POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE – PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Michael Warsaw, CEO of EWTN, was recently in town for a number of events and he announced to the staff in our meeting with members of EWTN’s board, that an EWTN news agency had been formed for and in Africa – ACI Africa. The story was carried by FIDES, the news arm of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, It featured the words of Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies, in his homily during Mass for EWTN: http://www.fides.org/en/news/66009-AFRICA_ACI_Africa_agency_is_born_Archbishop_Dal_Toso_A_sign_of_hope_for_the_continent

On another topic: As you will see in the photo below, the weather in Rome did no favors to those attending the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. It is quite chilly here (48 degrees as I write at 3 pm) and coats and heavy jackets, perhaps even layered clothing, are the order of the day! We have been averaging only one entirely sunny day every week – days that verge on being warm but generally offer cloud cover, light showers or torrential downpours. Feels a lot more like October, especially since heat has been turned off in most buildings for over a month, and there are no warm temps to compensate for the chill and humidity in the air.

POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE

The Holy Father, making his way to the podium in front of St. Peter’s Basilica before the general audience this morning, asked the popemobile driver to stop to allow eight children to jump aboard for a ride. The 8 children had come from Libya on a boat several different nationalities, including Syria, Nigeria and Congo, and are currently hosted with families in the “Mondo Migliore” (Better World) Center of Rocca di Papa and followed by the “Auxilium” Cooperative. They were all wearing T-shirts that said, “Welcome, protect, promote and integrate” the appeal coined by Pope Francis in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The self-funded “Humanitarian Corridors” project, which Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld, is carried out by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches. It aims to avoid migrant journeys on boats in the Mediterranean in which so many – usually trafficked people – have died, and at the same time fight human trafficking. (photo by Daniel Ibanez EWTN-ACI)

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Following is the English summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis on the “Our Father.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider the final petition: “Deliver us from evil”. This recognizes that life is fraught with difficulties, that evil is present in all of our lives, and so this final cry of the “Our Father” powerfully confronts the complete range of evil. Jesus himself, moreover, has experienced the full impact of evil in his passion: not only death but death on a cross; not just loneliness but scorn; nor merely bad-will but cruelty.

The Holy Father reflected at length on the presence of evil in the world. He said the word used in the original Greek (πονηρός) evokes “the presence of evil that seeks to grab hold and bite at us, and from which we ask God for delivery. … History books are a bleak catalogue of how our existence in this world has often been a failed adventure.”

Francis noted, “There is a mysterious evil which is surely not the work of God, but which silently penetrates the folds of history.”

But, the Pope noted, the person who prays is not blind and sees clearly that evil is in contradiction with the mystery of God.

“The last cry of the Our Father is hurled against this evil,” he said, “which encompasses the most diverse experiences, including mourning, the suffering of innocents, slavery, the exploitation of others, and the cries of innocent children.”

Francis stated that, “the ‘Our Father’ resembles a symphony that seeks to be fulfilled in each one of us, for however much we may be subjected to wickedness, Jesus will come to our aid.”

“Jesus’ prayer on the cross – ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ – bequeaths us the most precious patrimony: the presence of the Son of God who delivers us from evil. Indeed, from here flows the gift of his peace, which is stronger than every evil; and herein lies our hope!” (source: Vaticannnews)

“VATICAN INSIDER” EXPLORES VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE – “BE NOT AFRAID” OF “OTHERS,” FOREIGNERS, OUTCASTS AND STRANGERS – NUNCIO TO FRANCE INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

“VATICAN INSIDER” EXPLORES VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with my special guest and friend, Msgr. Philip Whitmore, rector of the Venerable English College, the English seminary in Rome. It is truly a venerable institution with a history of over 600 years!

Msgr. Whitmore, rector since June 2013, is from the Archdiocese of Westminster, and before 2013 served in the Roman Curia, working first at the Congregation for Bishops and then at the Secretariat of State. He tells fascinating stories about the college, its amazing and very long history, the young men studying here, the historical Archives project, the summer residence of Pallazola and much more. Some very surprising facts as well.

This photo is from an audience in 2018 with Pope Francis – Msgr. Whitmore is to the Pope’s right as we look at the photo:

In case you missed them last week, here are photos of the seminary’s stunning chapel!

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“BE NOT AFRAID” OF “OTHERS,” FOREIGNERS, OUTCASTS AND STRANGERS

“Free from fear”: that is the theme of a 3-day meeting organized by the Migrantes Foundation, Italian Caritas, and the Jesuit-run Astalli Center for Refugees, to discuss reception structures for migrants.

The meeting is being held at the Fraterna Domus, a Welcome and Retreat Center near the town of Sacrofano, about 20 kilometers outside Rome. Consistent with his commitment to welcoming migrants, Pope Francis chose to open the meeting on Friday afternoon by celebrating Mass at the Fraterna Domus Center.

Do not be afraid
In his homily, the Pope focused on the readings chosen for the celebration, which he summed up in a single sentence: “Do not be afraid”.

Pope Francis used the image of the Israelites at the Red Sea, in the Book of Exodus, to illustrate how we are “called to look beyond the adversities of the moment, to overcome fear and to place full trust in the saving and mysterious action of the Lord”.

Free from fear
Turning to the Gospel of St Matthew, the Pope described the disciples crying out in fear at the sight of Jesus walking on the waters, and His response to them: “Courage, it is I, do not be afraid”. Reminding his listeners that “Free from fear” is the theme chosen for this meeting, Pope Francis said it is “through these biblical episodes that the Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears”.

Fear of others
“Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time”, said Pope Francis, we too, “are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom”. We are tempted to “shut ourselves off within ourselves”, he said, “in our fragile human security…in our reassuring routine”.
The Pope called this retreat into oneself, “a sign of defeat”, one that increases our fear of “others”, foreigners, outcasts and strangers. “This is particularly evident today”, he continued, with the arrival of migrants and refugees “who knock on our door in search of protection, security and a better future”.

Fear is legitimate
While recognizing that fear is legitimate, Pope Francis said it can lead us to “give up encountering others and to raise barriers to defend ourselves”. Instead, he continued, we are called to overcome our fear, knowing “the Lord does not abandon His people”. The encounter with the other”, said the Pope, “is also an encounter with Christ…even if our eyes have difficulty recognizing Him”. He is the one, said Pope Francis, “with ragged clothes, dirty feet, agonized faces, sore bodies, unable to speak our language”.

Overcoming fear
The Pope concluded his homily by suggesting we should “begin to thank those who give us the opportunity of this meeting, that is, the ‘others’ who knock at our door, and offer us the possibility of overcoming our fears, meeting, welcoming and assisting Jesus”.
And those “who have had the strength to let themselves be freed from fear”, he said, “need to help others do the same”, so they too can prepare themselves for their own encounter with Christ.

NUNCIO TO FRANCE INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

Responding to the questions of journalists, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, said: “The Holy See has learned in the press that an investigation has been initiated by the French authorities towards Monsignor Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio in Paris. The Holy See is awaiting the outcome of the investigations “.

CNA/EWTN news reports that Bishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to France since 2009 and a long-time Vatican diplomat, is under investigation for alleged sexual assault.
The French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday that Ventura, 74, is being investigated by Paris authorities after he was accused late last month of having inappropriately touched a young male staffer of Paris City Hall.

A Vatican statement Feb. 15 said that it was made aware of the French authorities’ investigation of the envoy through the press and is “awaiting the outcome of the investigations.”
The alleged assault is said to have taken place in Paris’ City Hall Jan. 17, during a reception for the annual New Year address of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. The address is usually given to diplomats, religious leaders, and civil society members, with a role by the apostolic nuncio.
The claim against Ventura was brought to French authorities by Paris City Hall six days after it allegedly took place. The alleged victim has not been identified. (To continue: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-ambassador-under-investigation-for-sexual-assault-71198)

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.”

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”.

VATICAN INSIDER: THE JOB OF AN INTERN AT THE U.S. EMBASSY – POPE ASKS PARDON OF ROHINGYA AT ECUMENICAL MEETING

Here we are, the first weekend of December and the start of Advent – seems like just a few months ago we were putting away Christmas gifts, taking the tree down, etc.

This weekend the American Catholic community of St. Patrick’s celebrates its annual gala dinner for charity, the Saint Nicholas Serata. As I write, a big crew of dedicated and loving parishioners is at Marymount International School, hard at work to transform the student dining room into a ritzy, glittering holiday scene where lucky ticket holders will experience a gourmet meal, enjoy the strains of Christmas music and dance to a live band and then partake in a live auction, a silent auction and the drawing of raffle tickets.

The proceeds from the evening go to benefit six Roman charities – something we at St. Patrick’s (formerly the Santa Susanna Catholic American community) have done for decades. Here’s the website, by the way: https://www.stnicholasserata.org/

Friends and colleagues bought some raffle tickets and, late Saturday evening, we will know who won the iPhone 8Plus, a weekend for two in Venice and a weekend for two in Matera!

VATICAN INSIDER: THE JOB OF AN INTERN AT THE U.S. EMBASSY

I have two truly remarkable guests in the interview segment of Vatican Insider this weekend – Bridget Rickard and Bryant King! This summer they were interns in the political and economic section of the US embassy to the Holy See. One of their many tasks was preparing the Briefing Book for the incoming U.S. ambassador. Ambassador Gingrich is now in Rome and Bridget and Bryant were able to meet her in November when they returned to Rome to attend a Vatican sponsored conference on a world without nuclear weapons.

Bridget is a senior at Notre Dame and Bryant a senior at Georgetown. Listen to these two extraordinary young people – intelligent, articulate and passionate -, as they talk about their time in Rome and their dreams. This is a do-not-miss conversation. I am sure you will feel that, if their college peers were anywhere near as intelligent and well spoken as Bridget and Bryant, our nation’s future would be in very good hands!

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 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=

POPE ASKS PARDON OF ROHINGYA AT ECUMENICAL MEETING

Pope Francis on Friday in Bangladesh did something he could not do in Myanmar – say the word Rohingya.

Here’s why….

Sunday night Pope Francis left Rome for Myanmar and Bangladesh on his 21st apostolic journey abroad, arriving Monday in Yangon, Myanmar. This is the first ever papal visit to the nation, formerly known as Burma, which suffered over half a century of oppressive military rule until elections in 2015, won by the National League for Democracy. Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, told Vatican Radio before the papal trip that in the past the country’s ruling party was made up exclusively of Burmese Buddhists, but now the party includes other ethnic groups, and “not only the Buddhists, but also the Christians and other religions. That’s big progress.”

There are 400,000 Catholics in Bangladesh out of a population of 163 million, while in Myanmar there are 700,000 Catholics in a population of 53 million.

Cardinal Bo told Pope Francis he should not to say Rohingya while in Myanmar: “It is a very contested term, and the military and government and the public would not like him to express it.”

The Rohingya are persecuted and stateless Muslims in western Myanmar who are — according to the United Nations, the United States and much of the global community – the victims of ethnic cleansing, mass murder and systematic rape at the hands of the Myanmar military and extremist monks. Pope Francis has in the past, denounced the “persecution of our Rohingya brothers, saying they were being “tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith.”

Looking back at the Holy Father’s three-day stay in Myanmar, a summary can be made of his speeches and homilies but the impact of his trip on political, military and religious leaders will only be told with the passage of time. Francis walked a fine and very delicate line as he addressed hot button issues in Myanmar, especially the plight of the Rohingya people, avoiding the word Rohingya but speaking to the bigger issue — the cycles of violence by ethnic militant groups and the Myanmar military.

On October 22 this year, the United Nations reported that an estimated 603,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 25, 2017. There are about 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Friday, the Holy Father put the Rohingya on the front page of the news. Here are the words (in my translation) that he spoke to a group of Rohingya refugees at the end of this afternoon’s inter-religious and ecumenical meeting at the home of the archbishop:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, all of us are close to you. And there is so little we can do because your tragedy is so great. But we can make room in our hearts. In the name of everyone, of those who persecute you, of those who have done harm, above all for the world’s indifference, I ask your pardon. Pardon! All of you have told me of the great heart of Bangladesh that has received you. Now I appeal to your great heart – may it be capable of giving pardon to those of us who ask.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Hebrew-Christian account of creation tells us that the Lord God created man in his image and likeness. All of us have this image. Even these brothers and sisters. They too are the image of the living God. A tradition in your religion says that God, in the beginning, took some salt and threw it in water and this was the soul of all men; and each of us carries within us a little of the divine salt. These brothers and sister carry within them the salt of God.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, only let us show the world what the world’s egoism does with the image of God. Let us continue to do good to (these people), to help them; let us continue to move so that their rights are recognized. Let’s not close our hearts, let’s not look the other way. The presence of God today is also called Rohingya, May each of us give our own answer.

Two more photos from today in Bangladesh –

HOPE SHOULD COME FROM TRUST IN GOD’S WORD, NOT FALSE IDOLS – MEDIA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED BY VATICAN MIGRATION, REFUGEE OFFICE – TWO PRIESTS ATTACKED IN ST. MARY MAJOR – 800 DEAD, 16 CHURCHES DESTROYED IN NIGERIA BY TERRORIST GROUP

HOPE SHOULD COME FROM TRUST IN GOD’S WORD, NOT FALSE IDOLS

Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on Christian hope at his Wednesday audience in the Paul VI Hall and stressed that true hope is born of trust in God’s word, not in false idols such as wealth, power, beauty or even fortune tellers.

At one point, he departed from his prepared catechesis about false idols to tell a story about fortune tellers in a park in his native Buenos Aires. He said he used to walk through the park and see countless very small tables where these seers or fortune tellers were seated, talking to individuals.

Francis said: “It was always the same story: there’s a woman in your life, a man will come, everything will be just fine.” The Pope lamented that people paid these seers to get a sense of security, “ a false sense of security, one of – and pardon me! – stupidity.” He said it was so sad that people could feel better, more hopeful, with such false idols rather than having hope in Jesus Christ: “How very sad we do not trust Him as much!”

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Our hope, said the Holy Father, “must be rooted in what can actually help in living and giving meaning to our existence,” not in illusions that are both useless and meaningless.

He noted that, “hope in God demands strength and perseverance, whereas these false gods promise an easy security, a future we can control. The Psalmist denounces this kind of idolatry, stating that those who put their trust in images that are the work of human hands, will come to be like them: spiritually blind, deaf and insensible.”

The false idols that the Pope mentioned, “with their illusion of eternity and omnipotence,” include values such as physical beauty, he said. This is not bad itself, but “when it becomes an idol to which we sacrifice everything, they are all realities that confuse the mind and the heart.”

The Pope interrupted himself once again to tell a story. When we have false idols and don’t trust in the Lord, “It’s terrible, it hurts the soul what I heard one time years ago in the diocese of Buenos Aires: a woman, a good woman, beautiful, very, very beautiful and who bragged about her beauty, said with great naturalness, ‘Yes, I had to have an abortion because my figure is so important’.He said this surely puts one on the wrong path and does not lead to lasting happiness.

“God is always greater than we are,” said Francis, “and we, created in his image and likeness, cannot reduce him to our size or fabricate other gods, made in our own image and tailored to our desires. By trusting in God’s word and hoping in his promises, we become more and more like him, sharing in his life and rejoicing in his provident care, revealed in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus his Son.”

At the end of the catechesis, the Pope said, “Now I must tell you something that I don’t want to tell you.” He held up a red audience ticket, saying tickets to papal events, whether in St. Peter’s Square or the audience hall are always entirely free, noting that the tickets say this in six languages. Anyone who wants you to pay for a ticvket, said Francis, is a fraud, devious and a delinquent.

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He called weekly audiences a chance “to talk to the Pope, to visit the Pope. If someone says you must pay, they are ripping you off. Beware – tickets are free!”

MEDIA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED BY VATICAN MIGRATION, REFUGEE OFFICE

The Migration and Refugee Section of the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development has announced it is launching its first media campaign.

Although the Dicastery is run by Cardinal Peter Turkson – who had been serving as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace – the Migration and Refugee Section is being led for the time being by Pope Francis himself, to show his particular concern during the ongoing refugee crisis.

The new media campaign is being launched to coincide with the 103rd World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which is observed 15 January 2017.

From 12 to 15 January 2017, the tweets of Pope Francis will focus on migrants and refugees, and will link directly to the Section’s Facebook page, which will present a brief story and reflection relevant to each day’s topic.

The media accounts of the new section are listed below
Twitter Accounts:
English – https://twitter.com/M_RSection
Italian – https://twitter.com/M_RSezione
Spanish – https://twitter.com/M_RSeccion
French – https://twitter.com/M_RSection_Fr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MandRSection/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/migrants-&-refugees-section

TWO PRIESTS ATTACKED IN ST. MARY MAJOR

A man entered the sacristy of a Roman basilica on January 7 and used a broken bottle to attack two priests.

Worshippers at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore heard shouts from the sacristy as a 42-year-old man cut the faces of Father Angelo Gaeta, the sacristan, and Father Adolfo Ralf. Police soon apprehended the perpetrator.

The victims, according to Italy’s state radio and television network, are priests of the Franciscan Friars of Immaculate who have been critical of the institute’s founder, Father Stefano Maria Manelli. The network reported that the attacker’s motive was unknown and that he may have been psychologically disturbed. He was heard to have said, “I am misunderstood.”

800 DEAD, 16 CHURCHES DESTROYED IN NIGERIA BY TERRORIST GROUP

A report from Nigeria from Fides News service, an agency of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples states that over 800 people have been killed and 16 churches destroyed by the terrorist group of Fulani herdsmen.

Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri of Kafanchan in the state of Kaduna told Fides, “In the last three months attacks have increased carried out by the Fulani Herdsmen Terrorist (FHT) in more than half of the territory of the southern State of Kaduna.” Bishop Bagobiri was speaking in Rome where he was visiting the Italian headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

“In the West, this group is almost unheard of, he said, “but it has been responsible since September of fires in 53 villages, of the death of 808 persons, the wounding of 57 others, the destruction of 1,422 houses and 16 churches.

He also noted that from 2006 to 2014, more than 12,000 Christians were killed and 2,000 churches destroyed because of terrorism in Nigeria. These crimes were mainly committed by the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram, he said, but Boko Haram is not the only group that spreads terror in the African country, and he highlighted the role of Fulani herdsmen in recent years.

The Fulani are a nomadic ethnic group that has been protagonists of recurrent conflicts with farmers in the area. However in recent times the attacks are of a completely different kind compared to the old clashes between farmers and herders, as the latter use “sophisticated weapons that did not exist before, such as the AK-47, said Bishop Bagobiri, adding that it is not known where the weapons come from.