POPE FRANCIS WEIGHS IN ON FAKE NEWS, “A SIGN OF INTOLERANT AND HYPERSENSITIVE ATTITUDES” – POPE DECRIES “UNTHINKABLE, BARBARIC” TREATMENT OF YEZIDIS – AUDIENCE CATECHESIS FOCUSES ON PAPAL TRIP TO CHILE AND PERU, APPEAL FOR PEACE IN DRC

Today is January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists. In years past, the late Pontifical Council for Social Communications used to organize a Mass for journalists on this date at Santa Maria in Traspontina on Via della Conciliazione. It was always a well-attended event and members of the media were lectors and sang in the choir. I enjoyed going to those Masses and praying for our mission as journalists, and I hope they resume some day.

This year, officials of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications (SPC) assisted in organizing the annual meeting of Catholic journalists and Church communications professionals that took place this year in Lourdes, France. The SPC was co-organizer of the gathering with the Federation of the Catholic Media and SIGNIS. The theme this year was, “Media and Truth,” inspired by Pope Francis’ Message for World Communications Day 2018. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin addressed the media.

One year on this feast day, Cardinal John Foley, who headed the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for many years, gave a talk and, with his never-failing sense of humor and a touch of self-deprecation, pointed to three similarities between himself and St. Francis de Sales: “We were both bishops, both in communications and both of us were bald!”

POPE FRANCIS WEIGHS IN ON FAKE NEWS, “A SIGN OF INTOLERANT AND HYPERSENSITIVE ATTITUDES”

Today, feast of St, Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ Message for the 52nd World Day of Social Communications on May 13. It is entitled, “’The truth will set you free’ (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace.”

CLICK HERE FOR ENGLISH: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2018/01/24/0062/00120.html#en

It is a riveting read and, if I had the time, I’d email it to every major secular news organization. It does not take that long to read and you’ll find yourself saying every few lines, “right on, Holy Father!”

I don’t see how one could call oneself a serious journalist who strives for the truth and then disagree with what the Holy Father writes.

The following paragraphs of the papal Message best describe how I see my work, my mission as a journalist (mission being a word that Pope Francis also uses):

“The best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people who make the effort to engage in sincere dialogue so that the truth can emerge; people who are attracted by goodness and take responsibility for how they use language. If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, namely, journalists, the protectors of news.

“In today’s world, theirs is, in every sense, not just a job; it is a mission. Amid feeding frenzies and the mad rush for a scoop, they must remember that the heart of information is not the speed with which it is reported or its audience impact, but persons. Informing others means forming others; it means being in touch with people’s lives. That is why ensuring the accuracy of sources and protecting communication are real means of promoting goodness, generating trust, and opening the way to communion and peace.”

POPE DECRIES “UNTHINKABLE, BARBARIC” TREATMENT OF YEZIDIS

At nine this morning in a small room of the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received in audience a representation of the Yezidi community in Germany. Here are his words to them in my translation:

“Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you fraternally and I thank you for this encounter through which I can ideally embrace all members of the Yezidi community, in particular all those who live in Iraq and Syria. My thoughts and prayerful solidarity go to the innocent victims of such unthinkable and inhuman barbaric actions. It is unacceptable that human beings are persecuted and killed because of their religious belief. Every person has the right to freely and without restrictions profess their own religious creed. Your history, rich in spirituality and culture, has been unfortunately marked by unspeakable violations of the fundamental human rights of the person: kidnappings, slavery, torture, forced conversions and murder. Your shrines and places of worship have been destroyed. The most fortunate among you have been able to flee, but leaving everything you had behind, including your dearest and most sacred possessions. In many parts of the world there are still ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians, persecuted because of their faith. The Holy See never tires of intervening to denounce these situations, asking for recognition, protection and respect. At the same time the Holy See exhorts people to dialogue and reconciliation in order to heal everyone.

“In the face of the tragedy that is taking place and harming your community, one sees how, as the Gospel says, from the heart of man can explode the darkest forces, capable of reaching the point of planning the annihilation of one’s brother, of considering him an enemy or even an individual who does not have human dignity. I also think of the members of your community who are still in the hands of terrorists; I sincerely hope that everything will be done to save them, as well as trying to find those who are missing and to identity and give a worthy burial to those who have been killed. The international community can no longer remain a silent and insert spectator in the face of your drama. I therefore encourage institutions and people of good will to contribute to rebuilding your homes and places of worship, and to make concrete efforts to creating ideal conditions for the return of refugees to their homes and to preserving the identity of the Yezidi community. God help us in building together a world where everyone can live in peace and fraternity.”

AUDIENCE CATECHESIS FOCUSES ON PAPAL TRIP TO CHILE, PERU, APPEAL FOR PEACE IN DRC

Following his meeting with the Yezidis residing in Germany, the Holy Father proceeded to the Paul VI Hall where he encountered a group of ill people, including a number of children suffering from leukemia from Terra dei Fuochi, an area in southern Italy, accompanied by their parents.

Francis then proceeded to St. Peter’s Square where the faithful heard a catechesis on the Pope’s just-completed trip to Chile and Peru. (AFP photo)

“Dear brothers and sisters,” said the English language summary of the catechesis, “in my recent Apostolic Journey to Chile and Peru, I had the joy of encountering God’s pilgrim people and encouraging the growth of social harmony in respect for the rich diversity of those nations. In Chile, I stressed the importance of listening to the voices of all: the poor, the young and the elderly, the immigrant and the voice of the earth itself. I encouraged the Church in its path of purification and renewal, and, appealing to the example of Saint Alberto Hurtado, I encouraged educators to help the young to share in the building of a just and inclusive society.

“In Peru, I expressed my confidence that the nation’s environmental, spiritual and cultural riches can contribute to building unity and cooperation in meeting the grave challenges facing society. In my meeting with the Amazonian peoples, I stressed the importance of mutual respect and care for the natural environment. In Trujillo, hard hit by natural disasters, I invited all to work together in confronting the social problems of crime and the lack of education, employment and housing. In Lima, I concluded my visit to these two countries by appealing to the example of the saints and asking their intercession as the Church pursues the path of conversion and mission, and strives to be a messenger of unity, hope and peace for all peoples.”

After the catechesis in various language summaries, Francis expressed a heartfelt appeal for the deteriorating situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: “Unfortunately, troubling news continues to come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Therefore, I renew my call for everyone to commit to avoiding all forms of violence. On her part, the Church wants nothing other than to contribute to the peace and to the common good of society.”

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POPE TO CATECHISTS: THE KEY MESSAGE OF THE FAITH IS “THE LORD HAS RISEN!” – POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

POPE TO CATECHISTS: THE KEY MESSAGE OF THE FAITH IS “THE LORD HAS RISEN!”

There was a beautiful Mass Sunday morning in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square for the Jubilee of Catechists with tens of thousands of them from around the world filling the Square.

catechist-mass

“On this Jubilee for Catechists,” said the Pope in his homily, “we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and center: The Lord is risen! Nothing is more important; nothing is clearer or more relevant than this. Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centerpiece, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Paschal proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen! The Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.  We must never forget this.”

Francis reminded the catechists that, “Jesus loves us personally! May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming the blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness. May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.”

In addressing the faithful in St. Peter’s Square following Mass and ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis offered prayers for the two Mexican priests who had been abducted and killed the previous Sunday – and just hours before hearing of the same fate for a third Catholic priest.  He prayed that ongoing violence in Mexico might end.

In fact, the archdiocese of Morelia announced that the body of a priest abducted in Mexico a week ago and shot at point blank range has been found, just hours after Pope Francis had issued a heartfelt appeal for an end to the violence in that country. Fr. Jose Lopez Guillen had, like the two priests last week, been robbed and abducted in the western Mexican State of Michocan on the very same day the bodies of the other two priests were found.

The Holy Father also expressed his support for the pro-family and pro-life efforts of the Mexican bishops. Saying: “I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”

The abduction and murders of the three priests in the space of a week occurs at a time when Church leaders have been requesting increased protection for clergy. The violence against clergy takes place as the Church in Mexico takes a strong stance in defense of traditional marriage, at he same time that the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to change laws so that to allow legal recognition of same-sex unions and equate them as marriage.

The Catholic Multi-Media Center notes that 15 priests have been murdered in Mexico in less than four years.

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The press office today released the declaration that you can read below about the visit by President Joseph Kabila of the Congo to Pope Francis. However, members of the press pool attending the audience noted that the atmosphere seemed decidedly different from other papal audiences with heads of State. AP reported: “The audience Monday was a brief 20 minutes, with interpreters. The pope didn’t greet Kabila in the reception room where, according to Vatican protocol, Francis would normally greet a visiting head of state. Rather, a glum-looking Francis waited for Kabila in his library.” (AP photo)

kabila

Here is the Vatican report:

Today, Monday 26 September 2016, the Holy Father received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, His Excellency Joseph Kabila, who subsequently met with His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

In a statement, the Holy See’s Press Office said during the “cordial discussions,” the good relations between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were evoked, “with particular reference to the important contribution of the Catholic Church in the life of the nation, with its institutions in the educational, social and healthcare spheres, as well as in development and the reduction of poverty. In this context, mutual satisfaction was expressed for the signing of the framework Agreement between the Holy See and the State, which took place on 20 May this year.”

Particular attention was paid, the comunique continues, “to the serious challenges placed by the current political challenge and the recent clashes that have occurred in the capital. Emphasis was placed on the importance of collaboration between political actors and representatives of civil society and religious communities, in favor of the common good, through a respectful and inclusive dialogue for the stability of peace in the country.”

Finally, the Parties focused on the persistent violence suffered by the population in the east of the country, and on the urgency of cooperation at national and international levels, in order to provide the necessary assistance and to re-establish civil co-existence.