Pope Gives CAR's Authorities 3-Point 'Compass' to Guide Country's Destiny

Also Says He Comes to War-torn Central African Republic 'As Pilgrim of Peace, Apostle of Hope'

Saying he came to the Central African Republic as 'a pilgrim of peace and an apostle of hope,' like his predecessor St. John Paul II, Pope Francis gave the war-plagued country's authorities and diplomatic corps the three-point 'compass,' grounded in CAR's motto, needed to properly guide their nation's future.

The Pontiff had arrived at the M'poko International Airport in the African nation's capital of Bangui around 10 a.m. local time today, after a nearly three-hour flight from Uganda, and has a full agenda ahead of him. This morning's meeting with authorities and the diplomatic corps followed his courtesy visit to the presidential palace of the transitional head of state and preceded his visit to the St. Sauveur refugee camp,which houses nearly 4,000 who have been displaced by the nation's violence.

The Central African Republic, which gained independence from France in 1960, is one of the poorest nations in the world. It has been plagued by ethnic and religious violence over the past two years. Tens of thousands have been forced to flee the country to neighboring nations due to this war between majority Muslim Séléka forces and the majority Christian anti-Balaka. The United Nations has warned that there was high risk of the country descending into genocide.

To brighten the horizon, the Holy Father began his remarks, recalling the motto of the Central African Republic, "which translates the hope of pioneers and the dream of the founding fathers": Unity-Dignity-Labour. Today, more than ever, he said, this trilogy expresses the aspirations of each Central African, and consequently, is "a sure compass for the authorities called to guide the destiny of the country." 

These are three very significant words, he said, highlighting "each of which represents as much a building project as a unending program, something to be ceaselessly crafted."


The Pope's first significant word, he noted, was unity, which he stressed is a cardinal value for the harmony of peoples.  "It is to be lived and built up on the basis of the marvelous diversity of our environment," he said, "avoiding the temptation of fear of others, of the unfamiliar, of what is not part of our ethnic group, our political views or our religious confession." 

Unity, on the contrary, he pointed out, calls for creating and promoting a synthesis of the richness which each person has to offer.  He stressed that unity in diversity is a constant challenge, which demands creativity, generosity, self-sacrifice and respect for others.


Dignity, he said, is the second word and is a moral value which is rightly synonymous with the honesty, loyalty, graciousness and honor, which characterize men and women conscious of their rights and duties, and which lead them to mutual respect. 

"Each person has dignity," he stressed, adding, "Those who have the means to enjoy a decent life, rather than being concerned with privileges, must seek to help those poorer than themselves to attain dignified living conditions, particularly through the development of their human, cultural, economic and social potential.  Consequently, access to education and to health care, the fight against malnutrition and efforts to ensure decent housing for everyone must be at the forefront of a development concerned for human dignity. "

"In effect, our human dignity is expressed by our working for the dignity of our fellow man," he said.


Speaking on the third word of labor, he observed, that it is by working that you are able to improve the lives of your families.  Saint Paul tells us that “children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children” (2 Cor 12:14).  "The work of parents expresses their love for their children.  And you again, Central Africans, can improve this marvelous land by wisely exploiting its many resources.  Your country is located in a region considered to be one of the two lungs of mankind on account of its exceptionally rich biodiversity." 

Dawn of New Age

Recalling his Encyclical 'Laudato Si’, he said, I would like particularly to draw the attention of everyone, citizens and national leaders, international partners and multinational societies, to their grave responsibility in making use of environmental resources, in development decisions and projects which in any way affect the entire planet.  "The work of building a prosperous society must be a cooperative effort," he said, noting,"The wisdom of your people has long understood this truth, as seen in the proverb: 'The ants are little, but since they are so many, they can bring their hoard home.'”

The Pontiff stressed to the authorities that he does not doubt that the Central African authorities, present and future, will work tirelessly to ensure that the Church enjoys favorable conditions for the fulfillment of her spiritual mission.  These efforts, he noted, contribute to the encouragement and confirmation of the continent in goodness at the dawn of a new age.

The Holy Father also expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by the international community, represented there by the diplomatic corps and members of the various missions of the international organizations, and encouraged them to continue along the path of solidarity, "in the hope that their commitment, together with the activity of the Central African authorities, will help the country to advance, especially in the areas of reconciliation, disarmament, peacekeeping, health care and the cultivation of a sound administration at all levels."

Pope Francis concluded, observing, "Here I see a country filled with God’s gifts!" and praying that the Central African people always appreciate the value of these gifts by working ceaselessly for unity, human dignity and a peace based on justice. 


On ZENIT's Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-pope-s-address-to-authorities-diplomatic-corps-in-bangui




FULL TEXT: Pope’s Off-the-Cuff Address at Prayer Vigil in Bangui

“Peace is not a document that is signed and then put up some place. Peace is made each day. Peace is a craft, a handiwork. It’s made with the hands”

Here is a ZENIT transcription and translation of the address Pope Francis gave this evening in Bangui, Central African Republic, at a prayer vigil outside of the cathedral. The Pope had just completed a ceremony to open the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy and celebrated Mass.

* * *

I greet you with my deepest affection. This young person who has spoken in your name has said that the banana tree is your symbol. The banana is a symbol of life that grows, reproduces and gives its fruit with so much nutritional energy.

The banana is resistant; I think this clearly indicates the path that is set out in this difficult moment, of war, hate, division. The path of resistance.

This friend said that some of you want to leave. To flee from challenges is never a solution. Resistance is needed. To have the courage of resistance and of fighting for good. One who escapes doesn’t have the courage to give life.

The banana tree gives life and reproduces and gives more life because it stays in place. 

Some of you ask me: What can we do? What do we need to do to resist? I’ll give you two o r three ideas that can be useful for this resistance.

First of all is prayer, because it is powerful. Prayer overcomes evil. Prayer brings one close to God who is All-Powerful. I ask you, do you pray? Don’t forget this.

Second, work for peace, and peace is not a document that is signed and then put up some place. Peace is made each day. Peace is a craft, a handiwork. It’s made with the hands. 

Someone could ask me, “Father, how can I be a craftsman of peace?”

Never hate. And if someone does evil, seek to forgive him. Nothing of hate. A lot of forgiveness. The two things go together: nothing of hate, a lot of forgiveness. If you don't have hate in your heart, if you forgive, you will be the victor, because you will be victors in the most difficult battle of life, victors in love. And through love comes peace.

Do you want to be losers or winners in life? Which do you want? (They respond, “Winners!”) You only win on the path of love, on the path of love. And is it possible to love an enemy? Yes. Can one who has done evil be forgiven? Yes. Like this, with love and with forgiveness, you will be victorious. You will be victors in life; love will never leave you defeated.

I wish the best for you. Think of the banana, of resistance when faced with difficulties. To flee, to escape isn’t the solution. You have to be courageous. Do you understand what it means to be courageous? Courageous in forgiveness, courageous in love, courageous in building peace. 

Do you agree? Let’s say it together: Courageous in forgiveness, in love, in peace. (The crowd responds).

Dear Central African youth, I am so pleased to meet with you. Today, we have opened this Door, [the Holy Door of the cathedral for the Jubilee of Mercy] it signifies the door of God’s mercy. Trust in God, because he is merciful. He is love. He is able to give us peace. And that’s why I said a bit ago that it is necessary to pray in order to resist, to love, to not hate, to be craftsmen of peace.

Thank you for being here. Now, I will go inside to hear the confessions of some of you. 

Are your hearts ready to resist? Yes or no? (The crowd responds.)

Are your hearts ready to fight for peace? (The crowd responds.) Are your hearts ready to forgive? (The crowd responds.) Are your hearts ready for reconciliation? (The crowd responds.) Are your hearts ready to love this beautiful homeland? (The crowd responds.) And I go back to the beginning, are your hearts ready to pray?

Now, I ask you as well that you pray for me, so that I can be a good bishop, so that I can be a good Pope. Will you promise me that you’ll pray for me? Now, I give you the blessing, to you and to your families, asking the Lord that he gives you love and peace.


Good night and pray for me!

[Transcription and translation by ZENIT]


Pope: Christians Have to Be Ready to Brave Blows; God Has Final Word

Says Christ's Followers Must Be Specialists in Reconciliation, Experts in Mercy

In a video message sent by Pope Francis to the Central African Republic in the lead-up to his visit to the country, the Holy Father said his goal was to bring “the comfort of consolation and hope.”

Judging from the applause at certain moments during the Pope’s homily today at a Mass he celebrated in Bangui’s cathedral, the people of war-torn CAR are finding his visit a reason for hope — hope that, like the theme of the visit and the theme of the homily — there is the possibility to “go across to the other side” and leave violence behind.

This theme is from Christ’s invitation to the Apostles found in Luke’s Gospel to go with him to the other side of the lake. Once in the boat,  Jesus falls asleep despite a violent storm that strikes them; the apostles wake him and he calms the storm.

This evening’s Mass in Bangui followed a simple and highly symbolic ceremony as the Pope opened the Holy Door of the cathedral, anticipating the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins for the universal Church on Dec. 8.

“I have come to offer God’s strength and power; for these bring us healing, set us on our feet and enable us to embark on a new life, to ‘go across to the other side,’” the Pope said in the homily.

The congregation, made up of priests, religious, seminarians and youth of CAR, applauded the Holy Father’s assurance that — speaking in reference to the end times — “It is amid unprecedented devastation that Jesus wishes to show his great power, his incomparable glory and the power of that love which stops at nothing, even before the falling of the heavens, the conflagration of the world or the tumult of the seas.”

The homily, which the Pope gave in Italian, was simultaneously translated into Sangho. As the Pope continued, saying, “God is stronger than all else,” the faithful applauded again.


The Bishop of Rome exhorted the congregation to live up to the high calling of the Christian life, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, even if “the distance between this demanding ideal and our Christian witness is at times great.“

“One of the essential characteristics of this vocation to perfection is the love of our enemies, which protects us from the temptation to seek revenge and from the spiral of endless retaliation,” the Pope said. “[…] Those who evangelize must therefore be first and foremost practitioners of forgiveness, specialists in reconciliation, experts in mercy. This is how we can help our brothers and sisters to ‘cross to the other side’ – by showing them the secret of our strength, our hope, and our joy, all of which have their source in God, for they are grounded in the certainty that he is in the boat with us.”

The Pope was speaking of the situation that has led to the current violence in CAR, which began in early 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels overtook Bangui and terrorized the majority Christian population. The violence brought the rise of the mostly Christian “anti-balaka” (anti-violence or anti-machete) militia, and the tit-for-tat killings that are continuing today, even as, in fact, the religious issue is secondary, and the violence is sustained by other complexities.

An interfaith alliance to advocate an end to the violence has been formed by Reverend Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, president of the Evangelical Alliance; Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, president of the Islamic Council; and Archbishop Diedonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference.

During the Mass, the Pope left the altar at the sign of peace to shake hands with the imam and the reverend. (The archbishop was concelebrating at the altar.)

Arm yourselves

The Pope emphasized that Christians had to be ready to respond to violence with love.

“Even when the powers of Hell are unleashed, Christians must rise to the summons, their heads held high, and be ready to brave blows in this battle over which God will have the last word. And that word will be love! And peace!,” he said, to more applause.

The Pope — who has described the conflicts across the globe as a World War III being fought piecemeal, and who said before opening the Holy Door that CAR represented all the countries enduring war — made a plea to “all those who make unjust use of the weapons of this world.”

“Lay down these instruments of death!,” he appealed. “Arm yourselves instead with righteousness, wit h love and mercy, the authentic guarantors of peace.”

“As followers of Christ, dear priests, religious and lay pastoral workers,” the Pope said, “here in this country, with its suggestive name, situated in the heart of Africa and called to discover the Lord as the true centre of all that is good, your vocation is to incarnate the very heart of God in the midst of your fellow citizens.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-pope-s-homily-at-mass-at-bangui-cathedral




'Peace Without Tolerance, Forgiveness, Isn't Possible,' Pope Tells Refugees in CAR

Visiting St. Sauveur Refugee Camp, Francis Urges Everyone to Repeat 'We Are All Brothers'

We must work and pray and do everything for peace. The Holy Father gave this exortion when speaking off-the-cuff to the St. Sauveur Refugee Camp in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui, after saying he had read the signs of the children present displaying the words 'peace,' 'forgiveness,' 'unity,' and 'love.'

Pope Francis arrived in the Central African Republic this morning. His first stop was the courtesy visit to the presidential palace, which he traveled much of the way to in an open popemobile, and was followed by this visit to this camp, which houses nearly 4,000 people displaced by the violence. 

There was speculation that this leg of the visit would be canceled due to security concerns. The Central African Republic, which gained independence from France in 1960, is one of the poorest nations in the world. It has been plagued by ethnic and religious violence over the past two years. Tens of thousands have been forced to flee the country to neighboring nations due to this war between majority Muslim Séléka forces and the majority Christian anti-Balaka. The United Nations has warned that there was high risk of the country descending into genocide.

While it is evident that the security for this leg of Francis' three-nation Apostolic Visit is far greater than that we've seen for other trips,these concerns did not deter the Holy Father from going to the war-plagued nation, nor from visiting this refugee camp and making some strong statements.

"Peace without love, without friendship, without tolerance, without forgiveness, is not possible," Pope Francis told the refugees, urging, "Each of us has to do something."
The Holy Father expressed his wish that they and all Central Africans experience a great peace among them, "regardless of your ethnicity, culture, religion, social status."
"But everyone in peace! Everyone! Because we are all brothers." 
Francis then urged everyone to repeat this after him:  "We are all brothers." [The people repeat: "We are all brothers"] Another time! ["We are all brothers"]. And for this, because we are all brothers, we want peace."
The Holy Father concluded, blessing them and telling them to pray for him. "Pray for me, did you hear? ["Yes!"]
Pope Francis has a full agenda ahead of him this afternoon and tomorrow morning, before returning to Rome. Some upcoming events include a meeting with Muslims in a mosque tomorrow and celebrating Mass in Barthelemy Boganda Stadium. A highlight of his visit to the country will be opening the Holy Door of the city's cathedral before the inauguration of the Jubilee of Mercy, set to begin December 8th in the Vatican.


On ZENIT's Web page

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-pope-s-off-the-cuff-words-at-car-refugee-camp



Comboni Missionaries in Uganda: We Have Given Witness With the Charity of Jesus

Interview With Missionary Father Torquato Paolucci: ”The Problem Today Is Corruption"

Pope Francis has just left Uganda today, now nearing the end of his three-nation, six-day visit to Africa.

Father Torquato Paolucci, Italian Comboni missionary from Urbania, worked from 1972 to 2010 in Uganda. In the lead-up to the trip, he pointed out to ZENIT some particulars of this central African nation, which help us to understand better Pope Francis’ trip to that country.

ZENIT: What is Uganda’s main problem?

Father Paolucci: It’s the fight against corruption. In the beginning, this government did many things, including good things, but later it thought only of enriching itself. Therefore, there is a very wealthy class, while the majority of the people are poor.

ZENIT: Compared to the past, what is the present situation like?

Father Paolucci: General progress is notable – more streets, more freedom. This government has done a lot as opposed to the past one, but the ruling group is like a mafia, hence, everything is manipulated, including the elections that were held when I was there a few years ago. Money was plentiful; ballot boxes full of votes disappeared. There is much corruption. They only think of engaging in important business and not being caught. There will be political elections this coming February and many fear that the farce of other times will be repeated.

ZENIT: What do you think is the way out of this situation and how can the apostolic visit be of influence?

Father Paolucci: The main topic is to achieve more honesty, more attention to the poor and the sick. The people are very happy with this meeting they are going to have with Pope Francis, who is coming to celebrate 50 years of the Canonization of the martyrs of Uganda.

ZENIT: What message do these 22 martyrs give?

Father Paolucci: They converted to Catholicism thanks to the White Fathers, the missionaries of Africa of Cardinal Charles Lavigerie. And they were killed between 1885 and 1887, because they were Christians. Uganda’s martyrs were all laymen and the laity is very committed in Catholic Associations and initiatives.

ZENIT: How many Catholics are there in the country?

Farther Paolucci: About 45% of the population is Catholic, 25% Protestant and about 10% Muslim. The rest are animists and of other creeds.

ZENIT: And does the inter-religious dialogue work?

Father Paolucci: In the past, there was great tension in the relation between Catholics and Protestants. In addition, because in politics Protestants had the support of England, they always tried to marginalize the Catholics. However, as the latter were the great majority, there came a point where they were unable to do so. Afterwards, with the passing of the years a process of greater collaboration was begun in the social field. Not so much from the doctrinal point of view, but some meetings were held. In the main, coexistence is good in Uganda and there is collaboration, although in some areas the tensions of the past remain.

ZENIT: What is the situation with the Muslims?

Father Paolucci: They are primarily in the cities and in commerce. I did not find tension with the Muslims during the years I worked there. There were good relations, and we did many works with them. We have also made our hospitals and schools available to them. On some occasions I helped some young Muslims to go to school and also to college, because they didn’t go. There was a discreet relati on; I am talking about five years ago. I don’t know if today there have been infiltrations of extremists.

ZENIT: Can you tell me briefly, what the Comboni missionaries work is in Uganda?

Father Paolucci: The Comboni missionaries arrived in Uganda in 1910, and they worked especially in the north of the country, near the border with Sudan. In the south, however, with the White Fathers. We have carried out many social works to reach the heart of the people. The great majority of schools are born from the work of the Church. Health care also stems from the work of the Comboni missionaries. Thanks to volunteers, still today the Church runs 65% of the medical structures. Thus, in giving witness with the charity of Jesus, many have seen in Christian charity a message of hope and of salvation.

In this last period, when the wars for power broke out with a tribal background -- more than 20 years of war, destruction and massacres -- the Comboni missionaries were the only whites who stayed in the territory, despite the fact that 13 of them were murdered. This has helped people to believe more in Jesus. They didn’t feel abandoned and, for many, we have become a sign of hope. Today the Church in Uganda has great vitality and many vocations, to the point that we have handed almost all our structures to the local Churches; so, we are withdrawing from the country – a bit because we are older and another bit because Uganda doesn’t need missionaries, because it has sufficient personnel to do the work of the Church and to go as missionaries to other countries. At present there are 130 Comboni missionaries in the country.

[Translation by ZENIT]

FORUM: From Parish to Paris

Why the World’s Faithful Are Asking for Climate Action

This reflection is by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, OFM


“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” These words from the popular prayer attributed to St. Francis come to my mind as international negotiators and the world’s religions gather in Paris seeking to address climate change. 

As Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical Laudato Si’, peace and the protection of creation are united goals. His predecessors, and many more leaders from other faiths, have taught likewise. In preparation for the COP21 climate talks, an inspiring number of Catholics have heard this teaching and mobilized globally. Many are now in Paris – a city that has shown the world the meaning of hope – to bring the voice of faith to these negotiations. 

Here and around the globe, in interfaith and secular events including today’s massive Global Climate Marches, Catholic climate activists are holding hands with their brothers and sisters from many faith communities – including other Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and so many others. From Sao Paulo to Berlin, from London to Manila, together they cry out for the planet, for the poor and the indigenous, and for future generations so that the world may know peace.  

Yesterday – as Christians prepared to enter Advent, the time of readying oneself for the birth of Jesus Christ – I joined representatives of other faiths to deliver to authorities of the United Nations and the French government (who preside over the COP21) the signatures of over 1,780,000 people from across the world who have signed petitions that implore our leaders to act decisively, before it is too late. 

It was a profound honor to represent the 840,000 Catholics – children, men, and women united across continents, cultures, and languages – who have made themselves instruments of God’s peace by signing the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) petition. 

Formed only ten months ago, the GCCM has become a steadfast, faithful, and growing voice. They have joined those from on-the-ground charitable arms of the Church, and with so many others, to cry out for climate justice – as well as for justice’s sister virtues of prudence, temperance, and fortitude, so that we may act properly and soon. 

“Inspired by Pope Francis and the Laudato Si' encyclical,” the GCCM petition states, “we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous 1.5°C threshold, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.”

We who signed this petition – for indeed I have, too, as have many other cardinals and bishops – know of these impacts. Because fossil fuels have added to the natural blanket of carbon dioxide that surrounds our planet, our atmosphere now holds more and more of the sun’s energy. This reality is worsened, of course, with the devastation of our planet’s forests, such as in the Amazon River and the Congo River basins – as I know intimately through my work with the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network. As human activity slashes so much wondrous acreage of Earth’s forests, our planet loses capacity to absorb carbon dioxide.

Today many communities, the most vulnerable especially, feel the results: the sting of drought; the devastation of sudden and massive floods; the shift in species in the waters that families have fished for centuries. The list goes on and it is expected to grow – unless we change our ways. Which, of course, we can.

“Where there is doubt, [let me sow] faith,” the Prayer of St. Francis continues. “Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy.”

This prayer is not a passive one. It asks us to live God’s ways and to sow His presence within human history. It asks for the courage to live with sacrificial love for all things and all life that God created. 

In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis teaches that if we, like St. Francis, “feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.”

Whether that object is a person or our planet, you and I are called to love and care for all that God created – not abuse it. Nor can we stand by while others do so. This is why I happily join the 840,000 of my Catholic sisters and brothers in exhorting the COP21 negotiators to develop the international frameworks needed for a climate of justice – and, yes, for the temperance, prudence, and fortitude that, with God’s grace, protects creation itself and will help bring peace to all the world. 

*Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, OFM, served as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Roman Curia (2006–2010), having previously served as Archbishop of Fortaleza from 1996 to 1998 and Archbishop of São Paulo from 1998 to 2006. A member of the Order of Friars Minor and an outspoken proponent of social justice, he was elevated to the cardinalate in the consistory of February 21, 2001. In 2013 he served as one of the 115 cardinals in the conclave that elected Pope Francis. When the new Pope was elected on March 13, 2013, Cardinal Hummes, who was sitting next to him in the Sistine Chapel, whispered to the Pope, "Don't forget the poor!" and the Pope said that immediately he remembered St. Francis of Assisi and "the name Francis came into my heart". When the newly elected Pope Francis appeared on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica that same night shortly after his election, Cardinal Hummes was among the cardinals who accompanied the new pope and stood beside him at his immediate left on the balcony. The Cardinal is now living in retirement in Brazil. Cardinal Hummes is currently President of the Pan-Amazonian Network/REPAM. He is in Paris for the Climate Conference and is part of the REPAM delegation.





FULL TEX T: Pope's Off-the-Cuff Words at CAR Refugee Camp

"We must work and pray and do everything for peace."

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis' off-the-cuff words at the St. Sauveur Refugee Camp in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui:


I greet all of you here.
I tell you that I read what the children had written [on signs], "peace", "forgiveness", "unity" and so many things ... "love". We must work and pray and do everything for peace. But peace without love, without friendship, without tolerance, without forgiveness, is not possible. Each of us has to do something. I wish you, to you and to all Central Africans, peace, a great peace among you. May you live in peace regardless of your ethnicity, culture, religion, social status. But everyone in peace! Everyone! Because we are all brothers. I would like for us to say together: "We are all brothers." [The people repeat: "We are all brothers"] Another time! ["We are all brothers"]. And for this, because we are all brothers, we want peace.
And I give you the Lord's blessing. May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And pray for me! Pray for me, did you hear? ["Yes!"]

[Original Text: Italian]

[Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]



Pope Francis Arrives in Central African Republic

Francis Will Open Holy Door in Bangui Before Inauguration of Jubilee of Mercy in Vatican

Pope Francis has arrived in the Central African Republic, the final leg of his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, after having visited Kenya and Uganda.

The Pontiff arrived at the M'poko International Airport in the war-torn nation's capital of Bangui around 10 a.m. local time, after a nearly three-hour flight from Uganda, and has a full agenda ahead of him. Today, he will meet with authorities and the diplomatic corps, visit the St. Sauveur refugee camp, and privately meet with the nation's bishops. Tomorrow, will meet with a Muslim community in a mosque and celebrate Mass in Barthelemy Boganda Stadium. A highlight of his visit to the country will be opening the Holy Door of the city's cathedral before the inauguration of the Jubilee of Mercy, set to begin December 8th in the Vatican.

There was speculation that this leg of the visit would be canceled due to security concerns. 

The Central African Republic, which gained independence from France in 1960, is one of the poorest nations in the world. It has been plagued by ethnic and religious violence over the past two years. Tens of thousands have been forced to flee the country to neighboring nations due to this war between majority Muslim Séléka forces and the majority Christian anti-Balaka. The United Nations has warned that there was high risk of the country descending into genocide.

During the arrival ceremony, Pope Francis was welcomed by the Head of State of the transitional government of the Central African Republic, Ms. Catherine Samba-Panza, and Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Franco Coppola, along with other authorities, bishops, and faithful. After anthems, each official presented their delegations.

The Pope and Head of State met together briefly in the presidential lounge of the airport, before the Pontiff payed her a courtesy visit at the presidential palace. The transitional head of state and Francis went to her private study for a meeting, while, at the same time, the Vatican delegation met with officials of CAR's government. After the private meeting, the political leader's family was introduced to the Pope and the traditional exchange of gifts took place. 




Creating Clean Hearts: US Bishops Tackle Pornography Plague

“All pornography involves exploitation and is devoid of love”

How to deal with the ever-increasing influence of pornography was one of the issues examined at the recent meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The bishops overwhelmingly approved a statement titled, "Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography."

“My brother bishops' approval of this statement shows our collective concern for the widespread problem of pornography in our culture today," said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth (LMFLY), according to a press release from the USCCB.

"As the statement says, virtually everyone is affected by pornography in some way. So many people –including within the Church– are in need of Christ's abundant mercy and healing. My hope is that the statement can serve as a foundation and catalyst for increased pastoral attention to this challenge at the national and local level" he said.

Men, women and children are affected by pornography, the statement explained, and changes in communications technologies in recent years has made it much easier to access indecent material.

God created the human person in his image and likeness and we have all received the vocation to love, the USCCB statement affirmed.

“Written in our bodies is a call to spousal, fruitful love. This call is realized in marriage as well as in celibacy or virginity for the sake of the Kingdom (e.g., priestly celibacy and consecrated life).”

Respect not gratification

Because of this our bodies should be treated with respect, thus our bodies are not something to be manipulated but are inseparable from who we are. Lust uses another person for gratification, while chastity affirms the whole person, body and soul.

The statement explained that the Church’s teaching on pornography is grounded on the dignity of the human person revealed fully in Christ and the gift of sexuality and marriage in God’s plan.

Pornography involves a disordered view of the person because it regards another person as something to be used, rather than loved.

Pornography is gravely wrong and the sin of using it needs forgiveness within the Sacrament of Penance, the statement observed.

“Pornography use hurts the user by potentially diminishing his or her capacity for healthy human intimacy and relationships,” the bishops added. It also has direct connections with other sins such as adultery, masturbation, domestic violence, the abuse of children in child pornography, and sex trafficking.

All pornography involves exploitation and is devoid of love but the U.S. bishops expressed concern that the content available today is increasingly “coarse, violent, degrading, and even satanic with overt portrayals of occult practices.”

The statement also pointed out the potential for the use of pornography to become addictive. Viewing pornography can have the same effect on the brain as drugs or alcohol and a person addicted to pornography may become obsessed with viewing it.

Regarding the role of the Church, the statement commented that not only is there a need to proclaim the truth about the human person and to warn of the dangers of pornography, but there is also a message of healing and hope.

“Jesus is the way of freedom. The Church says, ‘Be not afraid!’ Come to the Lord Jesus, whose mercy endures forever! The Lord never tires of forgiving.”

The statement observed that for those who have used pornography cultivating chastity is both “a lifelong task and a daily choice.”

“If you fall, get up again, go to the Lord in confession and seek his mercy in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and start anew,” the bishops urged.


Turning to those hurt by their spouse’s use of pornography the statement noted that neither are they alone nor are they responsible for their spous e’s pornography use.

“The Church accompanies you with love and tenderness as you confront this sin and its effects on your marriage and family life. You have been deeply hurt. You feel betrayed, deceived, and even traumatized at finding out about your spouse’s pornography use through their own disclosure or your discovery,” the statement commented.

Christ can heal the wounds they have suffered, but the bishops clarified, it takes time. They encouraged those struggling with this hurt to seek solace in prayer, the sacraments and Eucharistic adoration.

For some their spouse may wish to break the habit of pornography use and in these cases the support of a spouse can be a great source of strength. For those whose spouses reject help or are in denial, the statement recommended prayer and the setting of clear boundaries.

One of the concluding sections encouraged all parents to educate their children in sexuality, love, and chastity and also to be vigilant about the technology allowed in the household.

“May we work together for laws and for a culture that remove pornography from its prominent and privileged place and counter its numerous injustices, building instead a culture that honors the true dignity and meaning of human sexuality,” the statement concluded.


On the Net:

Statement text and other resources on pornography - http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/pornography/index.cfm