"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Human Dignity Is Key To Peace
Peace And Justice Depend On Forgiveness
In Defense of Life: Will Bishops Now Stop Euthanasia?
Society Challenged To Welcome Refugees
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective of World News
Pray The News
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for Relations with States, addressed the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on October 1. He stressed the importance of respect for human dignity and for ensuring respect for human life. His speech follows:
". . .Sixty-two years ago, the UN was established in order to save future generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and value of the human person, to ensure respect for international law, and to promote social progress in universal freedom. Today, once more, we must reaffirm those values in order to deliver a forceful 'no' to war and an equally forceful 'yes' to human dignity.
Dialogue and cooperation among Nations
"The preamble of the Charter of the UN, in its reference to the fundamental rights and the dignity of the human person, uses the word 'faith' and links it to dialogue and cooperation among Nations. In this way it is affirmed that there is such a thing as universal and transcendent truth about man and his innate dignity, which is not only prior to all political activity, but determines it – so that no ideology of power can eliminate it. This innate dignity also determines the just measure of national interests which may never be considered absolute, and in defense of which not only is it never right to harm the legitimate interests of other States but there is an obligation at the same time to help promote the common good of all people. Respect for human dignity, therefore, is the deepest ethical foundation in the search for peace and in the building up of international relations corresponding to the authentic needs and hopes of all the peoples of the earth. Forgetting, or partially and selectively accepting, the above principle is what lies at the origin of conflicts, of environmental degradation, and of social and economic injustices.
"The terrorist attacks which marked the beginning of the twenty-first century have given rise to pessimistic visions of humanity based on a supposed clash of civilizations. At times people respond by returning to extreme forms of nationalism, or by extending justification for the use of force, or by relativizing further the values essentially tied to human dignity – in particular the universal rights to life and to religious freedom.
"Nowadays, the binomial 'culture and religion' is increasingly heard in this hall. The Holy See welcomes the initiative to hold the High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace which, under your presidency, will take place here shortly. Indeed, dialogue among peoples of different cultures and religions is not an option; it is something indispensable for peace and for the renewal of international life.
"The Holy See hopes that the increased interest on the part of non-religious bodies and institutions will contribute to a greater respect for religious freedom everywhere. Today, the right to religious freedom continues to be disregarded and even violated in certain places. Such violation has become a pretext for various other forms of discrimination.
"If religious leaders and believers expect States and societies to respect them and acknowledge their religions to be truly instruments of peace, they themselves must respect religious freedom; they must show that they are pledged to promote peace and shun violence; they must demonstrate that religion is not and must not become a pretext for conflict; and they must declare without ambiguity that to promote violence or to wage war in the name of religion is a blatant contradiction.
Peace and Security
". . .In the difficult crossroads in which humanity finds itself today, the use of force no longer represents a sustainable solution. It is important to help the Conference on Disarmament find a way out of the impasse in which it has been languishing for more than a decade, relieve the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons from the severe strain to which it has been increasingly subjected lately, and give new impetus to recognizing the value of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This year's fiftieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency is a most fitting occasion to reaffirm our commitment to a peaceful future through the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the reduction and definitive dismantling of existing nuclear weapons, and the non-discriminatory, peaceful, and safe use of nuclear technology.
"Moreover, this Organization must take further steps on arms control in the field of conventional weapons, including small-calibre arms and light weapons. The Holy See associates itself with all appeals that underline the importance of adopting a common approach aimed at combating not only illegal traffic in such weapons but also other connected activities, such as terrorism, organized crime, trafficking in drugs, and in precious raw materials.
"Another important area in which the Holy See urges serious and effective action on the part of the international community is that of 'cluster munitions.' A rapid response to this problem is becoming an ethical imperative because of the high cost in human life, the majority of the victims being civilians and especially children.
Prevention, Peacekeeping, and Peacebuilding
"This Organization has many times expressed its willingness to devote more resources to conflict prevention, especially in the area of mediation. In this regard, the Holy See has particular interest in the efforts of the Department of Political Affairs to create a standing team of expert mediators, as part of the Secretary-General's goal to make more effective use of his good offices for conflict prevention.
"While the multiplication of peace operations could mean failure in preventing conflict situations from erupting into full-scale armed conflicts, it is also a sign of the trust that the International Community places in the mechanisms of the United Nations and in their cooperation with regional agencies.
"In this context, we look forward to the day that peacekeeping efforts in Darfur will finally be fully operational. I wish to remember the contribution of the United Nations towards a just and definitive solution to the conflicts that for too long have caused bloodshed in the Middle East. There is need for a renewed commitment, involving all Member Countries, in the pacification and reconstruction of long-suffering Iraq, a reconstruction which is moral and political even before economic. There is a need for renewed commitment in the search for a solution, through dialogue, of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, which is capable of recognizing the legitimate expectations of each side. Renewed commitment is needed in assuring that Lebanon will continue to be a free and independent country, a democratic, multicultural, and multi-confessional society, equitable and respectful of all people and of the various tendencies present in its midst, like a common home open to others. This is particularly necessary in the present crucial period leading to the election of the new Head of State. Finally, I cannot but make reference to what is happening in Myanmar, which occupies in these days the attention and concerns of this Assembly and of the whole international community. I wish to reiterate the appeal made yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI: Through dialogue, good will, and a spirit of humanity, may a solution to the crisis be found quickly for the good of the country and a better future for all its inhabitants.
"The creation two years ago of the Peacebuilding Commission was based upon the conviction that it is not enough to put an end to wars, but it is necessary to help reconstruct individual lives and the social and institutional fabric. Now, the biggest test of the International Community is to give to the PBC the mandate and means to prove on the ground that it can successfully manage and support the difficult transition from war and misery to peace and development.
Recognizing and responding to needs and hopes
"Many of the problems that today are attributed almost exclusively to cultural and religious differences have their origin in economic and social injustices. Freedom from want – illness, hunger, ignorance – is a necessary presupposition for a serene dialogue of civilizations.
"Forty years ago, in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI stated that development is the new name for peace.
"The Holy See is concerned regarding the inability of rich countries to offer the poorest countries, especially those in Africa, financial and trade conditions capable of promoting their sustainable development.
"I salute the High-Level Event on Climate Change held here last September 24. The Holy See wishes to underline once again the moral imperative incumbent upon each and everyone of us in the safeguarding of our fundamental common good that is the environment.
Building and nurturing fraternal relationships
". . .We are approaching the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet many have never heard of it nor been given the benefit of its principles. These rights are not based on the mere will of human beings, nor in the reality of the State, nor in public powers, but rather are grounded in the objective requirements of the nature bestowed on man.
"The most important part of our work in this context is to ensure that the inherent right to life is respected everywhere. This fundamental right must be protected from conception until natural death. Therefore, we must work to stop and reverse the culture of death embraced by some social and legal structures that try to make the suppression of life acceptable by disguising it as a medical or social service. In this sense, the abolition of the death penalty should also be seen as a consequence of full respect for the right to life.
"The legitimate quest for equality between men and women has achieved positive results. Nevertheless, inequalities in the exercise of basic human rights unfortunately still persist in many places. This leads to a breakdown in the social fabric and results in women's objectification and exploitation. The vindication of equality needs to be accompanied by the awareness that it goes hand in hand with and does not endanger, much less contradict, the recognition of both the difference and complementarity between men and women.
"The Holy See looks forward to the Commemorative high-level meeting on the follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children, scheduled for December 2007. It will be an opportunity to refocus our commitments to children and to redouble our efforts to promote their rights, end violence against them, and support the family.
"‘Faith' in human dignity demands that the problem of migrations is approached in the context of human rights, family rights, and children's rights. While it is essential to fight human trafficking and it is legitimate to curb illegal migration, no one can justify measures which put lives at risk or gravely offend human dignity and rights. The Holy See welcomes the momentum created by the first meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, held in Brussels in July, and looks forward to more progress in this regard.
". . .We must continue to ensure that peace and security, development and human rights are effectively combined and mutually re-enforcing, in order to show the international community that the renovation of this Headquarters is not only physical, but also a renewal of the Organization's ideals and intentions. A renewal that reaches into the deepest corners of this Organization is one in which all nations of the world will rightly take pride. . ."
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for Relations with States, addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on October 5 on the subject of interreligious and intercultural understanding and cooperation for peace.
Archbishop Mamberti said:
"Three times in the last two decades, leaders of the world's religions gathered at the invitation of the late Pope John Paul II in Assisi, the City of Saint Francis, a person recognized by many as a symbol of reconciliation and brotherhood. There they prayed and offered a common witness for peace. In 1986, they reflected on the roots of peace in the common origin and destiny of humankind. In 1993, they stressed, in particular, that violence in the name of religion is an offense against God. In January 2002, following 9/11, they reaffirmed that violence and terrorism are incompatible with authentic religion. In the recent words of Pope Benedict XVI, Assisi tells us that faithfulness to one's own religious convictions is not expressed in violence and intolerance, but in sincere respect for others, in dialogue, and in an announcement that appeals to freedom and reason while remaining committed to peace and reconciliation.
Religion as a factor of peace
"Religion, in fact, is essentially a herald of peace.
"The use of violence cannot be attributed to religion as such, but to the cultural limitations in which religions are lived and develop in time. For instance, it is well known that, in recent history, political leaders have sometimes manipulated religious identity and that some nationalist movements have utilized religious differences to garner support for their causes. Religion has also been used as a vehicle for violent protest where states have failed to provide development and justice for their people and have blocked other channels of dissent.
"However, historic traditions of spiritual discernment, asceticism, and service contribute to directing religious fervor away from violence and toward the good of the larger society. Theological reflection submits to critique views tending towards extremism. Philosophical questioning and historical scholarship help religion to deepen its search for truth and show its reasonableness, thus facilitating dialogue and consolidating the impact of religion on peacebuilding and on society as a whole.
". . .There cannot be peace without understanding and cooperation among religions. There cannot be understanding and cooperation among religions without religious liberty.
"The safeguarding and promotion of religious liberty for all requires both state action and religious responsibility.
The role of political authorities
"States and International Organizations are called to adhere to and enforce the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and allied international instruments, such as The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion and Belief.
"The full exercise of the right to religious freedom is based on respect for human reason and its capacity to know the truth; it ensures openness to transcendence as an indispensable guarantee of human dignity; it allows all religions to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it. Religious freedom includes the right to disseminate one's own faith and the right to change it. Respect for religious liberty would unmask the pretense of some terrorists to justify their unjustifiable actions on religious grounds.
"If violence still arises between religious groups, anti-incitement programs in civil society should be supported, especially when they are initiated by local groups in cross-religious alliances. Anti-incitement activities include education, mobilization of religious leaders, mass movements opposing hate speech, and other public acts calculated to spur sectarian violence.
"Religious minorities do not pretend special protection or status, as long as their right to religious freedom is fully guaranteed and they are not discriminated against on religious grounds. In fact, they should enjoy the same civil rights as the general population and members of the majority religion, e.g., for the construction and repair of places of worship.
". . .Fruitful high-level international gatherings of religious leaders aimed at praying for and promoting peace should be replicated at national and local levels. Indeed, prayer and good intentions are authentic only if they translate into practical gestures at all levels.
"If religions want to build peace, they must teach forgiveness. In fact, there is no peace without justice, and there is no justice without forgiveness.
"Religious communities can also make a positive contribution to peace by educating their own members in their teachings on peace and solidarity.
"The promotion of interreligious programs focused on development cooperation can also foster dialogue and make significant contributions to peacemaking in societies afflicted by conflict, working with local groups in anti-incitement, peace and nonviolence education, conflict transformation and negotiation.
". . .At a time when the so-called clash of civilizations is gaining currency in some quarters, religions have a special role to play in blazing new paths to peace, in union with one another and in cooperation with states and international organizations. To empower religions to fully assume this role, all of us must work together to ensure that religious freedom is recognized, safeguarded, and fostered by all and everywhere. If this High-Level Dialogue is to bear fruit, our message today must get out of the confines of this hall to reach and touch each and every person and community of believers throughout the world. . ."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
In response to questions raised by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released its responses on September 14. The replies were approved by Benedict XVI, and they reiterated the Church's teaching that it is always morally obligatory to provide food and water to patients in a so-called "vegetative state."
The first question was whether the administration of food and water, by whatever means, to a person in a so-called "vegetative state," is morally obligatory. To this question, the Vatican responded:
"Yes. The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way, suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented."
The second question proposed by the U.S. Bishops to the Vatican was whether nutrition and hydration be discontinued when it is determined that the patient will not recover consciousness. To the second question, the Vatican responded:
"No. A patient in a 'permanent vegetative state' is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means."
Is this a new understanding of the Catholic Church's moral teaching on the question of administrating food and hydration to anyone? "No" was the response of the U.S. Dominican Father Jay Augustin DiNoia, the Undersecretary of the Doctrinal Congregation, who stated that this "does not represent a change in Church teaching."
The Vatican reiterated what John Paul II taught in a March 2004 statement. He was just reiterating then what the Church has always taught. Pope John Paul II clearly stated that food and water are required to be furnished to every patient, including comatose patients, and that the deprivation of these essential means of life constitutes euthanasia.
The Vatican did note that there were three exceptions to this moral teaching:
(1) The first exception is if the area does not have the medical technology or other means to artificially provide food and hydration. Obviously, if one does not have the ability to supply food and hydration, one is not morally obligated to do so. This may be true in a number of third world countries, but this would never be an exception in the United States, Canada, or Europe.
(2) The second exception is that when a patient can no longer assimilate food and liquids, one is no longer obligated to provide them. When death is imminent (in a matter of hours), the systems of the body shut down, and the person can no longer assimilate the food and liquids. Death comes about by natural causes, and not by starvation.
(3) Thirdly, the Vatican states: "In some rare cases, artificial nourishment and hydration may be excessively burdensome for the patient or may cause significant physical discomfort, for example resulting from complications in the use of the means employed."
Euthanasia is practiced here in the United States. In cases where someone is in an "irreversible coma," or in a "vegetative state," someone (maybe family members, doctors, or hospital staff, etc.) decides that that person does not have "the quality of life" to continue to live. The patient is not dying, which is seen by some as undesirable. To hasten death, it is argued that it is a service to the patient to stop food and hydration, since this is "life-prolonging treatment."
As Fr. DiNoia points out, a person in a persistent "vegetative state" may not be "actually dying, in that sense anymore than any of us." He continues to note that the "quality of life" should not be a determining factor in what medical care should be provided since it is not a factor on which we can base a judgment.
The reader surely remembers the Terri Schiavo case in Florida, where Terri was denied food and hydration by her estranged husband, Michael (who was living with a concubine by whom he had already had two illegitimate children), with the approval of the courts.
Terri was not dying, and there was no prognosis that she would soon die. However, since her husband was appointed her guardian, and he had decided that her quality of life was such that she was better off dead, he decided to starve and dehydrate her to death.
The news media tried to make us believe that such a death was a peaceful one. However, as Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, who spent much of the last 14 days of Terri's life at her bedside stated: "Terri's death was not at all peaceful and beautiful. It was quite horrifying. She was dehydrating to death, and looked it. Her face had an expression of dread and sorrow. In my 16 years as a priest, I never saw anything like it before."
There wasn't one pro-life organization, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, or nondenominational, that failed to protest the starving and dehydrating to death of Terri Schiavo.
On the other hand, during the many months of publicity given the Terri Schiavo matter, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, with its enormous paid staff, failed to even address the immorality of withdrawing food and hydration from anyone. Although some individual bishops did speak out, a few issued ambiguous and confusing statements which lent a cover of acceptability to the positions taken by the husband, his attorneys, and the courts.
Even before the Terri Schiavo case received such publicity, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, composed of the four bishops from Covington, Lexington, Louisville, and Owensboro, welcomed and supported the decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court in Woods v. Commonwealth. There the court ruled that it was legal to withdraw food and hydration from a comatose patient who was not even in the dying process.
To pro-lifers across the country, the question arises why would the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops even have to ask the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue of whether it is morally acceptable to withdraw food and hydration from a non-dying patient, especially in light of Pope John Paul II's clear teaching of March 2004. It is almost unbelievable that they themselves did not know this clear and consistent teaching of the Church.
We can only hope, now that the Vatican has again addressed this issue, that the U.S. Bishops will publicly condemn the withdrawal of food and hydration from non-dying, comatose patients or those in the so-called "persistent vegetative state," and stop euthanasia in Catholic hospitals and medical facilities.
The growing refugee crisis challenges societies across the globe to be welcoming and express human solidarity with the refugees. On October 2, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi addressed this issue at a meeting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland.
Archbishop Tomasi is the Vatican's permanent observer to the office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva. His talk follows:
". . .Forcibly displaced people continue to be subjected to human rights violations. Regrettably, the number of refugees has increased again to some ten million persons and internally displaced people to well over 24 million. The statistical trend shows that uprooting people from their homes is a major injustice caused by persisting conflicts that trigger this dehumanizing condition. Other forms of violence force people to leave their homes and native countries: these include extreme misery, environment degradation, religious intolerance and persecution, lack of freedom, lack of respect for advocacy activity on behalf of human rights. Millions of normal, ordinary human beings are thrust into situations of incredible humiliation and suffering. The frustration of the international community in trying to cope with the plight of refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), stateless persons and asylum-seekers, finds expression in the public anxiety and in the emotional political reactions about options for resettlement and for provisions of an adequate financial solidarity to meet emergencies and then enable the return of such uprooted people to a normal life back home with a minimum of dignity. Frustration, however, cannot be allowed to dictate the pace of the action required to protect the rights of the displaced.
"An approach that opens to new commitments and that leads to practical measures of assistance and protection is based on rethinking the central place that human dignity and human rights should hold in refugee and asylum policies. On balance, among political considerations, institutional requirements, sudden crises and security mechanisms, priority should be given to uprooted people as persons with a claim on the international community. In fact the protection due to forcibly displaced people has been the motivation for the juridical instruments already developed by the international community. The respect of the rights of all displaced persons leads to a comprehensive response and protection so that a globalization of protection results from a globalization of rights. In this way, a more coordinated and effective implementation of existing protection instruments is possible while new instruments can be developed to remedy existing gaps, especially regarding vulnerable groups like women and girls, children, the elderly. The recent reflection in the preparation of new ExCom ‘Conclusions' has been moving in this direction.
"The perspective of human rights emanating from the dignity of every person offers a twofold advantage. First, a human rights approach means that the duty to protect reaches beyond the narrow national interest of single states and beyond the fear that it may be a disguised form of domination. A human rights-based approach to protection requires that the international community should respond actively to the needs of the displaced in ways that respect people displaced from their home nations and cultures as persons with equal dignity. Second, the human right to protection means that governments and other social groups have a duty not to drive people from their homes by denying them the possibility to survive there but to respond instead to the challenges of protection in a timely and effective way.
"Some of the well-known challenges facing the forcibly displaced have been the subject of long debates, but they still remain of concern because no substantive solutions have been reached. Uprooted people have to flee because their rights are not recognized. In this exodus, their rights are again violated. Protection gaps and challenges still exist in the whole process, from the moment a person becomes a refugee to the moment of access to one of the durable solutions. State security is emphasized over the protection of persons; financial contributions are channelled elsewhere. The end result is human suffering. The evidence is given by the fact that access to asylum procedures has increasingly become difficult or even impossible to secure, sometimes leading to restricting access or leading to refoulement. The policy of detention is enforced beyond strictly necessary measures, while people are forced, more or less permanently, to stay in camps, without having their right to freedom of movement and access to work guaranteed, a situation that too often results in chronic malnutrition. Donor fatigue and insufficient funding lead to reduction in food rations in camps and in failure to provide the necessary minimum basic essentials to address needs. The combined effect of this situation impacts the individual and the family and leads to a breakdown of values. Reintegration programs should be in line with the national recovery program in post-conflict situations and should proceed smoothly from emergency assistance to development aid, and so guarantee a sustainable return of forcibly displaced people.
"A comprehensive human rights perspective can indicate appropriate criteria and means that would apply from the moment a person is forced to leave home and to apply for asylum to the moment a durable solution is reached. In particular, renewed emphasis should be accorded to prevention and to peace-building, dialogue, and reconciliation. The prevention of conflicts, which always are a source of human rights violations and of massive forced displacement, must become the main road in the efforts of the international community to eradicate the tragedy of forced displacement. Such a moral imperative is also pragmatically cost-effective. Moreover, the previously-mentioned task of strengthening the institutional capacity to fulfill the protection mandate should encourage creative thinking, as has been the case in the cluster approach and in the ongoing restructuring within the UN system and some of its agencies. In this manner, the international community can succeed in developing a comprehensive instrument that embraces all forcibly uprooted persons. In this regard, the search for some monitoring mechanism or expert technical group could arrive at practical ways for a more effective implementation of the rights recognized to refugees in the 1951 Convention and its related Protocol as well as for a more convergent interpretation of these basic statutes.
". . .Around the world, crises leading to the movement of refugees and displaced people in the Middle East, in Africa, and elsewhere are reported as a routine dimension of daily existence. Public opinion tends to accept almost as normal the fact that millions of fellow human beings are so uprooted and relegated to miserable and painful conditions. But welcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is, for every one, a vital gesture of human solidarity in order to help them feel less isolated by intolerance and disinterest. The Delegation of the Holy See is happy to see that the UNHCR continues to witness such welcome and that it recognizes the welcome provided by representatives of the civil society, as is the case this year with the Nansen Refugee Award, given to a member of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Pope Benedict XVI constantly appeals that these our brothers and sisters, so badly tested by suffering, should be guaranteed asylum and the recognition of their rights, and that public authorities should offer them protection in such delicate situations of need.
"In conclusion, addressing the problem of uprooted people from their own perspective, and that of their dignity and rights, will lead the international community to search for more comprehensive and humane solutions and to find the motivation for undertaking bold steps for their implementation. . ."
CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY — During the Sunday Angelus on September 30, Pope Benedict XVI commented on the day's Gospel reading of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. The Pope said:
". . .The rich man personifies the wicked use of riches by those who spend them on uncontrolled and selfish luxuries, thinking solely of satisfying themselves without caring at all for the beggar at their door.
"The poor man, on the contrary, represents the person whom God alone cares for: unlike the rich man he has a name: ‘Lazarus,' an abbreviation of ‘Eleazarus,' which means, precisely, ‘God helps him.'
"God does not forget those who are forgotten by all; those who are worthless in human eyes are precious in the Lord's. The story shows how earthly wickedness is overturned by divine justice: after his death, Lazarus was received ‘in the bosom of Abraham,' that is, into eternal bliss; whereas the rich man ended up ‘in Hades, in torment.' This is a new and definitive state of affairs against which no appeal can be made, which is why one must mend one's ways during one's life; to do so after serves no purpose.
"This parable can also be interpreted in a social perspective. Pope Paul VI's interpretation of it 40 years ago in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio remains unforgettable. Speaking of the campaign against hunger he wrote: ‘It is a question. . .of building a world where every man. . .can live a fully human life. . .where the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the same table with the rich man' (n. 47).
"The cause of the numerous situations of destitution, the Encyclical recalls, is on the one hand ‘servitude imposed. . .by other men,' and on the other, ‘natural forces over which [the person] has not sufficient control' (ibid.).
"Unfortunately, some populations suffer from both these factors. How can we fail to think at this time especially of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, affected by serious floods in the past few days? Nor can we forget the many other humanitarian emergencies in various regions of the planet, in which conflicts for political and economic power contribute to exacerbating existing, oppressive environmental situations.
"The appeal voiced by Paul VI at that time, ‘Today the peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to the peoples blessed with abundance' (ibid., n. 3), is still equally pressing today.
"We cannot say that we do not know which way to take: we have the Law and the Prophets, Jesus tells us in the Gospel. Those who do not wish to listen to them would not change even if one of the dead were to return to admonish them.
"May the Virgin Mary help us to make the most of the present time to listen to and put into practice these words of God. May she obtain for us that we become more attentive to our brethren in need, to share with them the much or the little that we have and to contribute, starting with ourselves, to spreading the logic and style of authentic solidarity. . ."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
VATICAN CITY – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, sent a message to Muslims marking the end of Ramadan. He said:
". . .In the troubled times we are passing through, religious believers have, as servants of the Almighty, a duty above all to work in favor of peace, by showing respect for the convictions of individuals and communities everywhere through freedom of religious practice. Religious freedom, which must not be reduced to mere freedom of worship, is one of the essential aspects of freedom of conscience, which is the right of every individual and a cornerstone of human rights. It takes into account the requirement that a culture of peace and solidarity between men can be built in which everybody can be firmly engaged in the construction of an increasingly fraternal society, doing everything one can to reject, denounce, and refuse every recourse to violence which can never be motivated by religion, since it wounds the very image of God in man. We know that violence, especially terrorism which strikes blindly and claims countless innocent victims, is incapable of resolving conflicts and leads only to a deadly chain of destructive hatred, to the detriment of mankind and of societies.
"As religious believers, it's up to us all to be educators of peace, of human rights, of a freedom which respects each person, but also to ensure increasingly strong social bonds, because man must take care of his human brothers and sisters without discrimination. No individual in the national community should be excluded on the grounds of his or her race, religion, or any other personal characteristic. Together, as members of different religious traditions, we are called to spread a teaching which honors all human creatures, a message of love between individuals and peoples. We are particularly responsible for ensuring that our young people, who will be in charge of tomorrow's world, are formed in this spirit. It is above all the responsibility of families and then of those involved in the educational world, and of civic and religious authorities, all of whom have a duty to pay attention to the spread of a just teaching. They must provide everyone an education appropriate to his or her particular circumstances, especially a civic education which invites each young person to respect those around him or her, and to consider them as brothers and sisters with whom he or she is daily called to live, not in indifference, but in fraternal care. It is thus more urgent than ever to teach to the younger generations, those fundamental human, moral, and civic values which are necessary to both personal and community life. All instances of incivility must be made use of to remind the young of what is waiting for them in social life. It is the common good of every society and of the entire world which is at stake.
"In this spirit, the pursuit and intensification of dialogue between Christians and Muslims must be considered important, in both educational and cultural dimensions. Thus all forces can be mobilized in the service of mankind and humanity so that the younger generations do not become cultural or religious blocs opposed to one another, but genuine brothers and sisters in humanity. Dialogue is the tool which can help us to escape from the endless spiral of conflict and multiple tensions which mark our societies, so that all peoples can live in serenity and peace and with mutual respect and harmony among their component groups. . .
"This is the ardent hope I share with you: that Christians and Muslims continue to develop increasingly friendly and constructive relationships in order to share their specific riches, and that they will pay particular attention to the quality of the witness of their believers. . ."
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com