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Pope promises to send special message to FAO meeting in Ethiopia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked World Food Day this week with a visit to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) where he called on world leaders and policymakers to work for a concrete, practical consensus to prevent the most tragic effects of climate change hitting the weakest and most defenseless.

“We need to change our lifestyles, the use of resources, production and consumption patterns,” the Pope said, and he decried what he described as the “negligence” that is damaging the “delicate balances of the ecosystems” and the “arrogance of manipulating and controlling” the planet.

Hosting the Pope at FAO’s Headquarters in Rome was FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, who immediately afterwards spoke to Vatican Radio:

Listen

Da Silva points out that the Vatican has Permanent Observer Status at FAO but most important, he says, as the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church he represents values that FAO shares: solidarity, dignity, and hope in a better world.

“We share those values in FAO and Pope Francis is a continuing inspiration for us, and not only through ‘Laudato Sì’ where he approaches the issue of climate change – a very important common global value” he says.

He says that Pope Francis is one of those rare people who have dedicated their entire lives to promoting important values: “these people are indispensable”.

“I think that Pope Francis is one of those people who have worked hard all of their lives and that he is one of the few indispensable people in the world today” he says.

Before addressing his audience at FAO, da Silva says he had the opportunity to speak with Pope Francis personally about some of the programmes his organization shares with the Vatican.

“We discussed particularly the need to concentrate our efforts in Africa and to stop the conflicts, and also to deal with the impact of climate change” he says.

Da Silva also revealed that Pope Francis promised to send a special message for the meeting that FAO is organizing during the African Union Summit that FAO is organizing next January 2018 in Addis Ababa.      

 

(from Vatican Radio)

World Methodist Council: dialogue must reach local level

(Vatican Radio) Methodist and Catholic theologians are meeting just outside Rome this week, marking the 50th anniversary of the first ecumenical dialogue group following the Second Vatican Council. That first session of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission was held in the hill town of Ariccia in October 1967.

Pope Francis met with members of the current Commission on Thursday, together with leaders of the World Methodist Council, saying that half a century of dialogue has set us free from estrangement and suspicion and helped us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

South African Bishop Ivan Abrahams is General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the concrete fruits of this ecumenical journey….

Listen:

He says two of the key ingredients that have marked this “50 year pilgrimage or journey” are the love and trust that has been built up and that are reflected in the seven joint reports that have been produced thus far.

One of the great challenges, he says, is to let the fruits of this dialogue “percolate to the local level and we need to see how we can do that much more effectively”.

'That they may be one'

He notes that the latest dialogue report entitled ‘A Call to Holiness: from glory to glory’ stresses that working for unity is “a fundamental part of our mission and our witness to the world, to see that Jesus’ high priestly prayer is made reality”.

Speaking about the situation in his native South Africa, Abrahams says that as he saw the demise of apartheid in his lifetime, “I’d hoped to see the reality of “that they may be one” in my lifetime”.

Autonomy in mission and witness

Talking about the Methodist model of governance, he says there’s no compromise on key issues of faith, but “we don’t apply the ‘one size fits all’ model”, leaving the various conferences autonomy to make their own decisions about mission and witness.

Asked about Pope Francis’ efforts to give local Catholic bishops’ conferences with more autonomy over pastoral decision making, Abrahams says “I think that it is really the only way to go, if we speak about the integrity of the Gospel, because every cultural context is uniquely different”.

Pope Francis embodies unity

While practical cooperation on issues like migration, refugees or climate change are important, he says, consensus in the theological dialogue remains crucial because “we need to clarify so we can walk together”.

Finally Bishop Abrahams praises Pope Francis’ way of reaching out to young generations, saying he is “a beacon of hope” and “somebody who embodies the unity that we’re seeking to live”.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope meets students, staff of “Institution des Chartreux”‎

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday urged students of a French Catholic School to watch out against the lure and slavery of money, and train themselves to be promoters and defenders of equality and justice in the world. 

Some 80 students and staff of Institution des Chartreux of Lyons, in Rome as part of their semester, met the Pope in the Vatican.  Known commonly as Les Chartreux, the private school is managed by the Carthusians. 

Lure and slavery of money

The Pope expressed satisfaction that while they were preparing themselves to enter the big commercial schools to pursue professional careers in the world of finance, their current academic formation at Les Chartreux was providing them a strong human, philosophical and cultural dimension.  “It is essential,” he said, “that from now on and in your future professional life you learn to be free from the ‘lure of money’, from the slavery into which money shuts those who worship it.”    He said it is also important that they have the “strength and courage not to blindly obey the invisible hand of the market.”  “Hence,” he said, “I encourage you to make the best of your study time to train yourselves to become promoters and defenders of growth in equity, and artisans of an upright and adequate administration of our common home, the world.” 

Just and humane world

Pope Francis further exhorted them to become responsible for this world and for the life of every man, never forgetting that “every injustice against a poor person is an open wound and belittles your very dignity.”    He told the students to find the means and the time to take on the path of brotherhood to create bridges rather than walls among men in order to add their stone to building a more just and humane society.   He concluded encouraging them to work for good and be a humble seed of a new world.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican hosts conference on Disability and Catechesis

(Vatican Radio) A global conference will open in Rome on Friday looking at best practices to help people with disabilities fully engage in the life of the Church.

The event entitled "Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church", is being sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and partnered by The Kairos Forum, a UK based organization that focuses on the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities.

Over the course of the three day gathering 450 experts from around the world will share their insights.

Lydia O’Kane spoke to Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, about the goals of the conference.

Listen to the interview:

 

Speaking about how the conference came about, Mons Sylva said, “this international conference is the fruit that was sewn during the Jubilee (of Mercy) with all the other discussions that took place afterwards.”

He underlined that, “the aim and the goal is for us as a Church and for this Pontifical Council to really learn what are the best practices that are already taking place throughout the world in catechizing people with special needs …”

The Church and Disability

But, Mons. Sylva also added that, what this conference is also meant to do is to “highlight the responsibility that we have as a Church to take into account the special needs for each of the baptized, so that we can present to him or her the catechism, the catechesis of our Church in a way that they can receive it; they can grasp the elements of it .”

The global conference, "Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church", will run from the 20th to the 22nd of October at the Urbaniana University in Rome.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis marks 50 years of Methodist-Catholic dialogue

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with leaders of the World Methodist Council on Thursday, celebrating fifty years of dialogue between the two Churches.

Noting that in the Old Testament, a golden jubilee was a moment to set slaves free, the pope said “we too have been freed from the slavery of estrangement and mutual suspicion”.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: 

After fifty years of patient dialogue, he said, “we are no longer strangers” but rather, through our shared Baptism, “members of the  household of God”.

True dialogue, the pope continued, gives us courage to encounter one another in humility and sincerity” as we seek to learn from each other.

Wesley's example of holiness

Speaking about the 18th century preacher John Wesley, who, with his brother Charles founded the Methodist movement, Pope Francis said his words and his example of holiness brought many people to Christ. When we recognize the working of the Holy Spirit in other Christian confessions, he said, “we cannot fail to rejoice”, as they can “also help us grow closer to the Lord”.

Serving the poor together

The pope also noted how our faith becomes tangible when it takes the concrete form of love and service to the poor and marginalized. As Methodists and Catholics together, when we assist those who are alienated or in need, he said, we are responding to the Lord’s summons.

Become ministers of reconciliation

We cannot grow in holiness without growing in communion, Pope Francis concluded. As you begin a new phase of dialogue devoted to reconciliation, may your discussions be a gift for Christians everywhere to become ministers of reconciliation. Let us prepare ourselves with humble hope and concrete efforts, he said, for that full recognition which will enable us to join one another in the breaking of bread together.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Mass: The gift of God's salvation opens the door to all

The Lord gives us the memory of  God's salvation which is “a gift” and close to the concreteness of the works of mercy he wants us to do, whether they are "material or spiritual": so we will become people who help to "open the door" to ourselves and others. That was Pope Francis’ prayer at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Recalling the passage from Luke's Gospel in which the Scribes and Pharisees considered themselves righteous, and Jesus makes known to them that God alone is just, the Pope explained why law practitioners had "taken knowledge away" with "the consequence of not being able to enter the Kingdom nor let others enter either".

Listen to our report:

"This leads us to understand the revelation of God, to understand God's heart, to understand God's salvation - the key to knowledge - we can say it is very neglected. One forgets the freedom of salvation; forgetting the closeness of God and forgetting God's mercy. And those who forget the gift of salvation, the closeness of God, and the mercy of God, have taken away the key to knowledge. "

Therefore, this gift was "forgotten". It is "God's initiative to save us and instead stand on the side of the law": Salvation - said the Pope - "is there for them", thus arriving in "a bunch of prescriptions" which in fact become salvation. So, "they do not receive the power of God's righteousness." The law, however, is always "an answer to God's generous love", which has taken "the initiative" to save us. And, continued Pope Francis, "when you forget the gift of salvation you fall, you lose the key to the intelligence of the history of salvation", losing "the sense of God's closeness":

"For them, God is the one who has made the law. But this is not the God of revelation. The God of revelation is a God who has begun to walk with us from Abraham to Jesus Christ, God walking with His people. And when you lose this close relationship with the Lord, you fall into this dull mindset that believes in the self-sufficiency of salvation with the fulfillment of the law. The closeness of God ".

When the closeness of God is lacking, when prayer is lacking, the Pope emphasized "doctrine cannot be taught" and not even by "studying theology", much less "moral theology": The Pope reiterated that theology "kneels down, always close to God ". And the closeness of the Lord comes "to the highest point of the crucified Jesus Christ," being "justified" for the blood of Christ, as Saint Paul said. For this reason, the Pontiff explained, the works of mercy "are the stone of the fulfillment of the law," because they touch the flesh of Christ, "touch Christ’s suffering in a person, both corporally and spiritually." Also, when the key to knowledge is lost, one also becomes "corrupt". The Pope finally noted the "responsibilities" of shepherds, now in the Church commenting that  when they lose or take away the "key of intelligence", they close  "the door on themselves and on others":

In my country, said the Pope,  "I have heard several times of parish priests who did not baptize the children of the mothers because they were not born in  canonical marriage. They closed the door, why? Because the heart of these parish priests had lost the key to knowledge.

Three months ago, in a country, in a city, a mother wanted to baptize her newly born son, but she was married civilly with a divorced man. The priest said, 'Yes, yes. Baptize the baby. But your husband is divorced. So he cannot be present at the ceremony. ' This is happening today. The Pharisees, doctors of the law are not people of the past, even today there are many of them. That is why we need prayers for us shepherds. To pray that we do not lose the key to knowledge and do not close the door to ourselves and the people who want to enter. "

(from Vatican Radio)

U. S. Bishops to Vote for Conference Secretary, Chairman and Chairmen-Elect of Five Committees at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 13-14

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be voting for the conference secretary, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees at the upcoming annual 2016 General Assembly taking place November 13-14 in Baltimore, Maryland. The five committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops' 2018 Fall General Assembly.  

Nominees for the Conference Secretary, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and Chairman-elect of each committee are as follows:

Conference Secretary:

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archdiocese of Detroit

Committee on Communications:

Bishop John O. Barres, Diocese of Rockville Centre
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington

Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church:

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland

Committee on Doctrine:

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, Diocese of Toledo

Committee on National Collections:

Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, Diocese of Saginaw
Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, Archdiocese of Dubuque

Committee on Pro-Life Activities:

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas

Committee on Religious Liberty - Chairman:

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media. Sessions open to the media will be Monday, November 13, and Tuesday, November 14. Media conferences will follow the close of each open session. Reporters interested in covering the meeting can download a credential application form at:  http://www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/upload/application-news-media-credentials.pdf

Please submit credential form by November 7. You can submit your form via email to USCCB Media Relations, fax (202) 541-3173, or mail:

Address:
November Meeting Credentials
Office of Media Relations
3211 4th St. NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, committees, elections, conference secretary, committee chairmen-elect

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Names Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Siegel as New Bishop of Evansville

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, as the new bishop of Evansville, Indiana.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on October 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Bishop Siegel was named Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Illinois, by Pope Benedict XVI on October 28, 2009 and was ordained a bishop on January 19, 2010 by Bishop Peter Sartain.

He was born in Lockport Township on July 18, 1963 and is the youngest of nine children. He attended St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana, where he completed his college education.  He was then sent to the North American College in Rome (1984-1988), attending the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities.

Bishop Siegel was ordained a priest for the Joliet Diocese in 1988 and then completed his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois.

Assignments after ordination include: associate pastor, St. Isidore Parish, Bloomingdale, Illinois, 1988-1994; associate pastor, St. Mary Immaculate Parish, Plainfield, Illinois, 1994-1998; parochial vicar, St. Mary Nativity Church, Joliet, Illinois, 1998-2000; parochial vicar, Cathedral of St. Raymond, Joliet, Illinois, 2000-2004; pastor, Visitation Parish, Elmhurst, Illinois, 2004-2009. In July 2011, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon appointed Bishop Siegel as his Vicar General.

Bishop Siegel has served as a member and chairman of the Presbyteral Council and was appointed to the Diocesan Board of Consultors. He also served as director of Continuing Formation for Priests, a member of the Diocesan Vocation Board, the Priest Personnel Board and Dean of Eastern Will County.

At the Catholic Conference of Illinois, he served on the Executive Committee and was chairman of the Catholics for Life Department. He chaired the Steering Committee for the Joliet Diocesan Year of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Congress and has been a member of the Bishops' Respect Life Advisory Board. He is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Diocese of Evansville, Indiana, comprises 5,010 square miles. It has a total population of 512,870 people of which 76,218, or 15 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Bishop Joseph Siegel, Diocese of Joliet, Diocese of Evansville, bishop appointment, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Migration and Refugee Services Release Report Recommending Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador and Honduras

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS), released its report today, entitled Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle recommending the U.S. government extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador and Honduras.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a letter of introduction of the report states: "As this report indicates, there is ample evidence to suggest that current TPS recipients from Honduras and El Salvador cannot return safely to their home country at this time."

A delegation from MRS/USCCB traveled to Honduras and El Salvador, from August 13 to 19, 2017, to examine conditions in both countries regarding Honduras and El Salvador's ability to adequately receive and integrate the possible return of existing TPS recipients. USCCB/MRS Committee Member, Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell of Los Angeles, California, led the delegation and was accompanied by MRS staff from Children's Services, Policy and Public Affairs, and the National Collections offices.

Currently, El Salvador and Honduras have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from the U.S. government for certain nationals living in the United States, and the review of TPS is shortly to be re-evaluated by the U.S. government. It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 current TPS recipients from El Salvador and 57,000 TPS recipients from Honduras living in the United States. TPS recipients living in the United States are parents to over 270,000 U.S. citizen children and are very integrated into American daily life.

Bishop Vásquez states in his introductory letter: "As you read this report, I urge you to keep the people of El Salvador and Honduras, including TPS recipients, in your thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to engage the Administration in requesting a TPS extension for El Salvador and Honduras . . . and to reach out to your elected Congressional leaders to request they support a legislative solution for TPS recipients who have been in the United States for many years."

Resources and information about Temporary Protected Status and the report are available on the Justice for Immigrants website www.justiceforimmigrants.org. The information includes a backgrounder on the temporary protected status and a toolkit for Catholic leaders that offers ideas on how to show their support and solidarity with TPS recipients.

The full text of the report can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/fact-finding-mission-reports/upload/el-salvador-honduras-report-20171016.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services, Temporary Protected Status, TPS recipients, TPS beneficiaries, Congress, Honduras, El Salvador, refugees, migration, prayers, legislative solution

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of Bishop John W. Flesey from the office of auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Newark. 

The announcement was publicized in Washington on October 16 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Bishop Flesey has served in the Archdiocese since 1969.

As required by Canon Law, Bishop Flesey submitted to Pope Francis his letter offering his retirement having reached 75 years of age.

The Most Reverend John Walter Flesey, STD was born in Jersey City, NJ in 1942. He attended Immaculate Conception Seminary until 1969, when he was ordained.

Bishop Flesey's first assignment was to St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Plainfield, after which he earned an STL degree in Spiritual Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. 

He also holds an MS degree in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College and an STB from Catholic University of America.

He has served the Archdiocese as a member of the faculty, Rector and Dean, and Spiritual Director of Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University, as well as Director of Ongoing Formation for the Priests of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Bishop Flesey was named Titular Bishop of Allegheny and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark in May 2004. He currently serves as Regional Bishop of Bergen County and Pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Franklin Lakes. 

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Bishop John W. Flesey, Archdiocese of Newark, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio.  

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200