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.”
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.”
Pope Francis celebrates morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta reminding believers that the Lord’s gifts are free and it is not Christian to seek favours in order to grow in ecclesiastical careers.
To be a Christian, a priest or a bishop is a free gift from the Lord, Pope Francis said during his homily, and holiness consists in “guarding” this gift which we received gratuitously, and not thanks to our own merits.
The Pope was reflecting on the Responsorial Psalm and from the First Reading of today’s liturgy.
He explained that the Psalm recalls the election of David as king of Israel, after the Lord had rejected Saul for not obeying.
In the Reading, the Lord sends Samuel to anoint as king one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem. The anointment, he said, indicates God’s choice, and today it is used today to consecrate priests and bishops.
Noting that we Christians are anointed with oil during Baptism, the Pope explained that God urges Samuel to look beyond appearances because, “it does not matter what man sees: in fact, man sees the appearance but the Lord sees the heart.”
The Pope recalled how David’s brothers fought against the Philistines to defend the kingdom of Israel saying “they had merits”, but he noted, God chose the last of them.
He described him as “a restless boy,” who grazed the flock and said the Scriptures tell us he was called David and was a handsome youth “making a splendid appearance.” After the anointment, he continued, “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”
The Lord’s gifts are free
Pope Francis said it is a story that prompts one to reflect and wonder why the Lord chose a “normal” boy, who perhaps sometimes behaved in a silly way as many youngsters do. He was not even a pious boy, “who prayed every day”, he said, and he had seven good brothers “who had more merits than him.”
And yet, the Pope pointed out, the smallest, “the most limited, the one who had no titles”, who had not fought the war, was the one to be chosen. This, he said, shows us “the gratuitousness of God’s choice.”
He invited those present to reflect on their own presence at Mass saying “why did the Lord choose us?” Not because, he come from a Christian family or a Christian culture,” in fact, he said, many such people end up rejecting the Lord.
And highlighting the gratuitousness of God’s choice, the Pope spoke also of how priests and bishops have received their anointment for free.
“There are, yes, those who want to go ahead in the so-called ecclesiastical careers, who behave in a simonical way, seeking influences, becoming climbers,” he said, but he pointed out that that is not the Christian way.
“Being Christian, being baptized, being ordained priests and bishops is pure gratuitousness. You can’t buy the Lord’s gifts,” he said.
Preserving the gift
The Pope went on to speak about what we can do “to be holy” and said that Christian holiness is “to preserve the Lord’s gift, nothing more”, behaving in such a way that the Lord always remains with us.
He decried that attitude of some that aim to climb the ladder of a career in the Church and said that to be anointed a bishop is a gift.
He urged Christians to live with humility, thus guarding God’s gift of having chosen us. And he spoke of the great gift of the Holy Spirit saying: “When the Lord elected us, He gave us the Holy Spirit. And that’s pure grace.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily warning Christians never to forget the people of God.
“If we priests forget our flock, if we bishops forget this and feel more important than others, we deny God’s gift, he said.
“It’s like telling the Holy Spirit we can manage on our own, (…) and that’s not Christian. That’s not guarding the gift.”
Let us ask the Lord today, he prayed, to give us the grace to give thanks for the great and beautiful gift He has given us, and to preserve it with faithfulness.
By Prof. Michael Ogunu
The World Apostolate of Fatima International in conjunction with the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal is convoking all of the faithful to join the great celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the death of St. Jacinta Marto of Fatima on the 20th of February, 2020. On this day, the Church celebrates the liturgical feast of St. Francisco and St. Jacinta Marto, the Little Shepherds of Fatima, canonised on May 13th, 2017.
The programme begins with a Vigil of Adoration and Reparation to the Blessed Sacrament in company of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the eve, Wednesday, 19th of February, 2020, offered for the intention of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our days. It includes recitation of the Holy Rosary with meditation on the mysteries, procession with candles as the Rosary is being prayed, where possible, veneration of the relics of the saints (Sts Francisco and Jacinta) if possible, Fatima prayers, prayers of reparation and blessing of the faithful.
On the 20th of February, 2020, we offer in our places at the most convenient time, a solemn meditated Rosary for the conversion of many sinners, procession with the icon or statues of Our Lady of Fatima (and of Sts Francisco and Jacinta, if available) for the families, the youth and children of the world, and, above all, a Holy Votive Mass of the Little Shepherds (Sts Francisco and Jacinta) for the unity and strength of the Church.
The youngest among the seven children of Manuel Pedro Marto and Olympia Jesus dos Santos, Jacinta was born on March 11, 1910, in the village of Aljustrel near Fatima in Portugal.
She was a pretty child, with a sweet singing voice and a gift for dancing the folkloric music of Portugal. At a First Communion, she was among the little “angels” spreading petals before the Blessed Sacrament. She had a marked love for Our Lord, and at the age of five she shed tears on hearing the account of His Passion, vowing that she would never sin or offend Him anymore.
In the Spring of 1916, as Jacinta with her brother, Francisco and their cousin, Lucia watched their sheep, an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove. He asked the children to pray with him. He appeared again in mid-summer at a well in Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifice to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance, at the end of the Summer, the Angel held a bleeding Host over a chalice, from which he gave communion to the children. This experience separated them from their playmates and prepared them for Our Lady’s apparitions to come.
The Angel of Peace taught the three shepherd children of Fatima the prayers to initiate them as adorers of the Most Holy Trinity. The Apparitions of the Angel of Peace imposed secrecy on the children. Kneeling on the ground, the Angel bowed down until his forehead touched the earth. Led by a supernatural impulse, the three children did the same, and repeated the words which they heard the Angel say: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I beg pardon of Thee for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee!”
On 13th May, 1917, Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children and asked if they were willing to offer sacrifices to God for the conversion of sinners, and to pray the Rosary daily. They said ‘yes’.
Jacinta was deeply affected by the terrible vision of hell shown to them by Our Lady in the third apparition. She therefore was deeply convinced of the need to save poor sinners through penance and sacrifice as Our Lady had told the children to do. All three children practiced penance, but Jacinta had a special call, for as the Congregation for the Causes of Saints reported about Jacinta Marto in her beatification decree, Jacinta had “an insatiable hunger for immolation”.
As observed by Prof. Americo Lopez Ortiz, the International President of the World Apostolate of Fatima, “Jacinta was a missionary who evangelised people by preaching to them the Good news of salvation, … the message of Fatima, a need to convert and do penance, to save many souls from going to hell”.
“The glory of God, the salvation of souls, the importance of the Holy Father and priests, the necessity and love for the sacraments, all these took first priority in her life. She lived the Fatima messages for the salvation of souls around the world, demonstrating a great missionary spirit”.
Jacinta had a profound devotion that took her very near to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This love always led her in a profound way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jacinta attended daily Mass with a great desire of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion in reparation for poor sinners. Nothing was more attractive to her than to be in the Real Presence of the Eucharistic Jesus. She said frequently, “I love to be here so much. I have so much to say to Jesus”.
With immense zeal, Jacinta separated herself from the things of the world to focus her attention on the things of heaven. She searched for silence and solitude to be in contemplation. “I love the Lord so much,” she said to Lucia.
The siblings, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were victims of the great 1918 influenza epidemic that swept through Europe that year. In October 1918, Jacinta told Lucia that Our Lady had appeared to her and promised to take her and Francisco to heaven soon.
Jacinta was moved from one hospital to another in an attempt to save her life, which she insisted was futile. She developed purulent pleurisy and endured an operation in which two of her ribs were removed. She could not be fully anesthetized, and suffered terrible pain, which she offered to God for the conversion of many sinners.
On 19th February 1920, she asked the hospital chaplain who heard her confession to bring her Holy Communion and administer Extreme Unction because she was going to die “the next night”. He told her that her condition was not that serious and that he would return the next day. The next day Jacinta was dead; she had died, as Our Lady told her, “alone” in order to convert more sinners.
Jacinta, before her death at age nine, told Lucia, then a twelve-year-old girl: “When you are to say this, don’t hide. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God entrusted it to her”.
In 1937 Pope Pius XI decided that causes of canonization for minors should not be accepted as they could not fully understand heroic virtue or practice it repeatedly, both of which are essential for canonization. For the next four decades, no sainthood processes for children were pursued. In 1979, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Don Alberto Cosme do Amaral, asked all the world Bishops to write to the Pope, petitioning him to make an exception for Francisco, who had died at age 10, and Jacinta, who had died at age 9. More than 300 bishops sent letters to the Pope, writing that “the children were known, admired and attracted people to the way of sanctity. Favours were received through their intercession.” The bishops also said that the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta was a pastoral necessity for the children and teenagers of the day.”
In 1979 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints convened a General Assembly. Cardinals, bishops, theologians and other experts debated whether it was possible for children to display heroic virtue. They decided that, like the very few children who have a genius for music ormathematics, “in some supernatural way, some children could be spiritual prodigies.”
Francisco and Jacinta were declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1989. On 13th May 2000, the siblings were declared “blessed” in a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Pope Francis solemnly canonized Francisco and Jacinta on 13th May 2017 during the centennial of the first apparition of Our Lady in Fatima. They are the Catholic Church’s youngest saints who did not die as martyrs, with Jacinta the youngest.
Before her death, Jacinta revealed some little-known statements made by Our Lady:
- “The sin which leads most people to hell is the sin of impurity”.
- “Tell everybody … that the heart of Jesus wishes the heart of Mary to be venerated at His side. Let them ask for peace through the Immaculate of Mary, for God has given it to her”.
- “War is a punishment for sin”.
- “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much”.
- “Many marriages are not good, they do not please Our Lord and are not of God”.
- “Priests must be pure, very pure. They should not busy themselves with anything except what concerns the Church and souls. The disobedience of priests to their superiors and to the Holy Father is very displeasing to Our Lord”.
Let us put into practice the Message of Fatima explained to us by Our Lady in 1917 while there is still time before it is too late. Let us transform our hearts by daily recitation of the Rosary, meditating on the mysteries, Penance, Eucharistic Adoration and Communion of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the First Saturdays of the month and consecrating ourselves to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in this time of grace and mercy that we have been granted from heaven following in the footsteps of St. Francisco and St. Jacinta Marto of Fatima.
Prof. Michael Ogunu is the Coordinator of the World Apostolate of Fatima in Africa
Pope Francis on Monday met a delegation of young boys and girls Children’s Catholic Action, a wing of Italy’s lay Catholic organization, Azione Cattolica.
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis is inviting children to look to the Child Jesus with amazement and, like Him, be little “bridges” where they live.
He made the invitation to a group of some 64 boys and girls of the Italian organization called Azione Cattolicadei Ragazzi (ACR), or Children’s Catholic Action.
50 years of ACR
Comprising youngsters between 4 and 14 years of age, ACR is the children’s wing of the Catholic Action of Italy (AC), a lay organization founded in 1922 for the spiritual and moral renewal of society through the education and formation of young people.
The children’s wing was started in 1969.
Pope Francis expressed appreciation for the various initiatives that ACR has carried out marking its 50th anniversary this year. “Your formation programme,” the Pope said, “outlines a path that helps you to become aware of your vocation as missionary disciples.”
Marking their 50 years, some 1,000 boys and girls from all over Italy gathered together in Rome from October 31 to November 2, in what they called, “Children in Synod”. Expressing appreciation for this initiative, the Pope said he was curious to know about their observations and resolutions.
However, he gave the boys and girls homework to do. “On Christmas Day, gather together in prayer and, with the same amazement of the shepherds, look at the Child Jesus, who came into the world to bring the love of God, who makes all things new,” the Pope said.
“With His birth,” he explained, “Jesus made Himself a bridge between God and mankind, reconciled earth and sky, recomposed the whole human race into unity.” Today, the Pope said, the Child Jesus also asks them to be little “bridges” where they live.
When the Pope asked them whether it is better to build bridges or walls, the youngsters together answered “Bridges”. He noted they must have already realized the need for it. At times, he pointed out, it is not easy “but if we are united with Jesus we can do it”.
In conclusion, the Holy Father urged the children to learn the true meaning of Christmas from Mary. “She and Saint Joseph”, he said, “can truly teach us how to accept Jesus, how to adore him and how to follow Him day by day.”
Pope Francis on Thursday met some 400 members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Dicastery. In a discourse, the Pope exhorted them in the spirit with which the Congregation is asked to carry out its activities in examining the lives of candidates to beatification and canonization.
By Robin Gomes
The tasks of what are today called the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for Divine Worship, had been carried out earlier by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, instituted over 4 centuries ago in 1588. Pope Saint Paul VI in 1969, Pope Francis said, split the Congregation into two dicasteries that have “two large areas that are clearly distinct”.
In the latest development, Pope Francis on Wednesday authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate 10 decrees regarding 33 candidates for beatification.
Holiness next door
Addressing the members of the congregation, Pope Francis said that the many beatifications and canonizations that have been celebrated in recent decades mean that saints are models and guides of Christian life, but they are not unreachable human beings.
In fact, he said, “they are people who have experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and failures, finding in the Lord the strength to always get up and continue the journey.” He stressed the importance of measuring “our evangelical coherence with different types of holiness, since ‘each saint is a mission, planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel’”.
The witness of the Blesseds and Saints, the Pope said, enlightens, attracts and also questions us because it is the “Word of God” embodied in history and close to us. However, we must learn to “see holiness in the patient people of God”, because it is often hidden and almost imperceptible. In this regard, he spoke about parents who bring up their children with so much love, in the men and women who work to bring bread home, in the sick, in the elderly religious who continue to smile. “This is so often the holiness ‘of the next door’, of those who live close to us and are a reflection of the presence of God.”
The Pope exhorted the Congregation in its task of carrying out with scrupulousness and accuracy its investigative research into the martyrdom, heroic virtues, the offering of life and miracles of men and women candidates, in order clear the field of any ambiguity or doubt and achieve full certainty in the proclamation of their holiness.
Consultors, in the historical, theological and medical fields, are called to carry out their work with the full freedom of conscience and formulate the relevant judgments with mature reflection, impartially and without taking into account any conditioning, from whatever side they may come from. The Pope reminded them that the specific aims of the Causes are the glory of God and the spiritual good of the Church, which are closely linked to the search for truth and evangelical perfection.
Regarding postulators (promoters of candidates), the Pope said, they should not allow themselves to be guided by material visions and economic interests. They should not seek their personal affirmation and, above all, should avoid all that which is in contradiction with the meaning of the ecclesial work which they carry out. The postulators, he said, should never fail to be aware that the Causes of beatification and canonization are realities of a spiritual nature and not just procedural. “Therefore, they must be treated with great evangelical sensitivity and moral rigor,” the Pope said.