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(Vatican Radio) The laicisation of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic, is a “sign of the seriousness” with which Pope Francis and the Holy See are confronting the problem of sexual abuse, according to the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Agencies in Geneva.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi was speaking Monday in Rome to the Italian press on the sidelines of the presentation of the 2014 Rimini Meeting, which takes place at the end of August.

Wesolowski has been accused of molesting minors, and still faces criminal charges in Vatican City court system after his canonical case is finalized (he has the opportunity to appeal the sentence of laicisation). He may also face criminal charges in the Dominican Republic and  his native Poland.

Archbishop Tomasi led the Holy See delegations which presented reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee Against Torture earlier this year. 

Archbishop Tomasi said he “hopes other states and institutions will now follow the road taken by the Holy See in dealing with cases of pedophilia.”

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

(Vatican Radio) In a message to participants to the just ended Third Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their Destruction, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity towards victims of anti-personnel mines and praised the Conference as an occasion to chart forward the global effort to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines.

Listen to our report:  

The Conference, held in Maputo from 23 to 27 June, saw the participation of over 1,000 representatives of States and international and non-governmental organizations. 

The message, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of Pope Francis describes anti-personnel mines as the weapons of cowards, and points out that the wounds inflicted by anti-personnel mines remind us that the use of weapons in general represent a defeat for all.
 
The Pope takes the occasion to praise participants at the Conference for their capacity to look to the future and to renew their commitment to make binding decisions that will change the daily life of “so many families, communities, regions and countries who continue to live every day in fear of landmines, in insecurity and poverty”.  He points out that “the environment that surrounds them implies a constant threat whilst it should be a source of fertility, development and enjoyment of life”.

Each person – Pope Francis says - is in search of peace, the opposite of fear. “Anti-personnel mines are subtle because they prolong war and nuture fear even when conflict has ended”.

He says that all people, whether direct or indirect victims of landmines, remind us at every moment of the human failure regarding peace and stability, which are in the interest of all.

And Pope Francis urges all actors of this humanitarian enterprise to preserve the integrity of the Convention, to develop and implement it as closely and quickly as possible. He calls on all countries to engage in the Convention, so that there are no more victims of anti-personnel mines.

“So that there are no more areas affected by mines in the world, and that no child should live in fear of landmines!” 

The Pope concludes his message expressing his hope that this Convention  may represent a model for other processes, “in particular for nuclear weapons and other weapons that should not exist”.

And putting the human person at the center of  efforts for disarmament, he asks: “What is the meaning of peace, security and stability if our societies, our communities and our families live in constant fear and destructive hatred?”

“Let us give space to reconciliation, hope, and love that are expressed in the commitment for common good, in international cooperation to help the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, in the implementation of policies based on our common dignity”.

 

 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Monday that there are more persecuted Christians in the world today than there were in the first centuries of Christianity. The Pope’s words came as he celebrated Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on the day in which the Church remembers the first Roman martyrs who were martyred during Nero's persecution in 64.

The prayer at the beginning of the Mass recalls that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. We speak of the growth of a plant – the Pope said in his homily – and this makes us think of what Jesus used to say: "The kingdom of heaven is like a seed. Someone took the seed and planted it in the ground and then went home – and whether he slept or was awake – the seed grew and blossomed”. This seed is the Word of God that grows and becomes the Kingdom of Heaven; it becomes Church thanks to the strength of the Holy Spirit and to the witness of Christians.

“We know that there is no growth without the Spirit: it is He who is Church, it is He who makes the Church grow, it is He who convokes the Church’s community. But the witness of Christians is necessary too. And when historical situations require a strong witness, there are martyrs, the greatest witnesses. And the Church grows thanks to the blood of the martyrs. This is the beauty of martyrdom. It begins with witness, day after day, and it can end like Jesus, the first martyr, the first witness, the faithful witness: with blood”.

But there is one condition that is necessary for a true witness  – Pope Francis pointed out – and that is “there must be no conditions”.

“In the Gospel reading of the day one of Jesus’s disciples said that he would follow Him, but only after having buried his father… and the Lord replied: ‘No! Follow me without conditions’. Your witness must be firm; you must use the same strong language that Jesus used: ‘Your words must be yes, yes, or no, no’. This is the language of testimony”.

“Today – Pope Francis said – we look upon the Church of Rome that grows, fed by the blood of martyrs. So it is right – he continued – that our thoughts turn to the many martyrs of today, the many martyrs who give their lives for faith. It is true that during the times of Nero many Christians were persecuted, and today – he said – there are just as many”.

"There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves’: that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries. So during this Mass, remembering our glorious ancestors, let us think also to our brothers who are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of so many little Churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us”.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni... 

    

   

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

(Vatican Radio) The Rome daily “Il Messaggero” on Sunday published an interview with Pope Francis made ​​by journalist Franca Giansoldati. In his responses to questions on a wide range of issues, the Holy Father focused, among other things, on the challenges of change in the current “era” and “culture,” which has consequences for political, financial, and social life. The Church, along with various civil and social institutions,  must respond to these challenges by protecting the common good and defending human life and dignity.

“Always protecting the common good, which includes “defending human life and dignity” is “the vocation of every politician,” the Holy Father said. Today, the problem of politics – which Pope Francis called a “worldwide problem” – is that it “has been devalued, ruined by corruption, by the phenomenon of bribery.” This “moral decay, not only in politics but also in the financial or social” sector, is driven by “change of epoch” that we are experiencing today, which is also “a change of culture.” In this context, our anxieties about poverty are not concerned solely with material poverty.

“I can help someone who is hungry, so that they are no longer hungry,” the Pope said. “But if someone has lost his job,” he is involved in another kind poverty. He no longer has his dignity.” Helping families in need, then, requires a “joint effort.” Pope Francis recognized that this is an “uphill” journey, but insisted it must be undertaken, working above all for the good of children. “Starting a family is an effort,” he said, because of economic difficulties that “social policy does not help.” Commenting on the very low birth rates in Europe – which makes it seem “as if she were tired of being a mother, preferring to be grandmother,” the Holy Father noted that the causes of this phenomenon lie not only in a “cultural drift marked by selfishness and hedonism,” but also in the current economic crisis.

Pope Francis was asked how he would respond to being called “a communist.” “I would only say that the Communists have stolen the banner… The banner of the poor is Christian; poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” The cause of the poor is pre-eminently a Christian cause.  The Gospel cannot be understood “without understanding real poverty.” At the same time, the Pope said there is also a “very beautiful ‘poverty of the spirit’,” being poor in the sight of God because God fills you up. The Gospel, in fact, is addressed indiscriminately to the poor and to the rich and "does not at all condemn those who are rich,” but rather condemns their riches when they become the objects of idolatry.

To the question “Where is the Church of Bergoglio headed?” Pope Francis replied, "Thanks be to God, I don’t have any church – I follow Christ. I didn’t found anything.” He went on to say “my decisions are the fruit of the meetings before the conclave. I have done nothing on my own.”

The Church in Asia “is a promise,” he said, turning to his upcoming trips to Korea, in August, and to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, in January. He also spoke about China, saying it represents “a great, a very great pastoral challenge.”

During the interview, Pope Francis also took up a number of other themes already addressed during his pontificate, such as the place of women in the Church. Without an understanding of femininity, the Pope said, one “cannot understand the Church herself.” Women “are the most beautiful thing God has made. The Church is a woman.” He said that in doing theology, one must take account of this “femininity,” and that the Church must continue to work on and develop a “theology of the woman.”

Pope Francis spoke also about the corruption and the economic and sexual exploitation of children. The Pope speaks of incidents of child prostitution that were reported to him when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, involving even elderly men. “For me,” the Pope said, “people who do this to young girls are paedophiles.”

Finally, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, Pope Francis spoke about the everyday life and traditions of the City of which the Pope is the bishop. This role, the Holy Father said, is “the first service of Francis.” Pope Francis said Rome shares many of the problems of other cities “such as Buenos Aires.” He said a conference dedicated to the theme of “the pastoral care of the great cities” will take place in Barcelona in November. Pope Francis expressed his hope that the citizens of Rome, the inhabitants of a city “that should be a beacon in the world,” would not lose “joy, hope, confidence, despite difficulties.”

(From archive of Vatican Radio)...

(Vatican Radio) On the evening of  June 27, Feast of the Sacred Heart, Pope Francis  will visit Rome's  "Agostino Gemelli" Hospital on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation. While there where he will meet with some of the patients, hospital and university staff and preside over Holy Mass.

On this occasion Pope Francis will donate to the Hospital’s Church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, the  relics of  two  popes connected in a special way to the structure. They are Saints John XXIII who inaugurated the first Faculty of what was to become the ' University of the Sacred Heart' and Saint John Paul II who came here as a patient so often that with his habitual good humour he once described it as his third Vatican home after Vatican City and his summer residence in Castelgandolfo.

Listen to this programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick:

 

As we know in fact Saint John Paul II was often hospitalised here when he experienced the physical suffering that comes with age, but earlier still he also tasted a deeper kind of suffering connected with the brush with death when he was targeted by a gunman in Saint Peter's Square on the 13th of May 1981.

Yet this Polish Pontiff did not see his physical limitations as a burden but rather as salvific, as some of Veronica Scarisbrick’s guests in this programme explain. Among them an American Cardinal who was among those privileged to call on John Paul II when he was taken to the Gemelli hospital after the assassination attempt.

In this programme you can also hear a very personal selection of Vatican Radio archive sound clips in English taken from some of John Paul II's speeches.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)
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