Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope to Bergamo: ‘Dear Brother Priests With Old Age or Bitter Illness, I Feel Need to Say Thank You’

“Dear brothers living the time of old age or the bitter hour of sickness, I feel the need to say thank you.”

Pope Francis expressed his heartfelt sentiment to the elderly or ill clergy participating in the Sixth Day of Elderly and Sick Priests of Lombardy, being held today at the “Santa Maria del Fonte” Shrine of Caravaggio, in Bergamo, considered to be the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, where thousands of elderly’s lives were taken, including numerous priests.

The Holy Father recalled all those priests who died from the virus as they courageously were there for their faithful.

“Thank you,” Francis said, “for the testimony of faithful love for God and for the Church. Thank you for the silent proclamation of the Gospel of life. Thank you because you are the living memory from which to draw to build the Church’s tomorrow.”

As the Holy Father addressed his fellow priests as his “dear brothers,” he expressed: “I rejoice that this year also, despite the necessary limitations to counteract the pandemic, you have gathered together with your Bishops in the Shrine of Our Lady of Caravaggio.”

Recalling how the tragic pandemic and lockdowns made many recognize their precariousness and fragility, the Holy Father, nonetheless called for togetherness and courage.

“Let us not be afraid of suffering: the Lord carries the cross with us!” he said.

Francis expressed his hope that this period  help them better understand the necessity to not waste the time given to them, noting “may it help you to relish the beauty of encounter with the other, to heal from the virus of self-sufficiency.”

“Let’s not forget this lesson!” he said.

Amid the emptiness and in the harshest period, many, the Pope said, almost spontaneously, raised their gaze to Heaven. “With the grace of God, it can be an experience of purification. For our priestly life also, fragility can be “as the smelter’s fire and as the lye of launderers” (Malachi 3:2) that, raising us to God, refines and sanctifies us.”

Saying he entrusts each one of the priests to the Virgin Mary, Pope Francis prayed: “To Her, Mother of priests, I remember in prayer the many deceased priests due to this virus and those facing the course of rehabilitation.”

The Holy Father concluded, sending his heartfelt blessing and asking them to pray for him..

Here is a ZENIT translation of the message:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Message

Dear Brother Priests.

I rejoice that this year also, despite the necessary limitations to counteract the pandemic, you have gathered together with your Bishops in the Shrine of Our Lady of Caravaggio.

I thank the Lombard Episcopal Conference, which for six years, has organized this Day of Prayer and Fraternity with the elderly and sick clergy. This attention of the Pastors, for the frailest physical part of their presbytery, is beautiful. In reality, you are priests that, in prayer, in listening and in the offering of sufferings, carry out a not secondary ministry in your Churches.

I thank UNITALSI and those that did their utmost for the success of the meeting. With their concrete commitment and with the spirit that animates them, the volunteers express the gratitude of all the People of God to their ministers.

And it us above all to you, dear brothers living the time of old age or the bitter hour of sickness, that I feel the need to say thank you. Thank you for the testimony of faithful love for God and for the Church. Thank you for the silent proclamation of the Gospel of life. Thank you because you are the living memory from which to draw to build the Church’s tomorrow.

We have all experienced restrictions over the last months. Days, spent in a limited space, seem interminable and always the same. We have felt the lack of dearest affections and of friends; the fear of contagion has reminded us of our precariousness. Deep down, we have known what some of you, as well as many other elderly, live daily. I hope very much that this period will help you to understand that, much more than occupying spaces, it’s necessary not to waste the time that has been given to you; may it help you to relish the beauty of encounter with the other, to heal from the virus of self-sufficiency. Let’s not forget this lesson!

In the harshest period, full “of deafening silence and of a desolating emptiness” (Moment of Prayer, March 27, 2020), many, almost spontaneously, raised their gaze to Heaven. With the grace of God, it can be an experience of purification. For our priestly life also, fragility can be “as the smelter’s fire and as the lye of launderers” (Malachi3:2) that, raising us to God, refines and sanctifies us. Let us not be afraid of suffering: the Lord carries the cross with us!

Dear brothers, I entrust each one of you to the Virgin Mary. To Her, Mother of priests, I remember in prayer the many deceased priests due to this virus and those facing the course of rehabilitation.

I send you my heartfelt blessing. And you, please, don’t forget to pray for me.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, August 13, 2020


[Original text: Italian}  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]


Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope to Virtually Address UN General Assembly on September 22, Confirms Vatican

Pope Francis will virtually address the UN General Assembly.

Responding to journalists’ questions, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed this.

“In the ambit of the High Level Week,” the Vatican spokesman, “the Holy Father will address his message to the United Nations General Assembly after September 22.”

ZENIT will bring this virtual intervention to our readers.

In the meantime, ZENIT brings you from our Archives, the text of the Holy Father’s address to the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2015, during the Pope’s Apostolic Travel to New York, Washington and Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

* * *

Mr President,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning.

Thank you for your kind words. Once again, following a tradition by which I feel honored, the Secretary General of the United Nations has invited the Pope to address this distinguished assembly of nations. In my own name, and that of the entire Catholic community, I wish to express to you, Mr Ban Ki-moon, my heartfelt gratitude. I also thank you for his kind words. I greet the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the ambassadors, diplomats and political and technical officials accompanying them, the personnel of the United Nations engaged in this 70th Session of the General Assembly, the personnel of the various programs and agencies of the United Nations family, and all those who, in one way or another, take part in this meeting. Through you, I also greet the citizens of all the nations represented in this hall. I thank you, each and all, for your efforts in the service of mankind.

This is the fifth time that a Pope has visited the United Nations. I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, in1965, John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995, and my most recent predecessor, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2008. All of them expressed their great esteem for the Organization, which they considered the appropriate juridical and political response to this present moment of history, marked by our technical ability to overcome distances and frontiers and, apparently, to overcome all natural limits to the exercise of power. An essential response, inasmuch as technological power, in the hands of nationalistic or falsely universalist ideologies, is capable of perpetrating tremendous atrocities. I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities.

The United Nations is presently celebrating its seventieth anniversary. The history of this organized community of states is one of important common achievements over a period of unusually fast-paced changes. Without claiming to be exhaustive, we can mention the codification and development of international law, the establishment of international norms regarding human rights, advances in humanitarian law, the resolution of numerous conflicts, operations of peace-keeping and reconciliation, and any number of other accomplishments in every area of international activity and endeavour. All these achievements are lights which help to dispel the darkness of the disorder caused by unrestrained ambitions and collective forms of selfishness. Certainly, many grave problems remain to be resolved, yet it is clear that, without all those interventions on the international level, mankind would not have been able to survive the unchecked use of its own possibilities. Every one of these political, juridical and technical advances is a path towards attaining the ideal of human fraternity and a means for its greater realization.

For this reason I pay homage to all those men and women whose loyalty and self-sacrifice have benefitted humanity as a whole in these past seventy years. In particular, I would recall today those who gave their lives for peace and reconciliation among peoples, from Dag Hammarskjöld to the many United Nations officials at every level who have been killed in the course of humanitarian missions, and missions of peace and reconciliation.

Beyond these achievements, the experience of the past seventy years has made it clear that reform and adaptation to the times is always necessary in the pursuit of the ultimate goal of granting all countries, without exception, a share in, and a genuine and equitable influence on, decision-making processes. The need for greater equity is especially true in the case of those bodies with effective executive capability, such as the Security Council, the Financial Agencies and the groups or mechanisms specifically created to deal with economic crises. This will help limit every kind of abuse or usury, especially where developing countries are concerned. The International Financial Agencies are should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.

The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realization that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity. In this context, it is helpful to recall that the limitation of power is an idea implicit in the concept of law itself. To give to each his own, to cite the classic definition of justice, means that no human individual or group can consider itself absolute, permitted to bypass the dignity and the rights of other individuals or their social groupings. The effective distribution of power (political, economic, defense-related, technological, etc.) among a plurality of subjects, and the creation of a juridical system for regulating claims and interests, are one concrete way of limiting power. Yet today’s world presents us with many false rights and – at the same time – broad sectors which are vulnerable, victims of power badly exercised: for example, the natural environment and the vast ranks of excluded men and women. These sectors are closely interconnected and made increasingly fragile by dominant political and economic relationships. That is why their rights must be forcefully affirmed, by working to protect the environment and by putting an end to exclusion.

First, it must be stated that a true “right of the environment” does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which “are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology” (Laudato Si’, 81), is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favourable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good (cf. ibid.).

The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offense against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly fr
om the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing “culture of waste”.

The dramatic reality this whole situation of exclusion and inequality, with its evident effects, has led me, in union with the entire Christian people and many others, to take stock of my grave responsibility in this regard and to speak out, together with all those who are seeking urgently-needed and effective solutions. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.

Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, even though they are a necessary step toward solutions. The classic definition of justice which I mentioned earlier contains as one of its essential elements a constant and perpetual will: Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius sum cuique tribuendi. Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organized crime. Such is the magnitude of these situations and their toll in innocent lives, 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.

The number and complexity of the problems require that we possess technical instruments of verification. But this involves two risks. We can rest content with the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up long lists of good proposals – goals, objectives and statistical indicators – or we can think that a single theoretical and aprioristic solution will provide an answer to all the challenges. It must never be forgotten that political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice and constantly conscious of the fact that, above and beyond our plans and programmes, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.

To enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed. They must be built up and allowed to unfold for each individual, for every family, in communion with others, and in a right relationship with all those areas in which human social life develops – friends, communities, towns and cities, schools, businesses and unions, provinces, nations, etc. This presupposes and requires the right to education – also for girls (excluded in certain places) – which is ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and social groups to support and assist families in the education of their children. Education conceived in this way is the basis for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and for reclaiming the environment.

At the same time, government leaders must do everything possible to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development. In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and other civil rights.

For all this, the simplest and best measure and indicator of the implementation of the new Agenda for development will be effective, practical and immediate access, on the part of all, to essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water; religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education. These pillars of integral human development have a common foundation, which is the right to life and, more generally, what we could call the right to existence of human nature itself.

The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species. The baneful consequences of an irresponsible mismanagement of the global economy, guided only by ambition for wealth and power, must serve as a summons to a forthright reflection on man: “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature” (BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Bundestag, 22 September 2011, cited in Laudato Si’, 6). Creation is compromised “where we ourselves have the final word… The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any instance above ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves” (ID. Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, 6 August 2008, cited ibid.). Consequently, the defence of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural difference between man and woman (cf. Laudato Si’, 155), and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions (cf. ibid., 123, 136).

Without the recognition of certain incontestable natural ethical limits and without the immediate implementation of those pillars of integral human development, the ideal of “saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war” (Charter of the United Nations, Preamble), and “promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom” (ibid.), risks becoming an unattainable illusion, or, even worse, idle chatter which serves as a cover for all kinds of abuse and corruption, or for carrying out an ideological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity and, in the end, irresponsible.

War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment. If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and between peoples.

To this end, there is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes truly a fundamental juridical norm. The experience of these seventy years since the founding of the United Nations in general, and in particular the experience of these first fifteen years of the third millennium, reveal both the effectiveness of the full application of international norms and the ineffectiveness of their lack of enforcement. When the Charter of the United Nations is respected and applied with transparency and sincerity, and without ulterior motives, as an obligatory reference point of justice and not as a means of masking spurious intentions, peaceful results will be obtained. When, on the other hand, the norm is considered simply as an instrument to be used whenever it proves favourable, and to be avoided when it is not, a true Pandora’s box is opened, releasing uncontrollable forces which gravely harm defenseless populations, the cultural milieu and even the biological environment.

The Preamble and the first Article of the Charter of the United Nations set forth the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between
the nations. Strongly opposed to such statements, and in practice denying them, is the constant tendency to the proliferation of arms, especially weapons of mass distraction, such as nuclear weapons. An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as “nations united by fear and distrust”. There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.

The recent agreement reached on the nuclear question in a sensitive region of Asia and the Middle East is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy. I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved.

In this sense, hard evidence is not lacking of the negative effects of military and political interventions which are not coordinated between members of the international community. For this reason, while regretting to have to do so, I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.

These realities should serve as a grave summons to an examination of conscience on the part of those charged with the conduct of international affairs. Not only in cases of religious or cultural persecution, but in every situation of conflict, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, real human beings take precedence over partisan interests, however legitimate the latter may be. In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die. Human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements.

As I wrote in my letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 9 August 2014, “the most basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities” and to protect innocent peoples.

Along the same lines I would mention another kind of conflict which is not always so open, yet is silently killing millions of people. Another kind of war experienced by many of our societies as a result of the narcotics trade. A war which is taken for granted and poorly fought. Drug trafficking is by its very nature accompanied by trafficking in persons, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation and other forms of corruption. A corruption which has penetrated to different levels of social, political, military, artistic and religious life, and, in many cases, has given rise to a parallel structure which threatens the credibility of our institutions.

I began this speech recalling the visits of my predecessors. I would hope that my words will be taken above all as a continuation of the final words of the address of Pope Paul VI; although spoken almost exactly fifty years ago, they remain ever timely. “The hour has come when a pause, a moment of recollection, reflection, even of prayer, is absolutely needed so that we may think back over our common origin, our history, our common destiny. The appeal to the moral conscience of man has never been as necessary as it is today… For the danger comes neither from progress nor from science; if these are used well, they can help to solve a great number of the serious problems besetting mankind (Address to the United Nations Organization, 4 October 1965). Among other things, human genius, well applied, will surely help to meet the grave challenges of ecological deterioration and of exclusion. As Paul VI said: “The real danger comes from man, who has at his disposal ever more powerful instruments that are as well fitted to bring about ruin as they are to achieve lofty conquests” (ibid.).

The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature.

Such understanding and respect call for a higher degree of wisdom, one which accepts transcendence, rejects the creation of an all-powerful élite, and recognizes that the full meaning of individual and collective life is found in selfless service to others and in the sage and respectful use of creation for the common good. To repeat the words of Paul VI, “the edifice of modern civilization has to be built on spiritual principles, for they are the only ones capable not only of supporting it, but of shedding light on it” (ibid.).

El Gaucho Martín Fierro, a classic of literature in my native land, says: “Brothers should stand by each other, because this is the first law; keep a true bond between you always, at every time – because if you fight among yourselves, you’ll be devoured by those outside”.

The contemporary world, so apparently connected, is experiencing a growing and steady social fragmentation, which places at risk “the foundations of social life” and consequently leads to “battles over conflicting interests” (Laudato Si’, 229).

The present time invites us to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society, so as to bear fruit in significant and positive historical events (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 223). We cannot permit ourselves to postpone “certain agendas” for the future. The future demands of us critical and global decisions in the face of world-wide conflicts which increase the number of the excluded and those in need.

The praiseworthy international juridical framework of the United Nations Organization and of all its activities, like any other human endeavour, can be improved, yet it remains necessary; at the same time it can be the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations. And so it will, if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good. I pray to Almighty God that this will be the case, and I assure you of my support and my prayers, and the support and prayers of all the faithful of the Catholic Church, that this Institution, all its member States, and each of its officials, will always render an effective service to mankind, a service respectful of diversity and capable of bringing out, for sake of the common good, the best in each people and in every individual.

May God bless you all.


Rosa Die Alcolea

Interview with Daniel Portillo, Coordinator of the Book ‘Theology and Prevention,’ in the Matter of Sexual Abuses

The book “Theology and Prevention: Interdisciplinary Theological Study on the Prevention of Abuses in the Church,” will see the light in September. It proposes a new challenge: to start from theological science to prevent this evil of our time in the ecclesial realm.

Interviewed exclusively by Zenit, Father Daniel Portillo Trevizo, Coordinator of the book and Founder and Director of the Interdisciplinary Research and Formation Center for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME), points out that, with this work, published by Sal Terrae, we would like to “develop a different view on the theology of abuses, but especially a perspective on the theology of prevention so necessary in our Church today.”

The Mexican priest directs the Latin American Council for the Protection of Minors. He is a full-time Professor at the Pontifical University of Mexico and a guest Professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Prologue by the Pope

 Pope Francis received the news of the Book’s publication with “joy and hope.” So much so that he wrote a few words for the Prologue by hand, stating that we are “challenged to look at this conflict head-on, to assume and suffer it together with the victims, their relatives and the whole community, to find ways that make us say: never again to the culture of abuse.”

The Holy Father points out that this reality “calls us to work on raising awareness, on prevention and on the culture of care and protection of our communities and of society in general, so that no person sees his/her integrity and dignity menaced or mistreated.

To fight against abuses, the Holy Father says, is to ”propitiate and empower communities capable of protecting and proclaiming that every life deserves to be respected and valued, especially that of the most vulnerable, who do not have the means to make their voice heard.”

Father Portillo surrounded himself for this project with the best team of experts in the Church in the matter of abuses. In addition to himself, taking part in this endeavor were ten experts in abuses of other nationalities, primarily Latin Americans, and an Irish priest, all experts in Theology and Pastoral Care, and in the matter of abuses in the ecclesial realm.

Eleven Experts in Abuses

 They are the Mexican priests Jesus M. Aguinaga, Federico Altbach Nunez, Benjamin Clariond Domene, A. Ernesto Palafox; German presbyter Carlos Schickendantz, specialist in Latin American Theology and resident in Chile; Auxiliary Bishop Luis Manuel Ali Herrera of Bogota, Colombia; lay faithful Sandra Arenas (Chile), Cesar Kuzma (Brazil), Rafael Luciani (Venezuela), and Irish priest with a Doctorate in Theology Eamon Conway (Ireland).

The book on “Theology and Prevention” is addressed “to all those persons who have a concern for Theology, who are dedicated to the science of Theology and persons who have made a study and want to know more about sexual abuses and, specifically, those committed within the Church,” says its Editor.

He believes that the publication of the book will imply “a willingness to work on the subject of sexual abuses now no longer from the different branches of the human sciences, the psychological <and> sociological sciences, but to assume responsibility, beginning also from the theological science, as a very necessary, important and specific focus, which we must evoke today.”

So Father Portillo reveals that the authors haven’t kept anything for themselves; on the contrary, they have made “a vow of freedom” in the way they have attempted to write, to transmit all that they wish to manifest from the faith, he explains. “Our faith itself exacts from us how we must make an effort to transmit each one of our reflections, which we have written with all freedom in all the articles.”

Fruits of the Meeting on the Protection of Minors

 After the meeting held in the Vatican in February of 2019 on the protection of minors in the Church, Father Portillo points out some fruits that are already being gathered. “I believe the most important fruit is prevention in the perspective of synodality, that is, to assume together the commitment to respond jointly to this reality, in a way that can be assessed from different focuses. It’s no longer a local Church, a congregation that suffers abuse, but also a Catholic Church, a Church that tries to respond jointly.”

Also important is the role of the laity, particularly of women, within these itineraries, <these> paths, “which we will try to build little by little,” says the new book’s Coordinator, as well as joint work, synergy between the different Episcopal Conferences and Religious Congregations.”

Challenge for the Future

 The expert in the prevention of ecclesial abuses, says that he misses “the unity of the competent entities to address these problems,” as a challenge for the future. “I miss the integration in which each person or entity can collaborate from a particular focus, that it, sometimes a certain leadership of an entity seems evident, which does not generate the possibility to establish a certain connection with the rest.”

And he specifies: “I am referring, for example, to the unity between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, with the <Vatican> Secretariat of State, as well as with the other Dicasteries; with that of the Religious, of the Laity . . . it seems that there is talk of prevention in the Church, there is talk on the apparent common front but missing is the unity of the entities that at present are at the apex (so to speak) of the Church, so that it’s not so easy to orchestrate the efforts.”

The Laity’s Commitment

 Chilean Sandra Arenas, Doctor in Systematic Theology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Dean of Religious Sciences and Philosophy of the Catholic University of Temuco and Professor of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, points in the book to “De-Clericalization <as> Antidote for Abuses in the Church.”

In conversation with Zenit, she specified that an attempt is made “to overcome this model of the clerical Church with unhealthy asymmetric relations of power, which have been identified as causes of this culture of abuses and its cover-up.” In her opinion, “we lay men and women must commit ourselves to a critical revision of the model of the Church, which has been shown to be completely spent.”

And “how can this commitment be carried out? — she asks. By coming out of the “paternalist logic, in the first place, waiting passively for solutions to come from above; to be more proactive with initiatives of grass-roots conversations that include all voices — this is very important, the voices of children, overcoming the ecclesial ‘adult nature,” the voices of young people, of women, of the whole ecclesial membership. This is in the line of synodality, which breaks this model of the Church.”

In addition, she adds two more measures: “to urge communities, in which the laity is inserted, to revise the model under which they relate to other lay men and lay women, how they relate to the priests, the deacons, the Religious, etc. and to normalize dealings with each one of the members of the Church,” and revise “the permanent and opportune training that the laity must have in the matter of prevention of abuses.”

Renewal of the Ecclesial Hierarchy

 Venezuelan Rafael Luciani, Doctor in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and Founder of the Ibero-American Theology Project Peter and Paul Seminar for the reform of the Church, writes the chapter entitled: “The Renewal of the Ecclesial Hierarchy by Itself Does Not Generate Transformation. Place Collegiality Within Synodality.”

In an exclusive interview with Zenit, Luciani says that recent researches “have shown that clericalism represents the root of a style of life and of an institutional ecclesial model that has failed and must be reformed. A reform cannot be made without touching in depth on the different individuals and levels in the Church.”

“Therefore, the hierarchy needs to be reformed in the light of the ecclesiology of the People of God that the council offers as key and that Pope Francis has deepened in his pontificate,” he says.  It implies that, not only styles of life must be changed, but <also> the way of conceiving power and the exercise of authority in the Church. Otherwise, we will continue living in a pyramidal and clerical structure that does not connect with the people and does not respond to the new signs of the present times.”

Enriching and Profound Relations

Moreover, the Mexican priest Federico Altbach Nunez contributes some “Philosophical-Theological Considerations on the Corporality and Abuse of Minors.

The Rector of the Lumen Gentium Catholic University and of the Conciliar Seminary of the Archdiocese of Mexico explains that it is important to teach young people, seminarians and women religious to appreciate corporality “as an essential part of our identity and to recognize its fundamental goodness.”

The Doctor in Theology and Philosophy says that “the body, sexuality, passions, in addition to giving us identity, exist to relate constructively with others; they help us  to be complemented, to have a creative vitality and they are also part of our spirituality. The norm of conduct for every human being and for every believer is respect and love, as well as the joy of encounter with the other. A repressive, blaming or unclear education must be avoided. Education must foster trust, as well as the care of oneself and of the other.”

In regard to the problem of abuse of minors, Altbach says: “its structural causes must be known and the risks that an immature affectivity implies. Young people, seminarians and women religious must develop their capacity to engage in profound and enriching relations and know the principles and strategies of the culture of prevention.”



English Bishop Meets Charity Workers and Volunteers Helping Refugees in Dover

Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, traveled to Dover on September 15 to meet with charity workers and volunteers working on behalf of refugees advocating for their cause.

Bishop McAleenan gave this short reflection and prayer.

Listen to Bishop Mcleenan’s Reflection


My name’s Bishop Paul McAleenan and I’m responsible for migrants and refugees for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Yesterday was 15 September, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows – Mary who stood beneath the Cross as her son was dying. The Cross of Jesus and Our Lady of Sorrows always go together.

Here in Dover, it has been most edifying to meet those who, like Our Blessed Lady, have thrown in their lot with the refugees and are willing to support them, speak on their behalf and advocate for their cause.

On this beautiful afternoon, I met so many people who spoke movingly about their work and their intention to continue to spread the message that it’s so necessary for us to support migrants and refugees. Through their work, meeting with refugees, they have discovered the truth – that they are God’s children. We are all brothers and sisters in Jesus and we support them.

Let us pray.

We pray for volunteers who work for refugees here in the Dover area and in northern France, and for those who go to the rescue of those in danger.

We pray for policy-makers and opinion-formers.

May they provide a system whereby no-one needs to risk their lives in the quest for safety and freedom.

This prayer we make through Christ Our Lord who stretched out His hand to Peter on the Sea of Galilee and gives us the will to do likewise on the English coast.


I thank you for joining me in this reflection and I ask you to continue to pray for migrants and refugees – and to remind you that on September 27 it’s the World Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees.



Annual Collection for Needs of Church in Canada Set for  September 26 and 27

The annual Collection for the Needs of the Church in Canada will be held on  September 26 and 27, 2020. In his message to pastors and other collaborators in pastoral ministries, the Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg, and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) reflected on the impact of the Coronavirus on the Church in Canada and society at large. At the same time that dioceses and eparchies respond to the realities and challenges of living with COVID-19 in communities of faith, donations to this collection will help continue the facilitation of common action among Bishops, the provision of pastoral encouragement and resources for local churches, and the proclamation of the Gospel message for all to hear.

As part of their episcopal ministry, the Bishops will continue to work together on important doctrinal and ethical questions; ecumenical initiatives and interreligious dialogue; international relations; evangelization, faith education, and catechesis; strengthening relations with Indigenous peoples; questions of social justice, and the development of a culture of life and family.

The collection is primarily to assist Bishops in paying their annual diocesan/eparchial assessment to the CCCB as well as any yearly financial contribution they make to their regional episcopal assembly. All additional revenues that may be raised may be used by the diocese/eparchy for its own pastoral needs, although some Bishops choose to contribute these supplementary funds to the CCCB as a donation.



Bishops and President Kiir Meet in South Sudan

“A very productive and successful meeting”. This is how His Exc. Mgr. Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio, defined the meeting together with His Exc. Mgr. Stephen Amenyu, Archbishop of Juba, with the President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, reported Fides News Agency.

“We met the Head of State to assure him of our closeness as leader of the Church and as representatives of the Bishops’ Conference, we went on behalf of the people of South Sudan to assure him our willingness to collaborate with him and to work with him and with the government for the peace and growth of our people in the Republic of South Sudan”, said Mgr. Hiiboro.

The Bishop of Tombura-Yambio added that the two representatives of the Church congratulated the President for the implementation of the peace agreement reached on 31 August between the Sudanese government and a series of rebel groups, for the formation of the national unity government, and for the decision to reduce the 32 States of the Federation to 10, which was the original number at the time of independence.

Mgr. Hiiboro encouraged the President and his collaborators and the opposition to continue to implement the peace agreement. “We told him that he is on the right path and that he should continue to work hard with his colleagues in order to consolidate peace in the Country”, said Mgr. Hiiboro. “We underlined the fact that although it is complex and difficult to implement the peace agreement, we must not give in to the temptation to return to war, but we must work tirelessly to restore peace in the Republic of South Sudan”. “The President has also assured that he will never bring the Republic of South Sudan back to war”, reports Mgr. Hiiboro.

The two Bishops also informed the Head of State on the feelings of the people, on the desire for peace widespread among the population, on their sufferings, and on everything that happens in the country due to war, and they assured the Church’s readiness to continue to collaborate with the government and other partners for peace.

Mgr. Hiiboro reported that the President said he was happy to meet the two representatives of the Catholic Church, and “appreciated everything we talked about”. As for the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of places of worship, the President authorized the reopening of churches in compliance with precautionary measures.

“The President said that the government cannot do without the Church. We need it just as we did during the struggle for liberation when the Church was there to unite”, concluded Mgr. Hiiboro.



Religious Women in Southern India Feed 2000 a Day

An inter-congregational group of nuns in Bangalore, in the state of Karnataka, in southern India, has launched a food security program, managing to provide for the daily sustenance of 2000 poor people, affected by the severe economic crisis that is shaking the country, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, reported Fides News Agency.

“We distribute food packs to more than 2000 poor people every day with the help of other organizations and donors”, says to Fides Sister Boyapati Jayasree, of the “Daughters of Wisdom” congregation and coordinator of the NGO “Dream India Network” (DIN), through which the assistance project is carried out. DIN is in fact an NGO founded in 2012 in Bangalore by a group of Catholic laypeople and religious led by Salesian Fr. Edward Thomas.
Sister Jayasree has been working with DIN since 2016 and today there are 11 sisters from eight different congregations involved in the food security program.

“The initiative was born seeing poor people suffering from hunger due to the coronavirus pandemic and in need of support”, Sister Jayasree told Fides. The NGO has mobilized to provide food and medicine to particularly needy people. DIN, which already had 54 foster homes housing 432 vulnerable children, has activated collaboration with other religious congregations in Bangalore. And therefore, thanks to the initiative of Sr. Jayasree, DIN has provided shelters to 4000 migrant workers, of different cultures, ethnicities, and religions, during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19. Migrants are provided free accommodation, food, and health care, thanks to the presence of 16 doctors and 45 psychologists who provide free online counseling.

“The pandemic is a difficult time for everyone. The poor suffer more and we must help them, to preserve their dignity and their life: it is the charity of Christ that drives us”, she said. A good sign, she points out, is the fact that every day the number of Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers who are involved in the project and offer assistance for free is growing.

The people assisted are mainly those who live in rural areas and are totally dependent on their daily earnings, often obtained by moving to nearby cities. The generalized closure imposed with the lockdown and the consequent crisis has caused a terrible shock among the families of the poorest villages, who have found themselves in great difficulty and with a lack of livelihood and suffer from hunger. For the most part, they are agricultural laborers, workers not linked to any company, people with disabilities.



Bishops Confront Health and Social Crisis in Peru

“We are experiencing a difficult period due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has caused more than 30 thousand Peruvian deaths and over 700 thousand infected”, the Bishops of Peru write in their statement, who in the face of the political and social crisis that the country is experiencing, “as Pastors and as citizens”, express their considerations., reported Fides News Agency.

“This is not the time to create chaos and division, when the priority is to tackle the pandemic together and face the health, social, economic, educational and political crisis in solidarity, fighting corruption and preparing for the post-pandemic”, the Bishops write, warning that “we are far from overcoming the health crisis: national production has drastically decreased and millions of jobs have been lost, especially damaging the most vulnerable people”.

In this situation, seven months before the political elections, the Bishops exhort: “our fragile democracy must not be weakened, nor must its institutionality, therefore any act contrary to the law must be sanctioned and the authority in question must submit to due process”. “Peruvians expect executive and legislative powers, in the interest of the common good, to overcome the confrontation and face the current crisis together, safeguarding the rule of law and seeking consensus for the transformation of Peru”.

The Bishops recall that the Church, today as in the past, “continues to offer its support to the Peruvian people with aid in the fields of nutrition, global health, education, care for the environment and work, in promoting dialogue for peace, governance, development and spiritual formation” and invite everyone, especially young people, “to join and support the recent Pastoral Initiative ‘Resucita Peru ahora’, which intends to promote a new future for the Country”.

The Bishops conclude their message, which bears the date of September 15, invoking the Lord of Miracles and the Blessed Virgin, so that “they enlighten our authorities and our beloved Peruvian people, in order to work with hope for the rebirth of a great Peru, on the road to the Bicentennial of National Independence”.