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At AIDS conference, Catholics remember colleagues on MH17

Catholics involved in the fight against HIV and AIDS took a few moments July 21 to remember their friends and colleagues who perished in the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over eastern Ukraine._B6KKElZELI

Pope's friendship with late Evangelical leader Tony Palmer

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity has sent a message of condolences following the sudden death of an Evangelical leader with whom Pope Francis became friends during his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires. Bishop Tony Palmer, the international ecumenical officer of the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches and founder of the online Ark Community, died on Sunday following a motorbike accident near his home in the south of England.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:

In the message to his widow, Council President Cardinal Kurt Koch says Bishop Palmer’s meetings with Pope Francis over recent months “have given great impetus to ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians.” His strong faith and his passion for unity, the Cardinal says, “reached a global audience of Christians with the message that there is no time to be wasted in division, the time for unity is now.”

During one of his visits to the Vatican in February this year, Bishop Palmer recorded an iphone message that Pope Francis wished to send to a Pentecostal group meeting in the United States. In that off-the-cuff video message, the Pope speaks frankly of his longing for unity and reconciliation, saying that all Christians share the blame for the sins of division.

Mgr Juan Usma Gomez heads the Pontifical Council desk for relations with Pentecostals, Evangelicals and Charismatic groups. He talked to us about the significant impact that Bishop Palmer’s friendship with Pope Francis has had on the worldwide ecumenical movement, saying that they first met in Argentina when Tony Palmer was part of a delegation of Pentecostals and Evangelicals that was holding talks with the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires....."when Tony Palmer was ordained bishop in the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches, they received greetings from the then archbishop Bergoglio...."

Mgr Usma Gomez says Pope Francis teaches us that "to work for Christian unity you need brotherhood....and you realise that all the friends he had in Argentina continue to be his friends.......he's trying to build up not only relations of friendship but also relations of churches trying to look for the promotion of Christian unity..."

He says that the iphone message recorded by Bishop Palmer for the Pentecostal community "opened a door because it reached a really significant number of's an adventure that Pope Francis is asking us to establish.....he started it, he's way ahead of us and we're trying to follow this pattern!"

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Plight of unaccompanied minors at forefront of Mass in Los Angeles

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and several other bishops and priests from Southern California concelebrated Mass July 20 to honor immigrants and focus attention on the humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands unaccompanied migrant children surging across the U.S.-Mexico border.X-00vI6DoaU

Plight of unaccompanied minors at forefront of Mass in Los Angeles

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and several other bishops and priests from Southern California concelebrated Mass July 20 to honor immigrants and focus attention on the humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands unaccompanied migrant children surging across the U.S.-Mexico border._bRGiwE4sEw

Papal puzzler: Leo XIII anonymously published riddles in Latin

Going by the pseudonym "X," Pope Leo XIII anonymously crafted poetic puzzles in Latin for a Roman periodical at the turn of the 19th century.mV-ibx8bP60

Pope Francis calls Patriarch in solidarity with Iraqi Christians

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief.  Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years;  there are few, if any, left now in Mosul. 

The Patriarch told the Italian Catholic news agency SIR (Religious Information Service), that Pope Francis called him Sunday 20 July to express his solidarity with Iraqi Christians.  During the 9 minute phone call, the Patriarch thanked the Pope and asked him to intensify his efforts to engage world leaders, putting them face to face with the facts on the ground: that in the province of Nineveh a massive religious “cleansing” campaign is underway to rid the region of those who do not share the beliefs of the new occupiers.

At the end of the call, Pope Francis bestowed his Apostolic Blessing upon all the eastern Christians with the assurance that he “will always keep them in his prayers for peace and security.”  At his traditional Angelus blessing also on Sunday, the Pope offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who `'are persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything'' with them” and called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts.

Just recently, Patriarch Younan had denounced an arson attack by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) militants on the Episcopal headquarters of the Syriac-Catholic Church in Mosul.


(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Preparations for November Congress of Lay Ecclesial Movements, new communities

(Vatican Radio) Preparations are underway for the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities to be held in Rome from 20 to 22 November 2014.   The Congress, whose theme will be “The joy of the Gospel: a missionary joy…” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 21), is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and will be held at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae.  The Council for the Laity has invited members of large, officially recognized international associations and others involved “in ongoing dialogue” with the Dicastery to participate.

Under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, previous editions of the World Congress (1998 and 2006) brought together ecclesial movements and new communities to discuss issues such as the identity and mission of associations of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world.

The Pontifical Council for the Laity hopes that the November Congress “will encourage the joyous adherence of ecclesial movements and new communities to answering the pressing invitation of the pope to enter into a ‘dynamism of missionary outreach’”.

Delegates from more than eighty ecclesial movements and new communities are expected to attend as well as a number of bishops coming from dioceses and Holy See offices.

Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, explains that the character of the meeting will be that of mutual listening, sharing and dialogue. The gathering will not be a special academic meeting where speakers demonstrate their knowledge to an audience, but rather a meeting where the reflections and experiences of the participants will be the core of the event.

For more information from the Pontifical Council for the Laity website click here

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches renews the Pope’s appeals

“Violence must be overcome by peace”. This was the invocation of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, who, from the United States of America renewed the repeated appeals of Pope Francis for persecuted Christians and for an end to hostilities in the various areas of the Middle East which are bloodied by conflicts.

The Cardinal was invited to Los Angeles by the local Lebanese community to celebrate the Feast of Saints Charbel and Elias on Sunday, 20 July, in the Maronite Cathedral. Addressing the nearly 400 faithful present, Cardinal Sandri expressed his own sorrow for the desperate fate of so many innocent people, particularly for the Christians of Mossul, Iraq, and of Aleppo, Syria. “Their houses and churches”, he recalled, “have been pillaged and burnt”.

But “while today they are the most threatened”, the entire area finds itself “in the insecurity that is unfortunately fostered by widespread indifference”. Let us think of the Holy Land, from where there continues to be disconcerting news of escalating violence. In this regard the Cardinal spoke of a Palestine “in tears”, whose residents are not able to be persons and Christians “in peace and dignity. Their tears are ours”, he added, “but we share the same hope which is Christ; and Jesus Christ is faithful. For this reason we must persevere together on the same journey”.

Pope Francis marks Day for Life in UK, Ireland with call to cherish life

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is marking the upcoming Day for Life in the UK and Ireland with a call to all people of good will to cherish life, particularly the life of society’s most vulnerable.

In a message sent to the Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope urges Catholics to “to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling “new forms of poverty and vulnerability” increasingly evident in contemporary society (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 210).”

The theme of this year’s Day for Life – celebrated on July 27th - is #livelife Protect and Cherish Life from its beginning to its natural end. It invites young people in particular to get involved in caring for, nurturing and protecting life at every stage and in every condition.

Message from Pope Francis

"As the Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales celebrates the 2014 Day for Life, the Holy Father expresses his confidence that this annual witness to the sanctity of God’s gift of life will inspire the faithful, and young Catholics in particular, to combat the culture of death, not only by working to ensure adequate legal protection for the fundamental human right to life, but also by seeking to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling “new forms of poverty and vulnerability” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 210) which are increasingly evident in contemporary society.

"To all involved in the Day for Life celebrations, His Holiness imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, joy and peace in the Risen Lord."

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

Day for Life is celebrated yearly by the Catholic Church in Scotland, England and Wales and Ireland. It's a day dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition.

The proceeds of the Day for Life collection to be held in parishes in England and Wales on Sunday 27 July 2014 assist the work of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life-related activities supported by the Church.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Mayor de Blasio meets with aide to Pope Francis on trip to Italy

(WABC) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continued his trip in Italy Monday, meeting with the top aide to Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the two […]

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