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Cardinal Tagle: Editorial on Global Compact for Migration

12/11/2018 - 7:03pm

United Nations members states adopted the Global Compact for Migration at a summit in Marrakesh on December 10, 2018. More than 160 nations signed up to the first ever international pact to promote “safe, orderly and regular” migration.

Caritas Internationalis commended those governments who signed up to the pact. It emphasized that all migrants need access to social services o they can live in dignity, independently of their legal status.

In an editorial first published in America Magazine, Caritas president, Cardinal Luis Tagle, heralds the Global Compact on Migration as “a sign of cooperation and unity that will offer far-reaching hope for our common future”. Read the full editorial below and find out more about our Share the Journey campaign with refugees and migrants.

Cardinal Tagle’s Editorial

News reports point to a world that is fracturing due to fear, prejudice, and hate. We seem to forget the Golden Rule that is at the root of many of our religions and cultures: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

When we see refugees fleeing wars or migrants arriving in our countries looking for a better life, a raw human instinct pushes us to close our doors in their faces, to close our eyes and close our hearts.

But if we look away or give in to fear and hate, we lose our perspective and the core of what it is to be human. More than anything at this point in our common history, we need a perspective that provides a global vision and a united and compassionate response to the challenges of our time.

On 10 and 11 December, governments from around the world are expected to discuss and adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, under the auspices of the United Nations. The compact is important because it is the first global framework that provides orientation to states on how to govern migration and how to respond to migrants.

The global compact on migration shows the desire of governments to work together on one of the most urgent issues of our time. The compact will help governments fine-tune migration policy together with other stakeholders, such as civil society organizations and the private sector, to benefit sending and receiving countries.

Although not legally binding, it offers a 360-degree orientation for governments, addressing issues such as the drivers of migration, climate change and the integration of migrants. Adherence to the compact is beneficial for migrants, as it gives visibility to a phenomenon that is often dealt with only as an emergency. It is beneficial for countries as it helps them develop a long-term vision and a united response to a challenge that needs a global response.

To the governments who have withdrawn support from the compact on migration, I appeal that they reconsider their decision. In an interconnected world, global issues such as climate change, poverty and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities call on us to work together. They will not go away if we ignore them or put up walls. When governments look beyond their immediate needs and electoral demands, they begin to protect and promote the common good, which is at the heart of any flourishing society.

Our world has been marked and shaped by migration from the earliest times in history, and it will not suddenly stop or disappear now. It requires deep thought, planning, and cooperation for the long-term benefits of migration to emerge. But if the right policies are in place, many migrants bring a much-needed boost to the workforce or key skills both for countries of origin (for example, through remittances and diaspora groups who invest in them) and countries of destination.

Contemporary migrants often take the same journeys of uncertainty and hope that our own grandparents took so our parents and our generation could have a better life. A collective amnesia makes us forget where our own families originally came from or how we ended up living where we are now. Can any of us really say we are natives of the country we live in? My own maternal grandfather was a child migrant from China who was sent to the Philippines by his impoverished mother.

The Golden Rule is a powerful reminder to look beyond ourselves and see that our lives, our countries, and our histories are deeply intertwined. Organizing at a global level is difficult and takes courage. Now is a good time to act together. Our faith teaches us that no person or country is exempt from the collective responsibility to care for our common world and its people. If we do not act now, then when?

I hope the words of Pope Francis will echo through the corridors of governments when deciding on this vital Global Compact: “Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

The adoption and implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be an important step for governments to fight the rising tide of stigma around migration and to ensure that human dignity and rights are upheld. In a world struggling to embrace its globalized identity, the global compact will be a sign of cooperation and unity that will offer far-reaching hope for our common future.

The post Cardinal Tagle: Editorial on Global Compact for Migration appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Archbishop Auza Cites Work of Group Promoting Peace

12/11/2018 - 6:41pm

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, lauded the work of Rondine Cittadella della Pace and its efforts to promote peace.  His remarks came on December 10, 2018, at the side event, “Leaders for Peace: Rondine Youth Appeal for Human Rights,” at United Nations Headquarters, New York.

The Archbishop’s Remarks

Your Excellencies,

President Franco Vaccari and Members of the Rondine Cittadella della Pace,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Seventy years ago today, the international community adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Pope John Paul II called in his 1979 Address to the United Nations General Assembly the “fundamental document,” the “basic inspiration and cornerstone of the United Nations,” and a “milestone on the long and difficult path of moral progress.”

Like the United Nations itself, the Universal Declaration was a response to the horrors of two world wars, genocides, and other barbarities. All peoples of the world recognized that there were some actions so wicked that no one could justify them and certain fundamental values that no one could dispute. The Universal Declaration became one of the most powerful expressions of conscience in modern history, inspiring and challenging the consciences of UN Members and the world ever since.

The Declaration proclaimed in the first sentence of its Preamble that the foundation of peace in the world is “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” Peace in the world flows above all from remembering that each person, no matter how young or old, rich or poor, strong or vulnerable, healthy or sick, wanted or undesired, economically productive or incapacitated, politically influential or insignificant, has dignity and inalienable rights from the very fact of his or her humanity. When we fail to grasp this fundamental truth, when we do not act in accordance with it, we open the way to injustice, inequality, conflict, and even atrocities.

Therefore one of the most important things for peace in the world is training people to recognize and reverence human dignity and rights in each and every person without exception.

This is something that the Rondine Cittadella della Pace has been doing successfully for 20 years at its World House near Arezzo, Italy, and in 15 conflict theaters throughout the world. It’s also what it wishes to extend globally through its Leaders for Peace Campaign being launched today.

At the heart of Rondine’s educational methodology is forming young people and leaders to overcome the temptation to classify and dehumanize others as enemies rather than as persons with innate dignity and inalienable rights. The first Article of the Declaration states that all human beings are “endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” and that’s precisely what the Rondine method seeks to inculcate. It brings young people from opposite sides of conflict to live, learn and study together so that up close they overcome labels, prejudices, and resentment and begin to build something together. They enter into an existential dialogue, something that Pope Francis calls caminar juntos, “journeying together,” convinced that once people begin to walk together open to fraternity and friendship, they begin to recognize how much humanity they have in common, how much beauty and goodness exist in each other, and how much wisdom is imbued in the way the other approaches the most important questions of human life, its joys and hopes, its sorrows and fears.

The type of dialogue Rondine promotes and the world needs, after all, is not just a polite and superficial exchange of words, ideas or sequential monologues. It’s ultimately an exchange of persons. Even if there are great differences in another’s background, beliefs, and values, dialogue can begin with the good that attracts the other to value it and order his or her conduct and life according to those values. In so many places and contexts today, people focus so much on what divides that they end up rejecting other persons as a whole. To dialogue with another means to enter into conversation with what is deepest in the other, his earnest aspirations, her answers to the most profound questions of human life. True dialogue is driven by the conviction and awareness that the other is a good both in himself or herself, but also a good for me and the world. The other is not a threat. The other is not a competitor in an unending battle of survival of the fittest. The other is not an evil to be marginalized or eliminated. The other is an objective and subjective good.

This is the caminar juntos that Rondine promotes. It makes possible the discovery of each other’s most profound dignity.

When Pope Francis welcomed Rondine students to the Vatican last week, he praised the way the World House works, saying, “Your educational commitment is to host young people who, in various parts of the world, live stranded in cultures poisoned by pain and hatred, and to offer them a bold challenge: to verify in person whether the other, he or she who is beyond a closed boundary of barbed wires or impassable walls, is really what everyone claims: an enemy.” He said that in the last 20 years the Citadel of Peace has “developed a method capable of transforming conflicts,” precisely by transforming people in conflict, leading people out of the deception of mutual hostility and aversion and restoring in them a vivid sense of the other’s dignity.

After listening carefully to the Leaders for Peace appeal, Pope Francis responded by heartily giving his support, sympathy, and blessing to the cause and committed himself to ask other Heads of State and Government to do the same.

He underlined that there is a “need for leaders with a new mentality,” precisely those who know how to enter into the type of dialogue Rondine features. “Those who do not know how to dialogue and exchange with each other, … [who do] not try to meet the ‘enemy,’ to sit with him at the table as you do… cannot lead  people to peace.” He encouraged Rondine through its educational efforts to continue its work promoting dialogue between persons, generations, cultures and societies, pointing out that the more we respect each other’s dignity and rights, the easier it is for us to become aware that we belong to the same human community, and the easier it is to grasp the personal responsibility each of us has to make rather than break peace.

On this day in which the international community looks back 70 years with awe and gratitude for what has been accomplished as a result of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we also look ahead with hope that Rondine’s Leaders for Peace Appeal will, in fact, form new generations of leaders to prosper the cause of peace and the promotion of respect for human dignity and the inalienable human rights that make peace possible.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2018 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

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Canada: Christmas Message of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

12/11/2018 - 6:24pm

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on December 10, 2018, released its 2018 message for Christmas. It is signed by Bishop Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.


My dear friends,

Christmas! Christmastime again! We love this celebration and get ready for it enthusiastically, hoping everything will be perfect. Our preparations take many forms, spiritual and more interior, material and more external. Too often perhaps, the external preparations can take away from preparing hearts as Advent invites us to do. Without always realizing it, getting gifts and meals ready, inviting and visiting our loved ones, decorating our homes and even our churches can take on more importance than Advent. But it is the spiritual and religious journey Advent offers which lets the birth of Jesus open our hearts to the grace of Christmas and fill every dimension of our lives with unique joy.

Is there some way to unite our material and spiritual preparations for Christmas? Here is a suggestion.

When Advent and Christmas come around, one thing, in particular, catches my attention: the multitude of lights sparkling around us. They shine not only from Christmas trees, but also in the streets near where we live, in our workplaces, and in our parishes. These dazzling lights seem to me an invitation to see Christmas as a mystery of light and, like the elderly Simeon in the Gospel of Luke, discover in the Child lying in the manger the true Light revealed to the nations.

A mere glance at our world is enough to note how deep is the darkness covering it. A darkness that hinders clear vision, leads to a loss of meaning and identity and sows death. So many in the world today are anxious, often anguished.

Thus the pressing need – for the world’s well-being – to live the mystery of Christmas and discover the Newborn in Bethlehem, the One who is “the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Live Christmas as the revelation of Light. Walk in that Light. Reveal that Light through our personal witness. That should be our aim!

It is not easy or simple to discern light in a world overrun by the darkness of selfishness, violence, lack of faith, broken promises, shattered relationships, war and famine, sickness and despair. Yet these realities, though harrowing, do not stop the fulfillment of the promise of the One who is Light for men and women of faith. Christ promises to be the light of life for those who commit to follow Him as His disciples. Born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus the Light came into our world and became one of us. His light enters our individual existence and makes of us “children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness” (I Thessalonians 5:5). Like Him, and in Him, we become the “light of the world” (John 8:12 and Matthew 5:14). Because His love enters our hearts through the working of the Holy Spirit, we can shine out for the peace of the world. His light cannot be stopped; it gives joy to our hearts, courage to our souls, meaning to our lives, light for our paths. His light radiates beauty, goodness, and truth in our world amid the darkness of human history.

Christmas transforms our gaze and allows us to discern the light that shines throughout creation. The beauty and order of the universe draw us into contemplation in silent wonder and deep reverence, stirring us to the depths of our souls. But even more, moving is the perception of God’s light that shines a thousand-fold on the face of every human being. We are enhanced when we look attentively at our neighbors and those whom the Lord places on our paths when we contemplate the light from the faces of men, women, and children face filled with emotion and feeling, at times with hope, at times with fear, but always with life!

As we become more aware of the vital importance of the spiritual dimension of Christmas, let us prepare our hearts and help those we love to welcome the grace of Light so that the Messiah can transform us as only He can. This Christmas, let us take the time to contemplate the light of Christ in creation and especially on the faces of our brothers and sisters in our parishes and among all humanity. The “Good News” of Christmas is the light offered to all who seek it and who predispose their lives to welcome it. This Light opens the path to self-sacrifice and commitment, to solidarity and generosity, and ultimately to authentic communion even in this world.

Dear friends, this year let us live Christmas as a mystery of light! May Jesus the Light visit us in the tender compassion of the Father, and may He guide our feet into the way of peace (cf. Luke 1:78-79). Enlightened by Him, the “bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16), together let us become the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14)!

Such is our wish to you and yours for Christmas 2018 and New Year 2019 from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A joyous Christmas of Light!
A good, happy, and holy New Year!

The Most Reverend Lionel Gendron, P.S.S.
Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

10 December 2018

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Cardinal Parolin’s Address at the International Conference on Human Rights

12/11/2018 - 6:08pm

Here is a translation of the address that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin gave December 10, 2018, during the opening session of the International Conference on the theme Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations, organized by the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development and by the Pontifical Gregorian University, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and the 25th anniversary of the Declaration and the Program of Action of Vienna, being held in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University on December 10-11, 2018.

* * *

Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s Address


Reverend Father Rector,


Academic Authorities,

Dear Docents and Students,

1 – I am particularly happy about the invitation that was addressed to me, and I thank the organizers of this time of reflection and study, in particular, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, and Father Nuno da Silva Goncalves, SJ, Rector of the Gregorian University.

I believe that to question ourselves on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, seventy years after its adoption, and on the conclusions of the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna twenty-five years ago, is a way to underscore again the importance that the recognition and protection of fundamental rights has for the Church and for the academic world.

In this celebratory context as well as one of further reflection, I was asked to identify the reference and the consideration that the diplomatic action of the Holy See holds for the rights of man. An action ordered first of all to make known, in relations with individual States as well as in the context of Institutions and multilateral Conferences, what the Church’s concern is in the procedure and the circumstances that touch the person and communities in their fundamental rights as well as their most profound aspirations. As is known, it’s about an attention that goes beyond the sole condition of Christians, because it is oriented to safeguarding the basic values of human coexistence, those values that are proper to the different religious and cultural experiences. And what more do human rights need other than that certain values and shared fundamentals not to be reduced to sole proclamations or annihilated by uncertain behaviors and procedures?

2 – Looking at the Universal Declaration of 1948, as well as the Declaration and the Plan of Action adopted by the Conference of Vienna on June 25, 1993, the role assigned to diplomacy is very clear: to foster respect for human rights through the systematic activity of States and Institutions of the International Community, so that the rights are affirmed among the basic conditions of internal coexistence in States and of the international order. To be realized, such activity, as the practice of the last decades has confirmed, presupposes a necessary cohesion among peoples and countries.

If this objective is to be pursued also by the diplomatic action of the Holy See that, although with different ways and ends, joins the other protagonists of international life, questions and doubts are not lacking.

A first issue can be easily summarized in the question: What does the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man represent for papal diplomacy? I would say that in the necessary harmony with the vision of the Church, the Declaration is considered in its nature as an instrument of convergence between different cultural, religious and juridical traditions. However, it must be realistically clear that not all were equally represented at the moment of the redaction of the same Declaration. The essential fact remains, then as today, that the text has the indisputable merit of identifying in the person the immediate end and ultimate objective in every action of Institutions, of apparatuses and of legislative procedures. In sum, we are before a proclamation of rights that unites the historical dimension with the transcendent, because it bases rights on human dignity. It is  an aspect that the Holy See highlights in every intervention or negotiation when it stresses that the protection of the person and, therefore, of his rights can never be confused with a desire, but must be translated into reality.

These indicators are sufficient to understand that what is entrusted to the diplomatic action of the Holy See is the task to translate into the language of international relations the Church’s Doctrine on the person and his rights, to avoid that patrimony being excluded from international relations because of pragmatic choices or <choices> limited to technical data that, although necessary and important, are not exclusive. On the occasion of his first visit to the UN, Saint John Paul II explained this passage very clearly, describing the Universal Declaration as an instrument to measure “humanity’s progress not only with the progress of science and technology, in which all of man’s singularity stands out in his relations with nature, but contemporaneously and even more so with the primacy of spiritual values and with the progress of the moral life: (Address to the UN, October 2, 1979). It is a reading that conjugates fully human rights internationally proclaimed with the Christian conception, a reading rendered even more explicit by the present Magisterium of Pope Francis, who identifies in the work of the drafters of the Declaration a “significant relation between the evangelical message and the recognition of human rights” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, June 8, 2018).

A second question merits consideration: what did they wish to express in 1948 with the Universal Declaration? The answer is yet another strong concept that papal diplomacy never ceases to stress: the structure of the Declaration can’t be reduced toa catalogue of rights, or to a static proclamation. Moreover, only by anchoring human rights in an anthropological dimension is it possible to recognize them as the “foundation of freedom, of justice and of peace” (Universal Declaration, Preamble), which <highlights> man’s legitimate aspirations.

It’s easy to intuit that it’s not about theoretical argumentations and terms, even deprived of effectiveness, or simply linked to historical episodes or epochs. In fact, the pre-eminence of freedom over oppression, the equality of the person despite the differences of race, sex, language, religion or opinion, derives from those aspirations, as the right to education, to medical care, to freedom from hunger, to integral development also find space.

The Declaration was desired to combine humanity’s values with the formulations of rights so as to fill that dark fact of policies and laws that claim victims or condemn innocents and thus also to avert violence in its various forms or to eliminate inequalities. That act is a way of affirming universally a renewed idea of justice, which is realized in the relationship between persons that “are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Declaration, Article 1)and which uses the democratic method (Cf. Declaration, Article 28), understood not only as political theory but as ensemble of rules, institutions and structures able to express and convey values. This is what the Holy See keeps present when, speaking of human rights in different contexts of the International Community, it asks to operate in order to guarantee a future worthy of man, exalting the primacy of life, freedom in its different articulations, freedom from poverty and integral growth, which correspond to the common human family.

3 – Coming to today, seventy years having passed, there is a fact we can’t ignore: diplomats and non-diplomats are called to ask themselves if all this is still valid. A realistic reading of our small and great daily world imposes on us a reference to the profound crisis of values, which first of all attacks the human person and, therefore, touches the foundation of the contents of the Universal Declaration. We cannot dispense from this crisis of the foundation because, as Pope Francis points out, “a reductive vision of the human person opens the way to the spread of injustice, social inequality and corruption” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 8, 2018).

In this historical moment the values-rights automatism seems ignored or is even not held to be valid, as the so-called transversal approach evidences, used in the language and the acts of international organs to anchor the fundamental rights to contingent situations, thus thinking to give authority and to render effective internal or international forms of action and support. However, this orientation, which causes a clear separation of the values that inspire the rights, transforms the system that guarantees the right to operate at the international level only in a technical artifice and neglects not only to consider the indivisibility between the classic categories of rights — civil and political or economic, social and cultural — but especially the character of universality and interdependence that makes of the Universal Declaration and of all the acts following it a system of superior rules, reference for <norms> and laws produced within the States. For the Holy See, to neglect the foundation of rights means to deprive them of their essential content and to consent that they be dispersed in the mare magnum of proclamations or of programs adopted under the stimulus of sensations, emotions, ideologies and even of foreign factors to the international context. It’s what the extreme case demonstrates registered last October 30 when, in the framework of the UN organs operating in the matter of human rights, they stopped, first of all, of considering human life as a value, to reduce it to a simple interpretable right according to particular moments, tendencies and ideologies. Rene Cassin, who was one of the Fathers of the Universal Declaration, liked to describe the rights inserted in it as a “corollary” of the right to life of every individual. It’s the demonstration that the right to life demands a commitment able to protect the person in all the phases of existence, also in face of the debate linked at the beginning and the end of life, in which the role of scientific research is ever more distant from the idea of connecting oneself with the ethical-moral dimension, sometimes even in an involuntary way.

Well, in the General Comment N. 36 (2018), the Committee of the Rights of Man, called to interpret the right to life provided by Article 6 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, put back into it recourse to abortion (General Comment No. 36 paragraph 8) and the practices of euthanasia (Cf. Ibid., paragraph 9). <It is> a license of lawfulness, which, in fact, is ethically a dangerous precedent and weakens the whole system of protection and promotion of human rights, affirming the prevalence of the juridical technique over the dimension of values.  There comes to mind again the question whether the lawmaker’s work, is called — also in the international dimension –, to deal with: ius quia iustum or ius quia iussum?  It’s clear in this case that human rights lose their source in human dignity, to derive simply from the law and from interpretative procedures.

4 – Such an orientation risks multiplying itself if the debates and negotiations continue at the international level. And diplomats know this well, from the moment that it is their task to take up tendencies and signs of change of the status quo. However, if diplomacy is called to scrutinize the signs of the times rather than to pursue the everyday reality, it was precisely in the Vienna Conference of 1992 that the Holy See matured the conviction that everything was changing in regard to human rights.

That session, in fact, convoked when the world was still divided between East and West — the original headquarters of the Conference was Berlin with its “wall,” a symbol that in the meantime had failed — made contrasts emerge between groups of countries, beginning with divergence on the order of the day to be discussed. No longer were the different visions between the States opposed, on the necessity and manner of guaranteeing the rights of man, but there was a different conception about values from which the very same draw their origin, beginning with the pillar of human dignity.

In essence, papal diplomacy witnessed the will to exclude from the final document any reference to the foundation of human rights, leaving space only to a hasty claim to the titular “subject” and beneficiary of such rights. <It was> a limited consideration, motivated by an exclusively individualistic approach to rights followed at the UN headquarters already at the end of the 80s of the last century and synthesized with the expression a “people centred approach.” The latter was presented as a choice linked in appearance to a linguistic profile, but in fact was a doctrinal and cultural position that sank its roots up to the phase of the elaboration of the Universal Declaration in 1947, with the debate on the use of the terms “individual,” “human being,” “person.” In the Vienna context, only a closed discussion, initiated and pursued in the negotiations immediately against from the beginning of the Conference, enabled the Holy See to surmount the only individual dimension of rights and to insert a claim for the value of the dignity and of the person in the Preamble of the final Declaration, which recognizes and affirms  “that all human rights stem from the dignity and value inherent in the human person, and that the human person is the central subject of human rights  and of fundamental freedoms, and, therefore, should be the principal beneficiary and should participate actively in the realization of these rights and freedoms.”

The decisions assumed at Vienna were interpreted as a radical change of course of the Holy See and led its Delegation to express at the end of the works some concerns in  a Statement of Interpretation (UNITED NATIONS, Doc.A/CONF. 157/24, Part II, Annex IX), which put on guard from the exclusively pragmatic approach printed in human rights. <It was> an orientation that substituted the principle of equality between human beings with a right to non-discrimination, and interpreted the concept of freedom also as the possibility to enunciate rights without limits, arriving at reducing the concept of justice to the only justifiableness of rights before a judiciary organ. The Holy See also pointed out the dangerous nature of the compromise reached in the so-called “cultural clause,” contained in paragraph 5 of the Vienna Declaration, considering as a potential cause of conflicts the opposition between the universality of human rights and the different cultural and religious conceptions of rights. A conflict that, as we well know, has marked the beginning of this 21st century and on which Benedict XVI intervened, when speaking to the UN on the occasion of the sixty years of the Universal Declaration, specifying that “not only are the rights universal, but so is the human person subject of these rights” (Address to the UN on April 18, 2008). A conflict not appeased, as Pope Francis explains today, stressing that the universality is essential to avoid that “in the name of these same human rights, modern forms of ideological colonizations are established of the stronger and the richer to the detriment of the poorest and weakest. At the same time, it’s good to keep present that the traditions of individual peoples can’t be invoked as a pretext to neglect the proper respect of the fundamental rights enunciated in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man” (address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 7, 2018).

Permit me to close this point recalling Sacred Scripture that, as is known, always imposes the distinction between the prophetic and the royal dimension. It attributes the sceptre to the King, but it entrusts perseverance to the prophet: it’s this that, without too much overexposure, papal diplomacy proposes in speaking of the rights of man. And it does so by reason of its unique but profound expertise “in humanity,” as Saint Pope Paul VI said to the United Nations (Cf. Address to the UN General Assembly, October 4, 1965).

5 – In face if these situations and looking to the future of the fundamental rights what commitment can be made? The recurrent word in the language of diplomacy is dialogue, but what are its margins today on human rights? Can hoping simply for new forms and new structures be the way to stem the violations and interpretations of the rights? In the light of my personal commitment in diplomatic activity, I will also seek to give answers, perhaps coordinating them with further lines of action.

Specified first of all is that diplomacy will have failed in its role if it addresses the subject of rights taking recourse only to facts, limiting itself to follow the alternating of political visions and of overt ideological readings, forgetting that  in its nature lies the capacity to distinguish. Therefore, the method of analyses with which papal diplomacy operates, binds every address on man’s rights not only to official contexts, but also to the knowledge of the objective data. Data, often disconcerting or downright painful, which expresses violence, injustice, exclusion, the negation of the identities to the most degrading forms of the violation of rights. It’s the case, for instance, of religious intolerance, which continues to produce an array of new martyrs for the faith. However, this aspect is even more evident in the inhuman methods applied to the civil population during armed conflicts.  In face of such situations diplomacy must unite the authority of discernment with the capacity to stem the violations or the improbable interpretations of rights,  so that the guarantee of rights is not limited to a generic prevention or to the recourse to arms, but foresees a priori ways of transitional justice to avoid, also in the post-conflict, violations taking place. It turns out to be the task of diplomacy to activate forms of preventive justice given that the great part of conflicts is almost always anticipated by the violation of human rights.

Often we diplomats forget this discernment. Yet looking at the Universal Declaration, we know that the lack of protection of human dignity is born of prolonged contrasts, without a precise beginning or a certain end. The question for diplomacy is to go beyond the normality, namely, the simple repetition of traditional cliches or of taking recourse to preordained formulas that are expressed today by multi-lateral organizations, although knowing that their work is often blocked by a cross-fire of vetoes, or at least by the logic of not denouncing or condemning behaviours to avoid enduring the same effect. I think that, on the subject of human rights, the creative daring is essential of which Pope Francis speaks, to make it possible for the diplomatic instrument to return to be the “art of the possible” (Address on the Occasion of the Meeting with the Authorities in Korea, August 14, 2014). However, how can this be realized in relation to human rights? I think that in a University, it calls for putting “to the test of the classroom” some of the proposals on the initiate that necessary discussion, which is typical of teaching, but which is also a method for diplomacy.

A first proposal is that which I will describe as preventive cohesion among all those that have the responsibility to operate in the matter of rights, even if they manifest opposite opinions and different visions. Moreover, at the moment of the drawing up of the Universal Declaration, the group of relators saw as the unifying element the horror of war that had violated every possible right and subjected the subject of rights — the human being — to every barbarity. As for the rest, the opinions were diverse also because of the fruit of cultural visions, ideals and, not least, different religions. A fact that today is further accentuated in an even wider way and divided in relation to 1948, but in which, paradoxically, the element that appears unitary, at least in the language, is human rights although diversely declined and interpreted.

For papal diplomacy, preventive cohesion means to work to annul opposing positions or to stop violations in act, not only with possible interpretations of rights, which have all the flavour of those truces that are reached during a conflict, but which to govern must be “armed truces.” The objective is, rather, to unite, beginning by listening to all the positions. It’s not a theoretical approach: how often in the activities of organizations competent in the matter of human rights the positions not homologized to fashionable interests and ideologies are rejected a priori, becoming as the weakest that don’t risk to express their point of view? How many parties concerned — the stakeholders as they are indicated today — are excluded from the table of negotiations and of discussions or, in any case, from the debate on human rights for reasons of vaster equilibriums? In the matter of rights, dialogue also presupposes the presence of one who is uncomfortable or does not seem to have — according to the dominant views — legitimacy in terms of proposals and actors.

A second proposal regards the formulation of values and their coherent interpretation. When some seventy hears ago the Universal Declaration was adopted, the slogan was: “to avoid man being constrained to take recourse, in the last instance, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression” (Preamble). A solid point, built on structural values of the international order and understood as a  factor guaranteeing world stability and not only of rights. It was an intuition rendered possible by the fact that between the relators of the text and between the States there were elements of strong sharing of objectives, such as peace and security. I think we are in need of recovering that spirit and of not limiting ourselves to delineate individual interests, which are often egotistical. However, we must be aware that in 1948 the violations of human dignity were first of all material; today they also have to do with values or at least with that common table of shared values, which as made possible he anointing of rays of many goals.

Here is, then, another possible dialogue that papal diplomacy holds as essential: <the dialogue> on values. Words like dignity, freedom, responsibility are already in the language and in the aspirations of the human family, what is more, in their absence it’s not possible to speak of human rights, or to consider consequent situations such as peace, security, development and cooperation. But, what meaning do we attribute to these words? The occasion of today’s Conference has imposed reflection on two events and, as we have seen, the meeting in Vienna represented a clear break between the preceding and the present way of understanding human rights and, hence, the Universal Declaration. Therefore, we must have the courage to rewrite normative acts and their contents to bring back values to the center, though knowing how enormous the difficulties are. The alternative is represented by immobility in regard to violations and interpretations with a shock effect, but ever more distant from the defense of human dignity.

6 – So much for the proposals, but to give them the necessary consistency and to render them operative a contribution is indispensable that gives different perspectives in view of the elaboration of proposals that the Holy See could submit to countries and to multi-lateral Institutions. What does papal diplomacy need to do this?

Perhaps the moment has arrived to start an broad reflection and consultation in the Church regarding human rights, rather I would almost say on the future of man, being conscious that the classical question: “man, who are you?” has been substituted by that strongly insidious: “man, what rights do you want to have?” <It is> a reflection to be developed in the light of the Doctrine and Magisterium of the Church, edited in its method and language in order to be able to be presented to inter-governmental, universal and regional Institutions, so that they are worried about man’s rights and not only are concerned about them.

The realities and organizations to involve in this initiative could be diverse, which I am certain will not fail to draw the attention of multi-lateral structures, as well as of individual States. The question should be addressed first of all in relation to processes of formation that in different levels go across the ecclesial structure.

The International Theological Commission, for instance, concluded its work of reflection and research in 1983 with the document Dignity and Rights of the Human Person, having as reference two realms: the “natural law of people” and the “theology of the history of salvation.” The changes brought about in these years and the criticalities pointed out and those that could develop, call for theological reflection to define again, in light of the new situations, what vision of the person and of his rights can be expressed according to the Doctrine of the Church. A result that the Holy See can propose in the context of the technical/juridical mechanisms that produce, at the international level,  normative acts and establish interpretations of the rights of man.

Such a reflection would also become essential to respond to another need: to insert in courses of priestly formation, and to the religious life, an area to reflect further, in a systematic way, the matter of human rights. A choice that would reveal itself strategic in face of the question that issues daily from the people of God, often disoriented or seeking in its Pastors that essential light  for a formed conscience, able to bring about the necessary discernment. The Congregations for the Clergy and for Consecrated Life could foster and direct this effort in seminaries and houses of formation respectively, but also in the initiatives for the permanent formation of the clergy, <and> of consecrated women and men.

Analogously, the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life could have the work emerge of many forms of lay aggregations, which in several countries and also on the global plane already operate in the sector of man’s rights, furnishing them with those doctrinal elements that become necessary for the layman’s mission in the ecclesial realm and in that of the political Community.

 Also, the Universities that depend on the Holy See  — which is our context today — are called to this process, cultivating in their curricula an inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary reflection  — expressions of Veritatis Gaudium with which Pope Francis recently reformed the studies of our Universities — on the rights of man. And here the Congregation for Catholic Education could bring together what is concretely and scientifically produced, also with reference to the innumerable structures of the Catholic school in the world, so that it can offer not only to the International Community but also to those contexts where there is talk of human rights but only in terms of claims and of great proclamations.

The Dicastery for Integral Human Development would assume the task not only of continuing to operate in different sectors of the rights — institutions, health, development, migrations and human mobility — but also in close connection with the local Episcopates, in order to gather the results of the different initiatives to be able to elaborate the data and predispose a work that the Holy See, through its diplomacy, will be able to bring to the knowledge of countries, governments and international organizations.

7 – Ladies and Gentlemen,

The fruits of such a consultation, once concluded, would become not only the premise for the idea of preventive cohesion or for rewriting the normative acts on rights to give back the just place to values, but would be the tangible sign  of all the attention that the Catholic Church gives to rights and to activities in favour of their promotion and protection. This would give a due scientific nature and the value of concreteness to the proposals that papal diplomacy would bring in international instances, inserting itself in the debates underway and in future ones.

The Holy See is convinced that in regard to fundamental rights, in the absence of shared readings on the values that inspire their content, every instance, be it an individual, a group, a State or even a multi-lateral organization, tends only to legitimize its own vision or to respond ideologically, with the danger of creating conflicts, perhaps to claim stabilizing positions or to legitimize pressures and interpretations. And it is on values that the International Community stakes the aspirations of the present and future generations. It’s not only about defining rights by reason of an abstract peaceful coexistence or of environmental or climatic sustainability, but of reflecting on the basic criteria for the coexistence between persons and between peoples, as well as on the coexistence of persons in States and the coexistence between States.

A course that is certainly not easy, but not impossible.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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US: Bishops’ Chairman Applauds Enactment of Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act

12/11/2018 - 6:05pm

On December 11, 2018, after more than two years of hard work and bipartisan cooperation in the US Congress, the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauds the enactment of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390).

This critical legislation will direct humanitarian relief to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria and hold ISIS perpetrators accountable.

“Today is a signal of hope for the critically vulnerable of this region. We thank Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill’s author, and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), its lead cosponsor, and President Donald Trump for signing it into law,” says Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“Less than 200,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from 1.4 million in 2002 and 500,000 in 2013, before ISIS swept through the region on its genocidal campaign. Many of the remaining Christians in Iraq are displaced, mostly in Erbil in the Kurdistan region, and need desperate assistance to return to their homes and stay in Iraq. After the ISIS invasion, 60,000 Yazidis fled to Europe, and of the 550,000 Yazidis still in Iraq, 280,000 remain displaced and only 20 percent have been able to return to their historic homeland of Sinjar, according to the Yazdi organization Yazda.

The Catholic Church has consistently raised its voice in support of the most vulnerable who are facing persecution and displacement in the Middle East and around the world. Pope Francis has denounced the persecution, torture, and killing of Christians in the Middle East, calling it a “form of genocide” that must end, and lamenting the wider conflicts that have put so many in danger. USCCB has joined with Pope Francis in condemning the actions of those who would persecute others solely for reasons of their faith and ethnicity.”

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Kenya: Priest Killed in Robbery

12/11/2018 - 10:39am

A Kenyan priest has been killed in a robbery, Fides News Agency reported December 11, 2018.  The morning of December 10, 2018, Fr. John Njoroge Muhia parish priest at Kinoo, Kiambu, 25 km from Nairobi, was on his way to a bank in the town of Kikuyu to deposit the offerings of the faithful when he was approached by four bandits on motorcycles. On a bumpy road, the criminals forced the priest to stop and told him to hand over the bag he had in the car.

When the priest hesitated one of the robbers pulled out a gun and opened fire shooting through the back window of the car. Some of the bullets hit Fr.Njoroge in the chest. The criminals grabbed the priest’s bag and mobile phone and drove away on their motorbikes. An eyewitness in a nearby building said he heard the shooting and saw two motorbikes make a speedy retreat. The priest was declared dead on arrival at the county hospital.

“We are deeply saddened by the killing of Fr. Njorog. Murder of the Lord’s servants is unacceptable” said Fr. Francis Kiarie, who has worked with the priest killed.

Fr. John Njoroge Muhia, 56, from Gatitu, was ordained a priest on December 30, 1994, and served at St. Peter the Rock Parish in Kinoo.

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Holy Father’s Liturgical Schedule for Christmas Season

12/11/2018 - 10:22am

Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations has issued the following program of the Pope’s liturgical celebrations this Christmas Season:

° December 24, 2018, 09.30 pm: Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

° December 25, 2018, 12.00 pm:  Christmas message and blessing “ Urbi  et Orbi” from the  central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica

° December 31, 2018, 05.00 pm: First Vespers for the feast of Mary the Mother of God, followed by the exposition of the Holy Eucharist, the traditional singing of the “Te Deum” in thanksgiving for the concluding year 2018, and the Eucharistic blessing.

° January 01, 2019, 10.00 am Mass for the feast of Mary the Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica.  World Day of Peace on the theme, “Good Politics is at the Service of Peace”.

° January 06, 2019, 10.00 am Mass of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Christmas Season ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which in 2019 falls on January 13.  The Holy Father will mark the occasion by baptizing babies during a Holy Mass in the Vatican’s famed Sistine Chapel.

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Pope’s Morning Homily: The Lord Knocks at the Door with Caresses

12/11/2018 - 8:02am

Let us be consoled … The Lord knocks at the door with caresses…

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on consolation, pointing out it should be the ‘normal state’ for Christians.

Recalling today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, where God says: ‘Comfort, comfort, comfort my people,’ the Pope highlighted that here we have an invitation to consolation. The Holy Father also lamented how ‘tenderness’ has also been effectively removed from the dictionary.

During the 40 days after the Risen Lord’s Resurrection, He consoled His disciples. Yet, Francis pondered, we tend to resist consolation, as if “we were safer in the turbulent waters of our problems.” He criticized our tendency to “bet on desolation, on problems, on defeat,” which was the same for the Apostles.

“We are attached to this spiritual pessimism,” Pope Francis said. He described how children who approach him during his public audiences sometimes “see me and scream, they begin to cry, because seeing someone in white, they think of the doctor and the nurse, who give them a shot for their vaccines; and [the children] think, ‘No, no, not another one!’” “And we are a little like that,” the Pope continued, but the Lord says, “Comfort, comfort my people.”

And how does the Lord give comfort? With tenderness. It is a language that the prophets of doom do not recognise: tenderness. It is a word that is cancelled by all the vices that drive us away from the Lord: clerical vices, the vices of some Christians who don’t want to move, of the lukewarm… Tenderness scares them.

“See, the Lord has His reward with Him, His recompense goes before Him” – this is how the “passage from Isaiah concludes. “Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”

The Lord comforts with tenderness, the Pope reminded, comparing this to when a child cries and their mother caresses them and calms them with tenderness.

To prepare properly for Christmas, the Pope noted, we ought to let ourselves welcome his consolation.

“The habitual state of the Christian should be consolation. Even in bad moments: The martyrs entered the Colosseum singing; [and] the martyrs of today – I think of the good Coptic workers on the beach in Libya, whose throats were cut – died saying “Jesus, Jesus!” There is a consolation within: a joy even in the moment of martyrdom.!

Consolation, the Pope clarified, is not the same as optimism. “No. Optimism is something else. But consolation, that positive base… We’re talking about radiant, positive people: the positivity, the radiance of the Christian is the consolation.”

The Pope recognized that when we suffer, we might not feel that consolation. However, a Christian will not lose interior peace “because it is a gift from the Lord,” who offers it to all, even in the darkest moments.

Therefore, in these weeks leading up to Christmas, we should ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid to allow ourselves to be consoled by Him.

The Pope, referring back to today’s Gospel according to Matthew, said we should pray: “that I too might prepare myself for Christmas at least with peace: peace of heart, the peace of Your presence, the peace given by Your caresses.”

“But [you might say] “I am a great sinner.” – Ok, but what does today’s Gospel tell us? That the Lord consoles like the shepherd who, if he loses one of his sheep, goes in search of it; like that man who has a hundred sheep, and one of them is lost: he goes in search of it. The Lord does just that with each one of us.”

“[But] I don’t want peace, I resist peace, I resist consolation… But He is at the door,” Francis said, reminding: “He knocks so that we might open our heart in order to allow ourselves to be consoled, and to allow ourselves to be set at peace. And He does it with gentleness. He knocks with caresses.”

Pope Francis concluded, giving the following reminder: “He knocks so that we might open our heart in order to allow ourselves to be consoled, and to allow ourselves to be set at peace. And He does it with gentleness. He knocks with caresses.”

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Cardinal Parolin Says Religious Freedom Must Be Protected to Intergovernmental Conference on Migration in Morocco

12/11/2018 - 6:22am

Cardinal Pietro Parolin says freedom to practice religion is a right which must be protected, in order to permit many to stay where they are rather than contemplating emigration…

The Vatican Secretary of State stressed this, when speaking yesterday, Dec. 11, during the General Debate and the First Dialogue “Promoting Action on the Global Compact for Safe Commitments, Orderly and Regular Migration,”at the Intergovernmental Conference on the theme: “Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” underway in Marrakech, Morocco, from Dec. 10-11, 2018.

The Pope was invited to this encounter, but has instead accepted the invitation to visit the country March 30-31, 2019, the second Pope in history to visit there after Pope St. John Paul II in 1985.

The adoption of the Global Compact on Migration, the Vatican Secretary of State said, comes at a critical moment in history. “Migration has always been a natural response to crises and to the innate desire for greater opportunities, for a fuller life with greater freedom, peace and security. More people are on the move than ever before.”

Pope Francis, Cardinal Parolin reminded, has dedicated much of his pontificate to raising awareness about the plight of migrants, as well as the moral urgency to care for those who have been displaced and to respond to the root causes of their displacement. The Italian prelate recalled the Pontiff’s focusing on the situations of the most vulnerable, including migrant children and youth.

“His vision for international migration,” the cardinal stated, “can be summarized by the four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote, and to integrate, four actions that we find pervading the best practices and commitments that comprise the Global Compact on Migration.”

“He has also,” Parolin continued, “underlined that a dignified response to migration must be reasonable, with Governments prudently determining their actual capacity for meaningful integration.”

While admitting the Holy See has some reservations regarding it, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Cardinal Parolin praised, “is an significant advance in the international community’s shared responsibility to act in solidarity with people on the move, especially those who find themselves in very precarious situations.”

Stability requires a commitment to the Also essential to the integral human development of each individual.

For stability, a fundamental right to be protected, he said, is “to be able to practice one’s religion freely, without fear of persecution or discrimination,” as well as to have the right to participate politically and have freedom of expression.

Cardinal Parolin underscored that peace, development and true integration are fundamental to ensuring the implementation of the Global Compact.

“Like bookends,” he said, “these two commitments keep the other commitments upright and orderly, from minimizing the adverse drivers of migration through peace and development to a successful conclusion of the migratory process in the harmonious integration of the migrant in the new homeland.”

Here is the Vatican-provided text of Cardinal Parolin’s address:


Cardinal Parolin’s Speech at the General Debate

Mr. Secretary-General, Madame President of the General Assembly, Madame Secretary-General of the Conference,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President,

I am pleased to offer the warm greetings of His Holiness, Pope Francis and, on his behalf, I welcome the formal adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. At the same time, I also wish to express gratitude to His Majesty the King, Mohammed VI, King of Morocco for graciously inviting and hosting our delegation here today and to congratulate the Secretary-General of the Conference, Madame Louise Arbour, and the Delegations of the Permanent Missions of Mexico and Switzerland to the United Nations for their leadership in ushering this intergovernmental process to its successful conclusion.

Mr. President,

The adoption of the Global Compact on Migration comes at a critical moment in history. Migration has always been a natural response to crises and to the innate desire for greater opportunities, for a fuller life with greater freedom, peace and security. More people are on the move than ever before. While the majority of migration remains regular, ever more people are being constrained by adverse factors to leave their homes. This often leads to involuntary, unsafe, and irregular journeys that place migrants and their families in vulnerable situations, presenting significant challenges for countries of origin, transit, and destination.

As we have seen in recent years, when these challenges are not managed well, crises can form, rhetoric can eclipse reason, and migrants can be seen more as threats than as brothers and sisters in need of solidarity and basic services. The Global Compact on Migration attempts to assist the international community to prevent crises and tragedies. At the same time, it also seeks to improve the governance of migration, which is bound to increase as the international community grows more economically, socially and politically interconnected.

To achieve these goals, the Global Compact for Migration, although not legally binding, includes a comprehensive framework of best practices and policy instruments to increase international cooperation and sharing of responsibility in the governance of migration in all of its dimensions. It does this while giving countries the space to respond to their national circumstances and priorities, in full respect of international law and of the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status. Its implementation will help all Governments, as well as non-governmental entities, including faith-based organizations, collectively to manage migration in a more safe, orderly and regular manner, something no State can achieve alone.

Mr. President,

Pope Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to raising awareness about the plight of migrants, as well as the moral urgency to care for those who have been displaced and to respond to the root causes of their displacement. In particular, he has focused on the situation of those in the most vulnerable situations, including migrant children and youth. His vision for international migration can be summarized by the four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote, and to integrate, four actions that we find pervading the best practices and commitments that comprise the Global Compact on Migration.

He has also underlined that a dignified response to migration must be reasonable, with Governments prudently determining their actual capacity for meaningful integration. Integration is a two-way process in which migrants should respect the local laws, culture and customs of the country receiving them, while host countries should respect the traditions and cultures of migrants. Through mutual welcoming and prudence, rising xenophobia and racism can be effectively addressed.

Pope Francis has also emphasized that, while migration is a natural phenomenon, there is the prior right to live in dignity and safety in the country of origin. The Holy See appeals to Governments and the international community as a whole, to foster those conditions that might allow communities and individuals to live in safety and dignity in their own countries.

The right not to migrate can only be enjoyed if the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin are effectively controlled and minimized. Conflicts, wars, climate change, extreme poverty and its train of miseries will inevitably compel many people into unsafe, disorderly and irregular migration, making it not a choice but an act of desperation. By finding sustainable solutions to conflicts and underdevelopment, we would greatly diminish forced, unsafe, disorderly and irregular migration.

Mr. President,

The Holy See has already launched the process to find the most effective ways with which institutions of the Catholic Church and Catholic-inspired organizations throughout the world can make use of the Global Compact’s compendium of best practices and recommendations that exemplify welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants. In this sense, it is worth recognizing the role and the contributions that religions and faith-based organizations offer in this context, giving support to efforts of the international community, as expressed in the Global Compact on Migration, while receiving the due respect for their autonomy as religious institutions.

While some States have decided not to participate in the process or in this Intergovernmental Conference, the Holy See is convinced that the enormous challenges that migration poses are best faced through multilateral processes rather than isolationist policies.

The Holy See, while voting in conformity with its nature and particular mission for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, will present its reservations in due time, specifically on those documents in the Compact that contain terminology, principles and guidelines that are not agreed language, including certain ideological interpretations of human rights that do not recognize the inherent value and dignity of human life at every stage of its beginning, development and end.

Mr. President,

Through its prudent, “360-degree” approach, considering all of the factors involved in migration governance, the Global Compact, without ignoring the many challenges and opportunities that every State and migrants face in their shared journey, gives States the opportunity to improve their respective migration policies and, together, the international management of migration.

For these reasons, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is an significant advance in the international community’s shared responsibility to act in solidarity with people on the move, especially those who find themselves in very precarious situations.

I thank you.

[Original text: English]

Cardinal Parolin’s Intervention of the First Dialogue of the Conference of Card. Pietro Parolin

Mr. Chair,

In this dialogue, dedicated to promoting action on the commitments of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the Holy See would like to focus above all on two of those commitments, which it considers among the most fundamental and indispensable if the international community is going to respond adequately to the challenges and opportunities we face in front of increased migration flows.

The first is the commitment to peace and development. If we are to fulfill our pledge to making migration voluntary and safe, orderly and regular, we must address the root causes of the migratory flows. As is clearly stated in paragraph 13 of the Global Compact, of which the Holy See is proud to be a leading contributor, “We must work together to create conditions that allow communities and individuals to live in safety and dignity in their own countries.” Therefore, adequate responses to the adverse drivers of migration, most especially, violent conflicts and extreme poverty, must be addressed.

These solutions should not be considered the responsibility solely of the country of origin. The international community must also assist if we are to be sure that those constrained to flee might remain in their countries of origin in peace and security. Situations of violence, inhumane living conditions, and economic hardship, as well as natural disasters and environmental degradation, affect not only those countries where they arise but also those countries of transit and destination.

This is not only a matter of fulfilling commitments to provide international development assistance and humanitarian aid, but also involves the commitment to the integral human development of every individual, providing each person with the basic conditions and opportunities to live a decent life. Few would leave if they had access to jobs, education, health-care and other basic goods and services that are fundamental to every person’s fulfillment and basic well-being. Also essential to stability are the fundamental rights to be able to practise one’s religion freely, without fear of persecution or discrimination, as well as the right to political participation and freedom of expression. These concerns form an integral part of the “the right to remain”.

The second commitment is to integration. Those on the move must be welcomed and treated with dignity, even if it is determined later that they must be safely returned to their country of origin.

As laid out in the Global Compact on Migration, all migrants regardless of status, should be guaranteed due process and receive an individual assessment that will determine their status. In the case of children and victims of trafficking, such measures are crucial if we are to respond adequately to their needs and be sure that they not find themselves in the very same situation that they sought to leave behind. We must give preference to policies that favour family reunification and prevent their separation throughout the migration process, while working towards ending the practice of detention, particularly of minors.

For those who are given regular status and the possibility of remaining in the country of destination, either temporarily or permanently, it is important to emphasize that integration is neither merely assimilation nor incorporation, but a two-way process rooted in the mutual recognition of the fundamental equality and dignity of all. Such an approach will also help to stem the tide of racism and xenophobia. Those who arrive are, as Pope Francis underlines, “duty bound not to close themselves from the culture and traditions of the receiving country, respecting above all its laws.” At the same time, integration “is not the superimposition of one culture over another, nor mutual isolation, with the insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettos.” It is rather a mutual enrichment based on mutual and interpersonal respect.

These two objectives require an urgent response on the part of the international community.

As migrations, even mass migrations, are very likely to continue in the coming years, we consider it necessary to widen the regular and sure channels of emigration through generous and responsible policies, inspired by solidarity and co-responsibility.

Mr. Chair,

Peace, development and true integration are fundamental to ensuring the implementation of the Global Compact. Like bookends, these two commitments keep the other commitments upright and orderly, from minimizing the adverse drivers of migration through peace and development to a successful conclusion of the migratory process in the harmonious integration of the migrant in the new homeland.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[Original text: English] [Vatican-provided text]

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FORUM: Alzheimer’s Disease—The Ultimate Enemy of the Lifelong Love Story

12/11/2018 - 5:47am

By Larry Peterson, republished from the Catholic Writers’ Guild blog:


If you and your spouse have lived within a marriage that has been filled with an unconditional, unselfish, love for each other, then you have been truly blessed. Giving of oneself to another “no matter what” creates a connection that can never be broken, and it leaves behind a journey that has been sheathed with laughter, joy, comfort, and compassion powered by that love.

This was God’s plan, and many have embraced it and lived it and reaped the rewards of truly being ONE. Loving someone more than yourself can be a hard thing to do and many have tried but failed. But far more have tried and succeeded by emptying themselves for each other.

I have two dear friends –better yet, I shall call them the BEST friends anyone could ever have. Their names are Mike and Roberta, and we met 35 years ago when our sons were playing youth baseball. Their friendship was unconditional, unquestioned, and given freely without reservation. They were unhesitatingly there for my family and later, after my wife, Loretta had passed, for me.

As is the way of things time never waits for anyone and keeps moving forward. Now Roberta  looks at the dying person in the bed before her and realizes that part of herself is lying there too. Suddenly their lives together scroll before her. The courtship, the wedding, the birth of their child, the laughter, the good times and the bad, the crying, and so forth. This is when having God in your life is crucial. Hope springs eternal and therein lies the truth of the power of faith.

My friend, Mike, was raised in an orphanage in Philadelphia. Long ago, his mother dropped him off in front of the place on a snowy Christmas Eve. She left him standing there with a note pinned to his jacket. He was four years old. When he turned eighteen, he was dismissed from the orphanage, given a few bucks, and offered “best wishes and God’s blessings.”

He walked away from that place and immediately joined the United States Marine Corps. From that day forward, Mike, who was a trucker, has walked, talked, and looked like a Marine. Most of all he has loved his family and his country as completely as he could.

Roberta, who was a florist, was one of three sisters and was also from Philadelphia. Her life looks like different chapters in a novel whose genre could be considered “urban legend melodrama.” She was one of three sisters and was abused as a child. She lost her first husband to diabetes when she was thirty-one years old. Her father, an alcoholic, was burned over 75% of his body, and Roberta cared for him until he recovered and could somewhat function on his own.

Then she turned to alcohol, which ultimately led her to Alcoholics Anonymous. Mike was also attending AA, and that is where they met. He became her sponsor, and he was relentless in his quest to get her to stop drinking. She eventually did, and they got married. (Neither of them has had a drink in over 50 years).

A half-century of climbing and struggling down into the valleys and over the mountains of the journey called “life” has passed. They never wavered, stood tall, and together stared down and conquered all obstacles in their path. They raised a son who grew up to be the chief pilot for a well-known airline. Mike and Roberta are a living definition of the word marriage.

One more challenge stands before them. The only problem is, this time only one of them can confront the challenge. And, upon completing that challenge, that person will be alone.

Mike has been attacked by the cruel demon known as Alzheimer’s disease. It began erasing his memory some years ago, and it has relentlessly worked its evil 24/7. Today Mike is in a memory care unit inside a nursing home. He remembers nothing, yet his face lights up and he smiles ear to ear when his dear Roberta walks into the room. He thinks she is his “mommy.” Except she is not. He also has lost the ability to swallow and can no longer eat or drink.

His lover and best friend is now faced with the task of watching him leave her forever. She has asked hospice to keep him pain free and as comfortable as possible. The journey of the long goodbye has reached the last turn before arriving at the station. All that Roberta can do is embrace what was and know that his spirit will always be with her. Then she can take comfort in knowing that one day, holding hands, they will stand together again.

May God bless and have mercy on all Alzheimer’s victims and their families.


Copyright© Larry Peterson 2018

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LITURGY Q & A: Patron Saints in Mission Lands

12/11/2018 - 2:00am

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: I have been a missionary priest in Nigeria since Independence in 1960. Recently we celebrated our patron saint, Francis Xavier. I was asked by a younger missionary why the liturgical calendar specifies that all six patron saints of Europe are to be celebrated as feasts in Europe, and elsewhere as memorials; but the two patron saints of the missions (Francis Xavier and Thérèse of Lisieux) are to be celebrated only as memorials in territories subject to the Congregation for Evangelization. I could not answer him. — R.H., Jos, Nigeria

 A: At the risk of flippancy, I think that a first answer is that nobody has ever bothered to ask for it.

 A second possible answer could be that the European patrons are of a physical territory, whereas the patrons of the missions are of an activity or apostolate of the Church. In that sense, they are primarily patrons of the people who engage in missionary work, not so much of the territories under the aegis of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

 However, this second reason would not necessarily exclude the possibility of the first, and perhaps we can gain some clarity by examining the criteria for territorial patrons.

 According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 394:

 “Each diocese should have its own Calendar and Proper of Masses. For its part, the Conference of Bishops should draw up a proper Calendar for the nation or, together with other Conferences, a Calendar for a wider territory, to be approved by the Apostolic See.

 “In carrying out this task, to the greatest extent possible the Lord’s Day is to be preserved and safeguarded, as the primordial feast day, and hence other celebrations, unless they are truly of the greatest importance, should not have precedence over it. Care should likewise be taken that the liturgical year as revised by decree of the Second Vatican Council not be obscured by secondary elements.

 “In the drawing up of the Calendar of a nation, the Rogation Days and Ember Days should be indicated (cf. no. 373), as well as the forms and texts for their celebration, and other special measures should also be kept in mind.

 “It is appropriate that in publishing the Missal, celebrations proper to an entire nation or territory be inserted at the proper place among the celebrations of the General Calendar, while those proper to a region or diocese should have a place in a special appendix.”

 The above norms are based above all on the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, Nos. 48-51, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship in the instruction Calendaria Particularia, June 24, 1970, a subsequent decree on patrons, “De Patronis Constituendis” promulgated on March 19, 1973, and a notification updating some norms published in 1997. Calendaria Particularia says:

 “48. The arrangement for celebrating the liturgical year is governed by the calendar: the General Calendar, for use in the entire Roman Rite, or a particular calendar, for use in a particular Church or in families of religious.

 “49. In the General Calendar the entire cycle of celebrations is entered: celebrations of the mystery of salvation as found in the Proper of the Seasons, of those saints having universal significance who must, therefore, be celebrated by everyone or of saints who show the universality and continuity of holiness within the people of God.

 “Particular calendars have more specialized celebrations, arranged to harmonize with the general cycle. [15] The individual Churches or families of religious should show a special honor to those saints who are properly their own.

 “Particular calendars, drawn up by the competent authority, must be approved by the Apostolic See.

 “50. The drawing up of a particular calendar is to be guided by the following considerations:

 “a. The Proper of Seasons (that is, the cycle of seasons, solemnities, and feasts that unfold and honor the mystery of redemption during the liturgical year) must be kept intact and retain its rightful preeminence over particular celebrations.

 “b. Particular celebrations must be coordinated harmoniously with the universal celebrations, with care for the Liturgical Days. Lest particular calendars be enlarged disproportionately, individual saints may have only one feast in the liturgical year. For persuasive pastoral reasons, there may be another celebration in the form of an optional memorial marking the transfer or discovery of the bodies of patrons or founders of Churches or of families of religious.

 “c. Feasts granted by indult may not duplicate other celebrations already contained in the cycle of the mystery of salvation, nor may they be multiplied out of proportion.

 “51. Although it is reasonable for each diocese to have its own calendar and propers for the Mass and office, there is no reason why entire provinces, regions, countries, or even larger areas may not have common calendars and propers, prepared with the cooperation of all the parties involved. This principle may also be followed in the case of the calendars for several provinces of religious within the same civil territory.”

 From the above, we can see that the initiative for changes in the calendar comes above all from local and national communities and is then ratified by the Holy See. It is not an automatic procedure, and this is the basis of my first answer above.

 This procedure can be seen in the proclamation of St. Benedict as the first patron of Europe. Pope St. Paul VI wrote in his proclamation in 1964:

 “It is natural, then, that We also give our full assent to this movement that tends toward the attainment of European unity. For this reason, we gladly welcomed the requests of many cardinals, archbishops, bishops, superior generals of religious orders, rectors of universities and other distinguished representatives of the laity from the various European nations to declare St. Benedict the Patron of Europe. And in the light of this solemn proclamation, today’s date appears to Us particularly appropriate, for on this day We re-consecrate to God, in honor of the most holy Virgin and St. Benedict, the temple of Montecassino, which having been destroyed in 1944 during the terrible world conflict, was reconstructed through the tenacity of Christian piety. This we do most willingly, repeating the actions of several of Our Predecessors, who personally took steps throughout the centuries towards the dedication of this center of monastic spirituality, which was made famous by the sepulcher of St. Benedict. May so remarkable a saint receive our vow and, as he once dispelled the darkness by the light of Christian civilization and radiated the gift of peace, may he now preside over all of European life and by his intercession develop and increase it all the more.

 “Therefore, as proposed by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and after due consideration, in virtue of Our apostolic power, with the present Brief and in perpetuity we constitute and proclaim St. Benedict, Abbot, the Principal heavenly Patron of all Europe, granting every honor and liturgical privilege due by law to primary Protectors. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary. This we make known and establish, deciding that the present Letter remain valid and effective, that it obtain its full and integral effect and be respected by all those it regards or shall regard in future; so also, may whatever judgment or definition be in accordance with it; and henceforth, may whatever contrary act, by whatever authority it was established, consciously or through ignorance, be deemed invalid.

 “Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, the 24th of October in the year 1964, the second of Our Pontificate.”

 The addition of new patrons of Europe, however, was more of a personal initiative of Pope St. John Paul II. First, he added Cyril and Methodius as co-patrons on December 31, 1980. Then, in 1999, he added three holy women who also had significant meaning for Europe:

 “Through the Communion of Saints, which mysteriously unites the Church on earth with the Church in heaven, they take our cares upon themselves in their unceasing intercession before the throne of God. At the same time, a more fervent invocation of these Saints, and a more assiduous and careful attention to their words and example will not fail to make us ever more aware of our common vocation to holiness and inspire in us the resolve to be ever more generous in our commitment.

 “Wherefore, after much consideration, in virtue of my Apostolic Authority I establish and declare Saint Bridget of Sweden, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross heavenly Co-Patronesses of all of Europe before God, and I hereby grant all the honors and liturgical privileges belonging by law to the principal patrons of places.

 “Glory be to the Holy Trinity, whose radiant splendor shines uniquely in their lives and in the lives of all the Saints. Peace to men and women of good will, in Europe and throughout the world.

 “Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on the first day of October in the year 1999, the twenty-first of my Pontificate.”

 In an analogous process St. John Paul II named Our Lady of Guadalupe patron of the Americas on January 22, 1999, responding to a petition of the Special Synod of Bishops of America in 1997. The proclamation was formalized by a decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship on March 25, 1999, which included the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the universal calendar as an optional memorial and as a feast in all countries of both American continents except where it has a higher ranking such as in Mexico.

 Therefore, if the bishops of countries under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples were to consider it opportune that the celebrations of St. Francis Xavier and St. Thérèse of Lisieux be elevated to the rank of feast within these territories, then they would have to petition the above-mentioned congregation to take up the matter with the Holy Father.

 It is not impossible, but it will not happen unless the bishops themselves take the initiative.

 * * *

 Follow-up: “Healing Masses”

 Following our November 27 article on so-called healing Masses, a priest reader from Waterford, Ireland, asked: “On First Friday we have a ‘healing Mass’ where we administer the sacrament of the sick during Mass. I did not query this, but your response in Zenit regarding healing Masses shocks me into thinking we should not have this sacrament during Mass. Please confirm if this is an abuse.”

 Not knowing the concrete circumstances, and what permissions the bishop may have given, I must refrain from saying if this is an abuse or not.

 I can, however, give some general criteria that may allow our reader to form a judgment as to the concrete mode of action in the parish.

 First of all, it is permitted to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick within Mass. The ritual of “Pastoral Care of the Sick” contains the procedure for doing so.

 However, the normal conditions for receiving the sacrament must be met. Those who receive the sacrament must be frail elderly, have some life-endangering illness, or at least require treatment that could have serious consequences, such as the need for general anesthesia. Some forms of mental illness, especially if caused by organic malfunctions, may also qualify.

 The sacrament of the sick is not for otherwise healthy people who might be subject to moral difficulties, compulsions, addictions and the like. For such people, their authentic suffering is best helped by the sacraments of penance and Eucharist, the practice of prayer and spiritual guidance and, if necessary, professional therapy.

 The Introduction to the Rite of Pastoral care of the sick, No. 108, declares:

 “If the diocesan bishop decides that many people are to be anointed in the same celebration, either he or his delegate should ensure that all disciplinary norms concerning anointing are observed, as well as the norms for pastoral preparation and liturgical celebration. In particular, the practice of indiscriminately anointing numbers of people on these occasions simply because they are ill or have reached an advanced age is to be avoided. Only those whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age are proper subjects for the sacrament.”

 Therefore, even if offered during Mass, the sacrament may not be administrated to all and sundry but only to those who qualify for its reception. Most parishes will celebrate the sacrament of the sick during Mass perhaps once or twice a year. This is often done on or near to the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It can be more frequent if necessary, for example, if a parish has several retirement facilities within its territory.

 Likewise, although the sacrament may be repeated more than once during an illness; only in grave illnesses would it be repeated within a month. Even though I do not know the concrete situation of this parish, I suspect that life-threatening conditions are not so endemic as to warrant a monthly public celebration of the sacrament of the sick.

 Finally, we recall Article 7 of the norms mentioned in the previous article:

 “Art. 7 § 1. Without prejudice to what is established above in art. 3 or to the celebrations for the sick provided in the Church’s liturgical books, prayers for healing — whether liturgical or non-liturgical — must not be introduced into the celebration of the Holy Mass, the sacraments, or the Liturgy of the Hours.”

 Therefore, although the celebration of the sacrament of the sick may be inserted into Mass, it may not be included as part of a generic “healing Mass” along with other forms of prayer for healing.

 * * *

 Readers may send questions to Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city, and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

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US: Connecticut Diocese to have Laywoman Leader

12/11/2018 - 12:41am

Dr. Eleanor W. Sauers as Parish Life Coordinator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, effective January 1, 2019. The appointment was announced in a letter to parishioners on December 9, 2018, by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The appointment comes nine months after the death of the pastor of the parish.

“Working with a team of priests who will provide the sacramental ministries at St. Anthony, Eleanor will have decision-making authority in the parish,” Bishop Caggiano said. “She will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the parish, as she has done so capably over these last months. Her responsibilities, as it is with any priest or deacon appointed as Administrator, is to work with the parish community to develop and foster its pastoral vision and mission. She will continue to be present to the parish in times of celebration and sadness. Her education, formation, and experience makes her professionally, academically, and spiritually ready for this role.”

Here is Bishop Caggiano’s Full Letter


Dear Parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua:

It has been nearly nine months since the untimely death of Father John Baran, your beloved pastor. In the months that followed, I am grateful that the parish has continued to move forward because of the deeply rooted ministry and strong involvement of the laity developed during Father Baran’s time as pastor. I have also spent a great deal of time in prayer and discernment, which included two meetings with the leadership of the parish, to discern who should follow Father Baran as your pastoral leader.

We are at a very particular moment in the history of our Diocese, and indeed, within our Church. As I travel throughout Fairfield County, it has become apparent to me that many lay women and men are seeking new ways to serve their parishes, and, in collaboration with the clergy, to create vibrant and thriving communities.

That is why I have made the decision to appoint Dr. Eleanor W. Sauers as Parish Life Coordinator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, effective January 1, 2019.

Working with a team of priests who will provide the sacramental ministries at St. Anthony, Eleanor will have decision-making authority in the parish. She will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the parish, as she has done so capably over these last months. Her responsibilities, as it is with any priest or deacon appointed as Administrator, is to work with the parish community to develop and foster its pastoral vision and mission. She will continue to be present to the parish in times of celebration and sadness. Her education, formation, and experience makes her professionally, academically, and spiritually ready for this role.

The role of a Parish Life Coordinator is one that is supported in Canon law. My decision to ask Eleanor to take on this model of ministry, the first of its kind for a lay woman in this Diocese, is based on several factors.

  • The uniqueness of this parish community;
  • My deep appreciation for the work that Eleanor has already done here; and
  • The precedent in other Dioceses across the country for this model of pastoral leadership.

Your responsibility, as the community of St. Anthony of Padua, will be to support Eleanor, the priests who will provide the sacramental ministries, and the lay leadership of your parish.

I want to take a moment to thank all those priests who have supported this community through Father Baran’s illness and over the last nine months since his death. A very particular thank you must be extended to Father Michael Boccaccio who has served here generously, in addition to his other role in the Diocese as Director of the Propagation of Faith.

I pledge to you my support for Eleanor and for your parish. I have every confidence that Eleanor will build upon the good work of Father Baran and will help this community to thrive and grow into the future.

Please join me in praying for Eleanor as she steps boldly into a new role as Parish Life Coordinator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. Be assured of my continued prayers for each of you, and your wonderful parish family.

With kindest personal regards, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

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Venezuela: Jesuit Project Aids Those Leaving Country

12/10/2018 - 9:27pm

Material assistance while fighting a cultural battle against rising xenophobia: these are the pillars of a project to assist Venezuelans fleeing their country launched by the Jesuits in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the support of North American and European brother Jesuits.

Venezuela is a country deep in crisis. Years of command and dependence politics have weakened the entrepreneur capacity and dynamism of business operators. Falling prices of oil, the country’s main resource, undermine its financial system, Fides News Agency reported December 10, 2018.

In recent years, some 15,000 companies have closed and inflation has reached 1,200 percent. The country lacks everything: clean water, electricity, basic necessities, medicine, petrol. The people stand in never-ending lines to purchase food at reasonable prices, milk, rice, bread, pasta, butter.

In the face of this tragedy, Venezuelans are fleeing the country. Between 2015 and 2017 more than one million Venezuelans sought refuge in Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador. In these five last years, an estimated one in every 20 Venezuelan left the country. These displaced people live in difficult conditions. They lack food for immediate subsistence.

In this context the Jesuits have launched a project of humanitarian and emergency assistance on the borders of Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil consisting not only of basic needs (food, equipment and transport), but also legal assistance to regulate a state of immigration and health-psychosocial care for the most vulnerable (pregnant mothers, unvaccinated children, people with chronic health conditions).

The project of the Company of Jesus goes further than just ordinary humanitarian assistance: the continual arrival of refugees is causing growing diffidence in their regard among the local people. This attitude leads to xenophobic reaction manifested in constant abuse. This is why the Jesuits have started cultural activities promoting reception.
“Our aim – Venezuelan Jesuits explain in a report sent to Fides – is to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the people. We not only offer the refugees, help, and assistance we intend to counter growing xenophobia in the receiving countries and promote a culture of hospitality. We are considering a situation of forced emigration in Venezuela that gives first place to the rights of migrants. The results of our studies will be made available to all Venezuelans and be accompanied by campaigns to counter attitudes of rejection of migrants and foster instead an approach of welcoming “.

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Pakistan: Archbishop Arshad Calls Christians to be ‘Promoters of Peace and Hope’

12/10/2018 - 9:06pm

“Today there is urgent need of peace and hope in this city and indeed all over the country. The people are destitute and losing hope. As Christians in the Catholic diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, we must be ambassadors of peace and hope, not only for the local Church but for the whole of society”.

With these words, Archbishop Joseph Arshad of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi announced that 2019 will be a Year of Peace and Hope for the diocese. Fides News Agency reported that the Archbishop said: “Jesus is our peace and our hope. He is the prince of peace. Peace and hope are two important Christian values”. He went on to say: “I call on all our priests, religious, laity, church groups, and Catholic institutes to take a step forward and play their role and commitment to promote these two values.”

In every parish in the diocese, the Year of Peace and Hope will be inaugurated on January 1, 2019, in conjunction with the World Day of Peace and the reading out of the special Papal Message.

In his pastoral letter issued for the occasion, Mons Arshad states: “The words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt.5: 9 bind us to the Year of Peace and Hope which will mean living a time of inward renewal and promotion of peace which is a spiritual value innate in all religions and cultures…Let us explore together every possibility for starting an era of peace. Let us pray with St Francis of Assisi: Lord make me a channel of your peace. Let us open new paths of peace, lighting a candle of peace and hope. May peace and hope reign in Pakistan and in the world.”

In the area of Rawalpindi, Islamabad is a modern city built in the late 1950s after Pakistan gained independence. The first Catholic missions were opened towards the 19th century by chaplains of the British Army and led to the formation of the first Catholic communities in Rawalpindi and Peshawar. In 1887 the Prefecture of Kafiristan and Kashmir was established and entrusted to the Society of Saint Joseph for Foreign Missions, in other words, the Mill Hill Missionaries. The present diocese was created on July 10, 1947, one month before the independence of Pakistan.
Archbishop Joseph is the 11th Bishop of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi diocese and was installed February 10, 2017. “Peace and Hope” are the words he chose for his episcopal motto on the occasion of his episcopal ordination as Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Faisalabad in 2013.

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Pope’s Appeal: Human Rights Must Be at Center, Do Not Fear Going Against the Grain

12/10/2018 - 12:47pm

“Human rights must be at the center of all policies,” Pope Francis demands, “even when it means going against the grain.”

The Supreme Roman Pontiff stressed this in “an urgent appeal to those with institutional responsibilities,” lamenting how common it is to promote “many forms of injustice, nourished by reductive anthropological visions and an economic model based on profit, which does not hesitate to exploit, exclude and even kill man.”

The Holy Father communicated this in a message to participants in the International Conference entitled “Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions and Negations,” which began Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Department of Integral Human Development, read its text.

The international conference, organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development, was held to mark the 70th  Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action for the protection of human rights worldwide.

The Pope decried “when fundamental rights are violated or when one privileges some to the detriment of others,” “or when they are guaranteed only to certain groups,” that “serious injustices occur, which in turn, fuel conflicts with serious consequences within the nations or in their relations with each other.”

Pope Francis invited the international community to make a “renewed commitment to the defense of human dignity, with special attention to the most vulnerable members of the community.”

Below is a Zenit working translation of Pope Francis’ message:


The Holy Father’s Message

Lord Cardinal,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I’m happy to send my warn greeting to all of you, representatives of the States to the Holy See, of the United Nations Institutions, of the Council of Europe, of the Episcopal Commissions of Justice and Peace, and of those for social pastoral care, the academic world  and organizations of the civil society, gathered in Rome for the International Conference on the theme “Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations,” organized by the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development and by the Pontifical Gregorian University, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and on the 25th anniversary of the Declaration and of the Program of Action of Vienna.

Through these two documents, the Family of Nations wished to acknowledge the equal dignity of every human person,[1]from which fundamental rights and freedoms derive that, in as much as rooted in the nature of the human person — inseparable unity of body and soul — are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interconnected.[2] Recognized at the same time in the Declaration of 1948 is that “every individual has duties towards the community, in which the free and full development of his personality is only possible.”[3]

In the year in which the significant anniversaries are celebrated of these international juridical instruments, an in-depth reflection seems opportune on the foundation and the respect of the rights of man in the contemporary world, a reflection that I hope will be harbinger of a renewed commitment in favour of the defense of human dignity, with special attention to the most vulnerable members of the community.

In fact, observing carefully our contemporary societies, numerous contradictions are found that induce us to ask ourselves if the equal dignity of all human beings, solemnly proclaimed 70 years ago, is truly recognized, respected, protected and promoted in every circumstance. Numerous forms of injustice persist today in the world, fueled by reductive anthropological vision and by an economic model founded on profit, which doesn’t hesitate to exploit, to reject and even to kill man.[4] While a part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees its dignity unknown, scorned and trampled and its fundamental rights ignored and violated.

I think, among other things, of the unborn who are denied the right to come to the world; of those that don’t have access to the indispensable means for a fitting life;[5] of all those that are excluded from an adequate education, and who are unjustly deprived of work or constrained to work as slaves; of those that are detained in inhuman conditions, who suffer torture or to whom the possibility is denied of being redeemed;[6] of the victims of forced disappearances and of their families.

My thought also goes to all those that live in an atmosphere dominated by suspicion and contempt, who are the object of acts of intolerance, discrimination and violence by reason of their racial, ethnic, national or religious belonging.[7]

Finally, I cannot but remember all those that suffer multiple violations of their fundamental rights, in the tragic context of armed conflicts, while unscrupulous merchants of death [8] enrich themselves at the price of the blood of their brothers and sisters.

In face of these grave phenomena, we are all called into question. In fact, when fundamental rights are violated, or when some are privileged at the expense of others, or when they are only guaranteed to specific groups, then grave injustices are verified, which in turn fuel conflicts with heavy consequences, be it within individual Nations, be it in the relations between them.

Therefore, each one is called to contribute with courage and determination, in the specificity of one’s own role, to respect the fundamental rights of every person, especially the “invisible” ones, of so many that hunger and thirst, are naked, sick, strangers or detained (Cf. Matthew 25:35-36), who live on the margins of society and are rejected.

This exigency of justice and solidarity has special significance for us Christians, because the Gospel itself invites us to turn our gaze to the littlest of our brothers and sisters, to be moved to compassion (Cf. Matthew 14:14) and to commit ourselves concretely to alleviate their sufferings.

On this occasion, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to all those that have institutional responsibilities, asking them to put human rights at the center of all policies, including those of cooperation for development, even when that means going against the current.

With the hope that these days of reflection may reawaken consciences and inspire initiatives geared to protect and promote human dignity, I entrust each one of you, your families and your peoples to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Peace, and I invoke upon all an abundance of divine blessings.

From the Vatican, December 10, 2018


[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]


[1] Cf. Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, December 10, 1948, Preamble and Article 1.

[2] Cf. Declaration of Vienna, June 25, 1993, n. 5.

[3] Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, article 29.1.

[4] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 53.

[5] Cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, April 11, 1963, 6.

[6] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2267.

[7] Cf. Address to the Participants in the World Conference on the theme “Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism, in the Context of Global Migrations,” September 20, 2018.

[8] Cf. General Audience, St. Peter’s Square, June 11, 2014.

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Poland: Climate Change Talks Continue in Katowice

12/10/2018 - 12:45pm

The COP24 climate change talks continue in Katowice, Poland, until December 14, 2018. Major global Catholic institutions recently convened an international gathering of Catholic activists at the COP event. The gathering explored personal stories from the front lines of the climate crisis and brought out a Catholic response from participants.

Caritas Internationalis and the Archdiocese of Katowice were joined by CIDSE, Caritas Poland, Franciscans International, and Global Catholic Climate Movement in convening the event, Caritas reported on December 10, 2018.

Speakers from the front lines of the crisis included Mercy Chirambo, Livelihoods and Climate Adaptation Officer at CADECOM (Caritas Malawi). Malawi is at risk of severe floods and drought due to climate change. Chirambo said, “as UN leaders gather together, it’s so important that we Catholics gather too. We are the ones whose lives are at risk as the world gets hotter. Our faith teaches us to care for each other, and that applies to climate change too.” 

Chiara Martinelli, Executive Advisor for CIDSE and one of the organizers of the gathering said “So many young people came together today fostering hope for the climate movement. Their commitment shows that we can all be agents for change in our own lives and make a difference starting from our communities. Catholics are going the distance in the struggle for climate justice; they gather their strength from the love for this Earth, from one another, and from the certainty that they are doing the right thing.”  

A Holy Mass and a meeting with the Archbishop of Katowice, Msgr. Wiktor Paweł Skworc were part of the programme and motivated the volunteers while creating a connection with the local church. After renewing their faith commitment, participants listened to each other’s stories, shared their experiences of “ecological conversion” and made concrete commitments to sustainable lifestyles and climate justice.  

Some of the commitments shared by participants were to:

  • “always be aware of my role as part of creation and caring for others around me”,
  • “reach out to as many young people as I can, with the message of Laudato Si’ and of ecological conversion”,
  • “buy a bike and to cycle more”
  • “eat less meat”
  • “inspire change and raise the voice of the poor”.  

The participants thought about solidarity with people affected by climate change.

Susannah from the Saminourra people of Sweden said: “We get the strength to commit from doing it together and from the support shown by people who share our concerns. That we are not the only ones struggling and suffering. Also, from knowing that if we lead the way we can inspire others to do the same.”  

The participants’ messages of solidarity with the vulnerable are especially relevant to Human Rights Day, 10 December. This year the day coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The date is very significant. It reminds everyone – in particular negotiating Parties at these climate talks – that climate change is a threat to livelihoods. It is also a threat to the enjoyment of human rights, such as the right to adequate food, water, health, and housing.

On the other hand, the measures adopted by governments to address climate change must ensure that human rights are fulfilled. For example, meaningful public participation of affected communities is essential in all stages (creation, implementation, and assessment) of climate policies and programs.    

Now there is only one week to go before the end of the climate change conference. Catholic campaigners at the event hope that COP24 will conclude with substantial commitments. We want their commitments to be in solidarity with the most vulnerable populations affected by climate change and with a clear and ambitious plan for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

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Lebanon: Maronite Bishops Urge Repatriation of Syrian Refugees

12/10/2018 - 12:32pm

Lebanon “can no longer carry the weight of Syrian refugees,” and therefore it is necessary to “dissociate the political solution of the conflict in Syria from the necessary return of the displaced to their homes.” This urgent matter was underlined once again by the Maronite Bishops on the occasion of their latest monthly assembly, hosted on December 6, 2018, by the Patriarchal See of Bkerké. The Maronite Bishops insist that the repatriation of Syrian refugees must be started without waiting for a complete political solution to the conflict that has tormented Syria since 2011, according to Fides News Agency on December 10, 2018.

On November 30, 2018, the Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil had a meeting in the Vatican with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for relations with states of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, for clarification and reassurance regarding the position of the Holy See on the question of the repatriation of Syrian refugees who have found shelter in Lebanon. During the meeting the Lebanese minster explained to Archbishop Gallagher the serious reasons for which Lebanon cannot continue to bear for much longer the economic and security weight of the emergency connected also with the presence on Lebanese territory of more than one million Syrian refugees.

“Lebanon asks simply that no obstacle will prevent the safe return of those refugees wishing to return,” said Gebran Bassil in a statement issued following the meeting with Archbishop Gallagher.

Before the meeting between the Lebanese minister and the high ranking Vatican official, certain considerations attributed to Archbishop Gallagher had drawn comments from the Lebanese media according to which the present situation in Syria could render impracticable the albeit desired repatriation of Syrian refugees

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Save the Children Welcomes Migration Pact

12/10/2018 - 12:14pm
Save the Children welcomed the adoption December 10, 2018, in Marrakech of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration by the overwhelming majority of UN member states. This historic document establishes a solid platform for collaboration between countries to protect the rights of millions of migrant children – many of whom have faced unimaginable journeys, especially when traveling alone.

The United Nations Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour emphasized that “the adoption of the Migration Compact is a re-affirmation of the values and principles embodied in the UN Charter and in international law.”

The UN asserts that the GCM is not a legally binding document and that its text is an agreed outcome from several years of intergovernmental negotiations and it is for each State to determine its own next steps.

Although 164 countries approved the compact, several remain opposed, including the United States.

Some migrant children flee crippling poverty, disasters, violence, and human rights abuses only to face abuse, trafficking, deportation, detention or even death, according to Save the Children. The Global Compact on Migration contains 38 paragraphs referring to children. Its goal is to enhance working relationships between countries to better protect migrant children whether that’s before they embark on a journey, while a decision is made on their migration status at their destination or in their country of origin in cases of return.

Save the Children’s Global Campaign, Advocacy and Communications Director Patrick Watt said:

“The Compact on Migration was developed because the world recognized that protecting the rights of children on the move requires a global, organized response. All children—regardless of where they come from or where they’re going – have the right to be safe, access basic services and not be separated from the people that care for them.

“We must now harness the energy, ideas, and experiences of children and young people themselves to ensure that they have a say in the way that this compact is implemented and that it meets their needs.”

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27th Meeting of Council of Cardinals In Progress

12/10/2018 - 12:08pm

The 27th meeting of the Council of Cardinals is taking place in the Vatican. The C9, as the group is commonly called, is studying the plans for reforming the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus” on the Roman Curia.

The meeting began this morning and concludes on Wednesday.

The Council of Cardinals consisted of the following nine prelates: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago, Chile; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (not present, in Australia); Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. However, now there are eight cardinal members, as Chilean Cardinal Errazuriz resigned from the Council on Nov. 14, 2018.

The working sessions are held in the morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and in the afternoon, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and are dedicated to further considerations on several dicasteries of the Curia.

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Cuba: Priest Vows Church will not Give up in Face of Challenges

12/10/2018 - 11:37am

Both the Cuban people and the Catholic Church in the country are living through a time of change, and yet the lack of true reforms and the lack of resources together constitute one of the greatest challenges facing society. Such is the situation, as explained to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation ACN International by Father Rolando Montes de Oca, a Cuban priest of the Archdiocese of Camaguey, who is currently living and studying in Rome. Aged 37, and belonging to the “Schönstatt” movement, he expresses his concern at the lack of a genuine religious opening in Cuba – consisting not merely of words but of deeds as well – in which families can freely choose the education of their children and the Church is allowed more places or centers in which it can demonstrate that “we are not a danger to Cuban society” but in fact quite the contrary.

The Castro era finally and definitively ended in April 2018. Fidel and Raul Castro have now been succeeded by Miguel Díaz-Canel as the country’s new president. How do the people see the new government?

I would say that it continues to be exactly the same as before. President Díaz-Canel himself has repeated on a number of occasions that his mission is to assure the continuity of the so-called “historical process”, or in other words the socialism initiated by Fidel Castro as the political, economic and social path to follow. Moreover, on his very first address as president, he stated that this continuity is the absolute priority of his government and insisted that it would still be Raul Castro who will take every fundamental decision for the country.

One of the first administrative actions of the new government was the promulgation of the new Constitution, which was endorsed by the Cuban parliament in July. The stated intention of the government was not only to open up to the market economy but also to strengthen civil rights. How is the question of freedom of religion dealt with in the new Constitution?

There is freedom of worship, in the sense that people can meet together in churches to celebrate their faith. The articles already existing in the former constitution, which stipulate that the Cuban State “ recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom” and that “all individuals have the right to profess, or not profess, a religious creed”, have remained unchanged. However, it is important to understand what is meant by “religious freedom”. In my view, it should not refer simply to freedom of worship. Nonetheless, these declarations regarding religious freedom might be seen as a point of reference, an ideal towards which we can advance through dialogue.

The tourists who come to Cuba see among other things churches full of people and an impressive participation in worship by the Catholic faithful. Is it possible to say that Christians can now freely live their faith? Would you say that the era of discrimination has come to an end?

Of course, things are not as they were in the time of the old Soviet Union. And even though the Internet is still not available to all the Cuban people, there are more and more people able to connect to the network, so that the modus operandi of the government is becoming more and more publicly visible, in the sense that it can cross national frontiers and is increasingly liable to generate notice in the international sphere. For its part, the Cuban system is very much concerned to project an image of democracy, of a Cuba that is fully free.

Nonetheless, although there is freedom of worship, I believe there is still a long way to go before we can arrive at true religious freedom. For example, Cuban families do not have the right to choose what kind of education they will give to their children but are still forced to educate them under a Marxist atheist ideology. Despite claiming to offer a secular education, the philosophy that underlies it in regard to its analysis of history and reality is still very much an atheist and materialist one.

Does the Church also face restrictions in religious matters?

The pilgrim Church in Cuba is denied the right to its own space in the mass media. Except during papal visits and for an additional few minutes a year granted to the bishops on the local radio stations, there is no access to the media for the Church. Another major obstacle has been the ban on building churches and places of worship, despite the fact they allowed two or three churches to be built recently, after almost 60 years of petitions and dialogue.

There are also some very commonly occurring incidents that happen in the villages and towns, such as bans imposed on practical pastoral activities and sometimes against certain individual priests or certain specific works of charity on the part of the Church and so forth. These are disagreeable incidents, the origin of which is not clear – whether they are by order of government officials or by the independent decision of minor regional authorities.

And although, after so many years of religious repression, there is now some progress to be seen in regard to freedom of worship, the idea that seems to prevail in many people’s minds is that if they overstep their authority in acting against the Church, it will not cause them any problems, but if on the other hand, they go too far in favoring religion, they may well have to face problems as a result.


“Whatever may happen, the Church in Cuba will not give up in the face of the difficulties”


And how is the Church to overcome these restrictions?

Although the Church in Cuba faces many difficulties, she will never yield. We are denied regular access to the mass media, yet we do not cease to convey the Gospel message. In the dioceses, the bishops are producing magazines and newsletters which, in addition to speaking about faith, aim to enlighten the ordinary lives of the Cuban people. Although we don’t have access to education, because as I have already mentioned, it is practically entirely atheist, we do have our own formation centers where we can convey true Christian and civic values. It is extremely difficult to build churches, but in many small towns and villages that do not have them, there is still the Christian community, living, celebrating and bearing witness to faith in the private homes of those who open their doors to us so that we can celebrate the Eucharist and offer a Christian formation.

What is the role of the Church in Cuba?

We strive as a Church to engage in dialogue and show that we are not a danger to Cuban society. And still more than this, the Church has a great deal to offer and has the right to be allowed to have certain spaces in which it can better carry out this service. The aim is not to oppose each other but to help become united, by respecting the diversity of ideas, and so that one day it may be possible to arrive at a Cuba “of all and for the good of all”, without excluding anyone.

And what is the biggest challenge facing you?

In my view, the problem that most affects the Cuban Church at the present time has to do with her mission as a mediator in the process of national reconciliation, which is something we regard as necessary today. The Cuban people are divided, and the Church in Cuba is striving to find space for everyone and constantly calling on people to dialogue. Tragically, ever since the beginning of the “conflict”, there has not been any openness to dialogue, either on the part of the official government positions or on the part of the most radical opposition. As a result, the Church is sometimes accused of being “communist” and at other times accused of allowing herself to be manipulated by the opposition or by US political interests. Both charges are false; the Church in Cuba is simply not being properly listened to. While the Communist Party demands our silence in the face of the grave and continuing social problems, as the price of good relations between the Church and the state, the other side often interprets the mission of the Church as a militant political posture, which excludes and condemns any relationship with the government, in absolute terms. Whereas the position of the Church in Cuba is not as an absolute belligerent in either sense. The Church is a mother, she is not the enemy of anyone. The Church is the Spouse of Christ, and she will not become wedded to any earthly powers, however difficult this may be for many to understand.


Cuba - Diocese of Holguín

How do you see the future of the Church in Cuba, and how can the charitable agencies such as the foundation ACN International help her in her needs?

It is very hard to imagine the future of Cuba. We dream of a future of peace, built through dialogue, justice, and forgiveness. But whatever may happen, the Church in Cuba will not give up in the face of the difficulties. She has learned to open windows when the doors were closed. The Church in Cuba is a community of hope which strives to transmit this hope to a society that is very much in need.

The problems facing the Church in Cuba are the problems faced by all the Cuban people. One of the most serious among them is the lack of financial resources. ACN has been very much involved in the evangelising activity of the parishes and has supported the formation of new priests in so many different ways, while also helping our mission through the publication of Bibles, catechisms, prayer books and teaching materials and funding the purchase of vehicles to enable the missionaries to travel and reach their communities. You have helped us to rebuild our churches when they were damaged by natural disasters, and in so many other ways besides. The enormous aid given by ACN to the Cuban Church has borne, continues to bear and will bear fruit in the future as well. Many of these fruits can indeed already be seen on a simple visit to the country. It is as though God is acting through the action of ACN, sometimes in ways that are unseen but which continue in the background and exercise their influence through conversions, the diffusion of Christian values and more humane attitudes, etc.

You yourself have known the work of ACN ever since your childhood, have you not?

I remember with great gratitude that day when I was still a little boy and when our parish priest and catechist arrived, overjoyed, and bringing with them the Child’s Bible produced by ACN. I was only little then and I wanted to have good book about the faith, explained in the language of children. I read the whole book and I fell in love with God through the pages of this Bible. I still keep it in my home to this day. And since then I have used it many times for the religious instruction of children. Yes, the ACN Child’s Bible is something closely linked to the roots of my personal experience of God.


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