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/

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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.

CARITAS INSTITUTES MIGRATION AWARENESS CAMPAIGN – POPE FRANCIS TO LAUNCH CARITAS’ “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

It is always marvelous to enjoy a quality vacation in beautiful settings and to spend time with family and friends but it is also wonderful to return home and to appreciate once again what we take for granted all year long – the familiar bed and pillow, the sounds and sights of everyday life, a place for everything and everything in its place.

That return also means doing the mundane chores of everyday life, stocking up on groceries, tacking a big pile of snail mail, answering email correspondence that accumultated during two days of travel and, most importantly, re-setting one’s mental gears to work mode! That may be far more difficult that dusting, doing laundry or shopping!

I always keep up with news about the Vatican and the Pope while on vacation but not with the same depth and intensity than I do when sitting at my desk here. That will change tomorrow, as you can see from today’s stories.

To those of you also returning from vacation, welcome back!

To those of you still on vacation – the rest of us are jealous!

CARITAS INSTITUTES MIGRATION AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

Pope Francis Wednesday will launch Caritas Internationalis‘ “Share the Journey” migration campaign, a two-year campaign of action and awareness-raising that to promote the strengthening of relationships between migrants, refugees and communities. This campaign is Caritas’response to Pope Francis’ calls to promote the ‘culture of encounter’ to see people on the move with humanity, to open hearts and minds, to change perceptions. (photo: news.va)

Caritas Internationalis, says a CI communiqué, “will shine light on the challenges and effects of migration at all points on the journey, while harnessing the strength of its more than 160 global members to campaign for a shift in thinking. The campaign will be bolstered by support from ACT Alliance, a network of 145 Christian agencies worldwide and a variety of other religious congregations and civil society groups.”

The press release notes that Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis is himself the descendent of a child migrant. The cardinal told CI that, “Through ‘Share the Journey’ we’re making a simple suggestion to people: get in touch with a real migrant. Look them in the eyes, listen to why they left their homes, how their journey’s been, see the real people behind the numbers and scare stories.

“This time of greater interconnection is an invitation to each and every one of us to look at how we can be more united. I hope the global migration and refugee situation will lead the whole world in a corporate examination of consciousness and our value systems.”

Caritas supporters will launch actions in their countries and communities around the world as part of “Share the Journey.”

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy believes change has to come from individuals and governments. “Share the Journey is an opportunity to replace prejudice with tolerance. Caritas is challenging the rise in indifference and rejection, often consequences of the rise of individualism and societies that see people only as consumers, depriving them of their profound humanity.”

“The world is a better place when migrants are understood, welcomed and integrated. Not forced into modern slavery by people traffickers, poorly protected by weak laws and a lack of will and compassion.”

Infographics by CI: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/p7v15sm12qhr44v/AACdJC_aX4WrcOjQQqeiL-YVa?dl=0&preview=Infographic.pdf

POPE FRANCIS TO LAUNCH CARITAS’ “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is set, this week, to launch a global campaign on migration.

Entitled “Share the Journey,” the two-year Caritas Internationalis campaign aims to promote the strengthening of relationships between migrants, refugees and communities.

It is Caritas’ response to Pope Francis’ call for a culture of encounter and to see people on the move with open hearts and minds.

The campaign will be launched Wednesday in the Vatican and by all members of the Caritas family across the globe.

Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Luis Tagle told Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti that the campaign is asking people to see the real people behind the numbers and statistics.

Cardinal Tagle explains that the primary objective of the campaign is to ‘return to the Bible’, to the spirituality of the Word of God “where God always had a soft spot in his heart for the most vulnerable” and amongst the most vulnerable are the migrants, the foreigners.

“Jesus himself identifies his presence with that of the stranger: ‘when I was a stranger you visited me’, Tagle recalls.

So, what is important with this campaign, he says, is to remind the Christian world – and all of humanity – of this important message.

The cardinal points out that the campaign of action and awareness-raising will promote the social teaching of the Church and it will put “a human face” on migrants who are often seen as mere numbers and statistics.

It embraces the call and the words of Pope Francis “to welcome, to protect, to promote the integral human development and to integrate” forced migrants and refugees.

“Through this campaign we hope to correct some negative myths about migrants and migration and also to address some of the roots of forced migration” as well as influence the global compact to make migration safe for people, Tagle says.

Pointing out that migration has always been part of human history, Tagle says recent trends force us to look at the causes of forced migration, to be aware of the violence to which many are subjected and of the new forms of slavery that have stemmed from the phenomenon.

Especially concerning, he says, is the vulnerability of young people.

“If we do not address this humanitarian crisis with the help of all governments and communities we will see generations of people with their hopes of a future destroyed” he says.

What the Church and Caritas are asking for – Cardinal Tagle explains – is a change of mentality, “a conversion”.

Cardinal Tagle’s video invitation to Share the Journey; https://youtu.be/z7GOduLAWSM

Instead of demonizing migrants and building walls, we must create the basis for a culture of encounter which will ultimately destroy the walls of prejudice.

FRANCIS: MIGRANT SITUATION WORLD’S GREAT TRAGEDY SINCE WWII – ITALIAN LIFEGUARDS GIVE POPE BACKPACKS FOR THE NEEDY

FRANCIS: MIGRANT SITUATION WORLD’S GREAT TRAGEDY SINCE WWII

Pope Francis has called for an ongoing commitment to welcome and integrate forced migrants and refugees and described the current migration phenomenon as the world’s greatest tragedy after the Second World War.

At the audience he spoke specifically to the Italian association, Migrantes Foundation, an arm of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) that promotes the pastoral care of migrants and refugees arriving in Italy. Noting that it offers services and help to migrants and refugees upon their arrival and a long-term process of integration, the Pope highlighted the rights and the responsibilities of those who receive and of those who are received, and described the current migration crisis as the greatest tragedy after World War 2.

He was addressing the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience during which he continued his catechesis on Christian hope and appealed to the faithful to ‘re-discover’ the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Pope Francis reflected on a reading from Saint Paul that centers on the attitudes of steadfastness and encouragement, saying they “are intimately connected to the reality of Christian hope because ours is a God of steadfastness as he loves us perseveringly and never tires of consoling us.”

“He is also a God of encouragement,” said Francis, “who calls us to be close to the weak and the needy with whom he asks us to be strong and to be sowers of hope. Even more, Christians are called to spread hope by supporting and encouraging one another, especially those in danger of faltering.  But we do so with the strength provided by the Lord, who is our unfailing source of hope.”

Later, speaking to an Italian association that offers services and help to migrants and refugees upon their arrival and a long-term process of integration, the Pope highlighted the rights and the responsibilities of those who receive and of those who are received, and described the current migration crisis as the greatest tragedy after World War 2.

He was speaking just days before EU Heads of State or Government convene in the city to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rom that established the European Union.

In an appeal after the catechesis, Pope Francis reminded all Catholic communities to participate in the upcoming “24 hours for the Lord” initiative on March 24 and 25 with churches across the globe offering the Sacrament of Confession as a “privileged moment of grace” during our Lenten journey.

In Rome, on Friday March 24, the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Le Stimmate di San Francesco will remain open from 8pm for Confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

On Saturday March 25, a service of thanksgiving will take place at 5pm in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, will preside over First Vespers of the Fourth Sunday of Lent.

People around the world can show their support for the initiative by using the #24hoursfortheLord hashtag.  (source Vatican Radio)

ITALIAN LIFEGUARDS GIVE POPE BACKPACKS FOR THE NEEDY

More than 1,500 lifeguards and coastal resort business representatives wearing distinctive red jackets were at Wednesday’s General Audience to give backpacks to the Holy Father containing items like toothpaste and razors.

The initiative was organized by the “Sindacato Italiano Balneari (S.I.B),” an organization that provides vital supervision for bathers at coastal resorts throughout the country.

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The organization president, Riccardo Borgo, said: “With this gesture we came to give a concrete help to Pope Francis and his works in support of the homeless. We also delivered to His Holiness the distinctive symbol of Italian lifeguards, the red shirt with the word ‘Rescue’ identical to the one worn on our beaches by the thousands of boys and girls each summer who supervise and work so that bathing happens in complete safety and tranquility.”

He added, “For this summer, we have other charitable initiatives and solidarity planned in favor of children and the poor.”

More than 1,000 reusable backpacks made up of different products including soap, shaving foam, and deodorants were handed over to the Holy Father for distribution to the poor at Easter. S.I.B came up with the idea following Pope Francis’ initiative launched at the Vatican two years ago that provides showers and barber services for homeless people.

The lifeguards and coastal resort entrepreneurs were joined in St Peter’s Square by their families and were accompanied by the Bishop of Chioggia, Adriano Tessarolo, as well as several priests from coastal regions.

Following the audience, a delegation consisting of one representative for each coastal town met with the papal almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski who gave them Rosary beads as a memento of the event.

THE RESPONSE TO PHENOMENON OF MIGRATION: WELCOME, PROTECT, PROMOTE, INTEGRATE – VATICAN DELEGATION TO ATTEND SEMINAR AT AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY

Pope Francis tweeted today: God knows better than we do about what we need. We must have faith, because his ways are different from ours.

And yesterday: If evil is contagious, so is goodness. Let us be infected by goodness and let us spread goodness!

THE RESPONSE TO PHENOMENON OF MIGRATION: WELCOME, PROTECT, PROMOTE, INTEGRATE

This morning the Holy Father welcomed the participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, and told them the political community, civil society and the Church must offer a shared response to the complexities of the phenomenon of migration today, a response that “may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.” (photo news.va)

francis-migrants

The two-day forum has been organized by the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalbrini International Migration Network. Its theme is: “Integration and Development: From Reaction to Action.”  Francis said “development and integration were the very reason I wanted to establish the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, with a Section concerned exclusively for migrants, refugees and the victims of human trafficking.”

Pope Francis singled out particularly vulnerable group of migrants, exiles and refugees:  “children and young people who are forced to live far from their homeland and who are separated from their loved ones.”

“The beginning of this third millennium,” he stated, “is very much characterized by migratory movement which, in terms of origin, transit and destination, involves nearly every part of the world.  Unfortunately, in the majority of cases this movement is forced, caused by conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions: The sheer number of people migrating from one continent to another, or shifting places within their own countries and geographical areas, is striking. 

To welcome.  “Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 12 January 2015).  Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.  For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organisations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels.  A responsible and dignified welcome of our brothers and sisters begins by offering them decent and appropriate shelter.  The enormous gathering together of persons seeking asylum and of refugees has not produced positive results.  Instead these gatherings have created new situations of vulnerability and hardship.  More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success.

To protect.  My predecessor, Pope Benedict, highlighted the fact that the migratory experience often makes people more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence (cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 18 October 2005).  We are speaking about millions of migrant workers, male and female – and among these particularly men and women in irregular situations – of those exiled and seeking asylum, and of those who are victims of trafficking.  Defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.  Protecting these brothers and sisters is a moral imperative which translates into adopting juridical instruments, both international and national, that must be clear and relevant; implementing just and far reaching political choices; prioritising constructive processes, which perhaps are slower, over immediate results of consensus; implementing timely and humane programmes in the fight against “the trafficking of human flesh” which profits off others’ misfortune; coordinating the efforts of all actors, among which, you may be assured will always be the Church.

To promote.  Protecting is not enough.  What is required is the promotion of an integral human development of migrants, exiles and refugees.  This “takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” (Apostolic Letter Humanam Progressionem, 17 August 2016).  Development, according to the social doctrine of the Church (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 373-374), is an undeniable right of every human being.  As such, it must be guaranteed by ensuring the necessary conditions for its exercise, both in the individual and social context, providing fair access to fundamental goods for all people and offering the possibility of choice and growth.  Also here a coordinated effort is needed, one which envisages all the parties involved: from the political community to civil society, from international organisations to religious institutions.  The human promotion of migrants and their families begins with their communities of origin.  That is where such promotion should be guaranteed, joined to the right of being able to emigrate, as well as the right to not be constrained to emigrate.”

To integrate.  Integration, which is neither assimilation nor incorporation, is a two-way process, rooted essentially in the joint recognition of the other’s cultural richness: it is not the superimposing of one culture over another, nor mutual isolation, with the insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettoes.  Concerning those who arrive and who are duty bound not to close themselves off from the culture and traditions of the receiving country, respecting above all its laws, the family dimension of the process of integration must not be overlooked: for this reason I feel the need to reiterate the necessity, often presented by the Magisterium (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 15 August 1986), of policies directed at favouring and benefiting the reunion of families.  With regard to indigenous populations, they must be supported, by helping them to be sufficiently aware of and open to processes of integration which, though not always simple and immediate, are always essential and, for the future, indispensable.  This requires specific programmes, which foster significant encounters with others.  Furthermore, for the Christian community, the peaceful integration of persons of various cultures is, in some way, a reflection of its catholicity, since unity, which does not nullify ethnic and cultural diversity, constitutes a part of the life of the Church, who in the Spirit of Pentecost is open to all and desires to embrace all (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 5 August 1987).

The Pope closed his lengthy address by highlighting “a duty of solidarity.  In the face of tragedies which take the lives of so many migrants and refugees – conflicts, persecutions, forms of abuse, violence, death – expressions of empathy and compassion cannot help but spontaneously well-up. ‘Where is your brother’? (Gen 4:9): this question which God asks of man since his origins, involves us, especially today with regard to our brothers and sisters who are migrating: “This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us” (Homily at the “Arena” Sports Camp, Salina Quarter, Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).  Solidarity is born precisely from the capacity to understand the needs of our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and to take responsibility for these needs.  Upon this, in short, is based the sacred value of hospitality, present in religious traditions.  For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveller is offered to Jesus Christ himself, through the newcomer: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).  The duty of solidarity is to counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable.  Thus “a change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 5 August 2013).

VATICAN DELEGATION TO ATTEND SEMINAR AT AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue has announced that council president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, accompanied by Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, secretary, and Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, head of the Office for Islam, will be in Cairo, Egypt, on February 22-23, to participate at a seminar at the University of Al-Azhar, with the theme: “The role of al-Azhar al-Sharif and of the Vatican in countering the phenomena of fanaticism, extremism and violence in the name of religion.”

The cardinal president will lead the Catholic delegation, which will also include Archbishop Bruno Musarò, apostolic nuncio to Egypt.

cardinal-tauran

After the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib on 23 May 2016, the Secretary of the Dicastery has travelled to Cairo several times, where he participated in many meetings and preliminary preparations for this event.

This meeting will conclude on the vigil of the anniversary of the visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Al-Azhar, which took place on February 24, 2000.

 

WHAT WOULD SAINTS AUGUSTINE AND THOMAS SAY ABOUT EXECUTIVE ORDER ON BORDERS?

WHAT WOULD SAINTS AUGUSTINE AND THOMAS SAY ABOUT EXECUTIVE ORDER ON BORDERS?

I was introduced to Fr. Rutler’s writing some time ago by a very good friend in Hawaii who forwarded Father’s homilies and missives to me on a regular basis. Since then, other friends have done the same, and I now regularly read what he has to say, especially when he links Church teachings to important moral and social questions of the day.

You might find the following column fascinating, especially in light of President Trump’s Executive Order ordering a review of visa procedures to enter the United States and restricting the entrance into our country of citizens from 7 nations for a period of 90 days, pending background checks.

February 5, 2017 – FROM THE PASTOR by Fr. George W. Rutler

In the margin of a public speaker’s manuscript was the notation: “Weak point. Shout.”

Such is the rhetoric of those who place emotion over logic and make policy through gangs rather than parliaments. In Athens 2,400 years ago, Aristophanes described the demagogue as having “a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, cross-grained nature and the language of the marketplace.” That marketplace today includes the biased media and the universities that have become daycare centers.

The recent action of our government’s executive branch to protect our borders and enforce national security is based on Constitutional obligations (Art. 1 sec 10 and Art. 4 sec 4). It is a practical protection of the tranquility of order explained by Saint Augustine when he saw the tranquillitas ordinis of Roman civilization threatened. Saint Thomas Aquinas sanctioned border control (S. Th. I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3). No mobs shouted in the marketplace two years ago when the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act restricted visa waivers for Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The present ban continues that, and only for a stipulated ninety days, save for Syria. There is no “Muslim ban” as should be obvious from the fact that the restrictions do not apply to other countries with Muslim majorities, such as Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Turkey.

These are facts ignored by demagogues who speak of tears running down the face of the Statue of Liberty. At issue is not immigration, but illegal immigration. It is certainly manipulative of reason to justify uncontrolled immigration by citing previous generations of immigrants to our shores, all of whom went through the legal process, mostly in the halls of Ellis Island. And it is close to blasphemy to invoke the Holy Family as antinomian refugees, for they went to Bethlehem in obedience to a civil decree requiring tax registration, and they violated no statutes when they sought protection in Egypt. Then there was Saint Paul, who worked within the legal system, and invoked his Roman citizenship through privileges granted to his native Tarsus in 66 B.C. (Acts 16:35-38; 22:25-29; 25:11-12) He followed ordered procedure, probably with the status of civis Romanus non optimo jure—a legal citizen, but not allowed to act as a magistrate.

It is obvious that the indignant demonstrators against the new Executive Orders are funded in no little part by wealthy interests who would provoke agitation. These same people have not shown any concern about the neglected Christians seeking refuge from persecution in the Middle East. In 2016 there was a 675% increase in the number of Syrian refugees over the previous year, but while 10% of the Syrian population is Christian, only one-half of one percent of the Syrian Christians were granted asylum. It is thankworthy that our changed government now wants to redress that. The logic of that policy must not be shouted down by those who screech rather than reason.

(From Joan: What does St. Thomas say? http://www.returntoorder.org/2014/07/saint-thomas-say-immigration-2/

For those interested in taking the time to read the January 27 Executive Order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states)