Archive of April 13, 2014

Pontifical council considers energy’s relation to justice, peace

Rome, Italy, Apr 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican body concerned with justice and peace presented a book Friday which considers their connection with energy, and how energy can both threaten and serve integral human development.

“In this book, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace addresses a dialogue between faith and energy,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the pontifical council, at the presentation of “Energy, Justice and Peace” held April 11 at a research and development agency in Rome.

The book is subtitled: “A reflection on energy in the current context of development and the protection of the environment.”

“We receive testimonies of violence and oppression because of the energy from bishops’ conferences,” he continued. “This proves how much energy is indispensable for everyone, and how much a contribution to a collective reflection was needed.”

The book, authored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and published in December, was presented with interventions by officials of the council and by energy experts, including Gianpeiro Celata of Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and Sustainable Economic Development, where the presentation was held.

According to Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, there is a need for “a global cooperation among all institutions interested in the themes of energy. Energy is a common good, destined for everyone -- according to the perspective of the universal destination of goods.”

“The common good we are talking about is the good of the family of peoples,” Bishop Toso said.

Bishop Toso then stressed that “in view of the realization of peace – and peace includes several goods – it is necessary that energy be thought of, produced, distributed, and used, according to a new paradigm.”

Bishop Toso underscored the need for “a new economic model” aimed at “realizing the common good of the human family.”

Tebaldo Vinciguerra, an official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, underscored the need for a “green economy” which is concerned with the good of human persons, and not solely profits or the environment.

According to the pontifical council, the book “is not a geopolitical analysis, a planning document of a technical character or a universal scope, but rather a reflection meant to nurture other reflections, to inspire decision making on the part of competent authorities … to provide theoretical knowledge to those directly engaged in the field, and finally to increase public awareness of the question of energy.”

“The approach is interdisciplinary and general, as the work of the Pontifical Council was made in the light of the Gospel, the social teaching of the Church and its principles and criteria of judgement, without entering into technical-political details.”

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One victim of trafficking is too many, cardinal emphasizes

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following a Vatican conference on human trafficking, Cardinal Vincent Nichols lamented the millions of victims and spoke of initiatives that provide an opportunity for them to come forward.

In an April 10 interview with CNA, the cardinal said that although it is difficult to give an exact number of how many have suffered at the hands of modern slavery, “one is too many.”

Cardinal Nichols of Westminster participated in the April 9-10 conference, which gathered both ecclesiastical and civil authorities from more than 20 nations to the Vatican in order to discuss the proper methods for combating human trafficking.

Referring to the speech of one of the four trafficking victims who gave their testimony during the meeting, Cardinal Nichols noted that “one of the most poignant things” she said was, “I am now free, but millions are not.”

“And it was her capacity in having made a painful, painful journey…her capacity to have empathy with those who are still in the darkness of slavery. That touched me very deeply.”

The cardinal also spoke of some of the various efforts that are being made in order to assist victims, giving special notice to religious communities. This is because in places such as London “where somebody has been rescued and they wanted to go back to another country,” it has been possible for religious sisters “to simply lift up the phone and talk to a convent of theirs in that other country.”

Afterwards, the sisters in the other convent “would then drive four hundred miles to then meet this other person and keep them safe,” he explained, observing that “there are the immediate links and the immediate networks religious congregations offer which nobody else does.”

On a new effort which he is hoping to begin in London – called the Bakhita project – Cardinal Nichols said he hopes the initiative will develop into “a kind of a hub of best practice.”

It would, he continued, “include giving people long term help, but also training in the skills needed for the help that is required. So we hope that it will be a center of excellence.”

Explaining the significance of the project's name, the cardinal highlighted that it “will be called St. Bakhita house because St. Josephine Bakhita, who was herself a slave and was rescued and then spent fifty years in a life of prayer and generosity – she's our patron Saint.”

Also present at the for the conference was commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who spoke to CNA April 10 on the importance of the collaboration between the Church and civil society in finding solutions to the situation of trafficking.

Their collaboration so far is “working really well” he said, stressing that “you have to have partnerships.”

“We can talk to the victims as witnesses, but charities and the Church can help find them accommodations, give them counseling.”

Describing how 99 percent of persons rescued from trafficking “want to go home and can't,” Hogan-Howe said that “we enable that to happen…we help them through the court process. And charities and the Church help with all of that with health advice.”

“So it's vitally important that the victim’s initial needs are to stop the violence. That's where the police come in, and the prosecution,” he went on to say, highlighting that victims “have many other needs, and the charities help those needs.”

On why the issue has been gaining such widespread attention across the globe over the last few years, the commissioner explained that “I think people are beginning to realize what a big problem it is.”

“First of all, numerically, we’re talking about millions of people trapped in these awful circumstances. And secondly the cases are awful in themselves.”

“Each one is serious,” he observed, “so this is people who are seriously beaten up, sometimes they can be murdered, certainly sexual violence is quite frequent, they’re kept under control by use of drugs, and they can’t get away.”

The knowledge that these people “can’t contact their families, they don’t feel able to contact the enforcement agencies, so they’re trapped,” is something that “has gradually dawned for so many people.”

A key goal for everyone who participated in the Vatican’s conference, which is the second addressing the issue of human trafficking since 2012, and with another slated to occur in November, is to convince more victims to come forward, he noted.

“We are not going to prosecute you for prostitution, we are not going to prosecute you for being an illegal migrant where it is clearly shown that you are, that you’re a slave, that you are being trafficked, that violence is being used against you” is the main message they want to send to victims, Hogan-Howe explained.

Now “you have many people who are starting to believe that’s true, because sometimes people don’t,” the commissioner continued, “so we're getting over that message. We’re here to help, and we’re here to sanctuary.”

Touching on his hopes for the fruits of these conferences, Hogan-Howe noted that a key goal is to find more practical ways for police to work together in different countries, and to have more people come forward for help.

“Instead of seeing only one percent of the victims come forward, we’ll see a hundred percent.”

Cardinal Nichols echoed the commissioner, saying “we must begin to evaluate and see how effective our practice is.”

“Step by step these meetings are getting more into the details, more into the practice and more into the sharing of what is operationally successful.”

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Pope: Meditate on Christ's passion during Holy Week

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2014 (CNA) - In his Palm Sunday homily, Pope Francis urged the congregation to consider how their actions and attitudes reflected the various characters in the story of Jesus’ passion and death.

“We have heard the (Gospel reading of the) Passion of the Lord. Only, it does us good to ask a question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before Jesus who enters festively into Jerusalem?” the Pope said on April 13.

“This week moves towards the mystery of the death of Jesus and of his resurrection,” noted the pontiff. “Where is my heart and which of these persons am I most like? It is this question that accompanies us throughout the week.”

The crowds filled a sunny St. Peter’s Square to attend the papal liturgy, clutching olive branches and woven palms as they listened to Pope Francis reflect on the different persons in the Gospel.

Departing entirely from his prepared remarks, the Holy Father considered each figure in the story, followed by questions about their relation to Jesus.

First, the Gospel recounts Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where he is welcomed by adoring crowds. “Do I have the capacity to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I move away? Who am I, before Jesus who suffers?” queried the pontiff.

Then, there are several groups of leaders, priests, pharisees, and teachers of law who decide to kill Jesus. “Am I like one of them?”

“Am I like Judas, who pretends to love and kisses the master to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor?” he reflected.

“Or am I like the disciples who did not understand what it was to betray Jesus?” The Pope continued. They “did not understand anything...they fell asleep while the Lord suffered. Is my life asleep?”

The pontiff went on to several other figures, including Pontius Pilate, who saw that “the situation was difficult” and decided to “wash his hands of it,” refusing to “assume responsibility.”

The crowd who had once welcomed Jesus so joyfully turned on him, finding it “more amusing” to “humiliate Jesus,” while the soldiers “spit on him, insulted him.”

When Jesus takes up his cross, more compassionate figures emerge. “Am I like Simon of Cyrene who was returning from work, tired, but had the good will to to help the Lord carry the cross?” asked the Holy Father.

“Am I like to courageous women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, suffering in silence?”

“Am I like the two Marys who remained in front of the tomb, weeping, praying?”

After his homily, the Pope continued the Mass but concluded with a special welcome to those gathered in Rome to plan the next World Youth Day.

At the close of the liturgy, several Brazilian youth handed off the large wooden cross used at World Youth Day to young people from Poland. The 2013 event had been held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while the next gathering in 2016 will be in Krakow, Poland.

Pope Francis noted that Blessed John Paul II had entrusted the cross to youth 30 years ago. “He asked them to carry it in all the world as a sign of the love of Christ for humanity.”

The pontiff then announced that he hopes to meet with the youth of Asia during his trip to Korea on August 15 of this year.

“Let us ask the Lord that the Cross, together with the icon of Mary ‘Salus Populi Romani’ (Protectress of the Roman People), will be a sign of hope for all, revealing to the world the invincible love of Christ,” said the Holy Father.

He went on to lead the crowds in the Angelus prayer at the conclusion of the Mass.

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