VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO IRAQI CHALDEAN BISHOP WARDA – KEEP DEFENDING LIFE AT ALL ITS STAGES, FRANCIS TELLS PRO-LIFE GROUP – POPE FRANCIS: “I WOULD LIKE A WORLD WITHOUT THE POOR” – ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, A RESTORED TREVI FOUNTAIN

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VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO IRAQI CHALDEAN BISHOP WARDA

My special guest this week on “Vatican Insider” is Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Kurdistan, northern Iraq. We spoke in Rome during the synod of Chaldean bishops. We have known each other for a number of years, starting with my first visit to Iraq when I spent 8 days in Erbil and was a guest at the Chaldean seminary whose construction in Erbil was overseen by then Fr. Warda.  In fact, he had been a professor at the Chaldean seminary in Baghdad where the terrorism situation had become so dangerous that staff and seminarians were not even going to the seminary. Fr. Warda knew that the Chaldean Church had vocations so he said, “we can’t close the seminary – we have to build one elsewhere.”  And the rest is history.

This week, Abp. Warda talks about the dramatic refugee situation in Erbil and the plight of Christians in Iraq.

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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: ttp://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

KEEP DEFENDING LIFE AT ALL ITS STAGES, FRANCIS TELLS PRO-LIFE GROUP

Pope Francis Friday welcomed over 500 participants in the congress of the Movement for Life currently underway in Sacrofano, Italy, and encouraged them to “continue your important work in favor of life from conception to its natural end, also taking into account the conditions of suffering that many brothers and sisters have to face and at times endure.”

“We need to nurture,” he strssed, “a personal and social sensitivity towards both the welcoming of a new life and also those situations of poverty and exploitation that affect the weakest and most disadvantaged. On the one hand,” he asked, “’how can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo? On the other hand, ‘human life itself is a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement,” he said, quoting his encyclical Laudato si‘.

“For Christ’s disciples,” explained the Holy Father, “helping wounded human life meant going towards people in need, putting themselves by their sides, and taking on board their frailty and suffering so as to relieve them. How many families are vulnerable due to poverty, illness, unemployment and homelessness? How many elderly people suffer the burden of suffering and loneliness? How many young people are lost, threatened by addiction and other forms of slavery, waiting to rediscover trust in life? These people, wounded in body and spirit, are icons of that man of the Gospel who, travelling the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, ran into some brigands who robbed and beat him. He experienced first the indifference of some, and then the closeness of the good Samaritan.”

In our times, said Francis, “there are still many wounded people, caused by today’s brigands, who despoil them not only of their belongings but also of their dignity. Faced with the suffering and need of our defenseless brothers, some turn away or move on, whereas others stop and respond with generous dedication to their cry for help. You, members of the Movement for Life, have sought to imitate the good Samaritan during the forty years of your activity.”

The Pope urged the members to continue “to protect the most vulnerable people, who have the right to be born into life, as well as those who ask for a healthier and more dignified existence.”

POPE FRANCIS: “I WOULD LIKE A WORLD WITHOUT THE POOR”

The Dutch newspaper “Straatnieuws” (Streetnews) today published an interview granted by Pope Francis to one of their own on October 27. Straatnieuws is published by the homeless of the city of Utrecht and is sold directly by them, thus providing them with some small income. The article also appeared in the 112 other daily papers associated with the International Network of Street Papers (INSP).

The Pope is questioned on many topics, both personal and Church-related. He is asked about his childhood (turns out he actually wanted to be a butcher when he grew up – or so he told his mother and grandmother at age 4!), his life as Pope, his great concern for the poor (“I would like a world without the poor”) and the wealth of the Church.

The interview began with the Pope’s memories of his childhood home in Buenos Aires, “the street in which he grew up.” He recalled playing soccer as a child, and spoke about how everything in his neighbourhood was within walking distance. He said it was his memories of neighbours in Buenos Aires that were the source of his personal commitment to the poor.

The Vatican Information Service has provided extensive translated extracts from the interview, especially on the theme of poverty.

Interviewer: What is the Church’s message for the homeless? What does Christian solidarity mean for them in practice?

Pope Francis: “Two things come to mind. Jesus came to the world homeless, and made Himself poor. Then, the Church wishes to embrace all and to say that it is a right to have a roof over your head. In popular movements they work according to the three Spanish ‘t’s: trabajo (work), techo (casa) and tierra (earth). The Church teaches that every person has a right to all three”.

Interviewer: You often ask for attention to the poor and refugees. Do you not fear that in this way a sort of weariness in relation to this theme may be generated in the mass media or in society in general?

Pope Francis: “When we return to a theme that is not pleasant, because it is disagreeable to talk about it, we are all tempted to say. ‘That’s enough, I am tired of this’. I feel that this weariness exists, but I am not afraid of it. I must continue to speak the truth and say how these things are”.

Interviewer: Are you not afraid that your defence of solidarity and assistance for the homeless and other poor people may be exploited politically? How should the Church speak in order to be influential and at the same time remain external to political affiliations?

Pope Francis: “There are roads that lead to errors in this regard. I would like to underline two temptations. The Church must speak truthfully and also by her witness: the witness of poverty. If a believer speaks about poverty or the homeless and lives like a pharaoh, this is not good. This is the first temptation.

“The second temptation is to make agreements with governments. Agreements can be made but they must be clear and transparent. For example, we manage this building, but the accounts are all audited, in order to avoid corruption, as there is always the temptation to corruption in public life, both political and religious. … Once I asked a question to a minister in Argentina, an honest man – one who left his post because he could not reconcile himself with various obscure aspects. I asked him: when you give assistance in the form of meals, clothing or money to the poor and needy, what percentage of what you send arrives? And he answered, 35 per cent. That means that 65 per cent is lost. It is corruption: a cut for me, another cut for you”.

Interviewer: Your namesake St. Francis chose radical poverty and even sold his evangeliarium. As the Pope, and bishop of Rome, do you ever feel under pressure to sell the Church’s treasures?

Pope Francis: “This is an easy question. They are not the treasures of the Church, they are treasures of humanity. For example, if tomorrow I decide to put Michelangelo’s Pieta up for auction, I cannot do this, since it is not the property of the Church. It is kept in a church but it belongs to humanity. This is true of all the treasures of the Church. But we have started to sell gifts and other things that are given to me, and the proceeds from sales go to Msgr. (Konrad) Krajewski, who is my almoner. Then there is the lottery. There were cars that have all been sold or given away with a lottery and the proceeds are used for the poor. There are things that can be sold, and we sell these”.

Interviewer: Are you aware that the wealth of the Church can give rise to this type of expectation?

Pope Francis: “Yes, if we make a catalogue of the assets of the Church, it seems that the Church is very rich. But when the Concordat was made with Italy in 1929 on the Roman Question, the Italian government at the time offered to the Church a large park in Rome. And the then Pope Pius XI said no, I would like just half a square kilometre to guarantee the Church’s independence. This principle still stands.

“Yes, the real estate of the Church is considerable, but we use it to maintain the structures of the Church and to maintain many works that are carried out in countries in need: hospitals and schools. Yesterday, for example, I asked for 50,000 euros to be sent to Congo to build three schools in poor villages, as education is important for children. They went to the competent administration, I made the request, and the money was sent”.

Interviewer: Holy Father, is it possible to imagine a world without the poor?

Pope Francis: “I would like a world without the poor. We must fight for this. But I am a believer and I know that sin is always within us. And there is always human greed, the lack of solidarity, the selfishness that creates poverty. Therefore, it would seem difficult to me to imagine a world without the poor. If you think about children exploited for slave labour, or sexually abused children. And another form of exploitation: children killed for the trafficking of organs. Killing children to remove their organs is greed. Therefore, I do not know if we will be able to make a world without poverty, because sin is always there and leads to selfishness. But we must always fight, always …”.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, A RESTORED TREVI FOUNTAIN

Following 17 months of work the newly unveiled Trevi Fountain is, according to all who attended the unveiling, “a sight to behold,” “beyond description in its brilliance and beauty.” The scaffolding is down, the workers are gone and Trevi Fountain once again belongs to Romans and visitors, to the world. (photo from Buzz in Rome online)

TREVI FOUNTAIN

Italian Fashion icon Fendi footed the $2.5 million bill for the celebrated fountain. Legend says that when you throw a coin in Trevi Fountain – with your back to the fountain and right hand throws the coin over your left shoulder – this guarantees your return to the Eternal City. A second legend from the movie, “Three Coins in a Fountain” says the first coin guarantees your return to Rome, the second will bring new romance, and the third will lead to marriage. (photo from Buzz in Rome online)

Another Rome monument – the most famous of all, the Colosseum – is being renovated and Diego della Valle of Tod’s shoes and luxury bags is footing the entire bill – the colossal amount of €25 million. Renovation is expected to last three years.

 

(Re: tossing a coin in the fountain. Years ago, just before leaving Rome after a vacation, I went to throw my coin in the fountain and, for some strange reason, the only coin I had was an America nickel. I threw it in and, believe it or not, a good Italian friend came to the U.S. for a visit. Reverse procedure!)

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CASTRO: IF THE POPE CONTINUES THIS WAY, I WILL GO BACK TO PRAYING AND TO THE CHURCH – REGINA COELI: POPE GREETS MOTHERS AND PRO-LIFE MARCHERS

Just a heads up to let you know that these pages might be Joan’s Rome-lite this week!  The agenda for coming days includes a number of press conferences and Vatican events hosted by several pontifical councils as well as by Caritas Internationalis as it meets in general assembly this week, starting with the opening Mass late tomorrow afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis.

I have a number of friends who are in town or about to arrive for these events. I’ve been invited to the papal Mass tomorrow and to other sessions of the Caritas general assembly  during which time I hope to interview some people for Vatican Insider. Some events are near or inside Vatican City while others are up the road a bit, as they say.

There was a lot of news over the weekend and today as well. Pope Francis had a number of meetings on his agenda but for now I want to focus on his historic meeting Sunday with Raul Castro, president of Cuba and brother of the ageing Fidel Castro. Pope Francis will travel to Cuba in September before he visits the U.S. where he will address the United Nations in New York, the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. and preside at the World meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

I’ll also bring you some of Francis’ greetings at Sunday’s Regina Coeli. By the way, I did post several other meaningful news stories on Facebook.

In a different vein: Don’t let anyone tell you computers don’t have a mind of their own!  I have no idea why (an expression I often use vis-a-vis computers) but I can only write in WORD today if I have closed my email accounts.

CASTRO: IF THE POPE CONTINUES THIS WAY, I WILL GO BACK TO PRAYING AND TO THE CHURCH

Sunday’s meeting between Pope Francis and President Raul Castro of Cuba was historic in quite a number of ways. Historic for the Pope as he rarely, if ever, receives people in audience on a Sunday. Historic in the time Francis dedicated to Castro – almost one hour (and almost unheard of). And even, as the press office statement said, “meaningful in the gifts exchanged.”

The president’s small motorcade arrived at the back entrance to the Paul VI Hall known as the “fungo,” or mushroom, where a central pillar supports a rounded roof area. This is just meters away from the Santa Marta residence where the Holy Father lives. Pope Francis asked that a small contingent of Swiss Guards be present, as it normally would be in the San Damaso courtyard where most heads of State are received when the Pope welcomes them to the Apostolic Palace. (photos: news.va)

POPE & CASTRO

The Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, gave some specifics about the meeting:

“This morning the Holy Father received in private audience the president of the Republic of Cuba, Raul Castro Ruz. The meeting took place in the Pope’s study adjacent to Paul VI Hall.

“Upon arrival, at 9.30 a.m., the president was received by the prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, accompanied by his substitute, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu and the secretary for Relations with States, Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher. A personal meeting with the Pope then took place in the study, which lasted more than 50 minutes and was very cordial.

POPE & CASTRO 2

“The president, as he declared before leaving the Vatican, thanked the Holy Father for his active role in improving relations between Cuba and the United States. He also expressed the sentiments of the Cuban people as they await and prepare for his upcoming visit to the island in September.

“The Pope and the president then proceeded to the adjacent room for the presentation of the delegation accompanying Raul Castro, composed of around a dozen figures including the deputy prime minister, the minister for foreign affairs and the ambassador to the Holy See.

“The exchange of gifts was very meaningful. The president offered the Pope a valuable commemorative medal of the Cathedral of Havana and a contemporary painting, depicting a large cross made up of wrecked boats, with a migrant in prayer in the foreground. The artist, the Cuban Kcho, was present and explained to the Pope that it was inspired by his great efforts to raise awareness in the world of the problems faced by migrants and refugees, beginning with his famous trip to Lampedusa.

“The Pope gave the president a copy of his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” and a large medallion depicting St. Martin covering the poor man with his cape. The Holy Father observed that he was particularly keen to give this gift, as it recalled the commitment not only to protecting the poor but also to promoting dignity.

President Raul Castro and his delegation left the Vatican shortly after 10.30 a.m.”

Castro, 83, had asked the Vatican if he could meet with the Pope on Sunday on his way back to Cuba from Moscow. He told the Vatican he wanted to personally thank the Pope for mediating between Cuba and the U.S., a mediation that led to a thaw in the “cold war” between the two over the past 50 years and the resumption of diplomatic ties.

Castro later met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and, after that meeting, told reporters at a televised press conferenvce, he was “really impressed by (Pope Francis’) wisdom and his modesty.” The Cuban president also said:  e also told reporters“I promise to go to all his Masses, and with satisfaction. “I read all the speeches of the pope, his commentaries, and if the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church. I’m not joking.”

Both of the Castro brothers were baptized as Catholics and educated by Jesuits before the 1959 revolution. Francis’ predecessors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both visited Cuba where they met the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul.

REGINA COELI: POPE GREETS MOTHERS AND PRO-LIFE MARCHERS

Following his reflections on Sunday’s Gospel and the recitation of the Marian prayer in the presence of a jam-packed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis had greetings for mothers, noting that, “today, many countries celebrate Mother’s Day.” He put aside his prepared remarks and, looking down on the vast crowd with a broad smile, asked, “Are there any mothers here?” The crowd’s reaction was immediate, they too smiled and said “yes” in many languages.

POPE - MOTHERS DAY

The Holy Father asked for a show of hands of the mothers present, and it looked like the wave was being done in St. Peter’s Square!  He then asked for applause for all mothers present in the square: “That applause embraces all mothers, all our dear mothers: those who live with us physically, but also those who live with us spiritually. May the Lord bless them all, and may the Mother of God, to whom this month is dedicated, watch over them all.”

(Vatican Radio) Also Sunday, during his Regina Coeli address, Pope Francis greeted participants in Italy’s fifth annual March for Life. “I greet all those participating in the initiative for life taking place this morning in Rome,” the Pope said. “It is important to work together to defend and promote life.”

Several thousand people from all parts of Italy and from around the world took part in the March through the heart of Rome’s historic centre. Among those taking part in the March was Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Speaking with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Burke said, “St. John Paul II urged us, in his wonderful encyclical letter on the Gospel of Life, to make public manifestations to demonstrate the incomparable beauty, the inviolability of innocent, defenceless human life.” He said the March is “very important in Italy as a sign of the Italian peoples dedication to the apostolate for the restoration of the respect for all human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.”

Cardinal Burke also mentioned the international aspect of the March for Life. “It’s wonderful to see the international participation” in the March, he said. “So many come from various countries because they want to join the Italian people in their testimony to the dignity of human life, created in God’s own image and redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ.”