"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
|Rest In Peace|
Mrs. Albert (Toni) Lauer, mother of the late Father Albert Lauer, founder of Presentation Ministries, died on August 16. Mrs. Lauer celebrated her 91st birthday on August 12. She is shown here iwth Fr. Al at a celebration of his 25th ordination anniversary. Mrs. Lauer was a great witness for Jesus who brought His love to many. She encouraged many others. We love you, Mar. Lauer!
(Photo by Louise Roth)
In his homily at a World Youth Day Mass July 20 at Randwick Racecourse, Pope Benedict XVI called young people to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to be missionaries to a world in need of Christ’s love and life.
The Pope’s homily follows:
. . ." 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope, and new life in Christ.
"In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ’s Spirit and the richness of His gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people 'from every nation under heaven’ (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of God’s love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and His Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ!
"'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.’ These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today’s Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us – to all those who have received the Spirit’s gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed Him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in His gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord’s body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in His power, 'one body, one spirit in Christ.’
"But what is this 'power’ of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God’s life! It is the power of the same Spirit Who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and Who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He Himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God’s grace.
"Here in Australia, this 'great south land of the Holy Spirit,’ all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: 'charged,’ as the poet says, 'with the grandeur of God,’ filled with the glory of His creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation, and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord.
"The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Church’s sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit’s power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: 'Come, come to the Father’ (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).
"Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. God’s love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to God’s grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit Who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of His Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with Him, to hear his voice, to abide in His love, and to receive 'power from on high,’ enabling us to be salt and light for our world.
"At His Ascension, the Risen Lord told His disciples: 'You will be My witnesses … to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands – witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.
"Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects Him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the 'power’ which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make?
"The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God’s Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today’s Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all God’s promises, the Messiah Who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ’s Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can 'renew the face of the earth’ (cf. Ps 104:30)!
"Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith’s rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God’s gift of life is welcomed, respected, and cherished – not rejected, feared as a threat, and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful, and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy, and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of His love, drawing people to the Father, and building a future of hope for all humanity.
"The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning – the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity’s sublime calling, which is to find fulfillment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.
"The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism, and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4)! In today’s second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit Who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say 'yes’ to Jesus, to find your joy in doing His will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!
"In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be 'sealed’ with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christ’s witnesses. What does it mean to receive the 'seal’ of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being 'baptized’ in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being 'given to drink’ of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lord’s plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being 'sealed with the Spirit’ means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think, and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.
"As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May He pour out His gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God’s presence!
"Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to Him! Amen.”
Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, emphasized how evangeliza-tion challenges Christians to lead exemplary lives in an address to the Anglican Conference of Lambeth on July.
Cardinal Dias stated:
"The theme of this talk - Mission, Social Justice, and Evangelization - is very appropriate in this year which commemorates the two thousandth birth anniversary of the great evangelizer, converted from Saul, the persecutor of the Christians, to Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles . . .
"The subject we are dealing with takes us back to the very dawn of the Christian era, when on the Mount of Olives Jesus Christ Our Lord, just before He ascended into heaven, gave a mandate to His disciples: 'Go out into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16:15). He was thus commissioning the Church to continue His salvific mission on earth: 'As the Father has sent Me, so do I send you’ (Jn 20: 21)....
"In the synagogue of Nazareth Jesus paraphrased His mission by quoting the prophet Isaiah: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, and has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to bring deliverance to the captives, to give sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised, to announce the acceptable year of the Lord’ (Lk 4:18-19).
"We can see here a reference to the close relationship between the mission to preach the Good News and the necessity to be alert to the needs of our brethren relating to social and justice issues. It requires making one's faith to flow into action, to pour out one's love for God into works of love for one's neighbor, both friend and foe. This is, in fact, the gist of the New Commandment of Love given to us by Jesus and by which we shall be judged on the Last Day.
"It is the basis of the 'global solidarity’ for which Pope Benedict XVI appealed a few weeks ago in his Message to the Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome, and to which is referred in the Holy See's recent correspondence with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown . . .
"The missionary mandate thus makes us enter into the very heart of God, Who wills all men, women, and children to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth . . .
Challenges to faith
"The theme of evangelization must be considered in the wider context of the spiritual combat which began in the Garden of Eden with the fall of our first parents, in the wake of fierce hostilities between God and the rebel angels. If this context is ignored in favor of a myopic world-vision, Christ's salvation will be conveniently dismissed as irrelevant.
"The spiritual combat, described in the Books of Genesis and Revelation, has continued unabated down the ages. St. Paul described it in very vivid terms: 'We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Eph 6:12).
"This combat rages fiercely even today, aided and abetted by well-known secret sects, Satanic groups, and New Age movements, to mention but a few, and reveals many ugly heads of the hideous anti-God monster: among them are notoriously secularism, which seeks to build a Godless society; spiritual indifference, which is insensitive to transcendental values; and relativism, which is contrary to the permanent tenets of the Gospel.
"All of these seek to efface any reference to God or to things supernatural, and to supplant it with mundane values and behavior patterns which purposely ignore the transcendental and the divine. Far from satisfying the deep yearnings of the human heart, they foster a culture of death, be it physical or moral, spiritual or psychological.
"Examples of this culture are abortions on demand (or the slaughter of innocent unborn children), divorces (which kill sacred marriage bonds blessed by God), materialism and moral aberrations (which suffocate the joy of living and lead often to profound psychic depression), economic, social, and political injustices (which crush human rights), violence, suicides, murders, and the like, all of which abound today and militate against the mind of Christ, Who came that 'all may have life, and have it in abundance’ (Jn 10:10).
"Two vital institutions of the human society are particularly vulnerable to such a culture of death: the family and the youth. These must, therefore, receive the special attention, guidance, and support of those whom the Holy Spirit has placed as shepherds of the flock entrusted to their pastoral care . . .
"Then there is the vast gamut of non-Christian religions and cultures, with their varied scriptures and sages, prayers and symbols, places of worship and ascetical practices, each exerting a deep influence on the thoughts and life-styles of its followers.
"This mosaic of religious and cultural-'isms’ is now complicated by a deep questioning about man's identity and purpose in life, rising from the human and social, as well as the physical sciences. While this soul-searching questioning about human life and purpose could be an appropriate context for the proclamation of the Gospel, many answers being proposed in our post-modern world have become disconnected from authoritative sources of moral reasoning, ignoring the transcendental dimension of life and seeking to make God irrelevant . . .
Ways of evangelization
"In the first Christian era, the pagans were attracted to the Christian faith because of the way Christians behaved, and they remarked: 'See how they love each other.’ This Christian witness is well described in the Letter to Diognetus, written by a Christian apologist in the second century. I deem it wise to quote some excerpts of this Letter, which would make many a Christian pastor to think, and some even to blush:
" 'The difference between Christians and the rest of mankind is not a matter of nationality, or language, or customs. Christians do not live apart in separate cities of their own, speak any special dialect, nor practice any eccentric way of life. The doctrine they profess is not the invention of busy human minds and brains, nor are they adherents of this or that school of human thought.
" 'They pass their lives in whatever township - Greek or foreign - each man's lot has determined, and conform to ordinary local usage in their clothing, diet, and other habits. Nevertheless, the organization of their community does exhibit some features that are remarkable, and even surprising. For instance, though they are residents at home in their own countries, their behavior there is more like that of transients; they take their full part as citizens, but they also submit to anything and everything as if they were aliens. For them, any foreign country is a motherland, and any motherland is a foreign country.
" 'Like other human beings, they marry and beget children, though they do not expose their infants. Any Christian is free to share his neighbor's table, but never his marriage-bed.
" 'Though destiny has placed them here in the flesh, they do not live after the flesh. Their days are passed on the earth, but their citizenship is up in the heavens. They obey the prescribed laws, but in their own private lives they transcend the laws . . .
" 'To put it briefly, the relation of Christians to the world is that of a soul to the body. As the soul is diffused through every part of the body, so are Christians through all the cities of the world . . . Such is the high post of duty in which God has placed them, and it is their moral duty not to shrink from it’ . . .
"This is, in short, what Christian witness is all about, and what the world needs today . . . The world today needs Christian apologists, not apologizers; it needs persons like John Henry Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Hilaire Belloc, and others, who brilliantly expose the beauty of the Christian faith without blushing or compromise.
"Besides the witness of an exemplary Christian living, there are two ways which could help further the cause of evangelization today: they are inculturation and interreligious dialogue.
"Inculturation . . . [implies] a twofold thrust: to evangelize the cultures and to inculturate the Gospel. Hearing the Gospel can lead to a purifying of cultures, while different cultural expressions can enrich the proclamation of the Gospel message. Evangelization and inculturation are closely related to each other. In fact, inculturation should be the cultural expression of one's faith and the faith expression of one's culture . . .
"As for interreligious dialogue, we are all aware that the Holy Spirit works also outside the visible confines of the Churches, and that there exist in other religious and cultural traditions elements which are true, good, and holy.
"We should not reject them, but rather regard with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones we hold and set forth as Christians, nonetheless are seeds of the Word and often reflect a ray of the Truth which enlightens all human beings.
"Of course, we must always be alert to proclaim Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6), in Whom everyone may find the fullness of religious life, and in Whom God the Father has reconciled all things to Himself . . .
"Interreligious dialogue can express itself in various ways: in a dialogue of life and action, of ideas and experience. A dialogue of life would see Christians exuding the sweet odor of Jesus Christ and Gospel values in their day-to-day contacts with persons of other faiths. Dialogue of action would urge Christians to make their love of God visible through concrete deeds of love of neighbor, in the fields of education and health-care and in socio-humanitarian initiatives in favor of the poor and marginalized.
"Dialogue of ideas would demand a frank exchange of notions on God and religion-related topics which should result in mutual respect and enrichment.
"And, finally, a dialogue of experiences would lead both Christians and their non-Christian partners to learn about each other's spiritual practices and mystical encounters.
"This presentation would be incomplete if we did not touch on the ecumenical dimension in the thrust for evangelization which animates both the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. Someone has rightly said in a humorous vein: 'If Christians do not hang together, they will hang separately.’
"It is obvious that a united effort would certainly strengthen the implementation of Christ's mandate to preach the Gospel to every creature.... The more Anglicans and Catholics are able to study issues together and to discern an appropriate Gospel response, the stronger will be the impact of their mission endeavors . . .
"Among the many points of the Christian creed, which the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church share together, is their love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God . . . Besides being a subject of religious piety, she can be called upon to teach Christians how to be truly Spirit-filled and Spirit-led by imitating her singular virtues of Fiat, Magnificat, and Stabat . . .
"These three virtues can be powerful incentives to genuine Christian living and strong antidotes against whatever opposes it. And since Mary, the most blessed of all women, is profoundly revered even by persons of other faiths, she must be considered an important point of reference for interreligious dialogue as well.”
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
"With deep emotion, I told of getting a girlfriend pregnant and asking my parents for advice. They urged me to have her get an abortion and be done with it. Not wanting the responsibility of support payments, I wrote a check and told my girlfriend to 'handle it' She was devastated. I never winced, and I wrote her hysteria off to being screwed up.
"I was wrong: I was the one screwed up. I first realized how I had failed in my obligation to God and as a man when I saw the ultrasound of my son, Chase, now 4. Seeing my little boy in the womb, I felt an immense sorrow and began to sob uncontrollably. Only three years earlier, for my selfish convenience, I had abandoned a child to the cruel hands of an abortionist. If only someone had been there for me when I sought help, my family picture wouldn't be missing one of God's children. I begged Him for forgiveness."
— Anonymous author, as published in Washington Watch, the newsletter of the Family Research Council
Although much has been published about the post-abortion syndrome traumatizing women many years after their abortion, little has been said about the impact experienced by men who deal with the fact that they encouraged the killing of their child, or that they abandoned the mother of their child in an hour of great need.
The fact that women suffer to a greater degree and in greater numbers does not diminish the impact abortion has on men who have denied or suppressed for many years any thoughts of the destruction of their child.
Fr. Martin Pable wrote in his book, Healing for Your Soul: A Guide for Post-Abortion Fathers: "Many things can trigger the memories and anxiety. A spiritual awakening of some kind can come crashing in…. It can happen during a retreat, or as a result of something said in a homily, the birth of his latest child or even grandchild, or maybe a discussion with the guys over a few drinks."
The proponents of the culture of death, assisted by those in the news media, have presented abortion as a newly won "right" of women to control their "body" as well as their destiny. By eliminating this so-called "body of tissues," they think they are doing not only themselves, but also the unborn child, a great service.
So why do so many women and men have such remorse over the destruction of a "potential human being"?
When someone denies reality, it still stays reality. One may convince oneself that something is true, but it does not change what is true. Regardless of what anyone may claim, we know that the reality of an abortion is the intentional destruction of an innocent child. When a man brings about the destruction of his own child, or encourages it, or stands by idly and helplessly while his child is being killed, such an act strikes at his very nature as protector and provider.
Men, even more so than women, can suppress and deny what they have done.
"What became very clear to me, as I performed one abortion after another, is that the bits and pieces that were being curetted out of the uterus were indeed tiny body parts of tiny human beings: arms, hands, legs, ears, shoulders, they were all there, but scattered about in the bucket. I could not avoid the obvious - in each abortion, whatever good service I was performing for the woman, I was killing a tiny human being," expresses Watson A. Bowes, Jr., M.D., an Episcopalian, writing in Lifewatch, a publication of the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality.
Experts agree that men also experience a sense of loss, grief, guilt, remorse, regret, and anger, and many abandon prayer and church attendance because they feel "unworthy of God's care," explains Fr. Pable, in Columbia, the magazine of the Knights of Columbus.
Men do not grieve about abortion the same way women do, as Fr. Frank Pavone, Director of Priests for Life, reports in the Columbia. He describes three types of men with regrets: those who advocate or push for abortion, those who knew about the abortion but failed to intervene, and those who did not know.
"The first group repents of actually killing the child, while the second group experiences guilt over 'the sin of omission,' and the third reacts with great anger that it happened, that the law did not grant them any right to know or decide, and that they could not stop the abortion from taking place," states Fr. Pavone.
Although it is in no way diminishing the grave seriousness of the sin of abortion, the intentional killing of an unborn child, the Catholic Church reaches out to those who now experience the bitter regrets of abortion. In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II addresses those who have had an abortion: "Do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and his peace in the sacrament of reconciliation. To the same Father and His mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child."
From his experience, Fr. Frank Pavone has observed: "It has a tremendous effect on women…who are out there suffering this pain, because for them a big cause of their pain and a big reason for having the abortion in the first place is the absence of responsibility of men. When they see these men coming forward to admit and apologize publicly for their failures, a huge burden of grief is lifted from their shoulders."
As quoted in the Columbia from a man who has sought the assistance of his heavenly Father: "I have forgiven myself. My wife so willingly has forgiven me. God has forgiven me."
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi addressed a United Nations meeting on behalf of the Vatican. The meeting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was on June 28 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Archbishop Tomasi said:
"The Delegation of the Holy See joins previous speakers in expressing its appreciation for the presentations made and the documents prepared by the UNHCR's Office. The perspective of human rights that has been adopted addressing refugees' protection is quite timely.
"The issue of protection returns with greater urgency to the agenda of the UNHCR in dealing with violently uprooted people. People forcibly displaced by the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East have focused the attention of the international community both on the inadequate action being taken to protect a worldwide increasing number of refugees and of other persons entitled to protection, as well as on the growing insensitivity to asylum-seekers, whose number also has been increasing in industrialized and developing countries.
"Unfortunately, on the global level, statistics show that close to 40 million people are currently uprooted by violence and persecution and are in need of different degrees of protection. A paradox emerges: as the wave of people seeking protection increases, political initiatives, proposed and implemented, move in the opposite direction of greater restriction and more control of access to safety. In the process, genuine victims from abuses of basic human rights and of specific hostility are confusedly catalogued with other people on the move.
"Protection is a dynamic concept that has evolved since World War II precisely because the 1951 Convention on Refugees tied their protection to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Changing situations have required ever new solutions to offer a future to people who have been forced to flee. This possibility had already been foreseen in 1951. The Final Act of the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons says: 'The Conference expresses the hope that the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees will have value as an example exceeding its contractual scope and that all nations will be guided by it in granting so far as possible to persons in their territory as refugees and who would not be covered by the terms of the Convention, the treatment for which it provides’ (A/CONF.2/108/Rev.1, July 25, 1951).
"In that spirit, as authorized by the U.N. General Assembly, the High Commissioner has exercised his protection mandate by using the concept of good offices to provide assistance to refugees outside the competence of the United Nations (UN General Assembly Resolution. A/RES/1388. November 20, 1959).
"Regional instruments have been developed, such as the Convention of the Organization of African Unity (September 10, 1969), which expands the definition of refugee to 'every person who, owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality.’
"The Cartagena Declaration on Refugees (November 22, 1984), which addresses the situation in Central America, recommends to include as refugees persons 'threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.’
"With the passing of time, the General Assembly has extended the UNHCR's protection capacities to groups who were not covered in the Convention, including Stateless people, returnees, and certain groups of internally displaced people. The UNHCR Executive Committee's Conclusions, unanimously adopted, have indicated how to deal with specific situations. In addition, other human rights Conventions cover persons in need of protection, even when their requests for asylum are rejected.
"These steps that have been taken were prompted by the conviction that international protection is not a static but an action-oriented commitment aimed at finding solutions so that uprooted people may restart their life with dignity.
"A similar spirit should apply also to today's challenges and problems. A hopeful initiative is the proposed Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the African Union, foreseen for adoption in November this year. Such a legally-binding Convention could serve as a stimulus for the protection, prevention and assistance of IDPs in other continents . . .
"The experience of displacement in the world is further complicated by the fact that the precarious situation of all refugees is more acute in unstable regions in which most of them are found; only 5% are accepted in rich countries. For many, protracted exile turns into an added condition of suffering and some six million persons find themselves blocked in such a situation.
"Today, therefore, protection remains a concept that can be further enlarged to include people with precise protection needs. There are some additional specific observations that can enter the protection discussion:
a. the right to sufficient food within camps so that refugees do not feel forced to seek employment outside the camps and put themselves at the risk of arrest and deportation;
b. the case of new countries becoming more accessible to asylum seekers, as they are located at the outer boundaries of regional political groups to which technical assistance should be provided, in cooperation with the UNHCR, so that their decision-making process be correct;
c. the need for adequate channels for legal entry and the critical evaluation of control-only policies so that asylum-seekers may not be forced to take the same routes as irregular migrants, and thus become easily exposed to extortion and abuse within such groups and, without distinction, rejected with them;
d. detention as such should be used as a last resort and avoided when dealing with minors, for whom it is particularly traumatizing.
". . . Solidarity demands that the responsibility toward asylum-seekers not be simply transferred to countries in the regions of origin of the refugees, but should be shared according to the possibilities of each country or region for the sake of the common good . . .”
"The eyes of faith behold a wonderful scene: that of a countless number of lay people, both women and men, busy at work in their daily life and activity. Oftentimes far from view and quite unacclaimed by the world, unknown to the world’s great personages but nonetheless looked upon in love by the Father. Untiring laborers who work in the Lord’s vineyard. Confident and steadfast through the power of God’s grace, these are the humble yet great builders of the Kingdom of God in history.”
— Lay members of Christ’s
Faithful People, 17
Monsignor Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, addressed the food crisis at a July 2 meeting of the United Nations in New York.
His address follows:
". . . The food crisis has greatly impacted all societies. In some places the food crisis manifests itself in the scarcity of food and the consequent malnourishment and starvation; in others it appears in the form of higher prices for families trying to provide for their basic needs. Despite the varying degrees of impact, the roots of the current food crisis seem to stem from a series of concomitant causes. Short-sighted economic, agriculture, and energy policies which caused a clash between the increasing demand for food items and the insufficient production of food on one hand, and the increase in financial speculations on commodities, uncontrollable increase of the oil prices, and adverse climate conditions on the other.
"While today’s debate will rightly focus on the structural defects of the world economy and on the causes of the emergency, we must work to ensure that this discussion is accompanied by immediate and effective action. Failure to take action will result in this meeting being merely an exercise in rhetoric and procrastination of our responsibilities.
". . . At the outset, immediate action must be taken to assist those in immediate danger and suffering from malnutrition and starvation. It is difficult to think that in a world which spends over 1.3 trillion dollars (851 billion Euros) per year in armaments, the necessary life-saving funds to address the immediate needs of people are unavailable. There are no reasons not to act, and a sincere wish to act must be accompanied by the necessary actions rather than merely words and good intentions.
"In the medium to long-term, the initial economic emergency aid must be accompanied by a concerted effort of all to invest in long-term and sustainable agriculture programs at the local and international levels. The last twenty-five years has seen considerable progress in reducing the numbers of people living in extreme poverty and unless we reinvest in agriculture, the progress that has been achieved through hard work and dedication risks being lost. To this end, agrarian reforms in developing countries must be sped-up in order to give small-holder farmers the tools for increasing production in a sustainable manner as well as access to local and global markets.
"In addition, agricultural and environmental policies need to walk the path of reason and reality in order to balance the need for food production with the need to be good stewards of the earth. The current food scarcity reemphasizes the urgency to explore new energy supplies which do not pit the right to food with other needs.
"My delegation welcomes the recommendations of the recent High-level Conference on World Food Security held in Rome at the FAO. These recommendations offer a practical guide on how to deal with short- and long-term consequences of the food crises and gives guidance on how to guard against future crises.
". . . The twentieth century has suffered in a tragic way the effects from people and governments looking only within their national borders and the lack of consultation and multilateralism cooperation. The present crisis is an opportunity for the global community to come together to address this crisis and assume their responsibility toward their neighbor . . .”
vatican city — The Vatican and the Archidiocese of Zaragoza participated in the International Expo on Water and Sustainable Development (June 14 - September 14) in Zaragoza, Spain. The "Day of the Holy See” at the Expo was on July 13. Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter, dated July 10, to Cardinal Renato Martino, his envoy to the Expo.
The Pope said:
". . . We must be aware that water - an essential and indispensable good that the Lord has given mankind in order to maintain and develop life - is considered today, because of the pursuit and pressure of multiple social and economic factors, as a good that must be especially protected by means of clear national and international policies, and used in accordance with sensible criteria of solidarity and responsibility. The use of water - that is valued as a universal and inalienable right - is connected with the growing and peremptory needs of people who live in poverty, taking into account that 'inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of a huge number of people and is often the cause of disease, suffering, conflicts, poverty, and even death’ (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 484). With regard to the right to water, moreover, it should be stressed that this right is founded on the dignity of the human person; it is necessary in this perspective to examine attentively the approach of those who consider and treat water merely as an economic commodity. Its use must be rational and supportive, the result of a balanced synergy between the public and private sectors.
"The fact that water today is considered principally as a material commodity must not make us forget the religious meanings that believing humanity, and especially Christianity, has developed on the basis of water, giving it great value as a precious immaterial good which never fails to enrich human life on this earth. How can we forget on this occasion the evocative message that binds us to the Sacred Scriptures, in which water is treated as a symbol of purification (cf. Ps 51:4; Jn 13:8), and of life (cf. Jn 3:5; Gal 3:27)? The full recovery of this spiritual dimension guarantees and presupposes a rightly adapted approach by involved parties, within national and international spheres, to the ethical, political, and economic problems regarding complex water management . . .”
vatican city — During the Angelus message on August 3, Pope Benedict XVI remembered Pope Paul VI, who died 30 years ago on August 6.
The Pope said:
". . . Pope Paul VI . . . gave up his spirit to God on the evening of August 6, 1978, the evening of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, a mystery of divine light that always exercised a remarkable fascination upon his soul. As Supreme Pastor of the Church, Paul VI guided the People of God to contemplation of the Face of Christ, the Redeemer of man and Lord of history. And it was precisely this loving orientation of his mind and heart toward Christ that served as a cornerstone of the Second Vatican Council, a fundamental attitude that my venerable Predecessor John Paul II inherited and relaunched during the great Jubilee of the Year 2000. At the center of everything, always and only Christ: at the center of the Sacred Scriptures and of Tradition, in the heart of the Church, of the world and of the entire universe. Divine Providence summoned Giovanni Battista Montini from the See of Milan to that of Rome during the most sensitive moment of the Council - when there was a risk that Blessed John XXIII's intuition might not materialize. How can we fail to thank the Lord for his fruitful and courageous pastoral action? As our gaze on the past grows gradually broader and more aware, Paul VI's merit in presiding over the Council Sessions, in bringing it successfully to conclusion, and in governing the eventful post-conciliar period appears ever greater, I should say almost superhuman. We can truly say, with the Apostle Paul, that the grace of God in him 'was not in vain’ (cf. 1 Cor 15:10): it made the most of his outstanding gifts of intelligence and passionate love for the Church and for humankind. As we thank God for the gift of this great Pope, let us commit ourselves to treasure his teachings . . .”
(Source: L’Osservatore Romano English edition)
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