POPE FRANCIS CONGRATULATES NEW EMPEROR OF JAPAN, NARUHITO – POPE ON GROWING THREAT OF “CONFLICTUAL NATIONALISM,” NUCLEAR WAR

POPE FRANCIS CONGRATULATES NEW EMPEROR OF JAPAN, NARUHITO

The new Japanese emperor Naruhito, took up his post on Wednesday, a day after his father gave up the throne in the country’s first abdication in two centuries.

Former Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko stepped down on Tuesday after three decades as the nation’s top royals in a brief, simple ceremony, with Akihito thanking the people of Japan and saying he prayed for peace.

Pope Francis sent a congratulatory telegram to Emperor Naruhito, assuring the 59-year old Japanese head of state his prayers and divine blessing on the imperial family and the nation:

His Imperial Majesty
Naruhito
Emperor of Japan

I extend to Your Majesty my cordial greetings and best wishes on the occasion of your solemn accession to the throne, and I assure you of my prayers that you may be endowed always with the gifts of wisdom and strength in your dedicated service to the nation. Upon you, the Members of the Imperial Family and all the people of Japan, I invoke the divine blessings of peace and well-being. FRANCISCUS PP.

POPE ON GROWING THREAT OF “CONFLICTUAL NATIONALISM,” NUCLEAR WAR

Pope Francis addressed some 50 members of the Vatican’s Pontifical
Academy of Social Sciences, who are discussing the theme, “Nation,
State, Nation-State”, during their plenary assembly, May 1-3.

By Robin Gomes (Vaticannews)
Pope Francis on Thursday expressed concern over the re-emergence of
aggressive feelings against foreigners, especially immigrants, as well
as a growing nationalism that neglects the common good, saying such
trends compromise international cooperation, mutual respect and the
sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

Speaking to some 50 members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of
Social Sciences, the Holy Father also expressed fears over the growing
threat of nuclear confrontation that risks cancelling the progress of
the recent past and multiplies the risk of war.

The Pope spoke to the Pontifical Academy in the light of its May 1-3
plenary assembly on “Nation, State, Nation-State”, in the backdrop of
a growing trend in exclusivist nationalism.

Migration and conflictual nationalism
The Pope pointed out that the Church has always urged the love of
one’s own people and country while respecting the various cultures,
customs and habits of other peoples. At the same time it has warned
against deviations in this attachment that result in excluding and
hating others when it becomes “conflictual nationalism that raises
walls, even racism or anti-Semitism.”

He noted that, too often, states are subservient to the interests of a
dominant group, mostly for reasons of economic profit, which oppresses
the ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities who are in their
territory.

On the contrary, the Pope pointed out, “the way in which a nation
welcomes migrants reveals its vision of human dignity and its
relationship with humanity.”

He urged that a person or a family, forced to leave their own land, be
welcomed with humanity. In this regard he repeated his 4-verb formula
of how to receive a migrant, namely: welcoming, protecting, promoting
and integrating.

While stressing that the migrant is not a threat to the culture,
customs and values of the host nation, the migrant also has a duty to
integrate into the receiving nation, enriching the host while
maintaining his identity.

Pope Francis pointed out that migration is a permanent feature of
human history, and all nations are the result of the integration of
successive waves of people or groups of migrants, who while being
images of the diversity of humanity, are united by common values,
cultural resources and healthy customs.

“A state that arouses the nationalistic feelings of its own people
against other nations or groups of people would fail in its mission,”
he warned, adding history proves where such deviations lead to.

Speaking about the nation-state, the Pope said it cannot be regarded
as absolute and an island in relation to its surroundings and on its
own; it cannot provide its people with the common good and meet the
great contemporary challenges of climate change, new slavery and
peace.

The cooperative vision among nations, the Pope said, requires the
relaunching of multilateralism, which is opposed to new nationalistic
impulses and hegemonic policy.

“Humanity would thus avoid the threat of recourse to armed conflicts
whenever a dispute arises between nation-states, as well as evading
the danger of economic and ideological colonization of the
superpowers, avoiding the overwhelming of the strongest over the
weakest, paying attention to the global dimension without losing sight
of the local, national and regional dimensions.”

Multilateralism
As opposed to a globalization that levels differences and suffocates
localization and leads to the re-emergence of nationalism and
hegemonic imperialism, the Pope called for a “multifaceted” form of
globalization based on mutual recognition between the collective
identity of each people, nation and globalization itself, which leads
to a general state of peace and harmony.

The multilateral bodies, the Pope said, have been created in the hope
of being able to replace the logic of revenge, domination, oppression
and conflict with that of dialogue, mediation, compromise, harmony and
the awareness of belonging to the same humanity in the common home.

On the other hand, the growing hegemony of powers and interest groups
that impose their own visions and ideas, as well as new forms of
ideological colonization, often disregarding the identity, customs and
habits, dignity and sensitivity of the peoples concerned. The
emergence of such tendencies is weakening the multilateral system,
with the result of a lack of credibility in international politics and
a progressive marginalization of the most vulnerable members of the
family of nations.

Nuclear threat
Pope Francis lamented that today the season of multilateral nuclear
disarmament seems outdated and no longer stirs the political
conscience of nations that possess atomic weapons. On the contrary, he
said, a new season of worrying nuclear confrontation seems to be
opening, because it cancels the progress of the recent past and
multiplies the risk of war.

If the offensive and defensive nuclear arms will now be placed on
earth and space, the Pope warned, the so-called new technical frontier
will have raised and not lowered the danger of a nuclear holocaust.

The Pope concluded urging the members of the Pontifical Academy of
Social Sciences to help him spread the awareness of a renewed
international solidarity with respect for human dignity, the common
good, respect for the planet and the supreme good of peace.

VATICAN INSIDER: ON A VIRTUAL PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES – HOLY FATHER WELCOMES AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE

VATICAN INSIDER: ON A VIRTUAL PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES

Join me again this weekend when I continue my conversation with three members of an American apostolate, Lourdes Volunteers. I talk to Marlene Watkins who founded the volunteers in the Jubilee Year 2000 – she’s a wonderful storyteller! Joining Marlene is Fr. Rob Hyde of St. Margaret’s Church in Syracuse, NY, spiritual advisor to the Volunteers and Deacon Dan Revetto of Los Angeles vice president of the Lourdes Volunteers. Wait until you hear how they bring Lourdes – a virtual Lourdes – to prisoners! Great stuff!

Are you still laughing at what Deacon Dan told us last week about his very first encounter in Lourdes with a patient entrusted to his care! I laugh just typing these words!

Please go their website (www.lourdesvolunteers.org) if you have a medical background and wish to help them in Lourdes. You’ll hear who and what they need in our conversation this week.

HOLY FATHER WELCOMES AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE

Pope Francis this morning welcomed members of the American Jewish Committee, noting that they have “had close contacts with the successors of Peter since the beginning of the official dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism.” He said, “your commitment to Jewish-Catholic dialogue goes back to the Declaration Nostra Aetate, a milestone in our journey of fraternal rediscovery.” (photo vaticannews)

He then told a story about what he called “cultivating good fraternal relations”:

“In this context, I would like to share with you an event that occurred in your part of the world. A young Catholic was sent to the front-line and experienced first-hand the horrors of the Second World War. On returning to the United States, he began to start a family. After much work, he was finally able to buy a bigger house. He bought it from a Jewish family. At the entrance was the mezuzah and this father did not want it removed during the renovations of the house: it had to remain exactly there, at the entrance. He passed on to his children the importance of that sign. He told them, one of whom was a priest, that this little “box” beside the door should be looked at each time when entering and leaving the house, because it held the secret for making a family strong and making humanity a family.

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. The Pope said, “I would also like to say a few words about the irreplaceable contribution of women in building a world that can be a home for all. Women make the world beautiful, they protect it and keep it alive. They bring the grace of renewal, the embrace of inclusion, and the courage to give of oneself. Peace, then, is born of women, it arises and is rekindled by the tenderness of mothers. Thus the dream of peace becomes a reality when we look towards women.”

He then underscored “a source of great concern for him, … the spread, in many places, of a climate of wickedness and fury, in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root. I think especially of the outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks in various countries.”

He reiterated “it is necessary to be vigilant about such a phenomenon” as “History teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: ‘the human tragedy of the Shoah in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated’. I stress that for a Christian any form of anti-semitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction.”

Francis stressed that, “In the fight against hatred and anti-semitism, an important tool is inter-religious dialogue, aimed at promoting a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious freedom, and the care of creation. Jews and Christians, moreover, share a rich spiritual heritage, which allows us to do much good together. At a time when the West is exposed to a de-personalizing secularism, it falls to believers to seek out each other and to cooperate in making divine love more visible for humanity; and to carry out concrete gestures of closeness to counter the growth of indifference.”

The Holy Father, in closing remarks, noted that, “In serving humanity, as in our dialogue, young people are waiting to be involved more fully; they want to dream and are open to discovering new ideals. I want to emphasize, therefore, the importance of the formation of future generations in Jewish-Christian dialogue.”

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF VATICAN CITY STATE – POPE EXPRESSES SORROW FOR ATTACK ON COPTIC CHRISTIANS – POPE FRANCIS: ‘ A CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN ANTI-SEMITE’ – CHINA: FOUR UNDERGROUND PRIESTS DISAPPEAR IN POLICE CUSTODY

There’s been more disturbing news from China over the weekend as you will see in the story from AsiaNews. If you happen to be interested in the Catholic Church in Asia, and especially what’s happening in China, given the September accord between the Vatican and China on the naming of bishops, the site to visit is http://www.asianews.it/en.html

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF VATICAN CITY STATE

It was five minutes after eight o’clock on the evening of November 5, 1943 when bombs rained down on Vatican City State.

The attack, perpetrated by an unidentified fighter plane, caused no casualties but much destruction to the Vatican railway station and to the art laboratory where mosaics were made. The back wall of the “Governatorato” building that housed offices and private apartments was also slightly damaged.

Vaticannews photo:

According to Augusto Ferrera, author of a book entitled “1943: Bombs on the Vatican,” the aim of the bombing was to destroy Vatican Radio and its mission to keep hope alive and help families by broadcasting messages to prisoners of war.

POPE EXPRESSES SORROW FOR ATTACK ON COPTIC CHRISTIANS

It was a busy weekend for the Holy Father who on Friday, November 2, All Souls Day, celebrated Mass at Rome’s Laurentino cemetery, one of 12 in the Eternal City, and on Saturday presided at a Requiem Mass for deceased Popes at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica. In addition, EIGHT Cardinals and a Patriarch who dies this past year were remembered, as were 154 Bishops from nearly 40 countries.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on Jesus’ parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, as recounted in St Matthew’s Gospel, who “go out to meet the Bridegroom”. He drew a parallel between this “going out” and our own lives that, he said, are a “constant call to go forth” – from the womb to the tomb. We are always on the move, he added, “until we make our final journey”. Our life is a constant preparation for the wedding banquet, for meeting Jesus, the Bridegroom.

On Sunday, after praying the Angelus with the faithful in a rain splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the terrorist attack that struck the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt on Friday. He prayed for the victims, noting they were killed “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 7 pilgrims were killed and at least 19 others injured in the attack on two buses carrying Coptic Christians near to the monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya. 28 were killed there last year. Francis and the faithful then recited the Hail Mary and he asked “Mary Most Holy to console the families and the entire community in the wake of this latest terrorist attack.”

The 19 jihadists responsible for the arrack were all killed by Egyptian security forces over the weekend.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘ A CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN ANTI-SEMITE’

Pope Francis received a delegation from the ancient community of Mountain Jews to discuss Holocaust anniversaries and the problems of anti-Semitism today.
By John Waters (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Monday held a meeting with representatives of the World Congress of Mountain Jews. It is the first time that a delegation from this community, which dates back to the 5th Century, has travelled to meet a Pope.

Past and present
Mountain Jews were descended from the Persian Jews, who came from modern day Iran. They were known to be great warriors and horsemen in the past. They lived in mountainous communities near the Caspian Sea for many centuries but, after the fall of the Soviet Union, are now spread across many regions, with the largest communities living in Russia and Azerbaijan.

The Pope began by recalling his most recent meeting with a Jewish community during his visit to Lithuania in September. That visit commemorated the Seventy Fifth anniversary of the destruction of the Jewish ghetto in the Lithuanian capital city, Vilnius.(Vatican photo from Lithuania visit)

Holocaust anniversaries
Pope Francis pointed out that a number of other Holocaust-related anniversaries are fast approaching. He mentioned the anniversaries of the raid on the Jewish ghetto in Rome and the anniversary of increased persecution of German Jews by the Nazi’s. The latter used to be known as ‘kristallnacht’, the ‘night of broken glass’, due to the destruction of many Jewish shop fronts and synagogues, though more recently historians have preferred terms referring to the destruction of people and lives.

“The attempt to replace the God of goodness with the idolatry of power and the ideology of hatred ended in the folly of exterminating human beings. Consequently, religious freedom is a supreme good to be safeguarded, a fundamental human right and a bulwark against the claims of totalitarianism” he said.

About 1,500 Mountain Jews were killed during the Holocaust, mostly from Crimea. Most of the community was not affected by the Holocaust, partly because Nazi forces did not reach their territories and partly because the Nazis considered them to be religious Jews, rather than racial Jews, who were a higher priority target for the Nazi regime.

Anti-Semitic attitudes
The Pope went on to note that there are still anti-Semitic attitudes in society today: “As I have often repeated, a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite; we share the same roots. It would be a contradiction of faith and life. Rather, we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community”.

Quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Pope Francis called on all religions to help the world “Turn spears into pruning hooks” so that communities may experience a period of patient reconciliation. He ended his speech with a traditional Hebrew blessing: Shalom Aleichem!

CHINA: FOUR UNDERGROUND PRIESTS DISAPPEAR IN POLICE CUSTODY
by Bernardo Cervellera

Two priests belong to the ancient Diocese of Xiwanzi; the other two to that of Xuanhua. All four refuse to register in the Patriotic Association. For this they are subjected to indoctrination and isolation. In Shangcai (Henan), the cross of the bell tower and some spires are destroyed.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Four priests from the underground community of the diocese of Zhangjiakou (Hebei) were taken away by police because they refused to join the Patriotic Association.

The diocese of Zhangjiakou was formed by the government and includes two ancient dioceses, that of Xiwanzi and Xuanhua

Fr. Zhang Guilin of the Diocese of Xiwanzi (photo)


All priests were taken from their churches to a nearby hotel to be indoctrinated on the religious policy of the Chinese government. They are being subjected to this because they refuse to enroll in the Patriotic Association, which aims to create a Church independent of the Holy See.

According to some sources, Fr. Zhao is instead under house arrest, where he is also subjected to indoctrination.

Since China and the Vatican signed an agreement on the appointment of bishops, with which – at least in theory – the Pope is recognized as head of the Catholic Church – the Patriotic Association (PA) and the United Front have been waging a campaign to remind all priests that the Church in China “despite the agreement”, is “independent” and for this it obliges the underground priests not registered to join the Patriotic Association.

Many underground priests want to be recognized by the government, but do not want to belong to the PA, which according to Benedict XVI’s Letter to Catholics, has statutes that “are irreconcilable” with Catholic doctrine.

The message Pope Francis sent to Chinese Catholics immediately after the agreement, does not deal with this burning theme among the underground faithful. AsiaNews sources state that the Vatican’s position towards the PA has not changed and the Vatican delegation hopes to face the issue of the statutes of the PA in the future. Wang Meixiu, a religion expert at the Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the PA should be an association with an optional membership.

In the meantime, however, both in Hebei and in Henan, the number of underground communities suppressed and unable to gather is growing. Many crosses and decorations of the sacred buildings are destroyed in the name of the sinicization of the submission of the Catholic faith to the Chinese culture, but above all to the PA and to the United Front, undermining every attempt at evangelization.

On the first of November, the Cross from the bell tower of the church of Shangcai (Henan) was destroyed, along with the spiers of the building. The church has been sealed and nobody can use it as a place of worship.

Many underground Catholics, observing the media silence on their suffering, feel “abandoned”, “forgotten” and even “betrayed”.