Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by Franciscans For Justice.
Taken from washingtonpost.com –
VATICAN CITY — As politicians around the world including President Trump take an increasingly hard line on immigration, a powerful force is rallying to the side of migrants: the Roman Catholic Church led by Pope Francis.
Catholic cardinals, bishops and priests are emerging as some of the most influential opponents of immigration crackdowns backed by right-wing populists in the United States and Europe. The moves come as Francis, who has put migrants at the top of his agenda, appears to be leading by example, emphasizing his support for their rights in sermons, speeches and deeds.
The pro-migrant drive risks dividing Catholics — many of whom in the United States voted for Trump. Some observers say it is also inserting the church into politics in a manner recalling the heady days of Pope John Paul II, who stared down communism and declared his opposition to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Vatican is standing in open opposition to politicians like Trump not just on immigration but also on other issues, including climate-change policy.
But the focal point is clearly migrant rights.
In the United States, individual bishops, especially those appointed by Francis, have sharply criticized Trump’s migrant policies since his election. They include Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who last month co-led a rally in support of a Mexican man fighting deportation. Tobin has decried Trump’s executive orders on immigration, calling them the “opposite of what it means to be an American.”
In Los Angeles, Archbishop José H. Gomez, the first Mexican American vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which leads the U.S. church, described migrant rights as the bishops’ most important issue. He has delivered blistering critiques of Trump’s policies, and instructed his clerics to distribute cards in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese informing migrants of their rights in 300 parishes.
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, one of Francis’s closest allies in the U.S. church, has issued orders that if federal immigration authorities should attempt to enter churches without a warrant in search of migrants, priests should turn them away and call the archdiocese’s lawyers. Catholic school principals were given the same instructions by the archdiocese, which Cupich said was an attempt to respond in a way that was firm “but not extreme.”
He said Francis has helped bishops shape their response.
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Posted on 09. Apr, 2017 by Franciscans For Justice.
Taken from Huffingtonpost.com –
Blessed be this adorable little girl who tried to swipe Pope Francis’ skullcap.
Estella, 3, was being held up to meet the pontiff at the Vatican on Wednesday morning when she cheekily swiped the white cap straight from his head.
“We thought it was hilarious!” said Catholic blogger Mountain Butorac, who posted the footage of his goddaughter online.
“Unexpected for sure,” he told The Huffington Post via email. “But to see everyone laugh, including the pope, was amazing!”
Butorac said he took Estella’s family to the pope’s weekly audience while they were visiting him in Rome, Italy.
With the video going viral, he said he loved the fact “that people are getting a chance to see a clip from the Holy Father in a fun situation.”
“The news is all so toxic lately,” he added. “It’s nice to have something light and fun!”
Posted on 22. Feb, 2017 by Franciscans For Justice.
Pope Francis to activists: Stand with migrants, do not deny climate science, there is no such thing as ‘Islamic terrorism’
In a letter written to a leaders of grassroots organizations and social movements meeting this week in California, Pope Francis said Christians must resist the temptation to demonize others, protect the earth and fight against “the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few.”
Writing that the world is in the midst of an “historic turning point,” Francis said the “worsening crisis” presents both danger and opportunity, using language sure to recall tensions between some Catholic leaders and the fledgling Trump administration.
“The grave danger is to disown our neighbors. When we do so, we deny their humanity and our own humanity without realizing it; we deny ourselves, and we deny the most important Commandments of Jesus,” Francis wrote in the letter, which was dated Feb. 10 and published in Spanish.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s department for Integral Human Development, read the pope’s letter on Feb. 16 to participants at the opening of the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements meeting in Modesto, a new event based on similar international meetings previously held in Rome and in Bolivia. The California gathering includes participants from a dozen countries.
“I know that you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice,” the pope’s letter read.
In his letter, Francis condemned what he dubbed a global “hypocritical attitude” toward suffering and he called for more action to address a range of social ills.
“Sooner or later, the moral blindness of this indifference comes to light, like when a mirage dissipates,” he wrote. “The wounds are there, they are a reality. The unemployment is real, the violence is real, the corruption is real, the identity crisis is real, the gutting of democracies is real.”
Francis condemned leaders who rely on “fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills onto a ‘non-neighbor.’”
Though he wrote in the letter that he was not speaking about any particular leaders but of “a social and political process that flourishes in many parts of the world” that “poses a grave danger for humanity,” the letter, delivered in a border state with a large Hispanic population, is sure to suggest tensions between church leaders and U.S. President Donald J. Trump.
Last year, the pope said political leaders who propose building border walls were not Christian, a statement interpreted by the Trump campaign as a slight against the candidate.
More recently, Catholic bishops in the United States have condemned several executive orders signed by Mr. Trump placing restrictions on immigration and refugee resettlement, including an executive order to move forward with plans to build a border wall.
Rather than looking to political leaders as models to solve the world’s various crises, the pope said in his letter that “Jesus teaches us a different path.”
“Do not classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not,” he wrote. “You can become neighbor to whomever you meet in need, and you will do so if you have compassion in your heart.”
Francis also repeated his warning against describing terrorism as Islamic, another major theme of Mr. Trump’s campaign.
“Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist,” Francis wrote.
“There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia,” he continued.
Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized his predecessor for refusing to label acts of terror committed by Muslims “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he has used often since his election.
“By confronting terror with love, we work for peace,” the pope wrote.
Finally, the pope reiterated his plea for believers to defend creation against exploitation, issuing a subtle warning against those who deny challenges facing the environment.
The “ecological crisis is real,” the pope wrote, and though conceding that science “is not the only form of knowledge,” he said, “we also know what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of Nature.”
Mr. Trump has called climate change a hoax and vowed to loosen federal regulations designed to protect the environment in order to support business.
Taken from Americamagazine.com
Posted on 22. Feb, 2017 by Franciscans For Justice.
Michael Czerny called for the world and the press to remember that the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis in the United States “is not the only one,” while commending the American church for how it’s “responding at every moment, and is united in the response.”
On January 1, the new Vatican dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development began its work, with one office in particular headed by none other than Pope Francis himself, who wanted to keep the section for Migrants and Refugees under his direct command.
It’s unrealistic to expect for the pope to be on top of all the ins and outs on a daily basis, so he appointed two priests, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, a Canadian, and Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio, an Italian, as undersecretaries.
Czerny, a longtime personal assistant to Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who heads the dicastery, spoke to Crux on Tuesday.
Among other things, Czerny called for the world and the press to remember that the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis in the United States “is not the only one,” while commending the American church for how it’s “responding at every moment, and is united in the response.”
What follows are excerpt of Crux’s interview with Czerny.
Crux: February 8 marks the Church’s International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, celebrated yearly since 2015, at the request of Pope Francis, who’s often described this illegal industry as a “crime against humanity.” Why is the Vatican’s section on Migrants and Refugees getting involved on a day of prayer against human trafficking?
Czerny: If the title of our section was more explicit or accurate, it would be for “Migrants, Refugees and Trafficked People.” In that sense, this is part of our mandate. We were basically mandated by the Holy Father to help him in response to the sufferings of people who are forcibly displaced, moved beyond where they want to be, and abused along the way.
We cover therefore all series of human movements and mobility, but also those who are victims of trafficking and modern day slavery.
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Posted on 28. Dec, 2016 by Franciscans For Justice.
taken from catholicnews.com – The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are symbols of God’s love and hope, reminding us to contemplate the beauty of creation and welcome the marginalized, Pope Francis said.
Baby Jesus, whose parents could find no decent shelter and had to flee persecution, is a reminder of the “painful experience” of so many migrants today, he said Dec. 9, just before the Vatican Christmas tree was to be lit and its Nativity scene was to be unveiled.
Nativity scenes all over the world “are an invitation to make room in our life and society for God — hidden in the gaze of so many people” who are living in need, poverty or suffering, he told people involved in donating the tree and creche for St. Peter’s Square.
The northern Italian province of Trent donated the 82-foot-tall spruce fir, which was adorned with ceramic ornaments handmade by children receiving medical treatment at several Italian hospitals.
The 55-foot-wide Nativity scene was donated by the government and Archdiocese of Malta. It features 17 figures dressed in traditional Maltese attire as well as replica of a Maltese boat to represent the seafaring traditions of the island.
The boat also represents “the sad and tragic reality of migrants on boats headed toward Italy,” the pope said in his speech in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.
“In the painful experience of these brothers and sisters, we revisit that (experience) of baby Jesus, who at the time of his birth did not find accommodation and was born in a grotto in Bethlehem and then was brought to Egypt to escape Herod’s threat.”
“Those who visit this creche will be invited to rediscover its symbolic value, which is a message of fraternity, sharing, welcoming and solidarity,” the pope said.
The beauty of the pristine forests of northern Italy where the tree grew “is an invitation to contemplate the creator and to respect nature,” he said, adding that “we are all called to approach creation with contemplative awe.”
The Nativity scene and tree will remain in St. Peter’s Square until the feast of the Lord’s Baptism Jan. 9.
Archbishop Lauro Tisi of Trent, speaking at the tree-lighting ceremony as the sun set, told people in St. Peter’s Square that the towering tree had lived decades — decades that saw thousands of people from the region emigrate in search of work in the early 1900s. It’s unconscionable, he said, that people today refuse to welcome those coming from poorer places with the same needs and dreams.
Manwel Grech, a sculptor of religious statues from Gozo, Malta, won a contest to make the Nativity scene. It was dream to create art for the Vatican and have it exhibited in the square where thousands of people from around the world will see it.
With more than a dozen statues of people and a menagerie of animals and other elements in the scene, Grech is a bit of a traditionalist: Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus are his favorites among the resin sculptures.
He wanted Mary to have a peaceful face because “when you see Jesus, you relax,” he said, and he tried to give Joseph a look of pride.
Grech included several very Maltese touches in the Nativity scene: A traditional balcony decorated with a Maltese cross; a statue of St. George Preca, the country’s only canonized saint; and a “luzzu,” the traditional Maltese fishing boat, which also reminds people of the journeys of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea.
Between the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree, the Vatican placed the cross and chunks of the facade of the Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia, Italy. The basilica was destroyed by an earthquake in October and dozens of other churches in central Italy crumbled or were heavily damaged. Money left at the Nativity scene by visitors will be donated to the church rebuilding effort in Norcia.