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Pope Francis addresses catechists and teachers

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met catechists and teachers at the Munyonyo shrine situated some 40 kilometres south of the Uganda capital, Kampala. In his brief address to the gathering, he encouraged them to persevere in their “rewarding” but “not easy” work and be not just teachers but also "a witness" through their example.

Please find below an English translation of the Pope’s prepared remarks to the catechists and teachers:  


Greeting to Catechists

Kampala, Munyonyo

Friday, 27 November 2015


Dear Catechists and Teachers, Dear Friends,

                I greet you with affection in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Teacher.

                 “Teacher!”  What a beautiful name this is!  Jesus is our first and greatest teacher.  Saint Paul tells us that Jesus gave his Church not only apostles and pastors, but also teachers, to build up the whole body in faith and love.  Together with the bishops, priests and deacons who are ordained to preach the Gospel and care for the Lord’s flock, you, as catechists, play an outstanding part in bringing the Good News to every village and homestead in your country.

                I wish before all else, to thank you for the sacrifices which you and your families make, and for the zeal and devotion with which you carry out your important task.  You teach what Jesus taught, you instruct adults and help parents to raise their children in the faith, and you bring the joy and hope of eternal life to all.  Thank you for your dedication, your example, your closeness to God’s people in their daily lives, and all the many ways you plant and nurture the seeds of faith throughout this vast land.  Thank you especially for teaching our children and young people how to pray.

                I know that your work, although rewarding, is not easy.  So I encourage you to persevere, and I ask your bishops and priests to support you with a doctrinal, spiritual and pastoral formation capable of making you ever more effective in your outreach.  Even when the task seems too much, the resources too few, the obstacles too great, it should never be forgotten that yours is a holy work.  The Holy Spirit is present wherever the name of Christ is proclaimed.  He is in our midst whenever we lift up our hearts and minds to God in prayer.  He will give you the light and strength you need!  The message you bring will take root all the more firmly in people’s hearts if you are not only a teacher but also a witness.  Your example should speak to everyone of the beauty of prayer, the power of mercy and forgiveness, the joy of sharing in the Eucharist with all our brothers and sisters.

                The Christian community in Uganda grew strong through the witness of the martyrs.  They testified to the truth which sets men free; they were willing to shed their blood to be faithful to what they knew was good and beautiful and true.  We stand here today in Munyonyo at the place where King Mwanga determined to wipe out the followers of Christ.  He failed in this, just as King Herod failed to kill Jesus.  The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it (cf. Jn 1:5).  After seeing the fearless testimony of Saint Andrew Kaggwa and his companions, Christians in Uganda became even more convinced of Christ’s promises. 

                May Saint Andrew, your patron, and all the Ugandan catechist martyrs, obtain for you the grace to be wise teachers, men and women whose every word is filled with grace, convincing witnesses to the splendour of God’s truth and the joy of the Gospel!  Go forth without fear to every town and village in this country, to spread the good seed of God’s word, and trust in his promise that you will come back rejoicing, with sheaves full from the harvest. 

                Omukama Abawe Omukisa!      (God bless you!)

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: address to diplomats and Ugandan authorities

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday addressed diplomats and leading figures from Uganda society and encouraged them to “ensure good and transparent governance, integral human development and a wide and just distribution” of Africa’s goods. Referring to Uganda’s famous martyrs, the Pope said they were a reminder of “the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played and continue to play” in the life of the nation.  In his address, Pope Francis praised Uganda’s “outstanding concern” for welcoming refugees and said how we deal with them “is a test of our humanity.”


Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks to diplomats and the Ugandan authorities delivered at the State House of Entebbe:


Mr President,

Honourable Members of Government,

Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

My Brother Bishops,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


                I thank you for your gracious welcome, and I am happy to be in Uganda.  My visit to your country is meant above all to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs by my predecessor, Pope Paul VI.  But I hope that my presence here will also be seen as a sign of friendship, esteem and encouragement for all the people of this great nation. 

                The Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, are true national heroes.  They bear witness to the guiding principles expressed in Uganda’s motto – For God and My Country.  They remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, and continue to play, in the cultural, economic and political life of this country.  They also remind us that, despite our different beliefs and convictions, all of us are called to seek the truth, to work for justice and reconciliation, and to respect, protect and help one another as members of our one human family.  These high ideals are particularly demanded of men and women like yourselves, who are charged with ensuring good and transparent governance, integral human development, a broad participation in national life, as well as a wise and just distribution of the goods which the Creator has so richly bestowed upon these lands.

                My visit is also meant to draw attention to Africa as a whole, its promise, its hopes, its struggles and its achievements.  The world looks to Africa as the continent of hope.  Uganda has indeed been blessed by God with abundant natural resources, which you are challenged to administer as responsible stewards.  But above all, the nation has been blessed in its people: its strong families, its young and its elderly.  I look forward to my meeting tomorrow with the young, for whom I will have words of encouragement and challenge.  How important it is that they be given hope, opportunities for education and gainful employment, and above all the opportunity to share fully in the life of society.  But I also wish to mention the blessing which you have in the elderly.  They are the living memory of every people.  Their wisdom and experience should always be valued as a compass which can enable society to find the right direction in confronting the challenges of the present with integrity, wisdom and vision.

                Here in East Africa, Uganda has shown outstanding concern for welcoming refugees, enabling them to rebuild their lives in security and to sense the dignity which comes from earning one’s livelihood through honest labour.  Our world, caught up in wars, violence, and various forms of injustice, is witnessing an unprecedented movement of peoples.  How we deal with them is a test of our humanity, our respect for human dignity, and above all our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need.

                Although my visit is brief, I hope to encourage the many quiet efforts being made to care for the poor, the sick and those in any kind of trouble.  It is in these small signs that we see the true soul of a people.  In so many ways, our world is growing closer; yet at the same time we see with concern the globalization of a “throwaway culture” which blinds us to spiritual values, hardens our hearts before the needs of the poor, and robs our young of hope.

                As I look forward to meeting you and spending this time with you, I pray that you, and all the beloved Ugandan people, will always prove worthy of the values which have shaped the soul of your nation.  Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s richest blessings.


                Mungu awabariki!         

                God bless you!

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope leaves Kenyans with a message of encouragement and hope

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has concluded the first leg of his Apostolic Journey to Africa, travelling from Kenya to Uganda on Friday afternoon. The Holy Father will conclude his first visit to Africa with a stop in the Central African Republic, where he will arrive Sunday evening before returning to Rome the next day.

Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni was in Kenya with the Holy Father. She sent this wrap-up of the Pope’s visit:


What will we remember most of Pope Francis’ visit after his farewell to the Kenyan people at Nairobi airport?

Of course his repeated appeals to authorities and policy-makers to bridge the gap between rich and poor, to protect African women and to nurture the youth, his urgent call to step up the war on climate change, his plea for unity between different faiths in the fight against terrorism.

But more than that, Kenyans say they will remember how his words and his gestures touched them personally and individually.

That’s because, for whom he is and in virtue of his very special human touch, Pope Francis never spoke to the people from a pedestal; he listened to what they were saying and responded with the understanding and sensitivity of a person who really cares for the life and the story of each individual.

A Kenyan teacher I spoke to at the end of the visit on Friday told me the people in Kangemi slum felt so blessed – yes, that’s a word they use a lot here in Kenya – because they did not even have to go to see him, he came to them.

So, I think what people here will remember most will be the fact that Francis brought joy and prayer, he shared their sorrows, their troubles and their hopes, he visibly enjoyed their great dancing, singing and sense of rhythm, he thanked them for welcoming him and told them he felt very much at home.

And in a country where corruption and collusion are seen as prime evils corrupting the system to the tangible detriment of the people, his shining example as an authentic and humble leader who shuns the trappings of wealth and materialism serves not only as an admonition, but is - above all - a powerful sign of encouragement on the path to making the world a better place.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis meets Kenyan youth

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with young people at the  Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on Friday morning where he addressed issues including corruption and tribalism.

Click below to hear the integral audio recording of the Holy Father's remarks to Kenya's young people

Below find a section from the Pope's words to youth at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi. 

Thank you very much for the Rosaries you brought for me, thank you for your presence, your enthusiastic presence here. Thank you Lynette and thank you Manuel.

I ask myself something on the basis of all the questions that were asked by Lynette and Manuel. Why do divisions, wars and deaths occur? Fanatism, and divisions among young people? Why is there that desire to destroy? In the first page of the Bible, after all those wonderful things that the Lord had done , a brother kills another brother. The spirit of evil takes us to destruction and the spirit of evil takes us to a lack of unity, it takes us to tribalism, corruption and drugs. It takes us to a destruction out of fanatism. How do we make it such fanatical idealism doesn’t take us to be robbed of a brother or a sister. There is a word which might uncomfortable to the ear, but I don’t want to avoid it. You know it before me. You showed this word when you brought these expressions of Rosaries that you brought for me. The Bishop used it in the preparations with prayers for this meeting today. A man or a woman loses the worst of their humanity when they forget how to pray, because they feel powerful, because they don’t feel the need to ask the Lord for help in the face of so many tragedies. Life is full of difficulties, but there are different ways of looking at difficulties or you see that something that destroys stops you , or you regard them as a real opportunity. To all of you is open the choice, for me is this a path of destruction or is it an opportunity to overcome this difficulty for me, for a member of my family and for this country? Young people we don’t live in heaven, we live on earth and earth is full of difficulties and not only of opportunities but sometimes invitations that will lead you astray towards evil. But there is something that all of you have which is big, the capacity to choose. Which path do you want to choose? Which of these two do I want? To choose the path of difficulty and division or the path of opportunity, opportunity to overcome myself and overcome difficulties . There are some other difficulties which you mentioned which are real challenges and before that a question. Do you want to overcome challenges or be overcome by them? You’re like the sportsmen who come here, the women and men, all those who sold the ticket to others and have put the money in their pockets. You have to choose. Lynette mentioned challenge, tribalism, it can destroy, it can mean having your hands hidden behind your backs and having a stone in each hand to throw to others. Tribalism can only become with the ear, with the heart and with your hand. With your ear. What is your culture, why are you like this? Why do your cousins have these customs? Do they feel inferior or superior and with a heart? Once we’ve heard the response with our ears then it passes through to our hearts and then I extend my hand. If you don’t dialogue with each other, if you don’t listen to each other, then you’re going to have the division like dust, like a worm that grows in society. Yesterday was pronounced as a day of prayer and reconciliation. I want to invite you all today, to the young to you, to invite Lynette and Manuel to come up now and that we hold each other’s hands, lets hold hands together, lets stand up as a sign against bad tribalism. We’re all a nation, We are all a nation! That’s how are hearts must be. Tribalism isn’t just raising our hearts today, it’s an expression of our desire, of our hearts and this tribalism is a work that we must carry out every day against this tendency, to overcome this tendency of tribalism, it is a daily endeavour . It’s a work of the ear, you have to listen to others, it’s a work of opening your heart to others and it’s a work of your hands, you offer your hands to others.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope brings courage and hope to slum dwellers in Nairobi

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began his last day today in Kenya with a visit to slum dwellers in the heart of Nairobi. Speaking to the inhabitants of Kangemi slum he reminded them the Lord never forgets them.

In a hard-hitting appeal he asked for social inclusion, education, protection for families – a response to what he called the consequences of new forms of colonization.

In Nairobi, Linda Bordoni reports


There are approximately 2.5 million slum dwellers in Nairobi representing 60% of the city’s population and occupying just 6% of the land.

One of the slums is called Kibera – it’s the biggest and most populated slum in the world.

But organizers have chosen to host Pope Francis’s visit is Kangemi. It’s known as “Nairobi’s friendly slum” because it is less dangerous – less harrowing in its desperate poverty – than some of the other 6 slums in the city.

The Pope’s visit to Kangemi was the first official event on this last day of his in Kenya. For him – I suspect – perhaps the most important and poignant as he has made walking with the poor a top priority of his pontificate right from the very beginning.

As Pope Francis’ pope-mobile bumped its way down the potholed dirt road taking him to the Church of St Joseph the Worker I couldn’t help but wonder whether he knows that that road has especially been improved for the occasion and that the other roads in the area are much worse. I am sure he does.

The Jesuit-led Church where parishioners and a selection of slum dwellers from all the other slums of the city spruced up to welcome him is small and simple. Just the kind of place I think Pope Francis feels at home in.

Speaking in his own Spanish, Pope Francis told those present they have a special place in his life, he said he knows their joys, their hopes and their sorrows: “How can I not denounce the injustices which you suffer?”

And although he was close and familiar in his attitude and unspoken body language, his words contained strong socio-political overtones as he talked of the dreadful injustice of urban exclusion and of the “wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries”.

As he always had since his arrival here in Kenya, the Pope visibly appreciated the beautiful singing and dancing put on for him. This is something observers keep commenting on at every occasion. What many don’t realize it’s part of life here. Much more than entertainment, this is how Africans across the continent communicate emotions, celebrate rites of passage, and help strengthen the bonds between communities and tribes.

But there was time for more as well: being together, holding hands, embracing children. And lots of hope.

 Hope that the government will continue to listen to the people and heed Pope Francis’ urgent call to give all families dignified housing, access to drinking water, a toilet, reliable streets, squares, schools, hospitals, areas for sport, recreation and art.

The basic services each person deserves on the basis of his or her infinite human dignity.

In Nairobi with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni


(from Vatican Radio)

Pope in Kenya: we must choose to improve or destroy the environment

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday addressed the United Nations family in Nairobi encouraging its staff to pursue its work for human development and protection of the environment for the common good.

He urged them to listen to “the cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself, a cry that needs to be heard by the international community.

In Nairobi, Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni reports:

Even before crossing the threshold of the United Nations Office at Nairobi headquarters on Thursday, Pope Francis planted a tree in the UN Compound garden.

A simple, symbolic act, so meaningful in many cultures.

And that’s exactly how the Pope set the tone for his eagerly awaited address to the UN and its Agencies that are entrusted to work for a better human future and to care for the environment.

Singled out as one of the highlights of Pope Francis’ Kenya visit just days before Climate Change talks in Paris, and just as a new report warns that 2015 could be the hottest year on record, those present knew Francis was not going to mince his words.

“In this international context – he said – we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment”.

Quoting frequently from his encyclical “Laudato Sì". On Care for our Common Home”, Francis immediately shone the light on the need for leaders and policymakers to urgently reach “a global and transformational agreement based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation”.

“An agreement – he continued – which targets three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity”.

And in hard hitting words the Pope went on to speak of how economy and politics need to be placed at the service of peoples, not for profit and to the detriment of the poor.

He called for an adoption of a culture of care as opposed to the current “throwaway” culture of waste where – he said – “people use and discard themselves, others and the environment” with far reaching consequences especially on the weakest members of our one human family.

And forgetting nothing and no one Pope Francis reminded his listeners of the rising numbers of migrants fleeing from growing poverty aggravated by environmental degradation.

He spoke of the effects of social breakdown in urban settlements: violence, drug abuse and trafficking, loss of identity.

He shone the light on the exploitation and illegal trade of natural resources – specifically mentioning ivory trafficking and the killing of elephants!

Pope Francis full heartedly decried the fact we are growing accustomed to the suffering of others, and said: “We have no right”.

“We are faced – he said - with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development”.

But it wasn’t all darkness. “Human beings – the Pope said – while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start”.

“May humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century – Pope Francis appealed - be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.”

And coming back to the tree, as Francis mentioned at the very beginning: it’s a simple gesture and a powerful invitation to continue the battle against deforestation and desertification as well as an incentive to keep trusting, hoping and working to reverse situations of injustice and deterioration”.

In Nairobi with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni


(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: speech to UN officials in Nairobi

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday afternoon spoke about the importance of safeguarding the environment and ensuring a just distribution of the earth’s wealth as he address directors and staff of the United Nations Offices in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The Pope said Africa offers the world a beauty and natural richness which inspire praise of the Creator. This patrimony of Africa and of all mankind, he said “is constantly exposed to the risk of destruction caused by human selfishness of every type and by the abuse of situations of poverty and exclusion”. 

In the context of economic relationships between States and between peoples, he continued “we cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in turn lead to greater poverty and exclusion.  Illegal trade in diamonds and precious stones, rare metals or those of great strategic value, wood, biological material and animal products, such as ivory trafficking and the relative killing of elephants, fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism”.  This situation, Pope Francis said, “is a cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself, one which needs to be heard by the international community”.

On his way to the meeting, the Pope symbolically planted a tree, which he described as “an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification” in order to safeguard the future of humanity. He also highlighted the importance of the upcoming international conference in Paris on climate change which he said is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day”.

Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations Office at Nairobi


I would like to thank Madame Sahle-Work Zewde, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, for her kind invitation and words of welcome, as well as Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Mr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat.  I take this occasion to greet the personnel and all those associated with the institutions who are here present.

On my way to this hall, I was asked to plant a tree in the park of the United Nations Centre.  I was happy to carry out this simple symbolic act, which is so meaningful in many cultures.

Planting a tree is first and foremost an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification.  It reminds us of the importance of safeguarding and responsibly administering those “richly biodiverse lungs of our planet”, which include, on this continent, “the Congo basins”, a place essential “for the entire earth and for the future of humanity”.  It also points to the need to appreciate and encourage “the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which draw public attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure, to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests” (Laudato Si’, 38).

Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience.

In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues.  It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.

In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.  Every step we take, whether large or small, individual or collective, in caring for creation opens a sure path for that “generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings” (ibid., 211).

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”; “climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (ibid., 23 and 25).  Our response to this challenge “needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged” (ibid., 93).  For “the misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion” (Address to the United Nations, 25 September 2015).

COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.  We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development.

The Paris Agreement can give a clear signal in this direction, provided that, as I stated before the UN General Assembly, we avoid “every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences.  We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective” (ibid.).  For this reason, I express my hope that COP21 will achieve a global and “transformational” agreement based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation; an agreement which targets three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity.

For all the difficulties involved, there is a growing “conviction that our planet is a homeland and that humanity is one people living in a common home” (Laudato Si’, 164).  No country “can act independently of a common responsibility.  If we truly desire positive change, we have to humbly accept our interdependence” (Address to Popular Movements, 9 July 2015).  The problem arises whenever we think of interdependence as a synonym for domination, or the subjection of some to the interests of others, of the powerless to the powerful.

What is needed is sincere and open dialogue, with responsible cooperation on the part of all: political authorities, the scientific community, the business world and civil society.  Positive examples are not lacking; they demonstrate that a genuine cooperation between politics, science and business can achieve significant results.

At the same time we believe that “human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start” (Laudato Si’, 205).  This conviction leads us to hope that, whereas the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, “humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities” (ibid., 165).  If this is to happen, the economy and politics need to be placed at the service of peoples, with the result that “human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life”.  Far from an idealistic utopia, this is a realistic prospect which makes the human person and human dignity the point of departure and the goal of everything (cf. Address to Popular Movements, 9 July 2015).

This much-needed change of course cannot take place without a substantial commitment to education and training.  Nothing will happen unless political and technical solutions are accompanied by a process of education which proposes new ways of living.  A new culture.  This calls for an educational process which fosters in boys and girls, women and men, young people and adults, the adoption of a culture of care – care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment – in place of a culture of waste, a “throw-away culture” where people use and discard themselves, others and the environment.  By promoting an “awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of the future to be shared with everyone”, we will favour the development of new convictions, attitudes and lifestyles.  “A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal” (Laudato Si’, 202).  We still have time.

Many are the faces, the stories and the evident effects on the lives of thousands of persons whom the culture of deterioration and waste has allowed to be sacrificed before the idols of profits and consumption.  We need to be alert to one sad sign of the “globalization of indifference”: the fact that we are gradually growing accustomed to the suffering of others, as if it were something normal (cf. Message for World Food Day, 16 October 2013, 2), or even worse, becoming resigned to such extreme and scandalous kinds of “using and discarding” and social exclusion as new forms of slavery, human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and trafficking in organs.  “There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty aggravated by environmental degradation.  They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever” (Laudato Si’, 25).  Many lives, many stories, many dreams have been shipwrecked in our day.  We cannot remain indifferent in the face of this.  We have no right.

Together with neglect of the environment, we have witnessed for some time now a rapid process of urbanization, which in many cases has unfortunately led to a “disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities which have become unhealthy to live in [and] inefficient” (ibid., 44).  There we increasingly see the troubling symptoms of a social breakdown which spawns “increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, loss of identity” (ibid., 46), a lack of rootedness and social anonymity (cf. ibid., 149).

Here I would offer a word of encouragement to all those working on the local and international levels to ensure that the process of urbanization becomes an effective means for development and integration.  This means working to guarantee for everyone, especially those living in outlying neighbourhoods, the basic rights to dignified living conditions and to land, lodging and labour.  There is a need to promote projects of city planning and maintenance of public areas which move in this direction and take into consideration the views of local residents; this will help to eliminate the many instances of inequality and pockets of urban poverty which are not simply economic but also, and above all, social and environmental.  The forthcoming Habitat-III Conference, planned for Quito in October 2016, could be a significant occasion for identifying ways of responding to these issues.

In a few days, Nairobi will host the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization.  In 1967, my predecessor Pope Paul VI, contemplating an increasingly interdependent world and foreseeing the current reality of globalization, reflected on how commercial relationships between States could prove a fundamental element for the development of peoples or, on the other hand, a cause of extreme poverty and exclusion (Populorum Progressio, 56-62).  While recognizing that much has been done in this area, it seems that we have yet to attain an international system of commerce which is equitable and completely at the service of the battle against poverty and exclusion.  Commercial relationships between States, as an indispensable part of relations between peoples, can do as much to harm the environment as to renew it and preserve it for future generations.

It is my hope that the deliberations of the forthcoming Nairobi Conference will not be a simple balancing of conflicting interests, but a genuine service to care of our common home and the integral development of persons, especially those in greatest need.  I would especially like to echo the concern of all those groups engaged in projects of development and health care – including those religious congregations which serve the poor and those most excluded – with regard to agreements on intellectual property and access to medicines and essential health care.  Regional free trade treaties dealing with the protection of intellectual property, particularly in the areas of pharmaceutics and biotechnology, should not only maintain intact the powers already granted to States by multilateral agreements, but should also be a means for ensuring a minimum of health care and access to basic treatment for all.  Multilateral discussions, for their part, should allow poorer countries the time, the flexibility and the exceptions needed for them to comply with trade regulations in an orderly and relatively smooth manner.  Interdependence and the integration of economies should not bear the least detriment to existing systems of health care and social security; instead, they should promote their creation and good functioning.  Certain health issues, like the elimination of malaria and tuberculosis, treatment of so-called orphan diseases, and neglected sectors of tropical medicine, require urgent political attention, above and beyond all other commercial or political interests.

Africa offers the world a beauty and natural richness which inspire praise of the Creator.  This patrimony of Africa and of all mankind is constantly exposed to the risk of destruction caused by human selfishness of every type and by the abuse of situations of poverty and exclusion.  In the context of economic relationships between States and between peoples, we cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in turn lead to greater poverty and exclusion.  Illegal trade in diamonds and precious stones, rare metals or those of great strategic value, wood, biological material and animal products, such as ivory trafficking and the relative killing of elephants, fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism.  This situation too is a cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself, one which needs to be heard by the international community.

In my recent visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, I expressed the desire and hope that the work of the United Nations and of all its multilateral activities may be “the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations.  And so it will, if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good” (Address to the UN, 25 September 2015).

Once again I express the support of the Catholic community, and my own, to continue to pray and work that the fruits of regional cooperation, expressed today in the African Union and the many African agreements on commerce, cooperation and development, may be vigorously pursued and always take into account the common good of the sons and daughters of this land.

May the blessing of the Most High be with each of you and your peoples.  Thank you.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis to Kenya's clergy: the joy of service

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a special meeting with clergy, religious men and women, and seminarians at St. Mary's School in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday. Putting aside his prepared text, the Holy Father spoke of the joy of a life of radical service to the Gospel and of the radical faithfulness to Christ that is the guarantee of happiness and success in ordained ministry and consecrated discipleship.

An official transcript of the Pope Francis' extemporaneous remarks is being prepared.

In the meantime, we offer you the integral audio recording of the Holy Father's address, with side-by-side English translation provided by the Holy Father's official translator, Msgr. Mark Miles. 

Click below to hear the Holy Father's remarks in Spanish, with side-by-side translation into English by Msgr. Mark Miles

(from Vatican Radio)

Full text of Pope Francis' powerful, unscripted talk with Kenya's youth

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 27, 2015 / 12:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An impassioned Pope Francis went off-the-cuff in a vast, widespread speech to Kenyan youth, touching on challenging topics such as how to stop youth from being recruited to terrorist activities. The encounter fell on the Pope’s last day in Kenya. His Nov. 25-27 visit to the country was part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic later this week. Before meeting the youth, Francis traveled to Nairobi’s slum-neighborhood of Kangemi, where he praised those he met for their strong emphasis on community and relationships and condemned what he called a vacuous, “unbridled consumption” that often plagues the West. In his speech to youth, the Pope responded in Spanish to questions posed by youths Lineth and Manuel, who gave their testimonies on current challenges they face, including issues stemming from corruption, tribalism, and the radicalization of youth who are recruited into terrorist activities. Francis in response delivered lengthy, powerful answers with his own anecdotes, revealing that he carries a rosary and a pocket-sized Stations of the Cross with him every day, which he said keep him from losing hope. Below please find CNA’s full transcript of the Pope’s speech in Spanish, assisted by the simultaneous translation of Pope Francis’ official translator, Msgr. Mark Miles: Thank you very much for the rosary you prayed for me. Thank you for your enthusiastic presence here. I have something to say on the basis of all the questions asked by Lineth and Manuel. (In response to Lineth’s questions): Why do divisions, wars and death occur? Fanaticism and divisions among young people? Why is there that desire to destroy? In the first page of the Bible, after all those wonderful things that the Lord had done, a brother kills another brother. The spirit of evil takes us to destruction. And the spirit takes us to a lack of unity. It takes us to tribalism corruption and drugs. It takes us to destruction out of fanaticism. How do we make it such that fanatical idealism doesn’t rob us of a brother or sister. There is a word that might seem uncomfortable to the ear but i don’t want to avoid it. A man or a woman loses their humanity when they forget how to pray. Because they feel powerful. Because they don’t feel the need to ask the Lord for help, in the face of so many tragedies. Life is full of difficulties. Are there different ways of looking at difficulties? Does it stop you, or do you regard them as as real opportunity? To all of you is open the choice. For me, is this a path of destruction or an opportunity to overcome this difficulty for me, my family, this country? Young people: we don’t live in heaven, we live on earth. And earth is full of difficulties and invitations that will lead you astray to evil. But there is something all of you have. The capacity to choose. Which path do you want to choose? Which of these two do I want? There are some other difficulties you mention. And before that a question. Do you want to overcome challenges or be overcome by them? Are you like the sportsman who come here (to the stadium). Or those who sold the tickets to others and put the money in their pockets. You have to choose. Tribalism. It can destroy. It can mean having your hands hidden behind your backs. And have a stone in each hand to throw to others. Tribalism can only be overcome with your ear, your heart, and your hand. (Ask yourselves): What is your culture? Why are you like this? Why do your cousins have these customs? Do they feel inferior or superior? Once we’ve heard the response in our ears than it passes to our hearts and then I extend my hand. If you don’t dialogue with each other then you’re going to have division like a worm that grows in society Yesterday was pronounced as a day of prayer and reconciliation. I want to invite you all today, to the young, to invite Lineth and Manuel to come up now, and that we hold each other’s hands, let’s hold hands together. Let’s stand up as a sign against tribalism. We are all a nation, that’s how our hearts must be. Tribalism isn’t just raising our hands today, it’s an expression of our desire, our hearts, and this tribalism is a work we must carry out every day against this tendency. You have to listen to others, it’s a work of opening your heart. (On the question of corruption): I ask myself, can we justify corruption? Just for the mere fact that everyone is corrupt? How can we be christians and overcome this evil of corruption? In my country a young 20 year old dedicated himself to politics. He studied with great vigor he went here and there and he obtained a job. And one day he had to decide: about which things he had to buy. And he asked for three quotes. He studied these three quotes and chose the cheapest, the easiest, and he took it to his boss so his boss could sign off on it and he said why do you choose this one? (He replied) because you have to choose what is easiest for the finances of a country. No (his boss replied) you have to choose that which gives more money in your pocket. But I came to carry out politics for the good of the nation (the young man said), and the boss replied: I do politics to rob, to steal. One example and it’s not just in politics, in all areas of life, also in the Vatican. These are cases of corruption. Corruption is something that eats inside, like sugar. Sweet, we like it, it’s easy. And then we end up in a bad way. So much sugar that we end up being diabetic or our country ends up being diabetic. Each time when we accept a bribe and we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts. we destroy our personalities, and we destroy our country. Please, don’t develop that taste for that sugar which is called corruption. You might say ‘but Holy Father, I see many who are corrupt. I see so many people who are sold. Just for a little bit of money. Without worrying about the livelihood of others.’ As in everything you have to make a start. If you don’t want corruption in lives, hearts and country, start now, yourselves. Because if you don’t start than the person that’s beside you won’t start. Corruption moreover takes away our joy, our peace. Corrupt people don’t live in peace. What I’m about to tell you really happened. In my city, my home town, a man died and we all knew that he was corrupt. I asked a few days after, ‘how did the funeral go’? And a lady with a great sense of humor replied: ‘they couldn’t close the coffin properly because they wanted to put inside the coffin all the money he had robbed.’ What you rob through corruption will stay here. But also, what will remain is that the hearts of many men and women are wounded by these examples of corruption. What will remain behind was all the lack of good that could have been done. It will remain in the children who suffer. Young people: corruption is not a path to life, it’s a path to death. There was one question, how to use means of communication, to spread the message of Christ, and to promote good initiatives so that you can make a difference. The first means of communicating is the words, the smiles, the gestures. The first gesture is being close to others. The first gesture to trying look for friendship with others. If you speak well among yourselves then you can accept each other as brothers and sisters, even if you’re from different tribes. If you’re closest to the poor to those who are abandoned to...those who are completely rejected, those gestures of communication are much more contagious than any channel on TV. These questions and these thoughts can help you. But ask Jesus from your hearts, pray to the Lord. So that he can give you the strength to destroy tribalism and hold each others hand as brothers and sisters. So that you have the courage to not be corrupted, Offering yourselves for others, by offering a gestures, a word a smile your expressions of closeness. (In response to Manuel’s questions): I am worried about the first thing he said. What can we do to stop young people being recruited into radicalization? What can we do after they have been recruited to try to get them to come back? To answer this we have to ask why do young people full of ideals allow themselves to be radicalized in this way? They leave their friends, their tribe, their country. They leave their lives behind in order to learn how to kill. This is question which you yourselves must pose to all people in authority. If a young woman or man has no work, cannot study, what can he or she do? A life of delinquency, falling into drug abuse, or even into suicide. In Europe the statistics of suicide are not published. They get involved or seduced into an activity which leads them into a bad path. The first thing we have to do to stop a young person from being recruited is education and work. If a young person has no work than what future awaits him or her? And that’s where the idea of being seduced or recruited comes in. Even if there are small opportunities, without them what can they do? That is the danger. It’s a social danger which is beyond us and it’s even beyond the country because it depends on an international system that is unjust. It’s the injustice of having an economic system where the person is not the center but rather the god of money. Pray! But (pray) really hard. God is much stronger than any recruitment campaign. And then, speak with tenderness, understanding and love and with great patience to invite them to come watch some football, to walk with you, to be together in your group, don't allow them to remain on their own. Transitory things that end up destroying you. A question Manuel asked. It’s a question that a professor in theology might ask. How can we understand that God is our father, how to see his hand in the tragedies of life, how can we find God’s peace? This question men and women all over the world ask themselves. And they can’t find the reason. And there are some questions that you can turn around in your minds over and over again and never find the answer. How can I see the hand of God in tragedy? I was going to say there’s just one response but no, there’s no response. There is a path. To look at the Son of God. God endured death to save all of us. God became a tragedy. God allowed himself to be destroyed on the cross. When you don’t understand something, when desperation hits you then look at the cross. That is the great failure of God, that is the destruction of God, and it’s a challenge to our faith. And this is hope, because history did not end in that failure. Rather it’s in the resurrection of Christ that renewed all of us. I am going to tell you something personal. It’s 12 (o’clock) are you hungry? (Laughter and cheers). I am going to tell you something private. In my pocket I always carry two thing: a rosary to pray something which seems odd, this is here is the history of God’s failure, it’s the way of the cross, a small way of the cross, as Jesus suffered and when they condemned him right up to where he was buried with these two things I do the best I can. And thanks to these two things, I never lose hope. A last question from our theologian friend Manuel, what word can you offer to young people who don’t experience love in their families. How is it possible to come out of this experience? Everywhere, there are abandoned children, either at birth or as life progressed they were abandoned and they don’t feel love from their families. This is why family is so important. Defend the family. Defend the family always. everywhere there’s not only kids who are abandoned but also elderly are abandoned with no one to visit to them with no-one to love them, How do you come out of this very negative experience? There is one remedy, one remedy alone, to come out of these experiences. To do that which you did not receive. If you didn’t receive understanding, then be understanding with others If you felt pain of loneliness come close to those who are alone, flesh is cured by flesh and God became flesh in order to cure us, let’s do the same ourselves. Well then, before the umpire sounds the bell, it’s time to close. I thank you from my heart, first that you came, second that you allow me to speak in my mother tongue. I am really grateful you prayed so many rosaries for me. And please, I ask you to pray for me. Because I too need those prayers and very much so. I count on your prayers and before leaving, if we stand now and pray to our heavenly father who has only one defect - he can’t stop being a father. God bless you all, the father the son and the holy spirit - thank you very much.

Pope off-the-cuff to priests, religious: indifference makes God vomit

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 08:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis tossed his prepared remarks aside for a meeting with Kenyan priests, religious and seminarians, telling them that if anything disgusts God, it’s the attitude of indifference. He also gave some practical advice, such as keeping the Lord at the center of their lives through prayer and the sacraments, and stressed that the Church is not a business, but rather a mystery intended to serve others. “Remember Jesus Christ crucified. When a priest or religious forgets Christ crucified, poor person. He has fallen in an ugly sin, a sin which God detests, which makes the Lord vomit,” the Pope said Nov. 26. “He has fallen into the sin of indifference, of luke-warmness. Dear priests and religious men and women, be careful not to fall into the sin of indifference.” Francis met with Kenyan priests, religious men and women, and seminarians from every diocese in Kenya on the sports field of St. Mary’s School in Nairobi Nov. 26, his first full day in the country. His Nov. 25-27 visit to Kenya is part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic. Before giving his speech, Pope Francis heard from Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo, I.M.C., Apostolic Vicar of Isiolo and Chairman for the Commission for Clergy and Religious of the Kenyan bishops conference, as well as Sr. Michael Marie Rottinghaus from the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK). Both Bishop Mukobo and Sr. Rottinghaus thanked Pope Francis for the Year for Consecrated Life, which opened Nov. 30, 2014, and closes Feb. 2, 2016. After setting his prepared remarks aside, Francis spoke freely in Spanish, with his official translator Msgr. Mark Miles giving simultaneous translation into English. The Pope began his reflections by noting how “the Lord has chosen all of you, he has chosen all of us," and that he began his work "the day he saw us in baptism.” He noted how in the Gospel there were some who wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus said no. Following the Lord on the path of priesthood or consecrated life means “you have to go through the door, and the door is Christ,” he said, adding that Jesus is the one who calls and does the work. When people try to go “through the window” like those in the Gospel, this “isn’t useful,” Francis continued, and asked that if anyone sees someone who's trying to live a consecrated vocation but doesn't have one, “embrace him and explain that it’s better for them to go.” “It’s better for them to go because that work that didn’t begin with the Lord Jesus through the doorway will not end well." Doing this, he said, helps us to understand what it means to be called and chosen by God. Pope Francis then noted that there are some who don’t know why God calls them, but feel it in their heart. These people, he said, “should be at peace because the Lord will make them understand why.” He cautioned against those who have a true call, but are influenced by the desire for power. He pointed to the mother of James and John as an example, when she asked for them to have positions at his right and left hand. “There is the temptation to follow the Lord out of ambition, ambition of money, ambition for power,” he said, noting that each person can probably say this thought has crossed their minds. For others, however, “it took seed in the heart as a weed,” he said, adding that in following Jesus, “there is no place for ambition or richness or to be a really important person in the world.” “I tell you this seriously, because in the Church we know it’s not a business, it’s not an NGO. The Church is a mystery, the mystery of Christ’s gaze upon each one of us, who says follow,” he said. The Pope then noted that Jesus calls, “he doesn’t canonize us,” but asks us to serve as the sinners we are. Pointing to the apostles, Francis observed how the Gospel only tells us of one that cried: Peter, who realized he was a sinner who had betrayed the Lord. “But then Jesus made him a pope. Who understands Jesus?! He’s a mystery. Never stop weeping,” he said, adding that when the tears of a priest or religious run dry “then something is wrong.” Francis then turned to the importance of prayer in the life of a priest or religious, explaining that when a consecrated person stops praying, their “soul becomes shriveled and dry like those dried figs. They’re ugly. They’re not attractive.” “The soul of a priest or religious who doesn’t pray is an ugly soul. I ask forgiveness but that’s how it is.” He also stressed the importance of having an attitude of service, particularly toward the poor, children and the elderly, as well as “those who are not even aware of their own pride in themselves.” Pope Francis said he’s impressed whenever he meets a priest or consecrated person who has spent their life working in a hospital or mission. These people, he said, “serve others and don’t allow themselves to be served by others.” He closed by thanking those present “for following Jesus, for every time you feel sinners, for every caress of tenderness you show others who need it.” “Thanks for all the times you helped a person to die in peace. Thank you for giving hope in life. Thanks for letting yourselves be forgiven, to be helped and corrected,” he said, and asked for their prayers.

Pope in Kenya: Interreligious dialogue not an option, but a necessity

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 02:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In light of recent terror attacks in Kenya and abroad, Pope Francis began the second day of his trip to Africa stressing the need for interreligious leaders to work together for peace. In a morning meeting on Nov. 26 with interreligious and ecumenical leaders at the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi, Kenya, Pope Francis said while ecumenical relationships can be demanding, they are not optional. “…ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs,” the Pope said. Not only is it essential for peace, he added, but interreligious dialogue can be a rich source of enlightenment and becomes an “important service to the common good.” His comments come just two weeks after six coordinated attacks in Paris, perpetrated by ISIS, left at least 128 people dead. The Pope’s address also falls seven months after terrorists killed 147 students at Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya, and four months after gunmen killed 14 quarry workers in Mandera. In 2013, 67 people were killed when terrorists attacked shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.Each of these attacks were carried out by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate operating out of the neighboring country of Somalia. “I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds,” he said. “All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies.” “How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect!” The Holy Father also stressed the importance of never committing violence in the name of God, and prayed for the conversion of heart of all those who perpetrated violence in the name of religion. He closed his address recalling the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council, saying that he hoped the Church continued her commitment to ecumenical dialogue and friendship. “As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences. Let us pray for peace!” This story is according to Pope Francis’ prepared remarks to interreligious leaders.

Pope to Kenyan families: 'radiate God’s love'

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 12:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday praised Kenya’s traditional family values, particularly their respect for children and the elderly. He also made an appeal for the youth to use these values as a guide to ending discrimination and injustice in the future. “The health of any society depends on the health of its families,” the Pope told Mass attendees at Kenya’s Nairobi University Nov. 26. “Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children,” he said, and noted that families are important in the plan of God. It’s for the sake of our families and the good of society that children must be welcomed “as a blessing for our world,” and that the dignity of every man and woman must be defended, since we are all part of one human family, he said. “We are also called to resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women, and threaten the life of the innocent unborn.” While everyone is called to respect others and reach out to those in need, Francis said that Christian families have a special task: “to radiate God’s love, and to spread the life-giving waters of his Spirit.” This is especially important today, he said, when the growth of materialism and indifference are “new deserts” growing in society. Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the University of Nairobi on the second day of his Nov. 25-30 African tour, which includes stops in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Before heading to the university campus, he met with Kenya’s interreligious and ecumenical leaders at the Apostolic Nunciature. After the Mass, he will meet with the country’s priests, religious and seminarians before closing the day at the office of the United Nations in Nairobi. In his homily, Francis focused on the promises offered by God in the day’s readings, namely, Isaiah’s assurance that God will give the people his blessing, give water to the thirsty, and make their people flourish. This promise is fulfilled not only with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but also whenever the Gospel is preached, “and new peoples become members of God’s family, the Church.” “Today we rejoice that it was fulfilled in this land. Through the preaching of the Gospel, you too became part of the great Christian family,” the Pope said, explaining that Christian families play a special role in spreading God’s word. He then pointed to another promise God made in Psalm 23, that we will dwell in the house of the Lord for eternity. God also fulfills this promise in the life of the Church, particularly through the sacraments. “They make us more faithful disciples of the divine Master, vessels of mercy and loving kindness in a world wounded by selfishness, sin and division.” Francis said that it is with the gift of the sacraments that Kenya’s men and women can continue building their country in civil harmony and brotherly solidarity. He stressed that the sacraments must be shared with the youth in particular, who are the future of society. The Pope then made an appeal to Kenya’s youth, asking that “the great values of Africa’s traditions, the wisdom and truth of God’s word, and the generous idealism of your youth guide you in working to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity.” He asked that they always be aware of the needs of the poor, and work to “reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God.” Jesus gives us the foundation to be able to construct this society, which begins by building our personal lives on the Word of God, Pope Francis said. He pointed to Jesus’ “missionary mandate” after the Resurrection to make disciples of all nations, explaining that this “that is the charge which the Lord gives to each of us.” “He asks us to be missionary disciples, men and women who radiate the truth, beauty and life-changing power of the Gospel. Men and women who are channels of God’s grace, who enable his mercy, kindness and truth to become the building blocks of a house that stands firm.” Francis closed by praying that the Lord would guide those present and their families on the path of goodness and mercy, and that they would be blessed with peace. Before leaving, he offered a brief prayer for them in Swahili: “Mungu awabariki! Mungu abariki Kenya!” meaning “God bless you! God bless you Kenya!”

Trial begins for five accused in second 'Vatileaks' case

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2015 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday a preliminary hearing of the five individuals accused of leaking and disseminating confidential financial documents was held in the Vatican, with the next hearing set to begin Nov. 30. The defendants are Spanish Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, Italian PR woman Francesca Chaouqui, Nicola Maio (Vallejo’s secretary), and journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi. The Nov. 24 preliminary hearing for what has been dubbed by media as “Vatileaks 2.0” began at 10:30 a.m. and lasted just over an hour. On Nov. 21 the Vatican announced that it would officially be pressing charges against the five for their role in obtaining, leaking and publishing private information and documents regarding Holy See finances. Msgr. Vallejo, Chaouqui and Maio have been accused of working together to form “an organized criminal association” with the intention of “disclosing information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the (Vatican City) State.” On Nov. 2 Msgr. Vallejo and Chaouqui were arrested in connection with the leaks, and are believed to have passed the documents on to Nuzzi and Fittipaldi, who published separate books on the information earlier this month. Both are former members of the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA). The commission was established by the Pope July 18, 2013, as part of his plan to reform the Vatican’s finances. It was dissolved after completing its mandate. For their part, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi have been charged with illegally procuring and subsequently releasing the private information and documents. Specifically, they are accused of “urging and exerting pressure, particularly on Msgr. Vallejo,” to obtain the private documents and then publish books on the content. The leaking of documents was officially criminalized by the Vatican in 2013, when Nuzzi published a book containing confidential information given to him by Pope Benedict XVI’s butler in what came to be known as the first “Vatileaks” scandal. All defendants were present inside the courtroom for the Nov. 24 hearing with lawyers “dall’ufficio,” referring to legal representation given to those who don’t already have it.    The court consisted of Giuseppe Della Torre, President of the Vatican tribunal; Judges Piero Antonio Bonne and Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, as well as Alternate judge Venerando Marano.   The prosecution, the Office of the Promoter of Justice, was represented by Promoter of Justice Gian Piero Milano, and Adjutant-promoter Roberto Zannotti. After the accusations were read aloud, Della Torre announced that Nuzzi and Vallejo had each requested an additional, hand-picked lawyer, and that the request would be forwarded to President of the Court of Appeals. According to Nuzzi’s twitter account, his request to be represented by his usual lawyer has already been denied. Two objections were then raised in the court, one by Vallejo’s lawyer that the time needed to prepare evidence for the defense was insufficient. Fittipaldi himself asked to make a statement in which he protested the charges brought against him, saying they violated his freedom as a journalist to publish news. His lawyer then requested that his indictment be reconsidered for lacking a clear statement on his alleged crimes. Zannotti responded immediately to the second objection by saying that the intention of the charge is not to violate Fittipaldi’s freedom as a journalist, but rather to hold him accountable for the means in which he obtained the documents and information, which was stated in his indictment. After a 45 minute deliberation of the objections the court reconvened, and rejected them both. They announced that the next hearing will take place Monday, Nov. 30, at 9:30 a.m., with several other hearings set to take place throughout the week. It was noted that all hearings will take place in the morning, and that afternoon sessions would be called only if needed. During Monday’s hearing the defendants will give their testimonies, beginning with Msgr. Vallejo and Chaouqui. The testimonies of Maio, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi will be given later. Journalists present inside the courtroom reported that both Nuzzi and Fittipaldi seemed to be more at ease during today's hearing, whereas Vallejo, Maio and Chaouqui were described as being “agitated” and “tense,” particularly the latter two.

Pope names first Catholic bishop to oversee Anglican ordinariate

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2015 / 07:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Steven Lopes, a Catholic priest from California, as the new bishop who will head the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States and Canada. Bishop-elect Lopes, 40, is originally from the Archdiocese of San Francisco in the United States, and currently serves as an official for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He will be taking over for Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop appointed by Benedict XVI in 2012 to shepherd the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a special diocese-like structure that allows entire Anglican communities to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining certain elements of the liturgy and other customs. Ordinariates are similar to dioceses but typically national in scope. Pope Benedict authorized the creation of ordinariates for Anglican communities seeking to enter the Catholic Church in his 2009 apostolic constitution, “Anglicanorum coetibus.” Based in Houston, Texas, the Ordinariate has more than 40 Roman Catholic parishes and communities across the United States and Canada. A married Anglican priest can be ordained a Catholic priest but not a bishop. Instead, as in the case of Msgr. Steenson, they become an “ordinary,” who carries all the authority of a bishop except that of being able to ordain priests. Msgr. Lopes’ appointment, then, marks the first time a Roman Catholic bishop has been named for any of the worlds’ three Personal Ordinariates: Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom; the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States and Canada; and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia. The announcement that bishop-elect Lopes will be taking over for the retiring Msgr. Steenson came in a Nov. 24 communique from the Vatican. In a press release shortly after the announcement, Msgr. Steenson said that he had asked the Vatican last year that a bishop be appointed to replace him in leading the Ordinariate. “I welcome this news with all my heart, for the Ordinariate has now progressed to the point where a bishop is much needed for our life and mission,” he said. “A bishop will help to give the Ordinariate the stability and permanence necessary to fulfil its mission to be a work of Catholic unity, whose roots are to be found in the great texts of the Second Vatican Council.” From the creation of the Ordinariate, Msgr. Steenson continued, the ultimate goal was that a bishop would eventually be the head. “It is indeed an encouraging sign that we have reached that goal,” he said. Born and raised in Fremont, Calif., Msgr. Lopes attended Catholic schools throughout his childhood, as well as the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. He entered seminary in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He studied theology at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif. and later in Rome, at the Pontifical North American College. After being ordained a priest June 23, 2001, and serving in various pastoral assignments Msgr. Lopes went on to obtain both licentiate and doctoral degrees in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Since Sept. 1, 2005, the bishop-elect has served as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and has also taught theology at the Gregorian University. He was named a monsignor in 2010. Msgr. Lopes’ ordination to the episcopate is scheduled to take place Feb. 2, 2016, in Houston. Though Msgr. Steenson’s retirement is effective immediately, he will serve as the Ordinariate’s administrator until Lopes officially takes canonical possession in February. A Nov. 24 press release from the Ordinariate explained that with bishop-elect Lopes’ appointment, Pope Francis “affirms and amplifies Pope Benedict’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.” “By naming Bishop-elect Lopes, the Pope has confirmed that the Ordinariate is a permanent, enduring part of the Catholic Church, like any other diocese – one that is now given a bishop so that it may deepen its contribution to the life of the Church and the world.” The press released also noted that Msgr. Lopes’ appointment falls just five days before the Ordinariate will begin using a new book of liturgical texts titled “Divine Worship: The Missal,” which will be used for the celebration of Mass in personal ordinariates throughout the world. The texts in the missal have been approved by the Vatican and will be used for the first time Nov. 20, 2015, the First Sunday of Advent. Msgr. Lopes was deeply involved in developing the text, and since 2011 has served as the executive coordinator of the Vatican commission “Anglicanae Traditiones,” which produced the new texts. In the press release, the Ordinariate called the new missal as “a milestone,” and praised both Benedict XVI’s vision for unity as well as how Pope Francis is concretely implementing it. Both of these together “demonstrate that unity in faith allows for a vibrant diversity in the expression of that faith. The Ordinariate is a key ecumenical venture for the Catholic Church and a concrete example of this unity in diversity.” The new bishop-elect will be introduced by Msgr. Steenson at a live news conference in Houston at 10:30 a.m. local time inside the Chancery Offices of the Ordinariate. After celebrating the Mass on the first Sunday of Advent in Houston with the new missal, Msgr. Lopes will return to Rome to finish to finish his work at the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. He will then then return to Texas at the end of the calendar year.

Pope Francis sends greetings to Africa ahead of this week's trip

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2015 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent two video messages Monday ahead of his tri-nation visit to Africa, speaking his intent to bring “consolation and hope” to the region while serving as a “minister of the Gospel.” In the message sent to the people of the Central African Republic, Pope Francis – speaking in French – referenced the “joy which pervades me” on the occasion of the visit, while acknowledging the ongoing violence which has brought suffering to the war-torn nation. “Your dear country has for too long been affected by a violent situation and by insecurity of which many of you have been innocent victims,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio's translation. The CAR is currently in the midst of of an ongoing conflict. The majority of tensions began in late 2012 when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka. They left their strongholds in the north of the country and made their way south, seizing power from then-president Francois Bozize. Since then, fear, uncertainty and violence have swept over the country in a conflict that has so far left some 6,000 people dead. The scheduled Nov. 29-30 trip to the CAR would mark Pope Francis' first time in an active war zone, with new deaths reported daily. “The goal of my visit is, above all, to bring you, in the name of Christ, the comfort of consolation and hope,” the pontiff said in the message. “I hope with all my heart that my visit may contribute, in one way or another, to alleviate your wounds and to favor conditions for a better, more serene future for Central Africa and all its inhabitants.” Pope Francis is set to begin his tri-nation African tour from Nov. 25-30, with scheduled visits to Kenya, Uganda, and finally the CAR. The journey marks the pontiff's first trip to the continent since his election to the papacy. “Let us pass to the other side” is the theme of the visit, the Pope observed in the CAR video message. This theme, he continued, theme invites Christian communities “to look ahead with determination,” while encouraging “each person to renew their own relationship with God and with their brothers and sisters to build a new, more just and fraternal world.” Earlier this month, Pope Francis said that he would open the diocese of Bangui's Holy Door while in the Central African Republic ahead of the Year of Mercy, which officially starts Dec. 8, as a sign of prayer and solidarity for the conflict-ridden nation. Francis announced the jubilee during a March 13 penitential service, the second anniversary of his papal election. It will open Dec. 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – and will close Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. The last pontiff to visit the CAR was St. John Paul II in 1985, as part of a larger trip to Togo, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zaire and Kenya. Pope Francis also issued a joint video message to the people of Kenya and Uganda, in which expressed his hope that the visit will “confirm” the Catholic communities of the region as they testify to the Gospel. “I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace,” the Pope said. Speaking in English, the pontiff said the aim of his visit will be “to confirm the Catholic community in its worship of God and witness of the Gospel, which teaches the dignity of every man and woman, and commands us to open our hearts to others, especially the poor and those in need.” Expressing his desire to encounter and offer a “word of encouragement” the Kenyan and Ugandan people, the Pope noted the need for today's people of faith and good will to support one another as children of God. “We are living at a time when religious believers, and persons of good will everywhere, are called to foster mutual understanding and respect, and to support each other as members of our one human family,” he said, “for all of us are God's children.” Pope Francis cited his planned visit with young people as one of the highlights of his visit to the region. Young people, he said, “are your greatest resource and our most promising hope for a future of solidarity, peace and progress.” The Pope concluded by acknowledging the hard work involved in the preparations for his visit, and offered his thanks. He asked everyone to pray that his visit to Kenya and Uganda would “be a source of hope and encouragement to all.” “Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!”

The Pope in a war zone – what his visit means to Central African Republic

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2015 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis' visit to the Central African Republic next week will be the first time he steps into an active war zone. It is a meaningful visit for locals which portrays the image of father coming to console his suffering children. “In the minds and hearts of the people (Pope Francis) is a great figure,” Fr. Herv Hubert Koyassambia-Kozondo said in an interview with CNA. So to hear his message from within the borders of their own country “is very, very meaningful.” Even a month ago images of Francis could be seen throughout the country through TV and the media, he said, explaining that the Pope is being talked about daily, so he's “already there in reality.” To see the Pope in person in their own community isn't something that happens every day for citizens of the Central African Republic, he said, but for many will only happen “once in their lives.” “So they are waiting for him and they will welcome him as a true pastor of the universal Church. I like to say father, as a father, truly.” Francis' words will be welcomed especially by the country's Christian population, the Catholics in particular. “What the Pope says in favor of peace will have a lot of weight,” he said, but stressed that this peace must also be worked for. Fr. Kozondo is from the archdiocese of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, and is currently studying in Rome. He spoke with journalists ahead of Pope Francis’ Nov. 29-30 visit to the country, as part of a wider visit to the African continent. Pope Francis will be in Africa Nov. 25-30, and is scheduled to make stops in three countries. He will set foot in Kenya first, where he will stay from Nov. 25-27, before moving on to Uganda Nov. 27-29. His last stop will be the Central African Republic, from Nov. 29-30. The last pontiff to visit the CAR was St. John Paul II in 1985, as part of a larger trip to Togo, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zaire and Kenya. Likely the greatest challenge Francis will face in the Central African Republic is the fact that the visit marks the first time he will be stepping into an active war zone, with new deaths reported daily. The majority of tensions began in late 2012 when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka. They left their strongholds in the north of the country and made their way south, seizing power from then-president Francois Bozize. Since then, fear, uncertainty and violence have swept over the country in a conflict that has so far left some 6,000 people dead. The country will hold both presidential and parliamentary elections Dec. 27, after they were postponed in October due to violence and instability. Interim president Catherine Samba-Panza, who has so far struggled to keep peace, will not be a candidate. In his comments to journalists, Fr. Kozondo remarked that the greatest challenge the Church faces is “the deplorable situation of the country,” as well as the grave lack of security. “There are many armed people, and (the government forces) still haven't been able to disarm them,” he said, adding that “armed people with bad intentions can’t be something stable in terms of peace.” “Disarmament is needed, but the country doesn't have the means to disarm. So it must count on foreign or external help to act.” Though the country has seen coups throughout their history, the priest explained that this one is different due the fact it is fueled by arms from foreigners, and because Christians are being targeted. With a population of just over 1 million, roughly 36 percent are Catholic and 44 percent are Protestants, with the remaining 20 percent divided evenly among Muslims and local religions. Fr.Kozondosaid the rebels launched their attacks in part due to the ethnic exclusivity of the former government, as the country has always had ethnic divisions, and politicians usually represent certain ones. However, when the various Muslim rebel groups banded together in 2012, foreign mercenaries helped in seizing weapons, many of whom were from Chad and Sudan. Therefore, many of the fighters are foreigners who don't speak the local Sango language. This detail compounded with the fact that attacks targeted cities that weren't strategically useful in conquering the country – as well as innocent civilians, state structures and symbols representing the nation’s patrimony – made the people wonder their intentions were for “something more, not only a desire to conquer the power,” the priest said. A second characteristic which has made this conflict unusual compared to those of the past is that amid the various rebellions, it was obvious attacks were “directed toward Christians, against churches and religious structures, against the social Christian structures.” The systematic violence toward Christian persons and the destruction of Church properties is what fueled the current anti-Muslim sentiments, he said, because what people saw is that “it wasn't just a rebellion that sought to conquer the country, but also sought to destroy everything that was Christian.” Before the conflict erupted in 2012 relations with Islam had been relatively peaceful, Fr. Kozondo said, explaining that though they are a minority, Muslims in CAR have always been well integrated and economically powerful because of their savvy in negotiating different affairs. Fr. Kozondo said that another challenge is to re-establish the authority of the State, because they have lost control of the situation since the radicals began their offensive, leading ordinary citizens to take up arms. Once citizens saw that the country's army was ineffective against the rebels, they formed a resistance group, known as anti-balaka, because there was “no one to defend the population.” The population feels that they don't have any protection, “so they organize on their own to defend themselves,” the priest observed. However, he clarified what he referred to as a media farce depicting the “anti-balaka” resistance group as radical Christians who have taken up arms against the Muslims. Though the group is depicted as being exclusively Christian, Fr. Kozondo said he believes this image was “created by the media to imprint in the mind of the people.” He told CNA that while there are certainly Christians, Catholics and Protestants included, who have taken up arms, “They don’t do it in the name of Christianity.” “They don’t do it with means that come from the Church or something organized by the Church. They don’t do it from a Christian push, something that comes in the name of the Christian faith, this no. It’s not a Christian group that goes around in a sullen way against Muslims.” Fr. Kozondo explained that the bishops and the episcopal conference have repeatedly denounced the idea that the “anti-balaka” group is being pushed by Christians. In fact, Catholic and Protestant leaders in CAR have joined forces alongside moderate Muslims to give a concrete, pastoral response to the situation, particularly regarding the large number of refugees and those internally displaced by the fighting. “There are many people whose homes were destroyed or who don't find themselves in safety,” the priest said, noting that many have either fled to nearby countries or are even taking refuge “in the forests.” Fighting now includes the element of revenge-killings, the priest said, explaining that in the capital, Bangui, there is a Muslim quarter entirely closed off to Christians which is particularly dangerous. Inside, there is “a strong presence of jihadists and extremists” who have killed either non-Muslims or moderate Muslims seeking to enter and offer assistance to those inside, as well as to help those who want to leave get out. “What happens is if they kill someone there, there is also a revenge to kill a Muslim in another area. If a Muslim is killed, there is also a revenge on their part,” Fr. Kozondo observed. “The things are also a situation of uncertainty. Today everything is ok. Tomorrow if someone is killed, something could erupt. This is what it’s becoming. Then, the civil population is in the middle.” Pope Francis himself is scheduled to visit the quarter Nov. 30, his last day in Africa, for a meeting with CAR's Muslim community at the central Mosque of Koudoukou. Though many have advised against the decision, as of now it’s still on the Pope's slate. Additionally, the Pope is also scheduled to visit a refugee camp that houses 1000-2000 people the same day he lands in Bangui, Nov. 29, after meeting with the country's authorities and interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza. During a Nov. 19 press briefing, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that Francis is visiting CAR precisely “to show that he's close to the people who suffer. So that's why it's his first stop after meeting the authorities.” After visiting the refugee camp, the Pope is slated to meet with the different Evangelical communities in CAR at the FATEB Headquarters (Evangelical Faculty of Theology of Bangui). It's a meeting, Fr. Lombardi said, directed “against the violence,” and will therefore draw together major Church leaders from the Catholic and Evangelical communities, as well as an imam, “seeking to build dialogue and peace.” In recent weeks speculation has arisen as to whether Pope Francis will decide to call off his visit to CAR completely due to the ongoing violence. On Nov. 16, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, suggested that while the plan as of now remains the same, the days in CAR could be cut off at the last minute. Speaking with journalists after a conference in Rome organized by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (Rome Pilgrim Office), Cardinal Parolin said that as far as Africa goes “the three stops remain, but we'll see depending on the situation on the ground.” In a Nov. 11 article, French newspaper Le Monde reported that officials at the French Ministry of Defense said the 900 French troops on the ground in CAR wouldn’t be able to guarantee the Pope’s safety, and would only be able to protect him at the airport. The head of the Vatican's security forces, Domenico Giani, is currently in CAR for a final assessment of the situation ahead of the Pope's arrival in Africa next week. However, instead of flying back to Rome and traveling with Francis on board the papal plane as usual, he will stay, and meet the Pope directly in Kenya. Fr. Lombardi stressed that Giani's presence doesn't signify anything new, and that as of now “nothing has changed.” “We're monitoring,” he said, adding that final decisions will be made “as the trip continues.” The spokesman also announced that Cardinal Parolin will not be with the Pope in CAR, but will leave after Uganda in order to go to Paris for the launch of the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Fr. Kozondo said that people are very enthusiastic for the Pope’s visit, and many believe it will be “a turning point” for the country. “They are preparing a lot every day,” he said, explaining that there is also an effort to quell the violence, so that Francis finds “a better situation” when he arrives. He told CNA that he believes the first step to working for lasting peace is “disarmament,” which is something that so far the country has been unable to achieve. “Without this, there will be people who don't feel safe,” he said, explaining that when people don't feel safe, they will continue to organize in an autonomous way to defend themselves. “It's very dangerous, very harmful when you can no longer protect the people, and the people organize themselves on their own. That is what we’re living.”

Pope sends condolences after deadly terrorist attack in Mali

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2015 / 11:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis condemned the “senseless violence” of Friday’s terrorist attack on a hotel which killed at least 22 people in Mali, and prayed for the “conversion of hearts.” The Pope was “appalled by this senseless violence,” and “strongly condemns it,” reads the telegram, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, according to Vatican Radio’s translation from French. “The Pope implores God for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace, and invokes abundance of Divine blessings on all those affected by this tragedy.” The Nov. 20 attack saw gunmen enter the Radisson Blu Hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. 22 people were killed in the attack, according to a statement Sunday by the UN’s Mali mission. CNN reports that witnesses say the terrorists shouted "Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is Great.” Two attackers are dead, but it is unclear if they were killed by security forces or by suicide bombs, CNN reports. “Pope Francis unites himself in prayer to the pain of bereaved families and the sadness of all Malians,” reads the telegram, which was released by the Holy See Press Office Nov. 22. The Pope “recommends all the victims to the mercy of God, praying that the Almighty welcome them into His light. He expresses his deepest sympathy with the injured and their families, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in their ordeal.” The attacks in Mali came just one week after 137 people, including seven perpetrators, were killed in widespread terrorist attacks in the center of Paris.

Pope Francis: While worldly kingdoms dominate, Christ’s kingdom liberates

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2015 / 09:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a world which employs “weapons of fear” and manipulation, the strength of Christ’s kingdom is founded in truth and love, Pope Francis said in his Sunday angelus address, during which he also remembered today’s persecuted Christians. “The strength of Christ’s reign is love,” the pontiff said Nov. 22, centering his reflection on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Rather than oppressing us, Jesus’ Kingship “frees us from our weaknesses and miseries,” and encourages us on the path of “reconciliation and forgiveness.” “Christ is not a king who dominates us, who treats us as like subjects, but who elevates us to his own dignity.” Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis took a look at the account in John’s Gospel in which Jesus tells Pontius Pilate of his kingdom which is “not of this world.” There are two logics here which are juxtaposed to each other, the Pope said: the logic of the world, and the logic of the Gospel. Worldly logic is rooted on “ambition and competition,” he said, and “fights with weapons of fear, blackmail, and manipulation of conscience.” In contrast, the logic of the Gospel expresses itself “in humility and gratitude, silently yet effectively with the strength of the truth.” The Pope observed that Jesus’ kingship is revealed on the Cross. “In speaking of power and strength, for the Christian, means to refer to the power of the Cross and the strength of Jesus’ love.” This love, Pope Francis continued, “remains resolute and complete, even in the face of rejection, and which stands out as the achievement of a life spent in the total offering of self on behalf of humanity.” The pontiff recalled the passage from the Gospel of Mark which recounts how passersby on Calvary mockingly told Jesus to save himself and come down from the Cross. “If Jesus had descended from the Cross, he would have fallen to the temptation of the world’s princes,” the Pope said. Rather, in not saving himself, he was able to save “every one of us from our sins.” The pontiff spoke on the “good thief” who, crucified next to Jesus, says to him “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” With many wounds having been made in the world and “in the flesh of men,” the Pope asked for Mary’s intercession to help us imitate Jesus, our king, who “makes his kingdom present with his acts of tenderness, understanding, and mercy.” Following the recitation of the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis recalled Saturday’s beatification of Federico da Berga and his twenty-five companions, martyred in 1936 amid the persecution of the Church in Spain. The pontiff observed that these martyrs included priests, young friars awaiting ordination, as well as lay brothers of the Franciscan Capuchin Order of Friars Minor. “We entrust to their intercession our many brothers and sisters who, sadly, even today, in various parts of the world, are persecuted because of their faith in Christ.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks asking for prayers for his scheduled visit to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic. “I ask all of you to pray for this journey, in order that it may be for all these brothers and sisters, as well as for me, a sign of closeness and love,” the Pope said. The pontiff then asked everyone to recite the Hail Mary, in order to intercede to Our Lady “to bless these beloved lands, in order that they may be in peace and prosperity.” Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Africa from Nov. 25-30, with his first stop in Kenya from Nov. 25-27, followed by Uganda Nov. 27-29, and finally the Central African Republic Nov. 29-30.