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Catholic legislators urged ‘to be leaven in the world’

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who heads the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, shared a message on Friday with participants of the fifth annual conference of the International Catholic Legislators Network.

The Aug. 28-31 conference, held outside of Rome in Frascati, gathered Catholic parliamentarians from around the world to discuss the promotion of Christian values and morals in the political arena. His English-language message included a greeting from Pope Francis.

Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci:

The network was founded in 2010 by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and British parliamentarian Lord David Alton.

Below is Cardinal Parolin’s complete message to the conference participants:

Your Eminence, distinguished legislators participating at the fifth annual meeting of the International Catholic Legislators Network, dear friends,

I greet you all. I am happy to be with you, lawmakers and associates, who are actively engaged in the public and political life of your countries and local communities, and whose professional work is nourished and guided by your Catholic faith. I wish to thank you for what you are doing to promote coherent Catholic witness in the world. I know that you are here because you are passionate about the “city on earth” which seeks to root Christian morals and virtues ever more authentically in communities around the world, so that together we may reach the “City of God”.

Just yesterday we celebrated the feast of Saint Augustine, to whom we owe the image of these two cities. History is not unambiguous nor of itself indifferent; it concerns the movement of two loves and the conflict between them. Two loves – he writes – give rise to two cities: the earthly one of love of self even to indifference towards God; and the heavenly one, of love of God even to indifference towards self (The City of God, XIV, 78). In difficult times of continual conflict and great uprising, as in the fall of Rome and the invasion of the Vandals who besieged Hippo at the very moment when Augustine was dying, he not only did not lose heart, but took up a heated dispute, calling upon the faith as the key to interpretation. He dedicates an entire work, The City of God, to learning how to understand the present circumstances and to establishing a new order for living in society. It is a reading according to the logic of wisdom, which places the heart of man at the centre and indicates the true nature of Christian hope. I believe that in our own difficult times, too, valuable indications emerge clearly from the experiences and teachings of Saint Augustine.

Dear friends, we can say without hesitation that the Church needs you in her universal mission, and in turn, you need the Church as mother and teacher of all.

In her diversity of service to the world, the Church has a single mission (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2): to restore all things in Christ. For this task, the Church needs you, active Catholic legislators, because your law-making is a vital part of the lay apostolate – to “have the Gospel spirit permeate and improve the temporal order”. As shapers of policy your role is not only to live “in the midst of the world”, but also to be “a leaven in the world” in favour of the family, the local community and your respective nations. The great challenge for you is to bring your faith to bear upon the pressing issues facing the world today, that is, to dialogue with society and culture, and to humbly speak from the light which our faith offers (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 238).

His Holiness Pope Francis has written that we are to strive to “light a fire in the heart of the world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 271). This means, by your words, by your witness and by your legislative and political actions informed by faith, you are called to foster a more just society, centred on the dignity of the human person.

The Church knows your work is not easy. She understands the many threats to family life, in the form of policies and laws that allow or even hasten the dissolving of the family. She is also fully aware of the urgent need to alleviate poverty and to support the integral development of society’s most neglected members. And so, just as the Church needs you, you need the Church. She places at your disposal her sacraments, her wise counsel and her commitment to the moral truths of the natural law. She supports your ongoing initiatives to serve the common good through sound lawmaking. For their part, the Holy Father and the Bishops encourage your work to further Christ’s kingdom on earth, in unity with their mission as pastors.

Dear friends, I invite you to grow in holiness, deepening your own personal commitment to conversion so that your witness and dialogue with the world may bear lasting fruit! May you always strive to kindle the “fire in the heart of the world”, by your consistent and patient witness to the teachings of the Church.

Commending your service to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Thomas More, I am pleased on this occasion to convey to you the greetings of the Holy Father, his assurance of prayers for your work and his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace, strength and perseverance.

 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis calls priest serving at Iraqi refugee camp

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called a priest at a refugee camp in Iraq to express his closeness to the persecuted Christians who have taken refuge there and to promise his continued support.

Pope Francis reportedly called Fr Behnam Benoka on August 19, a day after returning from his apostolic journey to South Korea. Fr Benoka is a priest of Bartella, a small Christian town near Mosul, and the vice-rector of the Catholic seminary in Ankawa. However, he is currently working at a refugee camp in the north of the country, assisting Christians who fled the violence perpetrated against them by Islamic militants.

During the morning telephone call, the Pope reportedly said he was deeply moved by the letter he had received from Fr Benoka a day earlier. According to a report published by Zenit, the Pope received the letter from the hands of a journalist, who is a friend of the priest, on the flight back to Rome from South Korea.

The Pope also expressed to Fr Benoka his gratitude for the volunteers working in the refugee camps and reiterated his full support and closeness to the persecuted Christians, promising that he will continue to do his best to bring relief to their suffering.

In his letter to the Pope, the priest expressed gratitude for the Pope’s repeated appeals to end the suffering and persecution of Christians and described the tragic situation faced by thousands of Iraqi Christians: “The situation of your sheep is miserable. They die and they are hungry. Your little ones are scared and cannot do it anymore. We, priests, religious, are few and fear not being able to meet the physical and mental needs of your and our children.”

“Your Holiness,” he continued, “I'm afraid of losing your children, especially infants who every day struggle and weaken more. I'm afraid that death will snatch some away. Send us your blessing so that we may have the strength to go on and maybe we can still resist.”

The Pope granted Fr Benoka’s request, concluding the telephone call by imparting his apostolic blessing and asking the Lord to grant them the gift of perseverance in the faith.

Listen to the report by Andrew Summerson

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Catholic legislators urged ‘to be leaven in the world’

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who heads the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, shared a message on Friday with participants of the fifth annual conference of the International Catholic Legislators Network.

The Aug. 28-31 conference, held outside of Rome in Frascati, gathered Catholic parliamentarians from around the world to discuss the promotion of Christian values and morals in the political arena. His English-language message included a greeting from Pope Francis.

The network was founded in 2010 by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and British parliamentarian Lord David Alton.

Below is Cardinal Parolin’s complete message to the conference participants:

 

Your Eminence, distinguished legislators participating at the fifth annual meeting of the International Catholic Legislators Network, dear friends,

I greet you all. I am happy to be with you, lawmakers and associates, who are actively engaged in the public and political life of your countries and local communities, and whose professional work is nourished and guided by your Catholic faith. I wish to thank you for what you are doing to promote coherent Catholic witness in the world. I know that you are here because you are passionate about the “city on earth” which seeks to root Christian morals and virtues ever more authentically in communities around the world, so that together we may reach the “City of God”.

Just yesterday we celebrated the feast of Saint Augustine, to whom we owe the image of these two cities. History is not unambiguous nor of itself indifferent; it concerns the movement of two loves and the conflict between them. Two loves – he writes – give rise to two cities: the earthly one of love of self even to indifference towards God; and the heavenly one, of love of God even to indifference towards self (The City of God, XIV, 78). In difficult times of continual conflict and great uprising, as in the fall of Rome and the invasion of the Vandals who besieged Hippo at the very moment when Augustine was dying, he not only did not lose heart, but took up a heated dispute, calling upon the faith as the key to interpretation. He dedicates an entire work, The City of God, to learning how to understand the present circumstances and to establishing a new order for living in society. It is a reading according to the logic of wisdom, which places the heart of man at the centre and indicates the true nature of Christian hope. I believe that in our own difficult times, too, valuable indications emerge clearly from the experiences and teachings of Saint Augustine.

Dear friends, we can say without hesitation that the Church needs you in her universal mission, and in turn, you need the Church as mother and teacher of all.

In her diversity of service to the world, the Church has a single mission (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2): to restore all things in Christ. For this task, the Church needs you, active Catholic legislators, because your law-making is a vital part of the lay apostolate – to “have the Gospel spirit permeate and improve the temporal order”. As shapers of policy your role is not only to live “in the midst of the world”, but also to be “a leaven in the world” in favour of the family, the local community and your respective nations. The great challenge for you is to bring your faith to bear upon the pressing issues facing the world today, that is, to dialogue with society and culture, and to humbly speak from the light which our faith offers (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 238).

His Holiness Pope Francis has written that we are to strive to “light a fire in the heart of the world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 271). This means, by your words, by your witness and by your legislative and political actions informed by faith, you are called to foster a more just society, centred on the dignity of the human person.

The Church knows your work is not easy. She understands the many threats to family life, in the form of policies and laws that allow or even hasten the dissolving of the family. She is also fully aware of the urgent need to alleviate poverty and to support the integral development of society’s most neglected members. And so, just as the Church needs you, you need the Church. She places at your disposal her sacraments, her wise counsel and her commitment to the moral truths of the natural law. She supports your ongoing initiatives to serve the common good through sound lawmaking. For their part, the Holy Father and the Bishops encourage your work to further Christ’s kingdom on earth, in unity with their mission as pastors.

Dear friends, I invite you to grow in holiness, deepening your own personal commitment to conversion so that your witness and dialogue with the world may bear lasting fruit! May you always strive to kindle the “fire in the heart of the world”, by your consistent and patient witness to the teachings of the Church.

Commending your service to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Thomas More, I am pleased on this occasion to convey to you the greetings of the Holy Father, his assurance of prayers for your work and his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace, strength and perseverance.

 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Scotland’s Archbishops urge participation in upcoming referendum on Scottish independence

(Vatican Radio)  Scotland’s two Catholic archbishops are urging participation in the upcoming referendum on independence for Scotland scheduled for September 18th.  They also are asking Catholics to engage with the issues being raised in the campaign period leading up to the vote.  Archbishops Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow and Leo Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh will distribute pastoral messages on the referendum to be read at all Masses during the weekend of 30-31 August.

 

Please find below the two archbishops’ statements and the full text of their pastoral messages:

 

Archbishop Tartaglia:

"The Scottish Independence Referendum is now just a short time away. Along with the Bishops of Scotland, who are deeply conscious of the importance of this referendum, I encourage and urge all those eligible to vote to do so with complete freedom of choice and in accordance with their prayerful judgment of what is best for the future. May God guide us and bless us in whatever choice we make in good conscience.”

 

Archbishop Cushley:

"I encourage you, in the light of Catholic social teaching, carefully to consider the issues and to do your civic duty on the day itself. No matter the result of the Referendum, I would hope that all Catholics will continue to engage positively in public discourse, and ensure that the Christian message and its values are better expressed and understood, to the benefit of the whole community.  By doing so, our beloved land will be a more just, peaceful and prosperous place for all its citizens. “

 

Pastoral Messages:

 

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

The Scottish Independence Referendum is now just a short time away. Along with the Bishops of Scotland, who are deeply conscious of the importance of this referendum, I encourage and urge all those eligible to vote to do so with complete freedom of choice and in accordance with their prayerful judgment of what is best for the future. May God guide us and bless us in whatever choice we make in good conscience.

 

Yours devotedly in Christ,

 

+Philip Tartaglia

Archbishop of Glasgow

 

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

On the occasion of the referendum on Scottish independence, I have been approached several times now by some who would like to know where Scots Catholics, or where I personally, may stand on the matter.  To those of you who wish a word from me in this regard, I would say the following.

 

Like everyone else, Catholics are a part of the world.  Urged by the love of Christ, we are called, to be citizens who contribute positively to the common good and who strive always to consider others and their good before our own.  We are called to promote peace, integral human development and authentic human rights, and to have a special care for the poorest and the weakest in society.

 

We are also concerned for the rights of all people, to freedom of conscience and to the right to believe and to practise their faith.  These freedoms are as important as they are fragile, as has been proven all too often, to the dismay and death of many millions. These freedoms are absolutely essential to a modern democratic society and we should always be vigilant of those who would seek to limit them.

 

Since all of us are made in the image and likeness of God, no matter our race, our beliefs or the way we live, we also have a concern for moral values based upon our common humanity.

 

The promotion, therefore, of laws which allow us to believe, teach and live our faith and morals is and will always be of concern to us, whether at the Scottish, UK or European levels. So I encourage you, in the light of Catholic social teaching, carefully to consider the issues and to do your civic duty on the day itself.

 

No matter the result of the Referendum, I would hope that all Catholics will continue to engage positively in public discourse, and ensure that the Christian message and its values are better expressed and understood, to the benefit of the whole community.  By doing so, our beloved land will be a more just, peaceful and prosperous place for all its citizens.

 

With my prayerful good wishes to you all, I willingly invoke God’s blessings upon you.

 

 + Leo Cushley

Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

The closeness of the pastor - Pope Francis receives the parish priest from Gaza

They are a minority, but like all the other people of Gaza they have suffered because of the conflict. They have been sustained by the certainty of being part of the universal Church and of feeling the solicitude and care of the Pope and the solidarity and prayers of Christians throughout the world. Fr Jorge Hernández Zanni of the Institute of the Incarnate Word spoke about them in this interview with our newspaper.

What are your first impressions after your meeting with the Pope?

The meeting with Francis was a grace. I would never expected it. During the days of war in Gaza, the Pontiff emailed a message to the parish. I immediately informed all the faithful about this gift. The relief they received is unimaginable, just for the fact that the Pope has all of us in his heart.

What was in the message?

First of all, Francis encouraged us to always go forward, to bear our witness, to be “salt of the earth”. I referred to the supernatural vision of the presence of Christians in that place. Let us not forget that out of almost two million people in Gaza, there are 1350 Christians, of whom 136 are Catholics and the rest Orthodox. An important minority. And the fact that the Pontiff cares about us is a meaningful gesture.

And what did today's audience with the Pope symbolize?

Now, with this encounter I have had the same certainty: the pastor is present among his faithful, he offers encouragement and wise counsel. It is a tremendous grace for us.

What is the current situation in the Gaza Strip?

Thanks be to God, a durable ceasefire agreement has been reached, at least providing the chance for for the negotiators to return to Egypt. And this is also a great grace for us, because the people cannot take it any more. More than the damage and the fear, the situation has become unbearable for both sides in the conflict.

What work is being done at this time in your parish?

Holy Family is the only parish in Gaza. During the conflict we hosted more than 2,200 people who fled their homes. Ours was a witness of charity. We welcomed, sheltered and supported many refugees in their sorrow, also providing material aid, thanks to Caritas Internationalis, which was always close to us. I must say that we always had the unconditional support of the Patriarch Jerusalem for Latins. Patriarch Twal in person took care of the humanitarian aid for us and he himself telephoned our community many times. One who has lived through war knows the extraordinary value of these gestures. This is the presence of the Church: a steadfast charitable witness. Unfortunately, we also had three victims in our Christian community.

How many people work in the parish?

Besides me, as the parish priest, there is another priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, Fr Mario, who is from Brazil, and then the religious sisters from three congregations: the Sisters of Mother Teresa, the Dominicans of the Rosary and the Institute of the Virgin of Matará, from Argentina. All three congregations help in the parish, some assisting disabled children, others in the three Christian schools, which are the best in Gaza. They are also attended by Muslims and places which favour a dialogue for life among the religions.

What developments do you visualize for the future peace process?

It is not simple; in general it starts over from the beginning, both in the parish and in the civic community. People are returning to try to continue life. It is difficult to predict what will happen. However, I would like to openly thank all those who, during these weeks of conflict, wrote and called us, offered us their prayers and expressed their sorrow for us. This was very important to us. I again ask that everyone continue to pray for us. It is essential, we need it.

Mideast Church leaders denounce ISIS for ‘crimes against humanity’

(Vatican Radio) The Patriarchs and Church leaders of Eastern rite churches have again denounced what they call “crimes against humanity”  committed by Islamic State (formerly ISIS) militants in Iraq and Syria.  Meeting outside Beirut, Lebanon, the Patriarchs condemned the persecution and killings of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities, saying the continued existence of Christians in the region is being threatened by the jihadi group’s campaign of terror.

Thanking those who’ve been offering humanitarian assistance to the displaced, the Patriarchs are calling on the international community to stop the “criminal actions” of Islamic State and  are challenging Islamic institutions to forcefully condemn the extremist group.

The statement is the latest in a series of actions taken by leaders of the Catholic Church’s most ancient rites which originated in the Middle East some two thousand years ago.

Last week, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai of Lebanon visited Christian and Yazidi refugees in Erbil, in northern Iraqi Kurdistan.  He joined calls from the Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Sako, to stop the massacre of innocent civilians.

Earlier in August, the Eastern Patriarchs issued a statement saying “Christians in countries of the Middle East are suffering from harsh persecution, being kicked out from their homes and lands by takfiri extremists amid total international silence.”

“We call upon the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the U.N. Security Council and the International Criminal Court to take swift, effective and immediate salvaging action,” the statement said.

The Patriarchs appealed to the United Nations to take firm action “to ensure the return of the people to their lands by all possible means and in the quickest possible time.”

 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis to honor dead on both sides of WWI next month

(AP) Pope Francis will honor the dead from both sides of World War I during a visit next month to northern Italy that witnessed some of the decisive final battles of the conflict. Francis will lay a wreath at the […]

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Vatican addresses report saying Pope Francis is an ISIS target

(Huffington Post) The Vatican is speaking out against a claim that Pope Francis is a target of the Islamic State militant group, otherwise known as ISIS. In an article published Monday, Italy’s Il Tempo newspaper reported that the pope is […]

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“La Cachita” finds a home in the Vatican gardens

(Vatican Radio) Affectionately known as “La Cachita”, Cuba’s beloved Virgin of Charity of El Cobre has been given a place of honour in the Vatican gardens. In a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a replica of the image […]

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Thomas Gumbleton: To be a rock of faith, we must let our thinking be changed

(NCR Online) Among the various Gospel readings that we have Sunday after Sunday, I think this particular lesson is one that every one of us probably feels we can easily be drawn into that situation, put ourselves there with the […]

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