"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
|A baby at Camp Mugunga with bullet scar, who was injured in an incident earlier in the year, receives help from Caritas. Credits: Taylor Kakala/Caritas Congo|
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Caritas International.)
African Catholic Church leaders meeting in Kinshasa say that escalating violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is causing a major humanitarian tragedy.
Presidents of Bishops' Conferences and Bishop-Presidents of national Caritas organizations from 34 countries in Africa signed a statement condemning the conflict, which has seen the city of Goma fall to 'M23' rebels on November 20.
The African bishops say, "We are outraged and shocked by the escalating armed violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo which is causing again a major human tragedy.
"Thousands of men, women and children, the victims of this war which is imposed on them, are displaced and abandoned in destitution in Goma and its surroundings. They are exposed to the bad weather, hunger, rape, and all kinds of abuses, including recruiting of children into the army. This constitutes an offense to their dignity as human beings and children of God."
Caritas staff representatives in Goma estimate that the latest fighting has forced 100,000 people to flee, many from relief camps and host communities where they had sought safety.
Fr. Oswald Musoni, director of Caritas Goma said, "Caritas offices are open again and our staff are working full strength right now in the communities affected by the conflict, seeing what the needs are. The situation is calmer, but we're still uncertain about what tomorrow will bring."
The African bishops said, "The time is no longer for war or conquest, but rather to promote cooperation between peoples and that the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo must be protected and respected by all.
"We are aware of the contribution of the exploitation of natural resources to this situation, and we therefore urge a fair, just, and transparent exploitation of natural resources and distribution of the proceeds of such an activity to benefit all."
The bishops called on the international community to end the suffering and despair of the civilian population in eastern Congo. They said the UN, the African Union, the EU, Congo's government, regional governments involved, and multinational extractive companies must address causes of the conflict through dialogue to end the cycle of violence. The African church leaders said, "The perpetrators of such violence and destruction should be brought to justice." . . .
(Editor's note: The following is a press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
Not another program but part of a movement for life, marriage and religious liberty
Invitation to 'prayer and penance,' Archbishop Cordileone says
Second Fortnight for Freedom June/July being planned
January 22 is the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion. This file photo shows a pro-life March in Washington, D.C. in 2000.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral strategy addressing critical life, marriage, and religious liberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer was approved by the bishops in November and is set to begin after Christmas. The overall focus is to invite Catholics to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.
Campaign components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.
The call to prayer is prompted by the rapid social movements and policy changes currently underway, such as the mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that coerces employers, including heads of religious agencies, to pay for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives, as well as increased efforts to redefine marriage.
"The pastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice—it's meant to be simple," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. "It's not meant to be another program but rather part of a movement for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, which engages the New Evangelization and can be incorporated into the Year of Faith. Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but also fundamental to the good of society," he said.
Details of the strategy follow:
The good God does not need years to accomplish His work of love in a soul; one ray from His Heart can, in an instant, make His flower bloom for eternity.
– St. Thérése of Lisieux
A website with resources from the USCCB is available at: www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty.
"With the challenges this country is facing, it is hoped that this call to prayer and penance will help build awareness among the faithful as well as spiritual stamina and courage for effective witness. We also hope that it will encourage solidarity with all people who are standing for the precious gifts of life, marriage, and religious liberty," Archbishop Cordileone said.
(Editor's note: The following is a press release from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
WASHINGTON—To honor the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of Faith, starting October 11 and ending November 24, 2013, to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example. The Year of Faith is meant to reflect one of the themes of Pope Benedict's pontificate, the New Evangelization.
Peter Murphy, D.Min., executive director of the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), shares "Seven Things Catholics Should Know About the New Evangelization." Murphy, who was in Rome as an auditor of the October 7-28 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, offers:
1. It's not new in content, but new in energy and approach. The New Evangelization re-proposes the faith to a world longing for answers to life's most profound questions. It's a call to share Christ and bring the Gospel, with renewed energy and through ever-changing methods, to new and different audiences.
2. It begins with personal conversion. The New Evangelization begins internally and spreads outward. We are called to deepen our own faith in order to better share it with others. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described this in the Jubilee Year 2000 as daring to have faith with the humility of the mustard seed that leaves up to God how and when the tree will grow. Conversion to Christ is the first step.
3. It's for believers and non-believers alike. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., recently observed that the most difficult people to evangelize are the ones who think they've already been converted. So whether it's someone at Mass every Sunday, an inactive Catholic, or someone for whom religion is not part of life, the New Evangelization invites all people to discover faith anew.
4. It's about a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Before a person can share Christ with others, they must first experience Christ in their own life. The New Evangelization is about promoting a personal encounter with Christ for all people, wherever they are in their lives. Whether that means finding faith for the first time or spreading the Good News, the most authentic and effective efforts are the ones closest to Christ.
5. It's not an isolated moment, but an ongoing practice. Personal conversion and the encounter with Christ is an ongoing experience that lasts a lifetime. Catholics are blessed to encounter their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in the Sacraments. Catholics are called to live in a way that reflects the love of Christ. God's love is shared with our neighbors through caring for the poor and welcoming those who feel distant from God.
6. It's meant to counter secular culture. G.K. Chesterton wrote that "each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most." The New Evangelization responds to Western society's ongoing move away from religion by urging Catholics to enthusiastically share Christ in word and through the credible witness of their lives. This is why Pope Benedict encourages Catholics to study the lives of the saints during the Year of Faith and learn from their example.
7. It's a priority for the Church. Blessed Pope John Paul II made it a major priority of his 26-year pontificate. Continuing this, Pope Benedict launched the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization in 2010 and made it the theme of the 2012 Synod of Bishops. The U.S. bishops issued a document in April, "Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization," focused on welcoming inactive Catholics back to the faith. The New Evangelization has an urgency about it, an urgency for all Catholics to embrace the grace of their baptismal call and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with their family, friends, and neighbors.
More information on the New Evangelization is available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/
(Editor's note: The following is a press release from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
WASHINGTON—To honor the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of Faith, starting October 11 and ending November 24, 2013, meant to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example. Pope Benedict has encouraged Catholics to study the lives of the saints as part of the Year of Faith in order to follow their example.
Jeannine Marino, program specialist for the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers "10 American Saints for the Year of Faith" to help Catholics learn about the lives of the saints and to appreciate the history of the Catholic faith in America. Marino is a canon lawyer who has served as a postulator and advisor to several canonization causes. A postulator conducts research into the life of a proposed saint.
Two saints from the list, Marianne Cope, OSF and Kateri Tekakwitha, were canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21. Here is the full list:
More information on American saints and holy men and women for the Year of Faith is available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/saints-for-the-year-of-faith.cfm
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
As the debate regarding our nation's economic malaise, and possible solutions to it, heats up, it becomes obvious that few understand the real source and the true solution to our financial mess.
In prosperous times, Americans were too preoccupied to hear the words of two prophets, with which God had blessed us.
"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation," warned Mother Teresa. "It [the so-called right to abortion] has portrayed the greatest of gifts – a child – as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience," continued Mother Teresa. "The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign."
In September, 1987, concluding his second visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II, after having spoken numerous times about the intrinsic evil of abortion, warned Americans:
"The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones. ...All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person. …This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn."
Why would he think that the United States might not survive? Why would the survival of our country depend on how and when Americans resolve the issue of abortion? Although there are many ways abortion has deformed our nation, one has been to adversely affect our economy. Since the state of the economy seems to be what concerns most Americans, let us examine one way abortion deforms our nation.
What is referred to as "relativism" has spread from Europe, infecting the hearts and minds of Americans. The attitude that it is not God who determines what is right or wrong has found wide acceptance. Many Americans, including many Catholics, think that humankind, individually or collectively, determines right and wrong, regardless of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
So what does this have to do with the economy?
The belief that an unborn child can be destroyed if he is unwanted (by "someone"), a burden on someone else, or a threat to one's material wants, establishes an attitude or understanding that every individual has a "right" to do whatever is necessary for him to have everything he wants or needs, unlimited by any moral absolutes.
If my convenience, prosperity, status, or future desires are more important than the life of another innocent individual, then my "right" to have more of what I deem to need or desire becomes paramount.
More and more Americans view it as their "right" to have a high standard of living, far exceeding what their labors can sustain. They are looking to the government to protect this "right to prosperity," convinced that only the central government, with few or any restrictions, can provide such a "right," and thus is responsible for meeting all their needs and wants.
Writing in The Wanderer, Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., instructs that when such attitudes have become part of the American culture:
"We insist that we have a 'right' to everything. By looking at what is owed to us, we become oblivious to what we need to do to provide for ourselves. We understand the common good as a distributive justice in which the state provides everything for us.
"We need a conception of rights, virtue, duties, and freedom that enables us to care for ourselves. We need a conception of a limited state, whose purpose is not to do everything itself but to recognize arenas of responsibility in which individuals and groups are the main source of providing for themselves."
Fr. Schall continues: "The state thus understands itself as a mortal god, a supplier of 'rights'."
From the illusion that the government can grant, protect, and provide one with a "right to choose," or with "reproductive rights," flows an equally distorted illusion that the government can protect and provide your "right to everything."
As the federal government fails to fund the un-funded entitlement programs promised for generations, it sinks deeper into unsustainable debt. Any mention of reducing Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, benefits and pensions of federal employees, welfare programs, grants to universities and corporations, subsidies to farmers (and non-farmers who simply own land), home loan programs, student loans, athletic scholarships, etc., have been met with outcries.
Whether future generations will be able to pay the debt, while still meeting their own needs, is of little or no concern. How can the government deal with the demographic reality that a population decimated by abortion and contraception is mathematically unable to provide the essential benefits to an increasingly aging population.
There can be no doubt that the ever-increasing individual, corporate, or government debt has had a strong adverse effect on our economy, and is crushing true prosperity.
The day after the election, November 7, Fr. John Ehrich, director of the Diocese of Phoenix's Department of Medical Ethics, observed: "So here we are, the day after, and America has reelected the most anti-life, godless, and secular president in our lifetime. It would be hard to imagine ten years ago electing a man who merely gave lip service to being a Christian and didn't even pretend to practice. His abortion on demand, even if others have to pay for it, position is horrendous."
To the majority of Americans, the killing of unborn children was not the issue on which they based their vote. Sad to say, the American electorate, whether Democrat or Republican, was more concerned about personal material wants. The vision of the Democratic Party and President Obama of a powerful federal government, able to provide our material wishes, trumped the issue of abortion.
The Democratic Convention left no doubt that the reelection of President Obama, and other Democrats, would insure that not only Roe v. Wade would remain the law of the land, but that the government would require all employers, regardless of their religious beliefs, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, along with contraception and sterilization, as well as unprecedented increase in the funding of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider.
If the source of the American economic crisis is relativism, what is the solution?
"The appropriate response to relativism is faith, where you no longer are the center of the universe, you are no longer the one who decides what's true, but you commit yourself in faith to God's truth," teaches Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia.
The solution to our economic problems is the rejection of relativism, and the embracing of moral absolutes, one of which is that the intentional killing of an unborn child, "the greatest of gifts," is a horrendous evil.
This year, the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI, is an opportunity for our nation to increase its faith so it can again embrace, without exception, the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life. Our nation's survival depends on it.
God will surely not bless America, until America blesses God – by ceasing the holocaust of His babies!
"Who are you if you don't stand up for what you believe? There is no greater glory than to give your life for Christ." That question and its answer, spoken by Father Christopher, gives the film, "Cristeros," now on DVD, its English title, "For Greater Glory."
It begins with Fr. Christopher (played by Peter O'Toole) joining what would become the 90,000 killed in the three-year war against religious freedom in Mexico in the late 1920s. He inspired the future martyr, 14-year-old Jose Luis Sanches del Rio (played by Mauricio Kuri), who in turn inspired General Corostieta and many others.
In three years of the Marxist Calles's presidency he reduced the total priestly population to some 250 among Mexico's 15 million Catholics. Masses and Bibles were outlawed. After a boycott failed it turned to an armed people's rebellion.
Jack Kenny relates the situation then to ours now. "Catholics in the United States today, for example, face the prospect of either denying a tenet of their faith, namely to not practice or promote artificial contraception, or suffer sanctions from the federal government," he wrote.
"Your heart naturally goes out to the youngster, already beaten and tortured, who is told he can save his life by reciting some oath that ended with, "Long live the federal government." The youngster swallowed hard, shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long Live Christ the King!), and chose death.
Pablo Barroso said the timing for its early release in Mexico was providentially perfect. "Who would have thought back then that the pope would be going to Mexico, much less to Cubilete, home to the national Cristo Rey monument and patron of the Cristero War heroes, to say his first Mass there. This really came from Heaven."
Director Dean Wright shares similar experiences. "Something followed us the whole way, I'm telling you. We finished on schedule, to the day. We left this incredible place where the camp was; the next day, the hurricane went through. We were in Cuetzalan for two and one half weeks; the day after we left, the road collapsed and there was no way in or out."
If you watch or re-watch the film we shot, he says, "you'll see visual motifs that are repeated over and over again for specific reasons as specific times. Camera work is done that way too; it's symbolic. When we're on the Federalese or President Calles, it's solid, it's firm. We don't move; we're very slow. It's like a rock that's hard to push against.
"When we're with the Cristeros, it's free-flowing; it's pulling you into the war. You feel the kinetic energy that' happening there.
Wright shared how he met Gorostieta's daughter and relatives of Anacleto. "I traveled the country and saw - in the middle of nowhere," he says, "a church with a shrine, with a little picture and some flowers in remembrance of the priest who wouldn't leave and was shot."
Eduardo Verastegui agreed to do the part of Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, because it required only about two weeks, since he was working on another movie at the time. The martyr's story however "inspired me," he says, "and touched my heart and made me want to live like them. That's what I tried to do, every day in my work, to try and imitate these Mexican heroes who have their very lives to defend their faith."
"Hopefully, many people will watch it, see it, and take the video home. On September 11, it's going to come in a combo packages where you are going to see scenes which weren't in the movie, there will be a documentary which is going to show you more of the history of Mexico in the 1920's so you can get the whole picture."
Jim Cichochi wrote that "This movie will be successful, not by the amount of dollars it makes, but by the number of people who will return to their faith. There are going to be future wars concerning our faith. I only hope that we can be half as brave and courageous as the Cristeros. Viva Cristo Rey!"
Like Kenny and others he sees the relevance of this historical film to our time. "Your right to practice your religion within your own institutions is regarded as an offense against the nation-State in America of 2012, as in England in the 16th century or Mexico in the 1920s."
He does note that the film does not come out of Hollywood, but "has the advantage of being the work of Mexican producer Pablo José Barroso's Dos Corazones Films."
Edie J. Adler says, "Take my Jewish word: 'For Greater Glory' is a must see, regardless of religious affiliation or non affiliation." It "is an important reminder of what could happen when a few godless are allowed to impose their views, all in the name of 'tolerance.' Religion is not the problem; fanatics on either side are."
Leticia Velasquez at CatholicMom.com advised, "Do not miss this remarkable salute to the little known heroes of the Cristeros rebellion. I give 'For Greater Glory' my highest recommendation." Although she notes that it is, like "The Passion of the Christ" rated R for its violence, she says, it is "suitable for ages 13 and up." Like el Gibson's "The Passion," the screen violence is only a hint at what the real violence actually was.
As Verastegu explains, "the reason they did that was to make it more watchable for the people who are more sensitive to violence. They wanted to reach them too, and they wanted to bring the volume a little bit down so you can still see the essence of the film, and the message and the heroes."
The Mormons' Meridan Magazine, which also does not usually review R films, wrote "some characters who matter to the viewers don't end up with happily ever after stories. Yet the film is a powerful portrayal of the human heart and how tyranny seeks to trample religion. More important, it portrays characters who rise above themselves for a noble reason."
A Real Friend will have kindness, joy, and love toward you.
A Real Friend will stand by you, asking help for you from above.
An Old Friend knows you well and treats you with respect, helps to make you feel good; comforts you.
So God's Love Will Show.
(Editor's note: Mr. Smith writes from California. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Can You Imagine living in a place or an environment where absolutely no one cares about you?
Can You Imagine growing old and gray all by yourself without one single friend or companion?
Can You Imagine slowly rotting away in a lonely cell?
Can You Imagine time going by and no one even remembers your existed?
Can You Imagine Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years passing without no one even bothering to mention your name during the holiday?
Can You Imagine living miserably until you are 70, 80, or even 90 years old; when all of your family has long been dead?
I don't want To Imagine any of this either.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed participants in the International Congress organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers on November 17 in Vatican City. The theme of the meeting was "The Hospital, a Place of Evangelization, a Human and Spiritual Mission."
The Pope said: ". . . The Church always turns with the same brotherly spirit of sharing to all who are suffering, enlivened by the Spirit of the One who, with the power of love has restored meaning and dignity to the mystery of suffering. The Second Vatican Council said to these people 'know that you are not . . . abandoned or useless' (cf. Message to the Poor, the Sick and the Suffering, December 8, 1965).
"And in these same tones of hope, the Church also reassures health-care professionals and volunteers. Yours is a special vocation that requires study, sensitivity, and experience. Nevertheless, a further skill which goes beyond academic qualifications is demanded of those who choose to work in the world of suffering, living their work as a 'human and spiritual mission.' It is 'the Christian science of suffering,' explicitly pointed out by the Council as 'the only one that can respond to the mystery of suffering' and of bringing to the sick 'relief without illusion.' The Council says: 'it is not within our power to bring you bodily help nor the lessening of your physical sufferings . . . But we have something deeper and more valuable to give you . . . Christ did not do away with suffering. He did not even wish to unveil to us entirely the mystery of suffering. He took suffering upon Himself and this is enough to make you understand all its value' (ibid.). May you be qualified experts in this 'Christian science of suffering!' Your being Catholics, without fear, gives you a greater responsibility in the context of society and of the Church: it is a real vocation, as has recently been witnessed by exemplary figures such as St. Giuseppe Moscati, St. Riccardo Pampuri, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Anna Schäffer, and the Servant of God Jérôme Lejeune.
“Let us search and examine our ways that we may return to the Lord! Let us reach out our hearts toward God in heaven!”
"This is also a commitment of the New Evangelization in the times of an economic crisis that are cutting funds for health care. In this very context hospitals and structures for assistance must rethink their role to prevent health, first and foremost a universal good to be guaranteed and defended from becoming a mere 'product' subjected to the laws of the market, hence accessible to few. The special attention owed to the dignity of the suffering can never be forgotten, applying also in the context of health-care policies the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity (cf. Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, n. 58).
"Today, although on the one hand because of the progress in technology and science the ability to heal the sick physically is increasing, on the other, the ability to 'care for' the patient, seen in his integrity and uniqueness, appears to be weakening. Thus the ethical horizons of medical science that risks forgetting that its vocation is to serve every person and the whole person, in the various phases of his or her life, seem to be dulled. It is to be hoped that the language of the 'Christian science of suffering' — to which belong compassion, solidarity, sharing, self-denial, giving freely, the gift of self — become the universal lexicon of those who work in the sector of health-care assistance.
"It is the language of the Good Samaritan of the Gospel parable, which — according to Blessed Pope John Paul II — may be considered as 'one of the essential elements of moral culture and universally human civilization' (Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, n. 29). In this perspective, hospitals assume a privileged position in evangelizing, because wherever the Church is the 'bearer of the presence of God' it becomes at the same time 'the instrument of the true humanization of man and the world' (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization, n. 9). 'Only by being very clear that at the heart of medical and health-care assistance is the well-being of the human person in his frailest and most defenseless state, of man in search of meaning in the face of the unfathomable mystery of suffering, can one conceive of the hospital as 'a place in which the relationship of treatment is not a profession but a mission; where the charity of the Good Samaritan is the first seat of learning and the face of suffering man is Christ's own Face' (Discourse, Visit to the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, 3 May 2012).
"Dear friends, this healing and evangelizing assistance is the task that always awaits you. Now more than ever our society needs 'Good Samaritans' with generous hearts and arms wide open to all, in the awareness that 'The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer' (Spe Salvi, n. 38). This 'going beyond' the clinical approach opens you to the dimension of transcendence, for which the chaplains and religious assistants play a fundamental role. It is their primary task to make the glory of the Crucified Risen One shine out in the rich panorama of health care and in the mystery of suffering.
"I would like to reserve a last word for you, dear sick people. Your silent witness is an effective sign and instrument of evangelization for the people who look after you and for your families, in the certainty that 'no tear, neither of those who are suffering nor of those who are close to them, is lost before God' (Angelus, February 1, 2009). You 'are the brothers of the suffering Christ, and with him, if you wish, you are saving the world!' (Second Vatican Council, Message to the Poor, the Sick and the Suffering, December 8, 1965).
"As I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, Salus Infirmorum [Health of the Sick], so that she may guide your footsteps and always make you hardworking and tireless witnesses of the Christian science of suffering, I warmly impart to you the Apostolic Blessing."
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Caritas, the international Catholic Relief Agency.)
WFP and Caritas provide first assistance to the Congolese displaced by war in Mugunga camp 3. Credits: Taylor Toeka/Caritas Goma
Caritas is appealing for more than US $2.6 million to assist people caught up in the latest conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
M23 rebels seized Goma, the provincial capital of Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern North Kivu province on 20 November from government forces.
Recent clashes have forced more than 140,000 people to flee their homes and seek refuge in camps or makeshift accommodation.
Local Caritas staff in Goma are working in challenging conditions with transport to provide those displaced with food and other aid items.
"Unlike the electricity, we operate full time and all our Caritas team members are in the field working around the clock," said Fr. Oswald Musoni, Director of Caritas Goma. "We have done assessments and have now started food distribution, provided by WFP in the largest camp.
"The situation is still very fluid , people are not sure what will happen next, but all the schools, churches, and camps are overflowing with people seeking fleeing from army and rebels positions. Many children are unaccompanied and we are concerned about their safety".
Caritas hopes to reach 60,000 people with aid such as blankets, hygiene equipment, buckets and jerry cans, and other household items. Caritas will also provide them food working through its national member Caritas Congo and diocesan partners Goma, Bukavu and Butembo-Beni.
Marceline Dusabimana, a widow with six children, received food aid this week distributed by Caritas. "I have witnessed war for the past 15 years. I moved from one camp to another. We are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, because we lack the means to buy food," she said.
Millions of people have been killed in decades of war in Congo and two million remain without homes in the east.
Leaders of Caritas organizations and the Catholic Church in Africa joined together last week to condemn the violence against the people of Congo.
"We ask our Caritas network, other charitable organizations of our respective Churches, and humanitarian agencies to double their efforts to come to their help," the bishops said in a statement.
Vatican City, November 21, 2012 (VIS) - "As the Year of Faith progresses we carry in our hearts the hope of rediscovering our joy at believing and our enthusiasm for communicating the truth of faith to all. … This leads us to discover that our encounter with God brings value to, perfects and elevates that which is true, good, and beautiful in mankind", said the Pope in his catechesis during today's general audience, held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
Faith, he explained, "means knowing God as Love, thanks to His own love. The love of God … opens our eyes and allows us to know all reality beyond the limited horizons of individualism and subjectivism which distort our awareness".
Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to the rationality of faith in God, emphasizing that the Catholic tradition "has always rejected the so-called principle of 'fideism', that is, the will to believe against reason. … Indeed, although a mystery, God is not absurd. … If, in contemplating the mystery, reason sees only darkness, this is not because the mystery contains no light, rather because it contains too much. Just as when we turn our eyes directly to the sun, we see only shadow - who would say that the sun is not bright? Faith allows us to look at the 'sun' that is God, because it welcomes His revelation in history. … God has sought mankind and made Himself known, bringing Himself to the limits of human reason."
"At the same time, God, with His grace, illuminates reason and opens up new horizons, immeasurable and infinite. Therefore, faith is a continuous stimulus to seek, never to cease or acquiesce in the inexhaustible search for truth and reality. … Intellect and faith are not foreign or antagonistic to divine Revelation, they are both prerequisites for understanding its meaning, for receiving its authentic message, for approaching the threshold of the mystery. … The Catholic faith is therefore rational and also nurtures trust in human reason. … Knowledge of faith, furthermore, is not contrary to reason. … In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason can show the correct path to God and to self-fulfilment".
"A correct relationship between science and faith is also based on this fruitful interaction between comprehension and belief. Scientific research leads to the knowledge of new truths regarding mankind and the cosmos. The true good of mankind, accessible through faith, indicates the direction his path of discovery must follow. Therefore, it is important to encourage, for example, research which serves life and seeks to combat disease. Investigations into the secrets of our planet and the universe are also important for this reason, in the knowledge that man is placed at the peak of creation, not in order exploit it senselessly, but rather to protect it and render it inhabitable.
"In this way, faith does not enter into conflict with science but co-operates with it, offering fundamental criteria to ensure it promotes universal good, and asking only that science desist from those initiatives that, in opposition to God's original plan, may produce effects which turn against man himself. Another reason for which it is rational to believe is this: if science is a valuable ally of faith in our understanding of God's plan for the universe, faith also directs scientific progress towards the good and truth of mankind, remaining faithful to that original plan.
"This is why it is vital for man to open himself to faith, and to know God and His plan for salvation through Jesus Christ. The Gospel establishes a new humanism, an authentic 'grammar' of humankind and reality", the Holy Father concluded. "It is rational to believe, as it is our very existence that is at stake".
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
Vatican City, Benedict XVI received participants in the seventeenth Council of Europe Conference of Directors of Prison Administration on November 22.
Speaking English, the Holy Father observed that "matters of criminal justice are continually being brought to the attention of the public and of governments, especially at a time when economic and social inequalities and increasing individualism are feeding the roots of criminality. There is a tendency, though, to limit the debate to the legislative aspect of the question of crime and punishment or to the judicial process. … Less attention is given to the way custodial sentences are carried out. In this regard, alongside the parameter of 'justice', another essential element is respect for human dignity and human rights. Yet this too, while indispensable and unfortunately still far from being observed in many countries, is not enough to safeguard fully the rights of the individual.
"A concrete commitment is needed, not just a statement of principle, in order to bring about the offender's effective re-education, which is required both for the sake of his own dignity and with a view to his reintegration into society. … If human justice in this area is to look to divine justice and be shaped by that higher vision, the re-educational purpose of the sentence must be regarded not as an ancillary or secondary aspect of the penal system, but rather as its culminating and defining feature.
"In order to 'practise justice,' it is not enough that those found guilty of crimes be simply punished: it is necessary that in punishing them, everything possible be done to correct and improve them. When this does not happen, justice is not done in an integral sense. In any event, it is important to avoid giving rise to a situation where imprisonment that fails in its re-educational role becomes counter-educational and paradoxically reinforces rather than overcomes the tendency to commit crime and the threat posed to society by the individual."
The Pope underlined how prison directors and their collaborators in the judicial and social fields can make "a significant contribution, together with all those responsible for the administration of justice in society, towards promoting this 'more genuine' justice that is 'open to the liberating power of love' and is tied to human dignity. … Contact with offenders paying the price for what they have done and the commitment needed to restore dignity and hope to people who in many cases have already suffered marginalization and scorn call to mind the mission of Christ Himself, Who came to call not the just, but sinners, the privileged recipients of divine mercy."
The Holy Father continued, "Everyone is called to become his brother's keeper, transcending the homicidal indifference of Cain. You in particular are asked to take custody of people who, in prison conditions, are at greater risk of losing their sense of life's meaning and the value of personal dignity, yielding instead to discouragement and despair. Profound respect for persons, commitment to the rehabilitation of prisoners, fostering a genuinely educational community: these things are all the more urgent, in view of the growing number of 'foreign prisoners,' whose circumstances are often difficult and precarious."
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
Vatican City - A press conference was held December 3 in the Holy See Press Office to explain the presence of the Pope on Twitter and to provide additional information on the use of the new media in the Vatican.
Given below are extracts from the English-language Note explaining the presence of the Holy Father on Twitter:
"The Pope's presence on Twitter is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena. ... The Pope's presence on Twitter can be seen as the 'tip of the iceberg' that is the Church's presence in the world of new media. The Church is already richly present in this environment – there exist a whole range of initiatives from the official websites of various institutions and communities to the personal sites, blogs, and micro-blogs of public church figures and of individual believers. The Pope's presence on Twitter is ultimately an endorsement of the efforts of these 'early adapters' to ensure that the Good News of Jesus Christ and the teaching of his Church is permeating the forum of exchange and dialogue that is being created by social media. His presence is intended to be an encouragement to all Church institutions and people of faith to be attentive to develop an appropriate profile for themselves and their convictions in the 'digital continent.' The Pope's tweets will be available to believers and non-believers to share, discuss and to encourage dialogue. It is hoped that the Pope's short messages, and the fuller messages that they seek to encapsulate, will give rise to questions for people from different countries, languages and cultures."
"Part of the challenge for the Church in the area of new media is to establish a networked or capillary presence that can effectively engage the debates, discussions, and dialogues that are facilitated by social media and that invite direct, personal, and timely responses of a type that are not so easily achieved by centralized institutions. Moreover, such a networked or capillary structure reflects the truth of the Church as a community of communities which is alive both universally and locally. The Pope's presence on Twitter will represent his voice as a voice of unity and leadership for the Church but it will also be a powerful invitation to all believers to express their 'voices,' to engage their 'followers' and 'friends' and to share with them the hope of the Gospel that speaks of God's unconditional love for all men and women."
"In addition to the direct engagement with the questions, debates and discussions of people that is facilitated by new media, the Church recognizes the importance of new media as an environment that allows to teach the truth that the Lord has passed to His Church, to listen to others, to learn about their cares and concerns, to understand who they are and for what they are searching. ... It is for this reason that it has been decided to launch the Pope's Twitter channel with a formal question and answer format. This launch is also an indication of the importance that the Church gives to listening and is a warranty of its ongoing attentiveness to the conversations, commentaries, and trends that express so spontaneously and insistently the preoccupations and hopes of people."
The first tweets from the Pope's handle on Twitter will be given on December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Initially tweets will be published with the Wednesday general audiences, although they may subsequently become more frequent. The first tweets, on December 12, will respond to questions put to the Pope on matters of faith. . . . The official Papal handle is @pontifex.
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
"Divine charity is the most precious gift of the Heart of Christ and of His Spirit: It is this which imparted to the Apostles and martyrs that fortitude, by the strength of which they fought their battles like heroes till death in order to preach the truth of the Gospel and bear witness to it by the shedding of their blood."
Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas
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