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Day: June 21, 2017

Pope donates funds to support aid projects in South Sudan

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has pledged to donate about half a million dollars to support Church-run education, healthcare and agricultural projects in South Sudan.
At a press conference in the Vatican on Wednesday, Cardinal Peter Turkson , head of the office for Integral Human Development, led a panel of speakers giving details of those humanitarian projects, run by Caritas and by missionaries from different religious institutes. The cardinal also outlined numerous initiatives that the Holy See has taken to stop the war, which flared across the country in 2013.
Listen to Philippa HItchen’s report:

Pope Francis may have postponed a planned visit to war-torn South Sudan this year, but he’s clearly more determined than ever to raise awareness about the need to support those suffering from conflict and starvation.
Over half the population doesn’t have enough food to eat, a million and a half people have fled their homes, thousands are suffering from a cholera epidemic and untold numbers are victims of killings, rapes and other violent crimes.
Faces behind the statistics
But beyond the shocking statistics of this largely forgotten war, it’s vital to remember the individual victims – that’s why aid workers have started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #southsudanwecare
Among those speaking at the Vatican press conference was Sr Yudith Pereira-Rico , from Solidarity with South Sudan, an organisation founded by male and female religious congregations over a decade ago:
“ We don’t talk about numbers, we talk about individuals who are suffering….any time a young man or woman in South Sudan clicks this hashtag they will know how many people care…..this moral support is very important ”
Part of the pope’s donation will go to support a college in Yambio run by Solidarity with South Sudan to train teachers, nurses, midwives, farmers and community leaders. As well as learning vital job skills, the students from many different ethnic groups learn about the values of diversity and collaboration, an important sign of hope for the country which gained independence in 2011.
Caritas and Comboni missionaries
Other beneficiaries of the initiative entitled ‘ The Pope for South Sudan ’ include two hospitals run by Comboni missionaries and an agricultural project, run by Caritas, to provide livelihoods for 2.500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Yambio and Torit. Michel Roy , secretary general of Caritas Internationalis , told journalists that while peace must be the priority for South Sudan, the international community must also do more to save lives of those dying from hunger and disease
“ The UN has launched an appeal, right now it is half funded, there’s a real need for the international community to engage more, much more. This cannot be just another forgotten conflict, like Darfur …”
Holy See mediation efforts
Asked about Vatican initiatives to try and stop the fighting, Cardinal Peter Turkson said he had been personally involved in two mediation efforts to bring together warring leaders President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. Amid concerns that the conflict was spreading across the region, the nuncio in Kenya also met with Machar last December to urge the parties to come to the negotiating table.
Planned peace pilgrimage
So far, these attempts have failed to bring peace, but Cardinal Turkson stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan. That’s a key condition before a planned visit to the region by the pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, can take place. While they had hoped to travel together in October to endorse peace efforts of all Christians in the region, that trip has been postponed until at least 2018.

(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope to NFL Hall of Famers: foster fair play, teamwork

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received a delegation from the National Football League’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Addressing the 43-member delegation representing the trustees and members of the organization that honors the great players in the history of the premier professional American football league, the Holy Father spoke of sport as a bridge-builder that can be a powerful tool in creating a culture of encounter, especially by fostering virtues of fair play, teamwork, and pursuit of excellence.
Click below to hear our report

“Our world,” said Pope Francis, “and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.”
Pope Francis concluded expressing the hope that the delegates’ visit to Rome might help them grow in gratitude for gifts received and inspire them to share those gifts ever more generously in shaping a more fraternal world.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis at General Audience: ‘Saints are sign of Christian hope’

(Vatican Radio)  We are called to be saints, just like the multitude of witnesses before us, so as to be heralds of hope for the world. That was Pope Francis’ message during the catechesis portion of his Wednesday General Audience, in which he reflected on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

Pope Francis at his General Audience in a sunny St. Peter’s Square said the Saints who have gone before us show us the path of Christian hope and teach us to follow in their footsteps.
Taking the Letter to the Hebrews (11:40-12:12a) as his guide, the Pope said the saints are “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.
He spoke about three important moments in the life of the Church in which the “great cloud of witnesses” is evoked: in the liturgies of Baptism, Matrimony, and Holy Orders.
He said the saints are called upon in these moments because “they have passed along our same path, have known the same toil, and live forever in the embrace of God.”
“God never abandons us,” he said. “Whenever we are in need, one of His angels will come to pick us up and console us. ‘Angels’ sometimes have a human face and heart, because the saints of God are always here, hidden in our midst.”
Pope Francis went on to assure his audience that the Christian ideal is attainable, as the lives of the saints have shown.
He said, “It is possible to be saints because the Lord helps us.” Being a saint, he said, means doing your daily duties, like “praying, working, taking care of the kids”, but “doing all with a heart open to God”.
In conclusion, the Holy Father said living a saintly life is “the great gift that each of us can offer to the world.”
“Our history needs ‘mystics’, that is, people who reject every dominion and aspire to charity and solidarity: Men and women who live by accepting even a portion of suffering, because they take upon themselves the difficulties of their neighbor. Without these men and women, the world would be without hope.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis greets NFL Hall of Fame delegation

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted a delegation from the premier American football league’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Ahead of the weekly General Audience, the Pope received the delegation from the National Football League Hall of Fame. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father’s remarks in their official English translation…
Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis
to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Dear Friends,
I am pleased to greet you, the members and directors of the American Pro Football Hall of Fame, and to welcome you to the Vatican.  As many of you know, I am an avid follower of “football”, but where I come from, the game is played very differently!
I thank Mr. Anderson for his gracious words of introduction, which stressed the traditional values of sportsmanship that you seek to embody, both on the field and in your own lives, your families and your communities.  Our world, and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies. 
Teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence are the values – in the religious sense, we can say virtues – that have guided your own commitment on the field.  Yet these same values are urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.  They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family.  How greatly our world needs this culture of encounter!
Dear friends, I pray that your visit to the Eternal City will increase your gratitude for the many gifts you have received and inspire you to share them ever more generously in shaping a more fraternal world.
Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
God bless you all!
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis holds General Audience: English Summary

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, reflecting on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope.
Please find below the official English-language summary:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now look to the saints, to “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.  The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the saints as “a great cloud of witnesses” who support us on our pilgrim way through this present life.  In the sacraments of baptism, marriage and ordination, we pray the Litany of the Saints to implore their intercession and help in the particular vocation we have received.  The lives of the saints remind us that the Christian ideal is not unattainable.  Despite our human weakness, we can always count on God’s grace and the prayers of the saints to sustain us in faith and in hope for the transfiguration of this world and the fulfilment of Christ’s promises in the next.  May the Lord enable all of us to become saints, to be living images of Christ in our time.  May he strengthen us to be his witnesses and to bring the Gospel to all our brothers and sisters, especially the suffering and those most in need of its message of undying hope.
(from Vatican Radio)…