Charlotte, N.C., Nov 28, 2015 / 06:13 am (CNA).- The highest U.S. military court will hear the case of a Marine who says her religious freedom was compromised when she was ordered to remove a Bible verse from her work station.   In May 2013, L… Read more

Kampala, Uganda, Nov 28, 2015 / 12:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Marking his first full day in Uganda with Mass to celebrate the nation’s martyrs, Pope Francis said the call to be missionary disciples falls on all of us, whether at home or abroad, with our families or among our enemies. “Like the Apostles and the Uganda martyrs before us, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to become missionary disciples called to go forth and bring the Gospel to all,” the Pope said Nov. 28, presiding over Mass at the Catholic Shrine of the Martyrs of Namugongo. “If, like the martyrs, we daily fan into flame the gift of the Spirit who dwells in our hearts, then we will surely become the missionary disciples which Christ calls us to be.” Throughout his homily, the Pope reflected on how those who nurture the Holy Spirit in their lives desire to share what they have received with others. “This openness to others begins first in the family, in our homes where charity and forgiveness are learned, and the mercy and love of God made known in our parents’ love. It finds expression too in our care for the elderly and the poor, the widowed and the orphaned.” The Pope added that this openness extends not only to our loved ones, but to our enemies as well.   “To our families and friends certainly, but also to those whom we do not know, especially those who might be unfriendly, even hostile, to us.” Uganda is the second country in Pope Francis’ tri-nation African tour from Nov. 25-30. The Pope began his trip with a stop in Kenya, and will conclude the journey with a visit  to the Central African Republic. Pope Francis’ Nov. 27-28 trip to Uganda comes one year on from the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs. Saint Charles Lwanga and his 21 companions were killed by the king in the 1880s, alongside 23 Anglican converts to Christianity for refusing to recant their faith. They were canonized Oct. 18, 1964, by Bl. Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis praised the martyrs’ witness of love for Christ and the Church as having gone “to the end of the earth,” as well as the sacrifice of the Anglican martyrs, which he said testified to Christ through the “ecumenism of blood.” “All these witnesses nurtured the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives and freely gave testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ, even at the cost of their lives, many at such a young age.” This “gift of the Spirit” which we also received in Baptism to make us God’s children brings with it the call to be witnesses of Jesus “and make him everywhere known and loved,” the Pope said. “Every day we are called to deepen the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life, to ‘fan into flame’ the gift of his divine love so that we may be a source of wisdom and strength to others.” Pope Francis stressed that the gift of the Holy Spirit is not for ourselves alone, but is meant to be shared. “We do not receive the gift of the Spirit for ourselves alone, but to build up one another in faith, hope and love.” The Pope considered the example of Saints Joseph Mkasa and Charles Lwanga who, having been catechized by others, wanted to share what they received. In doing this, they risked their lives, and the lives of the young boys under their care. “Because they had tended to their faith and deepened their love of God, they were fearless in bringing Christ to others, even at the cost of their lives.” “Their faith became witness; today, venerated as martyrs, their example continues to inspire people throughout the world. They continue to proclaim Jesus Christ and the power of his Cross.” Pope Francis challenged us to be witnesses to Christ to everyone: our families, strangers, and even those who are “hostile to us.” The martyrs’ witness shows that worldly pleasure and power “do not bring lasting joy,” the Pope said. “Rather, fidelity to God, honesty and integrity of life, and genuine concern for the good of others bring us that peace which the world cannot give,” he said. “This does not diminish our concern for this world, as if we only look to the life to come,” he added. “Instead, it gives purpose to our lives in this world, and helps us to reach out to those in need, to cooperate with others for the common good, and to build a more just society which promotes human dignity, defends God’s gift of life and protects the wonders of nature, his creation and our common home.” Pope Francis concluded by calling for the intercession of the martyrs and Mary, to enkindle the Holy Spirit within us. “This legacy is not served by an occasional remembrance, or by being enshrined in a museum as a precious jewel,” he said. “Rather, we honour them, and all the saints, when we carry on their witness to Christ, in our homes and neighbourhoods, in our workplaces and civil society, whether we never leave our homes or we go to the farthest corner of the world.” Read more

Munyonyo, Uganda, Nov 27, 2015 / 10:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking with catechists and teachers in Uganda, Pope Francis on Friday offered encouragement and stressed that witnessing the faith is critical for the growth of the Church.   “Even when the task seems too much, the resources too few, the obstacles too great, it should never be forgotten that yours is a holy work,” he said.   “The Holy Spirit is present wherever the name of Christ is proclaimed. He is in our midst whenever we lift up our hearts and minds to God in prayer. He will give you the light and strength you need!”    Pope Francis arrived in Uganda Nov. 27 as part of a larger African tour. He had previously been visiting Kenya and will next go to the Central African Republic.    His visit to Uganda comes just after the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs.   Saint Charles Lwanga and his 21 companions were killed by the king in the 1880s alongside 23 Anglican converts to Christianity for refusing to recant their faith, and were canonized Oct. 18, 1964, by Bl. Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s Basilica.   Speaking to the catechists gathered before him, Pope Francis commented on what it means to be a teacher of the Christian faith.   “’Teacher!’ What a beautiful name this is! Jesus is our first and greatest teacher,” the Pope reflected. “Saint Paul tells us that Jesus gave his Church not only apostles and pastors, but also teachers, to build up the whole body in faith and love.”   “Together with the bishops, priests and deacons who are ordained to preach the Gospel and care for the Lord’s flock, you, as catechists, play an outstanding part in bringing the Good News to every village and homestead in your country,” he said.   Pope Francis thanked the teachers and catechists for their sacrifices, zeal and devotion.   “Thank you for your dedication, your example, your closeness to God’s people in their daily lives, and all the many ways you plant and nurture the seeds of faith throughout this vast land,” he continued. “Thank you especially for teaching our children and young people how to pray. I know that your work, although rewarding, is not easy.”   The Pope called for bishops and priests to support their local catechists with doctrinal, spiritual and pastoral formation, helping them to persevere and be more effective in their witness.    He stressed the importance of the job of catechesis, saying, “You teach what Jesus taught, you instruct adults and help parents to raise their children in the faith, and you bring the joy and hope of eternal life to all.”    In addition, he called on the teachers to offer an example of prayer, forgiveness and Eucharist.   “The message you bring will take root all the more firmly in people’s hearts if you are not only a teacher but also a witness,” he said.   It was the faithful witness of the Ugandan martyrs that helped the Christian community in the nation to flourish, the Pope observed.    “They testified to the truth which sets men free; they were willing to shed their blood to be faithful to what they knew was good and beautiful and true.”    While the king was determined to wipe out the Christians, he failed and “(a)fter seeing the fearless testimony of Saint Andrew Kaggwa and his companions, Christians in Uganda became even more convinced of Christ’s promises.”    Pope Francis concluded his remarks by asking for the intercession of the Ugandan martyrs and encouraging the catechists to offer a grace-filled witness of God’s truth and joy.    “Go forth without fear to every town and village in this country, to spread the good seed of God’s word, and trust in his promise that you will come back rejoicing, with sheaves full from the harvest,” he said.    Read more

Entebbe, Uganda, Nov 27, 2015 / 09:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis praised the Ugandan people for showing “outstanding concern” for refugees in a time when our world is witnessing an unprecedented movement of people fleeing violence and injustice.   “Here in East Africa, Uganda has shown outstanding concern for welcoming refugees, enabling them to rebuild their lives in security and to sense the dignity which comes from earning one’s livelihood through honest labor,” he told members of Uganda’s diplomatic corps at the State House in Entebbe Nov. 27.    In recent years, Uganda has welcomed more than 150,000 Sudanese refugees fleeing violence that followed the declaration of their independence in 2011.    “How we deal with them is a test of our humanity, our respect for human dignity, and above all our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need,” the Holy Father said.   Pope Francis said his primary reason for visiting their country is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Ugandan martyrs’ canonization by Pope Paul VI, but also as a sign of “friendship, esteem and encouragement for all the people of this great nation.”   Saint Charles Lwanga and his 21 companions were killed by the king in the 1880s alongside 23 Anglican converts to Christianity for refusing to recant their faith, and were canonized Oct. 18, 1964, by Bl. Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s Basilica.   Their sacrifice is a witness to Uganda’s motto: “For God and My Country” and marks them as “true national heroes,” the Pope remarked.   “They remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, and continue to play, in the cultural, economic and political life of this country,” he said.    These values are especially relevant to the diplomatic corps and public officials “who are charged with ensuring good and transparent governance, integral human development, a broad participation in national life, as well as a wise and just description of the goods which the Creator has so richly bestowed upon these lands.”   The most abundant blessing that Uganda has is in its people, Pope Francis said, particularly the youth who need to have “opportunities for education and gainful employment” and elderly, who “are the living memory of every people.”   “Their wisdom and experience should always be valued as a compass which can enable society to find the right direction in confronting the challenges of the present with integrity, wisdom and vision,” he said of the elderly.   The pontiff added that although his trip is short, he also wants to use it as an encouragement to “the many quiet efforts being made to care for the poor, the sick and those in trouble of any kind.”   “In so many ways,” he said, “our world is growing closer, yet at the same time we see with concern the globalization of a ‘throwaway culture’ which blinds us to spiritual values, hardens our hearts before the needs of the poor, and robs our young of hope.”   He closed by saying by imparting a simple blessing in Swahili – “Mungu awabariki!” which means simply, “God bless you!”   Uganda is the second leg of the Holy Father’s three country tour of Africa from Nov. 25-30. His trip began with a stop in Kenya and will end with a visit to Central African Republic.     Read more

Paris, France, Nov 27, 2015 / 07:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- France’s leading Muslim organization has called on Muslims to counter radical forms of Islam, especially in the wake of the Islamic State group’s attacks on Paris.   The French Council for the Muslim Faith encouraged education of young people to “combat the ideas of hatred within our religion” so they don’t turn into “terrorist bombs that want to destroy the values of the Western countries but in reality are destroying Islam’s image and the future of Islam in France and Europe.”   The Muslim council emphasized that “the future of our religion is in play and the fate of your children and it’s up to us Muslims to decide to act or not.”   It said the text would be broadcast for Nov. 20 Friday prayers in the 2,500 mosques of France. The effort follows the deadly Islamic State attacks on Paris Nov. 13 which left more than 120 dead and hundreds wounded.   Criticizing extremists, the declaration said that “according to the ideology of these ignorant Islamists, the Islam of tolerance and humanism, and openness to inter-religious dialogue has become an act of treason and collaboration with the West.”    The council warned that this situation has made it so that “tolerant imams have been threatened inside their own mosques by these extremists (who) have chosen harshness and hatred against anyone that might be different even if they are Muslims.”    “The leaders of Islam in France don’t measure up to the standards of the true values of Islam nor the true values of the Republic. They’ve made our universal Islam into a sectarian religion that does not accept openness or adaptation to European values,” the council said, according to the text published by the Italian newspaper Avvenire.   In addition, the Muslim council rejected “incompetent” imams as “failed leaders” who “should leave their positions to others who would be more competent and more open because they have not been able to reassure Muslims or the French.”   The council questioned why terrorists’ parents and families had not countered extremism.   “What kind of things have they taught them? Have they been supplanted by the Internet and social media?”   The council said condemnation of the attacks has not been enough and warned Muslims against behaving like ostriches.   “We can’t hide our heads under the sand repeating that malevolent phrase, ‘it’s not us, it’s them!’”   “Every imam, every religious leader, and every Muslim has to take their part in responsibility because these criminal attacks have been committed in the name of our religion,” the council continued.   The council also said that Christians, Jews and atheists have “a hard time living in the Muslim world.”   “Building a church or synagogue is an impossible dream to realize in those countries that even needs the intervention of the president of the republic!”   Unlike Christians and Jews in some Muslim lands, they continued, “Muslims in France and Europe live in complete freedom and dignity.”    “They build mosques, Islamic centers, and religious schools without any sabotage or exclusion.”   The text noted that European countries “even offer us benefits and advantages we don’t find in our countries of origin in spite of all the hardships that certainly exist in the neighborhoods and outlying areas.”   Read more

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 27, 2015 / 12:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An impassioned Pope Francis went off-the-cuff in a vast, widespread speech to Kenyan youth, touching on challenging topics such as how to stop youth from being recruited to terrorist activities. The encounter fell on the Pope’s last day in Kenya. His Nov. 25-27 visit to the country was part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic later this week. Before meeting the youth, Francis traveled to Nairobi’s slum-neighborhood of Kangemi, where he praised those he met for their strong emphasis on community and relationships and condemned what he called a vacuous, “unbridled consumption” that often plagues the West. In his speech to youth, the Pope responded in Spanish to questions posed by youths Lineth and Manuel, who gave their testimonies on current challenges they face, including issues stemming from corruption, tribalism, and the radicalization of youth who are recruited into terrorist activities. Francis in response delivered lengthy, powerful answers with his own anecdotes, revealing that he carries a rosary and a pocket-sized Stations of the Cross with him every day, which he said keep him from losing hope.Below please find CNA’s full transcript of the Pope’s speech in Spanish, assisted by the simultaneous translation of Pope Francis’ official translator, Msgr. Mark Miles: Thank you very much for the rosary you prayed for me. Thank you for your enthusiastic presence here. I have something to say on the basis of all the questions asked by Lineth and Manuel. (In response to Lineth’s questions): Why do divisions, wars and death occur? Fanaticism and divisions among young people? Why is there that desire to destroy? In the first page of the Bible, after all those wonderful things that the Lord had done, a brother kills another brother. The spirit of evil takes us to destruction. And the spirit takes us to a lack of unity. It takes us to tribalism corruption and drugs. It takes us to destruction out of fanaticism. How do we make it such that fanatical idealism doesn’t rob us of a brother or sister. There is a word that might seem uncomfortable to the ear but i don’t want to avoid it. A man or a woman loses their humanity when they forget how to pray. Because they feel powerful. Because they don’t feel the need to ask the Lord for help, in the face of so many tragedies. Life is full of difficulties. Are there different ways of looking at difficulties? Does it stop you, or do you regard them as as real opportunity? To all of you is open the choice. For me, is this a path of destruction or an opportunity to overcome this difficulty for me, my family, this country? Young people: we don’t live in heaven, we live on earth. And earth is full of difficulties and invitations that will lead you astray to evil. But there is something all of you have. The capacity to choose. Which path do you want to choose? Which of these two do I want? There are some other difficulties you mention. And before that a question. Do you want to overcome challenges or be overcome by them? Are you like the sportsman who come here (to the stadium). Or those who sold the tickets to others and put the money in their pockets. You have to choose. Tribalism. It can destroy. It can mean having your hands hidden behind your backs. And have a stone in each hand to throw to others. Tribalism can only be overcome with your ear, your heart, and your hand. (Ask yourselves): What is your culture? Why are you like this? Why do your cousins have these customs? Do they feel inferior or superior? Once we’ve heard the response in our ears than it passes to our hearts and then I extend my hand. If you don’t dialogue with each other then you’re going to have division like a worm that grows in society Yesterday was pronounced as a day of prayer and reconciliation. I want to invite you all today, to the young, to invite Lineth and Manuel to come up now, and that we hold each other’s hands, let’s hold hands together. Let’s stand up as a sign against tribalism. We are all a nation, that’s how our hearts must be. Tribalism isn’t just raising our hands today, it’s an expression of our desire, our hearts, and this tribalism is a work we must carry out every day against this tendency. You have to listen to others, it’s a work of opening your heart. (On the question of corruption): I ask myself, can we justify corruption? Just for the mere fact that everyone is corrupt? How can we be christians and overcome this evil of corruption? In my country a young 20 year old dedicated himself to politics. He studied with great vigor he went here and there and he obtained a job. And one day he had to decide: about which things he had to buy. And he asked for three quotes. He studied these three quotes and chose the cheapest, the easiest, and he took it to his boss so his boss could sign off on it and he said why do you choose this one? (He replied) because you have to choose what is easiest for the finances of a country. No (his boss replied) you have to choose that which gives more money in your pocket. But I came to carry out politics for the good of the nation (the young man said), and the boss replied: I do politics to rob, to steal. One example and it’s not just in politics, in all areas of life, also in the Vatican. These are cases of corruption. Corruption is something that eats inside, like sugar. Sweet, we like it, it’s easy. And then we end up in a bad way. So much sugar that we end up being diabetic or our country ends up being diabetic. Each time when we accept a bribe and we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts. we destroy our personalities, and we destroy our country. Please, don’t develop that taste for that sugar which is called corruption. You might say ‘but Holy Father, I see many who are corrupt. I see so many people who are sold. Just for a little bit of money. Without worrying about the livelihood of others.’ As in everything you have to make a start. If you don’t want corruption in lives, hearts and country, start now, yourselves. Because if you don’t start than the person that’s beside you won’t start. Corruption moreover takes away our joy, our peace. Corrupt people don’t live in peace. What I’m about to tell you really happened. In my city, my home town, a man died and we all knew that he was corrupt. I asked a few days after, ‘how did the funeral go’? And a lady with a great sense of humor replied: ‘they couldn’t close the coffin properly because they wanted to put inside the coffin all the money he had robbed.’ What you rob through corruption will stay here. But also, what will remain is that the hearts of many men and women are wounded by these examples of corruption. What will remain behind was all the lack of good that could have been done. It will remain in the children who suffer. Young people: corruption is not a path to life, it’s a path to death. There was one question, how to use means of communication, to spread the message of Christ, and to promote good initiatives so that you can make a difference. The first means of communicating is the words, the smiles, the gestures. The first gesture is being close to others. The first gesture to trying look for friendship with others. If you speak well among yourselves then you can accept each other as brothers and sisters, even if you’re from different tribes. If you’re closest to the poor to those who are abandoned to…those who are completely rejected, those gestures of communication are much more contagious than any channel on TV. These questions and these thoughts can help you. But ask Jesus from your hearts, pray to the Lord. So that he can give you the strength to destroy tribalism and hold each others hand as brothers and sisters. So that you have the courage to not be corrupted, Offering yourselves for others, by offering a gestures, a word a smile your expressions of closeness. (In response to Manuel’s questions): I am worried about the first thing he said. What can we do to stop young people being recruited into radicalization? What can we do after they have been recruited to try to get them to come back? To answer this we have to ask why do young people full of ideals allow themselves to be radicalized in this way? They leave their friends, their tribe, their country. They leave their lives behind in order to learn how to kill. This is question which you yourselves must pose to all people in authority. If a young woman or man has no work, cannot study, what can he or she do? A life of delinquency, falling into drug abuse, or even into suicide. In Europe the statistics of suicide are not published. They get involved or seduced into an activity which leads them into a bad path. The first thing we have to do to stop a young person from being recruited is education and work. If a young person has no work than what future awaits him or her? And that’s where the idea of being seduced or recruited comes in. Even if there are small opportunities, without them what can they do? That is the danger. It’s a social danger which is beyond us and it’s even beyond the country because it depends on an international system that is unjust. It’s the injustice of having an economic system where the person is not the center but rather the god of money. Pray! But (pray) really hard. God is much stronger than any recruitment campaign. And then, speak with tenderness, understanding and love and with great patience to invite them to come watch some football, to walk with you, to be together in your group, don’t allow them to remain on their own. Transitory things that end up destroying you. A question Manuel asked. It’s a question that a professor in theology might ask. How can we understand that God is our father, how to see his hand in the tragedies of life, how can we find God’s peace? This question men and women all over the world ask themselves. And they can’t find the reason. And there are some questions that you can turn around in your minds over and over again and never find the answer. How can I see the hand of God in tragedy? I was going to say there’s just one response but no, there’s no response. There is a path. To look at the Son of God. God endured death to save all of us. God became a tragedy. God allowed himself to be destroyed on the cross. When you don’t understand something, when desperation hits you then look at the cross. That is the great failure of God, that is the destruction of God, and it’s a challenge to our faith. And this is hope, because history did not end in that failure. Rather it’s in the resurrection of Christ that renewed all of us. I am going to tell you something personal. It’s 12 (o’clock) are you hungry? (Laughter and cheers). I am going to tell you something private. In my pocket I always carry two thing: a rosary to pray something which seems odd, this is here is the history of God’s failure, it’s the way of the cross, a small way of the cross, as Jesus suffered and when they condemned him right up to where he was buried with these two things I do the best I can. And thanks to these two things, I never lose hope. A last question from our theologian friend Manuel, what word can you offer to young people who don’t experience love in their families. How is it possible to come out of this experience? Everywhere, there are abandoned children, either at birth or as life progressed they were abandoned and they don’t feel love from their families. This is why family is so important. Defend the family. Defend the family always. everywhere there’s not only kids who are abandoned but also elderly are abandoned with no one to visit to them with no-one to love them, How do you come out of this very negative experience? There is one remedy, one remedy alone, to come out of these experiences. To do that which you did not receive. If you didn’t receive understanding, then be understanding with others If you felt pain of loneliness come close to those who are alone, flesh is cured by flesh and God became flesh in order to cure us, let’s do the same ourselves. Well then, before the umpire sounds the bell, it’s time to close. I thank you from my heart, first that you came, second that you allow me to speak in my mother tongue. I am really grateful you prayed so many rosaries for me. And please, I ask you to pray for me. Because I too need those prayers and very much so. I count on your prayers and before leaving, if we stand now and pray to our heavenly father who has only one defect – he can’t stop being a father. God bless you all, the father the son and the holy spirit – thank you very much. Read more

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 11:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During his tri-nation visit to Africa this week, Pope Francis made a stop at a slum in Nairobi and praised those he met for their love of and emphasis on community and relationships – over what he called a vacuous, “unbridled consumption” that often plagues the West. “I want in first place to uphold these values which you practice, values which are not quoted in the stock exchange, are not subject to speculation, and have no market price,” the Pope said during the Nov. 27 meeting at a Jesuit church in the Kangemi neighborhood. “I congratulate you, I accompany you and I want you to know that the Lord never forgets you. The path of Jesus began on the peripheries, it goes from the poor and with the poor, towards others.” Your values, he added, are “grounded in the fact each human being is more important than the god of money. Thank you for reminding us that another type of culture is possible.” The Pope was in Kenya Nov. 25-27 as part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic later this week. In addition to addressing the United Nations office in Nairobi during his stay in the country, the Pope also visited local priests, seminarians and religious. Tossing his prepared remarks to the latter aside, he issued a frank warning to them that if anything disgusts God, it’s the attitude of indifference. He also gave some practical advice, such as keeping the Lord at the center of their lives through prayer and the sacraments, and stressed that the Church is not a business, but rather a mystery intended to serve others. On the afternoon of Nov. 26, Pope Francis attended a gathering at the football field of the local St. Mary’s School, where representatives of Community of Sant’Egidio came with those who’ve benefitted from the organization in different cities throughout Kenya. The community has helped fight AIDS in the country, treating more than 11,000 people. According to Sant’Egidio, Pope Francis wanted to personally greet all of the children present who’d been born healthy, thanks to the program. In his talk with the neighborhood on Friday, the Pope clarified that his praise for their valuing the most important things in life in “no way entails a disregard for the dreadful injustice of urban exclusion.”   “These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries,” he said. “One very serious problem in this regard is the lack of access to infrastructures and basic services,” the Pope added. “By this I mean toilets, sewers, drains, refuse collection, electricity, roads, as well as schools, hospitals, recreational and sport centers, studios and workshops for artists and craftsmen. I refer in particular to access to drinking water.” “To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need,” he said. Pope Francis also lamented the “situation of indifference and hostility” experienced by poor neighborhoods, which he said is “aggravated when violence spreads and criminal organizations, serving economic or political interests, use children and young people as ‘canon fodder’ for their ruthless business affairs.” “These realities which I have just mentioned are not a random combination of unrelated problems,” he noted. “They are a consequence of new forms of colonialism.” In response to this, “we need to go beyond the mere proclamation of rights which are not respected in practice, to implementing concrete and systematic initiatives capable of improving the overall living situation, and planning new urban developments of good quality for housing future generations.” “The social and environmental debt owed to the poor of cities can be paid by respecting their sacred right to the ‘three Ls’: Land, Lodging, Labour,” he emphasized. “This is not a question of philanthropy; rather it is a duty incumbent upon all of us.” Francis then called for practical provision for every family, including: “dignified housing, access to drinking water, a toilet, reliable sources of energy for lighting, cooking and improving their homes.” He also insisted “that every neighborhood has streets, squares, schools, hospitals, areas for sport, recreation and art; that basic services are provided to each of you.” Pope Francis then concluded his remarks by calling on “all Christians, and their pastors in particular, to renew their missionary zeal, to take initiative in the face of so many situations of injustice, to be involved in their neighbours’ problems, to accompany them in their struggles, to protect the fruits of their communitarian labour and to celebrate together each victory, large or small.” Read more

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 09:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking at the United Nations office in Nairobi, Kenya, Pope Francis said on Thursday that working together is necessary to conquer problems, whether in the realms of politics, health, or devel… Read more

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 08:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis tossed his prepared remarks aside for a meeting with Kenyan priests, religious and seminarians, telling them that if anything disgusts God, it’s the attitude of indifference. He also gave some practical advice, such as keeping the Lord at the center of their lives through prayer and the sacraments, and stressed that the Church is not a business, but rather a mystery intended to serve others. “Remember Jesus Christ crucified. When a priest or religious forgets Christ crucified, poor person. He has fallen in an ugly sin, a sin which God detests, which makes the Lord vomit,” the Pope said Nov. 26. “He has fallen into the sin of indifference, of luke-warmness. Dear priests and religious men and women, be careful not to fall into the sin of indifference.” Francis met with Kenyan priests, religious men and women, and seminarians from every diocese in Kenya on the sports field of St. Mary’s School in Nairobi Nov. 26, his first full day in the country. His Nov. 25-27 visit to Kenya is part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic. Before giving his speech, Pope Francis heard from Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo, I.M.C., Apostolic Vicar of Isiolo and Chairman for the Commission for Clergy and Religious of the Kenyan bishops conference, as well as Sr. Michael Marie Rottinghaus from the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK). Both Bishop Mukobo and Sr. Rottinghaus thanked Pope Francis for the Year for Consecrated Life, which opened Nov. 30, 2014, and closes Feb. 2, 2016. After setting his prepared remarks aside, Francis spoke freely in Spanish, with his official translator Msgr. Mark Miles giving simultaneous translation into English. The Pope began his reflections by noting how “the Lord has chosen all of you, he has chosen all of us,” and that he began his work “the day he saw us in baptism.” He noted how in the Gospel there were some who wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus said no. Following the Lord on the path of priesthood or consecrated life means “you have to go through the door, and the door is Christ,” he said, adding that Jesus is the one who calls and does the work. When people try to go “through the window” like those in the Gospel, this “isn’t useful,” Francis continued, and asked that if anyone sees someone who’s trying to live a consecrated vocation but doesn’t have one, “embrace him and explain that it’s better for them to go.” “It’s better for them to go because that work that didn’t begin with the Lord Jesus through the doorway will not end well.” Doing this, he said, helps us to understand what it means to be called and chosen by God. Pope Francis then noted that there are some who don’t know why God calls them, but feel it in their heart. These people, he said, “should be at peace because the Lord will make them understand why.” He cautioned against those who have a true call, but are influenced by the desire for power. He pointed to the mother of James and John as an example, when she asked for them to have positions at his right and left hand. “There is the temptation to follow the Lord out of ambition, ambition of money, ambition for power,” he said, noting that each person can probably say this thought has crossed their minds. For others, however, “it took seed in the heart as a weed,” he said, adding that in following Jesus, “there is no place for ambition or richness or to be a really important person in the world.” “I tell you this seriously, because in the Church we know it’s not a business, it’s not an NGO. The Church is a mystery, the mystery of Christ’s gaze upon each one of us, who says follow,” he said. The Pope then noted that Jesus calls, “he doesn’t canonize us,” but asks us to serve as the sinners we are. Pointing to the apostles, Francis observed how the Gospel only tells us of one that cried: Peter, who realized he was a sinner who had betrayed the Lord. “But then Jesus made him a pope. Who understands Jesus?! He’s a mystery. Never stop weeping,” he said, adding that when the tears of a priest or religious run dry “then something is wrong.” Francis then turned to the importance of prayer in the life of a priest or religious, explaining that when a consecrated person stops praying, their “soul becomes shriveled and dry like those dried figs. They’re ugly. They’re not attractive.” “The soul of a priest or religious who doesn’t pray is an ugly soul. I ask forgiveness but that’s how it is.” He also stressed the importance of having an attitude of service, particularly toward the poor, children and the elderly, as well as “those who are not even aware of their own pride in themselves.” Pope Francis said he’s impressed whenever he meets a priest or consecrated person who has spent their life working in a hospital or mission. These people, he said, “serve others and don’t allow themselves to be served by others.” He closed by thanking those present “for following Jesus, for every time you feel sinners, for every caress of tenderness you show others who need it.” “Thanks for all the times you helped a person to die in peace. Thank you for giving hope in life. Thanks for letting yourselves be forgiven, to be helped and corrected,” he said, and asked for their prayers. Read more

Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 26, 2015 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The construction of a new church building in a Baghdad refugee camp has encouraged the camp’s inhabitants, as they now have a place for worship and for activities during the week. According to Amigos de Irak (Friends of Iraq), a project of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, the church, named for the Virgin Mary, was dedicated during a Nov. 13 Mass. The Mass was said by Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad, and concelebrated by priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and representatives from the nunciature, the Domician community, and local churches. It was attended by Archbishop Ephrem Abba Mansoor of the Syriac Archeparchy of Baghdad, and by an Orthodox priest who is the refugee camp’s general manager. Archbishop Sleiman’s homily reflected on “the suffering of refugees which will certainly not go unrewarded,” and following the Mass each family were given a picture of St. John Paul II. The construction of the church was possible thanks to donations coming from different parts of the world and with help from the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need. Amigos de Irak commented that “building in Baghdad is very expensive, so we reused materials from the temporary camps where we received the refugees when the conflict began.” The engineer in charge of the project, Abu Rami, did not charge for his work, and also helped out with the purchase of some materials. They explained that Mass will be said in the church on Saturdays and Sundays, and it will be used for other activities during the week. “Because there are so many needs, we try to make the most of the resources we have. But that doesn’t matter! It’s like every work of God, poor but abundant in fruits! And everyone worked on it! The refugees who are enjoying it and you who made it possible,” they said. Read more

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