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(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People issued a message on Friday at the end of their Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, held at the Vatican, from 17 to 21 November.

The final message says congress participants “encourage all actors, including civil society and governments, to work towards more comprehensive and just immigration policies, fully implementing international conventions to guarantee job opportunities and better living conditions, to prevent exploitation and/or trafficking of migrant workers.”

Read the complete message below:

The 7th World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, was held at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Vatican City, from Monday, November 17th to Friday, November 21st, 2014. The proceedings focused on the phenomenon of migration and migrants, in the light of the theme: “Cooperation and Development in the Pastoral Care of Migrations”.

Gathering together nearly 300 participants, which include delegates from Bishops' Conferences, commissions and Church structures and partners from over 90 countries, the objective of the Congress was to reflect upon the current migration situation that so strongly marks modern-day society, and to seek and propose a renewed Catholic pastoral approach to the phenomenon within the Church at international, regional and local levels.

The pastoral care of the Catholic Church, expressed in specific programs and plans of action, takes into consideration the particular situation of economic migrants, who live between the realities of uprooting and that of integration. Pastoral programs concern the spiritual search of the sense of life, experiences of welcome, sharing and reconciliation, the proclamation of the Gospel, the Liturgy, the celebration of the Sacraments. At the same time, the pastoral solicitude also cares towards basic needs of migrant workers such as legal assistance in the regularization process of their status, the defense and the promotion of their dignity, decent jobs and housing. Christian communities continue to be spaces of hope and action, advocating on behalf of migrants (particularly children, unaccompanied minors, women and persons with disabilities), that raise awareness, protect and extend the necessary assistance, whatever their status.

Presentations, discussions and sharing of experiences helped to address the issue of the migrants’ family with all positive aspects that contribute to strengthen and promote fruitful human relationships, which are the basis and the core of all societies. Emphasis has been given on family separation, caused by the lack of adequate migration policies, which is especially challenging in countries with a large diaspora.

Furthermore, the feminization of migration is a new characteristic. Migrant women are no longer moving within processes of family reunification mainly, but also as bread-winners. Migration, therefore, can be an instrument of empowerment for women but also a threat when criminal nets take advantage of their vulnerability and force them into smuggling, trafficking, and even prostitution and labor exploitation.

Similarly, young migrants carry a great potential in building bridges of cooperation between societies towards development. The pastoral care of young migrants concentrates on their religious and integral formation, assisting them to be active bridges between cultures, both for the benefit of society and Christian communities.

Migration continues to be a sign of modern times, deeply marked by growing fear and lack of hospitality. In this regard, the centrality of the human person and the respect for his/her dignity are of even greater importance, preceding any religious, ethnic, social or cultural differences.

The participants of the Meeting encourage all actors, including civil society and governments, to work towards more comprehensive and just immigration policies, fully implementing international conventions to guarantee job opportunities and better living conditions, to prevent exploitation and/or trafficking of migrant workers.

The participants appeal to the responsibility of the whole international Community to contribute to the common good and to the universality of human rights, underlining the need for a positive change in attitude towards migrants.

Finally, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the participants recommend collaborative action amongst all Church structures in the countries of origin, transit and destination to implement the considerations and conclusions of the Congress, which will be published.


(from Vatican Radio)...

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at the Mass celebrated in St Peter's Square on Christ the King Sunday, during the course of which he canonized six new saints: Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal, Amato Ronconi, Giovanni Antonio Farina, Nicola da Longobardi, and Ludovico da Casoria.

Below, please find the full text of the official English translation of the Holy Father's prepared homily.


Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

(23 November 2014)


Today’s liturgy invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the King of the Universe.  The beautiful prayer of the Preface reminds us that his kingdom is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace”.  The readings we have listened to show us how Jesus established his kingdom; how he brings it about in history; and what he now asks of us.

First, how Jesus brought about his kingdom:  he did so through his closeness and tenderness towards us.  He is the Shepherd, of whom the Prophet Ezekiel spoke in the First Reading (cf. 34:11-12, 15-17).  These verses are interwoven with verbs which show the care and love that the Shepherd has for his flock: to search, to look over, to gather the dispersed, to lead into pasture, to bring to rest, to seek the lost sheep, to lead back the confused, to bandage the wounded, to heal the sick, to take care of, to pasture.  All of these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ:  he is truly the “great Shepherd of the sheep and the protector of our souls” (cf. Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25).

Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings.  In this regard the People of God have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and in distinguishing them from hirelings.

After his victory, that is after his Resurrection, how has Jesus advanced his kingdom?  The Apostle Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, says: “for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (15:25).  The Father, little by little, subjects all to the Son and, at the same time, the Son subjects all to the Father.  Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways: for him, to reign is not to command, but to obey the Father, to give himself over to the Father, so that his plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfilment.  In this way there is full reciprocity between the Father and the Son.  The period of Christ’s reign is the long period of subjecting everything to the Son and consigning everything to the Father.  “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26).  And in the end, when all things will be under the sovereignty of Jesus, and everything, including Jesus himself, will be subjected to the Father, God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).

The Gospel teaches what Jesus’ kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged.  This is the great parable of the final judgement in Matthew 25.  The King says: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (25:34-36).  The righteous will ask him: when did we do all this?  And he will answer them: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom.  The one who accomplishes these works shows that he has welcomed Christ’s sovereignty, because he has opened his heart to God’s charity.  In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters.  Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the kingdom of God: our belonging to the one side or the other.  Through his victory, Jesus has opened to us his kingdom.  But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now, by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity.  If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.

Today the Church places before us the example of these new saints.  Each in his or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters.  They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and ne...

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the family of Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, who died on Saturday, November 22nd, at the age of 98. Cardinal Angelini was born in Rome in 1916 – the last native of the city to be made a Cardinal – and served the Church under seven different Popes.

In the telegram, the Holy Father remembers Cardinal Angelini as, “A dear and esteemed pastor,” who, “exercised his long and intense ministry to build up the Church in Rome, in Italy and in the world, first as part of Catholic Action, then with praiseworthy apostolic zeal in hospitals and nursing homes in Rome, [and] finally as President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers.”

Pope Francis goes on to promise prayers and spiritual closeness to Cardinal Angelini’s family, and imparts his Apostolic Benediction upon all those who mourn his passing.

(from Vatican Radio)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says we need to “break down the isolation and stigma that burden” people living with autism spectrum disorders. The Pope was speaking to participants at a three-day conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care titled The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope.

Listen to Emer McCarthy's report:

650 experts from 57 countries were joined in the Paul VI hall Saturday by hundreds of parents and children affected by autism. Warmly thanking them for their ‘moving and meaningful testimonies’ on what it means to live with the condition, Pope Francis spoke of the fragility of children and families suffering from autism spectrum disorders, describing the stigma and isolation they feel as a Cross.

To meet their needs and break through their loneliness, the Pope spoke of creating a network of support and services on the ground that are comprehensive and accessible.  This is the responsibility of governments and intuitions he said but also of Christian communities, parishes and friends.  This continued the Pope would help families overcome the feelings, that can sometimes arise, of inadequacy, uselessness and frustration when faced with the daily realities of autism. 

Pope Francis concluded with words of encouragement for academics and researchers in the field that they may discover therapies and support tools, to help and heal and, above all, prevent the onset of these conditions as soon as possible. While always safeguarding the inalienable dignity of every person.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for your welcome!
I am happy to welcome you at the end of your XXIX International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care, which I thank for wanting to realize such a commendable and relevant initiative, dedicated to the complex issue of autism spectrum disorders.

I warmly greet all of you who have come to take part in this meeting, which focused on prayer and testimony, together with people who are affected by autism spectrum disorders, their families and specialized associations.

These conditions constitute a fragility that affects numerous children and, consequently, their families. They represent an area that appeal to the direct responsibility of governments and institutions, without of course forgetting the responsibility of Christian communities.

Everyone should be committed to promoting acceptance, encounter and solidarity through concrete support and by encouraging renewed hope.  In this way we can contribute to breaking down the isolation and, in many cases, the stigma burdening people with autism spectrum disorders, and just as often their families.
This must not be an anonymous or impersonal accompaniment, but one of listening to the profound needs that arise from the depths of a pathology which, all too often, struggles to be properly  diagnosed and accepted without shame or withdrawing into solitude, especially for families. It is a Cross.

Assistance to people affected by autism spectrum disorders would benefit greatly from the creation of a network of support and services on the ground that are comprehensive and accessible.  These should involve, in addition to parents, grandparents, friends, therapists, educators and pastoral workers. These figures can help families overcome the feelings, that can sometimes arise, of inadequacy, uselessness and frustration.

For this very reason, I thank the families, parish groups and various associations present here today and from whom we heard these moving and meaningful testimonies, for the work they carry out every day. I extend to all of them my personal gratitude and that of the whole Church.

Moreover, I want to encourage the hard work of academics and researchers, so that they may discover therapies and support tools, to help and heal and, above all, prevent the onset of these conditions as soon as possible. All of this while paying due attention to the rights of the patients, their needs and their potential, always safeguarding the dignity of every person.
Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust you all to the protection of the Virgin Mary, and I thank you for your prayers. Now, all together, let us pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary for all health care workers, for the sick, and then receive the blessing. Hail Mary ...

(from Vatican Radio)...

(Vatican Radio) People will forgive a weak priest or pastoral minister, but they will not forgive a greedy one or one who mistreats people, said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning as he marked the feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a prayer that she help us keep the Lord's Temple clean.

Basing his homily on the Gospel of the Day in which Jesus drives the merchants from the Temple because they had turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves, Pope Francis said in doing so Jesus was purifying the Temple of God because it had been profaned and with it the People of God.  The Temple had been defiled with the gravest of sins: scandal.

"People are good – continued Pope Francis- people went to the Temple and did not look at these things, they sought God and prayed ... but they had to change their money into coins to make offers". The people of God did not go to the Temple for these people, for those who were selling things, they went because it was the Temple of God" and "there was corruption that scandalized the people".  Pope Francis recalled the biblical story of Anna, a humble woman, mother of Samuel, who goes to the temple to ask for the grace of a child: "she whispered her prayers silently" while the priest and his two sons were corrupt, they exploited the pilgrims, they scandalized the people. “I think of how our attitude can scandalize people - said Pope Francis – with unpriestly habits in the Temple: the scandal of doing business, the scandal of worldliness ... How often when we enter a church do we see  – even today – do we see a price list hanging there "for baptism, blessings, Mass intentions". And people are scandalized".

"Once, as a newly ordained priest, I was with a group of college students and one couple wanted to get married. They went to a parish, but they wanted a wedding ceremony with the Mass. And, the parish secretary there said: 'No, no, you cannot' - 'Why can’t we have a Mass? If the Council always recommends people to have a ceremony with the Mass ... '-' No, you cannot, because it can’t last more than 20 minutes'-' But why? '-'Because there are other slots [in the timetable for ceremonies]'-'But, we want the Mass! '-' So you will have to pay for two slots! '. So in order to have a wedding ceremony with the Mass had to pay two slots. This is the sin of scandal".

The Pope added: "We know what Jesus says to those who are the cause of scandal: 'Better to be thrown into the sea'".

"When those who are in the Temple – be they priests, lay people, secretaries, but who manage the Temple, who ministry of the Temple - become businessmen, people are scandalized. And we are responsible for this. The laity too! Everyone. Because if I see this in my parish, I have to have the courage to say these things to the parish priest. And the people are scandalized. It is interesting: the people of God can forgive their priests, when they are weak; when they slip on a sin ... the people know how to forgive them. But there are two things that the people of God cannot forgive: a priest attached to money and a priest who mistreats people. This they cannot forgive! It is scandalous when the Temple, the House of God, becomes a place of business, as in the case of that wedding: the church was being rented out”.

Jesus "is not angry" - said the Pope - "it is the Wrath of God, zeal for the House of God" because you cannot serve two masters, "either you worship the living God, or your worship money".

"Why does Jesus have an issue with money? Because redemption is free; it is God’s free gift, He comes to brings us the all-encompassing gratuity of God’s love. So when the Church or churches start doing business, then it is said that ….salvation is not so free…This is why Jesus takes the whip to hand to carry out this act of the purification of the Temple. Today the Liturgy celebrates the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the Temple: as a young girl ... A simple woman, like Anna,   and in that moment the Blessed Virgin Mary enters. May she teach all of us, pastors and those who have pastoral responsibility, to keep the Temple clean, to receive with love those who come, as if each one were the Blessed Virgin”.

(from Vatican Radio)

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