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Pope Francis: Cultural colonization ends in persecution

The Vatican Today - 15 hours 14 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Cultural and ideological colonization does not tolerate differences and makes everything the same, resulting in the persecution even of believers. Those were Pope Francis’ reflections in his homily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, which centered on the martyrdom of Eleazar, narrated in the book of Maccabees from the First Reading (Maccabees 6: 18-31). The Pope noted that there are three main types of persecution: a purely religious persecution; a “mixed” persecution that has both religious and political motivations, like the Thirty Years War or the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre”; and a kind of cultural persecution, when a new culture comes in wanting “to make everything new and to make a clean break with everything: the cultures, the laws and the religions of a people.” It is this last type of persecution that led to the martyrdom of Eleazar. The account of this persecution began in the reading from Monday’s liturgy. Some of the Jewish people, seeing the power and the magnificent beauty of Antiochus Ephiphanes (a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire), wanted to make an alliance with him. They wanted to be up-to-date and modern, and so they approached the king and asked him to allow them “to introduce the pagan institutions of other nations” among their own people. Not necessarily the ideas or gods of those nations, the Pope noted, but the institutions. In this way, this people brought in a new culture, “new institutions” in order to make a clean break with everything: their “culture, religion, law.” This modernizing, this renewal of everything, the Pope emphasized, is a true ideological colonization that wanted to impose on the people of Israel “this unique practice,” according to which everything was done in a particular way, and there was no freedom for other things. Some people accepted it because it seemed good to be like the others; and so the traditions were left aside, and the people begin to live in a different way. But to defend the “true traditions” of the people, a resistance rose up, like that of Eleazar, who was very dignified, and respected by all. The book of Maccabees, the Pope said, tells the story of these martyrs, these heroes. A persecution born of ideological colonization always proceeds in the same way: destroying, attempting to make everyone the same. Such persecutions are incapable of tolerating differences. The key word highlighted by the Pope, beginning with Monday’s reading is “perverse root” – that is Antiochus Epifanes: the root that came to introduce into the people of God, “with power,” these new, pagan, worldly” customs: “And this is the path of cultural colonization that ends up persecuting believers too. But we do not have to go too far to see some examples: we think of the genocides of the last century, which was a new cultural thing: [Trying to make] everyone equal; [so that] there is no place for differences, there is no place for others, there is no place for God. It is the perverse root. Faced with this cultural colonization, which arises from the perversity of an ideological root, Eleazar himself has become [a contrary] root. In fact, Eleazar dies thinking of the young people, leaving them a noble example. “He gives [his] life; for love of God and of the law he is made a root for the future.” So, in the face of that perverse root that produces this ideological and cultural colonization, “there is this other root that gives [his] life for the future to grow.” What had come from the kingdom of Antioch was a novelty. But not all new things are bad, the Pope said: just think of the Gospel of Jesus, which was a novelty. When it comes to novelties, the Pope said, one has to be able to make distinctions: “There is a need to discern ‘the new things’: Is this new thing from the Lord, does it come from the Holy Spirit, is it rooted in God? Or does this newness come from a perverse root? But before, [for example] yes, it was a sin to kill children; but today it is not a problem, it is a perverse novelty. Yesterday, the differences were clear, as God made it, creation was respected; but today [people say] we are a little modern... you act... you understand ... things are not so different ... and things are mixed together.”  The “new things” of God, on the other hand, never makes “a negotiation” but grows and looks at the future: “Ideological and cultural colonizations only look to the present; they deny the past, and do not look to the future. They live in the moment, not in time, and so they can’t promise us anything. And with this attitude of making everyone equal and cancelling out differences, they commit, they make an particularly ugly blasphemy against God the Creator. Every time a cultural and ideological colonization comes along, it sins against God the Creator because it wants to change Creation as it was made by Him. And against this fact that has occurred so often in history, there is only one medicine: bearing witness; that is, martyrdom. Eleazar, in fact, gives the witness by giving his life, considering the inheritance he will leave by his example: “I have lived thus. Yes, I dialogue with those who think otherwise, but my testimony is thus, according to the law of God.” Eleazar does not think about leaving behind money or anything of that kind, but looks to the future, “the legacy of his testimony,” to that testimony that would be “a promise of fruitfulness for the young.” It becomes, therefore, a root to give life to others. And the Pope concludes with the hope that that example “will help us in moments of confusion in the face of the cultural and spiritual colonization that is being proposed to us.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope addresses Italian road and railway police

The Vatican Today - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 08:26
While commending Italy’s police force for ensuring the safety and security of those travelling by road and train, Pope Francis on Monday called on them to also inculcate humanity, uprightness ‎and “mercy”.  ‎  The Pope met some 100 top leaders and officials of Italy’s road police that celebrating its 70th anniversary and railway police that is marking its 110 years.  Click below to listen:   Road safety Talking about road safety, Pope Francis told the group it is necessary to deal with the low level of responsibility on the part of many drivers, who often do not even realize the serious consequences of their inattention (for example, with improper use of cell phones ) or their disregard.  He said this is caused by a hurried and competitive lifestyle that regards other drivers as obstacles or opponents ‎to overcome, turning roads into "Formula One" tracks and the traffic lights as the starting line of a Grand Prix race.  In such a context, the Pope said, sanctions are not just enough to increase security, but there is a need for an ‎educative action, which creates greater awareness of one’s responsibilities for those traveling ‎alongside. ‎ Beyond professionalism The Pope told the police men and women that the fruit of their experience on the road and the railway will help in raising awareness and increase civic sense. Their professionalism not only depends on their skills but also on their “profound uprightness ” which never takes ‎advantage of the powers they possess, thus helping develop a “high degree of humanity .”  The Pope said that in surveillance and prevention, it is important to ensure never to let the use of force degenerate into ‎ violence , especially when a policeman is regarded with suspicion or almost as an enemy instead of a guardian of the common good . Mercy In fulfilling their functions, the Holy Father suggested the police have a “sort of mercy”, which he said is not synonymous with ‎weakness.  Neither does it mean renunciation of the use of force.  It means not identifying the ‎ offender with the offence he has committed, that ends up creating harm and generating revenge.  Their work requires them to use mercy even in the countless situations of weakness and pain that they face daily, ‎not only in various types of accidents but also in meeting needy or disadvantaged people. ‎ Good vs evil The Pope also asked the road and railway police to recognize the presence of the clash between good and evil in the world and within us, and to do everything possible to fight egoism, injustice and  ‎indifference and whatever offends man, creates ‎disorder and foments illegality, hindering the happiness and growth of people.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope on World Day of the Poor: they open for us the way to heaven

The Vatican Today - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization . There were some 4 thousand needy people in the congregation for the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall. Speaking off the cuff to guests at the luncheon, the Holy Father said, “We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.” The Holy Father went on to ask God's blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. “Rome,” he said, “is full of this [charity and good will] today.” Click below to hear our report The World Day of the Poor is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the homily he prepared for the occasion and delivered in St. Peter’s Basilica following the Gospel reading, Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.” He went on to say, “When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell.” Reminding the faithful that it is precisely in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), and that there is therefore in each and every poor person, a “saving power” present, Pope Francis said, “[I]f in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.” “For us,” the Pope continued, “it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. “To love the poor,” Pope Francis said, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material: and it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away.”  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope Francis: homily for World Day of the Poor

The Vatican Today - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 08:00
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. Below, please find the full text of his homily on the occasion, in its official English translation … *************************** We have the joy of breaking the bread of God’s word, and shortly, we will have the joy of breaking and receiving the Bread of the Eucharist, food for life’s journey. All of us, none excluded, need this, for all of us are beggars when it comes to what is essential: God’s love, which gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts. The Gospel parable speaks of gifts. It tells us that we have received talents from God, “according to ability of each” (Mt 25:15). Before all else, let us realize this: we do have talents; in God’s eyes, we are “talented”. Consequently, no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others. We are chosen and blessed by God, who wants to fill us with his gifts, more than any father or mother does with their own children. And God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission. Indeed, as the loving and demanding Father that he is, he gives us responsibility. In the parable, we see that each servant is given talents to use wisely. But whereas the first two servants do what they are charged, the third does not make his talents bear fruit; he gives back only what he had received. “I was afraid – he says – and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (v. 25). As a result, he is harshly rebuked as “wicked and lazy” (v. 26). What made the Master displeased with him? To use a word that may sound a little old-fashioned but is still timely, I would say it was his omission. His evil was that of failing to do good. All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground. But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans (cf. v. 14). It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments, like hired hands in the house of the Father (cf. Lk 15:17). The unworthy servant, despite receiving a talent from the Master who loves to share and multiply his gifts, guarded it jealously; he was content to keep it safe. But someone concerned only to preserve and maintain the treasures of the past is not being faithful to God. Instead, the parable tells us, the one who adds new talents is truly “faithful” (vv. 21 and 23), because he sees things as God does; he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right “omission”. Omission is also the great sin where the poor are concerned. Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, “That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem”. It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good. How, in practice can we please God? When we want to please someone dear to us, for example by giving a gift, we need first to know that person’s tastes, lest the gift prove more pleasing to the giver than to the recipient. When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel. Immediately following the passage that we heard today, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you that, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These least of our brethren, whom he loves dearly, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside. On their faces we can imagine seeing Jesus’ own face; on their lips, even if pursed in pain, we can hear his words: “This is my body” (Mt 26:26). In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love. When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell. God greatly appreciates the attitude described in today’s first reading that of the “good wife”, who “opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:10.20). Here we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord. There, in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). For this reason, in them, in their weakness, a “saving power” is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our “passport to paradise”. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material. And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. Today we might ask ourselves: “What counts for me in life? Where am I making my investments?” In fleeting riches, with which the world is never satisfied, or in the wealth bestowed by God, who gives eternal life? This is the choice before us: to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven. Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give, for “those who store up treasures for themselves, do not grow rich in the sight of God” (Lk 12:21). So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us. May the Lord, who has compassion for our poverty and needs, and bestows his talents upon us, grant us the wisdom to seek what really matters, and the courage to love, not in words but in deeds. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope to Ratzinger Prize-winners: a symphony of truth

The Vatican Today - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 09:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis  received the recipients of the 2017 Ratzinger Prize in Theology on Saturday morning. Catholic Professor  Karl-Heinz Menke  of the Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn, Lutheran Professor  Theodor Dieter  of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, and Orthodox composer  Arvo Pärt , share the Prize this year, which Benedict XVI established in 2010 as the leading international award for research in Sacred Scripture, patristics, and fundamental theology. Broadening horizons of the Ratzinger Prize This year, therefore, marks the first time in which the Prize is given to someone not engaged in strictly theological endeavor. When the prize-winners were announced in September, the President of the  Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation , Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ , said, “ Benedict XVI ’s appreciation for the art of music and the highly religious inspiration behind the musical art of Pärt , justified the attribution of the prize also outside of the strictly theological field.” Click below to hear our report In remarks to the roughly 200 guests, including the prize-winners and officials of the Ratzinger Foundation on Saturday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace,  Pope Francis  said, “I welcomed with joy the idea of ​broadening the horizon of the [Ratzinger] Prize to include the arts, in addition to the theology and sciences, which are naturally associated with it.” He went on to say, “It is an enlargement that corresponds well with the vision of [Pope emeritus]  Benedict XVI , who so often spoke to us in a touching manner, of beauty as a privileged way of opening ourselves to transcendence and to meeting God.” Ecumenical focus The Prize this year also had an ecumenical element. In addition to  Pärt ’s Orthodoxy, the year, 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran movement in Christianity, and Lutheran Professor  Theodor Dieter  one of the three recipients.  “The truth of Christ,” said  Pope Francis , “is not for soloists, but is symphonic: it requires docile collaboration, harmonious sharing.” The Holy Father also said, “Seeking it, studying it, contemplating it, and transposing it in practice together, in charity, draws us strongly toward full union between us: truth becomes thus a living source of ever closer ties of love.” Pope Francis  concluded, saying, “[C]ongratulations, therefore, to the illustrious prize winners: Professor  Theodor Dieter , Professor  Karl-Heinz Menke  and Maestro  Arvo Pärt ; and my encouragement to [the Ratzinger] Foundation,” so that, “we might continue to travel along new and broader ways to collaborate in research, dialogue and knowledge of the truth. – a truth that, as  Pope Benedict  has not tired of reminding us, is, in God,  logo s and  agape , wisdom and love, incarnate in the person of Jesus.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope calls for common good, ethical responsibility in science, technology ‎

The Vatican Today - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 09:24
"Science, like any other human activity, has its limits which should be observed for the ‎good of ‎humanity itself, and requires a sense of ethical responsibility,” Pope Francis said on Saturday.  “The true measure of progress, as ‎Blessed ‎Paul VI recalled, is that which is aimed at the good of each man and the whole man,” the Pope told some 83 participants in the plenary assembly of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.  The participants met the Pope at the conclusion of their Nov.15-18 assembly which discussed the theme, “The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology.”  Click below to listen to our report: Incredible advances The Pope said, the Church wants to give the correct direction to man at the dawn of a new era marked by incredible advances in medicine , genetics , neuroscience and “autonomous” machines .  Speaking about the incredible advances in genetics, he noted that diseases that were considered incurable until recently have been eradicated, and new possibilities have opened up to “programme” human beings with certain “qualities”.  Not all the answers The Pope said that " science and technology have helped us to further the boundaries of knowledge of nature, especially of the human being,” but they alone are not enough to give all the answers. ‎“Today,” he explained, “we ‎increasingly realize that it is necessary to draw from the treasures of wisdom of ‎religious ‎traditions , popular wisdom , literature and the arts that touch the depths of the mystery of ‎human ‎existence, without forgetting, but rather by rediscovering those contained in philosophy and ‎ theology .‎” Church teachings In this regard, the Pope pointed to two principles of the Church’s  teaching. The first is the “ centrality of the human person , which is to be considered an end and not a means.”  Man must be in harmony ‎with creation, not as a despot about God's inheritance, but as a loving guardian of the work ‎of the Creator.‎ The second principle is the universal destination of goods , including that of ‎knowledge and technology. Scientific and technological progress, the Pope explained, should serve the good of all humanity, and ‎not just a few, and this will help avoid new inequalities in the future based on knowledge, and prevent widening of the gap between the rich and the poor .  The Holy Father insisted that great decisions regarding the direction scientific research should take, and investment in it, should be taken together by the whole of society and should not be ‎dictated solely by market rules or by the interests of a few .‎  And finally, the Pope said, one must keep in mind that not everything that is technically possible or feasible is ethically acceptable.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope prays for sailors aboard missing submarine

The Vatican Today - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is offering his “fervent prayers” for 44 Argentinian sailors aboard a submarine that has been missing since Wednesday. In a telegram sent addressed to the Bishop Santiago Olivera , the head Military Ordinariate of Argentina, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin noted the Pope’s concern for the sailors and expressed the Pope’s spiritual closeness to the families of the sailors, and to the military and civil authorities of the nation. He also noted the Holy Father’s encouragement for the efforts being made to find the vessel. “His Holiness entrusts them to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin, “ Cardinal Parolin said, and “he asks the Lord to instill in them spiritual serenity and Christian hope in these circumstances, in pledge of which he cordially imparts the comforting Apostolic Blessing.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: ‘Compassion’ is more effective in addressing inequalities

The Vatican Today - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:36
Pope Francis on Saturday sent a letter to the participants of the 32nd International Conference on the theme ‘Addressing Global Health Inequalities’ .  The event  organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions is taking  place in the New Synod Hall of the Vatican from 16 to 18 November. The  letter addressed to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson , Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development,  the Holy Father stressed that apart from having well-structured organization for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs,  the healthcare workers should be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the person for whom they care. For Pope Francis ‘compassion’ is  vital to be efficient and capable of addressing inequalities.   The Pope concluded the letter exhorting the representatives of the pharmaceutical companies invited to address the issue of access to antiretroviral therapies by paediatric patients. Quoting a passage from the New Charter for Healthcare Workers, Pope Francis called them  to make available essential drugs in adequate quantities, in usable forms of guaranteed quality, along with correct information, and at costs that are affordable by individuals and communities.      Please find below the official translation of the Pope's letter: To My Venerable Brother Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development   I offer a cordial welcome to the participants in the Thirty-second International Conference on the theme Addressing Global Health Inequalities.  I express my gratitude to all those who have worked to organize this event, in particular, to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions. Last year’s Conference took note of encouraging data on the average life expectancy and on the global fight against pathologies, while at the same time pointing out the widening gap between the richer and poorer countries with regard to access to medical products and health-care treatment.  Consequently, it was decided to address the specific issue of inequalities and the social, economic, environmental and cultural factors underlying them. The Church cannot remain indifferent to this issue.  Conscious of her mission at the service of human beings created in the image of God, she is bound to promote their dignity and fundamental rights. To this end, the New Charter for Health Care Workers states that “the fundamental right to the preservation of health pertains to the value of justice, whereby there are no distinctions between peoples and ethnic groups, taking into account their objective living situations and stages of development, in pursuing the common good, which is at the same time the good of all and of each individual” (No. 141).  The Church proposed that the right to health care and the right to justice ought to be reconciled by ensuring a fair distribution of healthcare facilities and financial resources, in accordance with the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.  As the Charter notes, “those responsible for healthcare activities must also allow themselves to be uniquely and forcefully challenged by the awareness that ‘while the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human’” (No. 91; Caritas in Veritate, 75). I am pleased to learn that the Conference has drafted a project aimed at concretely addressing these challenges, namely, the establishment of an operational platform of sharing and cooperation between Catholic health care institutions in different geographical and social settings.  I willingly encourage those engaged in this project to persevere in this endeavour, with God’s help.  Healthcare workers and their professional associations in particular are called to this task, since they are committed to raising awareness among institutions, welfare agencies and the healthcare industry as a whole, for the sake of ensuring that every individual actually benefits from the right to health care.  Clearly, this depends not only on healthcare services, but also on complex economic, social, cultural and decision-making factors.  In effect, “the need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises.  Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses.  As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.  Inequality is the root of social ills.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 202). I would like to focus on one aspect that is fundamental, especially for those who serve the Lord by caring for the health of their brothers and sisters.  While a well-structured organization is essential for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs, healthcare workers should also be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the persons for whom they care. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows us the practical approach required in caring for our suffering neighbour.  First, the Samaritan “sees”.  He notices and “is moved with compassion” at the sight of a person left stripped and wounded along the way.  This compassion is much more than mere pity or sorrow; it shows a readiness to become personally involved in the other’s situation.  Even if we can never equal God’s own compassion, which fills and renews the heart by its presence, nonetheless we can imitate that compassion by “drawing near”, “binding wounds”, “lifting up” and “caring for” our neighbour (cf. Lk 10:33-34). A healthcare organization that is efficient and capable of addressing inequalities cannot forget that its raison d’être, which is compassion: the compassion of doctors, nurses, support staff, volunteers and all those who are thus able to minimize the pain associated with loneliness and anxiety. Compassion is also a privileged way to promote justice, since empathizing with the others allows us not only to understand their struggles, difficulties and fears, but also to discover, in the frailness of every human being, his or her unique worth and dignity.  Indeed, human dignity is the basis of justice, while the recognition of every person’s inestimable worth is the force that impels us to work, with enthusiasm and self-sacrifice, to overcome all disparities. Finally, I would like to address the representatives of the several pharmaceutical companies who have been invited to Rome to address the issue of access to antiretroviral therapies by paediatric patients.  I would like to offer for your consideration a passage of the New Charter for Healthcare Workers.  It states: “Although it cannot be denied that the scientific knowledge and research of pharmaceutical companies have their own laws by which they must abide – for example, the protection of intellectual property and a fair profit to support innovation – ways must be found to combine these adequately with the right of access to basic or necessary treatments, or both, especially in underdeveloped countries, and above all in the cases of so-called rare and neglected diseases, which are accompanied by the notion of orphan drugs.  Health care strategies aimed at pursuing justice and the common good must be economically and ethically sustainable.  Indeed, while they must safeguard the sustainability both of research and of health care systems, at the same time they ought to make available essential drugs in adequate quantities, in usable forms of guaranteed quality, along with correct information, and at costs that are affordable by individuals and communities” (No. 92). I thank all of you for the generous commitment with which you exercise your valued mission. I give you my Apostolic Blessing, and I ask you to continue to remember me in your prayers. From the Vatican, 18 November 2017     (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope at Mass: Take time to think about death

The Vatican Today - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 07:53
(Vatican Radio) With today’s readings, the Church invites us to reflect on the end of the world, but also on the end of our own lives. Pope Francis based his homily on the Gospel reading, where the Lord speaks about the daily lives of men and women in the days before the great Flood, or in the days of Lot – they lived normal lives, eating and drinking, doing business, marrying. But the “day of the manifestation of the Lord” came – and things changed. The Church, our Mother, wants us to take time to consider our own death, the Pope said. We are all used to the routine of daily life. We think things will never change. But, Pope Francis continued, the day will come when we will be called by the Lord. For some it will be unexpected; for others it might come after a long illness – but the call will come. And then, the Pope said, there will be another surprise from the Lord: eternal life. This is why the Church asks us to “pause for a moment, take a moment to think about death.” We should not become accustomed to earthly life, as though it were eternity. “A day will come,” the Pope said, echoing the words of Jesus in the Gospel, “when you will be taken away” to go with the Lord. And so it is good to reflect upon the end of our life. “Thinking about death is not a gruesome fantasy,” the Pope said. “Whether it is gruesome or not depends on me, and how I think about it – but what will be, will be.” When we die, we will meet the Lord – “this is the beauty of death, it will be an encounter with the Lord, it is Him coming to meet you, saying, “Come, come, [you who are] blessed by My Father, come with me.” The Holy Father concluded his homily with a story about an elderly priest who was not feeling well. When he went to the doctor, the doctor told him he was sick. “Perhaps we’ve caught it in time to treat it,” the doctor told him. “We will try this treatment, and if this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. And if that doesn’t work, we will begin to walk [together], and I will accompany you to the very end.” Like the doctor, we too, the Pope said, must accompany one another on this journey. We must do everything we can in order to assist the sick; but always looking toward our final destiny, to the day when the Lord will come to take us with Himself to our heavenly home.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope Francis receives Uruguayan Bishops in audience

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 12:11
(Vatican Radio) Pope Franci s on Thursday received in audience the Bishops of Uruguay who are in the Vatican for their ad limina visit. They will be in the Vatican until November 22nd and are scheduled to meet with officials at various Vatican Dicasteries, including a meeting with members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints where they will discuss some ongoing beatification and canonization processes. On Sunday, November 19th, they will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 1st World Day of the Poor .     Bishop Heriberto Bodeant of Melo told us that the bishops of Uruguay are very close to Pope Francis also thanks to the geographical proximity of their homelands.  Listen :  Bishop Bodeant notes that the Uruguayan bishops come from the same ‘neighbourhood’ where Cardinal Bergoglio used to live, and they speak the same kind of Spanish as he does. He says that they also recognize in him the echo of their Latin American ‘way’ in communion with the whole Catholic Church and in line with the directives of the Aparecida document which Bergoglio himself penned. He says they are listening to his appeal to go forth and into the existential and geographical peripheries and in this appeal they recognize a Latin American voice: “this is very encouraging for us”. “Pope Francis knows deeply our country and the Uruguayan church” he said and is very aware of the reality the Catholic Church works within after more than a century of secularized culture. “Religion is banned in public schools, religious ignorance is frequent, the charisma must be permanently announced” he said. After this session with Pope Francis, Bishop Bodeant concluded: “we felt our hearts burning, we are ready to go on the road and to continue inviting all our people to live a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in His Church.”    (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

Pope Francis to lead Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and DRC

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is to preside over a Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 23rd in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5.30pm Rome time. “ Solidarity with South Sudan ” in association with the Justice and Peace office of religious organizations worldwide, has organized the Prayer and confirmed that when Pope Francis heard of the initiative he made it known that he wanted to be personally involved.  Christians across the world are invited to pray together on that day and time for Peace in the world, and above all in South Sudan and in DRC, two conflict ravaged nations in which millions of displaced people are suffering the effects of terrible humanitarian crises. Sr. Yudith Pereira Ric o, the Associate Executive Director of Solidarity in Rome, told journalists that the main thing people ask her to do when she travels to South Sudan, is to tell the world what is happening in their country. The world’s newest country spiraled into civil war in late 2013, two years after gaining independence from Sudan, causing one fourth of the 15 million-strong population to flee their homes. Sister Yudith described the continuing violence and abuse taking place in South Sudan as “Silent Genocide”. She told Linda Bordoni what it means for the suffering people of South Sudan to know that the Pope and Christians across the world are praying for them: Listen : Sister Yudith said that for them, to know that people outside of South Sudan, in Rome, and in other places are praying for them, is to know that “we have the world with us”. “For them it a source of strength and hope for the future to feel that they are not alone, and this is important because otherwise where can they find the courage to resist what they are enduring now as refugees, victims…” she said. And highlighting the many abuses the most vulnerable people are enduring including the use of rape as a weapon of war, Sr Yudith said “to know that people are talking about this means that they too, as human beings count”. “They feel they don’t count for anybody: for politicians they don’t count, they don’t exist – they are only fighting for power and for money.” She says most people don’t even know where South Sudan is or the fact that it is the newt country. To acknowledge and to pray for them, she said, is to give them dignity and saying “we are with you”. She said that notwithstanding the terrible events that caused the new nation to disintegrate into conflict the people still want to be one. She explained that they came from 20 years of war, they did not have a national identity, and while the warmongers are vying for power and control the new generations, the women and all ordinary people are convinced they can all live together peacefully. Sr Yudith also spoke of Pope Francis’ interest in the nation and of how it has positively impacted the desire to set in motion some kind of peace process. “He is waiting for them to begin something so he can come and lend his support, but they have to begin…” she said.         (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis makes surprise visit field hospital in St. Peter's Square

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:44
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis made a surprise visit on Thursday afternoon to a small "field hospital" set up in front of St. Peter's Square to provide medical care for Rome's poor. During the short visit, the Pope greeted volunteers and poor people waiting to receive care ahead of the first World Day of the Poor, taking place on Sunday, November 19. He was accompanied by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation. The healthcare structure is an initiative connected to that Day and announced by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation . Pope Francis called for the celebration of the World Day of the Poor at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope meets with members of Apostolic Confederation for the Clergy

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:20
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held an audience with international members of the Apostolic Confederation for the Clergy in the Vatican on Thursday. He invited participants to reflect on the ordained ministry, "in, for and with the diocesan community".  The Pope said, "One becomes an expert in spirituality of communion primarily thanks to conversion to Christ, to the docile opening to the action of the Spirit, and by welcoming one’s brothers." The following is the Pope’s address to those present: Dear priests, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133,1). These verses of the psalm go well after the words of Msgr. Magrin, impassioned president of the International Confederation Apostolic Union of Clergy. It is truly a joy to meet and to feel the fraternity that arises among us, called to the service of the Gospel following the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd. To each one of you I address my cordial greeting, which I extend to the representatives of the Apostolic Union of the Laity. In this Assembly you are reflecting on the ordained ministry, “in, for and with the diocesan community”. In continuity with previous meetings, you intend to focus on the role of pastors in the particular Church; and in this rereading, the hermeneutic key is the diocesan spirituality that is the spirituality of communion in the manner of the Trinitarian communion. Msgr. Magrin underlined that word, “diocesan”: it is a key word. Indeed, the mystery of the Trinitarian communion is the high model of reference for the ecclesial community. Saint John Paul, in his Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, recalled that “the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning” is precisely this: “to make the Church the home and school of communion” (43). This involves, in the first instance, “[promoting] a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed” (ibid). And today we have a great need for communion, in the Church and in the world. One becomes an expert in spirituality of communion primarily thanks to conversion to Christ, to the docile opening to the action of the Spirit, and by welcoming one’s brothers. As we are well aware, the fruitfulness of the apostolate does not depend only on activity or on organizational efforts, although these are necessary, but firstly upon divine action. Today as in the past the saints are the most effective evangelizers, and all the baptized are called to reach towards the highest measure of Christian life, namely, holiness. This is even more applicable to ordained ministers. I think of worldliness, the temptation of spiritual worldliness, so often concealed in rigidity: one calls the other, they are “stepsisters”, one calls the other. The World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, which is celebrated every year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, constitutes an ideal opportunity to implore of the Lord the gift of zealous and holy ministers for His Church. To achieve this ideal of holiness, every ordained minister is called to follow the example of the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for His sheep. And from where can we draw this pastoral charity, if not from the heart of Christ? In Him the celestial Father has filled us with the infinite treasures of mercy, tenderness and love: here we can always find the spiritual energy indispensable to be able to radiate His love and His joy in the world. And we are led to Christ every day also in the filial relation with our Mother, Mary Most Holy, especially in the contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary. Closely linked with the path of spirituality is commitment to pastoral action in the service of the people of God, visible today and in the concreteness of the local Church: pastors are called to be wise and faithful servants who imitate the Lord, who don the apron of service and bend to the lives of their communities, to understand their history and to live the joys and sufferings, expectations and hopes of the flock entrusted to them. Indeed, Vatican Council II taught that the right way for ordained ministers to achieve holiness is in “[performing] their duties sincerely and indefatigably in the Spirit of Christ”; “by the sacred actions which are theirs daily as well as by their entire ministry which they share with the bishop and their fellow priests, they are directed to perfection in their lives” (Decreto Presbyterorum Ordinis, 12). You rightly highlight that ordained ministers acquire the right pastoral style also by cultivating fraternal relations and participating in the pastoral journey of the diocesan Church, in its appointments, its projects and its initiatives that translate the programmatic guidelines into practice. A particular Church has a concrete face, rhythms and decisions; it must be served with dedication every day, bearing witness to the harmony and unity that is lived and developed with the bishop. The pastoral journey of the local community has as an essential point of reference the pastoral plan of the diocese, which must take precedence over the programmes of associations, movements or any other particular group. And this pastoral unity, of everyone around the bishop, will bring unity to the Church. And it is very sad when, in a presbytery, we find that this unity does not exist, it is apparent. And there gossip reigns: gossip destroys the diocese, destroys the unity of presbyters, the unity among them and with the bishop. Brother priests, remember, please: we always see bad things in others – because cataracts don’t appear in this eye – eyes are always ready to see ugly things, but I urge you not to arrive at gossip. If I see bad things, I pray or, as a brother, I speak. I do not act as a “terrorist”, because gossip is a form of terrorism. Gossiping is like through a bomb: I destroy the other person and go away calmly. Please, no gossip, they are the like the woodworm that eat through the fabric of the Church, of the diocesan Church, of the unity among all of us. Dedication to the particular Church must then be expressed more broadly, with attention to the life of all the Church. Communion and mission are correlated dynamics. One becomes a minister to serve one’s own particular Church, in obedience to the Holy Spirit and one’s own bishop and in collaboration with other priests, but with the awareness of being part of the universal Church, which crosses the boundaries of one’s own diocese and country. If the mission is an essential quality of the Church, it is especially so for he who, ordained, is called to exercise the ministry in a community that is missionary by nature, and to educate in having a world view – not worldliness, but a world view! Indeed, mission is not an individual choice, due to individual generosity or perhaps pastoral disillusionment, but rather it is a choice of the particular Church that becomes a protagonist in the communication of the Gospel to all peoples. Dear brother bishops, I pray for each one of you and for your ministry, and for the service of the Apostolic Union of Clergy. And I pray also for you, dear brothers and sisters. May my blessing accompany you. And remember: do not forget to pray for me too, as I am in need of prayers! Thank you. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis sends letter to COP23 climate conference in Bonn

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 09:35
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to participants in the COP-23 UN Convention on climate change, taking place in Bonn, Germany on 6-17 November. The letter was sent to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of the Fiji Islands, which is officially hosting the event, and was read out to COP-23 participants. Pope Francis congratulated the world leaders present at the COP-23 event and invited them "to maintain a high level of cooperation". He renewed his "urgent call" for renewed dialogue "on how we are building the future of the planet." "We need an exchange that unites us all," he said, "because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all." The Pope warned participants not to fall into "four perverse attitudes" regarding the future of the planet: "denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions." Finally, Pope Francis sent his well-wishes that the COP-23 would be "inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21" event at which the historic Paris agreement was signed. Please find below the official translation of the Pope's message: Excellency, Nearly two years ago, the international community gathered within this UNFCCC forum, with most of its highest government representatives, and after a long and complex debate arrived at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement. It saw the achievement of consensus on the need to launch a shared strategy to counteract one of the most worrying phenomena our humanity is experiencing: climate change. The will to follow this consensus was highlighted by the speed with which the Paris Agreement entered into force, less than a year after its adoption. The Agreement indicates a clear path of transition to a low- or zero-carbon model of economic development, encouraging solidarity and leveraging the strong links between combating climate change and poverty. This transition is further solicited by the climatic urgency that requires greater commitment from the countries, some of which must endeavour to take a leading role in this transition, bearing in mind the needs of the most vulnerable populations. These days you are gathered in Bonn to carry out another important phase of the Paris Agreement: the process of defining and constructing guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms so that it may be truly effective and capable of contributing to the achievement of the complex objectives it proposes. In such a path, it is necessary to maintain a high level of cooperation. From this perspective, I would like to reaffirm my urgent call to renew dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet. We need an exchange that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all. [...] Unfortunately, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis are often frustrated for various reasons ranging from denial of the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation, or blind trust in technical solutions (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 14). We should avoid falling into the trap of these four perverse attitudes, which certainly do not help honest research or sincere and productive dialogue on building the future of our planet: denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions. Moreover, we cannot limit ourselves only to the economic and technological dimension: technical solutions are necessary but not sufficient; it is essential and desirable to carefully consider the ethical and social impacts and impacts of the new paradigm of development and progress in the short, medium and long term. From this perspective, it is increasingly necessary to pay attention to education and lifestyles based on an integral ecology, capable of taking on a vision of honest research and open dialogue where the various dimensions of the Paris Agreement are intertwined. It is useful to remember that the Agreement recalls the “grave … ethical and moral responsibility to act without delay, in a manner as free as possible from political and economic pressures, setting aside particular interests and behaviour” (cf. Message to COP-22). This means, in effect, propagating a “responsible awareness” towards our common home (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 202; 231) through the contribution of all, in explaining the different forms of action and partnership between the various stakeholders, some of whom do not lack to highlight the ingenuity of the human being in favour of the common good. While I send my greetings to you, Mr President, and to all the participants in this Conference, I hope that, with your authoritative guidance and that of the Fiji Islands, the work of these days will be inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21. This will enable an acceleration of awareness-raising and consolidate the will to make effective decisions to counteract the phenomenon of climate change while at the same time fighting poverty and promoting true human development as a whole. This commitment is supported by the wise providence of God Most High. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at daily Mass: The Kingdom of God is within us

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 09:24
(Vatican Radio) The kingdom of God is not a show, much less a carnival; it does not go looking for publicity. Its growth comes from the Holy Spirit, rather than from “pastoral plans.” That was the message of Pope Francis in his daily homily at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday. The point of departure for the Pope’s homily was the Pharisees’ question in the day’s Gospel about when the Kingdom of God will come. It is a simple question, the Pope said, which can be asked in good faith, as appears in numerous passages in the Gospel. John the Baptist, for example, when he was imprisoned, sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the Messiah, or if they should look for another. Later, in another passage, the same question is turned around: during His Passion, the bystanders say to Jesus, “If you are he, come down from the Cross.” Pope Francis said there are always doubts, there is always curiosity about when the Kingdom of God will come. “The Kingdom of God is in your midst”: That is the answer of Jesus. That is the “glad tidings” in the synagogue of Nazareth, when Jesus, after having read a passage from Isaiah, says that that Scripture is fulfilled “today,” in their midst. Like a seed, when it is sown, grows from within, so the Kingdom of God grows “in hiding,” in the midst “of us,” the Pope repeated. Or it is like “the gem, or the treasure,” but always in humility: “But who makes that seed grow? Who makes it sprout? God, the Holy Spirit, who is within us. And the Holy Spirit is the spirit of meekness, the spirit of humility, He is the spirit of obedience, the spirit of simplicity. It is He who makes the Kingdom of God grow with, not pastoral plans, the great things… No, it is the Spirit, in hiding. He makes it grow, and the moment arrives, and the fruit appears.” In the case of the good thief, the Pope asked when the seed of the Kingdom of God was sown in his heart. Perhaps it was his mother, Pope Francis suggested, or perhaps a rabbi when he was explaining the law. And then, perhaps, it is forgotten – but at a certain point “in hiding,” the Spirit makes it grow. What this means, the Pope said, is that the Kingdom of God is always “a surprise,” because it is “a gift given by the Lord.” Jesus explains that “the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way that it attracts attention, and no one will say, ‘Look, there it is,’ or ‘Look, here it is.’” “It is not a show, or, even worse, a carnival,” he said, although often times we think of it that way.” “The Kingdom of God is not seen with haughtiness or pride; it does not love publicity. It is humble, hidden, and thus it grows. I think that when the people saw the Madonna, those who followed Jesus [said]: ‘That’s the mother, ah…’ The most holy woman, but in hiding. No one knew the mystery of the Kingdom of God, the holiness of the Kingdom of God. And when she was close by the Cross of her Son, the people said, ‘But the poor woman, with this criminal as a son, poor woman…’ Nothing, no one understood.” The Kingdom of God, then, always grows in hiding, the Pope said, because it is there, in our midst, that the Holy Spirit “makes it sprout, until it bears fruit.” “We are all called to take this road of the kingdom of God: It is a vocation, it is a grace, it is a gift, it is given freely, it is not purchased, it is a grace that God gives us. And all we who are baptized have the Holy Spirit within [us]. How is my relationship with the Holy Spirit, Who makes the Kingdom of God grow within me? A good question for all of us to ask ourselves today. Do I believe this? Do I truly believe that the Kingdom of God is in the midst of us, it is hidden? Or do I like spectacle even more?” Pope Francis concluded his homily by asking the Holy Spirit for the grace to make “make the seed of the Kingdom of God” grow in us and in the Church, with strength, “so that it might become large, give refuge to many people, and give the fruits of sanctity.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pontifical Council for Culture’s Plenary Assembly looks at the future of humanity

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 08:24
The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology , that’s the title of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s Plenary Assembly which is taking place in Rome this week. How is the image of the human person changing in the present world and is science and technology changing fundamental anthropological concepts? Those are just two of the questions that will be addressed during the gathering. The Plenary is also examining the anthropological changes in three specific areas: the possibilities of body transformation offered by medicine and genetics; the ethical implications of neuroscience; and the social and anthropological transformations caused by the development of technology. The meeting will include experts from around the world as well as members of the Council. Bishop Paul Tighe is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, he spoke to Vatican Radio’s Lydia O’Kane about the link between culture and science and the relationship between scientific research and the Christian tradition. Listen to the interview: Bishop Tighe explains that the basis of this Plenary, “is an attempt to look at what it means to be human; what it is that gives value to human life; what does it mean for us to be individuals, but individuals who live in society and how that expresses itself culturally. He goes to say that, “our interest is in looking at the developments that are happening in the area of science, that are causing us maybe to think again about what it means to be human…” Science and Christian tradition Asked whether there can be harmony between the Christian tradition and scientific research, the Bishop says, “I think we would always want to say absolutely. We believe that the human person is made in the image and likeness of God; part of our being made in the likeness and image of God is being made with an intelligence with a capacity to understand our environment and to understand our world.” Bishop Tighe also emphasizes that, “science is hugely important. Science has contributed so much to this world, scientists in particular have sacrificed themselves in so many ways to help the human race…” The Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council of Culture continues until 18th November. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis meets with President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 08:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the President of Austria, Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, in the Apostolic Palace on Thursday. A statement from the Holy See Press Office said "the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Austria were evoked." The two heads of State also spoke about "matters of mutual interest, such as the defence of the inviolable dignity of the human person, the promotion of a culture of encounter, and concern for the care of creation." Pope Francis and Mr. Van der Bellen also spoke about "the international community in the search for peaceful solutions to ongoing conflicts in various regions of the world, also reiterating their joint commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons." President Van der Bellen subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope addresses end-of-life issues

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 07:26
(Vatican Radio) When faced with the new challenges that arise with regard to “end-of-life” issues, “the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick.” In a letter to participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association on end-of-life issues, Pope Francis said: “The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient.  Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity.” In his message, the Holy Father called for “greater wisdom” in striking a balance between medical efforts to prolong life, and the responsible decision to withhold treatment when death becomes inevitable. “It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment,” the Pope said. “From an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.” Pope Francis acknowledged that it is often difficult to determine the proper course of action in increasingly complex cases. “There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved,” he said, pointing to the traditional criteria of moral theology for evaluating human actions. But in this process, he insisted “the patient has the primary role.” The Holy Father also raised the issue of “a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care,” both globally – especially between different continents – and within individual, especially wealthy countries, where options for health care often depend more on “economic resources,” than the “actual need for treatment.” It is important, Pope Francis said, to find agreed solutions to “these sensitive issues.” He emphasized the need to recognize different world views and ethical systems, but also noted the duty of the state to protect the dignity of every human person, especially the most vulnerable. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ letter: To My Venerable Brother Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia President of the Pontifical Academy for Life   I extend my cordial greetings to you and to all the participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association on end-of-life issues, held in the Vatican in conjunction with the Pontifical Academy for Life. Your meeting will address questions dealing with the end of earthly life.  They are questions that have always challenged humanity, but that today take on new forms by reason of increased knowledge and the development of new technical tools.  The growing therapeutic capabilities of medical science have made it possible to eliminate many diseases, to improve health and to prolong people’s life span.  While these developments have proved quite positive, it has also become possible nowadays to extend life by means that were inconceivable in the past.  Surgery and other medical interventions have become ever more effective, but they are not always beneficial: they can sustain, or even replace, failing vital functions, but that is not the same as promoting health.  Greater wisdom is called for today, because of the temptation to insist on treatments that have powerful effects on the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person. Some sixty years ago, Pope Pius XII, in a memorable address to anaesthesiologists and intensive care specialists, stated that there is no obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy and that, in some specific cases, it is permissible to refrain from their use (cf. AAS XLIX [1957], 1027-1033).  Consequently, it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be called “due proportion in the use of remedies” (cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration on Euthanasia , 5 May 1980, IV: AAS LXXII [1980], 542-552).  The specific element of this criterion is that it considers “the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources” (ibid.).  It thus makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal of “overzealous treatment”. Such a decision responsibly acknowledges the limitations of our mortality, once it becomes clear that opposition to it is futile.  “Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted” ( Catechism of the Catholic Church , No. 2278).  This difference of perspective restores humanity to the accompaniment of the dying, while not attempting to justify the suppression of the living.  It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment; from an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death. Needless to say, in the face of critical situations and in clinical practice, the factors that come into play are often difficult to evaluate.  To determine whether a clinically appropriate medical intervention is actually proportionate, the mechanical application of a general rule is not sufficient.  There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved.  In caring for and accompanying a given patient, the personal and relational elements in his or her life and death – which is after all the last moment in life – must be given a consideration befitting human dignity.  In this process, the patient has the primary role.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this clear: “The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able” (loc. cit.). The patient, first and foremost, has the right, obviously in dialogue with medical professionals, to evaluate a proposed treatment and to judge its actual proportionality in his or her concrete case, and necessarily refusing it if such proportionality is judged lacking.  That evaluation is not easy to make in today's medical context, where the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly fragmented and medical care involves any number of technological and organizational aspects. It should also be noted that these processes of evaluation are conditioned by the growing gap in healthcare possibilities resulting from the combination of technical and scientific capability and economic interests.  Increasingly sophisticated and costly treatments are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population, and this raises questions about the sustainability of healthcare delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care.  This tendency is clearly visible at a global level, particularly when different continents are compared.  But it is also present within the more wealthy countries, where access to healthcare risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment. In the complexity resulting from the influence of these various factors on clinical practice, but also on medical culture in general, the supreme commandment of responsible closeness , must be kept uppermost in mind, as we see clearly from the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37).  It could be said that the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick.  The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient.  Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity.  Let each of us give love in his or her own way—as a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother or sister, a doctor or a nurse.  But give it!  And even if we know that we cannot always guarantee healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death.  This approach is reflected in palliative care, which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome—pain and loneliness. Within democratic societies, these sensitive issues must be addressed calmly, seriously and thoughtfully, in a way open to finding, to the extent possible, agreed solutions, also on the legal level.  On the one hand, there is a need to take into account differing world views, ethical convictions and religious affiliations, in a climate of openness and dialogue.  On the other hand, the state cannot renounce its duty to protect all those involved, defending the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being living with others in society.  Particular attention must be paid to the most vulnerable, who need help in defending their own interests.  If this core of values essential to coexistence is weakened, the possibility of agreeing on that recognition of the other which is the condition for all dialogue and the very life of society will also be lost.  Legislation on health care also needs this broad vision and a comprehensive view of what most effectively promotes the common good in each concrete situation.  In the hope that these reflections may prove helpful, I offer you my cordial good wishes for a serene and constructive meeting.  I also trust that you will find the most appropriate ways of addressing these delicate issues with a view to the good of all those whom you meet and those with whom you work in your demanding profession. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin Mary protect you.   From the Vatican, 7 November 2017 (from Vatican Radio)...
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World Day of the Poor: A day for giving and receiving

The Vatican Today - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 01:48
(Vatican Radio) This Sunday parishes in Rome and around the world will mark the first World Day of the Poor which is just one of the fruits of the Jubilee of Mercy. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has been tasked with the organization of the initiative called by Pope Francis. “The Holy Father announced this initiative, occasion, this opportunity for grace during the Jubilee when he reached out to those who are socially marginalized and so this is an opportunity for the Church around the world to not only celebrate and assist and be with those who are poor, but also to change our attitudes about poverty”, says Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Council. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization: Giving and receiving He points out that, “this World Day of the Poor, it’s so beautiful because it’s nothing about power, it’s nothing about anything else but reciprocity, giving and receiving.”  “We are all poor in some way” … notes Mons Sylva, “and everybody’s got something to give, something to offer and this day can serve to open our minds and hearts, our attitudes towards the poverty that exists every day of the year.” He goes on to say that, Pope Francis, “continues to focus the Church, its attention towards how is it we respond to poverty institutionally, but also to people individually.” Marking World Day of the Poor The World Day of the Poor is being marked not only in Rome, but also in parishes around the world and Mons Sylva says that the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has published information on its website in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this initiative Some of the events organized in Rome include a prayer vigil in the church of St Lawrence Outside the Walls on Saturday 18th at 8pm. There will also be a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday morning the 19th which will see some four thousand needy people take part, followed by a lunch in the Paul VI hall. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Catholic News

General Audience: Holy Mass is the prayer "par excellence"

The Vatican Today - Wed, 11/15/2017 - 07:42
Reading: Luke 11,1-4 [1] He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” [2]He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. [3] Give us each day our daily bread [4] and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” (Vatican Radio) At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the Holy Mass. The Mass, the Pope said, is prayer – or rather, it is “the prayer par excellence , the highest, the most sublime, and at the same time, the most ‘concrete’ … it is an encounter with the Lord.” “But what is prayer, really?” Pope Francis asked. “it is first of all dialogue, a relationship with God.” Man, he continued, “was created as a being in personal relationship with God, who finds his full realization only in the encounter with His Creator.” God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is Himself “a perfect relationship of love that is unity.” Because we are created in “the image and likeness of God,” we too are called to enter into a perfect relationship of love. And it is the Mass, the Eucharist, that is “the privileged moment to be with Christ, and, through Him, with God and with our brothers.” But dialogue also means knowing how to remain silent, in the presence of the other. The Holy Father emphasized the importance of moments of silence when we go to Mass – the liturgy, he said, is not a time for chatting, but a time to recollect ourselves, to prepare our hearts for the encounter with Jesus. Jesus Himself often went off to “a place apart” in order to pray; and His disciples, seeing His intimate relationship with the Father, asked Him how to pray. “Jesus says that the first thing necessary for prayer” is to be able to call God “Father.” Pope Francis said, “If I cannot say ‘Father’ to God, I can’t pray. We have to learn to say ‘Father,’ that is, to put ourselves into His presence with filial confidence.” In this sense, he continued, we must be like children, able to entrust ourselves entirely to God, as children do with their parents. And, like children, we must also have a sense of wonder, we must “allow ourselves to be surprised.” When we speak to God in prayer, the Pope said, it is not talking to God “like parrots.” Instead it means “entrusting ourselves and opening our hearts to allow ourselves to wonder.” The encounter with God in Mass, he said, “is always a living encounter, it is not a meeting in a museum.” Pope Francis recalled the Gospel account of Nicodemus’ meeting with Jesus. In their encounter, Jesus spoke about the need to be born again. But how is this possible, the Pope asked? “This is a fundamental question of our faith,” he said, “and this is the desire of every true believer: the desire to be reborn, the joy of beginning anew.” Pope Francis asked his audience, “Do we have this desire? Does each one of us have the desire to always be reborn in order to encounter the Lord? Do you have this desire?” In fact, the Pope concluded, “the Lord surprises us by showing us that He loves us even in our weakness.” In the Mass, in our encounter with Jesus, “the Lord encounters our fragility in order to bring us back to our first calling: that of being in the image and likeness of God.” This, Pope Francis said, “is the environment of the Eucharist, this is the prayer.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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