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Today’s news dispatch: Nov. 6, 2015

Pope Gives Interview to Dutch Paper Published by Homeless

“I do not know if we will be able to make a world without poverty, because sin is always there and leads to selfishness. But we must always fight, always”

The Dutch newspaper “Straatnieuws”, published by the homeless, today published an interview granted by Pope Francis on 27 October. The article is also present in other dailies of the same type associated with the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), which has 113 members. This type of publication is sold directly by the homeless, thus providing them with a source of income.

The following are extensive extracts from the interview, especially with the theme of poverty. 

* * *

Interviewer: What is the Church’s message for the homeless? What does Christian solidarity mean for them in practice?

Pope Francis: “Two things come to mind. Jesus came to the world homeless, and made Himself poor. Then, the Church wishes to embrace all and to say that it is a right to have a roof over your head. In popular movements they work according to the three Spanish ‘t’s: trabajo (work), techo (casa) and tierra (earth). The Church teaches that every person has a right to all three”.

Interviewer: You often ask for attention to the poor and refugees. Do you not fear that in this way a sort of weariness in relation to this theme may be generated in the mass media or in society in general?

Pope Francis: “When we return to a theme that is not pleasant, because it is disagreeable to talk about it, we are all tempted to say. ‘That’s enough, I am tired of this’. I feel that this weariness exists, but I am not afraid of it. I must continue to speak the truth and say how these things are”.

Interviewer: Are you not afraid that your defence of solidarity and assistance for the homeless and other poor people may be exploited politically? How should the Church speak in order to be influential and at the same time remain external to political affiliations?

Pope Francis: “There are roads that lead to errors in this regard. I would like to underline two temptations. The Church must speak truthfully and also by her witness: the witness of poverty. If a believer speaks about poverty or the homeless and lives like a pharaoh, this is not good. This is the first temptation.

“The second temptation is to make agreements with governments. Agreements can be made but they must be clear and transparent. For example, we manage this building, but the accounts are all audited, in order to avoid corruption, as there is always the temptation to corruption in public life, both political and religious. … Once I asked a question to a minister in Argentina, an honest man – one who left his post because he could not reconcile himself with various obscure aspects. I asked him: when you give assistance in the form of meals, clothing or money to the poor and needy, what percentage of what you send arrives? And he answered, 35 per cent. That means that 65 per cent is lost. It is corruption: a cut for me, another cut for you”.

Interviewer: Your namesake St. Francis chose radical poverty and even sold his evangeliarium. As the Pope, and bishop of Rome, do you ever feel under pressure to sell the Church’s treasures?

Pope Francis: “This is an easy question. They are not the treasures of the Church, they are treasures of humanity. For example, if tomorrow I decide to put Michelangelo’s Pieta up for auction, I cannot do this, since it is not the property of the Church. It is kept in a church but it belongs to humanity. This is true of all the treasures of the Church. But we have started to sell gifts and other things that are given to me, and the proceeds from sales go to Msgr. Krajewski, who is my almoner. Then there is the lottery. There were cars that have all been sold or given away with a lottery and the proceeds are used for the poor. There are things that can be sold, and we sell these”.

Interviewer: Are you aware that the wealth of the Church can give rise to this type of expectation?

Pope Francis: “Yes, if we make a catalogue of the assets of the Church, it seems that the Church is very rich. But when the Concordat was made with Italy in 1929 on the Roman Question, the Italian government at the time offered to the Church a large park in Rome. And the then Pope Pius XI said no, I would like just half a square kilometre to guarantee the Church’s independence. This principle still stands.

“Yes, the real estate of the Church is considerable, but we use it to maintain the structures of the Church and to maintain many works that are carried out in countries in need: hospitals and schools. Yesterday, for example, I asked for 50,000 euros to be sent to Congo to build three schools in poor villages, as education is important for children. They went to the competent administration, I made the request, and the money was sent”.

Interviewer: Holy Father, is it possible to imagine a world without the poor?

Pope Francis: “I would like a world without the poor. We must fight for this. But I am a believer and I know that sin is always within us. And there is always human greed, the lack of solidarity, the selfishness that creates poverty. Therefore, would seem difficult to me to imagine a world without the poor. If you think about children exploited for slave labour, or sexually abused children. And another form of exploitation: children killed for the trafficking of organs. Killing children to remove their organs is greed. Therefore, I do not know if we will be able to make a world without poverty, because sin is always there and leads to selfishness. But we must always fight, always …”.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Nuns’ Case Against Contraception Mandate

Founder of Priests for Life: “This is a great day in our battle for religious freedom against the culture of death”

The US Supreme Court today announced that it will hear cases brought against the government’s Health and Human Services Mandate, which requires contraception, abortifacients and sterilization be included in health insurance plans.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, nuns dedicated to the care of the elderly poor, and Priests for Life are among the plaintiffs.

“This is a great day in our battle for religious freedom against the culture of death, which wants us to participate in the spread of abortion. We will not do so, and we look forward to making our case at the Supreme Court,” Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, said.

The cases accepted against the HHS mandate today are as follows:

CERTIORARI GRANTED

14-1418 ZUBIK, DAVID A. ET AL. V. BURWELL, SEC. OF H&HS, ET AL.

14-1453 PRIESTS FOR LIFE, ET AL. V. DEPT. OF H&HS, ET AL.

14-1505 ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP V. BURWELL, SEC. OF H&HS, ET AL.

15-35 E. TX BAPTIST UNIV., ET AL. V. BURWELL, SEC. OF H&HS

15-105 LITTLE SISTERS, ET AL. V. BURWELL, SEC. OF H&HS, ET AL.

15-119 SOUTHERN NAZARENE UNIV., ET AL. V. BURWELL, SEC. OF H&HS, ET AL.

15-191 GENEVA COLLEGE V. BURWELL, SEC. OF H&HS, ET AL.

Pope’s Address to Italian Pro-Life Movement

“Do not tire of working for the protection of the most vulnerable persons, who have the right to be born to life, as well as of all those that ask for a healthier and more fitting existence”

Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to participants in the 35th Italian National Congress of Centers of Aid to Life.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Pro-Life Movement!

You have come to Rome from all parts of Italy to take part in your National Congress and to renew once again your commitment to defend and promote human life. I greet you all cordially, beginning with your President, whom I thank for the words with which he introduced this meeting. I encourage you to continue your important work in favor of life from conception to its natural end, also taking into account the deeply-felt conditions that so many brothers and sisters must face and sometimes suffer.

In the existential dynamics everything is in relation, and one must nurture personal and social sensibility be it in the reception of a new life be it in those situations of poverty and exploitation that strike the weakest and most disadvantaged persons. If on one hand “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, … if we fail to protect a human embryo,” (Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 120), on the other hand “human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement” (Ibid., 5). In fact, we witness with sorrow that many persons are tried by difficult conditions of life, which call for our attention and our solidaristic commitment.

Yours is not only a social service, although rightful and noble. For Christ’s disciples, to help wounded human life means to go and encounter persons in need, to put oneself at their side, to take charge of their fragility and pain, so that they can rise again. How many families are vulnerable because of poverty, sickness, lack of work and of a house! How many elderly endure the weight of suffering and of loneliness! How many young people are lost, menaced by dependences and other slaveries, and who wait to find confidence again in life! These persons, wounded in body and spirit, are icons of that man of the Gospel that, traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell into the hands of brigands that robbed and beat him. He first felt the indifference of some and then the closeness of the Good Samaritan (cf. Luke 10:30-37).

On that road, which crosses the desert of life, in our time also there are so many wounded, because of today’s brigands, who strip them not only of their goods but also of their dignity. And in face of the pain and the needs of these vulnerable brothers of ours, some turn away and go on, while others stop and respond with generous dedication  to their cry for help. You, adherents of the Pro-Life Movement, have sought, in forty years of activity, to imitate the Good Samaritan. In face of various forms of menaces to human life, you have approached the fragility of your neighbor, and have worked so that those that live in precarious conditions are not excluded and discarded. Through the capillary endeavor of the “Centers of Aid to Life,” spread throughout Italy, you have been occasions of hope and rebirth for so many persons.

I thank you for the good you have done and do with so much love, and I encourage you to continue with confidence on this path, continuing to be Good Samaritans! Do not tire of working for the protection of the most vulnerable persons, who have the right to be born to life, as well as of all those that ask for a healthier and more fitting existence. In particular, there is need to work, at different levels and with perseverance, in the promotion and defense of the family, first resource of society, especially in reference to the gift of children and the affirmation of the dignity of woman. In this connection, I am pleased to stress that in your activity, you have always received everyone, regardless of their religion and nationality. The important number of women, especially immigrants, that turn to your Centers shows that when a concrete support is offered, a woman, notwithstanding her problems and conditionings, is able to have triumph within herself the meaning of love, of life and of maternity.

Dear brothers and sisters, I am certain that your activity, but even before that your spirituality, will receive a special benefit from the imminent Holy Year of Mercy. May it be for you a strong stimulus to interior renewal, to become “merciful as our Father is merciful” (cf. Luke 6:36). I entrust each one of you and all your projects of goodness to Mary, Mother of the living. I accompany you with my blessing and I ask you, please, to pray for me.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]  

Who Gives the Pope Joy?

In Morning Homily, Francis Explains the Gladness Certain Visitors to Casa Santa Marta Bring Him

In his morning homily today, Pope Francis reiterated one of his favorite points about the Church: that it must be a poor Church at the service of others.

The Pope spoke of poverty today at Casa Santa Marta, Vatican Radio reported, as the issue of poverty and finances is in Vatican news for two other reasons.

An interview the Pope gave to a Dutch newspaper produced by the homeless was published today, and this week in Rome, two books were released rehashing accusations of Vatican financial mismanagement.

In the Pope’s homily, he said there are people in the Church who “instead of serving, of thinking of others, of laying the foundations, are served by the Church: ‘climbers,’ those who are attached to money. And how many priests and Bishops like this have we seen? It’s sad to speak of it, isn’t it? The radical character of the Gospel, of the call of Jesus Christ: to serve, to be at the service [of others], of not stopping for oneself, going out to others always, being forgetful of oneself. 

“And the comfort of the state: I have reached a certain state and I live comfortably, without integrity, like those Pharisees Jesus spoke about, who go out into the public square to be seen by others.”

But, the Pope said that he is given great joy by meeting the many people in the Church who are dedicated to serving like Christ.

“I tell you how much joy I have,” Pope Francis said, “what moves me, when in this Mass some priests come up and greet me: ‘O Father, I have come here to find my own people, because for 40 years I have been a missionary in the Amazon.’ Or a sister who says, ‘I have worked for 30 years in a hospital in Africa.’ Or when I find a little sister who for 30, 40 years is working in the department of the hospital with the disabled, always smiling. This is called ‘serving,’ this is the joy of the Church: going out to others, always; going out to others and giving life. This is what Paul did: serving.”

Jesus, the Pope said, “makes us see this model in Paul,” this “Church that never stops” that “always goes forward and shows us the path.”

Saint Paul “boasts of serving Him, of being chosen, of having the strength of the Holy Spirit.”

He was the servant who served, the Pope said, “he ministered, laying the foundation, that is, announcing Jesus Christ” and “he never stopped to take advantage of his position, of his authority, of being served. He was a minister, a servant in order to serve, not to be served.”

 “Instead,” the Pope said, “when the Church is tepid, closed in on itself, businesslike, it cannot be said to be a Church that serves, that is at the service [of others], but rather [it must be said] that it is using others. May the Lord give us the grace He gave to Paul, that point of pride of always going forward, always, renouncing, time and again, its own comfort; and may He save us from temptations, from those temptations which at their base are temptations to a double life: I see myself as a minister, that is, as one who serves, but at the base I am served by others.”

Readings provided by the US bishops’ conference:

 

Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 489

Reading 1

ROM 15:14-21

I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters,

that you yourselves are full of goodness,

filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.

But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you,

because of the grace given me by God

to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles

in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God,

so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable,

sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast in what pertains to God.

For I will not dare to speak of anything

except what Christ has accomplished through me

to lead the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed,

by the power of signs and wonders,

by the power of the Spirit of God,

so that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum

I have finished preaching the Gospel of Christ.

Thus I aspire to proclaim the Gospel

not where Christ has already been named,

so that I do not build on another’s foundation,

but as it is written:

 

Those who have never been told of him shall see,

and those who have never heard of him shall understand.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4

R. (see 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done wondrous deeds;

His right hand has won victory for him,

his holy arm.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

The LORD has made his salvation known:

in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness

toward the house of Israel.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

All the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation by our God.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;

break into song; sing praise.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Alleluia

1 JN 2:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Whoever keeps the word of Christ,

the love of God is truly perfected in him.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

LK 16:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward

who was reported to him for squandering his property.

He summoned him and said,

‘What is this I hear about you?

Prepare a full account of your stewardship,

because you can no longer be my steward.’

The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,

now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?

I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.

I know what I shall do so that,

when I am removed from the stewardship,

they may welcome me into their homes.’

He called in his master’s debtors one by one.

To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’

He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.

Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’

Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’

He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ 

He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;

write one for eighty.’

And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.

For the children of this world

are more prudent in dealing with their own generation

than the children of light.”

INTERVIEW: Leader of Italy’s Bishops: ‘Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by the Holy Father’

Cardinal Bassetti Speaks of Upcoming National Congress and Pope’s Participation in It

Italy’s National Ecclesial Congress next week will give bishops another chance for frank and free discussion, only a handful of days after the conclusion of the synod on the family, says Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia-Citta della Pieve and Vice-President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).

The Pope will visit the congress on Nov. 10 with a day-trip to Florence.

Asked by ZENIT to comment on the synod, the Cardinal described as “tavern gossip” the media’s stress on divisions between the Fathers. In regard to the Florence congress, instead, Cardinal Bassetti perceives a great occasion for the rediscovery of a Christian humanism against all forms of man’s “ontological death” and of his desolating subordination to the laws of the economy, science and technology.

According to the Archbishop of Perugia, the Holy Father’s intervention, although unpredictable, as Francis’ style is, will be inspired for the good of the Italian Church.

ZENIT: Your Eminence, some days after its conclusion, what is the greatest richness we can draw from the Synod on the Family and, in particular, from the final Relatio?

Cardinal Bassetti: I think that one of the greatest riches that this Synod is leaving us in legacy is a family pastoral [program] inspired in the look of the Good Samaritan: a look that, first of all, sees the family in its real and concrete everyday [life] without allowing one to be deceived by a series of ideal or abstract formulations. And then, in the second place, this look gives life to a pastoral plan that, succeeding in gathering the riches and the sufferings of modern families, is resolved to receive, heal and integrate the men and women of today within the ecclesial community. In sum, evident, with Vatican Council II, is the evangelical call as well as pure marriage.

ZENIT: The media stressed above all the “dark side” of the Synod: divisions on doctrine and on pastoral care, close confrontations between the Fathers, true or alleged disputes against the Holy Father, ambiguous interpretation of the Relatio. How much is true or false in this reading of the events?

Cardinal Bassetti: As I had the occasion to repeat many times, there is no “dark side” of the Synod and no alleged . Eventually there was parrhesia, that is, a clear and frank way of speaking, which is precisely what the Pope requested the Synod Fathers to do. There were, obviously, as it is right that there should be, different sensibilities and opinions. But this is absolutely normal. This is what has happened for 2,000 years. The Church is historically a living body in which there are personalities with different histories and cultures. However, we are all called to realize Jesus’ testament: “Ut omnes unum sint.” Saint Bernard Abbot wrote that “the world is agitated, the body makes its weight felt, the devil lays snares” but I “don’t fall because I am established on the rock.” Christ is our rock. The Church is founded precisely on this unbreakable rock and we are only useless servants. All the rest is tavern gossip.

ZENIT: We are on the eve of the National Ecclesial Congress of Florence. What are the strong and weak points of the Italian Church that, in your opinion, will emerge in the course of the assembly?

Cardinal Bassetti: There will be talk of a new humanism at Florence, which is historically the homeland of humanism; hence, I am sure that there will be a rich debate of original suggestions and reflections. Despite the difficulties, the Italian Church is still a Church of the people, present in every corner of the country and she can give very much to the universal Church and to the country. Personally, I hope that, beyond the celebratory moments, there will be a frank and free discussion, from which we can draw to formulate a guiding idea that is able to inspire the Italian Church for the next 10 years. The program seems to me very encouraging.

ZENIT: The theme of the congress is “A New Humanism in Jesus Christ.” In what terms can the Church contribute to re-humanize society? 

Cardinal Bassetti: Like Christ, the Church is lumen gentium, light for humanity. Jesus is a person, not a philosophy. The rediscovery of a neo-personalism is key, in my opinion, for every discourse on man and on Creation. Today we have, on one hand, an economy that values profit and forgets the dignity of the human being; and on the other, a techno-science that ends by disassembling man, to the point of declaring his ontological death and his surpassing. The prospect of cyborg man, of robotics and of neuro-sciences are subjects for most important reflections. Therefore, Christian humanism is fundamental today. If we take back in hand what Mounier, Maritain, De Lubac and Guardini wrote in the middle of the 20th century, we will realize immediately that everything was already foreseen, and that the true anthropological mutation was not born today but more than 50 years ago.

ZENIT: The Holy Father’s intervention is expected on November 10. What are the subjects he might address and, in any case, to what degree can the Pontiff orient the works of the Ecclesial Congress?

Cardinal Bassetti: I challenge anyone to be able to foresee what the Pope will say in his intervention! Unpredictability and originality are two among Francis’ main gifts. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by the Holy Father and by the action of the Holy Spirit that, without a doubt, will be able to inspire him for the good of the Italian Church.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Christians of Sadad Flee ISIS Advance

The people there still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. … It is really a center of our Christian heritage. Its loss doesn’t bear contemplating”

This report is contributed by Oliver Maksan of Aid to the Church in Need.

* * *

Thousands of Syrian Christians are fleeing after fierce attacks by ISIS on the town of Sadad and its surroundings, reported Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs. Sadad is some 35 miles south of Homs and 65 miles north east of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The region has been under attack by ISIS since late last month.

The prelate told international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that Maheen, a town just four miles from Sadad, has already fallen to the jihadists. He also said that the inhabitants of Sadad and Al-Hafar had fled out of fear that ISIS would advance even further and to escape the heavy fire. 

According to the archbishop, almost 15,000 people have since left their homes and sought refuge in Homs, Zaidal and Fairouzeh. He reported that Sadad is still endangered, despite the presence of Syrian government forces. “We are afraid that ISIS—which God will hopefully prevent—will conquer the town. We would lose the center of Christianity in our diocese,” Archbishop Selwanos said. Two years ago jihadist held the town for a brief spell, killing at least 45 Christians, and destroying churches and homes.

Father Luka Awad, assistant of the archbishop, said that the people who had fled Sadad and its environs had hardly anything with them. “We are doing all we can to help them in their need. And there are many of them. We are currently working to get them registered. For the moment, our greatest worry is finding enough housing for the people,” the Syrian Orthodox priest said, before explaining that in this, the church is dependent upon the generosity of the people. 

According to Father Luka, all civilians have left Sadad. He said that government forces are currently trying to hold onto the town. Sadad is important to ISIS primarily for strategic reasons, the cleric said. “Sadad is located close to the highway between Damascus and Homs. This is what ISIS wants. They want to disrupt traffic. Moreover, once they have conquered Sadad, they will be that much closer to Homs. And the area also has oil,” the priest added.

According to Father Luka, the jihadists also want to seize Sadad because it is a Christian town. “When the IS fighters conquered Al-Qaryatayn, they made the threat: ‘We will kill all of the Christians in Sadad,’”he said.

The town of Sadad, Father Luka explained, is an important Christian center. The priest continued: “The people there still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Moreover, we have important churches there. It is really a center of our Christian heritage. Its loss doesn’t bear contemplating. We truly are fearing for our cultural heritage. We beg the international community to put an end to this war. My people already experienced a genocide one hundred years ago, in 1915. Now, in the 21st century, we don’t need another.” 

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)

 

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