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(Vatican Radio) Before praying the Regina Coeli in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis’ catechesis on Sunday drew inspiration from the Gospel reading that speaks of the Last Supper and of Jesus’ promise to the Apostles. He tells them, the Pope said, that their mission was to take the Gospel message into the world and that they would not be alone:  "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you: teach and remember”. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : The Pope explained that the Spirit would remember the teachings of Jesus in various concrete circumstances of life, so as to be able to put them into practice. That, he said, is precisely what is happening in the Church today, a Church that is guided by the light and by the strength of the Holy Spirit so that the Lord can bring the gift of salvation to everyone, the love and the mercy of God. The Pope urged the faithful to read a passage from the Gospel every day and reminded them they are not alone: “Jesus is near us, among us, within us! His new presence in history takes place through the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom you can establish a living relationship with Him, the Crucified and Risen One”.  He said the Holy Spirit, poured into us through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, acts as a guide in our lives, directing us in the way we think, in the way we act, helping us distinguish good from bad. It helps us to practice the charity of Jesus, giving to others, especially to the neediest. And reiterating that we are not alone, the Pope said the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is also in the peace that Jesus gives to his disciples. It is different – he said - from what men hope or attempt to accomplish: “the peace of Jesus arises from victory over sin, over that selfishness that prevents us from loving one another as brothers”. The Pope concluded his catechesis saying that every disciple who is called to follow Jesus carrying the cross, receives the peace of the Risen Christ in the certainty of his victory, and in expectation of his coming. (from Vatican Radio)... 14 hours 2 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his greetings to the faithful of the Eastern Churches who are celebrating Holy Easter on Sunday, May 1 according to the Julian calendar.  Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Coeli prayer he said: “May the Risen Lord bring to our brothers of the Eastern Churches all the gifts of His light and His peace. Christos anesti!” Earlier, in a tweet launched through his @Pontifex account, the Pope said “I address a cordial greeting to the faithful of the Eastern Churches who are celebrating Holy Pascha today. Χριστὸς ἀνέστη!”   Meanwhile during negotiations in Minsk, on the occasion of the Eastern Orthodox Easter, it was agreed that Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists were to observe a comprehensive cease-fire in the south-east of Ukraine where the festivity is observed both by the Orthodox and by Greek Catholics. The armistice was supposed to go into effect at midnight Saturday, but according to Ukrainian government sources a soldier was killed and several wounded on Sunday in the country’s east in what appears to be a violation of the armistice. In a message, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, urged the faithful to bear witness to the love of their neighbors amid the atrocities of the contemporary world which, he said, is torn by terrorism, wars and suffering. The Orthodox Metropolitan of Italy and Malta, Gennasius, also issued an appeal “to purify one's heart” to be able “to fully feel the presence of the Risen One”, while the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Irinej, sent a message asking the faithful to forgive, “not to judge others” and “not to be afraid of the world in spite of worldly ideologies, disunity, hatred and violence.” (from Vatican Radio)... 14 hours 49 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday reiterated his plea for peace in Syria appealing to all parties involved in the conflict to respect the cessation of hostilities and commit to dialogue. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni: Speaking after the Regina Coeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he is deeply pained by the dramatic news of the spiral of violence in Syria which, he said, “continues to aggravate the already desperate humanitarian situation in the country”. He referred in particular to the situation in the city of Aleppo which continues to “claim innocent victims, even amongst children, sick people and those who, at the cost of great sacrifice, are bringing aid to those in need”.   And Francis had words of encouragement for an Italian association that fights all forms of abuse against minors: “This is a tragedy! We must not tolerate the abuse of minors! We must defend minors and severely punish those who abuse them” he said, thanking the “Associazione Meter” for its dedicated work. And marking May 1st, International Labour Day, the Pope also mentioned an International Conference which opens on Monday in Rome on the theme: “Sustainable Development and the most Vulnerable Forms of Work” which takes place within the context of the Jubilee of Mercy. “I hope – he said – that the event will sensitize the authorities, political and economic institutions and civil society in order to promote a model of development that will safeguard human dignity within full respect for labour and environmental legislation”.   Pope Francis also had a special greeting to “our brothers of the Eastern Churches who are celebrating Easter.” “May the risen Lord – he said – bear his gifts of light and peace to all. Christos anesti!” (from Vatican Radio)... 15 hours 53 min
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Saturday held an extraordinary Jubilee Audience in St. Peter’s Square for thousands of eager pilgrims. The Audience also celebrated the Jubilee for members of the police and armed forces. The Holy Father focused in his catechesis on a very important point of mercy: reconciliation, taking the apostle St. Paul’s words in the second letter to the Corinthians 5:20-21 as his guide: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Listen to Devin Watkins' report: Pope Francis said St. Paul’s words ‘be reconciled to God’ are an invitation for all Christians, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. He said God constantly offers us his forgiveness, and our sins can never keep us from God’s mercy. “Often we believe our sins push God away from us: in reality, by sinning we push ourselves away from Him, but He, seeing us in danger, keeps searching for us. God never accepts the possibility that someone could remain estranged from His love, as long as He finds in that person some sign of contrition for the evil committed.” The Holy Father went on to say that, in our sinfulness, we can only return to God by freely accepting his grace.  For this, he has given us his Son Jesus, whose cross is a bridge leading us back to the Father. “The sinner sees only himself and thus pretends to be self-sufficient; for this reason, sin distances us ever more from God, and this can become a barrier. However, Jesus comes to look for us like a good shepherd who is not content until he has not found the lost sheep (cf. Luke 15:4-6). He rebuilds the bridge which connects us to the Father and allows us to rediscover our dignity as sons and daughters. With the offer of his life, he has reconciled us to the Father and given us the gift of eternal life (cf. John 10:15). ‘Be reconciled to God!” Reconciliation brings peace and contributes to society He said this Holy Year of Mercy is a time for each of us to accept this offer of reconciliation and, in our communities, to bring it to the world around us.  Being reconciled with God not only brings inner healing and peace, but also impels us to work for reconciliation within society at every level, and thus contribute to the building of a global culture of peace, justice and solidarity. “Let us accept, therefore, the invitation to be reconciled to God to become new creatures and to be able to radiate His mercy among our brothers and sisters.” After the audience Pope Francis offered a special welcome to the members of the armed forces and police from throughout the world, especially those present at the audience from Canada, Kenya, Korea, the Philippines, and the United States of America. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 18 hours
(Vatican Radio)   The body can work as its own “pharmacy” with its own tool kit to heal itself – that’s one of the revolutionary concepts to come out of a Vatican conference on regenerative medicine and its cultural impact on society.  On day two of the three day conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Stem For Life Foundation , researchers from some of the world’s leading cancer institutes presented their ground-breaking technologies in immunotherapy and expressed high hopes that a cure for the all-too-often deadly disease may be just around the corner. Need for prevention, access and affordability U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son to cancer, addressed participants saying his son’s doctors told him that just in the last 4-5 years, cancer research has reached a turning point and that for the first time in history, many disciplines are working together to bring a cure. Echoing the call of Pope Francis , he said the tens of thousands of cases of cancer need to be prevented, and patients need access to affordable treatment.  Fewer than 5% of patients end up in clinical trials. His voice rising with emotion, he challenged the scientists and doctors to share their research and data with each other:  “Why do you wait?  Do it now!” Many of the researchers have begun to do just that thanks to a new approach among donors and philanthropists who are encouraging them to work in teams and share the data they gather.  Many, as we heard Friday, are already seeing success with immunotherapy - using the body’s own immune system to attack malignant cells -  as well as with stem cells and combined therapies to treat cancer.  Work is also underway to create and test personalized, patient-specific vaccines that hold the promise of preventing tumors from ever developing. Dr. Robin Smith, President of the Stem For Life Foundation, spoke to Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure about the interest in the Vatican meeting… Listen:   “Really it’s important for us to search for the cures and help bring solutions to people who are suffering around the world and we’re starting to see everyone really focusing on that,” says Smith. Over the last five years, results in cancer trials have been “amazing” “Immunotherapy, the way that you can take your immune system and educate it to kill cancer cells or to stop being over-active and killing good tissue” are just some of the exciting advances to come to the fore, Smith explains.  “We are learning more about how our body acts and we are learning more how we are able to really use what we have, what God has given us, to influence our health and cells that are damaged along the way.” A cure for cancer is on the way, need for speedy regulatory approval “A cure is on the way,” says Smith.  “More effective therapies – not just  treating symptoms but actually treating the underlying cause of their disease - is underway.  It’s just a matter of time and we have to band together to get the regulatory bodies focused on getting these therapies approved and into the clinic and to the patients who need them. Some countries, like Japan, have been able to speed up the regulatory process . “They’ve changed some legislation – if they know [the therapy] is safe and it shows a sign of efficacy – to allow patients to get the therapy while it continues along the development program for final approval.”  “So we all need to take a look at that and figure out how to make [the process] quicker.  Maybe [the answer is] it’s not as many patients because these trials are so costly.”  Development can take up to 10-15 years and costs can be upwards of US$ 500 million.  “And for people who are sick and suffering through their lifetime, that’s too long.” Pope Francis’ words to participants , Smith says, offered a very “consistent” message. “It’s the Year of Mercy, he’s focused on helping people, people’s needs, the focus on children, and you know, the fact that you have rare diseases that affect very few people – people aren’t focused on this.  It’s not economically feasible to come up with the therapies to treat those diseases as they take so long and cost so much. So from a corporation point of view, it’s very difficult.  And [the Pope’s] point is that we need to focus: someone needs to get out there and realize that there are many millions of people with rare diseases and we have to look for solutions and people aren’t doing that right now and he wants the world to come together and focus on those people who need advocates and who need people to really push on their behalf.” To find out more about the conference: #unitetocure and go to the website http://www.stemforlifefoundation.com/ Newsletter:  https://www.stemforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/SFL_Newsletter_FALL12.pdf   (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 11 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis warned Christians against having double lives, displaying an outer facade of light but having darkness in their hearts. He urged them to walk in the light and not tread dark paths, saying God’s truth cannot be found there. The Pope’s remarks came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Friday morning in the Santa Marta residence. Taking his cue from the reading of St John’s First Letter, Pope Francis reflected on the eternal struggle against sin, saying we must be pure like the Father but even if we sin we can count on his pardon and his tenderness. He stressed the Apostle’s warning to believers to tell the truth and not have double lives, saying one thing but doing another.     Walk in the light “If you say you are in communion with the Lord, then walk in the light.  But no to double lives!  Not that! That lie that we are so used to seeing and where we too sometimes fall (into temptation), don’t we?  To say one thing and do another, right?  It’s the never ending temptation.  And we know where that lie comes from: in the Bible, Jesus calls the devil ‘the father of lies’, the liar. It’s for this reason that this grandfather says with infinite tenderness and meekness to the ‘adolescent’ Church: ‘Don’t be a liar! You are in communion with God, walk in the light. Do works of light, don’t say one thing and do another. No to double lives and all that.” Bigger than our sins Noting how John began his Letter with the greeting, ‘children’, Pope Francis said this affectionate beginning is just like the tone of a grandfather towards his ‘young grandchildren’ and reveals the tenderness and light contained in this reading. It also recalls Jesus’ words when he promised “rest” to all those “who labour and are overburdened.” In the same way, the Pope continued, John urges his readers not to sin but if somebody does, to not be discouraged by this. “We have a Paraclete, a word, an advocate, a defender at the Father’s side, it’s Jesus Christ, the Upright One. He makes us righteous. It is He who pardons us. A person may feel like saying to this grandfather who gives us this advice: ‘But is it such a bad thing to have sins?’ ‘No, a sin is a bad thing! But if you have sinned, look at who is waiting to pardon you.’ Always! That’s because He, our Lord, is greater than our sins.” The Pope concluding by saying this is God’s Mercy and his greatness and it’s from Him alone that we can get our strength.    “We must walk in the light because God is Light.  Don’t walk with one foot in the light and the other in darkness.  Do not be liars.  And one other thing: we have all sinned. Nobody can say: ‘This man is a sinner, this woman is a sinner.’  I, thanks to God, am upright.’ No, only one is Upright, He who paid for us. And if somebody sins, He is waiting for us and pardons us because He is merciful and knows very well what we are shaped from and remembers that we are but dust. May the joy that this Letter gives us, carry us forward in the simplicity and the transparency of the Christian life, above all when we turn to the Lord… with truth.”   Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:    (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 16 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday addressed participants of an International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and its Cultural Impact. The Conference is being sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Stem for Life Foundation, and the STOQ Foundation. The 2016 conference focused on pediatric cancers and rare diseases, as well as diseases that occur with aging. It featured talks and discussions with leading cell therapy scientists, physicians, patient advocates, ethicists, philanthropists, leaders of faith and government officials. In his address, Pope Francis focused on three aspects of the commitment of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and the institutions working with it. “It is fundamentally important that we promote greater empathy in society,” the Pope said, “and not remain indifferent to our neighbour’s cry for help, including when he or she is suffering from a rare disease.” Pope Francis described this aspect of their work as “increasing sensitivity.” The Holy Father also emphasized the importance of research, in terms of “education and genuine scientific study.” Education, he said, is necessary not only to develop students’ intellectual abilities, but also to ensure “human formation and a professionalism of the highest degree.” Research, meanwhile, “requires unwavering attention to moral issues if it is to be an instrument which safeguards human life and the dignity of the person.” The third aspect highlighted by Pope Francis was “ensuring access to care.” A desire for profit should never prevail over the value of human life. This, the Pope said, “is why the globalization of indifference must be countered by the globalization of empathy.” By drawing attention to and educating people about rare diseases, by increasing funds for research, and by promoting “necessary legislation as well as an economic paradigm shift,” he continued, “the centrality of the human person will be rediscovered.” Pope Francis concluded his address with a word of encouragement for those participating in the Conference. “During this Jubilee Year, may you be capable and generous co-operators with the Father’s mercy.” Below, please find the full prepared text of Pope Francis’ remarks: Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants of the International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and its Cultural Impact Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican City   Friday 29 April 2016   Dear Friends,             I am pleased to welcome all of you. I thank Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi for his words and, above all, for having organized this meeting on the challenging problem of rare diseases within today’s social and cultural context. During your discussions, you have offered your professionalism and high-level expertise in the area of researching new treatments. At the same time, you have not ignored ethical, anthropological, social and cultural questions, as well as the complex problem of access to care for those afflicted by rare conditions. These patients are often not given sufficient attention, because investing in them is not expected to produce substantial economic returns. In my ministry I frequently meet people affected by so called “rare” diseases. These illnesses affect millions of people throughout the world, and cause suffering and anxiety for all those who care for them, starting with family members.             Your meeting takes on greater significance in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy; mercy is “the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life” ( Misericordiae Vultus , 2). Your work is a sign of hope, as it brings together people and institutions from diverse cultures, societies and religions, all united in their deep concern for the sick.             I wish to reflect, albeit briefly, on three aspects of the commitment of the Pontifical Council for Culture and institutions working with it: the Vatican Science and Faith Foundation–STOQ, the Stem for Life Foundation, and many others who are cooperating in this cultural initiative. The first is “increasing sensitivity”. It is fundamentally important that we promote greater empathy in society, and not remain indifferent to our neighbour’s cry for help, including when he or she is suffering from a rare disease. We know that we cannot always find fast cures to complex illnesses, but we can be prompt in caring for these persons, who often feel abandoned and ignored. We should be sensitive towards all, regardless of religious belief, social standing or culture.             The second aspect that guides your efforts is “research”, seen in two inseparable actions: education and genuine scientific study. Today more than ever we see the urgent need for an education that not only develops students’ intellectual abilities, but also ensures integral human formation and a professionalism of the highest degree. From this pedagogical perspective, it is necessary in medical and life sciences to offer interdisciplinary courses which provide ample room for a human formation supported by ethical criteria. Research, whether in academia or industry, requires unwavering attention to moral issues if it is to be an instrument which safeguards human life and the dignity of the person. Formation and research, therefore, aspire to serve higher values, such as solidarity, generosity, magnanimity, sharing of knowledge, respect for human life, and fraternal and selfless love. The third aspect I wish to mention is “ensuring access to care”. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium I highlighted the value of human progress today, citing “areas such as health care, education and communications” (52). I also strongly emphasized, however, the need to oppose “an economy of exclusion and inequality” (53) that victimizes people when the mechanism of profit prevails over the value of human life. This is why the globalization of indifference must be countered by the globalization of empathy. We are called to make known throughout the world the issue of rare diseases, to invest in appropriate education, to increase funds for research, and to promote necessary legislation as well as an economic paradigm shift. In this way, the centrality of the human person will be rediscovered. Thanks to coordinated efforts at various levels and in different sectors, it is becoming possible not only to find solutions to the sufferings which afflict our sick brothers and sisters, but also to secure access to care for them.             I encourage you to nurture these values which are already a part of your academic and cultural programme, begun some years ago. So too I urge you to continue to integrate more people and institutions throughout the world into your work. During this Jubilee Year, may you be capable and generous co-operators with the Father’s mercy. I accompany you and bless you on this journey; and I ask you, please, pray for me. Thank you. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 17 hours
The Annuario 2016 and the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2014 , edited by the Central Statistics Office, is has become available in book stores. Both volumes are printed by the Vatican Printing Press. The data reveal several new aspects that emerged between 15 February and 31 December 2015 in the life of the Catholic Church in the world. During that period one eparchy was elevated to metropolitan status, three new dioceses, three eparchies and two apostolic exarchates were created, and one apostolic exarchate was elevated to eparchy. The statistics presented in the Annuarium Statisticum , relevant to the year 2014, provide a brief analysis of the chief dynamics regarding the Catholic Church in the 2,998 ecclesiastic circumscriptions throughout the world. Over the past nine years the number of baptized Catholics worldwide grew by 14.1%, exceeding the growth rate of the world’s population for the same period (10.8%). The presence of Catholics in the world, therefore, increased to 17.8% in 2014, from 17.3% in 2005. In absolute terms this amounts to approximately 1.272 billion Catholics in 2014 as compared to 1.115 billion in 2005. Since the statistics varied considerably in the various geographical areas, this explains the heterogeneous overall figure. While Europe hosted nearly 23% of the world’s Catholic community in 2014, it now appears to be the least dynamic area overall, with an increase in the number of Catholics for the entire period of only slightly over 2%. The Catholic presence in the territory remained fixed at roughly 40%, with a minor correction with respect to 2005. This takes into account the fact that the demographic dynamic in the same period is several decimal points below that of the number of Catholics. With reference to the entire 2005-2014 period, the number of baptized Catholics in Oceania increased at a slower rate than the population (15.9% and 18.2%, respectively), while the contrary was seen in the Americas (11.7% versus 9.6%) and in Asia (20% versus 9.6%). The African continent undoubtedly showed the most growth: the number of baptized (about 215 million in 2014), increased at a pace more than double that of Asian countries (nearly 41%) and is far higher than the population growth rate for the same period (23.8%). Thus, apart from different demographic dynamics there was obvious confirmation of the increased percentage in Africa (where the number of baptized faithful rose from 13.8% to almost 17% of the worldwide population) and of the net drop of that in Europe, falling from 25.2% in 2005 to 22.6% in 2014. Although 2014 marked a minimal fall, the American continents continue to be home to almost half of baptized Catholics. Asia, with over 60% of the global population, showed moderate growth in the incidence of Catholics, with approximately 11% of Catholics in the world. In Oceania the incidence of baptized faithful remained stable at less than 0.8% of the worldwide Catholic population. Between 2005 and 2014 the number of bishops rose from 4,841 to 5,237, an increase of 8.2%. This increase was marked in Asia (over 14.3%) and Africa (over 12.9%), while in the Americas (over 6.9%), in Europe (over 5.4%) and in Oceania (over 4%) the figures were below the worldwide average. Regarding these varied trends, however, the distribution of bishops by continent remained substantially stable throughout the period studied, with a higher concentration of the total in the Americas and Europe. Also in Asia, where the number of bishops grew considerably, the overall demographic statistics showed limited growth, from 14.3% in 2005 to 15.1% in 2014. There was a more homogenous and balanced distribution by continent in the number of baptized faithful per bishop, passing from 230,300 to 242,900 between 2005 and 2014; except for the singular case of Oceania (where the low population density in the fragmented territory of numerous islands and archipelagos creates completely unique situations), the trend in Africa and Asia, continents where the spread of Catholicism is more dynamic, is converging toward the global average. From the statistics regarding diocesan and religious priests, the first striking figure is that the overall consistency in the number of priests increased by 9,381 between 2005 and 2014, from 406,411 to 415,792, and seems to have been consistent in recent years. This applies globally, since the figures vary widely among individual continents. In contrast with the notable increases in Africa (more than 32.6%) and Asia (more than 27.1%), Europe showed a fall of over 8%, and Oceania less than 1.7%. Different growth rates were recorded worldwide over time in the number of priests: the increase was stronger in the first six years of the period under study, but practically null in the last three years. In particular, the growth in the figures shows that, following the steady rise up to 2011 in the number of ordinations to the priesthood, there has been a steady, gradual decrease to date. The negative aspects of the trend show that defections have progressively decreased in number, while the death of priests, after a period of annual fluctuation, has risen in recent years. In particular, the trends of diocesan priests show overall growth in comparison to priests of the religious orders; moreover, while the initial data showed a growing trend in Africa, in the South and Central America, in Asia and Oceania, they reveal, by contrast, a declining trend in the remaining areas, Europe in particular. Religious priests, on the contrary, registered a downward trend in the Americas as well as in Europe and in Oceania. The data regarding diocesan and religious priests demonstrate favourable trends overall in the areas previously studied, while the remaining areas show a downward trend. Thus, when viewed in relative terms, trends in the overall number of priests showed changes in the following geographical areas: from 2005 to 2014, an increase was seen in Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America; numbers in the Middle East and Oceania remained virtually unchanged; lastly, downward trends were recorded in North America and Europe — the latter, in particular, showed a drop from 48.8% in 2005 to 43.7% in 2014. The pastoral work of bishops and priests is supported by other pastoral figures: permanent deacons, professed men and women religious. The composition of these three groups of pastoral workers is quite diverse. At the end of 2014, there were, worldwide, 44,566 permanent deacons, 54,559 professed men religious who are not priests, and roughly 683,000 professed women religious. The evolutionary trends also presented different characteristics. Permanent deacons constitute the most rapidly changing group over the course of the period: they grew from approximately 33,000 in 2005 to almost 45,000 in 2014, with a relative variation of over 33.5%. Although the increase is manifest everywhere, its pace varied among the continents: in Europe the number of permanent deacons increased significantly over nine years, rising from less than 11,000 to 15,000. The American continents also showed an increase: in 2014 the number rose to nearly 29,000 from approximately 22,000 in 2005. There are no significant changes to report in the territorial distribution of permanent deacons during the period examined: only a slight decrease was shown in the relative number of deacons in America and a growth in Asia. It is of interest to note that permanent deacons are well represented in the Americas (North America in particular) with 64.9% of all deacons in the world, and also in Europe (32.6%). This category, however, is scarce in Africa and Asia: these continents hold barely 1.7% of the worldwide figure. The practical ability of permanent deacons to assist priests in performing pastoral work effectively in the territory, however, is still limited. In the world, the distribution of deacons per 100 resident priests, in fact, was just 10.7 in 2014, with a minimum of 0.48 in Asia and a maximum of 23.5 in America. In Europe the quotient is about 8%, while in Africa, 1.1 deacons serve alongside 100 priests. Therefore, the dimension of the phenomenon is still rather modest for their work to have a significant effect on the balance between the demand and offer of ministry to the baptized faithful residing in the area. In terms of development, however, it should be noted that there tend to be a greater number in the territory precisely where the ratio between baptized faithful and priests is reduced. Instead, a slight decrease was reported in the number of professed men religious who are not priests. In 2005 there were 54,708 worldwide, decreasing thereafter to 54,559 in 2014. It is also noteworthy that the drop was concentrated in the Americas (less than 5%), in Europe (less than 14.2%) and in Oceania (less than 6.8%). On the contrary there was an increase in Africa (over 10.2%) and in Asia (more than 30.1%). Overall, in 2014, Africa and Asia represented almost 38% of the total (up from 31% in 2005). Conversely, the group comprised of Europe, the Americas and Oceania decreased to almost 10% over the period under examination. Professed women religious in 2014 represented a population of 682,729, with almost 38% in Europe, followed by the American continents with over 177,000 consecrated women and Asia with 170,000. In comparison to 2005, this group showed a decrease of 10.2% which likewise involved the Americas, Europe and Oceania, with significant negative variations (around 18-20%). On the contrary, there was a decidedly steady increase of approximately 20% in Africa and of approximately 11% in Asia. In light of these greatly varied trends, the portion of the worldwide total of women religious grew in Africa and Asia from 27.8% to 35.3%, as compared to Europe and America, where the combined figure dropped from 70.8% to 63.5%. The temporal development observed in the world between 2005 and 2014 for the number of major seminarians (diocesan and religious) showed an initial growth that continued until 2011, when the total recorded was equal to 105.4% of the 2005 total. This was followed by a slow but steady decline, which brought the 2014 figure down to 102.2%. With regard to consistency, the number of candidates to the priesthood worldwide rose from 114,429 in 2005 to 120,616 in 2011, and then dropped to 116,939 in 2014. The decrease observed in the overall number of major seminarians between 2001 and 2014 involved all the continents except Africa, where the number of seminarians increased by 3.8% (from 27,483 to 28,528). However, when the entire period from 2005 to 2014 is considered, the differences between the territorial areas appear more evident. While Africa, Asia and Oceania show dynamic upward trends (with growth rates of 21%, 14.6% and 7.2%, respectively), Europe registered a 17.5% reduction over the same period, and the Americas (particularly due to the negative trend in the southern hemisphere) showed a drop of 7.9% compared to the start of the period. As a result, a general re-evaluation of the role of the European and American continents in the potential growth and renewal of priestly figures is observed, with Europe’s share falling from 20.2% to 16.2%, and the Americas’ from 32.2% to 29.1%, in contrast with the expansion in Africa and Asia which represents an overall percentage of 53.9 of the worldwide total for 2014 (24.4% and 29.5%, respectively). Also in relative terms with respect to the number of Catholics, the greatest movement was shown in Africa and Asia, with 133 candidates to the priesthood per one million Catholics in Africa in 2014, and about 247 in Asia. European and American figures (66 and 55, respectively, which are far less significant and in decline in comparison with 2005, would suggest a reduced offering of pastoral services. Lastly, from the number of major seminarians per 100 priests, one can form an idea of the generational replacement in the effective exercise of pastoral ministry. Thus, also in this context, Africa and Asia retain their primacy with 66 and 54 candidates per 100 priests respectively, while in Europe the figure is 10, confirming an ongoing stagnation in priestly vocations. The Americas and Oceania maintain an intermediate position with 28 and 22 candidates to the priesthood per 100 priests in 2014. Overall, however, thanks to the upturn in Africa and Asia, the total has gone from 28.16 to 28.12 major seminarians per 100 priests. At the end of the quantitative survey conducted overall and for large geographical areas both in terms of consistency and of variations, one can draw approximate conclusions regarding the most obvious phenomena regarding current trends. Firstly one can note from most of the phenomena analyzed, a certain dichotomy between the dynamics of the emerging continents, Africa and Asia, and those of Europe, which is progressively losing its centrality as the model of reference. This is not surprising. Indeed, it seems rather obvious that the development of the Church in the world cannot ignore the major trends underlying worldwide development, especially for demographics. Thus, Europe has become the most static continent, hindered by the net aging of its population and by its low birth rate. The Americas as a whole are in an intermediate position, but were the analysis to distinguish between North and Latin America, divergences would likely arise, enabling at least a partial comparison, first to Europe and second to Africa and Asia. Oceania constitutes a reality unto itself, also due to its far more limited demographics. In the 2005-2014 period, the number of priests increased overall, even if the significant increase of diocesan priests and the marked decrease of religious priests should be noted. Europe registered a heavy loss, which was largely compensated by the lively trend shown by Africa and Asia regarding diocesan priests. The Americas presented, for the same period, a 1.6% growth: they have addressed the loss of 4,000 religious with just over 6,000 diocesan priests. The average pastoral figure worldwide, expressed by the number of Catholics per priest, grew noticeably and is higher in Africa and the Americas, while in Europe it has been far more limited. The situation may plausibly be modified in the coming years, since the European clergy is older and weakened by lower renewal rates, while in Africa and Asia the number of candidates to the priesthood is clearly growing. The relatively recent phenomenon of the considerable increase in the number of permanent deacons is of great importance. The dynamic trend shown by these workers is certainly not attributable to temporary or contingent motivations, but seems to express new and different choices in performing the work of spreading the faith. Indeed, the increase of deacons is seen generally in Europe and the Americas, less positive continents in terms of development in other categories of pastoral workers. Candidates to the priesthood present a positive trend overall, however in this case as well, there are several reasons for concern in Europe and the Americas, where a decline has been clearly shown in recent years. Conversely, Africa and Asia show great vitality.... 2 days 20 hours
(Vatican Radio)  For a child to be born sick is a “scandalous” problem for humanity.  That was one of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi’s reflections Thursday as he opened in the Vatican day one of the Third International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and its Cultural Impact.  The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture partnered with the Stem For Life Foundation to organize what has been described as a “historic” three day event 28-30 April to look at the complex cultural and social framework of illnesses and at cutting edge research into cellular therapies. In her opening remarks, the President of Stem For Life, Dr. Robin Smith, pointed to the growing range of therapies currently under study for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune disorders and rare diseases.  The first in the series of conferences was launched five years ago, she noted, to foster a dialogue about the importance of stem cell therapy.  Since then, the sector has progressed exponentially as scientists became increasingly aware of their ability to be “taught” to transform into a wide variety of tissue, cells and even organs. Saving lives or playing God? “Cellular cures are the light in front of us,” she said, but they need to be made more rapidly available to patients.  Super computers and ever-more powerful diagnostic tools are making it easier to identify the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.  The advances in cellular therapy are happening so quickly, she suggested, it will not be long before people begin to ask: can we design our own child?  Choose its hair and eye colour, its height and intelligence?  Can we turn back time and reverse aging?  Are we playing God?  The philosophical and ethical questions abound. Smith invited us to have tissues at the ready for the heart-wrenching stories we were about to hear.  Stories like Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts’ exhausting battle with breast cancer which evolved into any doctor’s worst nightmare: Mylodisplastic  Syndrome (MDS) or pre-Leukemia. She was told she had less than two years to live. But thanks to her sister, Sally, Robin received a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant that saved her life. Transplants and “Reengineering” can transform lives We heard that more than 70 disorders can be treated with bone marrow transplants.  Nearly half of the 50,000 such transplants performed around the world each year require a donor. Though national registries have made matching up donors to patients easier in recent years, finding the right fit can take months. That, even though there are more than 20 million voluntary bone marrow donors worldwide.  Scientists are finding ways to train bone marrow cells to adapt to new hosts so they won’t be rejected by the body’s immune system.  They’re also finding promising new techniques by taking a patient’s own cells and re-programming them to fight off “bad” cells.  One such technique is called “chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy,” a revolutionary but experimental treatment which reengineers the patient’s cells to kill off all cancerous cells. 17 year old Nicholas Wilkins was diagnosed with the most common childhood cancer, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, at age 4.  After repeated relapses, he received a bone marrow transplant from his sister. But even that didn’t work. In 2013, his desperate parents enrolled Nicholas in a trial at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where doctors reinfused reengineered T-cells back into his body to attack the cancer.  Three years later, he is cancer free and doctors are hopeful he will stay that way because the “good” T-cells are continuing to fight the cancer. Researchers are hopeful this technique can be just as promising in the treatment of other diseases, such as rare and autoimmune disorders. 90% of kids with cancer die in developing nations Georgetown University Health Care Ethics Professor Fr. Kevin Fitzgerald, sj told us that some 80-90% of children with cancer in industrialized countries are cured while 90% die in poor countries.  The moral imperative, then, is to ensure adequate medical care in developing countries: an invitation to policy makers, businesses, the pharmaceutical sector and medical and research communities to collaborate to make this a reality.  And, he reminded us that as the largest health care provider in the world, the Catholic Church is ready to partner with them. Eugene Gasana Jr was 13 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2011 and after intensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy in New York, he has been in remission. But Eugene wasn’t satisfied with just getting better himself.  He wanted kids in his home country of Rwanda to have access to similar, high quality medical care.  Thanks to a Foundation set up in his name and donors, his paediatric oncologist, Dr. Tanya Trippett of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is heading up a program to provide a hospital and cancer care for children in Kigali for the east African region. According to Trippett, serving cancer patients in Rwanda and other parts of Africa is a challenge because of the lack of quality diagnostic equipment and in some cases, the absence of chemotherapy and cancer drugs.  The infrastructure is poor and oncologists are few.  Patients go hungry in hospitals which also struggle to provide follow-up care for families who live far away.  She wants to see more cooperation between Western hospitals and clinical professionals to provide training to Rwandan and other African doctors, nurses and hospital staff and greater access to funding. Dr. Raphael Rousseau, Medical director of Genentech, a member of the Roche pharmaceutical group, would like to see more clinical trials in developing countries, using the same rigorous standards as Western trials.  He says he’s frustrated that drugs are not getting soon enough to children with cancer and appealed to drug companies to develop new therapies for cancer, especially in developing countries “where cancer is lethal.” This not an area of competition, he said, “we’re all in it for a good cause.” Cord blood’s life-saving stem cells Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg of Duke University Medical Center works with cord blood stem cells to find cures for brain diseases like cerebral palsy, or autism, and in some cases, with remarkable results.  Not long ago, after a woman gave birth, the placenta used to be thrown out in the trash, she said.  But now, the stem cell-rich material can be frozen and stored, perhaps for decades, in the some 700,000 public cord blood banks around the world until it is needed for therapy. Some four million banks preserve cord blood for private use. Cord blood can be an alternative source, she said, for patients who can’t find a matching donor. Dr. Yong Zhao of Hackensack University Medical Center is finding encouraging results using cord blood cells for multiple autoimmune and inflammation-related diseases. The rare disease challenge The new treatments evolving are many: “nano technology,” “nano chips,” “gene therapy” and “gene editing” were some of the terms thrown out by the U.S. National Institute of Health’s Dr. Stephen Groft who said 4-8% of the population suffers from a rare disorder. Some 8,000 rare diseases have been identified, and most have a genetic origin, but more diseases are occurring and mutating. Multiply that by family and friends, he said, “and you have a big population affected by rare diseases.”  A lack of information on such disorders, misdiagnosis and lack of treatments are the real challenges facing patients with rare diseases. But Dr. Groft is among a number of health experts worldwide who are compiling data bases of patients, doctors, symptoms, and treatment protocols so that the global health community can study these rare diseases and communicate with each other about them.  Social media plays a big part here, he said, as patients exchange their stories and search for clinical trials in which to participate and doctors looking for colleagues who have come across similar patient cases. We heard about 14 year old Johnathan who suffers from a disorder known as “Butterfly disease,” a frightfully painful condition that makes his skin as fragile as powdery butterfly wings but has nothing to do with the beauty of the delicate creature.  Johnathan and his mom spend hours each day dressing him, bathing and changing the bandages covering the sores on much of his frail body. Here was one of the many times  I reached for a tissue on Thursday.   Johnathan knows he probably won’t survive past his mid- 20’s. Then, there were the children with Batten disease, which one father described as a “thief” which comes in the night to steal away your small child’s vision, his brain, his ability to walk and talk.  And, the kids suffering childhood blindness who are receiving encouraging help with gene therapy. Dr. Neil Warma of Opexa Therapeutics, is working with personalized T-cell vaccines to fit each individual’s patient’s profile to treat an array of autoimmune disorders including Multiple Schlerosis and NMO so the body can repair itself. New therapies are also evolving in the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes or juvenile diabetes giving fresh hope to patients suffering from this debilitating disorder too. Tracey McClure (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 22 hours

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From: Live Catholic Headlines
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Vatican City, May 1, 2016 / 08:37 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis on Sunday decried the resurgence of violence in Syria in recent days, especially in Aleppo, and renewed the call to bring about peace through dialogue. 16 hours 15 min
Caracas, Venezuela, May 1, 2016 / 07:04 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Amid Venezuela's grave economic crisis, the country's bishops have urged the government of President Nicolás Maduro to allow the Church to bring in much-needed supplies such as food and medicine. 17 hours 48 min
Brooklyn, N.Y., Apr 30, 2016 / 07:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The Diocese of Brooklyn announced with "thanksgiving to the Almighty God" on Friday that Bishop Neil Tiedemann, C.P., would be returning to his hometown as auxiliary bishop after eight years of service as the Bishop of Mandeville, in central Jamaica. 1 day 17 hours
Vatican City, Apr 30, 2016 / 05:35 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Reconciliation is an essential aspect of God's mercy, Pope Francis said Saturday, explaining that when we distance ourselves from the Lord through sin, it takes much more than our own effort to get back to him. 1 day 19 hours
New York City, N.Y., Apr 30, 2016 / 04:48 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Advocates delivered hundreds of thousands of signatures to the United Nations on Friday, calling on the body to declare that genocide is occurring against Christians and other religious minorities. 1 day 20 hours
Vatican City, Apr 30, 2016 / 03:30 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Illuminated by the red light that spilled across Rome's Trevi fountain, voices from persecuted Christian communities across the world shared the stories of friends and loved ones killed for the faith, and urged the world to take greater action in putting the violence to an end. 1 day 21 hours
Vatican City, Apr 29, 2016 / 10:35 am (EWTN News/CNA).- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden went to the Vatican for a summit on regenerative medicine, where he offered praise to Pope Francis and advocated for a global push to cure cancer. 2 days 14 hours
Vatican City, Apr 29, 2016 / 08:34 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Friday Pope Francis told participants in a Vatican stem cell summit that a renewed sense of empathy ought to fuel their work and research, ensuring that no person goes without access to proper care. 2 days 16 hours
Washington D.C., Apr 29, 2016 / 07:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The Obama administration's new rule for faith-based partnerships has drawn various reactions: one observer warned they could cause problems for partnering religious groups, while another said the action also strengthens these groups' protections against government abuse. 2 days 17 hours
Denver, Colo., Apr 29, 2016 / 04:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." 2 days 20 hours
Vatican City, Apr 29, 2016 / 03:37 pm (EWTN News).- Italian police arrested four people and issued arrest warrants for two more on Thursday on suspicion of conspiring with the Islamic State terrorist group. One of the arrested suspects was reportedly plotting an attack on the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome. 2 days 21 hours
Denver, Colo., Apr 29, 2016 / 01:08 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The lawyers of the bakery owner who made headlines for declining to make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding is "evaluating all legal options" to preserve the man's First Amendment rights after the state's highest court declined to take the case. 2 days 23 hours

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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Posted

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By Daphnie Vega

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — While religious freedom in much of the Middle East is under siege and the civil war in Syria seems to have no end in sight, Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, and others called the United Nations to action.

The U.N. plays a crucial role in securing the future of the region, particularly for people being tortured, kidnapped and killed because of their religious beliefs, Anderson said during a daylong conference April 28.

Anderson’s presentation came during one of three panel discussions at the conference sponsored by the office of the Vatican’s permanent observer to the U.N. and joined by In Defense of Christians and other organizations focusing on human rights abuses in the Middle East.

Presenters included people who experienced or witnessed atrocities being committed against religious minorities.

Led by remarks from Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the U.N., the event had an intensely sensitive agenda.

A 278-page report submitted to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that was co-authored by the Knights of Columbus and the group In Defense of Christians in March outlined what it called “genocide” being carried out against religious minorities by the Islamic State. Its contents focused largely on Christians who have been murdered and those indigenous communities who will or have been displaced from their region.

On March 17, Kerry designated Islamic State actions as genocide, but the United States has yet to offer a plan to respond.

The U.N. estimates that more than half of Syria’s pre-civil war population of about 22.1 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Four million Syrian refugees now live outside of their homeland. Overall, at least 8 million people have been displaced throughout the region, human rights organizations estimate.

Anderson mentioned published threats in the Islamic State’s magazine, Dabiq, specifying what the group has called the “Crusader army” from the West. Such threats have not only been carried out in many parts of the Middle East but have haunted the lives of innocent men, women and children, he said.

The Knights of Columbus has raised more than $10.5 million for relief since 2014 while partnering with dioceses and religious organizations to provide victims with food, clothing, shelter, education and medical attention, he said.

Anderson concluded his presentation by proposing that the U.N. take legal action against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups to prevent the eradication of long-standing and indigenous communities in the Middle East. He called for punishment of the perpetrators and for the establishment of international standards of justice, equality, the rule of law and religious freedom.

Sister Maria de Guadalupe Rodrigo, a member of the Congregation of the Incarnate Word who has spent 18 years in the Middle East as a missionary, spoke of her experienced living in Aleppo, Syria, a major battleground in the civil war.

“I remember the first two months when this all started, we all remained inside,” she said. “There were constant explosions and gunshots. We couldn’t sleep. But these weeks turned into months and the months into years.”

Sister Maria de Guadalupe described how children playing on the street collect bullets and trade them with one another because they could find nothing else to play with. Children should not be concerned about safety, but safety is all they think about, she said.

A child captured and tortured by ISIS also addressed the conference. Samia Sleman, 15, of Hardan, Iraq, a village north of Mount Sinjar, gave an emotional speech about her time in captivity. A member of the Yazidi minority, Sleman spent six months sequestered along with other girls who were starved, raped and sold to other Islamic State members.

Sleman brought attention to the many girls whom Islamic State members take as sex slaves while their mothers are killed for being “too old.” Some enslaved girls are as young 7 or 8 years old, she said.

Despite the horrific actions of her captors, Sleman, whose family is still being held, spoke on their behalf so the U.N. and world governments would act to end the genocide taking place.

In another session, Jacqueline Isaac, vice president of Roads of Success, a Southern California organization addressing human rights in the Middle East, asked, “Where are you, world?”

Victims of ISIS are more than numbers, but human beings, she said, as many in the audience rose to their feet and applauded.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 8 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Moral and ethical concerns must guide medical research so it will always be at the service of protecting human life and dignity, Pope Francis said.

In that way, education and research can strive “to serve higher values, such as solidarity, generosity, magnanimity, sharing of knowledge, respect for human life, and fraternal and selfless love,” he said April 29, during an audience with people taking part in a conference on adult stem cell research.

“Research, whether in academia or industry,” he said, “requires unwavering attention to moral issues if it is to be an instrument which safeguards human life and the dignity of the person.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance and had addressed the conference with a 29-minute speech on the need to invest in prevention, access and affordability in the fight against cancer.

The conference looked at current and experimental techniques in using adult stem cells to fight disease, specifically rare illnesses afflicting children. The April 28-30 conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture; its foundation, STOQ, which is an acronym for Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest; and the Stem for Life Foundation, a nonprofit offshoot of the for-profit Caladrius cell-therapy company.

Speaking to participants gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall, the pope highlighted the conference’s emphasis on top-notch medical know-how without overlooking the “ethical, anthropological, social and cultural questions, as well as the complex problem of access to care for those afflicted by rare conditions.”

People struck by rare diseases “are often not given sufficient attention because investing in them is not expected to produce substantial economic returns,” the pope said.

In fact, the pope repeated his call against “an economy of exclusion and inequality that victimizes people when the mechanism of profit prevails over the value of human life.”

“This is why the globalization of indifference must be countered by the globalization of empathy” so that resources will be dedicated to finding cures and people will be allowed access to treatment, he said.

“We know that we cannot always find fast cures to complex illnesses, but we can be prompt in caring for these people, who often feel abandoned and ignored,” he said. People must be sensitive to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs, social standing or cultural background, he said.

In his speech, delivered before the pope arrived, Biden spoke about the attention and comfort he felt when the pope met him and his family privately during the papal visit to the United States in September.

Biden lost his 46-year-old son, Beau, to brain cancer in May 2015. The vice president said that during the private meeting in an airplane hangar in Philadelphia, the pope’s words, prayers and presence “provided us with more comfort than even he, I think, will ever understand.”

Biden, a Catholic, said his family, like many others around the world, have seen “how faith can turn loss into hope, and hope into action.”

“The Holy Father has given hope to so many people, of all faiths, in every part of the world, with his strong words and humble ways,” he said.

Biden spoke about the U.S. administration’s “Moonshot,” an initiative he leads and which is aimed at eliminating cancer through prevention — including from environmental causes — and greater access to healthcare and affordable treatment. “The best medicine and treatment can’t belong only to the privileged and the powerful. It has to belong to everyone,” he said.

“Cancer is a constant emergency” Biden said, as it causes the deaths of 3,000 people a day in the United States.

He urged researchers and scientists to share and publish data and discoveries “immediately,” and not hide it for years behind “paywalls.”

“Why do you wait? What is your rationale?” he said.

Faith, in all religions, is animated by hope and love, he said, adding that he had faith global progress was possible.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 10 hours

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Italian authorities arrested six suspects who allegedly received orders from the Islamic State terrorist group to attack the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome.

The arrests made in Lombardy and Piedmont April 28 were the result of a joint operation coordinated by the district attorney of Milan and the Italian anti-terrorism agency.

According to the Italian news agency ANSA, authorities arrested Abderrahim Moutaharrik and his wife, Salma Bencharki; Abderrahmane Khachia, and three people who have maintained contact with a couple that left Italy to join the Islamic State in Syria. All of the suspects are of Moroccan origin.

A warrant has been issued for the couple, Mohamed Korachi and his Italian wife, Alice Brignoli, who are believed to have left for Syria in 2015.

Authorities monitored a series of conversations between the suspects via WhatsApp. One of the messages sent to Moutaharrik said: “Dear brother Abderrahim, I send you … the bomb poem … listen to the sheik and strike,” ANSA reported.

Milan prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli told reporters authorities believe the word “sheik” is a reference to Islamic State leader Abu-Bakir Al-Baghdadi. He also said the messages, intercepted in February and March 2016, mentioned a strike against the Israeli embassy as well as against Christian pilgrims in Rome for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

“I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of crusaders, I swear I’ll attack it, in the Vatican God willing,” a message from one of the arrested suspects stated, according to ANSA.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, expressed his confidence in the current security measures in place for the Holy Year.

“The preventative security measures in place to protect pilgrims during the jubilee year are serious and functioning properly, as everyone can see and have witnessed. Therefore, there appears to be no need to modify them,” he told Catholic News Service April 29.

– – –

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 11 hours

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From: CWN provides reliable world news and commentary from a Catholic perspective, availble exclusively at CatholicCulture.org.
Posted
A prominent German philosopher has warned that Pope Francis has endangered the unity of the Church by contradicting the teachings of his predecessors in Amoris Laetita. "Chaos was raised ... 2 days 11 hours
The head of the Vatican's new Secretariat for Communications has indicated that the consolidation of the Vatican's communications offices will not be complete until 2018. Msgr. Dario ... 2 days 13 hours
In the latest session of the "Vatileaks II" trial, two Vatican employees testified that they had observed suspicious behavior in the office of Msgr. Angel Vallejo Balda, who has now ... 2 days 13 hours
American Vice President Joe Biden praised Pope Francis for his compassion during an April 29 address to a conference at the Vatican, mentioning that the Pontiff had offered him comfort ... 2 days 13 hours
In an April 29 address to participants in a Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Pope Francis voiced his concern that some people, suffering from unusual diseases, do not receive ... 2 days 16 hours
The Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has closed 4,800 accounts under new regulations, according to the annual report of the Financial Information Authority ... 2 days 16 hours
The Vatican has released the prayer intentions of Pope Francis for May 2016.  The Pope's universal intention is: “That in every country in the world, women may be ... 2 days 16 hours
Representatives of the English, French, and German episcopates have met in Paris to discuss the situation in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants who hope to enter the United ... 2 days 19 hours
Pope Francis offered a “great lesson to all of humanity” in visiting refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, the former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship said in ... 2 days 19 hours
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who holds a primacy of honor in Eastern Orthodoxy, has issued an encyclical for Easter, which falls on May 1 this year in the Orthodox ... 2 days 19 hours
As an estimated 50 million Hindus take part in the Kumbh Mela, a mass pilgrimage to bathe in an Indian river, a bishop has opened a dispensary to offer medical care, according to ... 2 days 20 hours
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, the president of Caritas Internationalis, visited Nepal on the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed over 8,000 people and caused an ... 2 days 20 hours
The Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo lamented the intensification of fighting in Syria’s largest city. “The situation of the people is disastrous,” Bishop Antoine ... 2 days 20 hours
Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has ordered the closure of a facility where 900 migrants who attempted to reach Australia have been detained. Australia has paid Papua New Guinea ... 2 days 20 hours
In a conversation with an Italian bishop whose diocese borders Austria, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of assisting refugees. The prelate, Bishop Ivo Muser of ... 2 days 21 hours

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From: Latest News Releases from USCCB
Posted

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Neil E. Tiedemann, CP, as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Bishop Tiedemann, 68, has served as bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica, since 2008.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, April 29, by Msgr. Walter Erbì, chargé d' affaires of the nunciature of the United States.

Neil E. Tiedemann was born March 5, 1948, in Brooklyn. He entered the Congregation of the Passionists in 1970 and professed perpetual vows on August 22, 1974. He was ordained a priest May 16, 1975. Following ordination, he served as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Jamaica, New York (1975-1982) and was instructed to Caritas (1977-1978). He also served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Union City, New Jersey (1982-1984) and parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield, Massachusetts (1984-1987).

He twice served in parish ministry in Honduras, from 1987-1994 and 2005-2006. In the interim, he did pastoral ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Union City (1995-1997) and Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica (1997-1998). He was elected to the Provincial Council of the Passionist Congregation in 2006 and appointed bishop of Mandeville on March 20, 2008. He was consecrated a bishop on August 6, 2008.

The Diocese of Brooklyn comprises 179 square miles in the State of New York. It has a total population of 4,888,324 people, of whom 1,556,575, or 32 percent, are Catholic. The diocese currently has five other active auxiliary bishops.
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