Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Bishops mourn 50 years of abortion "tragedy"

(Vatican Radio) Bishops in England, Wales and Scotland have lamented the loss of unborn life in a joint statement to mark the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act.

The message describes every abortion as a "tragedy" and calls for “a change of minds and hearts about the good of the child in the womb and the care of mothers who are pregnant.”

More than eight million unborn children have been aborted in England, Wales and Scotland since Royal Assent was given to Lord David Steel’s private member’s bill on October 27th 1967.

Jointly signed by the President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference, the statement asks Catholics to pray and fast for the protection of human life in the womb.

The bishops challenge society’s language of “choice” which they say has come to mean “doing whatever I feel to be right for me - a very subjective view of the good - rather than taking into account a wider set of fundamental values.”

“In the case of abortion," the bishops say, "decisions and choices need to acknowledge the duty to cherish human life and to foster its flourishing beyond the circumstances of any one person, however challenging these may be.”

The 2,000 word document acknowledges the complex set of conditions that a woman considering an abortion finds herself in, factors which can “limit the exercise of freedom and diminish moral culpability." Quoting Pope John Paul II, the bishops encourage those who have been involved in abortion to seek the forgiveness of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The bishops express their concern about  the lack of protection for unborn children with disabilities, as well as the erosion of respect for healthcare professionals who have a conscientious objection to abortion.

There is an urgent need, the bishops say, for parents and educators to teach about the inviolability of human life, from conception to its natural end.

“We thank those generous young people who strive to promote pro-life values,” the statement adds. “They are a real encouragement and inspiration, in the Church and in society.”

(Richard Paul Marsden)

JRS looks at the problem of ME refugees

(Vatican Radio) Fr. Cedric Prakash who is currently based in Beirut and working as Regional Advocacy and Communications Officer, is a human rights activist and a Jesuit priest of the Gujrat province in India. He was the director of ‘Prashant’, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, which he founded in 2001.  He has been at the forefront on issues related to human ‎rights, justice, peace and other advocacy matters for which he has been honoured both in India and ‎abroad. 

He was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, one of the highest French civilian awards, acknowledging his commitment to the defence and the promotion of Human Rights in India.  Other than this, Fr. Cedric Prakash has also been awarded numerous other awards - the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award presented for Humanitarian Work by the Indian Muslim Council, USA in 2003, the Kabir Puraskar conferred on him by the President of India for his work in the promotion of Communal Harmony and Peace in 1995, and the Minorities Rights Award by the National Commission for Minorities of the Government of India in 2006.  He was one of the recipients of Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice in 2013.

On his visit to Rome this week for a  JRS Meet he spoke to Vatican Radio about the plight of the refugees today and how we can help them to live a life of greater stability and security.  

Listen Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ

Catholics and Methodists celebrate 50 years of progress

(Vatican Radio) Catholic and Methodist theologians wind up a meeting at the weekend that has been marking the 50th anniversary of their first ecumenical dialogue group, established in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The first session of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission was held in the hill town of Ariccia in October 1967.

Pope Francis met with members of the current Commission on Thursday, saying that half a century of dialogue has freed us “from estrangement and mutual suspicion”, helping us to recognize each other “as brothers and sisters in Christ”.

To find out more about the achievements of the past half century, Philippa Hitchen spoke to Bishop John Sherrington, Catholic co-chair of the dialogue commission, and to his Methodist counterpart, Rev Dr. David Chapman..

Listen: 

Dr. Chapman says that among the key achievements are a convergence in understanding of the faith of the apostles, the sacraments, and “the way in which the Spirit has guided the Church authoritatively throughout the centuries”. While there are outstanding differences, he says, our understanding “of teaching authority, the nature of revelation and faith are all solid achievements”.

Bishop Sherrington says a major cause for celebration is the “way in which we’re no longer strangers, but pilgrims travelling  together, members of God’s household”, learning to overcome differences and sharing great unity in much  of our mission as followers of Christ.

Gifts of Methodism to wider Church

Rev Chapman says a major achievement of the Methodism movement in 18th century was “to encourage a serious attention to the claims of Christian discipleship in holy living” building on the support of small groups. This has been one of the gifts of Methodism to the wider church, he says and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council showed “a great convergence in Christian life as understood as growth in grace and holiness”.

Scripture, fellowship, social justice

Bishop Sherrington notes the renewal in the Catholic Church’s on the role of scripture echoes John Wesley’s focus, learning to explore and study in small groups.  Also, he says, the way some new movements live their fellowship is an insight from John and Charles Wesley. And most importantly, he adds, the focus on social holiness, working for justice with the poor and marginalized has helped revitalise the Catholic Church’s social teaching.

While both men point to the challenges of order and ministry, including the ordination of women, they believe there is “a lot we can do together” in mission and  daily living.

Please find below a concluding statement from the Methodist Roman Catholic International Commission meeting: 

The Methodist Roman Catholic International Commission commenced its 11th session of dialogue at Villa Palazzola, Rome on Sunday 15th October 2017 and met for one week. The highlight of the week was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the work of the Commission on Thursday 19th. After Mass at the altar of the tomb of St. Peter and a visit to his tomb in the scavi, members of the Commission were received by Pope Francis, along with the Steering Committee of the World Methodist Council, in audience in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

Bishop Sherrington, Catholic Co-Chair said, “At the tomb of St. Peter, it was deeply moving to pray together as Methodists and Catholics the ‘Our Father’ and recognise our common roots. The audience with the Holy Father was a wonderful meeting during which Pope Francis affirmed the work of the dialogue, appreciated the fruits it has produced and encouraged our work for the future to continue to grow in holiness and unity. We presented him with a Spanish translation of our last document ‘The Call to Holiness” with which he was delighted. Many members spoke later of the Holy Father’s profound humility and the respect with which he greeted them.”

The day of celebration continued with a seminar at the Centro pro Unione at which Mrs. Gillian Kingston and Dr. Clare Watkins presented stimulating papers on the fruits of the joint work and challenges for the future. A reflective  discussion followed with responses from Dr. David Chapman and Bishop John Sherrington. The day ended with Vespers at Caravita and a reception hosted by the British Ambassador to the Holy See, HE Sally Axworthy, MBE.

During the week the Commission discussed papers on the theme of ‘God in Christ Reconciling’ including focus on the scriptures and reconciliation, Church experiences of reconciliation, the healing of memories and the mission to be ambassadors of reconciliation working for justice, peace and integrity with creation. Bishop Sherrington commented, “The international experience of the Commission members has been enriched by new members from Africa and India  as well as Canada and Australia. This enables the Commission to be more aware of the ways in which culture impacts on the Christian life in diverse situations.I wish to express my gratitude to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Methodist Council for their sponsorship of our work of dialogue.”

Next year the Commission continues its discussions in Hong Kong to which we all look forward.

Pope meets Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, calling for an end to violence and discrimination against people of different faiths in the Holy Land. The Orthodox leader is visiting Rome from October 22nd to 25th, meeting with top Vatican officials.

Listen to our report: 

During the audience, Pope Francis recalled his own journey to Jerusalem in 2014 and expressed his pleasure at the recent restoration of Jesus’ tomb in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, a project that saw close cooperation between the Orthodox, the Armenians and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

Appeal for justice and peace

The pope conveyed his closeness to all those suffering from the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, noting that the lack of understanding continues “to create insecurity, the restriction of fundamental rights and the flight of many people from their land”. He called for increased efforts to achieve peace based on justice and recognition of the rights of all people.

The Status Quo of Jerusalem must be defended and preserved, the pope insisted, while violence, discrimination and intolerance against Jewish, Christian or Muslim places of worship must be firmly rejected.

Call for harmony between Christians

Pope Francis also sent greetings to members of the different Christian communities in the region, saying he hoped they may continue to be recognized as citizens and believers who contribute to the common good. This contribution will be all the more effective, he stressed, to the extent that there is harmony between the different Churches.

Support young people

In particular the pope called for increased cooperation in supporting Christian families and young people, so that they are not forced to leave the country. While we cannot change the past or overlook the grave failures of charity over the centuries, he said, Christians must look to a future of reconciliation and communion, in order to fulfill the Lord’s prayer “that they may all be one”.

Please find below Pope Francis’ full address to His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

Your Beatitude, Dear Brothers,

         With great joy I welcome all of you to Rome.  I reciprocate with gratitude and fraternal affection the warm welcome Your Beatitude offered me during my visit to Jerusalem.  Still fresh in my mind is the attentiveness with which you accompanied Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and myself in the Basilica that preserves the places of the Lord’s crucifixion, burial and Resurrection.  I am still moved when I think of our moment of prayer in the aedicule of the empty Tomb, and I again express my pleasure at the restoration of that most holy place.  It has not simply secured the integrity of a historical monument, but also enabled the empty tomb to continue to testify that: “He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him” (Mk 16:6).  I rejoice that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land have worked together in such harmony on this project, as they also did for the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  I thank Your Beatitude very much for your own efforts in this regard.

         Our meeting allows me to renew my closeness to all those suffering from the conflicts that for decades have beset the Holy Land.  The uncertainty of the situation and the lack of understanding between the parties continue to create insecurity, the restriction of fundamental rights, and the flight of many people from their land.  I invoke God’s help in this, and I ask all those involved to intensify their efforts to achieve a stable peace based on justice and recognition of the rights of all.  To this end, any kind of violence, discrimination or displays of intolerance against Jewish, Christian and Muslim worshipers, or places of worship, must be firmly rejected.  The Holy City, whose Status Quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all.

         I would offer a particular greeting to the members of the various Christian communities in the Holy Land.  It is my hope that they will continue to be recognized as an integral part of society and that, as citizens and believers in their own right, they can continue tirelessly to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace, striving to further reconciliation and concord.  This contribution will be the more effective to the extent that there is harmony between the region’s different Churches.  Particularly important in this regard would be increased cooperation in supporting Christian families and young people, so that they will not be forced to leave their land.  By working together in this delicate area, the faithful of different confessions will also be able to grow in mutual knowledge and fraternal relations.

         Here I would reaffirm my heartfelt desire and commitment to progress on our way to full unity, in obedience to Jesus’ fervent prayer in the Cenacle “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).  I know that past wounds continue to affect the memory of many people.  It is not possible to change the past, but, without forgetting grave failures of charity over the centuries, let us look to a future of full reconciliation and fraternal communion, and take up the work before us, as the Lord desires.  Not to do so today would be an even graver fault; it would be to disregard both the urgent call of Christ and the signs of the times sown by the Spirit along the Church’s path.  Inspired by the same Spirit, may we not let the memory of times marked by lack of communication or mutual accusations, or present difficulties and uncertainty about the future, prevent us from walking together towards visible unity, nor hinder us from praying and working together to proclaim the Gospel and to serve those in need.  In this regard, the ongoing theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, in which the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem participates actively and constructively, is a comforting sign of hope on our journey.  How good it would be to say of Catholics and Orthodox living in Jerusalem what the Evangelist Luke said of the first Christian community: “All who believed were together... one heart and soul” (Acts 2:44; 4:32).

         Your Beatitude, I thank you and the distinguished members of your entourage most cordially for your visit.  I reaffirm my closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, and my affection for our friends of the other great religions who live there.  I hope and pray that the day of a stable and lasting peace for all will soon come.  “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!  May they prosper who love you! [...]  For my brethren and companions’ sake I will say, ‘peace be within you!’” (Ps 122: 6-8).

         [I would like us now to pray together for this, in the words of the “Our Father”]

Pope Francis meets group from Tel Aviv University

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday with a delegation from Tel Aviv University, stressing the need to develop a culture of wisdom that can form future leaders who are sensitive to the profound ethical issues facing our societies.

Please find below the full text of the Pope’s greeting to the delegation from Tel Aviv University

Dear Friends,

I offer you a warm welcome, and I thank Professor Joseph Klafter, Rector of Tel Aviv University, for his kind words.

To all of you I express my appreciation for your commitment to the education of the young, who represent the present and the future of society.  The work of education, demanding yet essential, calls for great insight and tact, for it seeks to form the whole person.  Carrying out this vital service certainly requires professional and technical knowledge and expertise, but also empathy and sensitivity, in order to foster dialogue with students and to promote their formation both as individuals and as future professionals in their areas of study.

In a word, knowledge and wisdom must advance together.  Wisdom, in its biblical sense, urges us to go beyond empirical realities in order to discover their ultimate meaning.  Universities are challenged to foster a culture of wisdom, one capable of harmonizing technical and scientific research with a humanistic approach, in the conviction that the pursuit of the true and the good is ultimately one.  So Solomon, son of David, upon ascending the throne, withdrew in prayer to the temple of Gibeon, and begged the Lord for wisdom in these words: “Give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (1 Kg 3:9).

Our world urgently needs to develop a culture of wisdom.  We need to find ways of forming leaders capable of striking out on new paths in the effort to meet today’s needs without prejudice to future generations (cf. Laudato Si’, 53).  Meeting this challenge in an effective way is all the more important in the light of our rapidly evolving global society, marked by social and economic crises and intergenerational conflicts.  I am confident that your University will strive to produce future leaders sensitive to the profound ethical issues facing our societies and the need to protect and care for the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  For only by serving an integral human development can science and the arts display their full dignity.

I thank you for your visit, and I pray that you will always thirst for that wisdom which is a divine gift enabling us to lead good and productive lives.  May the Lord bless you, your families and your important work.

Pope highlights climate change impact on rivers

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his concern about the effect of climate change on the most important water basins in the world in a message to a major international summit.

The Pope encouraged all those working to preserve the “precious gift” of water for the “future of humanity” in his greetings to participants of a conference organised by the International Network of Basin Organisations taking place at the Capitoline in Rome.

In the message to the “Water and Climate: Meeting the Great Rivers of the World” event, Pope Francis hoped that the joint efforts of participants would lead to practical solutions, and also “highlight the need for an more integrated approach with a view to promoting development and a spread of the culture of care.”

Reading out the communiqué to delegates, Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said: “In particular, Pope Francis trusts that the threat posed by climate change to our brothers and sisters in the most vulnerable countries can find timely and effective responses.

“Entrusting the deliberations of the summit to the guidance of the Almighty, His Holiness invokes the blessings of wisdom and perseverence to the participants and to all who are engaged in advancing a greater attention to our common home.”

The three-day conference is being hosted by the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea, in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). It aims to build support for financing projects to address the impact of floods and droughts on water resources across the world.

(Richard Paul Marsden)

Idolatry of money starves children to death - Pope

(Vatican Radio)  In these times, with much calamities and injustice on the media, especially regarding children, let us raise an earnest prayer that God convert the hearts of men to be able to know the Lord and not worship money as God.   This was the exhortation of the Pope Francis in his homily at Mass, Monday morning, in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. 

Idolatry of money

Taking his cue from the parable in Luke’s Gospel, where the rich fool worshipped money as God, the Pope reflected on the vanity of putting trust in earthly goods rather than in the true treasure of relationship with the Lord.  Despite an abundant harvest, the greedy man thinks of expanding his storehouses.  “Dreaming of a long life”, the Pope said, “he thinks of having more goods to the point of nausea, and not being satisfied, he enters into a spiral of "exasperated consumerism.” 

The Pope said, “it is God who puts a limit to this attachment to money.”  A man enslaved by money is not a tale invented by Jesus, the Pope explained, adding it is true even today, where many live adoring money. The life of those who accumulate riches for themselves, has no meaning, he said.  They don’t know what it means to be rich in God.   In this regard, he recalled an episode of a wealthy businessman in Argentina who despite being seriously ill, stubbornly went on to buy a villa without thinking instead that he would have to present himself before God shortly.  

Idolatry starves the poor

Even today, there are these people hungering for money and earthly possessions, the Pope lamented,  people who have "a lot" compared to "the hungry children who lack medicines and education and who are abandoned".  This, the Pope pointed out, is an "an idolatry that kills", that “sacrifices human beings”.  "This idolatry starves many people to death,” Pope Francis stressed, citing the case of 200,000 Rohingya children out of 800,000 people in refugee camps, who hardly eat and are malnourished, without medicines.  This is happening today, the Pope said, and not something of Jesus’ time. In the face of this, the Pope urged for an earnest prayer: “Lord,  please touch the hearts of these people who worship God, the God of money. Touch also my heart so that I don’t fall into that and know how to see.” 

Greed breeds war

Another consequence of this greed, the Pope pointed out, is war, including also in the family.  He spoke about what happens in a family when it is the question of inheritance.  Families are divided and end up in hatred, one against the other.  The Pope said that at the end of it all, the Lord gently reminds us that the only road to enriching oneself is in the Lord.  “Wealth is only in God,” the Pope said, adding, this does not mean scorning money. “No,” he said, “it is greed, as the Lord says. Living attached to the God of money.”  This is why, the Pope said, our prayer must be strong, seeking in God the solid foundation of our existence.  

Pope Francis: video message to Salt and Light youth forum

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to participants in a Canadian youth forum on the theme of Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment, which aired on Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Television Network Sunday evening.

In the video message, Pope Francis encourages young people to let Christ reach them, so that they can bring Him to their peers and into the whole world, harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of youth and directing it to the service of the Gospel.

“Dear young people of Canada,” says Pope Francis, “my hope for you is that your meeting should be like that of the first disciples, that the beauty of a life realized in following the Lord might open wide before you.”

Taped in the “Fr. Michael McGivney Studios” of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Broadcast Centre in Toronto on October 10, the 90-minute program was hosted by the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, and  and Salt and Light founding CEO, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB.

Pope Francis at Angelus: on being Christian in the world

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.

Addressing them ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis shared a reflection on the Reading from the Sunday Gospel, which this week came from St. Matthew and contains the maxim, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.”

Pope Francis explained that the episode teaches us both the legitimacy of earthly authority and the primacy of God in human affairs and over all the universe.

“The Christian is called to be concretely committed in human and social realities,” said Pope Francis, “without putting God and ‘Caesar’ in contraposition.” He said that counterposing God and Caesar would be, “a fundamentalist attitude.”

“The Christian,” Pope Francis continued, “is called upon to engage concretely in earthly realities, but enlightening them with the light that comes from God. Entrusting oneself to God in the first, and placing one’s hope in Him, do not require us to escape from reality, but rather to work diligently to render unto Him, all that it His. That is why the believer looks to future reality, to that of God: that he might live his earthly life in fullness, and respond with courage to its challenges.”

Pope Francis at Angelus: Church's mission entrusted to Pope St. John Paul II

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has proclaimed October, 2019 an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” to be marked and celebrated in the whole Church throughout the world, and entrusted the mission of the Church in the world especially to Pope St. John Paul II.

The Holy Father recalled his intention to celebrate the Extraordinary Missionary Month on Sunday – World Mission Sunday – during the course of remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, to pray the traditional Angelus with him at noon.

“Today,” said Pope Francis, “World Mission Day is celebrated, on the theme: Mission at the heart of the Christian faith. I urge everyone to live the joy of mission by witnessing the Gospel in the environs where each one lives and works.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “At the same time, we are called upon to support with affection, concrete help, and prayer, the missionaries who have gone out to proclaim Christ to those who still do not know Him.”

“I also recall,” he continued, “that I intend to promote an Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019, in order to nourish the ardor of the evangelizing activity of the Church ad gentes. On the day of the liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II, missionary Pope, we entrust to his intercession the mission of the Church in the world.”