"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
(Editor's note: The following is a press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal Dolan of New York is the president of the USCCB.)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops continue to study the legal and moral implications of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and to "develop avenues of response that would both preserve our strong unity and protect our consciences," Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in a September 17 letter to bishops. His letter followed the September 10-11 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee, the top ranking USCCB body outside a plenary session.
The bishops' "efforts are proceeding apace, and, as you know, include a careful legal and moral analysis of the final rule," Cardinal Dolan said. Further discussion will take place at the bishops' fall plenary, Nov. 11-14 in Baltimore.
"We are united in our resolve to continue to defend our right to live by our faith, and our duty to serve the poor, heal the sick, keep our apostolates strong and faithful, and insure our people," he said.
The full text of Cardinal Dolan's letter follows.
The HHS mandate requires virtually all employers to facilitate access to sterilization and contraception, as well as drugs and devices that may cause abortion, even if doing so violates deeply-held religious beliefs.
Despite serious religious liberty concerns expressed by believers of many faiths, the Administration finalized its mandate with only minor changes. The final rule, Cardinal Dolan said, "still suffers from the same three basic problems":
Cardinal Dolan stressed the bishops' longstanding advocacy of policies that advance the goal of affordable health care.
"Now we are being burdened because of the same Catholic values that compel us into these ministries," he said.
Cardinal Dolan emphasized that the members of the Administrative Committee "were unanimous in their resolve to continue our struggle against the HHS Mandate." He likewise voiced concern regarding the Catholic Health Association's "hurried acceptance of the accommodation" which he called "untimely and unhelpful."
"We highly value CHA's great expertise in their ministry of healing," Cardinal Dolan said, "but as they have been the first to say, they do not represent the Magisterium of the Church."
Cardinal Dolan's letter to bishops follows:
I write at the request of our brother bishops on the USCCB Administrative Committee, who asked me to update you, as I have now grown accustomed to doing, on the tough and delicate matter of the HHS Mandate, and our ongoing response to it. You won't be surprised to hear that, at our meeting last week, we spent a great deal of time focused on this matter of major concern to us all.
I have to tell you first that we took the occasion to vent. The Catholic Church in America has long been a leader in providing affordable health care, and in advocating for policies that advance that goal. The bishops on a national level have been at it for almost one hundred years, and our heroic women and men religious have done so even longer. Yet, instead of spending our time, energy, and treasure on increasing access to health care, as we have done for many decades, we're now forced to spend those resources on determining how to respond to recently enacted government regulations that restrict and burden our religious freedom. Catholics – our parents and grandparents, religious sisters, brothers and priests – were among the first at the table to advance and provide health care, and now we are being burdened because of the same Catholic values that compel us into these ministries! All this in a country that puts religious liberty first on the list of its most cherished freedoms. As I've said before, this is a fight that we didn't ask for, and would rather not be in, but it's certainly one that we won't run from.
It might be helpful if we keep in mind our recent history on the HHS mandate and our efforts regarding it. Last February 1, the Administration announced its updated "accommodation." We immediately said that we needed time to analyze it, but that our initial read indicated that, regrettably, not much had changed, and our objections remained. Nonetheless, we took the administration at its word when it said it would consider our concerns, and after a detailed analysis, our Conference again submitted extensive comments, as invited to do by HHS.
On June 28, we got our answer: despite our grave concerns – concerns we share with believers of many other faiths, and with so many of the 400,000 others who commented on the rule – the "accommodation" was finalized with only minor changes. While the administration gave us a much-needed extra five months to determine how to respond, the final version of the mandate still suffers from the same three basic problems we have highlighted from the start: its narrow definition of "religious employer" reduces religious freedom to the freedom of worship by dividing our community between houses of worship and ministries of service; its second-class treatment of those great ministries—the so-called "accommodation"—leaves them without adequate relief; and its failure to offer any relief at all to for-profit businesses run by so many of our faithful in the pews.
As you know, we are continuing our efforts in Congress and in the courts, and we are confident that our rights under the Constitution and other laws protecting religious freedom will eventually be vindicated. While much remains uncertain, it is plain that the HHS Mandate lessens the ability of our ministries to give full-throated witness to our faith, a central mission of all Catholic apostolates.
At the Administrative Committee meeting, the members were unanimous in their resolve to continue our struggle against the HHS Mandate, and they asked me to convey that firm resolve to you. If there's any perception that our dedication to this fight is flagging, that's dead wrong.
That perception may come in part from the Catholic Health Association's hurried acceptance of the accommodation, which was, I'm afraid, untimely and unhelpful. We highly value CHA's great expertise in their ministry of healing, but as they have been the first to say, they do not represent the Magisterium of the Church. Even in their document stating that they could live with the "accommodation" they remarked that we bishops, along with others, have wider concerns than they do.
We continue to follow the excellent process established at the meeting of the body of bishops in June, to develop avenues of response that would both preserve our strong unity and protect our consciences. Those efforts are proceeding apace, and as you know, include a careful legal and moral analysis of the final rule. We will then have another opportunity to discuss the rule at our November plenary assembly.
We are united in our resolve to continue to defend our right to live by our faith, and our duty to serve the poor, heal the sick, keep our apostolates strong and faithful, and insure our people. I remain grateful for your continued unity in response to this matter of deep concern to us all. I'll try my best to keep you posted."
St. Francis of Assisi
Pope Francis traveled to Assisi, Italy, on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In his homily at an October 4 Mass in St. Francis Square, the Pope indicated some of the lessons the modern world can learn from St. Francis. His homily follows:
" 'I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to babes' (Mt 11:25).
"Peace and all good to each and every one of you! With this Franciscan greeting I thank you for being here, in this Square so full of history and faith, to pray together.
"Today, I too have come, like countless other pilgrims, to give thanks to the Father for all that He wished to reveal to one of the 'little ones' mentioned in today's Gospel: Francis, the son of a wealthy merchant of Assisi. His encounter with Jesus led him to strip himself of an easy and carefree life in order to espouse 'Lady Poverty' and to live as a true son of our heavenly Father. This decision of Saint Francis was a radical way of imitating Christ: he clothed himself anew, putting on Christ, who, though He was rich, became poor in order to make us rich by His poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). In all of Francis' life, love for the poor and the imitation of Christ in His poverty were inseparably united, like the two sides of the same coin.
"What does Saint Francis's witness tell us today? What does he have to say to us, not merely with words – that is easy enough – but by his life?
"The first thing he tells us is this: that being a Christian means having a living relationship with the person of Jesus; it means putting on Christ, being conformed to Him.
"Where did Francis's journey to Christ begin? It began with the gaze of the crucified Jesus. With letting Jesus look at us at the very moment that He gives His life for us and draws us to Himself. Francis experienced this in a special way in the Church of San Damiano, as he prayed before the cross which I too will have an opportunity to venerate. On that cross, Jesus is depicted not as dead, but alive! Blood is flowing from His wounded hands, feet, and side, but that blood speaks of life. Jesus' eyes are not closed but open, wide open: He looks at us in a way that touches our hearts. The cross does not speak to us about defeat and failure; paradoxically, it speaks to us about a death which is life, a death which gives life, for it speaks to us of love, the love of God incarnate, a love which does not die, but triumphs over evil and death. When we let the crucified Jesus gaze upon us, we are re-created, we become 'a new creation.' Everything else starts with this: the experience of transforming grace, the experience of being loved for no merits of our own, in spite of our being sinners. That is why Saint Francis could say with Saint Paul: 'Far be it for me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Gal 6:14).
"We turn to you, Francis, and we ask you: Teach us to remain before the cross, to let the crucified Christ gaze upon us, to let ourselves be forgiven, and recreated by His love.
"In today's Gospel we heard these words: 'Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart (Mt 11:28-29).
"This is the second witness that Francis gives us: that everyone who follows Christ receives true peace, the peace that Christ alone can give, a peace which the world cannot give. Many people, when they think of Saint Francis, think of peace; very few people however go deeper. What is the peace which Francis received, experienced, and lived, and which he passes on to us? It is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross. It is the peace which the Risen Jesus gave to His disciples when He stood in their midst (cf. Jn 20:19-20).
"Franciscan peace is not something saccharine. Hardly! That is not the real Saint Francis! Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos… That is not Franciscan either! It is not Franciscan, but a notion that some people have invented! The peace of Saint Francis is the peace of Christ, and it is found by those who 'take up' their 'yoke,' namely, Christ's commandment: Love one another as I have loved you (cf. Jn 13:34; 15:12). This yoke cannot be borne with arrogance, presumption, or pride, but only with meekness and humbleness of heart.
"We turn to you, Francis, and we ask you: Teach us to be 'instruments of peace,' of that peace which has its source in God, the peace which Jesus has brought us.
"Francis began the Canticle of the Creatures with these words: 'Praised may You be, Most High, All-powerful God, good Lord… by all Your creatures (FF, 1820). Love for all creation, for its harmony. Saint Francis of Assisi bears witness to the need to respect all that God has created and as He created it, without manipulating and destroying creation; rather to help it grow, to become more beautiful and more like what God created it to be. And above all, Saint Francis witnesses to respect for everyone, he testifies that each of us is called to protect our neighbor, that the human person is at the center of creation, at the place where God – our creator – willed that we should be. Not at the mercy of the idols we have created! Harmony and peace! Francis was a man of harmony and peace. From this City of Peace, I repeat with all the strength and the meekness of love: Let us respect creation, let us not be instruments of destruction! Let us respect each human being. May there be an end to armed conflicts which cover the earth with blood; may the clash of arms be silenced; and everywhere may hatred yield to love, injury to pardon, and discord to unity. Let us listen to the cry of all those who are weeping, who are suffering, and who are dying because of violence, terrorism, or war, in the Holy Land, so dear to Saint Francis, in Syria, throughout the Middle East and everywhere in the world.
"We turn to you, Francis, and we ask you: Obtain for us God's gift of harmony, peace and respect for creation!
"Finally, I cannot forget the fact that today Italy celebrates Saint Francis as her patron saint. I greet all the Italian people, represented by the Head of Government, who is present among us. The traditional offering of oil for the votive lamp, which this year is given by the Region of Umbria, is an expression of this. Let us pray for Italy, that everyone will always work for the common good, and look more to what unites us, rather than what divides us.
"I make my own the prayer of Saint Francis for Assisi, for Italy and for the world: 'I pray to you, Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies: Do not look upon our ingratitude, but always keep in mind the surpassing goodness which You have shown to this City. Grant that it may always be the home of men and women who know You in truth and who glorify Your most holy and glorious name, now and for all ages. Amen.' (The Mirror of Perfection, 124: FF, 1824)
(Editor's note: This 2013 Labor Day Statement was issued by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is reprinted with permission.)
Every human being enjoys a basic right to be respected, not because of any title, position, prestige, or accomplishment but first of all because we are created in the image and likeness of God. From an ethical and moral perspective we embrace the exhortation of St. Paul "to anticipate one another in showing honor" (Rom 12:10). Today's competitive culture challenges us to strive for victory and advantage, but for St. Paul the challenge is to build each other up and honor one another's innate dignity.
Labor Day is an opportunity to take stock of the ways workers are honored and respected. Earlier this year, Pope Francis pointed out, "Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. . . . It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's own nation." Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse, and exploitation.
Even with new indicators of some modest progress in recovery, the economy still has not improved the standard of living for many people, especially for the poor and the working poor, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. More than four million people have been jobless for over six months, and that does not include the millions more who have simply lost hope. For every available job, there are often five unemployed and underemployed people actively vying for it. This jobs gap pushes wages down. Half of the jobs in this country pay less than $27,000 per year. More than 46 million people live in poverty, including 16 million children. The economy is not creating an adequate number of jobs that allow workers to provide for themselves and their families. Jobs, wages, and poverty are interrelated. The only way to reduce the widening gap between the affluent and the poorest people in our nation is by creating quality jobs that provide a just compensation that enables workers to live in the dignity appropriate for themselves and their families.
High unemployment and underemployment are connected to the rise in income inequality. The prophetic words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate warn us of the dangers of inequality:
The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner, and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone. . . . Through the systemic increase of social inequality . . . not only does social cohesion suffer, thereby placing democracy at risk, but so too does the economy, through the progressive erosion of "social capital" . . . indispensable for any form of civil coexistence. (no. 32)
Is it possible that this is happening here in the United States? In many places, wealth and basic needs are separated by only a few blocks or subway stops. We only have to look under bridges and in alleyways. The words from Gaudium et Spes (no. 63) from the Second Vatican Council of fifty years ago seem to be just as true today: "While an immense number of people still lack the absolute necessities of life, some, even in less advanced areas, live in luxury or squander wealth." How can it be said that persons honor one another when such "extravagance and wretchedness exist side by side"?
Most people want to live in a more equal society that provides opportunities for growth and development. The current imbalances are not inevitable, but demand boldness in promoting a just economy that reduces inequality by creating jobs that pay a living wage and share with workers some profits of the company. It also requires ensuring a strong safety net for jobless workers and their families and those who are incapable of work. As individuals and families, as the Church, as community organizations, as businesses, as government, we all have a responsibility to promote the dignity of work and to honor workers' rights.
Since the end of the Civil War, unions have been an important part of our economy because they provide protections for workers and more importantly a way for workers to participate in company decisions that affect them. Catholic teaching has consistently affirmed the right of workers to choose to form a union. The rise in income inequality has mirrored a decline in union membership. Unions, like all human institutions, are imperfect, and they must continue to reform themselves so they stay focused on the important issues of living wages and appropriate benefits, raising the minimum wage, stopping wage theft, standing up for safe and healthy working conditions, and other issues that promote the common good. The Church, in accord with her principles on the life and dignity of the human person, wishes to collaborate with unions in securing the rights and dignity of workers.
Private enterprises, at their best, create decent jobs, contribute to the common good, and pay just wages. Ethical and moral business leaders know that it is wrong to chase profits and success at the expense of workers' dignity. They know that they have a vocation to build the kind of solidarity that honors the worker and the least among us. They remember that the economy is "for people." They know that great harm results when they separate their faith or human values from their work as business leaders.
Whenever possible we should support businesses and enterprises that protect human life and dignity, pay just wages, and protect workers' rights. We should support immigration policies that bring immigrant workers out of the shadows to a legal status and offer them a just and fair path to citizenship, so that their human rights are protected and the wages for all workers rise.
We honor the immigrant worker by remembering that the building of America has been carried out by so many who fled persecution, violence, and poverty elsewhere, coming to America to offer their talents and gifts to support themselves and their families. We welcome the stranger, the refugee, the migrant, and the marginalized, because they are children of God and it is our duty to do so. But at the same time it is important to end the political, social, and economic conditions that drive people from their homelands and families. Solidarity calls us to honor workers in our own communities and around the world.
The pain of the poor and those becoming poor in the rising economic inequality of our society is mounting. Therefore, on this Labor Day 2013, let us renew our commitment to promote the dignity of the human person through work that is honorable, pays just wages, and recognizes the God-given dignity of the working person.
At the end of Mass we are commanded "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord." We leave with a sense of mission to show one another honor by what we do and say. On this Labor Day our mission takes us to the millions of people who continue to suffer the effects of the current economy.
For parish resources, check out this Labor Day Supplemental Aid.
Catholic Social Teaching on Labor: A Primer
Primer on Poverty, an Option for the Poor, and the Common Good
Income Inequality - A Catholic Concern
Here's an interactive video resource on income inequality in the United States and the Church's response.
Wage Theft Comics: Crime and Justice. . . is an activist comic that both chronicles the experience of low wage victims of wage theft and guides workers and potential allies towards a path for justice.
©2013 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
(Editor's note: Mr. Inskeep writes from Maryland. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Perhaps all the natural, medical, and man-made "events" we experience are in God's plan.
I'm sure everyone has experienced or been touched by some dramatic, unhappy, perhaps horrendous — earthquake, fire, volcanic eruption, crime, war, medical, etc. — event in their life, which has taken the precious lives of so many — often children — and wondered why. How could this happen?
Perhaps it is God's mysterious way of bringing people together, as after each of these "events" people become emotionally attached and extend helping hands to the unfortunate, as they are looked upon. But perhaps they are blessed to be part of God's plan, even in the deep sorrow we feel, as God's plan is a true mystery that we will never understand.
It is truly a sorrowful state of affairs that it takes a terrible tragedy to bring people together, but if we look back over history, that is what it has taken to bring out the compassion and love that God has bestowed on His children.
Perhaps one day we will not need a natural or man-made disaster to prompt us to help each other. Perhaps we will have learned from all the former "events" that helping others and compassion for others is in God's plan.
(Editor's note: This article was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City (VIS) - "Looking at our current situation, I wonder if we have learned the lessons of 'Pacem in terris.' I ask myself whether the words 'justice' and 'solidarity' exist only in our dictionary, or if we indeed all work towards making them a reality," said the Pope, in an address to participants in the meeting promoted by the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace" to commemorate fifty years since the publication of the encyclical of the future saint John XXIII.
"Pacem in terris" ("Peace on earth"), as Francis noted, was written in the most critical period of the Cold War, when humanity feared finding itself at the brink of a worldwide atomic conflict due to the protracted confrontation between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. With this encyclical, John XXIII launched a dramatic appeal for peace to world leaders. "It was a cry to mankind, but also a plea to Heaven. The dialogue that opened, with some difficulty, between the two great opposing blocs led them to overcome this phase during the pontificate of the other blessed pope, John Paul II, and to open up space for freedom and dialogue. The seeds of peace sown by blessed John XXIII bore fruit but, despite the fall of walls and barriers, the world continues to hunger for peace and the appeal made in 'Pacem in terris' retains a powerful current relevance".
John XXIII's encyclical confirms that the foundation for building peace consists in "the divine origin of the human being, of society and authority, which requires individuals, families, the various social groups and States to live in relations based on justice and solidarity. It is, therefore, the task of all men to build peace, following Jesus Christ's example, and by two routes: the promotion and practice of justice … and by contributing … to full human development, according to the logic of solidarity."
The consequence of looking to the divine origin of the person, of society, and of authority itself is none other than "the value of the person, the dignity of each human being, always to be promoted, respected and protected. And as blessed John XXIII states, these are not only the principal civil and political rights to be guaranteed; every person should also be granted effective access to essential means of subsistence: food, water, shelter, healthcare, education, and the possibility of forming and supporting a family. These aims should be an absolute priority for national and international action, and their fulfilment sets the parameters by which such action may be judged. Lasting peace for all depends on this."
"Certainly, the encyclical states objectives and elements that are now form part of our way of thinking," stated the Pope, "but it remains to be asked: do they correspond to reality? Fifty years on, do they find confirmation in the development of our societies?"
"'Pacem in terris' does not intend to state that it is the Church's task to give concrete directions on themes that, in their complexity, should be left open to free discussion. On political, economic, and social matters there is not the dogma to indicate practical solutions, but rather to favor dialogue, listening, patience, respect for others, sincerity, and also willingness to revise one's opinion. The basic aim of John XXIII's call for peace in 1962 was to orientate international debate according to these virtues."
The fundamental principles of the encyclical may be applied to a series of new current situations, including those under analysis in these days by the participants in the meeting organized by the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace": education, the influence of mass media communication, access to the earth's resources, the application of the results of biological research, the arms race, and national and international security measures. "The worldwide economic crisis, which is a serious symptom of the lack of respect for man and for the truth with which decisions have been made by governments and by citizens, provides us with clear evidence. 'Pacem in terris' traces a direct line from the peace that is to be constructed in the heart of mankind to a rethinking of our model of development and action at all levels, in order that our world become a world of peace. I wonder," concluded Francis, "if we are ready to accept the invitation."
At the end of the meeting, the Pope spoke about the tragic shipwreck this morning near the Italian island of Lampedusa. The stricken boat was carrying over three hundred immigrants, of whom more than 90 lost their lives and approximately 250 are still missing.
"Speaking of peace, speaking of the inhuman worldwide economic crisis, which is a serious symptom of the lack of respect for mankind, I cannot neglect to mention with great suffering the many victims of yet another tragic shipwreck today in the sea of Lampedusa. The word shame springs to mind. Shame! Let us pray together for those who have lost their lives – men, women, children, for their families, and for all refugees. Let us unite our strength in order that there be no more tragedies of this type! Only decisive collaboration by all of us can help to prevent this."
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City (VIS) – The second stage of Pope Francis' pastoral visit to Assisi was the bishop's residence. Here, in 1206, before his father Pietro Bernardone, who, enraged by his son's conduct, had taken him to trial, and the bishop Guido, representative of the ecclesial authority to whom the Poverello had appealed, Francis denuded himself of his rich garments and proclaimed God as his true father. Moved by this gesture, the bishop embraced him and covered him with his cape.
In the "Sala della Spoliazione," where this episode took place, the Holy Father met with the poor assisted by Caritas, after listening to an address by bishop Domenico Sorrentino, who remarked that Francis was the first pope to visit the room in the last eight hundred years.
The pontiff, again speaking off the cuff, said that during recent days the newspapers had speculated about what he would say in that room. "The Pope will go to despoil the Church there! He will despoil the bishops, the cardinals, himself!" This, he observed "is a good opportunity to invite the Church to despoil herself. But we are all Church! All of us! From the first moment of our baptism, we are all Church, and we must all take the path of Jesus, who took the path of despoiling Himself. He became a servant; he sought humiliation, unto the Cross. And if we wish to be Christians, there is no other path."
"But some say", he continued, "can't we follow a more human Christianity – without the Cross, without Jesus, without denuding ourselves? In this way we become cake-shop Christians, like beautiful cakes, exquisite sweets. Beautiful, but not true Christians! Some might say, 'but what does the Church need to despoil herself of?' Today she must cast aside a grave sin, which threatens every member of the Church, all of us: the danger of worldliness. The Christian cannot co-exist with this worldly spirit. Worldliness leads us to vanity, self-importance, pride. And this is an idol, it is not God. It is an idol! And idolatry is the gravest sin of all!"
"When the media speak of the Church, they believe that the Church means priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals, and the Pope. But we are all Church, as I have said. And we must all cast aside this worldliness: the spirit contrary to the beatitudes, the spirit contrary to that of Jesus. Worldliness is harmful to us. It is so sad to encounter a worldly Christian, sure within himself of that security that faith gives him, and sure of the security the world offers him. You cannot work on both sides. The Church – all of us – must reject worldliness, which leads to vanity and pride, which are idolatry."
"Jesus Himself said, 'No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.' In money He includes all this worldly spirit: money, vanity, pride, that route... that we cannot follow … it is sad to erase with one hand what we write with the other. The Gospel is the Gospel! There is one God, and Jesus became a servant for us, and the spirit of the world has nothing to do with this."
"And today, many of you," he said, addressing those present, "have been despoiled by this savage world, that does not give you work, that does not offer help; to which it does not matter if there are children who die of hunger in the world; it does not matter if many families have nothing to eat, and do not have the dignity of being able to bring home bread; it does not matter that many people are forced to flee from slavery and hunger, to flee in search of freedom. With great sadness we see, so many times, that instead they find death, as they did yesterday, in Lampedusa: today is a day of grief. This is what the worldly spirit does. It is entirely ridiculous that a Christian – a true Christian, a priest, a nun, a bishop, a cardinal, a Pope, might wish to follow the path of worldliness, which is a homicidal path. The spirit of worldliness kills! It kills the soul! It kills people! It kills the Church!"
"When Francis despoiled himself he was just a young boy, he did not have the strength for such a gesture. It was the strength of God that drove him to do this, the strength of God Who wanted to remind us of what Jesus said to us about the spirit of the world, that which Jesus begged of His Father, so that the Father might save us from the spirit of the world."
"Today, here," concluded Pope Francis, "we ask for grace for all Christians. May the Lord give us all the courage to despoil ourselves, not of twenty cents, but of the spirit of the world, which is the leprosy, the cancer of our society! It is the cancer of God's revelation. The spirit of the world is the enemy of Jesus! I ask the Lord for the grace of despoiling us of this."
Finally, the Pope thanked all of those present for their welcome, and added, "Pray for me; I need your prayers."
Vatican City (VIS) – Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States, spoke during the general debate of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, held in New York on October 1. Archbishop Mamberti expressed his wish that the session of the General Assembly be inspired by the same spirit of universal solidarity that animated the day of prayer for peace convoked by Pope Francis on September 7, "so that all nations take decisive steps towards the resolution of open conflicts and to heal the wounds of humanity."
Focusing on the establishment of new and appropriate objectives for 2015, the archbishop commented, with reference to G20, "if we wish to guarantee the future achievement of common objectives for development after 2015, it is urgent to draw up international judicial mechanisms enabling the participation of all States in the conception and implementation of major joint economic decisions." Similarly, Mamberti referred to the Pope's recent letter to the G20 leaders, who met in St. Petersburg in September, in which he emphasized the responsibility of the international community with regard to Syria, and appealed to leaders to "find ways to overcome the various oppositions and to abandon any vain pretext for a military solution."
Archbishop Mamberti commented that the tragedy in Syria constituted a challenge and an opportunity for the United Nations to give new vigor to its organs, mechanisms, and procedures in a concerted, creative and positive way. "A peaceful and lasting solution to the Syrian conflict would set a significant precedent for this century, paving the way to facing other conflicts that the international community has not yet managed to resolve, would greatly facilitate the inclusion of the principle of 'responsibility to protect' in the United Nations Charter, and from the more general perspective of economic and social development, would be the clearest and most evident manifestation of the wish to embark, with honesty and efficacy, on a path of sustainable development after 2015."
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
Vatican City (VIS) – Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, spoke at the 57th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA), held in Vienna on September 16.
The prelate mentioned that "this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Papal Encyclical 'Pacem in Terris' of Blessed Pope John XXIII" and remarked, "we should ask ourselves whether we really live in a more secure and safer world today compared with that of a few decades ago."
"The Holy See shares the thoughts and sentiments of most men and women of good will who aspire to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Hence, we would like to use this opportunity to renew our call upon the leaders of nations to put an end to nuclear weapons production and to transfer nuclear material from military purpose to peaceful activities."
The archbishop insisted upon the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation from a humanitarian point of view, and expressed "the Holy See's deep concern about the recent tragic developments in the Middle East," restating "its strong support for the efforts to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear-weapon-free zones are the best example of trust, confidence, and affirmation that peace and security are possible without possessing nuclear weapons."
He concluded his address by referring to recent negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, and emphasized the Holy See's firm conviction that "the present difficulties can and must be overcome through diplomatic channels, making use of all the means that diplomacy has at its disposal, and considers it necessary to overcome the various obstacles which objectively impede mutual trust.
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
WASHINGTON — Invoking Pope Francis' Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, released September 24, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, called upon members of the U.S. House of Representatives to begin consideration of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
In a message, released in advance of the January 19, 2014, World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis called for a "change in attitude" toward migrants and refugees around the world, moving away from attitudes of "defensiveness and fear, indifference and fear," typical of a "throwaway culture." "Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity," the Holy Father wrote.
Archbishop Gomez echoed the Holy Father's remarks, stating that the current situation in the United States undermines the human rights and dignity of migrants.
"Migrants have few rights in our economic system," Archbishop Gomez said. "They are working for low wages in our restaurants and fields; our factories, gardens, homes, and hotels. And these men and women have no security against sickness, disability, or old age — and no protections against being exploited in the workplace."
Calling on the House of Representatives to correct this situation, Archbishop Gomez added, "I urge our leaders in the House of Representatives to debate and pass a bill that gives these undocumented men and women a path to citizenship and full membership in our society."
The U.S. Senate passed S. 744, comprehensive immigration reform legislation, June 27. The U.S. House of Representatives has yet to act on the Senate bill or its own version of immigration reform.
Pope Francis' statement can be found at www.news.va/en/news/popes-
(Source: USCCB press release)
Vatican City (VIS) – In a note September 30, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications explained the meaning and context of the central theme of the next Social Communications Day, which is celebrated every year on June 1. This year, the theme chosen by the Holy Father is "Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter."
"The capacity to communicate is at the heart of what it means to be human. It is in and through our communication that we are able to meet and encounter at a meaningful level other people, express who we are, what we think and believe, how we wish to live and, perhaps more importantly, to come to know those with whom we are called to live. Such communication calls for honesty, mutual respect and a commitment to learn from each other.
"It requires a capacity to know how to dialogue respectfully with the truth of others. It is often what might be perceived initially as 'difference' in the other that reveals the richness of our humanity. It is the discovery of the other that enables us to learn the truth of who we are ourselves.
"In our modern era, a new culture is developing advanced by technology, and communication is in a sense "amplified" and "continuous." We are called to "rediscover, through the means of social communication as well as by personal contact, the beauty that is at the heart of our existence and journey, the beauty of faith and of the beauty of the encounter with Christ." (Address of Pope Francis to participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, September 21, 2013). In this context, each one of us should accept the challenge to be authentic by witnessing to values, Christian identity, cultural experiences, expressed with a new language, and shared with others.
"Our ability to communicate, reflected in our participation in the creative, communicative, and unifying Trinitarian Love, is a gift which allows us to grow in personal relationships, which are a blessing in our lives, and to find in dialogue a response to those divisions that create tensions within communities and between nations.
"The age of globalization is making communication possible even in the most remote parts of the world, but it is also important "to use modern technologies and social networks in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses, and encourages." (Address of Pope Francis to participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, September 21, 2013), so that nobody is excluded.
"The Message for World Communications Day 2014 will explore the potential of communication, especially in a networked and connected world, to bring people closer to each other and to co-operate in the task of building a more just world.
"World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council ("Inter Mirifica," 1963), is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (June 1st in 2014).
"The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24)."
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com