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Pope Francis greets and blesses the faithful of Bogota

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 00:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis encouraged the faithful of Bogota to entrust themselves to the Lord, who is the only one who sustains us and inspires us to contribute to reconciliation and peace. On the first day of his pastoral visit to Colombia, Pope Francis greeted the faithful from the balcony of the Cardinal’s Palace in Bogota after meeting the Country’s authorities.  To the people who are trying to overcome the internal conflict of more than five decades and want to achieve reconciliation the Pope said, “I enter this house of Colombia, saying to you: Peace be with you!”  Pope Francis’ particular focus was on the many young people present there and he called on them to keep joy alive which he said is a sign of a young heart, of a heart that has  encountered the Lord. Please find below the official English translation of the Pope's prepared greeting:    Greeting to the Colombian People Bogotá Thursday, 7 September 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters: I greet you with great joy and I thank you for your warm welcome.  “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” ( Lk 10:5-6). Today I enter this house of Colombia, saying to you: Peace be with you!  This was the way of greeting of every Jew, and of Jesus too.  I offer this greeting because I wanted to come here as a pilgrim of peace and hope, and I desire to experience these moments of encounter with joy, giving thanks to God for all the good he has done in this nation, in every one of your lives.  I have also come here to learn; yes, to learn from you, to learn from your faith, your strength in the face of adversity.  You have endured difficult and dark moments, but the Lord is near you, in the heart of every son and daughter of this country.  He is not selective, he does not exclude anyone but embraces all; and we are all important and essential to him.  During these days I would like to share with you the most important truth: that God loves you with the love of a Father who encourages you to continue looking for and desiring peace, that peace which is authentic and abiding. I see many young people here, who have come from all over the country: from cachacos , costeños , paisas , vallunos , llaneros .  For me it is always a pleasure to meet young people.  Today I say to you: keep joy alive; it is a sign of a young heart, of a heart that has encountered the Lord.  No one can snatch this away from you (cf. Jn 16:22).  Do not let anyone rob you of joy; look after that joy which unites everyone in the knowledge of being loved by the Lord.  The flame of the Lord Jesus’ love makes this joy burst forth, and is sufficient to set the whole world ablaze.  How could you not be capable of changing this society and accomplishing all you decide to do!  Do not be afraid of the future!  Dare to dream big!  I want to invite you to that great dream today. You, dear young people, have a particular ability of recognizing the suffering of others; volunteer workers around the world depend on thousands of you who give up your own time, your own comforts and plans, and allow yourselves to be moved by the needs of the most vulnerable, to whom you dedicate yourselves.  But this can also emerge in contexts where death, pain and division have impacted you so deeply that they have left you half-dazed, as if numb.  Allow the suffering of your Colombian brothers and sisters to strike you and mobilize you!  Help us, your elders, not to grow accustomed to pain and neglect. You, also, young men and women who live in complex environments, with varying realities, and who come from a wide range of family situations, have grown used to seeing that not everything is black and white; you have seen that daily life is made up of a broad scale of grey tones, and that this can expose you to the risk of falling into a climate of relativism, thus discarding that potentiality which young people have, of perceiving the pain of those who suffered.  You have the capacity not only to judge, to point out mistakes, but also that other beautiful, constructive ability: that of understanding .  An understanding that even behind a wrong – for wrong is [always] wrong and cannot be just smoothed over – lies an endless number of causes, of mitigating factors.  Colombia needs you so much to put yourselves in the shoes of those who, many generations earlier, could not or did not know how to do so, or did not come up with the right way to reach understanding! For you, young people, it is so easy to encounter one another .  All you need is a good coffee, a good drink or any other excuse to meet.  The young agree on music, on art… Even a final between Atlético Nacional and América de Cali is an opportunity to be together!  You teach us that the culture of meeting is not in thinking, living or reacting to everyone in the same way; it is rather in knowing that beyond our differences we are all part of something greater that unites and transcends us; we are part of this wonderful country.  Your youthfulness also makes you capable of something very difficult in life: forgiving. Forgiving those who have hurt us; it is remarkable to see how you do not get entangled in old stories, how you watch with surprise when we adults repeat events that divide us simply by being tied to resentments.  You help us in the desire to leave behind what has hurt us, to look to the future without the burden of hatred; because you make us see the wider world which stands before us, the whole of Colombia that wishes to grow and continue its development; that Colombia which needs all of us, and which we older people owe to you.    And precisely for this reason you are facing the enormous challenge of helping us to heal our hearts; of passing on to us the youthful hope which is always ready to give others a second chance.  An atmosphere of anxiety sickens the soul; it sees no way out of problems, and ostracizes those who try; it is an atmosphere that harms the hope every community needs in order to move forwards.  May your dreams and plans give fresh life to Colombia, and fill the country with wholesome goals. Only in this way will people be motivated to discover the country hidden behind the mountains, the one that goes beyond newspaper headlines and which does not seem to be a daily concern since it is so far away.  That country which people do not see, that part of the social context which needs us: the discovery of the depths of Colombia.  Young people’s hearts are spurred into action when faced with great challenges: how much natural beauty there is to contemplate, without needing to exploit it!  How many young people, like yourselves, need your outstretched hand, need your shoulder so as to discern a better future! Today I wanted to spend this moment with you; I am certain that you have the potential needed to build the nation we have always dreamed of.  Young people are the hope of Colombia and of the Church; in your walking and in your steps we can glimpse the steps of the Messenger of Peace, the One who brings us Good News. Dear brothers and sisters of this beloved country, I now direct some words to all of you: children, young people, adults and the elderly, as someone bringing hope to you.  Do not let difficulties weigh you down; may violence not break you; may evil not overwhelm you.  We believe that Jesus, with his love and mercy that remain forever, has conquered evil, sin and death.  All we need to do is go out to meet him.  I invite you not to be just dutiful but to be committed to renewing society, so that it will be just, stable and fruitful.  From this place, I encourage you to entrust yourselves to the Lord, who is the only one who sustains us and inspires us to contribute to reconciliation and peace. I embrace every one of you, the sick, the poor, the marginalized, those in need, the elderly, those who are housebound… all of you; you are all in my heart.  And I ask God to bless you.  And, please, do not forget to pray for me. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges Colombia’s leaders to peace and reconciliation: Full text

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 23:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged Colombia’s leaders on Thursday to set aside “hatred and vengeance” and “listen to the poor, to those who suffer”, in order to create a culture of encounter, for peace and reconciliation in a nation that is emerging from Latin America's longest-running conflict. The Pope, who is on an Apostolic visit to Colombia , Sept. 6-11, to encourage the peace and reconciliation process in the nation, delivered his first discourse at the presidential palace and seat of government in the capital, Bogota. Among those listening to him were members of the government and the diplomatic corps, religious authorities, business leaders and representatives of civil society and of culture. Pope Francis urged them to address the “structural causes of poverty that lead to exclusion and violence”, reminding them that “inequality is the root of social ills.” Below, please find the official English translation of the Pope's prepared speech: Address: Meeting with Authorities, the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of Civil Society Bogotá Thursday, 7 September 2017 I offer my cordial greetings to Your Excellency Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Columbia, and I thank you for your kind invitation to visit this nation at a particularly important moment in its history; I greet the members of the Government of the Republic and of the Diplomatic Corps. And through you, the Representatives of civil society, I extend my warm wishes to all the people of Colombia, as I begin my Apostolic Visit.  I come to Columbia following in the footsteps of my predecessors, Blessed Paul VI and Saint John Paul II.  Like them, I am moved by the desire to share with my Colombian brothers and sisters the gift of faith, which put down its roots so strongly in these lands, and the hope which beats in the hearts of everyone.  Only in this way, by means of faith and hope, can we overcome the numerous difficulties encountered along the way, to build a country that is a motherland and a home to all Colombians. Colombia is a nation blessed in so many ways; its bountiful nature not only inspires admiration for its beauty, but also requires careful respect for its biodiversity.  Colombia ranks second in the world in terms of biodiversity; travelling through this land one can taste and see how good the Lord has been (cf. Ps 33:9) in bestowing such immense variety of flora and fauna in the rainforests, the Páramos, the Chocó region, the farallones of Cali and mountain ranges like the Macarena, and in so many other places.  Equally vibrant is the culture of this nation.  But above all, Colombia is rich in the human value of its people, men and women with a welcoming and generous heart, courageous and determined in the face of obstacles.   This meeting allows me to express my appreciation for all the efforts undertaken over the last decades to end armed violence and to seek out paths of reconciliation.  Over the past year significant progress has been made; the steps taken give rise to hope, in the conviction that seeking peace is an open-ended endeavour, a task which does not relent, which demands the commitment of everyone.  It is an endeavour challenging us not to weaken our efforts to build the unity of the nation.  Despite obstacles, differences and varying perspectives on the way to achieve peaceful coexistence, this task summons us to persevere in the struggle to promote a “culture of encounter”.  This requires us to place at the centre of all political, social and economic activity the human person, who enjoys the highest dignity, and respect for the common good.  May this determination help us flee from the temptation to vengeance and the satisfaction of short-term partisan interests.  The more demanding the path that leads to peace and understanding, the greater must be our efforts to acknowledge each another, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and support one another (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 67). The motto of this country is: “Freedom and Order”.  These two words contain a complete lesson.  Citizens must be valued according to their freedom and be protected by a stable order.  It is not the law of the most powerful, but rather the power of the law, approved by all, that regulates a peaceful coexistence.  Just laws are needed, which can ensure harmony and which can help overcome the conflicts that have torn apart this nation for decades; laws are required which are not born from the pragmatic need to order society but rather arise from the desire to resolve the structural causes of poverty that lead to exclusion and violence.  Only in this way can there be healing of the sickness that brings fragility and lack of dignity to society, leaving it always vulnerable to new crises.  Let us not forget that inequality is the root of social ills (cf. ibid. 202).  In this perspective, I encourage you to look to all those who today are excluded and marginalised by society, those who have no value in the eyes of the majority, who are held back, cast aside.  Everyone is needed in the work of creating and shaping society.  This is not achieved simply with those of “pure blood”, but by all.  And here lies the greatness and beauty of a country, where all fit in and where all are important.  Real wealth is diversity.  I think of the first voyage of Saint Peter Claver from Cartagena to Bogotá, going up the Magdalena: his amazement is ours too.  Then and now, we observe the variety of ethnic groups and the inhabitants of the remotest regions, the campesinos.  Our gaze fixes upon the weakest, the oppressed and maltreated, those who have no voice, either because it has been taken from them, or was never given to them, or because they are ignored.  Let us stop to recognize women, their contribution, their talent, their being “mothers” in their great number of tasks.  Colombia needs the participation of all so as to face the future with hope. The Church, faithful to her mission, is committed to peace, justice and the good of all. She is conscious that the principles of the Gospel are a significant dimension of the social fabric of Colombia, and thus can contribute greatly to the growth of the country; particularly, sacrosanct respect for human life, above all for the weakest and most defenceless, is a cornerstone in the formation of a society free from violence.  We cannot fail, moreover, to emphasize the social importance of the family, envisioned by God to be the fruit of spousal love, that place “where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another” (ibid. 66).  I ask you, please, to listen to the poor, to those who suffer.  Look them in the eye and let yourselves be continually questioned by their faces racked with pain and by their pleading hands.  From them we learn true lessons about life, humanity and dignity.  For they, who cry out from their shackles, really understand the words of the one who died on the cross, as expressed by the words of your national anthem. Ladies and Gentlemen, you have before you a fine and noble mission, which is also a difficult task.  May the aspiration of the great Colombian patriot, Gabriel García Márquez, resound in the heart of each citizen: “In spite of this, before oppression, plundering and abandonment, we respond with life.  Neither floods nor plagues, famines nor cataclysms, nor even the unending wars down the centuries, have been able to subdue the tenacious advantage of life over death.  An advantage which is both increasing and accelerating”.  What is thus made possible, continues the author, is “a new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness made possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will, at last and forever, have a second opportunity on earth” (Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1982).     There has been too much hatred and vengeance…  The solitude of always being at loggerheads has been familiar for decades, and its smell has lingered for a hundred years; we do not want any type of violence whatsoever to restrict or destroy one more life.  I have wanted to come here to tell you that you are not alone, that there are many of us who accompany you in taking this step; this visit intends to offer you an incentive, a contribution that in some way paves the path to reconciliation and peace. You are in my prayers.  I pray for you, for Columbia’s present and future. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis in Colombia: Key points from speech to President Santos

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 23:21
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ first meeting in Colombia on Thursday was with President Manuel Santos, as well as other government and civil authorities gathered outside the presidential palace. Below are three key points from that speech, which you can read here . Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:   Hands up, who knew that Colombia ranks second in the world in terms of biodiversity? From its Andean mountain ranges to its Amazon rainforests, its Caribbean coast line and its vast tropical plains, it’s a nation blessed with a vast variety of flora and fauna. Pope: Careful respect for Colombia’s biodiversity But as the pope told the country’s leaders, such natural beauty brings with it a responsibility to respect that biodiversity and preserve it for future generations. That’s not exactly the policy the Colombian government is currently pursuing, with an economic model based on mining, energy and the exploitation of natural resources, without worrying about the impact it will have on local communities. Pope: Vibrant culture of this nation But, as anyone who’s studied Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’ well knows, environmental protection makes most sense in the context of caring for human life, especially the poorest and most marginalized. They’re the ones who suffer most from the destruction of land and the devastation of natural habitats, disrupting ancient ways of life that have existed among Colombia’s indigenous communities for centuries. Pope: Marginalised must be included in Colombia’s future Speaking to President Santos, scion of one of Colombia’s wealthiest families, the pope stressed that poverty leads to violence and inequality is at the root of social ills. Noting the rich variety of ethnic groups and their vibrant cultural traditions, he insisted that the “excluded and marginalized” – the women, the campesinos and the majority of mixed race people - must be listened to, as the nation seeks to move on from half a century of civil war.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis takes his first steps in Colombia

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 07:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has arrived in  Colombia . The papal plane touched down in the military area of Bogotà’s airport just after 4pm local time, where a large delegation of Church and State authorities – including President Santos - welcomed him as he stepped onto the tarmac. Our correspondent Linda Bordoni is in Bogotà and sent this report: A crowd of eager Colombian faithful was also there waving flags, cheering and clapping to the rhythm of traditional music and dance while a little boy who was born in captivity – the son of former FARC hostage Clara Rojas – hugged him and handed him a handcrafted ceramic dove, symbol of peace. It is Pope Francis’s 20 th apostolic journey abroad and during his five-day visit he will take his message of reconciliation and hope to all Colombians as he visits the cities of Bogotà, Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena from where he will depart on Sunday 10 th September. It’s been 31 years since the Bishop of Rome set foot in this ravaged nation. There were no official discourses scheduled for the occasion and none were needed as Pope Francis immediately set the tone for the visit with a powerful gesture of attention and care for those closest to his heart. Making his way down the red carpet to the pope-mobile, he stopped at length to touch and caress disabled and sick children, and – especially poignant and significant in the Colombian context -  he took time to engage with and bless, one at a time, a group of mutilated and disabled military veterans representing one of the too many groups of victims of a conflict the nation is struggling to put behind. Then, the streets were packed with people – ordinary Colombians – for the whole fifteen kilometre drive to the nunciature where a tired Pope Francis can rest and gather strength for a gruelling pastoral visit charged with expectations as he “Takes the First Step” with all the people of the divided and suffering nation as they seek the best route to navigate the treacherous path to peace. But before tucking up for the night Francis again gave voice to the voiceless and spelt out his priorities by sharing his joy and his faith with a group of poor orphaned children and vulnerable adolescents. “Never lose joy, never lose hope” he told them – and – “don’t forget to pray for me!” In Bogotà with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni for Vatican Radio               (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends telegrams to countries flown over on flight to Colombia

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 02:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent telegrams to the countries over which he flew on his flight to Colombia for his Apostolic Journey to the country. Those countries include: France, Spain, Portugal, United States, The Netherlands, and Venezuela. Please find below the telegrams: France HIS EXCELLENCY EMMANUEL MACRON PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC PARIS AS MY APOSTOLIC VOYAGE TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME OVER FRANCE, I SEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS, WITH THE ASSURANCE OF MY PRAYERS THAT ALL IN THE NATION MAY BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED BY ALMIGHTY GOD. FRANCISCUS PP. Spain HIS MAJESTY KING FELIPE VI KING OF SPAIN MADRID I EXTEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOUR MAJESTY, THE MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY, AND ALL THE SPANISH PEOPLE AS MY JOURNEY TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME OVER SPAIN.  ENTRUSTING THE NATION TO THE PROVIDENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD, I WILLINGLY INVOKE UPON ALL OF YOU GOD’S BLESSINGS OF CONCORD AND PEACE. FRANCISCUS PP. Portugal HIS EXCELLENCY MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA PRESIDENT OF THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC LISBON AS MY JOURNEY TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME THROUGH PORTUGUESE AIRSPACE,  I SEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS.  ASSURING YOU OF MY PRAYERS THAT ALL MAY ENJOY PEACE AND PROSPERITY, I WILLINGLY INVOKE UPON THE NATION GOD’S ABUNDANT BLESSINGS. FRANCISCUS PP. United States (Ocean and Puerto Rico) THE HONORABLE DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WASHINGTON AS I TRAVEL THROUGH UNITED STATES AIRSPACE ON MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I EXTEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOU AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS, INVOKING UPON ALL OF YOU ALMIGHTY GOD’S ABUNDANT BLESSINGS. FRANCISCUS PP. The Netherlands Sorvolo  Antille Olandesi –  6 settembre 2017 HIS MAJESTY WILLEM-ALEXANDER KING OF NETHERLANDS AS I FLY THROUGH YOUR AIRSPACE ON MY VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I EXTEND WARM GREETINGS TO ALL THE CITIZENS OF THE CARIBBEAN PARTS OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS, PRAYING THAT ALMIGHTY GOD MAY BLESS YOU ALL. FRANCISCUS PP. Venezuela HIS EXCELLENCY NICOLÁS MADURO PRESIDENT OF THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA CARACAS AS MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME OVER VENEZUELA, I SEND CORDIAL GREETINGS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AND ALL THE PEOPLE OF VENEZUELA.  PRAYING THAT ALL IN THE NATION MAY PROMOTE PATHS OF SOLIDARITY, JUSTICE AND CONCORD, I WILLINGLY INVOKE UPON ALL OF YOU GOD’S BLESSINGS OF PEACE. FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)...

Colombian Cardinal Salazar on hopes for Pope Francis' visit

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 23:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrives in Bogotà, the Colombian capital, on Wednesday at the start of his five day pastoral visit to the South American nation. The Holy Father will be welcomed by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, together with other political and religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Bogotà, Cardinal Ruben Salazar . The theme of the visit is ‘taking the first step ’ towards peace and reconciliation in the country which has endured half a century of civil war between the government and leftwing guerilla groups. While a peace accord was signed in Cuba last year, violence continues in rural areas and the nation remains deeply divided. Ahead of the pope’s arrival, Cardinal Salazar spoke about his expectations with our correspondent in Bogotà, Linda Bordoni: Listen to Linda’s conversation with Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar : The cardinal says this visit is “really very important” as the nation is living through a “very decisive moment in our history”. At this moment, he says, “we are leaving behind years of conflict, of war” and hoping “we can go towards peace, fraternity and solidarity”. In this sense, he adds, Pope Francis will have “very important” words for the Colombian people. Pope's concern for "voiceless" victims Asked about the many victims of Colombia’s civil war, the cardinal notes that in the city of Villavicencio on Friday, the pope will meet with some of those victims, as well as representatives of local indigenous communities. On Sunday, in Cartgena, the pope will meet members of the Afro-Colombian community and these meetings, the cardinal says, show that the Holy Father is “very concerned about the voiceless in Colombia”. Minorities are key for peace These minorities, Cardinal Salazar says, are now “the key for real peace” and in this sense, he insists, these meetings are “a moment of hope for all of us”. Stewardship of creation Finally the cardinal speaks about the important issue of ecology and the stewardship of creation, saying that the country has “important national resources” but it is vital to learn to use them without damaging the environment. At the moment, he says, “we are not so able to do that”.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis departs on an Apostolic visit to Columbia

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 17:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has departed on an Apostolic visit to Columbia. The Holy Father took off from Rome’s Fiumicino airport shortly after 11 am Rome time this morning. He is expected to land in Bogota at 23.30 Rome time tonight. During his visit he will also visit the cities of Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena before returning to Rome on the morning of 11th September. As has become tradition, Pope Francis on Tuesday afternoon visited the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to pray before the icon of the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani. In a tweet before his departure the Pope said, “Dear Friends, please pray for me and all of Colombia, where I will be travelling for a journey dedicated to reconciliation and peace.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Colombia visit

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 01:03
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday sent a video message to the people of Colombia ahead of his Apostolic Journey to the country on 6-11 September, inviting them to “take the first step” towards peace. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: With just a handful of days to go before his Apostolic Journey, Pope Francis invited all Colombians to “take the first step” in reaching out to their neighbor in a sign of peace. He thanked those “who welcome me to your land and into your heart” for their many efforts to prepare his visit. “Let us take the first step” is the theme of his Apostolic Journey to Colombia , and the Holy Father said it “urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity.” He said Colombia has long yearned and worked for peace, which, he said, should be “a stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies.” “Peace,” he said, “reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us.” Pope Francis went on to say he is “honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith.” He called Colombia a land “of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend.” Finally, the Holy Father said the Church is called “to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting.” Please find below a Vatican Radio English-language translation of the video: Dear people of Colombia, in just a few days I will visit your country. I come as a pilgrim of hope and peace to celebrate with you the faith in our Lord and also to learn from your charity and perseverance in search of peace and harmony. I cordially greet and thank the President of the Republic and the bishops of the Episcopal Conference for the invitation to visit Colombia. I also thank each of you, who welcome me to your land and into your heart. I know that you have worked so very hard to prepare this encounter. My appreciation goes to all who have collaborated – and continue to – so that it may become a reality. “Let us take the first step” is the theme of this Journey. It reminds us that a first step is always required for any activity or project. It also urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity. Taking the first step encourages us to reach out to our neighbor, to extend a helping-hand, and to offer a sign of peace. Peace is what Colombia has sought after for a long time, and she is working to achieve it: A stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies. Peace reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us. I am honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith. [It is a land] of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend. Today’s world needs specialists in peace and dialogue. The Church also is called to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting. My dear Colombian brothers and sisters, I yearn to live these days with you with a joyous spirit and with gratitude to the Lord. I warmly embrace you and ask the Lord to bless you, to protect your country, and to give you peace. And I ask our Mother, the Holy Virgin, to watch over you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you and see you soon.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope meets with members of the Shalom community

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 22:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Monday with a cheering crowd of young people and families belonging to the Shalom community . Speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish, the Pope replied to questions from three young members of the community about how to witness to their faith in a world often marked by indifference and hopelessness. The Shalom Catholic community was founded back in the early 1980s in the city of Fortaleza in north-eastern Brazil. Today it counts some 3.800 members spread across the different continents, and is focused on contemplation, unity and evangelization. Go out to share the good news In his reply to a young man named Juan from Chile, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of “going out of oneself” to share the good news of God’s mercy with others. God is always with us, he insisted, waiting for us even in the most difficult moments of our lives, just as the father of the prodigal son runs out to embrace his child, despite all the sinful things he has done. Avoid being self-centred Replying to a young French woman about the role of youth in the life and mission of the Church, the Pope spoke of their joy which is opposed to the sadness that comes from always being self-centred or “self-referential”. Narcissism, he said, is a disease which causes sadness by making us worry every day about how to appear better than we are. Calling it “the disease of the mirror”, he urged young people to “break the mirror” and look at others, as a way of escaping from today’s consumer culture. Share freely with others Pope Francis then responded to a young Brazilian man who spent many years as a drug addict before discovering the Shalom community. The Pope said drugs dominate people’s lives by destroying our roots and all that we hold close to our hearts. He urged young people to become aware of those roots and to share freely with others all the blessings that they themselves have received. Learn from your elders Finally, the Pope encouraged his listeners to learn from the wisdom of older members of the community, especially their grandparents. Engaging in this inter-generational dialogue, he said, is one of the major challenges facing our societies today.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican calls for new efforts to combat trafficking of migrants

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 21:03
(Vatican Radio) Politicians, business leaders, civil society and faith communities must step up efforts to combat the alarming increase in human trafficking. That message was at the heart of a statement given at a meeting in Vienna on Monday by the Holy See’s representative to the fifth thematic session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration . The Vatican delegation to the two day meeting was headed by Jesuit Father Michael Czerny , undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees section of the office for Integral Human Development. Listen to our report:  In his statement, he stressed that: “Irregular migration is not freely chosen, but rather forced on people because legal and secure channels are simply not available”. The migration process, he said, usually begins with “high hopes and expectations for greater security and better opportunities”. Since safe and affordable routes are general unavailable, he said, many migrants employ smugglers, but end up with an irregular or undocumented status that leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Legal frameworks, reliable pathways Therefore, he said, the Holy See stresses the importance of ensuring adequate legal frameworks and reliable pathways to prevent migrants becoming victims of trafficking and enslavement. Factors such as poverty, unemployment, statelessness, lack of education and gender discrimination do not necessarily lead to trafficking. Rather, Fr Czerny said, it is the interplay of factors that increases vulnerability. Societies must combat demand Each society, he added, must recognize the forces of demand – such as prostitution and work paid below minimum national standards – that make human trafficking such a profitable, multi-billion dollar business. Please find below the full statement by Father Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Holy See: Fifth Thematic Session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, on the topic: “Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims” Vienna, 4-5 September 2017 My Delegation wishes to welcome the two Co-facilitators and the Special Representative for International Migration and to thank the panelists for their thoughtful presentations. In the preparation of the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the Holy See very much welcomes the deep consideration of issues like trafficking and contemporary slavery which cause so much suffering for an ever increasing number of hapless victims in every part of the world. Today’s complex migration scenario is sadly characterized by “new forms of slavery imposed by criminal organizations, which buy and sell men, women and children.” [1] Despite the great achievements of international agreements, asylum seekers and migrants, who risk their lives in search of safety and a new home, are still and ever more vulnerable, especially to criminal organizations. The migration process usually begins with high hopes and expectations for greater security and better opportunities. Since safe, regular and affordable routes are generally not available, many migrants employ smugglers. Elements of human trafficking are present in much of contemporary human smuggling, and this is one reason why the migration project can go disastrously wrong. Traffickers can easily take advantage of the desperation of migrants and asylum seekers. Ending up in an irregular or undocumented status, they are at a very high risk of abuse and exploitation, including trafficking and enslavement. Therefore, the Holy See stresses the importance of ensuring adequate legal frameworks and reliable pathways to prevent migrants from becoming victims of human trafficking. Factors contributing to vulnerability, like poverty, statelessness, joblessness, lack of education, discrimination of women and girls, do not in and of themselves necessarily lead to trafficking. Rather, it is the interplay of factors, mutually reinforcing each other, that increases vulnerability. At the same time, each society needs to recognize the forces of demand -- for example, for prostitution, or for labour below the minimum national standards -- that are at work domestically to make human trafficking very profitable. The numbers of smuggled and trafficked migrants keeps on increasing alarmingly. [2] According to the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 51 percent of the victims are women, 21 percent are men, 20 percent girls and 8 percent boys. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, among the world’s largest, with an estimated 21 to 46 million people, victims of forced labour, debt-bondage, sex and other forms of trafficking. Slavery must not be an unavoidable aspect of economies. Instead, business should be in the vanguard in combating and preventing this travesty. [3] Investigations have to be coordinated at national, regional and international levels. Data and key information sharing must be assured as well as legal protection for victims, while perpetrators are prosecuted and brought to justice. To protect human dignity, the training of public officers, and establishing national policies to guarantee foreigners access to justice, are very important. Assistance to victims must be guaranteed in receiving countries, and the principle of “non-refoulement” has to be applied to victims of trafficking, assuring them psychological counselling and other support and rehabilitation. Victims should be allowed to stay regularly in the country as long as they need healing therapy and eventually have their stay extended with the opportunity to work. “We ought to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.” [4] Therefore the contributions of political bodies, business, academia, civil society and communities of faith are all indispensable, each according to their own capacities and responsibilities. A measure of the GCM’s success will be if tomorrow’s migratory movements are no longer inevitably marked by human smuggling as today’s clearly are. For irregular migration is not freely chosen but rather forced on people because legal and secure channels are simply not accessible. The Holy See looks forward to participating in the high-level meeting to review the progress made on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, 27-28 September in New York, where it will reiterate its strong commitments. Thank you. 1 Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016, 12 September 2015. 2 E.g., UNODC, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2016. “Measuring the total volume of trafficking in persons is not an easy task as any assessment of this crime needs to account for the coexistence of its three defining elements, the act, the means and the purpose” (p. 30). “A total of more than 570 different trafficking flows could be discerned from this data. This is a marked increase from previous editions of the Global Report, where 460 flows were detected for the period 2007-2010, and 510 for the period 2010-2012” (pp. 39-40). 3 The literature reveals that the current de facto response of most businesses focuses on monitoring supply chains for forced labour. While material, these measures do not address sufficiently the wider socio-economic and cultural factors that engender trafficking. They fall short of the promise of business to engage as a strong and positive influence on society as posited by the SDGs. 4 Pope Francis, Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2015. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope visits Colombia 'to support peace and promote reconciliation'

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 17:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is set to travel to Colombia from 6 to 11 September. He will be the third Pope to visit the Latin American nation in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI in 1964 and Pope Saint John Paul II in 1986. Francis begins his trip in the capital Bogota and also will visit the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena.  It is a crucial moment for Colombia, which is in the throes of implementing a peace agreement with FARC rebels after a 52-year internal conflict that has left over 260,000 people dead, 60,000 unaccounted for and over 7 million displaced. The former British Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker , who currently heads  the South America Department at the Foreign Office in London,  told Linda Bordoni that Pope Francis’ visit there is an extremely important sign of encouragement for the nation’s peace process and will help promote reconciliation: Listen to the full interview:   Baker described the papal visit to Colombia as “extremely important” because it comes in the wake of the extraordinary progress and journey that the nation has made towards peace by signing a deal with the main guerrilla group, the FARC, which many thought would have been impossible.   “The extraordinary progress that has been made needs to be acknowledged,” Baker said. Another key theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia is to encourage the process of reconciliation after such a long and bitter civil war.  In this context, Baker said it was “incredibly important” that the Pope is meeting victims of the conflict and leading prayers for national reconciliation during his visit. Staying on the theme of encouragement, Baker said the people of Colombia need “to turn the page from the difficult past” and recognize the huge possibilities and “bright future” that peace can bring to their nation. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: The temptation to follow a Christ without a Cross

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 20:07
(Vatican Radio) Before the recitation of the Angelus Prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis delved into the meaning of this Sunday’s Gospel reading, telling pilgrims in St Peter’s Square that, “there is always the temptation to follow a Christ without a Cross, rather, to teach God the right path,". He was referring to the passage where Jesus, "reveals to the disciples that he will suffer, be killed and rise again in Jerusalem and he is reproached by Peter because he cannot accept that all this will happen to the Messiah.” Jesus, said the Pope, “responds with a reproach in turn: "Get behind me, Satan! You are scandalized, because you do not think according to God, but according to men! " The Holy Father went on to say, "at that point, the Master addresses all those who followed him, clearly presenting the way to go:" The Lord says, “if anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his Cross, and follow me ". Again, even today, noted the Pope, “the temptation is to follow a Christ without a Cross, rather, to teach God the right path.” But, Pope Francis underlined,  “Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love, and there is no true love without self-sacrifice.” Jesus, commented the Pope, exhorts that "whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my cause will find it". The Holy Father explained that, “in this paradox there is the golden rule that God has inscribed into human nature created in Christ: the rule that only love gives meaning and happiness to life.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: renewed prayers for those hit by US and South Asia floods

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 18:50
(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis renewed his spiritual closeness to the populations of South Asia, which are still suffering the consequences of devastating floods. This summer over 1,000 people died in floods across South Asia and the United Nations says at least 41 million people in Nepal, India and Bangladesh have been affected by landslides and exceptional rainfall. The Holy Father also had words of comfort for the residents of Texas and Louisiana in the US suffering as a result of Hurricane Harvey which has caused material damage and displaced thousands of people. The Pope asked Mary the Most Holy, consoler of the afflicted, to obtain "from the Lord the grace of comfort for the whole Texan community in these painful circumstances." The Holy Father will travel to Columbia on Wednesday on a 5 day Apostolic journey and taking his leave on Sunday, he thanked all those for their good wishes ahead of the visit. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis addresses Korean Council of Religious Leaders

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 18:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday met with the Korean Council of Religious Leaders in the Vatican stressing the importance of interreligious dialogue directed towards a future of peace and hope. Listen to our report: In his prepared remarks to the Korean Council of Religious Leaders, the Pope highlighted the importance and often, as he put it, challenging path of interreligious dialogue. This dialogue between religions, noted the Pope, “consists of contacts, encounters and cooperation, a challenge directed towards the common good and peace.” He went on to say that, “such dialogue must always be both open and respectful if it is to be fruitful.”  Pope Francis told those present, “the world is looking to us; it asks us to work together and with all men and women of good will.” The world, continued the Pope, "looks to us for answers and a shared commitment" on a range of issues, such as, the sacred dignity of the human person, the hunger and poverty which still afflict too many peoples, the rejection of violence, and, not least of all, the crisis of hope. "We have, therefore, a long journey ahead of us, observed the Holy Father, one he said, that must be undertaken with humility and perseverance, not just by raising our voices but by rolling up our sleeves, to sow a future of hope." Below please find the English translation of the Pope's address to the Korean Council of Religious Leaders   Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Korean Council of Religious Leaders 2 September 2017   Dear friends from the Korean Council of Religious Leaders, I am pleased to welcome you for this meeting.  You have travelled a long way to come to Rome on your interreligious pilgrimage, and I thank you for your presence here.  I am grateful to Archbishop Kim Hee-jong for proposing this visit and for his kind words.  As I said in Seoul: “Life is a journey, a long journey, but a journey which we cannot make by ourselves. We need to walk together with our brothers and sisters in the presence of God” (Meeting with Religious Leaders, 18 August 2014).  Here we are today taking another step on this journey together! As you know, particularly since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has tirelessly embarked upon the often challenging path of dialogue.  The Church, in a special way, has encouraged dialogue with followers of other religions.  Today too she “urges her sons and daughters… with prudence and charity… to acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral values found among them, together with their social life and culture” (Nostra Aetate, 2).  Because interreligious dialogue consists of contacts, encounters and cooperation, it is an endeavour that is precious and pleasing to God, a challenge directed towards the common good and peace. Such dialogue must always be both open and respectful if it is to be fruitful.  Open, that is to say warm and sincere, carried forward by persons willing to walk together with esteem and honesty.  Respectful, because mutual respect is at once the condition and the goal of interreligious dialogue: indeed it is in respecting the right to life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms, such as those of conscience, religion, thought and expression, that the foundations are laid for building peace, for which each of us is called to pray and work.  The world is looking to us; it asks us to work together and with all men and women of good will.  It looks to us for answers and a shared commitment to various issues: the sacred dignity of the human person, the hunger and poverty which still afflict too many peoples, the rejection of violence, in particular that violence which profanes the name of God and desecrates religion, the corruption that gives rise to injustice, moral decay, and the crisis of the family, of the economy and, not least of all, the crisis of hope. We have, therefore, a long journey ahead of us, which must be undertaken with humility and perseverance, not just by raising our voices but by rolling up our sleeves, to sow the hope of a future in which humanity becomes more human, a future which heeds the cry of so many who reject war and implore greater harmony between individuals and communities, between peoples and states.  Religious leaders are thus called upon to initiate, promote and accompany processes for the welfare and reconciliation of all people: we are called to be heralds of peace, proclaiming and embodying a nonviolent style, a style of peace, with words clearly different from the narrative of fear, and with gestures opposed to the rhetoric of hatred. Dear friends, may this meeting strengthen us on our journey.  Seeing you here as pilgrims reminds me of my pilgrimage to the beautiful land of Korea, for which I remain grateful to God and to the beloved Korean people.  I constantly pray that God will bestow upon them the gifts of peace and fraternal reconciliation.  May our mindfulness of the friendship and the good things we have received from one another grant us the strength to move forward together, with the help of God.  Thank you. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends condolences on the death of Card Murphy O'Connor

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 17:46
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolence to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols on the passing of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster. The Holy Father said he was deeply saddened to learn of his death. In the telegramme the Pope recalled “with immense gratitude the late Cardinal’s distinguished service to the Church in England and Wales, his unwavering devotion to the preaching of the Gospel and the care of the poor. He also remembered his far-sighted commitment to the advancement of ecumenical and interreligious understanding.   Below find Pope Francis' telegramme to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster:   Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, I hasten to offer my heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese.  Recalling with immense gratitude the late Cardinal’s distinguished service to the Church in England and Wales, his unwavering devotion to the preaching of the Gospel and the care of the poor, and his far-sighted commitment to the advancement of ecumenical and interreligious understanding, I willingly join you in commending his noble soul to the infinite mercies of God our heavenly Father.  To all who mourn his passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord.                                                              FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends message to Astana Expo exhibit

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 17:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to mark the National Day of the Holy See at Expo 2017 which is taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan and is devoted to the theme “Future Energy”.  Listen to our report:   The Holy See has designed its pavilion at the Astana Expo on the theme: “Energy for the Common Good: Caring for our Common Home” and in his message to mark the National Day of the Holy See at this event the Holy Father stresses that “serious and responsible reflection is demanded on how mankind can, in coming years, draw on innovative technologies to make wise use of the energy resources that are our common legacy.” He adds, that action must be taken now “to ensure that energy is used to improve our lives and to cause our human family to flourish, for by nature we are called to fruitful interaction, solidarity and love.” Proper use of Energy resources In the message the Pope underlines that energy resources must not be allowed to fall prey to unscrupulous financial speculation or to become a source of conflict and encourages a cooperation between religions and broad-ranging and frank dialogue on all levels and among different sectors of society. In conclusion, the Holy Father says that “the way we use energy resources is a sign of how well “we are carrying out the task that, according to many religious traditions, has been entrusted to us by God, namely to care for the world around us and for our fellow human beings…”.  “If our generation and use of energy are sustainable and grounded in solidarity, continues the Pope, we are doing our job well.  Otherwise, we are not.  At stake is our very dignity; at stake too are justice and peace.”   The National Day of the Holy See at Expo 2017 is being celebrated on September 2nd.   Below find the English translation of the Pope's Message   Your Eminence, My Brother Bishops, Esteemed Authorities, Dear Brothers and Sisters,               I offer a warm greeting to all those taking part in the National Day of the Holy See at Expo 2017 in Astana.  My greeting also goes to all who have helped in various ways with the planning and realization of this event, and to the many visitors in attendance.             I am pleased that Kazakhstan is hosting this International Exhibition devoted to the theme: “Future Energy”.  Serious and responsible reflection is demanded on how mankind can, in coming years, draw on innovative technologies to make wise use of the energy resources that are our common legacy.  We are all conscious of the fact that our use of those resources is critical for the health of our world and the welfare of our societies, a welfare that needs to be viewed in integral terms, and not simply as economic prosperity or greater capacity for consumption.  We must act now to ensure that energy is used to improve our lives and to cause our human family to flourish, for by nature we are called to fruitful interaction, solidarity and love.             For this reason, energy resources must not be allowed to fall prey to unscrupulous financial speculation or to become a source of conflict.  This calls for broad-ranging and frank dialogue on all levels and among different sectors of our societies.  “Future energy” does not have to do with researchers, technicians and investors alone; it also represents a challenge to the worlds of culture, politics, education and religion.  I gladly recall the growth of dialogue and cooperation between religions that has taken place in Kazakhstan, a land characterized by rich ethnic, cultural and spiritual traditions.  It is my hope that the different religions will take part in this dialogue, for their writings contain insights that “prove meaningful in every age; they have an enduring power to open new horizons…  The ethical principles capable of being apprehended by reason can always reappear in different guise and find expression in a variety of languages, including religious language” (Laudato Si’, 199).  It is important for all of us to discover in our own religious traditions the inspiration and criteria that foster a courageous commitment to perseverance in bettering our relations and in living together as brothers and sisters.             The way we use energy resources is a sign of how well we are carrying out the task that, according to many religious traditions, has been entrusted to us by God, namely to care for the world around us and for our fellow human beings of every time and place.  If our generation and use of energy are sustainable and grounded in solidarity, we are doing our job well.  Otherwise, we are not.  At stake is our very dignity; at stake too are justice and peace.  It is to promote an awareness of this that the Holy See has designed its pavilion at the Astana Expo on the theme: “Energy for the Common Good: Caring for our Common Home”.             May Almighty God, the Creator, grant that Expo 2017 provide timely lessons and lasting inspiration, and may he bless our common efforts to bring them to fruition.   From the Vatican, 2 September 2017                                         FRANCIS (from Vatican Radio)...

Programme for Pope's visit to Colombia presented to the press

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 23:40
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Colombia was presented to the press on Friday at the Holy See Press Office. Starting on 6th and ending on 11th September, in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI and Pope Saint John Paul II who travelled to Colombia in 1964 and in 1986 respectively, this will be Francis’ 20th journey abroad  It will not be the first time Jorge Bergoglio visits Colombia as he was there as a priest in the 1970s and twice as a Bishop and member of the Latin American Episcopal Conference - CELAM. As was noted at the press conference, it is inevitable that the eyes of the world view this visit through a political perspective as the Colombian people commit to push forward a peace process. The government, in  fact, signed an agreement with the FARC rebel group in November last year following 52 years of conflict which has left 260,000 people dead, 60,000 unaccounted for, and over 7 million displaced. Thus, the papal visit comes at a key moment in the peace process which has been strongly supported by the Catholic Church and by the Pope himself.  But Holy See Press Office Director, Greg Burke , stressed that as always, the Pope’s visit is of a purely pastoral nature, and that he is travelling to the overwhelmingly Catholic country to bring the message of the Gospel to his flock and to encourage Colombians on their journey of faith and reconciliation. Listen :  During the five-day visit Pope Francis will visit four cities making day trips from the capital Bogotà where he will be based, to Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena. As always he will be meeting with political and with Church leaders, but also with groups of victims, with families, with disabled people, with poor people, with former guerrillas, with his brother bishops, with  CELAM as well as with priests, nuns, religious and laypeople. In Villavicencio he will beatify two Catholic priests killed during the conflict and in Cartagena he will pray at the Church of St. Peter Claver. Francis will preside over Mass in all four cities and his discourses and homilies are expected to touch on issues that are particularly poignant to Colombians such as the care for creation, the power of reconciliation, the defense of life and the upholding of human dignity and rights.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew: praying for creation

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 23:40
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued a Joint Message with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I , to mark the Sept. 1 st World Day of Prayer for Creation . Released on Friday morning, the Message invites all the faithful and every person of good will to  reflect prayerfully on how to live in a simply and use the goods of the created order responsibly. Focus on prayerful solidarity “On this occasion,” the Joint Message from Francis and Bartholomew reads, “we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations.” Click below to hear our report The Message goes on to say, “We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation.” History The Orthodox Church has commemorated this Day since 1989 , when Patriarch Bartholomew instituted the annual recurrence.  Pope Francis made the World Day of Prayer for Creation a Catholic celebration in 2015 . (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis' prayer intention for September: 'For parishes at service of mission'

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 20:08
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released a video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for September. This month’s intention is for parishes at the service of the mission: "That they not be simple offices, but that animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen." The text of the video message reads: Parishes must be in contact with homes, with people’s lives, with the life of society. They have to be houses where the door is always open so as to go forth toward others. And it is important that this going-forth follows a clear proposal of faith. The doors must be opened so that Jesus can go out with all of the joy of his message. Let us pray for our parishes, that they not be simple offices, but that animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen. 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)...

The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation: Joint message

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 15:00
(Vatican Radio) The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is being marked today September 1 and has special importance in this its third year. It is a Joint Message which was released on Friday morning from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who for the first time are writing together on Themes of the Day, inviting all the faithful and men of good will to prayer and to reflect on how to live in a simple and solid manner, responsibly using earthly goods. The Day of Prayer for the Creation of the Creation was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015. The Orthodox Church has commemorated the Day since 1989.  Below find the English Language translation of the Joint Message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew   JOINT MESSAGE of  Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the World Day of Prayer for Creation The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation. However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs. The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting. The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development. Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1 September.  On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labour in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps 126-127), if prayer is not at the centre of our reflection and celebration. Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives. We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation. We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.   From the Vatican and from the Phanar, 1 September 2017      Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew   (from Vatican Radio)...

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