POPE GRANTS INTERVIEW TO MAGAZINE RUN BY HOMELESS – LENTEN FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Lent starts tomorrow, need I remind you, and I know there might be some uncertainty or confusion regarding the Church’s rules for fasting and abstinence – fasting and abstinence during Lent as well as the rest of the year.

Below, in a nutshell, are the fasting, etc. rules for Lent. I follow that paragraph with what the Code of Canon Law says about this, and then what the USCCB says.

In the meantime I hope you are having a splendid Mardi Gras as we prepare for leaner days to come!

POPE GRANTS INTERVIEW TO MAGAZINE RUN BY HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has given a wide-ranging interview to an Italian magazine run by homeless persons. The interview was published on 28 February in the online magazine called “Scarp de’ tenis” (“Sneakers”).

The magazine also functions as a social project, as most of the staff is homeless, suffers difficult personal situations or forms of social exclusion. For most contributors, the magazine is an important source of income. “Scarp de’ tenis” entered into partnership with the Italian arm of the Vatican’s charity organization, Caritas, in 2008.

In the interview, Pope Francis was asked to explain his recent initiatives for refugees, such as providing accommodation in the Vatican. In his reply, the Pope explained how the initiative to welcome the homeless had inspired parishes throughout Rome to join the effort.

“Here in the Vatican there are two parishes, and both are housing Syrian families. Many parishes in Rome have also opened their doors and others, which don’t have a house for priests, have offered to pay rent for families in need, for a full year” he said.

Throughout the interview the Pope often referred to the idea of walking in each others shoes. According to the Pope, to walk in the other’s shoes is a way to escape our own egoism: “In the shoes of the other, we learn to have a great capacity for understanding, for getting to know difficult situations.”

The Pope maintains that words alone are not enough, what is needed, he said, is the “Greatness” to walk in the shoes of the other: “How often I have met a person who, after having searched for Christian comfort, be they a layman, a priest, a sister or a bishop, they tell me ‘they listened to me, but didn’t understand me.’”

During the interview, the Pope also joked about people’s attitudes concerning giving money to those who live on the streets. “There are many arguments which justify why we should not give these alms: ‘I give money and he just spends it on a glass of wine!’ A glass of wine is his only happiness in life!” joked Pope Francis.

There was also a lesson in generosity within the interview. The Pope told a story from his time in Buenos Aires, of a mother with five children. While the father was at work and the rest of the family ate lunch, a homeless man called in to ask for food. Rather than letting the children give away their father’s dinner for that evening, the mother taught the children to give away some of their own food: “If we wish to give, we must give what is ours!” insisted the Pope.

Regarding the question of limiting numbers of refugee and migrants who arrive in a particular place, the Pope first reminded his readers that many of those arriving are fleeing from war or hunger. All of us in this world, says the Pope, are part of this situation and need to find ways to help and benefit those around us. According to him, this responsibility is especially true of governments and the Pope used the example of the work of the Saint Egidio community (that has established humanitarian corridors for groups of vulnerable migrants) in order to make his point. Regarding the 13 refugees who arrived from Lesbos, the Pope pointed out that the families have integrated well into society, with the children being enrolled in schools and their parents having found work. This, according to Pope Francis, is an example of immigrants wanting to fit into and contribute to a new country, and achieving that desire.

To further underline his point, the Pope highlighted the case of Sweden, where almost 10% of the population, including the Minister for Culture, are immigrants. During his own life, in the difficult years of the military dictatorship in Argentina, the Pope often looked to the Swedish as a positive example of integration.

LENTEN FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

The basic rules: Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent. Every person between the age of 18 and 59 (beginning of 60th year) must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (image St Michael Catholic Church, Bedford TX)

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Here is what the 1983 Code of Canon Law says about fasting and abstinence: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4O.HTM

Days of Penance

Can.  1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can.  1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

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Can.  1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can.  1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can.  1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

(JFL: Note that Canon law in 1251 says: “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday.” It is my experience that the majority of Catholics do not know this, i.e. abstinence from meat or another food or an act of penance on all Fridays of the year.) Canon 1253, however, gives leeway on this via the Episcopal Conference of a country (see below).

USCCB (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops):  PASTORAL STATEMENT ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966

Here is part of that statement:

21.  For these and related reasons, the Catholic bishops of the United States, far from downgrading the traditional penitential observance of Friday, and motivated precisely by the desire to give the spirit of penance greater vitality, especially on Fridays, the day that Jesus died, urge our Catholic people henceforth to be guided by the following norms.

22.  Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified.

23. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ.

24. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law. Our expectation is based on the following considerations:

  1. We shall thus freely and out of love for Christ Crucified show our solidarity with the generations of believers to whom this practice frequently became,especially in times of persecution and of great poverty, no mean evidence of fidelity to Christ and His Church.
  2. We shall thus also remind ourselves that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate, personal abstinence from meat, more especially because no longer required by law, will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish.
  1. Every Catholic Christian understands that the fast and abstinence regulations admit of change, unlike the commandments and precepts of that unchanging divine moral law which the Church must today and always defend as immutable. This said, we emphasize that our people are henceforth free from the obligation traditionally binding under pain of sin in what pertains to Friday abstinence, except as noted above for Lent. We stress this so that “no” scrupulosity will enter into examinations of conscience, confessions, or personal decisions on this point.

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/us-bishops-pastoral-statement-on-penance-and-abstinence.cfm

 

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POPE “STUDYING POSSIBILITY” OF TRIP TO SOUTH SUDAN

POPE “STUDYING POSSIBILITY” OF TRIP TO SOUTH SUDAN

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has said his staff is “studying the possibility” of a visit to South Sudan.

(Pope Francis is the first Pope to visit Rome’s Anglican church)

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He said the reason was that “the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic” bishops of South Sudan had come to ask him: “Please, come to South Sudan, even for a day, but don’t come alone, come with Justin Welby”, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

“We are looking at whether it is possible, or if the situation down there is too dangerous. But we have to do it, because they – the three [Christian communities] – together desire peace, and they are working together for peace.”

The Holy Father’s words came during his Sunday visit to Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church in a question-and-answer session.

He was responding to a question from an Anglican seminarian from Nigeria, who had asked the Pope about the vitality of churches in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pope Francis said those churches are young and therefore have a certain vitality due to their youthfulness. He also told an anecdote about Blessed Paul VI to show that “ecumenism is often easier in young churches”.

“When Blessed Paul VI beatified the Ugandan martyrs – a young Church – among the martyrs were catechists, all were young, while some were Catholics and others Anglican, and all were martyred by the same king in hate for the faith, because they refused to follow the dirty proposals of the king. And Paul VI was embarrassed, saying: ‘I should beatify both groups; they are both martyrs.’ But in that moment of the Catholic Church, such a thing was not possible.”

Responding to another question about ecumenical relations between the churches, Pope Francis said, “The relationship between Catholics and Anglicans today is good; we care for each other like brothers!”

He then gave two examples of common ground: saints and the monastic life.

“We have a common tradition of the saints… Never, never in the two Churches, have the two traditions renounced the saints: Christians who lived the Christian witness until that point. This is important.”

“There is another thing that has kept up a strong connection between our religious traditions: [male and female] monks, monasteries. And monks, both Catholic and Anglican, are a great spiritual strength of our traditions.”

PONTIFICAL ACADEMIES OPEN COMPETITION FOR 2017 PRIZE

PONTIFICAL ACADEMIES OPEN COMPETITION FOR 2017 PRIZE

THE PONTIFICIO COUNCIL FOR CULTURE and THE PONTIFICIA ACADEMIA LATINITATIS announce a competition to award the PRIZE OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMIES 2017

Following the regulations and in agreement with the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontificia Academia Latinitatis is curating the competition for the award of the Prize of the Pontifical Academies, 2017 edition, which aims to promote and develop Christian humanism. The prize consists of the sum of 20.000,00 (twenty thousand) Euros, which may be awarded ex aequo, and will be presented by the Cardinal Secretary of State in the name of the Holy Father during the annual Public Meeting of the Pontifical Academies.

The academy proposes two thematic areas (one or both may be chosen):

  1. Reception of ancient Latinitas Christiana between the medieval and modern eras.
  2. Docendo invenire thesauros: methodological proposals for the teaching of Latin.

The first is reserved to scholars who have produced in the last five years doctoral theses or publications on the theme. Candidates must be aged between 25 and 40 on 30 April 2017.

The second is reserved to institutions (academies, schools, associations, foundations, research groups etc.) that are engaged in formative activity among the youth. The institutions must have been active in the specific training and teaching sector for at least five years.

Candidates and institutions must send their requests to participate to the Pontificia Academia Latinitatis, Piazza San Calisto, 16, 00120, Vatican City, by 2pm on 12 May 2017.

Requests to participate in the competition must be accompanied by the individual scholar’s curriculum vitae and other publications or documentation.

The institutions must send a copy of their statutes or an illustrative outline of their aims accompanied by documentary proof of the teaching activity over the last five years.

The Commission is composed of Academicians who will formulate a proposal of candidates for the Prize that will be put to the evaluation of the Council of Coordination of the Pontifical Academies and then to the definitive decision of the Holy Father.

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY – PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE-STRUCK TOWNS – COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?

Pope Francis on Twitter today: The Christian heart is always full of joy. Always. Joy received as a gift and kept in order to be shared with everyone.

Shall we all try to share a moment of joy with one new person this weekend!

If you follow events in the Holy Land, having perhaps made several pilgrimages to Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon (yes, all are the Holy Land), there are two websites you really might want to visit to keep well informed on all that is happening in the area, especially vis-à-vis the Catholic Church.

The first is http://en.lpj.org/

The LPJ stands for Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and it is a fact-filled site with daily news stories (such as “Don’t Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Bishops Ask Secretary of State), videos, upcoming events, a look at the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (to which I belong) and information for visitors and pilgrims. You might already be familiar with this site: if not, it is a must-visit site if you love the Holy Land, or are simply curious to know more.

A second site will probably be less familiar: http://en.abouna.org/

The “en” in the site refers to the English version, as you probably guessed: the original is in Arabic (abouna.org). “Abouna” is Arabic for Father. A good friend of mine in Amman, Jordan, Fr. Rifat Bader, put this together a few years ago and he and his team (a fairly small one) are doing a great job. He is the founder and director of the Amman-based Catholic Center for Studies and Media.

Father is pointing at me – we are at the Beirut Airport in September 2012 for the arrival of Pope Benedict:

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I saw a story here this morning (also on lpj.org) about the arrival in Amman today of another friend, Bishop William Shomali, as the new patriarchal vicar of Jordan (for the Latin Patriarchate). He succeeds Bishop Maroun Lahham whom I interviewed in 2014 on my trip to Jordan. When Bishop Shomali and I first met, he was rector of the Patriarchate seminary in Beit Sahour, not far from Bethlehem.. I had lunch with then-Father Shomali, the seminarians and staff just before they all left on Christmas vacation.

He is on the right on this photo –

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…and on the top of the group photo, wearing a gray scarf.

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VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY

My guest this week on “Vatican Insider” in the interview segment is Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. As I wrote last weekend on these pages, she was in Rome last week with Fr. Frank Pavone and I had interviewed her about their work at Priests for Life, the March for Life in DC, etc. She suggested that we do a separate interview about someone big in the prolife movement and a good friend to Janet and Father Frank who was in failing health – that is, Norma McCorvey, the Roe of Roe v Wade in the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.

It was Norma’s courageous decision later in life, to renounce abortion – the goal she had espoused as the plaintiff in Roe v Wade – and to denounce it as the deliberate killing of a human being in its mother’s womb that led her to spend successive decades trying to overturn the law she had been instrumental in creating – even though she never set foot in court.

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Listen as Janet tells the inside story of Norma McCorvey who died one hour after we did our interview!

PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE- STRUCK TOWNS

(Vatican Radio)  The Office of Papal Charities this week helped out the earthquake-hit regions of central Italy at the express wish of Pope Francis, buying typical food products from local producers and distributing it to several soup kitchens in Rome.

Central Italy was hit by a powerful 6.3 magnitude quake in August 2016, which killed nearly 300 people. Other earthquakes have since caused major damage to the area.

Farmers and merchants in the affected areas have since suffered a drastic reduction in their revenues.

A communique from the Office of Papal Charities said the organization selected “several groups of farmers and producers at risk of closure because of the damages provoked by the earthquake” from which to buy alimentary products.

Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, is standing on the right:

papal-charities-market

It said vendors were chosen in conjunction with Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, and Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.

“The Office of Papal Charities bought a large quantity of their products with the intention, expressed by the Holy Father, to help and encourage them in their activities. It is a gesture in line with the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who in his meetings has often said that ‘when a person does not earn their bread, their dignity is lost’”.

The food products bought in the name of the Pope were distributed to several soup kitchens in Rome to make meals for homeless people in need.

The Vatican supermarket currently sells products from the earthquake hit zones of central Italy, in an effort to help out the local economy.

COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?

(Vatican Radio) A bishop in Scotland has high hopes for his diocese as a new fundraising initiative was recently launched at his cathedral.

Bishop John Keenan is encouraging the faithful of the Diocese of Paisley to become ‘Friends’ of certain diocesan projects in a bid to combat a £3 million (€3.5 million) deficit. Bishop Keenan explained in a letter read out at all Masses in St Mirin’s Cathedral that the cause for the deficit is not surprising. “It is the same deadly combination of rising costs and falling income that you know all too well from your own home finances.” (photo: news.va)

bishop-keenan

The bishop emphasised that a change in culture is needed. In his letter, he tells the lay faithful that he would rather put his trust in his own people than in professional fundraisers. If his desire for a deficit-free diocese is to be realised, then annual savings worth £300,000 must be found. He added that the “bulk of our efforts to eradicate the deficit will come from fundraising.”

He has appointed Fr Oliver Freney, administrator of St Mirin’s Cathedral, as the new diocesan Director of Fundraising and has challenged him to raise £100,000 annually. He said that the ‘Friends Project’ will be the “heart and soul of his fundraising campaign.”

Fr Freney was joined by several young people from the diocese for the launch at St Mirin’s. His fellow priests will be launching it in their parishes over the coming weeks. He said after the launch: “If every member of our diocese signed up to give just £5 a year, we would be in surplus.” He added that he encourages parishioners to “think about our situation and give thoughtfully and generously.”

The diocesan treasurer attended the launch. Fr Stephen Bailey explained that the faithful could opt to become ‘Friends’ of particular projects like ‘vocations’, ‘education’ and ‘youth’.  He added that Bishop Keenan wants to let people know how their money is being spent.

Bishop Keenan recently led the diocesan community through a synod, during which the important role of the lay faithful within the Church was highlighted.

REMEMBER WHAT A MOUSE WAS IN 1970…..?

REMEMBER WHAT A MOUSE WAS IN 1970…..?

If you need a light moment today, here it is…..

Two days ago, on my way to a gathering of D.Va (Women in the Vatican), I stopped by a store to get a new mouse for my computer. Just outside of our meeting on Via degli Ombrellari, this was painted on a wall – had to love it!

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AL-AZHAR, VATICAN COUNCIL FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON CONFRONTING PHENOMENA OF FANATICISM

AL-AZHAR, VATICAN COUNCIL FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON CONFRONTING PHENOMENA OF FANATICISM

The Joint Committee of Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue held a symposium at Al-Azhar University in Cairo on February 22-23 entitled, “The Role of Al Azhar Al-Sharif and the Vatican in Confronting the Phenomena of Fanaticism, Extremism and Violence.”

At the conclusion of the two-day symposium, the conferees issued the following statement:

In the framework of the joint cooperation between Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, the two Councils held a symposium at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in Cairo in the period between 22th and 23th of February 2017 titled: “The Role of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and of the Vatican in Confronting the Phenomena of Fanaticism, Extremism and Violence.”

Representatives of Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue participated in the symposium. (photo: http://en.abouna.org/)

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The symposium was started by a speech of Professor Abbas Shauman, Deputy Al-Azhar, and Professor Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, Head of Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and a member of the Authority of Senior Scholars. Also, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran delivered a speech.

The speeches of the symposium were delivered over two days. The participants presented six research papers, in Arabic and English, on the following points:

  1. First point: Fanaticism, its causes and ways to counter it.
  2. Second point: Extremism, its causes and ways to counter it.
  3. Third point: Violence, its causes and ways to counter it.

The symposium concluded with the following recommendations:

  1. The symposium recommends the significance of dialogue between Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue and activating the common human values to counter fanaticism, extremism and violence.
  2. The symposium recommends the importance of respecting the religious diversity.
  3. The symposium stresses the necessary of addressing causes of the phenomena of extremism, violence, poverty, ignorance and the political abuse of religion and incorrect understanding of religious texts.
  4. The symposium recommends the necessity of paying attentions to the issues that concern young people, opining dialogue channels with them, explaining correct concepts ordained by religions, training them and developing.
  5. The symposium reaffirms paying attentions to education curriculum that establish the common human values, taking into consideration women and youth issues and bearing the responsibility of caring for children.
  6. The symposium stresses the values of mercy, love and respecting other official values in countering extremism, violence and intolerance.
  7. The symposium stresses the necessary of difference management. Diversity in faith or sect does not mean to negate peaceful coexistence.
  8. The symposium stresses the importance of cooperation between Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue in terms of promoting coexistence and communication with the decision makers to cooperate in the areas of security and development.
  9. The symposium confirms the position adopted by Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue to consider dialogue as a basis for the relations between peoples, individuals, civilizations and religions in order to establish peace, security and stability. The symposium also rejects all forms of fanaticism, extremism and violence.
  10. We recommend that such symposium and meetings between Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue for clearing any misconceptions and confirming the values of tolerance and easiness among the followers of religions.
  11. The symposium recommends all the international governments, organizations and authorities to cooperate with each other in countering extremist and violent groups. These groups have negatively impacted stability and peaceful coexistence among peoples.
  12. Assisting the call to alleviate violence and stress among the followers of religions in many countries of the world and eliminating the phenomenon of developing the spirit of hatred and animosity for religions and defaming religious symbols, since these are some hostile actions.
  13. Establishing serious cooperation to counter, in a realistic and applicable way, terrorism and terroristic organizations; working on drying their resources, stopping giving them supplies of money and weapons, closing the gates to the social communications before them in order to protect young people from its devastating ideologies.      (FROM: http://en.abouna.org/)

 

POPE RECEIVES TORAH FROM JEWISH LEADERS – POST SCRIPTUMS FROM WEDNESDAY – CATHOLIC MEDIA CALLED TO COUNTER FAKE NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH

Pope Francis tweeted today: Do not underestimate the value of example, for it is more powerful than a thousand words, a thousand “likes”, retweets or YouTube videos.

POPE RECEIVES TORAH FROM JEWISH LEADERS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received his long-time friend from his native Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, on Thursday, along with a delegation of Jewish leaders involved in the preparation of a new edition of the Torah.

The annotated, illustrated edition is already being hailed as an achievement in both the literary and visual arts. (photo: news.va)

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Pope Francis told his guests, “The extensive introduction to the text and the editor’s note emphasize this dialogical approach and communicate a cultural vision of openness, mutual respect and peace that accords with the spiritual message of the Torah.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “The important religious figures who have worked on this new edition have paid special attention both to the literary aspect of the text and to the full-colour illustrations that add further value to the publication.”

Also in his remarks, Pope Francis spoke of the Torah as a building-block of community – the worldwide Jewish community and the Christian community. “The Torah,” said the Holy Father, “manifests the paternal and visceral love of God, a love shown in words and concrete gestures, a love that becomes covenant.”

“The very word covenant is resonant with associations that bring us together. … This publication is itself the fruit of a ‘covenant’ between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort.”

The Pope went on to say, “God desires a world in which men and women are bound to him and as a result live in harmony among themselves and with creation. In the midst of so many human words that lead to tragic division and rivalry, these divine words of covenant open before all of us paths of goodness to walk together.”

POST SCRIPTUMS FROM WEDNESDAY

BEFORE THE GENERAL AUDIENCE WEDNESDAY, in a small room adjacent to the Paul VI Hall, the Pope received thirty relatives of the victims of the attack that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 1, 2016 accompanied by Bishop Valentino di Cerbo of Alife-Caiazzo, Italy.

POPE FRANCIS ON WEDNESDAY RECEIVED A SOCCER JERSEY embossed with the words (in Italian) “Let’s give a kick to bullying” on the front and “Papa Francesco” on the back. He was given the jersey by Stefano Roma, director of the San Cesareo Sporting Club in Rome. The campaign aims to shine the spotlight on the phenomenon of bullying in the world of sports and teach young people about its effects. The club initiative, supported by the region of Lazio, hopes to get its message across through a series of events, in which psychologists and experts speak to young sports aficionados about bullying and how to prevent it.

THE HOLY FATHER BLESSED THE “BENEDICTINE TORCH OF PEACE” which, since 1964 – the year St. Benedict was named a patron of Europe – has been sponsored by the city of Norcia to promote unity and peace in Europe. This year, the Torch is helping to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which established what is now the European Union. The Pope greeted a delegation that included Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia, Father Donato Ogliari, abbot of Montecassino, and Father Mauro Meacci, abbot of Subiaco,.

FRANCIS MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION NAVAL FORCE MEDITERRANEAN (EUNAVFOR Med)  –  known as Operation Sophia – which has been tasked to stop people being smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea. The officers gave Pope Francis a commemorative plate reading “Operation Sophia – a message of hope in the central Mediterranean.” The Pope has often called for more action to save migrants attempting the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean.

POPE FRANCIS GREETED MEMBERS OF THE RONY ROLLER CIRCUS which presented a short performance at the end of the general audience. Acrobats, fire-breathers, dancers, and other performers entertained the Holy Father and all those present in St. Peter’s Square. Speaking of the cuff, the Holy Father thanked them, saying “You make something beautiful! Beauty carries us to God. It is a path that arrives at God. Continue to make beautiful things! Continue to make good things for all of us! Thank you!”

According to the Washington Examiner, Senator Tim Kaine, former Democratic nominee for vice president, on Wednesday met with Pope Francis in Vatican City to discuss the millions of refugees from countries in the Middle East and North Africa who have fled their countries as a result of unrest in the region. “I had a chance to visit with Pope Francis to discuss the global crisis of refugees and migrants which is relevant around the world and to my work in the Senate.” (JFL: They met in St. Peter’s Square after the audience. The article also mentioned that Kaine  “met with Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister.” His title is Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

CATHOLIC MEDIA CALLED TO COUNTER FAKE NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH

This is an interesting story done by the English language staff for Africa at Vatican Radio about Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka diocese in Nigeria. His words should echo well beyond Nigeria – and we see that “fake news” is not limited to politics or to the United States.

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Catholic media professionals and practitioners have been called upon to brace themselves for the challenges brought about by social media and stand ready to counter false publications about the Church.

The call was made by the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN)’s Episcopal Chairman of the Directorate of Social Communications, Godfrey Onah. Bishop Onah made the remarks when he addressed staff of the Directorate during their first statutory meeting for the year 2017, in Abuja, recently.

According to Bishop Onah, “Today in social media there is anonymity, and with the anonymity of the Internet people do a lot of harm: A lot of harm by spreading falsehoods, not just half-truths but falsehoods. And what makes it more dangerous is that young people now depend on this form of information than on (information from) the classroom or the Church,” he said.

Bishop Onah noted that social media had weakened the authority of traditional systems of education saying, “parents no longer know what their children know; teachers no longer know what their students know in the sense that it is not what you taught (because) the person is picking up information from everywhere.” Describing this situation as a great challenge, Bishop Onah contended: “We are to ask ourselves how we rise to meet this problem with regard to Christian faith, and the Catholic faith. It’s a big problem,” he emphasised.

The Church should stand ready to address untruths.

“I think the challenge we have to face constantly is how to respond to this provocation, if I may call it that, and use the media available in a way that is suitable to our own mission and apostolate. It’s not an easy assignment. It requires continuously reinventing ourselves and having the courage of departing from the way we have always done things. There are risks involved, but they are necessary risks that we must take.”

Bishop Onah noted that members of the Catholic Media Practitioners (CAMP), which is to be re-inaugurated nationally in Port Harcourt later this year, would be expected to champion the cause of the Church in countering false publications in the social media against the Church and the Catholic faith.