ZENIT – English https://zenit.org The World Seen From Rome Fri, 25 Sep 2020 15:49:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://storage.googleapis.com/cdnmedia.zenit.org/uploads/2020/07/8049a698-cropped-dc1b6d35-favicon_1-32x32.png ZENIT – English https://zenit.org 32 32 US Bishop Paprocki: Abortion Remains ‘Preeminent’ Issue https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/us-bishop-paprocki-abortion-remains-preeminent-issue/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 15:43:40 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203139 Address Questions of Faithful in Light of Upcoming Elections

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The following reflection in light of the upcoming US elections was presented by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. It was published on September 20, 2020, in “Catholic Times,” the publication of the diocese.

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As election day in our country approaches in less than two months, people have been asking me if I will provide some guidance as they consider the candidates and ponder their votes. While I cannot endorse candidates for office, I and other church officials can provide voter education and pertinent information to help inform one’s choices.

In this regard, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a comprehensive voter education guide entitled, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Originally adopted in 2007 by an overwhelming majority of bishops, it is updated with a new introductory letter as each national election approaches to highlight contemporary issues that warrant special attention.

In the new introductory letter that was approved by the full body of bishops at our November 2019 General Meeting, there is this key statement: “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.” The full text of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, including the new introductory letter, is available online at usccb.org.

The emphasis on abortion as our “preeminent priority” is timely, not only as we approach the 2020 election, but also because October is designated by the U.S. Catholic Bishops as Respect Life Month. This year’s Respect Life theme is, “Live the Gospel of Life.” The reference to the “Gospel of Life” recalls the prophetic papal encyclical Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), written by Pope St. John Paul II in 1995 to reaffirm the value and inviolability of every human life and to appeal to all people to respect, protect, love, and serve every human life.

With specific reference to abortion laws and voting, Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it.”

Pope Francis has called abortion a “very grave sin” and a “horrendous crime.” He indicated that he agreed with the U.S. bishops “identifying the protection of the unborn as a preeminent priority,” according to Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who is also chairman of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Pro-Life Activities. Commenting on his region’s ad limina visit with the Holy Father last January, Archbishop Naumann also told Catholic News Service that Pope Francis was “stunned” when Archbishop Naumann told him that an estimated 61 million abortions have taken place in the United States since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision made the procedure legal.

To say that an issue is “preeminent” does not mean that it is the only issue, but that it surpasses all others in importance. It is preeminent in that it is the basic human right on which all other rights depend. After all, if a baby is killed before birth, that person will never be able to exercise any other human rights.

The church since the first century has affirmed the moral evil of abortion, declaring, “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish” (Didaché, 2:2). The Second Vatican Council affirmed that direct abortion, willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law, saying, “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 51);

Over the years, I have also called abortion a defining issue, very much as slavery was the defining issue during the time of Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century. Indeed, in the Lincoln-Douglas debates and in the speeches of other politicians, slavery was the issue that consumed their attention and defined their political priorities in the minds of voters.

So where do the political parties and the major candidates stand on abortion, the preeminent issue of our time?

The 2020 Democratic Party Platform states that Democrats believe unequivocally that every woman should be able to “access safe and legal abortion.” They also pledge to “restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S., and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has prohibited federal funds to pay for abortions except in rare cases to save the life of the mother, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. The platform also pledges that Democrats will appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges who will uphold Roe v. Wade.

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Dick Durbin, the Democratic Party candidates for president, vice-president, and U.S. Senate (Illinois), respectively, all support the Democratic Party Platform promoting abortion and calling for the use of federal taxpayer funding of abortion and the appointment of pro-abortion judges. Biden also pledged to restore the Obama-Biden policy that mandates churches, businesses, colleges, and religious orders like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide coverage for abortion pills in their employees’ health insurance plans.

The Republican National Committee issued a resolution stating that, due to constraints on the size of this year’s Republican National Convention as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, they would not issue a new party platform. Instead, the 2016 Republican Party Platform would remain intact. In it, Republicans “assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.” They “oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare.” They also “support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.”

Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Mark Curran, the Republican Party candidates for president, vice-president, and U.S. Senate (Illinois), respectively, all promote laws that restrict abortion, oppose federal funding for abortions, and support the appointment of judges who respect the life of unborn babies.

Space does not permit me to address the policy positions of all the candidates for office, and not all candidates always follow their respective party’s platform. So, before you cast your ballot, find out where each candidate stands on critical life-related issues such as abortion; using taxpayer money to fund or promote abortion; respecting that churches, businesses, colleges, hospitals, and religious orders do not have to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their employees’ health insurance plans; appointing judges who respect the life of unborn babies; and physician-assisted suicide.

In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, it says: “The political realities of our nation present us with opportunities and challenges. We are a nation founded on ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ but the right to life itself is not fully protected, especially for unborn children, the terminally ill, and the elderly, the most vulnerable members of the American family.”

Please keep this preeminent issue in mind as you form your conscience before casting your ballot and pray for our country that we may all live the Gospel of life.

May God give us this grace. Amen.

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Myanmar: Caritas Helping People Displaced by Conflict Resettle into New Lives https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/myanmar-caritas-helping-people-displaced-by-conflict-resettle-into-new-lives/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 15:14:22 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203179 Testimony from Fr Michael Tang Gun from Caritas Myanmar/KMSS

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As we prepare to mark the Vatican’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees on  September 27, Fr Michael Tang Gun from Caritas Myanmar/KMSS* tells us about their project to resettle the internally displaced people (IDPs) who have lived for years in camps in Kachin State.

Many displaced people in Kachin State in Myanmar have lost the lands they left because of conflict in the area. But these people yearn to leave the camps where they have been living for years. They want to go home to build a future in their land of origin.

After 17 years of a ceasefire agreement, conflict reignited in the state between the Government of Myanmar and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in June 2011. As a result, over 120,000 people remain displaced throughout Kachin and Northern Shan State. Around 110,000 of these people are living in 167 IDP camps.

Reclaiming lands and going home

It’s only now, almost ten years later that Caritas can help Kachin IDP communities to go home to reclaim their lands in a sustainable way. But years of displacement have caused people to lose their assets overtime such as their land, homes, and tools.  As a result, their livelihoods have been compromised and thus, they live perpetually in poverty and frustration and harbor unrealized potential.

The resettlement program we launched earlier this year with the support of Secours Catholique-Caritas France and Misereor, will last for three years, until 2023. This follows on from a program we launched in 2016 to help people return.

In the first phase of the project, we will help people understand land rights and support them in getting back to their land. Caritas will also help returnees to build houses, as well as restore and improve community-initiated sustainable livelihood opportunities for the community in Banmaw.

Connecting up with markets

This approach enables farmers and landless households to connect with markets offering sustainable prices. There will also be a focus on ecologically-friendly food production by means of sustainable consumption. The project will link farming communities and their products to market opportunities through capacity building, community mobilization meetings, and educational demonstrations.

In the course of 3 years, approximately 1238 households and over 4848 people will directly receive livelihood support through this project.  Those to benefit from the program will be 60 percent female and 40 percent male. A proportion of the people chosen will belong to vulnerable groups.

Caritas Myanmar has been facilitating return and working towards resettlement in Kachin State since 2016. Our focus is on justice, self-reliance, and the entitlement of culture and rights.  We want to see communities where people who return flourish socially, economically, and spiritually. To do this, we promote peacebuilding at the community and national levels.

At Caritas, we don’t want to see a mindset of dependency among the displaced. We believe in a people-led planning approach. It’s with the advice of the people we serve that we promote the peaceful evolution of their families and communities.

As Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam, the chairman of Caritas Myanmar, says, “God created everyone in the image of God. We need to protect the land and promote the dignity of every member of the human family.”

*KMSS – Karuna Mission Social Solidarity

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Coronavirus Requires ‘Pandemic’ Response, says Cardinal Tagle https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/coronavirus-requires-pandemic-response-says-cardinal-tagle/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 14:52:04 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203173 'I believe without the spirit of dialogue and a culture of dialogue, this pandemic will just get worse'

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A Vatican official on Friday said that the only way to emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic is through dialogue, reported CBCP News.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said that continued dialogue amidst the global health crisis is essential.

“A pandemic requires a pandemic response, a general response. And it has to be done through dialogue,” Cardinal Tagle said.

“I believe without the spirit of dialogue and a culture of dialogue, this pandemic will just get worse,” he said.

This deterioration of the situation, he stressed, is not only in terms of contagion, “but in the sense that the worst in humanity is coming out rather than what is best in all of us.”

“The Covid pandemic is asking from each one of us the best that is in you and not to keep it to yourself but to share it, that’s the culture of dialogue,” he said.

The cardinal, who just recovered from the virus, was speaking at this year’s Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) Congress that was held online.

In his address, he stressed that because of the pandemic, “there’s more urgency of the culture of dialogue”.

According to him, the problem will just continue when there is lack of dialogue “or when borders are set up”.

He also criticized how the pandemic is “politicized” by many groups including politicians and health experts.

“How you wish that they could sit down, share the truth that they have discovered. If everyone is unsure then at least dialogue on the level of uncertainty and share the common uncertainty. And that is already a big step towards a general response,” he said.

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Holy Father Addresses UN General Assembly (Full Text) https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/holy-father-addresses-un-general-assembly-full-text/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 14:29:13 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203167 Pandemic is Time to Rethink Way of Life, Economics, Social Systems

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Pope Francis today addressed the United Nations General Assembly, calling for the organization to continue to focus on human rights and the environment. Due to the pandemic, his address was sent in a pre-recorded video in Spanish.

“In these days, our world continues to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to the loss of so many lives.,” Pope Francis said. “This crisis is changing our way of life, calling into question our economic, health, and social systems, and exposing our human fragility.”

He suggested this is a time when society must separate what is necessary from what is not. This can lead to “rethinking our way of life and our economic and social systems.”

The Holy Father noted the need to address many humanitarian crises around the world, including refugees, ongoing conflict, and inequality of economic opportunity.

“I urge civil authorities to be especially attentive to children who are denied their fundamental rights and dignity, particularly their right to life and to schooling,” the Pope said. He also urged continued attention on equality for women.

This was the second time Pope Francis has addressed the General Assembly. The first time was in person, exactly five years ago, on September 25, 2015. It will be the sixth time a Pope has addressed the UN, following Pope Paul VI in 1964, Pope John Paul II in 1979 and 1995, Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.

Following is the full address, provided by the Vatican.

Mr. President,

Peace be with all of you!

I offer cordial greetings to you, Mr. President, and to all the Delegations taking part in this significant Seventy-fifth Session of the United Nations’ General Assembly. In particular, I greet the Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, the participating Heads of State and Government, and all those who are following the General Debate.

The seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations offers me a fitting occasion to express once again the Holy See’s desire that this Organization increasingly serves as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service to the entire human family.[1]

In these days, our world continues to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to the loss of so many lives. This crisis is changing our way of life, calling into question our economic, health, and social systems, and exposing our human fragility.

The pandemic, indeed, calls us “to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing, a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not”.[2] It can represent a concrete opportunity for conversion, for transformation, for rethinking our way of life and our economic and social systems, which are widening the gap between rich and poor based on an unjust distribution of resources. On the other hand, the pandemic can be the occasion for a “defensive retreat” into greater individualism and elitism.

We are faced, then, with a choice between two possible paths. One path leads to the consolidation of multilateralism as the expression of a renewed sense of global co-responsibility, a solidarity grounded in justice, and the attainment of peace and unity within the human family, which is God’s plan for our world. The other path emphasizes self-sufficiency, nationalism, protectionism, individualism, and isolation; it excludes the poor, the vulnerable and those dwelling on the peripheries of life. That path would certainly be detrimental to the whole community, causing self-inflicted wounds on everyone. It must not prevail.

The pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to promote public health and to make every person’s right to basic medical care a reality.[3] For this reason, I renew my appeal to political leaders and the private sector to spare no effort to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines and to the essential technologies needed to care for the sick. If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources.

The current crisis has also demonstrated that solidarity must not be an empty word or promise. It has also shown us the importance of avoiding every temptation to exceed our natural limits. “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral”.[4] This also needs to be taken into careful consideration in discussions on the complex issue of artificial intelligence (AI).

Along these same lines, I think of the effects of the pandemic on employment, a sector already destabilized by a labor market driven by increasing uncertainty and widespread robotization. There is an urgent need to find new forms of work truly capable of fulfilling our human potential and affirming our dignity. In order to ensure dignified employment, there must be a change in the prevailing economic paradigm, which seeks only to expand companies’ profits. Offering jobs to more people should be one of the main objectives of every business, one of the criteria for the success of productive activity. Technological progress is valuable and necessary, provided that it serves to make people’s work more dignified and safe, less burdensome, and stressful.

All this calls for a change of direction. To achieve this, we already possess the necessary cultural and technological resources, and social awareness. This change of direction will require, however, a more robust ethical framework capable of overcoming “today’s widespread and quietly growing culture of waste”.[5]

At the origin of this “throwaway culture” is a gross lack of respect for human dignity, the promotion of ideologies with reductive understandings of the human person, a denial of the universality of fundamental human rights, and a craving for absolute power and control that is widespread in today’s society. Let us name this for what it is: an attack against humanity itself.

It is in fact painful to see the number of fundamental human rights that in our day continue to be violated with impunity. The list of such violations is indeed lengthy and offers us a frightening picture of a humanity abused, wounded, deprived of dignity, freedom, and hope for the future. As part of this picture, religious believers continue to endure every kind of persecution, including genocide, because of their beliefs. We Christians too are victims of this: how many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world are suffering, forced at times to flee from their ancestral lands, cut off from their rich history and culture.

We should also admit that humanitarian crises have become the status quo, in which people’s right to life, liberty, and personal security are not protected. Indeed, as shown by conflicts worldwide, the use of explosive weapons, especially in populated areas, is having a dramatic long-term humanitarian impact. Conventional weapons are becoming less and less “conventional” and more and more “weapons of mass destruction”, wreaking havoc on cities, schools, hospitals, religious sites, infrastructures, and basic services needed by the population.

What is more, great numbers of people are being forced to leave their homes. Refugees, migrants, and the internally displaced frequently find themselves abandoned in their countries of origin, transit, and destination, deprived of any chance to better their situation in life and that of their families. Worse still, thousands are intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to detention camps, where they meet with torture and abuse. Many of these become victims of human trafficking, sexual slavery, or forced labor, exploited in degrading jobs, and denied a just wage. This is intolerable, yet intentionally ignored by many!

The numerous and significant international efforts to respond to these crises begin with great promise – here I think of the two Global Compacts on Refugees and on Migration – yet many lack the necessary political support to prove successful. Others fail because individual states shirk their responsibilities and commitments. All the same, the current crisis offers an opportunity for the United Nations to help build a more fraternal and compassionate society.

This includes reconsidering the role of economic and financial institutions, like that of Bretton-Woods, which must respond to the rapidly growing inequality between the super-rich and the permanently poor. An economic model that encourages subsidiarity, supports economic development at the local level, and invests in education and infrastructure benefiting local communities, will lay the foundation not only for economic success but also for the renewal of the larger community and nation. Here I would renew my appeal that “in light of the present circumstances… all nations be enabled to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations”.[6]

The international community ought to make every effort to put an end to economic injustices. “When multilateral credit organizations provide advice to various nations, it is important to keep in mind the lofty concepts of fiscal justice, the public budgets responsible for their indebtedness, and, above all, an effective promotion of the poorest, which makes them protagonists in the social network”.[7] We have a responsibility to offer development assistance to poor nations and debt relief to highly indebted nations.[8]

“A new ethics presupposes being aware of the need for everyone to work together to close tax shelters, avoid evasions and money laundering that rob society, as well as to speak to nations about the importance of defending justice and the common good over the interests of the most powerful companies and multinationals”.[9] Now is a fitting time to renew the architecture of international finance.[10]

Mr. President,

Five years ago, I had the opportunity to address the General Assembly in person on its seventieth anniversary. My visit took place at a time marked by truly dynamic multilateralism. It was a moment of great hope and promise for the international community, on the eve of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Some months later, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was also adopted.

Yet we must honestly admit that, even though some progress has been made, the international community has shown itself largely incapable of honoring the promises made five years ago. I can only reiterate that “we must avoid every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences. We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges”.[11]

I think of the alarming situation in the Amazon and its indigenous peoples. Here we see that the environmental crisis is inseparably linked to a social crisis and that caring for the environment calls for an integrated approach to combatting poverty and exclusion.[12]

To be sure, the growth of an integral ecological sensitivity and the desire for action is a positive step. “We must not place the burden on the next generations to take on the problems caused by the previous ones… We must seriously ask ourselves if there is the political will to allocate with honesty, responsibility, and courage, more human, financial, and technological resources to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, as well as to help the poorest and most vulnerable populations who suffer from them the most”.[13]

The Holy See will continue to play its part. As a concrete sign of the Holy See’s commitment to care for our common home, I recently ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.[14]

Mr. President,

We cannot fail to acknowledge the devastating effects of the Covid-19 crisis on children, including unaccompanied young migrants and refugees. Violence against children, including the horrible scourge of child abuse and pornography, has also dramatically increased.

Millions of children are presently unable to return to school. In many parts of the world, this situation risks leading to an increase in child labor, exploitation, abuse, and malnutrition. Sad to say, some countries and international institutions are also promoting abortion as one of the so-called “essential services” provided in the humanitarian response to the pandemic. It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child.

I urge civil authorities to be especially attentive to children who are denied their fundamental rights and dignity, particularly their right to life and to schooling. I cannot help but think of the appeal of that courageous young woman, Malala Yousafzai, who speaking five years ago in the General Assembly, reminded us that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”.

The first teachers of every child are his or her mother and father, the family, which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society”.[15] All too often, the family is the victim of forms of ideological colonialism that weaken it and end up producing in many of its members, especially the most vulnerable, the young and the elderly, a feeling of being orphaned and lacking roots. The breakdown of the family is reflected in the social fragmentation that hinders our efforts to confront common enemies. It is time that we reassess and recommit ourselves to achieving our goals.

One such goal is the advancement of women. This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women. At every level of society, women now play an important role, offering their singular contribution and courageously promoting the common good. Many women, however, continue to be left behind: victims of slavery, trafficking, violence, exploitation, and degrading treatment. To them, and to those who forced to live apart from their families, I express my fraternal closeness. At the same time, I appeal once more for greater determination and commitment in the fight against those heinous practices that debase not only women but all humanity, which by its silence and lack of effective action becomes an accomplice in them.

Mr. President,

We must ask ourselves if the principal threats to peace and security – poverty, epidemics, terrorism, and so many others – can be effectively be countered when the arms race, including nuclear weapons, continues to squander precious resources that could better be used to benefit the integral development of peoples and protect the natural environment.

We need to break with the present climate of distrust. At present, we are witnessing an erosion of multilateralism, which is all the more serious in light of the development of new forms of military technology,[16] such as lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) which irreversibly alter the nature of warfare, detaching it further from human agency.

We need to dismantle the perverse logic that links personal and national security to the possession of weaponry. This logic serves only to increase the profits of the arms industry while fostering a climate of distrust and fear between persons and peoples.

Nuclear deterrence, in particular, creates an ethos of fear based on the threat of mutual annihilation; in this way, it ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing dialogue.[17] That is why it is so important to support the principal international legal instruments on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and prohibition. The Holy See trusts that the forthcoming Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will result in concrete action in accordance with our joint intention “to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament”.[18]

In addition, our strife-ridden world needs the United Nations to become an ever more effective international workshop for peace. This means that the members of the Security Council, especially the Permanent Members, must act with greater unity and determination. In this regard, the recent adoption of a global cease-fire during the present crisis is a very noble step, one that demands goodwill on the part of all for its continued implementation. Here I would also reiterate the importance of relaxing international sanctions that make it difficult for states to provide adequate support for their citizens.

Mr. President,

We never emerge from a crisis just as we were. We come out either better or worse. This is why, at this critical juncture, it is our duty to rethink the future of our common home and our common project. A complex task lies before us, one that requires a frank and coherent dialogue aimed at strengthening multilateralism and cooperation between states. The present crisis has further demonstrated the limits of our self-sufficiency as well as our common vulnerability. It has forced us to think clearly about how we want to emerge from this: either better or worse.

The pandemic has shown us that we cannot live without one another, or worse still, pitted against one another. The United Nations was established to bring nations together, to be a bridge between peoples. Let us make good use of this institution in order to transform the challenge that lies before us into an opportunity to build together, once more, the future we all desire.

God bless you all!

Thank you, Mr. President.

[1] Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, 25 September 2015; BENEDICT XVI, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, 18 April 2008.

[2] Meditation during the Extraordinary Moment of Prayer in the Time of Pandemic, 27 March 2020.

[3] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25.1.

[4] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 112.

[5] Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 25 September 2015.

[6] Urbi et Orbi Message, 12 April 2020.

[7] Address to the Participants in the Seminar “New Forms of Solidarity”, 5 February 2020.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Cf. ibid.

[11] Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 25 September 2015.

[12] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 139.

[13] Message to the Participants in the Twenty-Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1 December 2019.

[14] Message to the Thirty-first Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, 7 November 2019.

[15] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16.3.

[16] Address on Nuclear Weapons, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park, Nagasaki, 24 November 2019.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Preamble.

[01110-EN.01] [Original text: Spanish] [B0486-XX.01]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Pope Francis Cites Pandemic in Message to European Bishops https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/pope-francis-cites-pandemic-in-message-to-european-bishops/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 13:55:34 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203162 'The experience of this pandemic has left a deep mark in all of us'

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Pope Francis sent the message below to the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) on the occasion of its Plenary Assembly, which takes place online from 25 to 26 September.

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To His Eminence Mgr Angelo Cardinal BAGNASCO

President of the Council of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Europe

 As you all gather for the Plenary Assembly of this Council, which is scheduled to take place in Prague, I am pleased to extend my cordial greetings to the Presidents of European Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, assuring them of my spiritual closeness. I wish to express my appreciation for the theme that you have chosen: “The Church in Europe after the Pandemic. Perspectives for Creation and the Community”, and I hope your meeting will provide a significant contribution, especially to the Church communities of the European continent.

The experience of this pandemic has left a deep mark in all of us because it dramatically affected one of the structural requirements of our existence – relations among people and in society – thus upsetting customs and relationships, and changing the conditions of our social and economic life. The very life of the Church has been significantly impacted; we were forced to refashion our religious practice, and many pastoral activities have not adjusted to this new situation yet.

The death of so many elderly people, the tragedy of families taken aback by intense and daunting suffering, the plight of children and young people locked up in their homes, and the suspension of religious rites and Christian formation initiatives. All this has led many priests and religious to look for courageous ways to provide their pastoral service, testifying to their paternal and tender proximity to the people. Faced with the explosion of new forms of poverty, this work of creative charity must continue, while showing an increasingly attentive and generous closeness to the weakest.

Christian communities are called to engage in a spiritual interpretation of what we have experienced, so they can learn what life can teach and discern

perspectives for the future. We need to have the same attitude as the scribe who brought out new and old things from his treasure (cf. Mt 13:52). I pray that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary and the patron saints Benedict, Cyril, and Methodius – the Pastors of the Church that is in Europe – you may inspire the certainty of faith in all faithful, whereby nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, no matter what (cf. Rm 8:38-39).

While I ask you to pray for me, I send my Apostolic Blessing to you, Your Eminence, as well as to the other brother bishops and their Church communities.

Rome, St. John in the Lateran, 4 September 2020

Francis

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Pope Francis Featured in New Video Ahead of Sunday’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/pope-francis-featured-in-new-video-ahead-of-sundays-world-day-of-migrants-and-refugees/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 13:20:40 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203157 'Forced Like Jesus Christ to Flee'

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The 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) will be celebrated Sunday 27 September 2020.

With the theme “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee”, Pope Francis urges us to discover the reality of internally displaced people more deeply and invites us to celebrate the WDMR in our community. The Holy Father’s message is presented in the latest video produced by the Migrants and Refugees Section for this year’s communication campaign.

Every month, a new video of Pope Francis and other multimedia materials have delved into one of the sub-themes present in the Message of the Holy Father. The sub-themes have been “To know in order to understand”, “To be close in order serve”, “To listen in order to be reconciled”, “To share in order to grow” and “To involve in order to promote “.

In the newly released video, in which the Holy Father explores the sixth sub-theme “To collaborate in order to build”. It offers real-life testimony of an internally displaced person who describes how she was able to rebuild her life thanks to the help and collaboration she received.

In the video, the Holy Father urges us to collaborate “perfectly united in mind and thoughts”, as Saint Paul urges.

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Pope Francis Receives President of Poland https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/pope-francis-received-president-of-poland/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 13:03:23 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203152 In Context of Centenary of Birth of Saint John Paul II

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Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Excellency Mr. Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, who later met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions took place in the context of the centenary of the birth of Saint John Paul II and the 40th anniversary of the founding of the independent autonomous trade union
“Solidarność”. Some topics of mutual interest related to the mission of the Church were discussed, including the promotion of the family and the education of young people.

Finally, attention turned to some international issues, such as the current health emergency,
the regional situation and security.

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Double Unexpected Renunciation of Cardinal Becciu https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/double-unexpected-renunciation-of-cardinal-becciu/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 12:51:32 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203148 He Remains a Cardinal but Loses His Privileges

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Pope Francis accepted the double renunciation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, of his office as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and “of the rights attached to the Cardinalate,” announced the Holy See Press Office, around 8:00 pm on Thursday, September 24, 2020, in a press release in Italian.

According to the Italian press, the news was announced after a difficult audience accorded by the Pope to the Sardinian Cardinal in the usual framework in view of the publication of Decrees of Saints introduced at Rome and before the publication, on September 24, of a dossier of L’Expresso.

A Precedent in the College of Cardinals

 Cardinal Becciu, 72, is not resigning, therefore, for the canonical limit of age for retirement (75 Years). And this double renunciation seems to be inscribed in the dynamic of the sanitization of the Vatican’s financial practices. Cardinal Becciu has defended himself: “I am innocent and I will prove it” (Franca Giansoldati in Il Messaggero).

 Cardinal Becciu remains a Cardinal but loses his rights of which, notably, is participation in the pre-Conclave and Conclave, but also in the consistories for the Causes of Saints, for example, or the capacity to represent the Pope in different circumstances. However, he doesn’t lose his title.

Therefore, Cardinal Becciu is not excluded from the College of Cardinals — as American Theodore McCarrick in 2018 — but he will no longer have a Cardinal’s privileges, like Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who did not take part in the 2013 Conclave, and who was stripped of his rights on March 20, 2015. He died in 2018. However, in the two cases of McCarrick and of O’Brien, it had to do with sexual scandals.

The London Investigation

 At this time, the reasons for Cardinal Becciu’s double renunciation are not officially known. However, the press in Rome mentions a link between this resignation and the investigation on the Vatican’s acquisition, in 2014, of a building in London — 160 million at stake –, as “Vatican News explained last June, without implicating Cardinal Becciu. “The investigation of the Vatican justice, led by the gendarmerie corps, revealed modes of fraud and extortion connected with the purchase, in the heart of the British capital, of the Sloane Avenue building.”

For its part, the Italian press recalled the implication of persons close to the Cardinal — including a former secretary — in a financial arrangement for the acquisition of this building described as “rather opaque” by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, on October 29, 2019.

Again according to the Italian press (L’Expresso), this investigation will reveal that Cardinal Becciu also favored members of his family. “The Pope calls for clarity and punishment of the guilty,” writes Massimiliano Coccia.

For its part, as Il Messaggero, the Catholic daily Avvenire recalls that the Cardinal “rejected forcefully “ the “journalistic reconstructions,” affirming his implication. The Cardinal said: “My conscience is in order and I know that I acted in the interest of the Holy See and never in my own. Those who know me up close can witness to this.”

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu was born on June 2, 1948, at Pattada (Sardinia, Italy). Benedict XVI appointed him Substitute for General Affairs of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State in May of 2011, an office he exercised for five years, during Pope Francis’ pontificate, up to June 29, 2018.

Pope Francis created him Cardinal on June 28, 2018, taking up his functions as Prefect in August of 2018. He has presided over many Beatification Masses, including that of the 10 martyrs of Algeria, at Oran, on December 8, 2018, in his capacity as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Holy Thursdays

 The Pope’s decision would have been all the more difficult as Monsignor Becciu has been close to him. In 2013, from his first Holy Thursday at the Vatican — day when the Church celebrates the institution of the Eucharist and of the priesthood –, the Pontiff lunched with the parish priests of Rome thanks to the hospitality of the Substitute. And it became a tradition: last year again, on April 18, 2019, Pope Francis lunched with the Cardinal and with some ten priests of Rome.

The Holy Father also went to Sardinia on September 22, 2013, guided by the Sardinian Substitute. He celebrated Mass at Cagliari at the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, whose name was given to the Argentine’s capital, “Buenos Aires.”

On announcing the Consistory on May 20, 2018, the Pontiff said: “Let us pray for the new Cardinals, so that, confirming their adherence to Christ, Great Merciful and Faithful Priest, they may help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome, for the good of all the faithful Holy People of God.”

Canon Law explains the role of Cardinals thus: “The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church constitute a particular College to which it falls to provide for the election of the Roman Pontiff according to the particular law; the Cardinals also assist the Roman Pontiff, acting collegially when convoked as a body to address questions of great importance, or individually, namely in the different offices they fulfill by helping the Roman Pontiff especially in the daily care of the entire Church” (Canon 349).

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

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U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Urges Lawmakers to Recognize Contributions of Immigrant and Refugee Essential Workers and Support Workers and Their Families https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/u-s-bishops-migration-chairman-urges-lawmakers-to-recognize-contributions-of-immigrant-and-refugee-essential-workers-and-support-workers-and-their-families/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 02:32:57 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=203144 Stresses Inherent Dignity of Labor

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Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship during a hearing titled “Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19.” From the written testimony, Bishop Dorsonville states:

“Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country. The Church teaches that every human being is created in God’s image and deserves dignity and respect and that human labor has an inherent dignity, allowing all to share in the ongoing work of creation while providing the resources to build and sustain families.

“The contributions of essential workers have become undoubtedly more important during COVID-19. While many essential workers are U.S. citizens, many are also immigrants and refugees. Immigrants comprise 31 percent of U.S. agricultural employees… [and] they risk their own safety to support their families and to ensure continuity in the nation’s food supply chains.

“In addition to being highly vulnerable to COVID-19, immigrant and refugee essential workers are less likely to have access to medical care and thus far have been completely left out of any federal COVID-19 relief or assistance. We urge Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in any future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts. Additionally, we continue to advocate Congress for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who have been living, working, and contributing to our country. As Pope Francis states: No one must be left behind.”

To read Bishop Dorsonville’s written testimony, visit Justice for Immigrants.

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Child’s Bible Debuts in Sierra Leone https://zenit.org/2020/09/25/childs-bible-debuts-in-sierra-leone/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 01:49:42 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=202985 God’s Word for Children Builds up the Church

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Saint Therese of Lisieux, the patroness of the Missions, often liked to quote the words of Jesus to Saint Francis of Assisi: “Go, Francis, rebuild my ruined Church”. In essence, it is the same missionary mandate as “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20). Today the Salesian Father Antonio is trying to rebuild the missionary work of the parish of Saint Therese in the diocese of Bo, Sierra Leone. There are 150 Catholic schools in the diocese, each with anything up to a thousand pupils, and the best way to proclaim the Gospel is through the ACNChild’sBible, “God speaks to His Children”. In many of the schools, there are practically no other books available. “It’s a quite special experience for these children to actually hold a book in their hands”, Father Antonio tells us. And with the Child’s Bible “they can learn to read and at the same time come to know the Word of God. Reading opens the eyes, the intellect, and the heart, while the Word of God builds them up.”

For many of the children, the book is something treasured throughout their lives. Father Antonio recalls once asking one class of children, “How much do you think a book like this would cost?”None of them could say. Estimating the price Father Antonio put it at around €5, which would be 50,000 Leones. So then he asked them how much of this 50,000 they would be able to contribute in kind. They thought maybe around 1,000 Leones. So Father Antonio suggested: “Bring in the thousand. And every time you read the book, God’s word for children builds up the Church say a prayer for the people who have contributed the other 49,000.”

They agreed. So he did the same thing with all the other classes and with 1,000 Leones for each book, he was able to fund the summer camp for those pupils who couldn’t afford to give anything. Again and again Father Antonio reminds the children about those people working quietly in the background, without whom the Word of God could not be spread. Such people, he told them, also include “the person who can hardly move but who sits in his wheelchair translating the Child’s Bible into the local dialect”. Father Antonio learned the local language Bariba in Benin, thanks to the Child’s Bible, and also the Moba dialect in the north of Togo. He says theChild’sBible is also a kind of FamilyBible since many adults are keen to purchase it for themselves, their children, and grandchildren. He is asking us for an additional 5,000 copies for the schools in the diocese. We have promised him €10,000 towards the cost in order to build and strengthen the parish of Saint Therese with God’s Word for his children.

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