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Tag: Syndicated

Pope Francis: “No family without work!”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis expressed his hope on Wednesday that administrators of an Italian airline company that risks bankruptcy may find  a fair solution that safeguards its workers with jobs at risk.
The Pope was speaking in St. Peter’s Square at the General Audience where, amongst the crowd, was a large group of “Meridiana” airline workers carrying banners denouncing their predicament.
Pope Francis turned his attention to them expressing  “deep closeness  and solidarity in these hours of  apprehension regarding the future of their work”.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : 

“I hope” – the Pope said – “that a fair solution may be worked out, that considers above all the dignity of the human person and the essential needs of the families concerned”.
And his reiterated and heartfelt plea: “Please, I appeal to all those with responsibility: no family without work!” rang out across the Square.
Pope Francis has repeatedly called for the promotion of the dignity of the human person and the nobility of labour. In June 2014, on the occasion of a Conference of the International Labour Organization he released a message that said:
“It is (…)  time to reinforce existing forms of cooperation and to establish new avenues for expanding solidarity. This calls for: a renewed insistence on the dignity of every person; a more determined implementation of international labour standards; planning for a focused development on the human person as its central actor and primary beneficiary; a re-evaluation of the responsibilities of international corporations in the countries where they operate, including the areas of profit and investment management”.
And in the message he also called – as he has done in many occasions –  for substantial efforts to protect the environment, ensure decent work for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which – he says – is an essential element in sustainable human and social development.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope at Audience: The Church, the Body of Christ

(Vatican Radio) Divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings and marginalization do not help the Church to grow as the Body of Christ, they shatter it into many pieces, they dismember it. Instead we should remember that we – as the Body of Christ – are called to appreciate the gifts and the quality of others in our communities.
Emer McCarthy reports:

The Church as the Body of Christ was the focus of Pope Francis general audience this Wednesday morning, attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists in an autumnal St. Peter’s Square.
Referring to the Apostle Paul’s advice to the quarreling community in Corinth the Pope noted  that many of our Christian communities, our parishes are divided by envy, gossip, misunderstanding and marginalization.
He said this “dismembers us” and moreover is the beginning of war. “War does not begin on the battlefield: war, wars begin in the heart, with this misunderstanding, division, envy, with this fighting among each other”.
No one is superior in the community of the Church, and when we feel tempted to think of ourselves as superior “especially to those who perform the most humble and hidden services” the Pope said we should “remember our sins” in shame before God.
The only way to counter such division is to appreciate the individual qualities and gifts of others and give thanks to God for them.
The Church understood as the Body of Christ – he concluded – is a profound communion of love, its deepest and most beautiful distinguishing feature.
Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the general audience
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.
When you want to highlight how the elements that form a reality are closely united with one another and together form one single body, the image of the body is often used. Starting with the Apostle Paul, this expression has been applied to the Church and was recognized as its deepest and most beautiful distinguishing feature. Thus today, we want to ask ourselves: in what sense does the Church form a body? And why is called the “body of Christ”?
The Book of Ezekiel describes a vision that is somewhat particular and shocking, but one which instills confidence and hope in our hearts. God shows the prophet a field of bones, broken and parched. A bleak scenario … Imagine: an entire plain full of bones. God asks him, then, to invoke the Spirit upon them. At that point, the bones move, they begin to draw closer to each other and join together, nerves begin to grow and then flesh and thus the body is formed, whole and full of life (cf. Ez 37.1 to 14). Well, this is the Church! When you go home toady pick up a Bible, Ezekiel  Chapter 37, do not forget, and read this passage, it’s beautiful. This is the Church, it is a masterpiece, the masterpiece of the Spirit, which instills in each of us new life of the Risen Christ and places us next to each other, to help and support each other, thus making all us one body, built in the communion and love.  
The Church, however, is not only a body built in the Spirit: The Church is the Body of Christ! It may seem a little strange, but this is how it is. It is not just a saying, we really are! It is the great gift that we receive on the day of our Baptism! In the sacrament of Baptism, in fact, Christ makes us His, welcoming us into the heart of the mystery of the Cross, the supreme mystery of His love for us, to make us rise again with Him as new creatures. Behold, thus the Church was born, and so the Church recognizes herself as the body of Christ! Baptism is truly a rebirth, which regenerates us in Christ, making us a part of Him, and unites us intimately among each other, as members of the same body, of which He is the head (cf. Rom 12.5, 1 Cor 12, 12-13).
What emerges from this, then, is a profound communion of love. In this sense, it is illuminating how Paul, in exhorting husbands to “love their wives as their own bodies,” states: “Even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body” (Eph 5.28 to 30). How nice it would be if we remembered what we are more often, what the Lord Jesus has made us, we are His body, that body that nothing and no one can snatch from Him and which he covers with all His passion and all His love, just like a bridegroom with his bride. This thought, however, must give rise in us to the desire to respond to the Lord Jesus and share His love among ourselves, as living members of His own body. In Paul’s time, the community of Corinth experienced a lot of difficulties in this sense, experiencing, as we too often do, divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings and marginalization. All of these things are not good, because rather than building and helping the Church to grow as the Body of Christ, they shatter it into many pieces, they dismember it. And this also happens in our day. Just think of our Christian communities, our parishes, think of how many divisions there are in our neighborhoods, how much envy, gossip, how much misunderstanding and marginalization. And what does it do? It dismembers us. It is the beginning of war. War does not begin on the battlefield: war, wars begin in the heart, with this misunderstanding, division, envy, with this fighting among each other. And the community of Corinth was just like this, they were champions in this! And the Apostle, then, gave some practical advice to the Corinthians that can apply to us: Do not be jealous, but appreciate the gifts and the quality of our brothers and sisters in our communities. Jealousy: “But … he bought a car,” and I am jealous; “This one won the lotto”, and I am jealous; “And he’s good at this,” and another jealousy. And that dismembers, it hurts, it should not be done! Because jealousy grows, grows and fills the heart. And a jealous heart is a bitter heart, a heart that instead of blood seems to have vinegar, eh! It is a heart that is never happy, it is a heart that disrupts the community. But what should I do? Appreciate the gifts and the quality of others in our communities, of our brothers. But, when I am jealous – because it happens to us all no? All of us, we are all sinners eh! – When I am jealous, I must say to the Lord: “Thank you, Lord, for you have given this to that person”.
Appreciating the qualities and countering division; drawing close and participating in the suffering of the poorest and the most needy; expressing gratitude for everything –  saying thank you, the heart that knows how to say thank you, is a good heart, a noble heart, a heart that is happy because it knows how to say thank you. I ask you: do we all know to say thank you? No? Not always? Because envy, jealousy holds us back a bit? Everyone, and especially those who perform the most humble and hidden services; and, finally, this is the advice that the apostle Paul gives the Corinthians and we to should give one another: never consider yourself superior to others – how many people feel superior to others! We too, often sound like the Pharisee in the parable: “Thank you Lord that I am not like that person, that I am superior”. But this is bad, do not do that! When you are tempted to this, remember your sins, those no one knows, shame yourself before God and say, “You, Lord, you know who is superior, I close my mouth”. And this is good. And always, in charity consider yourself as members who belong to one another and who live and give yourselves for the benefit of all (cf. 1 Cor 12-14).
Dear brothers and sisters, like the prophet Ezekiel, and like the Apostle Paul, we also implore the Holy Spirit, so that His grace and the abundance of His gifts help us to really live as the Body of Christ, united as a family, but a family that is the body of Christ, and as a beautiful and visible sign of the love of Christ. Thank you.
(from Vatican Radio)…

U.S. diplomat to Holy See: religions can help resolve conflicts

(Vatican Radio)  “We are seeing an increase in the use of religion to advance political ambitions and often as a legitimizer: an excuse for violence:”  that’s according to the new Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See who arrived in Rome this past August.  And Victoria Alvarado is no lightweight in the field of faith and strategic studies. As former director of the Office for International Religious Freedom and strategic planning advisor for the Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations, Alvarado brings to her new post years of research into the effectiveness of partnerships between governments and faith leaders in countering violent extremism.
Alvarado is also a former director for Central America and Caribbean Affairs at the National Security Council and has served in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Indonesia.
Alvarado sat down for this exclusive interview with Tracey McClure:

Interfaith childhood and career
She says her gradual orientation towards strategic security studies and religion stemmed from her interfaith family and its openness towards others.  One year, she remembers, her Jewish father and Catholic-Protestant mother shared their home with an Iranian Muslim student, his wife and three children.  “I was exposed to the concept of not only interreligious dialogue, but actually coexistence at a very early age,” she affirms.
Alvarado recalls some of the period when she was stationed in Indonesia where “there was a horrible conflict between the Muslim and Christian populations and a lot of what was driving the conflict  was not religious at all.”  Rather, she says, the violence was fueled by “struggles for land, for businesses – there were a number of political dynamics that were encouraging the conflict.”
She says she increasingly saw the importance of religion and cites a recent study carried out by the Pew Institute which found that 80% of the world is religious to some degree.
“I saw up front that religion is an important aspect of foreign policy and national security.” Having served in a number of Muslim majority nations, she says she is especially interested in Islam which she sees as a very important world religion. 
Religion in conflict prevention, mitigation
Alvarado underlines her increasing interest in the role religion can play in preventing and mitigating conflict.  Unfortunately, some people associate it with conflict, especially in recent days.”  Governments and religious leaders and communities “can work together to counter violent extremism and the narratives – especially when religion is used as a tool to foment the violence,” she affirms.
In an address not long after the 2001 terror attacks by Muslim extremists on the U.S., Pope John Paul II said   “A clash ensues only if Islam or Christianity is misconstrued or manipulated for political or ideological ends.”   When asked if this is exactly what is happening with Islamic extremist militants like ISIS and Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria and Iraq, Alvarado responds:
“It is unfortunate; we are seeing an increase in the use of religion to advance political ambitions and often as a legitimizer, an excuse for violence.  This is not really a new phenomenon.  We’ve seen this hundreds of years ago among different religions.  It’s not unique to one particular religion but often, we see this dynamic when you have a dominant religion in a country and a fairly sizeable but much smaller, minority or minorities – religious minorities.”
Clash of civilizations?
Asked if this has led to a clash of civilizations today, Alvarado responds, “I think that there are some people that are probably seeking that clash.  They’re looking for ‘religious conflict,’  but I also see that most world leaders these days are not falling into that trap.”   They realize, she says, that “most of this is a distortion of religion for political and other ambitions.”
Involving religious leaders in the prevention of radicalization or de-radicalization, Alvarado states, can be helpful – but by itself is not a solution.  “Religious leaders can play a constructive role if part of the narrative is based on religion, even if it’s a distortion of religion.”
Governments and religious leaders – a need for mutual respect, cooperation
“One of the challenges is finding ways to bring together governments and religious leaders without questioning the legitimacy of each part.  The government has its role and the religious leaders have their own role.  There needs to be mutual respect…for each other’s strengths and integrity.”
Alvarado admits that when religious leaders cooperate with governments, their credibility among their faithful can be jeopardized.  “That’s one reason why it’s important these lines of communication are respected.”
Definitions count
One of the biggest challenges Alvarado stresses, is how we define “violent extremist.”  “If somebody is a fundamentalist, does that mean he’s an extremist?  Not necessarily at all.  And if you’re an extremist, does that mean that you’re going to become violent?  Not necessarily at all.  Some theories say there’s a conveyor belt: if you’re fundamentalist, you’re going to be radicalized; you’re going to be an extremist and therefore you must become violent.  Many people are fundamentalist who condemn all sorts of violence.  Just the terminology is a challenge.  What terms are we using when discussing these sensitive issues?  And, can we agree on common uses of these terms?”
Educating for peace
Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and most recently, Francis have all upheld the need to educate today’s children to peace and to respect of the other.  There are many places today where children are taught at an early age to distrust or even hate those who are different.  Asked where is there room for improvement in the area of education for peace, Alvarado answers:
“Everywhere.  I don’t think it’s ever enough and it starts from birth on.  It’s the core of the family as the starting point.  Public education as well is important. I think, finding ways where communities actually build together instead of …fighting, or there are tensions over land or water or whatever issue.  There are ways to find, to encourage mixed communities to build together.  That’s a way that can potentially help these mixed communities mitigate or prevent violence.  If they can see the value in building community and that’s more important than destroying one another – because by destroying one another they’re destroying themselves.  I think what would be a very helpful move in addition to the education, is providing some kind of development assistance to these communities.  To encourage them to actually operationalize their commitment to live together.”
U.S. relations with Holy See
Speaking of her country’s relations with the Holy See, Alvarado  says “We have common concerns.  We might take different approaches and that’s fine.  When I see two allied states or friendly states, they’re always going to have different views on certain issues,” but on religion and security, “we do have common ground.”  I think the integrity and legitimacy of the Holy See is very helpful in putting forth these messages: of the importance of not only tolerating one another, but actually coexisting and embracing diversity as something that builds societies.  Not something just to accept, but something that makes the world a better place.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Universal Church marks first feast day of St. John Paul II

(Vatican Radio) The Universal Church is marking the first liturgical feast day of Saint John Paul II, Tuesday October 22. Poland’s greatest son led the Church from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005. He was canonized along with Pope John 23rd earlier this year by Pope Francis. Prayer was the pillar that supported him throughout his life and pontificate. Veronica Scarisbrick takes a look back at the prayer life of this new Saint.

(from Vatican Radio)…

Holy See to UN: No discrimination against indigenous peoples

(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See delegation to the United Nations on Monday spoke about safeguarding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples.
“The Holy See firmly believes that no discrimination based on race, sex, religion or ethnicity should be tolerated,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
Fostering indigenous specificity and cultures does not necessarily mean going back to the past,” he said. “Indeed, it entails the right of indigenous peoples to go forward, guided by their time-honored collective values, such as respect for human life and dignity, representative decision-making processes and preservation of community rituals. In the face of globalization, industrialization and urbanization these values must not be simply put aside.”
The full text of the statement by Archbishop Auza is below
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
at the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Third Committee
Agenda Item 65: Rights of indigenous peoples
New York, 20 October 2014
Madam Chair,
The Holy See welcomes the recently concluded World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and takes due note of its outcome document, which will help in the promotion and protection of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
Moreover, my delegation is pleased to observe in the Report of the Secretary General the achievements with regard to the goals and objectives of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
However, much still needs to be done to safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world, and greater efforts are still to be made – at international, national and local levels – in setting development policies that truly involve the indigenous peoples themselves and respect their specific identity and cultures.
The Holy See firmly believes that no discrimination based on race, sex, religion or ethnicity should be tolerated. Thus, my delegation welcomes the efforts made in several countries to eliminate all discrimination against indigenous peoples and to promote their full and effective participation the decision-making process, especially on issues that directly or indirectly affect them.
Madam Chair,
Fostering indigenous specificity and cultures does not necessarily mean going back to the past; indeed, it entails the right of indigenous peoples to go forward, guided by their time-honored collective values, such as respect for human life and dignity, representative decision-making processes and preservation of community rituals. In the face of globalization, industrialization and urbanization these values must not be simply put aside.
In this context, my delegation wishes to underline the following principles:
– The world’s indigenous peoples have the same claim as every person, people or nation to their fundamental human rights to development;
– The realization of their right to development must be as much as possible coherent and harmonious with their specific identity and values;
– The indigenous peoples themselves must have a say on their own development.
In this sense, one should refrain from implementing criteria or setting policies alien or unacceptable to those concerned. Policies formulated for indigenous peoples without their active participation in the decision-making process could do more harm than good, especially if they do not reflect or respect their identity and value system. The temptation to refer to them merely or primarily for folkloric effect must be resisted. Their input in the decision-making process is vital, because the very survival of their identity and heritage could be at stake.
While international efforts towards the development of standards concerning the human rights of indigenous peoples are important, in many respects national and local policies are even more decisive in respecting the specific identity and culture of indigenous peoples and in the protection of their rights. In this context, my delegation wishes to highlight the importance of just laws to regulate the relationship between indigenous peoples and extractive industries operating in ancestral lands: lands that, in many cases, are also of great cultural and environmental significance.
Madam Chair,
As the Secretary General underlined in his Report, the Post-2015 agenda will provide an opportunity to provide initiatives that address the need of indigenous peoples. Additionally, the Holy See suggests that agreed Post-2015 outcome documents must also pay due attention to the situation of indigenous peoples, and that all eventual initiatives concerning them should be inspired and guided by the principle of respect for their identity and cultures, including specific traditions, religious beliefs, and ability to decide their own development in cooperation with their respective national governments and the relevant international bodies.
In conclusion, Madam Chair, my delegation wishes to reiterate the long-standing commitment of the Holy See towards the promotion of the integral development of the world’s more than 370 million indigenous in some 90 countries, in all regions of the world.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
(from Vatican Radio)…