Pakistan: Why the giant cross?

A Christian businessman has built a monument in Karachi that has sparked a controversy first and foremost in the Church: is it a religious symbol or a show of power, destined to provoke Islamists?

It is going to be the biggest cross in Asia. A giant 43-metre-high cement cross has altered Karachi’s skyline. The port city in South Pakistan is the capital city of Sindh province.

With 23 million inhabitants, Karachi is a melting pot of ethnic and religious groups which receives large influxes of migrants. The Urdu-speaking Muslim majority lives alongside minority groups such as Sindhs, Balochs, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Gujaratis, Kashmiris and over a million Afghan refugees. Then there are hundreds of thousands of Bengalis, Arabs, Iranians and Burmese Muslim refugees.

In Karachi society where there are opposing forces at play, violence reigns and criminal groups compete over the management of illegal trafficking operations. In previous years the Catholic Church raised the alarm, calling for peaceful co-existence in the region.
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By vassallomalta Posted in News

Pope assures Greek people of his closeness and calls on everyone to pray for them

Francis “wishes to communicate his closeness to the entire Greek people, with a special thought going to the many families who are experiencing serious difficulties as a result of a very complex human and social crisis that has brought much suffering”

The Pope is close to the Greek people, especially to families that have been hard hit by the crisis and he expressed the hope that the human person will remain at the centre of talks and negotiations. The Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said this in a statement to journalists.

“The news that reaches us from Greece is causing concern for the country’s economic and social situation. The Holy Father wishes to communicate his closeness to the entire Greek people, with a special thought going to the many families who are experiencing serious difficulties as a result of a very complex human and social crisis that has brought much suffering,” the Vatican spokesman said.

“The dignity of the human person must remain at the centre of all political and technical debates and motivate responsible decisions.” “Pope Francis invited all faithful to unite in prayer for the wellbeing of the beloved Greek people.”
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By vassallomalta Posted in News

Puljić: “Pope’s decision on Medjugorje will be good and right”

The Cardinal Archbishop of Sarajevo who is also one of the members of the Medjugorje inquiry Commission, has criticised the media for “twisting” the Pope’s words, making it seem like he was anticipating his decision on the apparitions

“Interpreting” the Pope’s words on Medjugorje “as conclusive” is “unacceptable”, said the Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljić – who is also a member of the Ruini Commission that has been in charge of examining the case of the apparitions in the village in Herzegovina – in an interview with Croatian political weekly 7Dnevno. And “this is precisely what certain media hastened to do… I believe Francis’ decision on Medjugorje will be good and right”.

First and foremost, Puljić commented on the significance of Pope Francis’ visit to the Bosnian capital last 6 June. “In Sarajevo, the Pope emphasised above all that the most important thing for the survival of all peoples of Bosnia-Herzegovina is the defence of human rights, tolerance and equal rights. We want to survive and stay in our homes and so it gladdens us to have the support of our Holy Father.”

“The media’s interpretations of the Pope’s statements on Medjugorje shook the spirits of faithful, pilgrims and priests who have links to that place of pilgrimage,” the cardinal added, referring to the Pope’s interview on board the return flight from Sarajevo and the words he used during one of his homilies in St. Martha’s House in the days which followed.
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By vassallomalta Posted in Comment

Francis’ return to Latin America

At the presentation of the Pope’s upcoming trip to South America, the Vatican spokesman set the record straight on the participation of gay groups at the meeting in Bolivia and the use of coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness

The first Latin American Pope in history will get the chance to spend a whole week speaking in his mother tongue. As was the case when he visited Lampedusa in Italy and Albania in Europe, Francis is to begin his visit to Latin America by visiting the continent’s poorer nations first (Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay), bearing in mind that the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro had already been scheduled by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. The Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, presented the visit in the Vatican newsroom today. Francis’ intense week-long trip to his home continent will begin on 5 July and end on 13 July.

A real “tour de force” that will involve visits to high-altitude locations, a challenge to anyone, but especially Jorge Mario Bergoglio who had to have part of his lung removed as a teenager. “We know that a journey with sudden altitude changes can be demanding, but the Pope was not the slightest bit concerned or uncertain, he wants to do this leg of the journey and he is convinced he will do it well,” Fr. Lombardi said, in answer to a question about existing concerns over the Pope’s health during his Latin American venture. “Care was taken to ensure this part of the journey is brief, avoiding an overnight stay and with a bit of enthusiasm, we should all make it,” he added.
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Francis visits Ratzinger before latter’s departure for Castel Gandolfo

Benedict XVI will spend two weeks in the papal residence at Francis’ invitation. The Pope went to pay him a visit today

At 10 o’clock this morning Pope Francis made his way over to the Mater Ecclesiae, the former convent where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resides, to greet him and wish him a pleasant stay at Castel Gandolfo. Benedict XVI left for the papal summer residence this morning and will spend two weeks here. He is expected to return to the Vatican on 14 July. The meeting and brief conversation lasted about half an hour in all.

Last year too, Pope Francis invited Benedict XVI to spend some of his summer holiday at the Castel Gandolfo residence and this year the Pope Emeritus accepted.

Joseph Ratzinger has a number of commitments this summer. On 3 July, he will receive an Honoris Causa Doctorate from the Pontifical University John Paul II and Cracow Music Economy, during a public ceremony at Castel Gandolfo.
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Francis: “All Christians have Jewish roots”

The Pope meets participants of a meeting held by the International Council of Christians and Jews on the 50th anniversary of the Council document “Nostra Aetate”, which “marks the irrevocable rejection of anti-Semitism”. “We are no longer strangers but friends, brothers and sisters”

“Christians, all Christians have Jewish roots”. Pope Francis reminded people of this in his audience with the participants of an international meeting organised by the International Council of Christians and Jews on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Council declaration, “Nostra Aetate”, which laid down new premises for the relationship between Catholics and Jews.

The Pope was glad that Rome was chosen as the city to host the meeting. Rome is the city “where the Apostles Peter and Paul are buried and both of these figures are essential reference points for all Christians: they are like “pillars” of the Church. And Rome is home to the oldest Jewish community in Western Europe, whose origins date back to the Maccabean period.”
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Vatican: Funds raised at Milan Expo will go to refugees in Jordan

The Pope decided this in co-operation of “Cor Unum”. As many as 700,000 refugees have left their homelands

The Pope in co-operation with “Cor Unum” has decided that the funds raised by the Holy See pavilion at Milan Expo 2015 will go to families of refugees in Jordan.

“According to the figures at hand, Jordan has taken in 700,000 refugees who have left behind their homelands and their homes,” the Pontifical Council for Culture writes. As many as 50,000 of them come from Iraq, including numerous children.
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By vassallomalta Posted in News

Countries in ‘global south’ more numerous among pallium recipients

The “global south” saw a greater presence than the “global north” at the pallium ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica June 29.

New archbishops named the past year represented 21 countries in the “global south,” which includes Africa, Latin America, and developing nations of Asia. Archbishops representing 13 countries in the “global north” were represented.

However, the number of prelates from both regions invited to the pallium ceremony was equal with 23 archbishops from each region for a total of 46 archbishops serving in 34 countries.

Eighteen of the archbishops serve in nine countries in Europe; 13 serve in 11 countries in the Americas; eight archbishops serve in eight countries in Africa; six serve in five countries in Asia; and one serves in Oceania.

Six archbishops serve in traditionally English-speaking countries — Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States, although the Canadian archbishop serves in French-speaking Quebec.
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By vassallomalta Posted in News

Pope to archbishops: Live what you preach, give authentic witness

Today Francis addressed archbishops during a solemn Mass celebrating the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, a centerpiece of which was the Pope’s blessing of a liturgical vestment for each of the new archbishops

Pope Francis gave a forceful message to the world’s newest Catholic archbishops Monday, telling prelates who had traveled from around the globe for a special Mass in their honor that they should live lives “coherent” with what they preach to Catholics in their dioceses.

In a homily in St. Peter’s Basilica to 46 new archbishops installed in different global cities in the past year, Francis told them bluntly: “The church wants you to be men of witness.”

“There is no witness without a coherent life,” the pontiff continued, quoting St. Francis of Assisi’s admonition to his followers: “Preach the Gospel always and, if necessary, use words.”

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Pope Francis has created a third Secretariat office at the Vatican.

It consolidates and elevates importance of the church’s various communications enterprises

Pope Francis has consolidated and elevated the level of importance of the Vatican’s different communications enterprises, creating a new high-level Secretariat for Communications tasked with carrying out work before undertaken by nine separate offices.

The new secretariat becomes only the third of its type at the highest levels of the Vatican bureaucracy, joining church departments that oversee foreign and internal relations and economic matters in importance.

Created with a papal letter known as a “motu proprio” announced in a press release Saturday, the new secretariat will consolidate the work of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center, and five other separate entities.

Francis has named Msgr. Dario Viganò, director of the television center, to serve as prefect of the new secretariat. Msgr. Lucio Ruiz, the head of the Vatican Internet Service, will serve as secretary.
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Medjugorje: No decision yet

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not held any “plenary” sessions or a “feria quarta” on the Herzegovina apparitions. Cardinals and bishops have not yet examined the case, with everything postponed until after the summer. The outcome of the discussions will be presented to the Pope who will ultimately decide. Francis has shown his appreciation for the work carried out by Ruini’s commission

No decision has been taken regarding the Medjugorje apparitions, which began in 1981 and have not yet come to an end. The institutional bodies of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have not yet met to examine the case along with the conclusions of the lengthy and important study carried out by the commission headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, which concluded its work last year.

The former Holy Office has not held any “plenary” sessions (the next one is due to take place next January). Even the “feria quarta”(a once-a-month meeting – held on a Wednesday – held by cardinals and bishops of the Congregation to examine current cases) did not deal with Medjugorje. The last “feria quarta” was took place on 17 June, authoritative Congregation sources revealed. The next meeting will be held after the summer, possibly after the Synod has ended. This means no announcement is to be expected before autumn 2015.
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13th Sunday of Ordinary Time B

Reading I: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Responsorial Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.” (Gospel)

Parental Pains

Daniel Berrigan was once asked: “Where does your faith reside, where’s its real seat?” His answer is wonderful, both in color and insight: “Your faith is rarely where your head is at and rarely where your heart is at. Your faith is where your ass is at! Inside what commitments are you sitting? Within what reality do you anchor yourself?”

Faith, in his view, is not anchored in the head or the heart. But how is that possible? If it isn’t in the head or the heart, where is it?

From Aristotle, through Thomas Aquinas, through contemporary philosophy and psychology, analysts have generally agreed that, as human beings, we have three major spiritual faculties: head, heart, and gut, each with a special function. In our heads, we think. In our hearts, we feel. What happens in the gut? In the gut, we know, just simply know, in a way beyond thoughts and feelings. The gut has to do with intuition, it lets us know what we “have to do.” It’s there that we experience the categorical imperatives within our lives.
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Vatican signs treaty with ‘State of Palestine’, calls for two-state solution

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s “foreign minister”, said the agreement “may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

The Vatican on Friday signed a comprehensive agreement formally recognizing the “State of Palestine,” following 15 years of negotiations on a bilateral accord that is said to provide juridical recognition for Catholic churches and call for a two-state solution with Israel on the basis of their borders in 1967.

Announcement of the agreement comes about a month after the Vatican had said the agreement was in its final stages, which, in turn, led to the Israeli foreign ministry expressing disappointment over the move.

The text of the accord is not yet available. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican prelate who serves essentially as the pope’s foreign minister, said in a statement that it was his hope that the agreement “may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
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Organizers for meeting of families expect 1.5 million for papal Mass

More than 1.5 million people are expected for the Mass with Pope Francis in Philadelphia this September, said organizers of the next World Meeting of Families.

A high-level delegation from Philadelphia, led by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, was in Rome as of June 22 to meet with Vatican officials, review some of the planning and promote the weeklong congress.

At a Vatican news conference June 25, Archbishop Chaput said the highlight for the delegation was meeting the pope after the general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 24. During their brief exchange, the pope noted that the World Meeting of Families was only three months away, the archbishop said, holding up three fingers in imitation of the pope’s gesture.

As of June 15, about 12,000 people were registered for the Sept. 22-25 congress, which will feature dozens of speakers on an array of issues affecting family life, Archbishop Chaput said. Held every three years in a different city, this year’s theme is “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”
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Chaldean Patriarch gambles on re-establishing the “Oriental Church”

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael suggests ditching the heads of the three ecclesial communities that derive from this ancient institution, so that they may enter into communion once again and deal with emergencies together

He didn’t shout it about but the proposal made by Patriarch Louis Raphael, Primate of the Chaldean Church was still shocking: doing away with the three Patriarchates rooted in the ancient Oriental Church – the first Church to bring Christianity to Persia, India and even faraway China – and unifying the three ecclesial communities, bringing them under the leadership of one single Patriarch.

This is a delicate moment for the three local ecclesial communities of Mesopotamia as their very existence is at risk in their own homeland. The Chaldean Church, which is the largest and tied to the Apostolic See in Rome, has been haemorrhaging faithful since the US-led western military invasions took place. It is losing faithful in Iraq and as such Christians risk extinction in areas where it has been present for thousands of years. For decades now, most of the faithful belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East have lived in flourishing diaspora communities spread across America, Europe and Oceania. This Church is going through a delicate transition phase: after Patriarch Mar Dikha IV’s death last 26 March, the election of a successor was put off until September, while the re-transferral of the Patriarchal See from Chicago – where the Patriarch migrated to as an “exile” in 1940 – to Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is at stake. Meanwhile, the minority Ancient Church of the East – created in 1964 as the result of a schism in the Assyrian Church of the East, currently headed by Patriarch Mar Addai II, who is resident in Baghdad – faces re-unification after a proposal presented by Assyrian bishops.
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By vassallomalta Posted in Analysis

Pope’s Morning Homily: A True Prophet Knows How to Listen

Warns of ‘Pseudo-Prophets’ Who Do Not Practice What They Preach During Mass at Casa Santa Marta

“To do, to listen and to speak: these are the three signs of a true prophet.”

This was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta. According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of St. Matthew, in which Jesus warns of “pseudo-prophets.”

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers’”, Jesus says.

The Pope said that there are three main criteria to distinguish true prophets from ‘pseudo-prophets'; from true preachers of the Gospel and from “those who preach a Gospel that is not a Gospel.”

The three criteria, he said, were speaking, doing and listening. Referring to Jesus’ words that “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven”, the Pope said that despite their ability to speak, they lack the ability to practice what they preach and to listen.
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Synod: Discussions over the divorced, gay persons and pre-marital unions

The “Instrumentum laboris”, or working document for the October Synod, also deals with poverty, ecology and migration. The “family Gospel” “shouldn’t be oppressive”. And its recalls the Jubilee of mercy which follows straight after

The “family Gospel” must “give hope, not be oppressive”: Yesterday the Vatican published the working document for the coming October Synod. The document incorporates the conclusions of last year’s extraordinary assembly, once again triggering the debate on a number of issues relating to the family, from the problem of remarried divorcees to the issue of gay people, from the rejection of abortion to the need to involve women and families in the training of priests in the seminaries. The document also recalls that the celebration of the coming Synod takes place in the context of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy called by Pope Francis, which will begin on 8 December 2015.”

The document incorporates the final report issued following the extraordinary assembly which concluded last October. Only three sections did not obtain the required two-thirds majority for approval: the one on remarried divorcees (52), the one on spiritual communion for remarried divorcees (53) and the one about homosexual persons (55). The Synod’s secretariat proceeded to send out a questionnaire to dioceses around the world, to gather suggestions with regard to the assembly’s conclusions and once these were gathered, they were incorporated into the “Instrumentum laboris” presented today, along with quotes from the General Audiences which Pope Francis has been dedicating to the family each Wednesday. The document reliably “reflects the entire Church’s perception and expectations on the crucial subject of the family,”Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri , the Synod’s secretary, said in a press conference for the presentation of the document.
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By vassallomalta Posted in Synod

ICCJ concerned over possible beatification of Fr Leon Dehon

Process previously blocked by Benedict XVI because of anti-Semitism allegations

The June Bulletin of the ICCJ (International Conference of Christians and Jews) – the umbrella organisation of 40 national Jewish-Christian dialogue organisations worldwide which is holding an international meeting in Rome this coming week – has published a statement from its French constituency, expressing its concerns over the possible beatification of the founder of the Dehonians, Father Lèon Dehon.The statement by the Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne de France (AJCF) confirms its “grave concerns about Dehon’s anti-Semitic writings, and about the negative implications of such a beatification for Jewish-Catholic relations.”

“Pope Francis has recently indicated his desire to proceed with beatifying the French priest Léon Dehon, whose sainthood process was earlier halted by Pope Benedict XVI” states the ICCJ’s General Secretary, Anette Adelmann. “The Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne de France (AJCF) has expressed grave concerns about Dehon’s anti-Semitic writings, and about the negative implications of such a beatification for Jewish-Catholic relations” she says.
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By vassallomalta Posted in News