Padre Pio was a true ‘servant of mercy,’ Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2016 / 04:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis said that St. Padre Pio is a key example of someone who has given their entire life in the service of God’s mercy, but cautioned that there is only one reason he was able to do so: prayer. “We can say that Padre Pio was a servant of mercy. He did so full-time, practicing, at times in exhaustion, the apostolate of listening,” the Pope said Feb. 6. Through his ministry in the confessional, where he would at times spend 10-15 hours a day, the saint was able to become “a caress of the living Father, who heals the wounds of sin and refreshes the heart with peace.” Francis noted that throughout his life Padre Pio never tired of welcoming and listening to the people who came to him, and said the saint spent both his time and strength in spreading “the perfume of the forgiveness of the Lord.” The only reason Padre Pio was able to do this, he said, is because “he was always attached to the source: he was continuously quenched by Jesus Crucified, and so became a channel of mercy.” “In this way his small drop became a great river of mercy, which irrigated many dry hearts and created an oasis of life in many parts of the world.” Pope Francis spoke to members of “Padre Pio prayer groups,” workers at the Home to Relieve Suffering – founded by St. Pio in 1956 – and faithful from the Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo archdiocese who were present in St. Peter’s Square. St. Pio of Pietrelcina, colloquially known as “Padre Pio,” was a priest of the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin, a stigmatist, and a mystic, who lived from 1887-1968. He was beatified in 1999, and canonized in 2002 by St. John Paul II. He was born in Pietrelcina, but ministered in San Giovanni Rotondo from 1916 until his death. The papal audience with the different groups associated with Padre Pio marks just one of several activities being held in honor of the fact that the relics of Padre Pio have made their way to Rome for the first time alongside those of another friar, St. Leopold Mandic, as part of a special tour during the Jubilee of Mercy.  #PadrePio relics arrived to St Peters Basilica yesterday; now @Pontifex is mtg w prayer groups inspired by the saint — Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) February 6, 2016   The bodies of the two saints arrived to Rome Feb. 3, and were taken in a walking procession to St. Peter’s Basilica Feb. 5. They will remain there until the morning Feb. 11 before heading back to their usual places of repose. In his speech, Pope Francis said that prayer groups aren’t just “community centers” where one can be comfortable with friends and get a little bit of consolation, but are rather “hotbeds of divine love.” He said that prayer “is a true and real mission, which brings the fire of love to all humanity,” and pointed to Padre Pio’s frequent affirmation that prayer is the “strength that moves the world.” Prayer, then, isn’t just something we practice in order to get peace or a devout means of getting what we need. If it were like this, then our prayer would be “would be moved by a subtle egoism,” like taking an aspirin for a quick fix to a problem or trying to negotiate with God, he said. Instead, prayer “is a work of spiritual mercy, which desires to bring everything to the heart of God…It’s a gift of faith and of love, an intercession of which there is a need like that of bread,” Pope Francis said. If summed up in one word, prayer means to “to entrust: to entrust the Church, people and situations to the Father, because he takes care of them,” Francis continued, noting how Padre Pio used to say that prayer is “the best weapon we have, a key that opens the heart of God.” He stressed that this prayer is the greatest strength of the Church, “which we should never leave.” If we leave the Church, the Pope said, we risk depending on other things, such as money and power, instead of God. Once this happens, “evangelization vanishes and joy goes out,” the Pope said, adding off-the-cuff that the heart then “becomes boring.” He asked pilgrims whether they wanted a boring or joyful heart. If the answer is the latter, he said, then “pray! This is the recipe.” Francis then thanked the groups for their commitment and encouraged them to always be centers of mercy and joyful apostles of prayer, because “prayer works miracles.” Before closing his speech, the Pope pointed to the hospital founded by Padre Pio 70 years ago, called the “Home for the Relief of the Suffering.” He stressed the importance of not just treating the sick, but of caring for them. He noted that sometimes, while medicating the wounds of the body, wounds of the soul become aggravated. These wounds are “are slower and often difficult to heal. Only closeness and prayer can help to heal them,” Francis said, explaining that this closeness is crucial, because “the sick person is Jesus.” Pope Francis closed his speech by recalling what St. John Paul II said about Padre Pio during the saint’s beatification May 2, 1999, beatification Mass. Namely, that  those who went to St. Pio to attend his Mass or to seek guidance or confession, “saw in him a living image of Christ suffering and risen. “The face of Padre Pio reflected the light of the Resurrection,” Francis said, and led pilgrims in praying an Our Father and a Hail Mary. Read more

A deadly mistake – Disability rights groups oppose Colo. assisted suicide bill

Denver, Colo., Feb 5, 2016 / 03:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Disability advocates and medical professionals came out in opposition to a proposal in the Colorado legislature that would legalize assisted suicide, warning that it would further marginalize the … Read more

‘Justice has been served’ – Bishop Conley on why he invited Bishop Finn to Lincoln

Lincoln, Neb., Feb 5, 2016 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln defended his decision to allow Bishop Robert Finn, former bishop of Kansas City, Mo., to take a position as chaplain of a community of religious sisters in the Di… Read more

Pope Francis announces second soccer ‘Match for Peace’

Vatican City, Feb 5, 2016 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Sitting alongside soccer stars such as Ronaldinho and Bryan Ruiz on Wednesday, Pope Francis announced that a second edition of his 2014 interreligious match for peace will take place in May. “I invite you all to the Match for Peace. It will be here in Rome May 29,” the Pope said Feb. 3 at an event organized by the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes. The soccer match is aimed at demonstrating “that we are capable of making peace with a game, with art,” he said, adding that he’s doing it “as a service.” “One of the definitions of the Pope is to be the servant of the servants of God. That is why I am here, that is why I agreed to come,” Francis said, explaining that the intent of the game isn’t proselytization, but the good of the human person. “I want to be very clear: what matters here is the human person. Man and woman have to be the center,” he declared.The first match for peace took place Sept. 1, 2014, at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, and was organized by retired Catholic soccer star Javier “Pupi” Zanetti, who was captain of the Argentine national team and of Inter Milan in Italy. Zanetti, who had formed a close relationship with the Pope while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, pitched Francis the idea of organizing a sports event that brought together members of different religions. Francis backed the idea, and charged Zanetti with organizing the match alongside the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. Scholas Occurrentes and Italy’s PUPI Foundation were two other key organizers who helped put the match together. Past soccer players who represent different cultures and religions, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Shintoists all participated in the event. In addition to Zanetti, other well-known players who participated in the match were Diego Armando Maradona, Diego Simeone, Gabriel Heinze, Mauro Icardi; Colombian Ivan Cordoba, Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama; Chilean Ivan Zamorano; Alessandro del Piero, Francesco Toldo and Buffon Italian Gianluiggi and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o. Pope Francis made his announcement for the second match at the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV for the World Congress of Scholas Occurrentes. Scholas was founded by Pope Francis while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires as an initiative to encourage social integration and the culture of encounter through technology, arts, and sports. In the course of the meeting, the organization presented three of its current programs: Scholas Arts, Scholas Sports and Social, and Scholas Citizenship, all of which promote the formation of youth. The Pope was flanked by major soccer players such as Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, more commonly known as “Ronaldinho,” José María del Corral, Enrique Palmeyro, the president of the Spanish Soccer League Javier Tebas, and the new president of CONMEBOL. Before heading out, Pope Francis offered brief reflections on the world of education to conclude the event. Read more

‘First in history’ – Pope Francis to meet Russian Patriarch in Cuba

Vatican City, Feb 5, 2016 / 04:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday the Vatican announced that while on his way to Mexico, Pope Francis stop in Cuba to meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in the first meeting between the two leaders since their churches split over 1,000 years ago. “The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12 next,” a joint Feb. 5 press release from the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church read. Kirill, patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’ and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, will arrive to Havana Feb. 11 for an official visit to South America. His Feb. 11-22 visit includes stops in Cuba, Brasil, Chile and Paraguay. Pope Francis himself will arrive to Havana’s José Martí International Airport the next day while on his way to Mexico, where he will be on an official visit until Feb. 17. The Pope will be greeted by both the Patriarch and Cuban president Raul Castro at the airport. From there, they will head to the presidential room of the airport, where Francis and Kirill will have a lengthy private conversation and sign a joint declaration. In the press release, it was noted that the encounter is the fruit of “a long preparation,” and will be “the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches.” No leader from either church has met with the other since their churches broke during the Great Schism of 1054. Both the Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate expressed their hope that the meeting “will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will,” and invited all Christians “to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.” Read more

The astonishing secret history of the Pope who fought Hitler

Washington D.C., Dec 18, 2016 / 02:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Pius XII’s secret support for the attempted overthrow of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is the subject of a recent book that draws on wartime documents and interviews with the American intelligence agent who wrote them. “This book is the truth – as best I could establish it in a number of years of research – about the Pope’s secret operations in World War II,” historian Mark Riebling told CNA earlier this year. “Its main premise is that Pius opted to resist Hitler with covert action instead of overt protest. As a result, he became involved in three separate plots by German dissidents to remove Hitler.”   “I thought this idea – that the Church engaged in secret operations during the bloodiest years in history, in the most controversial part of its recent history – was not just a footnote; it was something worth pursuing,” he said. Riebling tells this story in his book “Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler,” published by Basic Books in September 2015. In the late 1990s, debate over whether Pius XII did enough to counter the Nazis reached a high point with the publication of the deeply controversial book, “Hitler’s Pope,” by British journalist John Cornwell. The book was highly critical of Pius XII, charging that he was culpably silent – if not an accomplice – in the rise of Nazism. “If you read the fiercest critics of the Nazi-era Church, the major ones all concede that Pius XII hated Hitler and worked secretly to overthrow him,” Riebling said. “Yet they say this in their books in just a clause, a sentence, or a paragraph. To me, this episode merited more curiosity.” “If ‘Hitler’s Pope’ wanted to help rid the world of Hitler, what’s the story?” Riebling said there were several sources of inspiration for the book. During his Catholic upbringing, he learned the long history of the Church: in its first centuries, Christianity was an underground organization. In post-Reformation England, the Jesuits were involved in clandestine work. This history prompted him to ask how a historian would document it and find evidence. He also drew inspiration from the story of James Jesus Angleton, a famous U.S. intelligence officer who during World War II ran an operation to penetrate the Vatican for the Office of Strategic Services, the Central Intelligence Agency’s predecessor. During research on his previous book, “Wedge: The Secret War between the FBI and CIA,” Riebling discovered wartime documents from Angleton’s Rome section of the Office of Strategic Services. “There were at least ten documents implicating Pius XII and his closest advisers in not just one, but actually three plots to remove Hitler – stretching from 1939 to 1944. These were typed up by someone using a very distinct nickname.” That nickname, “Rock,” belonged to Ray Rocca. Rocca served as Angleton’s deputy in Rome and for most of his later career. His career included responsibility for the Central Intelligence Agency’s records concerning the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. “So, here’s a guy who had been in the Vatican; who had been charged with penetrating the Vatican; and who knew a thing or two about assassination probes. I thought: here’s an interesting guy to get to know,” Riebling said. Rocca did not violate his oath of secrecy, but his interviews with Riebling are among the book’s sources. According to Riebling, his book does not charge that the Pope “tried to kill Hitler.” Rather, the Pope’s actions were more subtle. “Pius becomes a key cog in conspiracies to remove a ruler who is a kind of Antichrist, because good people ask for his help, and he searches his conscience, and he agrees to become an intermediary for the plotters – their foreign agent, as it were – and thereby he becomes an accessory to their plots.” The historian described these actions as “some of the most astonishing events in the history of the papacy.” Pius XII had connections with three plots against Hitler. The first, from October 1939 to May 1940, involved German military conspirators. From late 1941 to spring of 1943 a series of plots involving the German Jesuits ended when a bomb planted on Hitler’s plane failed to explode. The third plot again involved German Jesuits and also German military colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. Although the colonel successfully planted a bomb near the Nazi dictator, it failed to kill Hitler. The priests had to flee after the failed attempt. Those unable to escape were executed. During his research, Riebling discovered that Pius XII secretly recorded the conversations held in his office. Transcripts of the Pope’s talks with German cardinals in March 1939 show that he was deeply concerned that German Catholics would choose Hitler instead of the Church. “The cardinals asked Pius to appease Hitler, so that German Catholics won’t break away and form a state church, as happened in Tudor England,” Riebling said. “Pius heeded the German episcopate’s advice. Instead of protesting openly, he would resist Hitler behind the scenes.” Pius XII’s agents provided the Allies with useful intelligence about Hitler’s war plans on three occasions, including Hitler’s planned invasion of Russia. In all three cases, the Allies did not act on the information. For their part, the Nazis regarded Pius XII with suspicion since his election in 1939. “He worked hard to allay those suspicions, to minimize persecutions of German Catholics. But the Nazis never dropped their guard,” Riebling said. At one point Hitler planned to invade the Vatican, kidnap the Pope and bring him to Germany. Leading Nazi Heinrich Himmler “wanted to have the Holy Father publicly executed to celebrate the opening of a new soccer stadium,” Riebling said. “Pius became aware of these plans, through his secret papal agents; and, in my view, that influenced the Holy Father’s decision to become involved with the anti-Nazi resistance.” For Riebling, the assassination plots against Hitler were an admission of weakness, “because it’s saying that we can’t solve the problem by some other means.” “Knowing what I do about Pius XII, and having researched him for many years, I believe he wanted to be a saint. He wanted people in Germany to be saints,” he added. “When he heard that a priest was arrested for praying for the Jews and sent off to a concentration camp, he said: ‘I wish everyone would do that.’” “But he didn’t say it publicly,” the writer acknowledged. The Pope’s words were made in secret in a letter to a German bishop. “So I think what really happened here is: Pius XII wanted to lead a Church of saints. But had to settle for a Church of spies.”This article was originally published on CNA Feb. 5, 2016. Read more

Journalist with microcephaly slams abortion push in Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Feb 5, 2016 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of the Zika virus outbreak in the Americas, one woman born with microcephaly – which is suspected to be linked to Zika – has said that what’s needed for those with the condition is assistance, not abortion. Ana Carolina Cáceres, a Brazilian journalist, told the BBC’s Ricardo Senra that microcephaly “is a box of surprises. You may suffer from serious problems or you may not. So I believe that those who have abortions are not giving their children a chance to succeed.” Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, has been linked to recent cases of microcephaly, a disorder characterized by an abnormally small heads, and often delayed brain development. Since October 2015 Brazil has seen more than 3,600 suspected cases, and 404 confirmed cases (compared with 150 cases throughout 2014). While the increase in microcephaly is not certain to be linked to the Zika outbreak, it is “strongly suspected,” according to the World Health Organization. Brazil’s ministry of health has recommended that women in areas in the path of the Zika outbreak delay pregnancy for the time being, prompting several group to renew a push for access to contraception and abortion in Brazil. The nation’ health minister said Brazil would have a “damaged generation” because of microcephaly. Cáceres told the BBC she would respond saying, “What is damaged is your statement, sir.” She called herself “a fulfilled, happy woman” even though doctors told her parents she would never walk or talk and would enter a vegetative state until she died. The 24 year-old decided to tell her story to the BBC to spread awareness that a microcephaly diagnosis should not be a death sentence. “I survived, as do many others with microcephaly. Our mothers did not abort. That is why we exist.” While acknowledging the problems of microcephaly – hospital bills were steep, operations were frequent, and she suffered seizures, which were managed with medication –  Cáceres emphasized that people with the condition can lead full lives. Today she is a college graduate, a journalist, a blogger, and the author of a book about living with microcephaly. She decided to become a writer to “be a spokesperson for microcephaly.” She added, however, that “I certainly know that microcephaly can have more serious consequences than the ones I experienced and I am aware that not everyone with microcephaly will be lucky enough to have a life like mine.” But when she heard that activists pushing to legalize abortion in Brazil because of the Zika virus outbreak, she said she “felt offended and attacked.” “I believe that abortion is a short-sighted attempt to tackle the problem. The most important thing is access to treatment: counselling for parents and older sufferers, and physiotherapy and neurological treatment for those born with microcephaly,” Cáceres said. She recommended that mothers and expectant mothers stay calm, and that they get to know mothers of children with microcephaly. “With the spike of microcephaly cases in Brazil, the need for information is more important than ever. People need to put their prejudices aside and learn about this syndrome,” she said. Read more

EU joins voices labeling ISIS actions a ‘genocide’

Strasbourg, France, Feb 4, 2016 / 07:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The European Parliament on Thursday declared that genocide is taking place in the Middle East against Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities, at the hands of the Islamic State. A resolution adopted by the parliament states that “so-called ‘ISIS/Da’esh’ commits genocide against Christians and Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities.” The vote followed last week’s genocide resolution passed by the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe. That council is a leading human rights body and long-time partner with the European Union on human rights concerns. A genocide declaration is significant because it calls for members of the United Nations Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court, which would officially investigate to see if genocide is taking place. According to the U.N. Genocide Convention of 1948, genocide is defined as actions taken with the intent to “destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Such actions could include murder, deprivation of vital resources like food and water, prevention of births, or “causing serious bodily or mental harm.” This genocide declaration by the European Union also puts pressure on other major world powers like the U.S. to issue a similar resolution. Genocide resolutions have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate but have not yet passed. The U.S. State Department has been expected for months to issue a declaration that the Islamic State – also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Da’esh – is waging genocide, but it has been reported that the declaration would only list Yazidis as genocide victims. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan commission that makes recommendations to the State Department, has called for a designation of “Christian, Yazidi, Shi’a, Turkmen, and Shabak communities of Iraq and Syria as victims of genocide by ISIL.” “USCIRF also urges American and other world leaders to condemn the genocidal actions and crimes against humanity of ISIL that have been directed at these groups and other ethnic and religious groups,” the statement continued. The EU resolution also called for the creation of a “special EU representative for Freedom of Religion in the World.” The move was praised by legal group ADF International as an important step toward promoting international religious liberty. “We applaud the European Parliament for having responded to clear and compelling evidence that Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East are victims of intentional destruction and genocide,” stated Sophia Kuby, director of EU advocacy at ADF International. “It was high time that the EU responded to the undeniable evidence of this genocide which includes assassinations of church leaders, torture, mass murders, kidnapping, sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian and Yazidi girls and women, destruction of churches, monasteries, and cemeteries.”   Read more

Pope Francis surprises jubilee pilgrims in visit to Vatican departments

Vatican City, Feb 4, 2016 / 05:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday the “Pope of Surprises” made an unscheduled stop at the welcoming center for pilgrims in Rome for the Jubilee of Mercy, before heading to three Vatican departments for a lengthy visit after. Francis dropped by the Jubilee Welcoming Center at 9 a.m. Feb. 4, where he surprised the roughly 10 workers and the different groups of pilgrims who were present when he arrived through the back entrance. The center, which provides resources to pilgrims that have come to Rome specifically for the Holy Year as well as registration for tickets to go through the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica, is located right next to the office for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which the Pope also visited. Pope Francis visited three different Vatican departments today as part of his continued tour of various dicasteries in the Roman Curia. Among them were the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which share the same building, and then the Pontifical Congregation for Eastern Churches. Once he left the welcoming center, the Pope continued on to the rest of Curial departments next door. According to sources inside, Francis spent about 60 minutes with the council Cor Unum, speaking to them about their work, expectations and interactions with other offices. Similarly, in his last stop Francis spent nearly an hour with the Congregation for Eastern Churches and talked with department members about the current issues Eastern Churches face. Officials familiar with the visit said the Pope showed that clearly understands and shares the concerns of department members. In a Feb. 4 interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the council for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, said that his department is “deeply grateful” to the Pope for his visit. “The Pope gave us a great lesson on how to carry forward the New Evangelization, above all (on) the theme of pastoral conversion…as well as the theme of catechesis, which is a great challenge that is in our hands but is a great challenge for the Church,” he said. He said that the Pope was also very open in answering questions from different collaborators of the council, and that Francis also brought up the procession that will take place Saturday, bringing the relics of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and Saint Leopold Mandic to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope “made reference to that, recalling his deep devotion to Fr. Leopold in particular,” the archbishop said, noting that Francis wanted draw attention to the “great example” the saints are of confession. The “great value” these saints add both in the life of faith and the individual life of Christians is owed to the Sacrament of Confession, Archbishop Fisichella said, “because it is celebrated with a deep warmth and with a sense of great mercy.”#PopeFrancis visits more #Vatican dicasteries, today stopping by New Evangelization, Cor Unum & Eastern Churches— Elise Harris (@eharris_it) February 4, 2016 Read more

Brazilian bishops reject push to expand abortion to Zika virus cases

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 4, 2016 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In its first statement related to the health crisis sparked by the Zika virus, the Brazilian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that the disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion.” In the statement, released Feb. 4, the Brazilian bishops say that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.” Early this week, a group of feminist organizations asked the Supreme Federal Court in Brazil to legalize abortion in cases of “malformation of the fetus.” Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except in cases of rape, situations deemed to be health emergencies, or if the baby has a fatal abnormality known as anencephaly. Concerns over the Zika outbreak continue to grow as the virus – spread by mosquitos and sexual contact – has reached at least 29 countries. World Health Organization estimates suggest that 3 to 4 million people throughout the Americas will be infected in 2016.  While the symptoms are usually mild to moderate, the virus can have serious consequences for pregnant women. It has been linked to a rise in microcephaly – a condition in which babies are born with small heads and other complications. As a result, some groups have called for an expansion of abortion in Latin America. Regarding the World Health Organization decision to declare a global health emergency because of the Zika virus, which has significantly expanded in Brazil, the bishops said that “we should not give in to panic, nor act as if we were in a situation that, despite its gravity, is not invincible.” Brazil’s ministry of health announced today that its investigation has reported 3,670 cases of microcephaly. So far, 709 have been discarded and 404 confirmed, out of which only 17 are related to the Zika virus.  “The connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly deserves special attention, even though it has not been scientifically proven,” the bishops also say.  They called “all Catholics in Brazil to continue cooperating in the fight against the Aedes Aegypti mosquito” – which transmits the Zika virus as well as the Dengue and Chikungunya viruses – and called politicians to “secure medical assistance to the persons affected by the disease, especially babies with microcephaly and their families.” “Health is a right that must be guaranteed. Without a comprehensive and effective national health policy, all efforts to fight the decease will be compromised.” Finally, the bishops asked lay Catholic leaders across the country to “get organized and help the people to acquire awareness of the dire situation, as well as the best ways to prevent the decease. With the help of each one of us, we will prevail.”   Read more