Pope Francis has made a personal visit to the home and family of former Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani.
According to Vatican News, the Pontiff’s house visit to Giani’s home in Vatican City came two days after his resignation.
At the former official’s home, the Pontiff met with Giani’s wife and daughter and expressed appreciation and esteem.
The son of the 57-year-old former commander, who served the Pope for 20 years, was not present as he lives in the United States.
On October 1, the Vatican reported on the seizure of documents and electronic equipment in the offices of the first section of the Secretary of State and the Financial Information Authority of the Holy See.
A confidential circular with the names and photos of five employees “suspended as a precautionary measure” was the next day published by Italian publication’s including L’Espresso.
Francis expressed, through a statement released through the director of the Holy See Press Office, that such a leak was “highly detrimental both to the dignity of the people involved and to the image of the gendarmerie.”
“Although he has no personal responsibility in the development of events,” announced the Oct. 14 statement, Giani resigned in a spirit “of love and faithfulness to the Church and to the Successor of Peter”.
The Pope accepted Commander Giani’s resignation and thanked him for his service, loyalty and commitment.
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“In recent centuries they have tried to convince us that religion was one of the main causes of division and lack of peace and that it was, therefore, necessary to put it aside. Where can we go to seek peace, then? In politics? In ideologies? In economy? It is possible only in the Kingdom of God, a kingdom in which I arrived as a pilgrim of peace in Afghanistan, a country at war for forty years.” This is the testimony expressed in a letter sent to Fides News Agency by Fr. Giovanni Scalese, a Barnabite priest, responsible for the Afghan Missio Sui Iuris.
In the Asian country, where Islam is the State religion and conversion to other faiths is seen as a crime of apostasy, the Catholic presence must be limited to carrying out charitable actions and the spiritual assistance of the international community. But, explains Fr. Scalese, the commitment of Catholics in Afghanistan is above all to pray ceaselessly for peace: “Two years ago, on October 13, 2017, at the end of the centenary of the Fatima apparitions, we consecrated Afghanistan to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This year, on Palm Sunday, we planted, in front of the Mission Church, the Olive Tree of Peace, from Nazareth, the place where the Word of God became flesh and the Prince of Peace put his roots among us. Finally, last July, I personally went on a pilgrimage to the National Marian Shrine of Oziornoje, in Kazakhstan, to invoke the Queen of Peace so that she can work in Afghanistan, Asia and in the world.”
Meanwhile, after the failure of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban movement, the country is experiencing a new escalation of violence. Among the latest episodes, a raid on Sunday 22 September by Afghan special forces, with the support of US aircraft, on the hideouts of the Taliban, caused the death of at least 40 civilians gathered to celebrate a wedding.
In Afghanistan, the Catholic presence was admitted at the beginning of the twentieth century as a simple spiritual assistance within the Italian Embassy in Kabul and was then elevated to “Missio Sui Iuris” in 2002 by John Paul II. Today the mission continues to be based on the diplomatic structure and is entrusted to Barnabite father Giovanni Scalese. In the Afghan capital there are also the sisters Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the inter-congregational association Pro Children of Kabul.
The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 3-9, 2019. During this week, dioceses across the U.S. lead the effort in parishes and schools to uphold and encourage the fostering of vocations among the faithful and to pray for those currently discerning a call to marriage, ordained ministry, or consecrated life.
In his message for the 2019 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that unlike a secular career, a vocation is a gift born from God’s own initiative: “The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God into our freedom; it is not a ‘cage’ or burden to be borne. On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be a part of a great undertaking.”
Whereas choosing a career requires much “doing” – such as the accomplishment of various tasks and goals – vocational discernment requires much “being.” At its core, vocational discernment is a process of self-discovery. Assisted by divine grace, each person is invited by the Lord to receive the gift of a specific vocation whereby they manifest God’s love in a particular way to the outside world. In the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony, the husband and wife image the Trinity by their communion of love that produces new life; in ordained ministry, priests and deacons are called to minister in the person of Christ, the High Priest and Servant; and in consecrated life, each member is called to bear Christ’s love through a particular charism.
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., of Newark, and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, echoed Pope Francis’s definition of vocation as a gift. “Discerning a vocation is not the same as completing a checklist. It is a process of learning how to receive the greatest gift God could offer us – the gift of living in accordance with our true identity as a son or daughter of God.” For those currently discerning a vocation, Cardinal Tobin suggested that one always stay close to the Blessed Mother. “Entrust your vocation to Mary, the Mother of all Vocations. She will always direct you to her Son and intercede for you along the path the Lord has for you.”
Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. In 1997, the celebration was moved to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and in 2014, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively.
More resources for National Vocation Awareness Week, including homily aids, recommended reading and discernment tips, prayers of the faithful and bulletin-ready quotes are available online at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/national-vocation-awareness-week.cfm
“In recent weeks there has been an alarming increase in violent episodes in particular against religious minorities. Some of the most recent incidents include the profanation of crosses on tombs in a Christian village, Antonioabad, near the city of Okara”: this was stated by the Justice and Peace Commission (NCJP) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, expressing concern about these incidents.
In a statement sent to Fides News Agency, the Commission reports several episodes in recent months: on May 12, some faithful noticed damaged and broken crosses on 40 tombs in a Catholic cemetery in Antonioabad. Moreover it is recalled that, also in May, Javed Masih, a 36-year-old Christian, was killed by his Muslim employer in the village of Chak 7, near Faisalabad, after suffering religious discrimination.
The list released by the Commission shows that Hindu doctor Ramesh Kumar was indicted for blasphemy on charges of having provided medicine wrapped in a paper that, according to the prosecution, had printed verses from the Koran. Following this accusation, a crowd set fire to the doctor’s office.
The “Justice and Peace” Commission strongly condemns “targeted violence against minorities only because of their faith” and states: “These attacks on minorities are not acceptable and the state must provide protection and security for all citizens”.
Archbishop Joseph Arshad, President of the Commission, Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf, Director, and Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director, call on the government to “immediately take effective measures to ensure the safety of minorities under Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan”, bringing the perpetrators of the violence to justice.
“It is of the utmost importance that the government implement the ruling of the Supreme Court of June 19, 2014, for the promotion and protection of the legitimate rights of religious minorities”, states the note sent to Fides, fearing that “minorities are still considered second-class citizens” and still have to fight for their fundamental rights.
Emmanuel Yousaf stressed that “these attacks constitute a serious threat to the survival of minorities in Pakistan”, asking them to implement “the National Action Plan for Human Rights”.
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by Sanawar Balam
In Pakistan, arranged marriage is a common practice. Human trafficking groups regularly take advantage of the custom to pose as “matchmakers” for Chinese men. They entrap Christian girls-and their often very poor families with the promise of a secure future and a husband who supposedly will provide every luxury. But once the girls are married and moved to China, they face severe, repeated abuse and the loss of personal autonomy. For a time this is how Mehak Parvez lived, but she managed to escape. She agreed to tell her story to Aid to the Church n Need:
“My name is Mehak Parvez. I was born in Punjab, Pakistan, and I work as a beautician in Islamabad. I came home to attend my cousin´s wedding. She married a Chinese man and many Chinese people were in attendance. A Chinese man liked me and asked me about my background. He told me he matched Chinese men with a Pakistani Christian girl. He called me later about potential suitors.
“My family invited the man and three other Chinese men over; the matchmaker told me that I could choose one of them for marriage. He said that all three were financially secure and would return to China after the wedding. He promised my family and me that our greatest dreams would come true.
“Once I expressed interest, things moved quickly. My family asked for a month to prepare, but the matchmaker insisted that this wasn’t necessary, and the wedding was planned within two days. It was held on November 19, 2018, in Faisalabad; my husband and I moved to Lahore, where eight other Chinese men were living with their wives.
“I quickly noticed that something was seriously wrong. Though the matchmaker had told me that my husband was a Christian, I never saw him praying or reading the Bible. He didn´t provide money for meals, and he often beat me. He even confessed that he had only pretended to be Christian in order to get me to marry him.
“Some time passed, and I got in touch with young wives who had married Chinese men and were actually living in China. I joined their WhatsApp group and learned that about 1,200 Christian girls had been lured into marriage and were being treated inhumanely by their husbands. Those considered beautiful were sexually abused, and those considered average or ugly were bartered off.
“As soon as they told me this, I ran away and connected with a human rights activist named Saleem Iqbal. Saleem brings cases like mine to the attention of media, government agencies, and security forces. Thanks to his efforts, the matchmaker and his gang were arrested – 15 Chinese nationals, including a woman, were charged with human trafficking. However, it is important to remember the many girls who are still in China, waiting for our help.
Sanawar Balam writes for Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)
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“With our baptism, we are all missionaries, sent and witnesses of the Gospel of Christ and we must act without fear and without shame,” said His Exc. Mgr. Alexis Touably Youlo, Bishop of Agboville and Apostolic Administrator of Yamoussoukro, during the opening Mass of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in the Ivory Coast.
Mgr. Youlo in the homily of the Mass which he presided at the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, in front of thousands of faithful, declared that mission is “a requirement of our baptism” and therefore concerns everyone, reported Fides News Agency.
At the Mass for the launch of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in the Ivory Coast was attended by Fr. Luca Marabese, in charge of the Apostolic Nunciature in the Country and the diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS).
Fr. Jean Noel Gossou, National Director of the PMS in the Ivory Coast at the end of the Mass invited the diocesan Directors to carry out activities with a specific creative spirit in their dioceses: “now that the Extraordinary Missionary Month has begun, dear brothers, find spaces in your dioceses where your faithful can fully experience this month of grace”.
The diocesan Directors, therefore, worked in this direction; “In the diocese of Abengourou, the Extraordinary Missionary Month will be lived for a whole year”, Fr Antoine Aka Tiémélé told Fides, specifying that the prayer of the missionary month is recited every day after the prayer of the rosary and the Sunday after the universal prayer.
As a prelude to the opening Mass of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in the Ivory Coast, on Saturday 5 October 2019, at the diocesan center of Yamoussoukro under the guidance of the national PMS, a training session in missiology was held for priests and catechists of the archdiocese of Yamoussoukro, animated by His Exc. Mgr. Marcelin Yao Kouadio, Bishop of Daloa, President of the Bishops’ Commission for the Evangelization of the Poor, expert in missiology.
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Last week, the National Council on Disabilities (NCD) released a federal study revealing that assisted suicide laws are dangerous to people with disabilities. In its report, “The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws,” NCD provides several policy recommendations including urging states to not legalize any form of assisted suicide or active euthanasia. The NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the president, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas, and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued the following statement:
“We applaud the National Council on Disabilities for its critical research and report exposing serious risks of abuse, coercion, and discrimination posed by assisted suicide laws, specifically for people with disabilities. Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual. The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage. This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law. The human rights and intrinsic worth of a person do not change with the onset of age, illness, or disability. As Pope Francis said, “True compassion does not marginalize anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing.” We must do what we can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides. We urge state and federal governments, health care providers, and associations to heed this report’s warnings and recommendations, especially its opposition to assisted suicide laws.”
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Following the morning session, the daily Synod press briefing focused on the unique spiritual dimension of the gathering, and its significance for the whole world, with speakers addressing topics such as our common responsibility in caring for the earth; the need for an integral human ecology; vocations; and the role of the laity, reported Vatican News.
The Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, summarized some the main topics “at the center of discernment” for the synod, including the Amazon region as a paradigm for the earth as our common home; a calling to ecological conversion; inculturation; access to the sacraments and education; ministries; migration; rural and urban life; international and multilateral engagement for human rights. He said participants at the Synod felt strongly the need to focus on an overall, unified vision, guided by the Holy Spirit, rather than getting caught up too much in details.
Fr Giacomo Costa emphasized once again that the Synodal path is very different from worldly gatherings. It is an experience marked not by discussions or debates, like a secular parliament, but rather has a spiritual dynamic, marked especially by fraternity. He spoke too about the abundance of “joy, trust, faith” that so far have characterized the assembly.
The first guest speaker, Ms. Yesica Patiachi Tayori, an indigenous woman from Peru, spoke about the role of native peoples as “guardians of the forest” while noting that caring for our common home is the responsibility of everyone. She said that her people are facing a real threat of extinction, and already have the experience of being discriminated against.
Bishop Ambrogio Spreafico spoke about the synod as an ecclesial event, with repercussions not only for the Pan-Amazon region but for the whole world. He mentioned the importance of an integral, human ecology, especially in light of Pope Francis’ teaching in Laudato sí, which he said has not been well understood.
The fraternal environment at the Synod was also mentioned as a highlight by Bishop Wellington Tadeu de Queiroz Vieira. He also spoke about the crisis of vocations, not only in Amazonia but around the world; and said that the question of vocations should not be primarily about celibacy, but about holiness.
Finally, Bishop Pedro José Conti of Brazil spoke about the role of the laity. He said they were not merely helpers of the clergy and religious, but had their own lay vocation, which he called an “antidote to clericalism”. Bishop Conti noted the importance of finding a balance in producing goods from the land, and emphasized the necessity of drawing from the “ancient wisdom of the native people”.
A question about the small group reports
Dr. Ruffini, asked about the small circles, said that the Press Office expects to be able to publish the reports of the groups on Friday afternoon.
A question about the statue used in ceremonies at the Vatican
One reporter asked about the symbolic significance of a statue that was used in the ceremony for the consecration of the Synod to St Francis, which took place in the Vatican Gardens. The statue has also been featured prominently throughout the Synod.
The representatives of the Holy See Press Office said they would find out more information about the statue and the artist who created it. They noted that the ceremony was organized by REPAM. Speaking in a personal capacity, Dr. Ruffini said the statue represented life.
A question about the indigenous Harakbut people
Ms. Tayori fielded a question about her own native people and recounted how they were exploited by those seeking rubber. She also spoke about a Dominican missionary who ministered among her people, and who fought for and with the Harakbut people. She said that but for that missionary, she would likely not be present to tell her story.
A question about the openness in the Synod, and about what was most moving in the first part of the Synod
Responding to a question about what was most moving at the Synod, Bishop Conti said what struck him most was the opportunity to hear from the indigenous peoples and the freedom with which they spoke about their own experiences. He said it is the children who will save the environment, and particularly the children of the indigenous people.
He said we must be united with one another, and grow in fraternity and solidarity with others, and said it was a beautiful time for communion within the Church.
Bishop de Queiroz Vieira said one of the most significant moments in the synod is the availability to live diversity in unity. That, he said, is based on brotherhood, which is led by and modeled by Pope Francis.
Following along the same lines, Bishop Spreafico also praised the humility of Pope Francis as a model. He said the way in which we listen to pain; this is a time in which we listen to pain, and share it.
A question about the role of women
Bishop de Quieroz Vieria, in response to a question about the role of women, said that the presence of women is essential in the Church. He highlighted their role in missionary work, catechesis, liturgy, in caring for the poor and in caring for children. He said the Church and the world must recognize the value of women, noting there are places where women are discriminated against.
He said that with regard to the question of opening the diaconate to women, Bishop de Quieroz Vieria said that question was already the subject of study, and that in the meantime, the value of women should be recognized.
Bishop Spreafico noted that many pastoral projects in his own diocese are led by women, and spoke of the important role women play in the Church.
Bishop Conti said the Brazilian Bishops Conference was moving in this direction and reiterated the words of his brother Bishops that are essential to enhance the role of women.
A question about opportunities for laymen and women
Another reporter asked Bishop Conti what he envisions as possibilities for a Church not only with an Amazonian face but with a lay face. The Bishop said that the path to fuller participation on the part of the laity is a process that is going forward. He emphasized the need for formation for laypeople in their own special callings.
Bishop de Queiroz Vieria emphasized that the Church is made up not only of Bishops but of all the baptized. He noted that the Synod was called precisely in order for the Bishops to make decisions in consultation with all.
A question about what a representative Synod would look like
Asked about whether Bishops were satisfied with the representation of women in the Synod, Bishop de Queiroz Vieria emphasized the unique composition and role of a Synod. He said it is not simply a matter of numerical representation, but that in this particular ecclesial context, the representation in the Synod is significant.
Bishop Conti insisted that we are experiencing a Synodal Church, and that little by little, the Church can be expected to open new paths. He suggested that more spaces will be opened to women in the future.
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Bishop Michael Router is Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh. This homily was preached on Sunday, October 13, 2019.
Today in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Cardinal John Henry Newman was created a saint by Pope Francis. It is a momentous occasion for Christians of all traditions on these islands as Newman, was, during his life, an evangelical Calvinist, an Anglican and a Catholic. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1847 and created a cardinal in 1879 by Pope Leo XIII for services to English Catholicism. He also spent four years in Dublin where he helped to establish the Catholic University, a forerunner of University College Dublin. His canonization was attended not only by Catholic bishops and priests as representatives of the Church in England and Ireland but also by Prince Charles, representatives of the British Government, the Irish Government, the Anglican Church, Oxford University and UCD. The intercession and memory of Saint John Henry Newman will, hopefully, be invoked in the future to bring about closer cooperation between the major religious communities on this island.
Newman was a prolific writer of books and essays during his lifetime. One of his most famous publications was his volume of lectures ‘The Idea of a University’. In this, he puts forward his philosophy of education. He expressed the need for a Catholic University in a sector that had, even in his time, become largely secular. For Newman such a university must support research and be able to publish that research free from church censorship or else it would have no legitimacy in the modern world. What made it Catholic, however, would be the respect that it had for the teachings of the Church. In Discourse IX Newman says that a University is not a convent or a seminary but a place of “direct preparation for this world”. It is a place where young men and women are plunged into the world, in other words thrown into the deep end. Newman believed that those in University must learn to swim in troubled waters by jumping into them. University life removes the supports of childhood and the teenage years and exposes the student to the difficult and exciting prospect of standing on one’s own feet and, perhaps for the first time, making choices that will affect the rest of their lives.
Earlier this year Pope Francis published his encyclical Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive) which emerged from the Synod of Bishops, on young people, faith and vocational discernment that was held in 2018. In this encyclical, Pope Francis has many interesting things to say about being a young Christian in today’s world and I want to touch this evening on some of what he says. Like Saint John Henry Newman the Pope encourages young people to plunge into life, to overcome anxiety and keep following their hopes and dreams. Our dreams are not instantly attainable but are the work of time, patience and commitment. Yet despite this, he warns against being afraid to take risks or to make mistakes because you can always start again “for no one has the right to rob you of hope” (Par. 142). He advises the young not to “observe life from a balcony. Don’t confuse happiness with an armchair, or live your life behind a screen … Don’t be parked cars, but dream freely and make good decisions … Cast out the fears that paralyze you, so that you don’t become young mummies. Live! Give yourselves over to the best of life! Open the door of the cage, go out and fly! Please, don’t take early retirement” (Par. 143).
These are not the words we expect to hear from an 82 year old Pope but he does recognise that the energy, enthusiasm and idealism of youth is a good thing as it can be the catalyst to bring about positive change. In particular he singles out those who commit themselves to volunteer work that shows solidarity with others. Those who mentor the young must accompany them and encourage them particularly in their direct contact with the poor and the less fortunate in our world. Such social engagement can lead to a deepening of one’s own faith and the discernment of one’s vocation in life. The pope acknowledges that this is happening in so many ways in school and university groups through visitation to the elderly and the sick and in charity work such as the establishment of soup kitchens for the homeless. Through such activity, we can receive more than we give and grow in wisdom and maturity when we make the time to touch and understand the suffering of others. Pope Francis reminds us that the “poor have a hidden wisdom and, with a few simple words, they can help us discover unexpected values. (Par 171).
Pope Francis also recognises that young people have a desire to build a better world and he acknowledged that they had taken to the streets in many places to protest. We see that very recently in the Greta Thunberg led protests designed to challenge us about climate change. In the gospel story of the loaves and fishes a young man cooperates with Jesus to bring about a miracle, the forerunner of the Eucharist, in which bread and wine are transformed to bring us to eternal salvation. The challenges that young people face today can be confronted positively with faith in the Risen Lord present in the Eucharist. Jesus is with us every step of the way in our struggles to create a just society. Pope Francis encourages you to “fight for the common good, serve the poor, be protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism”(Par. 174)
Consumerism and excessive individualism are the subtle enemies of a free and just society. We are encouraged today to look after only ourselves or a few close loved ones and ignore those outside that circle. Fear of others is actually encouraged in society so that we will be more compliant consumers wishing to insulate ourselves from the big bad world. Various secular and non-Christian ideologies want you to forget the past, to spurn the experiences of your elders and reject the “spiritual and human riches inherited from past generations” (Par 181). If you do you will be open to their influences and will be uprooted from the foundations which give you stability and values in life. These ideologies will also use the ‘cult of youth’ to manipulate you and make you feel worthless if you don’t fit into the idealized image of youth they promote. Whatever is not young, slim and beautiful is side-lined and in that way, the young are exploited for political and financial profit. Remember beauty and eternal youth is found in those who have aged gracefully, those who suffer illness or disability, those who sacrifice themselves for others, those who are committed to a husband or wife through thick and thin or those who work long and hard to feed their families.
Part of this strategy of promoting a selfish and consumerist world is the attempt to promote spirituality without God. How many people do you hear say today “I’m spiritual but not religious”. What does that mean? Pope Francis is clear that it is an attempt to separate you from “community or concern for those who suffer” and it “claims to offer a future paradise that nonetheless seems increasingly distant” (Par 184). The Christian way, which the pope proposes, offers us freedom, enthusiasm and new horizons.
The effects of these secular ideologies which are constantly presented to us through the media, through advertising, through popular culture such as music and its accompanying videos, have had the effect of making ‘choice’ a god in today’s world. It is proclaimed with abandon that everyone has the right to choose even if those choices bring destruction on themselves or others. For instance, this worship of individual choice, separated from any obligation to the common good, has led to a widespread acceptance of the right to choose to end human life in the womb. It has become increasingly difficult for people, young Christians in particular, to speak out for what they know to be true – that every human life has a value and ought not, at any stage, to be destroyed or disposed of at will. Abortion has been described as either healthcare or a human right but to do so is to twist language and to misrepresent the true meaning of those terms in the most remarkable way. I have great faith in the youth of today that with the education they receive, and their innate sense of justice and right, they will see through the lies promoted by the abortion industry and see the ending of innocent life in this way as one of the great injustices of our time. Our opposition, however, to abortion must always be expressed in the language of love, love for the woman who feels forced to make her choice and love for the born child as well as the unborn.
Pope Francis acknowledges that the challenges young people face today are many and perhaps greater than ever before. Your time here in Queen’s University will expose you to those challenges in a new way and all of you will be truly educated when you have responded to those challenges in a way that doesn’t rob you of your integrity, your faith and the values you possess. In Christus Vivit, Pope Francis encourages you to “care for your roots, because from the roots comes the strength that is going to make you grow, flourish and bear fruit”. (Par 186). Your experience of university life should not uproot you from who you are, or where you are from, but help to find how best to express that in your life with respect for others and with respect for yourself.
And finally, be grateful for the opportunity you are receiving in this place of learning. As we heard in the gospel this evening gratitude can be in short supply – only one out of ten healed lepers returned to Jesus to give thanks – but true gratitude keeps us humble and shows us that we rely on others and that what we achieve in life is not achieved on our own. We are simply standing on the shoulders of giants – the community we share this space with and the many generations who have gone before. May you look out and up from yourself and find our creative and living God in all that you do.
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The Vatican Publishing House – Dicastery for Communication will be present again this year at the Frankfurt International Book Fair from October 16-20, with a stand shared with Edizioni Musei Vaticani. At the Buchmesse, the Vatican Publishing House will meet publishers from all over the world, so as to support and promote the spread of the Magisterium of the Holy Father and the published material of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
The LEV will bring to Frankfurt its most significant works this year and will illustrate the editorial projects to be published soon. One of the most important novelties is the collection with an ecumenical vocation, the “scambio dei doni” (“exchange of gifts”), with texts and speeches by the Pope, as well as a hitherto unpublished work by the Pontiff, presented by a representative of the brothers and sisters of the separate Churches and ecclesial communities with whom the Catholic Church is journeying towards the re-establishment of full communion.
The first two copies of the new collection “Nostra Madre Terra” (“Our Mother Earth”) with a prologue by Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople, and “La preghiera” (“Prayer”) with a preface by Kyril, Patriarch of Moscow, will be presented today, 16 October, at 18.00 at the LEV stand (Pavilion 5.0 D33) by Francesca Angeletti of the Publishing Rights Office and Alessandro Gisotti, deputy editorial director of the Dicastery of Communication.
“With the series “exchange of gifts”, the LEV responds to Pope Francis’ invitation to engage with conviction and creativity in ecumenical dialogue”, emphasizes Alessandro Gisotti. “We are sure that culture can be a privileged space to walk together with the brothers and sisters of the Churches and ecclesial communities towards the restoration of full Christian unity. The first two books in the series also bear witness to how ecumenism can foster reflection and common action by Christians on themes fundamental to human life. A cultural and spiritual contribution that, through the texts of the Pope and other Christian leaders, the LEV wishes to offer for the benefit of all”.
In addition to its strong ecumenical value, the “Exchange of Gifts” collection is produced using environmentally friendly methods. The volumes are certified by the international FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), which guarantees correct and sustainable forest management and the traceability of derived products. Br. Giulio Cesareo, O.F.M. Conv., the LEV’s editorial manager, points out that: “The style of the volumes is deliberately sober, but painstakingly crafted, and only raw materials (paper) from sustainably and responsibly managed forests are used. The ‘motto’ of the collection – “exchange of gifts” – is written expressly in lower case, to indicate the discretion that accompanies every true precious gift, which is not shouted out in the streets, but whispered in the ear”.
The joint stand is the work of Sabina Antonini, Alessandra Coppa, and Andrea Lancellotti. It is structured as an open space permeable to the exchange of ideas, characterized by a large rectangular area, of an unusual elongated shape, where totemic elements, open and independent, differentiate the area and engage in dialogue with the environment.
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Pope Francis released a message for World Food Day, promoted October 16, 2019, by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
In his message, addressed to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, cites the theme of the day – “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World” – as showing the important connection between food and nutrition.
“We are in fact witnessing how food is ceasing to be a means of subsistence and turning into an avenue of personal destruction,” the Holy Father warned. “820 million of the world’s people suffer from hunger, while almost 700 million are overweight, victims of improper dietary habits.”
Following is the Pope’s full message:
To His Excellency Qu Dongyu
The yearly celebration of World Food Day makes us hear the dramatic plea of those of our brothers and sisters who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite efforts made in recent decades, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is yet to be implemented in many parts of the world. As a way of responding to this plea of our brothers and sisters, the theme chosen by FAO this year – “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World” – points to the distorted relationship between food and nutrition.
We are in fact witnessing how food is ceasing to be a means of subsistence and turning into an avenue of personal destruction. 820 million of the world’s people suffer from hunger, while almost 700 million are overweight, victims of improper dietary habits. The latter are no longer simply a by-product of the diet enjoyed by “peoples blessed with abundance” (cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 3); they are now found in poorer countries too, where they eat little but increasingly poorly, since they imitate dietary models imported from developed areas. Due to poor nutrition, pathologies arise not only from the imbalance caused by “excess”, often resulting in diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other forms of degenerative diseases but also by “deficiency”, as documented by an increasing number of deaths from anorexia and bulimia.
This reality calls for a conversion in our way of living and acting, and nutrition represents an important starting point. Our lives depend on the fruits of creation (cf. Ps 65:10-14; 104:27-28); these cannot be reduced to mere objects to be recklessly handled and used. Nutritional disorders can only be combatted by the cultivation of lifestyles inspired by gratitude for the gifts we have received and the adoption of a spirit of temperance, moderation, abstinence, self-control, and solidarity. These virtues, which have accompanied the history of humanity, summon us to a more simple and sober life, and unfailing concern for the needs of those around us. By adopting such a lifestyle, we will grow in fraternal solidarity that seeks the common good and avoids the individualism and egocentrism that serve only to generate hunger and social inequality. Such a lifestyle will enable us to cultivate a healthy relationship with ourselves, with our brothers and sisters, and with the environment in which we live.
Here the family has a primary role to play; for this reason, FAO has devoted special attention to protecting rural families and promoting family farming. Within the family, and thanks to the particular sensitivity and wisdom of women and mothers, we learn how to enjoy the fruits of the earth without abusing it. We also discover the most effective means for spreading lifestyles respectful of our personal and collective good.
At the same time, the increasing interdependence of nations can help to set aside special interests, while fostering trust and relationships of friendship between peoples (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 482). It is my hope that this year’s theme will remind us that many continue to eat in an unhealthy way. It is a cruel, unjust and paradoxical reality that, today, there is food for everyone and yet not everyone has access to it, and that in some areas of the world food is wasted, discarded and consumed in excess, or destined for other purposes than nutrition. To escape from this spiral, we need to promote “economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources” (Laudato Si’, 109).
The battle against hunger and malnutrition will not end as long as the logic of the market prevails and profit is sought at any cost, with the result that food is relegated to a mere commercial product subject to financial speculation and with little regard for its cultural, social and indeed symbolic importance. Our first concern should always be the human person: concrete men, women and children, especially those who lack daily food and have a limited ability to manage family and social relationships (cf. Laudato Si’, 112-113). When priority is given to the human person, humanitarian aid operations and development programs will surely have a greater impact and will yield the expected results. We must come to realize that we are accumulating and wasting is the bread of the poor.
Mr. Director General, in offering you these reflections for the celebration of World Food Day, I pray that God may bless all associated with the work of FAO and prosper your efforts to promote peace by serving the authentic and integral development of the whole human family.
From the Vatican, 16 October 2019
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
World Food Day promo video:
“I greet the young people, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds,” Pope Francis said at his General Audience on October 16, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square. “Day-after-tomorrow we will celebrate the feast of Saint Luke, evangelist that reveals best the Heart of Jesus and His mercy. May this feast help all to rediscover the joy of being Christians, witnesses of the Lord’s goodness.”
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