Pope urges world leaders to reduce, forgive debts burdening poor nations

Pope urges world leaders to reduce, forgive debts burdening poor nations

Pope Francis has called for the reduction or outright forgiveness of debts of poor countries.

In an Easter message at the Vatican yesterday, the pope said by reducing or cancelling debts, countries would be in a better position to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless,” Pope said in his Easter address.

“In light of the present circumstances, may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens, and may all nations be put in a position to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”

While offering prayers for the sick, poor and elderly, Francis urged political leaders to give hope and opportunity to laid-off workers.

There should be solidarity the world over to confront the disease he described as an “epochal challenge” posed by the global health crisis, he said.

He urged the European Union (EU) to step up to the challenge posed by COVID-19 and resist the tendencies of selfishness and division.

The pontiff recalled how Europe rose again after World War II “thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past.”

“This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons,” Francis said.

Vatican official tells clergy: ‘There is a Gospel in the making on the streets’

Vatican official tells clergy: ‘There is a Gospel in the making on the streets’

While Rome is under lockdown, one person drives hundreds of miles a day through the empty streets of the Italian capital, picking up food from factories and businesses and delivering them personally to the city’s poor.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Polish prelate that leads Pope Francis’s charitable efforts, says he once dreamed of being a milkman.

“Now my dream comes true,” he laughs, after loading another truck full of dairy products.

Only this week the Polish cardinal drove cars full of food to two Roman convents where dozens of sisters are infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus. He also brought supplies to a senior home named after St. John XXIII.

“Companies are giving away tons of food. We have to deliver it before it goes bad,” Krajewski told Crux.
The Pontifical Villas Dairy Production from the Vatican’s Castel Gandolfo property outside of Rome donates fresh milk and yogurt every day.

“Only on Saturday, I did 250 kilometers around the city – at least with empty streets I can drive without obstacles,” the cardinal said.

For anyone who is worried that the cardinal himself could be infected – the incubation time for the coronavirus can be up to 14 days – he told Crux he was tested for COVID-19, and the results were negative.

“I did it for the sake of the poor and people who work with me – they need to be safe,” he explained.

Krajewski – known in the Vatican as “Don Corrado” – is the Papal Almoner, a post in charge of almsgiving in the city of Rome on behalf on the pope.

The position has been given a new prominence under Francis, and Krajewski is widely seen as one of the pontiff’s closest collaborators.

This has been especially true during the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Italy hard.

His influence was demonstrated March 13, when he opened his titular church for Eucharistic adoration in defiance of a decree issued the day before, closing the doors of the churches in the Diocese of Rome.

“Home should always be open to its children,” he told Crux immediately after his rebellious action. However, the decree was reversed later that same day, after an intervention by Francis.

Krajewski’s parish is the street, and no virus will stop him from helping the poor.

“I made a tour around the Roman parishes today,” he told Crux on Sunday. “I told them that washing the feet of those in need is like consecration during Eucharist.”

He urged priests under lockdown to open their showers to the poor, “respecting all procedures of protection” from the coronavirus.

“I went to one friary – I asked – how many of you are there? They said 20. It is 20 men that can serve the poor! We don’t need to put our lay volunteers in danger, the Churchmen can do it!” Krajewski told Crux.

The Polish cardinal stressed that prayer without alms these days is “incomplete,” adding that Francis has set the example.

“Before Urbi et Orbi on Friday, the Holy Father gave 30 respirators to hospitals, then he prayed for the world,” the Papal Almoner said.

Krajewski also has a special message to the hundreds of priests from around the world studying at the pontifical universities in Rome: “Put away the theology books for now – there is a Gospel in the making on the streets.”

The cardinal says that “miracles are happening these days,” recalling one parish pastor telling him on a Sunday morning: “I needed your kick to get into action.”

He practices what he preaches, even in his own apartment.

Two homeless people and a Muslim woman regularly prepare sandwiches for the city’s poor in his home above the Almoner’s office inside the Vatican. His furniture once belonged to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now known as Pope emeritus Benedict XVI: “It is a home church,” the cardinal added with a smile.

“For the first time I heard from the poor these days – we are hungry,” he said during his Sunday Mass, said privately in the Vatican. “There is no place to go for them to ask for help – bars and restaurants are closed.”

Urging priests to go out and serve the poor, he said: “We have two hands, the intelligence of the Gospel: We only lack a little courage.”

Krajewski finding creative new ways to help the poor and keep safe from COVID-19 at the same time. He has adjusted the distribution of meals for the needy and homeless he was organizing twice a week at Roman trains stations, so they are now packed ahead of time into “bags from the heart” and don’t require volunteers to hand out individually.

When asked whether he was afraid of being infected during his work, he jokingly answered with a Polish proverb: “There isn’t a risk that the devil will touch the bad guy.”

COVID-19 is not God’s judgment, but a call to live differently, pope says

COVID-19 is not God’s judgment, but a call to live differently, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The worldwide coronavirus pandemic is not God’s judgment on humanity, but God’s call on people to judge what is most important to them and resolve to act accordingly from now on, Pope Francis said.

Addressing God, the pope said that “it is not the time of your judgment, but of our judgment: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”

Pope Francis offered his meditation on the meaning of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for humanity March 27 before raising a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament and giving an extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

Popes usually give their blessing “urbi et orbi” only immediately after their election and on Christmas and Easter.

Pope Francis opened the service — in a rain-drenched, empty St. Peter’s Square — praying that the “almighty and merciful God” would see how people are suffering and give them comfort. He asked to care for the sick and dying, for medical workers exhausted by caring for the sick and for political leaders who bear the burden of making decisions to protect their people.

The service included the reading of the Gospel of Mark’s account of Jesus calming the stormy sea.

“Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives,” the pope said. “Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them.”

Like the disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, he said, “we will experience that, with him on board, there will be no shipwreck, because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things.”

Pope Francis leads a prayer service in an empty St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 27, 2020. At the conclusion of the service the pope held the Eucharist as he gave an extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world). The service was livestreamed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane)

The Gospel passage began, “When evening had come,” and the pope said that with the pandemic and its sickness and death, and with the lockdowns and closures of schools and workplaces, it has felt like “for weeks now it has been evening.”

“Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void that stops everything as it passes by,” the pope said. “We feel it in the air, we notice it in people’s gestures; their glances give them away.

“We find ourselves afraid and lost,” he said. “Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm.”

However, the pandemic storm has made most people realize that “we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented,” the pope said. And it has shown how each person has a contribution to make, at least in comforting each other.

“On this boat are all of us,” he said.

The pandemic, the pope said, has exposed “our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities.”

Pope Francis holds the monstrance as he gives his extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 27, 2020. The blessing was livestreamed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Yara Nardi)

In the midst of the storm, Francis said, God is calling people to faith, which is not just believing God exists, but turning to him and trusting him.

As Lent and the pandemic go on, he said, God continues to call people to “convert” and “return to me with all your heart.”

It is a time to decide to live differently, live better, love more and care for others, he said, and every community is filled with people who can be role models — individuals, “who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives.”

Francis said the Holy Spirit can use the pandemic to “redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people — often forgotten people — who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines,” but are serving others and making life possible during the pandemic.

The pope listed “doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.”

“How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility,” he said. And “how many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer.”

“How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all,” he said. “Prayer and quiet service: These are our victorious weapons.”

In the boat, when the disciples plead with Jesus to do something, Jesus responds, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

“Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us,” the pope said. “In this world that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything.

“Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things and be lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet,” Pope Francis said.

“We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick,” he said. “Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: ‘Wake up, Lord!'”

The Lord is calling on people to “put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be foundering,” the pope said.

“The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith,” he said. “We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love.”

Pope Francis told people watching around the world that he would “entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, health of the people, and star of the stormy sea.”

“May God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace,” he said. “Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak, and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.”

Introducing the formal blessing, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, announced that it would include a plenary indulgence “in the form established by the church” to everyone watching on television or internet or listening by radio.

An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven. Catholics following the pope’s blessing could receive the indulgence if they had “a spirit detached from sin,” promised to go to confession and receive the Eucharist as soon as possible and said a prayer for the pope’s intentions.

Vatican worker who lives in same residence as Pope Francis tests positive for coronavirus

Vatican worker who lives in same residence as Pope Francis tests positive for coronavirus

A Vatican worker who lives in the same residence as Pope Francis has been hospitalised after reportedly testing positive for coronavirus.

The clergyman, who has not been named, has lived in the Holy See’s Saint Martha’s guest house for years.

Pope Francis, 83, also uses the building as his residence, to take his meals and for private meetings. He has remained largely secluded since coming down with a cold at the end of last month.

Italy has remained at the epicentre of Europe’s virus outbreak and has recorded more deaths than China due to the disease.

The guest house is being disinfected by Vatican authorities.

The Pontiff, who is said to be in good health, live-streamed a mass at the Santa Marta church this morning.

As well as using the Saint Martha guest house, the pope also visits the Vatican Library to record messages for the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.

The La Stampa and Il Messagro newspapers said the unnamed person has been hospitalised in Rome and steps have been taken to disinfect the building.

La Stampa additionally reported that Pope Francis has been ‘eating alone in his room for some time’ as a precaution.

‘He spends much of his time in his apartment, and when he moves inside the residence, he keeps the necessary safe distances,’ La Stampa wrote.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told AFP he could neither confirm nor deny the reports.

The official Vatican News website said the number of people infected in the city state has risen to four.

This includes one person who first tested positive on March 6.

‘The new cases include an employee of the merchandise office and two employees of the Vatican Museums,’ the official news site said.

The Argentine-born pontiff has enjoyed a life of good health despite losing part of a lung as a young man and suffered from sciatica – a nerve condition that causes pain in his hip.

The pope gave a video address on Tuesday where he urged Christians not to ‘complain about everything’ or indulge in ‘evil’ self-pity.

Francis said that sloth – marked by carelessness, apathy and self-pity – is a ‘poison, a fog that envelops the soul and doesn’t let it live’, before offering prayers for health workers and priests who have died helping those suffering from coronavirus.

Hours later the pope also ran a mass Lord’s Prayer through an online broadcast to help comfort people amid the outbreak.

The pope has been holding his general audiences and Sunday blessings over the internet and television from the official papal library instead of before crowds numbering tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

Source: Daily Mail

Pope: ‘Education concerns the future of humanity’

Pope: ‘Education concerns the future of humanity’

Pope Francis says poverty, discrimination, climate change, the globalization of indifference and the exploitation of human beings all prevent the flourishing of millions of children, thus his call to join forces to achieve a broad educational covenant.

Despite the objectives formulated by the UN and other international bodies, Pope Francis said humanity is in need of a renewed educational covenant “aimed at forming mature persons capable of mending the fabric of human relationships and creating a more fraternal world.”

He was addressing participants at the end of a two-day conference in the Vatican on Friday entitled “Education. The Global Compact”. The Conference was one of a series of events leading up to the signing of a “Global Compact for Education”, promoted by the Pope, in the Vatican on 14 May 2020.

“Poverty, discrimination, climate change, the globalization of indifference and the exploitation of human beings all prevent the flourishing of millions of children,” he said.

Reflecting on how basic education has become a “normative ideal throughout the world,” he praised the progress that has been made in making primary education almost universal while also narrowing the gender gap.

“Nonetheless,” he continued, “each generation needs to consider how best to hand on its knowledge and its values to the next, since it is through education that men and women attain their maximum potential and become conscious, free and responsible.”

Education concerns the future of humanity

Thus, Pope Francis underscored, “concern for education is concern for future generations and for the future of humanity.  It is a concern profoundly rooted in hope and it calls for generosity and courage.”

He elaborated on the fact that education is not merely about transmitting concepts and that it demands cooperation on the part of all involved: “the family, the school and social, cultural and religious institutions.”

A state of breakdown

“Today what I have called the “educational compact” between families, schools, nations and the world, culture and cultures, is in crisis, and indeed in a state of breakdown,” he said noting that it is “serious, and it can only be fixed through a renewed universal effort of generosity and cooperation.”

Thus, Pope Francis said, all members of society are called, in some way, to renew and consolidate their commitment in favour of education.

“To achieve this, there has to be an integration of disciplines, culture, sports, science, relaxation and recreation; bridges have to be built to overcome the forms of enclosure that trap us in our little world and to launch into the global open seas in respect for all traditions,” he said .

Teaching a culture of dialogue and encounter  

He called for an effort that gives value to traditions and cultures so that future generations may develop “their own self-understanding by encountering and appropriating cultural diversity and change.”

“This,” he said, “will enable the promotion of a culture of dialogue, encounter and mutual understanding, in a spirit of serenity and tolerance.”

Families, schools, communities

Pope Francis called in particular for a greater participation of families and local communities in educational projects.

Finally, he praised and upheld the work and responsibility of teachers pointing out that in a new educational compact, the function of teachers, as educators, must be acknowledged and supported by every possible means: “By their knowledge, patience and dedication, they communicate a way of living and acting that embodies a richness that is not material but spiritual, and creates the men and woman of tomorrow.”

Killing of Christians: Rights group takes case to Pope, Trump

Killing of Christians: Rights group takes case to Pope, Trump

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has petitioned the head of the Catholic Church in the Vatican and the President of the United States of America on the spate of what it called well-coordinated armed invasions of churches and Christian communities by suspected armed Islamists and bandits that have made Kaduna State the epicenter of these extensively coordinated attacks against Christians.

HURIWA urged the two global leaders to compel President MuhammaduBuhari and governor Malam Nassir El’ Rufai of Kaduna State, to stop the siege and systematic genocidal killings of Christians in the Christian dominated heartland of Southern Kaduna.

The letter follows a recent attack on a Major Seminary in the state and abduction of four seminarians and alleged silence by security forces in investigating and rescuing the students.

The groups National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said it has decided to call the attention of Pope Francis and President Donald Trump on the spate of well-coordinated armed invasions of Churches and Christian dominated areas of Southern Kaduna their genocide theater that resulted in the loss of unimaginable number of innocent souls and property.

The rights group said it has told the world leaders that both the Presidency and the Kaduna state political authorities are treating with levity the grave threats of extinctions and genocide that Christians are subjected to in Kaduna state.

The group explained that the gross disrespect for Federal Character principle in the state which culminated in the emergence of an all Moslem Governor, deputy Governor and State House of Assembly Speaker and deputy thereby consigning millions of Christians to the inglorious position of second class citizens is the canon fodder for the spiraling armed attacks by armed Islamists masquerading as herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits who have in the past one year or more specifically targeted Christian communities and schools in the state.

HURIWA explained, “On the last count virtually all major Christian denominations in Kaduna state have witnessed dozens of attacks just as dozens of Pastors have died in the cause of these targeted armed invasions and kidnapping. We are not accusing the Kaduna state government of involvement but we are worried about the conspiratorial silence to these series of attacks.

“We have consistently asked the politicians of Kaduna state to respect section 14(3) of the constitution which obliges the appointments of all ethno-religious community members into strategic offices but in 2019 election, the governor made sure only Moslems are railroaded into the offices of governor, deputy and even the office of Speaker of the State House of Assembly is occupied by a Moslem.

“This is the fuel that has ignited widespread mistreatment of Christians. The incessant attacks by armed Islamists targeting only Pastors, Christian schools and clerics of Christian denomination have become a national emergency.

“Since Nigerian state and the Kaduna state government are not treating these threats as a national emergency, we have decided to let the world know the true state of things and we are happy that some organizations have made similar findings.

“Sadly, the Kaduna state government and the office of the Nigerian President are deeply entrenched in the selective appointments of mostly Moslems as holders of virtually all strategic positions thus neglecting the other key constituents who are Christians and atheists including worshippers of African traditional religion.

“The recent kidnapping of senior seminarians of the Catholic Church in Kaduna state is one of such widespread well-coordinated attacks.”