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Day: May 26, 2015

Religions together for humanitarian action

(Vatican Radio) Experts, academics and religious leaders will gather in Geneva at the United Nations Headquarters on May 27 for a day-long debate.
Entitled “Religions Together for Humanitarian Action” the Symposium organized by the Sovereign Order of Malta has been conceived within the framework of its participation in the World Humanitarian summit next year in Istanbul.
During the Symposium policy-makers, religious leaders and academics aim to tackle sensitive issues related to the 2016 summit, which is an initiative of UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon.
As the Order of Malta’s Gran Chancellor, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager explains to Vatican Radio, these issues include the contribution of faith-based organizations in war theatres and the role of religions in promoting reconciliation.
Listen to the interview :

Baron von Boeslager says the idea of holding the Symposium arose following discussions regarding what could be the contribution of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.
He explains that the Summit will focus mainly on four different themes, the fourth being “Serving the needs of people in conflict” and he says that the Order he belongs to is deeply committed to providing humanitarian aid in armed conflict, so this is the theme they have decided to concentrate on.
He says it is also an occasion to “elaborate what the special vocation and possibilities of religious-based organizations is, or could be, to help during armed conflicts” he says.
During the Geneva Symposium von Boeslager says participants will also start a discussion with representatives of other religions to find out what could be a common proposal to the World Humanitarian Summit.
He says that recent and ongoing conflicts show that civilians continue to pay the highest price and those human rights are increasingly ignored. 
“To start with one figure: until the First World War, 90% of all victims were soldiers and 10% were civilians, and now it is exactly the other way around” he says.
He points out that not only are 90% of the victims civilians today, but they are mostly women, children and elderly people.
“So the situation for the civilian population in areas of armed conflict has dramatically worsened” he says.
Von Boeslager calls for action as world conventions that were drawn up after the 2 world wars conflicts to protect human rights in conflict situations are increasingly ignored.
He comments on how the values of religion, which are key for reconciliation and peace, are too often manipulated for pursuit of power and profit through violence.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Bishops’ Conferences of Europe and SECAM to hold a seminar on family

CCEE and SECAM hold a Seminar on The Family in Europe and Africa
The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) and The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) will hold a joint seminar on the theme: The joy of the Family .   The seminar is scheduled for Maputo in Mozambique from May 28- 31, 2015. This is according to a statement issued by SECAM Tuesday. Below is the full statement:
Following a process of growing pastoral collaboration, the two bodies have been organizing meetings for bishops from both continents to strength communion and collaboration and a reflection on major challenges facing the Church .
In the light of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation and in continuity with the reflections which will be tackled in the course of the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015 on the Family, the bishops will deliberate on issues relating to the family on the two continents.
The aim of the Seminar of European and African bishops will be to study the family in Africa and Europe as protagonist of evangelisation and at the same time in need of being evangelised.  Topics to be treated include the following:
Anthropological, social and ecclesial challenges for the Family.
The Joy and sufferings of the Family: Pastoral challenges.
The Mission of the Bishop in proclaiming the Gospel of the Family.
The role of the Church and the Bishop in dialogue with Society and States in family matters.
The bishops at the end of the Seminar are expected to issue a Final message on their deliberations.
The Seminar is being hosted by Bishop Lucio Muandula, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Mozambique. It will be presided over by Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Angola, Presidents of SECAM and a representative of Cardinal Peter Erdő of Hungary, President of the CCEE. 
The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) comprises the 37 National Episcopal Conferences and the eight (8) Regional Episcopal Conferences.
The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of  Europe (CCEE) encompasses the current 33 European Bishops’ Conferences, represented by their Presidents, the Archbishops of Luxembourg, of the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishop of Chişinău (Moldova Rep.), the Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo and the Apostolic Administrator of Estonia.
The programme of the meeting and the list of participants are available on the website of CCEE (www.ccee.eu) and SECAM (www.secam.org)
e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope: Franciscan vocation centered on littleness, fraternity

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday met with Franciscans taking part in the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor.
In his address to the friars, the Holy Father focused on two “essential elements” of Franciscan identity: “minority” (It: minorità), a spirit of littleness; and “fraternity.”
The spirit of being a “minor,” he said, “calls one to be and to feel that one is little before God, entrusting oneself totally to His infinite mercy.” The recognition of one’s littleness and sinfulness allows a person to receive salvation. Those on the other hand, who do not feel needy cannot receive the mercy and salvation God offers them. “Minority,” the Pope continued, also means going out of oneself, beyond structures, attitudes, and feelings of security, in order to bear concrete witness of God’s mercy to the poor and needy “in an authentic attitude of sharing and service.”
Fraternity, or brotherhood, was the other aspect of being a Franciscan highlighted by Pope Francis. The Pope noted the witness of Christians in the early church, whose fraternal communion was “an eloquent and attractive sign of unity and charity.” Franciscans, he said, are called “to express this concrete fraternity, by means of a recovery of reciprocal confidence in interpersonal relationships, so that the world might see and believe” recognizing that Christ’s love can heal our wounds and make us one.
Recalling a story of the early days of the Order, Pope Francis noted that the early Franciscans recognized the whole world as their cloister, the space for their evangelical witness. “How important it is to live a Christian and religious existence without losing oneself in disputes and chattering, cultivating a serene dialogue with all, with meekness, mildness, and humility, with poor means, proclaiming peace and living soberly, content with what is offered to you.” Alluding gently to some difficulties the Franciscans have faced in recent years, the Pope said Franciscans must be committed to their vocation of poverty and littleness.
Pope Francis reminded the friars that it is the Holy Spirit who animates the religious life. “When consecrated persons live, allowing themselves to be illuminated and guide by the Spirit, they discover in this supernatural vision the secret of their fraternity, the inspiration of their service to the brethren, the strength of their prophetic presence in the Church and in the world.” The “light and strength” of the Holy Spirit, he said, will also help Franciscans confront the challenges posed by a decline in numbers and vocations, and by an aging congregation.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope: worldly Christians can’t have both heaven and earth

(Vatican Radio)  It’s sad to see a Christian who wants to “follow Jesus and the things of this world.” That’s what Pope Francis said at Tuesday morning’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, stressing that a Christian is called to make a radical choice in life:  you can’t be “half” Christian or have both “heaven and earth.”
In his homily Pope Francis reflects on Peter’s query to Jesus:  what would he and the disciples get in return for following Him?  Peter asks the question after the Lord told the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give everything to the poor.
A Christian cannot have heaven and earth; do not be attached to things
The Pope notes that Jesus responds in an unexpected way:  He does not speak of riches to his disciples,  but promises instead the Kingdom of Heaven “but with persecution, with the cross:”
“So when a Christian is attached to [worldly] things, he gives the bad impression of a Christian who wants to have two things: [both] heaven and earth. And the touchstone of comparison precisely, is what Jesus says: the cross, the persecutions. This is to deny oneself, to suffer the cross every day… The disciples had this temptation, to follow Jesus but then:  how will this bargain end up?”  
The Pope then refers to the reading from Mathew where James and John’s mother asks Jesus to secure a place at His side for her children:
“’Ah, make this one prime minister for me – this one, the minister of the economy …’, and she took the worldly interest in following Jesus,” the Pope says with irony.
But , Francis notes, “the heart of these disciples was cleansed,” through to Pentecost, when “they understood everything.” “The gratuitousness  of following Jesus,” the Pope says, is the answer to the gratuitousness of love and salvation that Jesus gives us.” And when “one wants to go and be with both Jesus and with the world, with both poverty and with riches,” he warns, “this is half-way Christianity that desires material gain. It is the spirit of worldliness.”
Riches, vanity and pride take us away from Jesus
Echoing the words of the prophet Elijah, Pope Francis alludes to this kind of Christian as one “limping on two legs” because he “does not know what he wants.” So, the Pope affirms, in order to understand this,  we must remember that Jesus says “the first shall be last and the last shall be first,” meaning “the one who believes or who is the greatest” must be “the servant, the smallest one “:
“Following Jesus from the human point of view is not a good deal: it’s serving. He did so, and if the Lord gives you the opportunity to be the first, you have to act like the last one, that is, in service. And if the Lord gives you the ability to have possessions, you have to act in service, that is, to others. There are three things, three steps that take us away from Jesus: wealth, vanity and pride. This is why they are so dangerous, the riches, because they immediately make you vain and you think you are important. And when you think you are important, you lose your head and you lose yourself.”
A worldly Christian is a counter-witness
What the Lord wants from us is to “strip” ourselves of worldy things the Pope stresses.  And it took Jesus a long time to get this message across to His disciples “because they did not understand well.”   We too must ask Him to teach us “this science of service” the Pope says, “this science of humility, this science of being the last to serve our brothers and sisters in the Church.”
“It’s sad to see a Christian, whether it’s a lay person, consecrated priest, bishop –  it’s sad when you see he wants two things: to follow Jesus and worldly things, to follow Jesus and worldliness. And this is a counter-witness and furthers people from Jesus. We continue now the celebration of the Eucharist, thinking of Peter’s question. ‘We left everything: what will you give us in return?’ And thinking about Jesus’ response.  The recompense that He will give us is resemblance to Him. This will be our ‘recompense’. Big ‘recompense’, to be like Jesus!”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Religions together for humanitarian action

(Vatican Radio) Experts, academics and religious leaders will gather in Geneva at the United Nations Headquarters on May 27 for a day-long debate. Entitled “Religions Together for Humanitarian Action” the Symposium organized by the Sovereign Order of Malta has been conceived within the framework of its participation in the World Humanitarian summit next year in…
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