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Viewpoint: ‘The cry of humanity: peace, peace’

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That Halloween season Strategic Air Command bombers with bright orange markings started flying low over our schoolyard to land about four miles away at Philadelphia’s airport. It’s a memory confirmed by histories that report it was Oct. 26, 1962, when B-47s were deployed to civilian airports in a DEFCON 2 alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As an 11-year-old following the news, I assumed the problem of Communist Russia’s missiles in Cuba would be resolved by the United States invoking the Monroe Doctrine to keep the Soviet Union’s weapons both out of Cuba and the entire Western Hemisphere. Read more »

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Pope tells bishops in Colombia to work for peace as pastors, not politicians

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Catholic News Service

Quoting celebrated Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pope Francis told the country’s bishops he knows “it is easier to begin a war than to end one” and that, to succeed, Colombia needs bishops who are pastors, not politicians.

“All of us know that peace calls for a distinct kind of moral courage,” the pope told the bishops Sept. 7. “War follows the basest instincts of our heart, whereas peace forces us to rise above ourselves.”

Pope Francis greets Colombian bishops at Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez’s residence in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Welcoming Pope Francis to the meeting, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota told the pope, “Our homeland is struggling to put behind it a history of violence that has plunged it into death for decades,” but the process of building peace “has become a source of political polarization that every day sows division, confrontation and disorientation. We are a country marked by deep inequalities and inequities that demand radical changes in all fields of social life. But it does not seem we are willing to pay the price required.”

One temptation, the pope said, is for the bishops and priests to get involved in the country’s heated partisan political debate.

Resist, the pope told them. The country needs pastors. It needs ministers who know firsthand “how marred is the face of this country,” how deep are the wounds and how intensely it needs to experience healing and forgiveness.

“Colombia has need of you so that it can show its true face, filled with hope despite its imperfections,” he said. It needs the church’s help “so that it can engage in mutual forgiveness despite wounds not yet completely healed, so that it can believe that another path can be taken, even when force of habit causes the same mistakes to be constantly repeated.”

Finding a magic formula to fix problems is a temptation, Pope Francis said. But the church’s ministers “are not mechanics or politicians, but pastors.”

The church does not need special favors from politicians, he said. It only needs the freedom to speak and to minister.

But it also needs internal unity, the pope told the bishops. “So continue to seek communion among yourselves. Never tire of building it through frank and fraternal dialogue, avoiding hidden agendas like the plague.”

Although he said he had “no recipes” and would not “leave you a list of things to do,” Pope Francis made two specific requests of the bishops: Pay more attention to “the Afro-Colombian roots of your people,” and show more concern for the church, the people and the environment in southern Colombia’s Amazon region.

The region holds “an essential part of the remarkable biodiversity of this country,” and protecting it is “a decisive test of whether our society, all too often prey to materialism and pragmatism, is capable of preserving what it freely received, not to exploit it but to make it bear fruit.”

In a speech that included several references to the duty to defend human life, Pope Francis said he wondered if society could learn from the indigenous people of the Amazon “the sacredness of life, respect for nature and the recognition that technology alone is insufficient to bring fulfillment to our lives and to respond to our most troubling questions.”

“I am told that in some native Amazon languages the idea of ‘friend’ is translated by the words, ‘my other arm.’ May you be the other arm of the Amazon,” he said. “Colombia cannot amputate that arm without disfiguring its face and its soul.”

A few hours later, Pope Francis met with members of the executive committee of the Latin American bishops’ council, known as CELAM, and focused on the ongoing efforts to evangelize the continent by means of “closeness and encounter.”

To be evangelizing disciples, the pope said, Christians must be willing to journey like Jesus did. “When he meets people, he draws near to them. When he draws near to them, he talks to them. When he talks to them, he touches them with his power. When he touches them, he brings them healing and salvation. His aim in constantly setting out is to lead the people he meets to the Father.”

The church and its members must be concrete and unafraid of listening to and accompanying real people with real challenges.

Unlike the colonizers of old or exploiters of today, he said, “the church is not present in Latin America with her suitcases in hand, ready, like so many others over time, to abandon it after having plundered it.”

The colonizers looked with “superiority and scorn” on the “mestizo face” of the continent’s Catholics, the pope said, while Catholics themselves are called to celebrate that diversity of races and cultures the same way they honor Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Aparecida, both of which have mixed-race features.

Insisting the bishops do more to support, educate and appreciate lay Catholics, Pope Francis spoke particularly of the contribution of women.

“Please, do not let them be reduced to servants of our ingrained clericalism,” he said.

     

Contributing to this story was David Agren.

      – – –

      Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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Divine Mercy opens the door to understanding the mystery of God, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Mercy is a true form of knowledge that allows men and women to understand the mystery of God’s love for humanity, Pope Francis said.

Having experienced forgiveness, Christians have a duty to forgive others, giving a “visible sign” of God’s mercy, which “carries within it the peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord,” the pope said April 23 before praying the “Regina Coeli” with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

A child waves a Mexican flag as Pope Francis leads the "Regina Coeli" in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 23, Divine Mercy Sunday. (CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

A child waves a Mexican flag as Pope Francis leads the “Regina Coeli” in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 23, Divine Mercy Sunday. (CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

“Mercy helps us understand that violence, resentment and revenge do not have any meaning and that the first victim is the one who lives with these feelings, because he is deprived of his own dignity,” he said.

Commemorating Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis said St. John Paul II’s establishment of the feast in 2000 was a “beautiful intuition” inspired by the Holy Spirit.

God’s mercy, he said, not only “opens the door of the mind,” it also opens the door of the heart and paves the way for compassion toward those who are “alone or marginalized because it makes them feel they are brothers and sisters and children of one father.”

“Mercy, in short, commits us all to being instruments of justice, of reconciliation and peace. Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone in the life of faith, and the concrete form by which we give visibility to Jesus’ resurrection,” Pope Francis said.

 

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God will ask an account for blood spilled in today’s wars, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Humankind will have to answer to God for the bloodshed of the innocent victims of war, and the blood spilled by greed and arms trafficking, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis watches as children release doves from the window of his studio at the Vatican in this Jan. 26, 2014, file photo. In his Feb. 16 morning Mass homily, the pope recalled the dove release and how a seagull and crow swooped down to attack the doves. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis watches as children release doves from the window of his studio at the Vatican in this Jan. 26, 2014, file photo. In his Feb. 16 morning Mass homily, the pope recalled the dove release and how a seagull and crow swooped down to attack the doves. (CNS/Paul Haring)

While God has given peace to the world, inside all human beings “there is still that seed, that original sin, the spirit of Cain who out of envy, jealousy, greed and the desire for domination, makes war,” the pope said Feb. 16 during his early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“Today in the world, blood is being spilled. Today the world is at war. So many brothers and sisters die, even innocents, because the great, the powerful want a bigger piece of the earth; they want a little bit more power or want to gain a bit more through arms trafficking,” he said.

The pope centered his homily on the day’s first reading in which God makes a covenant with Noah and all of humanity after the flood and warns that he “will demand an account for human life.”

This covenant, along with the rainbow and the dove holding an olive branch, are signs of “what God wanted after the flood: peace; that all men and women would be in peace,” the pope explained.

The rainbow and the dove are symbolic of peace not only because of their beauty, but also because of their fragility, he said. “The rainbow is beautiful after a storm, but when a cloud comes, it disappears,” and doves are easy prey for predators.

The pope recalled the unfortunate incident when, after delivering his Sunday Angelus address Jan. 26, 2014, he and two children released two doves as a gesture of peace. A seagull and a crow swooped down and attacked the two doves.

“The covenant God makes is strong, but how we receive it, how we accept it is with weakness,” the pope said. “God makes peace with us, but it isn’t easy to keep the peace.”

The seed of war that creates jealousy, envy and greed in people’s hearts, the pope continued, “has grown into a tree,” causing “bombs that fall on hospitals, on a school and kills children.”

“The blood of Christ is what makes peace, not my brothers’ blood that is spilled by me, or arms traffickers or the powers of the earth in the great wars,” he said.

Pope Francis said that all men and women are called not only to protect peace, but to “handcraft” it every day, beginning in their hearts and in their homes.

He recalled a childhood memory when, after hearing the sounds of sirens and alarm bells ringing throughout his neighborhood, a neighbor tearfully exclaimed to his mother: “The war is over.”

“May the Lord give us the grace of being able to say: ‘The war is over’ and weep. ‘The war is over in my heart, the war is over in my family, the war is over in my neighborhood, the war is over in my workplace, the war is over in the world’ so that the dove, the rainbow and the covenant will be stronger,” the pope said.

 

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Paralyzed NYPD officer who spoke of forgiveness dies at 59

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NEW YORK — Detective Steven McDonald, the New York City police officer who was paralyzed after being shot in the line of duty 30 years ago and famously forgave his teenage assailant and went on to became a prophetic voice for forgiveness and reconciliation, died Jan. 10. He was 59.

A New York police spokesman confirmed that McDonald, who was Catholic, had died at a Long Island hospital four days after suffering a heart attack.

Detective Steven McDonald of the New York Police Department, who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty in 1986, smiles as he is greeted by then Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2013. McDonald died Jan. 10 at a Long Island hospital at age 59. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Detective Steven McDonald of the New York Police Department, who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty in 1986, smiles as he is greeted by then Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2013. McDonald died Jan. 10 at a Long Island hospital at age 59. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York called McDonald “a prophet, without speaking, of the pro-life cause.”

“He showed us,” the cardinal said, “that the value of life doesn’t depend on physical ability, but on one’s heart and soul, both of which he had in abundance.”

The cardinal told Catholic New York, newspaper of the New York archdiocese, that he had visited McDonald in the hospita’s intensive care unit and said that the many rosaries and religious statues there represented outward signs of a Catholic faith the detective dearly practiced.

“You could see that he was such a fervent Catholic,” Cardinal Dolan said.

McDonald often discussed his Catholic faith and the reason he forgave the teenage shooter, explaining that he believed what happened to him was God’s will and that he was meant to become a messenger for God’s message of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation in the world.

While on patrol July 12, 1986, McDonald came upon three teenagers in Central Park and stopped to frisk them because he thought one of them had a weapon in his sock. One of the youths, then-15-year-old Shavod Jones, pulled out a weapon of his own and shot McDonald, leaving him for dead as the trio fled.

Three bullets struck McDonald, including one that pierced his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed.

Doctors initially told McDonald’s wife, Patti, who was three months pregnant with the couple’s son, that the officer would not survive. However, McDonald pulled through. At the baptism of the son, Conor, March 1, 1987, McDonald asked his wife to read a statement about his feeling toward the shooter, saying “I forgive him and hope he can find a purpose in his life.”

McDonald remained on the police department payroll after being shot and later was named a detective.

McDonald long hoped that he and Jones could team up to speak about reconciliation. They corresponded while Jones served a 10-year sentence for attempted murder, but the correspondence ended when McDonald declined a request from Jones’ family for help in seeking parole, saying he was not knowledgeable enough or capable to intervene. Jones died in a 1995 motorcycle accident shortly after being released from prison on parole.

For years after the shooting, McDonald drew widespread attention and media coverage. He met with St. John Paul II in 1995 and with South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. Although he was able to breathe only with the help of a respirator, McDonald crossed the country speaking at schools and other venues about the importance of forgiveness and peace. He also became an advocate for peace in troubled lands, visiting Northern Ireland, Israel and Bosnia to take his message to communities in conflict.

Conor McDonald eventually joined the NYPD and became a sergeant in 2016. He is the fourth generation of the family to serve in the department.

McDonald was born March 1, 1957, in Queens Village, New York, and grew up in Rockville Centre on Long Island. He was one of eight children of David and Anita McDonald.

      A funeral Mass was scheduled for Jan. 13 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City with Cardinal Dolan presiding.

      – – –

      Contributing to this report was Catholic New York, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York.

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Peace demands hard work amid world’s atmosphere of war, pope tells Balkan nation

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Catholic News Service

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — To overcome fear, discrimination and conflict, people must have a deep desire to open themselves up to God and his mercy, and work actively for peace every day, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, June 6. Also pictured in the popemobile is Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo. The pope was making a one-day visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina to encourage a minority Catholic community in the faith, and to foster dialogue and peace in a nation still largely divided along ethnic lines. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, June 6. Also pictured in the popemobile is Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo. The pope was making a one-day visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina to encourage a minority Catholic community in the faith, and to foster dialogue and peace in a nation still largely divided along ethnic lines. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

God’s plan for creation is peace, “which always meets opposition from humanity and the devil,” he said during a one-day visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina June 6.

The cold reality today is that the world is facing “a kind of Third World War being fought in piecemeal” amidst “an atmosphere of war” worldwide, he said on the 71st anniversary of “D-Day,” the World War II anniversary of Allied forces landing in Normandy marking the liberation of Europe.

But the “ray of sunshine piercing the clouds” is Christ’s appeal to work for peace, the pope said during an outdoor Mass in the capital’s Kosevo sports stadium, where more than 60,000 people gathered from different parts of the Balkan region under a hot, hazy sky.

Signs of peace emerging from a war-torn nation stood out throughout the city, whose residents are mostly Muslim.

Small groups of well-wishers and cheering families lined the main avenues from the airport as armed military helicopters circled the sky.

Sleek modern glass and steel commercial buildings were scattered among rows of towering communist-era apartment buildings whose gray cement walls were riddled with bullet holes and gouged by shrapnel. The holes left behind are marked with large dark grey splotches where the newer cement was troweled on and left unpainted. Flowers adorned some gravestones in a makeshift cemetery on a grassy plot between a snarl of highway bypasses. During the years of urban warfare, it was difficult to bury the dead in established cemeteries on the outskirts of town, so parks and roadsides became burial grounds.

More than 100,000 people died and millions more were displaced during the 1992-1995 conflict, which saw a Serb campaign of ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims after the mostly Muslim nation declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992.

“War means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed homes, streets and factories; it means above all, countless shattered lives,” the pope said in his homily.

While there are those who foment war and profit from it by selling weapons, he said, there are those who hear Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

“He does not say, ‘Blessed are the preachers of peace,’ since everyone is capable of proclaiming peace, even in a hypocritical or indeed, duplicitous manner,” the pope said. “No. He says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ that is, those who make peace.”

Peacemaking requires putting justice into practice, and it takes patience, passion, experience and the tenacity to never give up, every day, “step by step,” he said.

A vital step, one that cannot be skipped, he said, is personal conversion since nothing in the world can change without a change in the human heart, one that makes room for God, his love and mercy.

Only with such change can a person see that former enemies “really have the same face as I have, the same heart, the same soul,” he said.

Signs of unity were seen throughout the Mass. An ecumenical choir of 1,600 people from Catholic and Serbian Orthodox churches and the country’s national choir were accompanied by the nation’s military band. Behind the altar was an intricately detailed chair for the pope, hand carved from dark walnut wood by a Muslim father and son. A large cross placed near the altar still bore the punctures of ammunition from the three-year long conflict.

In just the first hours of his visit, the pope said he saw signs of hope in the joy and smiles of the Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox and Catholic children who greeted him at the airport.

He told government and religious leaders during a morning meeting at the presidential palace, that “I saw hope today in those children. … That is hope. Let’s bet on that.”

“In order to successfully oppose the barbarity of those who would make of every difference the occasion and pretext for further unspeakable violence, we need to recognize the fundamental values of human communities,” values that help people communicate, forgive, build and grow, Pope Francis said.

“This will allow different voices to unite in creating a melody of sublime nobility and beauty, instead of fanatical cries of hatred,” he said.

 

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Catholics join efforts to heal, move forward in Baltimore

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — As the city cleaned up after a night of riots, looting and fires following the funeral of Freddie Gray, Archbishop William E. Lori said the church’s place is to pray, be a voice for peace, and participate in a wider community dialogue to solve the systemic issues that led to the unrest.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori visits a riot-stricken section of  West Baltimore April 28. During a night of unrest that erupted in response to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody the archbishop called pastors to check on their safety and the situation in their neighborhoods. (CNS photo/Olivia Obineme, Catholic Review)

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori visits a riot-stricken section of West Baltimore April 28. During a night of unrest that erupted in response to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody the archbishop called pastors to check on their safety and the situation in their neighborhoods. (CNS photo/Olivia Obineme, Catholic Review)

Gray, 25, died April 19, one week after being arrested on a weapons charge and sustaining a severe spinal cord injury in West Baltimore while in police custody. After his funeral April 27, peaceful protests turned into unrest later in the day, leading to damage of buildings and cars, and looting and fires seen nonstop on national TV news networks.

The next morning, as Archbishop Lori, Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden and other archdiocesan leaders toured the West Baltimore neighborhoods affected, adults and children with brooms and trash bags were as numerous as the rioters the night before.

Ray Kelly stopped outside of St. Peter Claver Church to talk with the archbishop’s group and Josephite Father Ray P. Bomberger, pastor. “We’re going to do a cleanup and bring Sandtown leaders together. We want to make sure that residents are part of this effort.”

Kelly, who said he has lived in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood “forever, 44 years,” said, “They’ve got to start restructuring. Right now. Today.”

He said because he has lived here, he could feel it was going to happen. He and a friend were talking after the weekend unrest April 25, and he wondered if this was the calm after the storm, or the calm before it. He said he knew “there’s more to come.”

Archbishop Lori made stops at St. Peter, St. Gregory the Great and the senior center next door, and at St. Edward, before heading to North Avenue to survey looted buildings and the carcass of a burned car.

He said during the unrest he called as many West Baltimore pastors as he could, and spoke to many of them.

“We will continue to do a lot of work, especially through Bishop Madden and the city pastors, especially on the west side,” he said.

“First of all, let’s pray. … We need to strengthen our communities that they might be a force of peace. We need to participate vigorously in a citywide dialogue on the systemic issues that have really bubbled up to the surface here,” the archbishop said. “It seems that’s our role in this.”

Stephen Scott, who lives just around the corner from St. Gregory the Great, greeted Archbishop Lori when he visited the Harvey and Jeanette Weinberg Sandtown Winchester Senior Center April 28. “It’s sad, so sad when it comes down to this and it hurts everybody,” Scott said of the violence.

Shirley Washington, who works at the center, said she hopes those who participated in the violence will realize what they have done. “When it all settles down, you’ll think about what you did wrong then,” she said.

At St. Bernardine Parish, a previously scheduled three-night revival opened as the violence flared.

“I think we’re all heartbroken over what’s happening, but we’re going to keep our faith in God and keep praying, keep looking for truth and answers, and look for peace as well,” said Msgr. Richard Bozzelli, pastor.

He said the parish planned to go ahead with the youth night portion of the revival April 28 in partnership with St. Frances Academy.

At the opening, Deacon B. Curtis Turner, principal of St. Frances Academy, preached about the hapless disciples, terrified in a boat in a storm, as they witnessed Jesus walking on water, Msgr. Bozzelli said.

“Little did he know when he was preparing that what storm we would be dealing with,” the pastor said.

Deacon Turner described the irony of first learning of the mayhem while in Washington, D.C., on a field trip with his students.

“We were literally standing under the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial when we heard about it,” he said.

“It’s disturbing because the students see (the violence) on TV, and they know that that’s not the majority of Baltimore youths,” Deacon Turner added. “Sadly, that’s what gets all the media coverage.”

Willa and Brendan Walsh of the Baltimore Catholic Worker Viva House, located several blocks from the violence, said they received many phone calls and emails inquiring about their safety. They responded in a statement on what they saw as the roots of the destruction.

“The unrest and anger are the results of decades of unemployment (over 50 percent in our ZIP code), decades of miserable uninhabitable housing, decades of under-funded chaotic schools, decades of the drug trade, and, it goes without saying, centuries of racism,” the Walshes wrote.

“The most violent country in the world has produced citizens, unfortunately another generation of young people, who will believe that violence is the solution to all problems.”

Public schools across the city cancelled classes for April 28. The Archdiocese of Baltimore did the same, closing all schools except for the School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, located in Homeland, north of the violence.

Erik Zygmont also contributed to this story.

 

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Pray for peace, sow harmony, look to Mary as model disciple, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Peace is a gift that comes through prayer and through small daily efforts to sow harmony in one’s family, parish and community, Pope Francis said.

“At the beginning of this new year, we are all called to reignite in our hearts a spark of hope, which must be translated into concrete works of peace: You don’t get along with that person? Make peace. In your home? Make peace. In the community? Make peace. At work? Make peace,” he said Jan. 4 during his midday recitation of the Angelus.

Pope Francis gestures as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 1. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis gestures as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Jan. 1. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Before announcing the names of the 20 new cardinals he will create Feb. 14, Pope Francis used his Sunday Angelus address to continue the reflection on peace, on Mary and on the church that he began during a Mass Jan. 1 marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Prayer for Peace.

“Peace is not just an absence of war, but the general condition of the person who is in harmony with him- or herself, in harmony with nature and in harmony with others,” he said during the Angelus address.

Everyone says they want peace, Pope Francis said, but they continue to make war, even on a small scale. “How many families, how many communities — even parishes — are at war,” he said.

Describing Mary as the “queen of peace,” the pope said that during her earthly life she knew difficulty, “but she never lost her peace of heart, a fruit of having abandoned herself with trust to the mercy of God. We ask Mary, our tender mother, to point the whole world to the sure path of love and peace.”

Reciting the Angelus Jan. 1, he reminded people that the theme of his 2015 peace day message was “No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters.”

“War makes us slaves always,” he said. “We are all called to combat every form of slavery and build brotherhood. And remember, peace is possible.”

Faith helps make people free, and living the tenets of faith helps make them peacemakers, he said.

“Thanks to our baptism, we were introduced into communion with God and we are no longer at the whim of evil and sin, but we receive the love, tenderness and mercy of the heavenly Father,” he said.

Earlier Jan. 1, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and focused his homily on Mary as both the mother of God and mother of the church.

“Jesus,” he told the congregation, “cannot be understood without his mother,” the one who gave him human flesh, raised him and was near him always, even as he died on the cross and rose from the dead.

“Likewise inseparable are Christ and the church,” he said. And, just as Mary brought Jesus into the world more than 2,000 years ago, the church continues to bring him to the world, he said.

Pope Francis repeated what he has said in the past: “It is not possible to love Christ without the church, to listen to Christ but not the church, to belong to Christ but not the church.”

The church brings Christ to people, nourishes people with the sacraments and helps them understand what it means to belong to Christ, the pope said. “Our faith is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God.”

“Where can we encounter him? We encounter him in the church, in our hierarchical, holy mother church,” he said. “It is the church which says today: ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’ It is the church which proclaims him. It is in the church that Jesus continues to accomplish his acts of grace which are the sacraments.”

“Without the church,” the pope said, “Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods.”

 

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Commentary: Newly beatified Pope Paul VI championed justice and peace

October 23rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

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With numerous armed conflicts raging in parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965, proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Unfortunately, in 1965 the world did not heed Blessed Paul VI’s prophetic words. Sadly, it has not heeded them since.

Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome March 31, 1968. Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome March 31, 1968. Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

From Mexico to South Sudan, from Syria to Ukraine, from Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons threatening each nation to the endless “war on terrorism,” today more than ever the world needs to heed Blessed Paul’s plea: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Since Pope Paul had tremendous respect for all human life, starting at conception, it is providential that the miracle granted by God through his prayerful intercession involved the healing of an unborn child.

According to Vatican Insider, in California an unborn child in 2001 was diagnosed with ascites (liquid in the abdomen) and anhydramnios (absence of fluid in the amniotic sac). When every corrective attempt failed, the doctors said the baby would die before birth or be born with dangerous renal impairment.

When abortion was offered as an option, the mother refused. Instead, she prayed for a miracle asking Pope Paul’s intercession to God. Ten weeks later tests results revealed that the unborn child had significantly improved, and was born by Caesarean section.

The boy is now a healthy adolescent considered completely healed. The Vatican’s medical consultation team headed by Professor Patrizio Polisca confirmed that it was impossible to explain the healing scientifically.

More than 40 years ago Blessed Paul VI foresaw the impending environmental disaster facing humanity today. In his apostolic letter “Octogesima Adveniens” (“A Call to Action”) he warned: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.”

In his day, and even more so today, in a world where great economic inequality exists – where the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer – Blessed Paul VI in his prophetic encyclical letter “Populorum Progressio”(“On the Development of Peoples”) clearly challenged this grave injustice.

He wrote, “God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all. …

“Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy.”

Instead of largely ignoring the reasonable and just demands of countless oppressed people, and then going to war against them when they rise up, we should tirelessly work for social justice for all people.

For as Blessed Paul VI continued to teach in “Populorum Progressio,” “When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men.”

 

Tony Magliano is an syndicated social justice and peace columnist who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

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Viewpoint: ‘War is never a necessity,’ Pope Francis has said — even now?

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We need to do something. With the barbaric Islamic State now controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria, and inflicting rape, torture and beheading on those who do not conform to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, it is imperative that they must be stopped.

So yes, we need to do something. But that “something” is not more violence and war. Answering violence and war, with more violence and war, is always part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Caliphate soldiers, members of a group linked to Islamic State militants, published a video on the Internet, Sept. 22, claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of Herve Gourdel of Nice, France. The group said it would kill Gourdel if France does not halt it participation in airstrikes on Iraq. Pax Christi International leaders are urging nation's use nonviolent solutions to stop ISIS. (CNS photo/Reuters via Reuters TV)

Caliphate soldiers, members of a group linked to Islamic State militants, published a video on the Internet, Sept. 22, claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of Herve Gourdel of Nice, France. The group said it would kill Gourdel if France does not halt it participation in airstrikes on Iraq. Pax Christi International leaders are urging nation’s use nonviolent solutions to stop ISIS. (CNS photo/Reuters via Reuters TV)

Shortly after the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, St. John Paul II wrote: “No, never again, war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution to the very problems which provoked the war.”

There is a collective amnesia that continues to block government and society’s memory that we have been there, and done that, many times before. Therefore, the war machine keeps rolling on with the encouragement of hawkish politicians, pundits and the military-industrial-complex.

During a “Democracy Now” interview with Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, Khouri said the major problems that lead to the formation and growth of militant Islamic groups like the Islamic State, are brutal dictators – often backed by the United States – who rule much of the Arab-Islamic world, and a foreign military presence like the U.S. in Muslim majority countries.

Khouri said American led military action in the Islamic world is the best recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

And it stands to reason. Imagine how most people would react – including many Christians – to a foreign power bombing and killing their loved ones.

So, what would be a Gospel-based way of responding to this violent crisis?

The Gospel calls us to mount an active response to suffering based on love and nonviolence.

This means no bombs, no drones, no missiles.

The U.S. and other arms supplying nations need to stop flooding the Middle East and world with weapons. A total multilateral arms embargo is needed.

And the diplomatic tool must be vigorously pursued.

Yes, negotiations with the Islamic State are highly unlikely. But negotiating just settlements to the grievances of hurting populations in Iraq and Syria will dry up support for the Islamic State and other militant groups.

The U.S. and other wealthy nations need to provide adequate resources for the quick evacuation of Christians and other minorities who are in harm’s way.

And funds and supplies need to be massively increased to assist nations – like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – that are being overwhelmed by Iraqi and Syrian refugees.

Finally, the U.S. and other industrial nations need to do their fair share in offering emergency asylum to these poor, frightened refugees.

It would do us all well to seriously reflect on the words of Pope Francis: “War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth.”

Tony Magliano is a syndicated social justice and peace columnist, who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

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