Skip to Content


NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From:
Posted
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis travelled across Rome Sunday afternoon for a visit to the parish of Santa Maria Josefa of the Heart of Jesus (It: Santa Maria Josefa del Cuore di Gesù) in the suburb of Castelverde. It’s the Pope’s thirteenth visit to a Roman parish. The Pope was welcomed at the parish by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini; the auxiliary bishop for the eastern part of the city, Bishop Giuseppe Marciante, and by the pastor, Fr Francesco Rondinelli. As is usual, Pope Francis had an encounter with children and young people in the parish, followed by visits with sick persons and the elderly, married couples who have had children baptized recently; families assisted by Caritas, and workers in the parish. Following the meetings with parishioners, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the parish church, where he delivered an off-the-cuff homily.  (from Vatican Radio)... 56 min 35 sec
(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis said the day’s Gospel – part of the Sermon on the Mount, from the Gospel of Saint Matthew – is one of the Biblical passages that best expresses the Christian “revolution.” In the day’s Gospel reading, he said, “Christ shows the path of true justice, through the law of love that overcomes that of retaliation, that is, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.” Jesus, he continued, does not ask His disciples simply to bear evils patiently, but to return good for evil: “Only in this way can the chains of evil be broken, and things can truly change.” Pope Francis notes that for Jesus, the refusal to return evil for evil goes so far as to sometimes involve giving up a legitimate right: turning the other cheek, or giving up one’s cloak, or making other sacrifices. But, he said, “this renunciation doesn’t mean that the needs of justice should be ignored or contradicted; on the contrary, Christian love, which is manifested in a special way in mercy, represents a superior realization of justice.” Jesus, the Pope said, wants to teach us the distinction between justice and vengeance: “We are allowed to ask for justice; it is our duty to practice justice. On the other hand, we are forbidden to revenge ourselves or to encourage vengeance in any way, insofar as it is an expression of hatred or of violence.” In fact, Christ’s law of love calls on us to love even our enemies. This, Pope Francis said, should not be seen as an approval of their wicked actions, but as “an invitation to a higher perspective, like that of the heavenly Father, who makes His sun to rise on the wicked and the good.” Even our enemies, the Pope explained, are human persons, created in the image of God – even if that image is sometimes obscured by evil acts. Christ calls us to respond to our enemies with goodness, inspired by love. Before leading the traditional Angelus prayer, Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary might help us follow “this demanding path” set out by Jesus, “which truly exalts human dignity, and makes us live as children of our Father Who is in heaven.” The Holy Father prayed that Mary might help us to practice patience, dialogue, forgiveness, and to be artisans of communion and of fraternity in our daily life.” Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  (from Vatican Radio)... 5 hours 43 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis led the crowds gathered for the Sunday Angelus in a prayer for the victims of violence in Africa and around the world. In particular, he prayed for those affected by violence in the region of the Kasaï Central province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I suffer deeply for the victims, especially for so many children ripped from their families and their schools to be used as soldiers.” The Holy Father renewed his “heartfelt appeal to the consciences and the responsibility of the national authorities and the international community, that they might take adequate and timely decisions to assist these our brothers and sisters.” In praying for victims of violence in the world, the Pope turned his thoughts in particular to “the dear peoples of Pakistan and of Iraq, struck in recent days by cruel acts of terrorism.” Pope Francis prayed for all victims of violence, those who have died and those who have been injured, as well as for their families. “Let us pray ardently,” he concluded “for every heart hardened by hatred, that they might be converted to peace, according to the will of God.” Then, following a moment of silent prayer, he led the crowd in the recitation of the “Hail Mary”.  (from Vatican Radio)... 6 hours 28 min
(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, has confirmed that Pope Francis will be visiting All Saints’ Anglican Church in Rome on February 26. The Pope’s visit will be part of an Ecumenical Service celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first Church of England worship service in Rome, which took place on October 27th 1816. The Holy Father will be the first reigning Pope to visit an Anglican Church in the Diocese of Rome. The ecumenical event will consist of a short Choral Evensong service which includes the blessing of a specially commissioned icon and the twinning of All Saints with the Catholic parish of Ognissanti, a Rome church with strong ecumenical ties. Pope Francis is expected to deliver a homily during the event, and afterwards to take questions from members of the parish community.  (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 2 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday  received the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception who are in Rome for their General Chapter, telling them to open hearts with the Gospel message. Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report The Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception was founded, in 1673, in Poland and works in 26 countries around the world. In prepared remarks to the participants of the Congregation’s General Chapter on Saturday, Pope Francis told them that the example of their founder, St. Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, who was canonized last year, was both the light and guide of their walk and fully understood the meaning of being a disciple of Christ. In this perspective, the Pope said, “your service of the Word is the witness of the Risen Christ, that you have encountered on your path…” adding, that they were called to spread the Gospel message wherever they are sent. The Pope also underlined that Christian witness requires engagement with and for the poor, noting it was a commitment that has characterized the Congregation. The Holy Father encouraged the Marian Fathers to  keep alive this tradition of service to the poor and the humble, through the proclamation of the Gospel, along with the works of mercy and prayers for the souls of the faithfully departed. He continued by saying that “the great challenge of inculturation asks you today to announce the Good News in languages ​​and ways understandable to the men and women of our time, involved in rapid social and cultural transformation processes. The horizons of evangelization and the urgent need to bear witness to the Gospel message, without distinction, the Pope said “constitute the vast field of your apostolate.” Many people, the Holy Father observed, “are still waiting to know Jesus, the one Redeemer of man.” Such an urgent mission, Pope Francis underlined, “requires personal and community conversion. Only fully open hearts to the action of Grace”, he said, “are able to interpret the signs of the times and to seize the appeals of humanity in need of hope and peace.”       (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 6 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday visited one of Rome’s major institutions of higher education: the   Università degli studi “Roma 3” , which has an enrollment of roughly 40 thousand students. The Holy Father fielded four questions, each one from a student at a different level of study and in a different department, from post-graduates to married professionals in continuing formation to young undergrads from the business school and the arts and sciences. Click below to hear our report One of the students was Nour Essa, a 31 year-old married mother and a refugee from Syria. She came to Rome with her family via Lesbos, making the last leg of her journey with Pope Francis, himself, aboard the Papal plane in 2016. “I remember a question posed by a reporter on your plane, returning from Lesbos,” she said. “This question was on Europeans’ fear [It. la paura europea ] of those coming from Syria or Iraq: do these people not threaten the Christian culture of Europe?” In his largely off-the-cuff response, Pope Francis said, “Migrations are not a danger, but a challenge to grow.” Pope Francis also responded to questions of European identity, of the special identity, character, and mission of the city of Rome – and of the duty of the students to the city – as well as of the need for a creative response to overcome a culture of violence, and the need to transform the global culture and become workers of intellectual charity in order to contribute to a constructive renewal of society. The Pope said that “unity without differences” is one of the great threats in our day. “There is a risk of globalization,” he said, “that fosters uniformity,” and our culture of instant communication and constant connectedness does not allow for thoughtful consideration and could strangle profound dialogue if we are not careful to cultivate a more considerate pace and sensitivity. Pope Francis also spoke of  the need for young people to cultivate the virtue of hope, the threats against which are many, including joblessness, the blandishments of a culture of hedonism, and the warped sense of religion that can fill the void left when concrete reasons for to hope in a better future appear to be wanting. “The bitterness of [some young persons’] hearts,” Pope Francis said, “leads to addictions,” or even to suicide. “This lack of work leads to [some of them] to go elsewhere and enlist in a terrorist army,” he said, speculating that perhaps young people who make such a decision think, “at least that way I have something to do and [thus] I give meaning to my life.” “Terrible,” Pope Francis said, “terrible.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 3 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to hundreds of faith and community leaders taking part in a regional meeting of popular movements in Modesto, California, in the United States. The encounter, taking place from February 16th to 18th, has been organised with the support of the Vatican’s new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, the U.S. Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the National Network of People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO). Philippa Hitchen reports:  We must become good neighbours to any person in need. That was Pope Francis’ message to the leaders of popular movements that are working for structural changes in society to promote greater social, economic and racial justice. Reflecting on the current global crisis, driven by what he called the “invisible tyranny of money”, the Pope said we must find opportunities to respond with compassion to those suffering most from the violence, corruption and injustice in our societies. The god of money leaves people by the wayside Speaking of the parable of the Good Samaritan, Pope Francis said  an economic system that has the god of money at its center can act with the same brutality as the robbers in that story. While we try to ignore the injuries it causes, he said, the suffering is televised live yet “nothing is done systematically to heal the wounds or to confront the structures that leave so many brothers and sisters by the wayside” Shifting blame for society's ills But Pope Francis told the leaders of grassroots organizations that “the system’s gangrene cannot be whitewashed forever because sooner or later the stench becomes too strong”. When it can no longer be denied, he said, the same power that spawned this state of affairs sets about manipulating peoples’ fear, insecurity and indignation in order to shift the responsibility onto a “non-neighbour” who can be blamed for society’s ills. Follow the example of the Good Samaritan We must follow the examples of the Samaritan and the innkeeper, the Pope said, by providing practical support for those suffering in body and spirit. He urged the popular movements to persevere in combatting the ecological crisis and in standing alongside migrants or those who are branded as criminals or terrorists. No people is criminal, no religion is terrorist No people is criminal and no religion is terrorist, he insisted, adding that there are fundamentalists and violent individuals in all peoples and religions. With intolerant generalisations, he said, they become stronger, feeding on hate and xenophobia, but by confronting terror with love, we work for peace.  Please find below the full English language text of Pope Francis’ message : Dear Brothers and Sisters,             First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your effort in replicating on a national level the work being developed in the World Meetings of Popular Movements. By way of this letter, I want to encourage and strengthen each one of you, your organizations, and all who strive with you for “Land, Work and Housing,” the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo. I congratulate you for all that you are doing.             I would like to thank the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, its chairman Bishop David Talley, and the host Bishops Stephen Blaire, Armando Ochoa and Jaime Soto, for the wholehearted support they have offered to this meeting. Thank you, Cardinal Peter Turkson, for your continued support of popular movements from the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. It makes me very happy to see you working together towards social justice! How I wish that such constructive energy would spread to all dioceses, because it builds bridges between peoples and individuals. These are bridges that can overcome the walls of exclusion, indifference, racism, and intolerance.              I would also like to highlight the work done by the PICO National Network and the organizations promoting this meeting. I learned that PICO stands for “People Improving Communities through Organizing”. What a great synthesis of the mission of popular movements: to work locally, side by side with your neighbors, organizing among yourselves, to make your communities thrive.              A few months ago in Rome, we talked at the third World Meeting of Popular Movements about walls and fear, about bridges and love.  Without wanting to repeat myself, these issues do challenge our deepest values.             We know that none of these ills began yesterday. For some time, the crisis of the prevailing paradigm has confronted us. I am speaking of a system that causes enormous suffering to the human family, simultaneously assaulting people’s dignity and our Common Home in order to sustain the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few. “In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history.”               As Christians and all people of good will, it is for us to live and act at this moment. It is “a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse.”  These are signs of the times that we need to recognize in order to act. We have lost valuable time: time when we did not pay enough attention to these processes, time when we did not resolve these destructive realities. Thus the processes of dehumanization accelerate. The direction taken beyond this historic turning-point—the ways in which this worsening crisis gets resolved—will depend on people’s involvement and participation and, largely, on yourselves, the popular movements.              We should be neither paralyzed by fear nor shackled within the conflict. We have to acknowledge the danger but also the opportunity that every crisis brings in order to advance to a successful synthesis. In the Chinese language, which expresses the ancestral wisdom of that great people, the word “crisis” is comprised of two ideograms: Wēi, which represents “danger”, and Jī, which represents “opportunity”.             The grave danger is to disown our neighbors. When we do so, we deny their humanity and our own humanity without realizing it; we deny ourselves, and we deny the most important Commandments of Jesus. Herein lies the danger, the dehumanization. But here we also find an opportunity: that the light of the love of neighbor may illuminate the Earth with its stunning brightness like a lightning bolt in the dark; that it may wake us up and let true humanity burst through with authentic resistance, resilience and persistence.             The question that the lawyer asked Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37) echoes in our ears today: “Who is my neighbor?” Who is that other whom we are to love as we love ourselves? Maybe the questioner expects a comfortable response in order to carry on with his life: “My relatives? My compatriots? My co-religionists? ...” Maybe he wants Jesus to excuse us from the obligation of loving pagans or foreigners who at that time were considered unclean. This man wants a clear rule that allows him to classify others as “neighbor” and “non-neighbor”, as those who can become neighbors and those who cannot become neighbors.            Jesus responds with a parable which features two figures belonging to the elite of the day and a third figure, considered a foreigner, a pagan and unclean: the Samaritan. On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, the priest and the Levite come upon a dying man, whom robbers have attacked, stripped and abandoned. In such situations the Law of the Lord imposes the duty to offer assistance, but both pass by without stopping. They were in a hurry. However, unlike these elite figures, the Samaritan stopped. Why him? As a Samaritan he was looked down upon, no one would have counted on him, and in any case he would have had his own commitments and things to do—yet when he saw the injured man, he did not pass by like the other two who were linked to the Temple, but “he saw him and had compassion on him” (v. 33). The Samaritan acts with true mercy: he binds up the man's wounds, transports him to an inn, personally takes care of him, and provides for his upkeep. All this teaches us that compassion, love, is not a vague sentiment, but rather means taking care of the other to the point of personally paying for him. It means committing oneself to take all the necessary steps so as to “draw near to” the other to the point of identifying with him: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the Lord’s Commandment.                 The economic system that has the god of money at its center, and that sometimes acts with the brutality of the robbers in the parable, inflicts injuries that to a criminal degree have remained neglected. Globalized society frequently looks the other way with the pretence of innocence. Under the guise of what is politically correct or ideologically fashionable, one looks at those who suffer without touching them. But they are televised live; they are talked about in euphemisms and with apparent tolerance, but nothing is done systematically to heal the social wounds or to confront the structures that leave so many brothers and sisters by the wayside. This hypocritical attitude, so different from that of the Samaritan, manifests an absence of true commitment to humanity.             Sooner or later, the moral blindness of this indifference comes to light, like when a mirage dissipates. The wounds are there, they are a reality. The unemployment is real, the violence is real, the corruption is real, the identity crisis is real, the gutting of democracies is real. The system’s gangrene cannot be whitewashed forever because sooner or later the stench becomes too strong; and when it can no longer be denied, the same power that spawned this state of affairs sets about manipulating fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills onto a “non-neighbor”. I am not speaking of anyone in particular, I am speaking of a social and political process that flourishes in many parts of the world and poses a grave danger for humanity.             Jesus teaches us a different path. Do not classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not. You can become neighbor to whomever you meet in need, and you will do so if you have compassion in your heart. That is to say, if you have that capacity to suffer with someone else. You must become a Samaritan. And then also become like the innkeeper at the end of the parable to whom the Samaritan entrusts the person who is suffering. Who is this innkeeper? It is the Church, the Christian community, people of compassion and solidarity, social organizations. It is us, it is you, to whom the Lord Jesus daily entrusts those who are afflicted in body and spirit, so that we can continue pouring out all of his immeasurable mercy and salvation upon them. Here are the roots of the authentic humanity that resists the dehumanization that wears the livery of indifference, hypocrisy, or intolerance.             I know that you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice and share two reflections in this regard.             First, the ecological crisis is real. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”  Science is not the only form of knowledge, it is true. It is also true that science is not necessarily “neutral”—many times it conceals ideological views or economic interests. However, we also know what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of Nature. I make my own everything that concerns us as Catholics. Let us not fall into denial. Time is running out. Let us act. I ask you again—all of you, people of all backgrounds including native people, pastors, political leaders—to defend Creation.             The other is a reflection that I shared at our most recent World Meeting of Popular Movements, and I feel is important to say it again: no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist. Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist. No people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent. “The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence yet, without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and will eventually explode.”  There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia. By confronting terror with love, we work for peace.              I ask you for meekness and resolve to defend these principles. I ask you not to barter them lightly or apply them superficially. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, let us give everything of ourselves: where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, let us sow pardon; where there is discord, let us sow unity; where there is error, let us sow truth.               Please know that I pray for you, that I pray with you, and I ask God our Father to accompany and bless you. May He shower you with his love and protect you. I ask you to please pray for me too, and to carry on. Vatican City, 10 February 2017    (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 6 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Before the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 5:38-48) – one of those pages that expresses best the Christian “revolution” – Jesus shows the way of true justice through the law of love, which surmounts that of retaliation, namely, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This ancient rule imposed inflicting on transgressors punishments equivalent to the damages caused: death to one who killed, amputation to one who wounded someone, and so on. Jesus does not ask His disciples to suffer evil, rather, He asks them to react, but not with another evil, but with goodness. Only thus is the chain of evil broken: an evil leads to another evil, another evil leads to another evil …  This chain of evil is broken, and things truly change. Evil in fact is a “void,” a void of goodness, and it cannot be filled with another void, but only with “fullness,” namely, with goodness. Reprisals never lead to the resolution of conflicts. “You did it to me, I’ll do it to you”: this never resolves a conflict, nor is it Christian.

For Jesus the rejection of violence can also imply giving up a legitimate right; and He gives some examples: to give the other cheek, to give one’s cloak or one’s money, to accept other sacrifices (cf. vv. 39-42). However, this renunciation does not mean that the demands of justice are ignored or contradicted; on the contrary, Christian love, which manifests itself in a special way in mercy, represents a higher realization of justice. What Jesus wants to teach us is the clear distinction we must make between justice and retaliation – to distinguish between justice and retaliation. Retaliation is never just; we are permitted to ask for justice; it is our duty to practice justice. Instead, we are prohibited from vindicating ourselves and from fomenting retaliation in some way, in as much as <it is an> expression of hatred and of violence.

Jesus does not wish to propose a new civil rule, but rather the commandment to love our neighbor, which also includes love of enemies: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (v. 44). And this is not easy. This word is not understood as approval of the evil done by an enemy, but as an invitation in a higher, a magnanimous perspective, similar to that of the heavenly Father, who – Jesus says — “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (v. 45). In fact, an enemy is also a human person, created as such in the image of God, even if at present this image is obfuscated by unworthy conduct.

When we speak of “enemies” we must not think, perhaps, of those persons who are different and distant from us; we speak also of ourselves, who can enter in conflict with our neighbor, at times with our relatives. How many enmities there are in families, how many! Enemies are those also who speak badly of us, who calumniate us and do us wrongs. And it is not easy to digest this. We are called to respond to all of them with goodness, which also has its strategies, inspired by love.

May the Virgin Mary help us to follow Jesus in this demanding way, which truly exalts human dignity and makes us live as children of our Father who is in Heaven. May she help us to practice patience, dialogue, forgiveness, and thus be craftsmen of communion, craftsmen of fraternity in our daily life, especially in our family.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

*

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Unfortunately, news continues to reach us of violent and brutal clashes in the region of Central Kasai of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I feel intensely the grief of the victims, especially for so many children torn from their families and from school to be used as soldiers. Child soldiers are a tragedy. I assure my closeness and prayer, also for the religious and humanitarian personnel who work in that difficult region; and I renew my heartfelt appeal to the conscience and the responsibility of the National Authorities and of the International Community, so that appropriate and timely decisions are taken to help these brothers and sisters of ours.

Let us pray for them and for all peoples suffering also in other parts of the African Continent and of the world due to violence and war. I am thinking, in particular, of the beloved populations of Pakistan and of Iraq, scourged by cruel terrorist acts in past days. Let us pray for the victims, for the wounded and for their relatives. Let us pray ardently that every heart hardened by hatred is converted to peace, in keeping with God’s will. Let us pray for a moment in silence. [Hail Mary …]

I greet you all, families, Associations, parish groups and individual pilgrims from Italy and from various parts of the world.

In particular, I greet the students of Armagh, Ireland, the faithful of the dioceses of Asidonia-Jerez, Cadiz and Ceuta and Madrid in Spain; the Guanellian Youth Movement, the Confirmation candidates of Castelnuovo di Prato and the pilgrims of Modena and Viterbo.

I wish you all a good Sunday – a beautiful day! [he points to the blue sky]. And please, do not forget to pray for me.

Have a good lunch and see you soon!

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

5 hours 19 min

‘Do not be afraid to open yourselves to the encounter with Christ and to deepen your relationship with Him.’

Pope Francis has given this encouragement to Italian university students during his visit this morning to Rome’s ‘Roma Tre’ University, noting that if they do so, their hearts will be full of joy and lives, full with meaning.

These words were in the Pope’s prepared remarks for his visit to the public university to meet with the academic and student community, on the occasion of its 25-year anniversary. Since the Pontiff opted to speak off the cuff, Francis had the prepared discourse distributed to all present.

Upon arrival, Francis was received by the Rector Mario Panizza, the director general Pasquale Basilicata, and the vice-rector, Maria Francesca Renzi. After the welcoming remarks from the university’s rector, the Pope answered questions posed by four students, including a Syrian refugee who was among those Francis brought back with him from the Greek Island of Lesbos.

When the Pope’s improvised remarks are made available, ZENIT will bring you a translation as soon as possible.

Before starting to respond freely, the Pontiff described his prepared text to those gathered as his ‘well-thought’ remarks and recommended they read them later.

Don’t Fear Person Who Gives Joy and Meaning

In the text, the Pope candidly says how giving witness to Jesus can change their lives, filling their hearts with joy and lives with meaning.

“I would like to speak to you person-to-person, and give witness of who I am,” he said. “I profess myself Christian and the transcendence to which I open myself and look at has a name: Jesus.”

“I am convinced that His Gospel is a force of true personal and social renewal. Speaking thus, I do not propose to you illusions or philosophical or ideological theories, nor do I wish to engage in proselytism.”

The Holy Father underlined that he was speaking to them of a Person who came to meet him when he too was a young man, and Who opened horizons for him and changed his life.

“This Person can fill our heart with joy and our life with meaning,” Francis said.

Jesus, the Pope noted, travels with him always.

“He does not disappoint and does not betray. He is always with us. He puts Himself with respect and discretion along our life’s path, above all, He supports us in the hour of loss and defeat, in the moment of weakness and sin, to always put us back on the way.”

This, he said, “is the personal testimony of my life.”

“Do not be afraid to open yourselves to the horizons of the spirit, and if you receive the gift of faith – because faith is a gift – do not be afraid to open yourselves to the encounter with Christ and to deepen your relationship with Him.”

Faith Never Limits, But Always Opens

“Faith never limits the ambit of reason, but opens it to an integral vision of man and of reality, preserving one from the danger of reducing the person to ‘human material,” he said.

Difficulties do not disappear with Jesus, Francis admitted, but, he noted, they are addressed in a different way, without fear, without lying to oneself and to others. Rather, he said, they are addressed with the light and strength that come from Him.

Pope Francis concluded, praying, “May hope be the light that always illumines your study and your commitment,” and invoking upon them his blessing.

* * *

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Prepared Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-prepared-text-to-roma-tre-university-students/

Off-the-Cuff Remarks: to be made available as soon as possible

For articles on the Pope’s off-the-cuff remarks:

On Social Existence: https://zenit.org/articles/social-coexistence-is-accomplished-with-dialogue-says-pope-francis/

On Youth Unemployment: https://zenit.org/articles/youth-unemployment-leads-to-suicides-and-terrorism-warns-the-pope/

 

2 days 2 hours

Time is running out to confront this ecological crisis. We must act. I appeal for Creation to be defended..

And remember, no people are ‘criminal,’ nor religion, ‘terrorists.’ But there are people out there who are fundamentalists…

Pope Francis made these points in his message to the participants of a national meeting of popular movements in Modesto, California. The encounter, Feb. 16-18, was organized with support from Vatican’s new dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, led by Cardinal Peter Turkson, the U.S. Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the National Network of People Improving Communities through Organizing.

In his message, he touched on various themes including the harms of when there are economic abuses, not taking care of the environment, welcoming others as neighbors and not categorizing a people just because of fundamentalism.

Pope Francis began his remarks noting his wish to encourage  them in their efforts to work toward “Land, Work and Housing,” “the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo.”

After some initial greetings and words of gratitude, the Pontiff lamented that for some time, the crisis of the “prevailing paradigm has confronted us.”

“I am speaking of a system that causes enormous suffering to the human family,” he explained, “simultaneously assaulting people’s dignity and our Common Home in order to sustain the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few. “In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history.”

Signs of the Times

As Christians and all people of good will, he noted, it is for us to live and act at this moment.

It is “a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse.”

“These are signs of the times that we need to recognize in order to act,” he said, noting, “We have lost valuable time”

The grave danger is to disown our neighbors. When we do so, we deny their humanity and our own humanity without realizing it; we deny ourselves, and we deny the most important Commandments of Jesus. Herein lies the danger, the dehumanization.

The question that the lawyer asked Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37) echoes in our ears today: “Who is my neighbor.” Posed with this question, Francis recalled that Jesus told us to not classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not.

Time Is Running Out, Can’t Be in Denial

Acknowledging their commitment to fight for social justice, to defend Earth and stand alongside migrants, Francis noted he reaffirms their choice and offered, in this regard, two reflections.

First, he said, “the ecological crisis is real,” noting climate change is a real scientific phenomenon and cannot be ignored.

Noting everyone knows what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of Nature, he urged: “Let us not fall into denial.”

“Time is running out. Let us act,” Francis said, making the following appeal: “I ask you again—all of you, people of all backgrounds including native people, pastors, political leaders—to defend Creation.”

No People, ‘Criminal’ … Nor Religion, ‘Terrorist’ …

The other is a reflection, the Holy Father recalled, he had already shared at the most recent World Meeting of Popular Movements, noting he feels it need be repeated.

“No people is criminal and no religion is terrorist,” he said, adding, “Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist.”

They do not exist, he underscoring, also noting that no people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent.

“There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions— with intolerant generalizations, they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia.”

The Holy Father encouraged the participants to confront terror with love, in order to work for peace, and to be meek and defend these principles.

Pope Francis concluded, quoting Saint Francis of Assisi: “let us give everything of ourselves: where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, let us sow pardon; where there is discord, let us sow unity; where there is error, let us sow truth,” and gave them his blessing.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page;

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-message-to-popular-movements-meeting-in-california/

2 days 3 hours

“Wars begin in our heart,” said Pope Francis, answering off-the-cuff the question of a student of the University Roma Tre, and confirming a concept that he used just yesterday in the morning homily of the Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope’s appeal is to each one of us, so that, moderating our tone and opting for the way of dialogue, we contribute to peace.

“Today, there is talk on the street, at home, one shouts, one also insults with normality; there is also violence in expressing oneself, in speaking. This is a reality we all witness,” affirmed Pope Francis.

What Bergoglio perceives is “an air of violence also in our cities.” He attributes this atmosphere also to frenzy. “The speed of life – its reflection – makes us violent at home and we often forget to say good morning, ‘hello hello, and so on, anonymous greetings.”

See then how violence “ever more anonymous,” even taking away our “name” from us and making it so that our relations are “without a name,” pushes us to greet a person as if he were “a thing.”

If one lets this atmosphere grow, it “becomes global violence,” warns the Pontiff. “No one can deny that we are at war today,” he continued. “And this is a third world war, in pieces, but it exists.” Therefore, he invited to lower our tone somewhat and to “talk less and listen more.”

“There are so many medicines against violence, but first of all the heart, the heart that is able to receive what the other thinks,” he observed. Hence the reference to dialogue that “brings closer, not only brings people closer, it brings hearts closer friendship is accomplished with dialogue, and social friendship is accomplished,” he affirmed.

Francis did not spare a reference to politics, which in his opinion “has lowered itself so much.” In this connection, he added: “When there are electoral campaigns, debates on TV, before the other finishes speaking, there is already an answer: but wait, listen well, then think and answer!” He advises that one “listen well” and “if I don’t understand what you say, ask: ‘what do you mean? I didn’t understand well.’”

Recalling that “social coexistence is accomplished with dialogue” and that “to dialogue it is necessary first to listen,” Francis said: “where there isn’t dialogue, there is violence.”

“We are at war,” he then affirmed a second time. “However, wars don’t begin there, they start in the heart, in our heart. When I’m not capable of opening myself to others, of respecting others, of talking with others, of dialoguing with others, war starts there.”

The Bishop of Rome gave the example of issues regarding families, domestic coexistence. “When there isn’t dialogue, when instead of talking one shouts or when we are at table instead of talking, each one has his mobile phone, he is talking, but with another. That is the seed, the beginning of the war, because there isn’t dialogue. And I believe this is the foundation,” he observed.

In this context, he revealed the importance of the university that ”is the place where one can dialogue, where there is a place for all, one who thinks one way, another who thinks another way.” In fact, — in his words – “a University where one only goes to school, listens to the professor and then goes home, isn’t a university.”

The Pope stressed that it is not necessary to limit oneself “to listening to the wisdom of the professors,” because a university must have the art of dialogue.

2 days 3 hours

How can one think that developed countries have such strong unemployment?” The subject of work could not be lacking among those addressed by Pope Francis this morning, February 17, 2017, in the course of his visit to the University Roma Tre.

Answering the questions of some students, the Pontiff stressed the need to find answers to the question of unemployment, which is increasing especially among the new generations, where even in European countries the number of unemployed or precarious is very high. Francis formulated his thought beginning with the concept of the “liquid society” of the recently deceased philosopher Zygmunt Bauman. “Against liquidity “we must propose “concreteness,” he said.

His thought went immediately to the economy. “What is the drama of the economy today?” he asked. “The liquid economy, which creates a lack of work, unemployment,” he answered.

In this context, he drew on a personal anecdote that gives the figure of the liquid economy. He mentioned an Argentine business friend of his, who saw a colleague of his who did a buy and sell operation directly from the computer, “and in 10 minutes – were the Pope’s off-the-cuff words – he transferred goats from America to the Orient and earned US $10,000, in 10 minutes, all liquid.”

“And when there is liquidity in the economy there is no concrete work,” was his bitter reflection. From whence the question then flowed, which he addressed to the students: “Our dear mother Europe, Europe’s identity, how can we think that developed countries have such strong youth unemployment?

Bergoglio then rattled off some figures linked to unemployment, without wishing to mention the countries to which they refer: 40% of young people 25 years old and under are without work in one country, in another country, 47%, in yet another 50%, in another that is closer almost 60%.”

It is about European countries, he explained. “This liquidity of the economy takes away the concreteness of work and removes the culture of work, because one cannot work, young people don’t know what to do,” he lamented amid the applause.

Francis then said that a youth who doesn’t find work, “exploited two or three days here, two or three days there,” in the end develops “bitterness of heart,” which can lead to tragic choices.

Evoking implicitly the story of the 30-year-old from Friuli who took his life in the past days after having written a note with reflections on the lack of work, they can lead “to suicide.” “Those who know say, — I’m not sure, — that the true statistics of youth suicides aren’t published,” he continued.

But the absence of employment can lead also to other tragic choices. “This lack of work leads me to enroll in a terrorist army and so I’ve something to do or I give meaning to my life: it’s horrible,” lamented the Holy Father.

Finally, the Bishop of Rome described the “market economy” as a “liquid economy.” The assignment he gave to the young people is to transform “liquidity” into “concreteness.” The economy “must be concrete and, to resolve social, economic and cultural problems there must be concreteness, he added.

According to the Pontiff, “these problems must also be addressed by the University, to find solutions to propose to real problems against this liquid culture.” The “key word” today is “concreteness,” he concluded.

2 days 3 hours

Below is the Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ prepared script for his visit to Roma Tre University this morning. This text, described by the Pope as his ‘well-thought’ remarks, was handed out to those present as he decided to speak off the cuff. When the Pope’s improvised remarks are made available, ZENIT will bring you a translation as soon as possible:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Address

Lord Rector, Distinguished Docents, Dear Students and Staff Members,

I thank you for inviting me to visit this University, the youngest of Rome, and I give my warm greeting to you all. I thank the Rector, Professor Mario Panizza, for his words of welcome, and I wish you every good for the work and mission of this Athenaeum. The academic instruction and formation of the new generations is a primary exigency for the life and development of society. I have listened to your questions, for which I am grateful; I read them beforehand and I will seek to give answers taking my experience also into account.

Our society is rich in goods, in actions of solidarity and of love in relations with our neighbor: so many people and so many young people, certainly among you, are committed in volunteer work and in activities at the service of the neediest. And this is one of the greatest values of which to be grateful and proud. However, if we look around us, we see that there are many, too many signs of enmity and violence in the world. As Giulia rightly observed, there are many signs present of “violent action.” I thank you, Giulia, because the Message for this year’s World Day of Peace proposes, in fact, non-violence as style of life and of political action. In fact, we are living a piecemeal world war: there are conflicts in many regions of the planet, which threaten the future of entire generations. How is it that the International Community, with its organizations, is unable to impede or to stop all this? Do economic and strategic interests have more weight than the common interest for peace? These are certainly questions that find a place in Universities’ classrooms, and they resound first of all in our consciences. See: the University is a privileged place in which consciences are formed, in a heated debate between the exigencies of the good, of the true and of the beautiful, and the reality with its contradictions. A concrete example? The arms industry. For decades there has been talk of disarmament, important processes in this connection have even been implemented but, unfortunately, despite all the speeches and commitments, many countries today are increasing their expenses for armaments. And this — in a world that is still fighting against hunger and sicknesses –, is a scandalous contradiction.

In face of this dramatic reality, you rightly ask, “What must be our answer? –certainly not an attitude of discouragement and mistrust. You young people, in particular, cannot permit yourselves to be without hope; hope is part of yourselves. When hope is lacking life in fact is lacking, and then some go in search of a deceitful existence that is offered by merchants of nothing. They sell things that bring momentary and apparent happiness, but in reality they introduce a way without exit, without future, true existential labyrinths. Bombs destroy bodies; drugs destroy minds, souls and also bodies. And here I give you another concrete example of present-day contradiction: the gambling industry. Universities can give a valid contribution of study to prevent and oppose gambling addiction, which causes grave harm to people and families, with high social costs.

An answer that I would like to suggest to you — and I have present Niccolo’s question — is that of committing yourselves, also as a university, in projects of sharing and of service to the least, to have grow in our city of Rome the sense of belonging to a “common homeland.” Many social urgencies and many situations of hardship and poverty interpellate us: we think of persons that live on the street, of migrants, of all those that need not only food and clothes, but insertion in society as, for example, those who come out of prison. By coming to meet these social poverties, we are rendered protagonists of constructive actions which oppose the destructive <actions> of violent conflicts, and which also oppose the culture of hedonism and waste, based on the idols of money, of pleasure, of appearing … Instead, by working with projects, also small ones, which foster encounter and solidarity, a sense of trust is recovered at the same time.

In every environment, especially in that of the University, it is important to read and address this change of epoch with reflection and discernment, that is, without ideological prejudices, without fear or flights. Every change, including the present one, is a passage that brings with it difficulties, toil and sufferings, but it also brings new horizons of goodness. Great changes call for re-thinking our economic, cultural and social models, to recover the central value of the human person. In the third question, Riccardo made reference to the “information that in a globalized world is spread especially by the social networks. In this very complex ambit, it seems to me necessary to engage in healthy discernment, on the basis of ethical and spiritual criteria. It is necessary, that is, to question oneself on what is good, making reference to values proper of a vision of man and of the world, a vision of the person in all his dimensions, especially in the transcendent.

And, speaking of transcendence, I would like to speak to you as person-to-person, and give witness of who I am. I profess myself Christian and the transcendence to which I open myself and look at has a name: Jesus. I am convinced that His Gospel is a force of true personal and social renewal. Speaking thus, I do not propose to you illusions or philosophical or ideological theories, nor do I wish to engage in proselytism. I am speaking to you of a Person who came to meet me when I was more or less your age, who opened horizons for me and changed my life. This Person can fill our heart with joy and our life with meaning.  He is my fellow traveller; He does not disappoint and does not betray. He is always with us. He puts Himself with respect and discretion along our life’s path, above all, He supports us in the hour of loss and defeat, in the moment of weakness and sin, to always put us back on the way. This is the personal testimony of my life.

Do not be afraid to open yourselves to the horizons of the spirit, and if you receive the gift of faith – because faith is a gift – do not be afraid to open yourselves to the encounter with Christ and to deepen your relationship with Him. Faith never limits the ambit of reason, but opens it to an integral vision of man and of reality, preserving one from the danger of reducing the person to “human material.” Difficulties do not disappear with Jesus, but they are addressed in a different way, without fear, without lying to oneself and to others; they are addressed with the light and strength that come from Him. And, as Riccardo said, you can become “operators of intellectual charity,” starting with the University itself, so that it is a place of formation to “wisdom” in the fullest sense of the term, of the integral education of the person. In this perspective the University offers its peculiar and indispensable contribution to the renewal of society.

And the university can also be a place in which the culture of encounter and the reception of people of different cultural and religious traditions is elaborated. Nour, who comes from Syria, made reference to the “fear” of the Westerner in relations with a foreigner in as much as it might “threaten Europe’s Christian culture.” Apart from the fact that the first threat to Europe’s Christian culture comes, in fact, from within Europe, the closing of oneself in oneself or in one’s culture is never the way to give back hope and to bring about a social and cultural renewal. A culture is consolidated in openness to and encounter with other cultures, so that it has a clear and mature awareness of its own principles and values. Therefore, I encourage docents and students to live the University as an environment of true dialogue, which does not level the differences or exasperate them, but is open to constructive confrontation. We are called to understand and appreciate the other’s values, overcoming the temptations of indifference and of fear. Do not be afraid of encounter, of dialogue, of confrontation.

While you carry forward your course of teaching and study in the university, try to ask yourselves: is my forma mentis becoming more individualistic or more supportive? If it is more supportive, it is a good sign, because you will go against the current but in the only direction that has a future and that gives future. Solidarity, not proclaimed in words but lived concretely, generates peace and hope for every country and for the whole world. And you, by the fact of working and studying in the University, have the responsibility to leave a good mark in history.

I thank you from my heart for this meeting and for your attention. May hope be the light that always illumines your study and your commitment. I invoke upon each one of you and upon your families the Lord’s blessing.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

2 days 5 hours

Roman Rite

Lv 19, 1-2.17-18; Ps 103; 1 Cor 3.16 to 23; Mt 5.38 to 48

Ambrosian Rite

Bar 1,15a; 2, 9-15a; Ps 105; Rm 7,16a; Jn 8.1 to 11

Next to last Sunday after Epiphany, called “Sunday of the divine mercy”

1) Perfection is to accept love.

In this Sunday’s readings there are two sentences that have particularly impressed me: “Be holy, for I the Lord your God, am holy (Lev 19: 2 – 1st reading) and” Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect “(Mt 5, 48 – Gospel). They give rise to the following questions:” What are then the holiness to which God in the book of Leviticus drives us and the perfection to which Jesus calls us? Who can become perfect as God the Father? “

The phrase of Christ reported by St. Luke “Be merciful as your Father” (Lk 6, 36) can help with the answer. Combining this sentence to the one mentioned by St. Matthew: “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5, 48) we can say in the first place that the perfection of God is his mercy. Then, we can be perfect if we live mercy. “Goodness and perfection are rooted on mercy” (Pope Francis). With the Pope we can say that the perfection of man is the conquest of mercy, and mercy is the synthesis of the happy and good news brought by the Redeemer.

Secondly, we can say that our perfection is to live humbly as children of God by putting in practice His will that gives us clear directions: the commandments. St Cyprian wrote that “To the fatherhood of God must match a behavior as children of God, so that God may be glorified and praised by the good conduct of man “(De zelo et livore, 15: CCL 3a, 83).

Thirdly, it must be remembered that Christ does not ask us perfection in the observance of legal codes and regulations. He want us perfect, of course, but in love.

Let me explain it by taking an episode of the life of St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus. At a certain point of her life, this holy nun wondered how in heaven we will all be fully and perfectly happy, having reached different degrees of holiness. Then, little Teresa had this illumination: “Let’s imagine that heaven is like a beautiful field full of flowers of all kinds, from the biggest to the smallest, from roses to daisies, from lilies to cyclamens. The morning dew fills the various flowers according to their size. None of them is fuller than the other. Everyone is full, perfect of love and joy and is not, therefore, jealous of the one that is bigger. “

We cannot be holy like, for example, Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus,  St. Benedict, St. Francis, Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, or Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Surely we will be much less, but this is not what counts.  What counts is the fact that we allow our hearts – as small as a daisy or as large as a lily- to be filled by the love of God.

To be perfect in holiness means to believe in Love, expanding our hearts so that they will accept God.

Let us open ourselves to God’s love. Ultimately, holiness, even if it is our response to God, is a gift from God. We must open ourselves to Him in faith and receive His love.

2) The sanctity of the beatitudes.

Someone might argue that this holiness of love, as welcome of Love, is too easy. It is not easier than the one acquired by Saint Mary Magdalene, the public sinner. This woman fell at the feet of Christ, and, when she got up, she obtained his eulogy: “Her many sins are forgiven, for she loved much” (Lk 7, 47). What does it mean “she loved much”? What had she done? She had believed in the Love, she has done nothing else. All her sins had not stopped her in the love that she threw at the feet of Christ. She had believed and had open herself to receive the gift of divine love that filled her.

The history of every Christian is the one of a love fulfilled always and, at the same time, open to new horizons because God continually stretches the possibilities of the soul so to make it capable of ever greater goods. God himself, who has sown in us the seeds of good, and from whom every initiative of holiness starts, “models the block … and, polishing and cleansing our spirit, forms Christ within us” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, In Psalmos 2:11: PG 44,544B).

This love is put into practice by those who live the Beatitudes. It is, in fact, significant that St. Matthew relates the expressions of Jesus “Be perfect just as perfect is your Father who is in heaven” at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes and promulgated the code of the new law of love.

It is not a coincidence that Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, after declaring the Beatitudes. Without the spirit and practice of the Beatitudes we cannot be salt and light that the world, engulfed in the darkness of the new paganism, desperately needs.

In a society dominated by hatred and violence and torn apart by divisions and conflicts, to announce heroic love for the enemies and prayer for the persecutors means to bring about a true revolution needed by the society of all times and all places. It is the revolution of love, which has its source and its model in the infinite and humble love of the Heavenly Father.

The indication of the Redeemer is clear: to imitate our heavenly Father we must live in the spirit of the Beatitudes and open up completely to the love of the Father, ” who makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust“(Mt 5, 45). Indeed, how can we claim to want to imitate the Father who loves, gives and forgives, if we remain inside the shell of our selfishness, ephemeral slaves of the goods of the world, with a heart close to the needs and suffering of the brothers?

The call to be perfect like the Father is not a request to climb the top of a high mountain. We are not asked to be strong and experienced climbers of the Spirit, as were the saints already canonized by the Church. God’s perfection is the goal for all the disciples of Jesus and for all Christians who want to bear much fruit, and thus give glory to our Heavenly Father (Jn 15: 8).

The grandeur or divine perfection is on a human scale, because it is the greatness of humility. “God, humble, lowers himself: he come to us and lowers himself” (Pope Francis). From heaven to earth. The Son of God lowers himself into the cave of Bethlehem and on the Cross of Jerusalem, passing through the kneeling before the apostles to wash their feet. The humility of Christ, Son of God, is an offer to Love. It is a humility whose source and center is the divine heart. As taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote profound things on God’s humility, “God is really the source, the center and the heart of humility. In Him there is no selfishness. He is all momentum towards the Other: from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father in unity with the Holy Spirit “(Father Maurice Zundel). This mutual donation is communicated to us and makes us “perfect” if we humbly give to Him not only what we have but what we are. God lowers himself on our fragility and saves it with his tenderness.

If we were really convinced that God “believes” in us, we would believe in Him. If we were conscious of being loved by Him tenderly and without limits, we would reply to His love, and we would make our lives a total gift to him in humility, peace, truth, and joy.

A significant way of totally responding to God, offering themselves to Him, is the one of the consecrated Virgins in the world. With the rite of consecration and then, with their daily life lived humbly and tenderly in Him, these women testify that the fact of belonging to God does not limit freedom. A life lived in loving dialogue with Him is a life in freedom that the truth of Love makes effective. The lust of the flesh and of the eyes, and the pride of life are transformed into purity of heart and look to Christ, who – on the cross – hold his arms always open with tenderness and humility. These consecrated women testify that consecrated life is a life of perfection and a sign for all Christians as Cardinal Newman teaches: “It is the opinion of many saints that if we want to be perfect, all we must do is to fulfill our daily duties. It is a short path that leads to perfection; short, not because it is easy, but because everyone can follow it…

On the essence of perfection it is easier to have vague ideas, ideas that can help us to talk about it, when we have no intention to work towards them resolutely. But when we really want perfection, and we try to reach it, then only what is clear and palpable can give satisfactory results since it offers a kind of practical indication that is a way to get there…

It is perfect the one who does rightly his daily actions; to achieve perfection we need not to go beyond this limit.

If you ask me what you need to do to be perfect, I will answer this: do not stay in bed after the time of rising; target your first thoughts to God; make a brief visit to the Blessed Sacrament; pray well the Rosary; collect your thoughts; send away the evil thoughts; do with devotion the evening meditation; examine your conscience every day. Do this and you will be perfect “(Card. John-Henri Newman). These are simple gestures that make our “prayer the outpouring of our heart into God’s heart” (Saint Pius) and our actions, small or large, a manifestation of mercy towards all.

Patristic reading

Saint Augustine of Hippo

on Mt 5,38-42

  1. Hence the Lord goes on to say: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil;165 but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat [tunic, undergarment], let him have thy cloak166 also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee,167 and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” It is the lesser righteousness of the Pharisees not to go beyond measure in revenge, that no one should give back more than he has received: and this is a great step. For it is not easy to find any one who, when he has received a blow, wishes merely to return the blow; and who, on hearing one word from a man who reviles him, is content to return only one, and that just an equivalent; but he avenges it more immoderately, either under the disturbing influence of anger, or because he thinks it just, that he who first inflicted injury should suffer more severe injury than he suffered who had not inflicted injury. Such a spirit was in great measure restrained by the law, where it was written, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;” by which expressions a certain measure is intended, so that the vengeance should not exceed the injury. And this is the beginning of peace: but perfect peace is to have no wish at all for such vengeance.
  1. Hence, between that first course which goes beyond the law, that a greater evil should be inflicted in return for a lesser, and this to which the Lord has given expression for the purpose of perfecting the disciples, that no evil at all should be inflicted in return for evil, a middle course holds a certain place, viz. that as much be paid back as has been received; by means of which enactment the transition is made from the highest discord to the highest concord, according to the distribution of times. See, therefore, at how great a distance any one who is the first to do harm to another, with the desire of injuring and hurting him, stands from him who, even when injured, does not pay back the injury. That man, however, who is not the first to do harm to any one, but who yet, when injured, inflicts a greater injury in return, either in will or in deed, has so far withdrawn himself from the highest injustice, and made so far an advance to the highest righteousness; but still he does not yet hold by what the law given by Moses commanded. And therefore he who pays back just as much as he has received already forgives something: for the party who injures does not deserve merely as much punishment as the man who was injured by him has innocently suffered. And accordingly this incomplete, by no means severe, but [rather] merciful justice, is carried to perfection by Him who came to fulfil the law, not to destroy it. Hence there are still two intervening steps which He has left to be understood, while He has chosen rather to speak of the very highest development of mercy. For there is still what one may do who does not come fully up to that magnitude of the precept which belongs to the kingdom of heaven; acting in such a way that he does not pay back as much, but less; as, for instance, one blow instead of two, or that he cuts off an ear for an eye that has been plucked out. He who, rising above this, pays back nothing at all, approaches the Lord’s precept, but yet he does not reach it. For still it seems to the Lord not enough, if, for the evil which you may have received, you should inflict no evil in return, unless you be prepared to receive even more. And therefore He does not say, “But I say unto you,” that you are not to return evil for evil; although even this would be a great precept: but He says, “that ye resist not evil;”168 so that not only are you not to pay back what may have been inflicted on you, but you are not even to resist other inflictions. For this is what He also goes on to explain: “But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also:” for He does not say, If any man smite thee, do not wish to smite him; but, Offer thyself further to him if he should go on to smite thee. As regards compassion, they feel it most who minister to those whom they greatly love as if they were their children, or some very dear friends in sickness, or little children, or insane persons, at whose hands they often endure many things; and if their welfare demand it, they even show themselves ready to endure more, until the weakness either of age or of disease pass away. And so, as regards those whom the Lord, the Physician of souls, was instructing to take care of their neighbours, what else could He teach them, than that they endure quietly the infirmities of those whose welfare they wish to consult? For all wickedness arises from infirmity169 of mind: because nothing is more harmless than the man who is perfect in virtue.
  1. But it may be asked what the right cheek means. For this is the reading we find in the Greek copies, which are most worthy of confidence; though many Latin ones have only the word “cheek,” without the addition of “right.” Now the face is that by which any one is recognised; and we read in the apostle’s writings, “For ye suffer,170 if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face:” then immediately he adds, “I speak as concerning reproach;”171 so that he explains what striking on the face is, viz. to be contemned and despised. Nor is this indeed said by the apostle for this reason, that they should not bear with those parties; but that they should bear with himself rather, who so loved them, that he was willing that he himself should be spent for them.172 But since the face cannot be called right and left, and yet there may be a worth according to the estimate of God and according to the estimate of this world, it is so distributed as it were into the right and left cheek that whatever disciple of Christ might have to bear reproach for being a Christian, he should be much more ready to bear reproach in himself, if he possesses any of the honours of this world. Thus this same apostle, if he had kept silence respecting the dignity which he had in the world, when men were persecuting in him the Christian name, would not have presented the other cheek to those that were smiting the right one. For when he said, I am a Roman citizen,173 he was not unprepared to submit to be despised, in that which he reckoned as least, by those who had despised in him so precious and life-giving a name. For did he at all the less on that account afterwards submit to the chains, which it was not lawful to put on Roman citizens, or did lie wish to accuse any one of this injury? And if any spared him on account of the name of Roman citizenship, yet he did not on that account refrain from offering an object they might strike at, since he wished by his patience to cure of so great perversity those whom he saw honouring in him what belonged to the left members rather than the right. For that point only is to be attended to, in what spirit he did everything, how benevolently and mildly he acted toward those from whom he was suffering such things. For when he was smitten with the hand by order of the high priest, what he seemed to say contumeliously when he affirms, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall,” sounds like an insult to those who do not understand it; but to those who do, it is a prophecy. For a whited wall is hypocrisy, i.e. pretence holding forth the sacerdotal dignity before itself, and under this name, as under a white covering, concealing an inner and as it were sordid baseness. For what belonged to humility he wonderfully preserved, when, on its being said to him, “Revilest thou the high priest?”174 he replied, “I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, Thou shall not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.”175 And here he showed with what calmness he had spoken that which he seemed to have spoken in anger, because he answered so quickly and so mildly, which cannot be done by those who are indignant and thrown into confusion. And in that very statement he spoke the truth to those who understood him, “I wist not that he was the high priest:”176 as if he said, I know another High Priest, for whose name I bear such things, whom it is not lawful to revile, and whom ye revile, since in me it is nothing else but His name that ye hate. Thus, therefore, it is necessary for one not to boast of such things in a hypocritical way, but to be prepared in the heart itself for all things, so that he can sing that prophetic word, “My heart is prepared,177 O God, my heart is prepared.” For many have learned how to offer the other cheek, but do not know how to love him by whom they are struck. But in truth, the Lord Himself, who certainly was the first to fulfil the precepts which He taught, did not offer the other cheek to the servant of the high priest when smiting Him thereon; but, so far from that, said, “If I have spoken evil, hear witness of the evil;178 but if well, why smitest thou me?”179 Yet was He not on that account unprepared in heart, for the salvation of all, not merely to be smitten on the other cheek, but even to have His whole body crucified.
  1. Hence also what follows, “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak180 also,” is rightly understood as a precept having reference to the preparation of heart, not to a vain show of outward deed. But what is said with respect to the coat and cloak is to be carried out not merely in such things, but in the case of everything which on any ground of right we speak of as being ours for time. For if this command is given with respect to what is necessary, how much more does it become us to contemn what is superfluous! But still, those things which I have called ours are to be included in that category under which the Lord Himself gives the precept, when He says, “If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat.” Let all these things therefore be understood for which we may be sued at the law, so that the right to them may pass from us to him who sues, or for whom he sues; such, for instance, as clothing, a house, an estate, a beast of burden, and in general all kinds of property. But whether it is to be understood of slaves also is a great question. For a Christian ought not to possess a slave in the same way as a horse or money: although it may happen that a horse is valued at a greater price than a slave, and some article of gold or silver at much more. But with respect to that slave, if he is being educated and ruled by time as his master, in a way more upright, and more honourable, and more conducing to the fear of God, than can be done by him who desires to take him away, I do not know whether any one would dare to say that he ought to be despised like a garment. For a man ought to love a fellow-man as himself, inasmuch as he is commanded by the Lord of all (as is shown by what follows) even to love his enemies.

 

2 days 6 hours

Below is the Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ message to the participants of a national meeting of popular movements in Modesto, California. The encounter, Feb. 16-18, was organized with support from Vatican’s new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development and the U.S. Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the National Network of People Improving Communities through Organizing.

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your effort in replicating on a national level the work being developed in the World Meetings of Popular Movements. By way of this letter, I want to encourage and strengthen each one of you, your organizations, and all who strive with you for “Land, Work and Housing,” the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo. I congratulate you for all that you are doing.

I would like to thank the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, its chairman Bishop David Talley, and the host Bishops Stephen Blaire, Armando Ochoa and Jaime Soto, for the wholehearted support they have offered to this meeting. Thank you, Cardinal Peter Turkson, for your continued support of popular movements from the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. It makes me very happy to see you working together towards social justice! How I wish that such constructive energy would spread to all dioceses, because it builds bridges between peoples and individuals. These are bridges that can overcome the walls of exclusion, indifference, racism, and intolerance.

I would also like to highlight the work done by the PICO National Network and the organizations promoting this meeting. I learned that PICO stands for “People Improving Communities through Organizing”. What a great synthesis of the mission of popular movements: to work locally, side by side with your neighbors, organizing among yourselves, to make your communities thrive.

A few months ago in Rome, we talked at the third World Meeting of Popular Movements about walls and fear, about bridges and love.[1] Without wanting to repeat myself, these issues do challenge our deepest values.

We know that none of these ills began yesterday. For some time, the crisis of the prevailing paradigm has confronted us. I am speaking of a system that causes enormous suffering to the human family, simultaneously assaulting people’s dignity and our Common Home in order to sustain the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few. “In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history.”[2]

As Christians and all people of good will, it is for us to live and act at this moment. It is “a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse.”[3] These are signs of the times that we need to recognize in order to act. We have lost valuable time: time when we did not pay enough attention to these processes, time when we did not resolve these destructive realities. Thus the processes of dehumanization accelerate. The direction taken beyond this historic turning-point —the ways in which this worsening crisis gets resolved—will depend on people’s involvement and participation and, largely, on yourselves, the popular movements.

We should be neither paralyzed by fear nor shackled within the conflict. We have to acknowledge the danger but also the opportunity that every crisis brings in order to advance to a successful synthesis. In the Chinese language, which expresses the ancestral wisdom of that great people, the word “crisis” is comprised of two ideograms: Wēi, which represents “danger”, and , which represents “opportunity”.

The grave danger is to disown our neighbors. When we do so, we deny their humanity and our own humanity without realizing it; we deny ourselves, and we deny the most important Commandments of Jesus. Herein lies the danger, the dehumanization. But here we also find an opportunity: that the light of the love of neighbor may illuminate the Earth with its stunning brightness like a lightning bolt in the dark; that it may wake us up and let true humanity burst through with authentic resistance, resilience and persistence.

The question that the lawyer asked Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37) echoes in our ears today: “Who is my neighbor?” Who is that other whom we are to love as we love ourselves? Maybe the questioner expects a comfortable response in order to carry on with his life: “My relatives? My compatriots? My co-religionists? …” Maybe he wants Jesus to excuse us from the obligation of loving pagans or foreigners who at that time were considered unclean. This man wants a clear rule that allows him to classify others as “neighbor” and “non-neighbor”, as those who can become

Jesus responds with a parable which features two figures belonging to the elite of the day and a third figure, considered a foreigner, a pagan and unclean: the Samaritan. On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, the priest and the Levite come upon a dying man, whom robbers have attacked, stripped and abandoned. In such situations the Law of the Lord imposes the duty to offer assistance, but both pass by without stopping. They were in a hurry. However, unlike these elite figures, the Samaritan stopped. Why him? As a Samaritan he was looked down upon, no one would have counted on him, and in any case he would have had his own commitments and things to do—yet when he saw the injured man, he did not pass by like the other two who were linked to the Temple, but “he saw him and had compassion on him” (v. 33). The Samaritan acts with true mercy: he binds up the man’s wounds, transports him to an inn, personally takes care of him, and provides for his upkeep. All this teaches us that compassion, love, is not a vague sentiment, but rather means taking care of the other to the point of personally paying for him. It means committing oneself to take all the necessary steps so as to “draw near to” the other to the point of identifying with him: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the Lord’s Commandment.[5]

The economic system that has the god of money at its center, and that sometimes acts with the brutality of the robbers in the parable, inflicts injuries that to a criminal degree have remained neglected. Globalized society frequently looks the other way with the pretence of innocence. Under the guise of what is politically correct or ideologically fashionable, one looks at those who suffer without touching them. But they are televised live; they are talked about in euphemisms and with apparent tolerance, but nothing is done systematically to heal the social wounds or to confront the structures that leave so many brothers and sisters by the wayside. This hypocritical attitude, so different from that of the Samaritan, manifests an absence of true commitment to humanity.

Sooner or later, the moral blindness of this indifference comes to light, like when a mirage dissipates. The wounds are there, they are a reality. The unemployment is real, the violence is real, the corruption is real, the identity crisis is real, the gutting of democracies is real. The system’s gangrene cannot be whitewashed forever because sooner or later the stench becomes too strong; and when it can no longer be denied, the same power that spawned this state of affairs sets about manipulating fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills onto a “non-neighbor”. I am not speaking of anyone in particular, I am speaking of a social and political process that flourishes in many parts of the world and poses a grave danger for humanity.

Jesus teaches us a different path. Do not classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not. You can become neighbor to whomever you meet in need, and you will do so if you have compassion in your heart. That is to say, if you have that capacity to suffer with someone else. You must become a Samaritan. And then also become like the innkeeper at the end of the parable to whom the Samaritan entrusts the person who is suffering. Who is this innkeeper? It is the Church, the Christian community, people of compassion and solidarity, social organizations. It is us, it is you, to whom the Lord Jesus daily entrusts those who are afflicted in body and spirit, so that we can continue pouring out all of his immeasurable mercy and salvation upon them. Here are the roots of the authentic humanity that resists the dehumanization that wears the livery of indifference, hypocrisy, or intolerance.

I know that you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice and share two reflections in this regard.

First, the ecological crisis is real. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”[6] Science is not the only form of knowledge, it is true. It is also true that science is not necessarily “neutral”—many times it conceals ideological views or economic interests. However, we also know what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of Nature. I make my own everything that concerns us as Catholics. Let us not fall into denial. Time is running out. Let us act. I ask you again—all of you, people of all backgrounds including native people, pastors, political leaders—to defend Creation.

The other is a reflection that I shared at our most recent World Meeting of Popular Movements, and I feel is important to say it again: no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist. Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist. No people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent. “The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence yet, without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and will eventually explode.”[7] There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia. By confronting terror with love, we work for peace.

I ask you for meekness and resolve to defend these principles. I ask you not to barter them lightly or apply them superficially. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, let us give everything of ourselves: where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, let us sow pardon; where there is discord, let us sow unity; where there is error, let us sow truth.[8]

Please know that I pray for you, that I pray with you, and I ask God our Father to accompany and bless you. May He shower you with his love and protect you. I ask you to please pray for me too, and to carry on.

Vatican City, 10 February 2017

FRANCIS

_________________

[1] Address to the 3rd World Meeting of Popular Movements, Paul VI Audience Hall, 5 November 2016. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/november/documents/papa-francesco_20161105_movimenti-popolari.html
[2] Evangelii Gaudium §52
[3] Ibid. §51
[4] Cf. General Audience, 27 April 2016. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2016/documents/papa-francesco_20160427_udienza-generale.html
[5] Ibid.
[6] Laudato Si’ §23
[7] Evangelii Gaudium §59
[8] Cf. St Francis of Assisi, Peace Prayer.

[00247-EN.01] [Original text: English]
2 days 6 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Live Catholic Headlines
Posted
Vatican City, Feb 19, 2017 / 07:09 am (EWTN News/CNA).- After leading the Angelus Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by violence and war around the world, particularly the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Iraq, asking pilgrims to offer a moment of silence before leading them in praying the 'Hail Mary.' 5 hours 51 min
Washington D.C., Feb 19, 2017 / 06:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Domestic violence is a hidden epidemic that many clergy and laypersons are not properly trained to fight, says one priest who runs the country's largest parish-based ministry to counter the problem. 6 hours 58 min
Washington D.C., Feb 19, 2017 / 05:03 am (EWTN News/CNA).- A Washington florist fined for not serving a same-sex wedding out of conscience says the state's supreme court "violated" her freedoms by ruling against her on Thursday. 7 hours 57 min
Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2017 / 06:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong expressed serious concerns about a possible agreement between the Vatican and China on the appointing of bishops. 1 day 6 hours
Richmond, Va., Feb 18, 2017 / 05:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Virginia could become the third state to officially recognize the harmful effects of pornography. 1 day 7 hours
Vatican City, Feb 18, 2017 / 01:52 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Christian mission today means facing new challenges with simplicity, holiness, and openness to God, Pope Francis told an audience with the Marian Fathers on Saturday. 1 day 11 hours
Vatican City, Feb 17, 2017 / 10:20 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Friday Pope Francis paid a visit to Rome's "Roma Tre" university, stressing to students the importance of dialogue, listening and integration in putting an end to the fear that can at times be generated in the face of welcoming new migrants.  2 days 2 hours
Rome, Italy, Feb 17, 2017 / 08:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The Catholic Church puts a lot of effort into having excellent schools and hospitals, but what about its orphanages? For Caroline Boudreaux, conditions in orphanages are too often overlooked – something we all have the ability and opportunity to help change. 2 days 4 hours
Stockton, Calif., Feb 17, 2017 / 07:12 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis on Friday sent a message of encouragement to the hundreds of religious and community leaders participating in a meeting of popular movements being held this week in California. 2 days 5 hours
Vatican City, Feb 17, 2017 / 06:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Nur Essa, a Muslim Syrian woman whose family was brought to Rome from Lesbos by Pope Francis last April, said that the openness he has shown to those of different faiths has deeply impressed her. 2 days 6 hours
Rome, Italy, Feb 17, 2017 / 05:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- While many in different sectors of the Church are pulling out their hair trying to resolve the Amoris Laetitia communion debate, Papua New Guinea's new cardinal said his country has a much more immediate problem. 2 days 7 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 17, 2017 / 04:38 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The theologian, philosopher and Catholic commentator Michael Novak died Friday, drawing remembrances for his insights and influence on religion in public life. 2 days 8 hours
Vatican City, Feb 17, 2017 / 03:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis received a delegation from the Special Olympics on Thursday, reflecting on the power of the event to spread joy and hope. 2 days 9 hours
Rome, Italy, Feb 17, 2017 / 02:08 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis will visit All Saints Anglican Church in Rome Feb. 26 to mark the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Anglican parish community in the heart of the Eternal City. 2 days 10 hours
Hyderabad, Pakistan, Feb 17, 2017 / 01:46 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pakistanis are mourning those killed and wounded in a series of terrorist attacks which have taken place this week in the country, including one on a Sufi shrine that left more than 80 people dead. 2 days 11 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Posted
A displaced Iraqi child walks outside tents Dec. 9 at the Hassan Sham  camp near Mosul. As Christians in the Middle East look back on 2016, they wonder if there will be much to celebrate amid mounting challenges, particularly for those displaced by conflicts in Iraq and Syria. (CNS photo/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)A displaced Iraqi child walks outside tents Dec. 9 at the Hassan Sham camp near Mosul. As Christians in the Middle East look back on 2016, they wonder if there will be much to celebrate amid mounting challenges, particularly for those displaced by conflicts in Iraq and Syria. (CNS photo/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As Christians in the Middle East look back on 2016, they wonder if there will be much to celebrate amid mounting challenges, particularly for those displaced by conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

“As much as we are pleased that our homelands from which thousands of Christians were forced to flee from the extremists have been retaken, we are very concerned about what lies ahead,” Father Emanuel Youkhana told Catholic News Service by phone. He referred to Iraq’s Christian towns of Qaraqosh, Batnayeh and Bartella, recently regained by the Iraqi military from Islamic State.

The archimandrite is a member of the Assyrian Church of the East and heads the Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, CAPNI.

Father Youkhana and others have expressed concerns that Iraq’s Christians may once again be caught in the country’s sectarian violence, this time by Shiite Muslims. If this happens, it will impede the Christians’ ability to return home.

Iraq’s majority Shiite population comprises the bulk of the country’s reconstituted national army, and as it liberates areas from extremist Sunni militants, Iraqi Christians have seen worrying Shiite slogans scrawled on places and property that have always been “100 percent Christian,” Father Youkana noted.

The Ninevah Plain, a region rich in oil and the breadbasket of Iraq, has drawn interest from regional and local powers seeking to exert influence there. Christians are challenged by the widespread devastation Islamic State militants have wrought to the area that has been their ancestral homeland for the past 14 centuries.

The trail of death and destruction left by Islamic State was being fully revealed as the militants were flushed out. There were accounts that some Christians were tortured and crucified. Among the militants’ threatening words still visible in red on the wall of a plundered electrical shop: “By God, we will break your cross.”

“The volume of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants throughout the Ninevah Plain is hindering my people from returning to their family properties. Infrastructure, including drinking water and electricity, has been badly damaged, and what can we then say about the paramount need for security,” Father Youkhana said.

He urged the international community to help Christians and other religious minorities to return home after their forced displacement by the Islamic State.

The militants invaded the Ninevah Plain in the summer of 2014, imposing an extremist and violent form of Sunni Islam and forcing tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee for their lives. Many escaped with just the clothes on their backs, losing their homes, property and their livelihoods.

A number of displaced Christians venturing back to Qaraqosh to assess the damage told CNS that they could not live there again unless they get compensation and guarantees of protection from the international community. Houses have been burned, either to create a smokescreen against coalition aircraft bombing Islamic State in support of Iraqi forces, or apparently out of spite, while beloved churches have been violently ransacked.

“It’s worse than we expected,” said teacher Wisam Rafou Poli, trying to exorcise the presence of the militants who occupied his house by emptying its entire contents onto the street to be burned.

“I cried when we entered the house,” his wife Zeena said, comforting their young daughter, who was mourning her favorite doll, found filthy and ripped.

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told CNS he was horrified to see the terrible devastation and what he called “ghost towns” during a visit to northern Iraq in late November.

He celebrated the Eucharist “on an improvised small altar” in the incinerated sanctuary of the vandalized Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh for the few who could attend the liturgy.

“I just wanted to strengthen their faith in the redeemer’s altar and cross, although both were half broken behind us,” the patriarch said. “I reminded them that we Christians are the descendants of martyrs and confessors, with a long history dating back to the evangelization of the apostles.”

Patriarch Younan called for a “stable, law-abiding and strong government” to support the establishment of an eventual self-administrative province in the area under the central government in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, about 5 million Syrians have fled the nearly six-year-old conflict, seeking refuge mainly in Europe. But the European Union tightened its external borders this year, overwhelmed by the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants in 2015.

Pope Francis made a dramatic gesture by taking 12 Syrian refugees back to Rome with him from his visit to Lesbos, Greece, in April to see the conditions and perils experienced by thousands of refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean. The Vatican also assisted other Syrian refugees arriving in Rome in mid-June. While the Vatican is covering the living costs of about 21 refugees, they are being housed and resettled by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic community based in Rome.

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, reported that the number of people fleeing war and persecution have soared four times over the past decade, to 24 people per minute or more than 65 million people forcibly displaced worldwide.

Franciscan Father Francesco Patton, the new custos of the Holy Land, who is provincial minister of the Franciscans in almost all of the Middle East, told CNS in November Christians in Aleppo, Syria, believe the world is unconcerned about their situation.

“They feel often abandoned by the other Christians,” he told CNS. “They feel that many Christians are not interested in their suffering or what they are doing to remain Christian there. Many of them have lost everything. The only thing they haven’t lost is the faith.”

Father Patton warned that Aleppo’s Christian population has sharply declined from 250,000-300,000 to 30,000-40,000 during the Syrian civil war.

The Franciscan friars and other Catholic religious orders and aid agencies have worked tirelessly to help the local communities with food, electricity, water, gas, diesel, restoring houses after bombardments, regardless of their religious background. Father Patton said the Franciscans also try to build the bridges necessary to one day have lasting peace in the region, and it starts with children.

Still despite these challenges, the custos said, “there are many, many signs of hope, but we need eyes to see the signs of hope. If we are blind, we cannot see signs of hope.”

Editors note: For more on the The Plight of Christians in the Middle East, click here

22 hours 16 min

The spirit Olympics took place at Badin High School and here is some of the action!

badinspiritbadintugowarbadinprattbadindaysbadinsrchamps

1 day 7 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Stephanie Keith, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — People had been on edge for a while. You could feel the tension rise in immigrant neighborhoods in the U.S. as news of the first immigration raids under the Trump administration began in early February.

Then news of unusual detentions, some involving battered women and students who had been protected under previous policies, set off panic.

A variety of communities, from the Irish to Latinos, worry that the roundups mark the beginning of what President Donald Trump promised in his campaign for the presidency: to deport the country’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants.

Responding to the fears, Spanish-language television network Telemundo hosted a prime-time show Feb. 12: “Immigration, Trump and Hispanics.” The show featured activists, lawyers, children of deported parents and relatives, along with advice about what to do if government officials come knocking.

The publication IrishCentral almost daily has been posting stories about raids in Latino communities sprinkled with some assurances, but also a few worries about the immigration status of some 50,000 unauthorized Irish immigrants in the U.S.

In a recent post on its website, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns said that of the more than 4 million Filipinos in the U.S., “1 million are undocumented and Philippine officials in Washington D.C. recently reported that more than 300,000 could be facing deportation due to Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.”

Whether the recent raids and detentions are routine or whether they’re part of a new effort is unknown. Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, said the February raids that resulted in more than 680 arrests are “routine.” 

But later, Trump said they were part of a new effort. About 75 percent of those arrested in the raids near Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City, the agency said, had been convicted of crimes, but it did not say who made up the other 25 percent.

Some worry that it included students and women who had previously been protected from deportation through programs such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, and the Violence Against Women Act, which protects victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

In a wide-ranging Feb. 16 news conference after announcing his pick for labor secretary, Trump talked about a “crackdown on sanctuary cities,” said a “nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens” had begun, and that he had ordered an end to the “catch and release policy” that allowed unauthorized immigrants caught by officials to go free while they await a hearing.

He also announced the creation of “a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, of which there are many,” he said.

In attempting to answer a question about the future of some 750,000 DACA beneficiaries who were brought as minors to the U.S. without legal permission, he said, “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me,” and “you have these incredible kids in many cases, not in all cases, in some cases they have DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug dealers, too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids.” He said, “I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do and the law is rough,” but he didn’t say how he would address the situation other than it would be with “heart.”

The announcement came just a day after Catholic bishops whose dioceses are on the U.S.-Mexico border met Feb. 13-15 in Texas in the Diocese of Brownsville. They visited an immigration detention center as well as a church-run facility that helps migrants.

In a statement, the border bishops said they could sense the “pain, the fear and the anguish” migrants are undergoing and asked that they be treated with respect and dignity “regardless of their migration condition.”

All of this came in a week of incidents carrying the narrative that no one is safe from deportation. In Alexandria, Virginia, the pastor of a church denounced actions of ICE agents who arrested in mid-February a group of homeless men leaving a hypothermia shelter his church operates. In Seattle, a 23-year-old with no criminal record and protected by the DACA program was detained Feb. 10.

In early February in Texas, ICE agents showed up to a protection order hearing and arrested a woman who was about to testify against her alleged abuser. Univision Las Vegas reported that immigrants, fearing raids, are afraid to go to church.

The Associated Press reported Feb. 17 that the administration is considering using the National Guard to detain unauthorized immigrants, a charge the White House denied. AP provided documents to back up its claim and at least one governor, Republican Asa Hutchinson from Arkansas, said such activities “would be too much of a strain on the state’s guard.”

ICE reportedly canceled a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as the lawmakers were trying to find answers to the incidents. While all of them involve Latinos, other immigrant groups are expressing on social media anxiety in their communities. Some of it was manifested as Trump spoke of them by those who took to the streets in “A Day Without Immigrants” protests against the immigration measures he has proposed and his promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Restaurants and businesses closed across the country and schoolchildren boycotted classes, but Trump said he was pressing ahead and was in the process of “beginning to build the promised wall on the southern border.” He said it would be a “great wall,” not one “like they have now which is either nonexistent or a joke.”

The Catholic bishops who met along the border, without mentioning Trump or his proposals, said they wanted to build “bridges, rather than the walls of exclusion and exploitation.”

Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, who is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in the Brownsville Diocese, said during a Feb. 15 town hall that those who work along the border had started seeing that something was different. One of the centers that helps migrants had been seeing about 300 to 350 people a day seeking shelter and food after being released by immigration officials. Now they see between 50 and 75 a day, she said.

“It’s unfortunate that this is happening because these families come so eager to find a place that’s safe, where they feel protected, and unfortunately they find themselves in detention facilities where they feel hopeless, not knowing what’s going to happen to them.”

Sister Pimentel, along with Jesuit Father James Martin, participated in the town hall as part of the “Build Bridges, not Walls” campaign sponsored by the Washington-based Faith in Public Life. The campaign is taking place Feb. 17-24 and asks those wishing to support immigrants and refugees to organize prayer events, call their local politicians, attend town halls and educate others about the plight of migrants during the campaign.

Father Martin, who is a book author and editor at large for the Jesuits’ America magazine, spoke of the Holy Family, how they once were refugees, too, and how the Bible throughout calls on Christians to help “the stranger.”

“Jesus says that how we care for the stranger is a kind of a litmus test for whether we get into heaven and he says ‘whatever you did for the least of these, you did to me,'” he said. “That includes the stranger.”

It’s also part of a consistent pro-life ethic, Father Martin said. “If you’re for an unborn child, who’s in the womb of a migrant woman, are you (in support) of that child’s safety and health after that child is born?”

– – –

Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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.

1 day 20 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marc Hofer, EPA

By Jonathan Luxmoore

OXFORD, England (CNS) — Church leaders and organizations in Africa, Europe and the United States said it would be disastrous if U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order telling companies they no longer had to disclose whether their firms use “conflict minerals” from Congo.

Western firms have been accused of working with violent gangs in Congo to obtain minerals used for producing mobile phones, laptops and other consumer objects, and of allowing trade in resources to perpetuate human rights violations.

In the United States, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ International Policy Committee wrote the acting head of the National Security Council urging Trump not to suspend the rules related to Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

“Congolese die every day in the illegal mines and at the hands of the armed groups that destroy communities in order to expel them from potential mining sites,” wrote Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, committee chairman. “The estimated death toll in the Congo is the highest since the end of World War II. The international community, including our own nation, nongovernmental agencies and the church, provides emergency assistance to displaced and traumatized persons and families — assistance that has real financial costs that do not appear on the balance sheets of corporations.”

Bishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Bokungu-Ikela, Congo, told Catholic News Service such a ruling would be “a victory for big mining companies” and would “worsen human suffering.”

“Other Western countries have since adopted more modest regulations, and we fear the consequences if this law is now suspended,” he told Catholic News Service in mid-February.

He said if such an order were signed, Congo’s bishops would work with church organizations in the U.S. and Europe to have it reversed.

The 2012 Securities and Exchange Commission ruling, required by Section 1502, does not prohibit companies from buying such minerals, but was designed to force companies to disclose the chain of custody of such minerals in an effort to keep them from helping armed groups, particularly in Congo.

As with other executive orders signed by Trump, a draft was leaked to the press. The draft called for the SEC ruling to be suspended for two years and for the government to review ways of breaking the connection between armed groups in Congo and the sale of these minerals, often used in high-tech devices, including cellphones.

Bishop Cantu noted that in 2011, Bishop Nicolas Djomo, then president of the Congolese bishops’ conference, visited the United States to argue for strong and effective regulations on conflict minerals. Bishop Cantu said people in Congo saw the U.S. legislation “as a true expression of solidarity with the women, families, and villages who have suffered at the hands of those who destroy their communities to mine their resources.”

Bishop Cantu noted that “more than 70 percent of the world’s smelters and refiners” for minerals such as tungsten, tantalum and tin have passed audits showing they were not supporting armed gangs disrupting the local area. “Trade in these minerals is now significantly less lucrative for armed groups because the price for certified minerals is higher than for illegal, illicit minerals. Thus, the free market is now working to offer the right incentives to encourage safe and legal mining activities.”

Stefan Reinhold, advocacy officer for CIDSE, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies in Europe and North America, said “the trend globally, from China to Europe, has been toward introducing guidelines on conflict minerals. We must hope this encouraging trend continues.”

Anne Lindsay, a private sector analyst at CAFOD, Britain’s Catholic aid agency, told CNS Feb. 16 that such a move would contradict steps “now being implemented in 30 countries around the world.”

“Too often people in countries rich in oil, gas and minerals haven’t seen the benefits of their own natural resources — and it was the U.S. which led the drive to ensure extractive companies had to be more transparent,” Lindsay said.

“The U.S. provisions have sparked the passage of similar transparency laws, regulating use of conflict minerals in global supply chains — and international standards for businesses are here to stay,” she said.

Congress has already passed, and Trump has signed, a two-year suspension of another section of the Dodd-Frank bill, which required oil and gas mining companies to publish what they paid foreign governments in countries in which the companies operated.

Bishop Cantu had urged Congress to reject the legislation.

Opponents of the Dodd-Frank provisions said the disclosure rules cost jobs and put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage, and had worsened, rather than reduced corruption, violence and hunger in the developing world.

Bishop Ambongo Besungu said such claims were theories invented by “big companies out to destroy the law.”

“What the big companies argue isn’t based on any investigations on the ground,” the bishop told CNS. “To say the Dodd-Frank law has set people apart, and pushed them into poverty and famine, is just the version put about by big capitalists at the behest of the mining companies.”

He said research by the Congolese bishops’ Natural Resources Commission at Walikale, in Congo’s North Kivu province, showed extraction of minerals had been “taken over and militarized” by rebel gangs.

– – –

Contributing to this story was Barb Fraze in Washington.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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.

1 day 21 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski

By Dennis Sadowski

MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — Pope Francis congratulated more than 600 representatives of grass-roots organizations for responding with mercy to society’s hurting people during the opening of the four-day U.S. regional World Meeting of Popular Movements.

In a letter to the assembly Feb. 16 read alternately in English and in Spanish, the pope said the work of the organizations and the people involved “make your communities thrive.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, read the pope’s message in English. The letter encouraged wide-scale community organizing because it achieves social justice.

The pope expressed hope that “such constructive energy would spread to all dioceses because it builds bridges between peoples and individuals. These are bridges that can overcome the walls of exclusion, indifference, racism and intolerance.”

The message earned applause at points throughout its delivery, especially when the pope reiterated that “no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist and as he encouraged people to “defend creation” in the face of “disturbing warming of the climatic system.”

“Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist. No people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent,” he said.

He encouraged people to confront terror with love in the interest of peace.

Pope Francis’ interest in promoting the work of grass-roots organizations can be traced to his time as cardinal in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when he often visited priest friends, struggling families and low-paid workers in poor neighborhoods spread across the city. Since 2014, three international World Meetings of Popular Movements have been held — two in Rome and one in Bolivia — to give people working to make life better for marginalized communities.

The pope’s letter also cited the biblical good Samaritan as an example of someone who responded with mercy to a man, robbed and beaten, in dire need of help when others chose to ignore him. He said the Catholic Church along with “the Christian community, people of compassion and solidarity, social organizations” are those whom Jesus entrusts those who are afflicted in body and spirit.”

The work of grass-roots groups coming together is vital to helping people overcome social injuries brought on by an “economic system that has the god of money at its center,” the pope’s letter said.

“Globalized society frequently looks the other way with the pretense of innocence,” the pope wrote. “Under the guise of what is politically correct or ideologically fashionable, one looks at those who suffer without touching them. But they are televised live; they are talked about in euphemisms and with apparent tolerance, but nothing is done systematically to heal the social wounds or to confront the structures that leave so many brothers and sisters by the wayside. This hypocritical attitude, so different from that of the Samaritan, manifests an absence of true commitment to humanity.”

Jesus encouraged people not to “classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not,” Pope Francis continued. “You can become neighbor to whomever you meet in need and you will do so if you have compassion in your heart. That is to say, if you have that capacity to suffer with someone else. You must become a Samaritan.”

Topics related to housing, labor, land and the environment, migration and racism were on the agenda for the meeting sponsored by the dicastery, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the PICO National Network of faith-based organizing groups.

In comments after reading the pope’s letter, Cardinal Turkson commented that the topics were chosen months before the outcome of the U.S. election for president in November. Without mentioning the name of President Donald Trump, he said the gathering was not meant to criticize any particular office holder “and the fact that things happened the way they happened is just a coincidence.”

“Pope Francis wants us to recognize the structure that create exclusion in society,” the cardinal explained.

The pope also wants people to understand that “we are the protagonists of change … that we are actors in this. We are not simply passive objects waiting for things to happen to us.”

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, said while introducing Cardinal Turkson that the gathering would discuss “transforming the world in which we live in light of our faith tradition in God. We are here because we want to be with the poor, the migrant, the workers, the homeless and with those who are excluded.”

As the meeting began, the Rev. Trena Turner, who works alongside her husband at the nondenominational Victory in Praise Church in Stockton and is a leader in the community group Faith in the Valley, told the audience that 25 people who originally planned to attend the meeting decided not to risk traveling to Modesto. She said they feared being arrested and deported under the federal government enforcement efforts against undocumented people.

As she called each person’s first name, the crowd shouted “Presente!” to recognize their participation.

Modesto was chosen for the papal-inspired meeting because of its location in California’s fertile Central Valley, where on a daily basis people confront each of the topics to be addressed at the gathering — land, labor, lodging, racism and migration.

– – –

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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.

1 day 21 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

ROME (CNS) — Addressing the fear of immigrants, dissatisfaction with a “fluid economy” and the impatience and vitriol seen in politics and society, Pope Francis told Rome university students to practice a kind of “intellectual charity” that promotes dialogue and sees value in diversity.

“There are lots of remedies against violence,” but they must start first with one’s heart being open to hearing other people’s opinions and then talking things out with patience, he said in a 45-minute off-the-cuff talk.

“It necessary to tone it down a bit, to talk less and listen more,” he told hundreds of students, staff and their family members and friends during a visit Feb. 17 to Roma Tre University.

Arriving at the university, the pope slowly made his way along a long snaking pathway of metal barricades throughout the campus, smiling, shaking hands and posing for numerous selfies with smiling members of the crowd. When handed a small baby cocooned in a bright red snowsuit for a papal kiss, the pope joked whether the child was attending the university, too.

Seated on a platform facing an open courtyard, the pope listened to questions from four students, including Nour Essa, who was one of the 12 Syrian refugees the pope had brought to Rome on a papal flight from Lesbos, Greece, in 2016.

The pope said he had received the questions beforehand and wrote a prepared text, but he preferred to answer “from the heart” and be “more spontaneous because I like it better that way.”

Asked what “remedy” could counteract the world’s violence and how to live well in such a fast-paced, globalized world of “social networks,” the pope said today’s frenetic pace “makes us violent at home.”

Family members don’t bother saying “good morning” to each other, they absentmindedly say “hi” or eat together in silence, each absorbed with a smartphone, he said.

The faster the pace in life, the more people become “nameless” because no one takes the time to get to know the other, ending up with a situation where “I greet you as if you were an object.”

The tendency to de-personalize others, which starts in one’s own heart, at home and with relationships, “grows and grows and it will become violence worldwide,” he said.

“In a society where politics has sunk very low — and I’m talking about society around the world, not here — one loses the sense” of building up civic life and social harmony, which is done through dialogue.

Pope Francis commented on the way many electoral campaigns and debates feature people interrupting each other. “Wait! Listen carefully to what the other thinks and then respond,” he said, and ask for clarification when the point isn’t understood.

“Where there is no dialogue, there is violence,” he said.

The pope said universities must be places dedicated to this kind of openness, dialogue and respect for a diversity of opinions and ideas.

An institution cannot claim it is offering higher education if there is no “dialogue, discussion, listening, where there is no respect for how others think, where there is no friendship, joy of play,” he said.

People go to university to learn and listen, but not passively, the pope said. It is a place to actively seek the good, the beautiful and the true, as a journey done together over time.

He also critiqued the so-called “fluid economy,” which leads to a lack of stable, “solid” employment.

Networked trades and transactions in which a person can make — like a business friend of his did — $10,000 in 10 minutes trading commodities is an example of this “fluid” economy, he said.

This “liquidity” erases “the culture of work” and everything that is “concrete” about labor “because you cannot work and young people don’t know what to do,” which can lead them to addictions or suicide.

“Or the lack of work leads me to join a terrorist militia. ‘At least I have something to do and have meaning in my life.’ It’s horrible,” he said.

Essa, the 31-year-old Syrian woman, told the pope she, her husband and small boy were living in a refugee camp in Lesbos until “our life changed in one day, thanks to you.” Already possessing degrees from her studies in Syria and France, Essa was finishing a degree in biology at Roma Tre.

She asked the pope to address the fear of immigrants, saying she remembered a journalist on the papal flight a year ago asking about people’s fear of those coming from Syria and Iraq and whether they threatened Europe’s Christian culture.

“How many invasions has Europe had?” during its long history, the pope asked.

Europe has been built upon invasions and movements of peoples, he said. “Migration is not a danger, it is a challenge to grow,” he said.

It is only logical that people migrate to escape from conflict, exploitation, hunger and lack of development, he said.

“Don’t exploit. Don’t be the bullies that go to exploit” these nations already suffering so much, he said.

Asking his audience to reflect on how the Mediterranean Sea has become “a cemetery” with the drownings of so many immigrants, he said those fleeing their homelands first must be seen as one’s own “human brothers and sisters. They are men and women like us.”

Each country must determine how many refugees and migrants it can properly welcome and integrate with structures and resources in place so the newcomers can become contributing members of the community and not isolated or “ghetto-ized.”

While trying to grapple with the way times change, he said, it’s also true some things just stay the same. “If we don’t learn to understand life as it comes, we will never ever learn to live it.”

Life is like being a “goalie” where people have to be alert and ready to grab the ball from whatever direction it comes, Pope Francis said. Today “is a different age, that is coming from somewhere I didn’t expect, but I have to take it, I have to take it as it comes without fear.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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.

1 day 23 hours
One of many helped by CMA donations, Derryck is now Catholic. He converted in prison, thanks to the help of the prison ministry that still helps him today. (Courtesy Photo)One of many helped by CMA donations, Derrick is now Catholic. He converted in prison, thanks to the help of the prison ministry that still helps him today. (Courtesy Photo)

The Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA) is an effort each February and March by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to support critical regional needs — through hospital, prison, and campus ministries as well as Catholic charities and social services. The CMA also benefits evangelization programs, retired priests, and education of seminarians, deacons, and lay ministers. All are local programs. The following vignettes are about people who have benefited from the CMA.

Derrick was a prisoner at Lebanon Correctional Institution who spent a lot of time in solitary confinement during his five-year sentence for vehicular assault. As he walked by the prison chapel one day, he was shocked to see a fellow gang member carrying the crucifix at the beginning of Mass. When Derrick later asked about it, the inmate said Derrick should check out the Catholic classes.

Derrick began taking Catholic instruction, an initiative supported by the CMA. “It was the best thing that could ever happen,” he said. “I think it saved my life.”

Derrick was baptized in prison last Easter, ahead of his release from prison last summer.

Carolyn was in her 60s, had lost her job, was depressed, hungry, and hopeless. Her phone and utilities had been cut off. Being malnourished was making her confused. A neighbor told her about people who could help: Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, a ministry supported by the CMA.
That neighbor “physically brought me here to Catholic Social Services,” Carolyn said. “She said, Get up and get dressed and I’m taking you down there.”

A worker at the Catholic Social Services food pantry told Carolyn, “Let’s get you food first. When you’re hungry, you’re not even thinking straight.” The agency also helped Carolyn get her utilities back and helped her get a job.

“Coming to Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley literally changed my life,” Carolyn said. “It gave me back self-esteem, and hope.”

Father Brian Phelps, associate pastor at Incarnation Church in Centerville, recognizes what the CMA did for him.

“I’m grateful to the donors of the CMA for helping with my formation,” Father Phelps said.

Father Phelps grew up in Cincinnati, went to La Salle High School and the University of Cincinnati, and was teaching and coaching at a high school. But he knew something was missing in his life. He asked God what to do, and soon experienced the calling to become a priest.

He entered Mount St. Mary Seminary, part of The Athenaeum of Ohio, a beneficiary of the CMA. During his seven years there he was able to concentrate on studies and spirituality without worrying about expenses – thanks to your support.

Maria, a member of a Cincinnati parish, has a son with speech apraxia. The disorder is so severe that Nic couldn’t even say “mama” or “dada” by age three.

Maria and her husband heard about a program at St. Rita School for the Deaf. After touring the school, Maria began crying in the parking lot because St. Rita’s seemed perfect for Nic, but the family couldn’t afford tuition. She called the school director right from her car and said it was too expensive for them. Maria was told that help would be found.

It was, including from the CMA. Nic has learned how to sign and to speak.

To donate to the Catholic Ministries Appeal, or for more information, visit CatholicAppeal.info or call 800-686-2724, ext. 2880.

1 day 23 hours
Iraqi Christians pray at Baghdad's Christian Union Evangelical Church Oct. 30. Pope Francis said Nov. 17 that nothing can justify or permit the continued onslaught in the Middle East. (CNS photo/Ali Abbas, EPA) See POPE-GEWARGIS Nov. 17, 2016.Iraqi Christians pray at Baghdad’s Christian Union Evangelical Church Oct. 30. Pope Francis said Nov. 17 that nothing can justify or permit the continued onslaught in the Middle East. (CNS photo/Ali Abbas, EPA) See POPE-GEWARGIS Nov. 17, 2016.

WASHINGTON—The chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committees on Migration, Religious Liberty and International Justice and Peace, along with the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Christians and all those who suffer in the Middle East.

The full statement follows:

A statement from Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace; Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services

Our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East need our solidarity, and the Middle East needs our Christian brothers and sisters. A concern for our Christian brethren is inclusive and does not exclude a concern for all the peoples of the region who suffer violence and persecution, both minorities and majorities, both Muslims and Christians.

A recent USCCB delegation visit to Iraq confirmed once again that what has happened—and continues to happen—to Christians, Yezidis, Shia Muslims, and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, at the hands of the so-called “Islamic State,” is genocide. It is important for Syrians and Iraqis of all faiths to recognize this as genocide, for that recognition is a way to help everyone come to grips with what is happening, and to form future generations that will reject any ideology that leads to genocidal acts and other atrocities. Likewise, a particular focus on minorities is essential to forming communities that respect the rights of all, including members of the majority.

What can our nation do? The United States can:

Accept our nation’s fair share of the most vulnerable families of all religions and ethnicities for resettlement as refugees, including special consideration of the victims of genocide and other atrocities;

Encourage both the central government in Baghdad and the regional government in Erbil to strengthen the rule of law based on equal citizenship and ensure the protection of all, including vulnerable minorities; U.S. assistance should help local and national efforts to improve policing and the judiciary, while encouraging appropriate self-governance at the local level; similar actions will also be needed in Syria; and

Provide generous U.S. humanitarian and development assistance to refugees, displaced persons and communities in Iraq and Syria as they rebuild, including funding for trusted faith-based non-governmental agencies like Catholic Relief Services and local Caritas agencies so that aid reaches all groups, including majority and minority communities.

To focus attention on the plight of Christians and other minorities is not to ignore the suffering of others. Rather, by focusing on the most vulnerable members of society, we strengthen the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all.

Below are several stories regarding the plight of Christians in the Middle-East:

middleeastchristianplightMOSUL, Iraq (CNS) — As some residents of the city of Mosul celebrate their new freedom from the Islamic State group, an Iraqi Christian leader who visited the war-torn city said Christian residents are unlikely to return.

“I don’t see a future for Christians in Mosul,” said Father Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East. The rest of this story can be found here

 

Middleeastchristianplight1AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — After meeting with church leaders in northern Iraq, a U.S. bishop said he will advocate differently for Iraqi religious minorities.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, told Catholic News Service by phone that the Iraqi Catholic clergy do not want to see a safe corridor set up for Christians, as some in Washington have suggested.

Although security is paramount, they prefer to see reconciliation take place, enabling Iraq’s diverse mosaic of religions and ethnicities to live side by side. But that means trust would need to be rebuilt, and that could prove tricky given the regional and local players involved in Iraq’s multilayered sectarian conflict. For more Bishop Oscar Cantu’s observations, click here

middeeastchristianplight2MARKA, Jordan (CNS) — Working with displaced Iraqi Christians has stretched and strengthened the faith of a priest who came to Jordan as a refugee.

Father Khalil Jaar said the Iraqi Christians, who escaped the Islamic State invasion for initial sanctuary in Jordan until they find a permanent home, have become like family for him, with some even living on the compound of his parish, Our Lady Mother of the Church, in this crowded suburb of the Jordanian capital, Amman. For Father Khalil Jaar’s experience, click here

garveyJohn Garvey of the Catholic News Service writes:

We Roman Catholics are accustomed to thinking that the early church moved its headquarters from Jerusalem to Rome like a frog hopping from one lily pad to another. In fact, it moved on the ground, along the trade routes.

The early church grew north toward Damascus (where St. Paul was converted) and Antioch (where St. Peter lived before going to Rome), and east toward Mesopotamia (where St. Thomas the Apostle preached). To learn more about John Garvey’s background on Middle-East Christians, click here

 

DISPLACED IRAQ ISLAMIC STATEA powerful CNS video about a Chaldean priest imprisoned and tortured by ISIS can be found on YouTube by clicking here

Editor’s Note: To keep current on the plight of Christians in the Middle East go to The Catholic Telegraph’s National & World News at http://www.thecatholictelegraph.com/category/national-world-news

 

 

 

1 day 23 hours

Steve TrosleySimon Sinek, a current bright star on the leadership and management scene, has some interesting thoughts on social media. He thinks there’s more wrong with it than right, at the very time the entire world seems to have decided otherwise.

Sinek, who is just a few months older than my youngest children (twins) is an author, speaker, and consultant who writes on leadership and management.

I stumbled across a video of him explaining the problems of managing millennials (born between 1982 and 2004) and he said social media is one of the biggest obstacles to their development. My children, who have children themselves, worry about such things – or they should. He said first, social media is addictive because it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain of the user – that’s the chemical that makes us feel good, often triggered by various drugs, alcohol and even exercise. That’s why when someone posts on Facebook, they can’t seem to keep themselves from returning repeatedly to see if anyone “liked” what they posted. (I plead no contest.)

It starts to make sense why marketers, politicians and even catechists are so excited about the potential of the medium. If connecting via social media makes you feel good and is addictive, you may not notice you’re being sold a bill of goods. The other edge of this sword can cut a good way: If you’re connecting to share posts about the Gospel or something positive happening at say, Catholic Charities, what could be the harm?

Sinek also says using devices like tablets and cell phones isolates us and keeps us from learning how to develop relationships. This is especially important for young people who need experience to find their way in the workplace and in civil society. You don’t have to spend too much time Googling to find literally millions of articles on how the Internet and social media can be harmful. We at the archdiocese and anyone who works in a parish or school who deals with children gets regular training, via the Internet, on how people who abuse the vulnerable – young and old — use social media to get their foot in the door.

Meanwhile, if the election of 2016 taught us anything, it’s that even the mighty stumble using any of these communications tools. We can be like the dolt standing at the busy downtown intersection shouting into his cell phone so he can be heard over traffic, oblivious that his private conversation is being overheard by everyone within 20 feet. If a presumably savvy adult can get in so much trouble with leaked emails or bird-brained Twitter posts, how much more trouble can a kid get into?

My parents had to worry about the influence of James Bond movies, Mad Magazine and my crazy buddy, Fred, but today’s parents also have to worry about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and who knows what else?

Fortunately, we have the saints for guidance. For example, to teach a teen to be careful about what he or she posts online, we can call on St. Ignatius: “Be slow to speak, and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.”

That should be taught every teen-ager. As should this from St. Jerome: “The scars of others should teach us caution.”

There’s this wisdom from St. Augustine: “Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”

And if all else fails, there’s this from St. John Paul II: “Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn’t misuse it.’

1 day 23 hours

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic Church leaders in a Feb. 16 statement said they were encouraged that President Donald Trump may be considering an executive order to protect religious freedom and said they would be grateful if he would move forward with the pledge that his administration would “do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty.”

“As Christians, our goal is to live and serve others as the Gospel asks. President Trump can ensure that we are not forced from the public square,” said the statement from committee chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The statement was jointly issued by: New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The church leaders said an executive order would “implement strong protections for religious freedom across the federal government in many of the areas where it has been eroded by the preceding administration, such as health coverage, adoption, accreditation, tax exemption, and government grants and contracts.”

“We ourselves, as well as those we shepherd and serve, would be most grateful if the president would take this positive step toward allowing all Americans to be able to practice their faith without severe penalties from the federal government,” they said.

A draft version of the executive order was leaked in late January called “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.” When it failed to appear on the president’s desk, rumors were circulating that a scaled-back version might appear at his desk but there has been no word about it from the Trump administration.

The U.S. bishops posted an online letter for Catholics to send to the president urging him to sign the order after the draft version was leaked.

The Feb. 16 statement said the order would restore “the federal government’s proper relationship with the First Amendment and other laws protecting conscience and religious freedom will enable us to continue our service to the most vulnerable of Americans.”

The statement stressed that U.S. Catholic bishops have long supported religious liberty, adding that during the last several years “the federal government has eroded this fundamental right,” most notably with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate for religious employers who do not fit the mandate’s narrow exemption including the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The USCCB leaders urged Trump to keep his promise and put an end to regulations and other mandates by the federal government “that force people of faith to make impossible choices. 

“We express our fervent hope that with new leadership in the executive branch, basic protections for religious practice may be restored and even strengthened,” they said.

The statement said an immediate remedy to the threats against religious freedom is needed and without it the church’s freedom to serve others “will remain in jeopardy and needless conflict between the faith community and the federal government will continue.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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 17 hours

By Maureen Smith

JACKSON, Miss. (CNS) — A bill that would keep agencies, cities and college campuses in Mississippi from offering sanctuary to unauthorized immigrants would not keep communities safe and goes against the Christian tenet of caring for those in need, said Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson.

He issued a statement Feb. 15 opposing S.B. 2710, also known as the “sanctuary cities” bill, which passed the state Senate in a 32-16 vote Feb. 9. The bill goes to the state House for consideration.

The measure would prohibit cities and institutions of higher learning from declaring themselves sanctuary cities. There are currently no sanctuary cities in the state, although the city of Jackson proposed such a declaration last year.

“As Christians we are called to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. As citizens, we are called to keep our communities strong and safe. We feel that the so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ bill being debated right now in the Mississippi Legislature damages both of those efforts,” wrote Bishop Kopacz.

In a sanctuary city, local law enforcement would not be forced to act as federal immigration agents, like the officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In fact, they would be prohibited from asking a person they detained about his or her immigration status. S.B. 2710 would prohibit cities from enacting sanctuary policies.

The bill’s opening statement says it would apply to entities such as “a state agency, department, political subdivision of this state, county, municipality, university, college, community college or junior college, or any agent, employee or officer thereof.”

Immigrant advocates said the bill raises several concerns.

Amelia McGowan, an immigration attorney for the Catholic Charities Migrant Resource Center based in Jackson, said the vague language, especially in relation to schools, opens up a number of potential problems.

“The first provision is potentially extremely dangerous. It could allow any state official, or anyone working for the state government to report any individual to federal immigration authorities. In other words, it prevents the state and local agencies from prohibiting its employees from reporting an individual to ICE,” said McGowan in an email to the Mississippi Catholic, newspaper of the Jackson Diocese.

“That means, undocumented — or suspected undocumented — individuals seeking services in any state or local agency — courts, police protection, K-12 education, higher education, state hospital, state health and mental health agencies — could be reported to ICE by a disgruntled employee,” McGowan explained.

It also means an agency “could not prohibit its employees from doing so,” she continued. “Now, presumably that person may be protected in some cases by privacy laws, but I am afraid that this provision would prevent individuals from seeking state services, which include reporting violent crimes to the police.”

According to Christy Williams, an attorney at the headquarters of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC, in Silver Spring, Maryland, the provision also opens up municipalities to potential liability. A school employee who discloses a student’s immigration information could be violating federal privacy laws and the school could be held liable.

If any officer reports a person they suspect is in the country without legal permission but that person turns out to have a valid legal status, the local agency can be sued. CLINIC highlighted one example from Allentown, Pennsylvania, when officers arrested a U.S. citizen for alleged drug crimes.

“He had both his driver’s license and Social Security card with him at the time of the arrest and was eventually found innocent,” according to a CLINIC document about sanctuary cities. “During his time in custody, the police called ICE based on the presumption that, because of his race, he was undocumented.

“Despite being documented, the citizen was held for three days after posting bail based on an ICE detainer. He was released only after an ICE agent interrogated him and confirmed his citizenship. The U.S. citizen sued local and county officials in 3rd District Federal Court, leading to verdicts in his favor and settlement costs totaling nearly $150,000,” the document said.

When a local agency reports someone to ICE, the federal agents may ask the local agency to detain the suspect. The local agency has to absorb the cost of housing, feeding and caring for the person until ICE can process the case. That money is rarely reimbursed to state and local agencies.

Critics of the Mississippi bill say that because it is vague, it also could erode the relationship first responders have with their communities. If immigrants, even those in the country legally, believe police officers, medical personnel or firefighters are going to report them to immigration officials, they may hesitate to call for much-needed help.

McGowan said she thinks if the bill becomes law, it “would have a chilling effect on individuals seeking state services” such as medical care, mental health care and police protection,” and would negatively affect immigrants’ educational opportunities. She also thinks it would subject victims of violent crimes and/or abuse “to greater danger.”

President Donald Trump has pledged to strip federal funds from jurisdictions that declare themselves “sanctuary cities.”

“We urge lawmakers and advocates to oppose S.B. 2710,” Bishop Kopacz said in his statement. “We will, as a Catholic community, continue to work with immigrants and refugees — welcoming their contributions to our community and culture — even as we pray for a just solution to the challenges of immigration and security.”

– – –

Smith is editor of the Mississippi Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Jackson.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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 17 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Larry W. Smith, EPA

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a joint statement, Catholic bishops whose dioceses are along the U.S.-Mexico border spoke of the “pain, the fear, and the anguish” they’re seeing in immigrants and vowed to follow the example of the pope in building “bridges, rather than the walls of exclusion and exploitation.”

The Feb. 14 statement was read at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle in Texas after a visit by the bishops to an immigration detention center as well as to a humanitarian respite center at Sacred Heart Parish in McAllen, Texas, in the Brownsville Diocese. 

The statement came after two days of a gathering of bishops whose dioceses are along the U.S.-Mexico border. The apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, also attended. The meeting of about 20 bishops included Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio.

The biannual meetings began in 1986 “to address the life and pastoral needs of our migrant brothers and sisters,” the statement said, adding that “in this difficult moment in our history, we hear the cry of our migrant brothers and sisters whose voices reflect the voice of Christ himself.”

They spoke of the plight of the Holy Family as they sought refuge and a compassionate human response, and said they saw the same in immigrants they met. The suffering immigrants face is the result of “a broken immigration system caused by political structures and economic conditions that result in threats, deportations, impunity and extreme violence,” they said. Migrants are the result of these conditions and also are victims of those who seek to extort them in their work and under the threat of deportations that can lead to their separation from family and friends.

“We can sense the pain of the separation of families, loss of employment, persecutions, discrimination, racism and unnecessary deportations that paralyze the development of persons in our societies,” they said. “Immigration is a global phenomenon that arises from economic and social conditions, and the poverty and insecurity that directly displaces entire populations, causing families to feel that migration is the only way to survive.”

Migrants have the right to be respected “regardless of their migration condition,” the bishops added, because every person has the right to dignity, yet migrants are “subjected to punitive laws and often mistreated by civil authorities both in their country of origin, the countries through which they travel and the country of their destination. It is essential that governments adopt policies that respect the human rights of migrants and undocumented residents.”

In the church, they said, “there are no strangers,” and vowed to continue to support services to migrant families “including spiritual, legal, and material assistance.”

– – –

Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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 22 hours

Each year McNicholas High School bring in the penny’s to help scholarships. This year they raised over $5,300.

mcnickpennydaymcnickpennyday1micnickpennyday2

2 days 22 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The athletes of the Special Olympics witness to the world the beauty and value of every human life and the joy that comes from reaching a goal with the encouragement and support of others, Pope Francis said.

“Together, athletes and helpers show us that there are no obstacles or barriers which cannot be overcome,” the pope told representatives of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, which will take place in Austria March 14-25.

“You are a sign of hope for all who commit themselves to a more inclusive society,” the pope told the group Feb. 16. “Every life is precious, every person is a gift, and inclusion enriches every community and society. This is your message for the world, for a world without borders, which excludes no one.”

Pope Francis praised the passion and dedication of the Special Olympians as they train for their events, and said sports are good for everyone, physically and mentally.

“The constant training, which also requires effort and sacrifice, helps you to grow in patience and perseverance, gives you strength and courage and lets you acquire and develop talents which would otherwise remain hidden,” the pope told the athletes.

“In a way,” he said, “at the heart of all sporting activity is joy: the joy of exercising, of being together, of being alive and rejoicing in the gifts the Creator gives us each day. Seeing the smile on your faces and the great happiness in your eyes when you have done well in an event — for the sweetest victory is when we surpass ourselves — we realize what true and well-deserved joy feels like!”

Watching the Special Olympians, he said, everyone should learn “to enjoy small and simple pleasures, and to enjoy them together.”

Sporting events, especially international events like the Special Olympics World Winter Games, help “spread a culture of encounter and solidarity,” the pope said, wishing the athletes “joyful days together and time with friends from around the world.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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 23 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Humankind will have to answer to God for the bloodshed of the innocent victims of war, and the blood spilled by greed and arms trafficking, Pope Francis said.

While God has given peace to the world, inside all human beings “there is still that seed, that original sin, the spirit of Cain who out of envy, jealousy, greed and the desire for domination, makes war,” the pope said Feb. 16 during his early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“Today in the world, blood is being spilled. Today the world is at war. So many brothers and sisters die, even innocents, because the great, the powerful want a bigger piece of the earth; they want a little bit more power or want to gain a bit more through arms trafficking,” he said.

The pope centered his homily on the day’s first reading in which God makes a covenant with Noah and all of humanity after the flood and warns that he “will demand an account for human life.”

This covenant, along with the rainbow and the dove holding an olive branch, are signs of “what God wanted after the flood: peace; that all men and women would be in peace,” the pope explained.

The rainbow and the dove are symbolic of peace not only because of their beauty, but also because of their fragility, he said. “The rainbow is beautiful after a storm, but when a cloud comes, it disappears,” and doves are easy prey for predators.

The pope recalled the unfortunate incident when, after delivering his Sunday Angelus address Jan. 26, 2014, he and two children released two doves as a gesture of peace. A seagull and a crow swooped down and attacked the two doves.

“The covenant God makes is strong, but how we receive it, how we accept it is with weakness,” the pope said. “God makes peace with us, but it isn’t easy to keep the peace.”

The seed of war that creates jealousy, envy and greed in people’s hearts, the pope continued, “has grown into a tree,” causing “bombs that fall on hospitals, on a school and kills children.”

“The blood of Christ is what makes peace, not my brothers’ blood that is spilled by me, or arms traffickers or the powers of the earth in the great wars,” he said.

Pope Francis said that all men and women are called not only to protect peace, but to “handcraft” it every day, beginning in their hearts and in their homes.

He recalled a childhood memory when, after hearing the sounds of sirens and alarm bells ringing throughout his neighborhood, a neighbor tearfully exclaimed to his mother: “The war is over.”

“May the Lord give us the grace of being able to say: ‘The war is over’ and weep. ‘The war is over in my heart, the war is over in my family, the war is over in my neighborhood, the war is over in my workplace, the war is over in the world’ so that the dove, the rainbow and the covenant will be stronger,” the pope said.

– – –

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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 23 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Latest News Releases from USCCB
Posted

WASHINGTON— In a letter to the United States Secretary of State today, chairmen of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Committee on International Justice and Peace, along with Sean Callahan, President of Catholic Relief Services, urged the Administration to do everything they can to care for creation both domestically and globally.

Building upon Pope Francis's encyclical Laudato si' the letter emphasizes the importance of adaptation policies and specifically calls for continued U.S. support of the Paris climate agreement as well as the Green Climate Fund, which provides poorer nations with resources to adapt to and mitigate changing climate realities.

"The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood the environment to be a gift from God, and we are all called 'to protect our one common home,'" said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico and Sean L. Callahan, President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The call to care for the environment echoes Pope Francis' call to help poor and vulnerable people adapt to the effects of climate change.

The message also recognizes that "uncompromising support for adaptation policies in no way excludes efforts to mitigate the anthropogenic contributors to climate change" and called for an "energy revolution" to deliver "not only sustainable, efficient and clean energy, but also energy that is secure, affordable, accessible and equitable."

The full text of the letter can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/USCCB-CRS-Letter-to-Secretary-Tillerson-on-Care-for-Creation-02-17-2017.pdf

---

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Sean L. Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Laudato si, Paris Climate Agreement, Green Climate Fund, climate change, Domestic Justice and Human Development, International Justice and Peace.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
O: 202-541-3200

2 days 51 min
WASHINGTON—More than 20 Bishops along the border of Texas and Northern Mexico have issued a joint statement emphasizing the need for us to listen to the cry of our migrant brothers and sisters.  The bishops issued the statement while participating in the biannual Tex-Mex Border Bishops meeting this week.  The meetings included priests, religious and layperson as well as invited representatives from other border dioceses in the United States and Mexico. The bi-annual meetings have taken place for more than 30 years.

In the statement, the bishops ask each of us to reflect on the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as migrants and refugees more than two-thousand years ago and to also heed the gospel call of Christ, "Because I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was hungry and you gave me food…." (Mt. 25: 35-36).

A copy of the bishops statement was shared with the USCCB and we are providing that statement below in both English and Spanish:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/upload/immigration-statement-from-tex-mex-bishops-2017-02-15.pdf.

-----

Keywords: Texas border, Northern Mexico border, migration, Holy Family, Tex-Mex Border Bishops meeting, United States, Mexico, immigration.

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

2 days 57 min

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Reliable world news and analysis from a Catholic perspective.
Posted

A Coptic schoolteacher was shot and killed in Egypt’s Sinai region on February 16, and officials indicated that a local affiliate of the Islamic State was suspected of orchestrating the murder.

2 days 1 hour

The Denver archdiocese has issued a new caution about the work of a blogger who claims to receive messages from the Virgin Mary.

2 days 1 hour

Michael Novak, the American Catholic author, teacher, and political figure, on February 17 at the age of 83 after a battle with cancer.

2 days 3 hours

“Migrations are not a danger, but a challenge to grow,” Pope Francis said in a February 17 meeting with students at Roma Tre University.

2 days 3 hours

Pope Francis said that “no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist,” in a message to a California conference of popular movements.

2 days 3 hours

In a letter read recently at all Sunday Masses in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Michael Olson criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees.

2 days 12 hours

Pope Francis received a group of participants in the Special Olympics World Winter Games and spoke about the joy of athletics.

2 days 12 hours

In his February 16 weekday Mass homily at Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis preached on the tragedy of war and the importance of prayer and work for peace.

2 days 13 hours

Demanding speedier resettlement, Iraqi Christian refugees took part in a protest outside a UN office in Beirut on February 13.

2 days 13 hours

The Trump administration has decided not to eliminate the position of Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, a position created by the Obama administration in 2015.

2 days 13 hours

Four bishops who chair committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have called upon President Donald Trump to enact religious-liberty protections.

2 days 13 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Insightful and in depth analysis of issues important to Catholics.
Posted

How many times have you fallen into the traps set by the very strengths of your own personality? This is one of the great paradoxes of the spiritual life. As we come to grips with divergent personalities within the Church, it is worth thinking about.

2 days 5 hours