'Pope Francis'

Pope urges Catholic groups to work together to defend human dignity

Posted on 23. Dec, 2017 by .


From Catholicphilly.com –

Pope Francis encouraged a wide variety Catholic organizations to work together to defend human dignity and promote the full integral development of all people.

“I encourage you to work always in a spirit of communion and cooperation with other Catholic NGOs and with the representatives of the Holy See as an expression of the church’s commitment to the building of a more just and fraternal world,” he said Dec. 13 in remarks to delegates taking part in the 2017 Forum of “Catholic-inspired Non-Governmental Organizations” meeting in Rome.

“I express my deep appreciation for your efforts to bring the light of the Gospel to the various peripheries of our world in order to defend human dignity, to promote the integral development of peoples and to meet the material and spiritual needs of so many members of our human family,” he said in remarks at the end of his general audience talk.

The forum, held Dec. 11-13, looked at how Catholic-inspired organizations, including Catholic schools, can better protect and promote the human person in a rapidly changing world.

The forum organizer, Johan Ketelers, told Catholic News Service Dec. 12 that over 100 organizations were represented, ranging from groups focused on peace, immigration, education, development and pro-life issues. They were joined by academics, Vatican officials and observers or representatives of the Holy See to international agencies in Paris, New York and Rome.

Today’s complex, global problems require answers that cannot be found “in one small corner of one organization,” he said.

“You can’t talk about migration without talking about economics, human rights,” law, development and justice and peace, said Ketelers, former secretary-general of the Geneva-based International Catholic Migration Commission.

“We can no longer work vertically, one organization by itself, parallel to others,” but must work “transversally,” crisscrossing domains and sharing expertise and ideas, he said. That means that dialogue and strong partnerships, which are already “tools for Christianity,” are essential, he said.

One of the panelists at the forum was Helen Alvare, professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, and adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.

Alvare told CNS that some people at the forum were interested in her approach of empowering women and Catholics on the local level to speak up for themselves, their values and beliefs. As president of the Chiaroscuro Institute, Alvare actively promotes the institute’s two projects: “Women Speak For Themselves” and “IBelieveInLove.com.”

While the “I Believe in Love” online community shares real stories about seeking stable relationships and parenting, WomenSpeakforThemselves.com is a nationwide grass-roots movement of women voicing the negative effects that contraception, abortion and other phenomena, including pornography, have on dating and marriage.

Alvare said these methods of sharing real people’s stories of struggle and hope are what informs, unites and motivates people best.

She said the forum was also proposing that Catholic-inspired organizations invite all sides to dialogue, “and not impose solutions on the world.”

“We are past the time of people taking top-down instruction on neurologic issues of sex, marriage and parenting,” she said.

Her extensive work and contact with women across the United States proved to her that women do seek authentic freedom and fulfillment in relationships. “I knew these women existed, but they needed information, they needed the assurance they are not alone and they needed the how-to of communications.”

She is also seeking to make her scholarly research and work more useful in her soon-to-be released book, “Putting Children’s Interests First in U.S. Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility.”

Lower-income women face a number of struggles, she said; they are less religious, they feel very alone, have less community and less access to a local parish.

Alvare urges women who do have strong communities to extend a hand to other women without lecturing them.

While social programs are important in providing food, clothing and shelter, she said, “we are not lifting people out of poverty, we’re not seriously improving their education and prospects.”

“The Catholic Church has it right. You have to take care of people regarding their family structure and sex matters, not because we’re the moral police,” she said. “We’re about integrating sex with the fact that it creates new life, which is vulnerable, which requires your care.”

“Social welfare, we’re all for it, but if you leave family structure out of social welfare, you’re doomed,” Alvare said. “The Catholic Church is one of the few places that always holds it all together properly.”

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Update: Build peace by welcoming migrants, refugees, pope says in message

Posted on 11. Dec, 2017 by .


Taken from catholicnews.com –

Exploiting a fear of migrants and refugees for political gain increases the possibility of violence and discrimination and does nothing to build a culture of peace, Pope Francis said in his message for World Peace Day 2018.

“Those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being,” the pope said in the message, which was released by the Vatican Nov. 24.

The pope chose “Migrants and refugees: Men and women in search of peace” as the theme for the celebration Jan. 1, 2018. The message is delivered by Vatican nuncios to heads of state and government around the world.

Presenting the message to the media, Father Bruno Marie Duffe, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said, “It is clear peace begins with saving lives and taking care of people who are trying to escape wars, discrimination, persecution, poverty and climate disasters.”

As work continues on the U.N. Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Pope Francis urged the international community not to surrender “to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.”

Countries at the U.N. General Assembly voted in September 2016 to develop the compacts; after meetings around the world, a draft of each compact is scheduled to be released in February and a final vote is scheduled for September 2018.

In his message, which was signed Nov. 13, the feast of St. Frances Cabrini, patron of migrants, Pope Francis said thinking about peace naturally meant thinking about “those who most keenly suffer its absence.”

International organizations estimate there are some 250 million international migrants around the globe and that about 22.5 million of them are refugees, who have fled war, violence or persecution.

In their search for a place where they can live in peace, the pope said, many are “willing to risk their lives on a journey that is often long and perilous, to endure hardships and suffering, and to encounter fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal.”

Pope Francis acknowledged the right and obligation of countries to protect their borders and wisely allocate their resources, including those dedicated to resettling migrants and refugees. But the pope also insisted that basic human decency requires sheltering those whose dignity is at risk.

Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told reporters the “prudence” Pope Francis is calling for involves discernment and wise direction. He compared it to the responsibility parents exercise in running a household.

“Prudent parents respond and allocate resources wisely,” he told reporters. “If resources are inadequate, they adjust goals. They obviously do not expel members who seem overly needy. What kind of family would do that? And yet that is what the human family sometimes seems to do to asylum seekers and refugees.”

In the message, the pope also said that welcoming migrants and refugees actually contributes to peace and benefits host countries.

Migrants and refugees “do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them,” he said.

When people in need are welcomed and valued, “seeds of peace” begin to sprout, the pope said. “Our cities, often divided and polarized by conflicts regarding the presence of migrants and refugees, will thus turn into workshops of peace.”

As he said in a message released earlier for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2018, coordinated plans for “welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating” newcomers are essential for helping asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking find the peace they seek.

“‘Welcoming’ calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing migrants and displaced people toward countries where they face persecution and violence. It also demands balancing our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights,” Pope Francis said in the peace day message.

Countries have a moral obligation as well as a legal obligation under international law to protect those fleeing from real danger, he said. And no one should forget the very high and very real risk of exploitation faced by migrating women and children.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a Vatican diplomat, told reporters that to reach the goal of peaceful coexistence “relations among nations must change and be based on: solidarity; dialogue instead of force, which explodes in conflict; policies of collaboration; and the participation of everyone in the benefits of technology, access to markets” and other factors that allow them to live a dignified life.

“Peace flourishes where there is less inequality and injustice,” the archbishop said. “And when there is less inequality and injustice, there is also less migration and people can exercise their right of not having to migrate.”

Pope Francis prayed that the global compacts would be “inspired by compassion, foresight and courage, so as to take advantage of every opportunity to advance the peace-building process. Only in this way can the realism required of international politics avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.”

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51st World Day of Peace 2018

Posted on 11. Dec, 2017 by .


51st World Day of Peace 2018 Migrants and Refugees

Men and Women in search of peace

Click for the two versions of this message from Pope Francis: English  – Spanish

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Posted on 27. Nov, 2017 by .


On November 23, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the members of the Franciscan Families of the First Order and the Third Order Regular.

The following is the Pope’s address to those present:


Address of the Holy Father

Dear brothers,

The “Lord Pope”, as Saint Francis called him, welcomes you with joy and in you welcomes the Franciscan brothers who live and work in all the world. Thank you for what you are and for what you do, especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged.

“Let all be called in general ‘Friars Minor’”, we read in the Regula Non Bullata.[1] With this expression, Saint Francis does not speak about something optional for his brothers, but manifests a constitutive element of your life and mission.

In effect, in your form of life, the adjective “minor” qualifies the noun “Friar”, giving to the bond of fraternity its proper and characteristic quality: it is not the same thing to say “friar” and to say “friar minor”. Therefore, when referring to fraternity, it is necessary to keep in mind this typical Franciscan characteristic of fraternal relationship, which demands of you a relationship of “Friars minor”.

From whence came the inspiration to Francis to place minority as an essential element of your fraternity?[2]

Since Christ and the Gospel were the fundamental option of his life, in all certainty we can say that minority, while not lacking its ascetic and social motivations, was born from contemplation of the incarnation of the Son of God, and is summarized in the image of making oneself small, like a seed. It is the same logic of “becoming poor, though he was rich” (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). The logic of “renunciation”, which Francis implemented to the letter when he “divested himself of all earthly goods, to the point of nakedness, in order to give himself entirely to God and to his brothers and sisters”.[3]

The life of Francis was marked by the encounter with the poor God, present in our midst in Jesus of Nazareth: a humble and hidden presence that the Poverello adores and contemplates in the incarnation, in the Cross and in the Eucharist. On the other hand, we know that one of the evangelical images that most impressed Francis is that of the washing of the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper.[4]

Franciscan minority is presented for you as a place of encounter and of communion with God; as a place of encounter and of communion with your brethren, and with all men and women; and finally, as a place of encounter and communion with creation.

Minority as a place of encounter with God

Minority characterizes in a special way your relationship with God. For Saint Francis, man has nothing of his own other than his own sin, and is worth as much as he is worth before God, nothing more. Therefore your relationship with Him must be that of a child: humble and trusting and, like that of the publican in the Gospel, aware of his sin. And beware of spiritual pride, of Pharisaic pride: it is the worst form of worldliness.

A characteristic of your spirituality is that of being a spirituality of restitution to God. All the good that is in us and that we can do is a gift from Him, He Who for Saint Francis was God, “all good, the supreme good”,[5] and all must be restored to the “most high, all powerful, good Lord”.[6] We do so through praise, that leads us to come out of ourselves to encounter others and to welcome them in our life.

Minority as a place of encounter with brethren and with all men and women

Minority is lived first of all in the relationship with the brothers that God has give us.[7] How? By avoiding any behaviour of superiority. This means uprooting easy judgments on others and speaking badly of our brothers behind their backs[8] – this is in the “Admonitions”! – rejecting the temptation to use authority to suppress others; avoiding making others pay for the favours we do for them, while seeing those others do for us as owed to us; turning away from anger and unease at the sin of our brother.[9]

Minority is lived as an expression of the poverty you have professed,[10] when one cultivates a spirit of non-appropriation in relations; when one values the positive that is in the other, as a gift that comes from the Lord; when, especially ministers, exercise the service of authority with mercy, as is magnificently expressed in the Letter to a Minister,[11] the best explanation that Francis offers of what it means to be minor in relation to the brothers entrusted to him. Without mercy there is neither fraternity nor minority.

The need to express your fraternity in Christ ensures that your interpersonal relationships follow the dynamism of charity, so while justice leads you to recognize the rights of each person, charity transcends these rights and calls you to fraternal communion; because it is not rights that you love, but brothers, whom you must welcome with respect, understanding and mercy. Brothers are important, not structures.

Minority must also be lived in relation with all the men and women you encounter in your travels in the world, avoiding with the greatest care any attitude of superiority that may distance you from others. Saint Francis expressed this demand clearly in two chapters of the Regula non bullata, where he links the decision not to appropriate anything (to live sine proprio) with the benevolent welcome to every person, to the point of sharing life with the most despised, with those who are considered truly the least of society: “Let the friars beware of themselves, wherever they have been … that they appropriate no place for themselves nor defend it against another. And whoever has come to them, friend or adversary, thief or brigand, let him be kindly received”.[12] And also, “And they ought to rejoice, when they conduct themselves among vile and despised persons, among the poor and weak and infirm and lepers and those begging along the road”.[13]

Francis’ words urge you to ask, as a fraternity: where are we? With whom are we? With whom are we in relation? Whom are our favourites? And, given that minority calls not only to the fraternity but each of its members, it is appropriate for each person to carry out an examination of conscience on his own style of life; on his expenses, on his robes, on what he considers necessary, on his own devotion to others, on fleeing from the spirit of caring too much about oneself, also one’s own fraternity.

And please, when you carry out an activity for the “little ones”, the excluded and the least among us, do not do so from a pedestal of superiority. Think rather that all you do for them is a way of recompensing what you have freely received. As Francis admonishes in his Letter sent to the whole Order, “Keep nothing of yourselves for yourselves”.[14] Make a welcoming and available space so that all the minors of your time may enter into your life: the marginalized, men and women who live on our streets, in parks and stations; the thousands of unemployed, young and adults; many sick people who have no access to adequate care; many abandoned elderly; mistreated women; migrants in search of a worthy life; all those who live in the existential peripheries, deprived of dignity and also of the light of the Gospel.

Open your hearts and embrace the lepers of our time and, after having become aware of the mercy that the Lord has used towards you,[15] use mercy with them, just as your father Saint Francis used it;[16] and, like him, learn to be “infirm with the infirm, afflicted with the afflicted”.[17] All this, far from being a vague sentiment, indicates a relationship between people so profound that, transforming your heart, it will lead you to share their destiny with them.

Minority as a place of encounter with creation

For the Saint of Assisi, creation was “magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of His infinite beauty and goodness”.[18] Creation is “like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”.[19]

Today – as we know – this sister and mother rebels because she feels mistreated. Faced with the global degradation of the environment, I ask you as sons of the Poverello to engage in dialogue with all creation, giving your voice to praise the Creator, and as Saint Francis did, take particular care over this, overcoming any economic calculation or irrational romanticism. Collaborate with various initiatives for the care of our common home, always remembering the close relationship there is between the poor and the fragility of the planet, between economics, development, care for creation and the option for the poor.[20]

Dear brothers, I renew Saint Francis’ request: be minor. May God keep and nurture your minority.

Upon you all I invoke the Lord’s blessing. And please, do not forget to pray for me.

Thank you.

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[1] 6,3: FF 23.

[2] Cf 1Cel 38: FF 386.

[3] Letter to the bishop of Assisi for the Inauguration of the Shrine of Renunciation, 16 April 2017.

[4] Cf. Regula non bullata, 6, 4: FF 23. Admonitions 4, 2: FF 152.

[5] Praise to God Most High, 3: FF 261.

[6] Canticle of the Sun, 1: FF 263.

[7] Cf. Testament, 14: FF 116.

[8] Cf. Admonitions, 25: FF 174.

[9] Cf. ibid., 11: FF 160.

[10] Cf. Regula bullata, 1, 1: FF 75; Admonitions, 11: FF 160.

[11] Cf. FF 234-237.

[12] 7, 13-14; FF 26.

[13] 9,2 FF 30.

[14] 2,29: FF 221.

[15] Cf. 1 Cel 26: FF 363.

[16] Cf. TestamentFF 110-131.

[17] Legend of the Three Companions, 59: FF 1470.

[18] Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 12.

[19] Ibid, 1.

[20] Cf. ibid., 15-16.

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Chicago Cardinal gives money to Franciscan church on behalf of the Vatican

Posted on 26. Aug, 2017 by .


Parishioners from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen welcomed a Cardinal from the Archdiocese of Chicago on Tuesday.

Cardinal Blase Cupich visited the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday to deliver a special donation of $100,000 to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on behalf of the Vatican.

The fund was given to help with the construction of the new Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen. The new facility will be dedicated to provide assistance for immigrants and refugees coming to the area.

“First floor will be an area to provide service,” said Catholic Charities executive director Sister Norma Pimentel. “We also want an area for education components where people, groups and students can come and get educated on the whole reality of the immigrants and refugees. What we want is to make a center that is hurricane resistant.”

Catholic Charities plans to have the center completed by late 2019. In the meantime, they will continue to service immigrants in their temporary center.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church will continue to accept donations, both monetary and material.

Cupich also presented La Posada Providence Shelter in San Benito, and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hidalgo County with a total of $75,000.

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