POPE ASSURES PRAYERS TO BUSH FAMILY ON DEATH OF FORMER PRESIDENT – POPE FRANCIS: DURING ADVENT, ASK JESUS TO TEACH US TO PRAY

POPE ASSURES PRAYERS TO BUSH FAMILY ON DEATH OF FORMER PRESIDENT

The following telegram was sent in Pope Francis’ name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB for the death of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush:

His Eminence Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston

Saddened to learn of the death of former President George H. W. Bush, His Holiness Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all the Bush family. Commending President Bush’s soul to the merciful love of Almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of strength and peace.

POPE FRANCIS: DURING ADVENT, ASK JESUS TO TEACH US TO PRAY

After concluding his reflections on the Ten Commandments at last week’s general audience, Pope Francis on Wednesday launched a new series of catechesis, which will focus on the “Our Father.”

By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

“The Gospels have given us a very vivid portrait of Jesus as a man of prayer,” the Pope said in the introductory catechetical instruction. Despite the importance of His mission, and the demands placed on Him by the people, Jesus often felt the need “to withdraw into solitude and pray.” This was evident from the very beginning of His mission, after the initial success of his ministry in Galilee.

“In some places in the Scriptures,” Francis continued, “it seems that it is Jesus’ prayer above all, His intimacy with the Father, that governs everything.” This is particularly evident during the agony in the garden, before the Crucifixion.

The Holy Father said that, although Jesus prayed like other people do, there was also a profound mystery about His prayer to His Father. That is why His disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus does not want to keep His intimacy with His Father to Himself, but “came precisely in order to introduce us into this relationship with the Father.”

We too must make our own the prayer of the disciples: “Lord, teach us to pray.” “Even if we have been praying for many years,” Pope Francis said, “we always have something to learn.” Recalling the parable of the publican and the Pharisee, the Holy Father said the first step in prayer is to humble ourselves before God.

He concluded his first reflection on the prayer of Jesus with the advice to repeat often, during Advent, the prayer of the disciples: “Master, teach us to pray.” If we do this, he said, then God will certainly not let our prayer go unanswered.”

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A TAXI DRIVER’S PRAYER – POPE FRANCIS VISITS THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY

A TAXI DRIVER’S PRAYER

I had such a singular experience this morning that I felt I had to write about it.

I had an appointment in the Vatican’s medical center with an orthopedic surgeon for a reading of an MRI and for an update on the fractured vertebra I’ve been living with for two months. October was a very trying time but over the last month, the pain diminished a bit every week and Monday I felt as close to normal as I have in two months but I will still quite anxious about the MRI results. The written report accompanying the CD of the MRI was quite lengthy but in medical terms I did not understand at all.

I called a taxi, even though on foot I could reach the Vatican’s Sant’Anna entrance in probably 10 minutes or less. I’ve been very careful as walking has been tough, thus taxis have pretty much been my mode of transport.

I gave the driver the Sant’Anna address and said we could enter Vatican City as I had a Vatican ID. On the way, I jokingly said it would have been closer for me to walk but I was being careful because of a painful back issue. He asked what was wrong, I replied “a fractured vertebra” and he said “that must be so painful.” I said I was improving and would see a doctor this morning.

A few minutes later he asked if I was a believer (I’m sure it was related to the fact I was going to the Vatican), and I said, yes, I’m a practicing Catholic. He turned and smiled and said, “then you believe in the power of prayer to heal. That prayer can heal as well as – or perhaps even better than – doctors.”

I said I totally agreed and that I try to end my prayers, especially of supplication, with “God willing!”

A few minutes later, we entered Vatican City and I directed him to the medical center. When he stopped, he turned around and asked if it would be OK to pray together for my healing! He asked my name and then he prayed, asking the Lord to send the Holy Spirit on me to heal me and watch over me. He then prayed that “the doctor will be amazed at how Joan has healed.”

He said this with a bowed head and with such conviction, I was speechless! I said “God bless you today and always.” He smiled, saying “have a great day” and pulled away.

I think I stood outside for a minute, pondering this amazing encounter.

Half an hour later, after Dr. Buzzelli had studied the MRI documents and CD and made me do some movements and asked questions, he had a broad smile and said, “The fracture has clinically healed!” He said healing will continue, mentioned some limitations and then prescribed medicine to strengthen bones.

I asked if I could have a minute of his time to share an amazing story. At the end, he said he knows so many wonderful people that what this driver said did not surprise him!

If you saw it, on Thanksgiving Day I wrote: “Dear Lord, how have you blessed me? Let me count the ways…..Listing some of those ways, I wrote: “Does a day pass that You do not bring some unique, new person into my life? The newest member of my wonderful, large family? A friend from another country? Another wonderful seminarian or priest added to the many who have made my life and my faith so fulfilling? The list is so very long!

“Does a day pass that I am not enriched and blessed by some amazing event that You placed in my path as a learning moment, a time of prayer, a period of silent Thanksgiving?”

I can only say “Amen.”

POPE FRANCIS VISITS THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY

Pope Francis on Tuesday paid a surprise visit to the Vatican Apostolic Library.
As you can see in the photographs published on the Library’s official Twitter account @VaticanLibrary, the Pope was accompanied by Archbishop José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and Librarian of the Vatican Library, and by the Prefect of the Library, Monsignor Cesare Pasini.

If you want to tour the library, click here: https://www.vaticanlibrary.va/home.php?ling=eng

I learned about the visit when I stopped by to say hello to a gal I know who has a great store just outside the door to my building. As Emanuela and I were chatting, a couple stopped by to share some good news. Their daughter Federica, who lives in my building and has a top position in the Vatican Library, had told them about the papal visit and they shared that news with us and thus we heard about it before it was published.

POPE FRANCIS WELCOMES PRESIDENT OF STATE OF PALESTINE – POPE FRANCIS: PEACE IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY

I just spent some quality time this afternoon watching the farewell ceremony at the Houston airport for former President George H.W. Bush as Air Force One brings his body to Washington D.C. for viewing and the official funeral.

While I never met Bush 41 as everyone is calling him, I enjoyed hearing stories about him in the early 90s when the late Tom Melady was U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and he and his wife Margaret invited me for dinners and other get-togethers at Villa Richardson, the ambassador’s residence.

At the time, Margaret was working on a doctoral thesis on how Pope John Paul communicated through travels and we had a number of meetings in my office at VIS, Vatican Information Service, where I tried to help her with copies of papal speeches, itineraries of all his visits and any other information I could provide. She was also president of AUR, American University of Rome, for several years. Margaret is a widely-respected and multi-talented individual and I’m sure she will be at some of this week’s ceremonies for the late president.

FYI: I wrote that Air Force One is taking Pres. Bush to D.C: that’s the name of the presidential plane when he is on board but if someone else is on board a different name is used. Today it is Special Air Mission 41. Air Force One is the official air traffic control call sign for a United States Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States. In common parlance the term describes those Air Force aircraft designed, built, and used to transport the president.

POPE FRANCIS WELCOMES PRESIDENT OF STATE OF PALESTINE

Pope and president underscore the need to re-activate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The Holy See Press Office released the follow statement on today’s meeting between Pope Francis and Mahmoud Abbas:

Today, 3 December 2018, the Holy Father Francis received in audience H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, who subsequently met with His Excellency the Secretary for Relations with States, Abp. Paul Richard Gallagher.

During the cordial discussions, the good relations between the Holy See and Palestine were noted, as were the positive role of Christians and the activity of the Church in Palestinian society, enshrined in the Global Agreement of 2015.

Attention then turned to the path of reconciliation among the Palestinian people, as well as the efforts to reactivate the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, and to reach a two-state solution, hoping for a renewed commitment on the part of the international community to meet the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.

Particular attention was reserved for the status of Jerusalem, underlining the importance of recognizing and preserving its identity and the universal value of the Holy City for the three Abrahamic religions.

Finally, mention was made of the other conflicts afflicting the Middle East and the urgency of promoting paths of peace and dialogue, with the contribution of the religious communities, to combat every form of extremism and fundamentalism.

POPE FRANCIS: PEACE IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY

Pope Francis meets with the Citadel of Peace Association, praising their work in the field of conflict resolution and supporting their appeal to the UN.

The Citadel of Peace Association was founded 20 years ago by Franco Vaccari who had an interest in conflict resolution. Mr. Vaccari took the formerly abandoned Italian village of Rondine in Tuscany and turned it into a centre for conflict resolution that was nominated in 2015 for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Over the years, young people from areas of conflict around the world have come to the village and the centre in a bid to promote understanding and peace. Those who are welcomed at the centre for a course of study come from countries such as; Israel and the Palestinian Authority; Serbia and Bosnia; Armenia and Azerbaijan; Russia and Chechnya.

Transforming conflicts and Peace Building
Greeting the 350 members of the association in the Vatican on Monday, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, Pope Francis told those gathered that in these twenty years they had “developed a method capable of transforming conflicts, bringing young people out of this deception and sending them back to their peoples for full spiritual, moral, cultural and civil development: generous young people who, blameless, were born with the burden of the failures of previous generations.”

By choosing to dedicate yourselves to young people, the Pope said, “you are also committed to fighting poverty and building peace, as a work of justice and love. An action that nourishes hope and places trust in man, especially in young people.”

Peace Appeal
The Pontiff went on to discuss an appeal the Citadel of Peace Association has written and which will be presented to the UN on December 10, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Pope Francis said that, “listening to a young Palestinian and a young Israeli together asking the governments of the world to take a step that can reopen the future, transferring the cost of a weapon from the budget of defense to the budget of education to form a peace leader, is a rare and beautiful thing!… I feel I must give you all my support, my affection, my blessing.”

“Your appeal”, the Pope continued, “contains and proposes a concrete vision”, adding that he supported it and asked Heads of State and Government to do likewise.

The role of Peace Leaders
Peace leaders, the Pope underlined, “are not those politicians who do not know how to dialogue and confront each other: a leader who does not strive to meet the ‘enemy’, to sit with him at the table as you do, cannot lead his people towards peace. To do this we need humility and not arrogance.” Peace,” Pope Francis concluded, “is everyone’s responsibility.” (vaticannews)

VATICAN INSIDER: EWTN, THE CHURCH AND VR – COURT RULES FOR EWTN IN HHS MANDATE CASE – ON THE PAPAL AGENDA TODAY – VATICAN CITY/HOLY SEE JOIN SINGLE EURO PAYMENTS AREA

VATICAN INSIDER: EWTN, THE CHURCH AND VR

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is one of EWTN’s own in Rome – Ben Crockett – or, as the Register described him in a headline “Meet the Millennial Who Is Taking Virtual Reality to the Front Lines of the Church. Harvard graduate student pursues his dreams in Rome.”

Ben is one of the most amiable, talented, hard-working and creative people of the many like people on EWTN’s Rome staff! In the fairly short time he has been with us, he has revolutionized so much in the area of social media, but especially his expertise in VR – virtual reality. You’ve surely seen some of his amazing VR work and maybe did not know he was responsible for it. Well, this weekend you will have the chance to meet this remarkable young man by tuning in to Vatican Insider! (EWTN photos)

Ben in Malawi with JRS – Jesuit Refugee Service

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

COURT RULES FOR EWTN IN HHS MANDATE CASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A court ruling yesterday ensures Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), the world’s largest religious media network, can freely follow the religious teachings that drive its mission. In Eternal Word Television Network v. Azar, the previous administration’s HHS mandate tried to force the Catholic network to provide services such as the week-after pill in its healthcare plan. Yesterday’s decision, which comes on the heels of a settlement with the federal government, ends EWTN’s seven-year legal battle.

To read more: https://www.becketlaw.org/media/worlds-largest-religious-media-network-wins-right-follow-faith/

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/ewtn-wins-lawsuit-over-hhs-contraception-mandate

ON THE PAPAL AGENDA TODAY

Friday was a busy day for the Pope as he met with various groups including some youngsters with cancer from Wroclaw, Poland and members of the International Theological Commission.

Pope Francis also met with members of the “Shahbaz Bhatti Mission Association, expressing the hope that they can extend their activity to those areas of Pakistan where Christians and other minorities continue to be discriminated against. In March 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistani politician and the country’s first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs was assassinated in Islamabad for his struggle to promote human equality, social justice and interfaith harmony in Pakistan. Inspired by the thought and vision of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Association was founded to continue the tireless he did as a politician to create a society where everyone can live with dignity and respect.

The Holy Father also met with members of the Sardinia United Service Center for Volunteers, encouraging them to give a human and Christian touch through volunteer service. He expressed his appreciation for their efforts to help some of the poorest people in the world and the welcome they extend to newcomers in Sardinia.

Also Friday: The Vatican released Pope Francis’ letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for the November 30 feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The letter was given to the patriarch by Cardinal Kurk Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who led the Holy See delegation to ceremonies in Istanbul, Turkey. Despite differences between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, said a Vatican news story, Pope Francis said the two communities are called to be a sign of hope by working together for peace, human dignity and care of creation.

VATICAN CITY/HOLY SEE JOIN SINGLE EURO PAYMENTS AREA

A communique today from the Holy See Press Office announced that Vatican City State/Holy See join the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA):

The Board of the European Payments Council (EPC) approved last week the extension of the geographical scope of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) to Vatican City State and the Holy See. It is foreseen that as of 1 March 2019, the SEPA schemes are open to the financial institutions of the Vatican City State/Holy See, once they have joined. SEPA harmonises the way electronic euro payments are made across Europe. It allows European consumers, businesses and public administrations to make and receive credit transfers as well as direct debit under the same basic conditions and makes all cross-border payments in euro as easy as domestic payments. As of 1 March 2019, the geographical scope of the SEPA schemes will consist of the following 36 countries: the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, the Principality of Andorra and the Vatican City State/Holy See. “The successful application to SEPA is a very positive sign” said René Bruelhart, President of AIF (Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria). “It helps to facilitate payments and harmonises such services. Furthermore, it demonstrates the Holy See’s efforts to enhance financial transparency.”

POPE TO RECTORS OF SHRINES: KEEPING POPULAR PIETY ALIVE – THREE CHRISTMAS “GIFTS” FOR SYRIA

Here’s a great video of the little boy who interrupted the general audience yesterday – the little boy from Argentina who is mute: https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2018/nov/28/pope-francis-chuckles-as-boy-runs-around-swiss-guard-video

POPE TO RECTORS OF SHRINES: KEEPING POPULAR PIETY ALIVE

From November 27th to the 29th, at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University,the 1st International Conference for Rectors and Shrine Operators took place on the theme “The Shrine is open for the new evangelization.” At the end of the conference on Thursday morning, in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope received the participants of the conference.

Pope Francis encouraged shrine rectors and pastoral workers to make pilgrims feel “at home” and to help them enrich their popular piety.
By Seàn-Patrick Lovett (vaticannews)

A Shrine is a church, or other sacred place, which is visited by people who come as pilgrims to pray, or to seek grace and consolation. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such locations all over the world. And the tradition of visiting and praying at a Shrine is as old as the Church itself.

Shrines are irreplaceable
Reflecting on the contemporary importance of Shrines, the Pope described them as places where people gather “to express their faith in simplicity, and according to the various traditions that have been learned since childhood.” In this sense, he said, “Shrines are irreplaceable because they keep popular piety alive.”

Places of welcome
Shrines must always be places of welcome, said Pope Francis, and pilgrims must always be made to feel at home, “like a long-awaited family member who has finally arrived.” Many people visit a Shrine, said the Pope, because of its works of art, or because it is located in a beautiful natural environment. “When these people are welcomed,” he said, “they become more willing to open their hearts and let them be shaped by Grace.”

Places of prayer
Above all, said Pope Francis, the Shrine is a place of prayer. Most of our Shrines are dedicated to Our Lady: “Here the Virgin Mary opens the arms of her maternal love to listen to the prayer of each and every one”, he said. “Here she smiles, offering consolation. Here she sheds tears with those who weep… Here she becomes the companion on the road of every person who raises their eyes to her asking for grace, and certain of being heard.”

Places of reconciliation
No one visiting a Shrine should feel like a stranger, said the Pope, especially when they come weighed down by sin. “The Shrine is a privileged place to experience mercy that knows no boundaries,” he said. “When mercy is experienced, it becomes a form of real evangelization, because it transforms those who receive it into witnesses of mercy.” Praying in silence, or with pious formulas and gestures learned as a child, “each one must be helped to express themselves in personal prayer.”

It is this prayer, concluded Pope Francis, that makes Shrines such fruitful places “where popular piety is nourished and grows.”

THREE CHRISTMAS “GIFTS” FOR SYRIA

The Pontifical Foundation “Aid to the Church in Need” has launched their Christmas campaign: three new projects to help Christians remain in Syria.
By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

7 years and 552,000 deaths later, the war in Syria is still not over. As the country is being destroyed, the small Christian communities which, before the war broke out made up around 10% of the population, are trying to survive.

“Aid to the Church in Need” in Italy has launched their Christmas campaign. Three “gifts”, as an effort to help these Christians in th hope that Christianity does not disappear completely from the Middle East. The gifts tackle three difficult areas that have been affected by the war in Syria: Food, Sanitation and Education.

Food
The first involves the distribution of 1,725 food parcels to Christian families living in absolute poverty. 1,090 of these live in their own homes – though they have been severely damaged by the war. The remaining 635 families live without any roof over their heads.

Sanitation
The second project aims to help 700 people in Aleppo who are suffering medically. Due to the incessant warfare, the number of people in need of medical assistance, whether to tend to wounds or illnesses, is huge. The war has not only caused the illnesses and wounds, it has also destroyed over half of the health facilities that would have previously provided assistance. The war has caused poverty, and when poverty stops you from being able to feed your family, it also prevents you from being able to buy medicine.

Education
The third project is aimed at children, those who are suffering most from this war. The Pontifical foundation in Aleppo is providing the money necessary to rebuild and render functional a nursery, destroyed by bombs, that welcomes 15 autistic children. Here, Sisters from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, will be able to once again assist and love those who need them.

This Christmas, Aid to the Church in Need in Italy has found a way to make a difference for these Christians who are suffering as a consequence of others’ indifference.

YOU GOTTA LOVE HIM! – THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE “A GUIDE TO AN AUTHENTIC HUMAN LIFE” – POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO “MARTYRED LAND OF SYRIA”

YOU GOTTA LOVE HIM!

A young boy upstaged Pope Francis on Wednesday, escaping from his mother and running onto the papal podium at a general audience, tugging on the hand of a Swiss guardsman and playing behind the pontiff’s chair. (Reuters story and photo)


The boy’s mother briefly spoke to the pope as she tried to pull the child away, saying that he was mute. Pope Francis told her to let him carry on playing.

“This child cannot speak. He is mute. But he can communicate,” the pope told hundreds of pilgrims. “And he has something that got me thinking: he is free. Unruly … but he is free,” he added to laughter.

“Let’s ask the grace (of God) that he may speak.”

The mother told the pope that the family came from his native Argentina. As she left the stage, a smiling Francis leaned towards Archbishop Georg Gaenswein sitting next to him and whispered: “He is Argentinian. Undisciplined.”

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE “A GUIDE TO AN AUTHENTIC HUMAN LIFE”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis on the Ten Commandments during the Wednesday general audience, reflecting on them in the light of Christ.
“Dear brothers and sisters, “ he began. “In this, our final catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we reflect on how, in the light of Christ, the Decalogue should be seen not as a series of rules, but rather the guide to an authentic human life that comes to fulfilment in the love, joy and peace born of obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lord came not to abolish the Law but to fulfil it.”

Francis noted that, “the Holy Spirit, by enabling us to live a new life in Christ, takes away our hearts of flesh and opens them to the holy desire to abandon sin and to be conformed to Jesus’ own heart, his love and his desires.”

The Holy Father explained that, “the Ten Commandments invite us first to enter into a faithful and loving relationship with God our Father, to reject every false idol that enslaves us, and to find our authentic rest in the freedom of Christ and the Holy Spirit. They then teach us how to live redeemed lives, marked by fidelity, integrity and honesty towards our neighbor.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said, “the commandments show us the face of Christ and open the door to the new life of grace; by accepting God’s offer of saving love, we find our true selves and the source of a joy that will never end.”

POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO “MARTYRED LAND OF SYRIA”

Pope Francis sends a letter to the Franciscans stationed in Syria, saying the Church sees Jesus’ suffering in the trials and poverty of the Syrian people.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

In a letter sent to Franciscan friars in Syria, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the “martyred land of Syria.”

“I wish to share in your sufferings and tell you that I am close to you and to the Christian communities which are so tried by the pain experienced in their faith in Christ Jesus.”

The Pope’s letter was addressed to Fathers Hanna Jallouf and Louai Bsharat, OFM.
Pope Francis reflected on the great suffering, poverty, and pain that Jesus experiences in the Syrian people. “It is Jesus! This is a mystery. It is our Christian mystery. In you and in the inhabitants of our beloved Syria, we see Jesus suffering.”

Martyrdom
Pope Francis compared their sufferings to martyrdom. “Nothing more than martyrdom can mark the Christian’s way of participating in humanity’s salvation history.”

He said martyrs advance the Kingdom of God and “sow Christians for the future.”
Calling them “the true glory of the Church and our hope”, the Holy Father said the witness of martyrs is “a warning not to get lost even in the midst of the storm.”

“Not a few times the sea of life has a storm awaiting us, but out of the existential waves we receive an unexpected sign of salvation: Mary, the Mother of the Lord, looking in astonishment and silence at the innocent, crucified Son who fills life and salvation with meaning.”

Pain into hope
Pope Francis assured the Franciscan friars stationed in Syria that he remembers them constantly during Mass and prays that their “unspeakable pain” may be transformed into divine hope.

He then quoted Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”

Finally, Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary guard the Franciscans in Syria “under her Cloak of Grace” and that she intercede for them to receive “the gift of perseverance.”

POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT: DIALOGUE WITH THE JEWS, NOT MISSION – VATICAN TO HOST CONFERENCE ON ADDICTIONS

In the OOPS column: The Vatican news site today announced the Pope’s appointment of a new bishop for Monterey, California, stating: “Bishop Daniel Garcia, Auxiliary Bishop of Austin, Texas since 1915, has been appointed by Pope Francis as the Bishop of Monterey in California. Bishop Garcia was born in Cameron, Texas in 1960.” I’m sure you saw the error: apparently he has been a bishop long before his own birth and before the Pope who named him was born!

In the GOOD NEWS column: I’m delighted to bring you the first story below – some words from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. It is always great to hear from this wonderful, gentlemanly, erudite, holy man!

POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT: DIALOGUE WITH THE JEWS, NOT MISSION

The Pope emeritus “corrects” an article by theologian Michael Böhnke and rejects as “absolutely false” the insinuation that Benedict has called into question the foundations of Jewish-Christian dialogue.
By Vatican News

In a “correction” sent to the German monthly Herder Korrespondenz, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI affirmed that Christians are called to a “dialogue” with the Jews, rather than a “mission.” The Pope emeritus was responding to an article by theologian Michael Böhnke of Wuppertal. In the September issue of the journal, Böhnke had commented disapprovingly on statements made by Benedict concerning the relationship between Jews and Christians.

A completely false insinuation
Judaism and Christianity, said Benedict, are “two ways of interpreting the Scriptures.” For Christians, the promises made to Israel are the hope of the Church, and “those who abide by it are in no way questioning the foundations of the Jewish-Christian dialogue.” The accusation contained in the article, he continued, is “grotesque nonsense and has nothing to do with what I said about it. I therefore reject his article as a completely false insinuation.”

Böhnke had argued that Benedict XVI, in an article for the theological journal Communio, had demonstrated a problematic understanding of Judaism, and had ignored the suffering Christians had inflicted upon Jews.

Not “mission,” but “dialogue”
In his “correction,” Benedict also addressed – among other theological issues – the delicate question of the “mission” to the Jews; that is, the question of whether the Church should proclaim the Good News of Christ to the Jews. Benedict wrote: “A mission to the Jews is not foreseen and not necessary.” At the same time, it is true that Christ gave His disciples a mission to all peoples and all cultures. For this reason, Benedict affirms, “the missionary mandate is universal – with one exception: a mission to the Jews was not foreseen and not necessary because they alone, among all peoples, knew the ‘unknown God’.”

For Israel, then, it was not a mission, but a dialogue about whether Jesus of Nazareth was “the Son of God, the Logos,” for whom, according to the promises made to His people, Israel, and the whole world without knowing it, was waiting. Taking up this dialogue anew, Benedict said, is “the duty given us at this time.”

Benedict’s “correction” appeared in the December issue of Herder Korrespondenz, and was signed “Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI.”

Reflecting on Relations with the Jews
The original article in Communio, critiqued by Böhnke, was intended as an in-depth study of a document published in 2015 by the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, entitled, “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable (Rom 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic– Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of ‘Nostra aetate’ (no.4).”

The sixth heading of that document, “The Church’s mandate to evangelize in relation to Judaism” deals precisely with the questions raised by Böhnke:

“It is easy to understand that the so–called ‘mission to the Jews’ is a very delicate and sensitive matter for Jews because, in their eyes, it involves the very existence of the Jewish people. This question also proves to be awkward for Christians, because for them the universal salvific significance of Jesus Christ and consequently the universal mission of the Church are of fundamental importance. The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelisation to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views. In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews. While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.”

VATICAN TO HOST CONFERENCE ON ADDICTIONS

A two-day conference in the Vatican will examine different aspects of addictions as well as possible treatments and prevention techniques.
By John Waters (vaticannews)

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development will host a conference entitled “Drugs and Addictions, an obstacle to Integral Human development” from 29 November to 1 December in the Vatican’s Synod Hall.

Presentations will be given on a number of subjects and areas of concern, especially addictions to drugs, gambling, sex and pornography as well as best practices for treatment and prevention

When announcing the conference, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development quoted Pope Francis’ address to drug enforcement officers in 2015. The Pope described the spread of drugs as being driven by a “shameful market that crosses national and international borders.” The Dicastery went on to detail the alarming statistic that almost 5% of the world’s population have, at some point, taken drugs. Of those 5%, “29.6 million of those users suffer from drug disorders. This means that their drug taking is harmful to the point that they experience drug dependence and require treatment.”

Another cause for alarm is the fact that many drugs are now perceived by society as a form of leisure, recreational activity or even as a sign of wealth and status.
During the discussions and presentations the spotlight will also be on the implications of legalizing various substances. Noting that a number of countries have recently legalized cannabis use, the conference organisers point out that this solution may, ultimately, cause further problems.

“Internet addiction, pornography and sex addiction, as well as pathological gambling, or ludopathy, have for some time been a rampant scourge that further diversify addictions. The legalization of gambling, even when it is supported by the intention of unmasking its criminal management, exponentially increases the number of pathological players.”

Speakers at the conference will include Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Italian Health Minister Giulia Grillo. There will also be representatives from the World Federation against Drugs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the carabinieri, one of Italy’s police forces.

On Friday 30 November, conference participants will take part in an evening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. On 1 December the conference will conclude with an audience with Pope Francis.