IN BRIEF

Don’t forget to tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” on Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm ET. I bring some commentary or news from Rome each week to both shows. If you watch EWTN in Europe, the Monday shows airs on Tuesday at 10am and Wednesday at 6 pm. The Thursday show airs Friday at 10 and Saturday at 6 pm.

IN BRIEF

VATICAN WELCOMES THREE NEW SYRIAN FAMILIES. They have found shelter and welcome in the Vatican as part of an ongoing effort to provide the means and the tools for integration and a new life of hope for those fleeing conflict and persecution. All told, 13 people from two Christian families and one Muslim family have been able make their homes in three Vatican-owned apartments recently vacated by other refugees who have since moved on to more permanent situations. Two of the families fled violence and discrimination because of their Christian faith. They arrived in Italy in March. The refugees hosted in the Vatican have all been able to travel safely to Italy thanks to the “humanitarian corridor” project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldesian Table. (http://www.news.va/en/news/the-vatican-welcomes-new-refugee-families-from-syr)

POPE SAYS IT IS TIME TO END “WORSENING TRAGEDY OF CHILD trafficking and slavery. He said this in a Message sent Monday to a Vienna “Trafficking in Persons” conference. The Pope’s words came in a message read out by Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He was in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)’s “17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference.” In hisMessage, Pope Francis spoke about the goal of prevention: “It should be acknowledged that very little has been done to address the “why” of many young people being tricked or sold into trafficking and slavery.” He said, “Demand and supply, in turn, are deeply rooted in the three great issues of conflicts and wars, economic privation and natural disasters, or what the victims experience as extreme poverty, underdevelopment, exclusion, unemployment and lack of access to education.” Protection against human trafficking, the Pope said, begins with protection of the family. (http://www.news.va/en/news/popes-message-to-osce-human-trafficking-conference): Click here to read the full text of Pope Francis’ message to the OSCE Conference.

CARDINAL LEONARDO SANDRI URGES GENEROSITY FOR ANNUAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION. The cardinal, who heads the Congregation for Oriental Churches, called on Catholics to be generous in their supòport of projects in the Holy Land. In an interview with SIR, the news agency of the Italian Bishops Conference the cardinal talks about the importance of contributing to the upkeep of the sacred sites, while at the same time supporting the search for peace in the land where Jesus lived. Faced with the events that “take place in this troubled region of the world”, the cardinal says, there is a risk that we see them as unconnected to our own lives, “as if we had no responsibility.”  (http://www.news.va/en/news/card-sandri-on-good-friday-collection-for-the-holy)

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

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TRAFFICKING IN HUMANS IS “MAJOR CHALLENGE OF OUR TIMES,” SAYS POPE

TRAFFICKING IN HUMANS IS “MAJOR CHALLENGE OF OUR TIMES,” SAYS POPE

This morning in the Consistory Hall Pope Francis received around a hundred members of the Santa Marta Group on the occasion of the third Conference of this international organization against human trafficking.

Launched in 2014 by Pope Francis and chaired by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, the Santa Marta Group is composed of police chiefs, bishops, religious sisters and representatives from civil society, and aims to forge relationships of trust between police and the Church, especially religious sisters, enabling this crime to be defeated and the victims to be accompanied, assisted, and ultimately reintegrated into society.

At a concluding press conference Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, one of the founding members of the group, and two survivors of human trafficking spoke of the progress that has been made over the past couple of years. (photo L’Osservatore Romano)

trafficking

Pope Francis, in his words to the group, described trafficking as “one of the major challenges of our time” and he praised participants for the important contribution they’re making to end this scourge of modern slavery.

The number of victims, he noted, keeps growing year by year and it’s essential both to support victims of trafficking, but also to tackle the complex problems that lead to their exploitation.

“Dear friends, I thank you and I encourage you to continue in your efforts. The Lord will know how to compensate for what is done to the least in today’s society. ‘I was hungry, I was thirsty’, and you helped me; Today He could also say, ‘I was abused, exploited, enslaved’, and you came to my aid. I continue to accompany you with my closeness and my prayer. And you too, please, pray for me.”

Cardinal Nichols told journalists the group had presented the Pope with the a report of positive developments in the 30 countries that are now part of the Santa Marta process.

Above all perhaps, what this report shows is that human slavery and trafficking is not so hidden as it used to be. There is an increasing awareness that this, in the phrase of the Holy Father, is an open wound in the flesh of humanity, and that voices that were once completely hidden are now being heard”.

Those voices include that of Nigerian survivor Princess Inyang, who was trafficked into Italy in 1999 and forced into prostitution, until she was able to escape, with help from a priest working in the northern city of Asti. She shared her story at the conference and called for deportation of the traffickers, as well as more education and skills training for vulnerable girls in her home country…

The women are vulnerable because of the poverty in Nigeria, the background of the polygamy system of the families, the non-employment, and now we know that the traffickers go into the rural areas to get these young women because of their serious problems”.

Another survivor, who also works to help others avoid the traffickers, is former Premier League player Al Bangura, originally from Sierra Leone. A keen footballer from an early age, he was tricked into going to England with promises of a dream career. He managed to escape the traffickers and now serves as ambassador for a UK based charity called Sport for Freedom.

With everything I’ve been through, I want to be out there to share my story, to educate kids and talk to parents who’re desperate for their kids to achieve….we also work with the Premiership… to make sure the kids are going in the rights direction and make sure we stop this slavery thing.”

Before the conference, Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns said, “At the first meeting of the Santa Marta Group in 2014 Pope Francis called for ‘the adoption of an effective strategy against human trafficking, so that in every part of the world, men and women may no longer be used as a means to an end, and that their inviolable dignity may always be respected.’  For such a strategy to work, all sections of Irish society have a role to play in confronting the secretive and pernicious activities of human trafficking and modern slavery.”

He also noted, continued, “Especially through our two key councils, for immigrants and for justice and peace, as well as with our aid agency Trócaire, Irish bishops are committed to raising awareness about this challenging and dreadful crime which targets the most vulnerable sector in our society.  The Santa Marta Group represents an opportunity to further develop the partnership work of the Church and law enforcement agencies that are engaged in tackling these issues both in Ireland and at the international level.

From Africa to Latin America, from Asia to Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, the conference heard many encouraging stories of success in combatting the trade in people for prostitution, forced labour or sale of their body parts. But as their report also underlines, there is much frustration too, coupled with a renewed determination to work more effectively together for an end to what Pope Francis himself describes as a “crime against humanity.” (sources; news.va, Vatican Radio, CCN)

POPE, MAYORS SIGN AGREEMENT TO FIGHT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, TRAFFICKING – FRANCIS BLESSES CHURCH’S DAY FOR LIFE IN ENGLAND AND WALES – NEW YORK MAYOR SAYS NYC PAPAL VISIT WILL BE “EXTRAORDINARY”

POPE, MAYORS SIGN AGREEMENT TO FIGHT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, TRAFFICKING

Pope Francis and mayors from major cities around the world on Tuesday signed a common declaration of intent to combat environmental damage and human trafficking at the end of the first day of the two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, and by the chancellor of the academies, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. (Photo: news.va. ANSA)

POPE MAYORS AGREEMENT

That final agreement states, among other things, that human induced climate change is a scientific reality and it’s effective control is a moral imperative for humanity It also calls for financial incentives to transition to low carbon and renewable energy and to shift public financing away from the military to urgent investments in sustainable development. The agreement notes that political leaders have a special responsibility at the December conference on climate in Paris talks to approve a bold climate agreement that confines of global warming to a safe to a limit say for humanity.

Following are excerpts from that document:

“We the undersigned have assembled at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences to address two inter-connected dramatic emergencies: human-induced climate change, and social exclusion in the extreme forms of radical poverty, modern slavery and human trafficking.”

“On the basis of the encyclical ‘Laudato si’, we have considered the over-whelming scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerability of the poor to economic, social and environmental disasters. In the face of the emergencies attributable to human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare the following:

“Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.

“In this core moral space, cities play a very vital role. All of our cultural traditions uphold the inherent dignity and social responsibility of every individual and …. affirm the beauty, wonder and inherent goodness of the natural world, and appreciate that it is a precious gift entrusted to our common care.”

“In spite of having a minimal role in the disruption of the climate, the poor and excluded face dire threats from human-induced climate change, including the increased frequency of droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels. Today humanity has the technological instruments, the financial resources and the know-how to reverse climate change while also ending extreme poverty, through the application of sustainable development solutions, including the adoption of low-carbon energy systems supported by information and communications technologies.

“The financing of sustainable development….should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon and renewable energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable a shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development.”

“The … climate summit in Paris later this year (COP21) may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2°C, and aim to stay well below 2°C for safety. .. Political leaders of all UN member States have a special responsibility to agree at COP21 to a bold climate agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endangers their lives.”

“As mayors we commit ourselves to building, in our cities and urban settlements, the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, which foster human trafficking and dangerous forced migration.

“At the same time, we commit ourselves to ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of modern slavery, which are crimes against humanity, including forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and domestic servitude; and to developing national resettlement and reintegration programs that avoid the involuntary repatriation of trafficked persons.”

FRANCIS BLESSES CHURCH’S DAY FOR LIFE IN ENGLAND AND WALES

Pope Francis has sent his good wishes and support to the Catholic Church in England and Wales for this Sunday’s Day for Life, according to a press release from the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales. The Day for Life is the day dedicated to praying for the protection of human life and raising awareness about its meaning and value at every stage and in every condition.

Britain’s Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini received the letter from the Pope and conveyed it to Bishop John Sherrington who heads the Day for Life. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing “upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion of the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death.”

The Day for Life 2015 focuses on Catholic teaching about appropriate treatment at the end of life. The essential message for the Day is “How do we cherish life while we can and accept death when it comes?”

Over 300,000 postcards will be distributed to parishioners in England and Wales this weekend offering guidance about end of life decisions.

NEW YORK MAYOR SAYS NYC PAPAL VISIT WILL BE “EXTRAORDINARY”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to reporters about Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to his city, and he had nothing but praise for the Holy Father. In its video, Rome Reports quotes the mayor as saying, “I think the emotion that the people of New York City feel for this Pope is going to manifest itself in the streets of the city. Anywhere he goes, I think you’re going to see a great outpouring of support for him.”

RR writes that, “while he does not practice any religion, the mayor has formed strong bonds with many religious communities in New York. He has become good friends with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and they’ve worked together to prepare for the upcoming trip.”

“I think it’s going to be extraordinary,” said de Blasio of the upcoming visit. There’s tremendous energy in New York City in anticipation of the Pope’s visit. Now, it will happen during our annual U.N. week, so certainly logistically there will be a lot going on, and it’s going to take a huge effort by the city to accommodate both the papal visit and the U.N. week, but we’re ready. We’ve been in preparation now for months.”

The mayor spoke after the first day of the Vatican-sponsored conference for mayors and local officials to discuss climate change and human trafficking. Mayors de Blasio said having the Pope’s moral authority strengthened their work: “Let’s face it, having the support of His Holiness is the most encouraging thing I can think of. It’s the most empowering possibility to have the strongest moral voice in the global today calling us to action.”

The mayors signed a declaration with Pope Francis calling for national leaders to come up with a “bold climate agreement.” For his part, de Blasio also announced that his city intends to cut carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030.

 

THE WORLDS MAYORS DISCUSS CLIMATE CHANGE, POVERTY, TRAFFICKING – POPE FRANCIS TO MAYORS: CARE FOR ENVIRONMENT, FIGHT TRAFFICKING – JUBILEE TO BRING 33 MILLION PILGRIMS TO ROME

How many times in his papacy, has Pope Francis asked us: “Do you know the date of your baptism? And why not? Find out!”

Well, I’ve known ever since I was rather little that the anniversary of my baptism is today – July 21st. It was written in our family Bible, which I have right here in my office, along with a lot of other important dates!

I went to the Paul VI Hall today in search of Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama as he is attending the Vatican workshop on “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: the Commitment of the Cities.” It was a delight to meet him and I will present our conversation on “Vatican Insider”this weekend, so set aside a few minutes to listen to that on Saturday or Sunday. I’ll remind you Friday.

As I exited the Paul VI Hall and was walking towards the Petriano Gate (the entrance pilgrims use when they attend a Wednesday general audience in the Paul VI Hall), I saw a very large contruction site going up right inside the gate and next to the Vatican building housing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I asked a worker what it was and he said the site would be temporary bathrooms as they are fixing, remodeling, updating the bathrooms off St. Peter’s Square in preparation for the Jubilee Year.

There was some really big news today for three men and for the archdiocese of Los Angeles: Pope Francis today named three new auxiliary bishops to the archdiocese of Los Angeles in the United States. Among them was Father Robert E. Barron, the Rector of the University of St. Mary and Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. Father Barron is also the founder of the multimedia “Word on Fire Catholic Ministries”, which produces programs which have been broadcast regularly on WGN America, EWTN, Relevant Radio and the Word on Fire YouTube Channel. Also named as auxiliaries were Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan, the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Irish-born Msgr. David G. O’Connell, pastor of Saint Michael Parish in Los Angeles.

FR. ROBERT BARRON

As many of you wrote on my Facebook page, the seminarians in Chicago have to be devastated so this is both a good news/bad news story. However, I am sure we will see Bishop-elect Barron on EWTN as we have great new studios on the West Coast!

Our affection for you, Fr, Robert, and our prayers, have just been doubled. As they have for the other future bishops whom I do not know but intend to know!

THE WORLDS MAYORS DISCUSS CLIMATE CHANGE, POVERTY, TRAFFICKING

(Vatican Radio)  Ways to combat climate change and its effects on society’s most vulnerable:  some sixty mayors and local administrators from around the world are brainstorming on that topic in  the Vatican Tuesday and Wednesday.  Pope Francis is expected to greet them in an audience Tuesday evening.

In his recently released environment encyclical “Laudato Si,” the Pope said caring for the Earth is an urgent moral imperative and that fossil fuel-based global warming puts the poor most at risk. Urban centers are considered some of the biggest contributors to climate change.

CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

Hailing from cities in North and South America, Europe and from developing nations like India and Gabon, many of the officials are committed to environmentally friendly policies aimed at bringing down the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

The two-day Vatican climate conference comes ahead of the Paris COP-21 climate negotiations in December. Click here to see the YouTube coverage of the events.

In presenting this week’s meeting, the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences said “global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migrations, and it favours human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and organ trafficking.”

Mayors and Local Administrators at the Vatican summit are expected to urge global leaders to take bold action to curb global warming, and to press for approval of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals this fall.

Speaking to participants Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a further 40 percent over the next fifteen years.  He described Pope Francis’ as “the most powerful voice on this earth for those whose voice is not being heard…he did not convene us here to accept the status quo but to indict it.”

Speaking of the fast-approaching Paris climate summit, de Blasio added, “we need to see it as the finish line of a sprint, and take every local action we can in the coming months to maximize the chance that our national governments will act boldly.”

Governor Jerry Brown, whose state of California has enacted some of the most stringent carbon emissions policies in the U.S., decried “powerful” opposition groups at home which deny global warming and “spend billions on trying to keep from office” people who believe scientific evidence proves the phenomenon exists.

The Mayor of New Orleans on Tuesday (July 21st) hailed Pope Francis’ words and actions on climate change and said he believes the upcoming papal visit to the U.S. will be transformational and in particular his address to Congress will be “very challenging.”  Mayor Mitch Landrieu was among the participants at a 2-day workshop of mayors from around the world who came to the Vatican to discuss the issues of climate change and human trafficking. Most of New Orleans is under the sea level and 10 years ago the U.S. city suffered devastating flooding when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina

In a previous press conference announcing this climate meeting, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said the climate crisis and modern slavery were “interconnected emergencies,” stating that “although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change… they are the  most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption.”

He said, “in this fundamental moral context, cities and their mayors play a key role. “Currently, most of humanity is concentrated in formal and informal urban settlements and this trend is set to increase,”

“We intend for the mayors to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to  extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which  create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking.”

Francis newest encyclical “Laudato si’, was mandatory reading for the conference participants, as they prepared to attend and speak at the Vatican meeting.

In his remarks to the press, Bishop Sorondo said, “the Pontifical Academy of Sciences agrees with the Holy Father that there is a clear link between the two human-induced emergencies of the climate crisis and the social crisis. Following the  Encyclical, our commitment is to make the whole of society aware of these phenomena and of the  human responsibilities of these crises and to react firmly, as a new moral imperative for all of humanity  in favour of the common good.”

POPE FRANCIS TO MAYORS, CARE FOR ENVIRONMENT, FIGHT TRAFFICKING

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged mayors from big cities to direct their efforts towards the care for the environment and the fight against human trafficking.

The Pope was speaking to some 70 mayors from around the world who are in the Vatican for a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences. (Linda Bordoni reported for Vatican Radio).

POPE ON CLIMATE

Telling those present he has “a lot of hope” that negotiators at Paris climate talks will reach an ambitious agreement to reduce global warming, Pope Francis said he places great trust in the United Nations to bring about a good agreement. But – he stressed – he also wants U.N. nations to prioritize fighting both human trafficking and the exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people.

And referring to his recently published encyclical “Laudato Si”, Pope Francis made it quite clear that the document is not an encyclical on the environment.

It’s a social encyclical – he explained –  because the state of the environment is directly and intimately linked to the life and wellbeing of humankind.

And this is not the only connection Pope Francis made in his off-the-cuff greeting in which he chose to speak in his native Spanish.

He said huge migratory waves of peoples across the globe are triggered by environmental issues such as desertification and deforestation which leave people and entire communities without the possibility of seeking a livelihood.

Thus – he said – the exodus that takes them into urban centers gives life to human trafficking which brings with it diverse forms of exploitation (be it economical or sexual) of women, children and vulnerable people.

Pope Francis concluded his address with a series of quotes and references to theologian Romano Guardini and his theology of the human person.

And he issued a strong call to all the Mayors present at the event to be aware of these problems and to seek solutions working – he said – from the peripheries towards the center.

JUBILEE TO BRING 33 MILLION PILGRIMS TO ROME

(ANSA) – Rome, July 21 – As many as 33 million tourists and pilgrims are expected to visit Rome during the Jubilee year that begins in December, Censis said Tuesday. The research firm said that about 70% of the visitors will come from abroad, spending an estimated eight billion euros. According to Censis, about 25 million tourists came to Rome for the Jubilee of 2000, and it expects a sizeable increase for this Holy Year.

“The extraordinary flow of tourists will be part of the great wave seeing the growing attractiveness of Rome,” said Censis. It added that includes “a proliferation” of visitors who now see Rome as a day trip rather than a place worth staying overnight or longer.

On the second anniversary of his election last March Pope Francis Francis announced the special Jubilee year to begin December 8 and end November 20, 2016 in order to underscore a central spiritual theme of his pontificate. The Jubilee has been dedicated to the theme of Mercy.  http://popefrancisnewsapp.com/

ANSA also reported today that there are nearly 4,000 “irregular” tourist lodgings currently on offer in the Eternal City, making up a total of about 36,000 beds, with unregulated or “under the table” structures totaling about 75% of those, said Censis on Tuesday. The think tank said the city government loses around 40 million euros annually due to the phenomenon. Censis conducted the study, called “Rome Towards the Jubilee,” in light of the special Jubilee year announced by Pope Francis, which will begin in December and is expected to attract up to 33 million tourists and religious pilgrims to Rome.