Opposition Candidate Luis Abinader of the Modern Revolutionary Party, who has recovered from testing positive for COVID-19 last month, is twenty points ahead of former Public Works Minister Gonzalo Castillo in opinion polls leading up to the election.
Castillo is the candidate of the Dominican Liberation Party, which has ruled the Dominican Republic for the last sixteen years.
To win outright in the first round, and avoid a second round runoff, a candidate has to gain more than 50 percent of the vote. Former President Leonel Fernandez is trailing a distant third in the election sprint, while outgoing president Danilo Medina, who won last time around, is barred by the Constitution from competing this time.
The pandemic has hit the population hard and affected the tourism industry. Battling corruption is another a key issue.
The electorate will also vote for 190 members of the Chamber of Deputies and 32 Senators.
By Stefan J. Bos
The French court investigation focuses on three senior officials, including outgoing Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. It follows complaints from unions and doctors about shortages of medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities say nearly 30,000 people died in France of the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
The Law Court of the Republic also looks into possible misconduct by Agnès Buzyn, the former health minister, and her successor Olivier Véran.
The announcement came after France’s new Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that the “economic crisis of the pandemic is already here.” Speaking outside his official residence, he added: “Priorities will, therefore, have to evolve, ways of working will have to be adapted. We will have to unite the nation to fight this crisis that is setting in.”
Castex also said he would continue the structural reforms undertaken by Philippe, who stepped down on Friday under pressure from the president. Elsewhere in Europe, government leaders and other officials also struggle to deal with the pandemic impact.
In Spain, the government of the Catalonia region re-imposed coronavirus controls on an area of 210,000 people after a sharp rise in infections. President Quim Torra said no-one would be allowed to enter or leave Segrià, an agricultural area west of Barcelona, which includes the city of Lleida.
Tensions are also rising between EU nations. Portugal’s foreign affairs minister, for instance, has said his country’s exclusion from a list of nations for which quarantine will not apply for people returning to England is “absurd.”
Critics cite examples that even British officials or their family members violate rules. In the latest such case, the father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his decision to fly to Greece via Bulgaria.
He wanted to “COVID-proof” his property there before he potentially rents it out. However, commentaries said that violated — at the very least — the spirit of Greece’s coronavirus restrictions as well as the current travel guidance in Britain.
All is also not well outside Western Europe, in the former Soviet Union: In Russia, a Russian Orthodox Church court has expelled a coronavirus-denying cleric from the priesthood after he seized control of a convent.
And in Armenia police showed up at the offices of two independent television stations critical of the government to check into their alleged violation of infection-prevention rules during the coronavirus pandemic – move the media outlets denounced as political pressure by the president and his allies.
The developments underscore broader concerns that the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on policies and economies in Europe, and beyond, is far from over.
By Andrea Tornielli
In recent days, the United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution calling for “an immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations for at least 90 consecutive days”, in order to guarantee humanitarian assistance for the affected populations, and to counter the devastating consequences of the spread of Covid-19.
Pope Francis, with his intervention at the conclusion of the Angelus on Sunday, desired to lend his support to the initiative, hoping that the global ceasefire would be observed “effectively and promptly”. The Pope’s initiative represents a new step on a long road — a step made even more urgent by the crisis caused by the pandemic, whose most devastating consequences, on a par with those of wars, fall on the poorest.
On Sunday, 29 March, the Pope had already made this request, supporting the appeal made five days earlier by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. António Guterres had called for a “global and immediate ceasefire in all corners of the world”, recalling the Covid-19 emergency, which knows no borders. Pope Francis had associated himself “with those who have welcomed this appeal” and had invited “everyone to follow it by ceasing all forms of hostility, promoting the creation of humanitarian aid routes, openness to diplomacy, and attentiveness to those who are in situations of great vulnerability.”
The Pope had expressed his hope that the joint commitment against the pandemic, “might bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of a single human family.” In particular, he said, “May it inspire a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries among the leaders of nations and the parties involved. Conflicts cannot be resolved through war! Antagonism and differences must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace.”
Pope Francis, in the following weeks, had returned twice more to lament the costs of conflict. In the homily for the Easter Vigil, celebrated in St. Peter’s, he said: “Let us silence the cries of death, no more wars! May we stop the production and trade of weapons, since we need bread, not guns”. Pope Francis desired to recall once again this theme, which has been a constant theme of his pontificate, in the longer of the two Marian prayers suggested to the faithful to be prayed at the conclusion of the Rosary in the month of May: “Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity. Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.”
Several times and on different occasions, in previous years, Pope Francis had denounced “the hypocrisy” and “sin” of the leaders of those countries that “speak of peace and sell weapons to make these wars” — words he also repeated on his return from the last international journey before the outbreak of the pandemic, the one to Thailand and Japan: “In Nagasaki and Hiroshima I paused in prayer; I met some survivors and relatives of victims, and I renewed my firm condemnation of nuclear weapons and the hypocrisy of talking about peace while building and selling weaponry.”
According to an Oxfam report, in 2019 global military spending reached two trillion dollars, and currently there are two billion human beings trapped in countries at war, exhausted by violence, persecution, famine — and now, the pandemic emergency.
By Vatican News
Pope Francis addressed a scattering of well-distanced faithful in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday with a reflection on the Gospel reading of the day (Mt 11: 25-30), which he explained, is divided into three parts.
In the first part, he said, “Jesus raises a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving to the Father, because He revealed to the poor and to the simple the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven.”
Then, he continued, “He reveals the intimate and unique relationship between Him and the Father.”
Finally, the Pope added, “He invites us to go to Him and to follow Him to find relief.
When Jesus gives thanks to the Father, he explained, he praises Him for having kept the secrets of His Kingdom hidden from those he ironically calls “the wise and the learned”.
Pope Francis explained that he calls them so “with a veil of irony, because they presume to be so and therefore have a closed heart.”
But Jesus, he continued, says that the mysteries of His Father are revealed to the “little ones”, that is, to those who confidently open themselves to His Word of salvation, who feel the need for Him and expect everything from Him.
Then, the Pope said, Jesus explains that He has received everything from the Father. He calls Him “my Father”, to affirm the unique nature of His relationship with Him.
“There is total reciprocity only between the Son and the Father”, he said, “each one knows the other, each one lives in the other.”
It is this unique communion that gives life to Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me…”, he explained, because the son wishes to give what He receives from the Father.”
The Pope then went on to point out that “Just as the Father has a preference for the “little ones”, Jesus also addresses those “who labour and are burdened”.
He highlighted that Jesus’ full dedication to the Father, and his meekness and humility are not a model for the resigned, nor he said, “is He simply a victim,” but rather He lives this condition “from the heart” in full transparency to the love of the Father, that is, to the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus is the model of the ‘poor in spirit’ and of all the other ‘blessed’ of the Gospel, who do the will of God and bear witness to His Kingdom,” he said.
Pope Francis wrapped-up his reflection pointing out that the “solace” that Christ offers to the weary and oppressed is not merely psychological relief or almsgiving, but the joy of the poor to be evangelised and to be builders of the new humanity.
“It is a message for all people of good will,” he said, which Jesus still conveys today in a world that exalts those who become rich and powerful, no matter by what means, trampling at times upon the human being and his or her dignity.”
It is also a message for the Church, he said, that is called to live works of mercy and to evangelise the poor.
Pope Francis concluded invoking the Virgin Mary to help us “discern her signs in our lives and be sharers in those mysteries which, hidden from the proud, are revealed to the humble.”
By Vatican News
Pope Francis has once again lent his support to appeals for a global ceasefire in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The call for a global and immediate ceasefire is commendable, which would allow the peace and security essential to provide the humanitarian assistance so urgently needed,” he said in remarks following the Angelus on Sunday.
On 1 July, members of the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution demanding “a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda.” The resolution calls on parties to armed conflicts to immediately in a “durable humanitarian phase” provide aid to countries to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the resolution, the Council also voiced support for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who first proposed a global ceasefire on 23 March. That appeal has been echoed by world leaders, including Pope Francis, who, at the Angelus on 29 March invited everyone “to follow it up by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability.”
In response to the Security Council’s resolution, Pope Francis this Sunday said, “The call for a global and immediate ceasefire, which would allow the peace and security essential for providing the humanitarian assistance so urgently needed, is commendable.”
He said he hoped that “this decision will be implemented effectively and promptly for the sake of the many people who are suffering” throughout the world.
Pope Francis prayed that the Security Council resolution might “become a courageous first step towards a peaceful future.”
By Vatican News
Four people were killed in a restaurant in the Somalian city of Baidoa when a landmine was detonated by remote control early Saturday morning. Several other people were wounded in the attack.
Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the al-Shabbab militant group has previously targeted the city.
Saturday morning also saw a suicide car bomb attack in the capital, Mogadishu. Local authorities said the bomber broke through a security checkpoint near the gates of the motor vehicle imports duty authority headquarters near the city’s port. Police officers then opened fire on the vehicle, which exploded outside of the main gates of the facility.
Five police officers were wounded.
Somalia has seen civil strife since the early 1990s, when dictator Siad Barre was overthrown and forced into exile. Since 2008, the al-Shabbab group has been fighting to overthrow the central government.
Julius Ayuk Tabe, the most prominent separatist leader who is currently serving a life sentence in prison for charges including terrorism, said the meeting took place on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire.
Violence broke out in 2017 following a government crackdown on peaceful protests by Anglophone lawyers and teachers who complained of being marginalised by the French-speaking majority.
The fighting has caused more than 3,000 deaths and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
Last year, Switzerland mediated talks between the government and exiled separatist leaders, but those leaders are considered less influential than Tabe and the discussions did not produce any significant results.
Tabe, the self-declared president of an independent English-speaking state the separatists call Ambazonia, said nine separatist leaders participated in the meeting, which followed calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire.
“Be reassured that we remain committed to the restoration of the independence of the homeland,” he said in a statement, without providing further details about the substance of the talks.
Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
One of the security sources who confirmed the meeting said the authorities’ openness to talks reflected the fatigue of the population after three years of conflict that have failed to produce a clear victor.
“This war has made us see the resilience of the Anglophones from an ideological point of view,” he said, adding that international pressure to end the conflict had also forced the government’s hand.
Cameroon’s linguistic divide harks back to the end of World War One, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between the allied French and British victors.
By Robin Gomes
For the past 97 years, the International Day of Cooperatives has been celebrated each year on the first Saturday of July. Since 1995, the United Nations and the International Cooperative Alliance have chosen the theme of the annual day. The focus for this year is on climate action for sustainable development for a healthier, fairer and more united economy.
In a tweet for Saturday’s observance, Pope Francis also focused on the role of cooperatives in the fight against climate change. “In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency,” the Pope wrote on his Twitter account @Pontifex. “They can make a real difference in the fight against climate change, thanks to a strong sense of community and a deep love for the land,” he added.
The aim of the annual celebration is to increase awareness about cooperatives. Being people-centred, not capital-centred, cooperatives distribute wealth in a fairer way. As farms, businesses, or other organizations which are owned and run jointly by members who share the profits or benefits, cooperatives are committed to the sustainable development of their communities, environmentally, socially as well as economically. They support community activities, local sourcing of supplies to benefit the local economy, and decision-making that considers the impact on their communities.
Pope Francis’ tweet is an echo from his landmark encyclical “Laudato Si’”, which addresses issues of justice, peace and development with regard to the use of the goods of creation. He says that technology can be used for a type of progress which is “healthier, more human, more social, more integral”, such as when “cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community”.
Addressing representatives of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives on 16 March 2020, the Pope observed that the way of the cooperatives is to “take the lid off” of an economy that risks producing goods but at the cost of social injustice.
In a message for the June 4 International Day of Cooperatives, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, focused on the role of cooperatives in addressing the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change and in forging a path towards an inclusive and equitable future for all.
He noted that the dual crises of the pandemic and the climate emergency “are disproportionately affecting the world’s most vulnerable countries and people, and deepening many social and economic rifts”. The crises are also highlighting the need to strengthen global cooperation and solidarity.
This year’s observance, he said, underscores the contribution of cooperatives in addressing these challenges, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and forging a path towards an inclusive and equitable future.
“Cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises,” Guterres noted, “can also point the way toward resilience in times of crisis”.
By Nathan Morley
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi caused outrage throughout the world.
The indictment in Turkey accuses the suspects – including Saudi Arabia’s former deputy intelligence chief – of plotting the murder and assembling a squad to carry it out.
However, much to the dismay of Turkish prosecutors, none of the accused were present in the courtroom because the Saudi government has repeatedly turned down extradition requests.
Khashoggi was a vocal critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
He was murdered by a team of Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in 2018.
The defendants include two former aides to the prince – both deny involvement.
Last year, Saudi Arabia convicted eight people over the murder. Five were sentenced to death, while three others were handed prison sentences for covering up the crime.
However, the UN described the Saudi trial as “the antithesis of justice”.
The trial in Turkey has been adjourned until 24 November.
By Robin Gomes
The tragedy occurred on Thursday in a jade mine in Hpakant area in northern Myanmar, when a huge mass of mining residue collapsed down a slope into a lake, triggering massive waves of mud and water, which swallowed up the poor people scavenging for stones amid the loose earth.
“Our hearts are shattered by the horrific news about the death of … our young men in the jade mine tragedy,” Myanmar Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon wrote in a condolence message on Saturday to Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, where the accident occurred.
“Those who died were not only buried under a landslide of the mountain but by the landslide of injustice,” wrote the cardinal who is President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).
Speaking on behalf of the continent’s bishops, he recalled Pope Francis who “raised his voice against the never-ending tsunami of economic and environmental injustice against the poor all over the world”.
“Those who perished,” the cardinal said, “were sacrificed on the altar of greed, by utter negligence and arrogance of companies that continue to dehumanize the poor of this land.”
Tragedies at Myanmar’s jade mining sites are not rare. More than 100 people were reported killed at various mining sites last year. A November 2015 accident in Kachin also left 113 dead and was considered the country’s worst. However, the June 2 landslide has been the worst so far.
The victims are normally poor migrants and workers who sift for bits of jade in huge mounds of excavated earth discarded by heavy mining machinery. These scavengers usually work and live at the base of these mounds, which become particularly unstable during the rainy season.
Myanmar supplies 90% of the world’s jade, the vast majority of which is exported to neighbouring China, which borders Kachin state. The state’s remote Hpakant area is the centre of the world’s biggest and most lucrative jade mining industry.
According to Global Witness, a London-based group that investigates misuse of revenues from natural resources, Myanmar’s jade industry generated about $31 billion in 2014, with most of the profit shared between individuals and companies tied to the country’s former military rulers.
While praying for the families of victims, Cardinal Bo pointed out that “in these tragic times of COVID lockdown there cannot be a lockdown of the fire of hunger that forced those poor to seek the crumbs of jade that fall from mega companies’ bulldozers”.
Noting that millions of his countrymen have lost their livelihood to the pandemic, he said Thursday’s tragedy is a “grim reminder of the need for sharing God-given natural treasures”. “The treasures of Myanmar belong to the people of Myanmar”.
The FABC president warned that “if the relevant stakeholders do not respond with compassion and justice, this will not be the last time of this inhuman tragedy”.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday expressed her condolence over the tragedy, blaming it on joblessness. She said the victims were illegal miners, noting the difficulty of the people to get legal jobs and the priority of the country to create jobs.
United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres also expressed his sadness and sent his condolences to the bereaved families. Guterres expressed “the readiness of the United Nations to contribute to ongoing efforts to address the needs of the affected population,” said his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
Global Witness called the June 2 landslide “a damning indictment of the government’s failure to curb reckless and irresponsible mining practices.” Myanmar’s jade mining sector, it said, “is dominated by powerful military-linked companies, armed groups and cronies that have been allowed to operate without effective social and environmental controls for years.”
By Vatican News
Pope Francis has named Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti as Apostolic Nuncio in Great Britain.
Since November 2015, Abp Gugerotti has held the post Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine. He has previously served as the Pope’s representative to Georgia and Armenia, as well as to Azerbaijan (2001-2011), and later as Nuncio to Belarus (2011-2015).
The previous Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Edward Adams, retired in January 2020.
By Robin Gomes
“Covid Hopeline” is phone-in counselling service of the Diocese of Kalookan in Metro Manila. Its team of mental health experts and priests provides psychological and moral support to those suffering anxiety and stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
“We launched our own ‘Hopeline’ so that we’ll be able to help our people in the diocese when they need the guidance of a priest or a psychiatrist,” Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan told Church-run Radio Veritas.
In order to contain the spread of Covid-19, Philippine government in March placed the entire country under a state of public health emergency, with heavy restrictions in some regions such as the Luzon island.
Last month, the National Center for Mental Health reported that a growing number of people were suffering anxiety and stress due to the lockdown.
The Philippines has the third highest number of Covid-19 infections in South-East Asia after Indonesia and Singapore.
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday expressed alarm over the mental health situation in South-East Asia and urged countries in the region to pay greater attention to mental health and suicide prevention.
According to Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, suicide claims almost 800,000 lives every year globally and is the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years. Evidence shows that for each adult who dies of suicide, there are more than 20 others attempting suicide. The WHO South-East Asia Region accounts for 39 per cent of global suicide mortality.
Bishop David noted his diocese regards mental health needs seriously and is now reaching out to those in need with “Covid Hopeline”.
Issues such as stress, depression, trauma and domestic abuse and violence are intensifying because of the crisis caused by the lockdown and the Church needs to accompany the faithful in this phase, said the bishop, who is vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
According to him, the Church’s online and media outreach programme is a gift of modern technology that has been particularly helpful during the current crisis.
Since the lockdown, the internet and social media, he said, have served as the channel of the Church’s ministry.
The social communication ministry of Kalookan Diocese has strengthened its online presence to help provide pastoral care such as through psycho-spiritual webinars and online counselling.
People in need can contact “Covid Hopeline” at 0998-4014-777.
According to Bishop Jaime Florencio of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, it is not just about providing food and livelihood support during the ongoing lockdown but also mental healthcare.
The bishop who is vice chairman of CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Health Care warned that the accompanying mental health problem should not be overlooked as it is deeply affecting the country’s health and economy.
The Philippine Army on June 19, launched a mental health programme called the Mental Health Resilience Center (MHRC) in Taguig City for soldiers.
In his daily Masses during Italy’s Covid-19 lockdown, Pope Francis has addressed several issues that cause stress and anxiety to families and persons. He urged for prayers for those facing a financial crisis, joblessness, the elderly facing solitude, those subject to domestic violence, those in prison as well as grieving families unable to bid farewell to deceased members, victims of the virus.
Mwenya Mukuka – Lusaka, Zambia
This is according to a statement signed by Caritas Zambia Executive Director Eugene Kabilika. He made the remarks on behalf of all Caritas Zambia Diocesan Directors.
“We agree with the Bishops on the need for inclusive consultations on matters concerning the amendment of Zambia’s 2016 Constitution. When Bishops analyse political events, they do so in the light of the Word of God and the Social Teaching of the Church. Bill No. 10 falls short of promoting some of the key principles of the Social Teaching of the Church,” said Kabilika.
He added, “While the constitution-making process is a common good for Zambians, the government refused to amend the National Dialogue Forum Bill (NDF), which would have set the tone for national unity and healing.”
Caritas Zambia Directors from the Dioceses say that, in any case, according to Parliamentary Standing Orders, Bill No. 10 lapsed on 4 June 2020 and it was wrong to insist on it.
Caritas Zambia has since repeated the call made by the Zambian Bishops on 9 June 2020 that Bill 10, should be withdrawn.
“We call upon the government to listen to the voice of reason. Amendments to the Constitution of Zambia should be based on the widest consultation and consensus-building,” Kabilika said..
Recently, President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop George Cosmas Lungu said Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 was polarising Zambians and should be withdrawn from parliament. Explaining the Bishops’ objections, Secretary-General of the Bishops’ Conference, Fr. Cleophas Lungu, said the amendments were too radical. He said the ruling party had hijacked the process for its own political ends.
“To begin with, in terms of the main objectives: When we were embarking on this journey, it was our understanding that the aim was to address the lacunas (gaps) in the amended Constitution of 2016. It was our view that the law needed some refinement. Alas, we see now that the Patriotic Front Government has gone beyond the original objective. Some wholesale changes are being proposed that will radically change the nature of the Constitution and even the nature of our young but maturing democracy,” said Fr. Cleophas Lungu.
By Vatican News
Pope Francis, continuing his many gestures of closeness in recent times amid the Covid-19 crisis, has donated 25,000 Euros to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Announcing the Pope’s donation on Friday, the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development said in a statement that it is “an immediate expression of the Holy Father’s closeness” to people affected by the pandemic and those “engaged in essential services in favour of the poor.”
The Holy Father made this donation through the Dicastery in collaboration with the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The recent donation is also “a paternal gesture of encouragement” to the WFP and to other countries that provide support for integral development which “combat social instability, food insecurity, growing unemployment and the collapse of the economic systems of vulnerable nations.”
Pope Francis has continually lent his support to the fight against Covid-19. He recently donated 35 ventilators to support countries hard-hit by the crisis, especially those with poor health systems. Other monetary donations he has made specifically during the covid-19 crisis amount to almost 2 million Euros.
By Stefan J. Bos
There were numerous comings and goings of limousines and well-dressed people at the famed Hôtel de Matignon, the official prime minister’s residence in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants a new government to focus on efforts to relaunch the French economy deeply hit by the coronavirus crisis.
That’s why French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tendered his resignation Friday.
He had been heading the government for three turbulent years when he oversaw three significant crises. Besides the coronavirus pandemic, Phillippe weathered the yellow vests protests against fuel taxes as well as severe living conditions, and he oversaw pension reforms.
Yet his resignation was a controversial move. Commentators claim outgoing prime minister Philippe is more popular than the president who appoints the government.
But the governing La République En Marche or Republic on the Move party had poor local election results over the weekend.
It hopes a new government will win back voters ahead of a possible re-election bid by President Macron in 2022.
After their meeting, the president and prime minister agreed that Philippe and his ministers would handle government affairs until a new cabinet is named.
Macron’s move to refashion his centrist government came after voters punished the former investment banker and his party in the June 28 nationwide municipal elections.
Sunday’s ballot revealed surging support for the Green party and underlined President Macron’s troubles with left-leaning voters.
The only bright spot for Macron was outgoing Prime Minister Philippe’s victory in the northern port city of Le Havre. The 49-year-old Philippe is likely to become the mayor of Le Havre, his hometown in western France.
With only 21 months until the next presidential election, advisors make clear that President Macron wants to reposition himself.
It won’t be easy amid social tensions.
The government earlier admitted that the French economy is due to shrink a record 11 percent this year because of the coronavirus crisis.
That is worse than the government’s previous forecast of an 8 percent contraction.
Officials have linked nearly 30,000 deaths to the coronavirus pandemic in France.
By Vatican News
Last week Bishop Michael Barber, S.J., Chairman for Catholic Education for the US Bishops’ Conference, joined more than 150 interfaith partners in a petition sent to the US Congress calling for “immediate federal aid to benefit low-income students in non-public schools”.
In the letter, the coalition stated that “States and districts will face an unbearable financial burden if current private school students transfer into public schools in significant numbers”.
They also requested a “one-time emergency tuition grant for low to middle-income private school families” and Federal Tax Credits for people who donate to scholarship programs.
In an interview with Christopher Wells, Bishop Barber spelled out the dramatic effects the pandemic is having on Catholic education in the country.
He explained that for those parents who are paying tuition fees in a non-public school, there’s no assistance whatsoever given by the government.
“They’ve got to put food on the table first or pay for their medicine or whatever. So we estimate right now that over a hundred Catholic schools have already announced they’re not going to reopen in the fall because they don’t have the enrollment”.
As the economic toll of the pandemic continues to hit hard, many people have found themselves out of work. This in turn has had a knock-on effect on traditional funding through parishes.
The Bishop noted that a lot of parishes support their Catholic parochial school and usually provide a subsidy. With parishes unable to have public Mass, he said, “they’re not able to take up collections. And so where are they going to get the money, first of all to pay their own bills and keep the lights on in the church, let alone to bail out the school?”
Speaking about the recent petition sent to Congress by the Bishops’ Conference and a coalition of interfaith partners, calling for federal aid for non-public schools, Bishop Barber explained that the bill going through the US House of Representatives excludes all children and families that send their kids to private schools. “This is what formed the Coalition. We said this is unfair because 10% of children in the US attend a non-public school. And those are our kids too and those kids and their families deserve help.”
The Bishop also emphasized his belief that parents should have a choice about where they send their children to school. “They shouldn’t just be forced to send them to the local public school and have no other alternative because the public school then has no incentive to do a good job or not”.
He continued by saying that “right now, just Catholic schools, we save the taxpayers of the USA twenty billion dollars annually. I don’t know what the figure is if you included all private schools in that, but it will be significantly higher again. We’re paying taxes. We’re still supporting public school. And so we’re asking then [that] our families get the help they need to pay tuition to send their kids to schools of their choice, and so that’s why the coalition came together.”
Bishop Barber pointed out that over 20% of children attending Catholic Schools are from minority communities and “the parents deeply love that Catholic school because it’s helping their child and the public school isn’t.”
Asked what the Church can do to address the issue of schools that have already announced closures, the Bishop of Baltimore said, “what we can do I think is appeal that some of our tax money that goes to education of children be shared with families and give them school choice options.”
Catholic education, the Bishop underlined, “is the best way we have to hand on our faith to the next generation.”
By Vatican News
The Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF), has released its latest annual report, highlighting the activities of the institution, and the results obtained in the past year.
Presenting the report, AIF President Carmelo Barbagallo said that since the establishment of the AIF in 2010, it has grown to gain a solid reputation as “an active player in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”
He pointed out that the aim of the institution’s activities in these past months includes: ensuring operations in the realm of international cooperation, consolidating collaboration with other institutions of the Holy See and the Vatican City State, intensifying prudential supervision, reinforcing the Authority’s governance and staff, and reorganizing the Authority.
The annual report shows that the AIF succeeded getting reinserted back into the Egmont Group (the forum that gathers the Financial Information Units around the world) after a two-month suspension in November 2019. Crucial to this was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the AIF and the Promoter of Justice.
At the domestic level, the Authority also signed four Memoranda of Understanding with different domestic authorities between February and June of this year. That list names the Secretariat of State, the Secretariat for the Economy, the Promoter of Justice, the Gendarmerie and the General Auditor.
Barbagallo said that the supervision of entities that carry out a financial activity on a professional basis was based on AIF’s regulations and operational practices.
The AIF report indicated that the institution conducted inspections of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) in August 2019 and May 2020. He also added that progress had been made on the personnel front as the number of staff in the AIF had seen an increase.
The AIF President announced that the name of the Authority would change to the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (SFIA). This name, Barbagallo said, “highlights the Authority’s dual nature as intelligence unity and supervisory (and regulatory) authority.”
Barbagallo also hopes to issue a new Statute and the first internal regulation of the Authority to set out “detailed procedures in the furtherance of a healthy and transparent administration.”
The report indicates a considerable decrease in the flow of cross-border money. In 2019 for example, 1,121 incoming and outgoing declarations were recorded, totaling just over 21 million Euros, compared with 1,239 declarations in 2018 which amounted to over 26 million Euros.
The Holy See is, therefore “strongly committed to ensuring international cooperation and the exchange of information for the prevention of tax evasion and the promotion of the fulfillment of fiscal requirements by foreign citizens and legal entities having an account at the IOR.”
The Financial Information Authority is the institution of the Holy See and the Vatican City State in charge of supervision and financial intelligence for the prevention and countering of the money laundering and financing of terrorism, as well as prudential supervision.
It was established on 30 December 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.
By Vatican News
It is not surprising that social services and assistance projects of all sorts pop up at the beginning of summer in Italy in an effort to accompany the many elderly people left alone in the cities during the hot months of July and August when families go on holiday and support systems close.
Pope Francis does not forget those who are alone and in need, as demonstrated by a personal telephone call to a Rome parish priest of the suburban “Corviale” area, one of those “geographical peripheries” that is also very much an “existential periphery” at the heart of his apostolate of inclusion.
Father Roberto Cassano, the parish priest of Saint Paul of the Cross Church in the Corviale territory, told Vatican Radio of his surprise and joy on Wednesday evening when he answered a phone call and immediately recognized the voice of Pope Francis.
“When the Pope made a pastoral visit to our parish (on 12 April 2018) I told him about how we have set up live-streamed broadcasts to be close to the community, and I asked him for a blessing,” he said, adding that he certainly wasn’t expecting that providential call during the last broadcast before the summer holidays.
The Corviale landscape is sadly renowned to Romans because of the so-called “Serpentone” (Big Snake) cement agglomerate that winds its way through the suburb for more than a kilometre. The mega-complex, built in the 1970s, has become the degraded abode of a suffering humanity that includes elderly people, migrants, families with social problems and many poor people who cannot afford rent and have illegally occupied apartments and other spaces.
It is to them that Pope Francis’s thoughts and blessings are directed at a time in which attention is elsewhere.
Father Cassano said he and his fellow priests were trying to set up the live-streaming, “but nothing was working!” The phone rang, he continued, and as soon as he realized who was at the other end, he managed to connect to the platform so everyone could listen.
“It was an emotional moment for all of us,” he said, to know that the Holy Father still remembers us from the visit he made in 2018. He said he even remembered a conversation he had with a little boy who had recently lost his father.
Above all, Father Cassano said, the Pope asked us not to leave the weakest members of our community alone, especially the elderly.
He then went on to explain that his flock is a very special one, with many needs and frailties.
“As a parish, we try to be as close as possible to elderly people who are alone. During the lockdown we telephoned them often to make sure they were ok and to find out what they needed,” he said.
Through social media, he continued, we celebrated Mass together and offered spiritual assistance.
“With our live-streamed programmes we tried to keep people company,” he said.
One thing of the Pope’s telephone call that struck him in particular, Father Cassano concluded, was his plea for prayers: “He repeatedly asked us to pray for him, and so together with all the other priests, we are inviting our parishioners to say a prayer every day for our beloved Pope: that the Lord may sustain him and look after him”.
By Vatican News
Pope Francis on Friday appointed Bishop Benjamin Phiri as the Bishop of the Diocese of Ndola, Zambia.
Bishop Phiri has been serving as the Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata, Zambia since 2011, and Rector of St. Dominic’s Major Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia since 2004.
Bishop-elect Phiri was born on 14 June 1959 in Chongololo, (Petuake District) Chipata, and was ordained to the priesthood on 14 September 1986 for the diocese of Chipata.
After his studies at the Minor Seminary in Monze, he studied philosophy at St. Augustine Seminary, Kabwe, and theology at St. Dominic’s Major Seminary, Lusaka.
His assignments after ordination include: Parocchial Vicar of Mbwindi, Chipata (1986 – 1988); Director of Vocational Pastoral Ministry of Chipata Diocese (1987–1993), Parish priest in Chadiza, Chipata (1988–1990); Director of the Pastoral and Catechetical Center, Chikungu (1990 – 1997); Personal Secretary to the then Bishop of Chipata, Bishop Medardo Mazombwe (1993–1997).
Between 1997–2002, Bishop Phiri attended the Pontifical Urban University (Urbaniana) in Rome where he obtained a licentiate in Canon Law. He subsequently served as the National Director of the Pastoral Office of the Zambian Bishops’ Conference from 2002–2004.
Bishop Phiri was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata on 18 January 2011 with the titular see of Nachingwea.
By Devin Watkins
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič has renewed the Holy Father’s appeal for debt relief at an international level.
The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva on Thursday addressed the 67th Executive Session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board.
Archbishop Jurkovič noted that the Covid-19 crisis is putting excessive financial strain on developing nations.
The worldwide economic crisis, he said, presents a unique challenge that has upset the balance of the world economy.
Widespread lockdowns have led to a “deep supply shock”, since many factories and production facilities have been forced to close.
Lockdowns have also caused “consequent demand shocks”, which are the result of people having less money to spend because of vast job layoffs and corporations being unwilling to commit to long-term investment plans due to economic uncertainties.
“There is no doubt,” said Archbishop Jurkovič, “that the current Covid-19 crisis will more severely affect the lives and livelihoods of those in the developing world.”
One way to ease the misery of people in poorer nations, he added, would be to tackle “the crippling external debt burdens” they have accumulated in recent years.
The Vatican representative urged the international community to “deliver speedy and substantive debt relief to crisis-stricken developing countries”.
Archbishop Jurkovič then quoted Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message of 12 April 2020, in which he urged that “all nations be put in a position to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”
Turning his attention to the global economic system, Archbishop Jurkovič said creating a “more inclusive and sustainable world” requires more than tweaking markets.
“It requires a more exacting and focused agenda that addresses the systemic constraints on resource mobilization and technological diffusion,” he said.
Nations, he added, need to reduce systemic imbalances in market power that result from “the lop-sided rules of a hyper-globalized world.”
They also need to work toward encouraging markets to “match local challenges with international goals.”
Archbishop Jurkovič called on the international community not to overlook ethical and cultural factors. He said the roots of the current crisis are above all “moral in nature”, rather than merely economic or financial.
“Recognizing the primacy of being over having and of ethics over the economy, the world’s peoples ought to adopt an ethic of solidarity to fuel their actions.”
The Holy See’s representative in Geneva then alluded to the shock of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
“Over the last decade,” he said, “we have learned that excessive liberalization and deregulation, allowing for markets and firms to regulate themselves, privileges short-term gains over long-term commitments.”
The results, he noted, can be seen in decreasing investment in the health sector and in the “predation of the natural environment.”
Archbishop Jurkovič concluded his speech urging nations and institutional creditors to provide debt relief for developing countries, in order to give them a chance to “respond to the health shock and to mitigate the accompanying economic damage.”
“Whether and how this happens,” he said, “will have direct consequences for creating a fairer, more inclusive and resilient recovery.”
By Vatican News
The US Supreme Court has set four new federal execution dates for death row inmates. These are the first set dates in over 17 years. Archbishop Coakley explains that the last federal execution took place in 2003. In the years since then the US has seen both Republican and Democratic administrations, and so, according to Archbishop Coakley, this apparent reluctance in carrying out executions is not “merely a partisan influence”.
The death penalty has been so widely utilised in the United States, “in so many” states, yet “overall, for many, many years, the public opinion has been moving away from the death penalty”. It is for this reason, that after almost two decades of silence, the news that the federal government will be authorising the execution of prisoners comes as a shock, “and certainly as a disappointment”, says Archbishop Coakley.
It is true that these prisoners may have, perhaps, committed heinous crimes, says Archbishop Coakley. But even if these four people whose executions have been scheduled are guilty of the most terrible of crimes, “I don’t think there is any situation in which the death penalty is justifiable”, he says. Archbishop Coakley adds that he stands with Pope Francis, as well as with the recent developments of the Catholic Church’s understanding of the death penalty, reiterating “I don’t see that it is justified”.
We have seen in the Magisterium of the last several Popes, beginning especially with John Paul II in his Evangelium Vitae, and then through Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, “a greater clarification of the Church’s position on the death penalty”, says Archbishop Coakley. He explains that this teaching is being “refined” through time and that it will take time for Catholics to understand its importance.
Archbishop Coakley goes on to explain that there are many reasons for the death penalty being a breach of morality, beginning with the fact that it is “an affront against human dignity”. On top of that, he adds, “it contributes to the coarsening of society and promotes a culture of violence”. Archbishop Coakley goes on to stress that there is also “the very real possibility” and evidence “that sometimes innocent persons have been condemned to death”.
“So, for many, many reasons, I think we need to as a nation to really step back and reconsider the use of the death penalty in this country. We can do better,” says Archbishop Coakley, adding that “as Americans, we are proud of the freedoms we enjoy in the country, and yet, this does not portray the values on which our Republic has been based from the beginning, in a very attractive or positive way”.
Archbishop Coakley then goes on to note that “the death penalty does not appear to be applied equitably”. He notes that in the United States “the poor and minorities are much more likely to be given the death sentence than others”, and describes this as a “systemic” harsh reality. There are other ways of administering justice to protect society and of “redressing the wrongs of victims of crime and their suffering”, he argues.
There is a growing movement in the United States that opposes the death penalty, says Archbishop Coakley. He notes that “every time there is an execution in the United States, wherever it may be, there is always some sort of a gathering of people of faith”, who unite in prayer for an end to this kind of treatment of our brothers and sisters. This growing movement, he says, is moving us in the right direction. However, he adds, there “seems to be a real setback” with the announcement of these four federal executions. “I would hope that, God forbid, if these executions are carried out, that it might indeed spark a greater awareness and a greater moral outcry against the use of the death penalty in the United States”.
Archbishop Coakley concludes by noting that we do have a long way to go, but that through “people speaking up”, including people of faith, “we are definitely moving in the right direction”. The decision to resume federal executions has been an unfortunate setback, he says, “but I am not losing hope. Life will be victorious.”
By Sergio Centofanti
This year 8 December will mark the 55th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council. It is an important moment in this period since a new debate has been provoked in the ecclesial community, a debate in which some are increasingly distancing themselves from the Council, and others seek to diminish its scope and significance.
Pope Francis has used a strong word: he has spoken of a “new Pentecost.” He was a direct witness of the Council, participating as an expert assisting Cardinal Josef Frings, and later as an official peritus (theological expert). “We were hoping that all would be renewed, that there would truly be a new Pentecost, a new era of the Church,” he told the priests of Rome on 14 February 2013. “There was a feeling that the Church was not moving forward, that it was declining, that it seemed more a thing of the past and not the herald of the future. And at that moment, we were hoping that this relation would be renewed, that it would change; that the Church might once again be a force for tomorrow and a force for today.”
And quoting John Paul II in the General Audience of 10 October 2012, Pope Francis made his own the definition of the Council as “the great grace bestowed on the Church in the 20th century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning (citing Apostolic Letter, Novo millennio ineunte, n. 57)”. The “true driving force” of the Council, he added, was the Holy Spirit. A new Pentecost therefore: not to create a new Church, but “a new era of the Church.”
What the Council has shown more clearly is that the authentic development of the doctrine that has been transmitted from generation to generation is realized in a people walking together, guided by the Holy Spirit. This is at the heart of the celebrated discourse of Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005. Pope Benedict speaks about two hermeneutics: a hermeneutic of rupture and another of renewal in continuity. The “correct interpretation” is that which sees the Church as “a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.” Pope Benedict speaks of a “synthesis of fidelity and dynamism.” Fidelity consists in movement, it is not static, it is a journey that advances along the same path, a seed that develops and becomes a tree that spreads its branches ever further, that flowers and bears fruit, like a living plant, which on the one hand grows, and on the other has roots that cannot be cut.
But how can a renewal in continuity be justified in the face of certain dramatic changes that have taken place in the Church’s history? One can begin with Peter, when he baptised the first Gentiles, upon whom the Holy Spirit had been poured out. Peter said, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34-35). The circumcised criticised him, but when Peter explained what had happened, they all glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
It is the Spirit that shows us what to do and makes us move, makes us advance. In 2000 years of history there have been many changes in the Church: the doctrine on the salvation of the non-baptised; the use of violence in the name of truth; the question of women and laity; the relationship between faith and science; the interpretation of the Bible; the relationship with non-Catholics, Jews, and followers of other religions; religious liberty; the distinction between the civil and religious spheres, to name just a few. In that same speech to the Curia, Benedict XVI recognises this: on certain issues, a “de facto discontinuity had been revealed.” For example, if one sets aside philosophical, theological or historical contextualization that demonstrates a certain continuity, at one point freedom of worship for non-Catholics was not allowed, and later it was. There was, therefore, a very different approach in practice.
Benedict’s words are telling: “We must learn to understand more practically than before,” a “great openmindedness” is required, “it was necessary to learn to recognize”… Like Peter who, even after Pentecost, still had to learn new things, still had to say, “Truly I perceive…” We don’t have the truth in our pockets, we do not “possess” the truth as a thing, but rather belong to the Truth. Furthermore, Christian Truth is not a concept, it is the living God who continues to speak. And referring to the conciliar Declaration on Religious Freedom, Benedict XVI affirms, “The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus Himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time.” And he adds, “The Second Vatican Council … has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity. The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time.”
We are better able to see, then, that continuity is not simply a logical, rational or historical perspective; it is much more. It is a spiritual continuity in which the same, one and only People of God walk together, docile to the indications of the Holy Spirit. The hermeneutic of rupture is embraced by those who separate themselves from the community, who break that unity, whether because they stop short or go too far in advance. Benedict speaks of two extremes: the extreme of “anachronistic nostalgia” and that of “running too far ahead” (Mass for the Opening of the Year of Faith, 11 October 2012). They no longer listen to the Spirit, who calls for dynamic fidelity, but follow their own ideas, attaching themselves either only to what is old, or only to what is new, no longer knowing how to bring together old things and new, as the disciple of the kingdom of heaven does.
After the great Popes who preceded him, Francis arrived on the scene. He is following in the footsteps of his predecessors – it is the seed that develops and grows. The Church goes forward. A lot of distorted or false news about Pope Francis has been circulated, as happened with his predecessor Benedict and with so many other Successors of Peter. Dogmas and commandments; the sacraments; the principles concerning the defense of life, the family, education: none of these have changed. Nor have the theological and cardinal virtues, or the seven deadly sins. In order to better understand the newness in continuity of Pope Francis, and to get past the distortions and outright falsehoods, it is necessary to read the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, the paradigmatic text of his pontificate. It begins: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” The very first thing is the joy of the encounter with Jesus, our Saviour.
The Pope invites us “to recover the original freshness of the Gospel,” and to transmit it to all. He asks us to focus on the essential — love of God and of neighbour — avoiding a manner of proclamation “obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed.” “In this basic core,” he says, “what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead.” He calls for the first proclamation to “ring out over and over”: “Jesus Christ loves you; He gave His life to save you; and now He is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” The Pope calls for a style of “approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome which is non-judgmental.” He points to an “‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other” which must see with a “compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.”
Pope Francis desires a Church with open doors: “Nor should the doors of the Sacraments be closed for simply any reason.” Thus, the Eucharist, “although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.” Hence the suggestion ndicated in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia to open up paths of discernment, on a case-by-case basis, to consider the possible re-admission to the Sacraments for those who live in irregular situations. It is a step intended to draw people in and accompany them, by seeking the salvation of persons and the mercy of Jesus.
Norms can become stones, as happened with the woman caught in adultery. Certain questions today recall those asked of Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees two thousand years ago: “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” We all know Jesus’s answer.
Pope Francis is doing nothing more than continuing along the path of the Council. There is a spiritual continuity, because the Spirit continues to speak. “The ‘little seed’ which John XXIII planted … has grown and become a tree which now spreads its majestic and mighty branches in the Vineyard of the Lord,” said St John Paul II on 27 February 2000. “It has already produced many fruits … and it will produce many more in the years to come. A new season is dawning before our eyes … The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council was truly a prophetic message for the Church’s life; it will continue to be so for many years in the third millennium which has just begun.”
It is the same today as yesterday. Opening the Council on 11 October 1962, St John XXIII affirmed, “It sometimes happens that We hear certain opinions which disturb Us—opinions expressed by people who, though fired with a commendable zeal for religion, are lacking in sufficient prudence and judgment in their evaluation of events. They can see nothing but calamity and disaster in the present state of the world. They say over and over that this modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating. One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life, had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the Church’s rightful liberty were concerned. We feel that We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.”
Speaking of errors of a doctrinal nature, he added, “The Church has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost severity. Today, however, Christ’s Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations.”
At the close of the Council, on 8 December 1965, St Paul VI, in his “universal” greeting, affirmed, “For the Catholic Church, no one is a stranger, no one is excluded, no one is far away… Our universal greeting goes out to you, men who do not know us, men who do not understand us, men who do not regard us as useful, necessary or friendly. This greeting goes also to you, men who, while perhaps thinking they are doing good, are opposed to us. A sincere greeting, and unassuming greeting but one filled with hope and, today, please believe that it is filled with esteem and love… Behold, this is our greeting. May it rise as a new spark of divine charity in our hearts, a spark which may enkindle the principles, doctrine and proposals which the council has organized and which, thus inflamed by charity, may really produce in the Church and in the world that renewal of thoughts, activities, conduct, moral force and hope and joy which was the very scope of the Council.”
At this time, in which the Catholic Church is particularly affected by conflicts and division, we would do well to remember St Paul’s exhortations to the first Christian communities. He reminds the Galatians that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’” But, he continues, “if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:14-16). And to the Ephesians he adds, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:29-32).
What would happen if we were to put this Word into practice without trying to explain it away?
By Vatican News
In his prayer intention for the month of July 2020, Pope Francis asks everyone to pray that today’s families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance.
It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.
The full text of his intention is below:
The family ought to be protected.
It faces many dangers: the fast pace of life, stress…
Sometimes, parents forget to play with their children.
The Church needs to encourage families and stay at their side, helping them to discover ways that allow them to overcome all of these difficulties.
Let us pray that today’s families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance, and especially, that they may be protected by the State.
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.
The new deal, which is called USMCA, took a year of tough marathon negotiation, during which President Donald Trump several times questioned the usefulness and benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement, as it then stood.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says that the new Agreement will provide greater certainly plus security to Mexico, Canada and the United States in their mutually linked commercial relationships stressing: “There are clear rules. There can`t be border closures or tariff increases without legal procedures, involving panels of the three.”
Part of this involves more stringent labor laws, especially concerning rules of origin and greater parity of workers` pay. And this necessitated law changes in Mexico, approved by its Congress. President Lopez Obrador will be travelling to Washington on July 8th and 9th to meet President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to celebrate this trade progress. July 1st also marked the second anniversary of Lopez Obrador`s Presidential Election win. But little to celebrate with almost 28,000 dead from the Pandemic, more than a million jobs lost, a more than twelve percent slump of the Peso against the Dollar this year, an expected ten percent shrink in the economy this year, and homicides up, mostly linked to Mexico`s drug cartels.
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