Friday, June 27, 2008

Pontiff: Church's Charity Shows Face of God

Shares Honduran Bishops' Concern Over Poverty

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2008 ( With its commitment to combat poverty and violence, and with its work in education, the Church shows the merciful face of God, Benedict XVI says.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience the Honduran bishops, in Rome for their five-yearly visit. He reminded them that "like the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacraments, the service of charity is an essential part of the mission of the Church."

The Holy Father highlighted the bishops' role in this service of charity, though he added: "I know well how the poverty, which affects so many of your fellow-countrymen, afflicts you."

Some 70% of Honduras' 7 million inhabitants are below the poverty line.

The Pontiff assured the bishops that he shares their concern at the "increase in violence, emigration, destruction of the environment, corruption, and lack of education, among other grave problems."

"As ministers of the Good Shepherd, you have displayed, in word and deed, an intense endeavor to assist the needy," the Pope affirmed. He encouraged them "to continue to show in your ministry the merciful face of God, fostering in all your diocesan communities and parishes an extensive and detailed service of charity, which will reach in a special way the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned."

In his greeting to the Pope, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and president of the Honduras episcopal conference, expressed his concern over the "inhuman poverty" in his country, now aggravated by the rise in the cost of petrol and food.

This situation leads to the exodus of thousands of citizens -- seeking better opportunities -- which contributes to the break-up of families, he lamented.

At the same time, the country is suffering from violence and crime, though the Church has launched a nationwide campaign in favor of life.

Bishops Urge Respect for Humanity of Migrants

ZE08062610 - 2008-06-26

Not "Delinquents," But "People Seeking a Better Way of Life"

TIJUANA, Mexico, JUNE 26, 2008 ( The bishops directly affected by immigration in the Americas are asking that the human dignity of migrants be respected.

This was one of the appeals that came from a meeting of episcopal conferences held in Tijuana. The conference, which ended June 19, gathered representatives of bishops' conferences from Mexico, the United States, Central America and the Caribbean.

Archbishop Christopher Pierre, apostolic nuncio in Mexico, recalled that during Benedict XVI's April visit to the United States, the Pope stressed the importance of the issue of migration. The nuncio recalled how the Holy Father mentioned that the Church and society have experienced changes due to the presence of Hispanic immigrants.

The Church cannot be indifferent to such facts "and must integrate them in her vision to respond to the challenges," noted Archbishop Pierre.

The papal representative appealed to the Catholic community to support migrants in various ways, acknowledging that the Church cannot have all the solutions.

During the meeting, Auxiliary Bishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega of Monterrey, president of the Mexican episcopate's Commission for Social Pastoral Care, noted, "There have always been migrants and there always will be, but we are referring to a very concrete problem of recent times in which the violation of the human rights of migrants and their families has worsened."

He explained that these violations happen not only among Mexican migrants, but also among those from Central America and the Caribbean, "who seek to escape from their places of origin and find a better life by going to the United States."

"On this path, they meet with all sorts of dangers, but also abuse of their human rights. This causes us great concern," emphasized Bishop Rodriguez Vega.

At a press conference, Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz of Tijuana, an official of the Mexican episcopate's Section for Human Mobility, acknowledged that one of the main problems on the border with the United States is the violation of migrants' human rights.

But he called attention to another, parallel problem.

"Being on this border with the United States, much attention is paid to the treatment that Mexicans receive at the hands of North American authorities, but not so much attention is paid to Mexicans' treatment of migrants from Central America, the Caribbean and South America, who suffer terribly," he stressed.

"We would like our migrants to be regarded with greater humanitarian sensitivity," the archbishop affirmed. "We have already said many times that these are people seeking a better way of life, who in no way are delinquents. What impels them is the need to be able to provide a better way of life for their families."

Thursday, June 19, 2008


WASHINGTON – In a letter to leaders participating in the G8 Summit in Japan on July 7-9, the presidents of all the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the G8 nations urged Summit leaders to “deepen your commitments and actions to reduce global poverty and address global climate change.” The bishops wrote: “Our religious and moral commitment to protect human life and promote human dignity moves us to be particularly concerned for the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family, especially those in developing countries.” The G8 leaders include President Bush and the heads of state of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, signed the letter.

The bishops remind Summit leaders of Pope Benedict XVI’s April address to the United Nations in which he called on all nations to work together in good faith to protect the environment, reduce global inequalities and promote solidarity with the weakest regions on the planet which are at risk of experiencing “only the negative effects of globalization.” The bishops support concrete efforts to increase development assistance, to promote just trade policies, and to address the impact of the world food crisis and HIV-AIDS and other deadly diseases.

The bishops note that the poor have contributed least to the factors that aggravate global climate change, but they will be disproportionately affected by “its harmful effects, including potential conflicts, escalating energy costs, and health problems.” They urged Summit leaders to recognize that the “costs of initiatives to prevent and adapt to the harmful consequences of climate change should be borne more by richer persons and nations who have benefited most from the emissions that have fueled development and should not unduly burden the poor.”

The complete text of the bishops’ letter follows:

Letter from National Conferences of Catholic Bishops
to the Leaders of the G8 Nations

June 17, 2008

Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper Hon. Yasuo Fukuda
Prime Minister, Canada Prime Minister, Japan
Hon. Nicolas Sarkozy Hon. Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev
President, French Republic President, Russian Federation
Hon. Angela Merkel Hon. Gordon Brown
Chancellor, Federal Republic of Germany Prime Minister, United Kingdom
Hon. Silvio Berlusconi Hon. George W. Bush
President of the Council of Ministers, Italy President, United States of America

Dear Leaders of the Group of 8 Countries:

As the G8 Summit in Japan approaches, we write on behalf of the Catholic bishops’ conferences to the leaders of our respective nations to urge you to deepen your commitments and actions to reduce global poverty and address global climate change.

As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI said at his visit to the United Nations in April: “[Q]uestions of security, development goals, reduction of local and global inequalities, protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate, require all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. I am thinking especially of those countries in Africa and other parts of the world which remain on the margins of authentic integral development, and are therefore at risk of experiencing only the negative effects of globalization.”

Our religious and moral commitment to protect human life and promote human dignity moves us to be particularly concerned for the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family, especially those in developing countries. The experience of the Catholic Church in serving the needs of poor communities leads us to applaud the Summit’s focus on development and Africa.

It is critically important that you reaffirm and build upon the substantial commitments made in Gleneagles in 2005 and in Heiligendamm in 2007. In 2005 the world’s richest countries promised to spend an additional $50 billion per year on development assistance by 2010, with half that amount going to Africa. This commitment must be met and additional commitments should be made in the areas of health care, education and humanitarian aid. The September 2008 UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals will offer a crucial opportunity to mobilize more broadly the international community.

The global food crisis, which disproportionately devastates poor communities, and the terrible toll of HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases, make concerted action even more urgent. We ask you to consider concrete proposals that mitigate the impact of the world food crisis on poor communities, increase health and education spending, and move towards just world trade
policies that respect the dignity of the human person in their working life. To ensure long-term success of these measures, the poor must be empowered to be drivers of their own development. Promoting their self-help capacities and their participation in economic, social, political and cultural processes are essential prerequisites for development.

Once again the agenda of your Summit includes global climate change, an issue of particular concern to people of faith based on our commitment to protect God’s creation. As Catholic bishops, we have a special concern for the impact of climate change on the poor. The poor, who have contributed least to the human activities that aggravate global climate change, are likely to experience a disproportionate share of its harmful effects, including potential conflicts, escalating energy costs, and health problems. This is true in our own countries as well as in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. The costs of initiatives to prevent and adapt to the harmful consequences of climate change should be borne more by richer persons and nations who have benefited most from the emissions that have fueled development and should not unduly burden the poor. Specific mechanisms should be created to help poor persons and nations adapt to the effects of global climate change and adopt appropriate technologies that will enhance their development in ways that do not contribute to global climate change.

The G8 Summit will explore many issues of critical importance to human life and dignity. We pray that your meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables you to advance the global common good by taking concrete measures to reduce poverty and address climate change.

Sincerely yours,

Most Rev. Vernon James Weisgerber
Archbishop of Winnipeg
President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

His Eminence André Vingt-Trois
Archbishop of Paris
President of the Bishops’ Conference of France (Conférence des évêques de France)

Most Rev. Robert Zollitsch
Archbishop of Freiburg
President of the German Bishops’ Conference (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz)

His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco
Archbishop of Genoa
President, Bishops’ Conference of Italy

Most Rev. Peter Takeo Okada
Archbishop of Tÿkyÿ
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

Most Rev. Joseph Werth
Bishop of the Diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Novosibirsk
President, Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation

His Eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien
Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

His Eminence Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor
Archbishop of Westminster
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George
Archbishop of Chicago
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Global Development


VATICAN CITY , 31 MAY 2008 ( VIS ) - At midday today, the Holy Father received members of the "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice", who have just concluded their annual meeting, which this year has focused on the theme: "Social Capital and Human Development".

In his remarks to the group, the Pope noted how they have been reflecting on the need "to promote a form of global development that remains attentive to the integral promotion of mankind, while highlighting the contribution that can be made by volunteer associations, non-profit organisations and other community groups that have come into being with the aim of making the social fabric ever more cohesive.

"Harmonious development is possible", he added, "if political and economic choices ... take into account the fundamental principles which make [such development] accessible to everyone: ... subsidiarity and solidarity". The Pope also highlighted the importance of keeping humankind "as the focus of all economic planning", and pointed out that, "only a shared culture of responsible and active participation will enable human beings to consider themselves nor just as users or passive witnesses, but active participants in world development".

"It is necessary to prevent profit becoming purely individual, and to guard against forms of collectivism that oppress personal freedom. Economic and commercial interests must never become exclusive, because this would be an effective affront to human dignity".

He went on: "The great challenge of today is to 'globalise', not just economic and commercial interests, but also the call for solidarity, while respecting and taking advantage of the contribution of all components of society".

The Pope thanked the members of the foundation for "the generous support you tirelessly give to the Church's charitable activities and works of human promotion", and he invited them also to reflect "on the creation of a just world economic order".

"On the last day, on the Day of Judgement, we will be asked whether we used what God placed at out disposal to meet legitimate requirements, to help our fellow man, especially the smallest and those most in need", he concluded.

AC/.../CENTESIMUS ANNUS VIS 080602 (350)

Guatemala: Social Justice


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Acisclo Valladares Molina, the new ambassador of Guatemala to the Holy See.

In his remarks to the diplomat, the Holy Father recalled the fact that this year marks the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's first pastoral visit to that land "of eternal spring", and he praised the faithfulness to the Bishop of Rome with which the Guatemalans have always responded to the Holy See's concern for their country.

"The Church", said the Pope, "shares the concern of the Guatemalan authorities over factors that afflict a large part of the population, such as poverty and emigration. Her rich ecclesial experience, accumulated over the course of history, may be of help in finding the means to face these problems from a humanitarian perspective, and to strengthen solidarity which is indispensable in order to find effective and lasting solutions".

"In this way", he continued, "crucial technical and economic programmes must be supplemented by other factors that foment the dignity of the person, the stability of the family and an education that takes the most important human and Christian values into account". Nor must "those people who have had to abandon their land, though not forgetting it in their hearts" be overlooked. "This is a duty of gratitude and justice towards those who are, in effect, also an important source of income for the country in which they were born".

Another challenge facing Guatemala is that of "remedying the malnutrition of many children", said Benedict XVI, observing how "eradicating hunger and, at the same time, ensuring healthy and sufficient nourishment, requires specific methods and actions that enable resources to be exploited while respecting the heritage of creation", making use not only "of the results of science, research and technology", but also taking into account "the cycles and rhythms of nature, as understood by people in rural areas" and protecting "the traditional uses of indigenous communities, laying aside selfish and exclusively economic concerns".

This primary right to food, said the Pope, "is intrinsically linked to the protection and defence of human life, the firm and unbreakable rock upon which the entire edifice of human rights rests. We can never, then, show enough ... concern for mothers, especially those suffering serious difficulties, so that they can bring their children into the world with dignity and thus avoid the unjustifiable recourse to abortion. In this sense, safeguarding human life, especially that of the unborn, ... is an ever present task which, by its nature, is linked to facilitating the adoption of the children" with all the guarantees of the law.

In closing his remarks, the Holy Father mentioned "the blight of social violence" which is often exacerbated by "a lack of dialogue and of cohesion in families, by profound economic inequalities, by grave negligence and shortcomings in the field of healthcare, by drug consumption and trafficking, and by the plague of corruption". In this context, he expressed his satisfaction at the progress Guatemala has made in combating these difficulties, progress "which must continue, promoting co-operation among everyone to put an end to such problems by cultivating moral values and combating illegality, impunity and corruption".




VATICAN CITY, 3 JUN 2008 (VIS) - This morning at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. read out a Message from the Holy Father during the opening session of the "High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bio-energy". The conference is being held at FAO headquarters from 3 to 5 June.

In his Message, the Holy Father writes that "hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world which has, in fact, levels of production, resources and knowledge sufficient to put an end to such dramas and their consequences. The great challenge of today is to 'globalise', not just economic and commercial interests, but also the call for solidarity, while respecting and taking advantage of the contribution of all components of society".

To the 50 heads of State and government participating in the conference, Benedict XVI reiterates the hope he expressed before the U.N. General Assembly in April: that of overcoming "the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few".

After calling on leaders "to collaborate in an increasingly transparent way with ... organisations committed to closing the growing divide between rich and poor", the Holy Father exhorts them "to continue with structural reforms which, at the national level, are indispensable in order to face the problems of underdevelopment, of which hunger and malnutrition are direct consequences".

"Poverty and malnutrition are not a simple fatality, provoked by adverse environmental situations or by disastrous natural calamities", writes the Pope, noting at the same time that "purely technical and economic considerations must not prevail over the duties of justice towards people suffering from hunger".

The "primary right to food is intrinsically linked to the safeguarding and defence of human life", he says. "Each person has the right to life. Hence it is necessary to promote the effective implementation of this right, and peoples suffering from lack of food must be helped to become gradually capable of satisfying their own need for healthy and sufficient nourishment".

Referring to the current problem of rising prices of agricultural products, the Pope calls for the drawing-up of "new strategies to fight against poverty and to promote rural development, ... through structural reform processes which enable the challenges posed by security and by climate change to be faced".

"The global increase in agricultural production will, nonetheless, be effective only if accompanied by the effective distribution of that production, and if it is primarily destined to satisfying essential needs".

Modern technologies, notes Benedict XVI, "are not enough to meet shortfalls in food", and he goes on to mention the need for "political action which, inspired by those principles of natural law written in man's heart, protects the dignity of the individual. ... Only by protecting the person, then, is it possible to combat the main cause of hunger".

If negotiations and decisions were to take respect for human dignity into account, "it would be possible to overcome otherwise-insurmountable obstacles, and to eliminate - or at least diminish - disinterest towards the good of others. ... The defence of human dignity in international activity, even in emergencies, would also help to limit superfluity, with a view to the needs of others, and to administer the fruits of creation with justice, placing them at the disposal of all generations.

"In the light of such principles", the Pope adds in conclusion, "it is my hope that the delegations present at this meeting may take on new commitments and set themselves to pursue them with great determination. The Catholic Church, for her part, wishes to unite herself to these efforts".