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For Immediate Release From Vatican News!

(A Ten-Minute Read)

Pope Francis Advocates For Inclusion And Dignity For People With Disabilities

Pope Francis addresses the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and emphasises the need for inclusive societies that recognise the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities, denouncing the throwaway culture and advocating for integral inclusion and solidarity. By Francesca Merlo

On the occasion of their plenary assembly, thirty years since its foundation, members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences discussed the theme, "Disability and the Human Condition. Changing the Social Determinants of Disabilities and Building a New Culture of Inclusion”.

"I appreciate the fact that you have chosen this as the theme", Pope Francis said on Thursday, 11 April, as he met with members of the Academy in the Vatican.

"In recent years, the international community has made significant progress in acknowledging the rights of persons with disabilities", said the Pope. He noted, however, that whilst many countries are moving forward in this direction, in others "this acknowledgment is still partial and uncertain". Where progress has been made, he added, we have seen "how individuals can flourish and the seeds can be sown for a more just and solidary society".

The Church’s social teaching is very clear in this regard: “Persons with disabilities are fully human subjects, with rights and duties” and every human being has the right to live with dignity and to develop integrally. “Even if they are unproductive, or were born with or develop limitations, this does not detract from their great dignity as human persons, a dignity based not on circumstances but on the intrinsic worth of their being. Unless this basic principle is upheld, there will be no future either for fraternity or for the survival of humanity”.

Vulnerability and frailty

Pope Francis went on to note that vulnerability and frailty are part of the human condition, and not something proper only to persons with disabilities.

Sadly, however, in various parts of the world many persons and families continue to be isolated and forced to the margins of social life because of disabilities. "This not only in poorer countries", stressed the Pope, "but also in situations of greater prosperity", where, at times, disabilitis are considered a “personal tragedy” and the disabled are “hidden exiles”, treated as foreign bodies in society.

The throwaway Culture

Turning to the concept of the throwaway culture, Pope Francis noted that it truly has no borders. In today's throwaway culture there is what the Pope described as "a less visible but extremely insidious factor that erodes the value of the disabled in the eyes of society and in their own eyes". This, he explained is "the tendency to make individuals view their life as a burden both for themselves and for their loved ones"; the spread of this mentality, he said, "turns the throwaway culture into a culture of death".

A Culture of Inclusion

To combat this throwaway culture, Pope Francis continued, what is necessary is the promotion of a culture of inclusion "by forging and consolidating the bonds of belonging within society". The Holy Father noted that in poorer countries this remains, for the most part, a goal to be achieved and "governments that are committed in this regard must thus be encouraged and supported by the international community". At the same time, he continued, "it is necessary to support the organisations of civil society, since without their networks of solidarity, in many places people would be left to themselves".

Integral Inclusion

Then Pope Francis noted that what is necessary in the development of a culture is integral inclusion. "Subsidiarity and participation are the pillars of effective inclusion", he said,

adding that "in this regard, we can appreciate the importance of associations and movements of disabled persons that work to promote their participation in society".

Bringing his discourse to a close, Pope Francis encouraged those present to continue to recognise that all people are our brothers and sisters, and that "seeking forms of social friendship that include everyone, is not merely utopian."

Finally, he thanked all those present and expressed his gratitude for their "concrete concern" and work in bettering the world for our sisters and brothers with disabilities.

Learn more HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...


Pope Invites Children At Roman Parish To Turn To God In Prayer

Pope Francis inaugurates the "School of Prayer" with children preparing for their First Holy Communion, responding freely to numerous questions, as he encouraged them to embrace their faith, and turn to God in prayer, in the good times and the bad.
By Salvatore Cernuzio and Deborah Castellano Lubov

Turn to God always, and pray to Him even at life's most difficult moments. Thank Him for your faith, and, at all times, for the big and small things, including for what you have to eat.

These were some of the suggestions Pope Francis gave to some 200 children preparing for their First Holy Communion at St. John Maria Vianney Parish on the outskirts of Rome. During the meeting, consisting of an open dialogue between him and the little ones, the Holy Father spent about an hour inaugurating the "School of Prayer."

Thursday's encounter marked the first of a long series of meetings that form part of the Year of Prayer started as a spiritual preparation for the Jubilee Year of 2025.

For these series of meetings, the Pope chose to start with children.

Of the various themes addressed with the children, Pope Francis wanted to emphasize the importance of "saying thank you for everything," to parents, friends, teachers, and catechists, but, first and foremost, "to God."

Pope Francis begins 'School of Prayer' encountering children preparing for Holy Communion

"It is important to say thank you for everything. For example, if you enter someone's house and don't say thank you and then excuse me, or don't greet them, is that nice?" The first word, therefore, the Pope said, is "thank you." In addition to showing gratitude, he reminded them to ask permission when appropriate, and to recognize when to apologize.

"Three words: thank you, excuse me, sorry," he said.

Praying even in the dark moments of life Central to his dialogue with the children was the theme of prayer.

Prayer, the Pope stressed, should never be lacking, even in the "dark moments" of life.

"What are they?" he asked. "When someone dies, when someone faints, when you argue with a friend." The children did not hesitate to respond.

One of the most touching questions was from Alice, who was battling illness herself, who asked, "How can I thank the Lord in illness?"

"Even in dark moments," the Holy Father responded, "we must thank the Lord because He gives us the patience to endure difficulties."

“Even in dark moments, we must thank the Lord because He gives us the patience to endure difficulties.”

"Let's say together," the Pope encouraged, "thank you Lord for giving us the strength to endure pain."
'How do you pray?'
"But do you pray? How do you pray? What can you say to the Lord?" he asked again.

One of the children stood up, remembering that with his family, he always prays before eating.

"He said something important," the Pope said as a response. "But do you know," he asked, "that there are many children who have nothing to eat?"

"Do I thank the Lord for giving me something to eat? Do I thank Him for giving me a family?" he asked them.

“Do I thank the Lord for giving me something to eat? Do I thank Him for giving me a family?”

'Thank you for giving me faith'
The last question touched on the theme of faith.

"Are you Christians?" Pope Francis asked, "do you have faith?"

Read the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...


Pope Francis: ‘Bible Shows Jesus’ Closeness To Suffering Humanity’

Pope Francis meets with members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and encourages biblical scholars to explore Jesus’ example of compassion and inclusion when faced with the suffering of others. By Devin Watkins

The Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded its annual plenary assembly in Rome on Thursday, which focused on the theme of illness and suffering in the Bible.

Pope Francis met with members of the Commission to commend their work to explore this “deeply existential theme” that touches the life of every human person.

“Our wounded nature,” he said, “bears within itself the realities of limitation and finitude, and suffers the contradictions of evil and pain.”

Transforming The ‘Sieve of Suffering’

The Pope said the topic of human suffering and illness is close to his heart, since these issues are “adversaries” that every Christian is called to confront in a humane way.

Rather than avoiding the topic of suffering like a taboo, he said, we should endure trials “by living in relation with others” and allow God to turn “the sieve of suffering” into an opportunity to mature and grow in faith.

Jesus, said Pope Francis, “exhorts us to take care of those living in situations of infirmity, with the determination to defeat illness. At the same time, He gently invites us to join our sufferings to His salvific offer, as a seed that bears fruit.”

Touching Suffering, Not Offering Trite Words

Turning to the theme of compassion, the Pope noted the many Biblical passages in which Jesus is moved by those He meets who are suffering, such as the exhausted crowd which He feeds, the blind who beseech Him, and the many sick people whom He welcomes and heals.

“Jesus does not explain suffering but bends towards those who suffer,” said the Pope. “He does not approach pain with generic encouragement and sterile consolations, but accepts its drama, allowing Himself to be touched by it.”

Sacred Scripture, he added, does not offer us a “recipe book of feelings” or a handbook of prepared phrases to say to people in pain.

As is clear in the book of Job, the Bible “shows us faces, encounters, and concrete stories” that break the mould of “religious theories that link suffering with divine punishment.”

Christ, said the Pope, transformed human suffering by making it His own and offering it to the Father as a “gift of love.”

“Whoever assimilates Sacred Scripture,” he said, “purifies the religious imagination from wrong attitudes, learning to follow the path indicated by Jesus: to physically touch human suffering, with humility, gentleness, and seriousness, in order to bring, in the name of the incarnate God, the closeness of a salvific and concrete support.”

Antidote To Self-Closure In Trials

Pope Francis then turned to the theme of “inclusion,” noting that the term is not found in the Bible but saying it “expresses a prominent trait of Jesus’ style.”

He said the Lord excluded no one from God’s salvation but rather welcomed all and offered everyone “total healing, in body, soul, and spirit.”

“Through the experience of suffering and illness,” said the Pope, “we, as the Church, are called to walk together with everyone, in Christian and human solidarity, opening opportunities for dialogue and hope in the name of common fragility.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis invited the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission to delve into the topic of compassion and inclusion “with critical rigor and fraternal spirit.”

“The Word of God is a powerful antidote to every closure, abstraction, and ideologization of faith,” he concluded. “Understood in the Spirit in which it was written, it increases passion for God and man, ignites charity, and revives apostolic zeal.”

Listen to our report HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...


EU's New Asylum And Migration Pact Disappoints Rights Groups

The European Parliament narrowly approves the wide-reaching reform of the European Union's migration and asylum policy. Aid agencies and human rights activists express disappointment saying it fails to protect those most in need. By Linda Bordoni

The European Parliament’s main political groups overcame opposition from extremist party representatives to pass the new EU Migration and Asylum Pact – a sweeping reform nearly a decade in the making.

In a series of 10 votes on Wednesday, European lawmakers endorsed the regulations and policies that make up the reformed legislation that addresses the questions of who should take responsibility for migrants and asylum seekers when they arrive and whether other EU countries should be obliged to help.

Commenting on the Pact, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner said the bloc “will be able to better protect external borders, the vulnerable and refugees, swiftly return those not eligible to stay” and introduce “mandatory solidarity” between member states that signatories say, will ensure all countries, regardless of their size and location, contribute to alleviating the pressure on Southern Europe.

Rights Groups Disappointed

Voicing disappointment for the new Pact, Caritas Europa notes the new rules rely on a complicated so-called solidarity mechanism where EU member states can literally pay to avoid the relocation of asylum seekers.

Save the Children meanwhile says signatories have ignored the request to prioritise the protection of children and take steps to minimize risks that harm their rights. In fact, the charity says, the Pact will undermine children's and families’

Read the fullarticle HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2...


Solemn Proclamation Of Jubilee Set For Ascension Thursday

Pope Francis is set to preside at the celebration of Holy Mass for the Solemnities of the Ascension, Pentecost, and the Most Holy Trinity, with the latter also being observed as the first World Day of Children. By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis will preside at various liturgical ceremonies in May, the Vatican has revealed, with the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff publishing a renewed calendar for the coming weeks.

On Thursday, 9 May, Pope Francis will celebrate Second Vespers for the Solemnity of the Ascension, during which the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee will be proclaimed and published. The Solemnity commemorates Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven forty days after the Resurrection.

Ten days later, on May 19, Pope Francis will offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost, marking the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

And the following week, for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the Holy Father will once again preside at the Eucharistic Liturgy. The celebration on 26 May will also be observed as the first World Day of Children.

The World Day of Children was suggested by a young boy, 9-year-old Alessandro, during a “Popecast” with the Pope Francs ahead of the most recent WYD, in Lisbon. The suggestion was enthusiastically welcomed by the Pope, who made the official announcement of the initiative in December 2023.

The liturgies of Ascension Thursday and Pentecost will both take place inside St. Peter’s Basilica, while the Mass for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity will be held in St Peter’s Square.

The coming weeks will also see the Pope make a pastoral visit to the Italian city of Venice on 28 April.


Pope Thanks The Papal Foundation For Financial Assistance To Students

Pope Francis expresses his gratitude to The Papal Foundation for its service to the "poor, refugees, and immigrants affected by war and violence,” as the charitable organization announces $14.7 million in grants, scholarships, and humanitarian aid for Catholics worldwide. By Fr. Pawel Rytel-Andrianik

Since its establishment, The Papal Foundation has acted as a vehicle of Easter joy by bringing Jesus’ closeness, compassion, and tenderness to people around the world.

Pope Francis expressed his appreciation for the US-based Catholic charitable organization’s work during an audience in the Vatican on Friday.

"Your support of various educational, charitable, and apostolic projects enhances the integral development of so many people, including the poor, refugees, immigrants, and nowadays the increasingly large numbers of those affected by war and violence," said the Pope.

The Holy Father emphasized The Papal Foundation's transformative impact on many individuals, particularly students who have received scholarships from the John Paul II Scholarship Fund set up by the foundation.

Pope Francis said “the scholarships provided to the laity, consecrated religious, seminarians and priests from developing nations enable them to pursue studies at Pontifical Universities in Rome and equip their recipients to bear witness to the Gospel more effectively both in their home countries and beyond."

The Papal Foundation Stewards With Recipients Of The John Paul II Scholarship Fund

So far, 1,700 people have studied at Pontifical Universities in Rome with the financial assistance of study grants from The Papal Foundation.

Addressing some 140 members of the organization present in Rome, the Pope said, "You continue to help the Successors of Peter build up many local Churches and care for large numbers of the less fortunate, thus fulfilling the mandates entrusted to the Apostle by our Lord. For all of your generosity, I offer my warmest thanks. Thank you very much!"

Pope Francis also stressed that "the programs of The Papal Foundation foster a spiritual and fraternal bond with people from many different cultures, languages, and regions who receive assistance."

"Your service is all the more necessary in our time, marked by individualism and indifference," he concluded.


Pope: Like our cities, we build future with an eye to the past
Meeting with members of the Spanish World Heritage Cities Group, Pope Francis says people build their cities and cultures by mixing faith in God with their historical situations. By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis held an audience on Saturday with members of the Spanish World Heritage Cities Group, which was set up in 1993 to defend their cities’ historic and cultural heritage.

Welcoming the representatives of various Spanish cities to Vatican City State, the Pope said the world’s smallest state preserves a rich heritage, as does the cities of which they serve as guardians.

In his prepared remarks, he noted that humanity’s desire to protect its cultural heritage should encompass both the artistic-cultural field and the “integrity of the person who receives this legacy and of the peoples who have transmitted it to us.”

“Historical situations – with their lights and shadows,” he said, “speak to us of real men and women, of genuine feelings, which should be lessons of life for us, rather than of pieces in a museum.”

Learning Lessons Of The Past

Pope Francis prayed that God might help the guardians of the cultural heritage of Spain’s cities transmit their beauty and the “faith, hope, and charity of your people.”

“It is the sufferings and aspirations of the people who over time have built their cities, the mixing of cultures and civilizations that have followed one another in them, and naturally their faith in God, that make their hearts beat with passion,” he said.

Cities and their cultural monuments invite residents and visitors alike to reflect on the strength and prudence of those who built them.

“May they feel challenged by the lesson of justice and temperance that each historical situation encompasses,” he said.

Striving Toward The Future

Instead of leaving the past locked in a museum, the heritage of cities should help people today to build a better future.

“We will thus speak of peoples, of persons, of a history that is not merely contemplated, but realized, with one eye on the past and the other on the future, to always have our hands in the present that questions us every day.”

Listen to our report HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...


The Invisible and Indelible Wounds Of War

Dr. Richard Mollica, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, shares with Vatican Media his decades of experience in assisting trauma survivors as they and their families seek healing from the hidden wounds of war. By Alessandro Gisotti

In 1981, a young Italian-American psychiatrist founded the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, in Boston, a pioneering programme on the mental health care of survivors of mass violence and torture. More than 40 years later, Dr. Richard F. Mollica and his team of experts are committed to helping victims of the most brutal violence cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

From Cambodia to Lebanon, from former Yugoslavia to Rwanda, from East Timor to Afghanistan, Dr. Mollica has assisted women, men and children traumatised by violence, fear and tragic events, an experience which he narrates in his book entitled, “Healing Invisible Wounds. Path to Hope and Recovery in a Violent World”.

He is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, and one of the world’s leading experts in the research and treatment of serious mental disorders.

In the following interview with Vatican Media, he speaks about the damaging consequences of war on individuals and communities.

Although the wounds are indelible, the Harvard psychiatrist explains that with patient work, acceptance, listening and empathy, one can regain the joy of life and hope for the future.

Q: In March 2022, one month after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the scientific review “The Lancet” wrote that, after the deaths, the greatest harm to the population is post-traumatic stress, which will last long after the end of the conflict. Are these wounds invisible yet indelible?

The wounds of mass violence are enormous and their impact on the health and mental health of a trauma survivor can last a lifetime. Numerous scientific studies over the past 50 years have shown that the prevalence of mental health problems in conflict-affected civilian and refugee populations can be high. Almost all citizens in a war zone experience massive anxiety, sadness, and distress.

Special attention needs to be given to children and adolescents. In the conflicts of mass violence that exist today, children and adolescents are deeply affected by violence including physical harm, death of loved ones, and forced displacement. In Ukraine, where we are introducing a trauma-informed care approach in collaboration with Ukrainian educators, over 50% of the displaced students who entered the school educational program had moderate to severe anxiety, fear, and depression.

Fifty years ago, European and American psychiatry believed that survivors who had experienced extreme violence were incurable and would not benefit from mental health care. After five decades of research and clinical care, this early belief that the invisible wounds of mass violence are indelible have proven to be false. Deep listening to the trauma story of survivors — adults, teens, and children — is a central core of effective mental health care. Creating a safe and secure space and home life, especially for children, is essential.

Q: What is the pivotal point in this difficult healing process?

Learning to control and regulate empathy is critical. Too much empathy can cause emotional distress in the listener/healer; too little empathy can cause a poor relationship. Teaching the survivor the use of deep breathing when anxious and distressed is one of the most valuable of all healing instruments.

In line with Pope Francis’s thinking, spirituality, prayer and ritual, including connecting with nature, green space, and animals, can be very therapeutic. In our clinic and in Ukraine schools, we recommend that all patients and students carry an image of an animal they love. For many religious people it can be an image of a religious symbol such as the white dove of the Holy Spirit for Catholics. In our research the major factors associated with self-healing—altruism, work/study, social connections, and spirituality—need to be supported and even put into a medical prescription.

Finally, storytelling and comforting activities need to be encouraged, not only with parents and children, but also with teachers and health practitioners. The caretakers

Read the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2...


Cardinal Gregory sees ‘Dignitas infinita’ as balanced, challenging document
US Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., speaks with Vatican News about human dignity, the National Eucharistic Revival, and the Synod on Synodality. By Christopher Wells

Dignitas infinita (DI) https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congreg... the Vatican’s new Declaration on human dignity, is “probably the most comprehensive summary” of Church teaching on the topic “that could be issued at this time,” says Cardinal Wilton Gregory.

The Archbishop of Washington, D.C., spoke with Vatican News during a visit to Rome for The Papal Foundation Board Meeting and the Rector’s Dinner at the Pontifical North American College, where he will receive the “Rector’s Award.”

Asked about the issues raised by DI, Cardinal Gregory acknowledged that the document touched on a number of “hot-button” issues and has sparked controversy on various sides. “But if you take the document as a whole,” he says, “it’s not a document about one specific issue beyond the fact that it treats human individuals, human people, as dignified in a way that is irreplaceable, that we never lose the dignity that God entrusts to us as He creates us.”

He notes that the Declaration is “humble in its context, but also very, very deeply rooted in Catholic moral and anthropological teachings.

A Challenging Document

At the same time, Cardinal Gregory says he thinks DI will be a “challenge” for people. “Everyone – maybe that’s an overstatement – people will probably find something that they agree wholeheartedly with, and something that they will have to think about.”

“And to be perfectly honest,” he adds, “I think that’s the sign of a successful document. It affirms that which you understand, accept, hold and cling to, but it also stretches you to consider other dimensions of our ecclesial life, of our social life, that may pose a challenge.”

Using the example of the death penalty, Cardinal Gregory notes that the Church as “continually strengthened its opposition to capital punishment,” moving towards the position that it is never really justified. “And for a number of people, that’s going to be an issue,” the Cardinal says, while emphasizing that DI insists that even people who have committed heinous crimes “have not lost the dignity that they had from the day of their conception.”

Issues of Critical Importance

Cardinal Gregory went on to highlight a number of issues of critical importance to his own Archdiocese of Washington, notably the treatment of LGBTQ+ people and individuals concerned about their gender identity.

“The document has to both recognize their human dignity, but also call them to accept and realize the fact that God has given them the dignity of an identity in their creation,” he says.

The Cardinal also calls attention to the “dignity of our migrant community.” Sometimes, he says, migrants “are being denigrated” by those who have “very strong feelings” about immigration, while at the same time, questions are raised about how to “admit and respect people who come to our borders looking for the same life advantages” that the ancestors of current residents sought when they came to America in the past.

“So those issues are going to be of critical importance,” Cardinal Gregory says.

Who We Are As A Eucharistic People

Asked about the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival in the United States, Cardinal Gregory says the US Bishops were motivated in part by an understanding that some of the Church’s teachings about the Eucharist “have not been passed on effectively to a new generation.”

Read the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/...

VISIT: https://www.vaticannews.va/en.html

Posted By: agnes levine
Monday, April 15th 2024 at 1:46PM
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