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Day: September 1, 2015

Pope Francis sends condolences after Hurricane Erika

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his “heartfelt condolences” after the tragic loss of life and destruction in the Caribbean island nation of Dominica due to Hurricane Erika.
In a telegram sent to the Bishop of Roseau, Gabriel Malzaire, the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin conveyed the Holy Father’s blessing upon the “grieving families and all those affected by this disaster.”
The full text of the telegram is below
The Right Reverend Gabriel Malzaire
Bishop of Roseau
Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and destruction in the wake of Hurricane Erika, His Holiness Pope Francis sends his heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased and prays for all those providing rescue and relief service. In commending the dead to the loving mercy of God, the Holy Father invokes upon their grieving families and all those affected by this disaster the blessings of perseverance, hope and peace.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope leads liturgy for Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday marked his first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in Saint Peter’s Basilica with the celebration of a Liturgy of the Word.
Listen to Christopher Wells’ report: 

The liturgical celebration for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation began with the canticle from the Book of Daniel, where all of creation is called upon to praise the Lord. In addition to readings from  Genesis and the Gospel of Saint Matthew, there was a reading from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato si’, which concluded with a passage from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun.
The homily during the liturgy was proclaimed by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher of the Pontifical Household. Father Cantalamessa focused three themes taken from the readings: “Fill the earth and subdue it”; “Whether or not to be concerned for tomorrow”; and “What Saint Francis can teach us.”
Caring for creation does not mean “dominating” the world we live in, but caring for it as God the Father cares for His creation. Jesus words from the Gospel – “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” – do not imply a lack of concern for the future. They say, he said, do not worry about your future, but worry about the future of those who come after you. Finally, Saint Francis of Assisi gives us “living proof of the contribution that faith in God can give to the common effort to care for and protect the environment.”
Pope Francis concluded the Liturgy with a blessing: May your blessing act in us, O Lord, and transform us with your renewing power, so that we might be wholly disposed to the service of what is good.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Cardinal Turkson: Peace is a fruit of justice

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, on Tuesday said “peace is a fruit of justice” during an international symposium on Promoting a Culture of Peace in a World of Conflict being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Since peace is inconceivable without justice, a culture of peace requires a culture of justice; and both must begin with a commitment to respect radically the basic demands of all relationships in which we live, to live non-violently in the world and to care for the earth,” said Cardinal Turkson. “Such conduct is strengthened when different groups in society resolve conflict and differences with this approach.”
Cardinal Turkson also said for the Christian, faith is of paramount importance.
“For a Christian, the beginning and the goal of all building is Christ, the Alpha and the Omega,” he said.
“Our vision is entirely shaped by God’s salvific plan for the world – as set out in Scriptures and definitively expressed in the life and mission of Christ, continued through time in the Church – and at its centre is the human person,” continued Cardinal Turkson. “This is the foundation of our life and work.”
The full text of Cardinal Turkson’s interventions is below
“Building-Blocks for a More Just and Peaceful Society”
Rio de Janeiro, 1 September 2015
Your Eminence, my Lord Bishops, Great Chancellor, Rectors and Deans, Very Rev. Monsignors, Rev. Fathers, Religious Brothers and Sisters, Esteemed Professors and Dear Students, Ladies and Gentlemen:
With deep gratitude for the hospitable welcome extended to me, I bring warm greetings from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to this important International Symposium seeking to promote a culture of peace in a tragically conflictual world. I am especially honoured to contribute to the impressive inter-disciplinary effort, and to the international cooperation undertaken by the sponsoring Catholic or Pontifical Universities here in Rio de Janeiro, in Lisbon and in Rome. May I congratulate the Authorities, the Faculties and the Students of the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RIO), the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP) and the Pontifícia Universidade Gregoriana de Roma (PUG-Roma). May God generously bless all your reflections and interchanges with great success and, indeed, even more: with the transforming grace of justice and peace for all God’s people everywhere.
On this first day of the Symposium, my assignment is to suggest and explore some components for building peace in a more just society, and these I will derive from Catholic Social Teaching, which it is our Council’s task “to deepen” and “attempt to make … widely known and applied”.[1] Our discussions today will hopefully give rise to new and deeper questions which can be posed to the very rich biblical, philosophical and theological contributions to be made by Profa. Luísa Almendra and Rev. Prof. João Vila-Chã S.J. during the next two days.
Let me plunge right into my address (conferência), drawing not only on my studies in Sacred Scripture but also on my 18 years of experience as Archbishop in Ghana. For peace has a sister, and that sister’s name is justice.
Peace is the fruit of justice, and justice is a relational term. As ascribed to both God and man, justice primarily denotes “respect for the demands of the relationship in which one stands”. Thus the just or the righteous person of the Scriptures is one who respects the demands of the relationship in which he/she stands, be they the demands of relationship with the God of the covenants or the demands of relationships with brothers and sisters of the covenant community and even with the foreigner. The tsadiq/just/righteous of the Scriptures is one who respects the demands of relationships and builds communion, harmony and peace. This is how “justice and peace embrace, kiss” in the words of Psalm 85 (v. 11). The opposite, the rasha’/wicked, is one who disregards the demands of relationships, thus wrecking relationships, communion and peace.
Since peace is inconceivable without justice, a culture of peace requires a culture of justice; and both must begin with a commitment to respect radically the basic demands of all relationships in which we live, to live non-violently in the world and to care for the earth. Such conduct is strengthened when different groups in society resolve conflict and differences with this approach. Such are the conclusions of the Second Synod on “the Church in Africa in service to reconciliation, justice and peace” (October 2009),[2]
Commitment to justice and nonviolence is intrinsically connected to conversion. For some, it is motivated by a realization that violent solutions do not restore or facilitate long-lasting peaceful integration in societies, but often serve to magnify violence. Others become advocates of peaceful and nonviolent solutions when they are exposed to the human suffering caused by violence. Peacemakers tend to emerge from situations of suffering, not academic settings. Those who promote a peaceful transformation of the world have usually worked first to transform violent and oppressive tendencies in themselves and have become advocates for those who suffer the violent consequences of unjust structures.
The whole of life unfolds in relationships or in their absence or distortion. When we live in a manner that respects the demands of relationships, we are just, and we act with justice.[3] And the fruit of justice is peace. Peace is directly related to the quality of personal and communal relationships. To build a more peaceful world, we need just relationships at the personal level, between individuals, communities and nations, with creation, and ultimately with God. All of us contribute to a more just and less violent society by cultivating right and just relations at every level of our lives. If we are not actively contributing to the solution, then we are surely part of the problem. The question is simple: are we moving towards more just relations or in the opposite direction?
Half-a-century ago, the question was very dramatic and nearly tragic: we seemed to be moving inexorably towards the first (and last!) nuclear world war. In October 1962, during the pontificate of St John XXIII, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world perilously to nuclear confrontation. The tensions of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR came close to a breaking point. The peace of the world was ominously threatened, and commitment to peace was sorely tried. It was in the tense aftermath of the crisis that Good Pope John wrote his encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris,[4] with its opening line: “Peace on Earth—which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after—can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.”
In those moments of darkness and despair, the dying Pope gave tangible hope to the world, as he gently but persuasively proposed a solution of a practical politics of mediation, justice and political friendship. This was the first encyclical directed not only to Catholics but also “to all men of good will” who are called to a great task: “to establish with truth, justice, love and freedom new methods of relationships in human society”. For political friendship across differences is a foundational practice for social justice and peace.[5]
Thus the saintly Pope John provides two impeccable gold-standards for any work of just peace-building: deep respect for the “the divinely established order” and the courageous willingness to risk “political friendship across differences”. These are keepers as we now go forward towards our own time and face its challenges. It is our hope to assemble reliable building-blocks for greater justice and enduring peace. For this, we will now find extraordinarily helpful and complementary resources in the teaching of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and of Pope Francis.
Let us turn first to Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate.[6] Issued over six years ago, this great social encyclical applies the deep resources of Catholic social tradition to the crucial social questions of the early 21st century. In Laudato si’. Pope Francis cites Caritas in Veritate more than a dozen times. It articulates – and properly situates – our concern about building-blocks of a just and peaceful society as follows: How are we “to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God”? (CiV § 7). Let me clarify, should anyone take this expression in a narrow sectarian manner: building the “earthly city” is a task for all people of all faiths working together in mutual respect.
How then do men and women, as citizens of the here-and-now, contribute to the building of an earthly city that is more reflective of the heavenly one? To this great question, Caritas in Veritate provides a summary answer: “The earthly city is promoted not merely by relationships of rights and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of gratuitousness (gratuitous love = charity), mercy and communion” (Civ § 6). Building the city is a matter of healing relationships broken by violations and violence, and of promoting healthy constructive relationships of justice, love and peace.
In one brief paragraph, only about 130 words long, the Holy Father emeritus details the qualities and virtues needed for such work of building. Let me read the passage slowly:
The complexity and gravity of the present economic situation rightly cause us concern, but we must adopt a realistic attitude as we take up with confidence and hope the new responsibilities to which we are called by the prospect of a world in need of profound cultural renewal, a world that needs to rediscover fundamental values on which to build a better future. The current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences and to reject negative ones. The crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future. In this spirit, with confidence rather than resignation, it is appropriate to address the difficulties of the present time (CiV § 21).
Looking carefully at this richly suggestive paragraph, we can distil five ways suggested by the former Pontiff to build up the city of man with qualities closer to the undivided city of God:
1 – Begin with a realistic attitude, approaching the difficulties of the present time with discernment
2 – Ground the work in fundamental values, a new vision for the future
3 – With confidence rather than resignation, take up the new responsibilities
4 – Be open to profound cultural renewal, with confidence and hope
5 – Commit to new rules, new forms of commitment, with coherence and consistency
These are five profound competences of peace-builders. Within the same tradition, Pope Francis presents his own guidelines for addressing “tensions present in every social reality” and derives, from the pillars of the Church’s social doctrine, “a genuine path to peace within each nation and in the entire world” (EG § 221). The four principles come in Evangelii Gaudium under the heading “The common good and peace in society”. Situating peace in society within the common good solidly grounds our conference task, “To promote the culture of peace”. The four principles are:
1 – “Realities are more important than ideas” (EG §§ 231-33)
2 – “Time is greater than space” (EG §§ 222-25)
3 – “The whole is greater than the part(s)” (EG §§ 234-37)
4 – “Unity prevails over conflict” (EG §§ 226-30)
Let us briefly explore each competence of Pope Benedict, together with each guideline of Pope Francis, and thus assemble the building-blocks of the just peace we want to build.
1. Discernment and reality
The first step is surely to face the difficulties of the present time, not with ready-made answers or simplistic ideologies, but with a realistic attitude and with discernment.
To confront the problems of our world we must first study them—we must learn to SEE them clearly. The well-known pastoral method popularly known as “see-judge-act” was created by Fr. Joseph-Léon Cardijn, later Cardinal. St John XXIII adopted the method and gave it formal recognition in Mater et Magistra: “There are three stages which should normally be followed in the reduction of social principles into practice. First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgment on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act.”[7]
Properly to see, Pope Francis explains, . “calls for rejecting the various means of masking reality: angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, empty rhetoric, objectives more ideal than real, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems bereft of kindness, intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom” (EG § 231). Thus “seeing” demands more than a mere glance that can so easily be biased by ideology or prejudice. Rather, using the available scientific tools, we must conduct a rigorous analysis of social conditions, their causes and interconnections, and their effects, especially on the poor and marginalized. As well as this empirical analysis, we make use of biblical insight, the tradition of our Church’s social teaching, and theological reflection to “judge” the situation described. And out of this effort – which sometimes entails solitary research but often is a collaborative task – emerges a way forward and proposals of what to do and how to “act”.
A closely-related pastoral approach is known as “signs of the times”. In 1967, Blessed Paul VI stressed in Populorum Progressio that the Church has the duty “of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in light of the Gospel.”[8] Reading the signs of the times is not something that happens automatically, but needs to be learned and practiced. Genuine signs are the result of the past with all its efforts and mistakes, providing the basis and challenges for what we must do now in order to build – hopefully according to a vision for the future.
Here are some of the signs “seen and judged” or identified by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate: the economic crisis (§§ 40-41), globalization (§ 42), population (§ 44), business and ethics (§§ 46-47), environment (§§ 48-51), education (§ 61), international tourism (§ 61), migration (§ 62), poverty and unemployment (§§ 63-64), media (§ 73) and bioethics (§ 74). To these we can add the recurring themes and signs which Pope Francis identifies in Laudato si’: “the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle” (LS § 16).
Let us take the crying example of world-wide hunger and mal-nutrition. “Since 1990 there has been a 17% decrease in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger. While this fall indicates a measure of effectiveness of the efforts over more than two decades in reducing chronic hunger, it also means that we still have almost 850 million people suffering from acute hunger.” At the same time, there is more than enough surplus and wasted food to meet everyone’s needs. The problem lies “in the lack of conservation technologies among smallholder producers, in weak or absent government support to incentivize the commercialization of products, or in the lack of infrastructure for better food distribution and marketing. Sadder still, this paradox is also due to a throwaway culture in affluent societies, to deliberate large-scale destruction of food products to keep prices and profit margins high, as well as to other policies that override the common objective of food security for all.”[9]
In response to this acute challenge, Caritas Internationalis currently has a campaign entitled “One human Family, Food for all”. The title is an affirmation and a moral imperative. Simply by comprehending the first part of the phrase as a pre-condition or a prior step, the title points prophetically towards the global goal of an effective remedy for world hunger. If and when we live as one family, there is food for all.[10] To truly overcome hunger, we must address injustices related to control of seeds and land as well as issues of distribution at the structural level. Is the human family ready to do so?
Another example can be the popular movements that our Pontifical Council has recently helped to convene: 150 delegates at the Vatican in October 2014, and 1,500 delegates in Santa Cruz de la Sierra Bolivia in July 2015. They represent organizations of the excluded, the marginalized, and the poor. They organize themselves to struggle for objectives which can be summed up under the three great T’s “Trabajo, Techo, y Tierra” (work, housing, land and food).
To explain the interesting background, let me quote from the letter of invitation sent out by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: “The Church wants to make its own the needs of those who participate in popular movements, and to join with those who, by means of different initiatives, hope to stimulate social change that will allow a more just world to be built. At the same time, different popular organizations have shown a great desire to meet with the Church and join in this quest for a global change that will lead to support for the goal of peace, justice and brotherhood for which we all yearn.”[11]
At both meetings, Pope Francis spent a good hour speaking with the delegates. “The poor not only suffer injustice, they also struggle against it!” he said to them in the Old Synod Hall. Rather than passively waiting for a solution from on high, “you want to be protagonists. You get organised, study, work, issue demands and, above all, practise that very special solidarity that exists among those who suffer, among the poor.”[12] In Bolivia, the Holy Father elaborated further: “You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands, through your ability to organize and carry out creative alternatives, through your daily efforts to ensure the three T’s (work, housing, land and food) and through your proactive participation in the great processes of change on the national, regional and global levels.”[13] In effect, there will be no enduring solutions to the inter-related social-and-environmental crises (inequity, violence, and ecological degradation), unless the excluded and the poor are included and empowered.
So our first step is reading the signs of the times with a realistic attitude, with suitable research and with discernment, to uncover the threats to peace—namely, the injustices at every level of society—and to shape the needed remedies.
2. Vision of the whole
The next step is to ground the work in fundamental values, a new vision for the future, recognizing that “the whole is greater than the part, and also greater than the sum of its parts.” As Pope Francis explains, “We constantly have to broaden our horizons and see the greater good which will benefit us all… We need to sink our roots deeper into the fertile soil and history of our native place, which is a gift of God. We can work on a small scale, in our own neighbourhood, but with a larger perspective” (EG § 235).
So this second competence can rightly be called conversion, metanoia[14] (change of mentality and heart). To know and accept oneself is the beginning of wisdom. And this attitude must be accompanied by a willingness to change, to work on oneself.
Pope emeritus Benedict explains clearly the spiritual roots of the required new vision. “When he is far away from God, man is unsettled and ill at ease” (CiV § 76). “Reason, by itself, is capable of grasping the equality between men and of giving stability to their civic coexistence, but it cannot establish fraternity. This originates in a transcendent vocation from God the Father, who loved us first, teaching us through the Son what fraternal charity is” (CiV § 19).
The crux is this: if justice and peace are absent from the ‘inner ecology’ of individuals, communities or organizations, they will also be absent from the ‘outer ecology’ of the structures of our family, our community and our society. Individuals who refuse to change contribute to unjust and conflictive societies. Are we producers, carriers, distributors of inner toxic waste – of “practical materialism, combined with relativist and nihilistic thought”? Benedict XVI referred to the latter as “sickness of the spirit” and “spiritual toxic refuse” which the so-called first world was exporting to other continents, thereby contaminating their peoples.
This is how Pope Francis puts it:
Economic growth, for its part, tends to produce predictable reactions and a certain standardization with the aim of simplifying procedures and reducing costs. This suggests the need for an “economic ecology” capable of appealing to a broader vision of reality. The protection of the environment is in fact “an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it”.[15] We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision. Today, the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work-related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which leads in turn to how they relate to others and to the environment (LS § 141).
A culture of peace is developed by those who practice peace in their everyday lives. There can be no justice among men when there is no justice towards God. As Pope Benedict put it, “Without God, man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is” (CiV § 78). We must give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar; but we must also give to God what belongs to God (cf Lk 20:21-25). Indeed, we must first learn to give to God what belongs to God in order to see clearly how to give to Cesar and to one another what belongs to each.
Thus Pope Francis reiterates our second basic building-block of values, vision and conversion: “The Gospel has an intrinsic principle of totality: it will always remain good news until it has been proclaimed to all people, until it has healed and strengthened every aspect of humanity, until it has brought all men and women together at table in God’s kingdom. The whole is greater than the part” (EG § 237).
And now, out of the five building-blocks that I would like to propose, we have considered the first two. These I might sum up provisionally as follows: First, with deep respect for “the divinely established order,” let us “see” with a realism and discernment learned from those in need; and second, let our patience be grounded in fundamental values and hopeful vision.
Before opening up the discussion, let us pull back the curtain and ask, “What would a more just and peaceful world actually look like?” Pope Francis, speaking on 9 July to so many enthusiastic popular leaders in Bolivia, described a just economy and a peaceful society like this:
A just economy must create the conditions for everyone to be able to enjoy a childhood without want, to develop their talents when young, to work with full rights during their active years and to enjoy a dignified retirement as they grow older. It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life.[16]
With the same respect and care for each and every one of God’s children, St. Francis prayed: “Make me a channel of your peace. St Francis considered himself a brother not only to every man, woman and child, but to all creatures, who have a common Creator and Father in heaven and are therefore related. The Universe is God’s created gift and our common home. All things are created by Him, and thus they are good, indeed they are family. Family members are responsible for one another, especially for the vulnerable.
Accordingly, we are invited to become the justice and peace that we want to promote in the wider world. “Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family…” (CiV § 7).
Thank you for your kind attention, I now very much look forward to our exchange (diálogo com o conferencista).
“Building-Blocks for a More Just and Peaceful Society” (2nd Intervention)
Your Eminence, my Lord Bishops, Great Chancellor, Rectors and Deans, Very Rev. Monsignors, Rev. Fathers, Religious Brothers and Sisters, Esteemed Professors and Dear Students, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Our excellent discussion (diálogo), before the delicious coffee-break (intervalo), surely serves as the best introduction to the second part of my address (conferência). But before presenting the three remaining building-blocks for a more just and peaceful society, it may help to bring us back into our undertaking if, in your name, I ask, “Why are we doing this? Why are we holding a high-level international and interdisciplinary symposium co-sponsored by three great universities and hosted by the Church in a great city of a great country?” The answer I will give is the one formulated by Pope Francis in response to a similar question, “Why bother to ask troubling questions about what is happening to our planet?” And this is the answer he gives: “Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it” (LS § 19). Such, I believe, should be our answer, too.
In this spirit – and I would dare say, only in this spirit and for this purpose – let us ask what further components we can bring to our ambitious mission of promoting the culture of peace.
3. With confidence and patience
The third building-block is clarity of vision, which prioritizes confidence and patience over resignation. Once again, Pope Francis puts this really well: “Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity” (EG § 223), let us take up the new responsibilities that go with a new vocation and mission. The principle of time greater than space “enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results” (EG § 223).
For a Christian, the beginning and the goal of all building is Christ, the Alpha and the Omega. Our vision is entirely shaped by God’s salvific plan for the world – as set out in Scriptures and definitively expressed in the life and mission of Christ, continued through time in the Church – and at its centre is the human person. This is the foundation of our life and work.
This kind of vision or mission is crucial for building a more just and peaceful society. How do we understand the place of human beings in the world? What kind of world do we want to live in, and to leave for future generations? Do we see ourselves as autonomous and self-sufficient, or do we accept that we are creatures, dependent and inter-connected? The acquisition of this third competence – clarity of vision – may well entail the grace of healing, as when Jesus used his own hands and saliva to restore a blind man’s sight (Mk 8:22-26).
At a fundamental level, how we treat the earth and its vulnerable creatures is a reflection of what we truly believe. When we delve into root causes of inequality, violence and war, what we find is a grave alienation from ourselves, from others, from creation and ultimately from God, the source of all life. If the other is not recognized as equal in dignity and worthy of respect, then something else moves in to fill the vacuum and this something is the ego, preoccupation with self, with one’s own interests and plans, in isolation from others. “Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used” for “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience” (LS §§ 104-5).
The environmental crisis serves as a case study. In the past, humankind could overcome perplexing problems through technological innovation. In the present, facile confidence trusts that technology will once again come to our rescue – thus, business continues ‘as usual’. Some continue to maintain that “current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.” (LS § 109) People who think this way show “no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behaviour shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.” (LS § 109 with reference to CiV § 35)
But today, technology simply cannot compensate for the excesses of the developed world, with their negative impact on the earth’s ecosystems. Nor can technology address the injustices that underlie environmental problems. Our vision, therefore, is more than simply technological or merely humanistic.
“The vocation to development on the part of individuals and peoples is not based simply on human choice, but is an intrinsic part of a plan that is prior to us and constitutes for all of us a duty to be freely accepted” (CiV § 52). If we are followers of Jesus, then we have a responsibility to collaborate in bringing about the kind of world he envisioned. When he stood up in the Synagogue at Nazareth, unrolled the scroll and read from the Prophet Isaiah, he announced his mission to “give sight to the blind, liberty to captives and to announce the good news to the poor” (Lk 4). The good news, according to Jesus, was that the Kingdom of God is very near at hand (Mk 1:15). This was not the kingdom expected by the Jews, whereby a warrior-king would expel the Romans and re-establish the monarchy. Rather, Jesus proclaimed that a true Messiah would bring justice, and defend the poor and the exploited.[17] Jesus himself showed the way to build the Kingdom in our midst: he not only preached it tirelessly, but performed actions that embodied its coming. The preferential recipients of his saving action were the poor and the marginalized. And Jesus understood the coming of the Kingdom as his Father’s initiative inviting human conversion and involvement.
Over and over, Pope Francis warns against the cult of individualism and instant gratification. “Sometimes I wonder if there are people in today’s world who are really concerned with building up people, as opposed to obtaining immediate results which yield easy, quick short-term political gains, but do not enhance human fullness” (EG § 224). By contrast, true statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good. Political powers do not find it easy to assume this duty in the service of nation-building (LS § 178) and peace-building. We need to pray for world leaders as they struggle with the issues of sustainable development and climate change this year.
4. The culture of peace
The fourth building-block affirms how to build peace. This competence or principle would open us to profound cultural renewal and show confidence and hope. Yes, it is fashionable to be negative, nihilistic, pessimistic. Quite counter-culturally, though, we Christians firmly believe that a more just and peaceful world is possible, as Pope Francis insists that “Unity prevails over conflict”. Indeed, he says, “the best way to deal with conflict … is the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!’” (Mt 5:9) (EG § 227)
Let us consider military spending. The organization Global Day of Action on Military Spending notes that, in 2015, the world is spending about $1.8 trillion dollars on the military. That is an almost inconceivable sum. Were we to take just 10% of what is employed for arms and apply it to humanitarian needs, “the financing of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Green climate fund could be achieved.” Neither intellectual nor material resources are lacking. Rather, the various instances of national and international decision-making seem to lack the conviction and political will to bring about such vital and life-giving change.[18]
Further, it makes no sense to argue that, because these problems have been with us since time began, they must always be with us. Where is our passion for justice? Where is our faith in the power of nonviolence and our conviction that faith can move mountains? Where is our commitment to solve problems if we have the capacity to do so? Do we depend fundamentally on our own power and means to improve the world? Or do we recognize our dependence on God who can make us worthy instruments for bringing about His kingdom on earth?
This is the true path to peace. As Pope Francis says, “The message of peace is not about a negotiated settlement but rather the conviction that the unity brought by the Spirit can harmonize every diversity. It overcomes every conflict by creating a new and promising synthesis. Diversity is a beautiful thing when it can constantly enter into a process of reconciliation and seal a sort of cultural covenant resulting in a ‘reconciled diversity’[19]” (LS § 230).
Let us take the concrete example of climate change. As Laudato si’ articulates today’s very solid scientific consensus, “We are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades, this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it” (LS § 23).
Everyone knows that we have the economic resources to wipe the tears from the eyes of those who are in danger from the ravages of climate change and who lack the basics of a dignified life. Let us be champions in solidarity who believe that injustice can be overcome, that harmonious relationships can be fostered, that our planetary ecology can be made sustainable, that a world of greater communion is possible. Then the poor and everyone else too will benefit.
Every Christian can affirm that Peace is possible! because, as Christians, we believe that “the Lord has overcome the world and its constant conflict ‘by making peace through the blood of his cross’ (Col 1:20)” (EG § 229). A culture of peace is built up when people act accordingly. As the number of people who adhere to this belief grows, the greater is the likelihood that environmental and social change for the better will actually take place. For example, on 18 August 2015, “Muslim leaders and scholars from 20 countries issued a joint declaration underlining the severity of the problem and urging governments to commit to 100 percent renewable energy or a zero emissions strategy… Hindu leaders will release their own statement later this year, and the Buddhist community plans to step up engagement this year building on a Buddhist Declaration on climate change. Hundreds of rabbis released a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis.”[20] And so unity – a diversified and life-giving unity – patiently prevails over conflict (cf. EG § 228).
5. Commitment to dialogue
In his 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict said that: “Today too, in an increasingly globalized world, Christians are called, not only through their responsible involvement in civic, economic and political life but also through the witness of their charity and faith, to offer a valuable contribution to the laborious and stimulating pursuit of justice, integral human development and the right ordering of human affairs.”[21] How? By means of dialogue – a term that appears 30 times in Laudato si’. Dialogue “would involve each of us as individuals, and also affect international policy” (LS § 15).
Gathering the wisdom of the previous four competences, the fifth building-block would have us adopt new rules, new forms of commitment, with coherence and consistency. Appreciating God’s plan and our place in it, according to Pope emeritus Benedict, “is what gives rise to the duty of believers to unite their efforts with those of all men and women of good will, with the followers of other religions and with non-believers, so that this world of ours may effectively correspond to the divine plan: living as a family under the Creator’s watchful eye” (CiV § 57).
Pope Francis, having presented his four principles, dedicates the whole subsequent section of Evangelii Gaudium to “Social dialogue as a contribution to peace” (EG §§ 238-258), while the entire fifth chapter of Laudato si’, “Lines of Approach and Action” (LS §§ 163-201), spells out a whole series of needed dialogues on the environment: at the local, national and international levels, with transparency in decision-making, and involving the economy, politics and policy, religions and science. All these dialogues need to respect one another’s identities and differences, and not see others as threats or competitors.
The fifth building-block, therefore, is dialogue underlying cooperation, collaboration, networking and solidarity. Groups, organizations, institutions and movements of different persuasions – whether Catholic, Christian, inter-religious or non-confessional – need to come together. We must cooperate, coordinate, and make our multiple efforts converge towards the same goals: greater justice, greater security, greater transparency, and greater peace. Human pluralism and diversity, like biodiversity, is natural to humanity and one of our strengths. It can make dialogue challenging, but dialogue is always possible among parties that share overriding principles. As Benedict XVI put it: “This universal moral law provides a sound basis for all cultural, religious and political dialogue, and it ensures that the multi-faceted pluralism of cultural diversity does not detach itself from the common quest for truth, goodness and God” (CiV § 59).
This year of 2015 presents a great opportunity for such an effort. At the end of September, the 193 members of the United Nations will embrace a transformative agenda in human development – the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 169 related targets. These goals will link economic growth with social inclusion and respect for the environment. They call for an end to extreme poverty in all its forms; access to healthcare, education, and energy for all; gender equality; a reduction in income inequality, a move to inclusive economic growth, and the promotion of full and productive employment and decent work; a move toward sustainable consumption and production patterns; and action to halt climate change and to protect our oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. One of the goals calls for the promotion of “peaceful and inclusive societies”.
If the nations of the world turn this rhetoric into reality and make a serious effort to implement these goals, then we will indeed be moving towards a more just—and therefore more peaceful—society. Keeping the human person as the centre of our concern will help and orient us to build a city of man more worthy of ourselves and our descendants for generations to come.
Five years ago, in September 2010, this was exactly the position of the Holy See Delegation, which I was honoured to head, at the U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals: “The human person must be at the centre of concern in our quest for development. If everyone’s political, religious and economic rights and freedoms are respected, we will shift the paradigm from merely trying to manage poverty, to creating wealth; from viewing the poor as a burden, to welcoming them as part of the solution.”[22]
Today’s highly fragmented and specialized fields of knowledge make it “hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today’s world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests” (LS § 110). Complex social and economic patterns – such as those underlying hunger and malnutrition, lack of work and housing, inaccessible land – must be addressed systemically and structurally, both globally and locally. To do so is, indeed, the blessed work of promoting justice and building peace.
The Holy Fathers Benedict and Francis do not minimize the challenges to our mission of restoring justice and promoting the culture of peace. Pope Francis spells them out:
Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised (EG § 218).
“As we contemplate the vast amount of work to be done,” Pope emeritus Benedict said earlier, “we are sustained by our faith that God is present alongside those who come together in his name to work for justice” and peace (CiV § 78). Such integral development, to use yet another synonym, such “development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in Veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us. For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God’s love” (CiV § 79).
For taking up this noble human calling, we have identified five promising building-blocks in recent Papal teaching: 1) Realism and discernment; 2) A fundamental vision of the whole; 3) Confidence, patience and responsibility; 4) A renewed and hopeful culture of peace; and 5) A constant commitment to dialogue. These are five profound competences, five complementary principles founded upon Catholic Social Teaching and inspired by the spirituality and ethos of the Holy Fathers Benedict and Francis. They are reliable building-blocks for a more just and peaceful society.
Since 1989, Orthodox Christians have been marking 1 September as a day of prayer for the environment. At their suggestion, Pope Francis has declared it to also be the Catholic “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated annually on this day.[23] Just now, as we are ending this morning’s session, in St. Peter’s Basilica the Holy Father and the Roman Curia are celebrating a Holy Hour of adoration, thanksgiving and petition.[24] Let us conclude our reflection by associating our prayer with theirs, in these words of Laudato si’:
God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him! (LS § 245).
Let us pray:
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Amen. (LS § 246)
                                                                                                              Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson
(President, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)
[1] Pastor Bonus, art. 142, § 1
[2] Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Exhortation Africae Munus, 2011.
[3] In the Bible, the “wicked” (שע ר) is one who does not respect the demands of the relationships in which he stands.
[4] St John XXIII signed his last encyclical, Pacem in Terris, on 11 April 1963 before a television camera for the whole world to see, as if he was leaving the world his parting legacy. Cf. Pope Francis, Laudato si’, § 3.
[5] Cf. Ann Rowland, “What does CST have to offer to politicians: Some introductory reflections”, Seminar Papers: 50th Anniversary of Pacem in Terris, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Rome 2013.
[6] Caritas in Veritate (2009) has as its central theme the integral development of the human person, body, soul and his environment. Initially it was meant to celebrate the anniversaries of two previous social encyclicals that treated the subject of human development: the 40th anniversary of Populorum Progressio of Blessed Paul VI and the 20th anniversary of Solicitudo Rei Socialis of St John Paul II. Its final text was further adapted to reflect deeply on the financial crisis that began in 2007-2008. Henceforth CiV.
[7] John XXIII, , Mater et Magistra, 15.05.1961, § 236.
[8] See http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_26031967_populorum_en.html .
[9] Mons. Bernardito Auza, Second Committee of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Agenda Item 25: Agriculture development, food security and nutrition, New York, 30.10.2014.
[10] Peter Turkson, 10 December 2013. http://food.caritas.org/
[11] Letter of Invitation, May 2014. Cf. http://www.revistadefomentosocial.es/index.php/numeros-publicados/231/12768-encuentro-mundial-de-los-movimientos-populares-en-el-vaticano-27-al-29×2014-presentacion-la-fuerza-de-los-excluidos
[12] http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/october/documents/papa-francesco_20141028_incontro-mondiale-movimenti-popolari.html
[13] http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/july/documents/papa-francesco_20150709_bolivia-movimenti-popolari.html, § 2:
[14] See http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0219/__PA.HTM. In Redemptoris Missio §§ 87-91, St John Paul II speaks of the need to live the Beatitudes and to have the spirituality of missionaries in today’s world.
[15] Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (14 June 1992), Principle 4.
[16] Bolivia § 3.1
[17] For example, Ps 72: 1-4, 12-14; Is 42: 1-4, 49: 9-13.
[18] Global Campaign on Military Spending, http://demilitarize.org/
[19] As the bishops of the Congo have put it: “Our ethnic diversity is our wealth… It is only in unity, through conversion of hearts and reconciliation, that we will be able to help our country to develop on all levels” (Comité permanent de la conférence épiscopale nationale du Congo, Message sur la situation sécuritaire dans le pays, 5 December 2012, 11).
[20] http://www.other-news.info/2015/08/islamic-declaration-turns-up-heat-ahead-of-paris-climate-talks/
[21] See http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20101208_xliv-world-day-peace_en.html , § 7.
[22] Peter K.A. Turkson, Statement, Summit of Heads of State and Government on the Millennium Development Goals, New York, 20 September 2010.
[23] Pope Francis, Letter for the Establishment of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation – 1st September”, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20150806_lettera-giornata-cura-creato.html
[24] On 1 September 2015, in Rome at 17:00-18.00 — Rio de Janeiro 12.00-13.00
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis: Christian comfort is in Jesus not in chatter

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said Christians should comfort each other through good works and kind words and not with useless chatter. He was speaking on Tuesday (1st September) during his homily at his first morning mass at the Santa Marta residence since the summer break. 
Taking his inspiration from the St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians about the need for a strong faith and hope in a final meeting with Christ, the Pope noted that the apostle wrote that the day of the Lord can arrive without warning “like a thief” but Jesus is coming to bring salvation to those who believe in Him. My advice, he said, is to comfort each other and help each other and this comfort will give you hope.
“This is my advice, ‘comfort each other.’ Speak about this: but I’m asking you: do we speak about this, that the Lord will come and will we meet Him? Or do we speak about so many things, including theology, things about the Church, priests, religious sisters, monsignors, all this?  And is this hope our comfort? ‘Comfort each other,’ comfort those in the community. In our community, in our parishes, are we speaking about this that we’re waiting for the Lord who comes?  Or are we instead chattering about this and that to help pass the time and not get too bored?”
Pope Francis explained how in the responsorial psalm we repeat the words: ‘I am sure I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living’ but then asked the question: are you certain you will see the Lord?  He advised us to follow the example of the prophet Job who despite his many misadventures maintained his belief in the existence of God and that he would see him with his own eyes.  
“It’s true, He will come to judge and when we go to the Sistine (Chapel) we see that beautiful scene of the Last Judgement.  But we must also believe that He will come to find me because I see Him with my eyes, I embrace Him and am always with Him.  This is the hope that the Apostle Paul tells us to explain to others through our life, to give witness to hope.  This is the true comfort, this is the true certainty: “I am sure I will see the Lord’s kindness.””
Just as St Paul encouraged the early Christians, the Pope reiterated the saint’s advice to those in the Church today. “Comfort each other with good works and help each other. In this way, we can go ahead.”
“Let us ask the Lord for this grace: that seed of hope that he has planted in our hearts so it germinates and grows until our final meeting with Him. “I am certain that I will see the Lord.” “I am certain that our Lord lives.” “I am certain that our Lord will come to find me”: This should be the horizon of our life.  Let us ask the Lord for this grace and let us comfort each other with good works and kind words, (let’s go) along this road.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope marks first World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

(Vatican Radio) “Today is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  Let us work and pray.” That was the papal message on Twitter on Tuesday as Pope Francis prepared to lead a special Liturgy of the Word in St Peter’s Basilica marking the Catholic Church’s first Day of Prayer for Creation.
Philippa Hitchen reports:
At his general audience last week the Pope invited local residents and visiting pilgrims to join him for the Liturgy of the Word in the Vatican basilica, beginning at 5pm. He also urged Catholics around the world to contribute to solutions to the environmental crisis facing our planet by organizing their own prayer and practical initiatives to mark this new celebration.
The Pope noted the initiative follows in the footsteps of the Orthodox Church which, for the past 25 years, has dedicated September 1st, the beginning of a new year in the Orthodox liturgical calendar, to care for the environment.Since that time, the World Council of Churches has also marked a month-long‘Time for Creation’ stretching from September 1st to the feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4th.
In his encyclical letter ‘ Laudato Si ’, Pope Francis quotes what he calls the “deep concerns” and “valuable reflections” of the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, Patriarch Batholomew, whom the Holy Father met twice last year, in Jerusalem and at his home in Istanbul.
Among the five speakers introducing the Pope’s new encyclical in the Vatican Synod Hall on June 18th was the Orthodox Patriarch’s personal envoy, Metropolitan John Zizioulas who suggested that all the Christian churches might consider, as an ecumenical gesture, the idea of marking a joint day of prayer for creation.
Less than two months later, Pope Francis wrote to Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Council, to announce his intention of instituting an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation within the Catholic Church.
“The ecological crisis”, the Pope wrote in his encyclical, “summons us to a profound spiritual conversion…….The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation, as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live…..We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to credible and effective”.
(from Vatican Radio)…