"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
|"The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus. It was He Who sacrificed Himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse for Himself a people of His own, eager to do what is right." (Titus 2:11-14)|
In his homily at the closing Mass for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa on October 25, Pope Benedict XVI charged the Synod Fathers to go forth with Jesus' message of hope, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
The Pope's homily follows:
"Here is a message of hope for Africa: we have just listened to the Word of God. It is the message that the Lord of history never tires of renewing for the oppressed and overcome humanity of every era and every land, since the time He revealed to Moses His will for the Israelite slaves of Egypt: 'I have witnessed the affliction of My people . . . and have heard their cry . . . so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them . . . and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey' (Ex 3: 7-8). What is this land? Is it not the Kingdom of Reconciliation, Justice, and Peace, to which all of humanity is called? God's plan does not change. It is the same as that prophesied by Jeremiah, in the magnificent oracles called 'The Book of Consolation,' from which today the First Reading is taken. It is an announcement of hope for the people of Israel, laid low by the invasion of the army of Nebuchadnezzar, by the devastation of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the deportation to Babylonia. A message of joy for the 'remainder' of Jacob's sons, which announces a future for them, because the Lord will lead them back to their lands, by a straight and easy road. The persons needing support, like the blind or the crippled, the pregnant woman and the woman in labor, will all experience the strength and tenderness of the Lord: He is a father for Israel, ready to care for it as if it were His firstborn (cf. Jer 31: 7-9).
"God's plan does not change. Through the centuries and turns of history, He always aims at the same finality: the Kingdom of liberty and peace for all. And this implies His predilection for those deprived of freedom and peace, for those violated in their dignity as human beings. We think in particular of our brothers and sisters who in Africa suffer poverty, diseases, injustice, wars, and violence, forced migration. These favorite children of the heavenly Father are like the blind man in the Gospel, Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46) at the gates of Jericho. Jesus the Nazarene passed that way. It is the road that leads to Jerusalem, where the Paschal Event will take place, His sacrificial Easter, towards which the Messiah goes for us. It is the road of His exodus which is also ours: the only way that leads to the land of reconciliation, justice, and peace. On that road, the Lord meets Bartimaeus, who has lost his sight. Their paths cross, they become a single path. The blind man calls out, full of faith "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!" Jesus replies: 'Call him!,' and adds: 'What do you want Me to do for you?' God is light and the Creator of light. Man is the son of light, made to see the light, but has lost his sight, and is forced to beg. The Lord, Who became a beggar for us, walks next to him: thirsting for our faith and our love. 'What do you want Me to do for you?' God knows the answer, but asks; He wants the man to speak. He wants the man to stand up, to find the courage to ask for what is needed for his dignity. The Father wants to hear in the son's own voice the free choice to see the light once again, the light, the reason for Creation. 'Master, I want to see!' And Jesus says to him: 'Go your way; your faith has saved you. Immediately he received his sight and followed Him on the way' (Mk 10: 51-52).
". . . We give thanks because this 'mysterious encounter between our poverty and the greatness' of God was achieved also in the Synodal Assembly for Africa that has ended today. God renewed His call: 'Take courage! Get up . . .' (Mk 10:49). And the Church in Africa, through its Pastors, having come from all the countries in the continent, from Madagascar and the other islands, has embraced the message of hope and light to walk on the path that leads to the Kingdom of God. 'Go your way; your faith has saved you' (Mk 10:52). Yes, faith in Jesus Christ when properly understood and experienced guides men and peoples to liberty in truth, or, to use the three words of the Synodal theme, to reconciliation, to justice, and to peace. Bartimaeus who, healed, follows Jesus along the road, is the image of that humanity that, illuminated by faith, walks on the path towards the promised land. Bartimaeus becomes in turn a witness of the light, telling and demonstrating in the first person about being healed, renewed, regenerated. This is the Church in the world: a community of reconciled persons, operators of justice and peace; 'salt and light' amongst the society of men and nations. Therefore the Synod strongly confirmed and manifested this that the Church is the Family of God, in which there can be no divisions based on ethnic, language, or cultural groups. Moving witnesses showed us that, even in the darkest moments of human history, the Holy Spirit is at work and transforming the hearts of the victims and the persecutors, that they may know each other as brothers. The reconciled Church is the potent leaven of reconciliation in each country and in the whole African continent.
"The Second Reading offers another perspective: the Church, the community that follows Christ on the path of love, has a sacerdotal form. The category of priesthood, as the interpretive key of the Mystery of Christ and, consequently, of the Church, was introduced in the New Testament, by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. His intuition originates from Psalm 110, quoted in today's words, where the Lord God assures the Messiah with a solemn promise: 'You are a priest for ever of the order of Melchizedek' (Ps 110:4). A reference which leads to another, taken from Psalm 2, in which the Messiah announces the Lord's decree which says about him: 'You are My son, today have I fathered you' (Ps 2:7). From these texts derives the attribution to Jesus Christ of a sacerdotal character, not in the generic sense, rather 'of the order of Melchizedek,' in other words the supreme and eternal priesthood, of divine not human origins. If each supreme priest 'is taken from among men and made their representative before God' (Heb 5:1), He alone, Christ, the Son of God, possesses a ministry that can be identified to His own person, a singular and transcendent ministry, on which universal salvation relies. Christ transmitted this ministry of His to the Church through the Holy Spirit; therefore the Church has in itself, in each of its members, because of Baptism, a sacerdotal characteristic. However, here is a decisive aspect the priesthood of Jesus Christ is no longer primarily ritual, rather it is existential. The dimension of the rite is not abolished, but, as clearly seen in the institution of the Eucharist, takes its meaning from the Paschal Mystery, which completes the ancient sacrifices and surpasses them. Thus contemporarily a new sacrifice, a new ministry, and a new temple are born, and all three coincide with the Mystery of Jesus Christ. United to Him through the Sacraments, the Church prolongs its saving action, allowing man to be healed, like the blindman Bartimaeus. Thus the ecclesial community, in the steps of its Master and Lord, is called to walk decisively along the path of service, to share the condition of men and women in its time, to witness to all the love of God and thus sow hope.
"Dear friends, this message of salvation is always transmitted by the Church by joining evangelization and the promotion of humanity. Let us take the example of the historical Encyclical Popolorum Progressio: what the Servant of God Paul VI elaborated in terms of reflection, the missionaries created and continue to create in the field, promoting a development that respects local cultures and the environment, following a logic that now, more than 40 years later, appears to be the only one capable of allowing the African people to emerge from the slavery of hunger and sickness. This means transmitting the announcement of hope, following a 'sacerdotal form,' that is, living the Gospel in the first person, trying to translate it into projects and undertakings that are consistent with its principle dynamic foundation, which is love. In these three weeks, the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops has confirmed what my venerable Predecessor John Paul II had already clearly focused on, and that I also wanted to look at more closely in the recent Encyclical Caritas in Veritate: what is necessary, therefore, is the renewal of the model of global development, in such a way that it be capable of 'including within its range all peoples and not just the better off' (n. 39). What the social doctrine of the Church has always maintained is what is required today of globalization (cf. ibid.). This we must remember should not be understood fatalistically as though its dynamics were produced by anonymous impersonal forces or structures independent of the human will. Globalization is a human reality and as such can be modified in line with one or another cultural impositions. The Church works with its personalist and community concept to steer the globalization of humanity in relational terms, in terms of communion and the sharing of goods (cf. ibid. n. 42).
" 'Take courage! Get up' . . . This is how the Lord of life and hope addresses the Church and peoples of Africa at the end of these weeks of Synodal reflection. Get up, Church in Africa, Family of God, because you are being called by the Heavenly Father Whom your ancestors invoked as Creator, before knowing His merciful closeness, revealed in His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Set out on the path of a new evangelization with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit. The urgent action of evangelization which has been spoken about so much in these days also involves an urgent appeal for reconciliation, an indispensable condition for instilling in Africa justice among men, and building a fair and lasting peace that respects each individual and people; a peace that requires and is open to the contribution of all people of good will irrespective of their religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and social backgrounds. In such a challenging mission, pilgrim Church in Africa of the third millennium, you are not alone. The whole Catholic Church is near to you with its prayer and active solidarity, and from heaven you are accompanied by the African saints who, with their lives to the point of martyrdom sometimes, testified to the fullness of their faith in Christ.
"Courage! Get up, African continent, land that welcomed the Savior of the World when as a child He had to take refuge with Joseph and Mary in Egypt to save His life from the persecution of King Herod. Welcome with renewed enthusiasm the Gospel proclamation so that the Face of Christ may light with its splendor the multiplicity of cultures and languages of your peoples. As it offers the bread of the Word and the Eucharist, the Church also undertakes to operate, with every means at its disposal, to ensure that no African should be deprived of his or her daily bread. For this reason, along with the work of primary importance of evangelization, Christians are actively involved in interventions in favor of promoting humanity.
"Dear Synodal Fathers, at the end of these reflections of mine, I want to salute you most warmly, and thank you for your edifying participation. Return home, you, pastors of the Church in Africa, take my blessing to your communities. Transmit to everyone the oft-heard appeal of this Synod for reconciliation, justice, and peace. As the Synodal Assembly draws to a close, I have to renew my most vivid thanks to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and all their collaborators. I express my grateful thoughts to the choirs of the Nigerian community in Rome and the Ethiopian College who are contributing to the celebration of this liturgy. And finally I would like to thank everyone who has accompanied the Synodal work with their prayer. May the Virgin Mary recompense each and every one of them, and allow the Church in Africa to grow in every part of that great continent, spreading the 'salt' and 'light' of the Gospel everywhere."
Pope Benedict XVI urged the faithful to open their hearts to migrants and to view them as "assets" and not just "problems" on November 9. He was speaking to participants in the VI World Congress for the Ministry of Migrants and Refugees meeting in Vatican City.
The Holy Father expressed his "appreciation of the commitment and concern with which you work in a social sector, today so complex and delicate, offering support to those who by their own free will or by obligation leave their country of origin and emigrate to other nations."
The Pope continued: "The theme of the Congress 'A Pastoral Response to Migration in the Age of Globalisation' highlights the specific context of migration in our time. In fact, if the phenomenon of migration is as old as the history of humanity, it has never before acquired the great importance it has assumed today, due to the number and complexity of its problems. It now affects almost every country in the world and is part of the vast process of globalisation. Millions of men, women, and children, young and old alike, are facing the drama of emigration, sometimes in order to survive more than to seek a better standard of living for themselves and their families. In fact, the financial gap between the poor countries and the industrialized countries is widening. The world financial crisis, with the enormous growth of unemployment, is reducing the possibility of finding work and increasing the number of those who do not manage to find even temporary employment. Consequently, a great many people are obliged to leave their own countries and the communities of their origins; they are prepared to accept work in conditions that are in no way consonant with human dignity and the differences of language, culture, and social system of the host society intensify the difficulty of integration.
"The plight of migrants and especially of refugees in a certain way evokes that of the ancient biblical people who, fleeing slavery in Egypt with the dream of the promised land in their hearts, crossed the Red Sea but, instead of immediately reaching the desired destination, were obliged to face the trials and tribulations of the desert. Today, many migrants leave their country to escape humanly unacceptable living conditions but do not find elsewhere the welcome for which they had hoped. In the face of such complex situations how can one fail to pause to reflect on the consequences of mere material development as the fundamental basis of society? In my Encyclical Caritas in veritate I noted that integral development is the only true development, in other words it concerns every man and the whole of man.
"Authentic development always features solidarity. In fact, in an increasingly globalised society, the common good and the effort to obtain it, I noted further in Caritas in veritate, 'cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations" (cf. n. 7). Indeed, the current process of globalisation, as the Servant of God John Paul II appropriately emphasized, can represent a propitious opportunity for promoting integral development but only "if cultural differences are accepted as an opportunity for promoting integral development but only 'if cultural differences are accepted as an opportunity for meeting and dialogue, and if the unequal distribution of the world's resources leads to a new awareness of the necessary solidarity which must unite the human family' (Message for the 86th World Day of Migrants and Refugees November 21, 1999, n. 4; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], December 22, 1999, p. 6). It follows that the great social changes under way demand adequate responses since it is clear that there can be no effective development without promoting encounter among peoples, dialogue among cultures and respect for legitimate differences.
"In this perspective, why not consider the contemporary phenomenon of migration as a favourable condition for understanding among peoples, for building peace, and for a development that concerns every nation? This is what I wished to recall in my Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in the Pauline Jubilee Year (Message for the 95th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, August 24, 2008; ORE, October 15, 2008, p. 27): migration is an opportunity to emphasize the unity of the human family and the values of acceptance, hospitality, and love of neighbor. However, this must be expressed in daily gestures of sharing, joint participation, and concern for others, especially those in need. To achieve this mutual acceptance, St Paul teaches that Christians must be ready to listen to the word of God, which urges all to imitate Christ, and stay united with him. Only in this way is it possible to care for one's neighbor and never to give in to the temptation of contempt or rejection of those who are different. Conformed to Christ, every man and every woman may be regarded as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. This treasure of brotherhood makes them 'practise hospitality,' which is the firstborn daughter of agape (ibid.).
"Dear brothers and sisters, faithful to Jesus' teaching every Christian family cannot but feel respect and attention for all human beings created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Christ's Blood especially when they are in difficulty. This is why the Church invites the faithful to open their hearts to migrants and their families, knowing that they are not merely a "problem" but constitute a "resource" to be appropriately appreciated for humanity's authentic progress and development. I renew to each one of you my thanks for your service to the Church and to society, and I invoke Mary's motherly protection upon all your actions for migrants and refugees . . ."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
Northern Kentucky Right to Life was indeed honored that Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, addressed its 36th Annual Celebration for Life on Sunday, September 20.
In 1990, Terri suffered a neurological injury. After a number of years, her husband, Michael Schiavo obtained a court order that all nutrition and hydration be removed from Terri. After 13 days, Terri, on March 31, 2005, at the age of 41, died of dehydration.
The following are excerpts from Mr. Schindler's address:
There's a tremendous amount of confusion about Terri's situation. We're not talking about someone that was imminently dying. Terri was not dying. We're not talking about someone that was on machines, that was hooked up to ventilators. We're talking about a woman who had a severe and profound cognitive disability. Physically speaking, Terri was in very good shape, which was concluded from her autopsy. This isn't really an end-of-life situation. Terri was being sustained by the same thing that sustains all of us, which is food and water.
Our family's only intention was to bring Terri home and care for her. I don't think we did anything extraordinary, anything heroic. There's not a person in this room, faced with the same circumstances that our family was faced with, who wouldn't have done the same thing, and that is just to care for a loved one who needed nothing more than compassion and love.
The first few months after Terri's collapse, after we had gotten her stabilized and weaned her off all the machines and had her only using food and water from the feeding tube, she was responding to rehabilitation and therapy and was starting to improve.
Michael had a lawsuit that he initiated against Terri's treating physician, and that went to trial in 1993. The jury awarded Terri upwards of $1.5 million, which was supposed to be put aside for Terri's lifelong rehabilitation and therapy.
After the trial, for the next 12 years, Michael never authorized any rehabilitation. Well, a person is naturally going to atrophy if they're not getting even range of motion, and that's what happened to my sister.
It's important to note that the trust fund was established for Terri, but who do you think was the inheritor of that trust fund? Michael was. Michael had met another woman in 1993 and began living with her. So clearly Michael had some conflicts of interest – the money and now the new woman that he'd met.
Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo; Justice Donald L. Wintersheimer, retired justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court; and Patty Robinson of Independence, Kentucky, were photo-graphed at the Celebration for Life.
In 1997, we got a letter from Michael Schiavo, who had now obtained a euthanasia attorney (the same man who had represented "Dr. Death," Jack Kevorkian), saying that he was going to petition the court to remove her food and hydration, claiming that Terri made a verbal wish before her collapse that if she ever became incapacitated she would not want to live in this condition.
We never heard Terri ever speak about this. Her best friend of 20 years, and also her friend in Florida, testified that Terri never spoke about such things. However, Judge Greer ordered on February 11, 2000, that Terri's food and hydration be removed.
We fought from 2000 to 2005. Many of you in here were helping our family with letters and phone calls. The state legislature passed a law to try to protect Terri. The governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, was very intimately involved to try and help my sister. It went to Congress. President George W. Bush got involved. Vatican officials were making some of the strongest statements I've ever seen that they made in support of my sister's life. However, there was no support from our bishop in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
On March 18, 2005, my sister's feeding tube was removed. For almost 14 days we had to go and watch my sister die a most horrific death, something incidentally if we do to an animal in the state of Florida, it's a felony, and we go to jail. Yet, we're doing it to our most innocent and vulnerable Americans.
In cases like Terri, people are deciding whether someone should live or die based on their quality of life, based on what they can or cannot do. If we don't value and respect life, how can we respect and value anything else in society. It started with abortion. It has spilled over now to killing the elderly and those with cognitive disabilities, like my sister, Terri.
They're teaching our kids that there are two types of human beings, non-persons and persons, and people like Terri are non-persons. We value money more than we value life, and again that goes right to the health care debate today. There is a profound prejudice that exists against persons with disabilities.
One question I would get asked all the time, and I think it's part of this whole prejudice, is, "Who would want to live this way?"
My answer is that the wrong question is being asked. The fact of the matter is that there are people living in this condition. Tens of thousands.
We have two choices. We're either going to continue to justify and rationalize, become desensitized to caring for people like Terri, or we're going to care for them.
The current President of the United States is okay with the killing of millions of babies. We have a President who said his only regret so far as a politician, his biggest regret, was his support for Terri Schiavo.
How can we not expect, when you have this type of mentality, that we're going to be having an administration that's going to deal with health care by cutting costs, by saving money on these types of situations with the chronically sick and the elderly. There's no doubt in my mind that if we go to a government-controlled health care, yes, it will get much worse.
I hope people don't have to watch what our family experienced, because it was seared into my mind, watching my sister slowly dehydrate to death over a two-week period. It's something I could not properly describe to you. That my Mom and Dad have had to live with this the rest of their lives is something that I can't tell how heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching it is.
My Father just passed away. My Dad could not live with the fact that he could not protect his child from being killed this way.
The hospice scene was a circus those two weeks. There were always at least two armed policemen in the room with us at all times while we visited Terri, and we were only permitted to be there as long as Michael allowed us to be in the room with Terri.
The police told our family that if they even tried to give Terri anything by mouth, that included ice chips or lip-gloss, they would be arrested immediately. Judge Greer not only ordered that Terri's feeding tube be removed, but he also ordered that Terri receive no palliative care, meaning that she received no comfort care whatsoever.
To describe my sister would give you nightmares. It was absolutely horrific. When I see people in concentration camps and I see how they are starved and dehydrated, the first image that comes to my mind is my sister.
Some people are now defining food and hydration as medical treatment, as artificial life support. How many people look at advance directives or living wills and say, "I don't want any artificial life support," thinking that they don't want any ventilators, when in fact they are basically saying is they don't want any food and water.
Our family, because of this, started the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, or Terri's Foundation. We're going on 200 cases now that we've been individually involved with and have been responsible, because of my sister, for saving lives.
We have a free newsletter you can sign up for. We try to keep you up to date on the health care issue. The website is terrisfight.org.
It gives me an opportunity to thank all of you personally, if you are involved in helping our family. There are so many of you that have dedicated your lives to fighting for life and fighting for people like my sister. You put in long hours. You go to abortion clinics. You pray. Nobody notices what you do and the hours that you spend. Truly you are the heroes, as well as the families that are caring for people like my sister.
I don't think you realize how difficult it is for families to care for those that need this type of care, but yet there isn't anything else they would rather do. They look at those in these types of conditions as treasures, as true blessings from God. They allow us to show what it is love, what it is to care. How else are we to show our expression of love, the compassion, other than caring for someone that is truly, truly our most vulnerable?
It's so easy to just give up, throw up your arms, and just walk away from it all. But it's meeting people like you and your dedication, and just how nice you are, that keeps us going.
(Mr. Barton writes from Ohio. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Greetings, Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I greet you from the inside of this prison. Time may seem hard for all of you out there. I can understand. Over the past year, I've watched my mother finally move into a home of her own and then lose it to foreclosure. I've seen family have jobs then lose them in the blink of an eye. Then to top it off my mother's father passes away. All this and yet we are still going forward.
Forward, it just may seem strange when times are hard. Forward is the only way, for we can not go backwards even if it seems best. No need to fight it, press forward, reach for the goal and that goal is Christ and all that He blessedly is.
One thing my family has learned from all this is faith, faith in Christ Jesus, faith in God the Father, and faith in the Holy Spirit Who lives in each of us.
Look to Christ Jesus, open up to the Spirit, pray to our Father and press forward.
The growing problem of hunger and malnutrition was addressed at a meeting of the United Nations in New York City on October 23. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Vatican to the United Nations, addressed a committee considering agricultural development and food security.
Archbishop Migliore indicated: "This year, for the first time, malnutrition affects more than one billion people. Although the world produces enough food for the global community, the demand for food continues to increase faster than agricultural production. At the same time, various inequities and mismanagement of products and financial systems that prevent all can live in a world free from hunger. With the change in consumption patterns in developing countries, agricultural land is used for non-agricultural products or remain uncultivated and agricultural products are increasingly being used for non-food. Clearly the ability to feed the growing world population requires a renewed commitment in the field of agricultural policies.
"The earth or soil is a fundamental basis of our wealth, the element on which we rely for survival.
"This involves considerations, serious decisions, and commitments in the context of climate change, the direction towards which the United Nations is working towards a positive outcome of the next conference in Copenhagen.
"Recently, the World Bank and FAO have published a report out by the indicator title Awakening Africa's sleeping giant. The 'giant' consists of four hundred acres of African savannah, which covers 25 countries, from Senegal to South Africa, and has a huge agricultural potential.
"Today it uses only 10% of savannah, but a policy based on correct and timely tools of small-scale farmers could have the same impressive results obtained in other regions of the world where the same policy was adopted some twenty years ago.
"To contribute to these efforts, we should not delay the land reform and revision of national ownership, which should also be accompanied by agricultural policies and other measures in the field of training, information, credit, infrastructure, and social services to enable farmers to be protagonists of the agricultural processing.
"The statistics contained in the recent publication State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2009) confirms that hunger has increased over the last decade and was not caused, but only accentuated, by the current financial crisis. The increase in hunger in all major regions of the world, both in times of prosperity or economic crisis, shows a deeper cause, namely a weak global governance of food safety.
"Indeed, one must admit that today the real power of agriculture seems to be no longer in the hands of farmers, but mainly in the stages before and after production. Agricultural leadership is in the hands of those who control the credit and the distribution of new technologies, those involved in the transport, distribution, and sale of products.
"The growing role of contract farming systems in the industry offers a degree of security and stability to manufacturers, who are guaranteed the sale of their products. However, to respect the dignity of farmers, these contracts must not deprive them of creativity and initiative in transforming simple wage earners.
"In this regard, as evidenced by the current financial crisis, we must strive to give greater importance to the roles of labor and production than in the capital, financial transactions, and speculation. The latter continues to instill in destabilizing growers a dose of uncertainty and unpredictability, since it determines the price fall of one or other agricultural product, thereby stopping the production of these specific products and causing a loss of permanent jobs and, sometimes, tragedy for many farmers. In addition, subsidies that distort trade and the market should be reviewed in the light of the need to ensure that in developing countries, farmers are able to participate in national and global markets and receive a wage commensurate with their work.
"We are facing a process of redefining the global cycle of production and marketing of agricultural products, which urges us to serious reflection on its consequences and what might be new balanced solutions. It is at these levels that we must work to create a new economy, more attention not only to profit, but, above all, needs and human relations.
"Science and technology, although, no doubt, elements necessary for improvement of agriculture, are not sufficient to address existing problems. This can be done only in a context of solidarity and action as well as greater attention to the dignity farmers, who, rather than beneficiaries of agricultural development and food security, are the real protagonists . . . Clearly, the debate on malnutrition and hunger does not need to be estimated in a proliferation of abstract words, but it requires real action by all parties involved . . ."
Caritas International, the Catholic relief agency, is taking action to address a grave food crisis in Sudan.
Young women carrying maize from Ikotos to their villages behind the mountains. Photo by Birgit Kubelka/Caritas
A Caritas press release follows:
Caritas is launching an appeal to feed 35,000 people affected by conflict and drought in South Sudan. The appeal for U.S. $3.4 million (EUR 2.3 million) will supply food aid in Western and Eastern Equatoria states in the south of the country.
Two years of drought in Eastern Equatoria has left hundreds of thousands of people in need. Caritas will provide 10,000 people in Eastern Equatoria with food aid and planting materials, and train farmers on improved farming techniques, in order to support people's livelihoods until harvest in 2010.
Meanwhile, an upsurge of violence in Western Equatoria has forced 68,000 from their homes. Conflict worsened with the arrival into the area of a militia force formerly based in Uganda called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Caritas aims to reach 25,000 people in urgent need of immediate care in Western Equatoria.
Sudan is recovering from 22 years of civil war between the Government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the South that ended with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the two parties in 2005.
Caritas Internationalis Humanitarian Director Alistair Dutton said, "People caught in drought or conflict in South Sudan need urgent food aid. Caritas is able to reach isolated villages and communities caught in conflict to provide support.
"Violence in South Sudan is now worse than in Darfur, much of it tribal. The growing insecurity must be addressed by governments in the North and South Sudan. If the current peace deal unravels we will be headed towards a major catastrophe.
"Peace can be reached through dialogue. The violence is a regional issue and needs to be addressed not just in Sudan but in Uganda, Central Africa Republic, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"The UN Mission in Sudan must protect civilians for all forms of violence."
Caritas also encouraged praying of the rosary for Sudan and all of Africa. Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Rosary on October 13 "with and for Africa' as part of the Synod of Bishops for Africa. Caritas and Catholic Relief Services, which is a member of Caritas, provide services to Sudan. For more information, contact www.caritas.org or www.crs.org.
World Food Day was October 16. Pope Benedict XVI sent a message for the occasion to Jacques Diouf, Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
The Pope stated: "If the celebration of World Food Day recalls the foundation of the FAO and its action in the fight against hunger and malnutrition in the world, it stresses above all the urgent need for interventions on behalf of all who are without daily bread, in so many countries, because of inadequate food security.
"The actual crisis that is hitting all sectors of the economy without distinction is particularly harshly affecting the world of farming, whose situation is becoming dramatic. This crisis demands that Governments and the different elements of the International Community make decisive and effective decisions.
"To guarantee people and peoples the possibility of overcoming the scourge of hunger is to assure them concrete access to adequate, healthy food. Indeed, this is a practical expression of the right to life which, although it is solemnly proclaimed, all too often remains far from being implemented fully.
"The theme chosen by the FAO for World Food Day is: 'Achieving food security in times of crisis.' It is an invitation to consider agricultural work as a fundamental element of food security and consequently as fully part of economic activity. For this reason, farming must have access to adequate investments and resources. This topic calls into question and makes clear that by their nature the goods of creation are limited: they, therefore, require responsible attitudes capable of encouraging the sought-after security, thinking likewise of that of future generations. Thus profound solidarity and farsighted brotherhood are essential.
"The realization of these objectives entails a necessary change in lifestyle and mindsets. It obliges the international community and its institutions to intervene in a more appropriate and forceful way. I hope that such an intervention may encourage cooperation with a view to protecting the methods of cultivating the land proper to each region and to avoiding a heedless use of natural resources. I also hope that this cooperation will preserve the values proper to the rural world and the fundamental rights of those who work the land. By setting aside privileges, profit, and convenience, it will then be possible to achieve these objectives for the benefit of the men, women, children, families, and communities that live in the poorest regions of the planet and are the most vulnerable. Experience shows that even advanced technical solutions lack efficiency if they do not put the person first and foremost, who comes first and who, in his or her spiritual and physical dimensions, is the alpha and the omega of all activity.
"Rather than an elementary need, access to food is a fundamental right of people and peoples. It will, therefore, become a reality, hence a security, if adequate development is guaranteed in all the different regions. The drama of hunger in particular can only be overcome by 'eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of the poorer countries. This can be done by investing in rural infrastructures, irrigation systems, transport, organization of markets, and in the development and dissemination of appropriate agricultural technology that can make the best use of the human, natural, and socio-economic resources that are more readily available at the local level' (Caritas in Veritate, n. 27).
"Faithful to her vocation to be close to the most deprived, the Catholic Church promotes, sustains, and participates in the efforts made to enable each people and each community to have access to the necessary means to guarantee an appropriate level of food security . . ."
vatican city — On October 8, the Vatican, Jewish, and German organizations jointly sponsored a concert on "Youth Against War." The concert marked the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II (September 1, 1939). L'Osservatore Romano English edition reported the organizers wanted "to remind people of the need to foster harmony and dialogue, to promote reconciliation and peace, and to keep away forever the specter of the horrors of war." The German Inter-Regional Youth Symphony Orchestra performed.
The President of Italy and Pope Benedict XVI were among those attending. The Pope spoke at the end of the concert. The Pope remarked:
". . . This evening the tragedy of the Second World War returns to our minds, that inhuman page of history of combined violence and brutality which caused the death of millions, leaving the winners divided and Europe to be rebuilt. The war, desired by National Socialism, involved many innocent peoples of Europe and on other continents, while with the tragedy of the Shoah it targeted in particular the Jewish people who were the object of programmed extermination. Yet invitations to reasonableness and peace were extended on many sides. Here in Rome, the distressed voice of my venerable Predecessor Pius XII still echoes. In his Radio Message of August 24, 1939, just before the outbreak of the war he proclaimed with determination: 'Nothing is lost with peace. All can be lost with war' (cf. AAS XXXI, 1939, p. 334). Unfortunately no one succeeded in preventing that terrible catastrophe; the logic of egoism and violence inexorably prevailed. May the remembrance of those grievous events be a warning, especially to the new generations, never again to give in to the temptation of war.
"As Cardinal Kasper recalled, this year we are commemorating another important anniversary: the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an eloquent symbol of the end of the totalitarian Communist regimes of Eastern Europe. 'The collapse of the wall,' John Paul II wrote, 'and the fall of dangerous idols and of ideologies which enslave people have shown that basic freedoms which give meaning to human life cannot be suffocated or repressed for long' (Message for "Katholikentag", May 23, 1990; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, [ORE], June 11, 1990, p. 10). Europe and the whole world are thirsting for freedom and peace! It is necessary to build together a true civilization which is not based on force but is 'the fruit of a victory over ourselves, over the powers of injustice, selfishness, and hatred which can go so far as to disfigure man himself!' (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, n. 12; ORE, September 4, 1989, p. 3). The ecumenical movement which found a catalyser in the Second World War, as Cardinal Kasper appropriately emphasized, can contribute to building this true civilization, working together with Jews and all believers. May God bless us and grant to humanity the gift of his peace. Dear friends, thank you again for coming."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
"Let There Be Peace On Earth and let it begin with me. Let There Be Peace On Earth the peace that was meant to be! With God as our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony."
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