Pope Continues Reflecting on the Our Father During General Audience

ZENIT – English - 1 ora 36 min fa

Here is the Vatican-provided English-language summary of the Pope’s address at the General Audience this morning:


Dear brothers and sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider the attitude required by Christ of his disciples as they pray. Jesus invites us to invoke God as “Father” thus encouraging us to beseech him in a way that breaks down barriers of subjection and fear. The prayer’s seven questions are also rooted in our daily experience of life and its basic needs. We are taught, for instance, to ask for our daily bread – a simple yet vital request. Our first prayer, in a sense, was the cry that accompanied our original breath as a new-born child, for it announced our life’s destiny: our continual hunger and thirst and search for happiness. With this prayer, then, Jesus desires that every suffering and anxiety should rise up to heaven and become a dialogue. Indeed, to have faith is to be able to cry out in this way. God is truly a Father who has an immense compassion for us and wants his children to address him without fear. For this reason, we can speak to him about anything, even those aspects of our lives that are flawed or confused. And he has promised, moreover, to remain with us until the end of time.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Categorie: Vaticano

Cardinal Tagle: Editorial on Global Compact for Migration

ZENIT – English - 13 ore 10 min fa

United Nations members states adopted the Global Compact for Migration at a summit in Marrakesh on December 10, 2018. More than 160 nations signed up to the first ever international pact to promote “safe, orderly and regular” migration.

Caritas Internationalis commended those governments who signed up to the pact. It emphasized that all migrants need access to social services o they can live in dignity, independently of their legal status.

In an editorial first published in America Magazine, Caritas president, Cardinal Luis Tagle, heralds the Global Compact on Migration as “a sign of cooperation and unity that will offer far-reaching hope for our common future”. Read the full editorial below and find out more about our Share the Journey campaign with refugees and migrants.

Cardinal Tagle’s Editorial

News reports point to a world that is fracturing due to fear, prejudice, and hate. We seem to forget the Golden Rule that is at the root of many of our religions and cultures: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

When we see refugees fleeing wars or migrants arriving in our countries looking for a better life, a raw human instinct pushes us to close our doors in their faces, to close our eyes and close our hearts.

But if we look away or give in to fear and hate, we lose our perspective and the core of what it is to be human. More than anything at this point in our common history, we need a perspective that provides a global vision and a united and compassionate response to the challenges of our time.

On 10 and 11 December, governments from around the world are expected to discuss and adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, under the auspices of the United Nations. The compact is important because it is the first global framework that provides orientation to states on how to govern migration and how to respond to migrants.

The global compact on migration shows the desire of governments to work together on one of the most urgent issues of our time. The compact will help governments fine-tune migration policy together with other stakeholders, such as civil society organizations and the private sector, to benefit sending and receiving countries.

Although not legally binding, it offers a 360-degree orientation for governments, addressing issues such as the drivers of migration, climate change and the integration of migrants. Adherence to the compact is beneficial for migrants, as it gives visibility to a phenomenon that is often dealt with only as an emergency. It is beneficial for countries as it helps them develop a long-term vision and a united response to a challenge that needs a global response.

To the governments who have withdrawn support from the compact on migration, I appeal that they reconsider their decision. In an interconnected world, global issues such as climate change, poverty and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities call on us to work together. They will not go away if we ignore them or put up walls. When governments look beyond their immediate needs and electoral demands, they begin to protect and promote the common good, which is at the heart of any flourishing society.

Our world has been marked and shaped by migration from the earliest times in history, and it will not suddenly stop or disappear now. It requires deep thought, planning, and cooperation for the long-term benefits of migration to emerge. But if the right policies are in place, many migrants bring a much-needed boost to the workforce or key skills both for countries of origin (for example, through remittances and diaspora groups who invest in them) and countries of destination.

Contemporary migrants often take the same journeys of uncertainty and hope that our own grandparents took so our parents and our generation could have a better life. A collective amnesia makes us forget where our own families originally came from or how we ended up living where we are now. Can any of us really say we are natives of the country we live in? My own maternal grandfather was a child migrant from China who was sent to the Philippines by his impoverished mother.

The Golden Rule is a powerful reminder to look beyond ourselves and see that our lives, our countries, and our histories are deeply intertwined. Organizing at a global level is difficult and takes courage. Now is a good time to act together. Our faith teaches us that no person or country is exempt from the collective responsibility to care for our common world and its people. If we do not act now, then when?

I hope the words of Pope Francis will echo through the corridors of governments when deciding on this vital Global Compact: “Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

The adoption and implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be an important step for governments to fight the rising tide of stigma around migration and to ensure that human dignity and rights are upheld. In a world struggling to embrace its globalized identity, the global compact will be a sign of cooperation and unity that will offer far-reaching hope for our common future.

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Categorie: Vaticano

Archbishop Auza Cites Work of Group Promoting Peace

ZENIT – English - 13 ore 32 min fa

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, lauded the work of Rondine Cittadella della Pace and its efforts to promote peace.  His remarks came on December 10, 2018, at the side event, “Leaders for Peace: Rondine Youth Appeal for Human Rights,” at United Nations Headquarters, New York.

The Archbishop’s Remarks

Your Excellencies,

President Franco Vaccari and Members of the Rondine Cittadella della Pace,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Seventy years ago today, the international community adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Pope John Paul II called in his 1979 Address to the United Nations General Assembly the “fundamental document,” the “basic inspiration and cornerstone of the United Nations,” and a “milestone on the long and difficult path of moral progress.”

Like the United Nations itself, the Universal Declaration was a response to the horrors of two world wars, genocides, and other barbarities. All peoples of the world recognized that there were some actions so wicked that no one could justify them and certain fundamental values that no one could dispute. The Universal Declaration became one of the most powerful expressions of conscience in modern history, inspiring and challenging the consciences of UN Members and the world ever since.

The Declaration proclaimed in the first sentence of its Preamble that the foundation of peace in the world is “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” Peace in the world flows above all from remembering that each person, no matter how young or old, rich or poor, strong or vulnerable, healthy or sick, wanted or undesired, economically productive or incapacitated, politically influential or insignificant, has dignity and inalienable rights from the very fact of his or her humanity. When we fail to grasp this fundamental truth, when we do not act in accordance with it, we open the way to injustice, inequality, conflict, and even atrocities.

Therefore one of the most important things for peace in the world is training people to recognize and reverence human dignity and rights in each and every person without exception.

This is something that the Rondine Cittadella della Pace has been doing successfully for 20 years at its World House near Arezzo, Italy, and in 15 conflict theaters throughout the world. It’s also what it wishes to extend globally through its Leaders for Peace Campaign being launched today.

At the heart of Rondine’s educational methodology is forming young people and leaders to overcome the temptation to classify and dehumanize others as enemies rather than as persons with innate dignity and inalienable rights. The first Article of the Declaration states that all human beings are “endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” and that’s precisely what the Rondine method seeks to inculcate. It brings young people from opposite sides of conflict to live, learn and study together so that up close they overcome labels, prejudices, and resentment and begin to build something together. They enter into an existential dialogue, something that Pope Francis calls caminar juntos, “journeying together,” convinced that once people begin to walk together open to fraternity and friendship, they begin to recognize how much humanity they have in common, how much beauty and goodness exist in each other, and how much wisdom is imbued in the way the other approaches the most important questions of human life, its joys and hopes, its sorrows and fears.

The type of dialogue Rondine promotes and the world needs, after all, is not just a polite and superficial exchange of words, ideas or sequential monologues. It’s ultimately an exchange of persons. Even if there are great differences in another’s background, beliefs, and values, dialogue can begin with the good that attracts the other to value it and order his or her conduct and life according to those values. In so many places and contexts today, people focus so much on what divides that they end up rejecting other persons as a whole. To dialogue with another means to enter into conversation with what is deepest in the other, his earnest aspirations, her answers to the most profound questions of human life. True dialogue is driven by the conviction and awareness that the other is a good both in himself or herself, but also a good for me and the world. The other is not a threat. The other is not a competitor in an unending battle of survival of the fittest. The other is not an evil to be marginalized or eliminated. The other is an objective and subjective good.

This is the caminar juntos that Rondine promotes. It makes possible the discovery of each other’s most profound dignity.

When Pope Francis welcomed Rondine students to the Vatican last week, he praised the way the World House works, saying, “Your educational commitment is to host young people who, in various parts of the world, live stranded in cultures poisoned by pain and hatred, and to offer them a bold challenge: to verify in person whether the other, he or she who is beyond a closed boundary of barbed wires or impassable walls, is really what everyone claims: an enemy.” He said that in the last 20 years the Citadel of Peace has “developed a method capable of transforming conflicts,” precisely by transforming people in conflict, leading people out of the deception of mutual hostility and aversion and restoring in them a vivid sense of the other’s dignity.

After listening carefully to the Leaders for Peace appeal, Pope Francis responded by heartily giving his support, sympathy, and blessing to the cause and committed himself to ask other Heads of State and Government to do the same.

He underlined that there is a “need for leaders with a new mentality,” precisely those who know how to enter into the type of dialogue Rondine features. “Those who do not know how to dialogue and exchange with each other, … [who do] not try to meet the ‘enemy,’ to sit with him at the table as you do… cannot lead  people to peace.” He encouraged Rondine through its educational efforts to continue its work promoting dialogue between persons, generations, cultures and societies, pointing out that the more we respect each other’s dignity and rights, the easier it is for us to become aware that we belong to the same human community, and the easier it is to grasp the personal responsibility each of us has to make rather than break peace.

On this day in which the international community looks back 70 years with awe and gratitude for what has been accomplished as a result of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we also look ahead with hope that Rondine’s Leaders for Peace Appeal will, in fact, form new generations of leaders to prosper the cause of peace and the promotion of respect for human dignity and the inalienable human rights that make peace possible.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2018 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

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Categorie: Vaticano

Canada: Christmas Message of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

ZENIT – English - 13 ore 49 min fa

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on December 10, 2018, released its 2018 message for Christmas. It is signed by Bishop Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.


My dear friends,

Christmas! Christmastime again! We love this celebration and get ready for it enthusiastically, hoping everything will be perfect. Our preparations take many forms, spiritual and more interior, material and more external. Too often perhaps, the external preparations can take away from preparing hearts as Advent invites us to do. Without always realizing it, getting gifts and meals ready, inviting and visiting our loved ones, decorating our homes and even our churches can take on more importance than Advent. But it is the spiritual and religious journey Advent offers which lets the birth of Jesus open our hearts to the grace of Christmas and fill every dimension of our lives with unique joy.

Is there some way to unite our material and spiritual preparations for Christmas? Here is a suggestion.

When Advent and Christmas come around, one thing, in particular, catches my attention: the multitude of lights sparkling around us. They shine not only from Christmas trees, but also in the streets near where we live, in our workplaces, and in our parishes. These dazzling lights seem to me an invitation to see Christmas as a mystery of light and, like the elderly Simeon in the Gospel of Luke, discover in the Child lying in the manger the true Light revealed to the nations.

A mere glance at our world is enough to note how deep is the darkness covering it. A darkness that hinders clear vision, leads to a loss of meaning and identity and sows death. So many in the world today are anxious, often anguished.

Thus the pressing need – for the world’s well-being – to live the mystery of Christmas and discover the Newborn in Bethlehem, the One who is “the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Live Christmas as the revelation of Light. Walk in that Light. Reveal that Light through our personal witness. That should be our aim!

It is not easy or simple to discern light in a world overrun by the darkness of selfishness, violence, lack of faith, broken promises, shattered relationships, war and famine, sickness and despair. Yet these realities, though harrowing, do not stop the fulfillment of the promise of the One who is Light for men and women of faith. Christ promises to be the light of life for those who commit to follow Him as His disciples. Born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus the Light came into our world and became one of us. His light enters our individual existence and makes of us “children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness” (I Thessalonians 5:5). Like Him, and in Him, we become the “light of the world” (John 8:12 and Matthew 5:14). Because His love enters our hearts through the working of the Holy Spirit, we can shine out for the peace of the world. His light cannot be stopped; it gives joy to our hearts, courage to our souls, meaning to our lives, light for our paths. His light radiates beauty, goodness, and truth in our world amid the darkness of human history.

Christmas transforms our gaze and allows us to discern the light that shines throughout creation. The beauty and order of the universe draw us into contemplation in silent wonder and deep reverence, stirring us to the depths of our souls. But even more, moving is the perception of God’s light that shines a thousand-fold on the face of every human being. We are enhanced when we look attentively at our neighbors and those whom the Lord places on our paths when we contemplate the light from the faces of men, women, and children face filled with emotion and feeling, at times with hope, at times with fear, but always with life!

As we become more aware of the vital importance of the spiritual dimension of Christmas, let us prepare our hearts and help those we love to welcome the grace of Light so that the Messiah can transform us as only He can. This Christmas, let us take the time to contemplate the light of Christ in creation and especially on the faces of our brothers and sisters in our parishes and among all humanity. The “Good News” of Christmas is the light offered to all who seek it and who predispose their lives to welcome it. This Light opens the path to self-sacrifice and commitment, to solidarity and generosity, and ultimately to authentic communion even in this world.

Dear friends, this year let us live Christmas as a mystery of light! May Jesus the Light visit us in the tender compassion of the Father, and may He guide our feet into the way of peace (cf. Luke 1:78-79). Enlightened by Him, the “bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16), together let us become the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14)!

Such is our wish to you and yours for Christmas 2018 and New Year 2019 from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A joyous Christmas of Light!
A good, happy, and holy New Year!

The Most Reverend Lionel Gendron, P.S.S.
Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

10 December 2018

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Categorie: Vaticano

Cardinal Parolin’s Address at the International Conference on Human Rights

ZENIT – English - 14 ore 5 min fa

Here is a translation of the address that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin gave December 10, 2018, during the opening session of the International Conference on the theme Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations, organized by the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development and by the Pontifical Gregorian University, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and the 25th anniversary of the Declaration and the Program of Action of Vienna, being held in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University on December 10-11, 2018.

* * *

Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s Address


Reverend Father Rector,


Academic Authorities,

Dear Docents and Students,

1 – I am particularly happy about the invitation that was addressed to me, and I thank the organizers of this time of reflection and study, in particular, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, and Father Nuno da Silva Goncalves, SJ, Rector of the Gregorian University.

I believe that to question ourselves on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, seventy years after its adoption, and on the conclusions of the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna twenty-five years ago, is a way to underscore again the importance that the recognition and protection of fundamental rights has for the Church and for the academic world.

In this celebratory context as well as one of further reflection, I was asked to identify the reference and the consideration that the diplomatic action of the Holy See holds for the rights of man. An action ordered first of all to make known, in relations with individual States as well as in the context of Institutions and multilateral Conferences, what the Church’s concern is in the procedure and the circumstances that touch the person and communities in their fundamental rights as well as their most profound aspirations. As is known, it’s about an attention that goes beyond the sole condition of Christians, because it is oriented to safeguarding the basic values of human coexistence, those values that are proper to the different religious and cultural experiences. And what more do human rights need other than that certain values and shared fundamentals not to be reduced to sole proclamations or annihilated by uncertain behaviors and procedures?

2 – Looking at the Universal Declaration of 1948, as well as the Declaration and the Plan of Action adopted by the Conference of Vienna on June 25, 1993, the role assigned to diplomacy is very clear: to foster respect for human rights through the systematic activity of States and Institutions of the International Community, so that the rights are affirmed among the basic conditions of internal coexistence in States and of the international order. To be realized, such activity, as the practice of the last decades has confirmed, presupposes a necessary cohesion among peoples and countries.

If this objective is to be pursued also by the diplomatic action of the Holy See that, although with different ways and ends, joins the other protagonists of international life, questions and doubts are not lacking.

A first issue can be easily summarized in the question: What does the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man represent for papal diplomacy? I would say that in the necessary harmony with the vision of the Church, the Declaration is considered in its nature as an instrument of convergence between different cultural, religious and juridical traditions. However, it must be realistically clear that not all were equally represented at the moment of the redaction of the same Declaration. The essential fact remains, then as today, that the text has the indisputable merit of identifying in the person the immediate end and ultimate objective in every action of Institutions, of apparatuses and of legislative procedures. In sum, we are before a proclamation of rights that unites the historical dimension with the transcendent, because it bases rights on human dignity. It is  an aspect that the Holy See highlights in every intervention or negotiation when it stresses that the protection of the person and, therefore, of his rights can never be confused with a desire, but must be translated into reality.

These indicators are sufficient to understand that what is entrusted to the diplomatic action of the Holy See is the task to translate into the language of international relations the Church’s Doctrine on the person and his rights, to avoid that patrimony being excluded from international relations because of pragmatic choices or <choices> limited to technical data that, although necessary and important, are not exclusive. On the occasion of his first visit to the UN, Saint John Paul II explained this passage very clearly, describing the Universal Declaration as an instrument to measure “humanity’s progress not only with the progress of science and technology, in which all of man’s singularity stands out in his relations with nature, but contemporaneously and even more so with the primacy of spiritual values and with the progress of the moral life: (Address to the UN, October 2, 1979). It is a reading that conjugates fully human rights internationally proclaimed with the Christian conception, a reading rendered even more explicit by the present Magisterium of Pope Francis, who identifies in the work of the drafters of the Declaration a “significant relation between the evangelical message and the recognition of human rights” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, June 8, 2018).

A second question merits consideration: what did they wish to express in 1948 with the Universal Declaration? The answer is yet another strong concept that papal diplomacy never ceases to stress: the structure of the Declaration can’t be reduced toa catalogue of rights, or to a static proclamation. Moreover, only by anchoring human rights in an anthropological dimension is it possible to recognize them as the “foundation of freedom, of justice and of peace” (Universal Declaration, Preamble), which <highlights> man’s legitimate aspirations.

It’s easy to intuit that it’s not about theoretical argumentations and terms, even deprived of effectiveness, or simply linked to historical episodes or epochs. In fact, the pre-eminence of freedom over oppression, the equality of the person despite the differences of race, sex, language, religion or opinion, derives from those aspirations, as the right to education, to medical care, to freedom from hunger, to integral development also find space.

The Declaration was desired to combine humanity’s values with the formulations of rights so as to fill that dark fact of policies and laws that claim victims or condemn innocents and thus also to avert violence in its various forms or to eliminate inequalities. That act is a way of affirming universally a renewed idea of justice, which is realized in the relationship between persons that “are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Declaration, Article 1)and which uses the democratic method (Cf. Declaration, Article 28), understood not only as political theory but as ensemble of rules, institutions and structures able to express and convey values. This is what the Holy See keeps present when, speaking of human rights in different contexts of the International Community, it asks to operate in order to guarantee a future worthy of man, exalting the primacy of life, freedom in its different articulations, freedom from poverty and integral growth, which correspond to the common human family.

3 – Coming to today, seventy years having passed, there is a fact we can’t ignore: diplomats and non-diplomats are called to ask themselves if all this is still valid. A realistic reading of our small and great daily world imposes on us a reference to the profound crisis of values, which first of all attacks the human person and, therefore, touches the foundation of the contents of the Universal Declaration. We cannot dispense from this crisis of the foundation because, as Pope Francis points out, “a reductive vision of the human person opens the way to the spread of injustice, social inequality and corruption” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 8, 2018).

In this historical moment the values-rights automatism seems ignored or is even not held to be valid, as the so-called transversal approach evidences, used in the language and the acts of international organs to anchor the fundamental rights to contingent situations, thus thinking to give authority and to render effective internal or international forms of action and support. However, this orientation, which causes a clear separation of the values that inspire the rights, transforms the system that guarantees the right to operate at the international level only in a technical artifice and neglects not only to consider the indivisibility between the classic categories of rights — civil and political or economic, social and cultural — but especially the character of universality and interdependence that makes of the Universal Declaration and of all the acts following it a system of superior rules, reference for <norms> and laws produced within the States. For the Holy See, to neglect the foundation of rights means to deprive them of their essential content and to consent that they be dispersed in the mare magnum of proclamations or of programs adopted under the stimulus of sensations, emotions, ideologies and even of foreign factors to the international context. It’s what the extreme case demonstrates registered last October 30 when, in the framework of the UN organs operating in the matter of human rights, they stopped, first of all, of considering human life as a value, to reduce it to a simple interpretable right according to particular moments, tendencies and ideologies. Rene Cassin, who was one of the Fathers of the Universal Declaration, liked to describe the rights inserted in it as a “corollary” of the right to life of every individual. It’s the demonstration that the right to life demands a commitment able to protect the person in all the phases of existence, also in face of the debate linked at the beginning and the end of life, in which the role of scientific research is ever more distant from the idea of connecting oneself with the ethical-moral dimension, sometimes even in an involuntary way.

Well, in the General Comment N. 36 (2018), the Committee of the Rights of Man, called to interpret the right to life provided by Article 6 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, put back into it recourse to abortion (General Comment No. 36 paragraph 8) and the practices of euthanasia (Cf. Ibid., paragraph 9). <It is> a license of lawfulness, which, in fact, is ethically a dangerous precedent and weakens the whole system of protection and promotion of human rights, affirming the prevalence of the juridical technique over the dimension of values.  There comes to mind again the question whether the lawmaker’s work, is called — also in the international dimension –, to deal with: ius quia iustum or ius quia iussum?  It’s clear in this case that human rights lose their source in human dignity, to derive simply from the law and from interpretative procedures.

4 – Such an orientation risks multiplying itself if the debates and negotiations continue at the international level. And diplomats know this well, from the moment that it is their task to take up tendencies and signs of change of the status quo. However, if diplomacy is called to scrutinize the signs of the times rather than to pursue the everyday reality, it was precisely in the Vienna Conference of 1992 that the Holy See matured the conviction that everything was changing in regard to human rights.

That session, in fact, convoked when the world was still divided between East and West — the original headquarters of the Conference was Berlin with its “wall,” a symbol that in the meantime had failed — made contrasts emerge between groups of countries, beginning with divergence on the order of the day to be discussed. No longer were the different visions between the States opposed, on the necessity and manner of guaranteeing the rights of man, but there was a different conception about values from which the very same draw their origin, beginning with the pillar of human dignity.

In essence, papal diplomacy witnessed the will to exclude from the final document any reference to the foundation of human rights, leaving space only to a hasty claim to the titular “subject” and beneficiary of such rights. <It was> a limited consideration, motivated by an exclusively individualistic approach to rights followed at the UN headquarters already at the end of the 80s of the last century and synthesized with the expression a “people centred approach.” The latter was presented as a choice linked in appearance to a linguistic profile, but in fact was a doctrinal and cultural position that sank its roots up to the phase of the elaboration of the Universal Declaration in 1947, with the debate on the use of the terms “individual,” “human being,” “person.” In the Vienna context, only a closed discussion, initiated and pursued in the negotiations immediately against from the beginning of the Conference, enabled the Holy See to surmount the only individual dimension of rights and to insert a claim for the value of the dignity and of the person in the Preamble of the final Declaration, which recognizes and affirms  “that all human rights stem from the dignity and value inherent in the human person, and that the human person is the central subject of human rights  and of fundamental freedoms, and, therefore, should be the principal beneficiary and should participate actively in the realization of these rights and freedoms.”

The decisions assumed at Vienna were interpreted as a radical change of course of the Holy See and led its Delegation to express at the end of the works some concerns in  a Statement of Interpretation (UNITED NATIONS, Doc.A/CONF. 157/24, Part II, Annex IX), which put on guard from the exclusively pragmatic approach printed in human rights. <It was> an orientation that substituted the principle of equality between human beings with a right to non-discrimination, and interpreted the concept of freedom also as the possibility to enunciate rights without limits, arriving at reducing the concept of justice to the only justifiableness of rights before a judiciary organ. The Holy See also pointed out the dangerous nature of the compromise reached in the so-called “cultural clause,” contained in paragraph 5 of the Vienna Declaration, considering as a potential cause of conflicts the opposition between the universality of human rights and the different cultural and religious conceptions of rights. A conflict that, as we well know, has marked the beginning of this 21st century and on which Benedict XVI intervened, when speaking to the UN on the occasion of the sixty years of the Universal Declaration, specifying that “not only are the rights universal, but so is the human person subject of these rights” (Address to the UN on April 18, 2008). A conflict not appeased, as Pope Francis explains today, stressing that the universality is essential to avoid that “in the name of these same human rights, modern forms of ideological colonizations are established of the stronger and the richer to the detriment of the poorest and weakest. At the same time, it’s good to keep present that the traditions of individual peoples can’t be invoked as a pretext to neglect the proper respect of the fundamental rights enunciated in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man” (address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 7, 2018).

Permit me to close this point recalling Sacred Scripture that, as is known, always imposes the distinction between the prophetic and the royal dimension. It attributes the sceptre to the King, but it entrusts perseverance to the prophet: it’s this that, without too much overexposure, papal diplomacy proposes in speaking of the rights of man. And it does so by reason of its unique but profound expertise “in humanity,” as Saint Pope Paul VI said to the United Nations (Cf. Address to the UN General Assembly, October 4, 1965).

5 – In face if these situations and looking to the future of the fundamental rights what commitment can be made? The recurrent word in the language of diplomacy is dialogue, but what are its margins today on human rights? Can hoping simply for new forms and new structures be the way to stem the violations and interpretations of the rights? In the light of my personal commitment in diplomatic activity, I will also seek to give answers, perhaps coordinating them with further lines of action.

Specified first of all is that diplomacy will have failed in its role if it addresses the subject of rights taking recourse only to facts, limiting itself to follow the alternating of political visions and of overt ideological readings, forgetting that  in its nature lies the capacity to distinguish. Therefore, the method of analyses with which papal diplomacy operates, binds every address on man’s rights not only to official contexts, but also to the knowledge of the objective data. Data, often disconcerting or downright painful, which expresses violence, injustice, exclusion, the negation of the identities to the most degrading forms of the violation of rights. It’s the case, for instance, of religious intolerance, which continues to produce an array of new martyrs for the faith. However, this aspect is even more evident in the inhuman methods applied to the civil population during armed conflicts.  In face of such situations diplomacy must unite the authority of discernment with the capacity to stem the violations or the improbable interpretations of rights,  so that the guarantee of rights is not limited to a generic prevention or to the recourse to arms, but foresees a priori ways of transitional justice to avoid, also in the post-conflict, violations taking place. It turns out to be the task of diplomacy to activate forms of preventive justice given that the great part of conflicts is almost always anticipated by the violation of human rights.

Often we diplomats forget this discernment. Yet looking at the Universal Declaration, we know that the lack of protection of human dignity is born of prolonged contrasts, without a precise beginning or a certain end. The question for diplomacy is to go beyond the normality, namely, the simple repetition of traditional cliches or of taking recourse to preordained formulas that are expressed today by multi-lateral organizations, although knowing that their work is often blocked by a cross-fire of vetoes, or at least by the logic of not denouncing or condemning behaviours to avoid enduring the same effect. I think that, on the subject of human rights, the creative daring is essential of which Pope Francis speaks, to make it possible for the diplomatic instrument to return to be the “art of the possible” (Address on the Occasion of the Meeting with the Authorities in Korea, August 14, 2014). However, how can this be realized in relation to human rights? I think that in a University, it calls for putting “to the test of the classroom” some of the proposals on the initiate that necessary discussion, which is typical of teaching, but which is also a method for diplomacy.

A first proposal is that which I will describe as preventive cohesion among all those that have the responsibility to operate in the matter of rights, even if they manifest opposite opinions and different visions. Moreover, at the moment of the drawing up of the Universal Declaration, the group of relators saw as the unifying element the horror of war that had violated every possible right and subjected the subject of rights — the human being — to every barbarity. As for the rest, the opinions were diverse also because of the fruit of cultural visions, ideals and, not least, different religions. A fact that today is further accentuated in an even wider way and divided in relation to 1948, but in which, paradoxically, the element that appears unitary, at least in the language, is human rights although diversely declined and interpreted.

For papal diplomacy, preventive cohesion means to work to annul opposing positions or to stop violations in act, not only with possible interpretations of rights, which have all the flavour of those truces that are reached during a conflict, but which to govern must be “armed truces.” The objective is, rather, to unite, beginning by listening to all the positions. It’s not a theoretical approach: how often in the activities of organizations competent in the matter of human rights the positions not homologized to fashionable interests and ideologies are rejected a priori, becoming as the weakest that don’t risk to express their point of view? How many parties concerned — the stakeholders as they are indicated today — are excluded from the table of negotiations and of discussions or, in any case, from the debate on human rights for reasons of vaster equilibriums? In the matter of rights, dialogue also presupposes the presence of one who is uncomfortable or does not seem to have — according to the dominant views — legitimacy in terms of proposals and actors.

A second proposal regards the formulation of values and their coherent interpretation. When some seventy hears ago the Universal Declaration was adopted, the slogan was: “to avoid man being constrained to take recourse, in the last instance, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression” (Preamble). A solid point, built on structural values of the international order and understood as a  factor guaranteeing world stability and not only of rights. It was an intuition rendered possible by the fact that between the relators of the text and between the States there were elements of strong sharing of objectives, such as peace and security. I think we are in need of recovering that spirit and of not limiting ourselves to delineate individual interests, which are often egotistical. However, we must be aware that in 1948 the violations of human dignity were first of all material; today they also have to do with values or at least with that common table of shared values, which as made possible he anointing of rays of many goals.

Here is, then, another possible dialogue that papal diplomacy holds as essential: <the dialogue> on values. Words like dignity, freedom, responsibility are already in the language and in the aspirations of the human family, what is more, in their absence it’s not possible to speak of human rights, or to consider consequent situations such as peace, security, development and cooperation. But, what meaning do we attribute to these words? The occasion of today’s Conference has imposed reflection on two events and, as we have seen, the meeting in Vienna represented a clear break between the preceding and the present way of understanding human rights and, hence, the Universal Declaration. Therefore, we must have the courage to rewrite normative acts and their contents to bring back values to the center, though knowing how enormous the difficulties are. The alternative is represented by immobility in regard to violations and interpretations with a shock effect, but ever more distant from the defense of human dignity.

6 – So much for the proposals, but to give them the necessary consistency and to render them operative a contribution is indispensable that gives different perspectives in view of the elaboration of proposals that the Holy See could submit to countries and to multi-lateral Institutions. What does papal diplomacy need to do this?

Perhaps the moment has arrived to start an broad reflection and consultation in the Church regarding human rights, rather I would almost say on the future of man, being conscious that the classical question: “man, who are you?” has been substituted by that strongly insidious: “man, what rights do you want to have?” <It is> a reflection to be developed in the light of the Doctrine and Magisterium of the Church, edited in its method and language in order to be able to be presented to inter-governmental, universal and regional Institutions, so that they are worried about man’s rights and not only are concerned about them.

The realities and organizations to involve in this initiative could be diverse, which I am certain will not fail to draw the attention of multi-lateral structures, as well as of individual States. The question should be addressed first of all in relation to processes of formation that in different levels go across the ecclesial structure.

The International Theological Commission, for instance, concluded its work of reflection and research in 1983 with the document Dignity and Rights of the Human Person, having as reference two realms: the “natural law of people” and the “theology of the history of salvation.” The changes brought about in these years and the criticalities pointed out and those that could develop, call for theological reflection to define again, in light of the new situations, what vision of the person and of his rights can be expressed according to the Doctrine of the Church. A result that the Holy See can propose in the context of the technical/juridical mechanisms that produce, at the international level,  normative acts and establish interpretations of the rights of man.

Such a reflection would also become essential to respond to another need: to insert in courses of priestly formation, and to the religious life, an area to reflect further, in a systematic way, the matter of human rights. A choice that would reveal itself strategic in face of the question that issues daily from the people of God, often disoriented or seeking in its Pastors that essential light  for a formed conscience, able to bring about the necessary discernment. The Congregations for the Clergy and for Consecrated Life could foster and direct this effort in seminaries and houses of formation respectively, but also in the initiatives for the permanent formation of the clergy, <and> of consecrated women and men.

Analogously, the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life could have the work emerge of many forms of lay aggregations, which in several countries and also on the global plane already operate in the sector of man’s rights, furnishing them with those doctrinal elements that become necessary for the layman’s mission in the ecclesial realm and in that of the political Community.

 Also, the Universities that depend on the Holy See  — which is our context today — are called to this process, cultivating in their curricula an inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary reflection  — expressions of Veritatis Gaudium with which Pope Francis recently reformed the studies of our Universities — on the rights of man. And here the Congregation for Catholic Education could bring together what is concretely and scientifically produced, also with reference to the innumerable structures of the Catholic school in the world, so that it can offer not only to the International Community but also to those contexts where there is talk of human rights but only in terms of claims and of great proclamations.

The Dicastery for Integral Human Development would assume the task not only of continuing to operate in different sectors of the rights — institutions, health, development, migrations and human mobility — but also in close connection with the local Episcopates, in order to gather the results of the different initiatives to be able to elaborate the data and predispose a work that the Holy See, through its diplomacy, will be able to bring to the knowledge of countries, governments and international organizations.

7 – Ladies and Gentlemen,

The fruits of such a consultation, once concluded, would become not only the premise for the idea of preventive cohesion or for rewriting the normative acts on rights to give back the just place to values, but would be the tangible sign  of all the attention that the Catholic Church gives to rights and to activities in favour of their promotion and protection. This would give a due scientific nature and the value of concreteness to the proposals that papal diplomacy would bring in international instances, inserting itself in the debates underway and in future ones.

The Holy See is convinced that in regard to fundamental rights, in the absence of shared readings on the values that inspire their content, every instance, be it an individual, a group, a State or even a multi-lateral organization, tends only to legitimize its own vision or to respond ideologically, with the danger of creating conflicts, perhaps to claim stabilizing positions or to legitimize pressures and interpretations. And it is on values that the International Community stakes the aspirations of the present and future generations. It’s not only about defining rights by reason of an abstract peaceful coexistence or of environmental or climatic sustainability, but of reflecting on the basic criteria for the coexistence between persons and between peoples, as well as on the coexistence of persons in States and the coexistence between States.

A course that is certainly not easy, but not impossible.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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US: Bishops’ Chairman Applauds Enactment of Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act

ZENIT – English - 14 ore 8 min fa

On December 11, 2018, after more than two years of hard work and bipartisan cooperation in the US Congress, the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauds the enactment of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390).

This critical legislation will direct humanitarian relief to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria and hold ISIS perpetrators accountable.

“Today is a signal of hope for the critically vulnerable of this region. We thank Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill’s author, and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), its lead cosponsor, and President Donald Trump for signing it into law,” says Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“Less than 200,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from 1.4 million in 2002 and 500,000 in 2013, before ISIS swept through the region on its genocidal campaign. Many of the remaining Christians in Iraq are displaced, mostly in Erbil in the Kurdistan region, and need desperate assistance to return to their homes and stay in Iraq. After the ISIS invasion, 60,000 Yazidis fled to Europe, and of the 550,000 Yazidis still in Iraq, 280,000 remain displaced and only 20 percent have been able to return to their historic homeland of Sinjar, according to the Yazdi organization Yazda.

The Catholic Church has consistently raised its voice in support of the most vulnerable who are facing persecution and displacement in the Middle East and around the world. Pope Francis has denounced the persecution, torture, and killing of Christians in the Middle East, calling it a “form of genocide” that must end, and lamenting the wider conflicts that have put so many in danger. USCCB has joined with Pope Francis in condemning the actions of those who would persecute others solely for reasons of their faith and ethnicity.”

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Kenya: Priest Killed in Robbery

ZENIT – English - Mar, 11/12/2018 - 16:39

A Kenyan priest has been killed in a robbery, Fides News Agency reported December 11, 2018.  The morning of December 10, 2018, Fr. John Njoroge Muhia parish priest at Kinoo, Kiambu, 25 km from Nairobi, was on his way to a bank in the town of Kikuyu to deposit the offerings of the faithful when he was approached by four bandits on motorcycles. On a bumpy road, the criminals forced the priest to stop and told him to hand over the bag he had in the car.

When the priest hesitated one of the robbers pulled out a gun and opened fire shooting through the back window of the car. Some of the bullets hit Fr.Njoroge in the chest. The criminals grabbed the priest’s bag and mobile phone and drove away on their motorbikes. An eyewitness in a nearby building said he heard the shooting and saw two motorbikes make a speedy retreat. The priest was declared dead on arrival at the county hospital.

“We are deeply saddened by the killing of Fr. Njorog. Murder of the Lord’s servants is unacceptable” said Fr. Francis Kiarie, who has worked with the priest killed.

Fr. John Njoroge Muhia, 56, from Gatitu, was ordained a priest on December 30, 1994, and served at St. Peter the Rock Parish in Kinoo.

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Holy Father’s Liturgical Schedule for Christmas Season

ZENIT – English - Mar, 11/12/2018 - 16:22

Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations has issued the following program of the Pope’s liturgical celebrations this Christmas Season:

° December 24, 2018, 09.30 pm: Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

° December 25, 2018, 12.00 pm:  Christmas message and blessing “ Urbi  et Orbi” from the  central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica

° December 31, 2018, 05.00 pm: First Vespers for the feast of Mary the Mother of God, followed by the exposition of the Holy Eucharist, the traditional singing of the “Te Deum” in thanksgiving for the concluding year 2018, and the Eucharistic blessing.

° January 01, 2019, 10.00 am Mass for the feast of Mary the Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica.  World Day of Peace on the theme, “Good Politics is at the Service of Peace”.

° January 06, 2019, 10.00 am Mass of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Christmas Season ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which in 2019 falls on January 13.  The Holy Father will mark the occasion by baptizing babies during a Holy Mass in the Vatican’s famed Sistine Chapel.

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Categorie: Vaticano