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Pope Francis: Migrants bearing brunt of ‘aggressive’ nationalism and ‘radical individualism’

May 6, 2021 Catholic News Agency 7
Pope Francis washes the feet of migrants and refugees during Holy Thursday Mass March 24, 2016. / L’Osservatore Romano.

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Thursday that “aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” exposed during the pandemic, are having a severe impact on migrants worldwide.

In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, issued May 6, he said that the coronavirus crisis had highlighted the deep divisions between human beings.

“Our ‘we,’ both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” he said.

“And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.”

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees, instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X, is celebrated annually on the last Sunday in September. This year it falls on Sept. 26.

In his message for the day’s 107th commemoration, entitled “Towards an ever wider ‘we’,” Pope Francis addressed what he called a “twofold appeal,” to Catholics and the wider world, to embrace those on the margins.

He urged Catholics “to make the Church become ever more inclusive.”

“In our day,” he wrote, “the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytizing, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone.”

“Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached.”

He appealed to those outside the Church to work with Catholics to build “a future of justice and peace.”

“Our societies will have a ‘colorful’ future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges. Consequently, we must even now learn to live together in harmony and peace,” he commented.

He continued: “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about.”

The pope argued that greater solidarity was also necessary “to ensure the proper care of our common home.”

He said: “Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development.”

“A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”

In an intervention prepared for a Vatican press conference launching the pope’s message, Cardinal Michael Czerny noted that the text developed themes in the pope’s latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti.

Referring to the pandemic, he said: “We are all suffering in different ways. What happens when the survivors in a lifeboat must all help to row to shore? What if some take more than their share of the rations, leaving others too weak to row? The risk is that everyone will perish, the well-fed and the starving alike.”

Czerny, the under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, added: “Widening the Good Samaritan attitude — overcoming selfishness and caring for all — is essential to survival.”

During the press conference, a video campaign for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was presented, featuring Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso describing the situation on the border between Mexico and the United States.

He said: “I’ve found the most rewarding opportunities of my life serving here at the border. I’ve learned that borders can be vibrant places of encounter and welcome — encounters that enrich us. I’ve learned that we are all interconnected as one human family. We stand or fall together. We build walls and fences which divide us. Today people of faith need to be bridge builders.”

Speaking via video link, Bishop Paul McAleenan, an auxiliary bishop of the English diocese of Westminster, said that the pope’s message offered encouragement to Catholics in the U.K.

He said: “Pope Francis draws our attention to the interconnectedness of humanity: my decisions and actions here affect others who are far away.”

“Three areas in particular directly affect the human family today. The decision of the United Kingdom to reduce its aid budget compounds the suffering of the world’s poorest. Nations engaging in the arms trade bring endless misery to those in places of conflict. Our contribution to the climate emergency results in droughts, disasters and displacement thousands of miles away. Understanding the reasons for migration must include the acknowledgement that we are not blameless.”

Also speaking via video link, Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, said that in her work she witnessed the lack of solidarity that Pope Francis described in his message.

“Faced with those who fled their homes and sought sanctuary, the asylum system builds walls of suspicion to stop them receiving the protection they need,” she explained.

“It detains them and enforces destitution. Destitution makes many vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and they speak of the sense of losing themselves through years struggling at the margins.”

She highlighted the success of a project in which religious congregations and families welcome homeless asylum seekers into their homes.

She said: “Together, they create a counter-culture to the hostile public policies that render people homeless and marginalized.”

“In small, concrete ways, we can all participate in this shared project to recompose a common human family. For there are treasures to be found when we strive together to break down walls that divide us. The dream of one human family is a dream worth realizing.”

Pope Francis closed his World Day of Migrants and Refugees message with an appeal to people to “dream together” of a better future for all humanity.

He concluded with a prayer:

Holy, beloved Father,
your Son Jesus taught us
that there is great rejoicing in heaven
whenever someone lost is found,
whenever someone excluded, rejected or discarded
is gathered into our “we”,
which thus becomes ever wider.

We ask you to grant the followers of Jesus,
and all people of good will,
the grace to do your will on earth.
Bless each act of welcome and outreach
that draws those in exile
into the “we” of community and of the Church,
so that our earth may truly become
what you yourself created it to be:
the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen.


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No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis confirms ex-management consultant as Vatican’s auditor general

May 5, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Dome of St. Peter’s basilica, Vatican City. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

CNA Staff, May 5, 2021 / 08:05 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has confirmed a former management consultant as the Vatican’s auditor general.

The Holy See press office said May 5 that the pope had named Alessandro Cassinis Righini, who has served as acting auditor general since June 2017, to the role.

On his publicly accessible LinkedIn page, the auditor general lists the start date of his new position as March 2021.

He succeeds Libero Milone, who served as auditor general from 2015 to 2017.

Milone was dismissed just two years into a five-year mandate after being hired as the Vatican’s first auditor general in a move to introduce more financial transparency in the Vatican City State.

Three months after stepping down, Milone claimed that he was “threatened” into resignation by an “old guard” opposed to his work.

Although he declined to give details due to non-disclosure agreements, he claimed that he had been targeted after launching an investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving an Italian cardinal.

Describing his version of the events that led up to his resignation, Milone said that he was called to the office of Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, then a senior official at the Vatican Secretary of State, on June 19, 2017, and told that the pope had lost faith in him and requested his resignation.

Becciu accused the auditor general of “spying” on the finances of senior officials — a claim Milone strongly rejected.

Becciu, who received the red hat in 2018, resigned in September 2020 as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals.

The Vatican’s new auditor general was born in Rome on Dec. 29, 1965. After graduating in economics and commerce from the University of Rome La Sapienza, he gained an MBA from the School of Business Management of Bocconi University in Milan.

Married with three children, he taught strategic management at the University of Rome La Sapienza and at the Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli.

After gaining experience at the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, he worked as a researcher at the Fondazione Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali (Censis).

He then served as a management consultant for Braxton Associates in London and the Deloitte Group.

In March 2016 he was appointed as a deputy auditor, serving under Milone.

In September 2020, as acting auditor general, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vatican’s prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy on the fight against corruption.

The auditor general is responsible for auditing the financial statements of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

According to the Vatican website, the Office of the Auditor General consists of the auditor general, “who directs and represents the office,” and a group of auditors “with solid and proven professional experience,” assisted by support personnel.

It says: “The auditor general is appointed ad quinquennium [for five years] by the Holy Father and chosen among persons of proven reputation, who do not exercise activities that are incompatible with the appointment, who are free from any conflict of interest, and who have recognized professional competence and skills in the relevant areas concerning the work of the Office.”

“The auditor general may be appointed only for two terms.”


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No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis to issue apostolic letter on ministry of catechist

May 5, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis waves to pilgrims during his March 28, 2018 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

CNA Staff, May 5, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will issue an apostolic letter next week on the ministry of catechist.

The Holy See press office said May 5 that the papal letter, issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”), would be presented at a press conference on May 11.

It described the apostolic letter, Antiquum ministerium, as the means “by which the ministry of catechist is instituted.”

The Italian section of the Vatican News website said: “The motu proprio therefore will formally establish the ministry of catechist, developing that evangelizing dimension of the laity called for by Vatican II.”

It noted that in a 2018 video message, Pope Francis said that the vocation of catechists “demands to be recognized as a true and genuine ministry of the Church, which we particularly need.”

Further details will be unveiled at the news conference, which will take place at the Vatican. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Pontifical Council’s delegate for catechesis, will speak at the event.

The Code of Canon Law (Can. 785) defines catechists as “lay members of the Christian faithful, duly instructed and outstanding in Christian life, who devote themselves to setting forth the teaching of the gospel and to organizing liturgies and works of charity under the direction of a missionary.”

“Catechists are to be formed in schools designated for this purpose or, where such schools are lacking, under the direction of missionaries,” it says.

In his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris missio, Pope John Paul II described catechists as “irreplaceable evangelizers.”

He wrote: “It is with good reason that the older and established churches, committed to a new evangelization, have increased the numbers of their catechists and intensified catechetical activity. But ‘the term “catechists” belongs above all to the catechists in mission lands … Churches that are flourishing today would not have been built up without them.’”

“Even with the extension of the services rendered by lay people both within and outside the Church, there is always need for the ministry of catechists, a ministry with its own characteristics.”

He continued: “Catechists are specialists, direct witnesses and irreplaceable evangelizers who, as I have often stated and experienced during my missionary journeys, represent the basic strength of Christian communities, especially in the young churches.”

A 1993 guide for catechists, issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said: “Through religious instruction, preparation for the sacraments, animation of prayer and other works of charity, they help the baptized to grow in the fervor of the Christian life.”

“Where there is a shortage of priests, the catechists are also entrusted with the pastoral guidance of the little community separated from the center. Often, they are called to witness to their faith by harsh trials and painful privations.”

“The history of evangelization past and present attests to their constancy even to the giving of life itself. Catechists are truly the pride of the missionary Church!”

In his 2020 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis said that there was a need to strengthen lay leadership in the Amazon region.

He wrote: “A Church of Amazonian features requires the stable presence of mature and lay leaders endowed with authority and familiar with the languages, cultures, spiritual experience and communal way of life in the different places, but also open to the multiplicity of gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows on every one. For wherever there is a particular need, he has already poured out the charisms that can meet it.”

“This requires the Church to be open to the Spirit’s boldness, to trust in, and concretely to permit, the growth of a specific ecclesial culture that is distinctively lay. The challenges in the Amazon region demand of the Church a special effort to be present at every level, and this can only be possible through the vigorous, broad and active involvement of the laity.”

In January this year, the pope issued a motu proprio, Spiritus Domini, changing canon law to allow women to serve as lectors and acolytes.

Lector and acolyte are publicly recognized ministries instituted by the Church. The roles were once considered “minor orders” in the tradition of the Church and were changed to ministries by Pope Paul VI.


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