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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the World Humanitarian Summit taking place 23-24 May in Istanbul. The Summit was convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
In his message, addressed to Secretary General Ban, Pope Francis said, “I hope that your efforts may contribute in a real way to alleviating the sufferings of these millions of people” who need “protection, care and assistance, and who seek a dignified future.”
He also noted some of the difficulties in finding solutions to humanitarian crises, such as competing interests and “military, economic and geo-political strategies” that displace persons and “impose the god of money, the god of power.” And he warned about humanitarian efforts “conditioned by commercial and ideological constraints.
“For this reason,” he said, “what is needed today is a renewed commitment to protect each person in their daily life and to protect their dignity and human rights, their security and their comprehensive needs.” At the same time, he continued, “it is necessary to preserve freedom and the social and cultural identity of peoples.”
Aid for those in need must begin on a personal level, he said, but must also involve working together.
Pope Francis also said he hoped the Summit would be the occasion for recognizing the important work of many who “serve their neighbor and contribute to consoling” those who suffer.
He emphasized that love is not directed to ideas, but to persons.
Finally, Pope Francis offered a challenge to those taking part in the Summit: “let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering. Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity. Let us change our ways of life, politics, economic choices, behaviours and attitudes of cultural superiority. Learning from victims and those who suffer, we will be able to build a more humane world.”
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ Message to the World Humanitarian Summit:
To His Excellency Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General of the United Nations
I wish to greet all those taking part in this first World Humanitarian Summit, the President of Turkey together with the organizers of this meeting, and you, Mr. Secretary-General, who have called for this occasion to be a turning point for the lives of millions of people who need protection, care and assistance, and who seek a dignified future.
I hope that your efforts may contribute in a real way to alleviating the sufferings of these millions of people, so that the fruits of the Summit may be demonstrated through a sincere solidarity and a true and profound respect for the rights and dignity of those suffering due to conflicts, violence, persecution and natural disasters. In this context, the victims are those who are most vulnerable, those who live in conditions of misery and exploitation.
We cannot deny that many interests today prevent solutions to conflicts, and that military, economic and geopolitical strategies displace persons and peoples and impose the god of money, the god of power. At the same time, humanitarian efforts are frequently conditioned by commercial and ideological constraints.
For this reason, what is needed today is a renewed commitment to protect each person in their daily life and to protect their dignity and human rights, their security and their comprehensive needs. At the same time, it is necessary to preserve freedom and the social and cultural identity of peoples; without this leading to instances of isolation, it should also favour cooperation, dialogue, and especially peace.
“Leaving no one behind” and “doing one’s very best” demands that we do not give up and that we take responsibility for our decisions and actions regarding the victims themselves. First of all, we must do this in a personal way, and then together, coordinating our strengths and initiatives, with mutual respect for our various skills and areas of expertise, not discriminating but rather welcoming. In other words: there must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity, no wounded person without care, no child without a childhood, no young man or woman without a future, no elderly person without a dignified old age.
May this also be the occasion to recognize the work of those who serve their neighbour and contribute to consoling the sufferings of the victims of war and calamity, of the displaced and refugees, and who care for society, particularly through courageous choices in favour of peace, respect, healing and forgiveness. This is the way in which human lives are saved.
No one loves a concept, no one loves an idea; we love persons. Self-sacrifice, true self-giving, flows from love towards men and women, the children and elderly, peoples and communities… faces, those faces and names which fill our hearts.
Today I offer a challenge to this Summit: let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering. Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity. Let us change our ways of life, politics, economic choices, behaviours and attitudes of cultural superiority. Learning from victims and those who suffer, we will be able to build a more humane world.
I assure you my prayers, and I invoke upon all present the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
From the Vatican, 21 May 2016
(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received in audience in the Vatican on Monday the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al-Tayyib.
In a note, the Director of the Vatican Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi sj. said the approximately 30 minute meeting was “very cordial” and that the Grand Imam of Egypt “was accompanied by an important delegation, which included: Dr. Abbas Shouman, Undersecretary of Al-Azhar; Dr. Mahmaoud Hamdi Zakzouk, member of the Council of Senior Scholars of Al-Azhar University and Director of the Center for Dialogue of Al-Azhar; Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, Advisor to the Great Imam; Dr. Mohie Afifi Afifi Ahmed, secretary-general of the Islamic Research Academy; Ambassador Mahmoud Abdel Gawad, Diplomatic Advisor to the Grand Imam; Mr. Tamer Tawfik, Advisor; and Mr Ahmad Alshourbagy, Second Secretary. The delegation was accompanied by the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Holy See, Mr. Hatem Seif Elnasr.
Upon his arrival in the Vatican, the Grand Imam was welcomed, and then accompanied to his audience with the Pope, by the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Card. Jean-Louis Tauran, and by the Secretary of the same dicastery, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot.
Fr. Lombardi further states that the Pope and Grand Imam noted “the great significance of this new meeting in the framework of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam.” The two then mainly “discussed the common commitment of the authorities and the faithful of the great religions for peace in the world, the rejection of violence and terrorism, the situation of Christians in the context of conflicts and tensions in the Middle East and their protection.”
During the meeting, Pope Francis gave the Grand Imam the Medallion of the olive tree of peace and a copy of his Encyclical Letter Laudato si'.
Following his audience with the Holy Father, the Grand Imam and his delegation met briefly with Cardinal Tauran and Bishop Guixot Ayuso in another audience hall in the Apostolic Palace.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) No Christian can exist without joy: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse. The Pope stressed that even through life’s difficulties, the Christian knows he can trust in Jesus and find hope. The Pope also reminded the faithful they should not allow riches to dominate their lives because they ultimately lead to sadness.
Listen to our report:
Christians live in joy and amazement because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Commenting on the First Letter of St. Peter the Apostle, Francis pointed out that, even if we are plagued by trials, we can never lose the joy of knowing that God “regenerated us in Christ and gave us hope".
The identity card of the Christian is the joy of the Gospel
He noted that we can go towards that “hope” which "the early Christians depicted as an anchor in heaven." We too, can “ take the rope and go up there," to "that hope" that brings joy:
"A Christian is a man, or a woman, of joy: a man and a woman with joy in their heart. There is no Christian without joy!” You may be told that there are many such Christians, the Pope warned, but “they are not Christians! They say they are, but they are not! They are missing something.”
“The Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that - even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life - is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us. "
"The Christian,” he added, “grows in joy through trusting in God. God always remembers his covenant." And in turn, "the Christian knows that God remembers him, that God loves him , that God accompanies him, that God is waiting for him. And this is joy."
Slavery to riches is an evil which leads to sadness
Turning to the day’s Gospel story regarding Jesus’s encounter with the wealthy man, the Pope observed the young man “was not able to open his heart to joy [and] chose sadness," "for he had many possessions."
"He was shackled to his belongings! Jesus told us that one cannot serve two masters: either one must serve God or serve riches. Riches are not bad in themselves, but slavery to wealth – this, is wickedness. The poor young man went away sad ... 'He frowned and he went away sorrowful'. When in our parishes, in our communities, in our institutions we find people who say they are Christians and want to be Christian but are sad, something is wrong there. And we must help them to find Jesus, to take away that sadness, so that they may rejoice in the gospel, can have this joy which is truly of the Gospel. "
"Joy and amazement:" that’s what the Christian feels when faced with God’s revelation and love, and “the emotions stirred by the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis added. And here, the Pope recalled Jesus’s disappointment when he told the Apostles that the young man could not follow him, because he was too attached to his riches. And when the Apostles asked the Lord, ‘who then, can be saved?’ The Lord answered, "Impossible for men," "but not for God."
Christian joy, then, and the ability to “be saved from worldly attachments” can “only come through the power of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit."
Concluding, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord “graces us with amazement in his presence, in the presence of the many spiritual treasures he has given us; and with this amazement, may he give us joy, the joy of our lives - and of having our hearts at peace even when faced with many difficulties. And may he protect us from seeking happiness in so many things that ultimately sadden us: they promise much, but they will not give us anything! Remember well: a Christian is a man, and a woman, of joy, joy in the Lord; a man and a woman of wonder ."(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) “The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to engage in the daily events to be the leaven of communion, of consolation and of mercy.” Those were Pope Francis' words during his Angelus address on a sunny Trinity Sunday from his studio above St Peter’s Square.
Drawing inspiration from the Gospel of St. John, the Pope said that Jesus knew how to be close to the realization of the Father's plan, which will be fulfilled by his death and resurrection; “for this, Pope Francis continued, he wants to ensure his followers that he will not abandon them because his mission will be prolonged by the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Father explained that the Holy Spirit “guides us into new life situations with an eye to Jesus and, at the same time, open to events and to the future.” “He takes care of the wounded flesh of humanity from injustice, oppression, hatred and greed.”
Then the Pope described how the Trinity is a family of three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit which is not closed in on itself, but it is open,
The Trinitarian horizon of communion, said Pope Francis, “embraces us all, and encourages us to live in love and fraternal sharing, assured that where there is love, there is God.”
The Holy Father went on to say that, our being created in the image and likeness of God calls us to understand ourselves as beings living interpersonal relations in solidarity and love for one another.
Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, the Pope recalled that May 23rd sees the start of the First World Humanitarian Summit, due to take place in Istanbul, Turkey. The Holy Father prayed that the participants would fully commit themselves to the main humanitarian goal, that is, “to save the life of every human being, without exception, especially the innocent and the defenseless.”
Pope Francis also noted that on Tuesday, May 24, the Catholic faithful in China, would be celebrating their particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary "Help of Christians", venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. Let us ask Mary, he said, “ to give his children in China the ability to discern at all times the signs of the loving presence of God, who always welcomes and forgives.”
(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday urged Italian football (soccer) players to not just be champions in their sport but above all champions in their lives, by displaying key moral values such as brotherhood, mutual respect, understanding and forgiveness. His remarks came during an audience at the Vatican with top representatives of Italy’s Seria A Football League as well as players from the Juventus and AC Milan teams. The two Seria A teams play each other at the weekend in the final of the Italian cup (Coppa Italia) in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.
A keen football fan himself, Pope Francis reminded the players, that as role models for many fans, especially the young, their behaviour should always reflect “the authentic values of sport.” He said the success of a team depends on a fusion of human and moral virtues such as “harmony, loyalty, friendship, dialogue and solidarity.” By being a witness of those moral virtues, he continued, you can emphasize even more the real purpose of the world of sport that is “sometimes marred by negative episodes.”
The Pope reminded the players that they are not just footballers but first and foremost a human being, each with their own conscience, and urged them to always show “brotherhood, mutual respect, understanding and forgiveness.” “Be champions in sport but above all champions in your life,” he stressed.
Pope Francis concluded by encouraging the players to always highlight whatever is “truly good and beautiful” and to not be afraid to share and display with their fans “the moral and religious principles” on which they wish to base their life.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Announcing the word of God should never be dissociated from the understanding of human weakness. That was Pope Francis’ message during the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Gospel passage in which Christ speaks with the Pharisees about adultery, he said the Lord overcomes the human vision which would reduce the vision of God to a casuistic equation.
The Gospel, the Pope said, is full of examples of the Pharisees and the doctors of the law attempting to trap Jesus by catching Him off guard, seeking to undermine the authority and favour he enjoys with the people. One of those attempts is related in the day’s Gospel, in which the Pharisees tempt Him by asking if it is licit for a man to put away his wife.
Truth, not casuistry
Pope Francis speaks of the “trap” of “casuistry,” concocted by “a small group of enlightened theologians,” convinced that they “have all the knowledge and wisdom of the people of God.” It is a snare from which Jesus escapes, he says, by going “beyond,” “to the fullness of matrimony.” The Lord had already done so with the Sadducees, the Pope recalled, when they had questioned Him about the woman who had had seven husbands. At the resurrection, Jesus affirmed, she would not be the wife of any of them, because in heaven “they neither marry nor are given in marriage.”
In that case, the Pope said, Christ looked to the “eschatological fullness” of marriage. With the Pharisees, on the other hand, He referred to “the fullness of the harmony of creation.” “God created them male and female,” and “the two became one flesh.”
“They are no longer two, but one flesh,” and so “no human must separate what God has joined. Both in the case of the levirate marriage and in this case, Jesus responds with the overwhelming truth, with the blunt truth: This is the truth! Always from the fullness. And Jesus never negotiates with the truth. And these people, this small group of enlightened theologians, always negotiate with the truth, reducing it to casuistry. And Jesus never negotiates with the truth. And this is the truth about marriage, there is no other.
Truth and understanding
“But Jesus,” Pope Francis continued, “so merciful, He is so great, that he never, never, never, closes the door to sinners.” And so He does not limit Himself to proclaiming the truth of God, but goes on to ask the Pharisees what Moses had established in the Law. And when the Pharisees responded that Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce, Jesus replied that this was permitted “because of the hardness of your hearts.” That is, the Pope explained, Jesus always distinguished between the truth and “human weakness” without “twisting words.”
In the world in which we live, with this culture of the provisional, this reality of sin is so strong. But Jesus, recalling Moses, tells us: “But there is hardness of heart, there is sin, something can be done: forgiveness, understanding, accompaniment, integration, discernment of these cases… But always… But the truth is never sold. And Jesus is capable of stating this very great truth, and at the same time being so understanding with sinners, with the weak.
Forgiveness is not an equation
And so, Pope Francis emphasized, these are “the two things that Jesus teaches us: truth and understanding.” This is what the “enlightened theologians” fail to do, because they are closed in the trap of “a mathematical equation” of “Can it be done? Can it not be done?” and so they are “incapable both of great horizons, and of love” for human weakness. It is enough to see, the Pope concluded, the “delicacy” with which Jesus treated the adulteress woman who was about to be stoned: “Neither do I condemn you: Go forth, and sin no more.”
May Jesus teach us to have at heart a great adhesion to the truth, and also at heart a great understanding and accompaniment for all our brothers who are in difficulty. And this is a gift, this is what the Holy Spirit teaches us, not these enlightened doctors, who to teach us need to reduce the fullness of God to a casuistic equation. May the Lord give us this grace.
Listen:(from Vatican Radio)