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Day: September 6, 2015

Father Lombardi on Pope’s appeal for solidarity with migrants

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ appeal to European parishes and communities to take in a migrant family is a concrete call for solidarity and true Christian preparation for the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy.
In a brief declaration on Sunday afternoon following the Pope’s request to all parishes, religious communities, monasteries and sanctuaries to offer shelter to forced migrants and refugees currently in search of refuge, Father Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Vatican Press Office, said the Pope really intends his appeal to reach the “whole of Europe” and not just a few isolated realities.
Father Lombardi points out that Pope Francis is urging catholic communities to take the lead in welcoming our refugee and migrant brothers and sisters in a moment in which the gravity of their situation represents the most urgent question currently to be tackled on the continent.
He highlights how the Pope’s appeal for solidarity and welcome calls for a creative and generous response as we prepare for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a preparation that must come to life through concrete works of charity; “he is not – Father Lombardi says – referring to organizational or logistic preparations”.
Father Lombardi says that when the Pope speaks to parishes, he is directing his call to entire parish communities which are embedded in local realities, and not only to parish priests and their houses.
Parish communities, he says, will be able to find the best ways to bring this welcome to life.
And when he speaks to “religious communities” Father Lombardi notes that the Pope is using the same strong words he used when visiting the “Centro Astalli” – the Jesuit run refugee Center in Rome – when he spoke of “empty convents”.
These were the Pope’s words in that occasion: “The Lord calls us to live with greater courage and generosity hospitality in communities, in houses and in empty convents. Dear men and women religious, your empty convents are not useful to the Church if they are turned into hotels and earn money. The empty convents do not belong to you, they are for the flesh of Christ which is what refugees are. The Lord calls us to live with greater courage and generosity, and to accept them in communities, houses and empty convents. This of course is not something simple; it requires a criterion and responsibility, but also courage. We do a great deal, but perhaps we are called to do more, firmly accepting and sharing with those whom Providence has given us to serve”. (10 September 2013)
Finally, Father Lombardi  explains that the “two parishes” the Pope refers to inside the Vatican are the Parish of Santa Anna and St. Peter’s Basilica. He says they are extremely different realities and each of them will find its own way to respond to the Pope’s call.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Catholic Extension presents Junipero Serra cross to Pope

(Vatican Radio) Chicago’s new Archbishop, Blase Cupich, was in Rome this week with board members of Catholic Extension – a national fundraising organization committed to supporting and strengthening poor mission dioceses in the United States. Established by Pope St Pius X in 1905 as a “papal society” with a mission to build churches in America’s most rural regions, Catholic Extension remains committed to strengthening and supporting the Catholic Church across the United States.
While in Rome, Archbishop Cupich took time to come to Vatican Radio, where he spoke with Christopher Wells about his meeting with Pope Francis and about the Holy Father’s upcoming visit to the United States.

The meeting with Pope Francis, said Archbishop Cupich, “was an opportunity for us to welcome the Holy Father to the United States, not only on behalf of the dioceses he’s going to visit, but [also] the 94 dioceses that Catholic Extension would help throughout the year – 94 in all that mostly are rural and poorer dioceses. So it was an opportunity for us to welcome him to the United States on behalf of that broader community.”
Archbishop Cupich has been a Bishop for seventeen years, the majority of that time being in smaller dioceses. His first assignment as a Bishop was to the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, one of the smallest dioceses (by Catholic population) in the country. Later he served as Bishop of Spokane, Washington. He said, “It is an experience of being a part of mission dioceses that moves me to want to have Catholic Extension succeed.”
During their visit with the Holy Father, Archbishop Cupich, with the representatives of Catholic Extension, also had the opportunity to present Pope Francis with a cross that had belonged to Blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary who evangelized much of the southwestern United States. Junipero Serra carried the cross with him from Spain and was buried with it when he died. ““It was important, I think, as a gesture, to allow the Holy Father to see this cross, to touch it,” Archbishop Cupich said. “And then he took it in a very caressing way and kissed it, and he was very touched by that.”
He connected the visit of Pope Francis to the United States with the missionary labours of Bd Junipero Serra. Now, he said, we have “this new Francis, this new Franciscan, come again to bring the Gospel to the United States, and being in touch with that initial impulse of the Franciscan order in sending Serra, Father Serra, bringing it really to full circle.” Archbishop Cupich said he hopes the cross will be on the altar when Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for Blessed Junipero Serra in Washington on September 23.
Finally, Archbishop Cupich had words of greeting for his flock in Chicago. He said he prayed for all of them at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, with the realization that “as we move forward as a local church, we depend on the support and the unity that we enjoy with the See of Peter.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope asks all European parishes to take in a refugee family

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on European parishes and religious communities to offer shelter to a migrant family.
The Pope’s appeal came during the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square.
“Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family” he said.
And appealing for this gesture of solidarity, he said this solidarity would start right here in the Vatican where two parishes will take in a family of refugees in the coming days.
The Pope said that as we witness the “tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees that flee death in conflict and hunger and are on a journey of hope, the Gospel calls us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned”.
And reminding the faithful of the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, he said that offering shelter to the needy is a “concrete act in preparation” for the Holy Year.
Turning specifically to European Bishops, the Pope asked them to support his appeal.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis sends good wishes to All Africa Games

Pope Francis has used his Sunday Angelus appeal to send, among other messages, good wishes to the All Africa Games currently taking place in Congo Brazzaville. 
“Two days ago the eleventh Africa games opened in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, involving thousands of athletes from all over the (African) continent. I hope that this great sports festival will contribute to peace, brotherhood and the development of all countries of Africa. We greet the Africans who are participating in these games,“ said Pope Francis on 6 September.
Africa’s 54 countries are currently converged in what is known as the birth place of the All-Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville.  Over 7,000 athletes are competing in over 20 sports disciplines that include Athletics, Basketball, Boxing, Fencing, Gymnastics, Weightlifting, Karate, Judo, Swimming, Taekwondo, table Tennis and Beach Volleyball among others.
The President of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso officially opened the pan-Africa Games in the sparkling purpose-built Kintele Stadium. The games in Brazzaville, for the first time, are being held under the auspices of the African Union (AU) which is celebrating its golden anniversary as an organisation.
The games which started on 4 September will end on the 19 September 2015.
The All-Africa Games (AAG) are a continental multi-sports event held every four years, a year before the Olympic Games. They are seen as a major rendezvous for African athletes.  In fact, they are a milestone in preparations for the Olympic Games as they are an opportunity for the continent’s athletes to express their potential.
Pope Francis’ Angelus appeal comes when he himself is preparing for his first visit to Africa in November. The visit has been confirmed by the Bishops of Kenya. The Pope is expected to visit Kenya, Uganda and the conflict-ridden Central African Republic.
Many analysts have said that Africa needs peace in order for it to maximise its potential as a continent.  It has often been acknowledged that Africa, in general, is a land of rich resources. The continent has one of the highest economic growth rates in the world yet beyond GDP and economic indicators, the reality is that it is equally a land of endless conflicts, hunger, corruption and poverty. As one Kanayo Nwanze told African Union leaders, last year, in the UK Guardian newspaper, Africa is also a continent that is “prey to foreign exploiters.”
(Paul Samasumo, VR)
e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va
(from Vatican Radio)…