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Day: September 17, 2015

Card. Parolin on Papal visit to Cuba and the U.S.

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pietro Parolin says migration will be one of the most important themes raised by Pope Francis during his visit to Cuba and the U.S. from the 19th to the 28th of September. Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with the Vatican Television Centre, Cardinal Parolin also confirmed that the Pope would definitely relaunch his message during his speeches to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations about the need to care for creation that was at the heart of his recent encyclical Laudato Si. The cardinal spoke too about how he hoped the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary, would encourage integration within the U.S. Church of an increasingly relevant and important Hispanic component in the nation.
Asked first about the journey to Cuba and the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, Cardinal Parolin reiterated the Holy See’s view that the (U.S.) economic embargo against Cuba should be lifted.  At the same time, he said the bishops hoped that this step could be accompanied “by a greater opening (in Cuba) when it comes to freedom and human rights.” 
Touching next on the Pope’s visit to the Shrine of Our lady of Charity of Cobre in Cuba, Cardinal Parolin said it was a “normal” thing to do, because of “the strong Marian devotion of the Latin American and Cuban people” and by going there the Pope would encounter the heart of the Caribbean island and its people. 
Asked next whether migration would be one of the main themes of the papal visit to the U.S., Cardinal Parolin said he was sure this would be the case because this is an issue very keenly felt by the Pope to which he often refers.  The Cardinal said it was his earnest hope that this encounter between the Pope who is carrying this problem within his heart and a nation that has experienced many waves of migrants landing on its shores “can offer some guidelines” for resolving this ongoing migration crisis.
During his visit to the U.S. Pope Francis is due to canonize blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary, whom he has described as the founding father of the United States.  When asked whether this event is a call for the U.S. to rediscover its Spanish and Catholic history, Cardinal Parolin agreed.  He said the main message offered by this canonization is to encourage integration within the U.S. Church of an “increasingly important and relevant Hispanic component” in the nation.
Turning next to two keenly awaited speeches by Pope Francis, one to the U.S. Congress and another to the United Nations, Cardinal Parolin was asked whether the Pope is likely to relaunch the message contained within his Laudato Si encyclical.  He replied saying “yes, definitely” but added that he believed the Pope’s remarks would extend beyond the issue of climate change and encompass a “more integral ecology” that takes into consideration the transcendental nature of the human person possessing fundamental rights, “especially the right to life and religious freedom.” 
Asked about the criticism that have been raised by some in the U.S. who consider the papal encyclical an excessively strong attack on the capitalist system, Cardinal Parolin responded by saying he believed the Pope would invite everybody to reflect on those issues, adding that it was realistic to realize that “things are not going in the right direction” and therefore there’s also a need to find ways of solving this. “We need a change,” he said.
The final question put to Cardinal Parolin concerned the Pope’s meeting with families from around the world in the U.S. city of Philadelphia and whether that would be the final chance to listen to families on the road leading to next month’s Synod of Bishops on the Family taking place in the Vatican. The Cardinal said he agreed with that and said what will emerge from this meeting is the beauty of the family and the help that the Gospel can offer to families.  He said this would be the positive side, without forgetting the great challenges on this issue.  Concluding, the cardinal said the meeting in Philadelphia would give the whole Church “a new enthusiasm” and a desire to proclaim the gospel of the family, whilst at the same time, “helping families who find themselves in whatever type of difficulties in living the Gospel in its fullness which is a source of joy, peace and happiness for all.” 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Audience with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg: assistance to refugees and displaced persons

Vatican City, 17 September 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States. The cordial discussions offered the opportunity to reaffirm the wish to consolidate the existing good relations between the Holy See and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and to consider issues of common interest, with special attention to the relationship between Church and State, underlining the relevance of religious freedom and spiritual values for social cohesion. Within the context of Luxembourg’s term of presidency of the European Union, attention then turned to various matters of a European and international nature, with particular reference to current conflicts, the issue of migration and the need to provide assistance to refugees and displaced persons, as well as the situation of persecuted religious minorities….

The Pope: no-one can remain oblivious to the atrocities and human rights violations in Syria and Iraq

Vatican City, 17 September 2015 (VIS) – “One of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades are the terrible consequences that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have on civilian populations as well as on cultural heritage. Millions of people are in distressing state of urgent need. They are forced to leave their native lands. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey today carry the weight of millions of refugees, which they have generously received. Faced with such a situation and conflicts that are expanding and disturbing in an alarming way the internal and regional equilibrium, the international community seems unable to find adequate solutions while the arms dealers continue to achieve their interests”. With these words the Pope addressed the participants in the meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq, organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, attended by Catholic charitable bodies and the bishops of the region, among others, and to which more than thirty organisations have lent their support. Francis went on to emphasise that “today, unlike in the past, atrocities and unspeakable human rights violations, which characterise these conflicts, are transmitted live by the media. Therefore, they captured the attention of the whole world. No one can pretend not to know! Everyone is aware that this war weighs in an increasingly unbearable way on the shoulders of the poor. We need to find a solution, which is never a violent one, because violence only creates new wounds”. In this “ocean of pain”, he urged the attendees at the meeting to give special attention to the material and spiritual needs of the weakest and most defenceless: “I think particularly of the families, the elderly, the sick and the children. Children and young people, the hope of the future, are deprived of basic rights: to grow up in the serenity of the family, to be looked after and cared for, to play and study. With the continuation of the conflict, millions of children are deprived of the right to education and, consequently, they see the horizon of their future becoming obscured. Do not miss your commitment in this vital area”. “There are many victims of this conflict: I think in all of them and I pray for all. However, I cannot fail to mention the serious harm to the Christian communities in Syria and Iraq, where many brothers and sisters are oppressed because of their faith, driven from their land, kept in prison or even killed. For centuries, the Christian and Muslim communities have lived together in these lands on the basis of mutual respect. Today the very legitimacy of the presence of Christians and other religious minorities is denied in the name of a ‘violent fundamentalism claiming to be based on religion’. Yet, the Church responds to the many attacks and persecution that she suffers in those countries by bearing witness to Christ with courage, through her humble and fervent presence, sincere dialogue and the generous service in favour of whoever is suffering or in need without any distinction”. The Pope remarked that “in Syria and Iraq, evil destroys buildings and infrastructures, but especially the conscience of man. In the name of Jesus, Who came into the world to heal the wounds of humanity, the Church feels called to respond to evil with good by promoting an integral human development of ‘each man and of the whole man’. To answer this difficult call, Catholics must strengthen the intra-ecclesial collaboration and the bonds of communion which unite them with other Christian communities, seeking also cooperation with international humanitarian institutions and with all men of good will. I encourage you, therefore, to continue on the path of cooperation and sharing, and working together and in synergy. Please: do not abandon the victims of this crisis, even if the world’s attention were to lessen”. “I ask that you all bring my message of profound solidarity and closeness to those who are in trial and enduring the tragic consequences of this crisis”, he concluded. “In communion with you and with your communities, I pray unceasingly for peace and the end of the torments and injustices in your beloved lands”….

The Cardinal Archbishop of Washington on the Holy Father’s visit to the United States -To walk with Francis

We all look forward with faith-filled joy
and enthusiasm to Pope Francis’ visit to Washington to begin his first
apostolic journey to the United States.
The theme for his visit to this archdiocesan Church is “Share the Joy,
Walk with Francis,” as vividly reflected in our preparation for this time of
grace. Extensive educational and resource
materials, including homily guides, have been produced to help people in our
schools and parishes learn more about who the Pope is, his role as Peter in the
Church today, and his message of Christ’s love for us. Meanwhile, a vast evangelization effort is
underway in our neighborhoods. Also, our archdiocesan social media has been
particularly engaged on Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, allowing a wide
range of people to share their excitement through words and pictures. To show our solidarity with the Holy Father
in anticipation of his visit, and to say to him that we embrace the Gospel
message and try to live it, the Archdiocese of Washington has launched a
special initiative known as the Walk with Francis Pledge. A multitude of people
of all faiths and backgrounds have already joined together to participate and
also spread the word via #WalkwithFrancis. Now we invite our sisters and
brothers in Rome and New York and Philadelphia and Buenos Aires and throughout
the whole Church to visit the website WalkWithFrancis.org and join us in this
outreach through prayer, charitable service, or action to help build up the
kingdom of God in our midst. Another exciting venture for these times is
the “YouServe” Papal Visit Video Contest sponsored by the Archdiocese. Here people have been invited to share their
faith witness through videos showing how they are answering the Holy Father’s
call to serve others. In addition, we
have held competitions to design the altar for the Papal Mass and for the
special choirs that will sing at the liturgy. All of our preparation has been a way for
us to share the joy of the Gospel as we accept Pope Francis’ invitation to walk
together in our pilgrim journey. It has
been already a moment of grace. It is an enormous privilege always to host
the Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ and this honor is made even greater
with the historic celebration of the first Mass of Canonization in this country
at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception facing the
campus of The Catholic University of America. The canonization of Blessed
Junípero Serra, the extraordinary Franciscan priest who evangelized California,
will be an inspiration for all of us to answer the call to be Spirit-filled
missionary disciples who bring to others the Gospel love of Jesus Christ. At this Eucharistic liturgy, and throughout
his trip to the United States, Pope Francis will see the face of the world — a
diversity of men and women from all backgrounds and languages who have gathered
around him in harmony. As a sign of this diversity and the universality of the
Church, the Canonization Mass will largely be celebrated in Spanish, the native
language of Blessed Junípero and millions of people in the Americas, including
the large Latino community in the Washington area. Throughout his pontificate, our Holy Father
has worked to foster this harmony throughout society. Speaking in a simple,
inviting way to the hearts of people, he urges us time and again to see one
another not as rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced. In a particular way here in Washington,
home to our national government, Pope Francis’ visit presents a blessed
opportunity for people to set-aside their differences, political and cultural.
Coming to us as a pastor, we can anticipate his words of outreach and renewal
for our entire human family. Perhaps this moment will inspire public leaders
and people throughout society to more often overcome division and indifference
to seek the common good, especially to protect and enhance the lives and
dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable. The Holy Father offers a beautiful vision —
a way of life that involves mercy and compassion, hunger and thirst for
righteousness, patience and forgiveness. It is the Good News of Jesus Christ.
People are drawn to this and his presence here is sure to bear fruit for many
years to come as we take his words to heart and go out to care for one another,
bringing mercy and hope and the joy of being loved. The legacy of Pope Francis’ visit, I
believe, will be a strengthening of faith among those already active in Church
life, an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, a return
to the practice of the faith by some who have drifted away, a renewed openness
by non-Catholics and non-believers to the message of the Gospel and an
invitation to all to draw closer to God. As the Gospel message that our Holy
Father brings radiates throughout our entire society, we should better be able
to work together to realize more effectively a truly good, just and beautiful
world — our common home. Donald Wuerl Cardinal-Archbishop of Washington…

Pope Francis urges greater care for street women and children

(Vatican Radio) Abandoned children and exploited sex workers are a “shameful reality in our societies”. That was Pope Francis’s message on Thursday to participants at an  international symposium on the pastoral care of street people that has been taking place in the Vatican this week. The five day meeting, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, has focused especially on the plight of women and children living on the streets.
In his words to participants Pope Francis praised the commitment of the many different organisations that care for street children and for girls or women who’re exploited by criminal gangs, or even by their own family members. He said “every child abandoned or forced to live on the streets, at the mercy of criminal organizations, is a cry rising up to God, who created man and woman in his own image.  It is an indictment of a social system which we have criticized for decades, but which we find hard to change in conformity with criteria of justice”.
The Pope urged participants not to be disheartened by the many challenges facing those working with street people in countries across the globe. “The Christian community,” he said, “needs to be involved at all levels in working to eliminate everything which forces a child or a woman to live on the street or to earn a livelihood on the street
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ address
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants in the International Symposium on the Pastoral Care of the Street
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
            I offer you a warm welcome at the conclusion of the International Symposium on the Pastoral Care of the Street, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.  I thank Cardinal Vegliò for his kind words, and in a particular way I thank him and his staff for their work in this sector.  These days of study and reflection have sought to prepare an action plan in response to the phenomenon of children and women – and their families – who spend their lives for the most part on the street.  I greatly appreciate your commitment to care for and promote the dignity of these women and children, and I encourage you to persevere in your work with confidence and apostolic zeal.
            The often sad realities which you encounter are the result of indifference, poverty, family and social violence, and human trafficking.  They involve the pain of marital separations and the birth of children out of wedlock, frequently doomed to a life of “vagrancy”.  Street children and street women are not numbers, or “packets” to be traded; they are human beings, each with his or her own name and face, each with a God-given identity.
            No child chooses to live on the streets.  Sadly, even in our modern, globalized world, any number of children continue to be robbed of their childhood, their rights and their future.  Lack of legal protection and adequate structures only aggravates their state of deprivation: they have no real family or access to education or health care.  Every child abandoned or forced to live on the streets, at the mercy of criminal organizations, is a cry rising up to God, who created man and woman in his own image.  It is an indictment of a social system which we have criticized for decades, but which we find hard to change in conformity with criteria of justice.
            It is troubling to see the increasing number of young girls and women forced to earn a living on the street by selling their own bodies, victims of exploitation by criminal organizations and at times by parents and family members.  This is a shameful reality in our societies, which boast of being modern and possessed of high levels of culture and development.  Widespread corruption and unrestrained greed are robbing the innocent and the vulnerable of the possibility of a dignified life, abetting the crime of trafficking and other injustices which they have to endure.  No one can remain unmoved before the pressing need to safeguard the dignity of women, threatened by cultural and economic factors!
            I ask you, please: do not be disheartened by the difficulties and the challenges which you encounter in your dedicated work, nourished as it is by your faith in Christ, who showed, even to death on the cross, the preferential love of God our Father for the weak and the outcast.  The Church cannot remain silent, nor can her institutions turn a blind eye to the baneful reality of street children and street women.  The Christian community in the various countries needs to be involved at all levels in working to eliminate everything which forces a child or a woman to live on the street or to earn a livelihood on the street.  We can never refrain from bringing to all, and especially to the most vulnerable and underprivileged, the goodness and the tenderness of God our merciful Father.  Mercy is the supreme act by which God comes to meet us; it is the way which opens our hearts to the hope of an everlasting love.
            Dear brothers and sisters, I offer prayerful good wishes for the fruitfulness of your efforts, in your various countries, to offer pastoral and spiritual care, and liberation, to those who are most frail and exploited; I likewise pray for the fruitfulness of your mission to advance and protect their personhood and dignity.  I entrust you and your service to Mary, Mother of Mercy.  May the sweetness of her gaze accompany the efforts and the firm purpose of all those who care for street children and street women.  Upon each of you I cordially invoke the Lord’s blessing.
(from Vatican Radio)…