “incapable of understanding the gratuity of the invitation”.  Salvation is not for sale And warning the faithful against this kind of attitude the Pope said: “if you do not understand the gratuity of God's invitation, you do not understand anything”. He explained that the only price God asks one to pay is that of being needy, in body and in soul: one must be in need of love.   He remarked on the two different attitudes: on the one hand the Lord who asks for nothing in return and tells the servant to invite the poor, the crippled, the good and the bad: “this gratuitousness has no limits, God receives all”. On the other hand, he said, the attitude of those who had been invited but who did not understand, like the elder brother of Prodigal son who does not want to attend the banquet arranged by his father because “he does not understand”. “He spent all his money, he wasted his inheritance in vices and sins, and you celebrate his homecoming? I am a practicing Catholic, I go to Mass every Sunday and carry out my duties and you do nothing for me? He does not understand the gratuity of salvation” he said. Salvation, the Pope reiterated, is free: “It is God’s gift to which one responds with another gift, the gift of one’s heart.” God asks only for love and fidelity The Lord, he said does not ask for anything in return, only love and fidelity. Salvation is not for sale, one simply has to accept the invitation to His banquet, thus: “Blessed are those who will take food in the Kingdom of God” – This is Salvation. Those, he continued, who do not want to take part in the banquet have lost the capacity to feel that they are loved. “When one loses – not the capacity to love because that is something that can be recuperated – but the capacity to feel loved there is no hope and all is lost” he said. It reminds us, Pope Francis concluded, of the writing on the gate to Dante’s inferno ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’ - we must think of this and of the Lord who wants His home to be filled: “Let us ask the Lord to save us from losing the ability to feel loved”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets 'The Elders' to discuss global concerns

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 02:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis had a private meeting at Santa Marta on Monday afternoon with members of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights around the world. The Elders was established 10 years ago by former South African President Nelson Mandela and is currently marking the group’s 10th anniversary with a campaign called “Walk Together”  - continuing Mandela’s long walk to freedom. Just after the audience, Philippa Hitchen spoke to two of the founding members of The Elders, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson, former Irish President , former UN high commissioner for human rights and, more recently, UN envoy on climate change. Philippa began by asking Kofi Annan about the issues they were able to discuss during their papal audience… Listen: The former UN leader says it was important for four representatives of the group to come to the Vatican because they share many common interests and values. He says they wanted to engage with Pope Francis and “discuss how we can work together, how we can pool our efforts on some of these issues”. Peace, migration, climate change, gender equality Among the areas of discussion, he continues, were the questions of migration, nuclear weapons peace, mediation and conflicts, as well as climate change and gender equality, that is “the importance of giving women a voice and respecting their role”. He adds “I hope this will be the first of many meetings”. Shared efforts to be a voice for marginalised Former Irish President Mary Robinson says the group came to express “an appreciation for the role he is playing and the fact that he, like The Elders, is trying to be a voice for the voiceless and the marginalized, trying to deal with the most difficult areas of conflict. She says they also spoke about countries including Venezuela and Congo, as well as focusing on climate change, all issues, she notes, where “the pope has given leadership”. Common values, common sense of purpose Robinson says she was also struck by the “warmth and affection and humour” in their meeting. “I was very struck by how relaxed the pope was with us, how much he joked”, she says, adding that Pope Francis seemed to “feel at home” as they discussed “common values, a common moral purpose, common problems” I think he could be a future ‘Elder’, Annan says and Robinson quips, “I think he’s a Super Elder”. Over the coming days we will be featuring further excerpts from this interview, as Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson discuss the COP23 climate conference, gender equality in politics, the role of diplomacy and peacemaking, migration and refugees, as well as the situation in Myanmar as Pope Francis prepares to travel there at the end of November. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass: God's gifts are irrevocable

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 19:04
(Vatican Radio) When God gives a gift, it is irrevocable: He does not give something one day, and take it away the next. When God calls us, that call remains our whole life. Pope Francis began his homily with this reflection, inspired by the theme of our “election by God,” God’s choice of each of us, which is taken from the day’s reading from the Letter of St Paul to the Romans. In the history of salvation, the Pope said, there are three “gifts and calls of God to His people”: “the gift of election, of the promise, and of the covenant.” All are irrevocable, because God is faithful. This was the case for Abraham, and it is true for all of us as well: “Each one of us is elect, chosen by God. Each one of us bears a promise that the Lord has made: ‘Walk in my presence, be irreproachable, and I will do this for you.’ And each one of us makes some covenant with the Lord. You can do it, you can’t will it – it is free. But this is a fact. And also, there must be a question: How do I experience ‘election’? Or do I consider myself a Christian ‘by accident’ [It.: ‘per caso’]? How do I live the promise, a promise of salvation of my path, and how am I faithful to the covenant? Like He is faithful?” Then, in the face of the constant “faithfulness” of God, it remains for us to ask ourselves: Do we feel His “caress,” His care for us, and His “seeking after” us when we have distanced ourselves from Him? And yet, Pope Francis continued, St Paul, when speaking about the “election of God” returns again and again to two words: “disobedience” and “mercy.” Where there is one, there is the other, and this is our path of salvation: “That is to say that on the path of election, to the promise, and the covenant, there will be sins, there will be disobedience, but in the face of this disobedience there is always mercy. It is like the dynamic of our walking journeying toward maturity: there is always mercy, because He is faithful, He never revokes His gifts. It is linked; this is linked, that the gifts are irrevocable; [but] why? Because in the face of our weaknesses, our sins, there is always mercy. And when Paul comes to this reflection, he goes one step further: but not in explanation for us, but of adoration.” In the face of “this mystery of disobedience and mercy that sets us free,” there is adoration and silent praise. And in the face of “this beauty of irrevocable gifts such as election, the promise, and the covenant,” there is this final invitation from the Pope: “I think it would do us good, all of us, to think today about our election; about the promises that the Lord has made to us; and about how I live out the covenant with the Lord. And how I allow myself – permit me the word – to receive mercy from the Lord [It. ‘misericordiare’ dal Signore] in the face of my sins, of my disobedience. And finally, whether I am capable – like Paul – of praising the Lord for what He has given to me, to each one of us: to offer praise, and to make that act of adoration. But never forgetting: the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” Listen to our report:    (from Vatican Radio)...

AFRICA/EGYPT - Al Azhar on the massacre in the US church: all religions forbid to shed innocent blood

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 18:35
Cairo - Violence acts "which desecrate the holiness of places of worship and destroy innocent lives threaten the people's stability and security". And the shedding of innocent blood, irrespective of race and the religion of the victims, "is forbidden by all religions". With these words, the University of Al Azhar, the main academic and theological center of Sunni Islam, expressed in a formal statement the condolences to the victims of the massacre carried out on Sunday November 5 by a former military in a Baptist church in SutherlandSprings, Texas, causing the deaths of at least 26 people and dozens of injured. Al Azhar condemned the criminal act, expressing condolences to the government and the people of the United States of America, starting with the families of the victims. ...

AFRICA/CONGO RD - Presidential elections on 23 December 2018; the opposition protests: "so Kabila remains in power until January 2019"

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 18:23
Kinshasa - Presidential, legislative, provincial and local elections will be held on December 23, 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "At 6pm, yesterday, Sunday, November 5, 2017, the election calendar was finally published in the don Apollinaire Malumalu room, at the headquarters of the Independent National Election Commission in Kinshasa", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mbumba Prosper, Congolese missionary of the Immaculate Heart of the Congregation of Mary. "Presidential, national and provincial elections will take place on Sunday, December 23, 2018, according to what Corneille Nangaa, President of CENI, announced in front of a crowd of politicians, diplomats, deputies, senators and journalists". The opposition complained that, according to the new electoral calendar, outgoing President Joseph Kabila, whose term expired on 20 December 2016, will be able to remain in office until early January 2019. The new president will hold office on January 12. "The new electoral calendar was presented due to the pressure from the United States, the European Union and the African Union", Prosper writes. In particular, the United States, through UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, threatened that if elections had not taken place in 2018, they would cut financial support to the DRC . "The fact remains that the San Silvestro Agreement, which guarantees the legitimacy of the government in office, provided for the elections to be held by December 2017", recalls Fr. Prosper, The San Silvestro agreement was concluded through the mediation of the local Episcopal Conference. It provided for Kabila to remain in power and the formation of a national unity government with the participation of all political forces in order to hold elections by 2017. The government was formed but did not include the representatives of the Grouping of Opposition Armed Forces. CENI also announced on October 10 that elections could only take place in the spring of 2019 . Meanwhile, as Peace Network for Congo denounces to Fides, there are strong violations of the right to expression and demonstration in the DRC. "For several months - says a note - mayors and governors have not allowed, especially the opposition, the organization of any kind of political demonstration, including committees and meetings. Security forces immediately intervene to disperse any group with more than 5 to 10 people, often resorting to disproportionate use of force, using tear gas or even firing directly on demonstrators". "On the other hand, some demonstrators do not hesitate to place stones or burn tires in the streets, in order to prevent the circulation of vehicles" continues the note which stresses that by doing so protesters offer the pretext for the repressive intervention of police forces. "What was thought to be a tool of protest against power risks becoming a boomerang against the demonstrators themselves", he concludes. ...

ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Patriarch on Hariri's resignation: vigilance over "any sabotage scheme aimed at undermining Lebanon's stability"

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 18:00
Beirut - Following the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, "there must be vigilance and full awareness against any sabotage plot or scheme aimed at undermining stability in the country". This is how Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai voiced regret over Prime Minister Saad Hariri's shock resignation while on a visit to Saudi Arabia, warning of the destabilizing effects that this choice might have on the fragile national balance. In his homily during Mass celebrated on Sunday November 5, the Primate of the Maronite Church invoked everyone to support the appeal launched by Lebanese President Michel Aoun to protect and strengthen national unity, showing patience and discernment in the choices to prevent that the Country of Cedars sinks in the spiral of conflict which continues to torment the Middle Eastern scenarios. Lebanon - added Patriarch Rai during the homily - should not be dragged into "regional or international axes that do not befit its nature, values and role as an element of cooperation, stability and coexistence in its Middle Eastern region". Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri announced his surprising resignation on Saturday November 4, while on a visit - for the second time in five days - to Saudi Arabia. The resignation announcement was given by the same Lebanese Sunni leader with a speech broadcast from al-Arabiya satellite TV. In his speech, Hariri harshly attacked the Lebanese Hezbollah Shiite movement -linked to Iran - accusing him of "targeting his weapons" against the inhabitants of Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, and highlighted the fear of threats to his life. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah responded to allegations claiming that the resignation of Sunni Hariri was an "imposed" decision by Saudi Arabia, and that the resigning Premier's speech "was written by the Saudis". A few days before the new Lebanese crisis, the official invitation to visit Saudi Arabia was delivered to Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai by Walid Bukhari, Saudi Chargé d'affaires. The visit to Saudi Arabia – said Bukhari himself - should have taken place in the coming weeks, and Patriarch Rai would have also met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. But now – said to Agenzia Fides Maronite priest Rouphael Zgheib, National President of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, new developments make it very unlikely that the visit will take place. "A Patriarch's trip to Saudi Arabia, at the moment", explained Father Zgheib, "risks looking like a field choice, and this was certainly not the intention of the Patriarch who had already stated that he was willing to visit Arabia Saudi Arabia to open new bridges to all". ...

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Philippines's Youth Day begins: the young - "agents of change"

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 16:53
Zamboanga - "National Youth Day" in the Philippines begins today, November 6. The so-called "national WYD", which will last from 6 to 10 November, will see the presence of over 2,300 young people from all over the country. The chosen theme is based on the words of the Magnificat: "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name" ". The participants are young people between the ages of 13 and 39 who, during the various meetings and celebrations, will reflect on issues relevant to young people's lives, such as social challenges, social media, human trafficking, promotion of social education, art and culture... The national gathering returns to Mindanao Island after 11 years: the last time it was held in Davao City in 2006. The event sees the fruitful collaboration of the Catholic community with civilian civil authorities, in a phase where the Martial Law, proclaimed by President Duterte after the Marawi crisis, is still in force on the island of Mindanao. "It is an opportunity to express the desire of young people to embrace Christ's mission among their peers", said the Mayor of Zamboanga, Catholic Mary Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, offering full organizational support to the event. The Archdiocese of Zamboanga, organizer of the event, together with the Commission for Youth pastoral within the Episcopal Conference, has set up a detailed program of activities: on the opening day the young people will walk together, in a colorful and peaceful prayer procession, in the streets of the city. Other processions and public processions on November 7 and November 9th. The days are marked by prayer encounters, liturgical celebrations, artistic and musical representations, sharing. "The local Church is very happy to host the event", says Anthony Saavedra, co-ordinator of the Youth Pastoral Committee in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. "My hope is that Youth Day will allow young people from different places to meet in order to announce to the world how beautiful, precious and vital youth is. Young people participate with the desire to get to know God better and become pilgrims and apostles, to share with others the relationship with him", said Archbishop De La Cruz to Agenzia Fides. "This event - continues the Archbishop - contributes to strengthening youth pastoral care. Everyone gradually becomes more aware and appreciates the role of young people in the Church. Youth Day offers opportunities to express the desire of young people to embrace Christ's mission. The Day celebrates a gift, the gift of being young and followers of Christ. It calls our youth pastoral leaders to be attentive to the signs of our times, to be involved and engaged in the works promoted by the Church". "The Day is a way to accompany young people in their way of life, so that they can be loved by Christ", explains Fr. William Garcia, a priest who is participating in the event. The city of Zamboanga has a lot to offer young pilgrims: diverse cultural, ethnic and religious traditions that come from three communities, the Christian, Islamic and Indigenous communities. The Peninsula of Zamboanga is a historic mission area for the Philippine Church: in this city, Christian missionaries played a key role in promoting faith and justice. "At the end of this five-day celebration of faith, our dream is that young people recognize themselves as 'agents of change' for our Church and our country. Therefore, it is our hope that this encounter will help form our young people as future leaders and as missionaries of the Gospel in the world", says to Fides Fr. Wilfred Samson, local priest. From 1987 to 1990, the event was always held in Manila. Since 1991, however, it has been celebrated in several dioceses of the country. ...

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Nomadic herdsmen in Taraba force settled farmers to flee

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 16:00
Jalingo - Many ethnic groups live in the state of Taraba, one of Nigeria’s 36 States situated in the eastern part of the Country, bordering Cameroon. Tribes are divided into settled farmers, mostly Catholics, who cultivate cereals, tea, coffee, and nomadic populations of Muslim origin. What happens more and more often is that when farmers need new grazing land to feed their herds, they forcefully confiscate farmland. Tribes of nomadic herdsmen confiscate, with violence, the fields of settled farmers, forcing them to flee. Clashes begin, entire villages are destroyed, houses are severely damaged, and residents, including newborns, women and the elderly, are forced to flee. Thousands of people from rural areas are thus pouring into the outskirts of the city of Jalingo seeking help. Tired of everything, they find themselves living in refugee camps where hygiene conditions are bad: many children are bitten by snakes and insects, they get malaria and infections related to dirt and malnutrition. The situation worsens, and the Augustinian Fathers , present in the Country for more than 50 years, are working to help refugees with a support project in co-operation with the local diocese. "Our plan involves two phases", explains Father Michael Walsh, OSA, in a note sent to Fides, "the first regarding emergency support, in particular aimed at children, to provide food and basic necessities; the second regarding development, aimed at making households economically autonomous, allowing them to start a productive, agricultural or commercial activity on the outskirts of the city", concludes Father Michael, who has been in Nigeria for over 20 years. The Augustinian Irish brothers arrived in the country in 1938 and founded the first community in 1966. Although in Nigeria there is an important mining sector, it is also the most populous Country on the continent, with about 177 millions of inhabitants, and life expectancy is about 52 years and 70% of the population lives below the poverty line . In addition, the presence of the Boko Haram terrorist group and ongoing inter-ethnic clashes make the Country one of the most dangerous on the African continent. Despite this, the Augustinian Friars continue their work in fields such as education, health care, work formation for women and the youth, and peace building. ...

ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Dialogue is a form of life, control of religions, a necessity of the state

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:11
Astana - "Kazakhstan comes from a tradition of peaceful coexistence. If active politics of control of religion are being carried out today, it is because of the fears of instigators who often come from abroad, who finance the construction of large Islamic mosques. We recall, for example, that part of the capital Astana was built by the Bin Laden family. For a question of apparent fairness, therefore, the Kazakh government also controls all other religions". This is what Don Edoardo Canetta reports to Agenzia Fides, who for many years was a missionary in Kazakhstan, and also Apostolic Vicar for Central Asia and a professor at the Islamic University of Almaty, the National Eurasian University of Astana and Kazakh's Diplomatic Academy. Don Canetta, now a priest of the diocese of Milan and a professor at Ambrosiana University, explains to Fides how in the largest state of the Central Asian region "a law where no religious function can be celebrated with the exception of some places agreed with the state was approved already in 2011: for example, one cannot organize processions or liturgies outside the church territory. In addition, cameras have been installed at various places of worship because, in the event of an attack or violence, it is possible to identify the perpetrators". This tendency, according to Don Canetta, is a step backwards: after the achievement of independence in 1991, in fact, professing a faith had "become fashionable" in reaction to the persecutions of the communist regime which imposed atheism. Now as then, however, religious belonging is a minor aspect compared to the ethnic element: "the results of the first census of the Kazakh Republic, carried out in 1995, four years after independence were explicative, in this sense. With regards to religion, 70% of the population claimed they did not believe in God; at the same time, 50% professed the Muslim faith. In Kazakhstan, an atheist but of Russian origin, feels he formally belongs to the Orthodox Church; if he is Kazakh he defines himself as a Muslim, if he is German or Polish he is also Catholic and so on". In this interweaving of ethnicities and religions, he says, "coexistence has always been absolutely peaceful. I was Vicar General of all Central Asia for five years and when I went to open a new parish, it was often the country's mullah who hosted me. "On the other hand, Kazakh Islam comes from a moderate tradition: originally rejected by the nomads in the area, it was accepted only at the end of 1300, thanks to the mediation of Ahmed Hadgi Jassavy, great Sufi master of Turkestan. This led to the spread of a Muslim religion based, for example, on prayers in Kazakh language or on a cult of non-Islamic deaths. Even the civil and criminal code moves away from the sharia because it provides, among other things, the possibility of baptism or substitution of jail and death penalty with a series of mediations". "When the Soviet Union fell", the priest said, "the preachers from Saudi Arabia arrived and claimed that this was not true Islam. That is why there is today a debate between those who support the Kazakh tradition and the so-called 'fundamentalists'. Of course, however, when it comes to Islamic fundamentalism, one must absolutely distinguish it from terrorism: it is the latter phenomenon that worries the state. In fact, just like in European countries, there are several foreign fighters in Central Asia as well". This is confirmed by the birth date of the authors of recent attacks: the last in order of time is Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek who hit New York last October 31. The attackers of Stockholm and Istanbul also came from Central Asia, as well as one of the child killers in the video released by ISIS in August 2016. ...

AFRICA/GABON - Appointment of the Bishop of Franceville

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 13:46
Vatican City - On November 4, 2017, the Holy Father appointed as Bishop of the diocese of Franceville , the Rev. Jean-Patrick Iba-Ba, currently rector of the “Saint Augustin” national major seminary in Libreville. The new Bishop was born on 18 April 1966 in Libreville. He attended primary school from 1973 to 1979 in Port-Gentil; then, from 1979 to 1989, secondary school in Libreville. His formation to priesthood began at Cardinal Emile Biayenda Major Seminary, in Brazzaville, capital of Congo, where his Archbishop had sent him. In the years 1993-1998 he attended the Urbaniana University in Rome, as a pupil of the Pontifical Urbano College. He was ordained a priest on July 19, 1998 for the Archdiocese of Libreville. Since his ordination he has carried out the following pastoral and academic roles: 1998-1999: Vice-Rector of Saint Augustin Major Seminary in Libreville; 1999-2001: Rector of Saint Jean Minor Seminary in Libreville; 2001-2004: Parish priest of Saint Michel parish of Ndjole; 2004-2009: Degree in Canon Law at the Pontifical Urbaniana University; 2009-2012: Vice-Rector of Saint Augustin Major Seminary in Libreville; 2010-2012: Adjunct National Director of Catholic Schools and General Chaplain of Catholic Education Institutes; from 2012 to present Rector of the Saint Augustin national major seminary in Libreville. ...

Pope at Angelus: Christians must have fraternal attitude

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 18:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ Angelus address focused on the words of Jesus from Sunday’s Gospel, including the Lord’s “severe criticisms” of the scribes and Pharisees, and His directions to Christians “of all times,” including our own. Christ’s saying that “the scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses” and His command to “do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you” means that they have the authority to teach what is in conformity to the Law of God, the Pope said. But, the Lord immediately adds, “do not follow their example; for they preach but they do not practice.” Pope Francis said this is a “frequent defect” of those in authority: They are demanding towards others, and they are often correct; but while their directions are just, they fail to practice them themselves. “This attitude is a wicked exercise of authority,” the Pope said, which should instead lead by good example, “helping others practice what is right and due, supporting them in the trials that they encounter on the path of goodness.” If authority is exercised badly, he said, “it becomes oppressive, it does not allow people to grow and it creates a climate of distrust and of hostility, and also brings corruption.” The behaviours of the scribes and Pharisees, which Jesus denounced, are temptations that come from human pride, which the Pope said is not easy to overcome. “It is a temptation to live solely for appearances.” “We disciples of Christ should not seek titles of honour, of authority, or of supremacy, because among us there ought to be a fraternal attitude,” Pope Francis said. “I tell you, it saddens me personally to see people psychologically running after the vanity of honorifics. We disciples of Christ should not do this, because among us there ought to be a simple and fraternal attitude. If we have received special gifts from God, “we should put them at the service of our brothers, and not profit by them for our personal satisfaction.” As Christians, he concluded, we “should not consider ourselves superior to others; modesty is essential for an existence that wants to be conformed to the teaching of Christ, who is meek and humble of heart, and who came not to be served, but to serve. ” (from Vatican Radio)...

The University of the People transforming lives to build a better world

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 02:00
(Vatican Radio) One of the organizations represented at this week’s conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University on the role and the responsibility of universities and educators in offering help – and hope -  to the growing numbers of migrants and refugees was The University of the People .  And together with other conference participants, Shai Reshef , President of The University of the People, was also at the audience with Pope Francis on Saturday morning in the Vatican. During that audience the Pope praised the commitment and the work of those present at “ Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibility and Responses of Universities ” conference and spoke of the need for “distance courses for those living in camps and reception centres”  which happens to be one of the main missions of the The University of the People as Shai Reshef explained: Listen :  “The University of the People is the first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online University for students who graduate from high school, are qualified for higher education  but cannot attend higher education, either because they don’t have the money, either because they live in places where there aren’t enough universities, or they are deprived for political or cultural reasons such as refugees, women in some cultures… to all these people, we bring - through the internet – tuition-free  university to enable them to get higher education, a better future for themselves, for their families, for their societies and hopefully for the world as a whole” he said. Shai Reshef says that currently The University of the People counts over 10,000 students from countries from across the globe – many of them from Syria. He describes the just ended conference in Rome as focusing on a very important aspect of the migration and refugee topic and said that bringing together different universities that deal with the issue of providing education to displaced people is the first of its kind giving life to an extremely relevant conversation. “We were very fortunate to be encouraged by the Pope who met with us” he said. “The people who came to the conference, Reshef pointed out, are the ones  who believe in this goal of building a better future for all by providing access to education”. Look at the Syrian refugees for example: “there are 200,000 Syrians who are left out of higher education” because of reasons caused by the conflict in their nation. “If each university in the world would take ten Syrians – that’s not a lot. We can accommodate all of them!” he said. Reshef said that at The University of the People “we are already doing it. We have taken over 1000 refugees and over 600 Syrian refugees. But each university could afford to take ten refugees  and that’s basically what the Pope said: think about these people and see how you can address this issue”. He said he is in total agreement with the Pope’s belief that this is a global co-responsibility and described Pope Francis as “a champion of resolving the issue and understanding that it is not ‘their’ problem: it’s ‘our’ problem”. He pointed out that from a pragmatic point of view you can look at the issue not just as a human rights cause, but understanding that “if it is not resolved these people will continue to be miserable and being miserable  means not only that they will not be productive members of society and are going to suffer, but the consequences of this we all are going to bear” he said. “If these people have hope probably they will behave differently” he said. He said that if you take people who strive for opportunity and you give them opportunity, they will go a long way and hopefully be builders of a better world. Reshef said the conference contained promise for the future and it reinforced his belief that ‘on-line’ tuition is assuming a more and more important role in the discussion of the solution. On-line is what can be relevant and offer a solution to every person he pointed out. Concluding, Reshef specified that while the University of The People is tuition-free it is not free as fees are requested for exams unless the student cannot afford to pay; in that case (as often is the case for refugees and migrants) scholarships are offered. Finally he said: “For me to shake the Pope’s hand and receive – as the University of the People – his blessing, was a very exciting moment and I am very happy to have it”.   For more information on The University of the People: www.uopeople.edu       (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Amato presides at Beatification Mass for Sr Rani Maria

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 00:59
(Vatican Radio) Martyred Indian Sister Rani Maria , who was slain by an assassin 22 years ago in central India, was proclaimed a Blessed at a beatification ceremony during Holy Mass in Indore, in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state on Saturday, November 4th.    Cardinal Angelo Amato , Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Beatification Mass. During his homily he described Sister Rani Maria as one who lived and died preaching the gospel of charity and defending the poor…  Listen :   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope encourages Sixt Children's Aid charity in its committment

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 19:41
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday greeted members of the Sixt Family encouraging them to pursue their work which is aimed at helping children in various situations of need. Headed by Regine Sixt, the main purpose of the Regine Sixt Children’s Aid Foundation is the worldwide improvement of humane living conditions for children through program areas that include health, care, education and emergency aid. Please find below the Pope’s address below: Dear Members of the Sixt Family, Dear Friends, I offer a warm welcome to you, the representatives of the Sixt company from throughout the world.  I thank Mrs Regina Sixt for her introduction, which spoke of your shared commitment to works of charity, carried out through the Drying Little Tears Foundation and aimed above all at helping children in various situations of need. These efforts allow you the opportunity to make your professional activity a noble vocation, by recognizing a greater meaning in life.  Beyond personal and financial success, you are striving to serve the common good by working to increase the goods of this world and to make them more available to all (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 203). You have assembled here in Rome to meet the Successor of Peter, who has a special place in his heart for the least and the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  Such are our children.  Drying their tears through concrete projects of assistance is a way of combatting the culture of waste and helping to build a more humane society. I encourage you to pursue your work in the conviction that God’s tender love can be seen in a particular way on the faces of innocent children in need of care and support.  May the Lord reward you with his many gifts. I ask your prayers for my mission in the service of the Church, and to you, your dear grandchildren and all your families, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis highlights importance of education for migrants and refugees

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 17:49
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday addressed members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities at the conclusion of their conference entitled,  "Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities". Listen to our report:  Addressing the International Conference participants on Saturday in the Vatican the Pope, congratulating them on their work, also pointed out the importance of their contribution in three areas:  research, teaching and social promotion in order, he said, to bring about “the construction of a more just and humane world.” Studying migration Reflecting on the theme of their conference "Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities", the Holy Father spoke about the need “to do further studies into the root causes of forced migration with the aim of identifying viable solutions…” He also added, that it was equally important to reflect on the negative, sometimes discriminatory, and xenophobic reactions that migrants face in countries of ancient Christian traditions and look also to creating more awareness of this issue. Promoting education initiatives for refugees Pope Francis underlined the contributions that migrants and refugees can make to the societies that welcome them and expressed the hope that Catholic universities would develop programmes that “promote refugee education at various levels, both through the provision of distance courses for those living in camps and reception centres, and through the granting of scholarships that allow for their relocation.” During his address, the Pope invited Catholic universities to educate their students, some of whom, he said, would be political leaders of the future, entrepreneurs and artists of culture, to study carefully the migratory phenomenon, in a justice, and global co-responsibility perspective. With regard to the complex world of migration, said Pope Francis, the Migration and Refugee Section of the Dicastery for Integrated Human Development  has suggested "20 Action Points" as a contribution to the process that will lead to the adoption by the international community of two Global Pacts , one on migrants and one on refugees in the second half of 2018. In this and in other areas, he concluded, universities can play their part as privileged actors including the social field, “such as in incentives for student volunteering in programs of assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants.”     (from Vatican Radio)...

AMERICA/HAITI - Haitian lay people called to rediscover their mission in society and the Church

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 17:36
Port au Prince - - 180 Catholic lay faithful from all the dioceses of Haiti took part in the National Congress of Laity held in Port au Prince from 31 October to 3 November. The meeting, promoted by the Church of Haiti in collaboration with the Social School of CELAM, tried to outline the mission of lay baptized in the Church and in society, called to animate temporal realities in the light of the Church's social doctrine. The Congress's work highlighted the urgency of deepening the knowledge of the Church's social doctrine among the laity. The Congress was presided by Francisco Niño, Colombian Priest and vice secretary of CELAM’s General Secretariat. Haiti, the poorest Country in America, is trying to regain social stability. The Church supports the Haitian people and its admirable and moving desire to start again. ...

NEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - Violence and insecurity in Venezuela

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 16:12
The nation is going through a deep crisis: it is ranked second among the most violent countries in the world, with over 91 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The State seems to have handed over the control of security to criminal gangs and seems to have abandoned the respect for the rule of law. The country cries out justice, while poverty and food insecurity overwhelm the population. Human rights activists call the international community for urgent action. Link correlati : Continue to read news analysis-Omnis Terra...

Pope at Mass: 'our faith makes us men and women of hope'

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 22:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for all those Cardinals and Bishops who have died over the past year . During his homily the Pope reflected on the reality of death, but he also reminded us of the promise of eternal life which is grounded in our union with the risen Christ. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : “Today’s celebration, Pope Francis said, once more sets before us the reality of death.  It renews our sorrow for the loss of those who were dear and good to us.” But more importantly, reflecting on the liturgical reading of the day, he said it increases our hope for them and for ourselves, as it expresses speaks of the  resurrection of the just. The resurrection of the just “They are the multitude – he continued - that, thanks to the goodness and mercy of God, can experience the life that does not pass away, the complete victory over death brought by the resurrection”. And recalling Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross the Pope said that “by His love, He shattered the yoke of death and opened to us the doors of life”. Our faith in the resurrection opens the doors to eternal life The faith we profess in the resurrection, Pope Francis explained, makes us men and woman of hope, not despair, men and women of life, not death, for we are comforted by the promise of eternal life, grounded in our union with the risen Christ. He urged the faithful to be trusting in the face of death as Jesus has shown us that death is not the last word. Our souls, he said, thirst for the living God whose beauty, happiness, and wisdom has been impressed on the souls of our brother cardinals and bishops whom we remember today.   Hope does not disappoint Pope Francis concluded giving thanks for their generous service to the gospel and the Church and reminding those present that Hope never disappoints.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis’prayer intention for November: To witness the Gospel in Asia

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 21:14
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released a video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for November 2017. This month’s intention is for Evangelization: To witness to the Gospel in Asia . That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions The text of the video message reads: The most striking feature of Asia is the variety of its peoples who ar  heirs of ancient cultures, religions and traditions. On this continent where the Church is a minority, the challenges are intense. We must promote dialogue among religions and cultures. Let us pray that Christians in Asia may promote dialogue, that peace and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions .     The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed the "Pope Video" initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity. (from Vatican Radio)...

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