POPE WELCOMES FIRST FEMALE RESIDENT AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR – PAPAL CALENDAR INCLUDES DECEMBER ADDRESS TO FORUM ON GLOBAL ECONOMY – A POPE ISSUED WORLD’S FIRST PUBLIC SMOKING BAN

Twitter@Pontifex:  September 8 – To offer today’s world the witness of mercy is a task from which none of us can feel exempted

As of this afternoon, exactly nine months to the day that the Jubilee of Mercy began, participants in the Jubilee celebrations in Rome total 15.431.515, according to the official Jubilee website www.im.va   Pilgrims went over the 10 million mark in June and, on July 7, seven months after the start of the Holy Year, they passed the 11 million mark. The Holy Year of Mercy ends November 20.

I’ll introduce a new feature to this column tomorrow and on subsequent Fridays called Question of the Week. Answers will be given on Mondays. The first question will be easy. The object is to see what piques your curiosity and how well you pay attention to news. However, I beg you, do NOT email me the answer. This is for fun – hopefully, your fun!

POPE WELCOMES FIRST FEMALE RESIDENT AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with Melissa Hitchman, the new Australian ambassador to the Holy See who presented her credentials.

The newest member of the Vatican’s diplomatic corps is an experienced career officer with Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade.  She has previously served overseas as first secretary at the Australian High Commission in London.

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Diplomatic relations between Canberra and the Holy See were formally established in 1973 but Hitchman is both the first career diplomat and the first woman to hold the post of resident ambassador.

She sat down with Philippa Hitchen to talk about her goals and to share her perspectives on refugees, aboriginal rights, counter-terrorism and on the role of women in society.

For the interview, click here: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/09/08/pope_welcomes_first_female_resident_australian_ambassador/1256662

PAPAL CALENDAR INCLUDES DECEMBER ADDRESS TO FORUM ON GLOBAL ECONOMY

(Time.com) – Time Inc. will host a forum in Rome on the global economy, culminating in a special address by Pope Francis at the Vatican, the company announced Tuesday.

The 2016 Fortune/Time Global Forum—the first of its kind— will take place Dec. 2 and 3 and aims to bring together Fortune 500 CEOs, members of the TIME 100 most influential people and other academic, religious and business leaders to discuss international economic issues, including creating jobs, eliminating poverty, solving the refugee crisis and broadening prosperity.

Pope Francis has regularly spoken out about global economic issues, raising concerns about the growing wealth gap and criticizing the “dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.”

“Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy,” he said in a speech in Bolivia last year. “It is a moral obligation.”

The Fortune/Time forum will be led by Time Inc. Chief Content Officer and Fortune Editor-in-Chief Alan Murray and Time Inc. News Group Editorial Director and Time Editor-in-Chief Nancy Gibbs. The official host committee for the forum includes the leaders of IBM and PepsiCo as well as the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, among others.

A POPE ISSUED WORLD’S FIRST PUBLIC SMOKING BAN

(From ChurchPOP – September 8) – Did you know a Pope issued the world’s first public smoking ban?

It was the 16th century, and Europeans had just brought back something very popular from the New World: tobacco. As its use spread around Europe, questions arose about when it was appropriate to use.

Apparently, some people started smoking in and around churches, and other people didn’t like it. This became a big enough problem that the pope actually decided to weigh in on the matter.

Pope Urban VII was elected pope on September 15th, 1590 but died just 12 days later – making his papacy the shortest in history. But he still managed to weigh in on the tobacco debate. (Wikipedia public  image)

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And he came down with an iron fist: anyone caught using tobacco “in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe, or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose” would be excommunicated.

It’s not clear whether or to what degree this ban was actually enforced. But the ban remained on the books until the 18th century when Pope Benedict XIII finally repealed it.

Note that the Church did not ban smoking in general, just smoking in and around churches, which probably isn’t a good idea. In the appropriate context, the Church has generally taken the approach that such things can be enjoyed if used in moderation.

As G.K. Chesterton famously remarked in the 20th century: “In Catholicism, the pint, the pipe and the Cross can all fit together.”