Prayer is the treasure of all religions, says Pope

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2015 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis marked Wednesday’s anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religion by saying the world looks to religious believers for their ability to pray. “Prayer is our treasure, to which we draw in accordance with our respective traditions, to ask for the gifts for which humanity yearns,” he said at his Oct. 28 general audience at St. Peter’s Square. The world looks to believers for answers in many areas, the Pope said, such as peace, hope, environmental crisis, violence committed in the name of religion, and crises in the family and the economy. “We believers have received these problems, but we have one great resource: prayer. And we believers pray. We must pray!” Pope Francis’ remarks came on the 50th anniversary of the release of Nostra aetate, and his general audience was focused on inter-religious dialogue. Other speakers included Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The Pope extended a special welcome to those individuals and groups present in St. Peter’s Square representing other religions. He cited the the Second Vatican Council as an “extraordinary time of reflection, dialogue, and prayer for renewing the Catholic Church’s gaze upon itself and on the world.” “A reading of the signs of the times, in view of an update oriented by due loyalty: loyalty to the tradition of the Church, loyalty to Church tradition, and loyalty to the history of men and women in our times.” Pope Francis recalled the various interreligious initiatives and events that have sprung up in the years following Nostra aetate’s release. He noted in particular the interreligious encounter in Assisi in 1986, the fruit of a meeting between St. John Paul II and a group of young Muslims in Casablanca a year earlier. “The flame, ignited in Assisi, has spread around the world, and is a permanent sign of hope,” he said. Pope Francis made particular mention of the transformation in the relationship between Christians and Jews which has come about over the last fifty years. “Indifference and opposition have turned into collaboration and goodwill: from enemies and strangers, we have become friends and brothers.”Nostra aetate led the way in saying “yes” to rediscovering “Christianity’s Jewish roots,” and “no” to “every form of anti-Semitism,” while condemning “every insult, discrimination, and persecution which comes with it.” The Pope noted that Nostra aetate promoted renewed relations not only with the Jewish people, but also with persons of other religions, especially Muslims. He cited passages from the document which acknowledge the points of commonality between Christianity and Islam: reference to the paternity of Abraham, the veneration of Jesus as prophet, esteem for Mary, as well as such practices as almsgiving and fasting. The aim and condition of interreligious dialogue is “mutual respect”, Pope Francis said: “respect for the right to life of others, to physical integrity, to fundamental freedom – namely, freedom of conscience, of thought, of expression, and of religion.” Pope Francis spoke of the “violence and terrorism” which has led to religion becoming the object of suspicion and condemnation. While there is always the risks of fundamentalism or extremism in any religion, he said, we must nonetheless “look at the positive values which they live and propose, and which are  sources of hope.” The Pope reflected on the various areas of collaboration possible between persons of different religions: serving the poor, the elderly, migrants, caring for creation, etc. “All believers of every religion! Together we can praise the Creator for having given us the garden of the world to cultivate and protect as a common good,” he said, and also work together to “combat poverty and ensure secure conditions of a dignified life for every man and woman.” The Pope went on to remind those present that the upcoming Year of Mercy, beginning in December, will offer an opportunity for those works of charity. “But the mercy to which we are all called embraces all of creation,” he said. “God has entrusted (creation) to us because we are stewards, not exploiters or – worse still – destroyers.” Pope Francis concluded the audience with an appeal for victims of the earthquake which struck Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday.The Guardian reports that more than 370 people have been killed and thousands injured in the 7.5 magnitude quake which also affected the Kashmir region. Scores of homes have also been destroyed, causing concern with the approaching winter months. “We pray for the departed and their families, for all the wounded and without shelter, imploring from God relief in suffering and courage in the adversity.” “May our concrete solidarity not be lacking for our brothers and sisters.”A group of interfaith leaders at the Wednesday general audience with #PopeFrancis in #Rome. #Catholic #Church #faith ???????????? Photo: Bohumil Petrik/CNA A photo posted by Catholic News Agency (@catholicnewsagency) on Oct 28, 2015 at 9:57pm PDT Read more

New Mexico priest, seminarians soup up car for vocations

Gallup, N.M., Oct 28, 2015 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Matthew Keller has always been kind of a car guy. “Actually, a lot of a car guy,” he told CNA, laughing. He went to technical school as a teenager – “vocationa… Read more

A prayer from the Pope – may Christians not be forced out of the Middle East

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2015 / 12:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The sufferings of the Chaldean Catholic Church were the focus of Pope Francis on Monday when he addressed a synod of Chaldean bishops. He prayed for Middle East Christians and again called for int… Read more

Ahead of Florida execution, bishops renew calls against death penalty

Tallahassee, Fla., Oct 27, 2015 / 04:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Stressing that capital punishment is not necessary in the modern-day U.S., Florida’s Catholic bishops have asked the state governor to commute the death sentence of inmate Jerry Correll… Read more

Sodalitium Christianae Vitae has an apostolic visitor to investigate its founder

Lima, Peru, Oct 27, 2015 / 03:44 pm (CNA).- The superior general of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae has made public that the community has had an apostolic visitor since April, who is charged with investigating accusations that its founder committed s… Read more

Existing norms remain for Roman Curia, Pope says

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2015 / 02:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has clarified that while the Roman Curia is in the process of being reconstructed, it doesn’t mean there is an absence of law or regulations – the existing rules are still in place, for now. In a letter (dated Oct. 14 and released Oct. 27) addressed to the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis noted that since the institution of the Council of Cardinals in 2013, “certain problems have emerged,” which he intends to take “prompt action” in addressing. The first point he made is that “the current period of transition is not a time of vacatio legis (absence of law),” and confirmed that St. John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor bonus and its subsequent amendments “remain in full force, along with the General Regulations of the Roman Curia.” Pope Francis’ public reminder that Pastor bonus remains in force follows upon his announcement last week that three existing bodies in the Roman Curia are to be consolidated into one dicastery. Pope Francis formally established the Council of Cardinals – also referred to as the “Council of 9” – on Sept. 28, 2013, in order to advise him in matters of Church governance and reform. The structure of the Roman Curia has followed criteria laid out in Pastor bonus, which regulates and defines responsibilities, duties and the composition of the offices of the Roman Curia. Under Pastor bonus the Roman Curia is broken up into a number of dicasteries (called either congregations or pontifical councils); three tribunals; and the Secretariat of State. While congregations have executive power, pontifical councils do not, and remain in the background of their own spheres of influence. When the Council of Cardinals first started meeting, the question as to whether Pastor bonus would be modified was one of the first things to be asked. Although there was an initial rumor that no changes would be made to the document, members of the council stressed that they would be discussing the matter at length, and would unite their efforts to find the best method to execute the reform. It has since become clear that the intention of Pope Francis’ reform is to replace Pastor bonus with a new document which will describe and govern a reformed Roman Curia. Pope Francis’ latest reform move came during the synod of bishops, when, during the afternoon session Oct. 22, he announced his decision to establish a new office in the Roman Curia that will deal with issues of laity, family, and life. The new office merges the pontifical councils for the family and the laity, as well as the Pontifical Academy for Life. The move was significant because it streamlines three offices into one, and is also meant to give greater attention to issues relating to the laity in the Church. The Pope’s program of curial reform has already established both a Secretariat for the Economy and a Secretariat for Communications. In his letter to Cardinal Parolin, the Pope also ordered that “to ensure equitable treatment of employees and collaborators, also in economic terms,” the rules of Pastor bonus as well as the regulations for laity and their recruitment in the Vatican and the Holy See “be scrupulously observed.” Francis made a point to reiterate that the hiring or transfer of employees in the Roman Curia and all other organizations within the Vatican and the Holy See ought to be carried out according to current staff limits. He noted that both the hiring and transfer of employees requires the authorization of the Secretary of State, and recalled that their salaries must also respect current parameters set within the Vatican City State. The Pope closed his letter asking that Cardinal Parolin inform the Governorate and the heads of all departments, offices and organizations in the Roman Curia on the letter’s contents, “highlighting in particular the aspects requiring special attention, and that supervision of compliance be exercised.” Read more

Pope Francis grieves loss of life in Afghanistan-Pakistan quake

Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct 27, 2015 / 12:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a massive earthquake rocked Pakistan and Afghanistan yesterday killing hundreds, Pope Francis on Tuesday voiced his sorrow and solidarity for victims and their families, assuring them of his prayers. “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the earthquake in the region,” an Oct. 27 telegram addressed to Archbishop Ghaleb Bader, apostolic nuncio to Pakistan, read. Signed by the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the letter relayed the Pope’s “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this disaster,” and assured Francis’ prayers for the dead, injured, and those still missing. “Upon all those who mourn the loss of loved ones and upon the civil authorities and emergency personnel involved in the relief efforts, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.” The 7.5 magnitude earthquake tore through north-eastern Afghanistan Oct. 27. The quake’s epicenter was in the country’s Badakhshan province, an estimated 220 miles northeast of Kabul. The quake has so far killed more than 300 people, 12 of whom are schoolgirls who tried to escape their building. Most of the casualties have taken place in Pakistan’s northern mountainous regions, BBC News reports. Authorities on the ground have said that in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone, at least 179 people were known to have died, with more than 1,800 injured. The death toll is expected to rise in both countries, since the places most affected are remote areas where communication has been cut off. Tremors were also felt in surrounding countries, including India and Tajikistan. With a depth of 200km – 124 miles – in the earth, yesterday’s quake marks the latest in a series of serious earthquakes in South Asia this year. In April eastern Nepal was devastated when a 7.8 magnitude quake ripped through the country, which was followed by a 7.3 magnitude aftershock in May. On record, 9,000 people were killed, and roughly 900,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Read more

Pope Francis expected to visit Italian diocese of Milan in May

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2015 / 09:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Milan’s archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, made an informal announcement Tuesday that Pope Francis will visit the archdiocese May 7, marking the first papal visit there since 2012. &ldquo… Read more

Pope advises Gypsies to cultivate responsibility, openness

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2015 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with Rome’s Romani, or Gypsies, on Monday, asking them to take a new direction and embolden their efforts towards a life of inclusion, dignity, and responsibility. “Time has come to uproot secular prejudice, preconceived ideas and the reciprocal diffidence that are often at the base of discrimination, racism and xenophobia,” Pope Francis stated Oct. 26. The Pope addressed thousands of Romani in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, saying the nomadic ethnic group should “turn the page” and begin to build bridges of “peaceful co-habitation” with other peoples and cultures. The Holy Father spoke these words on the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s meeting with Romani in a camp near Rome. The Romani people originated in northwestern India, and emigrated to Europe by the twelfth century. Their itinerant lifestyle meant they traditionally lived in wagons, and they have long been persecuted in Europe, and pressured to assimilate to the wider culture. Pope Francis told the community that “no one must feel isolated, no one is entitled to trample on the dignity and the rights of others,” saying this attitude of respect also applies to the education of Romani children. “Your children have the right to go to school, do not stop them from doing so!” he urged, calling children the “most precious treasure.” The Romani people have a responsibility to provide education for their children, the Pope continued, saying their youth must be given the proper tools to become fully integrated within society. The Romani are often not fully formed in education, holding them back from careers within the local economy. In addition, Pope Francis also encouraged local civil institutions to welcome these children so that they may be incorporated into the social and economic life of the country, giving them an opportunity to partake of education, healthcare, and dignified work. “We do not want to have to witness any more family tragedies in which children die from cold or are burnt in fires,” the Holy Father noted, saying that youth depravity, drugs, and human trafficking must also come to an end. The Roman Pontiff encouraged the Romani toward an attitude of openness, ready for dialogue and integration with the people around them. He said they must responsibly hold themselves accountable for their present and future, and urged them to be examples of fraternity rather than individualism. “You can do this if you are good Christians, avoiding all that is not worthy of this name: lies, frauds, swindles, altercations,” Pope Francis stated, saying they should ward off any occasions for the media to speak poorly about the Romani people. The Pope also pointed to Blessed Ceferino Giménez Malla, a Spaniard who is regarded at the patron saint of the Romani. He was born into a Catholic Romani family in the 1860s, and was a catechist. During the Spanish Civil War he was arrested together with a priest by Republican forces, who executed him Aug. 8, 1936. Blessed Giménez should be a role model for the Romani, Pope Francis said, believing that his example of faith and virtue could inspire the group to a life of inclusion, fraternity, and faith.   Read more

‘Protect our common home’, world’s bishops ask climate change conference

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2015 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Negotiators of a global agreement on climate change must take effective action to protect creation, leading bishops from around the world said on Monday. “This agreement must put the common good ahead of national interests. It is essential too that the negotiations result in an enforceable agreement that protects our common home and all its inhabitants,” said the bishops’ Oct. 26 appeal. The bishops’ appeal addressed negotiators at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Paris in Nov. 30 – Dec. 11. The bishops said negotiators must secure an agreement that is “fair, legally binding and truly transformational,” Vatican Radio reports. “The building and maintenance of a sustainable common home requires courageous and imaginative political leadership,” the bishops continued, calling for legal frameworks which “clearly establish boundaries” and ensure protection for the ecosystem. Signers of the declaration include Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the United States bishops’ conference, and Bishop David Crosby of Hamilton, president of the Canadian bishops’ conference. Other signers were the heads of the regional bishops’ conferences of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Oceania: Cardinal Gracias of Bombay; Archbishop Mbilingi of Lubango; Cardinal Erd? of Esztergom-Budapest; Cardinal Marx of Munich and Freising; Archbishop Ribat of Port Moresby; Cardinal Salazar Gómez of Bogota; and Cardinal Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch. The bishops said scientific evidence indicates that accelerated climate change is due to “unrestrained human activity” and “excessive reliance on fossil fuels.” “The Pope and Catholic Bishops from five continents, sensitive to the damage caused, appeal for a drastic reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases,” the bishops said. They called on the climate change conference to forge an international agreement to limit global temperature increases as suggested by the scientific community in order “to avoid catastrophic climatic impacts, especially on the poorest and most vulnerable communities.” “The need to work together in a common endeavor is imperative,” they said. The bishops advised that the global climate change agreement recognize “the need to live in harmony with nature” and the need to guarantee human rights for everyone, including indigenous peoples, women, youth and workers. The conference should “develop new models of development and lifestyles that are climate compatible, address inequality and bring people out of poverty.” “Central to this is to put an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions, including emissions from military, aviation and shipping, and providing affordable, reliable and safe renewable energy access for all,” the bishops said. The bishops asked the conference to “set a goal for complete de-carbonization by mid-century” to protect communities most threatened by climate change, such as Pacific islanders and coastal communities. The agreement should also ensure access to water and land, while enabling the participation of the poorest and most vulnerable in the discussions. The bishops said their policy proposals draw on “the concrete experiences of people across the continents.” The bishops linked climate change to “social injustice and the social exclusion of the poorest.” The bishops cited Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, Laudato si’, which said climate change is one of the principal challenges now facing humanity. The Pope stressed that the climate is a common good that is meant for everyone, with the natural environment being part of humanity’s patrimony. The Pope stressed the need to find a consensual solution that is universal in a solidarity that extends across generations. The bishops’ appeal to the climate change conference echoed these concerns. “We call for an integral ecological approach, we call for social justice to be placed center stage ‘so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’,” the bishops said. The bishops’ statement included a prayer that God will “teach us to care for this world our common home.” They asked that God would inspire government leaders gathered in Paris “to listen to and heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” and to “protect the beautiful earthly garden you have created for us.” The bishops wrote their appeal in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis and the network of Catholic development agencies, CIDSE. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace sponsored the effort. Read more

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