POPE: HUMAN TRAFFICKING A CRIME OF “COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE OTHER”

POPE: HUMAN TRAFFICKING A CRIME OF “COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE OTHER”

Pope Francis on April 11 addressed participants in a conference organized by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section to examine the implementation of the Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking.

By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Thursday condemned trafficking in human beings as one of the most dramatic manifestations of the “commercialization of the other,” a crime against humanity that disfigures both the victims as well as those who carry it out.

Francis said, “Those who commit this crime do not only harm others, but also themselves. …In its many forms, it constitutes a wound ‘in the body of contemporary humanity’, a profound wound in the humanity of those who suffer it and those who carry it out.”

Commercialization of persons
The Holy Father lamented the “growth of individualism and egocentricity” in our times, that tend to consider others in a merely utilitarian perspective, attributing value to them according to criteria of convenience and personal advantage. This is essentially a question of a “tendency towards the commercialization of the other,” which the Pope said he has repeatedly denounced. And “among the most dramatic manifestations of this commercialization is the trafficking in persons,” he said.

Using the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel as the yardstick of the Church’s mission of mercy – “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10) – Pope Francis said tha, “trafficking disfigures the humanity of the victim, offending the person’s freedom and dignity. …At the same time, it dehumanizes those who carry it out, denying them access to ‘life in abundance’.”

The Pope explained that trafficking constitutes an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of the human being willed and created by God. For this reason, he said, trafficking it is to be considered a “crime against humanity.”

Combatting trafficking
On the contrary, all actions aimed at restoring and promoting the human dignity of the survivors of trafficking are in line with the saving mission of Christ and His Church. This, said Francis, benefits our own humanity, opening the way to the fullness of life, the ultimate goal of our existence.

The Holy Father expressed admiration for those in local Churches and the many religious congregations who work, including networking with others, in order to fight the scourge

He noted that much has been done and is being done in the fight against trafficking, but that much remains to be done. He encouraged the coordination of various pastoral initiatives, both at local and international levels, and encouraged that they join forces to tackle the problem in countries of origin, transit and destination of the people being trafficked.

In order to be more effective, the Pope underscored, the Church needs also to accept the help of other political and social actors.

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POPE AT ANGELUS: JOIN FORCES TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

As he did at today’s Angelus, Pope Francis has spoken out many times on human trafficking. It has also been for quite some time now one of the main concerns of the United States and, in particular, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See (see their website: https://va.usembassy.gov/)

POPE AT ANGELUS: JOIN FORCES TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Pope Francis appeals for renewed efforts to protect victims of human trafficking, and to denounce the exploitation and slavery of men, women, and children.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis drew attention to the “plague” of human trafficking, and called on government leaders to confront the causes of the trade in human beings.

Recalling the World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, which takes place on the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, the Holy Father said the motto for this year’s observance – “Together against Human Trafficking” – is “an invitation to join forces to overcome this challenge”. All of us, he said, “can and must work together to denounce the cases of exploitation and slavery of men, women, and children”.

Prayer sustains our commitment

The Pope insisted, “Prayer is the force that sustains our common commitment” to ending trafficking. He led the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square in a prayer to St. Josephine, who had herself suffered as a slave before her conversion to Christianity.

The following prayer was printed and distributed at the Angelus, and shown on the screens for those present:

St Josephine Bakhita, as a child you were sold as a slave, and had to face unspeakable difficulties and suffering.

Once you were freed from physical slavery, you found true redemption in the encounter with Christ and His Church.

Saint Josephine Bakhita, help all those who are trapped in slavery.
In their name, intercede with the God of mercy, that the chains of their captivity might be broken.

May God Himself free all those who have been threatened, wounded, or mistreated by the trade and trafficking of human beings. May He bring relief to those who survive this slavery, and teach them to see Jesus as a model of faith and hope, that their wounds may be healed.

We implore you to pray and intercede for all of us: that we not fall into indifference; that we may open our eyes and look upon the miseries and wounds of so many brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity and freedom, and hear their cry for help. Amen.

A strong commitment
At a press conference on Friday, the actual World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, Jesuit Father Frédéric Fornos noted Pope Francis’ strong commitment “to the fight against this scourge in its different expressions”. It is a “drama”, he said, that the Holy Father has had “in heart and in prayer for a long time”.

The scourge of human trafficking is also the subject of Pope Francis’ February prayer intention: “Let us pray for a generous welcome to the victims of human trafficking, enforced prostitution, and violence.”

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE – POPE: DUTY OF CHRISTIANS TO RAISE AWARENESS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING – VENEZUELA: POPE WANTS TO VERIFY WILL OF BOTH PARTIES FOR MEDIATION

Below you will find Pope Francis’ talk this morning to the Galileo Foundation, remarks that focussed on human trafficking. Human trafficking is an issue that is of great concern to President Trump and to the United States Embassy to the Holy See, as you will note when you visit the website (https://va.usembassy.gov/).

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE

Join me this weekend on Vatican insider for my conversation with my special guest and friend, Msgr. Philip Whitmore, rector of the Venerable English College, the English seminary in Rome. You will learn that the VEC is one of the oldest and most venerable institutions in the Eternal City. Msgr. Whitmore, rector since June 2013, is from the Archdiocese of Westminster, and before 2013 served in the Roman Curia, working first at the Congregation for Bishops and then at the Secretariat of State. He tells fascinating stories about the college, its amazing and very long history, the young men studying here, the historical Archives project, and much more. Some very surprising facts as well.

How historic are the ties between the English and Rome? As we learn from the website – http://www.vecrome.org: The links between England and Rome go back to 597 when Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine to convert the English. In the centuries that followed English pilgrims travelled to Rome in ever-greater numbers, staying in hostels known as Hospices. In 1362 a Guild of English residents bought a house owned by John and Alice Shepherd, rosary bead sellers, in via di Monserrato and turned it into a pilgrim Hospice dedicated to the Trinity and St Thomas of Canterbury. Up to 100 pilgrims could lodge there, usually for 3-8 days, or if they fell ill until they recovered or succumbed to illness.

Here’s Msgr. Whitmore in the stunning St. Thomas of Canterbury Chapel at the college that today, as centuries ago, is on Via Monserrato!

More photos of the chapel including one picture of a large reliquary below the altar with relics of English martyrs. The panels you see on some of the side walls commemorate previous rectors, the founder of the College and other notable figures in its history. The statue of Our Lady came to the College in Rome in 2015 from the English seminary in Portugal which was closed a number of years ago.

Behind the altar is the Martyrs’ Picture, painted in 1583 by Durante Alberti. Msgr. Whitmore will tell you the story of the English martyrs. Every year on December 1 students celebrate the traditional singing of the Te Deum beneath the painting (my photo did not turn out that well, sorry to say):

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IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE: DUTY OF CHRISTIANS TO RAISE AWARENESS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Pope Francis on Friday received in audience members of the Galileo Foundation, telling them on the feast day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron of victims of human trafficking, that Christians can follow her great example.
By Lydia O’Kane (vaticannews)

The aim of the Galileo Foundation is “to strive for a society where no one is left behind or deprived through poverty.” It also places particular emphasis on the elimination of modern slavery and human trafficking in all its forms.

Human trafficking and Christian duty to raise awareness
In his prepared remarks to members of the foundation, Pope Francis told them that they had “an essential part to play in making known the saving message of the Gospel to the people of our time, and especially to the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.” He then encouraged the group “to keep on generously offering such important witness”, before adding, that it was an essential duty for Christians today to highlight the plight of those who suffer from exploitation, and “the deadly crime of human trafficking.”

Saint Josephine Bakhita
The 8th of February marks the World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking and is also the feast day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron of victims of human trafficking. Reflecting on this 21st century Saint, the Pope said, “she knew from painful experience the reality of slavery and its humiliating and violent consequences. Yet, by God’s grace, she also came to know true freedom and joy.”

Attend the poor with gentleness and compassion
He underlined that her holiness of life was “a summons not only to fight with greater determination against modern forms of slavery which are an open wound on the body of society, a scourge upon the body of Christ and a crime against humanity, but also to learn from her great example.” “She teaches us”, he added, “how to attend to the poor with tenderness, gentleness and compassion.”

Concluding his address the Pope prayed that the members of the Galileo Foundation would be sustained “by an ever deeper rootedness in prayer, by the intercession of Saint Josephine Bakhita and by the strength, the Holy Spirit alone can give.”

VENEZUELA: POPE WANTS TO VERIFY WILL OF BOTH PARTIES FOR MEDIATION

Responding to journalists’ questions regarding the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, and the possibility of a mediation on the part of the Holy See, the interim Director of the Vatican Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, said: “The Holy Father reserves the right to verify the will of both parties by ascertaining whether the conditions exist for following this path”.

Mediation if requested by all parties
On the flight back from Abu Dhabi to the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke to journalists on board, in similar terms: “We will see what can be done”, said the Pope. “But for a mediation to happen, you need the will of both sides: both sides need to request it. This is a condition must make them think first, before asking for help or for the presence of an observer, or for mediation. Both sides, always”.

Thinking of Venezuela while in Panama
The crisis in Venezuela reached a turning point on January 23rd when the Leader of the National Assembly, Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez, declared himself interim President of the country. It was the same day of the Pope arrived in Panama to celebrate World Youth Day. He addressed the people of Venezuela during the Angelus on January 27th: “Here in Panama I have thought a lot about the Venezuelan people, to whom I feel particularly united these days”, said the Pope. “In the face of the current serious situation, I ask the Lord that a just and peaceful solution be sought and reached to overcome the crisis, with respect for human rights and seeking exclusively the good of all the inhabitants of the country. I invite you to pray, placing this intercession under the protection of Our Lady of Coromoto, Patroness of Venezuela”.

The Pope’s appeals
This is not the first appeal Pope Francis has made on behalf of Venezuela. When the crisis began in 2014, he sent a message encouraging dialogue, speaking of “the heroism of forgiveness and mercy”: elements we need, said the Pope, to free ourselves “from resentment and hatred” and to take “a truly new path”, one that requires patience and courage”, but “the only one that can lead to peace and justice”, he said.

More recently, in May 2017, Pope Francis wrote to the Venezuelan Bishops, urging them to build bridges. He expressed his “deep sorrow for the clashes and violence” that, according to recent estimates of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have cost the lives of 43 people and about 850 arrests, in the last few days alone.

A country on its knees
The humanitarian situation in Venezuela is the greatest cause of concern of the Bishops of the country, which has been on its knees for years, despite its massive oil reserves. The latest figures tell the story: according to the FAO, 12% of the population is undernourished, and the rate of malnutrition is at its highest in 25 years. The UN estimates that about 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015.

The voice of the Venezuelan Bishops
Bishop José Trinidad Fernández is auxiliary bishop of Caracas and secretary general of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference. “We don’t want bloodshed, for any reason in the world”, he says. “We know the people of Venezuela are peaceful”, so “a negotiated and peaceful solution is needed, one that respects everyone. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is particularly valid at this moment and this must be a process of peace, not of war”, he says. Bishop José Trinidad Fernández continues, by saying: “Ours is a request for dialogue that we have reiterated many times in our pronouncements. A dialogue that must lead to that peaceful transition and that political change the people are asking for. A political change, to go to clear and transparent elections”.

The humanitarian situation
The Church in Venezuela is also deeply concerned about the dramatic situation of the population, the lack of food and medicine: “We must open the country to humanitarian aid”, they say, emphasizing the “dramatic and unprecedented situation” in which the country finds itself. Speaking on behalf of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, the Secretary General says: “We bishops are inspired by the recent Message of the Pope for the world Day of Peace, in which he speaks of the need for a good policy in the service of peace”. This is what we are trying to do at this moment, he continues, because “we no longer want to see people being arbitrarily detained, or children looking for food in the garbage”. (vaticannews)

POPE: STAFF CAN HELP MAKE PRISON A PLACE OF REDEMPTION – POPE’S FEBRUARY PRAYER INTENTION: HUMAN TRAFFICKING

In case you missed it on Monday, February 4, here’s the link to “At Home with Jim and Joy.” As I do every week with Jim and Joy, I bring some news from Rome towards the end of the show. I’ll be on again tomorrow, Friday.

As I read Pope Francis’ words today to the staff of Rome’s Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) prison (see below), I immediately thought of a story I’ve seen on Fox News about Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary.

Its website notes that when Eastern State Penitentiary opened more than 180 years ago, it changed the world. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners.

The building itself was an architectural wonder; it had running water and central heat before the White House, and attracted visitors from around the globe. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al “Scarface” Capone.

For more information, including how you can take a tour: https://www.easternstate.org/research/history-eastern-state

Scary!! At this minute, Fox News is just airing their news extra on the penitentiary!

POPE: STAFF CAN HELP MAKE PRISON A PLACE OF REDEMPTION

Pope Francis meets with the directors and staff of Rome’s Regina Coeli prison, telling them that prison, with the help of its staff, can truly become a place of redemption.
By Lydia O’Kane (Vaticannews)

On Holy Thursday last year Pope Francis paid a visit to Rome’s Regina Coeli prison to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with inmates and staff. Nearly a year on, the directors and staff of the prison were greeted by the Pope on Thursday in the Paul VI Hall. Addressing the 600 people present, Pope Francis spoke of jail as being a place of punishment and suffering, adding that, “it needs much attention and humanity.

Healing wounds
In prison he said, “everyone, penitentiary police, chaplains, educators and volunteers, are called to the difficult task of healing the wounds of those who, through mistakes made, find themselves deprived of their personal freedom.”

Prisons, the Pope observed, “need to be increasingly humanized, and it is painful to hear that they are often considered to be places of violence and illegality, where human wickedness is rampant.”

Pope Francis also commented that many prisoners who are in jail are poor; they have no references, he said, “no security, no family, no means to defend their rights, they are marginalized and abandoned to their fate. For society they are uncomfortable individuals, a waste, a burden.”

Work stress
Turning his attention to prison staff, the Pontiff noted that their jobs could be stressful and frustrating due to shortages of personnel and chronic overcrowding.

“Work-related stress caused by pressing shifts and often the distance from families are factors that weigh down a job that already involves a certain psychological effort”, the Pope said. “Therefore, professional figures like you need a personal balance and valid motivations constantly renewed.”

Prison a place of redemption
Experience shows, Pope Francis underlined, “that prison, with the help of prison workers, can truly become a place of redemption, resurrection and a change of life, and all this is possible through paths of faith, work and professional training, but especially of spiritual closeness and compassion…”

By following the example of the Good Samaritan, who cared for his wounded brother, he stressed, “this attitude of closeness, rooted in the love of Christ, can foster trust, awareness and the certainty of being loved in many inmates.”

In conclusion, the Pope encouraged those present to do their important work in the spirit of harmony and unity. “You are called to march in one direction”, he said “to help stand up and grow in hope for those who have unfortunately fallen into the trap of evil.”

POPE’S FEBRUARY PRAYER INTENTION: HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Pope Francis on Thursday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for February, which this month is “Human Trafficking “.

In his prayer intention for the month of February 2019, Pope Francis calls us to pray for a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence.

The full text of his intention:
“Although we try to ignore it, slavery is not something from other times. Faced with this tragic reality, no one can wash their hands of it without being, in some way, an accomplice to this crime against humanity. We cannot ignore the fact that there is as much slavery in the world today as there was before, or perhaps more. Let us pray for a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence”

Click here for video: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-02/pope-francis-prayer-intention-february-2019.html#play

COMBAT TRAFFICKING, “A SHAMEFUL AND INTOLERABLE CRIME”

I was working for the Vatican Information Service in the Holy See Press Office in May 1992, and well remember Sunday May 17, when Josephine Bakhita and Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, were beatified by St. John Paul.  She was canonized October 1 during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. She is the patron saint of Sudan and her feast day is today, February 8.

st-bakhita

I was entranced by the story of now Saint Josephine Bakhita and was entrusted to write the story of the beatification, and a biography of Josephine before the big day. I have spent some time just now searching for that VIS story but it appears that all articles done over a 20-year period by VIS in several languages are nowhere to be found on the Vatican website. I went to www.vatican.va, clicked on English but when I hit the search icon, nothing appeared.

I have been under the weather for 4 days now with a bad cold and am just hoping it is my inabibility to feel 100% that has inhibited my search. I’ll contact some former Vatican colleagues to get an updateon VIS files.

For now, you’ll have to settle for what the Pope says about St. Josephine in the story below.

Pope Francis tweeted today: Those who traffic human beings are ultimately accountable to God. Let us pray for the conversion of hearts. @M_RSection

COMBAT TRAFFICKING, “A SHAMEFUL AND INTOLERABLE CRIME”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed to government leaders to be strong in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking.

Marking Wednesday’s ‘International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking’, the Pope had words of encouragement for all those who in different ways, help minors who have been enslaved and abused to be freed from this terrible oppression. This day takes place annually on February 8, and focused this year on the trafficking of children and adolescents.

“I urge all those in government positions to combat this scourge with firmness, giving voice to our younger brothers and sisters who have been wounded in their dignity. All efforts must be made to eradicate this shameful and intolerable crime” he said.

He explained that the ‘International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking” falls on the feast day Saint Josephine Bakhita, “this enslaved, exploited and humiliated girl in Africa never lost hope,” he said, “but persevered in her faith and ended up as a migrant in Europe where she heard the call of the Lord and became a nun. Let’s pray to Saint Josephine Bakhita for all migrants and refugees who are exploited and suffer so much.”

 

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER – VATICAN INSIDER: CARDINAL WUERL TALKS ABOUT THE SYNOD – THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER

His general prayer intention is: “That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.”

His missionary intention is: “That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.”

VATICAN INSIDER: CARDINAL WUERL TALKS ABOUT THE SYNOD

Tune in this weekend to “Vatican Insider” for my conversation with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, who was in Rome for 3 weeks for the synod on the family – his 7th synod  – and talks to us about that event,  the media coverage, the methodology and the final document. The cardinal was one of 10 people on the commission who put that final document together – and he will tell you how. The original synod message is in Italian, and we are awaiting translations. The relatio has been given to the Holy Father who will write an Apostolic Exhortation.

20151018_165425

Cardinal Wuerl and I first met in Rome during the September 1975 canonization of St. Elizabeth Seton when then-Father Wuerl was the priest secretary to American Cardinal John Joseph Wright, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. His Eminence wanted a secretary for personal correspondence on weekends and, given his great love for Joan of Arc and his vast book collection about her, when my name was proposed, he was apparently enthusiastic (I originally wrote ‘he jumped at the chance’) about the idea of a Joan becoming his secretary. Father, then Bishop and now Cardinal Wuerl and I have followed each other over the years and, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome!  At least for a synod!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

MY FAVORITE STORY OF THE DAY – Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches – a cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican’s XI on Rome’s Campanelle grounds. Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat on Thursday after the St. Peter’s Cricket Club beat the Church of England’s XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.  Pope Francis promptly signed it himself.

POPE-CRICKET BAT

The Vatican team includes seminarians and priests studying at Rome’s pontifical universities. They are 4-0 this season ahead of an April rematch with the Royal Household.  Australia’s Vatican ambassador, John McCarthy, said the Anglicans’ visit “strengthened personal and institutional relations” between the two churches.  (Source: Vatican Radio: AP)

POPE WELCOMES SALVADORAN PILGRIMS – (VIS) – Friday morning 500 pilgrims from El Salvador, who are in Rome to give thanks for the beatification of Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, met with the Holy Father in the Paul VI Hall. The Pope defined the Salvadoran bishop martyr as a “good pastor, full of love for God and close to his brothers who, living the dynamism of the Beatitudes, gave his life in a violent way while celebrating the Eucharist, the supreme sacrifice of love, sealing with his own blood the Gospel that he announced. … From the very beginning of the life of the Church, Christians have always believed that the blood of martyrs is a seed for Christians, as Tertuliano said. Today too, in a dramatic way, the blood of a great number of Christian martyrs continues to be shed on the fields of the world, with the certain hope that will bear fruit in a rich harvest of holiness, justice, reconciliation and love of God. But we must remember that one is not born a martyr. …. “Indeed, the martyr is not someone relegated to the past, a beautiful image that adorns our churches and which we recall with a certain nostalgia. No, the martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the communion of saints and who, united with Christ, does not ignore our earthly pilgrimage, our sufferings, our anxieties.”

PAPAL MESSAGE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING – (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Santa Marta Group, an initiative he personally launched in the battle against human trafficking, involving the security forces of various countries, episcopates, social organisations and representatives of various religious confessions. The group is currently meeting at San Lorenzo del Escorial in Spain. It was inaugurated today by Queen Sofia and attended by cardinals, bishops, social activists and around fifty heads of police from around the world. In his message, Francis wrote that, in the short time of its existence, “this worthy group has made significant achievements and is called upon to play a decisive role in the eradication of human trafficking and modern slavery.” He noted that during the last year there have been important institutional changes that have without doubt supported its activity, starting with the meeting of mayors in Vatican City on 21 July, in which key figures signed a declaration expressing their commitment to eliminating the new forms of slavery that constitute a crime against humanity.

Human trafficking

FRANCIS MARKS CELAM’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY – (VIS) – To commemorate 60 years of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Pope Francis wrote a message to CELAM president, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, in which he expresses his gratitude for all the good the Lord has gradually sown there, and that has borne fruit through the service of God’s Church in Latin America. “I hope that CELAM, making pastoral and missionary conversion its priority, may increasingly participate in, support and give momentum to this evangelising movement towards all environments and all frontiers. It is important that our communities be ‘homes and schools of communion’, which attract by a surprising fraternity based on the recognition of the common father, and help always to keep alive in the Church in Latin America the passion for our peoples, the bearing of our sufferings and the capacity for Christian discernment of the vicissitudes of their recent history, to open up paths of greater equality, peace and justice.”

 

Cardinal Wuerl and I first met in Rome during the September 1975 canonization of St. Elizabeth Seton when then-Father Wuerl was the priest secretary to American Cardinal John Joseph Wright, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. His Eminence wanted a secretary for personal correspondence on weekends and, given his great love for Joan of Arc and his vast book collection about her, when my name was proposed, he was apparently enthusiastic (I originally wrote ‘he jumped at the chance’) about the idea of a Joan becoming his secretary. Father, then Bishop and now Cardinal Wuerl and I have followed each other over the years and, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome!  At least for a synod!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

MY FAVORITE STORY OF THE DAY – Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches – a cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican’s XI on Rome’s Campanelle grounds. Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat on Thursday after the St. Peter’s Cricket Club beat the Church of England’s XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.  Pope Francis promptly signed it himself.

Pope – bat

The Vatican team includes seminarians and priests studying at Rome’s pontifical universities. They are 4-0 this season ahead of an April rematch with the Royal Household.  Australia’s Vatican ambassador, John McCarthy, said the Anglicans’ visit “strengthened personal and institutional relations” between the two churches.  (Source: Vatican Radio: AP)

POPE WELCOMES SALVADORAN PILGRIMS – (VIS) – Friday morning 500 pilgrims from El Salvador, who are in Rome to give thanks for the beatification of Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, met with the Holy Father in the Paul VI Hall. The Pope defined the Salvadoran bishop martyr as a “good pastor, full of love for God and close to his brothers who, living the dynamism of the Beatitudes, gave his life in a violent way while celebrating the Eucharist, the supreme sacrifice of love, sealing with his own blood the Gospel that he announced. … From the very beginning of the life of the Church, Christians have always believed that the blood of martyrs is a seed for Christians, as Tertuliano said. Today too, in a dramatic way, the blood of a great number of Christian martyrs continues to be shed on the fields of the world, with the certain hope that will bear fruit in a rich harvest of holiness, justice, reconciliation and love of God. But we must remember that one is not born a martyr. …. “Indeed, the martyr is not someone relegated to the past, a beautiful image that adorns our churches and which we recall with a certain nostalgia. No, the martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the communion of saints and who, united with Christ, does not ignore our earthly pilgrimage, our sufferings, our anxieties.”

PAPAL MESSAGE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING – (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Santa Marta Group, an initiative he personally launched in the battle against human trafficking, involving the security forces of various countries, episcopates, social organisations and representatives of various religious confessions. The group is currently meeting at San Lorenzo del Escorial in Spain. It was inaugurated today by Queen Sofia and attended by cardinals, bishops, social activists and around fifty heads of police from around the world. In his message, Francis wrote that, in the short time of its existence, “this worthy group has made significant achievements and is called upon to play a decisive role in the eradication of human trafficking and modern slavery.” He noted that during the last year there have been important institutional changes that have without doubt supported its activity, starting with the meeting of mayors in Vatican City on 21 July, in which key figures signed a declaration expressing their commitment to eliminating the new forms of slavery that constitute a crime against humanity.

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FRANCIS MARKS CELAM’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY – (VIS) – To commemorate 60 years of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Pope Francis wrote a message to CELAM president, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, in which he expresses his gratitude for all the good the Lord has gradually sown there, and that has borne fruit through the service of God’s Church in Latin America. “I hope that CELAM, making pastoral and missionary conversion its priority, may increasingly participate in, support and give momentum to this evangelising movement towards all environments and all frontiers. It is important that our communities be ‘homes and schools of communion’, which attract by a surprising fraternity based on the recognition of the common father, and help always to keep alive in the Church in Latin America the passion for our peoples, the bearing of our sufferings and the capacity for Christian discernment of the vicissitudes of their recent history, to open up paths of greater equality, peace and justice.”

 

POPE AUTHORIZES BEATIFICATION OF ARCHBISHOP ROMERO – RELIGIOUS, GUIDED BY JESUS, HELP BRING JESUS TO US – FEBRUARY 8, INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING – POPE APOLOGIZES TO ARCHBISHOP FOR BREVITY OF VISIT

 

Today is the feast of St. Blaise – have you had your throat blessed?

From: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/novena/blaise.htm:

Blaise of Sebastea – also known as Blase, Blasien, Biagio; Died c. 316.

Catholics might remember Saint Blaise’s feast day, February 3, because of the Blessing of the throats that takes place on this day. Two candles are blessed, held slightly open, and pressed against the throat as the blessing is said.  Very few facts are known about Saint Blaise. It is believed he was a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century.  Saint Blaise is the patron of physicians, sick cattle, wax- chandlers, woolcombers, and of wild animals because of his care for them and of those with throat maladies.   He is invoked against afflictions of the throat. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Saint Blaise was much venerated throughout Central Europe.

POPE AUTHORIZES BEATIFICATION OF ARCHBISHOP ROMERO

Pope Francis this morning, in a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorized the congregation to promulgate the decree of martyrdom for Servant of God Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez (El Salvador, 1917-1980), archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980.

He also authorized decrees for martyrdom for Servants of God Michal Tomaszek (Poland, 1960) and Zbigniew Strazalkowski (Poland, 1958), professed priests of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Alessandro Dordi, Italian diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Peru on 9 and 25 August 1991, as well as a decree for heroic virtues of Servant of God Giovanni Bacile, Italian priest (1880-1941).

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of the cause for Archbishop Romero, will hold a press briefing in the Vatican at noon Wednesday. On January 9 it had been announced by the congregation that Abp. Romero was killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith), a necessary requirement for beatification as a martyr. Congregation members voted unanimously for martyrdom of the slain archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated by a sniper on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass because of his vocal opposition to El Salvador’s military dictatorship.

RELIGIOUS, GUIDED BY JESUS, HELP BRING JESUS TO US

Pope Francis said Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Monday afternoon to mark the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life, exactly one year ahead of the close of the Year for Consecrated Life, which opened on the First Sunday of Advent.

The blessing of the candles, a sign and symbol of that Light which is Christ, preceded the liturgy which then began with a candle-light procession into the basilica, as the choir intoned the antiphon: “Christ, light unto the Nations, and glory God’s people, Israel.”

POPE FRANCIS - CONSECRATED LIFE

Pope Francis focused his homily on the virtue of obedience, calling it the keystone of religious life. He spoke of Mary’s and Joseph’s obedience to the law when presented Jesus in the Temple, and also highlighted Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father.

“Before our eyes we can picture Mother Mary as she walks, carrying the Baby Jesus in her arms, She brings him to the Temple; she presents him to the people; she brings him to meet his people. … The Mother walks, yet it is the Child who goes before her. She carries him, yet He is leading her along the path of the God who comes to us so that we might go to Him. Jesus walked the same path as we do, and shows us the new way… . For us, consecrated men and women, this is the one way which, concretely and without alternatives, we must continue to tread with joy and perseverance.”

Francis continued, “Fully five times the Gospel speaks to us of Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the ‘law of the Lord’. Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. … In the same way, all those who follow Jesus must set out on the path of obedience. … For a religious, to advance on the path of obedience means to abase oneself in service, that is, to take the same path as Jesus, who ‘did not deem equality with God a thing to be grasped’. By emptying himself he made himself a servant in order to serve”.

For consecrated persons, this path “takes the form of the rule, marked by the charism of the founder. For all of us, the essential rule remains the Gospel, yet the Holy Spirit, in His infinite creativity, also gives it expression in the various rules of the consecrated life which are born of the sequela Christi, and thus from this journey of abasing oneself by serving.”

In the account of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, wisdom is represented by two elderly persons, Simeon and Anna: “persons docile to the Holy Spirit, led by Him, inspired by Him,” said the Holy Father. He noted that, on this occasion, it is the elderly, rather than the young, who are creative: “the young, like Mary and Joseph, follow the law of the Lord, the path of obedience. The elderly, like Simeon and Anna, see in the Child the fulfillment of the Law and the promises of God. And they are able to celebrate: they are creative in joy and wisdom.

Francis said that “obedience and docility is not something theoretical; it too is subject to the economy of the incarnation of the Word: docility and obedience to a founder, docility and obedience to a specific rule, docility and obedience to one’s superior, docility and obedience to the Church. It is always docility and obedience in the concrete.”

In persevering along the path of obedience, “personal and communal wisdom matures, and thus it also becomes possible to adapt rules to the times; indeed, true ‘renovation’ is the fruit of wisdom forged in docility and obedience. The strengthening and renewal of consecrated life are the result of great love for the rule, and also the ability to look to and heed the elders of one’s congregation.

Pope Francis concluded his homily with an exhortation, directed especially to all those in consecrated life: “Let us bring others to Jesus, but let us also allow ourselves to be led by him.  This is what we should be: guides who themselves are guided.” (Source: VIS, Vatican Radio)

FEBRUARY 8, INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING

The Vatican Tuesday presented the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking that will be held on February 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who, after being freed, became a Canossian Sister and was canonized in 2000. This special day, promoted by the Pontifical Councils for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the “Justice and Peace” council and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), will have as its theme, “A light against human trafficking.”

Presenters at today’s press conference included Cardinals Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples; and Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace.” The other speakers were Sister Carmen Sammut, MSOLA, president of the International Union of Superiors General; Sister Gabriella Bottani, SMC, coordinator of Talitha Kum (the International Network of Consecrated Life against Trafficking in Persons); Sister Valeria Gandini, SMC; and Sister Imelda Poole IBVM, coordinator of the European Talitha Kum network.

Cardinal Turkson, speaking in English, reiterated , “millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery. For those who cry out – usually in silence – for liberation, St Josephine Bakhita is an exemplary witness of hope. We, victims and advocates alike, could do no better than be inspired by her life and entrust our efforts to her intercession.”

“The Holy Father,” he added, “invites us all to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”

The cardinal explained that the International Day against Human Trafficking constitutes “a mobilization of awareness and prayer on a global scale. Our awareness must expand and extend to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches … from awareness to prayer … from prayer to solidarity … and from solidarity to concerted action, until slavery and trafficking are no more.”

On the occasion of this first day of prayer and reflection, all dioceses, parishes, associations, families and individuals are invited to reflect and pray in order to cast light on this crime, as indicated by the theme of the initiative. In addition, prayer vigils will be held in different countries, culminating in the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on February 8.

On that day, the faithful are invited to recite the following prayer:

“O God, when we hear of children and adults, deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and organ ‘harvesting’, our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force.

We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good.

Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. Amen”. (Source VIS)

POPE APOLOGIZES TO ARCHBISHOP FOR BREVITY OF VISIT

(UCANEWS – Manila) – Pope Francis has apologized for rushing his visit to Leyte province last month during his apostolic visit to the Philippines. In a letter to Archbishop John Du of the Archdiocese of Palo, the pontiff said he was “deeply saddened” that a weather warning forced him to cut short his visit by four hours.

POPE FRANCIS - LETTER TO ABP DU

“This prevented a more relaxed visit with your people and in the cathedral later that afternoon,” said Pope Francis. “I ask your forgiveness for any impatience on my part at that time,” he added.

Heavy rains and strong winds brought by Typhoon Mekkhala forced the pope to depart Leyte for Manila four hours ahead of schedule.

Some 130,000 people braved the weather to attend the January 17 Mass celebrated by the pope for survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan that killed at least 7,500 people and affected millions of others when it made landfall in the Philippines in November 2013.

“Returning to Rome, I wish to convey with these words my profound gratitude for your hospitality in the Archdiocese of Palo. May the Lord repay you abundantly for your goodness,” read the pope’s letter.

Pope Francis thanked Archbishop Du “for the witness of faith and endurance which your people showed me in the midst of trials.” The pope’s letter was dated January 21 but was only made public by the Archdiocese of Palo on Tuesday.

Pope Francis visited the Philippines from January 15 to 19.