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Day: September 10, 2015

UN Secretary General: Pope Francis a man of moral voice and purpose

(Vatican Radio) “[Pope Francis] is a man of humility and humanity, and he is a man of moral voice, and purpose.” There were the words with which the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, described the Holy Father in an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio ahead of the Pope’s visit to the United Nations in New York at the end of September. “We are looking forward with great excitement [to] His Holiness, Pope Francis’ visit to the United Nations,” said Ban, adding, “I’m grateful for his compassionate leadership for peace and humanity.”
In a broad-ranging conversation with Paolo Mastrolilli, long-time US correspondent for Vatican Radio’s Italian-language news service, Ban addressed the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean basin and at the borders of Europe, persecution of minorities, climate change, sustainable development, and international political and security issues ranging from poverty reduction to the recently-reached nuclear agreement between the so-called P5+1 nations including the United States, and Iran.
Ban called on European leaders to increase their efforts to help and welcome migrants and refugees, saying, “I commend the leadership and global solidarity the European leaders are showing, but at the same time, in view of the gravity and the scale of this crisis, I would naturally expect that European leaders should do more.”
On the closely related issue of ongoing war in Syria and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities – especially Christians – throughout the whole Mideast region and beyond, Ban said, “There should be no such discrimination – against anybody – on the basis of any criteria of religion or ethnicity – and it is totally unacceptable to persecute, to discriminate [against] people on the basis of their beliefs – on the basis of who you love, what you believe.” Ban went on to say, “Migrants and refugees should be treated humanely, responsibly, under the international refugee convention, international humanitarian laws, and international human rights laws.” The UN Secretary-General went on to renew his call on European nations, especially, to show enlightened and humane leadership. “Therefore, I am urging European leaders – again – that they should open borders and provide necessary, life-saving humanitarian assistance: we have to show the compassion to these people,” Ban said.
Discussing Iran, Ban reiterated his support for the agreement, his confidence in its ability to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and his hope that all parties will ratify. He also renewed his assurances that the United Nations stands ready to help guarantee the terms of the agreement are respected. “The United Nations [remains ready] to assist in the implementation of this process in monitoring and verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” said Ban.
Click below to hear UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s extended conversation with Paolo Mastrolilli in exclusive for Vatican Radio

(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope receives Kuwaiti Prime Minister in audience

(Vatican Radio) On Wednesday, 10 September 2015, the Pope Francis received in audience Sheik Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, prime minister of the State of Kuwait, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, various themes of mutual interest were reviewed, including the positive contribution the historical Christian minority offers to Kuwaiti society. The Parties also focused on the importance of education in promoting a culture of respect and peaceful coexistence between different peoples and religions.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait was then signed by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher and Sheik Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, first deputy prime minister and minister for Foreign Affairs. With this instrument the Parties undertake to consolidate and strengthen bilateral relations in order to favour mutual collaboration, peace and regional and international stability.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis to visit Kenya, Uganda, Central African Republic

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will visit Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic in November of 2015. Official word of the planned Apostolic voyage came through a two-sentence statement from the Press Office of the Holy See on Thursday. Details of the Holy Father’s three-nation African tour will be released in the coming weeks. 
Accepting the invitation issued by the respective Heads of State and the Bishops, His Holiness  Francis will make an Apostolic Trip to Kenya from 25 to 27 November 2015, Uganda from 27 to 29  November, and the Central African Republic from 29 to 30 November. The programme of the trip will  be published in due course.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis: A person who can’t forgive is not a Christian

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis warned against conflicts within the Christian community and said priests who struggle to be merciful should not be hearing confessions. He also reiterated his condemnation of those who produce lethal arms to be used in wars and said Christians must forgive and show mercy in all that they do. The Pope’s remarks came during his homily at Mass on Thursday (10th September) celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.
Mercy, peace and reconciliation as an antidote to war and hatred were the key themes focused on by Pope Francis during his homily. He asked whether we are always able to accept the gift of peace that we receive via Jesus and lamented the many wars, destruction, hatred and enmity that we see and read about every day on TV and in the newspapers.
“There are also many men and women who work hard —  really hard – in order to manufacture lethal weapons, arms that eventually become bathed in the blood of so many innocent people, so many of them. There are wars (being waged)!  There are these wars and there is also that wickedness of preparing for war, of making weapons (to be used) against other people in order to kill! Peace saves us, peace makes you live, it makes you grow: war annihilates you, it drags you down.”  
A person who can’t forgive is not a Christian
Pope Francis went on to warn that wars can take other forms, saying they exist “within our Christian communities, between us.” He said the key word in today’s liturgy talks about forgiveness and we need to make peace among ourselves. 
“If you can’t forgive, you are not a Christian.  You may be a good man, a good woman…. but you are not doing what our Lord did.  What’s more, if you can’t forgive, you cannot receive the peace of the Lord. And every day when we pray the ‘Our Father:’ Forgive us as we have forgiven those……It’s a condition. We are trying to ‘convince’ God that we’re good, that we’re good by forgiving:  in reverse.  (It’s just) words, right? As that beautiful song went:   ‘Words, words, words,’ wasn’t it?  I think it was (the Italian singer) Mina who sung it. Words! Forgive one another! Just as the Lord has forgiven us, you do likewise.”
The Pope paid tribute to the many heroic men and women who patiently put up with so much hardship and injustice in order to support their families, describing them as the good people. But at the same time, he warned, there are also people who speak badly about others and make war that way. He said it was important to “understand other people, not condemn them.”
Saying God is always merciful, Pope Francis stressed the need for priests to show mercy and forgiveness in the confessional box. 
“If you are a priest and you can’t manage to be merciful, tell your bishop who will give you a job in administration but please don’t go into the confessional box!  A priest who is not merciful does a lot of harm in the confessional box! He beats people. ‘No, Father, I am merciful but I’m a bit stressed….? It’s true…. Before going to hear confessions, go to your doctor who will give you some pills to make you less stressed! But show mercy!  And also show mercy among ourselves. ‘But this person did that….  What have I done?’ ‘That person is more of a sinner than me!’  Which of us can say that, that the other person is more of a sinner than me?  None of us can say this!  Only our Lord knows this.”
The Pope urged all of us to show feelings of kindness, goodness and humility, saying this is the Christian style, rather than being arrogant or condemning or speaking badly about others. May the Lord, he concluded, give all of us the grace to provide support to others, to forgive and be merciful, just as our Lord is merciful with us. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

South Africa’s Blessed Benedict Daswa: an inspiration for all

(Vatican Radio) It will be a momentous moment for all South Africans on Sunday, 13 September, when Benedict Daswa is Beatified and put on the track to become the Nation’s first Saint and martyr.
Pope Francis in January authorized the signing of the proclamation for the Beatification of Daswa, a lay person from the Southern African province of Limpopo.
He was a dedicated Catholic husband, father and schoolteacher in the remote rural town of Tschitanini when he was brutally murdered in 1990 for having opposed witchcraft beliefs and practices.  
Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will represent Pope Francis during the Beatification ceremony.
The diocese of Tzaneen, which encompasses the area, opened an inquiry into Daswa’s death that ended in July 2009. It resulted in 850 pages of testimonies from people who witnessed the life and death of Daswa. This was forwarded to Cardinal Amato after they were signed by the then bishop of Tzaneen, Hugh Slattery. 
Linda Bordoni spoke to the current Bishop of the Diocese of Tzaneen, Joao Noe Rodriguez, who says the Beatification ceremony is taking place in the village where Benedict Daswa came from.
Listen to the interview: 

Bishop Rodriguez says Benedict was born in that area and spent most of his life there and in the neighboring Nweli village where he helped build a Catholic Church and where he was Principle of the Primary School.
Rodriguez, who of course is in charge of organizing the event and has closely been following the whole process, says it is very difficult to make an exact estimate of the numbers of people who will be attending the Beatification as many will be travelling long distances from different parts of South Africa.
“On the other hand it is a big venue in terms of being able to accommodate from 20 to 30 thousand in the open-air area” and at least 20,000 are definitely expected he says.
He says it is a unique occasion: “we’ve never had anything like this before in South Africa but the word has got around (…) and people are opening their homes in welcome”.
Rodriguez explains that the main celebrant of the Beatification will be Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who will be arriving with Monsignor Sarno.
He points out that most South African bishops will be present and will be concelebrating as well as South Africa’s Cardinal, Wilfrid Fox Napier.       
Speaking of the importance of the event for the Catholic Church in South Africa Bishop Rodriguez explains that the nation is made up of a very diverse population in terms of cultures.
He says that his own diocese is part of Venda Land after the name of the Venda culture, on the Eastern side there are the Tsonga speaking people and on the South Western side the Northern Sotho people, and then of course there are many other cultures and languages in South Africa.
“In a way the Beatification is a very important event for us who are Catholics because South Africa is largely a Protestant Christian country in the sense that most Christians belong to various Protestant Churches of different kinds as well as more recent Christian movements (…) so the Catholic Church is a smaller presence. But at the same time we are very organized and we have a good network so this event will bring many Catholics together and it will really be a celebration of our Catholic faith” he says.
Rodriquez speaks about Benedict Daswa and of how important his model is explaining that he was not born into a Christian family. He says: “they became Catholics and it is a unique fact that his mother, who is still alive, will be present for the Beatification.”
All of his children will also be present “so it will be a wonderful occasion to celebrate the joy and the grace of God” he says.
Rodriguez points out that Benedict is also an intercessor “so this growing devotion will also help Catholics to understand and appreciate that someone who is recognized as a martyr and a saint in the Church is someone who is praying for them and who has the interests of our life in his heart”.
He is also a wonderful model as he was a dedicated father and the Principle of a School, and Rodriguez says “education is so precious in our region, it is still a huge challenge, and he is an important inspiration for people involved in this field”.
Rodriguez lists all those who have been invited to attend the Beatification and those include political leaders as well as leaders of other faiths as well.
He speaks of the ceremony itself which will reflect the variety of cultures present in the Limpopo region but says English will be the main language of communication.
Pointing out that Benedict Daswa comes across as a very “approachable” figure; I asked Bishop Rodriguez if he thinks Benedict is a Saint for everyone.
He says the unique aspect of his Beatification is that he was not a well-known person in the sense he did not become a well-known figure internationally for political or other reasons.
“Benedict Dasia was really an ordinary man and we are not celebrating him for national achievements, but he was a man of great faith. And that is the wonderful thing (…) he was one of us but deeply committed to Jesus Christ, deeply committed in his family life, in his work life, in his community life. A man who was serving, helping, educating: an overall inspiration of faith for anyone”.
The beatification of Benedict Daws takes place on Sunday 13 September 2015 at Benedict Daws Shrine Site in Tshitanini near Thohoyandou (17 kms north -east of the Thohoyandou Stadium) in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. For more information click here .
(from Vatican Radio)…