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Day: April 12, 2016

Caritas: reaching out to children living with HIV/Aids

(Vatican Radio) Caritas Internationalis’ special advisor on HIV/Aids said tens of thousands of HIV positive children are dying each year because of a lack of access to antiretroviral treatment. An estimated 3.2 million children are living with HIV but only a third of those children are diagnosed and put on antiretroviral treatment to keep them healthy.
Father Bob Vitillo was among the participants at a meeting of faith-based groups in Rome discussing how to strengthen their engagement in diagnosing and treating children living with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.  Caritas has joined efforts with UNAIDS, the U.S. President’s Plan for Aids relief (PEPAR) and the Vatican’s Paediatric Hospital, Bambino Gesù to plan a roadmap for achieving this aim.
Listen to the interview with Father Bob Vitillo, Special Advisor on HIV/Aids for Caritas Internationalis:

Speaking with Susy Hodges, Father Vitillo explained how we need to find the children who could have been exposed to the virus through their mothers and test them as soon as possible so they can begin treatment. He said it’s a difficult process because it is more complicated to test very young babies  than it is adults as sometime the results are not accurate and need to be repeated.
“Life-saving treatment”
Father Vitillo reminded his listeners that the antiretroviral treatment is vital to help keep these babies  alive. 
“A third of them (babies who are living with HIV) die before their first birthday if they’re not on the treatment and half of them die before their second birthday, so it is life-saving.”  
Asked for the reasons why two thirds of children with HIV do not receive this life-saving treatment, Father Vitillo explained that it’s a twin problem of lack of funds in poor countries and the distance from health centres. He said governments in many of these poor sub-Saharan countries “do not have the money to buy all the antiretroviral treatments” whose cost is often way over their health budgets.  
When it comes to the issue of distance and accessibility, Father Vitillo explained how surveys have shown that a greater decentralization of health services often leads to “a much better adherence” in terms of following the treatment as local community health service workers can play a more effective role here than staff at a distant hospital.     
(from Vatican Radio)…

Caritas welcomes Pope Francis’ visit to Lesbos

(Vatican Radio) One charity organization welcoming Pope Francis’ visit to the Greek island of Lesbos is Caritas Internationalis, the helping hand of the Catholic Church with its confederation of local aid agencies present on the ground with emergency operations, development and advocacy in more than 150 nations across the world.
A delegation from Caritas Internationalis and the local Caritas Hellas Office will be in Lesbos to greet the Pope to be with him together with the refugees and migrants waiting to be relocated.
A statement says that “Caritas has been providing emergency aid on the island through Caritas Hellas and in other hotspots in Greece since the start of the crisis last year”. 
It also runs a hospitality centre in Lesbos for the most vulnerable.
“Over a million people crossed to Greece last year and 150,000 in 2016. Nearly half came to Lesbos. Most were fleeing war and poverty. Over 55 percent were women and children” it reads.
“The refugees and migrants are very excited about the visit of Pope Francis. They’re making bouquets of flowers and they want to meet him,” said Tonia Patrikiadou, Caritas Hellas Field Manager for a Caritas run hotel on Lesbos.
She said “The pope’s visit is a symbol of hope and solidarity for the refugees. It’s a sign that the world has not forgotten them and help is a possibility.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Mass at Santa Marta – Two kinds of persecution

There are two types of persecution against
Christians, the Pope said on Tuesday morning, 12 April, during Mass at Santa
Marta. There is the explicit kind — to which he related the martyrs killed at
Easter in Pakistan — and the sort of persecution that is “polite, disguised as
culture, modernity and progress”, and ends up taking away man’s freedom and
even the right to conscientious objection. But in the very suffering of
persecution Christians know that that the Lord is always at their side, Francis
recalled. For
his meditation the Pontiff drew inspiration from the first reading, taken from
the Acts of the Apostles (7:51-8:1). We heard about “the martyrdom of Stephen”,
he explained. “The tradition of the Church calls him the Protomartyr, the first
martyr of the Christian community”. However, even “before him there had been
little martyrs” who suffered persecution under Herod. “From that time until
today there have been martyrs in the Church, there have been and there are”.
There are “men and women persecuted only for confessing and for saying that
Jesus Christ is Lord: this is prohibited!”. Indeed, this confession “at certain
times, in certain places, provokes persecution”. This
is clearly manifest, the Pope stated, “in the passage of the Acts of the
Apostles that we will read tomorrow: after the martyrdom of Stephen, a great
persecution breaks out in Jerusalem”. Then, “all the Christians fled, only the
Apostles remained”. Thus, persecution, Francis said, “is the daily bread of the
Church: after all, Jesus said so”. When
we are tourists in Rome, the Pope continued, “and we go to the Colosseum, we
think that the martyrs were those who were killed with the lions”. However,
martyrs are not limited to those in the Colosseum. In reality, martyrs “are men
and women of every day: today, with Easter Sunday just three weeks ago”.
Francis’ thought went to “those Christians who were celebrating Easter in
Pakistan”. They were “martyred just for celebrating the Risen Christ”. And
“thus the history of the Church continues with her martyrs”. Because “the
Church is the community of believers, the community of confessors, of those who
profess that Jesus is Christ: she is the community of martyrs”. Persecution,
the Pope noted, “is one of the characteristics, one of the traits of Church,
which pervades her entire history”. And “persecution is cruel, like that of
Stephen, like that of our Pakistani brothers and sisters three weeks ago”. It
is cruel “like what Saul did, who was present at the death of Stephen, the
martyrdom of Stephen”. Saul “went into houses, seized Christians and took them
away to be judged”. There
is, however, also “another kind of persecution that is not often spoken about”,
Francis noted. The first form of persecution “is due to confessing the name of
Christ” and it is thus “a clear, explicit type of persecution”. The other kind
of persecution is “disguised as culture, disguised as modernity, disguised as
progress: it is a kind of — I would say somewhat ironically — polite
persecution”. You can recognize “when someone is persecuted not for confessing
Christ’s name, but for wanting to demonstrate the values of the Son of God”.
Thus, it is a kind of “persecution against God the Creator in the person of his
children”. In
this way “we see every day that the powerful make laws that force people to
take this path, and a nation that does not follow this modern collection of
laws, or at least that does not want to have them in its legislation, is
accused, is politely persecuted”. This is a form of “persecution that takes
away man’s freedom”, and even the right to “conscientious objection! God made
us free, but this kind of persecution takes away freedom!”. Thus, “if you don’t
do this, you will be punished: you’ll lose your job and many things or you’ll
be set aside”. “This
is the persecution of the world”, the Pontiff continued. And “this persecution
even has a leader”. In the persecution of Stephen, “the leaders were the
scribes, doctors of the law, the high priests”. On the other hand, “Jesus named
the leader of polite persecution: the prince of this world”. We see him “when
the powerful want to impose attitudes, laws against the dignity of the children
of God, persecute them and oppose God the Creator: it is the great apostasy”.
Thus, “Christian life continues with these two kinds of persecution”, but also
with the certainty that “the Lord promised not to distance himself from us: ‘Be
careful, be careful! Don’t fall into the worldly spirit. Be careful! But go
forward, I will be with you”. In
his concluding prayer, Francis asked the Lord for “the grace to understand that
a Christian’s path must always continue forward amid two kinds of persecution:
a Christian is a martyr, that is, a witness, one who must bear witness to Christ
who has saved us”. This means “on the journey of life, bearing witness to God
the Father, who created us”. On this path a Christian “must suffer many times:
this brings so much suffering”. But “such is our life: Jesus is always beside
us, with the consolation of the Holy Spirit”. And “this is our strength”….

Non violence is a weapon for peace – ?The Pope once again calls to abolish the death penalty, to forgive debt in poor countries and to remove walls of indifference

Pope Francis called for “the active
witness of non-violence” to work “as a ‘weapon’ to achieve peace” in his
message to a conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace as well as by Pax Christi International on Monday afternoon, 11 April.
The message was read aloud by Cardinal
Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President by the dicastery, at the opening session
of the conference, which will conclude on 13 April. The following is the
English text of the message.

Your Eminence,

I am delighted to convey my most cordial
greetings to you and to all the participants in the Conference on Nonviolence
and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to
Nonviolence, which will take place in Rome from the 11th to 13th of April 2016.

encounter, jointly organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and
Pax Christi International, takes on a very special character and value during
the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In effect, mercy is “a source of joy, serenity and
peace”, a peace which is essentially interior and flows from reconciliation
with the Lord. Nevertheless, the participants’ reflections must also take into
account the current circumstances in the world at large and the historical
moment in which the Conference is taking place, and of course these factors
also heighten expectations for the Conference.

order to seek solutions to the unique and terrible ‘world war in instalments’
which, directly or indirectly, a large part of humankind is presently
undergoing, it helps us to think back in time. Let us rediscover the reasons
that led the sons and daughters of a still largely Christian civilization in
the last century to create the Pax Christi Movement and the Pontifical Council
for Justice and Peace. From their example we learn that to bring about true
peace, it is necessary to bring people together concretely so as to reconcile
peoples and groups with opposing ideological positions. It is also necessary to
work together for what persons, families, peoples and nations feel is their
right, namely, to participate on a social, political and economic level in the
goods of the modern world. Further, the “unceasing effort on the part of that
higher creative imagination which we call diplomacy” must be continuously
nourished; and justice in a globalized world, which is “order in freedom and
conscious duty”, must constantly be promoted. In a word, humanity needs to
refurbish all the best available tools to help the men and women of today to
fulfil their aspirations for justice and peace.

Accordingly, your thoughts on revitalising the
tools of non-violence, and of active non-violence in particular, will be a
needed and positive contribution. This is what as participants in the Rome
Conference you propose to do. In this message I would like to remind you of
some further points which are especially of concern to me.

basic premise is that the ultimate and most deeply worthy goal of human beings
and of the human community is the abolition of war. In this vein, we recall
that the only explicit condemnation issued by the Second Vatican Council was
against war, although the Council recognized that, since war has not been
eradicated from the human condition, “governments cannot be denied the right to
legitimate defence once every means of peaceful settlement has been exhausted”.

Another cornerstone is to recognize that
“conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. It has to be faced”. Of course, the
purpose is not to remain trapped within a framework of conflict, thus losing
our overall perspective and our sense of the profound unity of reality. Rather,
we must accept and tackle conflict so as to resolve it and transform it into a
link in that new process which “peacemakers” initiate.

Christians, we also know that it is only by considering our peers as brothers
and sisters that we will overcome wars and conflicts. The Church tirelessly
repeats that this is true not merely at an individual level but also at the
level of peoples and nations, for it truly regards the International Community
as the “Family of Nations”. That is why, in this year’s Message for the World
Day of Peace, I made an appeal to States’ leaders to renew “their relations
with other peoples and to enable their real participation and inclusion in the
life of the international community, in order to ensure fraternity within the
family of nations as well”.

Furthermore, we know as Christians that, in
order to make this happen, the greatest obstacle to be removed is the wall of
indifference. Recent history justifies using the word ‘wall’ not in a
figurative sense alone, for unhappily it is an all too tangible reality. This
phenomenon of indifference touches not only our fellow human beings but also
the natural environment, with often disastrous consequences in terms of
security and social peace.

Nevertheless, we can succeed in overcoming
indifference — but only if, in imitation of the Father, we are able to show
mercy. Such mercy is so to speak ‘political’ because it is expressed in
solidarity, which is the moral and social attitude that responds best to the
awareness of the scourges of our time and of the inter-dependence of life at
its different levels — the connections between an individual life, the family,
and the local and global community.

our complex and violent world, it is truly a formidable undertaking to work for
peace by living the practice of non-violence! Equally daunting is the aim of
achieving full disarmament “by reaching people’s very souls”, building bridges,
fighting fear and pursuing open and sincere dialogue. The practice of dialogue
is in fact difficult. We must be prepared for give and take. We must not assume
that the others are wrong. Instead, accepting our differences and remaining
true to our positions, we must seek the good of all; and, after having finally
found agreement, we must firmly maintain it.

can joyfully anticipate an abundance of cultural differences and varied life
experiences among the participants in the Rome Conference, and these will only
enhance the exchanges and contribute to the renewal of the active witness of
non-violence as a “weapon” to achieve peace.

I would like to invite all those present to support two requests I addressed to
governmental authorities in this Jubilee Year: to abolish the death penalty
where it is still in force, and to consider the possibility of an amnesty; and
to forgive or manage in a sustainable way the international debt of the poorer

warmly wish Your Eminence and all the participants fruitful and successful
labours, and I extend to you all my Apostolic Blessing.


Archbishop Christophe Pierre new Nuncio to USA

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre as the new Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America. Archbishop Pierre, a native of France, was previously Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico. He replaces Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who reached the age of retirement earlier this year.
(from Vatican Radio)…