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Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope at General Audience: 'Jesus came to save us from death'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death. He also prayed for the over 300 victims of a deadly bombing in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and condemned the terrorist attack that falls on an ravaged tortured nation. 

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Noting that death is a reality that modern civilization “tends, more and more, to set aside” and not reflect upon, Pope Francis said that for believers death is actually “a door” and a call to live for something greater.  

For those “in doubt”, he added, it contains a glimmer of light that shines through a slightly open threshold.

For all of us, he continued, in the mystery of death is a grace and that light will shine for everyone.

Prepare for death

The pope invited those present to think of the moment of their death and imagine the time when Jesus will take us by hand and say: “come, rise and come with me”.

In that moment, he said, hope will end and it will become reality.

Often, he continued we find ourselves unprepared to face death, and yet for centuries past civilizations had the courage to face this inevitable reality. Older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  

Pointing out that our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath, Francis said “death lays bare our lives” forcing us to acknowledge that all those actions born from pride, anger and hatred” were useless and vain.

To the contrary, he said, it highlights how all the good things that we have sown have germinated and now “hold us by the hand”. 

Jesus will take us by the hand

Jesus, the Pope explained, is the one who ultimately helps us to confront the mystery of death. He shows us that it is natural to weep and to mourn the loss of a loved one, just as he wept at Lazarus’ death.  

But he did not only mourn, he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb pointing out that “Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death”.

Recalling the gospel story of Jairus who turned to Jesus in faith asking him to save his sick daughter, and Jesus’s exhortation: “Do not fear, only believe”, the Pope urged Christians not to be afraid, but to keep the flame of faith burning.

Jesus, Francis said, puts us on this “ridge” of faith: every time death comes to tear us away from the fabric of live and our earthly ties, Jesus is there reminding us that He is the resurrection and the life.

We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death, Pope Francis concluded, but if we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, Jesus will take us by the hand, just as he did with Jairus’ daughter when he said: "Talitha cum" which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise. To each of us, he concluded, he will say: “I say to you, arise.”   

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope addresses “Religions for Peace”‎ delegation

(Vatican Radio)  “Religions, with their spiritual and moral resources, have a specific and ‎unique role to play in building ‎peace,” Pope Francis said on Wednesday.  “They cannot be neutral, much less ‎ambiguous, where peace is concerned,” he ‎told a delegation of 80 members of “Religions for Peace”, who met him in the Vatican. 

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition that advances common action among the world’s religious communities to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth.

Peace and justice

Noting that “peace is both a divine gift and a human achievement,” the Pope said “believers of all religions are called to implore peace and to intercede ‎for it.”  He stressed that “peacemaking and the pursuit ‎of justice go together,‎” and said that “all men and women of good will, particularly those in positions of ‎responsibility, are summoned to work for peace with their hearts, minds and ‎hands.” 

Violence in God’s name

Pope Francis once again denounced violence in the name of religion saying, “they gravely offend God, ‎who is peace and the source of peace, and has left in ‎human beings a reflection of his wisdom, power ‎and beauty.”

Care for creation

The Pontiff expressed appreciation for the efforts of Religions for Peace, saying “religions are ‎bound by their very nature to promote peace ‎through justice, fraternity, ‎disarmament and care for creation.‎”  He said there is a “need for a common and cooperative effort on the part of the ‎religions in promoting an ‎integral ecology.”  Religions, he noted have the “wherewithal to further a moral ‎covenant ‎that can promote respect for the dignity of the human person and care for ‎creation.”  The Pope expressed satisfaction that there are many examples of the power of interreligious cooperation around the world  that oppose violent ‎conflicts, advance sustainable development and ‎protect the earth.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope’s condolence for death of Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal

Pope Francis has expressed his condolence for Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, who passed away in Cebu on Wednesday.  The 86-year old prelate who was Archbishop of Cebu for nearly 3 decades until his retirement in 2010, died of complications from pneumonia. 

Pope Francis sent a telegram to Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu, expressing gratitude for Cardinal Vidal’s  “untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines”.

Please find below the text of the Pope’s condolence telegram: 

The Most Reverend Jose S. Palma

Archbishop of Cebu

Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, I extend my sincere condolences to you, and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cebu.  Joining with you in expressing profound gratitude for the late Cardinal’s untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines, I commend his soul to the infinite love and mercy of our heavenly Father.  As a pledge of consolation and hope in the Lord, to all who mourn his passing in the certain hope of the Resurrection, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing

                                                                       FRANCISCUS PP.

Cardinal Ricardo J. Vidal, Archbishop emeritus of Cebu (Philippines), was born on 6 February 1931 in Mogpoc, Philippines. He did his studies at the minor seminary of the Most Holy Rosary (which later assumed the title of Our Lady of Carmel) and at the seminary of San Carlo.

He was ordained on 17 March 1956. The Bishop of Lucena entrusted him as spiritual director of the local seminary of Mount Carmel. He then became superior of the same institute and was dedicated to the formation of the young candidates to priesthood until 10 September 1971, when he was named Coadjutor Bishop of Malolos, Bulacan, and was elected to the titular church of Claterna. He received episcopal ordination on 30 November 1971. On 22 August 1973 he was named Archbishop of Lipa in Batangas.

On 13 April 1981 he was named Coadjutor with the right of succession to the Archbishop of Cebu, Cardinal Julio Rosales. He was named Archbishop on 24 August 1982.

He served as president of the Bishops’ Commission for Vocations within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He was also vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and then president from 1985 to 1987.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of 25 May 1985,with the Title of Ss. Pietro e Paolo in Via Ostiense (Sts. Peter and Paul in Via Ostiense, Rome).

In a message, Cebu archdiocese’s spokesman Msgr. Joseph Tan said the prelate died due to infection leading to septic shock at the city’s Perpetual Succour Hospital where he was hospitalized on Oct 11 when he became seriously ill. 

Requesting prayers for the prelate’s soul, Tan said the details of funeral rites will be made available as soon as possible.

A native of Mogpog, Marinduque, Vidal was ordained a priest in 1956 by Bishop and Servant of God Alfredo Maria Aranda Obviar.

Then Pope John Paul II appointed Vidal head of the Cebu archdiocese in 1982. He retired in 2011.

In a statement released shortly after Vidal’s death, CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed Vidal’s legacy will live on despite his passing.

“Cardinal Vidal cannot die. He who has always shared in the dying and rising of the Lord daily in his priestly life cannot die. He now joins the immortal ones who served the Lord faithfully here on earth. His wisdom and his humility, his love for priests and his devotion to the Virgin Mary must live on in us whom he has left behind,” he said. Archbishop Villegas also expressed hope in Cardinal Vidal’s intercession for the faithful. “Rest well Eminence. Pray for us in the Father’s House.”

Meanwhile Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo praised Card Vidal for being a “true servant-leader rather than a ‘prince.’”

“For me his legacy is his own outstanding character. Some of these are: Humility, low profile style; Simplicity and Approachability; Ability to listen even to opposing views; Prudence in political issues; Courage in presenting and defending the CBCP position leading to the 1986 People Power; Charity for those considered as ‘enemies,’” he said in a message to CBCPNews.

With the death of Card. Vidal, the number of cardinals worldwide now stands at 219, of whom 120 are ‎below the age of 80, hence are eligible to vote for a new pope.  Ninety-nine are non-voters.  ‎

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis deplores Mogadishu terror attack

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has condemned the terrorist attack that killed over 300 people, including children, in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Speaking during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he wished to express his sorrow for the massacre that took place on Saturday.

“This terrorist act , he said, deserves to be most strongly deplored, also because it falls on a population that is already suffering deeply”.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

The Pope said he is praying for the dead, for the wounded, for their families and for the whole people of Somalia.

“I implore the conversion of those who are violent and send my encouragement to those, who with enormous difficulties, are working for peace in that tortured land” he said.

On the ground in Mogadishu nearly 70 people are still missing  from Saturday's bomb blast that killed more than 300 people in one of the world's deadliest attacks in years

The death toll of 302 is expected to rise. 

Somalia’s government has blamed the attack on the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope General Audience: English Summary

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death.

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Please find below the English Summary of the Pope’s catechesis: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: this morning I wish to reflect on Christian hope and the reality of death, a reality which our modern world so often leaves us unprepared to face.  Past civilizations had the courage to face death, and older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  For our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath.  It is Jesus, however, that ultimately helps us to confront this mystery.  He shows us that it is natural to mourn the loss of a loved one.  For he too wept at Lazarus’ death.  But he did not only mourn; he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb.  Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death. He says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); if we believe in him, even if we die, we will live.  In the face of our sorrow, Jesus invites us to faith in him.  This is our hope: when we mourn, we know that Christ remains always close to us.  And one day, when we too face death, we will hear Jesus’s voice: “I say to you, arise” (Mk 5:41).   

(from Vatican Radio)

Betsy Kneepkens: Fatima pilgrimage was a blessing to my faith

I know that I have had more opportunities than most Catholics. My parents sacrificed to send my 12 siblings and me to Catholic schools, both grade school and high school, and nearly all of us attended Catholic colleges. My parents instilled the value of weekly Mass attendance, and while growing up our social life and faith community were essentially the same group of people. I worked at a Catholic college for almost 28 years, and now I have been blessed to work for the Diocese of Duluth in the Office of Marriage and Family Life.

God has graced me with a husband who is a practicing Catholic, and as a young, newly married couple, we serendipitously selected a neighborhood that includes other Catholic families, our church, and the parish school our children attended. And on any given weekend my family has at least a dozen different Mass times to choose from at nearby parishes when our schedule is complicated.

Betsy Kneepkens
Betsy Kneepkens
Faith and Family

Although I interact with the secular world in daily duties, my foundation is rooted in faith, and I am grateful. These conditions create an idyllic lifestyle so we can more readily focus our lives toward the good, the beautiful, and the holy. I know not everyone gets to experience that same abundance.

Moreover, I have been blessed with additional opportunities which I surmise are even more extraordinary than what the vast majority of Catholics experience in this country. For example, four years ago I attended my first Catholic pilgrimage. I agreed to go not even knowing what a pilgrimage is or what a religious “vacation” is all about. I was intrigued by the trip advertisement, so I signed up.

I quickly learned I was not on a trip or a vacation, I was experiencing something entirely different. I was on a spiritual pilgrimage. I have learned that a Catholic pilgrimage is a journey with a purpose, and that purpose is always the same: to honor God. The travels often take you to a sacred place, but more importantly, this journey is the time of prayer and reflection that calls you to stir your heart toward God.

This retreat, by yourself or with others, allows you to encounter Christ in ways you may never have before. Typically pilgrimages do not provide you the best accommodations or the best food. You might not see a beautiful landscape, and you might be downright uncomfortable during parts or even all of the trip. Nevertheless, I would rather go on pilgrimage anytime rather than a leisure trip. I would go as far as to say I have found vacations less satisfying ever since.

One of my favorite pilgrimages was to Portugal, where I was able to stay a few days at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. This sacred destination is at the site of one of the Catholic Church’s few approved Marian apparitions. Fatima is the site where Mary appeared to three young shepherd children, Francisco, Jacinto, and Lucia, for five months, on the 13th of each month, culminating on Oct. 13, 1917. This October, we celebrate the centennial of the apparition.

I have been to three of the Vatican’s officially approved apparition sites and found great attraction to Fatima. Part of the allure of the Shrine of our Lady of Fatima for me is that this Marian apparition happened while my grandparents were alive. Because this is sort of a contemporary event, technology was such that you can now find videos and pictures on YouTube and read secular archived newspapers which wrote headlines that covered the story. I was even able to look up how this situation was perceived in the U.S. by reading articles from the archived student newspaper at St. Scholastica.

Most impressive to me are the estimates that 70,000 people, believers and skeptics alike, gathered at Fatima 100 years ago this month. Some came to be affirmed and some to proclaim foul. Consequently, this large gathering indeed was able to view the “Miracle of the Sun,” which silenced most critics. This miracle was given as a promise by Mary to the shepherd children, who had to endure hostility, as proof of their vision and to encourage the masses to listen to the messages Mary gave to the shepherd children. This shrine built on the site of the apparitions has since been given to the world, so we remember these important events, most significantly to draw us closer to Christ.

When I went to Fatima, I was among the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who travel there each year. Although outside the shrine there was a bit of commercialization, within the shrine area, which seemed to cover well over a square mile, there was no hint of consumerism. You were not required to pay for anything. Masses were being said in various locations and languages, displaying a diverse harmony was exquisitely Catholic and which I had never seen before. I had the immense privilege of praying the rosary among tens of thousands of other Catholics in every imaginable language while we all processed in a candlelit vigil. Just imagine days of prayer, with others and yet still alone with Christ, all at the same time. Hours were like minutes, and days were like hours. A renewal occurs in your heart that seems to sustain you over time, and that happened to me at Fatima.

I do understand that I have been blessed in ways most of my Catholic brothers and sisters have not. My family and I have been exposed to what the church has to offer us and have tried to remain grateful and humbled by its availability. I also know that the pilgrimages I have taken each year since my first call out an obligation to share what I learn and experience with other faithful. The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is truly a treasure in this church; the centennial draws us closer to Mary’s message at Fatima and her desire to bring us closer to Christ.

For those of us who have had the exceptional experience of going to Fatima and similar sacred destinations, we do have an obligation to share with others. If I meet you someday, don’t hesitate to ask, and if we do, you can learn more about Fatima at www.sacred-destinations.com/portugal/ fatima-shrine-of-our-lady-of-fatima. I know Oct. 13 this year will be a special day of prayer for me, and I hope it can be for you as well.

Betsy Kneepkens is director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Duluth and a mother of six.

Rocking at Built Upon a Rock Fest

When the day’s emcee Father Ryan Moravitz asked the crowd at Built Upon a Rock Fest Sept. 17 if they wanted to do it again next year, there was no mistaking the answer in the big cheer that followed.

The gorgeous late summer Catholic rock concert drew more than 900 people, including about 70 volunteers, to the grounds of the Holy Rosary campus of Stella Maris Academy, while across the street at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, people prayed in Eucharistic Adoration.

The ThirstingAgainst the backdrop of Lake Superior, eagles soared overhead, and a long line formed for the free food — as well as warm drinks like cider as day turned to night and temperatures dropped into the 50s.

A crowd that included Bishop Paul Sirba and numerous priests, deacons, and seminarians in addition to lay faithful from every corner of the diocese ranging from babies to grandparents listened and danced first to the local Aly Aleigha Band and then to headliners The Thirsting.

The whole thing was undoubtedly loud enough to be heard throughout the neighborhood.

When The Thirsting hit the stage and the volume went up, many of the crowd’s younger members made their way up close to the stage to rock out, as the band played its own hits and made Catholic or local riffs off of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home, Alabama” (“Sweet Home, Minnesota”), Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” and U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

The band’s high-energy frontman, Daniel Oberreuter, also tuned things down a notch in the middle of the band’s performance, doing a set of his acoustic songs. Throughout, he encouraged people in their devotion to the Eucharist and the rosary.

The event closed at the Cathedral, with confession and Benediction.

Marie Mullen, who had the original idea for the festival after encountering The Thirsting’s music, said it was amazing watching people enjoy the vision come to life. “I knew that the music would have a good impact on people,” she said.

But she was also in awe of the many people who had come together to make it happen, especially the sponsors who overwhelmed her with their generosity, making it possible to put on the event free for all in attendance, and the volunteers.

“I was in awe,” she said. “For me personally, the thing that I was most touched by was just the volunteers. They were all just serving so willingly and lovingly and humbly. I could see Christ in each one of them.”

“Everything was so efficient, and there was always someone to help do something,” she added.

She also relied on the help of her brother, who owns the staging company.

Mullen said they had planned for 1,000, nearly pegging the number who turned out. “We didn’t run out of anything.”

And she noted that the crowd didn’t really fill out that field — which includes Duluth’s most famous sledding hill — at all.

“In potential years to come, you could sit 3,000 in that field, easy,” she said.

And yes, she and the team of organizers, which also included David Walsh, Kevin Pilon, and Ben Foster, are already thinking about next year, and they even have bands in mind.

“We’ve got a lot of feedback,” Mullen said. “People are desiring it to be an annual event. We feel like that’s what God is desiring too.”

It’s still early and nothing has been arranged yet, but Mullen said if they are able to continue with the event, there may be some tweaks with logistics and timing, but the core of the event was what organizers were aiming at, with the simplicity of a Catholic concert that’s easy for busy people to do.

Through it all, Mullen says God was in charge and “blew her away” at every turn. “His hand was in it so much.”

— Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross

Jason Adkins: Combating racial disparities can begin in three important places

Racial disparities continue to persist in American life. As a response, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently instituted a new initiative to fight racism in all its forms.

Though racism — irrational animus toward others based on their skin color, ethnicity, or race — is a sin within the human heart and cannot be fully eradicated by public policy, we can work in the public arena to mitigate its effects.

Jason Adkins
Jason Adkins
Faith in the Public Arena

Combating racial disparities will require overcoming policies championed by both the political right and left that entrench established ideological and economic power structures. In other words, it requires the wisdom of Catholic social teaching.

Racism is about exclusion

The effects of racism can be measured many ways, but one way to look at them is the degree to which African Americans and other persons of color are excluded from social, economic, and political participation in American life.

The possibility of participation in the economy, in cultural life, and in politics, is, according to the Church’s social doctrine, a necessary condition for human flourishing. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design” (1959).

Laws remain on the books that, while not necessarily discriminatory on their face, disproportionately affect persons of color.

Fostering racial justice

The policies that exacerbate racial disparities and deny social participation today are found primarily, though not exclusively, in three areas: education, criminal justice, and the family.

For example, too many children of color are trapped in underperforming schools and, as a result, there is a significant achievement gap between white students and students of color, particularly African-American and Latino students.

As education is the great ladder of opportunity, denying children the right to a good education puts a significant barrier in their path to social, cultural, political, and economic participation.

Kids need a lifeline, and giving families greater choice in education is a top civil rights imperative.

Similarly, kids trapped in failing schools and who lack hope often turn to a life of crime, which is known today as the school-to-prison pipeline. And because of overly punitive sentencing policies that helped politicians win elections, we imprisoned many nonviolent people unnecessarily, particularly African-American men, when what they really needed was treatment, counseling, or a job.

Putting more people in prison will certainly limit crime in the short term, but not without other long-term costs.

Fortunately, public officials on both sides of the aisle now recognize these costs, and Minnesota has led the way in criminal justice reform during the past few years, enacting policies such as “ban the box” and drug sentencing reform.

But more can be done, such as reconsidering the length of probation sentences imposed on offenders who have shown good character, as well as identifying ways to eliminate the collateral consequences of a conviction that impede access to education, employment, and housing.

Imprisoning large numbers of African-American men during their prime education and earning years has severely harmed their long-term economic prospects, as well as their ability to marry and form families. Many of these men are considered unmarriageable and, as a result, 70 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock to women who are often not even partnered, let alone married.

A major difference in the percentage of white and black children born to married parents (64 to 30) is perhaps the most significant cause of racial disparities, and one that creates a cycle of poverty and exclusion that leads back to the education-to-prison pipeline.

According to the Institute for Family Studies, “Black children in the United States enjoy less family stability than white children, experiencing close to twice as many family transitions — union dissolutions and partnership formations — as white children. Family instability is associated with a host of negative outcomes ranging from asthma to obesity, and from teen pregnancy to substance abuse. It is also negatively linked with fundamental predictors of success in adult life like educational attainment. For these reasons, black children’s family instability is an important part of the U.S. stratification story.”

Similarly, welfare reform was meant to encourage marriage and foster family stability, but is often structured in ways that either do not encourage marriage, or even discourage it. That needs to change.

The data is in: Family structure matters to child well-being, and kids need both their mother and father to play an active role in their life.

To be sure, combating racial disparities is a complex and challenging problem. Other issues, such as discrimination in employment and housing, and the creation of barriers to economic mobility by the monopolistic behavior of businesses and industries, also play a role.

But to decrease the reality of an economy of exclusion and foster greater social participation by minorities and persons of color, education, criminal justice, and marriage are important places to start.

Jason Adkins is executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Pope Francis backs International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

(Vatican Radio) During the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded the crowds that on Tuesday, 17th October, we mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

It’s an occurrence that was established 25 years ago by the UN and it continues to challenge leaders and policymakers to put in place appropriate social protection systems and measures that cover everybody, especially the most vulnerable.

In his address on Sunday, Pope Francis said “poverty has nothing to do with fatality: it stems from causes that must be recognized and removed”.

One organization that is marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is Caritas Europa with a call to leaders to ensure that no one is left under the poverty line.

Shannon Pfohman, Policy and Advocacy Director of Caritas Europa told Linda Bordoni why it is important to mark a day such as this in 2017 and about how she is looking forward to the establishment by Pope Francis, on November 19th, of the World Day of the Poor.

Listen:

Shannon Pfohman explains that a Day such as this is an important awareness raising event, globally, because the scourge of poverty is still of enormous proportions.

She says that “despite the European Union’s efforts to tackle poverty starting with the 2020 European Strategy Goals which including a target to diminish the number of people in poverty, little has improved” for a number of reasons.

“So today it is an important day to remind policy makers and world leaders of the importance to focus attention on the situation of poverty today” she said.

Caritas Europa has issued a statement entitled ‘Let’s make poverty history by 2030!”. Pfohman explains that this is related to the Sustainable Development goals adopted by the UN and it refers to the Agenda 2030. 

“We are now hoping that this agenda will contribute to ending poverty because the first goal of the SDGs is to end poverty and it has a number of different targets that governments are supposed to adopt and incorporate in their National Plan in order to meet this – and other goals - by 2030” she said.


Poverty in Europe

Although the European continent is home to many of the world’s richest nations, it is by no mean free from the scourge of poverty. Pfohman said that there are different understandings of what we mean when we speak of poverty: “Pope Francis often refers to material and spiritual poverty”.

For the European Commission, poverty is measured, Pfohman explained, by considering three main elements linked to income, to social exclusion and material deprivation and to very low work intensity.

“Every fourth person in the EU is experiencing at least one of these three forms of poverty or social exclusion” she said.

Pope Francis

Pfohman speaks of the boost organizations such as Caritas receive from the Pope.

“Pope Francis and the Catholic Social Teaching is the basis for our advocacy message and having a strong speaker like the Pope makes our message louder and heard more globally” she said.

World Day of the Poor

Looking ahead to the near future she said: “We look forward to him introducing the World Day of the Poor on November 19th which will be an attempt to look at the many forms of material and spiritual poverty that poison people’s hearts and harm their dignity”.

Pfohman also said the Pope will be making an appeal to society in the week before November 19th to focus on the globalization of indifference and to put our beliefs into action: “as Pope Francis says we are not talking about statistics, we are talking about people”.

Recommendations for European Governments

Pfohman also speaks about the work Caritas Europa is doing and says that one of the suggestions for improvement is very much linked to the need for European Governments to revise their social protection system.

In this regard, she said, Caritas has a number of recommendations, the first of which sees the family as a vital cell of society and as a safety net: “We wish to ensure the right to family life by promoting a series of family oriented policies”.

The second recommendation, she continued, regards fostering inclusive labour markets and recognizing the value of work and people’s contribution to society.

The third, regards the revamping of “the social protection system to ensure comprehensive national social provision coverage to meet the needs of all persons residing in the country”.

Pfohman says Caritas has numerous other recommendations but she highlights that at Caritas they are also hopeful that the European Pillar of Social Rights which should be proclaimed on November 17th at the EU Social Summit “will be another support for member States in their effort to tackle poverty and social exclusion throughout Europe”.       

      

(from Vatican Radio)

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 15, 2017