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Day: June 8, 2017

Aleppo bishop: ‘1 Minute for Peace initiative important for Syria’

(Vatican Radio) Men and women of goodwill across the globe on Thursday responded to Pope Francis’ call to join in prayer to participate in the “ One Minute for Peace ” initiative.
The Pope’s appeal for prayers and international participation in the initiative came during his Wednesday General Audience when he recalled that the initiative represents a short moment a of prayer on the recurrence of the meeting in the Vatican between the Pope, the late Israeli President Peres, and the Palestinian President Abbas.
Their encounter took place in the Vatican Gardens on 8 June 2014, during which the three men prayed together for peace.
“In our days, Pope Francis said, there is a great need to pray – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – for peace.”
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo , in Syria, about the significance of “One Minute for Peace”:
Listen :

Bishop Antoine Audo says it is important and he expresses his admiration for Pope Francis, whom he said, “uses little things to not forget peace and to say that everybody is able to build peace in the world”.
Audo says this is a very Christian way to oppose war and to express our faith, with our roots in the reality it is a way, he explains to be incarnate – to be “hic et nunc” as it is defined in theology.
“I admire this initiative: it helps us a lot. But at the same time as bishop living in Aleppo and Syria I have to say we are very tired about the perspective of peace; we wait, we wait, we wait, and at the same time our families and young people are leaving to emigrate and this is a very big sadness for us” he says.
The bishop says the situation, in particular of Christians in Syria, who are a small minority is difficult, but “we continue to stay rooted in the faith and in the truth and after that, we will see.”
Audo speaks of the current situation in Syria’s largest city, which in over six years of violence has become the biggest symbol of the damage wrought by the Syrian war.  He says that since Christmas there have not been bombings as the fighting is now continuing outside the city.
He says they can hear the bombing but generally the situation is more peaceful, the situation less stressful than a few months ago.
“But without regular water, without electricity, and the big problem is the economic situation; there are no jobs and 80% of the people are without a job” he says.
As Pope Francis points out, Audo says, “Work is dignity”:  “we have lost our dignity; everybody has become poor and asking for food aid to live”.
He also said that a big problem today is the obligation for young people to enroll in the military service, so you have so many young people who are very afraid of being forced to fight and they flee.
“This means the war is not finished yet” he says.
Regarding the current fear of terrorist attacks and the idea that situations of conflict, marginalization and exclusion provide fertile soil for radicalization, Bishop Audo says he believes that most of those attracted to extremist militancy are Sunnite youths, without any hope.
“If we look at the psychological level I think they are experiencing a big humiliation before the West generally; the powerful West is dominating, is leading politically with its provocative culture of ‘teaching’ others; ‘the West is bringing human rights, civilization.’ And on the other hand, according to the point of view both of educated and of simple people, they are experiencing a big humiliation” he says.
This, Audo says, is a big fault of the western world because “I think the West has lost faith in God and in Christ so it is not able to have the sensitivity to respect the other; everything is power, everything is finance, everything is strategies and there is no future for these politics.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Card. Turkson to UN: Holy See committed to ocean sustainability

(Vatican Radio) The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, has issued the full text of his prepared statement to the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of the 14 th Sustainable Development Goal, which deals with Conserving and Sustainably Using the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources . Please find the full text of Cardinal Turkson’s statement, below…
Statement of His Eminence Peter Cardinal Turkson,
Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development,
Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the
United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14:
Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources
for Sustainable Development
New York, 5-9 June 2017
Distinguished Co-Chairs,
Last month the Holy See launched a new initiative called “ Laudato Si’  Challenge,” in a roll out that included the President of the United Nations General Assembly and prominent business and political leaders from across the globe. The goal of this project is to highlight the importance of environmental concerns in making business decisions, planning projects, and influencing law and policy.  The Holy See is committed to continuing and strengthening these efforts.
Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 is in everyone’s interest, because the gravity of the issues confronting our oceans involves the very existence of mankind. Besides providing food and raw materials, the oceans provide various essential environmental benefits such as air purification, a significant role in the global carbon cycle, climate regulation, waste management, the maintenance of food chains and habitats that are critical to life on earth.
Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Letter “ Laudato Si’,  On Care for Our Common Home,” appealed to everyone to alter the trajectory of environmental degradation by changing patterns of consumption and lifestyles harmful to the environment. Careless or selfish behavior in our use of resources and in our interaction with the environment must be addressed at all levels, from individual behavior to national policies and international multilateral agreements.
To reverse the negative impacts on marine resources and to strengthen the long-term conservation and sustainable use of our oceans, we must integrate ethical considerations in our scientific approaches to environmental issues, because environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. The environment cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of it, included in it and in constant interaction with it.
Consequently, a crisis of the environment necessarily means a moment of truth for all of us. As Pope Francis reminded us, “[W]e are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis that is both social and environmental.” [1]  This compound reality, therefore, demands an integrated approach that simultaneously takes care of the environment, combats poverty and exclusion, assures the collective enjoyment by all of the common good, and fosters intergenerational solidarity.
An ethical approach means, above all, taking seriously our responsibility to care for these precious natural resources and to protect those persons, especially the poor and vulnerable, who depend on them for their daily subsistence. Without an approach informed by ethical considerations, we are left with a system where “some are concerned only with financial gain, and others with holding on to or increasing their power,” resulting in “conflicts or spurious agreements where the last thing either party is concerned about is caring for the environment and protecting those who are most vulnerable”. [2]
An ethical approach must focus not just on rights but also on obligations. Much of the decline in the health of oceans is a result of emphasizing rights and autonomies to the detriment of personal and national responsibilities. The lack of adequate legal and regulatory frameworks and the failure to implement existing laws, allowing many to take advantage of oversights and gaps, exacerbate this overemphasis on rights at the expense of obligations. Care for our common home, however, is and will always be a moral imperative. 
Oceans, and all of us who depend on them, would in particular benefit from this ethical approach. For many years, the health of oceans and seas was not adequately considered, as oceans were thought to be so vast as to not be affected by human activities. We have taken for granted our liberties to use them, enjoying the freedom of navigation, of fishing, of laying cables, and of scientific research, but we have not sufficiently underlined our responsibilities in their proper use.  This is evident in the fact that, other than provisions regarding general care of the environment or pollution, there is no global agreement or institutional body that specifically addresses care and protection of the resources of the oceans. Such an agreement is particularly urgent as ocean resources are more and more intensely harvested. Oceans have value beyond that of fishing and navigation: they are also a vast source of renewable energy and biological and mineral wealth, including those used by the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
An ethical approach inspires solidarity with future generations. As Pope Francis reminded us, “[I]ntergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” [3]  Thus, while our care for our oceans immediately benefits us, it is also a gift to future generations, sparing them from paying the extremely high price of environmental deterioration and allowing them to enjoy its beauty, wonder, and manifold endowment.
Distinguished Co-Chairs,
In many religious and cultural traditions, water is a symbol of cleansing, renewal and rebirth. It is also, in this sense, that the Holy See welcomes this fresh beginning of a renewed cooperation and coordination of global efforts to conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas and marine resources.
Thank you, Distinguished Co-Chairs.
[1]  Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter “Laudato Si’”, 139.
[2]  Ibid, 198.
[3]  Ibid, 159.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Kerala Catholics urged to spread the ‘message’ of Kandhamal

Catholics in southern India’s Kerala state have been urgedto show greater solidarity with the suffering Christians of Odisha state and spread the message of their exemplary witness.  Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly who heads the eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made the appeal on June 6 while releasing the Malayalam version of a book by rights advocate and journalist ‎Anto Akkara that details the atrocities of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s Kandhamal district. 
The riots orchestrated by Hindu extremists that raged for weeks claimed the lives of more than 100 Christians because they refused to abandon their faith.  Over  6,000 Christian  homes and 300 churches were plundered and torched leaving more than 56,000 homeless. Nearly 9 years after the violence, many Christians are still awaiting justice and compensation from the government. Many have not been able to return to their homes.
Akkara’s several books on the Kandhamal riots were the results of several visits to the district.  The Kerala-born journalist has doggedly investigated the violence and meticulously recorded the witness and suffering of the Christians that followed the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda which Hindu fundamentalists blamed on Christians, , despite Maoist rebels claiming it.
“We have a duty to spread this message,” urged Card. Alencherry while releasing the Malayalam version,  “Early Christians of 21st Century”. “The book brings out the brutality” Kandhamal Christians had to suffer. These revelations can touch human conscience and enlighten even non-Christians,” Cardinal Alencherry told the assembly of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) attended by over 40 Catholic bishops and 150 religious superiors.
‎”This book has touched the nerve centre of human conscience with graphic details of the suffering and witness of Kandhamal Christians who challenge us to ‘bear witness to the truth’ as Jesus taught,” observed. KCBC president Archbishop Maria Callist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum. 
‎”The incredible witness of Kandhamal Christians who carry the stamp of crucified‎ Christ, brought out in this book, will aflame the Christian faith and witness in the readers,” said Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, the head of the eastern-rite Syro-Malankara Church and president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI).
‎In his remarks, Akkara said his revised edition has included several new topics including a chapter on Kerala Christians’ strong bond with Kandhamal.  “Hope this will lead to greater concern about Kandhamal in Kerala,” he said. 
Seven innocent Christian men have been languishing in jail for the murder of Swami Laxmanananda.  Akkara’s book, “Who killed Swami Laxmanananda?” busts the myth of a Christian conspiracy behind the murder.  Apart from unveiling the Hindu nationalist fraud behind Kandhamal with tell-tale evidence, he has also launched an online signature campaign at www.release7innocents.com urging the authorities to release the 7 Christians.
(from Vatican Radio)…