By Vatican News
In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis highlighted two attitudes of the landowner in Jesus’s parable about the workers in the vineyard: the “call” and the “recompense.”
Jesus tells of a landowner who “goes out and calls” people to work in his vineyard. “That owner,” said Pope Francis, “represents God, who calls everyone and calls always.” This is how God acts even today, and we, in turn, are called to imitate this attitude by going out to seek people wherever they may be.
“This means being open to horizons that offer hope to those stationed on the existential peripheries,” the Pope said, people “who have not yet experienced, or who have lost, the strength and light that comes with meeting Christ.”
He added, “The Church must always be like God, always going out. And when the Church is not going out, she gets sick.” Pope Francis said it is better for the Church to be “going out” announcing the Gospel, despite the dangers, than to grow sick by remaining closed in on herself. “God always goes out, because He’s a Father Who loves – and the Church always needs to do the same thing, always going out.”
The second attitude of the landowner also mirrors the action of God. When he pays the workers their wages, the owner gives all of them the same pay, no matter how long they worked. From this we understand “that Jesus is not speaking about work and just wages, but about the Kingdom of God and the goodness of the heavenly Father,” said Pope Francis.
God “does not look at the time and the results,” the Pope continued. Instead, He considers “the availability and the generosity with which we put ourselves at His service.” This way of acting, said Pope Francis, “is more than just, in the sense that it goes beyond justice and is manifested in Grace.”
Those who rely on their own merits “find themselves last,” the Pope explained, while “those who humbly entrust themselves to the Father’s mercy, from being last, find themselves first.”
Pope Francis concluded his Angelus address with the prayer that “Mary Most Holy might help us to feel every day the joy and wonder of being called by God to work for Him, in His field which is the world, and His vineyard which is the Church.”
And he prayed that we might “have as our only recompense [God’s] love, Jesus’s friendship, which is everything for us.”
Catholic News Service of Nigeria – Kaduna
The Bishops contend that most of the states in the northern part of the country “are in the grip of purveyors of violence and death.”
The message of the Bishops is contained in a communique made available to the English Africa Service of Vatican News. It came at the end of the Bishops’ regional plenary meeting held at the Pastoral Centre of Kafanchan Diocese, Kaduna State. The Bishops said they unequivocally condemn the incessant killings of innocent people in the province, especially in southern Kaduna and other states of the country.
The Bishops’ communique titled, ‘Dark Clouds of Violence over our Land,’ is signed by President and Secretary of the ecclesiastical province who are the Archbishop of Kaduna, Matthew Ndagoso and Bishop John Niyiring OSA, of the Diocese of Kano respectively. The northern ecclesiastical province comprises the Ordinaries of Kaduna, Kafanchan, Zaria, Kano, Sokoto, Minna and Kontagora Dioceses.
“Hitherto, the nation’s main challenge was how to contain the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram, but “today, almost the entire northern states are in the grip of these purveyors of violence and deaths. In the last three years, we have witnessed the relentless attacks and ransacking of entire communities by bandits in states like Benue, Kebbi, Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara,” said the northern prelates.
According to the Bishops, bandits are operating in the region with reckless abandon.
“Thousands of lives have been lost to these bandits who have operated with reckless abandon. Taken together, with the devastation of Boko Haram, Nigeria today ranks as not only the poverty capital of the world but the most violent and unsafe place to be. With Covid-19, our situation has become even more precarious and perilous,” said the Bishops.
While appreciating the efforts of the governors of the region to contain the situation, the Bishops stressed the need for authorities to do more, because their present best “is still not good enough.” They noted that monetary inducement for perpetrators of violence is an abuse of justice and condemned the lax attitude of the Federal Government on the issue. “We are shocked by the seeming lack of empathy that continues to be displayed by the President, regarding the senseless loss of lives across the country,” the prelates affirm.
The Bishops called on leaders of all stakeholder groups in the country, especially those in the troubled areas, to rise against the violence and collaborate with government to put an end to the criminal atrocities of the heinous killers in the region. While commiserating with victims and affected people of the region, the Bishops however objected to the use of violence for revenge; stressing that: “No amount of revenge, bitterness, calumny, hatred or name-calling can bring back those who have lost their lives in these senseless and unnecessary bloodlettings.”
St. Paul heals Publio’s father on Malta, fresco, Gallery of Maps © Musei Vaticani
O Divine Physician both the soul and of the body,
Jesus, our Redeemer, who during Your earthly life manifested
a predilection for the sick and restored their health
by the tough of Your all powerful hand,
we, called to the arduous mission of being physicians,
adore you and we recognize in You our
highest model and support.
Increase Your love in our hearts, so that,
seeing You in the sick, particularly in the most forsaken,
we may respond to their complete confidence in us
with tireless solicitude.
Grant that we ourselves, through a Christian conduct of life
and the upright exercise of our profession,
may merit to one day hear from Your lips that beatific phrase
promised to all who visit You in their sick brothers and sisters:
“Come, O blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you.”
(Pius XII 10 May 1957, Prayer for Physicians)
Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza
Instagram: @vaticanmuseums @VaticanNews
By Stefan J. Bos
Spain’s government, which saw one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns, has a new warning to its citizens. More than 850,000 people in the Madrid region will face limits on groups’ travel and sizes from Monday.
It comes as coronavirus infections across Europe continue to spike, with Spain reporting one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Madrid is once again the worst-hit region. Spain was already among the hardest hit European nations during the first wave of infections. Spanish authorities claim the country lost more than 30,000 lives due to the pandemic.
But other nations are also bracing for the second wave of coronavirus infections as winter approaches. The Irish government, for instance, announced strict new COVID-19 restrictions for the capital Dublin. Authorities are banning indoor restaurant dining and advise against all non-essential travel.
Ireland, one of the slowest countries in Europe to emerge from lockdown, has seen average daily case numbers roughly double in the past two weeks.
That worries Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin, who fears a significant increase in hospitalizations and deaths. “All across Europe, the COVID-19 virus is regaining its foothold and spreading at a rate not seen since March and April,” he said in televised remarks.
“In the past two weeks alone, the majority of countries have seen a doubling of new cases. And on our island, while the pattern varies in different counties, the threat is growing,” Martin warned.
“Here, in our capital [Dublin], despite people’s best efforts over recent weeks, we are in a very dangerous place. Without further urgent and decisive action, there is a very real threat that Dublin could return to the worst days of this crisis,” the prime minister explained.
He says the measures, which include a ban on indoor events, will last for three weeks. Ireland had the 17th highest COVID-19 infection rate out of 31 European countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Control on Friday. It reported with 57.4 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.
The Netherlands was among other European countries announcing stricter measures on Friday, citing an increase in infections. In Central and Eastern Europe, Hungary closed its borders to most foreigners, among other coronavirus measures.
Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have all announced a record number of new cases this week.
European football’s governing body Uefa is investigating how this will impact next week’s Super Cup final in Hungary. Champions League winners Bayern Munich against Europa League holders Sevilla were to meet each other at Budapest’s Puskas Arena on September 24.
But authorities only allow 30 percent of the stadium’s 67,000 seats to be filled with fans. Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán says his nation is now carrying out a war plan against the second wave of coronavirus infections.
Critics have questioned this approach pointing out that Hungary had so far roughly 670 deaths on a population of nearly 10 million people.
By Robin Gomes
The chief of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is calling on the international community to continue supporting actions to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from pushing millions into famine.
“This fight is far, far, far from over — the 270 million people marching towards the brink of starvation need our help today more than ever,” WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, told the UN Security Council on 17 September.
While acknowledging the ‘extraordinary’ response of governments, donors and international financial institutions to the emergency caused by the virus and its socio-economic consequences, Beasley warned that “we are not out of the woods, yet.”
In 2020, WFP is aiming to provide lifesaving food assistance to 138 million hungry people around the world — 85 million of these have already been reached in the first six months of the year.
While the Security Council’s session discussed conflict-related hunger amid the Covid-19 pandemic, attention was drawn to countries considered most at risk of sliding further into hunger and starvation: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, South Sudan, and Burkina Faso.
In Beasley’s words, Yemen remains the world’s ‘worst human disaster’. War, a collapsed economy, currency devaluation, crippling food prices and the destruction of public infrastructure mean 20 million people are already in crisis, and a further 3 million may now face starvation due to the virus.
In the DRC, the upsurge in violence, coupled with COVID-19, has sent the number of people in crisis level of food insecurity sky-rocketing from 15.2 million people to nearly 22 million.
In Nigeria, 80 percent of families experiencing reduced incomes and some 4.3 million people in the northeast are facing food insecurity.
In South Sudan, even before the pandemic, 6.5 million people were expected to face severe food insecurity at the height of the lean season. The virus could put another 1.6 million people at risk of starvation in urban areas.
The number of people facing crisis levels of hunger in Burkina Faso has tripled to 3.3 million.
Beasly lamented that the “world stands by until it is too late, while hunger kills, stokes community tensions, fuels conflict and instability, and forces families from their homes.”
To feed the 30 million people who rely completely on WFP’s assistance to survive, the organization needs US$ 4.9 billion a year. As Beasley put it, “We must act and we must act before the dam bursts.”
“Without the resources we need, a wave of hunger and famine still threatens to sweep across the globe,” he added.
The WFP chief’s call for support was also extended to the world’s over 2,000 billionaires, whose combined net worth is US$ 8 trillion.
“Humanity is facing the greatest crisis any of us have seen in our lifetimes. It’s time for those who have the most to step up, to help those who have the least in this extraordinary time in world history,” Beasley said.
He also called for balancing measures to curb the virus by keeping supply chains and trade moving across borders. In this regard, he expressed concern over COVID-19 shutdowns worsening other problems, such as disruptions to vaccinations for other illnesses. Many more people, he said, could die from the broader economic and social consequences of Covid-19 than from the virus itself. (Source: WFP)
By Lydia O’Kane
Just over two years ago, Pope Francis made a much anticipated Apostolic Visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. The journey followed in the footsteps of St John Paul II who was the first Pope to step on to Irish soil in 1979.
Many will remember Pope Francis celebrate Mass in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. While others still talk about the electric atmosphere of the Festival of Families gathering with the Pope in Croke Park.
Two years on from the Meeting, some of those memories have been captured in a new book which was launched virtually on Friday.
The Veritas publication entitled “Humans of the World Meeting of Families” is drawn from the ‘Humans of New York’ series which sees a photographer capturing the ordinary everyday lives of the people in the city.
This new publication edited by Brenda Drumm is a collection of first-person testimonies from some of those involved in the August 2018 event. They include lay and religious, young and old – who reflect upon their own faith journey and their family life both past and present.
Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin, launched the book on Friday and is also one of those who feature in it. He recalls that the project actually began in 2017 as a Facebook page, which, he says “took on a life of its own”.
This book, he points out, is not about very important people, it is about ordinary families and the “joys and sorrows of family life.”
There are a number of testimonies from this book that “jumped out at me”, he says.
One, in particular, is that of Declan and Sarah O’Brien who say in the book that “no marriage or family is perfect. We’ve had our times of struggle and suffering. In the darkest moments of our marriage what helped us to keep on loving each other was having a relationship with Jesus, crucified and forsaken.” They were, the Bishop adds, delighted to be involved in the World Meeting of Families.
For the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, some of the highlights of the 2018 Meeting include the three day Pastoral Congress and the gathering of young engaged couples and newly married couples with Pope Francis in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral. He describes these young couples as the “lifeblood of our Church life and family life.”
Asked what has been the knock-on effect on family life in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Nulty says it is still too early to tell. However, he does point out that on the one hand, people are working remotely which is good for their family life but also “stressful because suddenly their home becomes a work environment.” He also notes that many families have suffered illness or bereavements due to the coronavirus and funeral numbers have been restricted. Older people too, he says have had to “cocoon” leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The theme of the 2018 World Meeting of Families was centered on the joy of family life: “Be Joy for the world.” “The importance of the joy of family life is crucial, says Bishop Nulty. As a Church, the Bishop emphasizes, we can provide that joy in different ways.
One of the ways in which that is being done says the Bishop is in the form of marriage preparation, helping couples to “live the sacrament and be accompanied more in their parish; that is a legacy.”
Another legacy of the Pope’s visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, Bishop Nulty stresses, is “an awareness of the new families coming amongst us; the refugees, the migrants, those who need a welcome, that we give them the joy of family life.”
“I think also there is a legacy in the sense of prayer,” he says. Bishop Nulty also highlights the importance of family moments and the valuable role grandparents have in the family.
“The role of grandparents is something which has been rekindled and nourished through the World Meeting of Families; their special role as people of faith, handing on the faith to the next generation. That will stay with us for a long time to come.”
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The use of excessive force and human rights violations against defenseless citizens in Belarus was the topic of a debate on Friday in Geneva before the UN Human Rights Council.
The debate took place within the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council and was entitled “On the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus.”
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations also addressed the Council.
In his remarks, Jurkovič said that the Holy See has been following the situation in Belarus since the elections took place. He said the Holy See “ renews its appeal for a peaceful and just resolution to the tensions through sincere dialogue, the rejection of violence, and respect for justice and fundamental human and civil rights.”
He recalled the recent visit of Archbishop Richard Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States which took place from 11 to 14 September. Through that visit, “the Holy Father has demonstrated a particular and tangible solicitude for the whole Country and especially for the local Catholic Church,” the Archbishop explained.
He expressed the hope that Gallagher’s visit might “bring about a deeper understanding of the ecclesial mission of the Church and of the instrumental role that it plays in fostering social reconciliation and national cohesion.
Specifically addressing the protests taking place, Jurkovič expressed the Holy See’s position that “it is indispensable that demonstrators present their requests in a peaceful way. It is also necessary that governing authorities exercise restraint and listen to the voices of their citizens and remain open to their just aspirations, assuring full respect for their civil and human rights.”
These words are an echo of Pope Francis’s words after the Angelus this past Sunday.
Jurkovič ended by saying that the Holy See desires a “peaceful and rapid resolution to the ongoing tensions.” To that end, he said the Holy See remains open to being a part of “any further discussion that might bring about such much needed peace.”
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Saturday decried the injustice of what he called “pharmaceutical marginality”, saying those who live in poverty are poor even in medicines, treatment and health.
He made the remark to some 300 representatives of the Italy-based Fondazione Banco Farmaceutico (Medicine Bank Foundation), which collects medicines from donors and companies to deliver them to over 1,800 charities that take care of people in difficulty.
Speaking to the Foundation on its 20th anniversary this year, the Pope said sometimes people “run the risk of not being able to get treatment for lack of money, or because some people in the world do not have access to certain medicines”. “There is also a “pharmaceutical marginality”, which, he said, “creates a further gap between nations and peoples”.
“On the ethical level, if there is the possibility of curing a disease with a medicine, it should be available to everyone, otherwise it creates an injustice.”
The Holy Father lamented that too many people and children are still dying in the world because they cannot have the medications available in other regions. Warning against the danger of globalization of indifference, he proposed the globalization of treatment, which is the “possibility of access to those medications that could save so many lives for all populations”.
This, the Pope said, requires a “common effort, a convergence that involves everyone”. Scientific research can help find new solutions to old and new problems, including new paths of healing and treatment. Pharmaceutical companies can help contribute to a more equitable distribution of medicines.
Pharmacists, he said, can be particularly attentive to those most in need and work for the integral good of those who approach them. Through their legislative and financial choices, those in authority are called to build a more just world in which the poor are not abandoned, or worst still, discarded.
Pope Francis drew attention to the current pandemic, which, he said, has claimed nearly a million lives and is also turning into a serious economic crisis. This is increasing the number of poor people and families who don’t know how to go ahead.
“While charitable assistance is being provided,” the Pope said, “it is also a matter of fighting this pharmaceutical poverty, in particular with a wide spread of new vaccines in the world.” He reiterated that “it would be sad if in providing the vaccine, priority is given to the richest, or if this vaccine became the property of this or that country, and not for everyone”.
Through its Medicine Collection Day over the past 20 years, the Banco Farmaceutico Foundation has collected over 5.6 million medicines worth some €34 million. Over 4,900 pharmacies and more than 22,000 volunteers were involved in this year’s Medicine Collection Day in February. More than 473,000 needy people benefitted from the medicines collected.
By Vatican News
In the Cathedral of Como on Saturday morning, the funeral Mass took place for Father Roberto Malgesini, murdered on Tuesday by a homeless person. Bishop Oscar Cantoni celebrated the Mass and Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, represented Pope Francis and concelebrated. At the end of the Mass, the Cardinal spoke on behalf of Pope Francis. The offerings collected during and after the Mass will be used in the charities sustained by Pope Francis as well as by the poor of the Diocese of Como.
“I bring you the Holy Father’s greetings and fraternal embrace”, Cardinal Krajewski said at the end of the funeral Mass for Father Roberto Malgesini. “He is with us. He is united with us in prayer.”
He then related that as soon as Pope Francis heard the news of Father Malgesini’s death, he picked up the words of Como’s Bishop during the General Audience on Wednesday.
“I give praise to God for the witness, that is, for the martyrdom of this witness of charity toward the poorest.”
The Cardinal repeated other words Pope Francis said during the audience: “Pope Francis is with us and is united to the pain and prayers of Father Robert’s relatives…. He is united with the faithful of his Parish, to the needy whom he served with all of his heart until that last morning, and with the entire community in Como.”
“Father Roberto is dead, therefore, he is alive. Love never dies, not even with death,” the Cardinal continued. He then called to mind a Gospel passage that Father Roberto’s death incarnates: “Greater love than this has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Commenting on this passage, Cardinal Krajewski said, “One cannot be a true Christian if we do not make this page our own.”
To the question, “why did this happen to Father Roberto and not to me?” the Cardinal responded he does not know. However, one thing is certain, Krejewski added, “in his life, he incorporated Jesus’s prayer: ‘Our Father, your will be done, not mine; hallowed by thy name, not mine; thy kingdom come, not mine.”
That page, the Cardinal reflected, “refers particularly to us priests, who need to live the Gospel in its purity, we who need to spread Jesus’s perfume everywhere we go.” This is the sentiment expressed in a prayer written by Saint John Henry Newman and left by Mother Teresa as a legacy to her sisters in their daily service to the poor:
Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me
That every soul I come in contact with
May feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.
Then turning to the Bishop of Como, Oscar Cantoni, Cardinal Krajewski ended saying:
“I am sure that there are many priests and lay faithful who want to pick up Father Roberto’s evangelical work because this path is the true Gospel in action. If by any chance no one comes forward, I will come to you.”
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
From 16-18 September, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors held a plenary session with some participating in person in Rome and others participating online. This Commission was established by Pope Francis in March 2014. On Friday on the conclusion of their meetings, the Commission published a Press Release summarizing their work.
Since much of the work of the Commission migrated online as the world copes with Covid-19, the plenary gave them the opportunity of evaluating their online “outreach, study, research and education programs”.
The Commission’s Working with Survivors group has been holding virtual meetings directly with abuse survivors, members of their family and professionals. They will put what they learned to use into creating a series of “webinars and seminars on ministry to those who have been abused taking into account diverse cultural contexts.”
In Brazil, a local Survivor Advisory Panels, part of a pilot project, provided the impetus for the opening of “an office to help as a task force for the Special Safeguarding Commission as it implements Vos estis lux mundi.”
A series of webinars entitled “Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable People during Covid-19”, hosted by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in collaboration with the Commission, the Centre for Child Protection and an Italian hotline for victims of abuse took place over the summer months. Feedback from those who attended the webinars shows a desire for “further online formation in practical matters of safeguarding, and the Commission intends to continue offering such online formation programs in the immediate future.”
The Commission’s Press Release also mentions that they welcome the creation of the Commission for Care and Protection undertaken by the UISG and their male counterpart, the Union of Superiors General.
A collection of the studies contributed during a webinar sponsored by the Commission’s Safeguarding Guidelines and Norms group will soon be published in Periodica, the Canon Law journal published by the Pontifical Gregorian University. Contributors include members of various Vatican Dicasteries, and Canon Law experts from around the world. The topic under discussion is the “sacrament of reconciliation, canonical processes and matters of jurisprudence.”
Lastly, the Commission’s Press Release acknowledges the 16 July publication of the Vademecum by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Commission sees it as a contribution to “strengthening the administration of justice and better clarifies how those who have been abused are to be heard.” They added that members of the Commission are studying ways it can be implemented at the local church level and within religious institutes.
By Robin Gomes
The Christians of Bangladesh resolved to work together during a webinar on Wednesday, organized jointly by the Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission (ECJP) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) and World Vision Bangladesh, a Christian charity organization.
Some 80 religious and organization leaders from various Christian denominations took part in more than two hours of virtual discussions on the theme, “Interdenominational Dialogue on the Season of Creation – Preventing Climate Change and Disaster”.
The initiative was part of the current “Season of Creation”, September 1 to October 4, a campaign of prayer and concrete action by Christian Churches worldwide to safeguard and improve the created world.
The webinar participants pledged to promote prayer and fellowship among Christian denominations, organizations and communities to initiate collective action to care for the environment and tackle the harmful consequences resulting from climate change and natural disasters.
In his presentation, ECJP president, Bishop Gervas Rozario pointed out that God created the world and enjoined humanity with the responsibility of taking care of it. But man has misused it in many ways, which is why so many disasters are befalling us all. “Stop now, no more harm,” the bishop said, adding, “The time has come to love the creation of God more with our heart and soul.” “We have a responsibility to pass on a good earth to future generations. If we fail, they will blame us for ruining God’s creation,” Bishop Rozario said.
Reverend John S. Karmokar, assistant general secretary of Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha, pointed out that even though Christians in the country are a small community, they can play “a vital role in preserving the environment”. “If we work together and share our thoughts,” he said, “our programmes and actions will be stronger and more effective,” he told the seminar.
He said other Christian communities can learn much from the Catholic Church and some Christian NGOs that are greatly involved in the love and care of the environment.
On September 1, the CBCB launched a campaign to plant 400,000 trees across the country during the current the Special “Laudato Si’” Anniversary Year, in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” – On Care for our Common Home.
The campaign also intends to mark 50 years of the country’s independence next year, as well as the birth centenary this year of the founding father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Climate change, floods, river erosion, cyclones and other related phenomena are sensitive issues for low-lying Bangladesh, which sits on the floodplains of the world’s largest river delta system that empties into the Bay of Bengal.
Climate scientists say the nation of more than 160 million is one of the riskiest places in the world for predicted sea-level rise due to the melting of polar icebergs as a result of global warming and other impacts of climate change. (Source: UCA News)
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
“UNICEF is concerned with the numerous reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials during protests and in places of detention, including against children.”
Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, and the Special Coordinator for the Refuge and Migrant Response in Europe spoke these words on Friday during the UN Human Rights Council’s urgent debate on Belarus.
She went on to cite reports estimating that 240 minors are facing “administrative charges for engaging in largely peaceful demonstrations.”
Articles 13 and 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child extends the “right to freedom of expression” and “freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly” to children, she reminded the Human Rights Council.
Ms Khan also stated that “arrest, detention or imprisonment” of any child is always a last resort measure, that parents or guardians must be informed and present during any subsequent procedures.
She ending, urging that children’s rights be fully respected and protected in Belarus “in accordance with international human rights law.” UNICEF, she said is continuing to monitor the situation.
Just this past Sunday, speaking after delivering his Angelus message, Pope Francis spoke out regarding the many demonstrations and protests taking place throughout the world. He said these protests “express the growing disappointment” people have regarding certain critical “political and social situations.” Addressing leaders, he urged them to “listen to the voice of their citizens and welcome their just aspirations assuring complete respect for human rights and civil liberties.”
By Stefan J. Bos
The urgent debate of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council on alleged rights violations in Belarus didn’t go smoothly.
Till the last moment, a representative of Belarus, backed by Russia, China, and Venezuela, tried to limit speeches.
That also happened when opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya tried to talk about her supporters’ reported suffering under longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko.
But the president of the Human Rights Council, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, put an end to the repeated interruptions. “If anybody doesn’t agree with this, we would have to take a vote. But I would at this stage ask the secretariat to show us the rest of the video,” she said.
In it, opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya appealed for a change in Belarus. “We demand to cease violence against peaceful citizens immediately. We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners,” she said.
Tsikhanouskaya added: “We demand to allow entry and free movement to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. Finally, we demand free and fair elections. So the citizens of Belarus can freely choose their government according to the laws of the country”.
She and others believe that President Lukashenko rigged the August 9 presidential election. Among those protesting against Lukashenko are women who have reported torture and assault by security forces.
With riot police given carte blanche by president Lukashenko, they have responded by grabbing their masks and balaclavas. That forced officers to hide their faces and retreat for fear of being identified.
Back at the United Nations Security Council, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said observers witness thousands of arrests. Hundreds of reports of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual violence and the reported torture of children.
Bachelet said it was vital for the future of Belarus and “break these cycles of increasing repression and violence.”
By Vatican News
The Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, Fr Juan Antonio Guerrero, and the Auditor General ad interim, Alessandro Cassinis Righini, signed on Friday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the fight against corruption. The news was announced the same afternoon through a communication sent out by the Holy See Press Ofice.
“The two Authorities of the Holy See will collaborate in an even closer way in the identification of the risks of corruption and to more efficaciously implement the recently approved law regarding transparency, the control of and competition for awarding public contracts by the Holy See and Vatican City State.”
Commenting on the MoU, Alessandro Cassinis said, “This is yet another concrete act that demonstrates the Holy See’s desire to prevent and fight against the phenomenon of corruption inside and outside of Vatican City State, which has already borne important results in the past months.”
On his part, Father Guerrero emphasized that, “in addition to representing a moral obligation and an act of justice, the fight against corruption also makes it possible to combat waste in such difficult times caused by the economic consequences of the pandemic affecting the whole world, but in particular the weakest, as Pope Francis has recalled several times.”
Last June, a single procedure regarding contracts was issued for both the Holy See and Vatican City State. The law covers the transparency and control of contracts, as well as competition in awarding public contracts in view of improving the management of resources as well as reducing the danger of corruption.
The new Statutes of the Office of the Auditor General in the Vatican were approved by Pope Francis in January 2019. Those statutes elevated the Auditor General’s Office to an Anti-Corruption Authority.
From a “common evil” such as the pandemic, we have rediscovered the “common good”, a value that contains every other value: solidarity, helping one another, the need for community. In such a “fragile” moment never before experienced in recent history, these are values that exceed market logic. The Pope is dedicating a series of catecheses specifically to the theme of the resurgence from the pandemic. But, last March, he had already asked the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to create a Commission of experts to investigate future socio-economic and cultural challenges and to propose guidelines to confront them. Two of these experts, economist Luigino Bruni and Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International, express their viewpoints regarding the construction of a post-Covid world and the role of both the Church and religion. The first objective, they stress, is to form a “robust conscience” in young people which will help them face the new state of affairs.
You are part of the Vatican COVID 19 Commission, Pope Francis’ response mechanism to an unprecedented virus. What do you personally hope to learn from this experience? In what way do you think society as a whole can be inspired by the work of the Commission?
Bruni – The most important thing I have learned from this experience is the importance of the principle of precaution for the common good. Absent for the most part in the initial phase of the epidemic, the principle of precaution, one of the pillars of the Church’s social doctrine, tells us something extremely important. The principle of precaution is lived obsessively on the individual level (it’s enough to think of the insurance companies which seem to be taking over the world), but is completely absent on the collective level, and thus makes 21st century society extremely vulnerable. This is why those countries which have preserved a bit of a welfare state have demonstrated themselves a lot stronger than those governed entirely by the market And then the common good: since a common evil has revealed to us what the common good is, so has the pandemic forced us to see that the common good requires community, and not only the market. Health, safety, and education cannot be left to the game of profit.
Dennis – Through the Vatican COVID 19 Commission Pope Francis has offered inspirational leadership to our hurting world. His attention to the pandemic’s impact on the most vulnerable and marginalized in our societies has helped the world to see him as a pastor uniquely able to encourage and console. At the same time, the multidimensional work of the COVID19 Commission demonstrates the seriousness of his intention to probe the roots of the crisis we are now facing and to imagine a future that is more in harmony with the vision of Laudato Si’.
Pope Francis asked the COVID 19 Commission to prepare the future instead of prepare for it. What should be the role of the Catholic Church as an institution in this endeavor?
Bruni – The Catholic Church is one of the few (if not the only) institution that guarantees and safeguards the global common good. Having no private interests, it can pursue the good of all. It is because of this that she has a vast hearing. For the same reason, she has a responsibility to exercise it on a global scale.
Dennis – The Catholic Church has enormous convening power. The COVID19 Commission is one example among many in recent years of times when critically important global issues, including nuclear disarmament, mining, migrants and refugees, cyber security, nonviolence and just peace and more, have been the subject of Vatican conferences and events. Able to bring together deep experience from different contexts around the world with excellent scientific research, socio-economic and environmental analysis, and Catholic social teaching, the Catholic Church can help generate and evaluate ideas that can shape a more just and sustainable future.
What personal lessons (if any) have you derived from the experience of the pandemic? What concrete changes do you hope to see after this crisis both personally and globally?
Bruni – The first lesson is the value of relational goods. Not being able to exchange hugs in these months, I have rediscovered the value of an embrace and of contact. Secondly, we can and must have many online meetings and working remotely, but for important decisions and for decisive meetings, the internet does not suffice. Physical presence is necessary. So, the virtual boom is making us discover the importance of flesh and blood contact and the intelligence of the human body. I hope that we do not forget the lessons learned in these months (because people forget very quickly), in particular the importance of politics as we have rediscovered in these months (as the art of the common good against a common evil), and that we do not forget the importance of human cooperation and global solidarity.
Dennis – The experience of the pandemic has helped me to recognize the fragility of life, the centrality of relationships and the importance of community. COVID-19 is exposing the deep injustice and violence that leave too many people, communities and countries vastly more vulnerable than others. After this crisis I hope for a major shift in national priorities, a decrease in spending for weapons and war and a major investment in healthcare, education and care for the earth. I believe that the seeds of nonviolence are being planted by all those responding in any helpful way to the suffering caused by COVID19. These seeds, if nourished and carefully tended, may give rise to a globalization of solidarity rooted in nonviolence that will promote a just and sustainable peace.
Preparing for the post-Covid world includes forming future generations, who will be forced to make decisions that forge new paths. In this sense, can education be considered only as a “cost” to reduce, even in times of crisis?
Bruni – Education, above all that of children and young people, is much more than an “expense”… It is a collective investment with the highest rate of social return. I hope that in those countries where schools are still closed, a national holiday will be designated when they are reopened. Democracy begins at the school desk and there it is born again in each generation. The first heritage (patres munus) that we pass on through the generations is that of education.
Dennis – The future will be determined by the quality, methodology and content of the education we offer to younger generations and by society’s ability to cultivate the immense potential of a child from the earliest years. Respected educator Maria Montessori spoke about the task of the educator as nurturing in a child “moral courage,” a “sturdy conscience” and a sense of their own dignity and worth. Healthy families and local communities, human solidarity, world peace and survival of the planet will in many ways depend on our ability and willingness to invest in education that is rooted in love and results in a capacity for creative and critical thinking.
Tens of millions of children around the world do not have access to education. Can article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be ignored, which affirms that everyone has the right to free and mandatory education, at least regarding elementary education?
Bruni – Clearly this must not be ignored, but we cannot ask that the cost of education be entirely sustained by countries without sufficient resources. We must quickly give life to a new international cooperation under the slogan: “educating children and adolescents is a global common good”, where countries with more resources help those will fewer resources so that the right to free education becomes real. This pandemic has shown us that the world is a large community. We must transform this common evil into new common, global goods.
Dennis – No, article 26 cannot be ignored. Sustainable Development Goal 4 made clear the pressing need for quality education and the deep inequality of educational opportunity that exists within many countries and around the world. COVID19 has exacerbated that inequality. As 1.6 billion children and youth were impacted by closing schools, it became evident that remote learning was out of reach for at least 500 million students and attention to the looming educational deficit was even more urgent.
Educational budgets have undergone sometimes drastic cuts even in rich countries. Could there really be a desire not to invest in future generations?
Bruni – If economic logic takes over, reasoning such as this will increase: “Why should I do something for future generations? What have they done for me?” If do ut des ‘(I’ll give something only if I get something out of it), the commercial mantra, becomes the new logic of nations, we will always invest less in education, and we will always create more debt which today’s children will pay off. We must become generous once again and cultivate non-economic virtues such as compassion, meekness, and generosity.
Dennis – At the same time, the world has spent trillions on weapons and preparations for war, stealing resources from providing for healthy, resilient, well-educated communities that can slow the spread of disease and more quickly recover from serious threats like the COVID-19 pandemic. Authentic security in which the whole earth community can thrive will emerge only from serious attention to meeting basic human needs, including education, on a global scale. COVID-19 has exposed deep social injustices, among them lack of access to high quality healthcare and education. Moving money from military spending to education seems an obvious way to invest in a just, peaceful and sustainable future.
Though it finds itself in economic difficulty, the Catholic Church is on the front lines offering education to the poorest. As we’ve seen during this pandemic, lockdowns have had a considerable impact on Catholic schools. But the Church continues to welcome everyone, without distinctions based on creed, making space for encounter and dialogue. How important is this aspect?
Bruni – The Church has always been an institution for the common good. Luke’s parable does not tells us about the faith of the half-dead man who the Good Samaritan assisted. It is precisely during the gravest crises that the Church rediscovers her vocation as Mater et magister (Mother and teacher), that the esteem of non-Christians grows toward her, that the sea that gathers everything in, then gives everything to everyone, above all to the poorest. The Church has always known, after all, that the indicator of every common good is the condition of the poorest.
Dennis – The contribution of Catholic schools to peace and well-being in divided communities and countries overwhelmed by violence can be immense. The remarkable work of Dominican Sisters in Iraq to provide education for Christian and Muslim students is a beautiful example. Encounter and dialogue are very important. Especially valuable are those schools where the absolute integrity of every adult and respect for every student are known to be a way of life and where the curriculum includes a deep exploration of nonviolence as a way of life and an important tool for transforming conflict.
What contribution can education about religion and religions offer young people, especially in a world increasingly driven by divisions and which fosters the engagement of fear and tension?
Bruni – That depends on how they are taught. The ethical dimension which exists in every religion is not enough. The main teaching that religions can offer today regards the interior life and spirituality, because our generation, in the space of just a few decades, has squandered a thousand-year-old heritage which contained ancient wisdom and popular piety. The world’s religions must help the young and everyone else to rewrite a new “grammar” of the interior life. If they do not do that, depression will become the plague of the 21st century.
Dennis – At Miriam College in the Philippines, through the Center for Peace Education and Pax Christi, Catholic students have built a long-term relationship with Muslim students in Davao. They have come to know each other as friends and to understand the common values of their different religious traditions. The students work together to promote just solutions to years of conflict in their country. The Center for Peace Education has been instrumental in spreading an interest in peace education throughout the Philippines.
By Nathan Morley
Greek police on Lesbos have started to relocate thousands of migrants and refugees from the Moria camp, which was destroyed by fire last week, to a new tented facility nearby.
Until now, around 12,000 people – including children – had been sheltering there.
Since the blaze, the majority had been forced to sleep out in the open while they waited for aid. It is reported that people from over 60 countries were housed at Moria.
Authorities in Athens say four Afghan asylum seekers have been charged with starting the fire that destroyed the camp.
The UN has been offering support to the authorities and bringing in core relief items for 6,000 people on Lesbos.
Earlier this week UNHCR said that the situation showed the need to alleviate overcrowding, improve security, infrastructure and services in all five reception centres on the Greek islands.
The Moria camp has long been home to far greater number of migrants and refugees than was ever intended.
The UN refugee agency’s chief in Greece Philippe Leclerc has urged Greece to speed up asylum processes on Lesbos: “The idea is not that people remain forever on the island of Lesbos, but that processes are accelerated so that people can leave gradually and in an orderly way”.
Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to the migrants and refugees in Lesbos, and Church leaders and humanitarian organizations are appealing to the EU to forge a common policy for the relocation of migrants and refugees that will protect them and respect their dignity.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
On Thursday, Bishop Richard Moth, the lead Catholic Bishop for prisons of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales reacted to the sentencing reforms made public on Wednesday.
Bishop Moth welcomed the government’s planned reforms as steps toward “piloting problem-solving courts”, and “improving pre-sentence reports and reforming criminal records.”
He reiterated that the Catholic Church has a history of supporting these types of “measures as part of our vision for a criminal justice system rooted in hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation.”
In addition to ensuring public safety, he added that the government must not neglect other areas such as restorative justice and alternatives, where appropriate, to prison sentences.
Bishop Moth remarks came a day after the Ministry of Justice for the UK a paper containing proposals for sentencing reform. Entitled A Smarter Approach to Sentencing, the document explores the role of sentencing and identifies problems in the current system in order to provide a “vision for reform.” It then applies this approach to serious offenders and their supervision in the community, probation, reducing reoffending and sentences for minors.
In his foreword to the document, the Rt Hon Robert Buckland, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, acknowledges a reform of the sentencing system is needed. He called the present system “complex and…too often ineffectual.” Buckland says that not only does the general public find the system hard to understand, but that even “courts can find it cumbersome and difficult to navigate.” The proposed changes are meant to respond to “the true nature of the crime” while at the same being flexible enough to “give offenders a fair start on their road to rehabilitation.”
This is not the first time Bishop Richard Moth has addressed this issue. In 2018 he commissioned a document entitled A Journey of Hope which proposes a Catholic vision of sentencing reform and includes the input of a “wide range of experts.” In the foreword to that document, Bishop Moth said prisons in England and Wales are “struggling to cope.” They are “characterised by poor living conditions, high levels of violence and self-harm, widespread use of psychoactive drugs, and prisoners being left in their cells for up to 22 hours a day,” he said.
Such conditions are not only “undignified” but hardly provide an atmosphere in which offenders would want to “turn their lives around,” he noted. One reason Moth proposed sentencing reform was necessary is because the one in force has “created an unsustainable prison population” in structures that cannot provide “a safe, decent or rehabilitative environment.”
A Catholic vision puts the victim first A Journey of Hope states. Thus, the criminal justice system needs to meet victims’ needs as well as deter offenders, thus reducing the number of victims. The document also points out that England and Wales “has the highest imprisonment rate in western Europe”, while crime has been declining. This is the effect of a sentencing system that tends to hand down prison sentences creating an unsustainable scenario in the prison system itself. Reducing short-term sentencing in favour of alternatives, such as successfully proven “community sentences”, was proposed. A Journey of Hope also recommended that the “complex needs” of offenders be recognized so as to “determine the right sentence” for each person.
In conclusion A Journey of Hope summarizes the Catholic vision for sentencing reform thus:
“We must help offenders to return to the right road by building a system which enables them to do so. We have a duty to support both victims of crime and those who have offended by helping them to undertake a journey of hope, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption.”
English Africa Service – Vatican City & Anastácio Sasembele – Luanda
The extensive Diocese of Lwena needs at least 200 priests to meet the current demand for pastoral life in this ecclesiastical circumscription, belonging to the Ecclesiastical Province of Saurimo.
With a surface area of 223,000 km², the Diocese of Lwena is located in Eastern Angola. It covers the entire Province of Moxico. The population of the diocesan territory is composed of numerous ethnic groups though the majority are the Tchokwe speaking people.
To mitigate the shortage of priests, Bishop Blanco is urging parish communities to seriously make the promotion of vocations to the priesthood a priority.
“Our Diocese of Lwena, due to the number of inhabitants, and considering the difficulties of a large territory, would need at least 200 priests for her to be able to evangelize effectively,” explained the prelate.
Considering the size of one of Southern Africa’s biggest dioceses, Lwena has been training the laity for pastoral responsibilities which can be performed by them.
“We need a sufficiently trained laity, committed to their faith and each according to the gift he or she received from the Holy Spirit at Baptism,” added Bishop Blanco.
Bishop Blanco has always explained that the Diocese of Lwena which is in the Province of Moxico is very fertile territory and therefore attractive for habitation.
“The province is endowed with many rivers and forests, and therefore it is very habitable -practically the entire territory. Unfortunately, the region is serviced by a very poor road network, making it difficult to reach far flung communities for pastoral work and evangelization,” said the Bishop.
First established as a Diocese in 1963, the Diocese of Lwena has a total Catholic population of 118,600. The entire Diocese is served by less than 40 diocesan and religious clergy. The Bishop has since called for realistic expectations of what the Church can and should do given the challenges.
By Robin Gomes
Amid the confusion of voices and messages that surround us, a Christian journalist is called to be a new witness to the truth, thus becoming a bearer of hope and confidence in the future.
This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ address to some 30 representatives of “Tertio”, a Belgian weekly magazine that analyses current events and interprets them from a Christian, and more specifically Catholic, perspective. Established in 2000, the magazine takes its name from the 1994 Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente of Saint Pope John Paul II, in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
Pope Francis recalled his predecessor who said communicators are “called to interpret the present time and identify ways for communicating the Gospel according to the language and sensibility of the contemporary human person”.
The magazine’s name, Pope Francis said, is not only a call to hope, but also aims to make theChurch’s voice and that of Christian intellectuals heard in an increasingly secularized media scenario, in order to enrich it with constructive reflections. By seeking a positive vision of people and facts, and by rejecting prejudices, he said, Christian journalists foster a culture of encounter through which it is possible to see reality with a confident gaze.
Pope Francis drew attention to the noteworthy contribution of the Christian media to the growth of a new way of life in Christian communities, free from all forms of preconception and exclusion. In this regard, he denounced gossip or calumny, saying it closes the heart of the community and disrupts the unity of the Church. The devil, the “great gossiper”, he said, goes about speaking evil about others, because he is the liar who tries to prevent the Church from being a community.
Reminding the representatives of “Tertio” of the “high professional conscience” of a Christian Journalist, the Pope said they are called to offer a new witness in the world of communication without concealing the truth or manipulating information. Amid the confusion of voices and messages that surround us, what is needed is a human narrative that speaks to us about us and the beauty that dwells in us.
As protagonists of this “narration”, journalists are called to look at the world and events with tenderness, that all are part of a living fabric in which we are all interconnected.
Hence, the Christian information professional must be a bearer of hope and confidence in the future, so that the present becomes liveable. This is particularly needed in the current pandemic, where Christian journalists are called to be the “sowers of this hope in a better tomorrow”. In this context, the Pope said, the media can help to ensure that people do not become ill with loneliness and can receive a word of comfort.
By Vatican News
In his reflection for this year’s Collection for the Needs of the Church in Canada, Archbishop Richard Gagnon, the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, notes the impact of the coronavirus on the Church in Canada and society at large.
“Our Episcopal Conference too has remained fully engaged,” he writes in a letter to Pastors and collaborators in pastoral ministry. “In the face of real obstacles, we innovated, drew strength from God and each other, and brought the Lord’s enduring message of comfort and healing to the weary.”
After thanking them for their continued support, Archbishop Gagnon says the Bishops’ Conference, “supported by donations to the Collection for the Needs of the Church in Canada, will continue to facilitate common action among the Bishops, providing pastoral encouragement and resources for the local churches, and announcing the message of the Gospel for all to hear.”
A press release from the CCCB says the annual collection “is primarily to assist Bishops in paying their annual diocesan/eparchial assessment to the CCCB as well as any yearly financial contribution they make to their regional episcopal assembly.” The statement notes that additional funds raised through the Collection can be used by the dioceses and eparchies for their own pastoral needs.
By Linda Bordoni
Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate says he does not want to deviate from his mission of forming a government of specialist ministers, as efforts to form the new cabinet continue to flounder.
France has been putting pressure on Lebanese politicians to form a new government and embark on reforms to try and find a way out of the deep financial and economic crisis that has crippled the nation.
The former government resigned in the wake of a massive explosion in the capital, Beirut, on 4 August, which killed over 200 people, injured some 6,000 and displaced more than 300,000.
The cause of the fire that triggered the blast in a warehouse in the port area is under investigation.
Meanwhile, record rates of unemployment and inflation, the collapse of infrastructure and social services, compounded by the COVID-19 emergency, have led to a situation in which hundreds of thousands are in need of humanitarian aid.
Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to the people of Lebanon and the Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis is on the ground, in Beirut, to bring the solidarity of the Church and to coordinate with the local Caritas Offices that are providing much-needed humanitarian relief.
As he told Vatican Radio, Aloysius John also visited the site of the explosion.
Aloysius John described the situation at the site of the explosion as “apocalyptic”.
“It was as if there had been a huge tsunami or tornado. Everything was down,” he said noting that all the nearby houses had also been devastated and everything is in ruin.
He was in Beirut, he explained to bring the closeness of the Church to the people as well as to coordinate with the local Caritas Lebanon and Caritas MONA offices, together with Lebanese religious leaders.
He said he visited various families and individuals who had been directly affected by the blast.
One woman, he said, told of how her 32-year-old son went to see a friend on the day of the explosion and never came back. She too, he said, suffered multiple cut injuries due to all the shattered glass and is still taking medication to stop the bleeding.
Another story he told was that of a disabled man who was fortunately out of his tiny apartment at the time of the explosion and therefore unhurt, but who came back to a severely damaged home with no windows. Thanks to Caritas volunteers, John said, the house has been rendered “livable” again and the man has a roof over his head.
These are just a couple of thousands of stories, John said, noting that the people today are overcoming the shock and asking important questions, about the future.
“There are about 300,000 people in highly vulnerable situations,” he said.
Most of them have lost their houses, in the sense that their houses are no longer fit to be lived in; those who were renting are being thrown out by the owners who are unable or unwilling to do anything about the situation, also because they fear the insurances will not step in.
John said that today Caritas is one of the few organizations that is helping them; it is distributing about 10,000 food parcels every day and its volunteers have been on the ground since day 1 offering much needed psychological and social support as well.
“All this is happening in a state where there is no government and no social security or social help,” he said, recalling the words of one of the women who revealed, “it is only God who can help me and give me the courage I need.”
One of the reasons for John’s six-day visit to Beirut was to exchange information and coordinate with local Church leaders who are deeply involved in supporting the people.
He said the commemoration of those who died in the blast was an extremely important moment for the city and for the nation, and he said he had the opportunity, especially talking to Cardinal Bechara Rai and to Archbishop Michel Aoun, to gauge the depth of the crisis in the country that has been undergoing “turmoil and conflict, and all kinds of emergencies, as well as COVID-19 and the dire economic situation.”
What the Church is asking for today, he said, is solidarity and “how to transform this situation into an opportunity to change the system.”
John said he travels back to Rome with a series of requests and questions: the first being the need to continue to show solidarity and support to the people.
The second, he continued, pertains to the need to investigate the explosion: “was it a simple blast? Or is there something behind it?”
Speaking to people on the ground, he revealed, he understood that the situation is not clear and he said it is something the international community is called to deal with and ensure justice be done.
And looking not too far ahead, he said, there is a huge responsibility to make sure that all those left without a home be able to face winter with a roof over their heads and warm clothes and blankets. Those who survived the blast, he said, are afraid they will not survive the cold!
Once he is back in Rome, John said, Caritas Internationalis is committed to engaging with other parties at a global level as well as continuing to provide help through Caritas Lebanon during the coming months, also by incrementing a just-launched campaign by Caritas MONA.
On another level, he continued, there is the urgent need to look at the economic situation in the country and at how it has been affected by decisions of the “superpowers”, decisions that have led to such inflation “the people can’t even by food” with the salaries they are receiving.
“And now the government is not going to subsidize rent, petrol or medicine. That means the prices are going to be even higher. How are they going to pay for them?” he asked.
John also spoke of the devastating effect of the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Syria that can no longer afford to buy from Lebanon, creating a major crisis compounded by the fact that huge amounts of Lebanon’s wealth are in banks outside the country.”
“These are some of the things we will be focusing on as we lobby for Lebanon, ” he said, expressing his belief that justice is needed for everyone, especially for the poor.
Regarding the formation of a new government, John said people are desperate but hopeful.
“We will survive” is a slogan, he said, that is written on posters and placards all over the streets.
They say “Lebanon has fallen a thousand times,” but they are adamant they will survive.
The key question for politicians, John said, should be “what they have in mind for the poor? Are they going to look at citizens as right-holders or are they going to look at them as people they can exploit? Are they going to act as duty-bearers to the citizens?”
We will have to see how things go, he concluded, but one thing is sure: “Lebanon is in political turmoil.”
From the Gospel according to Matthew
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
By Godfrey Kampamba
South Sudan has launched the first edition of the Bible written in the local Pazande language. It was presented on 14 September by the Bishop of the diocese of Tombura-Yambio.
Entitled “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path”, the event coincided with the sixth anniversary of the death of the first bishop to be incardinated in the diocese, Bishop Joseph Gasi Abangite. Gracing the occasion was the current ordinary of the diocese, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala.
In his pastoral letter published for the presentation of this local language bible, Mgr. Kussala underscored the importance of having such an edition of Sacred Scripture. He said that this version of the Bible is going to cover more than four million faithful who speak the Pazande language. These are spread in areas found in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
“My desire, as Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, is to celebrate, study, spread and live the Word of God so that it becomes the pivot of all aspects of life.”
He said further that he hoped that the Bible will become a vital reference point for the life of every faithful, and for the church of Tombura-Yambio. He exhorted his flock to celebrate, read, pray and share the Word of God using this first version of the Pazande Bible.
In his closing remarks Bishop Kussala invited priests of his diocese to consider the event as “a new call to be ministers of the Word”. At the same time he also urged Christians to continue praying in order to defeat the global coronavirus pandemic and to abide by the given guidelines in order to help curb the spread of the virus.
The ceremony, in the diocese inhabited by the country’s Pazende speaking people, was also attended by the governor of the western equatorial State, General Alfred Futuyo. In his speech, the representative of the local authority invited citizens to embrace peace and unity. He encouraged the people to unite and foster development in the State and in the country as a whole.
By Vatican News
Ten years ago this week, from 16 to 19 September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made a highly successful Apostolic Visit to Great Britain.
A decade on from that journey, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols reflects on those four days, describing them as “remarkable in many, many ways.”
The Cardinal recalls the many highlights that stand out in his mind.
One in particular, he writes, “was the drive down the great road approaching Buckingham Palace – The Mall – decorated on either side with papal flags and Union Jacks. Packed with people on both sides. It was a sight I thought I would never see. A warm, rapturous welcome to the Pope of Rome in this country, which has, for the last 400 years, struggled with its understanding of its relationship to the Catholic Church.”
Another memory for Cardinal Nichols was the Pope Benedict’s presence in Westminster Abbey standing with the Archbishop of Canterbury…, “an echo of that great visit of his predecessor, Pope St John Paul II in Canterbury Cathedral, signaling a great healing of an ancient wound.”
“And then there was his visit to St Peter’s Residence in Vauxhall,” writes the Cardinal, “where he literally sat among the elderly and didn’t shy away from identifying himself as somebody in that same phase of life.”
For Cardinal Nichols, another great highlight of this journey was Pope Benedict’s speech to politicians, peers and religious leaders in Westminster Hall, “when he called for a proper dialogue between the world of reason and politics and the world of religion, of faith.”
The Archbishop of Westminster writes that Pope Benedict’s visit ten years ago, “built on the impact of the visit of Pope St John Paul II, which shifted the perception of the presence of the Catholic Church in this country.”
He goes on to say that the visit – especially the visit to Westminster Hall, “still resonates and still gives Catholic politicians a platform and a continuing respect.”
In the reflection, Cardinal Nichols thinks back to the end of this Apostolic visit, and recalls the words of one commentator who said, “he appeared as everybody’s favourite grandfather.”
“We saw his courtesy,” notes the Cardinal, “his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”
Cardinal Nichols says he will be writing to the Pope Emeritus to thank him for his visit, and “to thank him for the gifts that he gave us, and thank him especially for his beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman on that wonderful day in Cofton Park in Birmingham.”
That step, he writes, “has now been completed with the canonisation of Saint John Henry Newman, something which we know thrilled the heart of Pope emeritus Benedict.”
Concluding his reflection, Cardinal Nichols describes Pope Benedict as, “through and through, a gentleman, through and through a scholar, through and through a pastor.”
He adds, the Pope emeritus is “through and through a man of God, close to the Lord and always His humble servant.”
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St Alphonsus Liguori praised the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the best way to Honor God. Join us as we celebrate Mass daily from various parishes around the world, online and offline, and please visit daily to pray with us as we recite the Rosary, offer daily scripture, readings, devotions and Catholic focused news.