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Vatican to crack down on illegal sale of papal symbols, coat of arms

February 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Feb 22, 2017 / 07:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday the Vatican announced plans to monitor with a more careful eye those who print official images of the Pope or the Holy See and sell them for profit, intervening with “appropriate action” when necessary.

A Feb. 22 communique issued by the Secretariat of State said pointed out that among its various tasks, it also has “that of protecting the image of the Holy Father, so that his message can reach the faithful intact and that his person not be exploited.”

Because of this, part of the department is dedicated to protecting “the symbols and coats of arms of the Holy See” through appropriate channels on an international level.

In order to make this “protective action” more effective and to “halt situations of illegality that arise,” the department said they will begin carrying out “systematic surveillance activities apt to monitor the ways in which the image of the Holy Father and the coats of arms of the Holy See are used,” intervening with “appropriate action” if and when needed.

The announcement came just weeks after posters critical of Pope Francis appeared on the walls and buildings of the city center of Rome, depicting a sour-faced pontiff with a list of grievances regarding his recent reform efforts.

A few days after the posters appeared and quickly went down, a spoof version of the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano was sent to members of the Curia claiming the Pope had answered the five “dubia” on Amoris Laetitia sent to him by four cardinals in the Fall, which were subsequently published.

However, the Vatican was quick to clarify that there was no link between the anti-Francis propaganda and the Secretariat of State’s decision.

In a Feb. 22 communique, the Holy See Press Office clarified that Secretariat of State’s decision to crack down on the illegal sale of papal symbols and images “does not originate from any recent news report,” but is rather aimed at protecting the image of the Holy Father and his official coat of arms “against cases of illicit use and exploitation for unauthorized profit.”

Paloma Garcia Ovejero, vice-spokesman for the Holy See, told journalists that the decision “deals with all things of value which are sold or used to earn money.”

“We’re talking about the product and the use of the image of the Pope or the Holy Father’s coat of arms or that of the Holy See which are exploited” for economic purposes, she said.

“So no posters, no Osservatore…It has nothing to do with the posters or the fake Osservatore Romano,” she said, “because they weren’t sold.”

The Secretariat of State’s crackdown is a follow-up of their 2009 decision to issue a strict copyright of the Pope’s name, image and symbols.

In the Dec. 19, 2009, statement announcing the copyright deal, the Vatican stressed that “it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church.”

“Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff… and/or the use of the title ‘Pontifical,’ must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See,” the statement read.

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Pope Francis: protecting migrants is a ‘moral imperative’

February 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2017 / 08:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis said that it is our duty to defend the dignity of migrants, particularly by enacting just laws that offer protection to those forced to flee from dangerous or inhumane situations.

“Defending (migrants’) inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted,” the Pope said Feb. 21.

“Protecting these brothers and sisters,” he said, “is a moral imperative which translates into adopting juridical instruments, both international and national, that must be clear and relevant; implementing just and far reaching political choices.”

Although sometimes it takes longer, we must also implement timely and humane programs that fight against human trafficking, since migrants are an especially vulnerable population, the Pope observed.  
 
Pope Francis’ speech was addressed to participants of the sixth international forum on Migration and Peace at the Vatican. The meeting, which runs Feb. 21-22, is titled “Integration and Development: From Reaction to Action.”

It was organized by the Vatican’s Congregation for Integral Human Development, the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMIN) and the Kondrad Adenauer Foundation.

In his speech, Francis noted that our current millennium is characterized by migration involving nearly “every part of the world.” The forced nature of this phenomenon, he added, “amplifies the urgency for a coordinated and effective response” to challenges.

“Unfortunately, in the majority of cases this movement is forced, caused by conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions,” he said.

This is why it is more necessary than ever to affirm the dignity of the migrant as a human person, “without allowing immediate and ancillary circumstances, or even the necessary fulfilment of bureaucratic and administrative requirements, to obscure this essential dignity.”

During the meeting, Pope Francis heard the testimony of three people and their families, all of whom have emigrated from their homelands to a new country.

One woman, her husband and their young son were migrants from Eritrea. They fled across the Red Sea to Yemen, but because of the war, they later fled to Jordan, where they were again confronted by “dangerous conditions” on their journey to Italy, including a perilous journey from Libya across the Mediterranean before landing on the island of Lampedusa.

After sharing their story, the woman raised “a heartfelt appeal” to Pope Francis for better legal channels of entrance so that others seeking asylum will not have to “risk their lives in the hands of traffickers” or by crossing the desert and the sea.

Another woman then told her story of migrating to Chile in 1997. Although she had been a professor in her home country of Peru, when she arrived in Chile she was forced work in domestic servitude to support herself, sleeping in the metro station on the weekends when she had nowhere to stay.

She said that one day after seeing fellow migrants arriving at the metro station, she was inspired to help people in her situation.

“I am sure that this inspiration was God’s providence,” she said, because soon after she went to a parish in Santiago and a priest there invited her to be the director of the center for integration of migrants that they were launching.

She has now worked there since 2000, helping to provide various services to migrants including healthcare, food, professional formation and psychological and religious support. In the past 17 years, the woman said more than 70,000 women have come to Chile as migrants to rebuild their lives, with more than half passing through the center she directs.

The third family was Italian, but has lived in Canada for more than 50 years. The brother immigrated to Canada when just 14-years-old, joining his father to work in construction in order to save money for the rest of the family to eventually join them.

“We are truly blessed as immigrants that we went to Canada,” the sister of the family said. “With God’s help, with a lot of faith, determination and perseverance…we today have realized a universal dream of all migrants to fulfill the dreams of providing a better home, a better life for our family and our loved ones.”

For the past 40 years they have volunteered with the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, also called Scalabrinians, to assist fellow migrants.

After hearing their testimonies, the Pope in his speech used four words to explain what our shared response to the contemporary challenges of the migration issue should be: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.

To welcome the migrant, he said, we must change our attitude of rejection, “rooted ultimately in self-centeredness,” in order “to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.”

A responsible and dignified welcome begins with offering decent and appropriate shelter, he said.

Large gatherings of refugees and asylum-seekers, such as in camps, has created more issues, not fewer, he said, noting that more widespread programs which emphasize personal encounter have appeared to have better results.

We protect the migrant when we enact just laws, especially in recognition of the fact that migrants are more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence, he said, referring to a point previously made by Benedict XVI.

Development, according to the social doctrine of the Church, is “an undeniable right of every human being,” the Pope said.

As such, development “must be guaranteed by ensuring the necessary conditions for its exercise, both in the individual and social context, providing fair access to fundamental goods for all people and offering the possibility of choice and growth.”

This takes a coordinated effort from everyone, he said, placing specific emphasis on the political community, civil society, international organizations and religious institutions.

On the point of integration, Francis emphasized that it is not the same as “assimilation” or “incorporation,” but is rather a “two-way process.” This, he said, means it requires joint recognition on the part of both the migrant and the person in the receiving country.

We must beware of a sort-of cultural “superimposing” of one culture over another, he said, and also cautioned against a “mutual isolation” which has the “dangerous risk of creating ghettoes.”

Above all, policies should favor the reunion of families, the Pope said, but stressed that those who arrive in a new country are “duty bound not to close themselves off from the culture and traditions of the receiving country, respecting above all its laws.”

Through welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating, we discover the “sacred value of hospitality,” he said. “For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveler is offered to Jesus Christ himself, through the newcomer.”

And in the duty of solidarity we find a counter to the “throwaway culture,” he said, adding that “solidarity is born precisely from the capacity to understand the needs of our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and to take responsibility for these needs.”

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Pope prays for victims of terrorist attacks in Iraq and Pakistan

February 19, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Feb 19, 2017 / 05:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After leading the Angelus Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by violence and war around the world, particularly the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Iraq, asking pilgrims to offer a moment of silence before leading them in praying the ‘Hail Mary.’

“I think, in particular, of the dear people of Pakistan and Iraq, hit by cruel terrorist acts in recent days,” the Pope said Feb. 19. “We pray for the victims, the wounded and the families. Let us pray fervently that every heart hardened by hatred is converted to peace, according to the will of God.”

A suicide bomber reportedly loyal to the Islamic State attacked devotees at a Sufi shrine in Sehwan, Pakistan, more than 90 miles northwest of Hyderabad, Feb. 16. In addition to the more than 80 killed in the attack, some 250 were wounded.

The same day, a car bomb exploded in Baghdad’s southwestern al-Bayaa neighborhood shortly before sunset, killing at least 55 people and wounding more than 60 others, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry.

In his message after the Angelus, Pope Francis also highlighted the ongoing violence in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, saying that he feels a strong sorrow for the victims, especially child soldiers, which he called “a tragedy.”

“I strongly feel sorrow for the victims,” he said, “especially for the many children torn from their families and school to be used as soldiers.”

“I assure you of my closeness and my prayer, for religious and humanitarian personnel working in that difficult region; and renew an urgent appeal to the conscience and responsibility of national authorities and the international community, so that you take appropriate and timely decisions in order to help these brothers and sisters.”

Before leading the Angelus, the Pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, which comes from Matthew. In it, Jesus tells his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.”

In this way, “Jesus shows the way of true justice through the law of love that surpasses that of retaliation.” This is how we can “break the chain of evil, and really change things,” Francis said.

“Evil is in fact a ‘vacuum’ of good,” he said, which can only be filled with good, not with another evil, “another void.”

However, this doesn’t mean we are ignoring or contradicting justice, the Pope emphasized. “On the contrary, Christian love, which is manifested in a special way in mercy, is a greater realization of justice.”

“What Jesus wants to teach us is the distinction we have to make between justice and revenge,” he said. “Distinguish between justice and revenge. Revenge is never right.”

We are allowed to seek justice – and it is our duty to do so – he explained, but to take revenge is to incite hatred and violence, which is always wrong.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus also tells his disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This does not mean that Jesus in any way endorses the wrongdoing or evil, Francis said. It should be understood as “an invitation to a higher perspective.”

This is the same higher perspective that God the Father has, he noted, who “causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

No matter what, the Pope continued, our enemies, are in fact still human people, “created in God’s image,” although at the present time they may be tarnished by sin or error.

Francis said that it’s important to remember that our “enemies” may not just be people who are different from us or who live far away, but that in many cases we can speak about even ourselves as enemies, especially to those we come into conflict with on a regular basis, such as our neighbors and family members.

An enemy is anyone who commits a wrong against us, but “to all of them we are called to respond with good…inspired by love,” he said.

“May the Virgin Mary help us to follow Jesus on this difficult path,” he concluded, “which really enhances human dignity and makes us live as children of our Father who is in heaven.”

“Help us to practice patience, dialogue, forgiveness, and so to be artisans of communion and artisans of brotherhood in our daily lives.”

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Muslim refugee hails Pope Francis as the example of religion

February 17, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Feb 17, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nur Essa, a Muslim Syrian woman whose family was brought to Rome from Lesbos by Pope Francis last April, said that the openness he has shown to those of different faiths has deeply impressed her.

“For me, I was surprised,” she told CNA. “(He is) very open to all of the cultures, all of the religions, and he sets an example for all the religious people in the world, because he uses religion to serve the human being.”

Essa, 31, has met the Pope on several occasions, most recently during the Pope’s visit Feb. 17th to Roma Tre University, a public research university in Rome where she currently studies.

She was one of four students of the university to ask the Pope a question, which he answered during his visit.

Essa’s question was about the integration of immigrants in Italy: what they must do to integrate into their host country, but also what the rights of the immigrant are.

Before this, Essa and her husband and their little boy met Pope Francis when he brought them to Rome April 16th, 2016, along with two other Syrian refugee families who had been staying in a camp on the Island of Lesbos. She said that the Pope greeted them and blessed her son.

Essa also had an opportunity to speak with him at length when they were invited to be guests at a lunch Aug. 11th at the Vatican, which Essa said was an “honor.”

“He’s very, very modest, a very simple man, a very real human being,” she said.
 
Essa has both an undergraduate degree and a master’s in microbiology, and is studying biology at Roma Tre.

She said that she and her husband are both from the city of Damascus in Syria and chose to flee the country because her husband had been asked to join the military service there.

They went from Damascus to Turkey, and then from Turkey to Greece, where they stayed in a refugee camp for one month before they were fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the families the Pope brought back to Rome.

Pope Francis visited Roma Tre University at the request of the Dean of the university, who wanted to invite a public figure for the university’s 25th anniversary.

According to Fr. John D’Orazio, who is a Catholic chaplain assigned to the university by the Diocese of Rome, the last pope to make a formal visit was St. John Paul II for the university’s 10th anniversary in 2002.

The chaplaincy just finished constructing its first Catholic chapel for students nearby to the university, something they’ve been wanting to do for a long time, Fr. D’Orazio said.

He said that although students don’t live on campus, they still try “to create opportunities for students to meet together” and to reflect on their Catholic faith and “what it means for them in their own studies and in being citizens in today’s world and in society.”

It’s a very diverse campus, he said, with students of no faith or of different religions, including Muslim students. “I think it’s very interesting and beautiful to be a chaplain inside of a state university,” he said, “because it means creating dialogue, creating collaboration.”

“It’s almost like mission work, because you’re working in a place where there are all kinds of different people, different backgrounds, different points of view. So it’s a good place to create bridges,” he said.

“Pope Francis talks a lot about creating bridges and not walls. And I think that also the chaplaincy in a state university is all about creating bridges of dialogue and collaboration.”

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