Pope Francis urges Mauritius to shun ‘idolatrous economic model’

Pope Francis urges Mauritius to shun ‘idolatrous economic model’

Pope Francis on Monday urged Mauritius, a prosperous magnet for tourists and a global tax haven, to shun an “idolatrous economic model” that excludes the youth and the poor and damages the environment.

The Argentine pontiff’s visit to the idyllic Indian Ocean island began with a mass attended by an estimated 100,000 faithful, ecstatically waving palm fronds and cheering “Francis, Francis”.

While the island is a beacon of stability and relative prosperity, Pope Francis honed in on the struggles of the youth, who face growing inequality, unemployment and the scourge of drug abuse.

“It is a hard thing to say, but, despite the economic growth your country has known in recent decades, it is the young who are suffering the most. They suffer from unemployment, which not only creates uncertainty about the future, but also prevents them from believing that they play a significant part in your shared history,” said the pope.

“Let us not allow those who deal in death to rob the first fruits of this land,” he said, referring to drug dealers.

According to a Mauritius Drug Observatory report in 2018, the smuggling and use of drugs such as heroin, cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine, has grown in recent years.

He continued this theme in a later address at the presidential palace, warning that the country’s system of economic growth sidelined the young.

Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a poor, agriculture-based economy, to one of Africa’s wealthiest nations and financial services hub.

It has increasingly come under fire for helping global companies avoid paying taxes — often in poor African nations — and was in 2015 placed on a European Union tax haven blacklist.

General unemployment is low compared to the rest of the continent at 6.9 percent in 2018 according to the World Bank, but is high among the youth at 22 percent and inequality is seen to be rising.

Pope Francis urged Madagascar “not to yield to the temptation of an idolatrous economic model that feels the need to sacrifice human lives on the altar of speculation and profit alone, considering only immediate advantage to the detriment of protecting the poor, the environment and its resources”. According to the World Bank, one of the greatest challenges for the island is adapting to the effects of climate change — which has worsened tropical storms and floods affecting it.

Obeying God is the Key to Christian Life – Pope Francis

Obeying God is the Key to Christian Life – Pope Francis

Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, celebrating the Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

Hannah Brockhaus/CNA

An important aspect of the Christian life is obeying God even when there may be consequences for going against the commands of others, Pope Francis said during the general audience Wednesday.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter offers “a key to the Christian life: ‘To obey God instead of men,’” the pope said Aug. 28, adding that “it is the great Christian response.”

“This means listening to God without reservations, without postponements, without calculations,” he said. “Adhere to him to become capable of covenant with him and with [those] whom we meet on our way.”

Continuing his weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis commented on a passage in chapter five, when the apostles are teaching and performing “signs and wonders” among the people.

In Acts 5:14-15 it says “more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them” and they were bringing their sick out into the streets, “so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.”

The pope pointed out that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, only has to pass by and even “his shadow becomes a ‘caress’ … an outpouring of the tenderness of the Risen One who bends over the sick and restores life, salvation, dignity.”

This is one way God manifests his closeness, he said. This is what it means to be a witness, manifesting Christ “both with words and with bodily presence.”

The sick and disturbed were all healed at the hands of the apostles. Francis emphasized this aspect, explaining that the sick “are privileged for the Church, for the priestly heart, for all the faithful.”

“They are not to be discarded, on the contrary, they are to be treated, to be looked after: They are the object of Christian concern,” he said.

What follows in Acts, Francis said, is that “Peter’s healing action arouses the hatred of the Sadducees, [arouses] envy, [they] imprison the apostles and, upset about their mysterious liberation, forbid them to teach.”

The hearts of the Sadducees were hard, he said, and they did not want to believe what they had seen – the healings and the apostles’ miraculous release from prison at the hands of an angel.

The apostles were then brought for questioning before the high priest, who said: “We gave you strict orders [did we not?] to stop teaching in that name. But Peter and the apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

Pope Francis said: “We also ask the Holy Spirit for the strength not to be frightened before those who command us to keep quiet, who slander us and even attack our lives.”

“Let us ask him to strengthen us inwardly to be certain of the loving and consoling presence of the Lord by our side.”

At the end of the general audience, the pope noted the Aug. 28 feast day of St. Augustine.

“Today we celebrate the memory of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church,” he said. “I invite everyone to be inspired by his holiness and his teaching. Together with him, rediscover the way of interiority that leads to God and to the neighbor most in need.”

Pope Francis: Self-interest and hypocrisy destroy the Church

Pope Francis: Self-interest and hypocrisy destroy the Church

By Courtney Grogan

Pope Francis decried hypocrisy and self-interest Wednesday, saying that Christian community should always be characterized by generosity and solidarity.

“A life set only on profiting and taking advantage of situations at the expense of others inevitably causes interior death,” Pope Francis said Aug. 21 in Paul VI Hall.

“And how many people say they are close to the Church, friends of priests, bishops, while they are only looking for their own interest. These are the hypocrisies that destroy the Church,” he added in a departure from his prepared remarks.

Pope Francis said he asks the Lord to “pour over us His Spirit of tenderness, which overcomes all hypocrisy and puts into circulation that truth which nourishes Christian solidarity.”

The pope said that solidarity is “the inalienable expression of the nature of the Church,” which he called the “tender mother of all, especially the poorest.”

Photo: Pope Francis at the general audience in Paul VI Hall Aug. 21, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA
Photo: Pope Francis at the general audience in Paul VI Hall Aug. 21, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

“Being members of the body of Christ makes believers co-responsible for each other. Being believers in Jesus makes us all co-responsible for each other,” he said.

“Among Christians we cannot say: ‘Poor person, he has a problem at home, he is going through this family difficulty’. But, I must pray. I carry it with me. I am not be indifferent. This is being a Christian,” Francis explained.

Throughout Pope Francis’ general audience, a young girl who appeared to have a mental disability, danced across the stage clapping her hands in front of the pope in Paul VI Hall.

“We have all seen this beautiful girl – she is beautiful … victim of an illness and does not know what she is doing,” he said.

Pope Francis asked the audience if they had prayed for this young girl and her family. “Whenever we see someone suffering we must pray,” he said.

The pope stressed the importance of concrete acts of generosity in the life of a Christian, particularly with one’s time and money.

“The sign that your heart has converted is when conversion reaches your pockets,” he said. “There  is where we see if one is generous with others, if one helps the weakest, the poorest.”

In the life of the Church, there have always been Christians who stripped themselves of unnecessary things to give them to those who needed them, Pope Francis said.

He pointed to the example of the early Christians described in the Acts of the Apostles.

“A concrete example of sharing and communion of goods comes to us from the testimony of Barnabas: he owns a field and sells it to deliver the proceeds to the Apostles,” Francis said.

“The Christian community is born from the overabundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit and grows thanks to the leaven of sharing between brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a dynamism of solidarity that builds the Church as the family of God,” he said.

Pope Francis also pointed out that there were negative examples of hypocrisy and selfishness among this same community. He described the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira described in chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles.

Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property to give the proceeds to the apostles, but retained for themselves a portion of the purchase price.

To which St. Peter responded, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the Holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land? … Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings, but to God.”

Upon hearing these words from Peter, Ananias fell down and died. “This cheating interrupts the chain of free sharing… and the consequences are tragic, are fatal,” Pope Francis said.

“We could say that Ananias lied to God because of an isolated conscience,” he said. “Hypocrisy is the worst enemy of this Christian community, of this Christian love: that of pretending to love each other, but only looking for one’s own interest.” “To fail in the sincerity of sharing … in the sincerity of love, means to cultivate hypocrisy, move away from the truth, to become selfish, to extinguish the fire of communion and turn to the frost of interior death,” the pope said.

FAITH AND POLITICS

FAITH AND POLITICS

The Christians who live in today’s world always bear in mind what Jesus said “If you want to be a disciple of mine, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me”. The political climate at Jesus time was very intense and polarized. To work in a polarized world needs faith-filled people, strong like Jesus to help to dismantle social structures that dislocate humanity.

We know how the early Christians suffered in carrying the ‘’Cross’’ dying for truth and living amid mysteries of human life. They spoke eloquently in the midst of evil and alienation of people. Their concerns for the people and eloquent testimonies and lifestyles could breed explosive social discontent for those who want to remain the same in governance and continue to oppress the people. Governance should be therapeutic; heal people, caring for the people by making sure that there is peace and food in the land. 

We must know that the church is superior to the state because its authority comes from God but the church and the state should work together because the church has special vocation from God. So the church and the state should cooperate to enforce more moderate, realistic and moral demands on the society at large.

The church’s divine authority is immense that it can coerce a government that lacks moral compass. The responsibilities that lie on the Christians are many and so they must first of all be just in their lives and must confront issues of injustices in the society.  They live and liberate the oppressed. Where secular authority violates human rights and jails people unjustly the church must speak.  Christians filled with faith must know that no power is allowed to violate human rights or is allowed to make draconian laws that upset God’s plan for his people .What is happening in Nigeria is  atrocious, insecurity everywhere. Muslims should cooperate with the Christians to bring peace and justice to mankind. 

Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world but the live in peace with people. Why not us in Nigeria?

Christians are called to raise their voices against injustice in the society, eliminate injustice, reduce poverty and bring peace. They should make sure that people are allowed to participate in the economic, political and cultural life of the country. It is unfair for any individual to prevent one from participating in politics. Catholic Priests are not allowed to participate in partisan politics because of its duplicities but other churches allow their pastors to join politics but we have never seen them perform better than ordinary politicians in politics. We want people who can bring value to the system and create hope for the people. 

Politics is not meant only for the elite and money bags. Human society must be regulated properly to have harmony and avoid violence. Security of life must be assured Christians must always use the Gospel values to sanitize the society to make sure that social justice is maintained. Seriously, the Christians must make sure they do not sell their rights to proclaim the values of Jesus at political positions but speak to power that the dignity of human persons is safe-guarded in the country for there is constant abuse of human rights all over. They should change the unjust structures as the early Christians did and not minimize the value of justice. Our faith should not be dormant and we should use our faith values to fight in the social world.

Christian faith can help to restore humanity heading to ruin. It can bring justice to humanity by calling evil by its name.

VERY REV. MONSIGNOR LivinusUkah

Pope Francis: Judge your own heart first – not that of those in need

Pope Francis: Judge your own heart first – not that of those in need

By Hannah Brockhaus/CNA

‘If you go down the street and see a homeless man lying there… do not ask yourself if that man is drunk, ask yourself if your heart has hardened’
Helping a person in need requires compassion toward their situation, Pope Francis said Sunday, encouraging Catholics to think first about their own hardness of heart, not the sins of others.
“If you go down the street and see a homeless man lying there and you pass by without looking at him, or you think: ‘Eh, the effect of wine. He’s a drunk,’ do not ask yourself if that man is drunk, ask yourself if your heart has hardened, if your heart has become ice,” the pope said July 14.
The true “face of love,” he continued, is “mercy towards a human life in need. This is how one becomes a true disciple of Jesus.”
In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the Good Samaritan, which he called “one of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel.”
“This parable has become paradigmatic of the Christian life. It has become the model of how a Christian must act,” he said.
According to Pope Francis, the parable shows that having compassion is key. “If you do not feel pity before a needy person, if your heart is not moved, then something is wrong,” he warned. “Be careful.”
Quoting the Gospel of Luke, Francis said: “‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.’ God, our Father, is merciful, because he has compassion; he is capable of having this compassion, of approaching our pain, our sin, our vices, our miseries.”
The pope noted a detail of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is that the Samaritan was considered an unbeliever. Jesus uses a man of no faith as a model, he said, because this man, in “loving his brother as himself, shows that he loves God with all his heart and with all his strength – the God he did not know!”
“May the Virgin Mary,” Francis prayed, “help us to understand and above all to live more and more the unbreakable bond that exists between love for God our Father and concrete and generous love for our brothers, and give us the grace to have compassion and grow in compassion.”
After the Angelus, the pope reiterated his desire to be close to the Venezuelan people, who he said are facing trials in the continued crisis in the country.
“We pray the Lord will inspire and enlighten the parties involved, so that they can, as soon as possible, reach an agreement that puts an end to the suffering of the people for the good of the country and the entire region,” he said.

True wealth is found in Jesus Christ, not money, Pope Francis says

True wealth is found in Jesus Christ, not money, Pope Francis says

By Hannah Brockhaus/CNA

Pope Francis Wednesday criticized those who give more consideration to money than the sacraments or helping others find true wealth – a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“How many times do I think of this when I see some parishes where it is thought that money is more important than the sacraments! Please! A poor Church: let us ask the Lord for this,” the pope said Aug. 7.
The Gospel teaches to not put trust in financial resources, but in “the true wealth” that is a relationship with Jesus Christ, he said. “We are indeed – as St. Paul would say – ‘poor, but capable of enriching many; as people who have nothing and instead possess everything.’”
“And we, each of us, what do we own? What is our wealth, our treasure? What can we make others rich with?” he asked.
“Our all is the Gospel, which manifests the power of the name of Jesus who performs wonders.”
“Here the portrait of the Church appears, which sees those in difficulty, does not close its eyes, knows how to look humanity in the face to create meaningful relationships, bridges of friendship and solidarity instead of barriers,” he said.
After a month-long break from general audiences, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, reflecting on the book’s first account of disciples performing a miraculous healing.
In the episode, Peter and John are going to the temple to pray when they encounter a crippled man who had been carried to sit outside the gate called “the Beautiful Gate” to beg for alms.
Francis explained that at that time, people with physical disabilities were not allowed to offer sacrifices inside the temple, or even to enter, because it was believed their infirmity was due to their sin or sins of their parents.
As Peter and John entered the temple, they saw the man and Peter said, “look at us.” The crippled man looked back at the disciples, then Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.”
Then Peter took him by the hand and raised him up. The man, crippled from birth, “leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.”
“This is the ‘art of accompaniment,’” Pope Francis said. “This [is what] the two disciples do with the cripple. They see him, they say look at us, they give a hand, they help him rise, and they heal him.”
“This is what Jesus does for all of us,” he added. “When we are in bad moments, in moments of sin, in moments of sadness. We say to Jesus: Look at me. I am here. And we take Jesus’ hand and we let ourselves be raised.”
The goal should be a Church “which knows how to take by the hand and accompany to lift, not to condemn,” he said, adding that “Jesus always, always holds out his hand, always trying to lift, to make people heal, to be happy, to meet God.”