POPE INTERVIEW: TALKS WITH CHINA, MIGRATION, CHILE ABUSE CRISIS – POPE SAYS NO TO WOMEN PRIESTS, YES TO WOMEN IN CURIAL LEADERSHIP – POPE TALKS TO REUTERS ABOUT THE ‘DIALOGUE WITH CHINA’

The papal interview seen by Vatican News, CNA and AsiaNews:

POPE INTERVIEW: TALKS WITH CHINA, MIGRATION, CHILE ABUSE CRISIS

Pope Francis spoke about talks with China, migration policy, populism, Chile’s clerical sex abuse crisis, reform of the Roman Curia, and other issues in a wide-ranging interview with the Reuters news agency. The interviewer was Philip Pullella, head of Reuter’s Rome bureau.

by Susy Hodges (Vatican news)

In a new one-on-one interview Pope Francis has responded to a series of questions on various issues including the Holy See’s talks with China, the position of women within the Church, migration policy, populism, Chile’s clerical sex abuse crisis and reform of the Roman Curia.

Talks with China “at a good point”
Asked in the interview about relations with China, Pope Francis said he was optimistic about the outcome of normalization talks with the Chinese authorities saying they were “at a good point” but couldn’t say when they would conclude. He acknowledged that dialogue “is a risk” but said he preferred that to “the certain defeat” of not holding a dialogue with Beijing.

The Pope talked at length about immigration during the interview and was asked about the U.S. administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the U.S./Mexican border. In his reply, he said he supported recent statements issued by U.S. Catholic Bishops who called the separation of children from their parents contrary to Catholic values and immoral.

Turning to the migration situation in Europe, the Holy Father said populists were “creating a psychosis” on the issue of immigration, even as ageing societies like Europe faced “a great demographic winter” and needed more immigrants.

“I believe that you cannot reject people who arrive. You have to receive them, help them, look after them, accompany them and then see where to put them, but throughout all of Europe,” he said. He praised Italy and Greece for being “courageous and generous” by taking in these migrants.

Populism is not the solution
Pope Francis warned that populism does not resolve issues like migration problems. “What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence,” he said. The Pope also said Europe should stop exploiting Africa and invest in ways that benefit the continent more and this could help solve the problem of migration at its roots.

When asked about women calling for more top positions in the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said he agreed there were few women in positions of responsibility there. He said he wanted to appoint more women to head Vatican departments because “women are better at resolving conflicts.” At the same time, he reiterated that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. “(Pope) John Paul II was clear on this point and closed the door and I am not going back on that,” he said.

Chile’s clerical sex abuse crisis was another topic discussed at length during the interview. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of three bishops in Chile and said he could accept more resignations in the future.

He spoke of how he returned “a bit worried” after his pastoral visit to Chile in January this year and explained why he decided to send Archbishop Charles Scicluna to the Latin American nation to carry out further investigations into the abuse crisis.

POPE SAYS NO TO WOMEN PRIESTS, YES TO WOMEN IN CURIAL LEADERSHIP

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis said more space has to be created for women to take on leading roles in the Roman Curia, but that priestly ordination is not an option.

Responding to a question about women’s ordination to the priesthood, the pope said “there is the temptation to ‘functionalize’ the reflection on women in the Church, what they should do, what they should become.”

“We cannot functionalize women,” he said, explaining that while the Church is referred to as a woman, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is out of the question “because dogmatically it doesn’t work.”

“John Paul II was clear and closed the door, and I will not go back on this. It was something serious, not something capricious,” he said, adding, “it cannot be done.”

However, Francis stressed that while the priesthood is out, women do need to be given more opportunities for leadership in the Roman Curia – a view he said has at times been met with resistance.

“I had to fight to put a woman as the vice-director of the press office,” he said, referring to his decision in 2016 to name Spanish journalist Paloma Garica Ovejero as the Vatican’s deputy spokesperson.

He said he at one point offered a woman the job of heading the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, but she turned it down because “she already had other commitments.”

Women in the Curia “are few, we need to put more,” he said, adding that it can be either a religious sister or a laywoman, “it doesn’t matter,” but there is a need to move forward with an eye for quality and competency in the job.

“I don’t have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery, if the dicastery doesn’t have jurisdiction,” he said, referring to the fact that some Vatican departments have specific functions in Church governance that require a bishop to do the job. Lay men are also ineligible to oversee offices that require the jurisdictional authority of a priest or bishop.

For example, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has jurisdiction, so it has to be led by a bishop, but for others, such as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, “I would not have a problem naming a competent woman,” Francis said.

Women must continue to be promoted, but without falling into “a feminist attitude,” the pope said, adding that “in the end it would be machismo with a skirt. We don’t want to fall into this.”

Pope Francis spoke during an interview with American journalist Phil Pullella of Reuters, which took place Sunday at the pope’s Vatican residence, and was published June 20.

In the interview, the pope touched on a variety of topics, including a possible deal with China on the appointment of bishops, clerical abuse and the ongoing scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia, and criticism he’s faced.

On the topic of women, Francis said that in his experience, things are usually done better when there is a mixed group working on a task, rather than just men.

“Women have an ability to understand things, it’s another vision,” he said, noting that whenever he has visited prisons run by women, they “seemed to do better,” because women know how to be “mothers” and care for inmates and their needs in a unique way.

“Women know how to manage conflicts better. In these things, women are braver,” he said, adding, “I think it would be so also in the Curia if there were more women.”

Francis noted that some have said inviting more women into the mix might mean there is more gossip, however, he said he does not believe that would be the case, “because we men are also gossipers.”

POPE TALKS TO REUTERS ABOUT THE ‘DIALOGUE WITH CHINA’

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis was interviewed by Philip Pullella of Reuters. In the tête-à-tête, the pontiff said that with respect to the dialogue with China, “We are at a good point”. In addition to diplomatic channels there are friendships and cultural exchanges. The Chinese people are “very wise” and know how to wait. By kind permission, we publish here a translation of an excerpt from the registration of the interview between the Holy Father and the journalist two days ago.

Q: How is the rapprochement with China?
R. We are at a good point, but relations with China follow three different paths. First of all, there is the official one. The Chinese delegation comes here, takes part in meetings, and then the Vatican delegation goes to China. Relations are good and we have managed to do good things. This is the official dialogue.

Then there is a second dialogue, of everyone and with everyone. “I am a cousin of the minister so and so who sent me to say that . . .”. There is always an answer. “Yes, all right, let’s go forward.” These side channels are open, let’s say, at a human level, and we do not want to burn them. We can see goodwill, both from the Holy See and the Chinese government.

The third path, which for me is the most important in the rapprochement with China, is cultural. Some priests work at Chinese universities. Then there is also culture, like the exhibit that was put on in the Vatican and in China.[1] This is the traditional path, like those of the great ones, like Matteo Ricci.

I like to think about relations with China as, multifaceted, based not only the official diplomatic one, because the other two are very enriching. I think things are going well. In your question, you mentioned two steps forward and one step backward. I think the Chinese deserve the Nobel Prize for patience, because they are good, they know how to wait, time is theirs and they have centuries of culture . . . They are a wise people, very wise. I respect China a lot.

Q: How do you respond to concerns such as those of Cardinal Zen?

A: Cardinal Zen taught theology in patriotic seminaries. I think he’s a little scared. Perhaps age might have some influence. He is a good man. He came to talk to me. I received him, but he’s a bit scared. Dialogue is a risk, but I prefer the risk to the sure defeat of not talking. With respect to time, someone mentioned Chinese time. I think it is God’s time, forward, calm.

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THE ICMC, A SAVIOR TO UNTOLD MILLIONS OF PEOPLE

THE ICMC, A SAVIOR TO UNTOLD MILLIONS OF PEOPLE

There was a reception last night at Il Cantico Hotel hosted by the Governing Committee of the ICMC, the International Catholic Migration Commission, to introduce the new ICMC president, Dr. Anne Therese Gallagher. It was a special evening for me as I’ve followed ICMC activities for a number of years and have interviewed past presidents, secretaries general, including the current secretary general, Msgr. Robert Vitillo, and board members, including Cardinal George Pell.

I was also able to catch up on ICMC activities with several board and commission members at dinner after the reception. One such member is a friend from Boston, Bill Wise.

Bill is a multi-talented and much appreciated member of the board. At the ICMC meeting in March in Rome, he participated in drafting and advising on amendments to the organization’s Statutes and Rules, preparing motions for consideration by members of the Council, qualifying the external auditor for appointment by the Council and providing guidance and oversight for the election of the new ICMC President, Dr. Anne T. Gallagher AO of Australia.

To hear the board members speak, Dr. Gallagher is a terrific leader and people are excited about the coming years under her leadership. Meeting her you can understand their feelings.

Her bio on the ICMS site notes that she is an Australian-born lawyer, practitioner and scholar. An expert on migration, human rights and the administration of criminal justice, her experience spans more than 25 years and over 40 countries of Africa, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. She began her international career in 1992 as a Legal Officer with the United Nations. From 1998, to 2002 she was Senior Adviser to Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights – playing a key role in development of international laws and policies and coordinating UN agencies to that end.

Since 2002, Gallagher has continued to work closely with the UN while holding multiple leadership positions, including within the world’s largest criminal justice intervention against trafficking (2003-present). Her current posts include Co-Chair of the International Bar Association’s Presidential Task Force on Human Trafficking; Member of the International Migration Organization’s Migration Advisory Board; and Academic Adviser to Doughty St Chambers (the UK’s leading civil liberties law firm).

A practicing Catholic, Gallagher was involved, from the earliest stage, in the Vatican’s efforts to address human trafficking and is currently a member of the Archbishop of Sydney’s Taskforce on Modern Slavery.

Here she is pictured with Msgr. Vitillo and Jane Bloom, retiring head of the U.S. liaison office in Washington, D.C.

Journalists, several ambassadors and other embassy officials, including DCM Lou Bono of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, and several representatives of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State were also present last night.

By the way, ICMC’s secretary general, Msgr. Vitillo, is one amazing man in his own right (and is as humble as he is hardworking), an inspiration to the other ICMC members and the teams of people around the world who work to help ICMC in any way they can – paid staff, volunteers, local clergy, etc.

An American, Msgr. Vitillo is a trained social worker with a broad expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS and global health. From 2005 to 2016, he served as Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis in Geneva and as Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS.

Before that, from 1997 to 2005, Msgr. Vitillo held the position of Executive Director for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. During the 1980’s, as Director of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, he coordinated the resettlement of Southeast Asian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Haitian and Cuban refugees to the United States and assisted ICMC in the design of cultural orientation programs for refugees in Bataan, Philippines.

I learned a surprising fact in one interview with Msgr. Vitillo – how, for example, ICMC vets migrants and refugees who want to enter the U.S., doing so for the U.S. State Department and for the Department of Homeland Security.

The ICMC does truly remarkable work around the world for the millions of people left homeless and turned into refugees by war, violence, famine, or fleeing from dictatorships. And millions are migrants who, as they leave their homeland for what they think will be a better life, end up as jobless and displaced people or, worse, trafficked human beings – a major concern of the Vatican and Popes.

On March 6 this year, Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed the ICMC as they met in Rome on business

He said, “This is a crucial moment in which the International Catholic Commission for Migration is called to provide for the Church and the world, as well as for itself, effective answers to new questions and to consider the most appropriate contemporary way for it to carry out its commitment in situations of migration.”

The cardinal reminded his guests that, “the ICMC was established by Pope Pius XII following the upheavals caused by the Second World War. He wanted an international Catholic body of information, coordination and representation for migration, in order to cope with the massive displacement of refugees.”

The result, signed into being by the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, Mgr Giovanni Battista Montini – the future Paul VI – was the ICMC. The Commission’s main purpose was to promote the application of Christian principles on migration and on policies concerning populations, and to seek the adoption of such principles by international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, particularly in favour of the protection of the rights of families.

Cardinal Parolin emphasized “the respect that the ICMC has earned in the international community, through cooperating, in keeping with its Catholic identity, with international agencies and other governmental and non-governmental institutions at various levels and in different countries.”

He especially stressed “the ability, acquired by the ICMC in the course of its activity, to establish dialogue between different subjects: governments and civil society; humanitarian and security agencies; Catholic organizations and those belonging to other Christian denominations or those that do not identify with any religious affiliation, but intend to work for the good of migrants. For years, then, the ICMC has coordinated, on behalf of the various host governments, the whole process of participation, at a global level, of civil society organizations in the meetings of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, including the successful organisation of the Civil Society Days.

The secretary of State, noting that ICMC is now working in close contact with the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, expressed the hope that “this definite and expert experience of dialogue in order to create and sustain that network of solidarity, which alone can respond to today’s pressing needs and, together, guarantee the implementation of those agreements which are so greatly needed at the international level.”

Two days later, March 8, Pope Francis addressed the ICMC and said it is his hope that the work of ICMC will continue to “inspire local Churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort.” He also highlighted ICMC’s “invaluable experience accumulated over many years of work, … to offer expert assistance to Bishops’ Conferences and Dioceses that seek to respond more effectively to this epochal challenge,” conferences whose “common intent is to bear witness before the world to the Church’s pastoral concern for “our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters.”

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING” – ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND – CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

On International Women’s Day, Pope Francis tweeted: I thank all women who every day strive to build more humane and welcoming societies.

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING”

Pope Francis on Thursday met members of the International Catholic Migration Commission on the occasion of their Plenary Council. In prepared remarks to members of the Commission in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his thanks to them for their work carried out in the Church’s name to assist migrants and refugees in great need. The multiple projects initiated on five continents, he said represented “exemplary instances of the four verbs – welcome, defend, promote and integrate.

The Pope underlined that “today as in the past, liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of the mission entrusted by God to the Church.”

He noted that much had changed since the Commission was established in 1951. Needs have grown ever more complex, he said, “tools for responding ever more sophisticated, and your service increasingly professional.”

Inspiring action

The Pope expressed the hope that their work would “continue to inspire local Churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort.”

Open and sincere dialogue

In order to set free those who today are oppressed, rejected and enslaved, the Pope stressed that it was “essential to promote open and sincere dialogue with government leaders, a dialogue, he added, that takes into account people’s actual experiences, sufferings and aspirations, in order to remind everyone once more of his or her responsibilities.”

He went on to say that, “the processes set in motion by the international community for a global agreement on refugees, and another for safe, orderly and regulated migration, represent a privileged forum for implementing such dialogue.”

The work continues

The work is not over, Pope Francis concluded, “together, he said, we must encourage countries to coordinate more suitable and effective responses to the challenges posed by issues of migration; and we can do this on the basis of the essential principles of the Church’s social teaching.” (vaticannews.va)

ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND

Denver, Colo., Mar 7, 2018 CNA – Last week, the women’s edition of a magazine distributed in the Vatican published an article claiming that religious sisters in the Church are poorly treated and economically exploited.

The article appeared in Women Church World, a monthly women’s magazine published by L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of Vatican City. The Associated Press called the story an “exposé on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters.”

In the article, three religious sisters, whose names have been changed, expressed that the work of women religious is undervalued, that sisters are treated poorly by the priests and bishops they serve, and that they are not recognized or paid fairly for their work.

One nun, identified only as Sr. Marie, said that nuns often work long hours in domestic roles for little pay. She also lamented that some sisters are not invited to eat at the same table with the clergy that they serve, causing frustration and resentment.

Another sister in the article lamented that sisters with advanced degrees are sometimes tasked with menial tasks.

“I met some nuns in possession of a doctorate in theology who have been sent to cook or wash the dishes the following day, a mission free from any connection with their intellectual formation and without a real explanation,” said a religious sister identified in the article as Sr. Paule.

But several religious sisters have told CNA that the article does not reflect their experiences in religious life.

Mother M. Maximilia Um, who is the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Illinois, said that the article might indicate specific problems in particular sisters’ situations, rather than systemic institutional problems.

“None of the concerns or problems pointed out in this article can really be completely dismissed, but…I don’t think that they can be confined to relationships between men and women, and those who are ordained and those who are not,” she said. “I suppose in the end it’s a problem as old as sin.”

While Mother Maximilia’s order of sisters mostly serve in health care and education positions, they have “quite a history” of serving in the households of priests or bishops, like the sisters in the article.

However, the views of the sisters in the article do not reflect “the very real experience our sisters have had in these apostolates, where there is real care and concern shown for the sisters and for their service,” she said.

Mother Marie Julie is the Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, headquartered in Connecticut, whose apostolates are primarily in health care and education. Their charism is “to serve the people of God in a spirit of heartfelt simplicity.”

“So by our charism, we’re not looking to get our name in lights, we’re not looking for adulation or praise or notice even, we just want to be in the heart of the Church, and I think that’s pretty much the feeling of most religious congregations and their members,” Mother Marie told CNA.

She added that she was “saddened” by the L’Osservatore Romano article, because, she said, it paints a “misleading and bleak picture” of religious life, and does not emphasize the gift of the vocation, both to the consecrated individual and to the Church at large.

“There are disgruntled people everywhere, and also I have to admit there is probably some truth to what was written in that article, I can’t say that those people have never had any of those experiences,” she said. “But that has not been my experience or the experience of those sisters that I know.”

Rather than a feeling of servitude, religious sisters typically feel that they are daughters of the Church, and are loved and respected as such, said Mother Judith Zuniga, O.C.D., Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, California.

“I feel and know myself to be a daughter of the Church, which in essence means that the Church is my Mother and I sincerely love her,” Mother Judith told CNA by email.

“If there is sexism and discrimination, my sisters and I have not experienced it. There seems to be more a feeling of respect, affection, and gratitude for the services we render, for who we are. This would be the more standard response we’ve received from people within and outside the Church,” she said.

When it comes to monetary compensation, Mother Maximilia noted that while the salaries or stipends of a sister doing domestic work might be less than what she might make in other apostolates, “that was never an issue for us because first of all we see this as a real service to the church,” she said. Furthermore, the households in which sisters served often provided other compensation, such as meals or lodging.

“I feel like we were always adequately compensated for service,” she said.

Mother Marie told CNA that sometimes, if a particular parish is struggling, the sisters serving there might be paid less, or paid later as the funds come in, but “those are the parishes that are struggling, that is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination,” she noted.

“We don’t expect that we would live simply on the love of God, we have to have insurance and we have responsibilities and overhead,” Mother Marie said. “But when that happens – when we’re in a ministry and we’re not paid adequately as the world would see it – that’s not servitude, that’s Gospel, and that’s a privilege,” she said.

Religious sisters in the Church typically make three vows – those of poverty, chastity and obedience. During the celebration of the final profession of those vows, a sister often lies prostrate, face down, before the altar and the cross, in a symbolic gesture that she is giving up her old life and rising with Christ as someone who totally belongs to him, Mother Marie said.

That moment is “one of the holiest moments of our lives as sisters,” Mother Marie said.

“When we laid our lives at the service of the Gospel, we also laid at the foot of the altar our expectations for what we would gain in life,” in terms of worldly success or recognition, she said. Instead, “our hope is that we would gain souls, and I know that that might sound sort of Pollyannish, but that’s what gets us up in the morning,” she added.

Regarding the complaint that sisters with advanced degrees might be working in positions of service that are considered less intellectually stimulating, Mother Maximilia said that kind of thinking reveals a bias about what makes work valuable.

“The thought that [intellectual work] is objectively more valuable is already a biased opinion,” Mother Maximilia said.

“The point of any work is to serve and love God and neighbor, and I think actually that shows itself in a very particular way in direct service to a person’s needs,” she said.

“I would argue that it often is very intellectual work to balance and manage a household, so I think first of all we have a skewered notion of what valuable work is, and I would accentuate that what makes work valuable in the end is love, and we’ve always understood that service to the clergy is primarily that,” Mother Maximilia said.

It is natural, Mother Marie noted, that a religious sister with an advanced degree would want to work in her field of expertise at least for a time, and that is often the plan for those sisters. However, sometimes extenuating circumstances necessitate that sisters serve in other apostolates.

“If God calls us to do something else either through our superiors or the signs of the times or just through events, then we respond to that…we see that as the will of God,” she said.

When a sister is serving in a position that may not have been her first choice, it is not unlike the sacrifices that mothers and fathers make for their families, she added, such as staying up all night with a sick child, or taking a lower paying position in order to have more time for their family.

“That’s done for love, and it’s love that drives what we do, and a recognition of this great gift that we have,” as consecrated people, she said.

Mother Judith added that while education is a good and necessary thing, it is not ultimately the measure by which souls will be judged at the end of their lives.

“In the final analysis, when we come to the end of our life and we come before the Lord, I think it’s safe to say that He’s not going to ask us how many degrees we had or how we used our education,” she said. “He’s going to ask us how we loved.”

Mother Judith noted that the article misses, as contemporary culture often misses, the gifts that women in their femininity bring to the world, regardless of what specific tasks they are performing.

“We live in a culture that doesn’t seem to value the true gifts that women bring to our culture – motherhood, gentleness, patience, intuition, sensitivity, attention, warmth and the list goes on. These qualities are now seen in a negative light,seen as weaknesses, when in fact, it’s our strength,” she said.

“For consecrated religious, these elements of true femininity should be even more deeply rooted in us simply because of who we are. People see us and right away they associate us with God, the Church and rightly so. What a blessing and privilege it is to be a daughter of the Church.”

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

This was unexpected!

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, recently sent a letter endorsing the book Primal Loss, edited and self-published by Leila Miller, which reveals the often traumatic experiences of children whose parents divorced.

Miller is a well-known Catholic blogger and author. She came from an intact family herself, so she first learned about how harmful divorce can be on children after an adult friend from a broken household opened up to her about her childhood experiences.

Concerned that this was a perspective lost in the current debate in the Catholic Church about divorce and remarriage, Miller put out a request on social media for adult children of divorce to share their stories with her, which she then compiled into the book Primal Loss. She decided to self-publish the book so she could ensure the book maintained its integrity on a very hot-button topic in our society.

“Your writing on this subject is both timely and urgent,” the Cardinal wrote in a personal letter to Miller, who had sent him a copy. “How necessary it is to support and defend the beauty of the Christian family as revealed to us by God from the very first pages of Sacred Scripture!

“In front of the growing attacks against the family, studies such as your own show the damaging and enduring consequences of a world vision, which denies the value of sacrifice and giving one’s life to the end for the other. I will certainly do what I can to promote Primal Loss.” (From ChurchPop)

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING” – ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND – CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

On International Women’s Day, Pope Francis tweeted: I thank all women who every day strive to build more humane and welcoming societies.

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING”

Pope Francis on Thursday met members of the International Catholic Migration Commission on the occasion of their Plenary Council. In prepared remarks to members of the Commission in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his thanks to them for their work carried out in the Church’s name to assist migrants and refugees in great need. The multiple projects initiated on five continents, he said represented “exemplary instances of the four verbs – welcome, defend, promote and integrate.”

The Pope underlined that “today as in the past, liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of the mission entrusted by God to the Church.”


He noted that much had changed since the Commission was established in 1951. Needs have grown ever more complex, he said, “tools for responding ever more sophisticated, and your service increasingly professional.”

Inspiring action

The Pope expressed the hope that their work would “continue to inspire local Churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort.”

Open and sincere dialogue

In order to set free those who today are oppressed, rejected and enslaved, the Pope stressed that it was “essential to promote open and sincere dialogue with government leaders, a dialogue, he added, that takes into account people’s actual experiences, sufferings and aspirations, in order to remind everyone once more of his or her responsibilities.”

He went on to say that, “the processes set in motion by the international community for a global agreement on refugees, and another for safe, orderly and regulated migration, represent a privileged forum for implementing such dialogue.”

The work continues

The work is not over, Pope Francis concluded, “together, he said, we must encourage countries to coordinate more suitable and effective responses to the challenges posed by issues of migration; and we can do this on the basis of the essential principles of the Church’s social teaching.” (vaticannews.va)

ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND

Denver, Colo., Mar 7, 2018 CNA – Last week, the women’s edition of a magazine distributed in the Vatican published an article claiming that religious sisters in the Church are poorly treated and economically exploited.

The article appeared in Women Church World, a monthly women’s magazine published by L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of Vatican City. The Associated Press called the story an “exposé on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters.”

In the article, three religious sisters, whose names have been changed, expressed that the work of women religious is undervalued, that sisters are treated poorly by the priests and bishops they serve, and that they are not recognized or paid fairly for their work.

One nun, identified only as Sr. Marie, said that nuns often work long hours in domestic roles for little pay. She also lamented that some sisters are not invited to eat at the same table with the clergy that they serve, causing frustration and resentment.

Another sister in the article lamented that sisters with advanced degrees are sometimes tasked with menial tasks.

“I met some nuns in possession of a doctorate in theology who have been sent to cook or wash the dishes the following day, a mission free from any connection with their intellectual formation and without a real explanation,” said a religious sister identified in the article as Sr. Paule.

But several religious sisters have told CNA that the article does not reflect their experiences in religious life.

Mother M. Maximilia Um, who is the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Illinois, said that the article might indicate specific problems in particular sisters’ situations, rather than systemic institutional problems.

“None of the concerns or problems pointed out in this article can really be completely dismissed, but…I don’t think that they can be confined to relationships between men and women, and those who are ordained and those who are not,” she said. “I suppose in the end it’s a problem as old as sin.”

While Mother Maximilia’s order of sisters mostly serve in health care and education positions, they have “quite a history” of serving in the households of priests or bishops, like the sisters in the article.

However, the views of the sisters in the article do not reflect “the very real experience our sisters have had in these apostolates, where there is real care and concern shown for the sisters and for their service,” she said.

Mother Marie Julie is the Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, headquartered in Connecticut, whose apostolates are primarily in health care and education. Their charism is “to serve the people of God in a spirit of heartfelt simplicity.”

“So by our charism, we’re not looking to get our name in lights, we’re not looking for adulation or praise or notice even, we just want to be in the heart of the Church, and I think that’s pretty much the feeling of most religious congregations and their members,” Mother Marie told CNA.

She added that she was “saddened” by the L’Osservatore Romano article, because, she said, it paints a “misleading and bleak picture” of religious life, and does not emphasize the gift of the vocation, both to the consecrated individual and to the Church at large.

“There are disgruntled people everywhere, and also I have to admit there is probably some truth to what was written in that article, I can’t say that those people have never had any of those experiences,” she said. “But that has not been my experience or the experience of those sisters that I know.”

Rather than a feeling of servitude, religious sisters typically feel that they are daughters of the Church, and are loved and respected as such, said Mother Judith Zuniga, O.C.D., Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, California.

“I feel and know myself to be a daughter of the Church, which in essence means that the Church is my Mother and I sincerely love her,” Mother Judith told CNA by email.

“If there is sexism and discrimination, my sisters and I have not experienced it. There seems to be more a feeling of respect, affection, and gratitude for the services we render, for who we are. This would be the more standard response we’ve received from people within and outside the Church,” she said.

When it comes to monetary compensation, Mother Maximilia noted that while the salaries or stipends of a sister doing domestic work might be less than what she might make in other apostolates, “that was never an issue for us because first of all we see this as a real service to the church,” she said. Furthermore, the households in which sisters served often provided other compensation, such as meals or lodging.

“I feel like we were always adequately compensated for service,” she said.

Mother Marie told CNA that sometimes, if a particular parish is struggling, the sisters serving there might be paid less, or paid later as the funds come in, but “those are the parishes that are struggling, that is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination,” she noted.

“We don’t expect that we would live simply on the love of God, we have to have insurance and we have responsibilities and overhead,” Mother Marie said. “But when that happens – when we’re in a ministry and we’re not paid adequately as the world would see it – that’s not servitude, that’s Gospel, and that’s a privilege,” she said.

Religious sisters in the Church typically make three vows – those of poverty, chastity and obedience. During the celebration of the final profession of those vows, a sister often lies prostrate, face down, before the altar and the cross, in a symbolic gesture that she is giving up her old life and rising with Christ as someone who totally belongs to him, Mother Marie said.

That moment is “one of the holiest moments of our lives as sisters,” Mother Marie said.

“When we laid our lives at the service of the Gospel, we also laid at the foot of the altar our expectations for what we would gain in life,” in terms of worldly success or recognition, she said. Instead, “our hope is that we would gain souls, and I know that that might sound sort of Pollyannish, but that’s what gets us up in the morning,” she added.

Regarding the complaint that sisters with advanced degrees might be working in positions of service that are considered less intellectually stimulating, Mother Maximilia said that kind of thinking reveals a bias about what makes work valuable.

“The thought that [intellectual work] is objectively more valuable is already a biased opinion,” Mother Maximilia said.

“The point of any work is to serve and love God and neighbor, and I think actually that shows itself in a very particular way in direct service to a person’s needs,” she said.

“I would argue that it often is very intellectual work to balance and manage a household, so I think first of all we have a skewered notion of what valuable work is, and I would accentuate that what makes work valuable in the end is love, and we’ve always understood that service to the clergy is primarily that,” Mother Maximilia said.

It is natural, Mother Marie noted, that a religious sister with an advanced degree would want to work in her field of expertise at least for a time, and that is often the plan for those sisters. However, sometimes extenuating circumstances necessitate that sisters serve in other apostolates.

“If God calls us to do something else either through our superiors or the signs of the times or just through events, then we respond to that…we see that as the will of God,” she said.

When a sister is serving in a position that may not have been her first choice, it is not unlike the sacrifices that mothers and fathers make for their families, she added, such as staying up all night with a sick child, or taking a lower paying position in order to have more time for their family.

“That’s done for love, and it’s love that drives what we do, and a recognition of this great gift that we have,” as consecrated people, she said.

Mother Judith added that while education is a good and necessary thing, it is not ultimately the measure by which souls will be judged at the end of their lives.

“In the final analysis, when we come to the end of our life and we come before the Lord, I think it’s safe to say that He’s not going to ask us how many degrees we had or how we used our education,” she said. “He’s going to ask us how we loved.”

Mother Judith noted that the article misses, as contemporary culture often misses, the gifts that women in their femininity bring to the world, regardless of what specific tasks they are performing.

“We live in a culture that doesn’t seem to value the true gifts that women bring to our culture – motherhood, gentleness, patience, intuition, sensitivity, attention, warmth and the list goes on. These qualities are now seen in a negative light,seen as weaknesses, when in fact, it’s our strength,” she said.

“For consecrated religious, these elements of true femininity should be even more deeply rooted in us simply because of who we are. People see us and right away they associate us with God, the Church and rightly so. What a blessing and privilege it is to be a daughter of the Church.”

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

This was unexpected!

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, recently sent a letter endorsing the book Primal Loss, edited and self-published by Leila Miller, which reveals the often traumatic experiences of children whose parents divorced.

Miller is a well-known Catholic blogger and author. She came from an intact family herself, so she first learned about how harmful divorce can be on children after an adult friend from a broken household opened up to her about her childhood experiences.

Concerned that this was a perspective lost in the current debate in the Catholic Church about divorce and remarriage, Miller put out a request on social media for adult children of divorce to share their stories with her, which she then compiled into the book Primal Loss. She decided to self-publish the book so she could ensure the book maintained its integrity on a very hot-button topic in our society.

“Your writing on this subject is both timely and urgent,” the Cardinal wrote in a personal letter to Miller, who had sent him a copy. “How necessary it is to support and defend the beauty of the Christian family as revealed to us by God from the very first pages of Sacred Scripture!

“In front of the growing attacks against the family, studies such as your own show the damaging and enduring consequences of a world vision, which denies the value of sacrifice and giving one’s life to the end for the other. I will certainly do what I can to promote Primal Loss.”  (From https:// churchpop.com)

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO EXPERT IN MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES – SPANISH ROYALS TO INAUGURATE NEW LIGHTING FOR ST. MARY MAJOR – THE 3 PROPHESIES OF POPE PAUL VI THAT ARE BEING FULFILLED IN OUR WORLD RIGHT NOW

FYI: See Press Office Director Greg Burke said in a statement today, January 12, that Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Archbishop Major of Kyiv-Halyč of the Ukrainians and, on Sunday, January 28 at 4 pm, will visit the Basilica of Santa Sofia in Rome and meet with the Ukrainian Greek/Catholic community.

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO EXPERT IN MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

I welcome you to Vatican Insider on a weekend –specifically on the second Sunday after the Epiphany – when the Church celebrates the World day of Migrants and Refugees. Because of this world day and the growing numbers of both migrants and refugees throughout the world and related issues for governments, you will absolutely want to tune in to Part II of my conversation with Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary general of ICMI – International Catholic Migration Commission.

He is an affable, capable, multi-lingual trained social worker with a broad expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS and global health. From 2005 to 2016, he served as Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis in Geneva and as Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS. As we spoke in Rome, I learned so much about the Church’s work in this area and it was absolutely fascinating. This is a front page issue today so do not miss our conversation!

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 http://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=

SPANISH ROYALS TO INAUGURATE NEW LIGHTING FOR ST. MARY MAJOR

Friday, January 19, at 5 pm, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia will inaugurate the new illumination of Saint Mary Major Basilica. The LED illumination links advanced technology with respect for the environment and will allow an 80% savings, according to a Vatican communiqué.

Last April 19, an agreement to collaborate on the joint development of the lighting project was signed between the basilica, the archpriest of the papal basilica, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the governorate of Vatican City State and the Fundacion Endesa within the framework of its program of artistic illumination to preserve cultural and artistic patrimony.

Work began last June under the direction of the technical services of Vatican City State.

As I noted in my book, “A Holy Year in Rome,” all who visit this papal basilica
are drawn to the arrestingly beautiful ceiling, commissioned by Pope Alexander VI for the Holy Year 1500 and designed by Giuliano da Sangallo. The 105 wood-carved panels, each a meter square, were placed over the original trussed ceiling and then gilded with some of the gold brought from the newly discovered Americas by Columbus and given to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The Peruvian gold was then donated by the Spanish Royals to Pope Alexander VI, also a Spaniard. This added magnificence induced Romans to call this “the golden basilica.”

The basilica has been under the patronage of Spanish kings since that time and even today the Spanish monarch is a canon of St. Mary Major. In theory the king should visit the basilica once a year. If he cannot do so, he names a delegate, usually the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See. Once every year there is a Mass in the basilica for Spain and the Spanish people.

Twenty-four canons, named by the Holy Father, are responsible for the basilica – for its administration, repairs and the day-to-day tasks of overseeing visitors and preparing liturgical services.

I took these photos of the ceiling several years ago during the legendary August 5 “snowfall.”

Here’s the story:

The year was 358 A.D. John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and requested that they build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night.

John and his wife went to tell Pope Liberius of their dream and to their amazement discovered that the pontiff had had the same dream. The next morning, August 5, the highest of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline, was covered in snow, as witnessed by John, his wife, the Pope and his entourage, and a throng of Romans. Pope Liberius took a stick and traced the sign of the future basilica in the snow, a basilica which would be forever known as Our Lady of the Snows, in addition to the name it bears today, St. Mary Major, the greatest – and the oldest – Marian church.

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5. Each year, during a solemn high Mass, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released from the basilica’s rooftop, both inside and outside, showering the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

THE 3 PROPHESIES OF POPE PAUL VI THAT ARE BEING FULFILLED IN OUR WORLD RIGHT NOW

(ChurchPOP) – This year, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teaching against the use of contraception.

For Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Paul VI was much more than just a great moral teacher – he was a prophet.

“That section of the encyclical,” Bp. Barron explains, referring to section 17 in which Paul VI predicts the social consequences of contraception, “I will confess to you, jumped out at me as I reread it, because I thought ‘Wow, 1968, but this man was looking very clearly into our time.’”

He then goes through Paul IV’s three big predictions about what a world that widely accepts contraception would look like: (1) more marital infidelity and lower moral standards for young people, (2) men feeling more free to objectify women, and (3) governments imposing contraception on their citizens.

Today, 50 years since the sexual revolution, it’s clear all of these have come true: sexual morality and marriage has collapsed, women are widely viewed as mere sex objects by men, and the Little Sisters of the Poor and others in the US have suffered from the HHS mandate, not to mention the much more severe population control policies in places like China.

Looking at our world today, it’s amazing how accurate Paul VI was. Which makes it all the more tragic that so many people, both within and without the Church, haven’t more closely heeded his warnings.

Click here to view Bishop Barron’s video at end of article: Https://churchpop.com/2018/01/11/bishop-barron-explains-why-pope-paul-vi-was-a-prophet-with-humanae-vitae/

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES – NATIONS LOOK TO HOLY SEE FOR LEADERSHIP ON MIGRATION AND REFUGEES

Weekend News update: Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, January 6, feast of the Epiphany, and will also celebrate Mass on Sunday, January 7, feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, doing so in the Sistine Chapel during which he will baptize 34 newborns, 18 girls and 16 boys.. He will also recite the Angelus on both days.

Here is a link to the story and video about the Holy Father’s monthly prayer intention for January 2018: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/pope–let-us-pray-for-religious-liberty-in-asia.html#play

If you want to understand how the U.S. diplomatic service functions, pay a visit to the website of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See: https://va.usembassy.gov/

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

Just days ago, on January 1, 2018, we celebrated the 51st World Day of Peace with Pope Francis’ annual Message for this day entitled, “Migrants and Refugees – Men and Women in Search of Peace.” Thus, the interview segment for this week’s Vatican Insider is more than appropriate as my special guest is Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary general of the Geneva-based ICMI – the International Catholic Migration Commission.

An American, Msgr. Vitillo is a trained social worker with a broad expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS, and global health. From 2005 to 2016 he served as Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis in Geneva and as Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS. ICMC is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that works in the area of migration and refugee assistance. ICMC was founded in 1951 in the wake of the massive human displacement caused by World War II.

I learned so much in Part I of our conversation, and I am sure you will as well! I learned, for example, how ICMC vets migrants and refugees who want to enter the U.S., doing so for the U.S. State Department and for the Department of Homeland Security.

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 http://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=

NATIONS LOOK TO HOLY SEE FOR LEADERSHIP ON MIGRATION AND REFUGEES

(Vatican News – Philippa Hitchens) – Fr. Michael Czerny highlights the importance of Pope Francis’ Peace Day Message in preparation for the U.N. compacts on refugees and migrants.

The rights of refugees and migrants will be under the spotlight throughout 2018 as the United Nations works towards the adoption of two global agreements or ‘compacts’, responding to the largest number of displaced people since the Second World War.

In this year’s message for the January 1st World Day of Peace, Pope Francis also focused on migrants and refugees, highlighting the reasons why so many people are on the move and what our response should be.

As governments and communities seek to cope with large numbers of people fleeing from conflict or poverty, the Pope says, it’s vital to find creative, bold and compassionate solutions, rather than fomenting fear of migrants, thus “sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia”

Fr. Michael Czerny is undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees office at the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development. He talks about the importance of the 2018 Peace Day message – the first one to focus on this key area of international concern.

Fr. Michael says the message highlights how migrants and refugees are “not just people in difficulty, who need help, but are “artisans of peace, contributors to peace, builders of peace”.

Dialogue with Governments

Though the message was published in November, he says “the dialogue with governments is just beginning” as politicians receive a personal copy of the text at the start of the new year and as the Pope comments on it during his high profile meeting with members of the diplomatic corps.

Fr. Michael notes how much the Holy See’s concerns are appreciated at international level by all those preparing for both UN compacts on migrants and refugees.

Looking for Leadership

The Vatican missions in New York and Geneva will be actively involved in negotiations, he notes, adding: “What is very satisfying and hopeful and challenging is that many fellow states, nation states, look to the Holy See for leadership in this area”.

Fr. Michael’s office has worked with major Catholic refugee organisations and with bishops’ conferences to develop 20 action points, which are both “a pastoral plan” and “a negotiating platform”. He says they have been submitted to UN for both the migrants and refugee processes and have been “warmly welcomed” as “quite outstanding contributions to the processes”.

Highlighting Postive Contributions

Commenting on the strong opposition to migrants and refugees by some governments, Fr. Michael says “our role is not to get into arguments” but to quietly and repeatedly bring forward the positive experiences”, making governments “see that with less investment and more goodwill they’ll get much further than by imagining they can pay their way or bully their way out of this”.

He cites “heartwarming stories” of abandoned villages where migrants have helped to rebuild a thriving agriculture, giving rise to commerce, a return of tourism, and regeneration of family life with schools reopened and parishes booming. “New life is possible”, he concludes, “if you’re willing to share what there is and be open to new possibilities”.

POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

An interesting note about Vatican Radio: I tuned in to Vatican Radio this morning, intending to listen to the usual 8:30 am news broadcast in English, a program that follows the 8 am news slot in Italian and the 8:15 program in French. Instead, I heard a commentary in Italian. Seems that, in the continuing “reform” of the Vatican’s communications offices, the morning broadcast in English on VR has disappeared and, additionally, listeners in Rome can no longer hear the evening news broadcast in English unless they happen to have a digital radio. Progress?. Will we need a reform of the reform?!

Here’s a terrific story! But not a surprising one!  The Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities, Caritas and her hospitals and clinics and other institutions, always steps up to the bat when there is need. As Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham said a few years back when there was a serious storm and flooding situation locally, and EWTN employees were granted some paid time off to help victims, “We do this not because they are Catholic but because we are Catholic.” http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/archdiocese-of-mexico-city-offers-free-medical-care-to-earthquake-victims

Some trivia for people with blue eyes: Researchers from The University of Copenhagen discovered a genetic mutation that happened somewhere between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago in one person, likely in Europe. That person passed along the mutation to their descendants who then passed it on to their children. Thousands of years later, the current 200 million people in the world that have blue eyes are all bound together by this common ancestor.

FYI: The current world population is 7.5 billion people. 200 million is 2.7 percent of that populace, so we blue-eyed people are a distinct, and it seems we can say historical, minority!

POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis loudly and clearly welcomed migrants, refugees and asylum seekers while expressing his support and gratitude for the Caritas Internationalis “Share the Journey” campaign.

Speaking during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the Pope also had special words of welcome for Caritas representatives gathered to officially launch the two-year campaign aimed at activism and awareness-raising about the plight of migrants,

The campaign encourages people to actually meet with migrants and listen to their stories, rather than treat them as mere numbers and statistics imbued with negative stereotypes.

Opening his arms wide in a powerfully symbolic gesture, Francis said “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace”.

And pointing to the beautiful Bernini colonnade that encircles St. Peter’s Square, he said our embrace of migrants should mimic the colonnade “which represents mother Church who embraces everyone by sharing in our common journey”.

The Pope thanked Caritas members and other Church organizations for their constant commitment in favour of migrants saying that they are the sign of an “open, inclusive and welcoming Church.”

The campaign launched  on Wednesday aims to challenge negative myths and perceptions regarding migrants through websites featuring the stories of individuals, the true impact of immigration and  explanations of Church teaching on the culture of encounter.

Caritas Internationalis is asking Catholics to take public action in support of migrants, posting pro-immigrant messages on social media and participating in programmes where they can meet migrants and refugees.

In his greetings to all those who work to support and advocate for migrants and refugees the Pope also welcomed a petition that seeks new legislation on migration “which is more pertinent to the current context.”

After the audience, Pope Francis personally greeted a group of some 50 refugees who were in the Square for the occasion.

“Brothers, don’t be afraid of sharing the journey. Don’t be afraid of sharing hope” Pope Francis said.

His appeal to replace prejudice with tolerance was enmeshed in his continuing catechesis on Christian hope during which he reflected on the importance of combatting all that threatens our hope.

And pointing out that it is hope itself that motivates so many of our brothers and sisters forced to leave their homes in search of a better life, Francis said that hope is especially the virtue of the poor.

“God came into this  world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation” he said.

And appealing to Christians to never allow themselves to be robbed of hope, he said that hope is also the virtue of the young who risk being deprived of it by an often soulless and materialist society.

Pope Francis concluded reminding the faithful that we are not alone in our fight against desperation and spiritual emptiness: “if God is with us no one will rob us of that virtue which is necessary to look to the future: no one will rob us of hope”.

JFL: Here is my translation of Pope Francis’ words at the end of the weekly general audience about the Share the Journey campaign:

I am happy to receive the representatives of Caritas who are here to launch the “Share the Journey” campaign that I wanted to coincide with this audience. I welcome the migrants, those asking for asylum and the refugees who, together with the staff from Caritas Italiana and other Catholic organizations, are the sign of a Church that seeks to be open, inclusive and welcoming. Thanks to all of you for your tireless service. They all truly merit a great applause!

With your daily commitment, you remind us that Christ himself asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants and refugees with open arms – precisely in this way, with open arms, ready for a sincere, affectionate and enveloping embrace, a little like this colonnade here at St. Peter’s that represents Mother Church who embraces everyone in this shared journey.

I welcome the representatives of so many organizations of civil society who are involved in helping migrants and refugees and who, together with Caritas, have given their support to the gathering of signatures for a new migration law more in tune with the current context.

The general audience again focused on hope. Following is the English-language summary of the general audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, I would now like to reflect on the importance of combating all that threatens our hope. As the ancient story of Pandora’s box teaches us, hope remains as the treasure enabling mankind to face with trust in God’s providence every evil let loose in this world. In our own day, hope motivates so many of our brothers and sisters forced to leave their homes in search of a better life, but also those who welcome them, “sharing the journey” with them and trusting in a better tomorrow. Hope is especially the virtue of the poor. As the mystery of Christmas teaches us, God came into this world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation. Hope is also the virtue of the young, who deserve not to be robbed of it by an often soulless and materialist society. Hope’s greatest enemy is spiritual emptiness, the “noon-day devil” that tempts us to stop fighting and to yield to discouragement. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to hope more firmly in his promises, confident that his victory over the world will fill our hearts with joy as we face the future and all that it has in store for us.