Pope Francis calls the parents of Journalist James Foley

(Vatican Radio) In the midst of their irreplaceable loss, the parents of slain journalist James Foley who was killed this week by the Islamic State group in Syria, were called by Pope Francis who consoled them for their loss and assured them of his prayers.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office Fr Federico Lombardi confirmed the pope made a private call on Thursday in English to Diane and John Foley who, according to Amercian Jesuit James Martin were said to have been "moved and grateful" for the Pope’s gesture. 

Listen to this report by Lydia O'Kane

James Foley was born and raised into a Catholic family in Rochester  in the U.S. state of the New Hampshire. This week they were being comforted Fr Paul Gousse, of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary who spoke of the Holy Father’s phone call.

“Having the Pope himself call the family to express his sympathy and condolences I think is huge for them", he said.

The 40 year old journalist was working in Syria when he was abducted two years ago. He was a man on mission to as he put it  “expose the untold stories” in areas of conflict.

Another area of conflict he was drawn to was Libya in 2011 where he was also kidnapped.

Writing in the newspaper of his old Alma Mater, the Jesuit run Marquette University, following his release, he recounted how he began praying the Rosary during his imprisonment, adding “ it helped to keep my mind focused.”

Speaking following their son’s death Diane and John Foley talked about their faith and said they were proud that James had done God’s work.

"We know Jimmy's free." "He's finally free. And we know he's in God's hands...and we know he's in heaven."

A Mass in remembrance of James Foley is scheduled to be held on Sunday in his hometown of Rochester New Hampshire.

 


 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

The Pope’s condolences for the death of Cardinal Szoka

Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, Archbishop emeritus of Detroit, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, died on Wednesday night, 20 August, at Providence Park Hospital in Novi, Michigan,. He was 87 years old. Upon hearing the news, Pope Francis sent a telegram to Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, expressing his condolences and “recalling with gratitude the late Cardinal's tireless episcopal ministry in Gaylord and Detroit, and his years of service to the Apostolic See and the Vatican City State”. The Pope joins the local community in prayer “in commending the soul of this generous servant of Christ and the Church to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father”.

Pope Francis calls parents of journalist James Foley

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called the family of the American journalist James Foley who was killed by Islamic State militants in Syria this week.

The journalist had been working in Syria when he was abducted two years ago.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office Fr Federico Lombardi confirmed the pope made a private call yesterday to the journalists parents, Diane and John Foley.

Mr Foley who was Catholic had written about how he prayed the Rosary during his imprisonment in Libya in 2011.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Church mourns death of Cardinal Edmund Szoka

(Vatican Radio) The Archdiocese of Detroit has announced the death of Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, at age 86.

Cardinal Szoka served as Archbishop of Detroit from 1981-1990, and went on to oversee the government of Vatican City State under Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Below, please find the complete text of the press statement from the Archdiocese of Detroit on the death of Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka:

With sadness and great hope in the Resurrection we share news of the death of Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, who served as Archbishop of Detroit from 1981 until 1990 and went on to oversee the government of the Vatican City State under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

"We mourn the loss of a dedicated shepherd," said current Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, who had served as a priest under Cardinal Szoka in the 1980s. "For sixty years Cardinal Szoka gave himself totally to his priestly service of Christ and his Church.  He has gone home to the Heavenly Father with our prayers. May the Lord give him the reward of his labors."

Following his retirement from active ministry in 2006, Cardinal Szoka had been living in Northville. He died last night, August 20, of natural causes at Providence Park Hospital in Novi. He was 86.

Funeral arrangements will be made public as they become available.

Edmund Casimir Szoka was born Sept. 14, 1927, in Grand Rapids to Polish immigrants Casimir and Mary Szoka. His father had immigrated from what is now Belarus; his mother from Poland.

Cardinal Szoka was celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest this year, having been ordained by Bishop Noa on June 5, 1954, to serve the Diocese of Marquette.

He had served as chancellor in the Diocese of Marquette until being named the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Gaylord in June of 1971. After establishing the Diocese of Gaylord, Pope John Paul II named him Archbishop of Detroit. He was installed to the post in May 1981.

The pope then made him a cardinal in June of 1988. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed to oversee economic affairs at the Vatican City State, in April of 1990, and was succeeded in Detroit by Archbishop (Cardinal) Adam J. Maida.

Cardinal Szoka oversaw the Vatican City State under both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He was made President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State in 1997, and president of the Vatican City State in 2001.

A day after his 79th birthday in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Cardinal Szoka's resignation.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

"Absolutely abhorrent" the suffering of Christians in Iraq -Southern African Bishops

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference which comprises Bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland have denounced the violence in Gaza and described as absolutely abhorrent that the Christian community of Iraq is suffering martyrdom and expulsion from their country.

The Bishops’ statement issued by the Archbishop of Pretoria, Most Rev. William Slattery OFM, says that August marks 100 years since the beginning of the Great War: The First World War.  According to the Bishops, it would appear that the lessons of the tragic consequences of that Great War have not been learnt by humankind. “The cry ‘no more war!’ has gone unheeded and millions continue to suffer and die,” the Bishops say.

The Bishops note that in different parts of Africa, in Iraq and Syria and now in Gaza the world is faced with stark and horrifying evidence of the moral bankruptcy of modern warfare. By its very nature: in situations and with weapons where no distinction is possible between combatants and non-combatants and where superpowers are stymied by lone suicide bombers, modern warfare shows itself to be obsolete.  War that has become interminable – or self-perpetuating as in Gaza – solves nothing; it never reconciles but only succeeds in entrenching hatred and division. Whether perpetrated by Israeli or by Palestinian, the use of violence will never bring a solution to the problems of the Holy Land. 

The Bishops have therefore determined that the Israeli offensive against Gaza and the firing of Palestinian rockets into Israel must stop.  They call for the recognition of an end to structural forms of violence such as the illegal settlements by Israel, the Wall, the checkpoints, restriction of Palestinian movement and the lack of security on both sides. “For as long as these continue”, say the Bishops, “there is little hope for any lasting peace. These and other root problems must be engaged and resolved”.

In all, the Bishops appeal to the leaders of Palestine and Israel to put an end to the war, to cease the violence and to stop killing each other. They also call upon these leaders to commit themselves to respecting the fundamental dignity and rights of their adversaries. The Bishops emphasise that this “can (only) be done by resorting to dialogue which comprises real negotiations and the building of a lasting peace”.

On Christians in Iraq, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference says it is absolutely abhorrent that the Christian community of Iraq, a tradition that goes back almost 2000 years, is suffering expulsion from their country and martyrdom.  

As Catholic bishops of Southern Africa the Bishops plead with members of the Islamic State to exercise religious tolerance in Iraq. The Bishops further assure the persecuted Christians of Iraq of their deepest concern and pledge never to forget their plight. They have also strongly deplored the utter destruction of ancient dioceses, vibrant parishes and faithful families simply because of their loyalty to the Christian faith. They label what is happening in Iraq as a crime against humanity.

In their statement, the Bishops have told other religious traditions in Iraq who suffer the same fate as the Christian community that their hearts and prayers go out to them as well. “We admire many of the great religious teachings of Islam, particularly their care for the poor and the needy. We call on faithful Muslims who believe in our common humanity to plead with those driven by extremism to cease their oppression of deeply religious communities and to seek that peace which Islam itself endeavors to promote,” the Bishops conclude their statement.

e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Iraq: Caritas Intl President appeals for end to atrocities

(Vatican Radio) The President of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga S.D.B. has written a letter to Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako and to the President of Caritas Iraq, Bishop Shlemon Warduni to express his concern for the safety of their communities and for the wellbeing of “all the people of Iraq.”

Alarmed at the “atrocities” being committed by Islamic State militants against minority Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, Shabaks, Madaeans, and others, Cardinal Maradiaga observed with dismay “the massive displacement of 1.2 million people, many of them civilians trying to escape appalling atrocities in the hope of saving their own lives and those of their families.”

“With great dismay we see images of people who literally have been robbed of every last possession and now have no means to buy food or attend to their basic needs.” Many, including 40 children who died from lack of water, have perished as they flee the violence.

The Cardinal reflected that humanity has not learned from the historical atrocities of the Twentieth century: “How can members of the same family inflict such atrocities on their own people in the name of religion? Or is it rather the manipulation of ruthless greed for power that inflicts such ruthless violence on so many innocent people?” He wondered .

Cardinal Maradiaga appealed to the militants of the Islamic State “to cease inflicting atrocities on their brothers and sisters and to work towards building peaceful societies, where all human persons, whether in minority or majority communities can live together in peace and where everyone can flourish.”

He expressed “deep concern” that the surge in violence “may push back advancements in the Christian – Muslim dialogue and destroy the peaceful coexistence…enjoyed by many Muslims and Christians in all parts of the world, but most especially in the Middle East.”

Concluding his letter, Cardinal Maradiaga offered Caritas’ solidarity with the courageous religious, lay and Caritas aid workers “who provide practical help in local communities to alleviate the suffering, giving food and shelter or healing trauma.”

The text of Cardinal Maradiaga's letter follows:

My dear brothers in Our Lord Jesus Christ,
 
On behalf of the Caritas Internationalis Confederation I send you fraternal greetings and assure of my deep concern for your safety and wellbeing and, most especially of my prayers for you and all the people of Iraq. 
 
It is with great sadness, that, once again, we are forced to witness destructive violence in the region and, in particular in your beloved country of Iraq. It is with aching hearts that we observe the massive displacement of 1.2 million people, many of them civilians trying to escape appalling atrocities in the hope of saving their own lives and those of their families. 
 
With great dismay we see images of people who literally have been robbed of every last possession and now have no means to buy food or attend to their basic needs. We know that many of them have lost their lives while in flight, as recently happened with 40 children who died from lack of water.
Despite advances in recognizing the rights of minorities within the international community, the atrocities in your country concern these very same groups: Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, Shabaks, Madaeans, and others.
 
When will our global human family begin to learn from history? The forced imposition of the sign “N” on the doors of Christian homes brings to mind another atrocity that occurred during the last century and that led to terrible suffering and death of millions of people. As our Holy Father Pope Francis says: “Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is conquered by peace." 
 
How can members of the same family inflict such atrocities on their own people in the name of religion? Or is it rather the manipulation of ruthless greed for power that inflicts such ruthless violence on so many innocent people?
 
Caritas Internationalis, which witnesses, through its name and every action, to “love across the nations,” calls for one human family in which no one should die of hunger or thirst, nor lose their lives as a result of hatred and violent aggression. We work to advance a human family that lives together in peace and harmony, in charity and justice. 
 
We call upon the militants of the Islamic State to cease inflicting atrocities on their brothers and sisters and to work towards building peaceful societies, where all human persons, whether in minority or majority communities can live together in peace and where everyone can flourish.  We share a deep concern that this most recent surge of violence may push back advancements in the Christian – Muslim dialogue and destroy the peaceful coexistence and conviviality that is enjoyed by many Muslims and Christians in all parts of the world, but most especially in the Middle East.
 
My Brothers in Episcopal Ministry, I congratulate you and all people of good will in your country for your courage and strong and loving witness as you stand firmly against these crimes against humanity and as you defend the right to life for all people at all stages from conception to natural death. All women and men engaged in the Caritas Confederation accompany you so that together we can raise a “continuous prayer to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace” , most especially in this land of our Father Abraham, the Patriarch whose memory is sacred to all Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people, since he passed on to us our love and faith in the one God, the Creator of the Universe and Author of life. 
 
We send our love, support and solidarity all those courageous aid workers of Caritas, of religious congregations and other organizations who provide practical help in local communities to alleviate the suffering, giving food and shelter or healing trauma. You are working humbly and tirelessly in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ and in fulfilment of His Gospel mandate, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
 
Finally, we in Caritas join our voices to yours as we advocate with religious and civil leaders, at local, national, regional, and global levels, to ensure that the safety of affected people concerned is put at the forefront, that the rule of law is recognized and enforced, and that no more weapons reach those committing such crimes against human life and dignity. Let us remain committed to promote and support a culture of peaceful dialogue that strives to establish solidarity and shared responsibility among all peoples in all nations. 
 
May God continue to bless our every action taken in His name and bring them to fulfilment.
Yours in Christ
+Oscar Andrés Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga S.D.B.
President, Caritas Internationalis
 
(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Slavery to be theme of 2015 World Day of Peace

(Vatican Radio)  The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has announced the theme selected by Pope Francis for the upcoming World Day of Peace.  The theme, “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters” will be the title of the Message for the 48th World Day of Peace, celebrated on 1 January 2015.  It will mark the second time Pope Francis celebrates the Day of Peace since he has risen to the papacy.

A note from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace provides details about why the theme is relevant today: 

Many people think that slavery is a thing of the past. In fact, this social plague remains all too real in today’s world.  Last year’s Message for 1 January 2014 was dedicated to brotherhood: “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace”. Being children of God gives all human beings equal dignity as brothers and sisters.
 
Slavery deals a murderous blow to this fundamental fraternity, and so to peace as well. Peace can only exist when each human being recognizes every other person as a brother or sister with the same dignity.
 
Too many abominable forms of slavery persist in today’s world: human trafficking, trade in migrants and prostitutes, exploitation, slave labour, and the enslavement of women and children.
 
Shamefully, individuals and groups around the world profit from this slavery. They take advantage of the world’s many conflicts, of the economic crisis and of corruption in order to carry out their evil.
 
Slavery is a terrible open wound on the contemporary social body, a fatal running sore on the flesh of Christ!
 
To counter slavery effectively, the inviolable dignity of every person must be recognized above all. Moreover, this acceptance of dignity must be anchored solidly in fraternity. Fraternity requires us to reject any inequality which would allow one person to enslave another. It demands instead that we act everywhere with proximity and generosity, thus leading to liberation and inclusion for everyone.
 
Our purpose is to build a civilization based on the equal dignity of every person without discrimination. To achieve this will also require the commitment of the media, of education and of culture to a renewed society pledged to freedom, justice and therefore peace.
 
The World Day of Peace, initiated by Pope Paul VI, is celebrated each year on the first day of January. The Holy Father’s Message is sent to all the world’s Foreign Ministers and also indicates the Holy See’s diplomatic line during the coming year.
(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis meets Opera di Nazareth group

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received a group of pilgrims from the international “Opera di Nazareth” organization on Wednesday evening at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. The Opera di Nazareth was founded in 1964 in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, and eventually incorporated as as an organization of lay faithful that conducts charitable activities, outreach and works of mercy, as living witnesses of God’s self-revelation in Christ and Christ’s revelation of man’s true nature to all humanity.

“Christ,” said Pope Francis during the encounter, led by the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, “is not one way among many: Chris is the Way.” The Holy Father went on to say, “When one discovers Jesus, joy enters his life,” and, “the joy of being Jesus’ disciples becomes witness – that is, work in the apostolate and the mission-fields.”

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Pope on Korea trip: memory, hope, witness

(Vatican Radio) Memory, hope, witness: these are the three key terms in which Pope Francis placed his recent visit to Korea, when he reflected on the trip with pilgrims and tourists gathered in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on Wednesday for the weekly General Audience. After renewing his sentiments of gratitude and esteem for the bishops of Korea and for the civil authorities who hosted him, the Holy Father began to focus on the Church he discovered during his voyage.

“The Republic of Korea,” said Pope Francis, “is a country that has had a remarkable and rapid economic development,” which he attributed in large part to the industry and discipline of the Korean people. “In this situation,” he continued, “the Church is the custodian of memory and hope: a spiritual family in which adults pass the torch of faith that they themselves have received from the elderly on to the young people,” of the new generation, so that, “the memory of the witnesses of the past becomes new testimony in the present and hope for the future.”

The Holy Father went on to say that the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs and the celebration of the sixth Asian Youth Day were concrete signs of this dynamic at work in Korea and all throughout Asia. “Dear brothers,” he said, “in the history of the faith in Korea we see that Christ does not erase cultures, does not suppress the pilgrimage of peoples, who, through the centuries and millennia, seek truth and practice love for God and neighbor. Christ does not abolish what is good, but brings it to fulfillment.”

The Pope also addressed the particular role of lay people in bringing the Gospel to Korean shores and fostering the growth of the Church in the country. “The Church took root in Korea and grew largely because of lay people, who saw the attractiveness of the Gospel and sought to live like the first Christians, in equal dignity and solidarity with the poor,” said Pope Francis in the English-language remarks read following his principal Italian-language address.

The Holy Father concluded with a prayer: that the Korean people might continue to grow in faith and love, overcome every division and look forward to a future of reconciliation and hope.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Echoes of the pontificate of S. Pius X

(Vatican Radio) To mark the centenary of the death of Saint Pius X, born Giuseppe Sarto in 1903, Veronica Scarisbrick brings you echoes of the  pontificate of this first pope to be elected in the twentieth century. In this programme you can listen to the  witness of three  American sisters who were received in audience by him a at a time when you still went to the Vatican in horse drawn carriages: "You had to order a landau at a livery stable.You notified them that you were expecting an audience, so then they'd keep one of these carriages ready with two horses, a coachman and a footman.'...Other guests include descendants of the papal court of the time. 

This 257th  Pope of the Catholic Church was beatified on June 3, 1951 and canonised on May 29, 1954. 

Listen to this programme for the series "Echoes of an era, the popes of the twentieth century remembered by those who knew them", presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick: 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)