Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI receives honorary doctorates

(Vatican Radio) Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI received Doctorates honoris causa on Saturday from the Pontifical John Paul II University of Krakow and the Krakow Academy of Music. The motivation for the honors issued by the University’s Academic Senate specifies five contributions Pope Benedict has made to knowledge and culture: great respect for musical tradition of the Church and remarkable sensitivity to the music of faith; the life-long and constant demonstration of a special concern for the noble beauty of sacred music and its proper place in the celebration of the sacred liturgical rites of the Church; his constant insistence on the didactic importance of the via pulchritudinis – the way of beauty – which can become a way of knowing and worshiping God for the modern man; his lifelong commitment to Truth, which strengthens the Christian faith in times of spiritual confusion caused by liberalism, postmodernism and relativism, and his tireless efforts to restore the spiritual dimension of Europe; his kind support for the work of transforming the schools of the Pontifical Academy of Theology into the Pontifical John Paul II University.

In remarks prepared for the occasion, and delivered on July 4th at Castel Gandolfo, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI said, “In the Constitution on the Liturgy of the II Vatican Council, [Sacrosanctum Concilium], it is very clearly written: ‘The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. (114)’ On the other hand, the text highlights the actuosa participatio of the faithful in the sacred action as a fundamental liturgical category. Those two things, which in the text of the Constitution remain together and at peace with each other, were in the implementation of the Council, often in a relationship of dramatic tension. Significant areas of the Liturgical Movement believed that, in the future, there would be room for the great choral works and even for orchestral Masses only in concert halls, not in the liturgy. [In the liturgy], there could be space only for the singing and common prayer of the faithful. On the other hand, there was shock at the cultural impoverishment of the Church that would necessarily result from this. How to reconcile the two? How to implement the Council in its entirety? These were the questions that were particularly striking to me and to many other believers, to simple people, no less than to persons in possession of a theological education.”

The Pope-emeritus went on to say, “At this point, it is perhaps fitting that we ask the deeper question: what is music really? Whence does it come and toward what does it tend?” He posited three loci from which music arises: the experience of love; the experience of sorrow, of being touched by death, by pain, and by the abysses of existence; the encounter with the divine, who from the beginning is part of that which defines man.

“We do not know what will be the future of sacred music,” concluded Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, “but one thing is clear: wherever the encounter with the Living God, who in Christ comes close to us really occurs, there is born anew and there again grows the answer, the beauty of which arises out of truth itself.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope greets members of the Renewal of the Holy Spirit

(Vatican Radio) On Friday afternoon in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis met with members of the Renewal of the Holy Spirit, who have come to Rome for their 38th annual Convocation.

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

A light rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the tens of thousands of people gathered together in St Peter’s Square for an evening of prayer, spirituality, and evangelization. The event had a distinctively ecumenical character, with the theme of “Ways of Unity and Peace – Voices of prayer for the martyrs of today and for a spiritual ecumenism.” Representatives of various Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities were present for the meeting with the Pope Francis, testifying to “the power of ecumenical prayer and the need for a new fraternity among Christians.”

In his prayer at the beginning of the Audience, Pope Francis prayed that God the Father might send the Holy Spirit, Who will guide us to unity. It is the Holy Spirit, he said, who gives the various charisms within the Church, who works through the variety of gifts in the Church, and who grants unity. Pope Francis asked that Jesus, who prayed for unity in His Church, might help us to walk along the path of “unity, or of reconciled diversity.”

In his address, which he delivered “off-the-cuff,” the Holy Father reminded the members of the Renewal of the Holy Spirit of the words of Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens, who called the charismatic renewal a “stream of grace.”  The current of grace, he said, must always flow into the ocean of God, the love of God, and must not be turned in on itself.

Pope Francis also spoke about the idea of “unity in diversity.” Unity is not uniformity, he said, but reflects the confluence of all the different parts that go to make it up.

He warned of the temptation of leaders – or rather, servants – to imagine that they are indispensable, a temptation that can lead to authoritarianism or personalism, which “does not allow the renewed communities to live in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis exclaimed, is the only indispensable actor in the renewal, just as Jesus is the one Lord. At the same time he spoke of good founders who lead the communities they found, caring for them and leading them to spiritual maturity.

The Holy Father gave thanks for the “current of grace” which has borne much fruit. He encouraged those who have had the experience of the renew “to go forward, share it with the Church,” a service he called very important. He encouraged them especially “to form bonds of trust and cooperation with the Bishops, who have the pastoral responsibility of guiding the Body of Christ, including the charismatic renewal."

Finally, Pope Francis emphasized the ecumenical dimension of the charismatic movement, rooting it in our common Baptism. Unity among Christians, he said, must begin with prayer. He spoke, too, of modern-day martyrs: “The blood of the martyrs of today makes us one!” He gave the examples of a Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister who were both executed by the Nazis, and of the 23 Coptic Christians who, just a few months ago, were murdered in Libya. He noted, too, that Paul VI, in canonizing the Ugandan martyrs made reference to the Anglican catechists who shed their blood with them. “Excuse me, don’t be scandalized, they are our martyrs,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his remarks by reminding those in the Square of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the charismatic movement, which will be marked in St Peters on Pentecost in 2017. This jubilee, he said, quoting Bd Paul VI, will be an opportunity for the Church “to give thanks to the Holy Spirit for this current of grace which is for the Church and for the world; and to celebrate the marvelous works the Holy Spirit has done in the course of these 50 years, changing the lives of millions of Christians.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis to pray for persecuted Christians at ecumenical event

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will pray for thousands of persecuted Christians in an ecumenical event taking place this Friday afternoon in St Peter’s Square.

An estimated 30 thousand people are expected at the 38th National Convocation of the Renewal in the Spirit.

The concert and prayer gathering has as its’ theme “Ways of unity and of peace. Voices of prayer for the martyrs of today and for a spiritual ecumenism.”

One of the ecumenical delegates reciting a prayer at the meeting is Archbishop David Moxon, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Archbishop David Moxon

Speaking to Lydia O’Kane ahead of the event he explained more about its’ theme saying, the phrase ecumenism of the blood of martyrs is comes from Pope Francis himself, “when he said that when Christians die for their faith, the person who takes their lives isn’t making a distinction particularly between their denomination, they’re not asking if they’re Catholic or Anglican or Lutheran or Coptic or Orthodox, they’re just being persecuted because they’re Christians…”

Artists taking part in Friday’s concerts include Italian Tenor Andrea Bocelli and Israeli singer Noa.

The Renewal in the Spirit meeting will continue on Saturday at Olympic Stadium in Rome, with the celebration of the Eucharist presided over by Cardinal Angelo Comastri.

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pontifical Council sends Tourism Day Message

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People issued a Message on Thursday to mark World Tourism Day 2015, to be celebrated this coming September 27th. Titled, “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities”, the Message focuses on the pastoral challenges and opportunities presented by holiday and leisure travel.

Click below to hear our report

“We are in a phase of change in which the way of moving is changing and consequently the experience of traveling as well,” says the Message. “Those who go to countries different from their own do so with the more or less conscious desire to reawaken the most hidden part of themselves through encounter, sharing,” and the experience of new and different modes of life. “More and more,” the document continues, “a tourist is in search of direct contact with what is different in its extra-ordinariness.”

Drawing on Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter, Laudato si’, on the care of our common home, and making especial mention of the upcoming Year of Mercy, the Message of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People for World Tourism day goes on to say, “Faithful to her mission and starting from the conviction that ‘we also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise’, the Church cooperates in making tourism a means for the development of peoples, especially the most disadvantaged ones, and setting in motion simple but effective projects.” The Council admonishes, “However, the Church and institutions should always be vigilant to prevent a billion opportunities from becoming a billion dangers by cooperating in the safeguard[ing] of personal dignity, workers' rights, cultural identity, respect for the environment,” and all related concerns.

“There are,” the Message concludes, “one billion occasions to transform a voyage into an existential experience: one billion possibilities to become the makers of a better world, aware of the riches contained in every traveler's suitcase; one billion tourists, one billion opportunities to become ‘instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness.’”

Below, please find the full text of the Message from the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People

***************************************************

“One billion tourists, one billion opportunities”

1. It was 2012 when the symbolic barrier of one billion international tourist arrivals was surpassed. Now the numbers continue to grow so much that the forecasts estimate a new threshold of two billion will be reached in 2030. To this data even higher figures related to local tourism must be added.

For World Tourism Day we want to concentrate on the opportunities and challenges raised by these statistics, and for this we make the theme proposed by the World Tourism Organization our own: “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities”.

This growth launches a challenge to all the sectors involved in this global phenomenon: tourists, businesses, governments and local communities and, of course, the Church too. The billion tourists should necessarily be considered above all in their billion opportunities.

This message is being made public a few days after the presentation of Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato si’ dedicated to care for our common home.1 We need to take this text into great consideration because it offers important guidelines to follow in our attention to the world of tourism.

2. We are in a phase of change in which the way of moving is changing and consequently the experience of traveling as well. Those who go to countries different from their own do so with the more or less conscious desire to reawaken the most hidden part of themselves through encounter, sharing and confrontation. More and more, a tourist is in search of direct contact with what is different in its extra-ordinariness.

By now the classic concept of a “tourist” is fading while that of a “traveler” has become stronger: that is, someone who does not limit himself to visiting a place but in some way becomes an integral part of it. The “citizen of the world” is born: no longer to see but to belong, not to look around but to experience, no longer to analyze but to take part in, and not without respect for what and whom he encounters.

In his latest Encyclical, Pope Francis invites us to approach nature with “openness to awe and wonder” and to speak “the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world” (Laudato si’, No. 11). This is the right approach to adopt with regard to the places and peoples we visit. This is the road to seizing a billion opportunities and making them bear even more fruits.

3. The businesses in this sector are the first ones who should be committed to achieving the common good. The responsibilities of companies is great, also in the tourist area, and to take advantage of the billion opportunities they need to be aware of this. The final objective should not be profit as much as offering travelers accessible roads to achieving the experience they are looking for. And businesses have to do this with respect for people and the environment. It is important not to lose awareness of people's faces. Tourists cannot be reduced only to a statistic or a source of revenue. Forms of tourist business need to be implemented that are studied with and for individuals and invest in individuals and sustainability so as to offer work opportunities in respect for our common home.

4. At the same time, governments have to guarantee respect for the laws and create new ones that can protect the dignity of individuals, communities and the territory. A resolute attitude is essential. Also in the tourist area, the civil authorities of the different countries need to have shared strategies to create globalized socioeconomic networks in favor of local communities and travelers in order to take positive advantage of the billion opportunities offered by the interaction.

5. From this viewpoint, also the local communities are called to open up their borders to welcome those who come from other countries moved by a thirst for knowledge, a unique occasion for reciprocal enrichment and common growth. Giving hospitality enables the environmental, social and cultural potentialities to bear fruit, to create new jobs, to develop one's identity, and to bring out the value of the territory. A billion opportunities for progress, especially for countries that are still developing. To increase tourism, especially in its most responsible forms, makes it possible to head towards the future strong with one's specificity, history and culture. Generating income and promoting the specific heritage can reawaken that sense of pride and self-esteem useful for strengthening the host communities' dignity, but care is always needed to not betray the territory, traditions and identity in favor of the tourists.2 It is in the local communities where there can grow “a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren” (Laudato si’, No. 179).

6. One billion tourists, if well received, can become an important source of well-being and sustainable development for the entire planet. Moreover, the globalization of tourism leads to the rise of an individual and collective civic sense. Each traveler, by adopting a more correct criterion for moving around the world, becomes an active part in safeguarding the earth. One individual's effort multiplied by a billion becomes a great revolution.

On a voyage, a desire for authenticity is also hidden which is realized in the spontaneity of relations and getting involved in the communities visited. The need is growing to get away from the virtual, which is so capable of creating distances and impersonal acquaintances, and to rediscover the genuineness of an encounter with others. The economy of sharing can also build a network through which humanity and fraternity increase and can generate a fair exchange of goods and services.

7. Tourism also represents a billion opportunities for the Church's evangelizing mission. “Nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, No. 1). First of all, it is important for the Church to accompany Catholics with liturgical and formative proposals. She should also illuminate those who during the experience of traveling open their hearts and ask themselves questions and in this way make a real first proclamation of the Gospel. It is essential for the Church to go forth and be close to travelers in order to offer an appropriate and individual answer to their inner search. By opening her heart to others, the Church makes a more authentic encounter with God possible. With this goal, hospitality by the parish communities and the religious formation of tourist personnel should be enhanced.

The Church's task is also to educate to living free time. The Holy Father reminds us that “Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away with the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity” (Laudato si’, No. 237).

Moreover, we should not forget Pope Francis' convocation to celebrate the Holy Year of Mercy.3 We have to ask ourselves how the pastoral care of tourism and pilgrimages can be an area to “experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope” (Misericordiae vultus, No. 3). A particular sign of this jubilee time will undoubtedly be the pilgrimage (Cf. Misericordiae vultus, No. 14).

Faithful to her mission and starting from the conviction that “we also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise”,4 the Church cooperates in making tourism a means for the development of peoples, especially the most disadvantaged ones, and setting in motion simple but effective projects. However, the Church and institutions should always be vigilant to prevent a billion opportunities from becoming a billion dangers by cooperating in the safeguard of personal dignity, workers' rights, cultural identity, respect for the environment, and so on.

8. One billion opportunities also for the environment: “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God” (Laudato si’, No. 84). Between tourism and the environment there is a close interdependency. The tourist sector, by taking advantage of the natural and cultural riches, can promote their conservation or, paradoxically, their destruction. In this relationship, the Encyclical Laudato si’ appears to be a good traveling companion.

Many times we pretend we do not see the problem. “Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption” (Laudato si’, No. 59). By acting not as masters but with “responsible stewardship” (Laudato si’, No. 116), each one has his or her obligations that must be made concrete in precise actions that range from specific, coordinated legislation down to simple everyday actions,5 passing through appropriate educational programs and sustainable and respectful tourist projects. Everything has its importance,6 but a change in lifestyles and attitudes is necessary and surely more important. “Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little” (Laudato si’, No. 222).

9. The tourism sector can be an opportunity, indeed, one billion opportunities for building roads to peace too. Encounter, exchange and sharing favor harmony and understanding.

There are one billion occasions to transform a voyage into an existential experience. One billion possibilities to become the makers of a better world, aware of the riches contained in every traveler's suitcase. One billion tourists, one billion opportunities to become “instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness” (Laudato si’, No. 53).

Vatican City, June 24, 2015

Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò

President

+ Joseph Kalathiparambil

Secretary

_____________________

1 FRANCIS, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ on care for our common home, May 24, 2015.

2 To prevent this from happening, “Tourism activity should be planned in such a way as to allow traditional cultural products, crafts and folklore to survive and flourish, rather than causing them to degenerate and become standardized” (World Tourism Organization, Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, October 1, 1999, art. 4, §4).

3 FRANCIS, Bull Misericordiae vultus of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, April 11, 2015.

4 FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, November 24, 2013, No. 61.

5 “There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity” (Laudato si’, No. 211).

6 “We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread” (Laudato si’, No. 212).

(from Vatican Radio)

One billion tourists, one billion opportunities

Vatican City, 2 July 2015 (VIS) - “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities” is the title of the Message for World Tourism Day 2015 (27 September), published today by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. The Message, dated 24 June, was signed by Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, respectively president and secretary of the dicastery.

The document, as its title indicates, focuses on the opportunities and challenges that the great increase in tourism represents for contemporary society and notes that the concept of the “tourist” is increasingly being substituted by that of the “traveller”, who does not merely visit a place but rather, in a sense, becomes an integral part of it. In the light of Pope Francis' Encyclical “Laudato si'”, the Message highlights that the tourism sector, by promoting appreciation of natural and cultural wealth, can promote their conservation or, paradoxically, their destruction. The Message finally invites the transformation of travel into “an existential experience”.

“It was 2012 when the symbolic barrier of one billion international tourist arrivals was surpassed. Now the numbers continue to grow so much that the forecasts estimate a new threshold of two billion will be reached in 2030. To this data even higher figures related to local tourism must be added.

For World Tourism Day we want to concentrate on the opportunities and challenges raised by these statistics, and for this we make the theme proposed by the World Tourism Organisation our own: 'One billion tourists, one billion opportunities'.

This growth launches a challenge to all the sectors involved in this global phenomenon: tourists, businesses, governments and local communities and, of course, the Church too. The billion tourists should necessarily be considered above all in their billion opportunities.

This message is being made public a few days after the presentation of Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato si’ dedicated to care for our common home. We need to take this text into great consideration because it offers important guidelines to follow in our attention to the world of tourism.

We are in a phase of change in which the way of moving is changing and consequently the experience of travelling as well. Those who go to countries different from their own do so with the more or less conscious desire to reawaken the most hidden part of themselves through encounter, sharing and confrontation. More and more, a tourist is in search of direct contact with what is different in its extra-ordinariness.

By now the classic concept of a 'tourist' is fading while that of a 'traveller' has become stronger: that is, someone who does not limit himself to visiting a place but in some way becomes an integral part of it. The 'citizen of the world' is born: no longer to see but to belong, not to look around but to experience, no longer to analyse but to take part in, and not without respect for what and whom he encounters.

In his latest Encyclical, Pope Francis invites us to approach nature with 'openness to awe and wonder' and to speak 'the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world'. This is the right approach to adopt with regard to the places and peoples we visit. This is the road to seizing a billion opportunities and making them bear even more fruits.

The businesses in this sector are the first ones who should be committed to achieving the common good. The responsibilities of companies is great, also in the tourist area, and to take advantage of the billion opportunities they need to be aware of this. The final objective should not be profit as much as offering travellers accessible roads to achieving the experience they are looking for. And businesses have to do this with respect for people and the environment. It is important not to lose awareness of people's faces. Tourists cannot be reduced only to a statistic or a source of revenue. Forms of tourist business need to be implemented that are studied with and for individuals and invest in individuals and sustainability so as to offer work opportunities in respect for our common home.

At the same time, governments have to guarantee respect for the laws and create new ones that can protect the dignity of individuals, communities and the territory. A resolute attitude is essential. Also in the tourist area, the civil authorities of the different countries need to have shared strategies to create globalised socio-economic networks in favour of local communities and travellers in order to take positive advantage of the billion opportunities offered by the interaction.

From this viewpoint, also the local communities are called to open up their borders to welcome those who come from other countries moved by a thirst for knowledge, a unique occasion for reciprocal enrichment and common growth. Giving hospitality enables the environmental, social and cultural potentialities to bear fruit, to create new jobs, to develop one's identity, and to bring out the value of the territory. A billion opportunities for progress, especially for countries that are still developing. To increase tourism, especially in its most responsible forms, makes it possible to head towards the future strong with one's specificity, history and culture. Generating income and promoting the specific heritage can reawaken that sense of pride and self-esteem useful for strengthening the host communities' dignity, but care is always needed to not betray the territory, traditions and identity in favour of the tourists. It is in the local communities where there can grow 'a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren'.

One billion tourists, if well received, can become an important source of well-being and sustainable development for the entire planet. Moreover, the globalisation of tourism leads to the rise of an individual and collective civic sense. Each traveller, by adopting a more correct criterion for moving around the world, becomes an active part in safeguarding the earth. One individual's effort multiplied by a billion becomes a great revolution.

On a voyage, a desire for authenticity is also hidden which is realised in the spontaneity of relations and getting involved in the communities visited. The need is growing to get away from the virtual, which is so capable of creating distances and impersonal acquaintances, and to rediscover the genuineness of an encounter with others. The economy of sharing can also build a network through which humanity and fraternity increase and can generate a fair exchange of goods and services.

Tourism also represents a billion opportunities for the Church's evangelising mission. 'Nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts'. First of all, it is important for the Church to accompany Catholics with liturgical and formative proposals. She should also illuminate those who during the experience of travelling open their hearts and ask themselves questions and in this way make a real first proclamation of the Gospel. It is essential for the Church to go forth and be close to travellers in order to offer an appropriate and individual answer to their inner search. By opening her heart to others, the Church makes a more authentic encounter with God possible. With this goal, hospitality by the parish communities and the religious formation of tourist personnel should be enhanced.

The Church's task is also to educate to living free time. The Holy Father reminds us that 'Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away with the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity'.

Moreover, we should not forget Pope Francis' convocation to celebrate the Holy Year of Mercy. We have to ask ourselves how the pastoral care of tourism and pilgrimages can be an area to 'experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope'. A particular sign of this jubilee time will undoubtedly be the pilgrimage.

Faithful to her mission and starting from the conviction that 'we also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise', the Church cooperates in making tourism a means for the development of peoples, especially the most disadvantaged ones, and setting in motion simple but effective projects. However, the Church and institutions should always be vigilant to prevent a billion opportunities from becoming a billion dangers by cooperating in the safeguard of personal dignity, workers' rights, cultural identity, respect for the environment, and so on.

One billion opportunities also for the environment: 'The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God'. Between tourism and the environment there is a close interdependency. The tourist sector, by taking advantage of the natural and cultural riches, can promote their conservation or, paradoxically, their destruction. In this relationship, the Encyclical Laudato si’ appears to be a good travelling companion.

Many times we pretend we do not see the problem. 'Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption'. By acting not as masters but with 'responsible stewardship', each one has his or her obligations that must be made concrete in precise actions that range from specific, coordinated legislation down to simple everyday actions, passing through appropriate educational programs and sustainable and respectful tourist projects. Everything has its importance, but a change in lifestyles and attitudes is necessary and surely more important. 'Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little'.

The tourism sector can be an opportunity, indeed, one billion opportunities for building roads to peace too. Encounter, exchange and sharing favour harmony and understanding.

There are one billion occasions to transform a voyage into an existential experience. One billion possibilities to become the makers of a better world, aware of the riches contained in every traveller's suitcase. One billion tourists, one billion opportunities to become 'instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness'”.

Conference on persecution of Christians held in Bruxelles

(Vatican Radio)  A conference was held on Thursday, July 1st, in Bruxelles on the theme “Persecution of Christians in the world” at the European Parliament. 

Organized by the Group for intercultural activities and religious dialogue, the Conference sought to sensitize public opinion on the European level to the reality of Christians in war-torn areas.

Members of the conference proposed to the European parliament a resolution presented in April after the murder of students in Kenya by the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab. 

Among the religious leaders present at the conference was the Archbishop of Baghdad, Jean Benjamin Sleiman, OCD, whom Fr. Leszek Gęsiak, director of the Polish Program of Vatican Radio, interviewed.

Listen to the full interview with Archbishop Sleiman:

(from Vatican Radio)

‘No Global’ author at Vatican event on climate and poverty reduction

(Vatican Radio) A Catholic climate scientist and a secular Jewish feminist formed an “unlikely alliance” in the Vatican press office on Wednesday to present a two day conference entitled ‘People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course'. The conference, which will take place at the Pontifical Augustinianum University in Rome, includes some 200 political, religious and civil society leaders from all continents who’ll be discussing Pope Francis’ new encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ in light of a climate summit to be held in Paris next December.  

The two day conference, which opens on Thursday, has been organised by the Pontifical Justice and Peace Council, together with CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies. Philippa Hitchen has the details….

Listen: 

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein, known for her bestselling book ‘No Logo’, admitted she was surprised and moved to be invited to the Vatican to speak about ways of mobilizing public opinion and putting pressure on political leaders. The Pope’s encyclical, she said, is a poetic, but also courageous and common sense document that speaks not just to the Catholic world, but “for every person living on this planet”. It forcefully confronts the fact that our unbridled models of development and technological progress have unleashed “natural forces that are far more powerful than even our most ingenious machines”, yet many are still in denial about the path of environmental destruction we’re headed down. Even critics who accept the document’s moral authority and scientific data, she said, insist the Pope should leave the economic policy to the experts.

I forcefully disagree. The truth is we have arrived at this dangerous place partly because many of those economic experts have failed us, wielding their powerful technocratic skills without wisdom. They produced models that placed scandalously little value on human life, particularly on the lives of the poor, and placed outsized value on protecting corporate profits and economic growth

Echoing Klein’s warning was German scientist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The new encyclical, he said, must not be reduced to a document on the environment but should be understood for the revolutionary way it links ecology on a par with poverty reduction, describing the planet's natural resources as “a common good of all and for all”

This statement on the common destination of goods is for the first time in the history of Catholic social teaching, applied to global carbon sinks, which includes the oceans, the atmosphere, the forests and partially land.....the use of this Commons is a basic human right and its distribution is to be applied according to the principles of justice

Another German, Bernt Nilles,  General Secretary of the CIDSE network, which marks its half century this year, noted the Catholic Church already has a strong track record of campaigning on environmental and social justice concerns– including a statement of specific requests about ending fossil fuel dependency, presented by bishops to world leaders attending the last climate summit in Lima last December.

Ahead of the Paris summit, he said, hundreds of thousands of people are preparing to converge in a faith pilgrimage to insist the politicians come up with a “fair, ambitious, legally binding agreement” on moving from carbon to renewable energy economies in the next couple of decades. World leaders must hear the voice of the most vulnerable, Nilles said,, but as the Pope’s encyclical points out, this is also about me and my lifestyle too: that’s why CIDSE has launched a new website ‘Change for the Planet, Care for the People’ to help each one of us be a part of the growing global movement towards a more sustainable way of living.

(from Vatican Radio)

The Pope expresses his closeness to Greece in time of crisis

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday invited the faithful to unite in prayer for the good of  the Greek people.

A note released by the Holy See Press Office says that the Pope has expressed his closeness to the Greek people who are suffering the effects of the current crisis.

Describing the news from Greece “regarding the economic and social situation of the country as worrying”, the Pope “conveys his closeness to all the Greek people, with a special thought for the many families gravely beset by such a complex and keenly felt human and social crisis”.

“The dignity of the human person must remain at the center of any political and technical 
debate, as well as in the taking of responsible decisions” the Pope continues.

Concluding, Pope Francis invites all the faithful to “unite in prayer for the good of the beloved Greek people”. 

(from Vatican Radio)

The Pope commemorates the late Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians

Vatican City, 1 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to Bishop Gregoire Ghabroyan, administrator of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, for the funeral of His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, who died on 25 June, to be held in the Cathedral of St. Elie and St. Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut. The message was read during the funeral ceremony by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the return to the house of the Father of our beloved brother in Christ, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. I conserve in my heart the memory of my encounter with him, accompanied by the bishops of the Synod and the faithful of this Patriarchal Church, on the occasion of the commemoration of the victims of the Metz Yegern and the proclamation of St. Gregory of Narek as as Doctor of the universal Church. It was as if these events lived in the vicinity of the relics of the apostle St. Peter had marked the long and faithful journey of your 'Caput et Pater', revealing some of his most characteristic aspects.

“He was, above all, deeply rooted on the Rock that is Christ. He held that the most valuable treasure that a bishop is called upon to minister to is the faith that comes from apostolic preaching. His Beatitude spared nothing in ensuring its dissemination, especially by promoting the continuing formation of the clergy so that, even in difficult contexts, the ministers of God renew their adhesion to Christ, the sole hope and consolation for humanity.

“He dedicated himself to ensuring that the just commemoration of the sufferings of the Armenian people throughout their history become an action of God's grace considering the example of martyrs and witnesses, and at the same time obtained from Him the balm of consolation and reconciliation, which alone may heal the deepest wounds of souls and of peoples.

“Patriarch Nerses was finally able to rejoice with the Armenian people at the elevation of St. Gregory of Narek to the luminous title of Doctor of the Church. His Beatitude wished the spiritual influence of this great saint be an example for pastors and faithful, convinced that through St. Gregory of Narek everyone can experience the wonders that the Lord is able to achieve in the heart that opens up to Him in daily simplicity and humility, and in solidarity with the drama of humanity, through ceaseless intercession.

“Invited to perpetuate this triple heritage left to us by Patriarch Nerses, we implore the Holy Spirit to continue to renew the face of the Armenian Catholic Church, through the commitment of pastors and faithful, and we also entrust to the Father of all Mercy the labours , linked to the the limits and weaknesses of the condition of the pilgrims on their way to the eternal homeland”.

Message for Sea Sunday: Church appreciates seafarers

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People has issued its Message for Sea Sunday, which is on July 12, 2015.

The Message said the Catholic Church would like to express her appreciation to seafarers in general for their fundamental contribution to the international trade.

It also made special mention of the role seafarers play in assisting and rescuing migrants at sea.

“Since time immemorial seafarers have fulfilled the obligation to rescue people in distress at sea under any conditions,” the Message reads.

“Seafarers are professionally qualified in their work and trained to handle a number of emergency situations but rescuing hundreds of men, women and children acting franticly while trying to reach the safety of the ship, is something that no training course in maritime school has prepared them for,” it continues.

“Furthermore, the physical effort in doing everything is conceivable to rescue as many persons as possible and sometimes the view of numerous lifeless bodies floating on the sea, are a traumatic experience which leaves the crews exhausted and psychologically distressed needing specific psychological and spiritual support.”

The full Message is below

 

PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL

CARE FOR MIGRANTS AND ITINERANT PEOPLE

Sea Sunday Message

(12th July 2015)

 

To transport goods and products around the world, the global economy deeply rely on the maritime industry supported by a workforce of around 1.2 million seafarers, who at sea and in the oceans frequently facing the strong and powerful forces of nature, are managing ships of any kind and dimension.

As ports are built far away from the cities and because of the fast turnaround in loading and unloading the cargo, the crews sailing the ships are like “invisible” people. As individuals we do not acknowledge the importance and the benefits that the maritime profession brings to our life and we become aware of their work and sacrifices only when disasters strike.

In spite of the technological development that makes life on board more comfortable and easier communicating with their loved ones, the seafarers are forced to spend long months in a restricted space, away from their families. Restrictive and unjust regulations often limit the shore leave when in port and the continuous threat of piracy in many sea routes add stress while sailing. We are still confident that the ratification and coming into force of the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 by a growing number of countries,  accompanied by effective inspections by flag States will result in a tangible improvement of the labor and working conditions on board of all ships.

The present day with the situation of war, violence and political instability in several countries , a new phenomenon has been affecting the shipping industry. Since last year, alongside with the coast guards and the naval forces of Italy, Malta and European Union, the merchant vessels transiting in the Mediterranean Sea have been actively involved in what is the daily occurrence of rescuing thousands and thousands of migrants trying to reach mainly the coasts of Italy in any kind of overcrowded and substandard crafts . 

Since time immemorial seafarers have fulfilled the obligation to rescue people in distress at sea under any conditions. However, as it has been stressed by other maritime organizations, for the merchant vessels rescuing migrants at sea remain a health, safety and security risk for seafarers’. Commercial ships are designed to transport goods (containers, oil, gas, etc.) and all the facilities (accommodation, kitchen, bathroom, lavatories, etc.) are custom-made for the limited number of crew members on board. For these reasons merchant vessels are not equipped to provide assistance to a large number of migrants.

Seafarers are professionally qualified in their work and trained to handle a number of emergency situations but rescuing hundreds of men, women and children acting franticly while trying to reach the safety of the ship, is something that no training course in maritime school has prepared them for. Furthermore, the physical effort in doing everything is conceivable to rescue as many persons as possible and sometimes the view of numerous lifeless bodies floating on the sea, are a traumatic experience which leaves the crews exhausted and psychologically distressed needing specific psychological and spiritual support.

On Sea Sunday as Catholic Church we would like to express our appreciation to the seafarers in general for their fundamental contribution to the international trade. This year in particular, we would like to recognize the great humanitarian effort done by the crews of merchant vessels that without hesitation, sometimes risking their own life, have engaged in many rescuing operations saving thousands of migrants lives.

Our gratitude goes also to all the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea for their daily commitment in serving the people of the sea; their presence in the docks is the sign of the Church in their midst and shows the compassionate and merciful face of Christ.

In conclusion, while we are appealing to the governments in Europe and in the countries of origin of migration flows, as well as to the international organizations to cooperate in searching for a durable and definite political solution to the instability in those countries, we would like also to call for more resources to be committed not only for search and rescue missions but also to prevent the trafficking and exploitation of persons escaping from a condition of conflict and poverty.

 

Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò

President

                                                                                                 Joseph Kalathiparambil

                                                                                                               Secretary

 

(from Vatican Radio)