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Speakers decry detention for vulnerable migrant, refugee children

February 24th, 2018 Posted in International News Tags: ,


Catholic News Service

UNITED NATIONS — Migration is not a crime and vulnerable migrant and refugee children should not be detained as if they were criminals, speakers said at a U.N. program Feb. 21.

At issue is the treatment of children who cross international borders with or without family members. According to international law, they are entitled to due process in the assessment of their legal status, entry and stay in the receiving country.

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To fight hunger and forced migration, end war, arms trade, pope says on World Food Day


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — It makes no sense to lament the problems of hunger and forced migration if one is unwilling to address their root causes, which are conflict and climate change, Pope Francis said.

“War and climate change lead to hunger; therefore, let’s avoid presenting it as if it were an incurable disease,” and instead implement laws, economic policies, lifestyle changes and attitudes that prevent the problems in the first place, he told world leaders at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Pope Francis is pictured next to a statue of Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in September 2015 while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. During a visit to the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization Oct. 16, the pope presented the marble statue as a gift to the organization. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

Pope Francis received a standing ovation after he addressed the assembly at FAO’s Rome headquarters to mark World Food Day Oct. 16, the date the organization was founded in 1945 to address the causes of poverty and hunger. The FAO was holding a conference on the theme “Changing the future of migration.”

Food insecurity is linked to forced migration, the pope said, and the two can be addressed only “if we go to the root of the problem” — conflict and climate change.

International law already has all the instruments and means in place to prevent and quickly end the conflicts that tear communities and countries apart, and trigger hunger, malnutrition and migration, he said.

“Goodwill and dialogue are needed to stop conflicts,” he said, “and it is necessary to fully commit to gradual and systematic disarmament” as well as stop the “terrible plague of arms trafficking.”

“What good is denouncing that millions of people are victims of hunger and malnutrition because of conflicts if one then does not effectively work for peace and disarmament?” he asked.

As for climate change, he said, scientists know what needs to be done and the international instruments, like the Paris Agreement, are already available.

Without specifying which nations, the pope said, unfortunately “some are backing away” from the agreement. U.S. President Donald Trump announced in June that the United States would withdraw from the accord as a way to help the U.S. economy.

“We cannot resign ourselves to saying, ‘Someone else will do it,’” he said. Everyone is called to adopt and promote changes in lifestyle, in the way resources are used and in production and consumption, particularly when it comes to food, which is increasingly wasted.

Some people believe reducing the number of mouths to feed would solve the problem of food insecurity, but, the pope said, this is “a false solution” given the enormous waste and overconsumption in the world.

“Cutting back is easy,” he said, but “sharing requires conversion and this is demanding.”

“We cannot act only if others are doing it or limit ourselves to having pity because pity doesn’t go beyond emergency aid,” the pope said.

International organizations, leaders and individuals need to act out of real love and mercy toward others, particularly the most vulnerable, in order to create a world based on true justice and solidarity.

Arriving at the FAO headquarters, Pope Francis presented a gift of a statue depicting the tragic death of Alan Kurdi (also known as Aylan), the 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on the shore of Turkey when a small inflatable boat holding a dozen refugees capsized in 2015. The statue, made of pure white Carrara marble, depicts a child-like angel weeping over the boy’s lifeless body.

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Vatican calls any nuclear threat against North Korea ‘deplorable’


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Holy See ratified and signed the new U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the high-level Vatican diplomat who signed the treaty told a U.N. conference that the Catholic Church supports efforts “to move progressively toward a world free of nuclear weapons.”

North Koreans watch a news report of an intermediate-range ballistic missile launch on a big screen at Pyongyang station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Aug. 30. (CNS photo/Kyodo via Reuters)

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations Sept. 20. More than 40 other countries signed it as well. The treat would enter into force 90 days after at least 50 countries both sign and ratify it.

Also at the United Nations, Archbishop Gallagher addressed the 10th Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a treaty the Vatican adhered to in 1996. The text of his speech was released at the Vatican Sept. 21.

The Vatican, he said, believes “a nuclear test ban, nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are closely linked and must be achieved as quickly as possible under effective international control.”

But delays in getting eight more countries to ratify the treaty mean that it still has not entered into force. “Two decades without the treaty’s entry into force have been two decades lost in our common goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” Archbishop Gallagher said.

The treaty, he said, “is all the more urgent when one considers contemporary threats to peace, from the continuing challenges of nuclear proliferation to the major new modernization programs of some of the nuclear weapons states.”

“The rising tensions over North Korea’s growing nuclear program are of special urgency,” he said. “The international community must respond by seeking to revive negotiations. The threat or use of military force have no place in countering proliferation, and the threat or use of nuclear weapons in countering nuclear proliferation are deplorable.”

“Nuclear arms offer a false sense of security,” the archbishop said. “Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of annihilation.”

The new treaty signed by the Vatican bans testing, but also bans efforts to develop, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The United States and other countries possessing nuclear weapons did not take part in the negotiations and do not plan to sign the treaty.

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Have you heard? A U.N. treaty, backed by Vatican and U.S. bishops, has banned nuclear weapons


Catholic News Service

The passage of a United Nations treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons comes at a time when the majority of world’s nations are frustrated with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

Even with such a pact, years in the making, there is no timeline for total disarmament, arms control experts told Catholic News Service. Read more »

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U.N. must help limit weapons of mass destruction, Vatican diplomat says



UNITED NATIONS — Citing the words of Pope Francis, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations said it is necessary to boost cooperation among nations to end the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially among terrorist organizations.

An aide carries a case containing launch codes for nuclear weapons in Washington while following President Donald Trump before his departure to Camp David June 17. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters)

An aide carries a case containing launch codes for nuclear weapons in Washington while following President Donald Trump before his departure to Camp David June 17. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters)

Archbishop Bernardito Auza told an open debate during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council June 28 that efforts to increase coordination nationally, regionally and internationally must be strengthened so that the number of such weapons declines.

“The proliferation of weapons, both conventional and of mass destruction, aggravates situations of conflict and result in huge human and material costs that profoundly undermine development and the search for lasting peace,” Archbishop Auza told the council.

He quoted Pope Francis’ statements on the contradiction between efforts to seek peace and “at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade.” The diplomat said nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament are key to global security and to achieving the world body’s sustainable development goals.

The statement to the U.N. said that nations must overcome differences and find political solutions to prevent the involvement of nonstate actors in wars and regional conflicts.

“Without this, the human cost of wars and conflicts will continue to grow and the proliferation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, along with their delivery systems and the risk of their use by states or terrorist groups will remain very clear and present dangers,” Archbishop Auza said.

Bolivia introduced the topic for the Security Council debate. It came in response to unanimous adoption Dec. 15 of a council resolution calling for a framework to keep terrorists and their organizations, which the U.N. terms nonstate actors,” from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

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Pope: U.S., North Korea need diplomatic solution to escalating tensions


Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM CAIRO — A diplomatic solution must be found to the escalating tension between North Korea and the United States, Pope Francis told journalists.

“The path (to take) is the path of negotiation, the path of a diplomatic solution,” he said when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to send Navy warships to the region in response to North Korea’s continued missile tests and threats to launch nuclear strikes against South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Pope Francis listens to a question from Vera Shcherbakova of the Itar-Tass news agency while talking with journalists aboard his flight from Cairo to Rome April 29. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis listens to a question from Vera Shcherbakova of the Itar-Tass news agency while talking with journalists aboard his flight from Cairo to Rome April 29. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“What do you say to these leaders who hold responsibility for the future of humanity,” the pope was asked, during a Q-and-A with journalists on the flight to Rome April 29 after a 27-hour trip to Cairo.

“I will call on them. I’m going to call on them like I have called on the leaders of different places,” he said.

There are many facilitators and mediators around the world who are “always ready to help” with negotiations, the pope said.

The situation in North Korea, he added, has been heated for a long time, “but now it seems it has heated up too much, no?”

“I always call (for) resolving problems through the diplomatic path, negotiations” because the future of humanity depends on it, he said.

Pope Francis said his contention that the Third World War already is underway and is being fought “piecemeal” also can be seen in places where there are internal conflicts like in the Middle East, Yemen and parts of Africa.

“Let’s stop. Let’s look for a diplomatic solution,” he said. “And there, I believe that the United Nations has a duty to regain its leadership (role) a bit because it has been watered down.”

When asked if he would want to meet with President Trump when the U.S. leader is in Italy in late May, the pope said, “I have not been informed yet by the (Vatican) secretary of state about a request being made.”

But he added, “I receive every head of state who asks for an audience.”

A journalist with German media asked the pope about the controversy he sparked April 22 for saying some refugee camps are like concentration camps.

“For us Germans obviously that is a very, very serious term. People say it was a slip of the tongue. What did you want to say?” the reporter asked.

“No, it was not a slip of the tongue,” Pope Francis said, adding that there are some refugee camps in the world, but definitely not in Germany, that “are real concentration camps.”

When centers are built to lock people up, where there is nothing to do and they can’t leave, that is a “lager,” he said, referring to the German word for concentration camps.

Another reporter asked how people should interpret his speeches to government officials when he calls on them to support peace, harmony and equality for all citizens, and whether it reflected him supporting that government.

The pope said that with all 18 trips he has taken to various countries during his pontificate, he always hears the same concern.

However, when it comes to local politics, “I do not get involved,” he said.

“I talk about values,” he said, and then it is up to each individual to look and judge whether this particular government or nation or person is “delivering these values.”

When asked if he had had a chance to run off to see the pyramids, the pope said, “Well, you know that today at six in this morning two of my assistants went to see” them.

When asked if he wished he had gone with them, too, the pope said, “Ah, yes.”

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


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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U.N. Refugee Olympic team: A victory cheer for all refugees


Catholic News Service

RIO DE JANEIRO — Glued to the improvised screen set up on the patio of the Caritas house, the refugees yelled and they cried. But most of all, they cheered. They cheered for their two Congolese colleagues, Popole Misenga, 24, and Yolande Mabika, 28, who were competing in judo as part of the United Nations’ Refugee Olympic team. Read more »

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Commentary: Pope Francis spoke truth to Congress and United Nations


As the first pope in history to address a joint meeting of Congress, Pope Francis, defended the human right of masses of oppressed and poor people to immigrate. Read more »

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Chinese Catholics in New York protest Xi, welcome pope


Chinese Catholics in the United States planned to protest outside the Chinese consulate in New York Sept. 22, the first day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s U.S. visit.

UCanews.com reported that the immigrants, who live in New York, said they are discontent with the deteriorating religious situation in China.

“Our action is to show our solidarity to the Christian brothers and sisters in China,” Xu Kewang, one of the Chinese Catholics, told ucanews.com.

More than 1,200 church crosses had been removed in Zhejiang since late 2013. Though the cross-removal campaign shows signs of easing, provincial authorities have begun a crackdown on lawyers and church leaders seeking to put a stop to the campaign through legal means.

At the same time, authorities want to introduce administrative punishments for so-called offenses carried out by Christians in Zhejiang, where there are an estimated 2 million Catholics.

The Chinese immigrants have prepared placards demanding the “release of detained clergy,” and an end to religious persecution.

“Our protesting group is just a small one because some Chinese parishioners are timid. They fear retaliation when they return to China,” Xu said.

Besides Xu and his fellow parishioners, other concerned groups are also pressuring the U.S. government to address China’s crackdown on human rights activists and lawyers and political prisoners, including Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding.

The Catholic bishop, who has been missing since 1997, is one of the 20 dissidents and religious figures featured in the “Free China’s Heroes” campaign spearheaded by Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, head of the U.S. congressional commission on China.

At least 1,300 political and religious prisoners are believed to be detained in China, according to a database compiled by the commission.

Xu also told ucanews.com he and the other Chinese Catholics will greet Pope Francis during the pontiff’s Sept. 24-25 visit to New York.

“We are happy to have the chance to see the pope. But we will not make an appeal to him. It is not necessary. We know he is concerned about China,” Xu said.

Pope Francis was to arrive in Washington Sept. 22 after his visit to Cuba. He will arrive in New York Sept. 24 just as Xi arrives in Washington from Seattle. Both men are expected to address the United Nations’ 70th General Assembly in New York, but on different days.

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