Pope’s Press Conference on Return Flight From Africa
“This is why I love Africa, because Africa was the victim of other powers”
At the end of his Apostolic Journey to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, Pope Francis met with journalists for a press conference on board the plane, during the return flight from Bangui to Rome.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Vatican transcription of the Pontiff’s conversation with the journalists.
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Holy Father, welcome among us for this meeting, which now is a tradition that we all expect. We are very grateful that, after such an intense trip, you still find time for us, and therefore we understand very well how willing you are to help us.
However, before beginning with the series of questions I would like also, in the name of colleagues, to thank the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organized the live
So now, as usual, we thought we would begin with our guests from the countries to which we went. As we have four Kenyans, two questions come now, at the beginning, from Kenya. The first is of Bernard Namuname, who is of the “Kenya Daily Nation.”
Barnard Namuname, Kenya Daily Nation
I greet you, Holiness. In Kenya you met with the poor families of Kangemi. You heard their stories of exclusion from fundamental human rights, such as the lack of access to potable water. On the same day, you went to the Kasarani Stadium where you met with young people. They also told you their stories of exclusion, due to the avarice of men and their corruption. What did you feel as you heard their stories? And what must be done to put an end to the injustices? Thank you.
I have spoken at least three times strongly about this problem. In the first meeting of Popular Movements in the Vatican; in the second meeting of Popular Movements at Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia; and then two, two others: in Evangelium Gaudium, a bit, and then clearly and strongly in Laudato Si’.
I don’t remember the statistics and therefore I ask you not to publish the statistics I’ll give, because I don’t know if they are true, but I’ve heard … I believe that 80% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 17% of the population. I don’t know if it’s true, but if it isn’t true it is striking, because things are this way. Do any of you know this statistic, I ask you to say it to be correct?
It is an economic system where money is at the center, the god money. I remember I once met a great ambassador, he spoke French, and he said this phrase to me — he wasn’t a Catholic –: “We have fallen into the idolatry of money.” And if things continue this way, the world will continue this way.
You asked me how I felt about the testimonies of young people and at Kangemi, where I also spoke clearly of rights. I felt pain. And I think of how the people aren’t aware of it … A great pain. Yesterday, for instance, I went to the paediatric hospital: the only one of Bangui and of the country! And in intensive care, they don’t have the instruments for oxygen. There were so many malnourished children, so many. And the doctor said to me: The majority of these will die, because they have malaria, a strong
The Lord – but I don’t want to preach a homily! — the Lord always rebuked, the people of Israel – but it’s a word we always accept and adore, because it is the Word of God – idolatry. And idolatry is when a man or a woman loses the “identity card,” of his/her being a child of God, and prefers to find a god to his/her own measure. This is the beginning. Beginning from there, if humanity doesn’t change, the miseries, the tragedies, the wars will continue and children dying of hunger, of injustice … What does this percentage think that has in its hands 80% of the world’s wealth? And this isn’t Communism, it’s truth. And it’s not easy to see the truth. I thank you for having asked this question, because it’s life ….
And now, the second question is also of another colleague of Kenya, Mumo Makau, who is of “Capital Radio” of Kenya. He is also asking his question in English and Matthew is translating.
Mumo Makau, Capital Radio of Kenya
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Holy Father. I would like to know what was the most memorable moment for you of this trip to Africa. Will you come back soon to this Continent? And what is your next goal?
We begin from the end: if things go well, I think the next trip will be to Mexico. The dates are not certain yet. Second: will I go back to Africa? But, I don’t know … I’m elderly, and trips are tiring … And the first question: which was the moment [that struck me particularly] … I think of that crowd, the joy, the capacity to celebrate, to celebrate with an empty stomach. Africa was a surprise for me. I thought: God surprises us, but Africa also surprises us! So many moments … The crowd, the crowd. They feel visited. They have a sense of hospitality, because they were happy to be visited. Then, every country has its identity. Kenya is a bit more modern, developed. Uganda has the identity of martyrs: the Ugandan people, whether Catholic or Anglican, venerate the martyrs. I was in the two Shrines, the Anglican, first, and then the Catholic; and the memory of the martyrs is its identity card — the courage to give one’s life for an ideal. And in the Central African Republic: the desire for peace, for reconciliation, for forgiveness. Up to four years ago, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims lived like brothers. Yesterday I went to the Evangelicals, who work so well, and then I came for the Mass, in the evening. Today I went to the mosque; I prayed in the mosque; the Imam also got into the popemobile to go around the small Stadium … It’s this: the little gestures, this is what they want, because there is a small group that, I believe, is Christian or says it’s Christian, which is very violent. I didn’t understand this well … but it isn’t ISIS, it’s something else. And they want peace. Now, elections will be held; they have chosen a State of transition, they have chosen the Mayor [of Bangui], this lady as President of the Transition State, and she will hold elections, but they seek peace among themselves, reconciliation, no hatred.
Now we give the floor to Philip Pullella, who is a colleague of ours of Reuters, that we all know.
Philip Pullella, Reuters
Holiness, today there is much talk of “Vatileaks.” Without entering into the merit of the process underway, I would like to ask you this question. In Uganda you spoke off-the-cuff and said that corruption exists everywhere, and also in the Vatican. Now, my question is this: what is the importance of the free and secular press in the eradication of this corruption, wherever it’s found?
The free, secular and also confessional press, but professional – because the professionalism of the press can be secular or confessional; what is important is that they are truly professionals, that the news is not manipulated – it’s important for me, because the denunciation of injustices, of corruption, is a good endeavor because it states: “there is corruption there.” And then the one in charge must do something, make a judgment, set up a court. But the professional press must say everything, without falling into the three most common sins: disinformation – to say half and not say the other half –; calumny – the non-professional press: where there isn’t professionalism, the other is spoiled with or without truth –; and defamation, which is to say things that take away a person’s reputation, things that at this moment don’t harm, don’t add anything, perhaps things of the past … And these are the three defects that attempt against the professionalism of the press. But we are in need of professionalism. The right thing: the thing is thus, thus and thus. And on corruption, to study well the data and to say: yes, there is corruption here, because of this, this and this … Then, a journalist, who is a true professional, makes a mistake and apologizes: I thought, but then I realized it was not so. And thus things go very well. It’s very important.
Now, then, we give the floor to Philippine de Saint-Pierre, who is in charge of French Catholic television: so we go to France, to Paris. We are all very close to France at this time.
Philippine de Saint-Pierre, KTO
Holy Father, good evening. You paid tribute to the platform created by the Archbishop, the Imam and the Pastor of Bangui and today, more than ever, we know that religious fundamentalism threatens the whole planet: we saw this also in Paris. So, in face of this danger, do you think that religious dignitaries should intervene more in the political field?
To intervene in the political field: if you mean to “engage in politics,”
Now we give the floor to Cristiana Caricato, who represents Tv2000, the Italian Catholic Television
Cristiana Caricato, Tv2000
Holy Father, while we were in Bangui this morning, a new hearing was being held in Rome at the trial of Monsignor Vallejo Balda, of Chaouqui and of two journalists.. I ask you the question that has been posed to you by many persons: why
I think a mistake was made. Monsignor Vallejo Balda entered because of the office he held, which he had up to now. He was Secretary of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs, and he entered
But what do you intend to do, how do you intend to proceed, as these episodes can no longer be verified?
Ah, I thank God that there is no Lucretia Borgia! [They laugh} I don’t know, I will continue with the Cardinals, with the cleansing Commission … Thank you.
Thank you. So now it’s Nestor Ponguta’s turn. Nestor Ponguta is a Colombian. He works for “W Radio Colombia” and, I believe, also for “Caracol,” in any case, he is a dear friend …
Nestor Ponguta, W Radio Colombia
Holiness, first of all, thank you for all you have said in favor of peace in my country, Colombia, and for all that you have done in the world. However, on this occasion I would like to ask you a particular question. It’s a specific argument that has to do with political change in Latin America, including Argentina, your country, in which Mr. Macri is now there after 12 years of “Kirchnerism,” it’s changing somewhat … What do you think of these changes, of how Latin American politics,
I have heard some opinions, but truly of this geo-politics, I don’t know what to say at this moment, truly. I truly don’t know, because there are problems in similar countries on this line, but I truly don’t know, why or how it began, I don’t know why. Truly. That there are similar Latin American countries in this situation is somewhat of a change, this is true, but I don’t know how to explain it.
Now we give the floor to Jurgen Baetz of the DPA, who works in South Africa.
Jurgen Baetz, DPS of South Africa
Holiness, AIDS is devastating Africa. Care helps many today to live a bit longer. However, the epidemic continues. Last year, in Uganda alone, there were 135,000 new infections of AIDS. In Kenya the situation is in fact worse. AIDS is the first cause of death among African young people. Holiness, you met HIV-positive children and heard a moving testimony in Uganda. Yet, you said very little on this issue. We know that prevention is fundamental. We also know that condoms are not the only means to halt the epidemic. We know, however, that it’s an important part of the answer. Isn’t it time, perhaps, to change the position of the Church for this purpose? To agree to the use of condoms in order to prevent further infections?
The question seems to me too narrow and it also seems a partial question. Yes, it is one of the methods; I think that the morality of the Church finds itself on this point before a perplexity: is it the fifth or the sixth Commandment? To defend life, or that the sexual relation be open to life? But this isn’t the problem. The problem is greater. This question makes me think of that which was posed to Jesus once: “Tell me, Teacher, is it licit to cure on the Sabbath?” It’s obligatory to cure! This question, if it’s licit to cure … But malnutrition, the exploitation of persons, slave labor, the lack of potable water: these are the problems. Let us not ask ourselves if this or that band-aid can be used for a small wound. The great wound is social injustice, environmental injustice, the injustice I’ve mentioned of exploitation, and malnutrition. This exists. I don’t like to descend to such casuistic reflections, when people are dying from lack of water and from hunger, from
Marco Ansaldo of “La Repubblica,” is here, for the Italian group, who asks his question.
Marco Ansaldo, La Repubblica
Yes, Holiness, I want to ask you a question of this type, because in last week’s newspapers there were two great events on which the media focused. One was your trip to Africa – and we are all obviously happy that it ended with great success, from every point of view. The other was a crisis, at the international level, which was verified between Russia and Turkey, with Turkey that shot down a Russian plane for a border violation of Turkish air space during 17 seconds; with accusations, apologies lacking on one side and the other, triggering a crisis of which frankly the need wasn’t felt, in this “third world
Last year I promised three [Armenian] Patriarchs that I would go: the promises existed. I don’t know if this will be able to be done, but the promise exists. Then, the wars: wars come because of ambitions, wars – I speak of wars, not to defend oneself justly from an unjust aggressor –, but wars, wars are an “industry”!
We have seen in history so many times that a country, if the balance-sheet isn’t right …
Now then we give the floor to Beaudonnet, who represents France Televisions: we are in France again.
Francois Beaudonnet, FranceTelevisions
Holy Father, today the Conference on Climate Change begins in Paris. You have already made a great effort so that all will go well. However, we expect more, from this world summit. Are we sure that the Cop21 will be the beginning of the solution? Thank you so much.
I’m not sure, but I can say to you that it is either now or never! From the first, which I believe was in Tokyo, up to now, little has been done, and every year the problems are graver. Speaking at a meeting of University
Thank you for this note of optimism. And now, the floor goes to Delia Gallagher of CNN.
Delia Gallagher, CNN
Thank you. You have carried out many gestures of respect and friendship in regard to Muslims. I wonder: what does Islam and the teachings of the prophet Mohammad have to say to today’s world?
I don’t quite understand the question … One can dialogue; they have values, so many values. They have so many values, and these values are constructive. And I also have the experience of friendship – “friendship” is a strong word – with a Muslim: he is a world leader … We can speak: he has his values and I have mine. He prays, I pray. So many values … Prayer, for instance, fasting, religious values and also other values. A religion can’t be cancelled because there are some groups – or many groups – in a certain moment of history, of fundamentalists. It’s true, in history, there have always been wars between religions, always. We must also ask for forgiveness. Catherine of Medici wasn’t a saint! And the Thirty Years War, and Saint Bartholomew’s night … We must also ask for forgiveness from extremist fundamentalists for the wars of religion. However, they have values, one can dialogue with them. Today I was in a mosque; I prayed. The Imam also wanted to come with me to do a little tour of the Stadium where there were so many who were unable to come in … And the Pope and the Imam were in the popemobile. One could speak. As
Thank you. Now, then, we invite Marta Calderon of the Catholic News Agency.
Marta Calderon, Catholic News Agency
Holiness, we know you will go to Mexico. We would like to know something more about this trip and also if within this line of visiting countries that have problems, you are thinking of visiting Colombia or, in the future, other countries of Latin America, such as Peru …?
You know, at my age, trips don’t do one good. One can undertake them, but they leave a mark … Nevertheless, I shall go to Mexico — first of all, to visit Our Lady, because she is the Mother of America. This is why I’m going to Mexico City. If it wasn’t for the Virgin of Guadalupe, I wouldn’t go to Mexico City, given the criteria of the trip: to visit three or four cities that have never been visited by Popes. But I will go to Mexico, because of Our Lady. Then I will go to Chiapas, in the South, on the border with Guatemala; then I will go to Morelia and, almost certainly, on the way back to Rome I will stop for a day or less at Ciudad Juarez.
In regard to a visit to other Latin American countries: I have been invited to go in ’17 to Aparecida, the other Patroness of Portuguese-speaking America – because there are two – and from there another country could be visited, have the Mass at Aparecida and then … But I don’t know, there are no plans … Thank you.
Now we turn to Kenya, with another of our colleagues who came to travel with us to Kenya: his name is Mark Masai and he is of Kenya’s National Media.
Mark Masai, National Media Group of Kenya
First of all, thank you for visiting Kenya and Africa, and we expect you again in Kenya, but to rest, not to work. Now, this was your first visit and everyone was worried about security. What do you say to the world that thinks that Africa is only lacerated by wars and full of destruction?
Africa is a victim. Africa has always been exploited by other powers. From Africa, slaves were sold that came to America. There are powers that seek only to take away the great riches of Africa. I don’t know; it’s the richest continent, perhaps … But they don’t think of helping the country to grow, that
Good. I think we have practically reached an hour; hence, we end the questions here.
There was a gift they wanted to make to you, on the occasion — now – of the Cop21: it is a book produced by Paris Match for the Heads of State. It is a book of photographs made for Heads of State on problems of the environment.
Caroline Pigozzi, Paris Match
1,500 professional and non-professional photographs, chosen for this book of photographs. All Heads of State are receiving it today, you also, Holiness.
Well, thank you, Holy Father, for the time you have given us despite the exhaustion of the trip. We wish you a happy return to Rome and a happy taking up of your normal activities.
I thank you for the work. Now comes lunch, but they say that you are fasting today, that you have to work on this interview! Thank you so much for your work and for your questions, for your interest. I say to you that I answer only what I know, and what I don’t know I don’t discuss, because I don’t know it. I don’t invent. Thank you so much. Thank you.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
May We All Experience God’s Mercy, Pope Praying in December
Because God “Never Tires of Forgiving”
This month, the Pope is praying that all of us might experience God’s mercy.
The Apostleship of Prayer announced the intentions chosen by the Pope for December.
His universal intention is “that all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving.”
For his evangelization intention, the Holy Father is praying “that families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.”
Bowing at the Holy Names
Local Customs OK If Not Banned by the General Instruction
Q: “Is it forbidden by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) or the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for concelebrating priests, deacons assisting, religious in choir, or laypeople present at Mass, to bow at hearing the holy names of Jesus and Mary (and by extension the saint of the day, etc.)? — N.D., Antwerp, Belgium
A: The text of the GIRM says the following about bows in No. 275:
“A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.
“A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.
“A bow of the body, that is to say a profound bow, is made to the altar; during the prayers Munda cor meum (Almighty God, cleanse my heart) and In spiritu humilitatis (Lord God, we ask you to receive); in the Creed at the words Et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . made man); in the Roman Canon at the words Supplices te rogamus (Almighty God, we pray that your angel). The same kind of bow is made by the deacon when he asks for a blessing before the proclamation of the Gospel. In addition, the priest bows slightly as he speaks the words of the Lord at the consecration.
Our reader is referring primarily to bows of the head. The above norms do not say anything about who makes the bow. Today it would usually be interpreted in the sense that the person or persons proclaiming the text would be the ones to make the gesture.
Most of these bows were, and still are, made in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, and in some cases only the priest would know the precise moment to make them as parts of these prayers were recited in a low voice inaudible to the congregation. When audible, the faithful would make the gesture while the other ministers would turn and bow toward the tabernacle, doffing the biretta while doing so.
This would also be done when the preacher mentioned Jesus by name. Some liturgists, such as Fortescue, employed a three or five rule in which after the third or fifth time a preacher invoked the Holy Name the clergy could make a simple bow and stop removing their headgear or turning toward the tabernacle.
In the ordinary form, during the Glory and the Creed the whole congregation and all the ministers bow at the name of Jesus and Mary as all recite it together.
On the other occasions, usually only the principal celebrant makes this gesture as these mentions are mostly confined to the presidential prayers. However, a concelebrant would bow if he mentions one of the persons while reciting part of the Eucharistic Prayer.
In some countries in which Catholicism has strong roots, the custom still exists among Catholics to make a bow of the head whenever they hear or say the names of Jesus.
This tradition is based on St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:9-10: “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord ….”
It also stems from Constitution 25 of the Second Council of Lyons, convened in 1274 by Pope Gregory X:
“Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that name with is above every name, than which no other under heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the name, that is, of Jesus Christ, who will save his people from their sins. Each should fulfill in himself that which is written for all that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head.”
The same Pope later encouraged the Dominican order to preach and promote the devotion to the Holy Name. In 1721 Pope Innocent XIII instituted the feast of the Holy Name. This was removed in 1969 and was restored by St. John Paul II and is now celebrated on Jan. 3.
This custom, once widespread, indeed almost universal, has unfortunately become far less common today.
With respect to such customs, the above norms of the GIRM say nothing either for or against. Thus, wherever the local custom is for all to make the bow whenever the name of Jesus and Mary are mentioned, nothing in the text of the GIRM would forbid it.
Where it is no longer the custom, any member of the faithful may continue to do so as a private devotion and act of reverence and, in many places, a fair number of Catholics retain the practice.
If one is serving in a ministerial capacity such as deacon or concelebrant, again I do not believe the text of the GIRM constitutes a prohibition. However, if you are the only one, apart from the celebrant, making the gesture, it might be best to refrain from doing it so as not to appear to be calling attention toward yourself. As the GIRM says in No. 42:
“The gestures and posture of the priest, the deacon, and the ministers, as well as those of the people, ought to contribute to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, so that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is evident and that the participation of all is fostered. Therefore, attention should be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice. A common posture, to be observed by all participants, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered for the Sacred Liturgy: it both expresses and fosters the intention and spiritual attitude of the participants.”
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Readers may send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.
Pope’s Secretary of State Addresses Opening Day of COP21
Suggests 3 Pillars for ‘Global and Transformational’ Agreement
The Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, spoke Monday at the opening of the 21st Conference of States Parties to the Convention COP 21, which is underway in Paris through Dec. 11.
After communicating Pope Francis’ greetings and encouragement to the the participants in the hope of a fruitful outcome, the Cardinal mentioned the Holy Father’s address to the United Nations Office at Nairobi on 26 November, when he expressed his hope that the Paris conference result in the adoption of a “global and transformational” agreement, based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation, orientated towards the attainment of three complex and interdependent objectives: mitigating the effects of climate change, combating poverty, and promoting the dignity of the human person.
He went on to list the three pillars of this “global and transformational” agreement. “The first consists in the adoption of a clear ethical orientation, inspiring the motivations and aims of the Agreement to be implemented. We are well aware that the people most vulnerable to the impact of the phenomenon of climate change are the poorest and future generations, who suffer the gravest consequences, often without bearing any responsibility. … Faced with the urgency of a situation that requires the broadest collaboration possible so as to reach a common plan, it is important that this Agreement be focused on the recognition both of the ethical imperative to act in a context of global solidarity, and of the common but differentiated responsibilities of all actors in accordance with their respective capacities and conditions”.
“The second pillar regards the fact that the Agreement should not only identify the methods for its implementation, but should also and above all transmit clear signs to guide the behaviour of all the actors involved, beginning with governments, but also local authorities, the world of business, the scientific community and civil society. … This necessitates undertaking with conviction the road towards a low-carbon economy and full human development. … In this regard, the countries with greater resources and capacities should set a good example, contributing resources to those countries in greater need so as to promote sustainable development policies and programmes. For instance, the promotion of renewable energy and dematerialisation, as well as the development of energy efficiency, come to mind, or the correct management of forests, transport and waste; the development of a circular model for the economy; the implementation of appropriate, sustainable and diversified programmes for food safety and to combat food waste; strategies against speculation and ineffective or indeed at times harmful subsidies; and the development and transfer of suitable technologies”.
Bishops of Northern Ireland Respond to Abortion Ruling
“It is profoundly disquieting that the decision of the High Court in Belfast has effectively weighed up one life against another and said to our society that the life of some children is more worthy of our protection, love and care than others”
The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland have responded to Monday’s judgement of the High Court in Belfast that Northern Ireland’s abortion restrictions are “incompatible with human rights.”
Current abortion law in Northern Ireland only permits abortion when the life of the mother or her long-term health is under threat.
Monday’s decision will pressure lawmakers to allow for abortion in other instances such as rape, incest, and when the baby has fatal abnormalities.
The bishops note that “the judgment itself draws attention to the contradiction and illogicality of laws that call for ‘no discrimination against those children who are born suffering from disabilities such as Down’s Syndrome or spina bifida’ but then permit ‘selective abortion so as to prevent those children with such disabilities being born in the first place.’
Here is the bishops’ statement:
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Our day to day pastoral experience teaches us that even in the hardest of hard cases society cannot forget that human life is sacred and always deserving of our utmost protection, compassion and care. The Catholic Church teaches that the duty to care for and protect human life extends equally to a mother and her unborn child in all circumstances.
Having met with many parents whose unborn child with a life limiting condition has lived for hours, days, weeks and even years bringing immense happiness, we are profoundly shocked and disturbed at the Judges words that such children are ‘doomed’. The Judge compounds this by saying that ‘there is no human life to protect’. By any human and moral standard these children are persons and our duty to respect and protect their right to life does not change because of any Court judgement.
It is profoundly disquieting that the decision of the High Court in Belfast has effectively weighed up one life against another and said to our society that the life of some children is more worthy of our protection, love and care than others. Vulnerable and innocent children who suffer from a life limiting condition, and children who have been conceived as a result of the trauma of a sexual crime for which they bear no responsibility, will no longer be afforded the protection of the law to vindicate their inherent right to life. To deliberately and intentionally take the life of an innocent person continues to be gravely morally wrong in all circumstances.
The judgment itself draws attention to the contradiction and illogicality of laws that call for “no discrimination against those children who are born suffering from disabilities such as Down’s Syndrome or spina bifida” but then permit “selective abortion so as to prevent those children with such disabilities being born in the first place”. In this regard we draw attention to the words of Pope Francis: “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (Laudato Si, n. 120).
We are committed to a culture of equal compassion and care for a mother and her unborn child. We share with others the belief that the direct and intentional killing of an unborn child can never be a humane, compassionate or appropriate response to the complex and sensitive circumstances of a difficult or crisis pregnancy. The Church will continue to consider the full implications of the judgement of the High Court in Belfast and of any appeal which may follow.
Scholars to Look at What Vatican II Archives Tell Us About Council Fathers’ Experiences
Will consider how majority opinions changed, looking to avoid ‘trap’ of conspiracy theories
Next week, a study conference will be held in the Vatican to consider the Second Vatican Council in light of the archives.
This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the event, which has the theme “Vatican Council II and its protagonists in the light of the archives.” It will be held Dec. 9-11 and is organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. The speakers at today’s press conference were Fr. Bernard Ardura, O. Praem., and Professor Philippe Chenaux, respectively president and member of the Committee.
Fr. Ardura explained that the event is a follow-up to the Convention held in 2012, with the collaboration of the Centre for Research and Study on the Council, on the theme “Vatican Council II: starting again from the archives”, which offered the exceptional opportunity to bring together archivists and university teachers to present the very diverse situations of conservation, cataloguing and use of the legacy of the conciliar Fathers. This second event is dedicated instead to the protagonists of the Council, “casting light on the various networks of opinions that had a not insignificant role in forming the convictions of many Council Fathers, both at the level of the episcopal conferences, and at the level of communities of thought. Indeed, the personal notes of many of the Council Fathers enable us at times to follow the evolution of their thought and their opinions gradually over the passage of time, highlighting the guiding themes that were consolidated in the sixteen documents drawn up by the Council”.
“In the programme of this Convention, we have also tried to take into account not only the diversity, but also the divergences which emerged during the Council. The unanimity Paul VI strongly desired for the approval of the conciliar documents left in the shade the opinions of a minority that was however well-organised; therefore we wanted some of the protagonists of this current to be presented in these days”.
Philippe Chenaux reiterated that the most arduous task for the historian in the interpretation of this event is the change of majority between the beginning and the end of the council. “To explain this ‘inversion of tendency’, without falling into the trap of conspiratorial hypotheses, reference to the concept of the ‘conciliar experience’ would appear fundamental. As St. John Paul II said a number of times, the council had an unique and unrepeatable meaning for those who took part. This represented, for many bishops, not only an extraordinary experience of fraternal communion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but also a school of theological renewal”.
“How did the Council Fathers experience the Council? What was their personal experience of the event? In what way did the conciliar experience condition their way of understanding the Church and their way of being bishops? Should we speak about a simple ‘evolution’, or a full ‘conversion’?” are some of the questions that this Convention endeavours to answer. “Solving the great ‘interpretative enigma’ – ‘what happened during Vatican Council II? – means the precise and meticulous reconstruction of the activity of its protagonists”, comments Chenaux.
The first session on 10 December is entitled “The protagonists revealed in the archives”. The second session on the same day will be dedicated to “Networks of contacts and opinions”, and will evaluate the consistency of the networks for contact and the exchange of opinions established between the participants. The third session, on 11 December, is entitled “Evolutions during the Council”, and will explore the theme of the evolution of thought among participants. There will be two further working sessions, the inauguration and introduction, and the conclusion, appraising the three sessions mentioned above.
In the inaugural session on 9 December, after Fr. Ardura’s introduction, five reports of a general nature will be presented: by Cardinal Laurent Monsegwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, who will speak on Cardinal Malula and his “African vision” of the Council; Bishop Filaret of Lviv and Galicia, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, will speak about Vatican Council II and the Russian Orthodox Church; and three historians, Professors John O’Malley of Georgetown University (United States of America) Michael Quisinsky of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), and Philippe Chenaux.
The final session on 11 December will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Council. There will be a round table discussion chaired by Fr. Ardura, with interventions by Cardinal Georges Cottier, O.P., theologian emeritus of the Papal Household, and representatives of various Christian churches: Bishop Filaret, Fr. Alexei Dikarev, delegate of the Department for External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow; His Grace Archbishop David Moxon, representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome; and Philippe Chenaux. A message from the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, will also be read.
Bishop: Conditions in Nepal Are ‘Frightening’
Closed border with India creating havoc in country already reeling from earthquakes
The following is a press release sent last week by Bishop Paul Simick, Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator for Nepal, to international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
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The situation of Nepal at the moment is pretty frightening as the closure of Nepal’s main borders crossing with India has continued for a third month now. There are shortages of essential commodities, including fuel and medicine, as well as emergency medical and surgical supplies and equipment. Nepal depends heavily for fuel and medicine on India. In Kathmandu, the capital city, one can see people queuing with their cars and motorbikes for hours and hours to get fuel rationed by the Nepal Oil Corporation. Many restaurants have brought their shutters down because of the shortage of cooking gas (LPG). In parts of the city the Government has started selling firewood to make up for the lack of cooking gas. City buses and long distance buses are packed, with people forced to ride on the roof. Taxi fares have increased three to four times the usual rate. This crises has also greatly disturbed schools and colleges. Schools in the Kathmandu valley have begun closing down, as the school authorities aren’t able to provide fuel for school buses. Many of these children were already studying at the temporary learning centers. More than 16,000 public and private schools were destroyed and thousands more were damaged due to the April 2015 earthquakes. Schools and colleges are in the southern plains have been closed for more than 100 days now.
This problem began after the promulgation of the new Constitution of Nepal on September 20, 2015, as the Madhesi ethnic minority in the southern plains (tarai) expressed their dissatisfaction over what they consider to be their lack of political representation in the new Constitution. Since then the tensions and violence have spread all over the Nepal-India border areas. So far more than 50 people have lost their lives and thousands have been injured. The country is suffering another disaster after the twin earthquakes that killed more than 9,000 people.
The situation is going from bad to worse day by day with no sign of solutions to the problem. There is a blame game played by both Nepal and India. Nepali politicians blame India for an “unofficial blockade,” while New Delhi categorically denies and urges Nepal to amend its newly promulgated constitution in line with the demands of the Madhesi people.
The problem has affected Nepali people not only on the political level but also socially. The victims of the massive earthquake of April have been severely hit by the closures. The essential food and shelter materials have not reached those who are still in relief camps. Moreover, winter has arrived and people need warm clothes and blankets because most of the worst earthquake hit areas are in the extreme cold zones (districts) during the winter.
This closure has also severely affected earthquake relief and restoration work. Most of the reconstruction materials, like cement, zinc sheets and Iron rods are imported from India. The Catholic Church, through its social-service arm, Caritas Nepal, has been working in the worst hit areas ever since the earthquakes. Caritas Nepal along with the International Caritas Federation was ready for the rehabilitation and restoration work after the monsoon season, but sad to say we have not able to carry on the work as we had planned. We are not even able to go to those places to distribute warm clothes and blanketed because of the lack of mobility. Our rehabilitation programs have been halted because our delivery trucks are out of fuel. Many of our religious congregations and many INGOs and NGOs are struggling to continue their ongoing efforts of reconstruction in various earthquake-affected areas. It is heartbreaking to see that worst-affected people still living in tents and not getting what they have been promised.
Along with the reconstruction and rehabilitation work, the Catholic Church is also providing psychological help to children and adults. They have been traumatized. Even today there was a severe aftershock. People are scarred, children need healing. This psychological help is very important. This is what the church is trying to do—to give psychological and spiritual support. We are grateful for the great help we receive from many people and places. We do still need the help in whatever way it’s possible for our donors. We need your spiritual support. Please pray for Nepal and her people.
What surprises me is that after more than three months of this border closure and the deterioration of the national economy and people’s living conditions, the Nepali people have not launched any major protest against India or their own political leaders. People seem to have accepted the situation as their fate.
In Bangladesh, ISIS Affiliate Seeking Attention?
Missionary Is Recovering From Terror Attack
This report is contributed by Esther Gaitan-Fuertes of Aid to the Church in Need.
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Almost two weeks ago, Father Piero Parolari—a medical doctor and a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) serving in Bangladesh—was attacked by three men when he was riding his bicycle to St Vincent Hospital, which is mostly serving the poor from remote villages. He was shot and fell down, unconscious.
The missionary is among a growing number of victims—most of them clergy and lay Christian leaders—wounded and killed by radical Islamists in Bangladesh
Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that Father Parolari is still recovering from the Nov. 18 attack; he is currently at the Combine Military hospital in Dhaka. The 64-year-old medical doctor missionary is out of danger but his injuries are severe. “The attackers targeted his head but missed it, the bullet hit his neck instead and it passed it through. It was a miracle, he was saved by God,” the bishop said.
The military do not let other visitors than Father Parolari’s fellow missionaries into his room, and they can only stay for five minutes. As soon as the doctors will clear him him to fly, Father Parolari will be sent to Italy, his home country, for further recovery.
Bishop Tudu said that after the attack on Father Parolari the Bangladeshi government asked foreigners to avoid going out without informing the local police; the same warning has been issued to the local priests and religious. Bishop Tudu reported that a number of such attacks have taken place during the last three years.
The bishop stressed that concrete reasons behind this attack remain unknown. On the day after the attack, however, it was claimed by an Islamic State Bangladeshi affiliate. The bishop believes that these attacks might be politically motivated. The priests and religious support minority groups and the most recent victims have been mostly foreigners, as well as a protestant pastor.
“With these attacks, these groups want to gain international attention. It seems they want to stir up instability in Bangladesh,” the bishop said. Several priests and missionaries have received death threats. Due to the increasing threats to Church personnel, the archbishop of Dhaka and other religious leaders have met with the country’s Home Minister to discuss this problem.
Bishop Tudu asked for prayers: “God’s providence can help us bring peace and stability to our country. Please pray for us!”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)
FORUM: The “Waze” of Providence
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I’m going.”