Friday, February 29, 2008

29 FEB 2008 (VIS)
- The Holy Father today received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", who are meeting to reflect on the theme: "Human and spiritual qualities of people who work in Catholic charity institutions".

"Charitable activity occupies a central position in the Church's evangelising mission", said the Pope. We must not forget that works of charity are an important area in which to meet people who do not yet know Christ, or who know Him only partially. It is right, then, that pastors and those responsible for pastoral charity work ... should concern themselves with the human, professional and theological-spiritual formation" of people who operate in this field.

"Those who work in the many forms of charitable activity of the Church cannot, then, content themselves just with offering technical services or resolving practical problems and difficulties. The assistance they provide must never be reduced to mere philanthropy but must be a tangible expression of evangelical love".

Charity workers, the Pope explained, must be, "above all, witnesses of evangelical love". They achieve this "if the ultimate aim of their mission is not that of being social service operatives, but of announcing the Gospel of charity. Following Christ's footsteps, they are called to be witnesses of the value of life in all its expressions, especially defending the life of the weak and the sick, following the example of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who loved and looked after the dying, because life is not measured in terms of efficiency, but has value always and for everyone".

Ecclesial charity workers, Benedict XVI continued, are also "called to be witnesses of love, of the fact that we fully become men and women when we live for others, that no-one must die and live for themselves alone".

And, he concluded, charity workers "must be witnesses of God, Who is fullness of love and invites us to love".


Archbishop/Emigration: El Salvador

ZE08022808 - 2008-02-28Permalink:

Archbishop: Emigration Threatens Salvadoran Families
Says Country Remains Strong in Vocations and Life Issues

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2008 ( The disintegration of the family provoked by emigration is a concern for the bishops of El Salvador, affirmed the president of that nation's episcopal conference.Archbishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle of San Salvador explained this and other challenges while in Rome for the five-yearly visit of El Salvador's bishops, which was just completed. Benedict XVI addressed the bishops today.

Referring to the high number of emigrants -- more that 2.5 million Salvadorans live in the United States -- the archbishop told Vatican Radio that "the most worrisome situation is that of illegal emigrants who cannot return but only send money, and therefore do not see their own children who are being educated by the grandparents.""A very concrete action of the Church is trying to maintain contact with the emigrants," he said, highlighting that "many bishops of El Salvador gladly agree to visit Salvadoran communities outside the country, [and] there are also a lot of priests assigned to these communities."

Along these lines, Archbishop Sáenz Lacalle said, seminarians are being sent to a seminary in Mexico, founded by Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, "to prepare priests to carry out their mission among emigrants to North America."

Despite the strong tendency to emigrate, the prelate affirmed, the Salvadoran population is growing and movement within the country presents the problem of "how to provide adequate pastoral assistance to this part of the population, which implies the need of establishing new parishes." "Thanks be to God," he continued, "we have a lot of vocations and young priests and we think we form them well, thus we don't have the need to seek outside aid."


Archbishop Sáenz Lacalle also spoke about the problem of exploited metal mines, discussed in the most recent meeting of the nation's episcopal council."To begin," he said, "there is a great injustice: Only 3% of the benefits from the mines go to the country, while 97% goes to mining businesses.

"The 75-year-old archbishop warned, though, that the graver question is the contaminating cyanide used to extract the metals: "And El Salvador is densely populated. The water used in the entire country comes from the north and the contamination of the population is very evident. It is logical, then, that we would sound the alarm about this problem."

The Salvadoran episcopal assembly is also focused on life issues, specifically abortion."Thanks be to God," Archbishop Sáenz Lacalle said, "starting a few years ago, thanks to the activity of many Catholic organizations, we have collected a lot of signatures and obtained, with the vote of more than two-thirds of the deputies, an amendment to the first article of the Constitution, which speaks of respect for life, including the specification 'from the moment of conception.'"

The archbishop added, "It has been a great result that has permitted the defense of life, impeding whatever legislation that facilitates or permits abortion."Now, he continued, the bishops are "fighting to obtain another Constitutional reform that defines, or redefines, matrimony as a union between one man and one woman, to impede any type of union that is not that of matrimony." In the same way, they want to "make it so that adoption is conceded only to heterosexual people who are rightly married."

Some 83% of El Salvador's near 7 million people are Catholic.

Thursday, February 28, 2008



VATICAN CITY, 28 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" today begins its 28th plenary assembly. The meeting, which will end on 1 March, is dedicated to the theme: "Human and spiritual qualities of people who work in Catholic charity institutions".

One of the aims of the assembly is to re-examine Benedict XVI's Encyclical "Deus caritas est" and to verify if and how it has changed the attitude of those who work in the charitable arm of the Church. Attention will also be given to the question of the integral and continuous formation of managers and workers in the various Catholic charity organisations.

The 28th general assembly will begin with an address by Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of "Cor Unum", followed by a report from Msgr. Karel Kasteel, secretary of that pontifical council. Following this, representatives of the various charitable bodies will discuss their work experiences.

Friday 29 February will be dedicated to examining the principal theme of the meeting, the main contribution coming from the president of the Catholic charities of Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A. (NOTE: I believe that they mean Fr. Larry Snyder from CCUSA -- bc)

Subsequently, Professor Paul Schallenberg of the university of Fulda, Germany, will address the gathering on the subject: "The place of mercy in the welfare State. Theological-ethical observations". At the end of the second day, participants will visit the "Comunita dell'Agnello", a group of female religious who operate on the streets and in homes announcing the Gospel and working with the poor.

On Saturday 1 March, working groups will meet to discuss ideas and proposals for formation.
Cardinal Cordes, in the belief that the power of Christian witness among people who suffer derives from the personal conviction of those who work in the sector of charity, has invited leaders of national and diocesan Catholic charity organisations of the American continent to a week of spiritual exercises, to be held in June in Guadalajara, Mexico.


Monday, February 25, 2008



VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in an international congress entitled: "Close by the Incurable Sick Person and the Dying: Scientific and Ethical Aspects". the even was promoted by the PontificalAcademyfor Life for the occasion of their general assembly which will be held in the Vaticanover coming days.

"Death", said the Pope, "concludes the experience of earthly life, but through death there opens for each of us, beyond time, the full and definitive life. ... For the community of believers, this encounter between the dying person and the Source of Life and Love represents a gift that has a universal value, that enriches the communion of the faithful". In this context, he highlighted how all the community should participate alongside close relatives in the last moments of a person's life. "No believer", he said, "should die alone and abandoned".

All society "is called to respect the life and dignity of the seriously ill and the dying", said the Holy Father. "Though aware of the fact that 'it is not science that redeems man', all society, and in particular the sectors associated with medical science, are duty bound to express the solidarity of love, and to safeguard and respect human life in every moment of its earthly development, especially when it is ill or in its terminal stages.

"In more concrete terms", he added, "this means ensuring that every person in need finds the necessary support through appropriate treatments and medical procedures - identified and administered using criteria of therapeutic proportionality - while bearing in mind the moral duty to administer (on the part of doctors) and to accept (on the part of patients) those means for preserving life which, in a particular situation, may be considered as 'ordinary'".

As for forms of treatment "with significant levels of risk or that may reasonably be judged to be 'extraordinary', recourse thereto may be considered as morally acceptable, but optional. Furthermore, it will always be necessary to ensure that everyone has the treatment they require, and that families tried by the sickness of one of their members receive support, especially if the sickness is serious or prolonged".

Just as when a child is born family members have specific rights to take time off work, said the Pope, in the same way "similar rights must be recognised" to the relatives of the terminally ill. "A greater respect for individual human life inevitably comes through the concrete solidarity of each and all, and constitutes one of the most pressing challenges of our times".

After noting how it is becoming ever more common for elderly people in large cities to be alone "even in moments of serious illness and when approaching death", the Holy Father noted that such situations increase pressures towards euthanasia, "especially when a utilitarian view of people has become established". In this context, he once again recalled "the firm and constant ethical condemnation of all forms of direct euthanasia, in keeping with the centuries-long teaching of the Church".

"The synergetic efforts of civil society and of the community of believers must ensure not only that everyone is able to live in a dignified and responsible way, but also that they can face moments of trial and of death in the finest condition of fraternity and solidarity, even where death comes in a poor family or a hospital bed".

Society, said the Holy Father must "ensure due support to families who undertake to care in the home, sometimes for long periods, sick members who are afflicted with degenerative conditions, ... or who need particularly costly assistance. ... It is above all in this field that synergy between the Church and the institutions can prove particularly important in ensuring the necessary help for human life in moments of frailty". AC/.../PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE VIS080225 (650)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vatican Meeting on Care of Homeless

Vatican Meeting on Care of Homeless

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2008 ( ).- The final document of the International Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Homeless on the theme "In Christ and With the Church at the Service of the Homeless," held Nov. 26-27 in the Vatican, can be found on the ZENIT Web page: .

The meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, and the document was released this week by the dicastery.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Anti-Trafficking efforts/Vatican

Anti-Trafficking Efforts Need to Focus on "Beneficiaries"
Vatican Urges Keeping Human Rights at Center of Strategies
VIENNA, Austria, FEB. 14, 2008 ( ).-To combat human trafficking, attention needs to be given to those who demand or benefit from it, said a Vatican official.Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, affirmed this at the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, which ends Friday."

The Holy See appreciates the efforts undertaken at various levels to combat human trafficking, which is a multidimensional problem, and one of the most shameful phenomena of our era," he said. "It is well known that poverty, as well as the lack of opportunities and of social cohesion, push people to look for a better future despite the related risks, making them extremely vulnerable to trafficking.

Moreover, it should be emphasized that, nowadays, several factors contribute to the spread of this crime, namely, the absence of specific rules in some countries, the victims’ ignorance of their own rights, the sociocultural structure and armed conflicts."The archbishop said that all strategies to combat human trafficking and to protect victims should but human rights at the center.The prelate also stressed that "the demand side" of human trafficking needs to be addressed, that is, in sexual exploitation, "'customers’ -- ordinary men: young men, husbands and fathers"; and in other forms of trafficking, "for example, illicit forms of subcontracting activities that profit from exploitative labor conditions."

Archbishop Marchetto noted how local bishops' conferences have taken up the problem of trafficking in their respective geographical areas."This has resulted in a direct involvement of Catholic organizations and institutions in various countries in assisting the victims, which includes listening to them, providing them with necessary assistance and support to escape from sexual violence, creating safe houses, promoting counseling geared towards reintegration into society or helping them to return in a sustainable way to their homelands and sponsoring prevention and awareness raising activities," he noted.

Complex issues
Archbishop Marchetto acknowledged that "easy solutions do not exist" for the problem of human trafficking."Addressing these particular human rights’ abuses requires a coherent and integral approach," he said.

The 67-year-old prelate continued: "This should take into account not only the best interests of the victim, but also the just punishment of those who benefit from it, and the introduction of preventive measures such as, on the one hand, awareness- and consciousness-raising and, on the other, addressing the root causes of the phenomenon, among which the macroeconomic situation certainly should not be overlooked."Among other things, a coherent and integral approach should also promote the integration of the victims, especially those who collaborate against the traffickers, which includes medical care and psychosocial counseling, accommodation, residence permits and access to employment. It also means the return to the homeland, which may be accompanied by micro projects and/or loans, thus ensuring that victims do not return to the same harmful environment."

In addition, measures could be introduced for the creation of compensation schemes. These could be financed by the confiscation of the profits and the assets gained by the traffickers through their criminal activities.In any case, Archbishop Marchetto concluded, efforts to combat human trafficking are key for the whole of society. "As Pope Benedict XVI stated in his recent encyclical on hope," he said, "'The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society.'"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

How Caritas Really Helps

How Caritas Really Helps
Interview With Aid Organization Official
By Nieves San Martín

ROME, FEB. 7, 2008 ( ).- When Caritas responds to an international crisis it does more than deliver material aid, because the people they are helping are more than material beings, says a Caritas director.Paolo Beccegato, head of the international section of Caritas Italy, told ZENIT in this interview that the organization of the agency must be professional and efficient, but above all be sensitive to the reality of the cultural, historical and religious elements of the society at hand.Only in this way, he said, is Caritas able to meet the "real needs of the people involved in the catastrophe."

Q: Caritas is known internationally for its emergency aid programs, but you talk about the organization's pedagogical function. How does this happen in practice?Beccegato: Caritas is known in the world for its charitable, rapid, decisive and well-organized action in emergency interventions to help stricken populations. Caritas works to spread -- in the Church and in society as a whole -- the witness of charity, the logic of service, preferential love for the poor and the marginalized.But our charter, in its first article, gives us the mission to sensitize, to educate: "Caritas Italy has the goal of promoting the witness of charity in the ecclesial communities of Italy -- on the parish level, but not only there -- in view of the total development of the person, of social justice and peace, with particular attention to the latter and with a prevalent pedagogical function."This is to say that our objective is to educate in charity and solidarity, to promote conduct and lifestyles imbued by the gift of self and involvement with next-door neighbors as well as with the great problems of the world: wars, injustice and underdevelopment.Educating in solidarity and in a global outlook, with a cultural approach, comprises the fact of understanding the interdependence of macro phenomena and lifestyles in the everyday. Thus, you could say that our mandate is also to do politics, because it is a work that is directed to the common good, to justice and peace. This task is translated into educational proposals at two levels: internal -- with national, diocesan and local groups and even involving our workers -- and external, for example, making proposals to young people in regard to volunteering and civil service, so that our proposals are not isolated expressions, but are articulated with a cultural and intercultural approach. Solidarity also means giving alms, but this is not soothing the conscience and keeping a distance from problems, rather it is to put the poor at the center of the community.

Q: In a recent article you wrote that an "organizing machine" is not enough to respond to emergencies. What do you think should be done?Beccegato: The problem of rapid interventions in emergencies raises very delicate issues: the risk that one runs with "air-dropped" aid -- that is, to achieve effective interventions, but forgetting the whole context in which you are working, with its historical, cultural and religious elements -- is not to enter into the real needs of the people involved in the catastrophe.Along with professional competence, it is necessary to have experience and a great capacity to listen to reality.At this point it is necessary to consider man in his whole identity: material, but with anthropological, relational, psychosocial components. This requires a rigorous formation of the workers without leaving aside the role of the local Caritas to avoid focusing only on the epicenter of the emergency. Having a local Caritas on-site is important because, as Benedict XVI's encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" reminds us, "[W]hile professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient." Besides professional preparation, as Benedict XVI says, the "formation of the heart" is above all necessary, because we are dealing with human beings.We emphatically reassert that the importance of the intervention of solidarity is not over after the first phase of the emergency, but continues over time through rehabilitation and development plans.

Q: You have just come back from Haiti. What struck you the most about this experience?Beccegato: This country's experience is emblematic: In the last decades it has lived through moments of conflict -- political and humanitarian emergencies -- but at the moment its situation is almost forgotten in the international context and by our mass media.Haiti, the first black republic in the world, already independent at the beginning of the 19th century, despite indisputable steps forward and the relative stability that reigns in the country, above all in the last year and a half, remains a very poor country, the poorest in Latin America. In Haiti life expectancy is very low, 53 years -- compared to 69 years in its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Approximately 53.9% of the population lives in absolute poverty, with less than $1 a day -- compared to $2.50 next door.The gross domestic product per capita is only $400. Only 40% of the children have access to basic medical services. The percentage of babies vaccinated against measles in their first year of life is less than half of the number of those registered in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to U.N. statistics. Potable water and electricity are the privilege of a few. I will not even mention logistics, transportation and the condition of the roads.The contrast between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is staggering; crossing the border is like passing between distant worlds. This border is an emblem of inequality between rich and poor, and it is growing. Certainly Haiti is clearly improving, but there remain some huge problems that are not very well known outside the country.

Q: Is there collaboration between the Caritas groups of these two countries?Beccegato: The two national Caritas groups of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, apart from joint undertakings in education, health care, agriculture, integral development, basic formation, emergencies -- not least of all after Hurricane Noel, which hit both countries hard along with Mexico -- have recently launched an interesting project to deal with the grave problem of the influx of Haitian immigrants into the Dominican Republic, called "Fronteras." The project is precisely to coordinate all seven dioceses along the long border to provide concrete assistance to the migrants and the asylum seekers -- legal help, language education -- but also to sensitize and to spread a new mentality of solidarity and hospitality at the cultural level.

Q: What are the projects that Caritas Italy has most supported recently in Haiti?Beccegato: Besides the small development projects in the various dioceses to provide potable water, [support has been focused on] the agricultural ambit, finding employment for young people, health care, and also emergency humanitarian interventions in response to recurrent Haitian crises. In the course of recent years the support of Caritas Italy and Caritas Haiti has focused on projects for women and children.In particular, Caritas Italy is supporting a project in the Diocese of Hinche, on the border, which aims to form, organize and provide access to credit to begin small entrepreneurial activities by groups of women who, joining together, are achieving phenomenal results. It is necessary to ensure continuity and reinforce this activity, so that socioeconomic development goes on at the same pace with human promotion and, in particular, the promotion of women as subjects capable of creating development, revenue, for example. This is a holistic approach by a well-developed national Caritas.

Q: Is there another aspect to highlight?Beccegato: Caritas Italy believes that it is important to continue to promote a culture of solidarity, through lobbying and advocacy also at the local and international levels, focusing on two major themes: reconciliation and building sustainable peace and the resolution of conflicts in non-violent ways, as well as information that is more correct and more attentive in quantity and in quality.[We promote] social communication that is a picture of objective reality, to make the essential and undeniable outlines of the truth about the human person more visible. The media, Benedict XVI says, "must also be instruments at the service of a more just and solidary world."