POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

An interesting note about Vatican Radio: I tuned in to Vatican Radio this morning, intending to listen to the usual 8:30 am news broadcast in English, a program that follows the 8 am news slot in Italian and the 8:15 program in French. Instead, I heard a commentary in Italian. Seems that, in the continuing “reform” of the Vatican’s communications offices, the morning broadcast in English on VR has disappeared and, additionally, listeners in Rome can no longer hear the evening news broadcast in English unless they happen to have a digital radio. Progress?. Will we need a reform of the reform?!

Here’s a terrific story! But not a surprising one!  The Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities, Caritas and her hospitals and clinics and other institutions, always steps up to the bat when there is need. As Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham said a few years back when there was a serious storm and flooding situation locally, and EWTN employees were granted some paid time off to help victims, “We do this not because they are Catholic but because we are Catholic.” http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/archdiocese-of-mexico-city-offers-free-medical-care-to-earthquake-victims

Some trivia for people with blue eyes: Researchers from The University of Copenhagen discovered a genetic mutation that happened somewhere between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago in one person, likely in Europe. That person passed along the mutation to their descendants who then passed it on to their children. Thousands of years later, the current 200 million people in the world that have blue eyes are all bound together by this common ancestor.

FYI: The current world population is 7.5 billion people. 200 million is 2.7 percent of that populace, so we blue-eyed people are a distinct, and it seems we can say historical, minority!

POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis loudly and clearly welcomed migrants, refugees and asylum seekers while expressing his support and gratitude for the Caritas Internationalis “Share the Journey” campaign.

Speaking during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the Pope also had special words of welcome for Caritas representatives gathered to officially launch the two-year campaign aimed at activism and awareness-raising about the plight of migrants,

The campaign encourages people to actually meet with migrants and listen to their stories, rather than treat them as mere numbers and statistics imbued with negative stereotypes.

Opening his arms wide in a powerfully symbolic gesture, Francis said “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace”.

And pointing to the beautiful Bernini colonnade that encircles St. Peter’s Square, he said our embrace of migrants should mimic the colonnade “which represents mother Church who embraces everyone by sharing in our common journey”.

The Pope thanked Caritas members and other Church organizations for their constant commitment in favour of migrants saying that they are the sign of an “open, inclusive and welcoming Church.”

The campaign launched  on Wednesday aims to challenge negative myths and perceptions regarding migrants through websites featuring the stories of individuals, the true impact of immigration and  explanations of Church teaching on the culture of encounter.

Caritas Internationalis is asking Catholics to take public action in support of migrants, posting pro-immigrant messages on social media and participating in programmes where they can meet migrants and refugees.

In his greetings to all those who work to support and advocate for migrants and refugees the Pope also welcomed a petition that seeks new legislation on migration “which is more pertinent to the current context.”

After the audience, Pope Francis personally greeted a group of some 50 refugees who were in the Square for the occasion.

“Brothers, don’t be afraid of sharing the journey. Don’t be afraid of sharing hope” Pope Francis said.

His appeal to replace prejudice with tolerance was enmeshed in his continuing catechesis on Christian hope during which he reflected on the importance of combatting all that threatens our hope.

And pointing out that it is hope itself that motivates so many of our brothers and sisters forced to leave their homes in search of a better life, Francis said that hope is especially the virtue of the poor.

“God came into this  world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation” he said.

And appealing to Christians to never allow themselves to be robbed of hope, he said that hope is also the virtue of the young who risk being deprived of it by an often soulless and materialist society.

Pope Francis concluded reminding the faithful that we are not alone in our fight against desperation and spiritual emptiness: “if God is with us no one will rob us of that virtue which is necessary to look to the future: no one will rob us of hope”.

JFL: Here is my translation of Pope Francis’ words at the end of the weekly general audience about the Share the Journey campaign:

I am happy to receive the representatives of Caritas who are here to launch the “Share the Journey” campaign that I wanted to coincide with this audience. I welcome the migrants, those asking for asylum and the refugees who, together with the staff from Caritas Italiana and other Catholic organizations, are the sign of a Church that seeks to be open, inclusive and welcoming. Thanks to all of you for your tireless service. They all truly merit a great applause!

With your daily commitment, you remind us that Christ himself asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants and refugees with open arms – precisely in this way, with open arms, ready for a sincere, affectionate and enveloping embrace, a little like this colonnade here at St. Peter’s that represents Mother Church who embraces everyone in this shared journey.

I welcome the representatives of so many organizations of civil society who are involved in helping migrants and refugees and who, together with Caritas, have given their support to the gathering of signatures for a new migration law more in tune with the current context.

The general audience again focused on hope. Following is the English-language summary of the general audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, I would now like to reflect on the importance of combating all that threatens our hope. As the ancient story of Pandora’s box teaches us, hope remains as the treasure enabling mankind to face with trust in God’s providence every evil let loose in this world. In our own day, hope motivates so many of our brothers and sisters forced to leave their homes in search of a better life, but also those who welcome them, “sharing the journey” with them and trusting in a better tomorrow. Hope is especially the virtue of the poor. As the mystery of Christmas teaches us, God came into this world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation. Hope is also the virtue of the young, who deserve not to be robbed of it by an often soulless and materialist society. Hope’s greatest enemy is spiritual emptiness, the “noon-day devil” that tempts us to stop fighting and to yield to discouragement. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to hope more firmly in his promises, confident that his victory over the world will fill our hearts with joy as we face the future and all that it has in store for us.