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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Year of Reconciliation begins in Africa


Vatican City, 29 July 2015 (VIS) – The African Year of Reconciliation, convoked by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), opens today with a solemn celebration in Accra, Ghana. It will focus on the theme “A Reconciled Africa for Peaceful Co-existence”, and will conclude on 29 July 2016 during the SECAM 17th Plenary Assembly, to be held in Angola. The SECAM was instituted by Blessed Paul VI in 1969 during his pastoral visit to Uganda, and comprises 37 national episcopal conferences and eight regional conferences.

The initiative responds to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI's 2011 invitation to the African episcopates in his post-Synodal apostolic exhortation “Africae Munus” to “promote a continent-wide Year of Reconciliation to beg of God special forgiveness for all the evils and injuries mutually inflicted in Africa, and for the reconciliation of persons and groups who have been hurt in the Church and in the whole of society”. This would be “an extraordinary Jubilee Year during which the Church in Africa and in the neighbouring islands gives thanks with the universal Church and implores the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of reconciliation, justice and peace”. The exhortation, signed by Benedict XVI on 19 November in Cotonou, Benin, during his apostolic trip to the country, followed the Second Extraordinary Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops held in the Vatican in 2009 on the theme “The Church in Africa in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace”.

The archbishop of Accra, Charles Palmer Buckle, on behalf of the president of SECAM, Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi, C.S.Sp., of Lubango, Angola, has sent a letter to all the African episcopal conferences, inviting them to organise programmes and initiatives on reconciliation throughout the year, in collaboration with the commissions of Justice and Peace in their countries. He also encouraged the bishops of the continent to carry out a special collection on a Sunday of their choice for the second SECAM Day. The Day was instituted two years ago by the association's 16th Assembly in order to finance evangelisation projects, the promotion of justice and peace, and the Catholic media.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A blessing to one another: John Paul II and the Jewish People


Vatican City, 28 July 2015 (VIS) – “A blessing to one another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” is the title of an exhibition opening today in the Vatican (Charlemagne Wing, 29 July to 17 September), previously displayed in a number of state capitals in the U.S.A., where it received more than a million visitors.

The exhibition, presented as a gift to John Paul II for his 85th birthday, was inaugurated at the Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio, on 18 May 2005, just a month after the Pope's death. It then arrived in Rome, and while in Europe its organisers wanted it to visit Krakow, the Polish city where Karol Wojtyla was archbishop.

“A blessing to one another” describes the steps the Pontiff took to improve the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, and reflects the continuing relevance of the conciliar declaration “Nostra Aetate”, issued fifty years ago, in which the Catholic Church expresses her appreciation for other religions and reaffirms the principals of universal fraternity, love and non-discrimination.

Funded by various universities and private individuals and bodies who see interreligious dialogue as a source of progress for humanity, the exhibition narrates John Paul II's relations with those whom he defined during his historic visit to the synagogue of Rome on 13 April 1986 as “our elder brothers”. It is divided into four sections and consists of photographs, videos, recordings and other interactive sources.

The first section illustrates Karol Wojtyla's early years in his birthplace Wadowice, what would become a lifelong friendship with the young Jew Jerzy Kluger, and the relations between Catholics and Jews in Poland during the decade 1920 to 1930. The second section is dedicated to the Pope's university years in Krakow, and his work not far from his friends in the Ghetto who knew the horrors of the Shoah. The third describes his priestly and episcopal life, Vatican Council II and the change of direction it represented in relations between Jews and Christians, and the close link between the cardinal archbishop of Krakow and the Jewish community in his archdiocese.

The final section considers the figure of Wojtyla as the Successor of Peter, his visit to the Synagogue of Rome, and his trip to Israel in the year 2000 when he left a prayer in the Western Wall asking for divine forgiveness for the treatment that Jews had received in the past and reaffirming the Church's commitment to a path of fraternal continuity with the People of the Covenant. Visitors to “A blessing to one another” are invited to write a prayer to be placed in a reproduction of the Wall. They will be gathered and deposited in the Western Wall without being read.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 28 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Salvador Gimenez Valls of Menorca, Spain, as bishop of Lleida (area 2,977, population 233,531, Catholics 207,167, priests 131, permanent deacons 5, religious 195), Spain. He succeeds Bishop Joan Piris Frigola, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchal Maronite Church, of Rev. Paul Abdel Sater as bishop of the patriarchal curia. The bishop-elect was born in 1962 in Ain El Remmaneh, Lebanon, and was ordained a priest in 1987. He studied moral theology and science of education in Boston, U.S.A., and since returning to Lebanon has served as deputy priest, parish priest, school director, and eparchial bursar. He is currently syncellus for economic affairs and parish priest of the “Saint Jean” parish in Beirut.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Angelus: Jesus counters the logic of the market with the logic of giving


Vatican City, 26 July 2015 (VIS) – At midday today Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. He commented on the day's Gospel passage, which narrates “the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves”, when Jesus finds Himself on the shores of the Sea of Galilee surrounded by the multitude, drawn by the “signs He was performing on the sick”.

Francis remarked that God's merciful power acts in Christ, curing every malady of the body and the spirit. But He is not merely a healer, He is also a teacher; He teaches from the “cathedra” represented by the mount and tests His disciples, asking them how they can give food to all the people present. The apostle Philip makes a rapid calculation, confirming that by organising a collection they could raise at most two hundred denari to buy bread, which would not be sufficient to feed five thousand people.

“The disciples reason in 'market' terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with the logic of giving”, explained the Pope. “And at this point Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, presents a boy who offers all he has: five loaves and two fishes, which are certainly not enough for so many people, Andrew says”. But this was exactly what Jesus was expecting, and so He tells the disciples to ask the people to be seated, takes the loaves and fishes, blesses them, gives thanks to the Father and distributes them.

“These gestures anticipate those of the Last Supper, which gives Jesus' bread its truest meaning. God's bread is Jesus Himself. Making Communion with Him, we receive His life in us and become children of the heavenly Father and brothers among ourselves. In this communion we encounter Jesus, truly alive and risen! Participating in the Eucharist means entering into Jesus' logic, the logic of gratuity, of sharing. And poor though we may be, we can all give something. 'Making Communion' means drawing from Christ the grace that makes us capable of sharing what we are and what we have with others”.

The crowd is astonished by the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, “but the gift that Jesus offers is the fullness of life for famished mankind. Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but also the most profound hunger for the meaning of life: our hunger for God. Faced with suffering, loneliness, poverty and the difficulties of so many people, what can we do? Complaining resolves nothing, but we can offer what little we have, like the boy in the Gospel. We all surely have a little time, some kind of talent, some kind of expertise to offer. Who among us does not have their 'five loaves and two fishes'? We all have it! If we are willing to place it in the Lord’s hands, it would be enough to bring to the world a little more love, peace, justice and above all, joy. How much we are in need of joy in the world! God is capable of multiplying our little gestures of solidarity and letting us participate in His gift”.

Appeal for the liberation of Dall'Oglio and Orthodox bishops abducted in Syria


Vatican City, 26 July 2015 (VIS) – Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope recalled that registration began today for the 31st World Youth Day, to be held in 2016 in Krakow, Poland. He was the first to register as a pilgrim by means of an electronic device brought to him by a boy and girl, before the faithful in St. Peter's Square. “The Day will coincide with the Year of Mercy”, he observed, “and will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of youth called upon to reflect on the theme 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will find mercy'. I invite the young from all over the world to live this pilgrimage either by going to Krakow or by participating in this moment of grace within their communities”.

He continued, “In a few days' time it will be the second anniversary of the kidnapping of Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio. I wish to make a heartfelt and urgent appeal for the liberation of this esteemed religious man. Similarly, I do not forget the Orthodox bishops abducted in Syria, nor all the other people kidnapped in war zones. I hope that the competent authorities, both local and international, may redouble their efforts to enable freedom to be restored to these brothers of ours. With affection and participation in their suffering, let us remember them in prayer, and pray together to Our Lady”.

After praying the “Hail Mary” for these abducted people with all those present in the square, the Pope concluded by commenting that today the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary and therefore Jesus' grandparents. “On this occasion, I would like to greet all grandmothers and grandfathers, and to thank them for their valuable presence in families and for the new generations. Let us greet and applaud all those grandparents who are living, and also those who look upon us from Heaven”.

Pope's message to the new Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians


Vatican City, 27 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has granted ecclesiastical communion to His Beatitude Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, as requested by the latter following his election as Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians by the Synod of the Patriarchal Church on 24 July. The new patriarch succeeds His Beatitude Nerses Pierre XIX Tarmouni, who died on 25 June.

The Pope took the opportunity to send a message of congratulations to His Beatitude Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, in which he commented that his election comes at a moment when the Church faces new difficulties and challenges, especially the situation of many Armenian Catholic faithful in the Middle East. “However, illuminated by the light of faith in the Risen Christ, our outlook on the world is full of hope and mercy, for we are certain that the Cross of Jesus is the tree that gives life”.

“I am sure that Your Beatitude, in communion with the venerable Synod Fathers, with the help of the Holy Spirit and with evangelical wisdom, will know how to be the 'Pater et Caput”, the Good Shepherd to that part of the People of God entrusted to you. The many Armenian martyrs and St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church, will not fail to intercede on your behalf”.

Finally, the Pope entrusted the Patriarch and his ministry to Jesus Christ and to the protection of the Holy Mother of God, and imparted his apostolic benediction to all the Patriarchate.

Telegram for the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum


Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to the cardinal archbishop of Washington, U.S.A., Donald Wuerl, for the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese and major penitentiary emeritus, on 23 July at the age of 88.

In his text the Pope expresses his gratitude for the late cardinal's years of episcopal service in Springfield-Cape Girardeau and in Washington, and for his long service to the Apostolic See as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and major penitentiary. The Holy Father commends the late cardinal's soul to God, the Father of all mercies, and imparts his apostolic blessing to all who mourn his passing.

Cardinal Meisner, Pope's special envoy to the inauguration of the Maria Radna convent complex in Timisoara


Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) - In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 20 May 2015, the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne, Germany, as his special envoy to the inauguration of the convent complex at the Shrine of Maria Radna in Timisoara, Romania, to take place on 2 August, the day of the Portiuncula. In the text, the Pope mentions the fame of the Marian shrine, an ancient Franciscan convent, and expresses his pleasure at the restoration works, fruit of collaboration between the citizens of Timisoara, several dioceses in Germany, and the European Union.


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Tumaco, Colombia, presented by Bishop Gustavo Giron Higuita, O.C.D., upon reaching the age limit.

- appointed Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin as papal legate at the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelisation of East Timor, to be held in Dili, East Timor, on 15 August 2015.

- appointed Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, as special envoy to the Mass to be held in Bobbio, Italy on 30 August, on the occasion of the Eighteenth Meeting of the Colombanian Community, on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Colombanus.

- appointed Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as special envoy to the concluding celebrations of the 1500th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, to take place on 22 September 2015.

Friday, July 24, 2015

New members and substitutes for the upcoming Synod on the Family


Vatican City, 24 July 2015 (VIS) – With regard to the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October on the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world”, we publish a further list of the members and substitutes elected by the various Episcopal Conferences and confirmed by the Holy Father.


AFRICA

Cote d’Ivoire
Member: Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Katiola, president of the National Episcopal Commission for the Lay Apostolate.

Equatorial Guinea
Member: Bishop Juan Matogo Oyana, C.M.F., of Bata.

Sudan
Member: Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, M.C.C.J., of Juba;
Substitute: Bishop Michael Didi Adgum Mangoria of El Obeid.

Zimbabwe
Member: Bishop Xavier Johnsai Munyongani of Gweru.


AMERICA

Paraguay
Member: Bishop Miguel Angel Cabello Almada of Concepcion en Paraguay;
Substitute: Bishop Pierre Laurent Jubinville, C.S.Sp., of San Pedro.


ASIA

India
2nd Substitute: Bishop Lawrence Pius Dorairaj of Dharmapuri.

Iran
Member: Archbishop Ramzi Garmou of Teheran of the Chaldeans, patriarchal administrator of Ahwaz of the Chaldeans;
Substitute: Archbishop Neshan Karakeheyan, patriarchal administrator of Ispahan, Esfaan of the Armenians.

Thailand
Member: Bishop Silvio Siripong Charatsri of Chanthaburi;
Substitute: Archbishop Louis Chamniern Santisukniran of Thare and Nonseng.

East Timor
Member: Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento of Baucau, president of the Episcopal Conference;
Substitute: Bishop Norberto Do Amaral of Maliana.


EUROPE

International Episcopal Conference of Sts. Cyril and Methodius
Member: Bishop Ladislav Nemet, S.V.D., of Zrenjanin, Serbia.

Latvia
Member: Archbishop Zbignevs Stankevics of Riga;
Substitute: Bishop Janis Bulis of Rezekne-Aglona, president of the Episcopal Conference.

Scandinavia
Member: Bishop Teemu Sippo, S.C.I., of Helsinki, Finland;
Substitute: Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of Copenhagen, Denmark.


OCEANIA

Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
Member: Bishop Anton Bal of Kundiawa, representing the “Commission for Family Life”.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 24 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid as bishop of Cucuta (area 2,200, population 891,383, Catholics 804,236, priests 166, permanent deacons 8, religious 212), Colombia. He succeeds Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal Ortiz, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law, was accepted by the Holy Father.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In the meeting on climate change and modern slavery, the Pope warns against the idolatry of technocracy


Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis greeted the participants in the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of cities” and in the Symposium “Prosperity, people and planet: achieving sustainable development in our cities ”, held in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose chancellor is Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The events were attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations.

The Holy Father gave an impromptu address in which he reiterated that care for the environment meant, above all, adopting an attitude of human ecology and that “Laudato si'” was not simply a “green” but also a social document. He also considered the theme of the unfettered growth of cities due to the lack of work for rural populations, and invited the mayors to collaborate with international bodies in order to face the issues of exploitation and human trafficking caused by migratory phenomena.

“I offer you my sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you have done”, said the Pope to the participants in the symposium. “It is true that everything revolves around … this culture of care for the environment. But this 'green' culture – and I say that in a positive sense – is much more than that. Caring for the environment means an attitude of human ecology. In other words, we cannot say: the person and Creation, the environment, are two separate entities. Ecology is total, it is human. This is what I wanted to express in the Encyclical 'Laudato si'': that you cannot separate humanity from the rest; there is a relationship of mutual impact, and also the rebound effect when the environment is abused. Therefore … I say, 'no, it is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical'. Because we cannot separate care for the environment from the social context, the social life of mankind. Furthermore, care for the environment is a social attitude”.

“It seemed to me to be a very fruitful idea to invite the mayors cities both large and not so large, because one of the things that is most evident when the environment, Creation, is not cared for, is the unfettered growth of cities. It is a worldwide phenomenon … cities become larger but with growing bands of poverty and misery, where the people suffer the effects of environmental neglect. In this respect, the phenomenon of migration is involved. Why do people come to large cities, to the outskirts of large cities, to the slums, shanty towns and favelas? … It is simply because the rural world does not offer them opportunities. And one issue mentioned in the Encyclical ... is the idolatry of technocracy. Technocracy leads to the loss of work, it creates unemployment, which leads to migration and the need to seek new horizons. The great number of unemployed is a warning. I do not have the statistics to hand, but in some countries in Europe, youth unemployment – effecting those aged 25 and younger – surpasses 40 per cent and in some cases even 50 per cent. … What prospects can the future offer to today's unemployed youth? Addiction, boredom, not knowing what to do with life – a life without meaning, which is very tough – or indeed suicide. The statistics on youth suicide are not fully published. Or indeed the search for other horizons, even in guerrilla projects that present an ideal of life”.

“Health is also at stake”, emphasised the Pope. “The increasing incidence of 'rare' diseases, which often come from elements used to fertilise the fields, or … from an excess of technification. One of the most important problems relates to oxygen and water. That is, the desertification of large areas as a result of deforestation. Here beside me is the cardinal archbishop representing the Brazilian Amazon: he can tell us what deforestation means today in the Amazon, one of the world's great lungs. The Congo and the Amazon are the world's great lungs. … What happens when all these phenomena of excessive technification, of environmental neglect, as well as natural phenomena, affect migration? It leads to unemployment and human trafficking. Illegal work, without contracts, is increasingly common … and means that people do not earn enough to live. This can give rise to criminal behaviour and other problems typical of large cities as a result of migration due to technification. I refer in particular to human trafficking in the mining sector; slavery in mining remains a major issue. Mining also involves the use of certain elements in the purifying of minerals, such as arsenic and cyanide, causing diseases in the population. In this we have a great responsibility. … Everything has a rebound effect ... This can include human trafficking for the purposes of slave labour or prostitution”.

“Finally, I would say that this requires the involvement of the United Nations. I hope that the Paris Summit in November will lead to a basic agreement. I have high hopes, and believe that the United Nations must take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people. A couple of months ago I received in audience a delegation of women from the United Nations, who were occupied with the issue of the sexual exploitation of children in countries at war. … Wars are another element contributing to environmental imbalance”.

“I wish to end with a reflection that is not mine, but is instead from the theologian and philosopher Romano Guardini”, Francis said. “He speaks about two forms of ignorance: the ignorance that God gives us to be transformed into culture, giving us the mandate to care for, nurture and dominate the earth; and the second form of ignorance, when man does not respect this relationship with the earth, and does not look after it. .. When he does not care for Creation, man falls prey to this second type of ignorance and starts to abuse it. … Atomic energy is good and can be helpful, but up to a certain point – think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Disaster and destruction can be caused. It is the second form of ignorance that destroys humanity. A medieval rabbi, from around the time of St. Thomas Aquinas … explained the problem of the tower of Babel to his faithful in the synagogue, and said that in order to build the tower a good deal of time and work was needed, especially in making the bricks. … Each brick was worth a lot. … When a brick fell it was a very serious matter and the culprit who neglected it and let it fall was punished. However, when a worker who was building the tower fell, nothing happened. This is the problem of the second form of ignorance, of the man as the creator of ignorance and not of culture. Man as the creator of ignorance because he does not care for the environment”.

“And so, why did the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convoke mayors and city governors? Because are aware of how to carry out this important and profound work, from the centre to the periphery, and from the periphery to the centre. They are aware of the reality of humanity. The Holy See may make a good speech before the United Nations, but if the work does not come from the periphery to the centre, it will have no effect; hence the responsibility of mayors and city governors. I therefore thank you for bringing clarification of the condition of many peripheries gravely affected by these problems, which you have to govern and resolve. I thank you and I ask the Lord to grant us the grace of being aware of the problem of the destruction that we ourselves have wrought by failing to care for human ecology, … so we might transform ignorance into culture, and not the contrary”.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Joseph Kodakallil as eparchial bishop of Satna of the Syro-Malabars (area 45,188, population 10,459,000, Catholics 220,000, priests 142, religious 276), India. The bishop-elect was born in Upputhode, India in 19656 and ordained a priest in 1991. He holds a doctorate in liturgy form the Pontifical Oriental Institute, and has served as parish priest, rector of the St Thomas Minor Seminary, Satna, professor and vice-rector at St. Ephrem's Theological College, Satna, and protosyncellus of the eparchy. He is currently parish priest of St. Vincent's Cathedral.
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