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Charismatic bishop wields Gospel against Caribbean ‘lethal cocktail’ of crime, corruption

Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon was appointed by Pope Francis on Oct. 19 to lead the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, historically a Catholic stronghold in the Caribbean. Gordon's spiritual roots are in the charismatic movement, specifically a local group born in 1975 called the Living Water Community. He wants to use the Gospel to challenge a "lethal cocktail" of corruption and crime in the region, calling people to give their hearts to Jesus Christ as the foundation for their own lives and the broader society.

Mary’s purity deserves reflection amid current sexual harassment scandals

In light of the disturbing accounts surrounding Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, and Al Franken (among others), it would seem obvious that the discipline of chastity and the innocence of purity have a much-needed place in our world today. The uplifting witness and liberating message of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s purity can shed light on higher values and point each of us and our civic and cultural leaders to a better way of life.

Father Solanus Casey beatified in Detroit, Pope Francis calls him “humble, faithful”

Tens of thousands of people attended the beatification Mass of Capuchin Father Solanus Casey on Saturday at a Detroit stadium. Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato read a letter from Pope Francis, who described Casey as a "humble, faithful disciple of Christ." He was given the title of "Blessed."

India marks World Day of the Poor

Cardinal Oswald Gracias says the first World Day of the Poor "is a day to rediscover our call to be a church of the poor, for the poor.” He said all parishes in the Archdiocese of Bombay have been asked to create at least one program for the poor, saying it can be big or small, depending on the capabilities of each parish.

Vatican: New probe begun into alleged sex at youth seminary

The Vatican on Saturday admitted there were "signals" starting in 2013 about the case at St. Pius X Pre-Seminary, which serves middle- and high school students who serve as altar boys in St. Peter's Basilica. The Vatican said it is now investigating press reports that a student was 13 years old when he started demanding sex from a younger student at night.

Pope to Ratzinger Prize-winners: a symphony of truth

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the recipients of the 2017 Ratzinger Prize in Theology on Saturday morning. Catholic Professor Karl-Heinz Menke of the Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn, Lutheran Professor Theodor Dieter of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, and Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt, share the Prize this year, which Benedict XVI established in 2010 as the leading international award for research in Sacred Scripture, patristics, and fundamental theology.

Broadening horizons of the Ratzinger Prize

This year, therefore, marks the first time in which the Prize is given to someone not engaged in strictly theological endeavor.

When the prize-winners were announced in September, the President of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, said, “Benedict XVI’s appreciation for the art of music and the highly religious inspiration behind the musical art of Pärt, justified the attribution of the prize also outside of the strictly theological field.”

Click below to hear our report

In remarks to the roughly 200 guests, including the prize-winners and officials of the Ratzinger Foundation on Saturday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said, “I welcomed with joy the idea of ​broadening the horizon of the [Ratzinger] Prize to include the arts, in addition to the theology and sciences, which are naturally associated with it.” He went on to say, “It is an enlargement that corresponds well with the vision of [Pope emeritus] Benedict XVI, who so often spoke to us in a touching manner, of beauty as a privileged way of opening ourselves to transcendence and to meeting God.”

Ecumenical focus

The Prize this year also had an ecumenical element.

In addition to Pärt’s Orthodoxy, the year, 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran movement in Christianity, and Lutheran Professor Theodor Dieter one of the three recipients.  “The truth of Christ,” said Pope Francis, “is not for soloists, but is symphonic: it requires docile collaboration, harmonious sharing.” The Holy Father also said, “Seeking it, studying it, contemplating it, and transposing it in practice together, in charity, draws us strongly toward full union between us: truth becomes thus a living source of ever closer ties of love.”

Pope Francis concluded, saying, “[C]ongratulations, therefore, to the illustrious prize winners: Professor Theodor Dieter, Professor Karl-Heinz Menke and Maestro Arvo Pärt; and my encouragement to [the Ratzinger] Foundation,” so that, “we might continue to travel along new and broader ways to collaborate in research, dialogue and knowledge of the truth. – a truth that, as Pope Benedict has not tired of reminding us, is, in God, logos and agape, wisdom and love, incarnate in the person of Jesus.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope calls for common good, ethical responsibility in science, technology ‎

"Science, like any other human activity, has its limits which should be observed for the ‎good of ‎humanity itself, and requires a sense of ethical responsibility,” Pope Francis said on Saturday.  “The true measure of progress, as ‎Blessed ‎Paul VI recalled, is that which is aimed at the good of each man and the whole man,” the Pope told some 83 participants in the plenary assembly of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.  The participants met the Pope at the conclusion of their Nov.15-18 assembly which discussed the theme, “The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology.” 

Click below to listen to our report:

Incredible advances

The Pope said, the Church wants to give the correct direction to man at the dawn of a new era marked by incredible advances in medicine, genetics, neuroscience and “autonomous” machines.  Speaking about the incredible advances in genetics, he noted that diseases that were considered incurable until recently have been eradicated, and new possibilities have opened up to “programme” human beings with certain “qualities”. 

Not all the answers

The Pope said that "science and technology have helped us to further the boundaries of knowledge of nature, especially of the human being,” but they alone are not enough to give all the answers. ‎“Today,” he explained, “we ‎increasingly realize that it is necessary to draw from the treasures of wisdom of ‎religious ‎traditions, popular wisdom, literature and the arts that touch the depths of the mystery of ‎human ‎existence, without forgetting, but rather by rediscovering those contained in philosophy and ‎theology.‎”

Church teachings

In this regard, the Pope pointed to two principles of the Church’s  teaching. The first is the “centrality of the human person, which is to be considered an end and not a means.”  Man must be in harmony ‎with creation, not as a despot about God's inheritance, but as a loving guardian of the work ‎of the Creator.‎

The second principle is the universal destination of goods, including that of ‎knowledge and technology. Scientific and technological progress, the Pope explained, should serve the good of all humanity, and ‎not just a few, and this will help avoid new inequalities in the future based on knowledge, and prevent widening of the gap between the rich and the poor.  The Holy Father insisted that great decisions regarding the direction scientific research should take, and investment in it, should be taken together by the whole of society and should not be ‎dictated solely by market rules or by the interests of a few.‎  And finally, the Pope said, one must keep in mind that not everything that is technically possible or feasible is ethically acceptable. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope prays for sailors aboard missing submarine

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is offering his “fervent prayers” for 44 Argentinian sailors aboard a submarine that has been missing since Wednesday.

In a telegram sent addressed to the Bishop Santiago Olivera, the head Military Ordinariate of Argentina, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin noted the Pope’s concern for the sailors and expressed the Pope’s spiritual closeness to the families of the sailors, and to the military and civil authorities of the nation. He also noted the Holy Father’s encouragement for the efforts being made to find the vessel.

“His Holiness entrusts them to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin, “ Cardinal Parolin said, and “he asks the Lord to instill in them spiritual serenity and Christian hope in these circumstances, in pledge of which he cordially imparts the comforting Apostolic Blessing.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: ‘Compassion’ is more effective in addressing inequalities

Pope Francis on Saturday sent a letter to the participants of the 32nd International Conference on the theme ‘Addressing Global Health Inequalities’.  The event  organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions is taking  place in the New Synod Hall of the Vatican from 16 to 18 November.

The  letter addressed to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development,  the Holy Father stressed that apart from having well-structured organization for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs,  the healthcare workers should be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the person for whom they care. For Pope Francis ‘compassion’ is  vital to be efficient and capable of addressing inequalities.  

The Pope concluded the letter exhorting the representatives of the pharmaceutical companies invited to address the issue of access to antiretroviral therapies by paediatric patients. Quoting a passage from the New Charter for Healthcare Workers, Pope Francis called them  to make available essential drugs in adequate quantities, in usable forms of guaranteed quality, along with correct information, and at costs that are affordable by individuals and communities.     

Please find below the official translation of the Pope's letter:

To My Venerable Brother

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson

Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

 

I offer a cordial welcome to the participants in the Thirty-second International Conference on the theme Addressing Global Health Inequalities.  I express my gratitude to all those who have worked to organize this event, in particular, to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions.

Last year’s Conference took note of encouraging data on the average life expectancy and on the global fight against pathologies, while at the same time pointing out the widening gap between the richer and poorer countries with regard to access to medical products and health-care treatment.  Consequently, it was decided to address the specific issue of inequalities and the social, economic, environmental and cultural factors underlying them. The Church cannot remain indifferent to this issue.  Conscious of her mission at the service of human beings created in the image of God, she is bound to promote their dignity and fundamental rights.

To this end, the New Charter for Health Care Workers states that “the fundamental right to the preservation of health pertains to the value of justice, whereby there are no distinctions between peoples and ethnic groups, taking into account their objective living situations and stages of development, in pursuing the common good, which is at the same time the good of all and of each individual” (No. 141).  The Church proposed that the right to health care and the right to justice ought to be reconciled by ensuring a fair distribution of healthcare facilities and financial resources, in accordance with the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.  As the Charter notes, “those responsible for healthcare activities must also allow themselves to be uniquely and forcefully challenged by the awareness that ‘while the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human’” (No. 91; Caritas in Veritate, 75).

I am pleased to learn that the Conference has drafted a project aimed at concretely addressing these challenges, namely, the establishment of an operational platform of sharing and cooperation between Catholic health care institutions in different geographical and social settings.  I willingly encourage those engaged in this project to persevere in this endeavour, with God’s help.  Healthcare workers and their professional associations in particular are called to this task, since they are committed to raising awareness among institutions, welfare agencies and the healthcare industry as a whole, for the sake of ensuring that every individual actually benefits from the right to health care.  Clearly, this depends not only on healthcare services, but also on complex economic, social, cultural and decision-making factors.  In effect, “the need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises.  Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses.  As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.  Inequality is the root of social ills.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 202).

I would like to focus on one aspect that is fundamental, especially for those who serve the Lord by caring for the health of their brothers and sisters.  While a well-structured organization is essential for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs, healthcare workers should also be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the persons for whom they care.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows us the practical approach required in caring for our suffering neighbour.  First, the Samaritan “sees”.  He notices and “is moved with compassion” at the sight of a person left stripped and wounded along the way.  This compassion is much more than mere pity or sorrow; it shows a readiness to become personally involved in the other’s situation.  Even if we can never equal God’s own compassion, which fills and renews the heart by its presence, nonetheless we can imitate that compassion by “drawing near”, “binding wounds”, “lifting up” and “caring for” our neighbour (cf. Lk 10:33-34).

A healthcare organization that is efficient and capable of addressing inequalities cannot forget that its raison d’être, which is compassion: the compassion of doctors, nurses, support staff, volunteers and all those who are thus able to minimize the pain associated with loneliness and anxiety.

Compassion is also a privileged way to promote justice, since empathizing with the others allows us not only to understand their struggles, difficulties and fears, but also to discover, in the frailness of every human being, his or her unique worth and dignity.  Indeed, human dignity is the basis of justice, while the recognition of every person’s inestimable worth is the force that impels us to work, with enthusiasm and self-sacrifice, to overcome all disparities.

Finally, I would like to address the representatives of the several pharmaceutical companies who have been invited to Rome to address the issue of access to antiretroviral therapies by paediatric patients.  I would like to offer for your consideration a passage of the New Charter for Healthcare Workers.  It states: “Although it cannot be denied that the scientific knowledge and research of pharmaceutical companies have their own laws by which they must abide – for example, the protection of intellectual property and a fair profit to support innovation – ways must be found to combine these adequately with the right of access to basic or necessary treatments, or both, especially in underdeveloped countries, and above all in the cases of so-called rare and neglected diseases, which are accompanied by the notion of orphan drugs.  Health care strategies aimed at pursuing justice and the common good must be economically and ethically sustainable.  Indeed, while they must safeguard the sustainability both of research and of health care systems, at the same time they ought to make available essential drugs in adequate quantities, in usable forms of guaranteed quality, along with correct information, and at costs that are affordable by individuals and communities” (No. 92).

I thank all of you for the generous commitment with which you exercise your valued mission. I give you my Apostolic Blessing, and I ask you to continue to remember me in your prayers.

From the Vatican, 18 November 2017

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Mass: Take time to think about death

(Vatican Radio) With today’s readings, the Church invites us to reflect on the end of the world, but also on the end of our own lives. Pope Francis based his homily on the Gospel reading, where the Lord speaks about the daily lives of men and women in the days before the great Flood, or in the days of Lot – they lived normal lives, eating and drinking, doing business, marrying. But the “day of the manifestation of the Lord” came – and things changed.

The Church, our Mother, wants us to take time to consider our own death, the Pope said. We are all used to the routine of daily life. We think things will never change. But, Pope Francis continued, the day will come when we will be called by the Lord. For some it will be unexpected; for others it might come after a long illness – but the call will come. And then, the Pope said, there will be another surprise from the Lord: eternal life.

This is why the Church asks us to “pause for a moment, take a moment to think about death.” We should not become accustomed to earthly life, as though it were eternity. “A day will come,” the Pope said, echoing the words of Jesus in the Gospel, “when you will be taken away” to go with the Lord. And so it is good to reflect upon the end of our life.

“Thinking about death is not a gruesome fantasy,” the Pope said. “Whether it is gruesome or not depends on me, and how I think about it – but what will be, will be.” When we die, we will meet the Lord – “this is the beauty of death, it will be an encounter with the Lord, it is Him coming to meet you, saying, “Come, come, [you who are] blessed by My Father, come with me.”

The Holy Father concluded his homily with a story about an elderly priest who was not feeling well. When he went to the doctor, the doctor told him he was sick. “Perhaps we’ve caught it in time to treat it,” the doctor told him. “We will try this treatment, and if this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. And if that doesn’t work, we will begin to walk [together], and I will accompany you to the very end.”

Like the doctor, we too, the Pope said, must accompany one another on this journey. We must do everything we can in order to assist the sick; but always looking toward our final destiny, to the day when the Lord will come to take us with Himself to our heavenly home. 

(from Vatican Radio)