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.

 

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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.

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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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