VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES ENCYCLICAL “LAUDATO SI” – PAPAL AIDE TALKS ABOUT FRANCIS’ “VACATION” – IN BRIEF….

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES ENCYCLICAL “LAUDATO SI”

“Vatican Insider” this weekend welcomes Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Rome office of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty to talk about Pope Francis’ social encyclical “Laudato si.” So much has been written about this papal document – months before its publication and in the six weeks since its June 18 publication – and now we have a chance to better understand this lengthy document that Pope Francis himself has called a “social encyclical.” (photo. Acton website)

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The Acton website describes the institute this way: “The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is named after the great English historian, Lord John Acton (1834-1902). He is best known for his famous remark: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Inspired by his work on the relation between liberty and morality, the Acton Institute seeks to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing. To clarify this relationship, the Institute holds seminars and publishes various books, monographs, periodicals, and articles.”

Kishore’s impressive background includes a number of years at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as an analyst for environmental and disarmament issues and desk officer for English-speaking countries. He earned a B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he was executive editor of The Michigan Review and an economic policy intern for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Kishore also worked as an international economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. and then graduated with an M.A. in political science from the University of Toronto.

Most impressive (for me!) is the fact that Kishore, during his graduate studies, was baptized and received into the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1996.

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

PAPAL AIDE TALKS ABOUT FRANCIS’ “VACATION”

Just a note today about how Pope Francis has been spending his so-called vacation. There were no weekly general audiences in July – they resume this coming Wednesday, August 5 – but he did have an event-filled trip to Latin America. Recited the Angelus on the Sundays he was in Rome and spoke to a handful of groups, including mayors from around the world.

Msgr. Guillermo Karcher, one of his assistants who is also a master of papal liturgical ceremonies spoke about the papal time off to Vatican Radio. The radio asked about the Pope’s summer holiday. He replied: “Summer holiday? What summer holiday? Despite his age, Pope Francis, 78, continues to work and study even during periods traditionally allocated to relax and rest.”

After the intense week he spent in Latin America, said Msgr. Karcher, Francis has “set to work on some important engagements that are coming up, starting with his visit to Cuba and the US.” “He is calm and content. Every morning when I look at him he seems happy. He is always busy working as I see he is always holding something, letters, correspondence: he always likes to reply himself.”

“He is spending this time keeping in touch with friends, the people he cares about. He is making the most of his free time, devoting it to this as well as to reading documents and upcoming projects.”

Msgr. Karcher said the Pope “does miss” the freedom of being able to go for a stroll among the people. “He was really used to taking walks and being with people. I am thinking of the Argentinian summer, of the month of January, which can be likened to this hot and muggy July: he spent his days visiting the slums of Buenos Aires, sharing the experience of this difficult and hot period of sacrifices with people. But he offers it to God and sees it as a moment to give to God. As Pope he is close in heart to those who suffer as a result of the heat which makes life impossible: just think of those shacks without fans…”

(JFL: By the way, Pope Francis has said on a number of occasions that he sympathizes with those who cannot go on vacation because of illness, lack of money, having to care for a relative, or other reasons.)

IN BRIEF….

PRELATES URGE FAIR AND JUST WAGES : The chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined by the president of Catholic Charities USA, called upon members of Congress to “advance legislation and policies that would ensure fair and just wages for all workers.” Noting that, “a full-year, full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage does not make enough to raise a child free from poverty,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Sister Donna Markham said that Congress can promote the common good by “ensuring the federal minimum wage promotes family formation and stability.” Quoting St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter on the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, they added that, “society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings.”

PRAY FOR CHRISTIANS ON AUGUST 7: Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has asked “all Christians all over the world to join us in praying for peace and stability in Iraq in the first anniversary of the conquest by ISIS of the Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain on August 7.” The patriarch, who leads the Chaldean Catholic Church, published a prayer for the occasion. It begins: “Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to pray to the Father in your name, and you assured us that whatever we asked for, we would receive. Therefore, we come to you with complete confidence, asking you to give us the strength to stand fast in this violent storm, to reach peace and security before it is too late.

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“VATICAN INSIDER” THIS WEEK: BIRMINGHAM MAYOR WILLIAM BELL – UPDATE ON IRAQ AND ISIS BY CHALDEAN PATRIARCH SAKO – C-FAM AT THE UNITED NATIONS

“VATICAN INSIDER” THIS WEEK: BIRMINGHAM MAYOR WILLIAM BELL

Stay tuned after the news segment on “Vatican Insider” to listen to my interview with Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell who was in Rome for several days attending a Vatican-sponsored workship for mayors from around the world entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change.” The conference, at which Mayor Bell spoke, was organized by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, and by the chancellor of the academies, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.

MAYOR BELL AT CONFERENCE

We have a fascinating conversation and you’ll hear Mayor Bell, a very articulate speaker, tell of his own experience of working against human trafficking, of his participation in the workshop and what he learned from other mayors from around the world. Just one technical note. I welcomed Mayor Bell to Vatican Insider and he responded in a most friendly manner and we had a brief conversation but my recorder had stopped so his initial words were lost – but I did not realize that until I got home and was editing the piece. Apologies for losing part of a delightful conversatione!

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

UPDATE ON IRAQ AND ISIS BY CHALDEAN PATRIARCH SAKO

(Vatican Radio)  The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako, says he is personally “very worried” about his nation’s future and warns that the so-called Islamic State, ISIS, “is growing” in strength and influence each day and nowadays the militant group is “like a real state.”

We first met when he was the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk.

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In a recent gesture of solidarity, the Iraqi Patriarch donated food and medical supplies to displaced Muslims living in a refugee camp near the city of Ramadi. Accompanied by other members of the Church and representatives of Caritas Iraq, Patriarch Sako personally brought the relief supplies to 250 Muslim families living in the refugee camp. His action came during the recent Muslim feast of Eid al Fitr marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Patriarch Sako spoke to Susy Hodges about his visit to the Muslim refugees and his views about Iraq’s future.

Serving lunch at his residence in Kirkuk

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The displaced Iraqi Muslim families are currently being housed in tents in the desert near the city of Ramadi in very “critical conditions” said Patriarch Sako. He described their visit by car to the refugees to bring them food and other relief supplies as “a sign of solidarity” to show them that as a Church they are reaching out to all Iraqis in need, regardless of their religion.  He told the refugees, “we are close to you, we understand your suffering.”  Patriarch Sako described the gratitude of the refugees who begged them “not to forget them.” He said their situation was “a tragedy” with their plight going largely unnoticed because of the nation’s conflicts.

At the residence

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Asked for his views on Iraq’s future, Patriarch Sako said he was personally “very worried” given the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and elsewhere although he said there are “some signs of hope.” He said there was an urgent need for the Muslim nations in the region to resolve the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. The Patriarch also called for serious action to be taken against ISIS (the so-called Islamic State) and other fundamentalist groups.  He said ISIS “is growing” with each day that passes and that nowadays the militant group is “like a real state.” http://www.news.va/en/news/iraqi-patriarch-says-isis-is-growing-each-day

C-FAM AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Do you know C-Fam?

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, known as C-Fam, is a non-partisan, non-profit research institute that monitors and affects the social policy debate at the United Nations. I get the Friday Fax updates from Austin Ruse at the U.N. and read his reports with great interest as he always is current with the behind.the-scenes machinations at this international body – deliberations, meetings (sometimes secret) and bargains that often do not see the light of day. Some are downright frightening. (You can subscribe to Friday Fax at https://c-fam.org/)

Today’s Friday Fax, for example, carries an article by Stefano Gennarini entitled “Will Obama Re-define the Family for the World?” Here it is, in all its scary implications:

NEW YORK, July 24 (C-Fam) The Obama administration’s placement of LGBT rights at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy has caused backlash against LGBT rights in many parts of the world. But after repeated failures to re-define the family to include homosexuality, something may be about to change at UN headquarters.

Obama’s multi-year campaign to discard the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ longstanding description of the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” may pay off as the United Nations celebrates the 70th anniversary of its founding in September this year, and a new UN agreement on development is adopted by world leaders.

UN delegates are deep into the final two weeks of negotiations for a massive new UN development scheme to tackle poverty and promote economic and social development that is environmentally friendly. The subjects up for negotiation are legion, but in the back of everyone’s mind is also the fate of the family.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other binding and non-binding UN agreements recognize the family as resulting from the union of a man and a woman who freely marry. International law and policy make provision for children born in irregular situations or out of wedlock not to be discriminated against, and special protections for single mothers, but do not recognize same-sex relations as capable of constituting a family.

In recent years UN member states have rejected the phrase “various forms of family” in UN agreements, because North American and European countries see it as recognizing same-sex “families,” and it does not appear that such language could make it in a UN agreement anytime soon.

Delegates from around the world have told C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax, that U.S. diplomats at the highest levels have been pressuring capitals and missions to ask countries to soften their posture on family language in UN resolutions. Delegations that are unable to support LGBT rights are usually asked to abstain and not show up for voting on resolutions. In this case they have been asked to refrain from proposing language from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Even staunch opponents of LGBT rights appear ready to jettison settled language declaring the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society.” An exception is the strong statements from African countries.

A delegate from Cameroon told the General Assembly his delegation wanted to see “family” and “culture” recognized in the final agreement.

Ambassador Usman Sarki of Nigeria was also adamant about seeing the natural family reflected in the final outcome and not “various forms of the family.”

Sarki’s said, “There is no possible rational justification for member states to sit in conclave on issues that will not be implementable at the national level.” In a reference to the pressure for LGBT rights, he said, “Abortion for instance, or reconfiguration of the family, or endorsing behavior that goes against the grain of traditionally accepted practices.”

Recognition of same-sex “families” may be a long way off, but if the Obama administration has its way and gets UN member states to forsake the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it may pave the way for future recognition of homosexual relationships as family in international law and policy.