"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
Migrants Can Be Bridge Builders
Pope To Youth: Seek Jesus
In Defense of Life: Marriage Under Attack
Decent Films Do Exist
Solidarity Needed In International Trade
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
Pray the News
The growing trend of a variety of forms of migrations presents challenges to migrants, the receiving society, and the country of origin. Christians must grapple to provide a humane and Christ-like response to immigrants and refugees.
Last month (January 15) was the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the day was published in January's issue of My People.
Mons. Silvano Tomasi represented the Vatican at a Nov. 29 - Dec. 2 meeting of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and made the following statement:
"In his first message for this year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that 'one of the recognizable signs of the times today is undoubtedly migration,' a phenomenon which has taken on structural characteristics, becoming an important factor of the labor market world-wide, a consequence among other variables of the enormous impact of globalization. In fact, the visibility of migration on the international agenda has never been so high; it is debated regularly in national parliaments, in regional conferences, and at the global level. This unprecedented interest is not without ambiguity. The popular perception of immigrants reflects anxiety over economic competition, national security, and cultural identity. Policy makers tend to emphasize the economic and demographic function played by foreign professionals and laborers.
"On the other hand, the extraordinary positive contribution of migrants to the economy of their families and of their countries of origin through the flow of remittances and newly acquired skills, and to the realization of economic objectives in their host countries, and the contribution of their creativity and spiritual gifts, are seldom in the limelight. There is a need to overcome this ambiguity and the occasional political manipulation of the immigrants for electoral purposes, and to educate public opinion to a more objective appreciation of our new neighbors.
"A way forward for a positive change of attitude are the current efforts to develop an effective policy coherence in migration. This policy certainly deserves support, as it represents a concerted will of sending, transit, and receiving countries to respond in a comprehensive and inclusive way to contemporary migrations by taking into account both countries' labor needs and migrants' human rights and responsibilities. The added value of this approach is its timeliness. Migration pressures will continue as will continue the request of manpower in many developed countries. Experience has shown that control alone is not the answer. In fact, an exclusive focus on control brings about lack of appreciation for the root causes of migration and a real risk of reducing the migrant to his or her service function forgetting the human fundamental dimension. It also relegates into the shadows the many victims of today's increased movements of people: the migrants who die trying to reach their destinations, the women and children trafficked, the thousands of migrants and asylum seekers in detention centers, the millions of undocumented migrants. A patient and determined multilateral dialogue, among States and with immigrant communities, gives reasonable hope for realistic agreements and laws; it is the road ahead.
"In the complexity of relationships and implications that the international movement of people entails, in no way comparable to the movement of capital and goods, the dignity and the human rights of the migrant person have to take precedence. For this reason it seems urgent to revisit the question of integration if the end result of the migration process should lead to an enriching and peaceful coexistence of different cultural expressions in society. If only the worker or only the technician is taken into account and not the human persons they are with aspirations, family ties, religious convictions and traditions, formed identities, then lack of adjustment can easily be predicted. Integration takes place from a position of strength of the newcomer and from this position can take place the transition to a new identity as cultures evolve and adapt to each other. In the long run the interest of the receiving society is served by its acceptance of newcomers in their difference and in its openness to progressively incorporate them in view of a common future. In this perspective, policies based on rights turn out to be more useful in the formation of a cohesive society and in the management of migration since they provide a common ground to negotiate competing interests. Two recent projects among those undertaken by IOM have addressed important aspects of migration that have a critical bearing on immigrants integration and hopefully will continue to be discussed and further elaborated. The first is the initiative to support the development and the teaching of the international right of migrations, that is the rights and duties of migrants and of States. It breaks new ground in bringing together partners in the migration process and in indicating a base on which to develop a fair integration of immigrants. The second initiative is the decision to address the role that religion plays in the process of integration; it involves the relation of immigrants with the receiving country and with other religions at a moment when most societies are confronted with religious pluralism. It is interesting to see how the religious variable touches the personal and group ethnic identity, inspires social services that assist immigrants to integrate, can help to transcend nationalisms.
"Finally a word of caution seems in order as a renewed interest emerges in favor of temporary migrations. The failure of past migrant workers programs should make us aware that a rights-based migration policy cannot overlook the problematic aspects of guest worker and circular migration models like compulsory employment with a specific employer as a condition and the consequent vulnerability to abuse and isolation from the host society rather than integration.
"In conclusion, migrations are not just a sign of the times; they are a great resource for economic and human development, but the migrants must remain protagonists as builders of bridges among societies with the support of coherent and humane policies on the part of the international community."
Young Dutch Catholics met recently at the invitation of Dutch bishops for the first National Day for Young Catholics of the Netherlands.
In his message to the youths, Pope Benedict XVI said, the meeting "is a very beautiful sign for Dutch society; it means that you are not afraid to say you are Christians and want to witness to it openly."
The pope continued: ". . . In fact, the deepest reason for your gathering together is to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how it was for those who took part in the recent World Youth Day, whose theme was: 'We have come to worship Him' (Mt 2:2). In the footsteps of the Magi, impelled by the yearning to seek the truth, young people from every corner of the earth met in Cologne to seek and worship God made Man, and then, transformed by their encounter with Him and illumined by His presence, they returned to their country, like the Magi, 'by another route' (Mt 2:12). So it was that you returned to Holland, eager to communicate to one and all your rich experience, and today you want to share it with your peers.
"Dear friends, Jesus is your true friend and Lord; enter into a relationship of true friendship with Him! He is expecting you and in Him alone will you find happiness.
"How easy it is to be content with the superficial pleasures that daily life offers us; how easy it is to live only for oneself, apparently enjoying life! But sooner or later we realize that this is not true happiness, because true happiness is much deeper: we find it only in Jesus.
"As I said in Cologne, 'The happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy, has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth' (Address at the Poller Rheinwiesen Wharf, August 18, 2005; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, August 24, p. 4).
"I therefore invite you every day to seek the Lord, Who wants nothing more than for you to be truly happy. Foster an intense and constant relationship with Him in prayer and, when possible, find suitable moments in your day to be alone in His company. If you do not know how to pray, ask Him to teach you, and ask your heavenly Mother to pray with you and for you.
"The recitation of the Rosary can help you learn the art of prayer with Mary's simplicity and depth. It is important that you make participation in the Eucharist, in which Jesus gives Himself for us, the heart of your life. He Who died for the sins of all desires to enter into communion with each one of you and is knocking at the doors of your hearts to give you His grace.
"Go to the encounter with Him in the Blessed Eucharist, go to adore Him in the churches, kneeling before the Tabernacle: Jesus will fill you with His love and will reveal to you the thoughts of His Heart. If you listen to Him, you will feel ever more deeply the joy of belonging to His Mystical Body, the Church, which is the family of His disciples held close by the bond of unity and love.
"You will also learn, as the Apostle Paul says, to let yourselves be reconciled with God (cf. II Cor 5:20). Especially in the Sacrament of Reconcilia-tion, Jesus waits for you to forgive you your sins and reconcile you with His love through the ministry of the priest. By confessing your sins humbly and truthfully, you will receive the pardon of God Himself through the words of His minister.
"What a great opportunity the Lord has given us with this sacrament to renew ourselves from within and to progress in our Christian life! I recommend that you make good use of it all the time!
"Dear friends, as I said to you above, if you follow Jesus, you will never feel lonely because you are part of the Church, which is a great family in which you can grow in true friendship with so many brothers and sisters in the faith scattered in every part of the world. Jesus needs you to 'renew' contemporary society.
"Take care to grow in the knowledge of the faith in order to be its authentic witnesses. Dedicate yourselves to understanding Catholic doctrine ever better: even if at times in looking at it with the eyes of the world it may seem a difficult message to accept, in it is the answer that satisfies your basic questions.
"Trust your Pastors and guides, Bishops and priests; become actively involved in the parishes, movements, associations, and Ecclesial Communities to experience together the joy of being followers of Christ, Who proclaims and gives truth and love. And truly impelled by His truth and love, you will be able, together with other young people who are seeking the true meaning of life, to build a better future for all.
"Dear friends, I am close to you with my prayers. May you generously accept the call of the Lord, Who holds up to you great ideals that can make your lives beautiful and full of joy. You can be certain of it: only by responding positively to His appeal, however demanding it may seem to you, is it possible to find happiness and peace of heart.
"May the Virgin Mary accompany you on this journey of Christian commitment, and may she help you in all your good resolutions. . ."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
Discussion about the "culture of death" usually revolves around the issues of abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, or human cloning. However, there are other disturbing changes in our society's fundamental values which undermine the sanctity of all human life.
It is obvious that in America there is an ongoing assault on the traditional understanding of marriage and the concept of family. In 1981 Pope John Paul II called attention to the fact that "…the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it…."
The Holy Father went on to note that: "In richer countries, excessive prosperity and the consumer mentality, paradoxically joined to a certain anguish and uncertainty about the future, deprive married couples of the generosity and courage needed for raising up new human life. Thus, life is often perceived, not as a blessing, but as a danger from which one has to defend oneself."
Those who support and promote the culture of death would do well, therefore, to undermine the understanding of marriage and of the family.
Legal recognition of so-called same-sex "marriages" or unions have found strong opposition from the Catholic Church. The Church has long recognized that a marriage between a man and a woman is God's plan and is not subject to redefinition by civil law or by the culture. Marriage is not a right granted by the government, whether through its legislatures or courts, but is a human covenant instituted by God.
Thus, civil law cannot define or establish marriage to be anything other than what is intended by God. Those in authority need to acknowledge that marriage is between a man and a woman, and through the law, try to foster and support this relationship.
If the civil law can redefine the term "marriage" to include a union between two people of the same sex, why can't it define "marriage" to be the union of three people of the same sex or different sexes? Why not four, or five?
If "domestic partners" should be entitled to legal recognition and the benefits and support normally granted to traditional marriages, why shouldn't the term "domestic partners" also include siblings, roommates, or parents and adult children?
As the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons:
"There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. …The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it."
Prior to the political movement demanding recognition of so-called same-sex "marriages" or unions, the understanding of marriage had been undermined by the activities of heterosexuals. Premarital sex, adultery, contraception, and abortion have set the stage for the acceptance of homosexuality.
For 2,000 years, Christianity refocused humanity's concept of marriage. The Church taught that marriage was a permanent relationship between a male and female, a relationship oriented to bring children into life and nurture them. Human activities which emphasize marriage to be simply personal satisfaction of two individuals are attacks on marriage and family.
In the 60's and 70's, America witnessed the so-called "sexual revolution." Premarital sex, long recognized as sinful and harmful, was raised by the popular culture, especially through the entertainment media, to be a great good, one which would help individuals to reach their "potential."
Pete Vere, writing in Lay Witness, concluded, after four years of working in the tribunal ministry dealing with annulments, that premarital sex substantially contributed to the breakup of Catholic marriages. He noted: ". . . premarital sex creates a false intimacy within an insecure relationship. The couple feels compelled to marry."
A man told him, "I had my doubts, but we were living together. So I felt obliged to marry her." On the other hand, a woman expressed it differently: "But I had invested so much into our relationship." She felt that she could not break off the relationship without feeling used.
The entertainment industry, through movies, books, and music, promoting the idea that a sexual relationship is simply a sort of recreation, one completely separated from any procreative or unitive purpose, has encouraged the rise in adultery.
In a marriage covenant, the spouses vow to give themselves completely to each other, thus excluding anyone else.
If heterosexuals can have sexual relations outside of marriage, totally void of any commitment to each other, just for the pure sexual satisfaction they may experience, then the stage is set for the acceptance of sexual activity simply for its own sake.
We have seen in our culture acceptance of not only homosexual activity, but also masturbation, pornography, and premarital sexual activity.
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz advises couples that there are two kinds of fidelity in marriage, internal and external. Bishop Bruskewitz writes:
"Marriage, just like the single life, requires the Christian to keep careful control over his internal senses and mind. Unfaithfulness in marriage always begins in the memory or imagination, and then goes on into the intellect and from there it is only a short step to a violation of marriage vows. Imagination and desire, especially when stimulated by various kinds of videos, magazines, or other visual depictions, can exert a tremendous pressure on the human will. Jesus told us very clearly that there is such a thing as illicit lust and adultery in one's heart."
Bishop Bruskewitz goes on to stress the importance of family prayer and the importance of spending time together: "It is important that a married couple always try to find and exercise common interests and common activities."
The wide acceptance of artificial contraception among Christians has also undermined the understanding of marriage. The conjugal act serves both a unitive and procreative purpose, as has long been taught by the Churchr be willing to unconditionally support that child. If the conjugal act no longer by the use of contraception, is the total self-giving of one spouse to another, why would a husband and wife expect to experience a total self-giving to each other in all the other daily human activities?
With the use of contraception fostering a fear of the child, abortion has become more "justifiable" as a backup to failed contraception.
From his experience, Pete Vere noted that a woman seldom freely chooses an abortion. He concludes that the decision is usually under distress, frequently from a husband or boyfriend. He states: "In the vast majority of cases, the relationship ends within three years of the abortion. Often it ends on a violent note." Since husbands and wives avoid sharing their feelings about the abortion or seeking each other's forgiveness, the abortion becomes "an unspoken secret within the relationship."
As so often in the past, people of today deny that the plan of God should govern their lives, and they set out to demonstrate that the laws of God are not binding on men. However, by their sinful activities, men and women of today again prove, by their failures, that adherence to the natural law is the only path to human happiness.
In modern society, men and women struggling with their marriage and families need to especially pray and ask the assistance of the Holy Family.
by Michael Halm
The Decent Films Guide is a handy tool for evaluating current films, but among its list of most recommended films, many are "oldies." Those few rated both A+ and Four Stars do have a variety of moral/spiritual values and audience ranges.
Listed first, as the site states purely as a personal opinion, is Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), rated between +2 and -1 on a scale from +4 to -4 for kids and up. Second in the list is the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), rated slightly lower at +2 to -2.
The next, The Ninth Day (2004), however, has a higher moral/spiritual rating, the maximum in fact, +4. It is not for "kids" since it tells the story of Dachau prisoner Fr. Jean Bernard.
Next come the family-friendly classics, The Wizard of Oz (1939), Bambi and the relatively new The Incredibles (2004), all rated at +2.
Another with a perfect +4 rating is The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1905). It was, the reviewer writes, "a remarkably in-depth presentation of the Gospel story, running about thirty minutes at its original length and nearly three-quarters of an hour in the expanded version – one of the first long films ever."
In rating The Prince of Egypt (1998), at +4, the reviewer points out what are to him important details, "the astonishing animation of scale at work in capturing the towering monuments of Egypt, or the host of departing Hebrews," the scene where "the infant Moses, caught up in the Queen's arms, eclipses the toddler Ramses in her line of vision," "those quiet numinous moments: the pebbles rolling back at Moses' feet at the burning bush; the halo of clear water around his ankles as the Nile turns to blood; the horror of an Egyptian servant as the surface of the water bubbles and the first frogs begin to flop out of the river onto the palace stairs; an extinguished candle flame or an off-screen sound of a jar crashing as the destroying angel swirls in and out among the Egyptians."
The Miracle Maker (2000) is called an "astoundingly lifelike stop-motion animation, supplemented with traditional hand-drawn animation for flashbacks and other special sequences, and digital effects." Another +4 is Miracle of Saint Thérése (1952).
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) is not for kids and is not a +4, but only a +3. Even so the reviewer describes this film as a "soaring achievement" and "the grandest spectacle ever filmed" and "the most satisfying third act of any film trilogy, completing what can now be regarded as possibly the best realized cinematic trilogy of all time."
Diary of a Country Priest (1951) and Andrei Rubley (1969) are both +4s. The second film is also compared to and rated better – because of its better ending – than the classic The Seventh Seal.
On the list are even a few recommended films with a moral/spiritual neutral rating, "the zaniest, most delightful, most romantic screwball comedy of them all, Bringing Up Baby (1942), but also Buster Keaton's The General (1927), Danny Kaye's The Court Jester (1956), Fred Astair's Singin' in the Rain (1952), the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera (1935), and Duck Soup (1933), and Wallace and Gromit's shorts (1993).
Others with +4s are worth looking for would be Faustina (1995), The Son (2002), A Man for All Seasons (1966), The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Chariots of Fire (1981), The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), The Flowers of St. Francis (1950), Ordet (1955), Babette's Feast (1987), and Monsieur Vincent (1947).
Other most recommended films with positive moral/spiritual ratings are: Babe (1995), The Pianist (2002), Fantasia (1940), Toy Story 2 (1999), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Citizen Kane (1941), It's A Wonderful Life (1946), The Kid Brother (1927), Open City (1947), Grand Illusion (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Casablanca (1948), Holiday (1938), and City Lights (1931).
Solidarity needs to replace "the ceaseless competition" which aims at achieving and maintaining privileged positions in international trade, according to a Vatican spokesman at a December, 2005, meeting of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Hong Kong. Mons. Silvano Tomasi addressed the meeting on December 18. He stated:
". . .It was not possible for the Member States to reach a substantial agreement before the Hong Kong Conference. Now, the objective is to draft a document that offers guidelines in order to continue the discussions. Difficulties manifested themselves at the time of making concessions following the guidelines established by the Doha Declaration and the Decision adopted by the General Council on August 1, 2004. While these difficulties could ultimately not be overcome, they still represent an opportunity to examine more carefully the contents of the aforementioned Declaration and Session in favor of development. Such contents should then be taken into account in each and every one of the new agreements, so that 'a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system, [which] can substantially stimulate development worldwide' may be reached.
"A few days ago, in his message to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) annual Conference, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about this WTO meeting saying: 'In a few days many of the participants in this Conference will be meeting in Hong Kong for negotiations on international commerce, particularly with regard to farm products. The Holy See is confident that a sense of responsibility and solidarity with the most disadvantaged will prevail, so that narrow interests and the logic of power will be set aside. It must not be forgotten that the vulnerability of rural areas has significant repercussions on the subsistence of small farmers and their families if they are denied access to the market.'
"The Holy See recognizes the benefit of an equitable and participatory multilateral system of trade relations directed to attaining and developing the common good. A spirit of solidarity among all countries and people should replace the ceaseless competition that aims to achieve and defend privileged positions in international trade. Protectionism too often favors already privileged segments of society. Effective multilateralism, on the other hand, is an inclusive process which acknowledges that at the core of all social and economic relations, and hence of trade relations, is the human person, with dignity and inalienable human rights. Therefore, a rules-based trade system or, better, a fair system of trade rules is indispensable.
"A fair system of trade rules should be shaped according to the level of economic development of the Member States and give explicit support and special and differential treatment to the poorest countries. When the levels of development of the members are excessively unequal, the consent of the panties may not be sufficient to guarantee the justice of their agreement: 'trade relations can no longer he based solely on the principle of free, unchecked competition, for it very often creates an economic dictatorship. Free trade can be called just only when it conforms to the demands of social justice.' Moreover, the question of justice in today's trade rules is problematic because such rules tend to grant more privileges to these who possess more economic power. A fair system of trade rules is an international public good. Without a fair system of trade rules, vulnerable people in many developing and developed countries will be 'locked in a poverty trap.' In fact, many poor countries are prevented from reaping the benefits of the new opportunities offered in the new scenario.
"Trade reforms can, in the short-term, bring about for the poorest countries adjustment costs that could have a harmful impact on the lives of their citizens. International trade rules should enable governments to adopt the measures necessary to reduce the social costs of trade liberalization. Indeed, the global gain from trade liberalization should allow for 'compensating losers.'
"This approach is in line with the concern to put the human person at the center of any development and trade strategy, recognizing that only by raising individual's capabilities, enabling every person and every social group to make the most of the opportunities created by trade liberalization, will it be possible to implement a truly mutually beneficial fair trade.
"Opening access to new markets offers a real opportunity for developing countries and is an important element of the development process; however, it is not per se a sufficient condition for lifting countries out of poverty. Poor countries need be equipped in order to take this opportunity. Without appropriate infrastructure for access to markets, human capacity-building, it is unlikely that any country could benefit from trade. A generous 'Aid for Trade' initiative should be predictable, specific, monitored, and country-driven. In this regard, consideration should be given to providing developing countries with the finances needed to address adjustment costs arising from the Doha negotiations as well as their supply side constraints. Indeed, weak economies urgently need support for improving their supply capacity and trade-related infrastructure in order to be able to translate improved market access into increased exports.
"The international trading system should guarantee a true partnership based on equal and reciprocal relations among rich and poor countries. The WTO system should encourage participation of all States, above all of the most disadvantaged, in the negotiation process. Trade rules should be negotiated by all, in the interest of all, and adhered to by all, avoiding closed-door decision-making that lacks the transparency and democracy necessary for the participation of the weak and voiceless. The benefits that would result for developing countries would be larger, stable, and leading to their self-reliance.
"Free trade is not an end in itself but rather a means for better living standards and the human development of people at all levels. The universal destination of the goods of the earth requires that the poor and marginalized should be the focus of particular concerns. Trade exchanges should enable all people to have access to these goods. Thus, essential services such as health, education, water, and food are not normal goods since citizens cannot choose not to use them without harm to themselves and high social costs for society. Although often necessary, food aid can lead to unintended consequences that do not strengthen the food security of poor people. These public goods often require government intervention in markets to ensure equitable access to them. It is the task of the State to provide for the defense and preservation of common goods which cannot simply be addressed by market forces.
"There exist important human needs which escape the market logic. There are goods which due to their very nature cannot and must not be bought or sold. In a very special way, the movement of professionals and workers, a phenomenon of increasing importance that contributes in a critical way to the production of wealth, should he planned and managed in ways that optimize the benefits both for countries of origin and countries of destination, and above all for the migrants themselves. The discussion on services should address items of interest to the developing countries, especially those related to the movement of people, bearing in mind that the economic interests of the poor and the full respect of all human rights and the rights at work of migrants are paramount in the negotiations.
"In today's world, where the knowledge economy is becoming such an essential requirement, the concern for the TRIPS Agreement takes on new significance. While there is a need to protect intellectual property rights as an incentive for innovation and technology creation, it is also important to ensure broad access to technology and knowledge especially for low-income countries. The new goods derived from progress in science and technology are key to world trade integration. Improved technology and know-how transfer from the developed countries is necessary so that less-developed countries can catch up and gain international trade competitiveness.
"Further, we welcome the recent amendment to the TRIPS Agreement on Public Health. This amendment could assure poor countries access to the means for the production and importation of essential drugs needed to face the main pandemics suffered by their populations. It balanced the two important objectives of intellectual property rules: creating incentives for innovation and spreading the benefits of the innovations as widely as possible. However, care should he taken that this amendment not be weakened by regional and bilateral agreements containing 'TRIPS plus' variants, which are more onerous for poor developing countries.
"The Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong could provide not only an important chance to restore confidence in the Doha Development Round, but also to restore full credibility and legitimacy to the WTO system and to have the public at large understand its value. Despite all its inherent constraints, the WTO is unique among international organizations as a members-driven one with an ambitious policy of inclusion. The mechanism of an effective Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) is evidence of a guarantee the equality of all countries before the law, regardless of their economic power, and it protects virtually all Member States from unfair, unilateral commercial actions.
"This Ministerial Conference has the potential to be remembered as a milestone in the establishment of a socially just international trading system. The more the rights and needs of the poor and the weak are taken into account, the greater becomes the possibility for justice and peace in our world, two indispensable conditions for sustainable development and for the alleviation of poverty. These two goals constitute a common ambition to which all members can aspire as the negotiations go forward: this is a guide for the road ahead."
God's Truth Is Pre-Condition For Peace
Vatican City – On January 1, Catholics celebrated both the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and observed the World Day of Prayer for Peace. In his homily on January 1, Pope Benedict XVI, discussed the demands of proclaiming "the Gospel of Peace." The Pope stated:
". . .By choosing the theme 'In truth, peace' as the Message for the World Day of Peace, I wanted to express the conviction that 'whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace.' How can we not see in this an effective and appropriate realization of the Gospel just proclaimed, in which we contemplated the scene of the shepherds on their way to Bethlehem to adore the Child? (cf. Lk 2:16).
"Are not those shepherds, whom the Evangelist Luke describes to us in their poverty and simplicity, obedient to the Angel's order and docile to God's will, perhaps the image most easily accessible to each one of us of the person who allows himself to be enlightened by the truth and is thereby enabled to build a world of peace?
"Peace! This great, heartfelt aspiration of every man and every woman is built day after day by the contribution of all and by treasuring the wonderful heritage passed down to us by the Second Vatican Council with the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, which says, among other things, that humanity will not succeed in 'the establishment of a truly human world for all men over the entire earth, unless everyone devotes himself to the cause of true peace with renewed vigor.'
"The time in history when the Constitution Gaudium et Spes was promulgated, December 7, 1965, was not very different from our time. Then, as unfortunately also in our day and age, tensions of various kinds were looming on the world horizon. In the face of the lasting situations of injustice and violence that continue to oppress various parts of the earth, in the face of those that are emerging as new and more insidious threats to peace – terrorism, nihilism, and fanatical fundamentalism – it is becoming more necessary than ever to work together for peace!
"A 'start' of courage and trust in God and man is necessary if we are to choose the path of peace. And it must be on the part of all: individuals and peoples, international organizations and world powers.
"In the Message for today's event, I wanted in particular to call the United Nations Organization to a renewed awareness of its responsibilities in encouraging the values of justice, solidarity, and peace in a world that is ever more marked by the vast phenomenon of globalization.
"If peace is the aspiration of every person of good will, for Christ's disciples it is a permanent mandate that involves all; it is a demanding mission that impels them to announce and witness to 'the Gospel of Peace,' proclaiming that recognition of God's full truth is an indispensable pre-condition for the consolidation of the truth of peace.
"May this awareness continue to grow so that every Christian community becomes the 'leaven' of a humanity renewed by love. . ." (Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
Pope Welcomes New American Ambassador
Vatican City – On November 12, Pope Benedict XVI received the new American ambassador Francis Rooney in audience. In his address to the ambassador, the pontiff said:
"I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See. I am grateful for the message of greetings which you have brought from President Bush; I would ask you kindly to assure him in a particular way of my prayerful solidarity with all those affected by the recent storms in the southern part of your country, as well as the support of my prayers for those engaged in the massive work of relief and rebuilding.
"In his Message for the 2005 World Day of Peace, my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, called attention to the intrinsic ethical dimension of every political decision, and observed that the disturbing spread of social disorder, war, injustice, and violence in our world can ultimately be countered only by renewed appreciation and respect for the universal moral law whose principles derive from the Creator Himself (cf. Nos. 2-3). A recognition of the rich patrimony of values and principles embodied in that law is essential to the building of a world which acknowledges and promotes the dignity, life, and freedom of each human person, while creating the conditions of justice and peace in which individuals and communities can truly flourish. It is precisely the promotion and defense of these values, which must govern relations between nations and peoples in the pursuit of the common good of the human family, that inspires the presence and activity of the Holy See within the international community. As the Second Vatican Council stated, the Church's universal religious mission does not allow her to be identified with any particular political, economic, or social system, yet at the same time, this mission serves as a source of commitment, direction, and strength which can contribute to establishing and consolidating the human community in accordance with God's law (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 42).
"For this reason, I appreciate your kind reference to the Holy See's efforts to contribute to finding effective solutions to some of the more significant problems facing the international community in recent years, such as the scandal of continued widespread hunger, grave illness, and poverty in large areas of our world. An adequate approach to these issues cannot be limited to purely economic or technical considerations, but demands broad vision, practical solidarity, and courageous long-term decisions with regard to complex ethical questions; among the latter I think especially of the effects of the crushing debt that feeds the spiral of poverty in many less developed nations. The American people have long been distinguished for their generous charitable outreach to the disadvantaged and the needy on every continent.
"In a world of increasing globalization, I am confident that your nation will continue to demonstrate a leadership based on unwavering commitment to the values of freedom, integrity, and self-determination, while cooperating with the various international instances which work to build genuine consensus and to develop a unified course of action in confronting issues critical to the future of the whole human family.
"Mr. Ambassador, I take this opportunity to recall that just over two decades ago full diplomatic relations were established between the United States and the Holy See, thanks to the efforts of then-President Ronald Reagan and the late Pope John Paul II. I appreciate the dialogue and fruitful cooperation which these relations have made possible, and I express my hope that in years to come they will be deepened and consolidated. As you begin your mission, I offer you my prayerful good wishes for the work you will undertake in the service of your nation, and I assure you of the constant readiness of the offices of the Holy See to assist you in the fulfillment of your responsibilities. Upon you and your family, and upon all the beloved American people, I cordially invoke God's blessings of prosperity, joy, and peace." (Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
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.
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