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Catholic communicators urge greater respect in public discourse

April 19, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2018 / 12:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This week, Catholic communicators gathered in Rome to discuss the need for more respectful dialogue in the public sphere, saying that fake news and polemics must be overcome with truth, mercy and openness.

When it comes to modern day public discourse, Irish Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “we have to be aware of our language, because nowadays people switch off, they don’t hear, and we cannot get the Gospel message out simply condemning everyone who lives their lives contrary to what we believe in.”

Now more than ever when emotions are high, polemics are strong, and digital communication is increasingly more impersonal, mutual respect is needed in order to effectively communicate with those we don’t agree with, both within the Church, and outside of it, he said.

This is also true “in the kind of culture wars which we are engaging in sometimes even within the Church; they simply drown out any opportunity for people to make that personal commitment to Christ, which is really what the Gospel is about.”

“This is a challenge for us within the Church, and it’s exemplified by blogs countering blogs, Twitter countering Twitter, where everyone is shouting and absolutely no one is hearing anything.”

The remedy, Martin said, is to focus, in every exchange, on communicating the fact that “God loves you, he loves you personally, he’s calling you to conversion in your own personal life story.”

Archbishop Martin spoke on the first day of an April 17-19 conference for Catholic communicators in Rome. Co-organized by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and EWTN, the three-day seminar was dedicated to the theme of “Dialogue, Respect and Freedom of Expression in the Public Arena.”

Speakers and panelists included media representatives and experts from around the world who touched on issues such as polarization, fake news, defamation and how to promote values through the media.

Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and CEO of EWTN Global Catholic Network, gave a keynote speech on fake news and the responsibility of journalists on the final day of the conference.

Warsaw pointed to a recent example of a fake story that gained a lot of steam during the U.S. presidential election of 2016.

During the campaign season, a fake news site published an article titled “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” which gained more than 100,000 comments, shares, and reactions on Facebook alone, and nearly 1 million Facebook engagements, making it “the single biggest fake news hit of the U.S. Election.”

Shortly after, another fake news article appeared saying Pope Francis had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, he said, noting that it is thanks to articles like this that modern society has come to be known as the “post-truth” or “post-fact” world.

Warsaw cited various studies showing that consumers of fake news are no small minority, and, quoting the pope, said that because of this, journalists in particular are called to be “the protectors of news.”

“Pope Francis, in his 2018 message, rightly condemns that ‘spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests,’…But, the challenges facing journalism and the public at large today go deeper than the ‘fake news’ phenomenon,” he said.

Rather, the real crux of the matter is growing general distrust of media, as well as a loss of trust in data, analysis, and objective facts, he said.

Because of this, those who work in social communications must be offered ongoing formation, both spiritual and professional, so that both individual journalists and media outlets “become more trusted by the public, and are seen as objective and reliable.”

Quoting Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Social Communications, Warsaw said the most “radical antidote” to the phenomenon of fake news is “purification by the truth.”

“As Catholic communicators and media, we are called to do our part to be truth tellers,” he said, and “we must take heart in knowing that we are not the first Catholics to live in a ‘post truth’ era.”

In his comments to CNA, Archbishop Martin stressed the importance of fostering an environment where true and honest dialogue can take place, and where media can help “engage in a culture of encounter.”

“We meet people where they are at, some of whom are completely against what we stand for, others who are open to conversation,” he said, explaining that when things get heated, “pacifying” one’s tone is a good place to start in terms of having a fruitful exchange.

“I think this conference has courageously opened up a sort of middle-ground where we can engage in a type of court of the gentiles, where we enter that space in which there are some people who are diametrically opposed to what we stand for.”

And this, the archbishop said, can only happen “out of respect, and it can only happen when there is a culture of freedom to speak.”

For those involved in communication, “we can only hope that with the help of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God, that we can invite people, that we can win them for Christ, by our witness, by our example, and by the strength and courage of our message.”
 

 

 

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Vatican reportedly rejects German bishops’ plan for intercommunion of spouses

April 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 6

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2018 / 10:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reportedly rejected a plan approved by the German bishops’ conference to publish guidelines permitting non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some limited circumstances.

Austrian news site kath.net has reported that Vatican sources say the CDF, with papal approval, has suspended the German bishops’ proposed plan, and sources close to the congregation have confirmed this to CNA.

It is not clear whether the Vatican has asked the bishops’ conference to modify the contents of draft guidelines, whether they have suspended the development of a draft while the matter is considered further, or whether it has been entirely rejected.

In February, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the German bishops’ conference would publish a pastoral handout for married couples that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics “in individual cases” and “under certain conditions” to receive Holy Communion, provided they “affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist”.

The announcement was made “after intensive debate” at the conclusion of the general assembly of the German bishops’ conference, which was held Feb. 19 – 22 in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, and attended by 62 members of the bishops’ conference under the leadership of conference chairman Cardinal Marx.

Last month, seven German bishops sent a letter to the CDF and to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity asking for clarification on the matter. The signatories did not consult beforehand with Cardinal Marx.

The seven bishops asked whether the question of Holy Communion for Protestant spouses in interdenominational marriages can be decided on the level of a national bishops’ conference, or if rather, “a decision of the Universal Church” is required in the matter.

The letter was signed by Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstätt, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz.

“From the view of the signatories, the goal in a question of such centrality to the Faith and the unity of the Church must be to avoid separate national paths and arrive at a globally unified, workable solution by way of an ecumenical dialogue,” the Archdiocese of Cologne told CNA Deutsch April 4.

The Code of Canon Law already provides that in the danger of death or if “some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

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Father of Alfie Evans meets with pope, pleads for asylum in Italy

April 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2018 / 05:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A private meeting took place early Wednesday morning between Pope Francis and Tom Evans, the father of two-year-old Alfie Evans, who is currently at the center of a legal battle to keep him alive.

Tom Evans said that in the April 18 meeting, which took place at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, he asked the pope for asylum in Italy for his family so that Alfie can be moved to the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome to receive treatment.

Two-year-old Alfie Evans suffers from an unidentified degenerative neurological condition and has been under continuous hospitalization since December 2016.

In February, the court ruled that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where Evans is receiving care, could legally stop treatment for Alfie against his parent’s wishes, arguing that continuing treatment is not in his best interest, and that his life support should be switched off.

Despite the desire of Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, to take their son to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, several judges have ruled in the hospital’s favor.

“Alfie is doing really well, he’s fighting very hard and we believe that he can still wake up and that he’s got a lot of potential,” Evans told journalists April 18. He said that in their meeting, Pope Francis gave him a lot of sympathy and encouragement, telling him he has “strength like God.”

The pope’s positivity gave him hope, Evans continued, noting that the meeting was “very confident, very calm. I was really nervous, but I just spoke the truth, spoke from my heart.”

Evans stated that he will return to Liverpool tonight to be with his son and Kate, but they are hopeful that when and if Alfie is permitted to come to Italy, the doctors will be able to diagnose and treat him.

“Just because he has a brain disability that no one knows of doesn’t mean that we have to take that life away from him. As I’ve always said, Alfie is a child of God and he’ll remain a child of God and he’ll go when [God] says he’ll go.”

In his statement to Pope Francis, Evans said that Alfie “is sick but not dying and does not deserve to die. He is not terminally ill nor diagnosed. We have been trying our best to find out his condition, to treat or manage it.”

“We see life and potential in our son and we want to bring him here to Italy, to the Bambino Gesù, where we know he is safe and he will not be euthanized,” the statement continues.

“When Alfie shows me and his mum any sign of suffering or dying, we will enjoy every last moment with him, but Alfie has not yet shown us he is ready to go, so we continue to fight just as he shows us to.”

At the end of the general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis asked for a moment of silent prayer for Alfie, saying that he would like to “reiterate and strongly confirm that the only master of life, from the beginning to the natural end, is God!”

“And our duty, our duty is to do everything to preserve life,” he stated.

Despite their parent’s wishes, High Court judge, Justice Anthony Hayden, ruled in February that the hospital can remove Alfie’s life support.

A later appeal to the European Court of Human Rights failed, and the parent’s appeal earlier this week to have Alfie taken to Italy for treatment was also dismissed by the UK’s Court of Appeal.

Alfie’s case has drawn international attention, and protesters gathered outside his hospital last week to peacefully oppose judges’ decision to end life support.

Evans and James recently launched a new legal challenge, asking the Court of Appeal judges to continue life support and treatment for Alfie. The court officials posted their hearing for Monday, saying that a court judge has decided that Alfie could continue treatment, pending the hearing.

On Sunday Pope Francis made an appeal for prayer for Alfie Evans, and others, “who live, at times for a long period, in a serious state of illness, medically assisted for their basic needs.”

Francis also recently tweeted about Alfie, saying it was his “sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.”

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The Church needs prophets of truth and hope, Pope Francis says

April 17, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2018 / 10:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily Tuesday, Pope Francis said the Church needs men and women who are capable not only of bearing prophetic witness to the truth, like the early martyrs, but who are also examples of hope.

In looking to Christ’s words and actions in scripture, on one hand he “corrected with strong words: ‘perverse and adulterous generations,’” yet on the other hand he wept for the people of Jerusalem when they rejected God’s ways, the pope said April 17.

Likewise, a true prophet is not a “prophet of misfortunes,” speaking only of things that need to be corrected, but he is also “a man of hope; he corrects when needed and opens wide the doors looking to the horizon of hope.”

A prophet, he said, “restores the roots, restores one’s belonging to the people of God in order to go forward.”

Pope Francis spoke during his Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, focusing on the day’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which recounts the stoning of Stephen, the Church’s first martyr.

When Stephan was speaking to the scribes, their hearts were closed and they didn’t want to listen to what he had to say, so they became infuriated and began to attack him, Francis said, noting that many of the prophets who preceded Christ were treated in the same way.

“When the prophet arrives to the truth and touches the heart, either the heart opens or the heart becomes more like stone and anger, persecution, are unleashed. This is how the life of a prophet ends.”

Truth, the pope observed, is often uncomfortable and hard to accept. Because of this, the prophets were always persecuted when speaking the truth.

“But what for me is the test that a prophet undergoes when he tells the truth strongly? It’s when this prophet is capable of not only speaking, but crying for the people who have abandoned the truth [Jesus gave strong rebukes, but he also wept]. This is the test. A true prophet is the one who is capable of crying for his people and also saying things strongly when he has to. [A prophet] is not timid, he is always like this: direct,” but full of hope.

Francis then noted how Stephen was killed in the presence of Saul, who would later become St. Paul.

Quoting a phrase from Tertullian, Francis said, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians.”

The Church, he said, “needs prophets…it needs all of us to be prophets.” But prophets are different than critics, he said, explaining that a critic is a person who does not approve of anything or anyone, and “this is not a prophet,” this is another thing.

“The prophet is someone who prays, who looks to God, who looks to his people, who feels pain when the people go astray, who cries,” the pope said, praying that “the Church never lacks this prophecy of service, to always go forward.”

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Exorcism course to study link between porn and demonic influence

April 16, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2018 / 03:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An annual exorcism course offered to priests in Rome aims to open the dialogue on what degree of demonic influence may exist in pornography use.

“Human sexuality in itself is a value, but when you use it poorly, you are creating harm for yourself and others, especially if it involves children,” Fr. Pedro Barrajon LC told journalists April 16.

Speaking of the widespread use of pornography in modern society, he said he believed organizers of the course wanted to discuss “this modern cultural phenomenon of an evil that harms people,” not to ignore the role of personal responsibility, but to explore whether there is demonic influence in pornography use, and to what extent.

The same goes for drug addiction, cultism and satanic worship, and it also goes for pedophilia and child pornography, which will both be addressed on the last full day of the course, he said.

“Does it come only from human causes – psychological, familial, social or cultural – or is there more?” he said, adding that the course aims to “open a space to see if there is a possibility to show influence from the devil.”

Barrajon spoke to journalists on the first day of the 13th annual course on exorcism and liberation prayer, offered by the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University (APRA) and the Group of Socio-Religious Research and Information (GRIS).

Taking place April 16-21, the course will explore the topic of exorcism and prayers of liberation from different points of view, including theological, anthropological, canonical, liturgical, psychological, social and criminal perspectives.

Among other things, it will touch on magic, cults and satanic worship, and how to tell the difference between possession and psychological illness. This year’s course will also explore the rising practice of witchcraft in Africa, the increase of New Age beliefs in Spain, and the presence of cults throughout Latin America.

The course will also feature testimonies from exorcists and people who have been liberated from demonic possession. The last day will largely focus on the criminal aspects of exorcism and demonic activity, specifically pedophilia and pornography, as well as discernment and the writings of the Desert Fathers.

In his introduction speech, Fr. Jose Enrique Oyarzun, LC, a professor at the Regina Apostolorum University, said there is often “great confusion” regarding the devil, with many people believing that he does not exist.

This is a dangerous mistake, he warned, quoting Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, which says, “it is precisely the conviction that this malign power is present in our midst that enables us to understand how evil can at times have so much destructive force.”

Continuing to quote the document, Oyarzun said the devil “is present in the very first pages of the Scriptures, which end with God’s victory over the devil,” and is also present in the prayer of the Our Father, which ends with the phrase “deliver us from evil.”

“That final word does not refer to evil in the abstract; a more exact translation would be ‘the evil one.’ It indicates a personal being who assails us,” he said, and concluding the quote, said, “we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable.”

In comments to journalists, Professor Giuseppe Ferrari, who moderated the opening panel of the course, lamented the fact that many Catholics, and even some priests, are among those who don’t believe in the devil. This is very problematic, he said, because when one stops believing in the devil, “one risks believing in anything, in the foolish things of this world.”

In his comments to journalists, Barrajon noted that there have been reports of an increased number of exorcisms in recent years, but cautioned against placing too much weight on these reports, because so far, “there is no serious statistical study on the practice of exorcism.”

Some countries, such as Italy, have had a higher number of exorcisms in part because bishops are appointing more exorcists, and also because communication about who the exorcists are and how to reach them has gotten better, he said.

He also stressed the importance of knowing how to discern whether someone is truly possessed, or whether they have some sort of psychiatric or psychological illness.

“For what I’ve seen, the experience of the exorcist counts a lot,” he said, explaining that many experienced exorcists can tell immediately if a person is experiencing demonic possession or a psychological problem.

Some indications of possession include negative reactions to religious objects or images, an unnaturally deep voice, and body contortions. The spitting out of nails, glass and knives that is seen in the movies can also happen during exorcisms, he said, and is a “physical manifestation of evil.”

In a keynote Q&A during the opening session, Albanian Cardinal Ernest Simoni, a leading exorcist in his diocese before his arrest by the communist regime in the 1960s, suggested that demonic possession is more common than many people realize.

The cardinal also cautioned that cultural mentalities such as materialism and consumerism “destroy life.” He said that to stay close to Christ and avoid the devil, one must “pray endlessly, pray without interruption.”

In addition to regular Mass attendance, he said, “we have to be chaste, we have to be faithful, we have to comply with the rules and guidelines of our tradition…unless you become like chaste, pure children, you won’t be able to access the reign of God.”

The ultimate answer “is not what I do or what I think,” he said, but “it is Jesus who lives in us…infinite love is what we need.”

“Whenever you are ready, whenever you are really, really ready to repent, you will be redeemed. It doesn’t matter if you say it 7 or 77 times in a day,” he said, but “you have to be convinced, you have to be united with your prayer.”
 
 

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Pope urges Catholics to be moved by joy of the resurrection

April 15, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Rome, Italy, Apr 15, 2018 / 10:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis visited a Roman parish, telling Mass-goers to allow themselves to be moved by the immense joy of the resurrection, which overcomes sin and renews believers, allowing them to have a youthful heart.

Noting how the disciples had a hard time believing it was really Jesus who appeared to them in the day’s Gospel, Francis asked “why didn’t they believe? Why did they doubt?”

“There is a word in the Gospel that gives us an explanation: While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed.”

The disciples, he said, couldn’t believe it was Jesus because “they couldn’t believe that there was so much joy, the joy that brings Christ.”

He said the same thing happens to each person when they receive news that seems too good to be true, and urged Catholics to allow the joy of Christ’s resurrection to enter their hearts and to be transformed by the renewal he offers.

Pope Francis spoke during his April 15 visit to the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in the western quarter of Rome. After arriving around 4 p.m. local time, he was greeted by the Vicar of Rome, Archbishop Angelo de Donatis; Bishop Paolo Selvadagi, auxiliary bishop for Rome’s western sector, and the pastor Fr. Roberto Cassano, among others.

During his visit, the pope met with and took four questions from youth involved in catechesis at the parish. He then met with the elderly, sick and the poor before hearing the confession of three parishioners and celebrating Mass.

In his homily, which focused on the day’s Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection, Francis noted that even though they doubted, the disciples knew Jesus had risen.

They knew, he said, because by that time they had heard the testimonies of Mary Magdalene, Peter and the disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, yet they still had a hard time believing Jesus when he appeared to them in the upper room.

“They knew…but that truth didn’t enter into their heart. That truth, yes, they knew, but they doubted, and the preferred to have that truth in the mind,” he said, noting that perhaps “it’s less dangerous to have truth in the mind than to have it in heart.”

Eventually the disciples believed, he said, explaining that this faith and the joy of Christ’s resurrection is “the renewed youthfulness that the Lord brings us.”

Sin makes the heart grow old and tired, he said, whereas faith makes the heart grow young. However, referring to the day’s second reading from the First Letter of Saint John, he said that when a person sins, “we have an advocate with the Father.”

The Father, he said, “forgives,” and Christ in his death and resurrection wants “to defend us” and make each person young again with the joy of being freed from sin and death.

Pope Francis closed his brief homily asking for the grace to believe that Jesus is truly alive and risen, because “other things are secondary” in life.

If a person does not believe that Christ is risen and present in the world, “we will never be a good Christian, we can’t be,” he said, and prayed for the grace to encounter the Risen Jesus in prayer, the Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins.

“Let us ask for the grace to be a joyful community,” he said, asking that each person would be “sure in the faith of encountering the Risen Christ.”

In his Q&A with youth before Mass, Pope Francis said his favorite bible verse is the calling of Matthew, because it shows “the strength Jesus has to change the heart.”

He also told the children that even if someone is not baptized, they are still a child of God. This, he said, goes for the good, the bad and even the mafia, who he said need to be prayed for “so that they return to God.”

When asked about how he felt after being elected pope, Francis said he didn’t feel anything special, but he had a strong sense of peace. “When the Lord calls you, he gives you peace, and you feel it when there is a true call from the Lord,” he said, explaining that this is also true when God calls one to a consecrated vocation.

Finally, the pope embraced a young boy named Manuele whose father recently died, and who was an atheist, but allowed each of his four children to be baptized in the Catholic Church. In his question, Manuele said his father was a good person, and asked if he was in heaven, even if he didn’t believe in God.

Pope Francis answered by praising Manuele’s courage to cry and to ask the question, and said that if a man can raise a child the way that Manuele’s father had, then this man is indeed a good person, and good people are never far from God.

“It’s a great witness that the child can say [his father] was good,” he said, explaining that God never abandons his children, and encouraged Manuele to talk to his father, because “surely God loved him.”

He then prayed an Our Father with the children before meeting briefly with the elderly, sick and poor of the parish, telling them that they are “the center of the Gospel.”

“I know that each one of you have many problems, sicknesses, pains, the family, each one has their own pain, their own wound, everyone, but may this not take your hope or your joy, because Jesus came to pay for our wounds with his wounds,” the pope said.

He closed his brief greeting by encouraging them to do good to those around them and led them in praying a Hail Mary. He then spent time greeting them personally before hearing confessions and saying Mass.

 

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Pope Francis: Every violation of the body is an ‘outrage’ to God

April 15, 2018 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, Apr 15, 2018 / 04:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis issued a moving prayer for all those whose bodies have been hurt or exploited, including those who have suffered abuse and those who are sick, pointing to the high-profile cases of Alfie Evans and Vincent Lambert.

“Every offense or wound or violence against the body of our neighbor is an outrage to God the creator,” the pope said April 15, pointing to the children, women and elderly “who are mistreated in the body. In the flesh of these people we find the flesh of Christ.”

“Mocked, slandered, humiliated, scourged, crucified, Jesus taught us love. A love which, in its resurrection, has shown itself as stronger than sin and death, and wants to redeem all those who experience in their own flesh the slavery of our times.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square during his Sunday Regina Coeli address, which he prays during Easter instead of the Angelus.

He noted how when Jesus appears to the disciples in the day’s Gospel reading from Luke, at first they think he is a ghost. “But the Risen Jesus is not a ghost, he is a man with body and spirit,” and he shows the disciples this by eating a fish, the pope said.

Speaking directly about the body, Francis said the resurrection brings to light the Christian perspective about the body, which he said “is not an obstacle or a prison for the soul,” but is a gift created by God, and as such, “man is not complete if he is not a union of body and soul.”

The fact that Jesus rose from the dead in body and spirit means Christians should have a positive idea about the body, he said, noting that while the body can become an occasion for sin resulting from our “moral weakness,” it is also a “marvelous gift” that reflects our likeness to God.

Because of this, “we are called to have great respect and care for our bodies and that of others,” he said, adding that in a world where “too often arrogance against the weakest prevails and materialism suffocates the spirit,” today’s Gospel reading is an invitation to go deeper, and to be men and women full of wonder and joy for having met the Risen Lord.

After leading pilgrims in the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis made several pleas for prayer on behalf of those who are suffering either from illness, or from war.

He made an appeal for pilgrims to pray for “the people, such as Vincent Lambert in Francis, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in different countries who live, at times for a long period, in a serious state of illness, medically assisted for their basic needs.”

The reference was  to two specific cases currently circulating in the international news cycle. Alfie Evans, 23 months, suffers from an unidentified degenerative neurological condition, has been under continuous hospitalization since December 2016.

In February, the court ruled that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where Evans is receiving care, could legally stop treatment for Alfie against his parent’s wishes, arguing that continuing treatment is not in his best interest, and that his life support should be switched off.

Despite the desire for Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, to take their son to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, several judges have ruled in the hospital’s favor.

The case has drawn international attention, and protesters gathered outside the Liverpool hospital Thursday and Friday to peacefully oppose the decision.

Evans and James recently launched a new legal challenge, asking the Court of Appeal judges to continue life support and treatment for Alfie. The court officials posted their hearing for Monday, saying that a court judge has decided that Alfie could continue treatment, pending the hearing.

In the case of Vincent Lambert, a severely disabled Frenchman without a terminal illness, courts have decided that the Sebastopol Hospital in Reims can remove Lambert’s food and water April 19.

Lambert suffered severe head injuries after a tragic car accident in 2008, and as a result has been a quadriplegic and severely disabled for 10 years. Yet despite his injuries, other doctors and his parents have insisted that Lambert is not sick, nor is he in a coma. They argue that he breathes unassisted and his internal organs function normally.

However, despite these arguments, the hospital ruled that continuing to feed and hydrate Lambert constituted “unreasonable obstinacy” toward him, and said that his feeding tubes ought to be shut off.

These and similar cases “delicate situations, very painful and complex,” Francis said, and asked faithful to pray with him that every person who is sick would “always be respected in their dignity and cared for in a way suited to their condition, with the consent of family members, and of other healthcare workers.”

He also offered prayers for three Ecuadorean men who were recently kidnapped and killed along the Ecuador-Colombia border, voicing his closeness to their families and praying for peace and unity in the area.

Francis then prayed for areas of the world torn by conflict “despite the instruments available to the international community,” and pointed specifically to Syria, where conflict has again flared up in recent days.

A fresh round of threats began when the United States and their allies in France and the UK on Friday ordered a series of bombings on chemical facilities in Syria in retaliation for a chemical attack allegedly carried out last week by Syrian President Bahsar al-Assad which killed more than 40 civilians.

World leaders immediately reacted supporting both sides, with Syria promising retaliation, and U.S. President Donald Trump threatening further attacks if Assad does not stop using chemical weapons on civilians.

In his Regina Coeli address, Francis said he is “deeply troubled” by ongoing global conflict, and invited all men and women of goodwill to continue to “incessantly pray for peace.” He issued a fresh appeal to political leaders, “so that justice and peace will prevail” over violence.

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