"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
|Command Chaplain Jon Brzek of the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, Father Gary L. Secor, Vicar General of the Diocese of Honolulu, and Max Cleveland, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, joined at the Honolulu Memorial the weekend of June 4 to honor Army chaplain, Father Emil Kapaun. Father Kapaun was awarded the Medal of Honor in April, 2013, for his heroic actions as a Korean War chaplain and POW. His remains were never recovered. He is honored on the Tablet of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Chaplain Kapaun has been declared a servant of God, the first step on the road to sainthood in the Catholic Church. (credit: American Battle Monuments Commission)|
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service)
Vatican City, May 16, 2013 (VIS) — This morning the Holy Father received the credential letters of four new ambassadors to the Holy See: Mr. Bolot Iskovich Otunbaev from Kyrgyzstan; Mr. David Shoul from Antigua and Barbuda; Mr. Jean-Paul Senninger from Luxembourg; and Mr. Lameck Nthekela from Botswana. In the address he gave them, the pontiff urged them not to forget the predominance of ethics in the economy and in social life, emphasizing the value of solidarity and the centrality of the human being.
"Our human family," the Pope said, "is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of health, education, and communications. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident. People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. In the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.
May God Bless America
“Remember that you have been called to live in freedom — but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh. Out of love, place yourselves at one another’s service.” (Gal 5:13)
"The worldwide financial and economic crisis," the pontiff observed, "seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces men and women to just one of their needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have started down the path of a disposable culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good. A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.
"Concealed behind this attitude," the Bishop of Rome warned, "is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people: because ethics leads to God, Who is situated outside the categories of the market. These financiers, economists, and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, God is unmanageable, even dangerous, because He calls man to his full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics—naturally, not the ethics of ideology—makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: 'Not to share one's goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs.' "
The Pope asserted that "there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money has to serve, not to rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ's name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centered ethics in the world of finance and economics.
"For her part, the Church," he reiterated, "always works for the integral development of every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good should not be simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto political programs. The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take account of ethics and solidarity. And why should they not turn to God to draw inspiration from His designs? In this way, a new political and economic mindset would arise that would help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis."
Finally, Francis greeted—through the ambassadors—the faithful of the Catholic communities present in their respective countries, urging them "to continue their courageous and joyful witness of faith and fraternal love in accordance with Christ's teaching. Let them not be afraid to offer their contribution to the development of their countries, through initiatives and attitudes inspired by the Sacred Scriptures!"
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service)
Vatican City, (VIS) – On June 5, shortly after 9:00am, in the sitting room of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Pope received participants in the coordination meeting between the Catholic charitable organizations that are acting in the situation of the crisis in Syria and its neighboring countries. The meeting was sponsored by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," whose president is Cardinal Robert Sarah.
"I would like to thank you for coming together," said the Pope, "and for all the humanitarian work that you are doing to aid the suffering peoples of Syria and nearby countries owing to the conflict there. I encouraged the Pontifical Council Cor Unum to promote this meeting designed to coordinate the activities carried out by Catholic charitable organizations in the region. I wish to express my gratitude to Cardinal Sarah for his greetings. I offer a special welcome to those who have come from the Middle East, especially those representing the Church in Syria.
"The Holy See's concern for the crisis in Syria, and in a particular way, for the people, often defenseless, who are suffering as a result of it, is well known. Benedict XVI repeatedly called for a ceasefire and for a search for a resolution through dialogue in order to achieve a profound reconciliation between the sides. Let the weapons be silent! Furthermore, he wished to express his personal closeness this past November, when he sent Cardinal Sarah into the region, accompanying this gesture with the request to 'spare no effort in the search for peace' and manifesting his concrete and fatherly solicitude with a donation, to which the Synod Fathers had also contributed in October.
"The destiny of the Syrian people," he repeated, "is a concern that is also close to my heart. On Easter Sunday I asked for peace 'above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict, and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there be before a political solution to the crisis is found?'
"In the face of ongoing and overwhelming violence, I strongly renew my appeal for peace. In recent weeks the international community has reaffirmed its intention to promote concrete initiatives to bring about a fruitful dialogue designed to bring an end to the war. These initiatives are to be encouraged, and it is hoped that they will lead to peace. The Church feels herself called to give her humble yet concrete and sincere witness to the charity which she has learned from Christ, the Good Samaritan. We know that where there is suffering, Christ is present. We cannot pull back, precisely from those situations where the suffering is greatest. Your presence at this coordinating meeting demonstrates your will to faithfully continue this precious work of humanitarian assistance, in Syria and in neighboring countries which generously receive those who have fled from the war. May your timely and coordinated work be an expression of the communion to which it gives witness, as the recent Synod on the Church in the Middle East suggested.
"To the international community, besides the pursuit of a negotiated solution to the conflict, I ask for the provision of humanitarian aid for the Syrians who have been displaced and made refugees, showing in the first place the good of each human person and safeguarding their dignity. For the Holy See, the work of various Catholic charitable agencies is extremely significant: assisting the Syrian population, without regard for ethnic or religious affiliation, is the most direct way to contribute to peace and to the construction of a society open and welcoming to all of its different constituent parts. The Holy See also lends its efforts to the building of a future of peace for a Syria in which everyone can live freely and express themselves in their own particular way."
The Pope also directed his thoughts at the moment "to the Christian communities who live in Syria and throughout the Middle East. The Church supports the members of these communities who today find themselves in special difficulty. These have the great task of continuing to offer a Christian presence in the place where they were born. And it is our task to ensure that this witness remain there. The participation of the entire Christian community to this important work of assistance and aid is imperative at this time. Let us all, each of us, think of Syria. There is so much suffering and poverty, so much pain of Jesus who suffers, who is poor, who is forced out of his homeland. It is Jesus! This is a mystery but it is our Christian mystery. In the beloved Syrians we see Jesus suffering.
"I offer my gratitude once again," he concluded, "for this initiative and I invoke upon each one of you abundant divine blessings. This heavenly benediction extends in a particular way to the beloved faithful who live in Syria and to all Syrians who have been forced to leave their homes because of the war. May all of you here present tell the beloved people of Syria and the Middle East that the Pope accompanies them and is near to them. The Church will not abandon them!"
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
After initially spreading the lie that it was simply some rogue agents in the Cincinnati office, the Internal Revenue Service finally admitted that it had been deliberately targeting conservative groups, Tea Party members, Evangelicals, and pro-Israel Jewish groups, by not only denying requests for tax-exempt status, but also by burdening them with demands that cost thousands of dollars and thousands of work hours.
Even though the activities of the IRS were well known prior to last year's election, the pro-abortion national news media continued denying the electorate any information about this outrage, in order to protect Obama's campaign from the consequences of its attempt to suppress the activities of any individual or group that dared to oppose Obama's agenda.
"During the 2012 election cycle, the IRS – under the direction of its Washington office – became an arm of the Obama regime to persecute its political opponents," states an editorial published in The Wanderer. "In short, the IRS was transformed into a political battering ram to smash Mr. Obama's critics. Its behavior was not only illegal and unconstitutional, but a menacing assault on civil liberties and democracy."
The secular media has now reluctantly reported some of the atrocities carried out by the IRS against conservative groups, leading one to believe that they are the only victims of an out-of-control federal government agency. What remains unreported by the secular media, and also by the diocesan-owned Catholic news media, are incidences against pro-lifers and pro-life organizations.
A sociology professor at the King's College in New York in March of 2010 published a series of articles critical of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Professor Anne Hendershott, now a professor of psychology, sociology, and social work at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, was told by the IRS to show up at their office, without her husband, with whom she filed a joint return, and without their CPA.
“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”
— Mother Teresa —
As reported in the National Catholic Register, she said the audit quickly became an interrogation with the IRS agent Michael Iannotti, based in New Haven, Connecticut, who asked questions about her articles. "He was very argumentative. Not nice or respectful at all. I would say he was bullyish and curt," said Hendershott, who stated she and her husband had never previously had an issue with the IRS. "Most of the articles in question I wrote for free."
The IRS accomplished its mission. "I started writing milder articles about Obamacare, and I stopped criticizing Obama entirely," Hendershott said. "I have a husband and children who have jobs and share my last name. When you think the IRS has the power to destroy your family and your livelihood, and to take away your property, you don't want to make them mad."
As reported by Fox News, Sue Martinek, president of Coalition for Life of Iowa, petitioned the IRS for 501(c)(3) status in 2008. They were informed by the IRS that the application was ready to go through, but before that could happen, each member of the board would have to sign a letter stating that they would not protest Planned Parenthood.
The IRS required Coalition for Life of Iowa to "Please detail the content of the members of your organization's prayers." The IRS also wanted to know about their activities protesting outside Planned Parenthood clinics, including the messages on the signs they might hold.
Here, the IRS, during the Obama administration, took on the job of protecting Planned Parenthood, the largest U.S. abortion provider, from being the subject of criticism. Planned Parenthood, which receives millions of federal tax dollars each year, and has been a strong supporter and contributor to President Obama and the Democratic Party, was favorably mentioned numerous times at last summer's Democratic Convention, with its president addressing the Convention. Anytime a state has decided to defund Planned Parenthood, it has been sued by Obama's Department of Justice.
In April, President Obama was the honored guest speaker at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. He addressed the group: "I want you to know that you've got a president who's going to be right there with you fighting every step of the way."
To the defense of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm that defends religious freedom, came forward.
"It's the type of activity that can have a chilling effect on our constitutional rights," states attorney Sally Wagenmaker.
Christian Voices for Life in Texas experienced the same problems from IRS agent Tyrone Thomas, based in California, who demanded piles of paperwork from board members pertaining to leases, contracts, and grant applications, when the organization, with an annual budget of $3,000.00, applied for a tax-exempt status. Marie McCoy, its executive director, stated: "Thomas demanded to know whether [I] planned to educate the public about both sides of abortion."
However, in order to obtain a tax-exempt status, one does not have to present both sides of an issue, anymore than Planned Parenthood, which enjoys tax-exempt status, has to disseminate pro-life information. As explained by Wagenmaker: "The law allows a 501(c)(3) to engage in advocacy. You can teach that smoking kills without having to advocate the benefits of smoking. The same is true of abortion."
"If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life!"
— Pope John Paul II
As reported in the National Catholic Register, in March, 2012, John Eastman, president of the National Organization for Marriage, found his organization's private tax documents had been shared by IRS employees with the Human Rights Campaign, which is an organization that lobbied for the so-called same-sex "marriage." After obtaining this information from the IRS, the Human Rights Campaign published the documents on its website, publicly revealing the names of donors.
Just by "coincidence" the head of the Human Rights Campaign is Joseph Solmonese, who at that time had just been named national co-chair of the Obama election campaign.
The National Organization for Marriage has now filed suit against this federal agency.
For 40 years the United States has decriminalized the killing of unborn children through the painful death of abortion, claiming that it is a constitutional right. Americans have continued to elect and reelect those who promise to keep the killing machine in place, including reelecting the most pro-abortion president in the history of our country.
So why are we surprised to see those who publicly support the legalized killing of unborn children using the power of the federal government to suppress any opposition in their quest for more and more power and control?
If the killing of an innocent child is not morally wrong and unacceptable to a people, why would you think they would elect leaders who would impose upon themselves any restraints in their pursuit of wealth, fame, and power?
The beginning of tyranny did not start with an out-of-control federal agency, but started by decriminalizing the killing of an entire class of people who were declared to be non-persons, and whose lives were considered to be unworthy to be lived.
Melissa Ohden recognized the need for both support for and among abortion survivors, and for better information about abortion survivors to the public and so created The Abortion Survivor Network. It is just one of the many ways that abortion survivors are now telling their side of the story.
"The reality is that abortion doesn't just impact a woman's life," she says. "It ends a child's life and it forever changes the lives of everyone it touches, including women, men, extended family members, friends, and our communities."
Melissa's mother was a 19-year-old college student when she underwent a saline infusion abortion in 1977. After she survived, the doctor estimated her at 31 weeks gestation. She was adopted, but didn't learn she was an abortion survivor until 14. She is the subject of the award-winning documentary, A Voice for Life.
Sarah Smith's mother, Betty, tried to abort her in Los Angeles in 1970. At the time, Betty did not know she was pregnant with twins. Sarah's twin brother, Andrew, was aborted, but weeks later she felt Sarah's kick. She went back to the doctor and told him she was still pregnant, that she had made a big mistake and wanted to keep this second baby.
She did have to have leg casts from nine days and a body cast from six weeks and still requires corrective surgeries. For five years, however, mother and daughter have traveled the world speaking together about the pain and suffering caused by abortion.
Sarah says, "The protective hand of Almighty God saved my life. God's hand covered and hid me in her womb and protected me from the scalpel of death. Please share our story with others so the tragedy of abortion stops hurting babies and families. Everyone needs to know the truth about abortion. Thank you."
Dr. Imre Téglásy learned that he was an abortion survivor at 11. "My father told some relatives the story," he says, "and I just had a very sad feeling because at once I was able to see clearly why my relationship with my mother was so complicated."
He is now the president of Alpha Alliance for Life, Human Life International's affiliate in Hungary. His documentary Central and Eastern Europe: A Return to Life was broadcast on EWTN in January.
Gianna Jessen survived a saline abortion at seven months to be born the next day to Tina, her 17-year-old mother. Tina sought a saline abortion at seven months pregnant. Gianna was, however, severely injured by the abortion attempt, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but surpassed all expectations. Today she is able to run, dance, and walk, even take up rock climbing. In 1996, she testified before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on the issue of abortion.
Tina Huffman found herself a pregnant, unwed 17-year-old from a broken, dysfunctional home in 1978. Her parents and her boyfriend's parents both adamantly insisted she had to abort.
After feeling her "insides being pulled out" by the suction machine and two months of sickness, she learned from her own physician that the abortion had failed. Her daughter Heidi was born by C-section at 28 weeks, surviving with minimal placenta and minimal amniotic fluid.
Clare Culwell's mother became pregnant at just 13. After the abortion she too found she had been pregnant with twins. Claire was adopted at birth by a loving, stable family. She now counsels at the Coalition for Life in Bryan College Station.
"If my life can touch just one person who has had an abortion or considering an abortion or adoption," Culwell says, "then I am fulfilling my purpose in the pro-life movement. I will not be silent because each mother and child are in the same place my biological mother, my twin, and I were in 22 years ago, and I am here to say there is hope and there are options!"
James Wilkins did not learn of his survival from abortion until after his mother died, having held in the secret for thirty years. He tells his story in his book Survivor, which he describes as exposing the struggle of two great powers, the father of abortion who is the literal Devil and the Father of life, the True God of love and Heaven.
Laura Tedder survived several abortion attempts before her birth in 1948 and was adopted by her aunt and uncle. At two she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye, and her right eye was removed. She later survived a brain tumor.
"I'm a walking miracle," she says. "I'm lucky to be alive. God put me here for a reason. No matter how you get pregnant, it's a miracle baby. No matter what the circumstances, it's not the baby's fault. They were meant to live. Everyone needs a chance for life, you don't get many shots at it."
Sarah Brown was 36 weeks old when she was injected with poison in her brain three times. Yet two days later she was born with visible puncture wounds above her left eyebrow and at the base of her skull. She was adopted by Bill and Marykay Brown who wanted a "special-needs child."
At about five or six months Sarah suffered a stroke from which she never fully recovered. "She learned that if she held her breath the monitor would go off," Brown said. "We would jump out of bed and she would be grinning at us. That was how she got attention."
Sarah had progressive airway disease, and although blind, when she died at the age of five, her corneas were donated to other children to see. Marykay, however, speaks not only of Sarah's survival but also about the abortion of her own biological child when she was 19 and her own long road to healing.
"It has come full circle for me," Brown said. "I talk about what it's like to be post-abortive and about the forgiveness God gives and also about abortion from the child's point of view. I've watched Sarah change people's lives."
One-month-old Jacob would not be alive today if not for little Sarah Brown. Jacob's mother had scheduled an abortion, but then heard Sarah's remarkable story of having survived an abortion attempt. When she saw the precious little girl, instead of keeping the appointment, Jacob Alan's mother gave him the gift of life.
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service)
Vatican City, (VIS) – "Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons" is the title of the document prepared by the Pontifical Councils for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and "Cor Unum," which was presented May 31 at a press conference in the Holy See Press Office. Speaking at the conference were Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Cardinal Robert Sarah, respectively presidents of the two dicasteries. Also participating in the presentation were: Mr. Johan Ketelers, secretary general of the International Catholic Migration Commission (CICM) and Dr. Katrine Camilleri, assistant director of Jesuit Refugee Service Malta and recipient of the 2007 Nansen Refugee Award (United Nations Refugee Award, ACNUR-UNHCR).
"Our document," explained Cardinal Veglio, "is a pastoral guide that starts from a fundamental premise, ... which is that every policy, initiative, or intervention in this area must be guided by the principle of the centrality and dignity of every human person. … Indeed, this is the pivot of the Church's social doctrine: 'individual human beings are the foundation, the cause, and the end of every social institution.' Refugees, asylum seekers, and the forcibly displaced, therefore, are persons whose dignity must be protected, indeed, it must be the absolute priority. This is why the document recalls the rights granted to each refugee, which promote the individuals' well-being. These are well described in the 1951 Refugee Convention.
"Governments must respect these rights while further [rights to be extended] to the people involved in forced migration must be studied. Protection must be guaranteed to all who live under conditions of forced migration, taking into account their specific needs, which can vary from a residency permit for victims of human trafficking to the possibility of being granted citizenship for those who are stateless," the cardinal observed. On the contrary, he noted, it is occurring more and more frequently that refugees are subjected to confined detention, interment in refugee camps, and having their freedom to travel and their right to work restricted.
"It would be very different if their recognized and declared rights were properly respected. After all, the States have established and ratified these conventions to ensure that individuals' rights do not remain just proclaimed ideals or commitments that are subscribed to but not honored. … The Church, for her part, is convinced that the pastoral care for all persons who, in various ways, are involved in forced migration is a collective responsibility, as well as [the responsibility] of each individual believer. … In close connection to moral values and the Christian vision, we mean to save human lives, to restore dignity to persons, to offer hope, and to give adequate social and communal responses. Letting ourselves be challenged by the presenced of refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons who have been forcibly displaced compels us to go out of our closed world, which is familiar to us, toward the unknown, in mission, in the courageous witness of evangelization," the prelate concluded.
Cardinal Sarah then referred to the four million displaced persons within Syria, noting the 80,000 deaths, in less than two years, that have been "collateral effects" of the conflict. In this regard he observed that, up until the 1950's, in war there was a proportion of 1 civilian victim to 9 military casualties while today that amount has been inverted and dozens of thousands of people are in flight, "in the attempt to, at least, save their lives."
He also referenced the population of the Sahel region of Africa, condemned to hunger because of drought, likening the situation to that in the American states that have recently been hit by tornadoes. He emphasized that, "at whatever latitude, the fight against natural catastrophes is absolutely unequal and gives a sense of how humanity is at the mercy of nature instead of being its responsible custodian." The cardinal did not overlook those who, even in Europe, are unemployed and condemned to "a 'structural poverty,' who pay the price of political choices with their own lives." Many of these persons chose the path of emigration, unleashing the "phenomenon of a flight of [intellectuals], which further and permanently impoverishes their country of origin."
In this state of things "the Church intervenes in different ways according to her ability, mainly thanks to the worthy work of her charitable organizations and their volunteers." But "charity, first of all, is wed to the individual … charity isn't a window or a register. Whoever is in need must be able to find a good Samaritan whose heart beats with theirs because they are made alike and because [the good Samaritan] serves Christ [in serving their neighbor in need]." In the same way, charity "has a plural dimension: the refugee, the impoverished, the suffering need a network of ecclesial support that embraces and assimilates them … recognizing the dignity of the person and making them again feel part of the human family, respecting their identity, and their faith" because "the Christian community is called to live the ecclesial dimension of charity."
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service)
Vatican City, May 24, 2013 (VIS) — "The trafficking of persons is an ignoble activity, a disgrace to our society that calls itself 'civilized'! Exploiters and clients at all levels should make a serious examination of conscience, within themselves and before God!" These were the Pope's words to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, gathered in Rome to discuss the issue of "The Church's Pastoral Care in the Context of Forced Migration."
The assembly coincides with the publication of the document: "Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Persons Displaced by Force," which calls attention to the millions of refugees, displaced, and stateless persons. It also addresses the scourge of human trafficking, which more and more frequently affects children who suffer the worst forms of abuse, including being forced into armed conflicts.
"Today," the pontiff exclaimed, "the Church renews her strong call that the dignity and centrality of each person be always protected, in respect of fundamental rights … rights that she asks be concretely extended to the millions of men and women in every continent whose rights are not recognized. In a world where there is so much talk of rights it seems that the only one to have rights is money. … We are living in a world ruled by money. We live in a world, in a culture ruled by the fetishism of money." In this context, the Pope noted that the dicastery responsible for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people is very worried by "situations where the family of nations is called to intervene in a spirit of fraternal solidarity with programs of protection, often established against the backdrop of tragic events that almost daily are affecting the lives of many people. I express my appreciation and my gratitude and encourage you to continue along the path of service to our poorest and most marginalized brothers and sisters."
The attention of the Church, who is "mother," is expressed "with special tenderness and closeness for those forced to flee their country and live in-between rootlessness and integration. This tension destroys a person. Christian compassion — this 'suffering with' [con-passione]—is expressed above all in the commitment to know about the events that force one to leave their country and, where necessary, in giving voice to those who are unable to make their cry of sorrow and oppression heard. In this," he said to the assembly's participants, "you carry out an important task, as well as in making the Christian communities aware of their many brothers and sisters who are marked by wounds that scar their existence: violence, abuse of power, distance from family, traumatic events, flight from home, and uncertainty about their future in refugee camps. These are all dehumanizing elements and they must compel every Christian and the entire community to a concrete attention."
However, the Holy Father also invited them to also see in the eyes of refugees and forcibly displaced persons "the light of hope. It is a hope that is expressed in expectation for the future, the desire for friendly relationships, the desire to participate in the society that is hosting them, even through language learning, access to employment, and education for the youngest. I admire the courage of those who hope to gradually resume a normal life, awaiting joy and love to return and lighten their existence. We all can and must nurture that hope!"
Finally, the Pope launched an appeal to governments, legislators, and the entire international community to face the reality of forcibly displaced persons "with effective initiatives and new approaches to safeguard their dignity, to improve the quality of their lives, and to meet the challenges that emerge from modern forms of persecution, oppression, and slavery. It is, I emphasize, human persons who appeal to the solidarity and support, who need urgent measures, but also and above all who need understanding and goodness. Their condition cannot leave us indifferent.
"As Church," he concluded, "we remember that when we heal the wounds of refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking, we are practicing the commandment of love that Jesus has left us; when we identify with the stranger, with those who are suffering, with all the innocent victims of violence and exploitation. … Here I would also like to recall the care that every pastor and Christian community must have for the journey of faith of Christian refugees and those forcibly uprooted from their lives, as well as for that of Christian emigrants. They require special pastoral care that respects their traditions and accompanies them in a harmonious integration into the ecclesial reality in which they find themselves. Let us not forget the flesh of Christ, Who is in the flesh of the refugees. Their flesh is that of Christ."
A Family Prayer For The Year Of Faith
O God our Father, in Jesus You call all Christian families and homes to be signs of living faith. By the light of the Holy Spirit, lead us to be thankful for the gift of faith, and by that gift may we grow in our relationship with Jesus, Your Son, and be confident witnesses to Christian hope and joy to all we meet. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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