Pope prays for migrants killed in Libyan detention center

Pope prays for migrants killed in Libyan detention center

Pope Francis prays for the migrants killed this week by an air strike on a detention center in Libya, and recalls the many victims of massacres in Afghanistan, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis on Sunday invited the faithful to join him in prayer for the “poor, unarmed people who were killed or injured by an air strike on a detention center for migrants in Libya”.

He was addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer.

A UN assessment of the attack reported that 53 people were killed in the strike, including 6 children, and that 130 others were injured.  

It also said “there are reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape.”

“The international community, the Pope added, must not tolerate such serious events”.

He then went on to express his hope that “humanitarian corridors may be opened in an organized and concerted manner for the migrants who are most in need”.

Finally, the Pope said he wished to remember “all the victims of the recent massacres in Afghanistan, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger,” and before saying goodbye to the faithful he had a special greeting for the Eritrean community in Rome to whom he said: “I pray for your people!”

Pope Francis expresses sadness over image of drowned father, child

Pope Francis expresses sadness over image of drowned father, child

Photo: (Julia Le Duc | AP Photo) The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto MartínezRamírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Valeria, lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, Monday, June 24, 2019, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Texas. Pope Franc is “profoundly saddened by their death, and is praying for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery.”

Pope Francis expressed sadness over the fate of the father and young daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to cross into the United States.

“With immense sadness, the Holy Father has seen the images of the father and his baby daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande River while trying to cross the border between Mexico and the United States,” the Vatican’s interim spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said in a statement.

“The pope is profoundly saddened by their death, and is praying for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery.”

Photographs, which have been widely published around the world, show the bodies of a father and his 23-month-old daughter face down along the banks of the Rio Grande near Matamoros, Mexico, across the river from Brownsville, Texas.

Earlier, in off-the-cuff comments during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff complimented the people of Mexico for being “so welcoming to migrants. God bless you.” A group of Mexicans attending the audience cheered and waved a Mexican flag in response.

Francis has frequently been vocal in his support of Mexico’s efforts to help migrants and critical of the U.S. for blocking them at the border. During a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2016, he criticized then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, suggesting that anyone who wanted to build a wall along the border was “not a Christian.”

In April, the pontiff donated $500,000 to help migrants in Mexico, offering assistance to local projects that provide food, lodging and basic necessities.

Pope Defends Migrants after Clashes between Italy and Rescue Ships

Pope Defends Migrants after Clashes between Italy and Rescue Ships

Photo: Pope Francis blesses a child after celebrating a Mass for migrants on the sixth anniversary of his trip to the island of Lampedusa, in the Vatican July 8, 2019. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

By Philip Pullella

Pope Francis said on Monday that “no one is exempt” from helping migrants, in an indirect rebuke of Italy’s hardline interior minister MatteoSalvini who has tried to shut the country’s ports to non-governmental migrant rescue ships.

Francis celebrated a closed-door Mass especially for migrants in St. Peter’s Basilica on the sixth anniversary of his trip to Lampedusa, the southern island where tens of thousands of migrants from north Africa have arrived in recent years. Thousands have died at sea trying to make it there.

“These least ones (among us) are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary,” said Francis.

The Mass was broadcast on television but journalists and the general public were not allowed to attend in order to preserve the intimacy of the occasion. It was attended by some 250 people, including migrants, volunteers and representatives of Church groups and other organizations that help migrants.

Italy last month adopted new rules threatening NGO ships entering territorial waters without permission with large fines and the impounding of vessels. One captain was arrested.

The migration policy has led to clashes between NGOs and the authorities. Italy’s coalition government, which includes Salvini’s right-wing League, has also accused other European countries of leaving it alone to deal with sea arrivals.

More migrants came ashore on Sunday from a rescue boat that had breached for the second time in a week Salvini’s ban.

“The weakest and most vulnerable must be helped,” the pope said in his homily on Monday.

“This is a tremendous responsibility, from which no one is exempt if we wish to fulfil the mission of salvation and liberation, in which the Lord himself has called us to cooperate.”

In what appeared to be a reference to the recent stand-off between the Italian government and the charity ships, a prayer read by one of the participants said: “Lord Jesus, bless the rescuers in the Mediterranean Sea, and make grow in each of us the courage of truth and respect for every human life.”

Sadness not a Christian attitude – Pope

Sadness not a Christian attitude – Pope

Pope Francis says “sadness is not a Christian attitude”. Speaking to the faithful at morning Mass he commented on how it is possible to overcome the difficulties of life with the support and closeness of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis reflected on the Holy Spirit, the protagonist, he said, of the Gospel passage of the day. He was speaking during his homily at Mass on Tuesday morning at the Casa Santa Marta

Remarking on Jesus’ farewell speech to the disciples before going to Heaven, the Pope said He gives us a true catechesis on the Holy Spirit.

The disciples, he noted, are sad to hear that their Master will soon leave them, but Jesus reproaches them pointing out that although “grief has filled your hearts, (…) it is better for you that I go”.

“But how can one not be sad?” he continued, and said that “to counter sadness, we pray to the Lord to keep the renewed youth of the spirit within us”.

It is the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, who ensures that we continue to be renewed and youthful in our faith.

Christians must not be sad:

The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis explained, gives us the capacity to carry our crosses. He reflected on the reading from the Acts of the Apostles that tells of how Paul and Silas, who had been stripped, beaten, chained and imprisoned, sang hymns to God.  

The Holy Spirit, he said, renews everything. The Holy Spirit accompanies us in life and sustains us. And calling the Spirit the ‘Paraclete’, the Pope explained the meaning of this “strange” word – which – he said, refers to “He who is near me and supports me so that I don’t fall, so I keep my spirit youthful”.

“A Christian is always young,” the Pope continued, and when the heart of a Christian begins to age, so does his Christian vocation.

“Either you are young in heart and soul, or you are not fully Christian” he said.

Daily dialogue with the Spirit allows us to go forward:

The Pope said that there is sorrow and pain in all of our lives, but he highlighted the example of Paul and Silas who were beaten and were suffering, and yet, he said “they were full of joy, they sang…”

He explained that this is where the “youthful” part comes in as youth looks ahead with hope. But to be able to have this youthful attitude, he added, we need a daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit, who is always with us.

“It is the great gift that Jesus left us: this support, which allows us to go forward” he said.

Sin makes the soul grow old, the Spirit keeps it young:

Pope Francis concluded his homily with words of encouragement and hope saying that even if we are sinners, the Spirit helps us to repent and look ahead: “speak to the Spirit who will give you support and restore your youthfulness”.

Sin, on the other hand, he said ages one: “the soul ages, everything ages”.

In life there are difficult moments, but in these moments “we feel that the Spirit helps us to move forward (…) and to overcome difficulties. Even martyrdom,” he said.

“Let us ask the Lord not to lose this renewed youthfulness, not to be Christians who have retired and have lost their joy,” he said: “a Christian never retires, a Christian lives because he is young – when he is a true Christian”.

Pope to canonize Newman and four others on 13 October

Pope to canonize Newman and four others on 13 October

The Vatican announces the date of the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman along with four others on the third Sunday of October 2019.

At a Consistory of cardinals on Monday, Pope Francis formally approved Blessed John Henry Newman’s canonisation along with that of Sister Mariam Thresia, of GiuseppinaVannini, of Dulce Lopes Pontes and of Margarita Bays.

In February, the Pope signed a decree recognising a second miracle attributed to Blessed John Henry Newman, the inexplicable healing of a woman with a “life-threatening pregnancy”.

Blessed John Henry Newman was one of the most prominent converts to Catholicism from Anglicanism of the 19th century. He was already an esteemed Anglican theologian when he founded the Oxford Movement to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots, before himself converting to the Catholic faith. He was renowned as a brilliant thinker and was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He died in Birmingham in 1890, aged 89, after founding the Birmingham Oratory.

Sister Mariam Thresia of India is the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family.

Italian Sister GiuseppinaVannini is the founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus.

Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.Marguerite Bays of Switzerland, of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis seeks more freedom in theology, dialogue with Islam

Pope Francis seeks more freedom in theology, dialogue with Islam

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Camerino, Italy, Sunday, June 16, 2019.

Pope Francis called Friday for a reform of the way theology is taught in Catholic schools, saying students must learn about dialogue with Judaism and Islam, and that overall there must be greater freedom in theological research and academic pursuits.

The Jesuit pope made the call during a speech at the Jesuit-run theology university in Naples. It follows his outreach this year to the Muslim world with the signing of a joint statement with the imam of Cairo’s Al Azhar, the seat of Sunni learning, establishing the relationship between Catholics and Muslims as brothers, with a common mission to promote peace.

In his speech, Francis said dialogue and partnership with the Muslim world is necessary “to build a peaceful existence, even when there are the troublesome episodes by fanatic enemies of dialogue.”

Catholic theology students must learn the culture, language and way of thinking of Jews and Muslims, he said, “to better understand and live out our relationship.”

After the theologically doctrinaire papacies of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Francis has stressed instead the need to “walk together” with interfaith partners, often joking that theologians should ruminate on a deserted island while religious leaders press ahead with dialogue on the ground. He has also called for a more pastoral, merciful and conscience-driven approach to sticky theological problems, such as Communion for the civilly remarried.