- Year XXII - Num. 165
|- The future of the Church requires more active participation of the laity|
|- Meeting with the Hispanic community and other immigrants: “Never be ashamed of your traditions”|
|- God gave Creation to a family|
|- Other Pontifical Acts|
|The future of the Church requires more active participation of the laity|
Vatican City, (VIS) – Pope Francis arrived in Philadelphia for the last stage of his apostolic trip yesterday at local time ( in Rome). His first act in this history city, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the United States Constitution was signed, was the celebration of Holy Mass at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, a votive mass to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, attended by the bishops, clergy, and men and women religious of the state of Pennsyvlania.
“This morning I learned something about the history of this beautiful Cathedral: the story behind its high walls and windows”, said the Pope in his homily. “I would like to think, though, that the history of the Church in this city and state is really a story not about building walls, but about breaking them down. It is a story about generation after generation of committed Catholics going out to the peripheries, and building communities of worship, education, charity and service to the larger society. … All of this is a great legacy which you have received, and which you have been called to enrich and pass on”.
“Most of you know the story of Saint Katharine Drexel, one of the great saints raised up by this local Church”, he continued. “When she spoke to Pope Leo XIII of the needs of the missions, the Pope … asked her pointedly: 'What about you? What are you going to do?'. Those words changed Katharine’s life, because they reminded her that, in the end, every Christian man and woman, by virtue of baptism, has received a mission. Each one of us has to respond, as best we can, to the Lord’s call to build up his Body, the Church”.
Those words were addressed to a “a young woman with high ideals, and they changed her life. They made her think of the immense work that had to be done, and to realise that she was being called to do her part. How many young people in our parishes and schools have the same high ideals, generosity of spirit, and love for Christ and the Church! … To find ways of sharing their enthusiasm and gifts with our communities, above all in works of mercy and concern for others?” asked the Pope.
“One of the great challenges facing the Church in this generation is to foster in all the faithful a sense of personal responsibility for the Church’s mission, and to enable them to fulfil that responsibility as missionary disciples, as a leaven of the Gospel in our world. This will require creativity in adapting to changed situations, carrying forward the legacy of the past not primarily by maintaining our structures and institutions, which have served us well, but above all by being open to the possibilities which the Spirit opens up to us and communicating the joy of the Gospel, daily and in every season of our life”.
Francis remarked that “it is significant that those words of the elderly Pope were also addressed to a lay woman. We know that the future of the Church in a rapidly changing society will call, and even now calls, for a much more active engagement on the part of the laity. The Church in the United States has always devoted immense effort to the work of catechesis and education. Our challenge today is to build on those solid foundations and to foster a sense of collaboration and shared responsibility in planning for the future of our parishes and institutions. This does not mean relinquishing the spiritual authority with which we have been entrusted; rather, it means discerning and employing wisely the manifold gifts which the Spirit pours out upon the Church. In a particular way, it means valuing the immense contribution which women, lay and religious, have made and continue to make, to the life of our communities”.
“During these days of the World Meeting of Families, I would ask you in a particular way to reflect on our ministry to families, to couples preparing for marriage, and to our young people”, he concluded. “I know how much is being done in your local Churches to respond to the needs of families and to support them in their journey of faith. I ask you to pray fervently for them, and for the deliberations of the forthcoming Synod on the Family”.
|Meeting with the Hispanic community and other immigrants: “Never be ashamed of your traditions”|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The Independence National Historical Park, considered the “most historic square mile in America” for its numerous buildings linked to the American War of Independence between the United States of America and Great Britain (1763-1783), was the scene of the Pope's meeting with the Hispanic community and other immigrants. The central theme of his discourse was religious freedom and the defence of the roots of every individual and people. Upon arrival, the representatives of the “Encuentros Nacionales del ministerio Hispano” asked the Holy Father to bless a “Biblia Catolica para la Familia y para el Joven” - a Catholic Bible for the Family and the Young – and the “Cruz de los Encuentros”, the cross carried on pilgrimages throughout all the United States in preparation for each national “Encuentro” of the community. The initiative was started in 1972, and is intended to enhance the contribution of the Hispano-Latin community to the life and decisions of the Catholic Church in the country. The next Encuentro will take place in January 2017.
In his address to the thousands of people gathered in the Park, the Pope remarked that one of the highlights of his trip was his visit to Independence Mall, the birthplace of the United States of America, where the freedoms that define the country were proclaimed for the first time. “The Declaration of Independence stated that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that governments exist to protect and defend those rights. Those resounding words continue to inspire us today, even as they have inspired peoples throughout the world to fight for the freedom to live in accordance with their dignity. But history also shows that these or any truths must constantly be reaffirmed, re-appropriated and defended. ... We remember the great struggles which led to the abolition of slavery, the extension of voting rights, the growth of the labour movement, and the gradual effort to eliminate every kind of racism and prejudice directed at successive waves of new Americans. This shows that, when a country is determined to remain true to its founding principles, based on respect for human dignity, it is strengthened and renewed”.
He went on to speak of the importance of remembering the past, as “a people which remembers does not repeat past errors; instead, it looks with confidence to the challenges of the present and the future. Remembrance saves a people’s soul from whatever or whoever would attempt to dominate it or use it for their interests”. He then reiterated his wish, “in this place which is symbolic of the American way” to “reflect … on the right to religious freedom. It is a fundamental right which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbours whose religious views differ from our own”.
“Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate”, he explained. “But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families. Our various religious traditions serve society primarily by the message they proclaim. ... They remind us of the transcendent dimension of human existence and our irreducible freedom in the face of every claim to absolute power. We need only look at history, especially the history of the last century, to see the atrocities perpetrated by systems which claimed to build one or another 'earthly paradise' by dominating peoples, subjecting them to apparently indisputable principles and denying them any kind of rights. Our rich religious traditions seek to offer meaning and direction. ... At the heart of their spiritual mission is the proclamation of the truth and dignity of the human person and human rights. … In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others”.
We live in a world “subject to globalization … which consciously aims at a one-dimensional uniformity and seeks to eliminate all differences and traditions in a superficial quest for unity. The religions thus have the right and the duty to make clear that it is possible to build a society where a healthy pluralism which respects differences and values them as such is a precious ally in the commitment to defending human dignity… and a path to peace in our troubled world”.
He went on to mention the Quakers who founded Philadelphia, “inspired by a profound evangelical sense of the dignity of each individual and the ideal of a community united by brotherly love. This conviction led them to found a colony which would be a haven of religious freedom and tolerance. That sense of fraternal concern for the dignity of all, especially the weak and the vulnerable, became an essential part of the American spirit. During his visit to the United States in 1987, St. John Paul II paid moving homage to this, reminding all Americans that: 'The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenceless ones'”.
“I take this opportunity to thank all those, of whatever religion, who have sought to serve the God of peace by building cities of brotherly love, by caring for our neighbours in need, by defending the dignity of God’s gift of life in all its stages, by defending the cause of the poor and the immigrant. All too often, those most in need of our help are unable to be heard. You are their voice, and many of you have faithfully made their cry heard. In this witness, which frequently encounters powerful resistance, you remind American democracy of the ideals for which it was founded, and that society is weakened whenever and wherever injustice prevails. A moment ago I spoke about the tendency towards globalisation. Globalisation is not an ill. On the contrary, the tendency towards globalisation is good in that it unites us. The aspect that can be bad is the way in which it is realised. If globalisation aims to make us all equal, like a sphere, then it destroys the specific character of each person and each population. If instead it aims to unite all, but respecting each person, with his or her richness and particular characteristics, then this globalisation is good and makes us all grow; it leads us to peace. I like using geometry to describe this. If globalisation is a sphere, in which we are all equal, equidistant from the centre, then it annuls difference and is not good. If on the other hand it unites us like a polyhedron, in which we are all united but each person conserves his or her individual identity, then it is good, allows the people to grow, endows all men with dignity and grants rights to all”.
Finally, he addressed America’s large Hispanic population, along with representatives of recent immigrants to the United States. “I greet all of you with particular affection!” he exclaimed. “Many of you have emigrated to this country at great personal cost, but in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face. I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation. You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land. I repeat, do not be ashamed of what is part of you, your life blood. You are also called to be responsible citizens, and to contribute fruitfully to the life of the communities in which you live. I think in particular of the vibrant faith which so many of you possess, the deep sense of family life and all those other values which you have inherited. By contributing your gifts, you will not only find your place here, you will help to renew society from within. Do not lose the memory of what happened here more than two centuries ago. Never forget that Declaration which proclaimed that all men and women were created equal, that the Creator has endowed them with inalienable rights, that governments exist to protect and defend these rights”.
Pope Francis concluded by thanking all present for their warm welcome, adding, “Let us conserve this freedom. Take care of freedom. Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, the freedom of every person, every family, every people, which gives rise to our rights”.
|God gave Creation to a family|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The Pope's first day in Philadelphia concluded yesterday with his participation in the Festival of Families in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Pope arrived by popemobile, greeted by thousands of faithful and well-wishers along the way. The event was hosted by the actor Mark Wahlberg, and there were performances by several musicians, including Aretha Franklin, who sang “Amazing Grace”, the tenor Andrea Bocelli who performed the Lord's Prayer accompanied by the Philadelphia Symphonic Orchestra, and the Colombian singer Juanes. The festival also included readings, some by the actor Jim Caviezel, and testimonies from families from all over the world.
The Pope set aside the official text prepared for the occasion, which is given below, and improvised a brief address in which he said that God gave the “most beautiful thing He had”, the world, to a family, to a man and a woman so that they would grow, multiply and make the land fruitful. Francis also remarked that He wanted His only Son to grow up within a family home, and emphasised that the family enjoys “divine citizenship”. While there are problems in every home, they can be overcome with love, whereas the division of the heart prevents difficulties from being overcome. Finally, he insisted on the special care due to children and the elderly, the hope and memory of the family.
“Dear brothers and sisters, dear families. First of all, I want to thank the families who were willing to share their life stories with us. Thank you for your witness! It is always a gift to listen to families share their life experiences; it touches our hearts. We feel that they speak to us about things that are very personal and unique, which in some way involve all of us. In listening to their experiences, we can feel ourselves drawn in, challenged as married couples and parents, as children, brothers and sisters, and grandparents.
“As I was listening, I was thinking how important it is for us to share our home life and to help one another in this marvellous and challenging task of 'being a family'. Being with you makes me think of one of the most beautiful mysteries of our Christian faith. God did not want to come into the world other than through a family. God did not want to draw near to humanity other than through a home. God did not want any other name for Himself than Emmanuel. He is 'God with us'. This was His desire from the beginning, His purpose, His constant effort: to say to us: 'I am God with you, I am God for you. He is the God who from the very beginning of creation said: 'It is not good for man to be alone'. We can add: it is not good for woman to be alone, it is not good for children, the elderly or the young to be alone. It is not good. That is why a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh. The two are meant to be a home, a family.
“From time immemorial, in the depths of our heart, we have heard those powerful words: it is not good for you to be alone. The family is the great blessing, the great gift of this 'God with us', who did not want to abandon us to the solitude of a life without others, without challenges, without a home. God does not dream by Himself, He tries to do everything 'with us'. His dream constantly comes true in the dreams of many couples who work to make their life that of a family.
“That is why the family is the living symbol of the loving plan of which the Father once dreamed. To want to form a family is to resolve to be a part of God’s dream, to choose to dream with Him, to want to build with Him, to join Him in this saga of building a world where no one will feel alone, unwanted or homeless. As Christians, we appreciate the beauty of the family and of family life as the place where we come to learn the meaning and value of human relationships. We learn that 'to love someone is not just a strong feeling – it is a decision, it is a judgement, it is a promise'. We learn to stake everything on another person, and we learn that it is worth it.
“Jesus was not a confirmed bachelor, far from it! He took the Church as His bride, and made her a people of His own. He laid down His life for those He loved, so that His bride, the Church, could always know that He is God with us, His people, His family. We cannot understand Christ without His Church, just as we cannot understand the Church without her spouse, Christ Jesus, Who gave His life out of love, and Who makes us see that it is worth the price.
“Laying down one’s life out of love is not easy. As with the Master, 'staking everything' can sometimes involve the cross. Times when everything seems uphill. I think of all those parents, all those families who lack employment or workers’ rights, and how this is a true cross. How many sacrifices they make to earn their daily bread! It is understandable that, when these parents return home, they are so weary that they cannot give their best to their children.
“I think of all those families which lack housing or live in overcrowded conditions. Families which lack the basics to be able to build bonds of closeness, security and protection from troubles of any kind.
“I think of all those families which lack access to basic health services. Families which, when faced with medical problems, especially those of their younger or older members, are dependent on a system which fails to meet their needs, is insensitive to their pain, and forces them to make great sacrifices to receive adequate treatment.
“We cannot call any society healthy when it does not leave real room for family life. We cannot think that a society has a future when it fails to pass laws capable of protecting families and ensuring their basic needs, especially those of families just starting out. How many problems would be solved if our societies protected families and provided households, especially those of recently married couples, with the possibility of dignified work, housing and healthcare services to accompany them throughout life.
“God’s dream does not change; it remains intact and it invites us to work for a society which supports families. A society where bread, 'fruit of the earth and the work of human hands' continues to be put on the table of every home, to nourish the hope of its children.
“Let us help one another to make it possible to 'stake everything on love'. Let us help one another at times of difficulty and lighten each other’s burdens. Let us support one another. Let us be families which are a support for other families.
“Perfect families do not exist. This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Love is something we learn; love is something we live; love grows as it is 'forged' by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows. Love can flourish in men and women who try not to make conflict the last word, but rather a new opportunity. An opportunity to seek help, an opportunity to question how we need to improve, an opportunity to discover the God Who is with us and never abandons us. This is a great legacy that we can give to our children, a very good lesson: we make mistakes, yes; we have problems, yes. But we know that that is not really what counts. We know that mistakes, problems and conflicts are an opportunity to draw closer to others, to draw closer to God.
“This evening we have come together to pray, to pray as a family, to make our homes the joyful face of the Church. To meet that God who did not want to come into our world in any other way than through a family. To meet 'God with us', the God Who is always in our midst”.
Today, 27 September, the Pope will meet the bishops attending the World Meeting of Families in the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, visit detainees at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and will celebrate Mass to conclude the Eighth World Meeting of Families in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. After greeting the organisers of the event and the volunteers who participated, he will board his return flight to Rome, departing at local time ( , in Rome).
|Other Pontifical Acts|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kaga-Bandoro, Central African Republic, presented by Bishop Albert Vanbuel, S.D.B., upon reaching the age limit.
26-09-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 165
|Francis at the United Nations: critical and global decisions in the face of worldwide conflicts|
Vatican City, 26 September 2015 (VIS) – The Pope's second day in New York began with his visit to the United Nations headquarters, where the Holy See has been represented since 1964 in its status as a Permanent Observer, with the right of participation without the right to vote.
Upon arrival the Holy Father was greeted by the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, with his wife and two children of United Nations workers who have lost their lives in service, who offered him a bouquet of flowers. The Pope met privately with the Secretary General who subsequently accompanied him to the hall to greet the organisation's staff. Francis laid a floral wreath before the plaque commemorating staff who have lost their lives in service, recalling that the work performed by United Nations employees, from experts to interpreters, kitchen staff to security personnel, constitutes in many respects the “backbone” of the Organisation.
“Most of the work done here does not appear in the news”, he said. “Behind the scenes your daily efforts make possible many of the diplomatic, cultural, economic and political initiatives of the United Nations, which are so important in responding to the hopes and expectations of the peoples who make up our human family. Thank you for what you do”.
The Pope then travelled by golf cart to the building of the Assembly General where he met, again privately and individually, with the presidents of the 70th General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) and the 69th, Sam Kahamba Kutesa (Uganda), along with the president of the Security Council, Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation).
After these meetings, the Holy Father entered the Assembly hall where he was greeted with great applause. After the welcome from the president of the 70th General Assembly and the Secretary General of the United Nations, he addressed the Representatives of the Nations, mentioning the praiseworthy achievements of the United Nations during the seventy years of its existence, the construction of structures of international human rights law, and its activity in peace-keeping and reconciliation. He then turned to the issues of the environment and the social and economic exclusion of a large proportion of the world's population. He reiterated that war denies all rights, underlining the need for tireless recourse to negotiation, and denounced religious persecution. He also warned against any type of ideological colonisation and defined drug trafficking as a war which is “taken for granted and poorly fought”. He emphasised that international financial bodies must “care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence”.
The following is the full text of Pope Francis' address:
“Once again, following a tradition by which I feel honoured, the Secretary General of the United Nations has invited the Pope to address this distinguished assembly of nations. In my own name, and that of the entire Catholic community, I wish to express to you, Mr Ban Ki-moon, my heartfelt gratitude. I greet the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the ambassadors, diplomats and political and technical officials accompanying them, the personnel of the United Nations engaged in this 70th Session of the General Assembly, the personnel of the various programmes and agencies of the United Nations family, and all those who, in one way or another, take part in this meeting. Through you, I also greet the citizens of all the nations represented in this hall. I thank you, each and all, for your efforts in the service of mankind.
“This is the fifth time that a Pope has visited the United Nations. I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, in1965, John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995, and my most recent predecessor, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2008. All of them expressed their great esteem for the Organisation, which they considered the appropriate juridical and political response to this present moment of history, marked by our technical ability to overcome distances and frontiers and, apparently, to overcome all natural limits to the exercise of power. An essential response, inasmuch as technological power, in the hands of nationalistic or falsely universalist ideologies, is capable of perpetrating tremendous atrocities. I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities.
“The United Nations is presently celebrating its seventieth anniversary. The history of this organised community of states is one of important common achievements over a period of unusually fast-paced changes. Without claiming to be exhaustive, we can mention the codification and development of international law, the establishment of international norms regarding human rights, advances in humanitarian law, the resolution of numerous conflicts, operations of peace-keeping and reconciliation, and any number of other accomplishments in every area of international activity and endeavour. All these achievements are lights which help to dispel the darkness of the disorder caused by unrestrained ambitions and collective forms of selfishness. Certainly, many grave problems remain to be resolved, yet it is also clear that, without all this international activity, mankind would not have been able to survive the unchecked use of its own possibilities. Every one of these political, juridical and technical advances is a path towards attaining the ideal of human fraternity and a means for its greater realisation.
“I also pay homage to all those men and women whose loyalty and self-sacrifice have benefited humanity as a whole in these past seventy years. In particular, I would recall today those who gave their lives for peace and reconciliation among peoples, from Dag Hammarskjöld to the many United Nations officials at every level who have been killed in the course of humanitarian missions, and missions of peace and reconciliation.
“Beyond these achievements, the experience of the past seventy years has made it clear that reform and adaptation to the times is always necessary in the pursuit of the ultimate goal of granting all countries, without exception, a share in, and a genuine and equitable influence on, decision-making processes. The need for greater equity is especially true in the case of those bodies with effective executive capability, such as the Security Council, the Financial Agencies and the groups or mechanisms specifically created to deal with economic crises. This will help limit every kind of abuse or usury, especially where developing countries are concerned. The International Financial Agencies are should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.
“The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realisation that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity. In this context, it is helpful to recall that the limitation of power is an idea implicit in the concept of law itself. To give to each his own, to cite the classic definition of justice, means that no human individual or group can consider itself absolute, permitted to bypass the dignity and the rights of other individuals or their social groupings. The effective distribution of power (political, economic, defence-related, technological, etc.) among a plurality of subjects, and the creation of a juridical system for regulating claims and interests, are one concrete way of limiting power. Yet today’s world presents us with many false rights and – at the same time – broad sectors which are vulnerable, victims of power badly exercised: for example, the natural environment and the vast ranks of the excluded. These sectors are closely interconnected and made increasingly fragile by dominant political and economic relationships. That is why their rights must be forcefully affirmed, by working to protect the environment and by putting an end to exclusion.
“First, it must be stated that a true 'right of the environment' does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which 'are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology', is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favourable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorised to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good.
“The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offence against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offences, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing 'culture of waste'.
“The dramatic reality this whole situation of exclusion and inequality, with its evident effects, has led me, in union with the entire Christian people and many others, to take stock of my grave responsibility in this regard and to speak out, together with all those who are seeking urgently-needed and effective solutions. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.
“Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, although they are certainly a necessary step toward solutions. The classic definition of justice which I mentioned earlier contains as one of its essential elements a constant and perpetual will: Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius sum cuique tribuendi. Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organised crime. Such is the magnitude of these situations and their toll in innocent lives, that we must avoid every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences. We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges.
“The number and complexity of the problems require that we possess technical instruments of verification. But this involves two risks. We can rest content with the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up long lists of good proposals – goals, objectives and statistics – or we can think that a single theoretical and aprioristic solution will provide an answer to all the challenges. It must never be forgotten that political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice and constantly conscious of the fact that, above and beyond our plans and programmes, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.
“To enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed. They must be built up and allowed to unfold for each individual, for every family, in communion with others, and in a right relationship with all those areas in which human social life develops – friends, communities, towns and cities, schools, businesses and unions, provinces, nations, etc. This presupposes and requires the right to education – also for girls (excluded in certain places) – which is ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and social groups to support and assist families in the education of their children. Education conceived in this way is the basis for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and for reclaiming the environment.
“At the same time, government leaders must do everything possible to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development. In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and all other civil rights.
“For all this, the simplest and best measure and indicator of the implementation of the new Agenda for development will be effective, practical and immediate access, on the part of all, to essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water; religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education. These pillars of integral human development have a common foundation, which is the right to life and, more generally, what we could call the right to existence of human nature itself.
“The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species. The baneful consequences of an irresponsible mismanagement of the global economy, guided only by ambition for wealth and power, must serve as a summons to a forthright reflection on man: 'man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature'. Creation is compromised 'where we ourselves have the final word… The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognise any instance above ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves'. Consequently, the defence of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognise a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural difference between man and woman, and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions.
“Without the recognition of certain incontestable natural ethical limits and without the immediate implementation of those pillars of integral human development, the ideal of 'saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war', and 'promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom', risks becoming an unattainable illusion, or, even worse, idle chatter which serves as a cover for all kinds of abuse and corruption, or for carrying out an ideological colonisation by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity and, in the end, irresponsible.
“War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment. If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and peoples. To this end, there is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes truly a fundamental juridical norm. The experience of these seventy years since the founding of the United Nations in general, and in particular the experience of these first fifteen years of the third millennium, reveal both the effectiveness of the full application of international norms and the ineffectiveness of their lack of enforcement. When the Charter of the United Nations is respected and applied with transparency and sincerity, and without ulterior motives, as an obligatory reference point of justice and not as a means of masking spurious intentions, peaceful results will be obtained. When, on the other hand, the norm is considered simply as an instrument to be used whenever it proves favourable, and to be avoided when it is not, a true Pandora’s box is opened, releasing uncontrollable forces which gravely harm defenceless populations, the cultural milieu and even the biological environment.
“The Preamble and the first Article of the Charter of the United Nations set forth the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between the nations. Strongly opposed to such statements, and in practice denying them, is the constant tendency to the proliferation of arms, especially weapons of mass distraction, such as nuclear weapons. An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as 'nations united by fear and distrust'. There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.
“The recent agreement reached on the nuclear question in a sensitive region of Asia and the Middle East is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy. I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved.
“In this sense, hard evidence is not lacking of the negative effects of military and political interventions which are not coordinated between members of the international community. For this reason, while regretting to have to do so, I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.
“These realities should serve as a grave summons to an examination of conscience on the part of those charged with the conduct of international affairs. Not only in cases of religious or cultural persecution, but in every situation of conflict, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, real human beings take precedence over partisan interests, however legitimate the latter may be. In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die. Human beings who are easily discarded when our response is simply to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements.
“As I wrote in my letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 9 August 2014, 'the most basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities' and to protect innocent peoples.
“Along the same lines I would mention another kind of conflict which is not always so open, yet is silently killing millions of people. Another kind of war experienced by many of our societies as a result of the narcotics trade. A war which is taken for granted and poorly fought. Drug trafficking is by its very nature accompanied by trafficking in persons, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation and other forms of corruption. A corruption which has penetrated to different levels of social, political, military, artistic and religious life, and, in many cases, has given rise to a parallel structure which threatens the credibility of our institutions.
“I began this speech recalling the visits of my predecessors. I would hope that my words will be taken above all as a continuation of the final words of the address of Pope Paul VI; although spoken almost exactly fifty years ago, they remain ever timely. I quote: 'The hour has come when a pause, a moment of recollection, reflection, even of prayer, is absolutely needed so that we may think back over our common origin, our history, our common destiny. The appeal to the moral conscience of man has never been as necessary as it is today. For the danger comes neither from progress nor from science; if these are used well, they can help to solve a great number of the serious problems besetting mankind. Among other things, human genius, well applied, will surely help to meet the grave challenges of ecological deterioration and of exclusion. As Paul VI said: 'The real danger comes from man, who has at his disposal ever more powerful instruments that are as well fitted to bring about ruin as they are to achieve lofty conquests'.
“The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature.
“Such understanding and respect call for a higher degree of wisdom, one which accepts transcendence, self-transcendence, rejects the creation of an all-powerful elite, and recognises that the full meaning of individual and collective life is found in selfless service to others and in the sage and respectful use of creation for the common good. To repeat the words of Paul VI, 'the edifice of modern civilisation has to be built on spiritual principles, for they are the only ones capable not only of supporting it, but of shedding light on it'.
“El Gaucho Martin Fierro, a classic of literature in my native land, says: 'Brothers should stand by each other, because this is the first law; keep a true bond between you always, at every time – because if you fight among yourselves, you’ll be devoured by those outside'. The contemporary world, so apparently connected, is experiencing a growing and steady social fragmentation, which places at risk 'the foundations of social life' and consequently leads to 'battles over conflicting interests'.
“The present time invites us to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society, so as to bear fruit in significant and positive historical events. We cannot permit ourselves to postpone 'certain agendas' for the future. The future demands of us critical and global decisions in the face of world-wide conflicts which increase the number of the excluded and those in need.
“The praiseworthy international juridical framework of the United Nations Organisation and of all its activities, like any other human endeavour, can be improved, yet it remains necessary; at the same time it can be the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations. And so it will, if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good. I pray to Almighty God that this will be the case, and I assure you of my support and my prayers, and the support and prayers of all the faithful of the Catholic Church, that this Institution, all its member States, and each of its officials, will always render an effective service to mankind, a service respectful of diversity and capable of bringing out, for sake of the common good, the best in each people and in every individual. God bless you all”.
|Memorial at Ground Zero: life will always triumph over the prophets of destruction|
Vatican City, 26 September 2015 (VIS) – The Memorial at Ground Zero, built at the site where on 11 September 2001 the Twin Towers collapsed after being struck by two aircraft in a terrorist attack that caused 2,896 deaths, was the second stop of the Pope's visit to New York. The Memorial is now a park of almost 33,000 square metres with a grove of white oak trees and two artificial waterfalls that flow into two large pools where the Twin Towers were previously located. These are surrounded by a low bronze wall on which there are engraved the names of all the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Centre on 26 February 1993 and 11 September 2001. Below ground, where the foundations of the Twin Towers lay, there is a museum commemorating the tragic events.
Upon arrival Francis, accompanied by Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York, left a flower near the waterfall and at the Memorial building where he was awaited by a rabbi and an imam of New York. He said a prayer for peace, which was followed by five meditations on peace (Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Muslim) and a Jewish prayer for the deceased, after which the Pope pronounced a discourse.
“I feel many different emotions standing here at Ground Zero, where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of destruction. Here grief is palpable. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mindset which knows only violence, hatred and revenge. A mindset which can only cause pain, suffering, destruction and tears. The flowing water is also a symbol of our tears. Tears at so much devastation and ruin, past and present. This is a place where we shed tears, we weep out of a sense of helplessness in the face of injustice, murder, and the failure to settle conflicts through dialogue. Here we mourn the wrongful and senseless loss of innocent lives because of the inability to find solutions which respect the common good. This flowing water reminds us of yesterday’s tears, but also of all the tears still being shed today”.
He also recalled his meeting with some of the families of the fallen first responders, and emphasised that this “made me see once again how acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material. They always have a face, a concrete story, names. In those family members, we see the face of pain, a pain which still touches us and cries out to heaven”. However, he added, “those family members showed me the other face of this attack, the other face of their grief: the power of love and remembrance. A remembrance that does not leave us empty and withdrawn. The name of so many loved ones are written around the towers’ footprints. We can see them, we can touch them, and we can never forget them”.
Remembering the firefighters who, on 11 September entered the crumbling towers shortly before they fell, without considering the risk to their own lives, he spoke about “the palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of, those hidden reserves of strength from which we can draw”. He added, “This place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division”.
“It is a source of great hope that in this place of sorrow and remembrance I can join with leaders representing the many religious traditions which enrich the life of this great city. I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world. For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace. In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions, and lift our voices against everything which would stand in the way of such unity. Together we are called to say 'no' to every attempt to impose uniformity and 'yes' to a diversity accepted and reconciled”.
Francis invited all those present to pray in silence for peace: “Peace in our homes, our families, our schools and our communities. Peace in all those places where war never seems to end. Peace for those faces which have known nothing but pain”.
“In this way”, he concluded, “the lives of our dear ones will not be lives which will one day be forgotten. Instead, they will be present whenever we strive to be prophets not of tearing down but of building up, prophets of reconciliation, prophets of peace”.
|Meeting with the children and families of immigrants in Harlem|
Vatican City,26 September 2015 (VIS) – The School of Our Lady Queen of Angels in Harlem has 282 pupils aged from 5 to 14, of whom 69 per cent study as a result of a scholarship. The children are from low income families, so-called “dreamers” (those who follow the American dream), adult or unaccompanied minors migrating from Latin America (69 per cent), refugees from Africa or the Middle East, and also African Americans (22 per cent). The school forms part of a network of six Catholics schools in the Harlem and South Bronx neighbourhoods, financed and managed by the Catholic charitable initiative Partnership, coordinated by the archdiocese of New York, to whom the premises belong. The foundation was formally instituted in 2010, and aims to break the vicious circle of poverty.
The Pope arrived at the School of Our Lady Queen of Angels yesterday shortly after ( in Rome) to meet with the pupils, their families and the teachers who awaited him in the gymnasium. It was an informal meeting in which the Pope asked forgiveness from the teachers for taking some minutes away from the lesson and commented that one of the most beautiful characteristics of the school was the fact that some of the pupils come from other places and many from other countries. “That is nice”, he added. “Even though I know it is not easy to have to move and find a new home, new neighbours and new friends. At the beginning it can be hard. Often you have to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, even a new climate. There is so much to learn! And not just at school; so many other things”.
“The good thing is that we also make new friends”, he continued. “And this is very important. … We meet people who open doors for us, who are kind to us. They offer us friendship and understanding, and they try to help us not to feel like strangers. … Although at times we dream of our homelands, we meet good people who help us to feel at home. How nice it is to feel that school is a second home. This is not only important for you, but also for your families. School then ends up being one big family where … we learn to help one another, to give the best of ourselves, to work as a team, which is so important, and to pursue our dreams”.
“Very near here is a very important street named after a man who did a lot for other people. I want to talk a little bit about him. He was the Reverend Martin Luther King. One day he said, 'I have a dream'. His dream was that many children, many people could have equal opportunities. His dream was that many children like you could get an education. He dreamed that many men and women, like you, could hold their heads high, with the dignity of one who earns a living. It is beautiful to have dreams and to be able to fight for them. Do not forget”.
“Today we want to keep dreaming. We celebrate all the opportunities which enable you, and us adults, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities. ... I know that one of the dreams of your parents and teachers is that you can grow up and be happy. … It is not always easy. In every home there are problems, difficult situations, illness, but never stop dreaming that you can live with joy. Dear children, you have a right to dream and I am very happy that here in this school, in your friends and your teachers, you can find the support you need. Wherever there are dreams, there is joy, Jesus is always present”.
Before leaving, the Pope asked the children if he could give them some homework. “It is just a little request, but a very important one”, he said. “Please don’t forget to pray for me, so that I can share with many people the joy of Jesus. And let us also pray so that many other people can share the joy like yours, when you feel supported, helped and advised, even when there are problems”.
|Mass in Madison Square Garden: God is living in our cities|
Vatican City,26 September 2015 (VIS) – The Pope concluded his day in New York with a Holy Mass for peace and justice in Madison Square Garden, a place synonymous with the city, as Francis recalled: “The site of important athletic, artistic and musical events” representing “both the variety and the common interests of so many different people”. It isa place where “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”, as yesterday's reading from the prophet Isaiah tells. The Holy Father dedicated his homily to this light.
“The people who walked – caught up in their activities and routines, amid their successes and failures, their worries and expectations – have seen a great light”, affirmed the Pontiff, remarking that the People of God is invited in every historical age to contemplate this light, since one of the special qualities of the faithful is the capacity to see, amid the shadows, the light that Christ comes to bring. “With the prophet today we can say: the people that walks, breathes, lives amid the smog, has seen a great light, has experienced the air of life”.
“Living in a big city is not always easy”, commented the Pope. “A multicultural context presents many complex challenges. Yet big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches present in our world: in the diversity of its cultures, traditions and historical experiences. … Big cities bring together all the different ways which we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be. But big cities also conceal the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens. In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath 'the rapid pace of change', so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no 'right' to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly. These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts”.
However, “knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with … hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city. … A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city”.
“The prophet Isaiah can guide us in this process of 'learning to see'”, continued Francis. “He presents Jesus to us as 'Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace'”. The Pope went on to explain each of these appellations.
“Wonderful Counsellor. The Gospels tell us how many people came up to Jesus to ask: 'Master, what must we do?' The first thing that Jesus does in response is to propose, to encourage, to motivate. He keeps telling his disciples to go, to go out. He urges them to go out and meet others where they really are, not where we think they should be. … The Mighty God: In Jesus, God himself became Emmanuel, God-with-us, the God who walks alongside us. ... The Everlasting Father: Go out and proclaim, go out and show that God is in your midst as a merciful Father who himself goes out, morning and evening, to see if his son has returned home and, as soon as he sees him coming, runs out to embrace him. … Prince of Peace: Go out to others and share the good news that God, our Father, walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness, and brings us to the school of encounter. He removes us from the fray of competition and self-absorption, and he opens before us the path of peace. That peace which is born of accepting others, that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters”.
“God is living in our cities. The Church is living in our cities, and she wants to be like leaven in the dough”, concluded Pope Francis. “She wants to relate to everyone, to stand at everyone’s side, as she proclaims the marvels of the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace. 'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light'. And we ourselves are witnesses of that light”.
Today, 26 September, the Holy Father travels to Philadelphia where he will celebrate Mass with the clergy and religious of Pennsylvania in the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, attend a meeting with the Hispanic community and other immigrants in Independence National Historical Park, and will pronounce a discourse in Benjamin Franklin Parkway on the eve of the World Meeting of Families.
|Other Pontifical Acts|
Vatican City, 26 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Archbishop Paolo Rocco Gualtieri, apostolic nuncio in Madagascar, as apostolic nuncio in the Seychelles.
- Bishop Robert Francis Prevost, O.S.A., as bishop of Chiclayo (area 15,647, population 1,275,215, Catholics 1,132,202, priests 113, religious 171), Peru. Bishop Prevost is currently apostolic administrator of the same diocese.
- appointed Fr. Zbigniew Zielinski as auxiliary of Gdansk, (area 2,500, population 965,077, Catholics 900,608, priests 748, religious 689), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Gdansk, Poland in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He holds a doctorate in pastoral theology from the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University of Warsaw and has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, pastor of the St. Michael parish and of the Cathedral of Gdansk-Oliwa and lecturer in sociology of religion at the state University of Gdansk. He is currently pastor of the con-Cathedral, lecturer in pastoral theology in the major seminary, and member of the Commission for canonical visits in the parishes, the presbyteral council, and the college of consultors. In 2007 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness.
- appointed Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, metropolitan archbishop of Bologna, and Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.