From the Vatican

Pope Francis Sends Condolences for ‘Cruel’ Barcelona Terror Attack

Pope 0818172017-08-18 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday sent a telegram expressing his condolences for the victims of the terrorist attack on Barcelona, in which at least 13 people died and more than a hundred were injured.

Pope Francis expressed his “deepest sympathy” for the victims of Thursday’s terrorist attack on Barcelona “Las Ramblas Boulevard” with a telegram to the city’s Archbishop, Cardinal Juan José Omella.

The telegram was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.

Pope Francis condemned the “blind violence” manifested in the attack, saying it is “a grave offense to the Creator”.

He prayed for those who “lost their lives to such an inhuman act”.

“In these moments of sorrow and pain,” the Pope “wishes also to offer his support and closeness to the many injured, to their families, and to all Catalan and Spanish society,” it read.

Turning to the future, Pope Francis said he raises his “prayers to the Most High that He help us continue to work with determination for peace and harmony in the world.”

Finally, the Holy Father imparted his Apostolic Blessing “upon all the victims, their families, and the beloved Spanish people”.


USCCB President Denounces Racism, Calls for Unity and Prayer

Cardinal DiNardo2017-08-16 (Vatican Radio) Catholic leaders in the United States have spoken out forcefully against racism in the wake of violent protests that erupted last weekend in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.

A planned rally by the so-called “alt-right” that included white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups was met by large counter-protests; as fights broke out between the two groups, police attempted to disperse the crowds. Dozens of people were injured, and one person was killed when a car was driven into a group of counter-protesters.

The Bishops of the United States spoke out immediately to denounce the violence. The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, issued a statement on behalf of all the Bisops condemning the violence and hatred seen in Charlottesville. “The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action.”

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal DiNardo was even more emphatic. “We see it as an attack on the unity of our nation, as a massive evil thing,” he said. Racism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism and similar evils, he said, “have raised their voices in acts of deplorable violence. And we want to raise our voices against them.”

At the same time, he said, Catholics “also want to pray for the victims of violence,” including Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in the car attack, and others wounded in Saturday’s fighting. “Our point is to pray,” Cardinal DiNardo said, “to call on Catholics and all peoples of good will, to pray for healing, and then to start working anew for unity and peace in this time of tension and division.”

Cardinal DiNardo emphasized the importance of speaking out against racism and other forms of intolerance: “Part of the problem of any kind of evil getting a foothold is when the really good people don’t say anything. So those kinds of issues are important – that we speak, that we act together.”


Pope Francis Prays Angelus for Solemnity of the Assumption

Pope 0815172017-08-15 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Angelus on Tuesday.

The feast of the Assumption, also known as Ferragosto, is an important religious and civil holiday in Italy, and thousands of faithful were present in St Peter’s Square to celebrate with the Holy Father.

In his remarks, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading, which relates the meeting of Mary with Elizabeth, and records Mary’s triumphant song of praise, the Magnificat. “The greatest gift that Mary brings to Elizabeth,” the Pope said, “is Jesus, who already lives within her – not in faith and hope, as in so many women in the Old Testament: Jesus has taken human flesh from the Virgin, for His mission of salvation.”

Elizabeth, the Pope said, had already received the joy of pregnancy, after having felt for so long the sorrow of not having a baby. Now, at the arrival of Mary, her joy “overflows and bursts from her heart, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills her senses.” That joy is echoed by Mary in the Magnificat, a song of praise for God, who accomplished His plan of salvation through the poor and humble.

God is able to do great things through the humble because, the Pope said, “humility is like an emptiness that leaves room for God.” The humble person “is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong.” He challenged the faithful to reflect on their own efforts to foster the virtue of humility.

In the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, the Pope continued, “the coming of Jesus through Mary creates not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, to prayer, to praise.”

And we too, Pope Francis continued, desire these things for our homes. “Celebrating Mary Most Holy, Assumed into Heaven,” he said, “we would like her, once more, to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, that immense Gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all other graces that we have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

Mary, the Pope said in conclusion, “is the model of virtue and of faith. In contemplating her today assumed into heaven, at the final completion of her earthly journey, we give thanks that she always goes before us in the pilgrimage of life and of faith.” And, he said, “we ask that she protect and sustain us; that we might have a strong, joyful, and merciful faith; that she might help us to be saints, to meet together with her, one day, in Paradise.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary, as Queen of Peace, “the anxieties and sorrows of peoples who, in many parts of the world, are suffering on account of natural calamities, of social tensions or of conflicts.” He prayed, “May our heavenly Mother obtain consolation for all, and a future of serenity and of concord.”


Angelus: Listen to the Lord not Horoscopes or Fortune Tellers

Pope 0813172017-08-13 (Vatican Radio) "When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you become submerged”. Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square.

He was referring to the Gospel of the day where Jesus walks on the waters of Lake Galilee to save Peter and the disciples from sinking in their boat due to the heavy waves of the sea.

The Pope recounted how this story is rich in symbolism. The boat, he continued, “is the life of each of us, but it is also the life of the Church; The wind represents difficulties and trials.”

Peter's invocation: "Lord, command me to come to you!" And his cry, "Lord, save me", the Holy Father noted, “are so much like our desire to feel the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the toughest moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.”

Pope Francis explained that at that moment, Peter was not sure of the word of Jesus, which was like a rope to cling to in hostile and turbulent waters. This is what can happen to us as well, he said,  “when you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but to have more security in consulting  horoscopes and fortune tellers you become submerged”.

The Gospel of today, the Pope underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life.

But faith, the Holy Father went on to say, “gives us the assurance of a Presence, that is Christ, which pushes us to overcome the existential buffs; Faith, in short, is not a loophole from the problems of life, but it sustains our journey and gives it meaning.

Reported by Lydia O'Kane


Korean Bishops Urge Faithful to Pray for Peace

OLF no words2017-08-10 (Vatican Radio) Expressing great concern over mounting tension in the Korean peninsula and beyond over North Korea’s missile and nuclear bravado, South Korean bishops are seeking spiritual aid to diffuse the situation.  The bishops are urging their faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace in their land, in view of the upcoming solemn feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Aug. 15.

Rosary a spiritual weapon

In a message, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul asked Catholics to pray the rosary in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition in Fatima.  "The Virgin Mary urged us to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world," said Cardinal Yeom. "The rosary is our spiritual weapon to defeat evil effectively and it will help us overcome challenges in our faith and transfigure us to become workers for world peace," he said.

Mary and Korean history

The August 15 feast of the Assumption is profoundly linked with Korean history.  The National Liberation Day of Korea‎ is marked in commemoration of that day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.  The Catholic Church in South Korea is also dedicated to the Blessed Mother and it considers its liberation as a "gift from Mary."

Missile and nuclear threat

"For the safety and the future of all Koreans, North Korea should come to the discussion table and abandon their nuclear weapons," said Cardinal Yeom expressing grave concern over North Korea's nuclear weapon and missile programs.

North Korea said Aug. 9 that it is "carefully examining" plans for a missile attack on the U.S. territory of Guam, just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang that any threat to America would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen". 

In his message for the Marian feast, Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejeon said: "The Church should promote the culture of peace and life against the culture of death that is mounting on the Korean peninsula. We should defend our peace by praying for mercy and peace."

Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon of Uijeongbu called for a peace accord between the two Koreas. The bishop also asked world leaders to work together to settle tensions on the peninsula.

Bishop John Chrysostom Kwon Hyeok-ju of Andong asked Catholics in Korea to be workers for the peace.  "Let's achieve peace in this land by doing works for peace in our daily lives," he said.

National Liberation Day of both Koreas

The National Liberation Day of Korea, is celebrated annually on August 15 in both North and South Korea.  It commemorates the Victory over Japan Day on Aug. 15, 1945, that marked Japan’s humiliating surrender at the end of World War II and the end of its colonial rule in Korea.

The United States and the Soviet Union that brought about Japan’s defeat and surrender, agreed to temporarily occupy the country as trusteeship, with the Soviet Union holding sway in the north and the US in the south.  But when China, Great Britain and the US recommended a plan to reunify the country in 1947, the Soviet Union refused to cooperate.

Soon, with tension building between the divided peninsula, the north invaded the south 1950, an aggression that the United Nations supported by the allies fought back.  China and and the Soviet Union supported the north.  The war ended in 1953 with a truce, which technically did not end the conflict – even today.   


Pope Francis:  God’s Mercy is Driving Force of Hope

Pope 0809172017-08-09 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at the Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, reflecting on divine forgiveness as the "driving force of hope".

This is the official English summary of the Pope's catechesis:

In our continuing catechesis, we now consider God’s mercy as the driving force of Christian hope.  When Jesus forgives the sinful woman, his action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of the time.  Instead of rejecting sinners, Jesus embraces them, those who are outcast, “untouchable”.  With a compassion that literally causes him to tremble in his depths, he reveals the merciful heart of God.  This astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy, and gives a sure foundation to our hope.  We who have experienced God’s forgiveness should avoid the danger of forgetting that this mercy was purchased at a great price: Christ’s death on the Cross.  Our Lord died not because he healed the sick, but because he did what only God can do: forgive sins.  This divine mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.  Our Lord, who rejects no one, graciously bestows upon us the mission to proclaim his mercy to the world.


Pope Francis Prays at Tomb of Pope Paul VI

Pope 0807172017-08-07 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday prayed at the tomb of Blessed Pope Paul VI on the 39th anniversary of his death.

Blessed Paul VI is buried in the Vatican in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica.

He was beatified by Pope Francis on 19 October 2014, and his liturgical feast is celebrated on the day of his birth (26 September).

Born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini in 1897, he became Pope on 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978.

Upon succeeding Pope St. John XXIII, he reigned over the Second Vatican Council until its close in 1965 and implemented its reforms, also fostering improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians.


Pope Reflects on Transfiguration, Summer Vacation

Pope 0806172017-08-06 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis focused his Angelus reflection on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which is celebrated each year on 6 August. “The event of the Transfiguration of the Lord,” he said, “offers us a message of hope: it invites us to encounter Jesus, to be at the service of our brothers.”

The disciples’ journey to Mount Tabor, he continued, helps us “to reflect on the importance of detaching ourselves from worldly things, in order to complete our journey to the heights and to contemplate Jesus.” This involves conforming ourselves to Christ’s attitude of "attentive listening and prayer,” which allows us to welcome the Word of God into our lives. Summer time, the Pope said, can be a providential moment to grow in our commitment to seek after and encounter the Lord. “In this period, students are free from their scholastic commitments, and many families take their vacations; it is important that in the period of rest and of detachment from daily occupations, the strength of the body and of the spirit can be restored, deepening the spiritual journey.”

These spiritual heights, though, are not an end in themselves. Following the experience of the Transfiguration, the disciples came down from the mountain with “eyes and hearts transfigured by the experience of the Lord." Pope Francis said that we too can “come down from the mountain, recharged by the power of the divine Spirit, to decide on new steps of authentic conversion, and to constantly bear witness to charity as the law of daily life.” This transfiguration will allow us to be “sign of the life-giving love of God” for all, especially those who suffer.

In the Transfiguration, the Pope said, we hear the voice of the Father saying, “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Pope Francis encouraged us to look to Mary, “the Virgin of Listening,” and pray that she might help us “to enter into symphony with the Word of God, that Christ might become the light and the guide of our lives.” He concluded his reflection by entrusting everyone’s vacations to God, and by praying for all those who are unable to take vacations, that summer may be for them, too, a time of relaxation, “gladdened by the presence of friends and joyful moments.”


Pope Sends Greetings to Knights of Columbus

Knights Logo2017-08-03 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent greetings to the Knights of Columbus on the occasion of their 135th Supreme Convention, which concludes on Thursday in St Louis.

The Pope’s message, conveyed in letter from the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, says the theme of the Convention – “Convinced of God’s Love and Power” – points “to the secret source of all Christian life and mission: our conviction that God’s saving love, revealed in the death and resurrection of his Son and poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, impels us to share the Good News of salvation with every man and woman.” This conviction, it continues, “underlies all our enthusiasm for evangelization.”

It is this experience of God’s love and power, Cardinal Parolin says, that led to the founding of the Knights of Columbus, and to their continued growth.

Cardinal Parolin calls on the Knights, in the spirit of their founder, the Servant of God Father Michael McGivney, to respond generously to the call of Pope Francis to reject the mentality of the contemporary “culture of indifference,” and to commit themselves “to their properly lay vocation of striving for the sanctification of the world from within, by carrying out their daily responsibilities in the spirit of the Gospel and revealing Christ to others through the witness of their lives.”

In particular, Cardinal Parolin says that Pope Francis “is especially appreciative of the unremitting efforts of the Knights of Columbus to defend and promote the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life,” noting that the Pope, following the lead of the 2015 Synod of Bishops, has linked the health of the family to the health of society as a whole. “The strengthening of sound family values and a renewed vision of our responsibility for the moral health of the greater community will contribute to overcoming the polarization and general coarsening of the social fabric that is an increasing source of concern even in the most prosperous of our societies.”

Finally, Cardinal Parolin’s letter expresses the Holy Father’s gratitude for the Knights’ support of Christians in the Middle East who are suffering from violence and persecution.


Pope Francis at General Audience: Baptism is Hope

Pope 0802172017-08-02 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a General Audience on Wednesday, August 2nd, the first of his weekly appointments with pilgrims and tourists after their suspension for the month of July. The Holy Father continued his series of catechetical reflections on Christian hope, this Wednesday focusing on the Sacrament of Baptism, which he described as the “gateway to hope”. Below, please find the full text of the English-language summary of his prepared remarks, which was read after the main catechesis.


Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now consider the sacrament of baptism as the gate to eternal life. In the early Church, those about to be baptized made their profession of faith facing eastward, seeing the rising sun as a symbol of Christ. Even if our modern world has lost contact with such cosmic imagery, this symbolism retains its power. For what does it mean to be Christian, but to confess our faith in the light, a light that casts out gloom and darkness? In putting on Christ at baptism we become children of light. This light gives us new hope, helps us to know God as Father, and enables us to recognize Jesus in the weakest and poorest. When we were baptized we received a candle that was lit from the Paschal Candle, as a sign of Christ’s victory over the darkness of sin and death. This is also a sign of the life of the Church: to be ablaze with this new light! As Christians, let us remind each other that we have been reborn as children of the light, and, faithful to our baptismal calling, let us share the new hope that Jesus brings.


I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Japan, Nigeria, Iraq and the United States of America. I am especially pleased to welcome the pilgrims from the Chaldean Patriarchate, accompanied by Bishop Shlemon Warduni. Upon all of you, I invoke the grace of the Lord Jesus, that you may be a sign of Christian hope in your homes and communities.  May God bless you!


Pope Francis at Angelus: Gospel Joy Opens Hearts

Pope 0730172017-07-30 (Vatican Radio) Ahead of the Sunday Angelus prayer with pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis shared a reflection on two of the three parables from the 13th chapter of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, which were read during Mass on Sunday.

Focusing exclusively on the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price, the Holy Father said, “This day, we are exhorted to contemplate the joy of the farmer,” who sells all he has in order to purchase the field wherein he had hidden the treasure he discovered, “and of the merchant,” who sells all he had in order to purchase the pearl of great price.

“It is the joy of each of us when we discover the closeness and consoling presence of Jesus in our lives,” he said.

“A presence,” Pope Francis went on to say, “that transforms the heart and opens us to [meet] the needs and to welcome our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest ones.”

Pope Francis also called for increased efforts to end human trafficking on Sunday. The Holy Father’s appeal came in remarks following the Angelus prayer with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square, on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time and the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, sponsored by the United Nations.

“Each year,” said Pope Francis, “thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of sexual and organ trafficking, and it seems that we are so accustomed to seeing it as a normal thing.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “This is ugly, it is cruel, it is criminal.” He called human trafficking, “an aberrant plague,” and, “a modern form of slavery,” renewing his appeal for universal commitment to ending the practice.

Pope Francis concluded his appeal by leading everyone present in the recitation of the Hail Mary for the intention of ending human trafficking.

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ appeal, in our English translation

Today is the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, promoted by the United Nations. Each year, thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of sexual and organ trafficking, and it seems that we are so accustomed to seeing it as a normal thing. This is ugly, it is cruel, it is criminal! I would like to draw on everyone's commitment to make this aberrant plague, a modern form of slavery, adequately countered. Let us pray together the Virgin Mary to support the victims of trafficking and to convert the hearts of traffickers.


Pope Endorses Campaign to Put 'Laudato Sì' Into Action

Earth2017-07-13 (Vatican Radio) Following the 2nd anniversary of the publication of his encyclical “Laudato Sì – On Care of our Common Home”, Pope Francis has endorsed a pledge campaign that aims to mobilize at least 1 million people to directly engage in turning the encyclical’s message into action.

Organized and promoted by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the pledge  calls on those who sign to answer the call of Laudato Sì by praying with and for creation, living more simply, and advocating to protect our common home.

The "Laudato Sì Pledge campaign" has received support from Church leaders from around the globe including Cardinal Turkson, Cardinal Tagle, Cardinal Ribat, Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Marx. It has also garnered the support of major environmental leaders.

Tomás Insua, Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, said, "We are grateful and inspired by Pope Francis' endorsement of the Laudato Si' Pledge. With 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, we have a critical role to play in tackling climate change and the wider ecological crisis. Pope Francis has already changed the discussion around climate change and this pledge is inviting us to put the Church's teachings into action and answer the urgent call for strong political action and lifestyle change put forth in Laudato Si'."

The Pope's endorsement adds to the momentum of recent Catholic climate action: Pope Francis requested that Angela Merkel uplift the Paris climate accord during the G20 summit, several Catholic organizations recently divested from fossil fuels, GCCM joined other Christian groups calling on governments to take strong action before the G7 last month and the Movement’s Executive Director joined other scientific, political and faith leaders in publishing a letter in Nature Magazine pushing the G20 to recognize the urgency of the climate crisis.

Reported by Linda Bordoni


Pope to Catechists: Be Creative

Pope 0712172017-07-12 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to an International Catechetical Symposium which is taking place this week at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires, and has as its theme “blessed are those who believe”.

In the message to the symposium, the Holy Father points out that “being a catechist is a vocation of service in the Church, that has been received as a gift from the Lord and must in turn be transmitted.”

He goes on to say that the catechist walks with Christ, therefore is not a person who starts from his own ideas and tastes. He or she  looks for the Lord and that searching makes their heart burn.

Pope Francis also notes in his message that the role of the catechist is a creative one because this person seeks different ways and means to announce the good news of Christ. The Pope adds that “this quest to make Jesus known as supreme beauty leads us to find new signs and forms for the transmission of the faith.”

The means may be different, the Holy Father underlines, “but the important thing is to keep in mind the style of Jesus, who adapted to the people around him in order to bring them the love of God.”

The Pope continues that, it is necessary to know how to "change" and adapt, in order to transmit God’s message even though the message itself is always the same.

Finally, Pope Francis encourages catechists taking part in the symposium to be joyful messengers, guardians of good and beauty who shine in the faithful life of the missionary disciple.”


Pope at Angelus: Find True Rest in the Lord

Pope 0709172017-07-09 (Vatican Radio) “Come to me, all you who are weary and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This passage, from the day’s Gospel reading, was the starting point for Pope Francis’ reflections ahead of the Sunday Angelus.

Jesus, the Pope said, addresses this invitation to everyone, without exception, who feels weary or burdened by life. “Jesus knows how hard life can be,” he said. He knows how many things can cause our hearts to grow weary.

In the face of all these burdens of life, the first word of Jesus’ invitation is “Come.” When things are going badly, Pope Francis said, it is a mistake to remain where we are. Although this might seem evident, he continued, it is natural in moments of darkness to turn in on ourselves, to brood on the injustices of life, the ingratitude of others, or the wickedness of the world. But Jesus wants to pull us out of this “quicksand.” The way out is in the relationship, in reaching out our hand and lifting our gaze toward the one Who truly loves us.

But going out of ourselves is only the first step, the Pope said: we must also know where to go. In life, many of our goals can be deceptive, promising us rest and distracting us for a while, but ultimately leaving us as alone as when we started. They are like fireworks. And this is why Jesus says, “Come to me.” We often turn to others in times of difficulty – we must not forget to turn to Jesus, to open ourselves up to Him, and to entrust our difficulties to Him.

The Lord is waiting for us in order to help us, but this does not mean He will magically take away our difficulties. “Jesus does not take the Cross from us,” the Holy Father said; rather “He carries it with us.” When we come to Jesus, we receive peace, a peace that remains even in trials and difficulty. The Lord Himself promises this to us, repeating again at the end of the day’s Gospel reading, “Learn from me… and you will find rest for your life.”

“Let us learn to go to Jesus,” Pope Francis said in conclusion. “And while, in these summer months, we seek some respite from those things that weary the body, let us not forget to find true rest in the Lord.”


Pope: 'Openness is Necessary for a Culture of Encounter'

Pope 0707172017-07-05 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to the Congress of the Scholas Occurentes which concludes on Wednesday in Jerusalem. The Congress focused on the theme “Between the University and the School, building peace through the culture of encounter.”

In his message, Pope Francis encouraged the participants, young and old, who had come from Israel, the Palestinian territories, and from other countries from across the globe. “I want to celebrate these days lived out there in Jerusalem,” he said, “because you yourselves, beginning from your differences, have achieved unity.”

The Holy Father praised them for seeing one another without prejudice; an attitude, he said, that is essential “because it produces an encounter.” This encounter, he said, gives our lives meaning and purpose.

And it is precisely because our lives have meaning that we feel the need to celebrate. Even more, this meaning leads us to a feeling, a sentiment, of gratitude. And it is this sentiment, the Pope said, that the Scholas has perceived to be of the essence of education, which opens us to the unknown, which frees us from prejudices that keep us from dreaming and seeking new paths. It is for this reason, he continued, “that we adults cannot take from our children and young people the capacity to dream, or to play—which is, in a certain sense, a waking dream.”

Pope Francis said the Congress in Jerusalem teaches us that we have a duty to hear young people, and to give them a context of hope so that their dreams might grow and be shared. Shared dreams can produce a “utopia” to strive after; and the utopia of the Scholas is to create a culture of encounter that allows people to arrive, not at uniformity, but at harmony.

  The Pope concluded his address by thanking the adults for not closing themselves up in themselves; and for putting their learning at the service of listening. And he thanked the young people for committing themselves “to dreaming, to seeking meaning, to creating, to being grateful, to celebrating, to offering their minds, their hands, and their hearts in order to transform the culture of encounter into reality.”

Reported by Christopher Wells


Holy See: ‘Elderly People Deserve Special Attention’

Archbishop Auza2017-07-06 (Vatican Radio)  The Holy See has called for greater attention to the needs of elderly people in respect for their inherent dignity.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the UN, made the appeal during a working group on Ageing, entitled “Measures to enhance the contribution of Older Persons to Social Development”.

“A greater focus on the contribution of older persons to development should be combined with an enhanced attention to their needs,” he said.

Archbishop Auza said, “Elders among us are disproportionately susceptible to poverty, ill health, disability, social isolation, violence, abandonment, abuse, and a lack of access to adequate food, dignified shelter, quality health care, reliable means of communication, and nourishing companionship.”

This is the full address:

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, at the Eighth Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing Item (5): Measures to enhance the contribution of Older Persons to Social Development

New York, 5-7 July 2017

Mr. Chair,

The Holy See avails itself of this Eighth Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing to renew its commitment to promoting the respect for the inherent dignity of the elderly.

As the world’s aged and ageing population grows rapidly, both in actual numbers and as a percentage of the world’s population, attention to ageing and elderly people is ever more critical. The need to develop concrete, practical measures to ensure that the human rights of the elderly are protected and their needs answered is an urgent priority. As Pope Francis has observed, “Thanks to the progress of medicine, lifespans have increased: but society has not ‘expanded’ to life! The number of elderly has multiplied, but our societies are not organized well enough to make room for them, with proper respect and practical consideration for their frailty and their dignity.”1 My Delegation hopes that this session of the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing will further the efforts in advancing measures more responsive to the needs of the ageing and elderly persons.

Elders among us are disproportionately susceptible to poverty, ill health, disability, social isolation, violence, abandonment, abuse, and a lack of access to adequate food, dignified shelter, quality health care, reliable means of communication, and nourishing companionship. They also often bear the brunt of difficulties that arise from natural disasters, armed conflicts and financial crises, as their access to emergency services becomes limited by lesser mobility and other age-related factors. Special attention must be had, moreover, to the fact that among the elderly, there are those are in greater need and who can easily fall into the cracks and left further behind.

Mr. Chair,

My Delegation applauds the theme selected for this discussion, “Active Participation of older persons in development.” All too often, we see the elderly excluded from active participation in society and development, when the wisdom of years is truly, as Pope Francis has said, a “reservoir of wisdom for our people.”2 Policies, practices and prejudices can marginalize elderly people who were once at the center of our families and communities. Our efforts this week should address this and ensure that, through better participation of the elderly in development and in the life of our communities, we can overcome what Pope Francis decried as “the shortcomings of a society programmed for efficiency, which consequently ignores its elderly.”3 It is therefore imperative to work for policies and practices that enhance the active political participation of the elderly, their involvement in decision-making, their continued role as economic contributors, their extended participation in the labor market, their ability to enjoy a healthy secure retirement at an appropriate age, as well as access to continued training and lifelong education.

Mr. Chair,

A greater focus on the contribution of older persons to development should be combined with an enhanced attention to their needs. The elderly who live with illness, weakness, disability, isolation, or cognitive impairments may not be any more in a position to contribute to development, yet they are in their greatest moment of needc The weakest of the elderly, Pope Francis fears, are “thrown away” by an attitude that says, “[t]hey aren’t needed, and what isn’t needed gets thrown away. What doesn’t produce is discarded.”4

We observe this in the abandonment and abuse of the elderly, the lack of financial resources allocated for their care, a lack of intergenerational solidarity, and a growing acceptance of euthanasia and other measures that target “consumers of services” but no longer contribute to wealth generation.


1 Pope Francis. General Audience, 4 March 2015.

2 Pope Francis, General Audience, 4 March 2015.

3 Pope Francis, General Audience, 4 March 2015.

4 Pope Francis, Address of Pope Francis to the Sant’Egidio Community, 15 June 2014.


Pope Francis: Food Security Cannot Be Put Off

Pope 0703172017-07-03 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday sent a message to participants in the 40th General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome.

The message was read out by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.

This is the official English translation of the message:

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Participants in the 40th General Conference of FAO

3 July 2017

Mr. President,

I offer my respectful and cordial greetings to you, and to all the Representatives of the Member States of FAO, as you assemble for the Organization’s fortieth Conference.

My greeting also goes to the Director-General and to the leaders of the other International Organizations present at this meeting, which is called to provide appropriate responses to issues involving the agricultural and food production sector, on which the expectations of millions of people depend.

I regret that I cannot be present with you today, as has been an established tradition dating back to the beginning of FAO’s presence in Rome. I have therefore asked Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, to convey to you my message of encouragement and support, as well as my respect and esteem for the demanding task that you must carry out.

The Holy See closely follows the work of the international community and wishes to assist its efforts to promote not mere progress or development goals in theory, but rather the actual elimination of hunger and malnutrition.  All of us realize that the intention to provide everyone with his or her daily bread is not enough.  Rather, there is a need to recognize that all have a right to it and they must therefore benefit from it.  If the goals we continue to propose still remain distant, that is largely dependent on the lack of a culture of solidarity, which fails to make headway amid other international activities, which often remain bound only to the pragmatism of statistics or the desire for efficiency that lacks the idea of sharing.

The commitment of each country to increase its own level of nutrition, to improve agricultural activity and the living conditions of the rural population, is embodied in the encouragement of the agricultural sector, in increased production or in the promotion of an effective distribution of food supplies.  Yet this is not enough.  In effect, what those goals demand is a constant acknowledgment that the right of every person to be free of poverty and hunger depends on the duty of the entire human family to provide practical assistance to those in need.

Hence, when a country is incapable of offering adequate responses because its degree of development, conditions of poverty, climate changes or situations of insecurity do not permit this, FAO and the other intergovernmental institutions need to be able to intervene specifically and undertake an adequate solidary action.  Since the goods that God the Creator has entrusted to us are meant for all, there is an urgent need for solidarity to be the criterion inspiring all forms of cooperation in international relations.

A glance at the current world situation does not offer us a comforting picture. Yet we cannot remain merely preoccupied or, worse, resigned. This moment of evident difficulty must make us even more conscious that hunger and malnutrition are not only natural or structural phenomena in determined geographical areas, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few.  The wars, acts of terrorism and forced displacements that increasingly hinder or at least strongly condition even cooperative efforts are not inevitable, but rather the consequence of concrete decisions.  We are dealing with a complex mechanism that mainly burdens the most vulnerable, who are not only excluded from the processes of production, but frequently obliged to leave their lands in search of refuge and hope.  Likewise, decisions taken in full freedom and conscience determine the data relative to assistance given to poor countries.  This continues to decrease daily, in spite of reiterated appeals in the face of ever more devastating crisis situations emerging in different areas of the planet.

We need to be aware that in these cases the freedom of choice of each must take into account solidarity towards all, in relation to actual needs, and the fulfilment in good faith of commitments undertaken or proclaimed.  In this regard, inspired also by the desire to encourage governments, I would like to make a symbolic contribution to the FAO program that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought.  This gesture is offered in addition to the work that the Church continues to carry out, in accordance with her vocation to stand at the side of the earth’s poor and to accompany the effective commitment of all on their behalf.

This commitment is asked of us today by the 2030 Development Agenda, when it restates the idea that food security is a goal that can no longer be put off.  Yet only an effort inspired by authentic solidarity will be capable of eliminating the great number of persons who are undernourished and deprived of the necessities of life.  This is a very great challenge for FAO and for all the Institutions of the international community.  It is also a challenge that the Church is committed to on the front lines.

It is my hope that the sessions of this Conference can give renewed impulse to the work of the Organization and provide the practical responses needed and desired by millions of our brothers and sisters.  For they see in the activity of FAO not only a technical contribution to increase resources and to distribute the fruits of production, but also a concrete and even unique sign of a fraternity that helps them to look to the future with confidence.

May Almighty God, who is rich in mercy, bless you and your service, and grant you the strength needed to contribute to the authentic progress of our human family.

From the Vatican, 3 July 2017