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Pope Francis to lead Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and DRC

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is to preside over a Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 23rd in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5.30pm Rome time.

Solidarity with South Sudan” in association with the Justice and Peace office of religious organizations worldwide, has organized the Prayer and confirmed that when Pope Francis heard of the initiative he made it known that he wanted to be personally involved. 

Christians across the world are invited to pray together on that day and time for Peace in the world, and above all in South Sudan and in DRC, two conflict ravaged nations in which millions of displaced people are suffering the effects of terrible humanitarian crises.

Sr. Yudith Pereira Rico, the Associate Executive Director of Solidarity in Rome, told journalists that the main thing people ask her to do when she travels to South Sudan, is to tell the world what is happening in their country.

The world’s newest country spiraled into civil war in late 2013, two years after gaining independence from Sudan, causing one fourth of the 15 million-strong population to flee their homes.

Sister Yudith described the continuing violence and abuse taking place in South Sudan as “Silent Genocide”.

She told Linda Bordoni what it means for the suffering people of South Sudan to know that the Pope and Christians across the world are praying for them:

Listen:

Sister Yudith said that for them, to know that people outside of South Sudan, in Rome, and in other places are praying for them, is to know that “we have the world with us”.

“For them it a source of strength and hope for the future to feel that they are not alone, and this is important because otherwise where can they find the courage to resist what they are enduring now as refugees, victims…” she said.

And highlighting the many abuses the most vulnerable people are enduring including the use of rape as a weapon of war, Sr Yudith said “to know that people are talking about this means that they too, as human beings count”.

“They feel they don’t count for anybody: for politicians they don’t count, they don’t exist – they are only fighting for power and for money.”

She says most people don’t even know where South Sudan is or the fact that it is the newt country.

To acknowledge and to pray for them, she said, is to give them dignity and saying “we are with you”.

She said that notwithstanding the terrible events that caused the new nation to disintegrate into conflict the people still want to be one.

She explained that they came from 20 years of war, they did not have a national identity, and while the warmongers are vying for power and control the new generations, the women and all ordinary people are convinced they can all live together peacefully.

Sr Yudith also spoke of Pope Francis’ interest in the nation and of how it has positively impacted the desire to set in motion some kind of peace process.

“He is waiting for them to begin something so he can come and lend his support, but they have to begin…” she said.
       

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis makes surprise visit field hospital in St. Peter's Square

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis made a surprise visit on Thursday afternoon to a small "field hospital" set up in front of St. Peter's Square to provide medical care for Rome's poor.

During the short visit, the Pope greeted volunteers and poor people waiting to receive care ahead of the first World Day of the Poor, taking place on Sunday, November 19.

He was accompanied by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation.

The healthcare structure is an initiative connected to that Day and announced by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation.

Pope Francis called for the celebration of the World Day of the Poor at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

A statement from the Holy See Press Office said the tent hospital run by the Italian Red Cross offers "free medical visits for the poor and needy throughout the week from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM".

Red Cross medics staffing the field hospital are specialized in clinical analysis, cardiology, dermatology, gynecology, and andrology.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope meets with members of Apostolic Confederation for the Clergy

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held an audience with international members of the Apostolic Confederation for the Clergy in the Vatican on Thursday.

He invited participants to reflect on the ordained ministry, "in, for and with the diocesan community". 

The Pope said, "One becomes an expert in spirituality of communion primarily thanks to conversion to Christ, to the docile opening to the action of the Spirit, and by welcoming one’s brothers."

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

Dear priests,

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133,1). These verses of the psalm go well after the words of Msgr. Magrin, impassioned president of the International Confederation Apostolic Union of Clergy. It is truly a joy to meet and to feel the fraternity that arises among us, called to the service of the Gospel following the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd. To each one of you I address my cordial greeting, which I extend to the representatives of the Apostolic Union of the Laity.

In this Assembly you are reflecting on the ordained ministry, “in, for and with the diocesan community”. In continuity with previous meetings, you intend to focus on the role of pastors in the particular Church; and in this rereading, the hermeneutic key is the diocesan spirituality that is the spirituality of communion in the manner of the Trinitarian communion. Msgr. Magrin underlined that word, “diocesan”: it is a key word. Indeed, the mystery of the Trinitarian communion is the high model of reference for the ecclesial community. Saint John Paul, in his Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, recalled that “the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning” is precisely this: “to make the Church the home and school of communion” (43). This involves, in the first instance, “[promoting] a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed” (ibid). And today we have a great need for communion, in the Church and in the world.

One becomes an expert in spirituality of communion primarily thanks to conversion to Christ, to the docile opening to the action of the Spirit, and by welcoming one’s brothers. As we are well aware, the fruitfulness of the apostolate does not depend only on activity or on organizational efforts, although these are necessary, but firstly upon divine action. Today as in the past the saints are the most effective evangelizers, and all the baptized are called to reach towards the highest measure of Christian life, namely, holiness. This is even more applicable to ordained ministers. I think of worldliness, the temptation of spiritual worldliness, so often concealed in rigidity: one calls the other, they are “stepsisters”, one calls the other. The World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, which is celebrated every year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, constitutes an ideal opportunity to implore of the Lord the gift of zealous and holy ministers for His Church. To achieve this ideal of holiness, every ordained minister is called to follow the example of the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for His sheep. And from where can we draw this pastoral charity, if not from the heart of Christ? In Him the celestial Father has filled us with the infinite treasures of mercy, tenderness and love: here we can always find the spiritual energy indispensable to be able to radiate His love and His joy in the world. And we are led to Christ every day also in the filial relation with our Mother, Mary Most Holy, especially in the contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary.

Closely linked with the path of spirituality is commitment to pastoral action in the service of the people of God, visible today and in the concreteness of the local Church: pastors are called to be wise and faithful servants who imitate the Lord, who don the apron of service and bend to the lives of their communities, to understand their history and to live the joys and sufferings, expectations and hopes of the flock entrusted to them. Indeed, Vatican Council II taught that the right way for ordained ministers to achieve holiness is in “[performing] their duties sincerely and indefatigably in the Spirit of Christ”; “by the sacred actions which are theirs daily as well as by their entire ministry which they share with the bishop and their fellow priests, they are directed to perfection in their lives” (Decreto Presbyterorum Ordinis, 12).

You rightly highlight that ordained ministers acquire the right pastoral style also by cultivating fraternal relations and participating in the pastoral journey of the diocesan Church, in its appointments, its projects and its initiatives that translate the programmatic guidelines into practice. A particular Church has a concrete face, rhythms and decisions; it must be served with dedication every day, bearing witness to the harmony and unity that is lived and developed with the bishop. The pastoral journey of the local community has as an essential point of reference the pastoral plan of the diocese, which must take precedence over the programmes of associations, movements or any other particular group. And this pastoral unity, of everyone around the bishop, will bring unity to the Church. And it is very sad when, in a presbytery, we find that this unity does not exist, it is apparent. And there gossip reigns: gossip destroys the diocese, destroys the unity of presbyters, the unity among them and with the bishop. Brother priests, remember, please: we always see bad things in others – because cataracts don’t appear in this eye – eyes are always ready to see ugly things, but I urge you not to arrive at gossip. If I see bad things, I pray or, as a brother, I speak. I do not act as a “terrorist”, because gossip is a form of terrorism. Gossiping is like through a bomb: I destroy the other person and go away calmly. Please, no gossip, they are the like the woodworm that eat through the fabric of the Church, of the diocesan Church, of the unity among all of us.

Dedication to the particular Church must then be expressed more broadly, with attention to the life of all the Church. Communion and mission are correlated dynamics. One becomes a minister to serve one’s own particular Church, in obedience to the Holy Spirit and one’s own bishop and in collaboration with other priests, but with the awareness of being part of the universal Church, which crosses the boundaries of one’s own diocese and country. If the mission is an essential quality of the Church, it is especially so for he who, ordained, is called to exercise the ministry in a community that is missionary by nature, and to educate in having a world view – not worldliness, but a world view! Indeed, mission is not an individual choice, due to individual generosity or perhaps pastoral disillusionment, but rather it is a choice of the particular Church that becomes a protagonist in the communication of the Gospel to all peoples.

Dear brother bishops, I pray for each one of you and for your ministry, and for the service of the Apostolic Union of Clergy. And I pray also for you, dear brothers and sisters. May my blessing accompany you. And remember: do not forget to pray for me too, as I am in need of prayers! Thank you.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis sends letter to COP23 climate conference in Bonn

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to participants in the COP-23 UN Convention on climate change, taking place in Bonn, Germany on 6-17 November.

The letter was sent to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of the Fiji Islands, which is officially hosting the event, and was read out to COP-23 participants.

Pope Francis congratulated the world leaders present at the COP-23 event and invited them "to maintain a high level of cooperation".

He renewed his "urgent call" for renewed dialogue "on how we are building the future of the planet."

"We need an exchange that unites us all," he said, "because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all."

The Pope warned participants not to fall into "four perverse attitudes" regarding the future of the planet: "denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions."

Finally, Pope Francis sent his well-wishes that the COP-23 would be "inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21" event at which the historic Paris agreement was signed.

Please find below the official translation of the Pope's message:

Excellency,

Nearly two years ago, the international community gathered within this UNFCCC forum, with most of its highest government representatives, and after a long and complex debate arrived at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement. It saw the achievement of consensus on the need to launch a shared strategy to counteract one of the most worrying phenomena our humanity is experiencing: climate change.

The will to follow this consensus was highlighted by the speed with which the Paris Agreement entered into force, less than a year after its adoption.

The Agreement indicates a clear path of transition to a low- or zero-carbon model of economic development, encouraging solidarity and leveraging the strong links between combating climate change and poverty. This transition is further solicited by the climatic urgency that requires greater commitment from the countries, some of which must endeavour to take a leading role in this transition, bearing in mind the needs of the most vulnerable populations.

These days you are gathered in Bonn to carry out another important phase of the Paris Agreement: the process of defining and constructing guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms so that it may be truly effective and capable of contributing to the achievement of the complex objectives it proposes. In such a path, it is necessary to maintain a high level of cooperation.

From this perspective, I would like to reaffirm my urgent call to renew dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet. We need an exchange that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all. [...] Unfortunately, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis are often frustrated for various reasons ranging from denial of the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation, or blind trust in technical solutions (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 14).

We should avoid falling into the trap of these four perverse attitudes, which certainly do not help honest research or sincere and productive dialogue on building the future of our planet: denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions.

Moreover, we cannot limit ourselves only to the economic and technological dimension: technical solutions are necessary but not sufficient; it is essential and desirable to carefully consider the ethical and social impacts and impacts of the new paradigm of development and progress in the short, medium and long term.

From this perspective, it is increasingly necessary to pay attention to education and lifestyles based on an integral ecology, capable of taking on a vision of honest research and open dialogue where the various dimensions of the Paris Agreement are intertwined. It is useful to remember that the Agreement recalls the “grave … ethical and moral responsibility to act without delay, in a manner as free as possible from political and economic pressures, setting aside particular interests and behaviour” (cf. Message to COP-22). This means, in effect, propagating a “responsible awareness” towards our common home (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 202; 231) through the contribution of all, in explaining the different forms of action and partnership between the various stakeholders, some of whom do not lack to highlight the ingenuity of the human being in favour of the common good.

While I send my greetings to you, Mr President, and to all the participants in this Conference, I hope that, with your authoritative guidance and that of the Fiji Islands, the work of these days will be inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21. This will enable an acceleration of awareness-raising and consolidate the will to make effective decisions to counteract the phenomenon of climate change while at the same time fighting poverty and promoting true human development as a whole. This commitment is supported by the wise providence of God Most High.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at daily Mass: The Kingdom of God is within us

(Vatican Radio) The kingdom of God is not a show, much less a carnival; it does not go looking for publicity. Its growth comes from the Holy Spirit, rather than from “pastoral plans.” That was the message of Pope Francis in his daily homily at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday.

The point of departure for the Pope’s homily was the Pharisees’ question in the day’s Gospel about when the Kingdom of God will come. It is a simple question, the Pope said, which can be asked in good faith, as appears in numerous passages in the Gospel. John the Baptist, for example, when he was imprisoned, sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the Messiah, or if they should look for another. Later, in another passage, the same question is turned around: during His Passion, the bystanders say to Jesus, “If you are he, come down from the Cross.” Pope Francis said there are always doubts, there is always curiosity about when the Kingdom of God will come.

“The Kingdom of God is in your midst”: That is the answer of Jesus. That is the “glad tidings” in the synagogue of Nazareth, when Jesus, after having read a passage from Isaiah, says that that Scripture is fulfilled “today,” in their midst.

Like a seed, when it is sown, grows from within, so the Kingdom of God grows “in hiding,” in the midst “of us,” the Pope repeated. Or it is like “the gem, or the treasure,” but always in humility:

“But who makes that seed grow? Who makes it sprout? God, the Holy Spirit, who is within us. And the Holy Spirit is the spirit of meekness, the spirit of humility, He is the spirit of obedience, the spirit of simplicity. It is He who makes the Kingdom of God grow with, not pastoral plans, the great things… No, it is the Spirit, in hiding. He makes it grow, and the moment arrives, and the fruit appears.”

In the case of the good thief, the Pope asked when the seed of the Kingdom of God was sown in his heart. Perhaps it was his mother, Pope Francis suggested, or perhaps a rabbi when he was explaining the law. And then, perhaps, it is forgotten – but at a certain point “in hiding,” the Spirit makes it grow. What this means, the Pope said, is that the Kingdom of God is always “a surprise,” because it is “a gift given by the Lord.”

Jesus explains that “the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way that it attracts attention, and no one will say, ‘Look, there it is,’ or ‘Look, here it is.’” “It is not a show, or, even worse, a carnival,” he said, although often times we think of it that way.”

“The Kingdom of God is not seen with haughtiness or pride; it does not love publicity. It is humble, hidden, and thus it grows. I think that when the people saw the Madonna, those who followed Jesus [said]: ‘That’s the mother, ah…’ The most holy woman, but in hiding. No one knew the mystery of the Kingdom of God, the holiness of the Kingdom of God. And when she was close by the Cross of her Son, the people said, ‘But the poor woman, with this criminal as a son, poor woman…’ Nothing, no one understood.”

The Kingdom of God, then, always grows in hiding, the Pope said, because it is there, in our midst, that the Holy Spirit “makes it sprout, until it bears fruit.”

“We are all called to take this road of the kingdom of God: It is a vocation, it is a grace, it is a gift, it is given freely, it is not purchased, it is a grace that God gives us. And all we who are baptized have the Holy Spirit within [us]. How is my relationship with the Holy Spirit, Who makes the Kingdom of God grow within me? A good question for all of us to ask ourselves today. Do I believe this? Do I truly believe that the Kingdom of God is in the midst of us, it is hidden? Or do I like spectacle even more?”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by asking the Holy Spirit for the grace to make “make the seed of the Kingdom of God” grow in us and in the Church, with strength, “so that it might become large, give refuge to many people, and give the fruits of sanctity.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pontifical Council for Culture’s Plenary Assembly looks at the future of humanity

The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology, that’s the title of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s Plenary Assembly which is taking place in Rome this week.

How is the image of the human person changing in the present world and is science and technology changing fundamental anthropological concepts? Those are just two of the questions that will be addressed during the gathering.

The Plenary is also examining the anthropological changes in three specific areas: the possibilities of body transformation offered by medicine and genetics; the ethical implications of neuroscience; and the social and anthropological transformations caused by the development of technology.

The meeting will include experts from around the world as well as members of the Council.

Bishop Paul Tighe is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, he spoke to Vatican Radio’s Lydia O’Kane about the link between culture and science and the relationship between scientific research and the Christian tradition.

Listen to the interview:

Bishop Tighe explains that the basis of this Plenary, “is an attempt to look at what it means to be human; what it is that gives value to human life; what does it mean for us to be individuals, but individuals who live in society and how that expresses itself culturally. He goes to say that, “our interest is in looking at the developments that are happening in the area of science, that are causing us maybe to think again about what it means to be human…”

Science and Christian tradition

Asked whether there can be harmony between the Christian tradition and scientific research, the Bishop says, “I think we would always want to say absolutely. We believe that the human person is made in the image and likeness of God; part of our being made in the likeness and image of God is being made with an intelligence with a capacity to understand our environment and to understand our world.” Bishop Tighe also emphasizes that, “science is hugely important. Science has contributed so much to this world, scientists in particular have sacrificed themselves in so many ways to help the human race…”

The Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council of Culture continues until 18th November.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis meets with President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the President of Austria, Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, in the Apostolic Palace on Thursday.

A statement from the Holy See Press Office said "the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Austria were evoked."

The two heads of State also spoke about "matters of mutual interest, such as the defence of the inviolable dignity of the human person, the promotion of a culture of encounter, and concern for the care of creation."

Pope Francis and Mr. Van der Bellen also spoke about "the international community in the search for peaceful solutions to ongoing conflicts in various regions of the world, also reiterating their joint commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons."

President Van der Bellen subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope addresses end-of-life issues

(Vatican Radio) When faced with the new challenges that arise with regard to “end-of-life” issues, “the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick.” In a letter to participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association on end-of-life issues, Pope Francis said:

“The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient.  Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity.”

In his message, the Holy Father called for “greater wisdom” in striking a balance between medical efforts to prolong life, and the responsible decision to withhold treatment when death becomes inevitable. “It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment,” the Pope said. “From an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that it is often difficult to determine the proper course of action in increasingly complex cases. “There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved,” he said, pointing to the traditional criteria of moral theology for evaluating human actions. But in this process, he insisted “the patient has the primary role.”

The Holy Father also raised the issue of “a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care,” both globally – especially between different continents – and within individual, especially wealthy countries, where options for health care often depend more on “economic resources,” than the “actual need for treatment.”

It is important, Pope Francis said, to find agreed solutions to “these sensitive issues.” He emphasized the need to recognize different world views and ethical systems, but also noted the duty of the state to protect the dignity of every human person, especially the most vulnerable.

Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ letter:

To My Venerable Brother
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia
President of the Pontifical Academy for Life

 

I extend my cordial greetings to you and to all the participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association on end-of-life issues, held in the Vatican in conjunction with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Your meeting will address questions dealing with the end of earthly life.  They are questions that have always challenged humanity, but that today take on new forms by reason of increased knowledge and the development of new technical tools.  The growing therapeutic capabilities of medical science have made it possible to eliminate many diseases, to improve health and to prolong people’s life span.  While these developments have proved quite positive, it has also become possible nowadays to extend life by means that were inconceivable in the past.  Surgery and other medical interventions have become ever more effective, but they are not always beneficial: they can sustain, or even replace, failing vital functions, but that is not the same as promoting health.  Greater wisdom is called for today, because of the temptation to insist on treatments that have powerful effects on the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person.

Some sixty years ago, Pope Pius XII, in a memorable address to anaesthesiologists and intensive care specialists, stated that there is no obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy and that, in some specific cases, it is permissible to refrain from their use (cf. AAS XLIX [1957], 1027-1033).  Consequently, it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be called “due proportion in the use of remedies” (cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration on Euthanasia, 5 May 1980, IV: AAS LXXII [1980], 542-552).  The specific element of this criterion is that it considers “the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources” (ibid.).  It thus makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal of “overzealous treatment”.

Such a decision responsibly acknowledges the limitations of our mortality, once it becomes clear that opposition to it is futile.  “Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2278).  This difference of perspective restores humanity to the accompaniment of the dying, while not attempting to justify the suppression of the living.  It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment; from an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.

Needless to say, in the face of critical situations and in clinical practice, the factors that come into play are often difficult to evaluate.  To determine whether a clinically appropriate medical intervention is actually proportionate, the mechanical application of a general rule is not sufficient.  There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved.  In caring for and accompanying a given patient, the personal and relational elements in his or her life and death – which is after all the last moment in life – must be given a consideration befitting human dignity.  In this process, the patient has the primary role.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this clear: “The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able” (loc. cit.). The patient, first and foremost, has the right, obviously in dialogue with medical professionals, to evaluate a proposed treatment and to judge its actual proportionality in his or her concrete case, and necessarily refusing it if such proportionality is judged lacking.  That evaluation is not easy to make in today's medical context, where the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly fragmented and medical care involves any number of technological and organizational aspects.

It should also be noted that these processes of evaluation are conditioned by the growing gap in healthcare possibilities resulting from the combination of technical and scientific capability and economic interests.  Increasingly sophisticated and costly treatments are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population, and this raises questions about the sustainability of healthcare delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care.  This tendency is clearly visible at a global level, particularly when different continents are compared.  But it is also present within the more wealthy countries, where access to healthcare risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment.

In the complexity resulting from the influence of these various factors on clinical practice, but also on medical culture in general, the supreme commandment of responsible closeness, must be kept uppermost in mind, as we see clearly from the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37).  It could be said that the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick.  The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient.  Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity.  Let each of us give love in his or her own way—as a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother or sister, a doctor or a nurse.  But give it!  And even if we know that we cannot always guarantee healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death.  This approach is reflected in palliative care, which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome—pain and loneliness.

Within democratic societies, these sensitive issues must be addressed calmly, seriously and thoughtfully, in a way open to finding, to the extent possible, agreed solutions, also on the legal level.  On the one hand, there is a need to take into account differing world views, ethical convictions and religious affiliations, in a climate of openness and dialogue.  On the other hand, the state cannot renounce its duty to protect all those involved, defending the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being living with others in society.  Particular attention must be paid to the most vulnerable, who need help in defending their own interests.  If this core of values essential to coexistence is weakened, the possibility of agreeing on that recognition of the other which is the condition for all dialogue and the very life of society will also be lost.  Legislation on health care also needs this broad vision and a comprehensive view of what most effectively promotes the common good in each concrete situation.

 In the hope that these reflections may prove helpful, I offer you my cordial good wishes for a serene and constructive meeting.  I also trust that you will find the most appropriate ways of addressing these delicate issues with a view to the good of all those whom you meet and those with whom you work in your demanding profession.

May the Lord bless you and the Virgin Mary protect you.

 

From the Vatican, 7 November 2017

(from Vatican Radio)

World Day of the Poor: A day for giving and receiving

(Vatican Radio) This Sunday parishes in Rome and around the world will mark the first World Day of the Poor which is just one of the fruits of the Jubilee of Mercy.

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has been tasked with the organization of the initiative called by Pope Francis.

“The Holy Father announced this initiative, occasion, this opportunity for grace during the Jubilee when he reached out to those who are socially marginalized and so this is an opportunity for the Church around the world to not only celebrate and assist and be with those who are poor, but also to change our attitudes about poverty”, says Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Council.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization:

Giving and receiving

He points out that, “this World Day of the Poor, it’s so beautiful because it’s nothing about power, it’s nothing about anything else but reciprocity, giving and receiving.”

 “We are all poor in some way” … notes Mons Sylva, “and everybody’s got something to give, something to offer and this day can serve to open our minds and hearts, our attitudes towards the poverty that exists every day of the year.”

He goes on to say that, Pope Francis, “continues to focus the Church, its attention towards how is it we respond to poverty institutionally, but also to people individually.”

Marking World Day of the Poor

The World Day of the Poor is being marked not only in Rome, but also in parishes around the world and Mons Sylva says that the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has published information on its website in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this initiative

Some of the events organized in Rome include a prayer vigil in the church of St Lawrence Outside the Walls on Saturday 18th at 8pm. There will also be a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday morning the 19th which will see some four thousand needy people take part, followed by a lunch in the Paul VI hall.

(from Vatican Radio)

General Audience: Holy Mass is the prayer "par excellence"

Reading: Luke 11,1-4

[1] He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” [2]He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. [3] Give us each day our daily bread [4] and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”

(Vatican Radio) At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the Holy Mass.

The Mass, the Pope said, is prayer – or rather, it is “the prayer par excellence, the highest, the most sublime, and at the same time, the most ‘concrete’ … it is an encounter with the Lord.”

“But what is prayer, really?” Pope Francis asked. “it is first of all dialogue, a relationship with God.” Man, he continued, “was created as a being in personal relationship with God, who finds his full realization only in the encounter with His Creator.”

God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is Himself “a perfect relationship of love that is unity.” Because we are created in “the image and likeness of God,” we too are called to enter into a perfect relationship of love. And it is the Mass, the Eucharist, that is “the privileged moment to be with Christ, and, through Him, with God and with our brothers.”

But dialogue also means knowing how to remain silent, in the presence of the other. The Holy Father emphasized the importance of moments of silence when we go to Mass – the liturgy, he said, is not a time for chatting, but a time to recollect ourselves, to prepare our hearts for the encounter with Jesus.

Jesus Himself often went off to “a place apart” in order to pray; and His disciples, seeing His intimate relationship with the Father, asked Him how to pray. “Jesus says that the first thing necessary for prayer” is to be able to call God “Father.” Pope Francis said, “If I cannot say ‘Father’ to God, I can’t pray. We have to learn to say ‘Father,’ that is, to put ourselves into His presence with filial confidence.”

In this sense, he continued, we must be like children, able to entrust ourselves entirely to God, as children do with their parents. And, like children, we must also have a sense of wonder, we must “allow ourselves to be surprised.” When we speak to God in prayer, the Pope said, it is not talking to God “like parrots.” Instead it means “entrusting ourselves and opening our hearts to allow ourselves to wonder.” The encounter with God in Mass, he said, “is always a living encounter, it is not a meeting in a museum.”

Pope Francis recalled the Gospel account of Nicodemus’ meeting with Jesus. In their encounter, Jesus spoke about the need to be born again. But how is this possible, the Pope asked? “This is a fundamental question of our faith,” he said, “and this is the desire of every true believer: the desire to be reborn, the joy of beginning anew.” Pope Francis asked his audience, “Do we have this desire? Does each one of us have the desire to always be reborn in order to encounter the Lord? Do you have this desire?”

In fact, the Pope concluded, “the Lord surprises us by showing us that He loves us even in our weakness.” In the Mass, in our encounter with Jesus, “the Lord encounters our fragility in order to bring us back to our first calling: that of being in the image and likeness of God.” This, Pope Francis said, “is the environment of the Eucharist, this is the prayer.”

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(from Vatican Radio)