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Poverty, violence hinder progress for many women, says nuncio at U.N.

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UNITED NATIONS — Conditions in many parts of the world force women and girls to bear the burden of carrying out everyday chores for their families and communities, keeping many of them from getting even a basic education, the Vatican’s U.N. nuncio said Oct. 6.

A Palestinian woman harvests wheat by hand on a farm near Salfit, West Bank, in 2016. Education is essential in enabling women in every country “to become dignified agents of their own development,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations Oct. 6 at U.N. headquarters in New York. (CNS photo/Alaa Badrneh, EPA)

Females are often the victims of sexual and other violence, which prevents them from improving life for themselves and their families, said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations. Migrant women and girls are particularly vulnerable to these situations, he added.

He addressed the issue of women’s advancement during a session at the United Nations of the Third Committee, which focuses on social, humanitarian and cultural issues.

“Young women in rural areas are disproportionately involved in unpaid domestic work and especially bear the greatest burden when access to clean water and sanitation is not readily available,” Archbishop Auza said. “They are forced to spend considerable time and effort collecting water for the community, and in doing so, their access to basic education is often thwarted, not to mention that, in many isolated places, they are also exposed to risks of violence.”

Failure to achieve “that basic human right” of universal access to safe drinkable water “can undermine other human rights, as it is a prerequisite for their realization,” he said.

Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si’” points to “the abandonment and neglect … experienced by some rural populations which lack access to essential services,” Archbishop Auza said, quoting the document. In many areas, the pope noted, “some workers are reduced to conditions of servitude, without rights or even the hope of a more dignified life.”

Women and girls often bear “the heaviest burden from these deprivations,” the archbishop said.

Regarding education, “significant progress has been made toward parity between boys and girls from families of relative wealth or decent economic standing,” the archbishop said, but women and girls who live in poverty lack schooling, literacy skills and opportunities for adult education.

Adolescent girls “are at the greatest risk of exclusion from education due to social and economic hardships,” Archbishop Auza said. “Whenever young women and girls do not have access to education, they are hindered from becoming dignified agents of their own development.”

To change this reality, the “basic material needs of every school-age girl living in rural areas must be addressed,” Archbishop Auza said. One initiative that has “proven efficient,” he said, is providing school meals to reduce girls’ absenteeism. Such efforts should be encouraged “to guarantee access to education to each and every girl,” he added.

A current partnership between local farmers, including women, and the World Food Program of the United Nations to provide “homegrown school meals” in 37 countries is “a hopeful example,” Archbishop Auza said. The effort “attends to the needs of girls and boys, fosters education and increases market access for women, all at the same time,” he said.

Based in Rome, the World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. It provides food aid to an average of 80 million people in 76 countries each year.

Addressing the violence women and girls face, Archbishop Auza again quoted Pope Francis in saying that eliminating violence is impossible “until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed.”

“Through poverty and exclusion, adolescent girls, especially those in rural areas, also experience heightened vulnerability to sexual exploitation, child marriage and other unacceptable forms of violence,” the archbishop said. “The horrifying prevalence of violence against women, thus, remains a salient and sad example of the deep connection between economic exclusion and violence.”

Archbishop Auza also discussed the current global migration crisis and its effect on migrant women and girls in particular, reminding the global community it has a responsibility “to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate” migrants and refugees.

“Millions of women and girls are fleeing violent conflicts or extreme poverty only to find themselves exploited by traffickers and manipulators along perilous routes and even in host communities,” the archbishop said.

The Vatican’s U.N. delegation, he said, “strongly supports the international community in its efforts to raise awareness and take concrete steps to prevent the abhorrent phenomenon of violence perpetrated against migrant women and girls.”

“Women often heroically defend and protect their families, sacrificing much to achieve a better life for themselves and their children,” Archbishop Auza said. “They deserve to be assisted and supported in order to realize their legitimate aspirations to a better life for themselves and for their loved ones.”

He said the Vatican “remains strongly committed” to endeavors aimed “at truly protecting women’s dignity, while promoting their integral development and advancement within the family and society.”

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Poverty, inequality in Latin America at crisis levels, Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Latin America’s traditional social values of cooperation and solidarity must prevail over the societal ills that threaten the livelihood of the region’s inhabitants, Pope Francis said.

A woman begs for money in Guatemala City in this 2011 file photo. (CNS photo/Saul Martinez)

A woman begs for money in Guatemala City in this 2011 file photo. (CNS photo/Saul Martinez)

The current social and economic crisis facing Latin American countries has allowed for the “growth of poverty, unemployment, social inequality” and a situation in which the planet, “our common home, is exploited and abused,” the pope said June 30.

“This is at a level that we never would have imagined 10 years ago. In the face of this situation, an analysis is needed that takes into account the reality of concrete people, the reality of our people,” he told members of the Italian-Latin American International Organization.

Founded in 1966, the international organization seeks to increase “economic, social, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation” between Latin American countries and Italy, according to the group’s website.

Its 21 member states are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Commemorating the organization’s 50th anniversary, the pope said that to achieve the goal of promoting development and cooperation, the organization must first identify the potential of Latin American countries, who are “rich in history, culture, natural resources” and “good and caring” people.

“This has been proven in the face of recent natural disasters in how they have helped each other, becoming an example for the entire international community,” he said. “All these social values are there, but they have to be appreciated in order to be empowered.”

The Italian-Latin American International Organization, he continued, also must “coordinate efforts” to respond to the challenges facing Latin American countries, and particularly the challenge of migration.

Migration has increased “in a way never before seen,” the pope said, and many of those on the move in a search for a better life “suffer the violation of their rights,” he said. The risks are especially high for children and young adults who are victims of trafficking or “fall into the networks of criminality and organized crime.”

“A joint cooperation policy needs to be developed in order to address this issue,” he said. “It isn’t about looking for those who are guilty and avoid responsibility, but rather that we all are called to work in a coordinated manner.”

Pope Francis said that by promoting a “culture of dialogue” in politics, the Italian-Latin American International Organization can foster an atmosphere that allows for the exchange of ideas and concerns for the good of all people.

“It is a mutual exchange of trust which knows that on the other side there is a brother or sister with a hand outstretched to help, who desires the good of both parties and wants to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and friendship to advance along the paths of justice and peace,” he said.

 

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Vatican’s U.N. nuncio urges action on poverty beyond economics

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UNITED NATIONS — Saying poverty is the greatest challenge facing humanity, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations called on nations to seek solutions to poverty not only based on economics but to also address personal, social and environmental factors that contribute to it.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza said that the world must also end conflicts and violence, which are major contributors to poverty. He made the comments during a presentation Feb. 6 to a meeting of the U.N. Commission for Social Development. Read more »

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True Christian charity is more than just making donations, pope says

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Catholic News Service

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While donation campaigns and charitable contributions for the needy are important, true Christian charity involves a more personal touch, Pope Francis said.

Coming face to face with the poor may pose a challenge and tempt people to turn the other way and give in to “the habit of fleeing from needy people and not approach them or disguise a bit the reality of the needy,” the pope said Oct. 19 during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Hearing both the cry of the earth and cry of the poor

June 25th, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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The “green” encyclical has arrived. It’s courageous, it’s prophetic, it’s challenging, it’s holistic, it’s wonderful. That’s what I think of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home.”

“St. Francis of Assisi reminds us,” writes the pope, “that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. … Read more »

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Pope Francis: If being rich in faith, doesn’t impact your wallet, ‘it is not genuine faith’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Focusing on poverty and sacrificing for the poor are the heart of the Gospel, not signs of communism, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.

A Roma boy sits in the backyard of a house in Gyongyospata, Hungary, March 24. Pope Francis said focusing on poverty and sacrificing for the poor are the heart of the Gospel, not signs of communism. (CNS photo/Zoltan Balogh, EPA)

A Roma boy sits in the backyard of a house in Gyongyospata, Hungary, March 24. Pope Francis said focusing on poverty and sacrificing for the poor are the heart of the Gospel, not signs of communism. (CNS photo/Zoltan Balogh, EPA)

Furthermore, if Christians don’t dig deep and generously open up their wallets, they do not have “genuine faith,” the pope said June 16 during the Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta.

He said people often hear, “Oh, this priest speaks about poverty too much, this bishop talks about poverty, this Christian, this sister talk about poverty. Well, they’re a bit communist, aren’t they?”

But “poverty is precisely at the heart of the Gospel. If we were to remove poverty from the Gospel, people would understand nothing about Jesus’ message,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Being fully Christian means being rich in spirit, faith, the Word, wisdom and zeal, things that Jesus has taught and offered all people, he said.

Make sure, however, that this huge amount of “wealth in the heart” also impacts the wallet, he said, because “when the faith doesn’t reach your pockets, it is not a genuine faith.”

Pope Francis said the “theology of poverty” is based on the fact that Jesus, in his divine richness, became poor; he lowered himself and sacrificed himself to save humanity.

The Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” means “letting oneself be enriched by the poverty of Christ and not wanting to be rich with those riches that are not from Christ,” he said.

Christian giving goes beyond plain charity, which is good, but isn’t the “Christian poverty” believers are called to embrace, he said. “Christian poverty is: I give to the poor what is mine, not the excess, but also what is necessary” for one’s own well-being.

Christians do this because they know that sacrificing in such a way enriches them, he said. “And why does the poor person enrich me? Because Jesus said that he himself is in the poor.”

When people strip themselves of the material, “Jesus works within” them and they are enriched; when people give to the poor, Jesus is also working in the poor, “in order to enrich me when I do this,” the pope said.

The clearest sign Jesus left of how giving enriches others, the pope said, is the gift of himself in the Eucharist. “He becomes ‘bread’ for us.”

That is why the “theology of poverty” is the heart of the Gospel and not “an ideology. It is precisely this mystery, the mystery of Christ who lowered himself, was humiliated, made himself poor in order to enrich us.”

 

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Use Lent to snap out of apathy to sin, poverty, indifference to God, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Lent is a time to shed lazy, un-Christian habits and snap out of one’s apathy toward people harmed by violence, poverty and not having God in their lives, Pope Francis said.

Lent is time to “change course, to recover the ability to respond to the reality of evil that always challenges us,” he said during his weekly general audience March 5, Ash Wednesday.

Pope Francis receives ashes from Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome March 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope’s catechesis focused on the meaning of Lent, which, beginning Ash Wednesday for Latin-rite Catholics, marks a 40-day period of penance, prayer and conversion “in preparation for the church’s annual celebration of the saving mysteries of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection,” he said.

Later in the evening, Pope Francis was scheduled to lead a traditional Ash Wednesday procession from Rome’s Basilica of St. Anselm to the Basilica of Santa Sabina for Mass and the imposition of ashes.

At his morning audience, he explained that Lent is a time for “a turnaround,” to convert and change for the better.

“All of us need to improve,” he said, and “Lent helps us. And that way we get out of our tired routine and the lazy addiction to evil that tempts us.”

Lent calls people to live more fully their Baptism, which brings new life, he said. “It invites us to not get used to the situations of degradation and misery that we encounter as we walk along the streets of our cities and towns.

“There’s the risk of passively accepting certain behaviors and to not be astonished by the sad situations around us,” he said. “We get used to violence, as if it were everyday news taken for granted; we get used to our brothers and sisters who sleep on the streets, who don’t have a roof over their heads. We get used to refugees seeking freedom and dignity who aren’t welcomed as they should be.”

People also get too used to living in a culture or society that pretends it can do without God, and where parents, grandparents and adults no longer teach children how to pray, he said.

“I want to ask: Your children, your kids, do they know how to make the sign of the cross?” he asked the crowd in St. Peter’s Square. “Do they know how to pray the Our Father, to pray to Our Lady with the Hail Mary?”

He asked that people “think about it and answer in your heart.”

Christians need to overcome their indifference, “this addiction to un-Christian and easy-way-out behaviors that drug our hearts,” he said.

Lent is a time to reflect on and be awed by what Christ did for our salvation and to prepare “our mind and our heart for an attitude of gratitude toward God, for all he has given us,” the pope said, because “when we see this love that God has for us, we feel the urge to get closer to him and this is conversion.”

Summing up, the pope said the “essential elements for living the Lenten season are: giving God thanks for the mystery of his crucified love; authentic faith; conversion; and opening our heart to our brothers and sisters.”

 

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