AN OPEN LETTER FROM YOUNG CATHOLICS

I spent one of the most fascinating afternoons imaginable in New York City yesterday, a city of countless fascinating places to visit.

In the company of two very dear friends, I visited – for the first time – Ground Zero.

Also for the first time, I visited the indescribably remarkable and compelling 911 Museum.

One of my friends, Maria, is a docent at the 911 Museum and if anyone could resurrect miracles out of mounds of rubble or somehow give life back to death, it is Maria.

Both Maria and our mutual friend Blanche (they’ve been friends since college) lost friends in 911 so there were many extremely poignant moments during our afternoon together.

I will tell you about that visit and do so as soon as possible, putting together all my memories, my feelings and the stories Maria told us, together with some photos.

Today, I’d really like you to focus on the following letter as the drama of the sex abuse crisis and reaction to the McCarrick scandal, seem to have no end.

AN OPEN LETTER FROM YOUNG CATHOLICS

Another excellent offering from First Things on the sad and sordid case of Archbishop McCarrick and the situation of sexual abuse by clergy in the Church.

These young people will make you think. They tell you of their love for the Church and for the good and faithful servants of the Lord and they tell you of their fears and hopes and their demands on Church leaders. These youth in their own ways are all leaders now, as you will see by their signatures, and will surely be even greater ones in coming years.

I hope and pray that the Holy Father and the October Synod of Bishops for youth put everything the young people have said in this Open Letter at the top of the synod agenda.

In fact, I hope and more than anything else that someone on the papal staff brings this to the attention of Pope Francis.

Here’s the First Things article:

Archbishop McCarrick’s predatory career would not have been possible without the culpable silence or active complicity of men at the highest levels of the Church. Revelations of his abuse have therefore gravely damaged the credibility of the whole Catholic hierarchy. Here a group of young Catholics speaks with one voice about the need for a cleansing fire.

Their statement is non-partisan, assuming nothing but the eternal validity of the Church’s teaching. They call for an independent investigation of who knew what and when, a new intolerance of clerical abuse and sexual sin, and public acts of penance by Catholic bishops. They promise to work and suffer for the Church, and to strive for holiness in their own lives. As children of the Church, they ask for fathers who honor the Father above. They are confident that their pleas are heard by God. They hope that they will likewise be heard by the priests and bishops who fear him.

“Dear Fathers in Christ,

In preparation for the upcoming Synod on Young People, the Vatican asked for reports from young Catholics around the world concerning their faith and the role the Church plays in their lives. Some of us are younger than others, but we were all children in the decades leading up to the sexual abuse crisis of 2002. In light of that experience and the recent revelations about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, we answer the Church’s invitation to speak.

Our experiences have given us cause for gratitude, but also for anger.

We are grateful for the way good priests and bishops lay down their lives for us day after day. They say the Mass, absolve us from sin, celebrate our weddings, and baptize our children. Through their preaching, teaching, and writing, they remind us that Jesus Christ has conquered evil once and for all. Their daily sacrifices give us blessings of infinite worth. For all of this, we are profoundly thankful.

We are also angry. We are angry over the “credible and substantiated” report of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse of a minor. We are angry over the numerous allegations of his abuse of seminarians and young priests. We are angry that “everybody knew” about these crimes, that so few people did anything about them, and that those who spoke out were ignored.

In addition, we have heard reports of networks of sexually active priests who promote each other and threaten those who do not join in their activities; of young priests and seminarians having their vocations endangered because they refused to have sex with their superiors or spoke out about sexual impropriety; and of drug-fueled orgies in Vatican apartments.

As Catholics, we believe that the Church’s teaching on human nature and sexuality is life-giving and leads to holiness. We believe that just as there is no room for adultery in marriages, so there is no room for adultery against the Bride of Christ. We need bishops to make clear that any act of sexual abuse or clerical unchastity degrades the priesthood and gravely harms the Church.

We are scandalized by the fact that men like Archbishop McCarrick have held positions of authority in the Church. Indeed, we are alarmed by reports that Pope Francis acted on McCarrick’s guidance in creating cardinals and appointing men to senior positions in the Church. Men McCarrick mentored and lived with are now important archbishops and heads of Vatican dicasteries.

We want to know what those men knew about McCarrick and when they knew it, especially since “everybody knew.” If the pope himself knew, we want to know that as well.

You are the shepherds of the Church. If you do not act, evil will go unchecked. As members of your flock, we therefore ask the following of you.

We ask you to agree to a thorough, independent investigation into claims of abuse by Archbishop McCarrick, both of minors and of adults. We want to know who in the hierarchy knew about his crimes, when they knew it, and what they did in response. This is the least that would be expected of any secular organization; it should not be more than we can expect from the Church.

We ask that the silence surrounding sexual impropriety in the Church be broken. We ask that bishops take clear action when priests flout the Church’s sexual teaching and that networks of sexually active priests be rooted out. We ask that good priests be given the freedom to tell their bishops what they know, without fear of reprisal. Along with these actions, we ask that bishops engage in formal acts of public penance and reparation.

We also commit to the following. We will refuse to be silent when we see or hear of sexual assaults taking place anywhere in the Church and by any person, clerical or lay. When those we know are assaulted, we will encourage the victims to come forward. We will stand with them until justice is done. We will not accept silence and inaction. Rather, we will publicly name and expose those who harm others and superiors who fail to take action when others are harmed.

We will likewise speak out when we discover clerical sexual impropriety. We will work to protect the good priests and seminarians who are threatened when they refuse to condone the sins of their fellow clerics, or when they speak out about them.

Above all, we pray for holiness in our Church and in ourselves. We pray for good priests and bishops who can lead us on to the vision of God. You constantly remind us that Jesus Christ is the fountain of mercy. Please do not forget that he is also the judge of the world.”

The letter is signed by 43 young people who contribute to various publications, including First Things, Commentary, National Review and Catholic Herald. They attend Catholic universities and public institutions. They hail from the U.S. and the UK. I have not listed their names for reasons of space but they are here: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/08/an-open-letter-from-young-catholics

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THE AUGUST SNOWFALL IN ROME – 30,000 ITALIAN YOUTH ON WALKING PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

August 6 is the feast of the Transfiguration and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI who will be canonized in October. Pope Francis spoke of this at the Sunday Angelus, saying, “Forty years ago Blessed Pope Paul VI – the Pope of modernity – was living his last hours on this earth. He died in the evening of August 6, 1978. We remember him with great veneration and gratitude. From heaven, may he intercede for the Church and for peace in the world.”

This column might be Joan’s Rome lite tomorrow as I will be travelling much of the day. I’ll bring you what I can – if I can!

THE AUGUST SNOWFALL IN ROME

Every so often people write me to tell me they’ve read stories of snowfall in Rome in August, traditionally the hottest month of the year – perhaps together with July! The snowfall they read about has nothing to do with needing warm clothes when you visit Rome in August but has everything to do with one of the four papal basilicas in Rome, Our Lady of the Snows aka St. Mary Major.

The other three papal basilicas are St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and St. John Lateran. By the way, these four basilicas, with three others, constitute the 7 must-visit pilgrim churches in Rome. The remaining three: St. Sebastian, Holy Cross in Jerusalem (with relics of the crucifixion) and St. Lawrence – San Lorenzo al Verano.

Now about the snowfall:

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 their friend Pope Liberius of their dream and to their amazement discovered that the pontiff had had the same dream. That morning, August 5, one 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, there are two celebrations on that day. In late afternoon during a liturgy, usually vespers, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released through one of the square panels of the basilica’s glorious gilt ceiling. In the evening, about 9 pm, outside the basilica, white flower petals are showered down on the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

If you are ever in Rome on August 5 go to St. Mary Major in mid-afternoon or about 9 at night to witness the snowfall and participate in a liturgy.

Here’s a brief Youtube video I did on my first visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9LTZk-k2k8

30,000 ITALIAN YOUTH ON WALKING PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

The initiative organized by the Italian bishops conference is in preparation for the Synod on young people in the Vatican in October and the World Youth Day in Panama in January.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews.va)

More than 30,000 young people of some 200 Italian dioceses set out in groups Friday morning on a weeklong walking pilgrimage in the territories of their respective dioceses, an experience that will conclude in a mega rally in Rome next weekend with meetings with Pope Francis.

The National Service for Youth Ministry of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) has organized the initiative in view of the Synod of Bishops on young people scheduled for October in the Vatican.

Father Michele Falabretti who heads the Youth Ministry office explained that they wanted to add a special experience to their meeting with the Pope, hence the initiative called, “Per Mille Strade” (Through a thousand roads), a pilgrimage involving young people and those accompanying them and “Siamo Qui” (We Are Here), the encounter with Pope Francis on the last two days in Rome, August 11 and 12.

Pilgrimage through the world

To be able to make the most of the walking pilgrimage, each participant has been provided with a pilgrim’s kit containing both practical and spiritual items. This includes a pilgrim’s shoulder bag with items such as a headlamp for use at night, a hat, a portable water bag, a diary, a Gospel, a cross, a commentary booklet on the encounter between Jesus and the disciples, a small canvas with the image of the holy shroud, a map and an identification badge.

The young pilgrims have also been furnished with a log, where they will post their experiences as they pass through the various stages of their journey.

Fr. Falabretti said the purpose of the pilgrimage is to help young people step out of the beaten path, slow down and keep their eyes open to the testimonies of life and faith that they come across and to know about the stories of today’s man and his difficulties and hopes. This journey is to make the children think and feel as part of the Church, he said.

Rally with the Pope in Rome

After the pilgrimage across their respective dioceses, the youngsters will board buses, trains or other means to converge on Rome on Saturday, August 11, where they will hold an evening prayer vigil at Circus Maximus with the participation of the Holy Father.

The following day, Sunday, they will attend a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, at the end of which the Pope will hand them a missionary mandate and bless the Crucifix of St. Damien and Our Lady of Loreto which they will carry to the World Youth Day in Panama, next year.

The young people have been encouraged to remain connected by posting their experiences online on the social media that will be shared with all in real time as the pilgrimage progresses.

VATICAN INSIDER: A FOCUS ON HOLY SEE-CHINA RELATIONS – YOUNG PEOPLE PARTICIPATE IN SYNODAL PROCESS

VATICAN INSIDER: A FOCUS ON HOLY SEE-CHINA RELATIONS

The interview segment of Vatican Insider is my must-not-miss conversation
with a special guest and friend of over 20 years, Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, editor of AsiaNews, a PIME missionary online publication. We talk about the very troubling situation in mainland China and the issues between China and the Vatican.

As I mentioned last week for Part I of our conversation, Father Bernardo has been to China many times and is an expert on China and Church affairs. Though I have nowhere near his expertise in all things China, I did spend three weeks in Beijing as a member of the Holy See delegation to the September 1995 United Nations Conference on Women, and I learned a great deal about China at the time, especially on matters of religious freedom. I learned even more six years later when I spent 12 days in Taiwan, devoted to visiting churches and schools, meeting priests and nuns and the late Cardinal Paul Shan whom I visited in Kaoshiung.

And I have followed all things China ever since!

Our conversation this weekend in Part II of our meeting is of vital importance, especially because we talk about the seemingly great differences in the stories about China that are coming from the Vatican and also from a very respected, retired Chinese cardinal – Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.

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=

YOUNG PEOPLE PARTICIPATE IN SYNODAL PROCESS

300 young people will participate in a first-ever of its kind pre-synodal meeting that will take place from March 19 to 24 in preparation for the XV Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

An estimated 300 young people from around the world have been chosen to come to Rome in preparation for the XV Synod of Bishops to take place in October 2018. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops explained at a press conference on Friday that for the first time in the history of the Synod of Bishops, a pre-synodal meeting is planned for March 19 to 24.

The young people attending this meeting were chosen by conferences of bishops, religious congregations, and other Vatican dicasteries. They represent young people from various ethnic, and religious backgrounds, walks of life, and lived experiences—including some who have experienced human trafficking.

This meeting is being held to assure that the voice of the very audience the Synod is addressing – young people – will be heard first-hand. The input from this meeting will be presented to Pope Francis on March 25. It will also be included in the Instrumentum laboris that will be used by the Synod Fathers as they focus this theme.

How young people’s voices are being heard

Social media is the primary way that the Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops wishes to hear from young people. Over 221,000 responses to the online questionnaire have already been received. It is now possible to participate in Facebook Groups in various languages by signing up using the link found on the Synod’s website.

Also present at Friday’s press conference were two young people participating in a group organized by the secretariat preparing for the synod. Filippo Passantino underlined the use of social media in order to involve young people in the synod. Referring to the synod’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, he said that “with our advice and our intuition, we offered a younger perspective in order to speak to other young people. The objective of the online presence is to create interactions with our peers throughout the world and to facilitate their participation.”

Stella Marillene Nishimwe, speaking in French, said, “I would (…) like to invite all the young people of the world to participate in this precious moment that the Church offers us to make our voice reach as far as possible.”

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BE JOY-FILLED MISSIONARIES OF HOPE – POPE ANNOUNCES 2018 PRE-SYNOD MEETING FOR YOUTH – EGYPT, “A LAND OF COHABITATION, HOSPITALITY AND ENCOUNTER, OF HISTORY AND OF CIVILIZATION”

The Catholic American Community of Saint Patrick’s Church is holding a Prayer Vigil to honor the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas tomorrow, Thursday, October 5 at 5 PM., Via Boncompagni, 31. All are welcome.

October is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis tweeted the following today: Like Saint Francis of Assisi, let us be transformed by the love of Christ in order to live in simplicity and joy.

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BE JOY-FILLED MISSIONARIES OF HOPE

Pope Francis Wednesday continued his catechesis on Christian hope at the weekly general audience in a sun_splashed St Peter’s Square. This week he turned his attention to the Christian’s calling to be a missionary of hope.

“I would like to speak of our calling to be missionaries of hope,” began the Pope. He expèlained that “October is traditionally dedicated to reflection on our participation in the Church’s mission.  Saint Francis of Assisi, whose feast we celebrate today, can serve as our model in this regard.  Francis was a true missionary of the joyful hope born of Christ’s victory over death and our own share in his risen life.”

Francis stated that “Jesus asks us to be witnesses of that same hope, confident in the transforming power of his Spirit at work in our hearts and in our world.  Joy is the sure sign of true Christian hope, for we know that evil will not have the upper hand, and that God’s love, revealed on the cross, will ultimately triumph.”

“However,” noted the Holy Father, “there are certainly times when the gift of hope proves cost. This is the case with so many of our fellow Christians who presently experience persecution, and with the martyrs in every age.  Their witness inspires us to continue to hope in Christ’s promises.  As missionaries of hope, may we rejoice in God’s saving power, never lose heart, and help others to look to the future with confidence.”

POPE ANNOUNCES 2018 PRE-SYNOD MEETING FOR YOUTH

(Vatican Radio) After delivering his general audience catechesis on Christian hope, Pope Francis announced that the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will convene a pre-synodal meeting from March 19 to 24, 2018, to which it will invite young people from different parts of the world, including young Catholics, young people from different Christian denominations and other religions, and non-believers.

“This initiative is part of the preparations for the next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be on ‘Youth, Faith and Vocation Discernment’ in October 2018. With this journey, the Church wants to listen to the voice, the sensitivity, of faith and also the doubts and criticisms of young people. Following this, conclusions of the March Meeting will be transmitted to the Synod Fathers.”

EGYPT, “A LAND OF COHABITATION, HOSPITALITY AND ENCOUNTER, OF HISTORY AND OF CIVILIZATION”

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis Wednesday had a special greeting for an Egyptian delegation led by the country’s Tourism Minister, in Rome to promote a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt.

Speaking during the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled his Apostolic Journey to Egypt last April saying that he has fond memories of the visit.

He said Egypt is “a land where Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus, as well as many prophets lived: a land that has been blessed with the precious blood of martyrs spilt throughout the centuries”.

And describing Egypt as a land of cohabitation and hospitality; a land of encounter, of history and of civilization, the Pope imparted his blessing on Egyptians and prayed the Lord to protect the nation, the Middle East and the whole world from all kinds of terrorism and from evil.

The Pope also blessed an icon that represents the Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt.

The Egyptian delegation, led by the Minister of Tourism Yahya Rashed, is meeting with tourism officials in Rome in an effort to promote the Holy Family in Egypt route as an important  pilgrimage destination.

 

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR – SYNOD OF BISHOPS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

Pope Francis tweeted today: In his passion, Jesus took upon himself all our suffering. He knows the meaning of pain, he understands and comforts us, giving us strength.

There have been a few rough days lately, given an infection in my right ankle that has made walking difficult and painful. Several days ago, as I was leaving the Vatican medical center and nearing the Sant’Anna entrance to Vatican City to get a taxi, I had a lovely encounter with a Swiss Guard. As two elderly gentlemen were leaving the church of Sant’Anna, one with obvious mobility issues, the Swiss Guard stepped in and helped the gentleman.  As they walked away, I smiled and said to him, “That’s also part of the life of a guard, isn’t it?  His answer (with a smile): “That’s the best part of my life as a Guard!”

May God bless this young man abundantly! He made my day and I’ve thought of that answer every day since.

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

The Vatican today released Pope Francis’ message for the First World Day of the Poor to be celebrated worldwide next November 19 on the theme, “Let us love, not with words but with deeds.”

At a press conference today announcing the papal Message and the November 19 celebration, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, charged with implementing this World Day, said that Pope Francis wil presidet at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 19, after which there will be a lunch for about 500 poor in the Paul VI Hall.

The archbishop is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. That office was also charged with organizing the recent Holy Year of Mercy.

In his Message, in number 3, Francis writes: “We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.  Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.”

Pope Francis eats lunch with homeless and poor people in Campobasso, Italy (photo Boston Globe)

“Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty,” the Pope wrote. “Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve him in the poor.  If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.  At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life.

“We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is.  Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.  Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money.  What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!”

In Number 6, the Holy Father explains when this world day was born: “At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.  To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor.

“I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father.  This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.  At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity.  God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded.

“It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.  They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday.  The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God’s love.  Jesus’ complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.

“This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favourable moment to encounter the God we seek.  Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently.  With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God’s providence.

Click here for complete Message: http://www.news.va/en/news/first-world-day-of-the-poor-message-released

SYNOD OF BISHOPS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced a new website on Tuesday in preparation for the October 2018 synod that be dedicated to the role of young people in the life of the Church. That site will be active as of tomorrow, June 14: http://youth.synod2018.va

A statement from the Secretariat explains that the site is designed to promote the broad, interactive participation of young people from all around the world in preparations for the Assembly.

The new website includes an online questionnaire addressed directly to young people in different languages ​​(Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), with answer due in by November 30, 2017.

The statement goes on to encourage young people especially to visit the site and respond to the Questionnaire, saying that wide and fulsome response will be of great use in the process of preparing the Synod Assembly, and will be part of the extensive consultation that the General Secretariat is doing at all levels of the people of God. (Vatican radio)

 

2018 SYNOD THEME: YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT – U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: “POPE FRANCIS IS A MAN OF PEACE, OF VISION”

What a week this has been so far! The three-day weekend papal trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Pope Francis’ unannounced visit Tuesday to the towns in central Italy struck by the earthquake last August 24, and three big moments on Wednesday: The first took place at 9 a.m., before the general audience, when Pope Francis received representatives of the Vodafone Foundation. The Vodafone CEO presented the Pope with an initiative called “Instant Schools for Africa,” which seeks to offer online access to important educational resources for a great number of African youth, some of whom are living in refugee camps.

The general audience followed that meeting, with the papal catechesis centered on the Holy Father’s apostolic trip to the Caucasus region. Wednesday afternoon, Francis addressed the First Global Sports and Faith Conference and, that evening, celebrated vespers in the Rome church of St. Gregory al Celio with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mark the 50th anniversary of Anglican-Catholic relations. The Holy Father recalled the historic meeting 50 years ago between Blessed Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, a meeting that led to a gradual rapprochement based on theological dialogue. During the liturgy the two leaders signed a common declaration and sent out on mission together 19 pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops.

The big news today was the Vatican’s announcement of the theme of the October 2018 Synod of Bishops – see that story below. Also, please find a Vatican Radio interview with outgoing U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who is in Rome for the Sports and Faith Conference. That meeting, now in its second day, was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and supported by the U.N. and the International Olympic Committee.

Pope Francis also met with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Msgr. Brian Bransfield, secretary general, and Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, adjunct secretary general.

2018 SYNOD THEME: YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT

The Vatican press office announced today that, “Pope Francis, after consulting, as is customary, with Bishops Conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris and the Union of Superior Generals, in addition to having listened to the suggestions of the Synod Fathers from the last Synod and the opinion of the XIV Ordinary Council, has decided that the XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops will take place in October 2018 on the them, ‘Young people, faith and vocational discernment’.”

The press office statement described the theme “as an expression of the Church’s pastoral concern for the young, in continuity with what emerged from the recent Synods on the family and the content of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. It intends to accompany young people along their existential journey towards maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life plan and achieve it joyfully, opening themselves up to an encounter with God and humanity and actively taking part in the building of the Church and society.”

U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: “POPE FRANCIS IS A MAN OF PEACE, OF VISION”

Pope Francis met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday before the start of the First Global Conference on Sport and Faith on the theme “Sport at the Service of Humanity.” The conference was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the United Nations, and the International Olympic Committee.

After his meeting with Pope Francis, the Secretary General spoke to Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti.

BAN KI-MOON: I’m grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis, the Vatican, and also the International Olympic Committee for organizing this very meaningful event, where people can be inspired to promote peace and development through sports. Sports is a universal language. It transcends all the national barriers. It transcends all ethnicities and nationalities and whatever differences one may have. It can have instant power of mobilizing people’s energy, and also commitment for development.

“Togetherness, oneness, can easily be realized through sports. In that regard, the United Nations is very much committed. The UN General Assembly has designated April 6, every year, as the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, and I have appointed a special envoy to promote peace and development through sport. The United Nations and the IOC have been building a very strong partnership; now the Vatican – the Holy See – is joining. The Vatican, IOC, and the United Nations can have a very strong driving force to promote peace and development through sports.”

ban-ki-moon

Question: How important has the role of Pope Francis been in promoting peace and reconciliation, in your opinion?

BAN KI-MOON: His Holiness Pope Francis is a man of peace; a man of vision. He is a man of more voice. It has been a great privilege and honor for me to work with him. For example, when world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it was the Pope’s urging and appeal to world leaders: He urged world leaders to have a stronger and visionary commitment for the world – people and planet – so that they can live in peace and prosperity through partnership. And also, it was His Holiness who, through his encyclical on climate change, Common Home [Laudato si’] – he termed it: Our planet earth is our common home. We are all seven billion people, and all creatures should live together, and that has given much inspiration. Strong voice: so that the world leaders adopted climate change agreement in Paris last year. I expressed my deepest admiration and gratitude to His Holiness during my audience with him.

Question: Finally, sport is an eloquent example today of this possibility and opportunity of the Holy See and the United Nations to play a role together. Do you think even in the construction of a more human society – peace, reconciliation, human dignity –  that the Holy See and the United Nations, the Church and the United Nations, can work together?

BAN: The Holy See, the Vatican, and Christianity and other religions, they share common goals, visions, and values as the Charter of the United Nations: Peace, respect for humanity, and human rights. And also through sports we can promote sustainable development. In that regard, it is very important that the United Nations has been working very closely with the Holy See, and also a strong partnership with the IOC. The idea of having this Faith and Sports for Peace and Development all came from His Holiness, and also the United Nations and IOC. That is why this is unprecedented that the Secretary General of the United Nations, the IOC, and Holy See work together for common good.