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Day: December 1, 2014

A message for World AIDS Day from Caritas Internationalis

At a time when all of the world’s attention is focussed on Ebola, it is easy for the world to take its eyes off “World AIDS Day” which is commemorated annually on 1 December. Recent media reports on Ebola deaths say the number is now close to 7000. While no effort should be spared towards…
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A message for World AIDS Day from Caritas Internationalis

At a time when all of the world’s attention is focussed on Ebola, it is easy for the world to take its eyes off “World AIDS Day” which is commemorated annually on 1 December. Recent media reports on Ebola deaths say the number is now close to 7000. While no effort should be spared towards containing Ebola, it is important that HIV/AIDS continues to get the attention it deserves.
Globally, HIV rates are on the decline. However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) close to 2.1 million people are said to have been infected with HIV last year and every year about 1.6 million people die of AIDS related illnesses. WHO officials warn against the risk of complacency, particularly in Africa, which still has the highest number of HIV infections and deaths.
On this day, World AIDS Day, FIND BELOW A MESSAGE from Caritas Internationalis. The message is by Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis and Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Head of Delegation to the United Nations in Geneva and Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS and Health.
(e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va)
“A message for World AIDS Day from Caritas”
 “Every person is worthy of our giving.” With these words, Pope Francis called on all Catholics, and other people of faith and good will, to open their hearts to all in need and to treat them as sisters and brothers. He then assured those willing to sacrifice their own comfort, time, wealth, knowledge and skills for the good of others, “We achieve fulfillment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!”
The story of Caritas’ response to the HIV epidemics in different parts of the world goes beyond abstract strategies and policies, as important as they may be. Ours is a response that is measured, not only in realizing expected outcomes, but also by the greater enjoyment of human dignity among persons living with or affected by HIV. Ours is a response that reaches out with compassion and tangible support to countless widows, orphans, and other surviving loved ones as a way to honour the memory of some 39 million people who have died from AIDS-related causes during the past three decades. Ours is a response of walking with, not merely “doing for”, HIV-positive persons as they empower themselves to live fully despite the challenges they face as a result of the virus.
The international experts tell us on this World AIDS Day 2014 that we must “close the gap” between the “haves” and “have-nots” in the global response to AIDS. We can accomplish this lofty goal by opening our hearts in solidarity and in the search for the common good. We can “close the gap” by challenging and changing the structures that prevent some 25 million adults and children from access to life-saving anti-retroviral medications.
We can “close the gap” by looking beyond the “quick fix” solutions for HIV prevention that have been proposed for the last 30 years and, in the words of Pope Francis, by “going out to meet” those at risk of HIV infection “with creative love” as we “help them to rediscover their dignity and to revive those inner strengths, those personal talents” of “men and women created in the image and likeness of God.” We can “close the gap” by fully welcoming HIV-positive refugees and displaced persons who too often are denied access to health care in the countries where they have sought freedom and a more positive future for themselves and their families. We can “close the gap” when we reject “the culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people”
Above all, let us give priority attention to the HIV-infected children who have not benefited from the same pace of progress, as that enjoyed by adults, in making medicines available. We must continue to “close the gap” in the pediatric AIDS response by advocating with governments and pharmaceutical companies to develop more “child friendly” medicines so that we can offer these children the possibility of living beyond their first or second birthdays and so that we too can benefit from the society of tomorrow which they can help us build.
Finally, we can “close the gap” by overcoming our in-born tendencies to blame others for their conditions of poverty, of marginalization, or even of HIV infection. Universal access for all people living with HIV, not just to medicines, but to full life and dignity, will only be accomplished by rejecting all forms of discrimination and stigma toward those living with or affected by HIV. Let us base our “roadmap” for Caritas’ ongoing commitment to the global HIV response on this appeal of Pope Francis: “… we must open ourselves to the peripheries, also acknowledging that, at the margins too, even one who is cast aside and scorned by society is the object of God’s generosity. We are all called not to reduce the Kingdom of God to the confines of the “little church” — our “tiny little church” — but to enlarge the Church to the dimensions of the Kingdom of God. However, there is one condition: wedding attire must be worn, that is, charity toward God and neighbour must be shown.”
(Michelle Hough,  Communications Officer)
 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope to Swiss Bishops: Be the Body of Christ, not just another NGO

(Vatican Radio) Straight off the plane from Turkey, Pope Francis resumed his daily activities at the Vatican Monday morning which included a meeting with Swiss bishops who are on their 5 yearly Ad limina visit.
The Pope handed them a pre-prepared text and then greeted them one by one.  In the text the Pope praises Switzerland’s history of being at the forefront of  working for peace, through its witness to cultural and religious coexistence.
He writes “although many citizens are distant from the Church, the majority recognize the positive role played by Catholics and Protestants in the social field”.
Here Pope Francis urges the bishops to look back on their nations long Christian tradition – and next year’s celebration of 1500 years of continuous religious life in the iconic Abbey of Saint-Maurice – to keep the faith alive in Switzerland. “Without a living faith in the risen Christ the beautiful churches and monasteries gradually become museums, the commendable works and institutions lose their soul, leaving only empty spaces and lost people”.
Pope Francis says the mission entrusted to the bishops is to “feed the flock”. “The people of God cannot be without  a shepherd” , he continued and the role of bishops and priests is to serve the unity of the faith and ensure that it is taught according to Church tradition.   He urges the bishops to have renewed sense of collegiality as a form of mutual support in their mission and calls on them bishops to have a united and clear voice on society’s ills.
This united voice, he writes is important at a time when some people – even within the Church – try to “withhold the realism of the social dimension of the Gospel”.  Pope Francis notes that the Gospel has an inherent, original prepositive power and that it’s the pastors’ job to make the full extent of this accessible to people experiencing difficulties in their everyday life – without tarnishing its beauty or weakening its appeal – particularly for people who are searching for meaning in their lives, or those who have turned away from the Church.
The Pope comments on how the Gospel is a powerful force to counter a thinking that deliberately denies the transcendent dimension of man, of life and of human relations, especially in the face of suffering and death. Here, he continues, the witness of Christians and parishes can really brighten the way and support the pursuit of happiness for people. In this way, Pope Francis states “the Church in Switzerland will clearly be the Body of Christ, the People of God, and not only a beautiful organization, another NGO”.
In the text Pope Francis also observes that the faith we have received from the Lord  invites us to reach out to those with whom we come in contact, even if they differ from us in their culture, religion or belief.
He notes that “if we believe in the free and generous work of the Spirit, we can better understand each other and work together to better serve society and contribute to peace”.  In this ecumenism is a contribution not only to the unity of the Church, but also to the unity of the human family, as it favors a fertile, peaceable and fraternal coexistence.
The Pope adds however, that in prayer and in the joint proclamation of the Lord Jesus, we must be careful to allow the faithful of every Christian denomination, to live their faith clearly and free of confusion at the expense of truth without the differences. He warns against an ecumenism which – on the pretext of  “a certain accommodation” hides our Eucharistic faith, which implies that we take neither our own “greatest treasure” nor our interlocutor seriously enough.
He also encourages the bishops to  continue their efforts for the formation of seminarians. “We are talking about a question for the future of the Church” he writes. “She needs priests who have enjoyed a thorough familiarity with the tradition and teaching of the Church of Christ” so they can be increasingly conformed to Him.  In the text Pope Francis emphasizes the importance that bishops give time to their priests, especially those who have distanced themselves from their bishop. “A simple, true and fraternal dialogue” he notes can often allow for a new relationship to begin.
“The mission of the laity in the Church has an important place, because they contribute to the life of parishes and church institutions, whether as a full-time workers or volunteers”, concludes Pope Francis. He adds that while their commitment and support should be appreciated, clear respect must always be shown for the difference between the common priesthood of the faithful and sacramental priesthood. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope to Swiss Bishops: Be the Body of Christ, not just another NGO

(Vatican Radio) Straight off the plane from Turkey, Pope Francis resumed his daily activities at the Vatican Monday morning which included a meeting with Swiss bishops who are on their 5 yearly Ad limina visit. The Pope handed them a pre-prepared text and then greeted them one by one.  In the text the Pope praises…
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The logic of encounter – Editorial, Director of "L’Osservatore Romano"

The journeys of Francis are of vital
importance and, as such, they take as their main model those of his Predecessor
Paul vi and of that innovative
papacy half a century ago. The same import that has been evident from his
journey to Lampedusa and up to his very recent trip to Strasbourg, also marked
Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey, in accordance with the particular measure
typical of Bergoglio: the logic of personal encounter. The
Pope evoked this concept as he spoke at the end of the Divine Liturgy
celebrated in Fanar for the Feast of St Andrew, and the entire itinerary which
led the Pontiff from Ankara to Istanbul should be read in the context of
encounter. The journey was, on one hand, directed toward Muslims and, on the
other, toward sister Orthodox Churches. And holding these two sides together
was a mysterious truth: the Holy Spirit. It
is in fact the Spirit who gives life to the Church, Francis recalled as he
celebrated a Holy Mass for Catholic faithful from various rites who gathered in
the Cathedral of Istanbul, where he also met with refugees, because it was not
possible for him to visit to a refugee camp. Those he met were displaced
primarily from Syria and Iraq, finding shelter in Turkey in order to protect
themselves against terrorist brutality. “Only the Holy Spirit is able to kindle
diversity, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity”, Francis
observed, adding that it is the same Spirit who brings harmony. As
the soul of the Church — and thus of the mission, to which one can only truly
respond by going out of oneself — the Spirit moves her by the breath “which
does not transmit a power, but rather an ability to serve in love, a language
which everyone is able to understand”. Here, in the breath of the divine
Spirit, also lies the root of his journey, emphasized by the strength of the
conciliar years and directed toward friendly encounter with every human being,
without distinction of faith or of ideology. And
the logic of personal encounter was again made manifest during these days in
Turkey, the destination of four papal journeys in fewer than 50 years and the
place where Francis trustingly extended his open hand to shake those of eminent
Muslim leaders, as the Pope recalled during the return flight press conference.
We need to “raise the bar” in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, the
Pontiff said, and it is essential that all Islamic leaders condemn violence and
intolerance, which are incompatible with authentic faith in God. As
a journey of friendship, the Pope’s three days in Turkey marked a milestone —
correctly termed ‘historical’ — on the
path toward union between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, and more generally between
Catholic and Orthodox faithful. The gestures and words of Francis and
Bartholomew truly called to mind the insights and actions of Athenagoras and
Paul vi who, half a century ago
and after a millennium of division and enmity, had the courage to set off on a
new path, followed by their Successors, Demetrius, John Paul ii and Benedict xvi, for the light of Christ shines only in unity. g.m.v….