PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION DEDICATED TO THE ELDERLY – FROM BANGLADESH: ROHINGYA EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO POPE

PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION DEDICATED TO THE ELDERLY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for the month of December, which this month is “For the elderly.”

“Let us keep in mind our elders, so that sustained by families and institutions, may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.”

It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his new prayer intention each month. The monthly videos are promoted by the “Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer,” an organisation dedicated to spreading the Pope’s prayer intentions concerning the challenges facing humanity.

Watch the video here:

The full text of the message follows:

A people that does not take care of grandparents, that does not treat them well has no future.

The elderly have wisdom.

They are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people.

Let us keep in mind our elders, so that sustained by families and institutions, may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.

FROM BANGLADESH: ROHINGYA EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO POPE

(AsiaNews, Vatican Radio) – Rohingya refugees have expressed their gratitude to Pope Francis who took time to listen to their stories and even asked for forgiveness on behalf of the world that has been indifferent to them.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sawkat Ara 12, said she experienced compassion towards her when the Pope placed his hands on her head when she told him that her parents and five siblings were killed and she was left alone.

Mohmmon Nurulla, who knows the Quran by heart, felt that the Pope expressed his sympathy when he spoke of how his people were persecuted. Nurulla recognized the Pope as a man of peace and is convinced that he can help them.  Touched by Pope’s kind-heartedness he hoped that Allah will listen to the Pope’s prayers for his people.

Shyada Khaton, whose husband was killed and is left with four children to take care of, is also of the same sentiments.

The meeting was organized by Bangladesh government in collaboration with Caritas Bangladesh.

According to Bishop Gervas Rozario, president of the social arm of the Catholic Church in Bangladesh, Caritas Bangladesh volunteers are collaborating with World Food Program officials. The latter are engaged in the assignment of rice while the Church Association distributes lentils, sugar, salt and oil. It also prepares hot meals every day for 10,000 families, for a total of nearly 70,000 individuals. For the past two months it has fed seventy thousand Rohingya and recently it has started a hygiene and rehabilitation programme for them. (AsiaNews)

 

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VATICAN INSIDER: THE JOB OF AN INTERN AT THE U.S. EMBASSY – POPE ASKS PARDON OF ROHINGYA AT ECUMENICAL MEETING

Here we are, the first weekend of December and the start of Advent – seems like just a few months ago we were putting away Christmas gifts, taking the tree down, etc.

This weekend the American Catholic community of St. Patrick’s celebrates its annual gala dinner for charity, the Saint Nicholas Serata. As I write, a big crew of dedicated and loving parishioners is at Marymount International School, hard at work to transform the student dining room into a ritzy, glittering holiday scene where lucky ticket holders will experience a gourmet meal, enjoy the strains of Christmas music and dance to a live band and then partake in a live auction, a silent auction and the drawing of raffle tickets.

The proceeds from the evening go to benefit six Roman charities – something we at St. Patrick’s (formerly the Santa Susanna Catholic American community) have done for decades. Here’s the website, by the way: https://www.stnicholasserata.org/

Friends and colleagues bought some raffle tickets and, late Saturday evening, we will know who won the iPhone 8Plus, a weekend for two in Venice and a weekend for two in Matera!

VATICAN INSIDER: THE JOB OF AN INTERN AT THE U.S. EMBASSY

I have two truly remarkable guests in the interview segment of Vatican Insider this weekend – Bridget Rickard and Bryant King! This summer they were interns in the political and economic section of the US embassy to the Holy See. One of their many tasks was preparing the Briefing Book for the incoming U.S. ambassador. Ambassador Gingrich is now in Rome and Bridget and Bryant were able to meet her in November when they returned to Rome to attend a Vatican sponsored conference on a world without nuclear weapons.

Bridget is a senior at Notre Dame and Bryant a senior at Georgetown. Listen to these two extraordinary young people – intelligent, articulate and passionate -, as they talk about their time in Rome and their dreams. This is a do-not-miss conversation. I am sure you will feel that, if their college peers were anywhere near as intelligent and well spoken as Bridget and Bryant, our nation’s future would be in very good hands!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE ASKS PARDON OF ROHINGYA AT ECUMENICAL MEETING

Pope Francis on Friday in Bangladesh did something he could not do in Myanmar – say the word Rohingya.

Here’s why….

Sunday night Pope Francis left Rome for Myanmar and Bangladesh on his 21st apostolic journey abroad, arriving Monday in Yangon, Myanmar. This is the first ever papal visit to the nation, formerly known as Burma, which suffered over half a century of oppressive military rule until elections in 2015, won by the National League for Democracy. Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, told Vatican Radio before the papal trip that in the past the country’s ruling party was made up exclusively of Burmese Buddhists, but now the party includes other ethnic groups, and “not only the Buddhists, but also the Christians and other religions. That’s big progress.”

There are 400,000 Catholics in Bangladesh out of a population of 163 million, while in Myanmar there are 700,000 Catholics in a population of 53 million.

Cardinal Bo told Pope Francis he should not to say Rohingya while in Myanmar: “It is a very contested term, and the military and government and the public would not like him to express it.”

The Rohingya are persecuted and stateless Muslims in western Myanmar who are — according to the United Nations, the United States and much of the global community – the victims of ethnic cleansing, mass murder and systematic rape at the hands of the Myanmar military and extremist monks. Pope Francis has in the past, denounced the “persecution of our Rohingya brothers, saying they were being “tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith.”

Looking back at the Holy Father’s three-day stay in Myanmar, a summary can be made of his speeches and homilies but the impact of his trip on political, military and religious leaders will only be told with the passage of time. Francis walked a fine and very delicate line as he addressed hot button issues in Myanmar, especially the plight of the Rohingya people, avoiding the word Rohingya but speaking to the bigger issue — the cycles of violence by ethnic militant groups and the Myanmar military.

On October 22 this year, the United Nations reported that an estimated 603,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 25, 2017. There are about 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Friday, the Holy Father put the Rohingya on the front page of the news. Here are the words (in my translation) that he spoke to a group of Rohingya refugees at the end of this afternoon’s inter-religious and ecumenical meeting at the home of the archbishop:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, all of us are close to you. And there is so little we can do because your tragedy is so great. But we can make room in our hearts. In the name of everyone, of those who persecute you, of those who have done harm, above all for the world’s indifference, I ask your pardon. Pardon! All of you have told me of the great heart of Bangladesh that has received you. Now I appeal to your great heart – may it be capable of giving pardon to those of us who ask.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Hebrew-Christian account of creation tells us that the Lord God created man in his image and likeness. All of us have this image. Even these brothers and sisters. They too are the image of the living God. A tradition in your religion says that God, in the beginning, took some salt and threw it in water and this was the soul of all men; and each of us carries within us a little of the divine salt. These brothers and sister carry within them the salt of God.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, only let us show the world what the world’s egoism does with the image of God. Let us continue to do good to (these people), to help them; let us continue to move so that their rights are recognized. Let’s not close our hearts, let’s not look the other way. The presence of God today is also called Rohingya, May each of us give our own answer.

Two more photos from today in Bangladesh –

POPE FRANCIS DEPARTS ROME, ARRIVES YANGON, MYANMAR

POPE FRANCIS DEPARTS ROME, ARRIVES YANGON, MYANMAR

After a long and frustrating afternoon at my computer, I decided about 8:30 to go to La Vittoria for a quick bite – let someone else do the cooking. As I started walking down Via di Porta Cavalleggeri, I saw several police cars with their lights on and realized they were in position to accompany Pope Francis’ car to the airport for his flight to Myanmar as it exited the Perugino Gate to the Vatican.

I also saw several cars waiting just up the street near the Perugino. I took a few photos and then decided it would be fun to do a Facebook Live as the motorcade left the Vatican. I waited a bit and was determined to do this but the temperature was so cold and the wind was picking up so that, after a long wait, I decided that wisdom was the better part of valor and abandoned my spot.

The papal plane was scheduled to leave Fiumicino Airport at 9:40 and I had reason to believe from reports I saw that the Holy Father would leave the Vatican at or before 9pm. But that did not happen. I read this morning that the plane actually left at 10:10pm. The late departure for the aircraft could have been due to a late Vatican City departure and/or a ceremony at the airport. Media colleague will surely let us know.

Meanwhile…..,

Not long after the plane departed, as is his habit, Pope Francis went back to greet members of the media. Holy See Press office Director Greg Burke accompanied the Pope and made some opening remarks, after which the Pope spoke very briefly.

Burke: Good evening, Holiness – or is it good night! We are always grateful to have you here with us, perhaps even more so this evening as it is already a bit past 10:30: you have spoken of a message of reconciliation, pardon and peace. This evening we’ll try to give you some peace so let’s be quick so that you have some time to sleep. If you wish to say something….

Pope Francis: Yes, good night – and many thanks for your company. Thanks also for your work that always sows so many god seeds. I wish you a good stay – hey say it is very hot. I’m so sorry but at least let’s hope it is a fruitful trip. I leave you now…

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.

bishop-onah

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.

 

CARDINAL D’ROZARIO AND MEMORIES OF A BANGLADESHI DINNER

Before I sign off for several days, I want to wish everyone reading this column, as well as all of you who listen to my radio program, Vatican Insider” and follow me on “Joan’s Rome and “At Home with Jim and Joy,” a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

I will be celebrating Thanksgiving by attending noon Mass tomorrow at the North American College and, after that, as usual, enjoying a magnificent turkey dinner Italian style, that is to say preceded by antipasto and even pasta! After a brief respite in the afternoon, I will be joining seven American friends, including Kelly Wahlquist (you know her as the founder of WINE, Women In the New Evangelization) for a late dinner at La Scaletta restaurant. Check my Facebook page for live posts, photos, etc.

CARDINAL D’ROZARIO AND MEMORIES OF A BANGLADESHI DINNER

And now, I’d like to tell you my favorite story of the 2016 consistory for new cardinals.

The afternoon of the consistory to name new cardinals, I attended the courtesy visits in the Paul VI Hall and went in search of an old friend, Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, Bangaldesh. We had met a few years earlier in Rome and shared a great meal over conversation about the meeting he was in Rome to attend on the question of sexual abuse by clergy.

cardinal-d-rozario-and-joan

We talked about many topics and I was curious to learn about his country as what I did know of Bangladesh could be written on the proverbial head of a pin.

To understand our reunion, here is my blog from the day we met:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The past 24 hours have been some of the more amazing of my already very amazing life. I wish I had been wearing some sort of a videocam because, as I look back on events, it is hard to believe what has transpired.

Several weeks ago I met a priest from Bangladesh, Fr. Francis D’Costa, who is assisting the pastor at my neighborhood Italian parish. I had gone to Saturday night Mass and confession and we spoke afterwards. Fr. Francis is studying in Rome for several years and resides at the St. Peter Apostle Pontifical Seminary on Via delle Fornaci, not far from my home (so I thought).

I learned this week that his bishop, Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh would be in Rome for the sex abuse symposium at the Gregorian University, and I told Fr. Francis I’d like to meet and interview him. Fr. Francis said there was a post-symposium Mass at Most Holy Apostles Church for participants and suggested we meet afterwards, around 8:30 or so, in our neighborhood. Father and the archbishop took the 64 bus and I met them at the San Pietro train station, a four-block walk from my house, a little before 9. I assumed we only had a brief walk to nearby Via delle Fornaci, but was in for a surprise.

That’s when our trek began. And that’s when I learned how long a street Via delle Fornaci is! It was uphill all the way, not steep, but uphill nonetheless, for at least a kilometer. The street at this point is narrow, not well lit and, fortunately, not many cars were about at that hour. I think both Archbishop D’Rozario and I felt we’d never arrive, walking in what seemed to be no man’s land in the midst of frigid temperatures. We chattted away, getting to know each other and that helped keep our thoughts (somewhat) off of the cold and the distance.

The walk was worth it in the end because warmth and dinner awaited us. I was stunned to see the immense grounds of the seminary which hosts 179 priests from 40 countries in Asia and Africa, and is part of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

I interviewed the archbishop in one of the rooms while a priest from India, a friend of Father Francis’, prepared a very tasty Bangladeshi dinner for us as the seminary dinner hour was long over! He prepared dinner in his bedroom on a hotplate and we shared that dish on paper plates and toasted with local wine in plastic cups and sat where we could on two chairs and the edge of the bed.

(By way, you will hear that interview on “Vatican Insider.” It is a fascinating insight on the sex abuse crisis from an Asian perspective, and the archbishop gave me a copy of his talk on sexuality from an Asian perspective.)

I Ieft about 10:30 p.m. and walked back home, accompanied half way by the priest from India (whose name I failed to write down). The return walk home was about a mile, all told.

FAST FORWARD: Paul VI Hall, November 19, 2016:

As I stood in line and it was my turn to shake the cardinal’s hand, I could see a light of recognition. I said my name and reminded him of a dinner at the seminary where we shared a Bangladeshi meal, some laughs and great coversation. He hugged me and said several times, with a broad smile, how well he remembered that dinner!

Laughing, he said, “I have been waiting for you! Where have you been?”

You see, four years ago he invited me to Bangladesh, to get to know his country and his people. I guess he has been waiting for four years!

Cardinal D’Rozario was much in demand at the courtesy visits and I did not have time for a lengthy conversation as other people, especially the media, were waiting to greet him. He did tell me, however, that the work that Pope Francis had assigned to the cardinals in the morning was really the work of all Catholics in Bangladesh.

And now I want to go and see that work for myself! And enjoy another Bangadesh dinner!

Here is Cardinal D’Rozario with Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Rai (on the right) –

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And with Archbishop Paul Gallagher of the Secretariat of State –

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