"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
|The UN House Juba 3 IDP camp is home to 16,000 people who have fled the violence.|
(Editor's note: This report and photos was provided by Caritas. Faith Kasina is a Communications Officer on the Caritas Internationalis Emergency Response Team to South Sudan. She is based normally in Nairobi for Trocaire.)
3.7 million people could face severe food shortages if aid doesn't arrive.
A slight cough from her little boy distracts 25 year old Salome Amira from the bucketful of soaked clothes she is bent over. She briefly extends her gaze to him and then gets back to work.
"You can never be too careful," she said. "I feel safer than where I came from because there are many people around, but you have to be alert."
Salome, her husband and their one-year old son Given had to flee their home in the South Sudanese capital Juba after war broke out in mid-December 2013.
"I'm originally from the north but have lived in Juba since 2010. My perfume business was going well and I soon got married," she said.
"Things changed. People started fighting because they came from different tribes."
Salome now calls home the UN House Juba 3 IDP camp. At least 16,000 people live there, mostly from Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity States in the north.
"My husband and I are from different tribes. We had to run away to save our lives and that of our son. I was afraid for my son because he's seen as an 'enemy of the future' [with parents who speak different languages]," she said.
It's a humanitarian crisis on the same scale as the conflict in Syria, says the UN. One million people in 100 days have fled their homes in South Sudan. Most remain within South Sudan, with over 200,000 fleeing across the border.
About 3.7 million people, close to one-third of the total population, are already at severe risk of starvation in South Sudan.
Caritas South Sudan Executive Director Gabriel Yai said, "We urgently need food, water, seeds, and farming tools so people can plant crops before the planting season ends in late May. The clock is ticking and we don't have the resources to meet the needs."
Caritas organizations are responding through local humanitarian and Catholic church-based partners. Aid includes plastic sheeting for shelter, kitchen sets that include cutlery and cooking pots, and hygiene kits such as laundry and bathing soap.
However, a Ř2.9 million Caritas Internationalis emergency appeal for South Sudan to provide 100,000 people with aid over the next 4 months is only 20 percent funded.
"Fighting is continuing. The crisis is not about to end," said Gabriel Yai. "We need the resources to act quickly and scale up response activities in the accessible areas."
At the Juba 3 IDP camp, children sculpt guns and war tanks while playing with mud. Most of them almost naturally show the gun signal with their fingers. Others openly speak of avenging the deaths of their loved ones.
"Most of these children have seen their parents being killed by people they know," said Salome. "If we don't take care of them, they will definitely revenge when they are older. There will always be fighting. It will never end."
Sr. Amala Francis works with the Doctors of Mary Immaculate (DMI) Sisters in the camp, supported by a Caritas. She sees the children as the start of a new life for future generations.
Salome Amira and her son Given are among the one million people who have been forced from their homes.
"The children we meet everyday have their minds poisoned with revenge as most of them openly talk about avenging the death of their family members," she said.
"Through the education we give them, we encourage them to let go of the gun and pick the pen as they are the future of South Sudan.
"We also work with local communities in identifying ways they can engage in to enhance their contribution to the national peace-building and reconciliation."
The sisters have been assisting these families with food relief as sorghum and fresh milk. There is, however, need to scale up response and recovery activities in this camp as well as other accessible conflict-affected areas, in order to save lives.
Salome may have had her plans of becoming a lawyer with a thriving business and a stable family, robbed by guns and bombs; but she's not about to throw in the towel for her son.
"I may have lost everything- my business, my home. But I have new strength for my son," she says. "As long as I'm alive, Given will get a good education and will one day become a doctor."
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Caritas.)
During Lent we're reminded of Jesus' period in the desert which recalls the Israelites' long journey through the wilderness led by Moses.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley went out into the modern-day wilderness which stretches along the US-Mexico border April 1. It is a place which has seen suffering, rape, and abuse. A place where people enter on a journey which they hope will end in a better life, but more often than not it ends in desperation, suffering, and sometimes death.
Cardinal O'Malley of Boston was on the border with a group of US bishops to celebrate mass with migrants who had travelled to the Mexican border in the hope of entering the US. In a very powerful gesture he gave communion through the iron bars which held back the migrants.
In his homily the Cardinal said, "We come here today to be a neighbor and to find a neighbor in each of the suffering people who risk their lives and at times lose their lives in the desert."
Catholic leaders in the US want Congress to understand that immigration across the Mexican border is an urgent humanitarian issue. During his first meeting with Pope Francis last week at the Vatican, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his interest in getting immigration reform through Congress.
Almost 12 million immigrants live illegally in the U.S., around half of them are from Mexico. Thousands of people are abused or die each year in the desert terrain while trying to cross illegally into the United States along the 2,000-mile plus border with Mexico.
Just a few days before the cardinal's visit to Nogales, Arizona, 370 migrant children were found in the Mexican desert. They had apparently been abandoned by traffickers paid to take them to the United States. The youngest was nine years old.
Caritas works with the US Bishops' Conference to advocate on the issue of unaccompanied child migrants. It focuses on assessing the child's best interests and finding a durable solution.
The Cardinal quoted Pope Francis in his homily: "The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people."
During the Mass, the clergymen laid a wreath at the border wall to remember those who have died. It followed a similar event in Lampedusa, Italy, last year when the pope threw a wreath into the Mediterranean Sea to remember migrants who have died attempting to reach Europe.
"Here in the desert of Arizona, we come to mourn the countless immigrants who risk their lives at the hands of the coyotes and the forces of nature to come to the United States," said Cardinal O'Malley.
"Every year four hundred bodies are found here at the border, bodies of men, women, and children seeking to enter the United States. Those are only the bodies that are found . . ."
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations addressed the 25th Ordinary Session of the Human Right Council on the Right to Food on March 10 in Geneva, Switzerland. His message follows:
"My Delegation welcomes the opportunity to address this Council on the urgent need for governments and the global society better to respect, protect, facilitate, and fulfill the human right to food. We are deeply grateful to the outgoing Special Rapporteur for his significant efforts in this regard and express the sincere hope that additional progress will be made in order to ensure that the right to food is not 'reduced to a right not to starve' and will truly be acknowledged as 'an inclusive right to an adequate diet and all the nutritional elements' needed 'to live a healthy and active life, and the means to access them' (www.ohchr.org/Documents/
"The international community has indeed made progress in addressing food security. On the occasion of World Food Day 2013, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported that, since the end of the Second World War, the availability of food per person has increased by more than 40%. It further advised, however, that hunger still afflicts more than 840 million people but is much less evident since it persists mainly among those living in developing countries. This type of hunger manifests itself as a 'slow death' caused by under-nutrition, depriving children of opportunities and the achievement of such developmental milestones as growth within normal standards, neuromotory development, and school performance, all of which are taken for granted by well-nourished people who live in high-income countries... 'this is a real scandal' (Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Peace, December 8, 2013).
"Mr. President, in his Message for the most recent World Food Day, Pope Francis strongly asserted that 'hunger and malnutrition can never be considered a normal event to which one must become accustomed, as if it were part of the system' (Pope Francis, Message for World Food Day, October 16, 2013). In order to break this vicious cycle, we need to take structural measures such as the enactment of framework laws at the national level and the development of just food policies. We also need well-developed processes, including implementation and monitoring of policies as well as adequate resource allocations. Finally, we must carefully analyze outcomes and impact based on statistics related to hunger and under-nutrition and on indicators related to the availability of food, sufficient revenue, and affordable prices to buy proper nourishment for families and the more vulnerable members of society.
"In a certain sense . . . Pope Francis has outlined a 'roadmap' aimed at further advancing the full implementation of the right to food. 'Something has to change, in ourselves, in our mentality, in our society,' he urged, proposing that 'an important step is to bring down, with determination, the barriers of individualism, of being shut-in on ourselves, of the slavery of profit at all cost' (ibid.). My Delegation, therefore, suggests that the achievement of the right to food requires social solidarity among all peoples, in addition to the legal and policy-related safeguards already established by this Council.
"At the national level, this requires adequate public and private investment to enable small-scale farmers to increase productivity, to attain adequate revenue surplus to improve the conditions under which they farm, and to be able to count on long-term prospects of sufficient income to support their families. Special attention will be needed to facilitate the empowerment and participation of rural women to enhance agriculture and rural development. With regard to the private sector, we must strive for more equitable distribution of resources, one that does not disadvantage small, local food producers. In the provision of humanitarian assistance, access to food and resources by affected populations needs to be assured both within and across borders. Development assistance should include agricultural components so that the right to produce and market food can be assured without discrimination.
"Solidarity at the international level is equally important in efforts to guarantee the right to food. The agreement reached in Bali, during the ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization 'on public stockholding for food security purposes' is on the same line and is a clear example of how multilateralism can regain its central role in addressing new problems, tackling new opportunities, and, most importantly, promoting freer and more equitable trade, not as an end in itself, but as one of the many approaches to ending poverty for all. The implementation of this interim agreement would provide a more secure, stable, and equitable access to food for countries that need it.
"During the current International Year of Family Farming . . . my Delegation would urge this Council to include, as a special component of its efforts to advance and preserve the human right to food, 'education in solidarity and in a way of life that overcomes the "throw away culture" and really puts every person and his/her dignity at the center, as is characteristic of the family' (ibid.) . . ."
Joan Carroll Cruz has chronicled many miracles in her books on The Incorruptibles, Eucharistic Miracles and Miraculous Images of Our Lady and Miraculous Images of Our Lord. In Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Live of the Saints, however, she includes the most unclassifiable in the chapter "Marvels of Every Sort."
On the title page she quotes Acts 2:19, "I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth beneath." God, Who does not change, has and will continue to answer spoken and unspoken prayers.
A pilgrim to the Holy Land was forced to abandon his journey and so left his gift, a ivory ship at Our Lady of Monaria in Cagliari on Sardinia. The ship was hung by a string behind the high altar. The mysterious tunings of the ship in the narrow stairway corresponds to the winds on the sea outside.
Catherine dei Ricci and Philip Neri shared the marvelous gift of conversing at long distance with each other. Although the two saints never met and never wrote each other, five people swore that they had witnessed such communications.
Uneducated Bl. Anne of St.Bartholomew of St. Theresa of Avila's community, learned to write from copying Theresa's letters as her secretary. She later wrote her own autobiography. Catherine of Siena had difficulty learning to read the breviary. She prayed and the "Divine Novice Master" enabled her to read.
Carbel Markhouf is reported to have prayed his breviary by the light of a lamp that a brother monk had deliberately filled with water.
Several saints made use of lamp oil for their purposes. Theresa Margaret Redi used the oil from before a Marian shrine to anoint her fellow sisters and heal them. Bl. Gerald Cagnoli used oil from a St. Louis shrine. Clelia Barbieri used his community's patron Francis of Paola's. Bl. André used oil from a St. Joseph shrine for healing.
Bl. Peter Geremia was such a sought-out preacher that he had to preach in the public square of Bologna. One of his monastic brothers said that his voice was heard more than a mile away.
Fr. Francisco di Lucia was distributing a pamphlet on St. Philomena. He had done so for several months before he noticed that he had been taking them from just the one uncovered stack. Then one evening he found booklets scattered all over the floor and the original stacks still undisturbed. His original 221 copies had been nearly tripled.
Another miracle involves the stonecutter Giovanni Cimaforte. While working on an altar for chapel to Philomena, the marble slab developed a long, jagged crack. His repair attempts made it worse. His patching made it even more noticeable. He prayed and the crack's patch blended together with the natural stone.
Both Benedict and Francis of Paola are said to have miraculously moved boulders that were hindering construction. Benedict prayed, blessed the stone, and then moved it as if it were weightless. Francis kneeled, then prayed with his arms raised, and the stone rose up out of the ground.
Catherine of Bologna had just put her loaves into the oven when the bell rang for a sermon by her Franciscan provincial, Br. Albert. She prayed for protection for the bread and when she returned five hours later it was not only not burnt, but a beautiful brown. The oven is said to emit a wonderfully sweet perfume on the novena before her feast day and several days after.
Gerard Majella was the instrument of a similar miracle. He noticed that teams of oxen could not move the large chestnut trees needed for the construction of a church. He tied a rope to one of the largest, ordered it to follow him, and dragged it to its destination. The workmen followed his examples and easily removed the other trees.
The custom of writing the prayer SAG for "St. Anthony Guide" or pasting stamps with the initials on envelopes traces back to 1729. The wife of Antonio Dante in Spain had not heard from him since he went off on a business venture to Peru. To ensure that her letter reached him she prayed to his patron St. Anthony of Padua and placed it in the hand of the church's statue. When she returned the next day the parish priest said he had noticed the letter but could not remove it. She, however, removed it easily, but discovered it was not her letter. It was the answering one from Lima.
Antonio had gotten her letter from a Franciscan. He had not written because he had not gotten her letters and thought her dead. Included in the envelope was 300 gold coins, enough to provide for her until his return.
Gemma Galgani asked her guardian angel to deliver letters to the Giannini family. To test this a letter was locked in a chest by Fr. Lorenzo Agrimonti, but was delivered to her confessor nevertheless. "Angelic letters" from him to her were delivered in the same way.
Bl. Mary Fortunata Viti and his sister Benedictines were filling a wine cask when it began leaking. When sealing the leaks failed, Sr. Fortunata made the sign of the cross with her St. Benedict medal and prayed. The cracks in the cask closed and the wine stopped flowing.
When Phillip Neri and his community were trying to decide whether to repair or replace an old church donated to them, he had a vision. He ordered the roof of the corner of the church near an image of the Madonna and Child be torn down immediately. He had seen the Madonna supporting the roof with one hand. The workman discovered that the main beam that had been supporting the roof had come out of the wall.
Alphonsus Liguori was buried wearing the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel that he had worn during his lifetime. Forty years later his scapular was found incorrupt, even though everything else in his tomb had turned to dust.
VATICAN CITY (VIS) - This morning (March 25) in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, presented the eighth World Meeting of Families, which will take place from September 22 to 27, 2015 in Philadelphia.
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family explained that the meeting will occur at very important moment in the life of the Church, as Pope Francis has focused attention on the theme of the family, to which he dedicated this February's Consistory, and which will be the theme of the next Synod in October. Other examples are last year's Family Pilgrimage of the Year of Faith on October 26 and 27, 2013, the 11th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Holy Father's encounter with engaged couples on February 14, 2014, and the Pope's Letter to Families, a series of events and initiatives that coincide with the United Nations' convocation of the Year of the Family.
"It would be considered a theft on our part if we didn't go to someone in greater need than we are."
St. Francis of Assisi
"The Philadelphia meeting aims first to gather the Churches of the America, and it is encouraging participation by all the diverse cultures, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, that people this vast continent," continued the prelate. "There is no doubt that the presence on the Chair of Peter of the first Latin American Pope makes the event even more meaningful. … The starting point and the guide for this journey are given to us by Pope Francis: 'the beauty of the family and of marriage, the grandeur of a reality both simple and profound, a combination of joy, hope, burdens, and suffering, just like the rest of life. We will seek to deepen our understanding of the theology of the family and of the pastoral care that we must exercise in today's world. … Our task is to show the world God's shining plan for families, to help married couples live out that plan with joy, and to be there for them with a shepherd's care that is wise, brave and full of love."
"This is what we will do as we look towards the meeting in Philadelphia: we will be there for all the families of the world with a shepherd's care that is 'wise, brave, and full of love.' Wisdom in understanding what families face today, bravery in taking on today's many and complex problems, and love in helping to resolve those problems in the light of the Gospel of the family and of life. We will deal with many issues in our wise, brave, and loving work together: theology of the family, married spirituality and holiness, ecclesiology and pastoral care for families, the family in contemporary culture, immigration and the family, and the family and ecumenism. These are some of the routes and areas of common work that we will pursue with wisdom, bravery, and love."
"We would also hope that the meeting in Philadelphia sees a broad and active presence from the other Christian Churches and communities, as well as from representatives of the world's other great religions, together with other men and women who, though not religious, are committed to bringing peace and goodwill to our world. May our coming together for the family encourage all peoples to remember that we are one family of humankind and that it is together as a family that we must walk the path to true happiness," he concluded.
The 48th World Communications Day will be observed on June 1. This year's theme is "Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter." Pope Francis' Message for the Day, dated January 24, the memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the press, follows:
"Today we are living in a world which is growing ever 'smaller' and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbors. Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent. Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family. On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor. Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows. We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us. Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization, and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.
"In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.
"This is not to say that certain problems do not exist. The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.
"While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement. What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding? We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen. We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us. People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted. If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions. We will also learn to appreciate more fully the important values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and the family, the proper distinction between the religious and political spheres, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, and many others.
"How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another? These questions are summed up in what a scribe - a communicator - once asked Jesus: 'And who is my neighbor?' (Lk 10:29). This question can help us to see communication in terms of 'neighborliness.' We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be 'neighborly' in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology? I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbors. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other. Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as 'neighborliness.'
"Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road. The Levite and the priest do not regard him as a neighbor, but as a stranger to be kept at a distance. In those days, it was rules of ritual purity which conditioned their response. Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbor.
"It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply 'connected;' connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness, and truth in communication. The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness. The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people. The impartiality of media is merely an appearance; only those who go out of themselves in their communication can become a true point of reference for others. Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator. Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence.
"As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those 'streets' are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively. The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach 'to the ends of the earth' (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all. Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts.
"Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others 'by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence' (BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 47th World Communications Day, 2013). We need but recall the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. We have to be able to dialogue with the men and women of today, to understand their expectations, doubts, and hopes, and to bring them the Gospel, Jesus Christ Himself, God incarnate, Who died and rose to free us from sin and death. We are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert. To dialogue means to believe that the 'other' has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective. Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.
May the image of the Good Samaritan who tended to the wounds of the injured man by pouring oil and wine over them be our inspiration. Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts. May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful 'neighbors' to those wounded and left on the side of the road. Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way. The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God."
Archbishop Silivano Tomasi, Vatican observer to the United Nations in Geneva, addressed a UN meeting there on March 13. He spoke at the 25th Ordinary Session of the human rights Council On Violence Against Children. His address follows:
". . . The reports of the Special Rapporteurs dealing with various forms of violence and exploitation directed against children form a tragic litany of willful harm to the dignity, wellbeing, and future development of the world's most innocent and vulnerable citizens. My delegation is left with particularly serious concerns having read in one report after another that the international community possesses little understanding of the dimensions of such problems as the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and the horrendous violence against those affected by albinism. In the present day and age, we surely need to develop the political will, analytical capacity, and firm commitment to effective action, at the individual, community, national, regional, and global levels, to address, adjudicate, and eliminate these crimes.
"In a recent address to the new Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See on the occasion of the presentation of their credentials, Pope Francis encouraged more a focused and intense attention by governments to the 'scourge' of human trafficking which he labeled a 'crime against humanity,' 'a true form of slavery, unfortunately more and more widespread, which concerns every country, even the most developed.' He made a further appeal. 'People of good will, whether or not they profess religious beliefs, must not allow these women, men, and children to be treated as objects, to be deceived, raped, often sold and resold for various purposes, and in the end either killed or left devastated in mind and body, only to be finally thrown away or abandoned' (Francis, Address to the new ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, December 12, 2013).
"The Special Rapporteurs pointed to similar patterns of vulnerability that constitute the root causes of abuse perpetrated against children. Such conditions include abject poverty, economic and social crises, civil and political conflicts, and the widespread violence resulting from such disorders. My delegation noted with particular interest that family breakdown was acknowledged as a serious contributing factor to the violence against children. For many years, the Holy See has made efforts to alert the international community to the alarming fact that the number of broken and troubled families is 'on the rise, not simply because of the weakening sense of belonging so typical of today's world, but also because of the adverse conditions in which many families are forced to live, even to the point where they lack basic means of subsistence' (Pope Francis, Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, January 13, 2014).
"For this reason, the international community must acknowledge the need to enact suitable policies aimed at supporting, assisting, and strengthening the family. The promotion of strong family values and provision of social and economic help to families in particular need will, at the same time, prove effective in reducing domestic violence and sexual abuse, which regrettably is the most frequently occurring cause of harm to women and children.
". . . With regard to the situation of children in armed conflict, my delegation insists that 'full respect for humanitarian law remains essential. It is unacceptable that unarmed civilians, especially children, become targets' (ibid.). Together with all people of good will, we are deeply grieved by the fact that the youngest members of society so often are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers, or are kidnapped, wounded, and killed in armed conflicts.
On May 24, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI visited Monte Cassino, an Italian town destroyed in World War II and home to a famous Benedictine Abbey. His trip was during the 65th anniversary of the May, 1944, occupation of the monastery after five months of fighting in which 4,600 Allied soliders died. The Pope visited the Polish cemetery in Monte Cassino and offered the following prayer:
Credit: American Battle Monuments Commission
O God, our Father, inexhaustible source of life and peace, welcome in Your merciful embrace those who fell in the war that ravaged this land, the fallen of every war that has tainted the earth with blood. Grant that they may enjoy the light that never fades, which they glimpsed in faith and yearned for during their earthly pilgrimage.
You, Who in Jesus Christ, Your Son, offered to suffering humanity the most exalted proof of Your love and through His Cross redeemed the world from the dominion of sin and death, give to all who still suffer because of fratricidal wars the strength of invincible hope, the courage to perform daily actions for peace and active trust in the civilization of love.
Pour out Your Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, upon the people of our time that they may understand that peace is more precious than any corruptible treasure and that they all work tirelessly together to prepare a world in which justice and peace may reign for the new generations.
O good and merciful Father, give to us, Your children in Christ, persevering peacemakers and tireless servants of life, the invaluable gift of Your love.
(A Christian Perspective on World News)
VATICAN CITY (VIS) - On March 20 Pope Francis again emphasised the primary importance of work and the need for creativity and solidarity to face the economic crisis, receiving in audience the employees and managers of the Italian "Acciaierie di Terni" steelworks, accompanied by the bishop of the diocese and a group of faithful, to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the company's foundation.
"It is necessary to reaffirm that employment is necessary for society, for families, and for individuals," said the Pope. "Its primary value is the good of the human person, as it allows the individual to be fully realized as such, with his or her attitudes and intellectual, creative, and manual capacities. Therefore, it follows that work has not only the economic objective of profit, but above all a purpose that regards man and his dignity. And if there is no work, this dignity is wounded! Indeed, the unemployed and underemployed risk being relegated to the margins of society, becoming victims of social exclusion."
"What can we say, when faced with the very serious problem of unemployment that affects various European countries?" he asked. "It is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create work, because it has placed at its center the idol of money. Therefore, the various political, social, and economic actors are called upon to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure the possibility of dignified work for all. Work is an asset for all, and must be available to all. Phases of serious difficulties and unemployment must be faced with the tools of creativity and solidarity. The creativity of courageous businesspeople and craftspeople, who look to the future with trust and hope. And solidarity between all the elements of society, who all give something up, adopting a more sober lifestyle, to help those in need."
"This great challenge requires the involvement of the Christian community as a whole," concluded the Pope. "The first challenge is to revive the roots of faith and of our adhesion to Jesus Christ. This is the inspiring principle in the choices of a Christian: faith. Faith moves mountains! Christian faith is able to enrich society through the concrete element of brotherhood it embodies. … Never cease to hope for a better future. Do not let yourselves be trapped in the vortex of pessimism! If everyone does his part, if we all put the human person and his dignity at the center, and if we consolidate an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing, inspired by the Gospel, we can emerge from the swamp of this difficult and burdensome period of economic turmoil."
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
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