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Pope promises to send special message to FAO meeting in Ethiopia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked World Food Day this week with a visit to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) where he called on world leaders and policymakers to work for a concrete, practical consensus to prevent the most tragic effects of climate change hitting the weakest and most defenseless.

“We need to change our lifestyles, the use of resources, production and consumption patterns,” the Pope said, and he decried what he described as the “negligence” that is damaging the “delicate balances of the ecosystems” and the “arrogance of manipulating and controlling” the planet.

Hosting the Pope at FAO’s Headquarters in Rome was FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, who immediately afterwards spoke to Vatican Radio:

Listen

Da Silva points out that the Vatican has Permanent Observer Status at FAO but most important, he says, as the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church he represents values that FAO shares: solidarity, dignity, and hope in a better world.

“We share those values in FAO and Pope Francis is a continuing inspiration for us, and not only through ‘Laudato Sì’ where he approaches the issue of climate change – a very important common global value” he says.

He says that Pope Francis is one of those rare people who have dedicated their entire lives to promoting important values: “these people are indispensable”.

“I think that Pope Francis is one of those people who have worked hard all of their lives and that he is one of the few indispensable people in the world today” he says.

Before addressing his audience at FAO, da Silva says he had the opportunity to speak with Pope Francis personally about some of the programmes his organization shares with the Vatican.

“We discussed particularly the need to concentrate our efforts in Africa and to stop the conflicts, and also to deal with the impact of climate change” he says.

Da Silva also revealed that Pope Francis promised to send a special message for the meeting that FAO is organizing during the African Union Summit that FAO is organizing next January 2018 in Addis Ababa.      

 

(from Vatican Radio)

World Methodist Council: dialogue must reach local level

(Vatican Radio) Methodist and Catholic theologians are meeting just outside Rome this week, marking the 50th anniversary of the first ecumenical dialogue group following the Second Vatican Council. That first session of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission was held in the hill town of Ariccia in October 1967.

Pope Francis met with members of the current Commission on Thursday, together with leaders of the World Methodist Council, saying that half a century of dialogue has set us free from estrangement and suspicion and helped us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

South African Bishop Ivan Abrahams is General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the concrete fruits of this ecumenical journey….

Listen:

He says two of the key ingredients that have marked this “50 year pilgrimage or journey” are the love and trust that has been built up and that are reflected in the seven joint reports that have been produced thus far.

One of the great challenges, he says, is to let the fruits of this dialogue “percolate to the local level and we need to see how we can do that much more effectively”.

'That they may be one'

He notes that the latest dialogue report entitled ‘A Call to Holiness: from glory to glory’ stresses that working for unity is “a fundamental part of our mission and our witness to the world, to see that Jesus’ high priestly prayer is made reality”.

Speaking about the situation in his native South Africa, Abrahams says that as he saw the demise of apartheid in his lifetime, “I’d hoped to see the reality of “that they may be one” in my lifetime”.

Autonomy in mission and witness

Talking about the Methodist model of governance, he says there’s no compromise on key issues of faith, but “we don’t apply the ‘one size fits all’ model”, leaving the various conferences autonomy to make their own decisions about mission and witness.

Asked about Pope Francis’ efforts to give local Catholic bishops’ conferences with more autonomy over pastoral decision making, Abrahams says “I think that it is really the only way to go, if we speak about the integrity of the Gospel, because every cultural context is uniquely different”.

Pope Francis embodies unity

While practical cooperation on issues like migration, refugees or climate change are important, he says, consensus in the theological dialogue remains crucial because “we need to clarify so we can walk together”.

Finally Bishop Abrahams praises Pope Francis’ way of reaching out to young generations, saying he is “a beacon of hope” and “somebody who embodies the unity that we’re seeking to live”.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope meets students, staff of “Institution des Chartreux”‎

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday urged students of a French Catholic School to watch out against the lure and slavery of money, and train themselves to be promoters and defenders of equality and justice in the world. 

Some 80 students and staff of Institution des Chartreux of Lyons, in Rome as part of their semester, met the Pope in the Vatican.  Known commonly as Les Chartreux, the private school is managed by the Carthusians. 

Lure and slavery of money

The Pope expressed satisfaction that while they were preparing themselves to enter the big commercial schools to pursue professional careers in the world of finance, their current academic formation at Les Chartreux was providing them a strong human, philosophical and cultural dimension.  “It is essential,” he said, “that from now on and in your future professional life you learn to be free from the ‘lure of money’, from the slavery into which money shuts those who worship it.”    He said it is also important that they have the “strength and courage not to blindly obey the invisible hand of the market.”  “Hence,” he said, “I encourage you to make the best of your study time to train yourselves to become promoters and defenders of growth in equity, and artisans of an upright and adequate administration of our common home, the world.” 

Just and humane world

Pope Francis further exhorted them to become responsible for this world and for the life of every man, never forgetting that “every injustice against a poor person is an open wound and belittles your very dignity.”    He told the students to find the means and the time to take on the path of brotherhood to create bridges rather than walls among men in order to add their stone to building a more just and humane society.   He concluded encouraging them to work for good and be a humble seed of a new world.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican hosts conference on Disability and Catechesis

(Vatican Radio) A global conference will open in Rome on Friday looking at best practices to help people with disabilities fully engage in the life of the Church.

The event entitled "Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church", is being sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and partnered by The Kairos Forum, a UK based organization that focuses on the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities.

Over the course of the three day gathering 450 experts from around the world will share their insights.

Lydia O’Kane spoke to Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, about the goals of the conference.

Listen to the interview:

 

Speaking about how the conference came about, Mons Sylva said, “this international conference is the fruit that was sewn during the Jubilee (of Mercy) with all the other discussions that took place afterwards.”

He underlined that, “the aim and the goal is for us as a Church and for this Pontifical Council to really learn what are the best practices that are already taking place throughout the world in catechizing people with special needs …”

The Church and Disability

But, Mons. Sylva also added that, what this conference is also meant to do is to “highlight the responsibility that we have as a Church to take into account the special needs for each of the baptized, so that we can present to him or her the catechism, the catechesis of our Church in a way that they can receive it; they can grasp the elements of it .”

The global conference, "Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church", will run from the 20th to the 22nd of October at the Urbaniana University in Rome.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis marks 50 years of Methodist-Catholic dialogue

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with leaders of the World Methodist Council on Thursday, celebrating fifty years of dialogue between the two Churches.

Noting that in the Old Testament, a golden jubilee was a moment to set slaves free, the pope said “we too have been freed from the slavery of estrangement and mutual suspicion”.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: 

After fifty years of patient dialogue, he said, “we are no longer strangers” but rather, through our shared Baptism, “members of the  household of God”.

True dialogue, the pope continued, gives us courage to encounter one another in humility and sincerity” as we seek to learn from each other.

Wesley's example of holiness

Speaking about the 18th century preacher John Wesley, who, with his brother Charles founded the Methodist movement, Pope Francis said his words and his example of holiness brought many people to Christ. When we recognize the working of the Holy Spirit in other Christian confessions, he said, “we cannot fail to rejoice”, as they can “also help us grow closer to the Lord”.

Serving the poor together

The pope also noted how our faith becomes tangible when it takes the concrete form of love and service to the poor and marginalized. As Methodists and Catholics together, when we assist those who are alienated or in need, he said, we are responding to the Lord’s summons.

Become ministers of reconciliation

We cannot grow in holiness without growing in communion, Pope Francis concluded. As you begin a new phase of dialogue devoted to reconciliation, may your discussions be a gift for Christians everywhere to become ministers of reconciliation. Let us prepare ourselves with humble hope and concrete efforts, he said, for that full recognition which will enable us to join one another in the breaking of bread together.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Mass: The gift of God's salvation opens the door to all

The Lord gives us the memory of  God's salvation which is “a gift” and close to the concreteness of the works of mercy he wants us to do, whether they are "material or spiritual": so we will become people who help to "open the door" to ourselves and others. That was Pope Francis’ prayer at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Recalling the passage from Luke's Gospel in which the Scribes and Pharisees considered themselves righteous, and Jesus makes known to them that God alone is just, the Pope explained why law practitioners had "taken knowledge away" with "the consequence of not being able to enter the Kingdom nor let others enter either".

Listen to our report:

"This leads us to understand the revelation of God, to understand God's heart, to understand God's salvation - the key to knowledge - we can say it is very neglected. One forgets the freedom of salvation; forgetting the closeness of God and forgetting God's mercy. And those who forget the gift of salvation, the closeness of God, and the mercy of God, have taken away the key to knowledge. "

Therefore, this gift was "forgotten". It is "God's initiative to save us and instead stand on the side of the law": Salvation - said the Pope - "is there for them", thus arriving in "a bunch of prescriptions" which in fact become salvation. So, "they do not receive the power of God's righteousness." The law, however, is always "an answer to God's generous love", which has taken "the initiative" to save us. And, continued Pope Francis, "when you forget the gift of salvation you fall, you lose the key to the intelligence of the history of salvation", losing "the sense of God's closeness":

"For them, God is the one who has made the law. But this is not the God of revelation. The God of revelation is a God who has begun to walk with us from Abraham to Jesus Christ, God walking with His people. And when you lose this close relationship with the Lord, you fall into this dull mindset that believes in the self-sufficiency of salvation with the fulfillment of the law. The closeness of God ".

When the closeness of God is lacking, when prayer is lacking, the Pope emphasized "doctrine cannot be taught" and not even by "studying theology", much less "moral theology": The Pope reiterated that theology "kneels down, always close to God ". And the closeness of the Lord comes "to the highest point of the crucified Jesus Christ," being "justified" for the blood of Christ, as Saint Paul said. For this reason, the Pontiff explained, the works of mercy "are the stone of the fulfillment of the law," because they touch the flesh of Christ, "touch Christ’s suffering in a person, both corporally and spiritually." Also, when the key to knowledge is lost, one also becomes "corrupt". The Pope finally noted the "responsibilities" of shepherds, now in the Church commenting that  when they lose or take away the "key of intelligence", they close  "the door on themselves and on others":

In my country, said the Pope,  "I have heard several times of parish priests who did not baptize the children of the mothers because they were not born in  canonical marriage. They closed the door, why? Because the heart of these parish priests had lost the key to knowledge.

Three months ago, in a country, in a city, a mother wanted to baptize her newly born son, but she was married civilly with a divorced man. The priest said, 'Yes, yes. Baptize the baby. But your husband is divorced. So he cannot be present at the ceremony. ' This is happening today. The Pharisees, doctors of the law are not people of the past, even today there are many of them. That is why we need prayers for us shepherds. To pray that we do not lose the key to knowledge and do not close the door to ourselves and the people who want to enter. "

(from Vatican Radio)

Five keys to Catholic education, according to Cardinal Versaldi

Santiago, Chile, Oct 19, 2017 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, proposed last week five keys for pastoral education “to respond in depth to the current challenges of society.”

The cardinal participated in Chile's Sixth National Congress on Catholic Education, Oct. 12-13, organized by the Chilean bishops' conference and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

In his keynote address,  Cardinal Versaldi explained that education “must be careful to avoid  two  extreme and opposite dangers: that of an educational program imposed on the student without respecting his autonomy and requirements; and an educational program that simply goes along with whatever the  students ask for, or without any consideration for their personal growth.”

The cardinal then proposed five keys for education in Catholic schools:

Proclamation of the Christian life

“The Catholic school has both the right and duty to not only teach in consistency with its own values, but also to have an inner dynamic of  proclaiming and living the Christian life,” Cardinal Versaldi said.

“Such an educational program  becomes for believers in Christ an opportunity for  growth and the  integration of faith and reason and also for living out the life of the Church.”

For non-believers it is “an opportunity to better know the authentic Gospel message which their conscience has to then consider and  which they're always  free to accept or not,” he said.

“It would be unjust to ask, in the name of tolerance for Catholic schools to take a neutral approach  in what they teach  and to not to be able to foster a religious way of life, while still respecting  people's freedom, since the students  have decided to go to an  institution they already know is Catholic.”

The witness of charity

Cardinal Versaldi said a school community's  witness must be “obviously noted for” its charity, which makes “the values conveyed through its teaching credible and attractive.”

“A Christian school community imbued with this charity is in and of itself the best means of pastoral ministry.”

Ongoing formation of teachers

The ongoing formation of professors in teaching methods and especially in “their spiritual growth  and their truly living out their faith … is not a waste of  time or effort which takes way from their actual  teaching,” Cardinal Versaldi said.

Such formation can make both the faculty and the administration able to “credibly engage with and also to be a partner in dialogue with civil society and the state schools in order to create a Chilean society founded on the  shared values of respect for cultural and religious diversity.”

Working together with the Church

Cardinal Versaldi said the school's pastoral ministry must work side by side with the local Church and parishes so that they “mutually help each other out in their different  roles” without “imposing  on the school the responsibilities that mostly belong to the parish or vice versa.”

In addition “it is important to foster a consistent witness, including that of their lives outside the classroom, such that the Church community would think the school a living example of her realities.”

Providence as a guide

“Schools need to deepen their knowledge of what's going on in society in both its positive and negative aspects, discerning  the signs of the times, animated not by a paralyzing pessimism but rather with Christian hope founded on the faith that human history is always guided by Divine Providence despite people's free will,” the cardinal stated.

“It is important to maintain this faith and translate it into the work of education as an overriding way of acting in order to become protagonists in a true renewal of the social scene without letting oneself be manipulated by the various political factions.”

“Thus the Catholic school will always be on the forefront of dealing with the new challenges that the world must face such as care for the environment and immigration that politics in general tends to discount, marginalizing more people and creating dangers for future generations,” Cardinal Versaldi concluded.

Chilean cardinal offers warm welcome to Syrian refugees

Santiago, Chile, Oct 18, 2017 / 12:26 am (CNA).- Last week in Santiago, government officials, representatives of the Catholic Church in Chile, and international organizations welcomed the first of 66 Syrian refugees who will be living in the country.

These 14 families, consisting of 34 adults and 32 children, traveled more than 20 hours from Lebanon and arrived as part of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program. The families will be making their homes in the Macul district in Santiago and Villa Alemana district in Valparaiso.

Present at the welcome were the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet; the Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati; the regional UNHCR representative for southern Latin America, Michele Manca di Nissa; Interior Minister Mario Fernandez; the mayors of the host communities; representatives of the Syrian community in Chile; and the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

Bachelet said she hopes that the refugees will be able to “gradually let go of your fear, pain and uncertainty. We know that you have had trying times, and we want you to find in our country a land that welcomes you with friendship and good will so you can have a fresh start and raise your families in peace and security.”

“I am extremely delighted that Chile once again shows itself to be an open, supportive and welcoming country,” Cardinal Ezzati said at the welcome event.

“Without a doubt, language separates us to some extent, but greeting the people, I have noticed that there is a common language, the children smile and respond to our smiles.”

“That gives us great hope…we have a common language that comes from our humanity, from our ability to smile, from our ability to welcome,” the cardinal said.

Once they completed the immigration procedures, seven Syrian families moved into Macul and the other seven into Villa Alemana. Workers from the Social Ministry were awaiting them in their new homes.  

To finalize the move, the Vicariate for Social Ministry traveled in August to interview the families and give them information on Chile. One of the requirements for participating in the resettlement program is that the families had spent two years in refugee camps.

In the coming days, the refugees will begin Spanish classes and will be introduced to the culture, the workplace and educational environments, and other aspects of life in Chile so they can assimilate and restart their lives far from the humanitarian crisis caused by the war.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

 

World Youth Day cross, Marian icon console Mexican earthquake victims

Oaxaca, Mexico, Oct 5, 2017 / 12:07 am (ACI Prensa).- A team of pilgrims representing World Youth Day 2019 offered a message of hope and consolation to Mexicans impacted by a devastating Sept. 7 earthquake.  

On Oct. 2, the team visited areas affected by the earthquake with the official World Youth Day Pilgrim Cross and a Marian icon, as a sign of solidarity.

The team is touring Mexico as part of an international pilgrimage promoting the 2019 World Youth Day, to be held in Panama City, Panama. They had been scheduled to stop in Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico, during their tour, but local churches cancelled their visits after the earthquake, due to the extensive damage in that area.

The group decided to “make a visit anyway as a sign of solidarity, as a sign of the presence of Christ through the cross and the Blessed Mother with the icon,”  Fr. José de la Luz López, national adviser to the Mexican bishops' youth ministry, told CNA.

They received permission to bring the World Youth Day symbols to the cathedral and two shelters in Tehuantepec, an area heavily impacted by the earthquake. Young people from the Tehuantepec diocesan team also participated in organizing the reception of the cross and icon.

Fr. José de la Luz said that the symbols were transported to Oaxaca in a pickup truck from Acapulco, a distance of 400 miles that typically takes more than 12 hours by car.

The priest said he would “sum up in two ways” the reaction of the earthquake victims when they received the cross and icon.

“First, these symbols gave a lot of hope. The young people were very enthusiastic, they were very hopeful in the midst of all their bewilderment and pain, and they were committed to rebuild their homes,” he said.

“The second thing I take away is that we Mexicans are going to have a lot to learn from the young people from these hard hit places. The people of Oaxaca have shown us a great deal of fortitude and faith,” he continued.

At the cathedral in Tehuantepec, the World Youth Day cross was displayed during a service drawing more than 120 people.

From the cathedral, the cross was taken to a nearby shelter, where nearly 100 people gathered to pray.  Most of them were elderly, the priest said, because the young people and adults were out removing the debris from their homes in order to rescue their belongings.

The team then transported the cross through devastated areas, displayed in the bed of their pickup truck. “We passed through the most affected areas and we prayed from the pickup truck. Then we went to the town of Ixtepec, where the situation is somewhat different – the shelters are very small because most of the people have set up tents next to their homes,” Lopez said.

Besides visiting one of the shelters in Ixtepec, the cross and icon were also present at a Holy Hour that a local parish held for the victims.

The pilgrimage will continue in Mexico until Oct. 13, before travelling through Central America and the Caribbean, and concluding August 2018 in Panama.

The 8.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the southern coast of Mexico on Sept. 7 resulted in widespread damage and nearly 100 deaths. It was followed less than two weeks later by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake 400 miles away, which killed more than 300 people and injured 6,000.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa.  It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pope Francis will re-use popemobiles for his Chile trip

Santiago, Chile, Sep 28, 2017 / 03:59 pm (ACI Prensa).-

The commission planning Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Chile has announced that the popemobiles which the Holy Father will use in the country have all been used during previous papal trips.

“We've made an agreement with the Vatican to reuse the popemobiles so as to comply with the Holy See's request to avoid a proliferation of these vehicles in the world, and also to carry the message of environmental sustainability that we want to give this visit,” said Javier Peralta, executive director of the Chilean commission planning the visit.

“Although we received proposals from different businesses in Chile to make them locally, we considered, along with the Vatican, that the most appropriate thing to do is to re-utilize vehicles that already have all the technical specifications,” he said.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="es" dir="ltr">Chile reutilizará tres papamóviles que llegarán desde Estados Unidos y Bolivia para visita <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FranciscoEnChile?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FranciscoEnChile</a><a href="https://t.co/cYERwTMpgE">https://t.co/cYERwTMpgE</a> <a href="https://t.co/0qzYTXCud9">pic.twitter.com/0qzYTXCud9</a></p>&mdash; IglesiadeSantiago.cl (@Iglesiastgo) <a href="https://twitter.com/Iglesiastgo/status/913079851535536128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 27, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Two identical 2015 Jeep Wranglers – which were used during the Holy Father's 2015 visit to New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and his trip to Mexico in 2016 – will be imported to Chile.

These vehicles will transport Pope Francis in Santiago and Temuco on Jan. 16-17.

The popemobile that will be used in Iquique on Jan. 18 was built for the pontiff's 2016 visit to Bolivia. It is a 2015 Toyota Series 70 Land Cruiser.

The vehicle was modified with solar protection, due to the high temperatures and exposure to ultraviolet rays common in the northern part of the country.

Peralta said that the popemobiles will arrive in mid-December.

The Toyosa S.A. business, which represents Toyota in Bolivia, contacted the Chilean commission directly to offer the Bolivian vehicle. Meanwhile, the U.S. vehicles were coordinated between the Vatican and Fiat-Chrysler.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.