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Day: September 15, 2017

Vatican: AB Gallagher on Iran visit and Rohingya crisis

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican is following closely the plight of the Rohingya people , as Pope Francis prepares to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh at the end of November.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher , the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, confirmed on Friday that the pope raised his concerns with Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, during her private visit to the Vatican in May. He said the country’s bishops will continue to put pressure on the government to stop the attacks on Rohingya villages and to respect the rights of these suffering people.
The Vatican foreign minister discussed the plight of the Rohingyas recently with top Iranian leaders in Teheran. During that September 5th to 9th visit, he also had “very frank” discussions about the difficulties facing Christians in Iran , as well as in war torn Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Gallagher also spoke of the latest escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula , insisting that the crisis must be seen in a broader context of “unprecedented dangers” due to the worst global insecurity since the Second World War.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Archbishop Paul Gallagher: 

Archbishop Gallagher said the Holy See is “extremely concerned” about increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula . Noting that there was no formal resolution of the Korean war, he said the Holy See “remains committed to promoting a nuclear free world ”, based “on an ethic of fraternity, rather than the ethics of aggression”.
Pressure on North Korea
He urged the international community to “continue to make pressure on North Korea”, adding that the Vatican offers “whatever encouragement we can”. Recalling his trips to Pyongyang 20 years ago, he said today “our channels [of communication] with North Korea are very weak indeed”.
Danger of global insecurity
Speaking of his forthcoming visit to the UN, the Vatican foreign minister stressed the need for a united approach to North Korea and other areas of conflict. He said it’s “very important for the international community to see the crisis on the Korean peninsula as also part of a general situation of great insecurity”, adding that “we should be really waking up to the great dangers which are now facing the world, unprecedented dangers since the Second World War”.
Iran’s role in Syria and Iraq
Sharing details of his encounter with Iranian government leaders in Teheran, Archbishop Gallagher spoke of efforts underway in Geneva to end the Syria conflict. Asked about the future of the Christian communities in Syria and Iraq, Archbishop Gallagher replied that many of those who’ve fled the fighting will not return. Those in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, he said, will come back if there are assurances of peace and incentives, such as an initiative regarding the renewal of villages on the Nineveh plain.
Christian presence in Middle East
The Vatican foreign minister stressed that Christians play “an essential role in the Middle East, they’re a bit like the cement that holds society” together. In the midst of ethnic or religious conflicts, he said, “Christians, who’ve been there forever, need to continue to be part of that society, to be citizens like everybody else, and to make their contribution for the rebuilding of these nations”.
Difficulties for Catholics in Iran
Discussing the difficulties facing Catholics in Iran, Archbishop Gallagher said he raised these concerns openly in talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. He spoke of the different understandings of religious freedom, saying that the Iranian authorities were “very complimentary about the role and contribution that Christians make” but at the same time “it’s also quite clear that rules of the game are very demanding on our Christian communities”. He said he hoped his visit would draw attention to their plight and lead to future cooperation “to face some of the practical problems of these communities”.
Possible papal visit to Teheran?
Asked about the possibility of a papal visit to Iran, Archbishop Gallagher said: “I think we’re a long way from that,”. He noted the positive relations with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue but said he stressed “that good relations with the Holy See are also supposed to be reflected in good relations with local Christian communities”.
Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis
The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States said he discussed the Rohingya crisis with Iran’s political and religious leaders. He said both Pope Francis and Cardinal Parolin raised their concerns with Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to the Vatican, noting that “her reply was in line with other things that have been said in recent days”. Cardinal Bo and local bishops, he added, will continue to put pressure on the authorities “in a very complex and difficult situation”, while the Holy See will follow developments closely in preparation for the pope’s visit there.
Pope concern for plight of refugees 
Archbishop Gallagher stressed how Pope Francis has shown “great courage” in speaking out at times which could have jeopardized progress in bilateral relations. But he added, “the pope is clear that the plight and suffering of ordinary people is as important to him as the interests of the great and powerful”. Asked if the crisis could jeopardise the papal visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, he replied: “As we all know, it takes quite a lot to discourage the pope”.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope sends letter to Card. Parolin for Casamari Cistercian Abbey celebration

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis sent a letter on Friday to the papal legate for the celebration of the 8th centenary of the consecration of the Basilica of the Casamari Cistercian Abbey in Italy.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, was appointed on 19 August as the papal legate for the celebration, which takes place on 15 September.
Cardinal Parolin is accompanied by a mission composed of the following ecclesiastics:
– Don Ugo Gianluigi Tagni, abbot vicar general of the Congregation of Casamari;
– Rev. Fr. Sebastiano Paciolla, O.Cist., under-secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.
The following is the Pope’s full letter to the Cardinal Secretary of State:
Venerabili Fratri Nostro
Secretario Status
Octingenti transeunt anni ab illo die quo Summus Pontifex Honorius III, Decessor Noster rec. mem., adstantibus Cardinalibus, Episcopis et  fidelibus, in sollemni liturgia Basilicam consecravit Casamariensem, sanctis martyribus Romanis dicatam Ioanni et Paulo nec non Beatae Deiparae et Virgini Mariae. Sacra illa aedes saeculis decurrentibus in provincia potissimum spirituali, morali et cultus divini magni ponderis exstitit non solum in terris circumstantibus, sed etiam in tota Italia media et meridionali. Venusta eius architectura animum monachorum Cisterciensium revelans, magnificum constituit testimonium eorum precis, cantus, meditationis atque apud multos peregrinos et visitatores singularem suscitat admirationem.
Fausta ergo occasione memorati iubilaei data, dilecti sodales Congregationis Cisterciensis Casamariensis evangelici itineris elementa altiore usque modo perscrutantur, Domini vocem diligenter auscultant, spiritali ratione fideles abbatiam invisentes sequuntur ut omnes clare Divinam providentiam misericordiamque experiri possint. Die autem XV proximi mensis Septembris sollemnis agetur in memorata sacra aede celebratio, signum gratitudinis erga Deum omnipotentem ob tanta Eius beneficia quae saeculorum decursu fidelibus ibidem orantibus largiri est dignatus. Quapropter Reverendus Dominus Eugenius Romagnuolo, Abbas Praeses Congregationis Cisterciensis Casamariensis, humanissimas Nobis litteras scripsit quibus Nosmet Ipsos ad celebrationem hanc invitavit. Grati omnino hac de invitatione, quam in corde Nostro tenemus, decernimus tamen eminentem Virum illuc mittere qui Nostras vices Casamarii gerat Nostramque erga Christi discipulos ibi commorantes et adstantes dilectionem significet.
Ad Te ergo, Venerabilis Frater Noster, qui munus Secretarii Status studiose exerces, mentem Nostram vertimus Teque hisce Litteris LEGATUM NOSTRUM nominamus ad octavam centenariam memoriam consecrationis Basilicae Casamariensis, quae memorato die Casamarii sollemniter perficietur.
Praeclaro illo in templo sollemni praesidebis Eucharistiae atque omnes adstantes, sacros Pastores, presbyteros, religiosos viros ac mulieres, christifideles laicos, sermone tuo ad diligentiorem usque Christi vitae imitationem cohortaberis: oportet enim ut novis viribus novaque diligentia peculiarem dilectionem Ecclesiae et Evangelii demonstrent atque fidei virtute cotidie ardeant. Singularem insuper salutationem Nostram dilectis monachis Cisterciensibus transmittes; exoptamus omnino ut omnipotens Deus hanc monasticam Congregationem auxiliis suis foveat ita ut, vestigiis suos antecessores secuti, tum in sanctificatione adipiscenda tum in sacro ministerio explendo uberes iugiter fructus colligant (cfr Pius PP. XII, Litterae apostolicae Cum ex Summi Pontificatus, AAS 35 [1943], 392).
Nos autem Te, Venerabilis Frater Noster, in tua missione implenda precibus comitabimur. Denique Benedictionem Apostolicam, caelestium donorum pignus, libentes Tibi impertimur, quam omnibus celebrationis participibus rite transmittes.
Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die XXV mensis Augusti, anno MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis travelling entertainers: “The vocation of your life and work is Joy”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with the Italian National Association of travelling show people, telling them that “theirs is a path that is enlightened by faith.”
Listen to our report:

“The vocation of your life and work is Joy” that is what Pope Francis told travelling circus performers, employees of amusement parks and fairs, street performers, artists, designers puppeteers, and musicians when he met them on Friday in the Vatican.
The Pope said, “I think if we go back to the origins of each of your shows, your caravans, we always find someone , a grandfather, a grandmother, a great-grandfather, who is passionate about this kind of show, he has felt a joyful vocation , and for this reason he/she was willing to make great sacrifices.”
The Holy Father noted that theirs is a path that is enlightened by faith, a faith, he said, “ that you live especially in the family, and this is very important: the family travelling with God, animated by trust in providence.
During the encounter, Pope Francis invited those present to draw close to the sacraments and make time for prayer.
Reiterating comments he made last year for the Jubilee for Circus and Travelling Show People, the Pope reminded them that they were,”artisans of festivities, wonder, and beauty, called to nourish feelings of hope and trust.”
“Your vocation is a mission the Holy Father said, “the mission of offering people, children, but also adults and the elderly, opportunities for healthy, clean fun. And within this vocation and mission, how can there not be the hand of God?”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope contemplates Our Lady of Sorrows at Santa Marta Mass

Pope Francis’ homily at the Mass in the Casa Santa Marta this morning focused on the figure of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast day the Church celebrates on September 15th.
Contemplating the Mother of Jesus
We need to contemplate the Mother of Jesus, said the Pope, we need to contemplate “this sign of contradiction, because Jesus is victorious, but upon the Cross”. This is a contradiction, he said, that we can’t understand. “It takes faith to understand it, at least to come close (to understanding) this mystery”.
The first disciple
Mary knew and lived her whole life with a pierced heart. “She followed Jesus and heard the people’s comments, sometimes for Him, sometimes against. But she was always right behind her Son. That’s why we call her the first disciple”. It was Mary’s concern, continued Pope Francis, that brought about this “sign of contradiction” in her heart.
At the foot of the Cross
She was there at the end, in silence, at the foot of the Cross, watching her Son. Perhaps she heard comments like: “Look, there’s the Mother of one of the three criminals”. But, said the Pope, she “showed her face for her Son”.
“Behold your children”
Pope Francis said he was offering these few and simple words to help us contemplate this mystery in silence. In this moment, beneath the Cross, Mary gave birth to the Church and to all of us: “Woman”, says her Son, ‘behold your children”. He doesn’t say “Mother”, he says “Woman”. This strong and courageous Woman was there to say: “This is my Son. I do not deny Him”.
A call to contemplation
More than a call to reflection, said Pope Francis, today’s Gospel is a call to contemplation. “May the Holy Spirit”, he concluded, “be the one to tell each one of us that which we need (to hear)”.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Card Farrell: Importance of the Laity and hopes for World Meeting of Families

(Vatican Radio) It’s been just over a year since the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life was created by Pope Francis to replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. Since then this “new” dicastery, as it’s still often referred to, has been carving out a path under the guidance of its Prefect, Cardinal Kevin Farrell , formerly the Bishop of Dallas, Texas in the US, who was asked by the Pope to take up the multifaceted role. Cardinal Farrell spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the workings of this office, the importance of the laity and future projects which include the 2018 World Meeting of Families to be held in Dublin, Ireland. Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Cardinal Kevin Farrell:

Dicastery Work Speaking about the dicastery, the Cardinal said, “my challenge is to bring it all together, to combine or bring together laity, family and life and the logic of all of that is the fact that laity live out their lives generally, not always but generally in the married state and it’s the marriage state that gives life to the world and so obviously it’s a great challenge.” He also comments that “it took me almost a year to try and understand exactly what these two Pontifical Councils have done in the past.” Laity Cardinal Farrell pointed out that one of the aims of this new office is to have more laity in it and notes that under the statutes of the dicastery the Prefect and the Secretary can be lay people, adding he will “continue to promote the laity at every level in the Church”. Talking passionately about the work of the laity all over the world, he also underlined that now is the time to implement fully what the Second Vatican Council called for, that is, “the vocation of the laity within the Church.” World Meeting of Families One of the most important dates in the dicastery’s calendar is the World Meeting of Families which will take place in Dublin, Ireland in August 2018. The WMOF was established by Saint John Paul II in 1994 and next year’s event will include a three day congress on the “Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” Preparations are well underway and for the Dublin born Cardinal this event is a moment to bring together Catholics, Christians and all people of good will who “believe strongly in the importance of the family for the success of humanity.” Asked about the significance of having the World Meeting of Families 2018 in the Irish capital, Cardinal Farrell said, Pope Francis chose Ireland, adding that, “it would be our hope that we would give an impulse to the family in Ireland . It is a unique opportunity for Ireland; there were many other options but Pope Francis chose Ireland and hoped that would attract people from northern Europe.” On a personal level the Cardinal said, he was extremely proud that this gathering would be taking place in the city he grew up in. There is the great hope that Pope Francis will come to Ireland for the meeting and Cardinal Farrell said that if that happens, “I can’t wait to be there to welcome the Holy Father when he gets off that plane.” (from Vatican Radio)…