Pope Francis backs International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

(Vatican Radio) During the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded the crowds that on Tuesday, 17th October, we mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty .
It’s an occurrence that was established 25 years ago by the UN and it continues to challenge leaders and policymakers to put in place appropriate social protection systems and measures that cover everybody, especially the most vulnerable.
In his address on Sunday, Pope Francis said “poverty has nothing to do with fatality: it stems from causes that must be recognized and removed”.
One organization that is marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is Caritas Europa with a call to leaders to ensure that no one is left under the poverty line.
Shannon Pfohman , Policy and Advocacy Director of Caritas Europa told Linda Bordoni why it is important to mark a day such as this in 2017 and about how she is looking forward to the establishment by Pope Francis, on November 19th, of the World Day of the Poor.
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Shannon Pfohman explains that a Day such as this is an important awareness raising event, globally, because the scourge of poverty is still of enormous proportions.
She says that “despite the European Union’s efforts to tackle poverty starting with the 2020 European Strategy Goals which including a target to diminish the number of people in poverty, little has improved” for a number of reasons.
“So today it is an important day to remind policy makers and world leaders of the importance to focus attention on the situation of poverty today” she said.
Caritas Europa has issued a statement entitled ‘Let’s make poverty history by 2030!”. Pfohman explains that this is related to the Sustainable Development goals adopted by the UN and it refers to the Agenda 2030. 
“We are now hoping that this agenda will contribute to ending poverty because the first goal of the SDGs is to end poverty and it has a number of different targets that governments are supposed to adopt and incorporate in their National Plan in order to meet this – and other goals – by 2030” she said.

Poverty in Europe
Although the European continent is home to many of the world’s richest nations, it is by no mean free from the scourge of poverty. Pfohman said that there are different understandings of what we mean when we speak of poverty: “Pope Francis often refers to material and spiritual poverty”.
For the European Commission, poverty is measured, Pfohman explained, by considering three main elements linked to income, to social exclusion and material deprivation and to very low work intensity.
“Every fourth person in the EU is experiencing at least one of these three forms of poverty or social exclusion” she said.
Pope Francis
Pfohman speaks of the boost organizations such as Caritas receive from the Pope.
“Pope Francis and the Catholic Social Teaching is the basis for our advocacy message and having a strong speaker like the Pope makes our message louder and heard more globally” she said.
World Day of the Poor
Looking ahead to the near future she said: “We look forward to him introducing the World Day of the Poor on November 19th which will be an attempt to look at the many forms of material and spiritual poverty that poison people’s hearts and harm their dignity”.
Pfohman also said the Pope will be making an appeal to society in the week before November 19th to focus on the globalization of indifference and to put our beliefs into action: “as Pope Francis says we are not talking about statistics, we are talking about people”.
Recommendations for European Governments
Pfohman also speaks about the work Caritas Europa is doing and says that one of the suggestions for improvement is very much linked to the need for European Governments to revise their social protection system.
In this regard, she said, Caritas has a number of recommendations, the first of which sees the family as a vital cell of society and as a safety net: “We wish to ensure the right to family life by promoting a series of family oriented policies”.
The second recommendation, she continued, regards fostering inclusive labour markets and recognizing the value of work and people’s contribution to society.
The third, regards the revamping of “the social protection system to ensure comprehensive national social provision coverage to meet the needs of all persons residing in the country”.
Pfohman says Caritas has numerous other recommendations but she highlights that at Caritas they are also hopeful that the European Pillar of Social Rights which should be proclaimed on November 17th at the EU Social Summit “will be another support for member States in their effort to tackle poverty and social exclusion throughout Europe”.       
      
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope Francis at Santa Marta: on the folly of hard-hearted Christians

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday – the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch , Bishop and Martyr. Following the Readings of the Day, the Holy Father reflected on the “foolishness” of those, who are unable to hear the Word of God, preferring appearances, idols, or ideologies – like the people of Jerusalem, whose faithlessness caused Our Lord to weep nostalgic tears.
The folly of those who hear not the Word
Francis’ reflection took  the word “fools”, which appears twice in the Readings, as his starting point: Jesus says it to the Pharisees (Lk 11: 37-41), while St. Paul refers to the Pagans (Rm 1: 16-25). St. Paul had also deployed the term to refer to the Christians of Galatia, whom he called “fools” because they let themselves be duped by “new ideas”. This word, “more than a condemnation,” explained Pope Francis, “is a signal,” for it shows the way of foolishness leading to corruption. “These three groups of fools are corrupt,” Pope Francis said.
Click below to hear our report

Jesus told the Doctors of the Law that they resembled whitewashed sepulchres: they became corrupt because they worried only about the “outside of things” being beautiful, but not what is inside, where corruption exists. They were, therefore, “corrupted by vanity, by appearance, by external beauty, by outward justice.” The Pagans, on the other hand, have the corruption of idolatry: they became corrupt because they exchanged the glory of God – which they could have known through reason – for idols.
The folly of Christians today
There are also idolatries today, such as consumerism – the Pope noted – or such as practiced by those, who look for a comfortable god. Finally, those Christians who sell themselves to ideologies, and have ceased to be Christians, often having rather become, “ideologues of Christianity.” All three of these groups, because of their foolishness, “end up in corruption.” Francis then explains what this foolishness consists of:
“Folly is a form of ‘not listening’, one might literally say a nescio , ‘I do not know’, I do not listen. The inability to hearken to the Word: when the Word does not enter, I do not let it in because I do not listen. The fool does not listen. He believes he is listening, but he does not listen. He does his own thing, always – and for this reason the Word of God cannot enter into his heart, and there is no place for love. And if it enters, it enters distilled, transformed by my own conception of reality. The fools do not know how to listen, and this deafness leads to this corruption. The Word of God does not enter, there is no place for love and in the end there is no place for freedom.”
Thus, they become slaves, because they exchange “the truth of God with lies,” and worship creatures instead of the Creator:
“They are not free and do not listen: this deafness leaves room neither for love, nor for freedom; it always leads us to slavery. Do I listen to the Word of God? Do I let it in? This Word, of which we have heard in the singing of the Alleluia – the Word of God is alive, effective, revealing the feelings and thoughts of the heart. It cuts, it gets inside. Do I let this Word in, or am I deaf to it? Do I transform it into appearance, transform it into idolatry, into idolatrous habits, or into ideology? Thus, it does not enter: this is the folly of Christians.”
Concluding exhortation: do not be foolish
Pope Francis concludes with an exhortation: to look at the “icons of today’s fools,” adding, “there are foolish Christians and even foolish shepherds,” in this day. “Saint Augustine,” he recalled, “takes the stick to them, with gusto,” because “the folly of the shepherds hurts the flock.”
“Let us look at the icon of foolish Christians,” urged Pope Francis, “and beside this folly let us look on the Lord who is always at the door,” he knocks and waits. His concluding invitation is therefore that we should consider the Lord’s nostalgia for us: “of the love He had for us first”:
“And if we fall into this stupidity, we move away from Him and He feels this nostalgia – nostalgia  for us – and Jesus wept with this longing cry, weeping over Jerusalem: it was nostalgia for a people He had chosen, a people He loved, but who had gone away for foolishness, who preferred appearances, idols, or ideologies.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope Francis marks 800 years of Franciscans in Holy Land

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land marking the 800th anniversary of their presence as guardians of the holy sites in modern day Israel and Palestine.
In the letter, published on Tuesday, the pope praises the Franciscans for their vital contribution to life in the Holy Land , in particular their work to accompany pilgrims coming from all over the world.
Listen to our report: 

The Pope recalls the way that Saint Francis, in May 1217 during the chapter of his recently founded order, decided to send the friars out on mission. The first missionaries to the Holy Land arrived that summer in the town of Acre, near Haifa, in northern Israel and just over a hundred years later, Pope Clement VI confirmed them as the custodians of the holy places.
Sowing peace, fraternity, respect
In the message, Pope Francis notes how the Franciscans live alongside people of different cultures and religions, sowing seeds of “peace, fraternity and respect”. As well as their work as guides for pilgrims, the Pope recalls, they are also committed to biblical and archaeological studies. Franciscans also work closely with the local Churches taking care of the poor, the sick, the elderly and the young people who find it hard to keep up hope amidst the ongoing conflict.
Collection for the Holy Land
The Pope says that the Franciscans are ambassadors for the whole people of God, who support them through the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land and through the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches, which is currently marking the centenary of its foundation.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope appeals for end to conflicts, climate change in fight against hunger, migration

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday appealed to the international community not only to guarantee enough production and fair distribution of food for all but also to ensure the right of every human being to feed himself according to his needs without being forced to leave his home and loved ones. 
He made the call at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO ) in Rome, where he marked World Food Day , which this year has as its theme, “Change the future of migration. Invest in Food Security and rural development.”  ( Click here for the video of the Pope’s FAO visit )
Conflicts and climate-change
Addressing the UN’s specialized agency that leads the international community’s fight against hunger and malnutrition in the world, the Pope urged governments to work together to end the conflicts and climate-change related disasters that force people to leave their homes in search of their daily bread. Citing the 2016 Paris climate accord in which governments committed themselves to combatting global warming, the Pope who spoke in Spanish, regretted ‎that “unfortunately some are distancing themselves from it.”‎  
He noted that negligence and greed over the world’s limited resources are harming the planet and its most vulnerable people, forcing many to abandon their homes in search of work and food.  He called for a change in lifestyle and the use of resources, adding it cannot be left for others to do. 
World hunger
A UN report in September pointed out that the number of chronically hungry people in the world was growing once more after a decade of decline because of ongoing conflicts and floods and droughts triggered by climate change.  While the 815 million chronically undernourished people last year is still below the 900 million registered in 2000, the UN warned that the increase is cause for great concern.
Love, fraternity, solidarity
Describing population control as a “false solution” to tackling hunger and malnutrition in the world, Pope Francis said what is needed instead is a better management of the earth’s abundant resources and prevention of waste in food and resources.   What is needed, he said, is a new model of international cooperation based on love, fraternity and solidarity that respond to the needs of the poorest.  Pity, he pointed out, is limited to emergency aid, but love inspires justice that is needed to bring about a just social order.
As a token of his visit and message, Pope Francis gifted to the UN food agency a marble sculpture of Aylan , the three-year-old Syrian toddler of Kurdish origin, whose image in the media made global headlines after his body washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015 after he drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. The Vatican explained that the sculpture featuring a weeping angel over the little boy’s corpse, symbolized the tragedy of migration. 
 
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Amazon bishop grateful to Pope for Pan-Amazon Synod

(Vatican Radio) Bishop Emmanuel Lafont of Cayenne in French Guyana reacted with joy when he heard Pope Francis ’s announcement of a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region.  
French Guyana and Suriname are part of the Amazon territory together with Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil.
As well as being an essential ‘lung’ for the entire planet as Pope Francis said when he made the announcement, the six million square kilometers that define the region are home to indigenous tribes and even uncontacted peoples whose cultures and whose very existences are threatened by large-scale logging, mining and other industrial projects as well as by pollution and climate change 
Speaking to Vatican Radio Bishop Lafont said he is very grateful to Pope Francis for having called this Synod.
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“I am very happy, grateful to the Holy Father for having called this Synod which is most important” he said.
For the benefit of the indigenous peoples
First of all, Bishop Lafont continued “for the benefit of the indigenous people – the First Nations – of the Amazonian region, because they have a long history, for the past 500 years of submission, of exploitation, of misunderstanding.”
For the protection of Creation
The second reason for which he is grateful, the Bishop said, that “the Amazon is one of the most important regions in the world for the protection of Creation” and it is currently facing many challenges.
“The Church, he said, ought to speak even more loudly for the protection of the region, and for the sake of the protection of the whole world”.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope Francis: Do not distance yourself from South Sudan

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on the international community not to forget South Sudan and in particular the serious humanitarian emergency unfolding there.
The Pope made the call on South Sudan in a Preface he wrote to a new book on South Sudan. The book, published in Italian, is authored by Comboni Missionary, Father Daniele Moschetti. It was launched over the weekend, in Italy, Rome.
“Usually Missionaries are the ones to tell (the world) about lives lived on the periphery on behalf of the poor. So too is this testimony of Father Daniele Moschetti, a Comboni missionary, who offers a compelling account of the generous and passionate commitment of so many missionaries living side by side with those in need and, above all, of those who suffer because of ongoing conflicts that cause death and destruction,” Pope Francis wrote in the Preface.
Pope Francis has implored the international community, and everyone who believes in the Gospel not to give-up on South Sudan because to do so would be to betray the lesson of the Gospel.
“I feel the importance and need of raising this kind of awareness in the international community on a silent drama, which requires everyone’s commitment to a solution that would end the ongoing conflict. To distance one’ self from the problems of humanity, especially in a context such as that which afflicts South Sudan, would be to “forget the lesson from the Gospel about the love of neighbour suffering and in need,” the Holy Father emphasised.
The book, “South Sudan: The Long and Sorrowful Path towards Peace, Justice, and Dignity,” published in Italian as “Sud Sudan: Il lungo e sofferto cammino verso pace, giustizia e dignità” is a collection of Moschetti’s personal experiences of a land in which he lived and one to which he is still attached. It is part diary; part missionary chronicle and commentary. The book is a rich account of information which tackles a very complicated conflict while avoiding a patronising or know-it-all attitude.
Moschetti provides much-needed context often lacking in the usual 140 twitter character headline. More importantly, the book is an attempt to break through, in a personal way, and draw attention to a forgotten but real humanitarian emergency taking place right under our averted gaze. Moschetti is concerned that, in mainstream Western media,  migration and African conflicts are often portrayed in a distorted or simplistic manner.
An Italian Comboni Missionary priest, Fr. Moschetti studied Theology in Nairobi and worked for 11 years, as a missionary, in the Kenyan slums of Kibera and Korogocho. Between 2009 to 2016 Fr. Moschetti was assigned to South Sudan.
During Moschetti’s book launch, at Radio Vatican, another Comboni Missionary and renowned journalist, Fr. Giulio Albanese described South Sudan as a forgotten nation. His hope is that one day Pope Francis visits South Sudan and perhaps help focus the world’s attention on this troubled country –just as he did for the Central African Republic in 2015. In an unprecedented move, Pope Francis launched the Jubilee Year of Mercy in Bangui, Central African Republic, in November 2015.
Notwithstanding the odds in South Sudan, Fr. Albanese spoke of a civil society that actually exists there is trying to make a difference. He said civil society activists there need the support of the international community.
Present at the book launch was Ethiopian national, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie, the Superior General of Comboni Missionaries.
During the Wednesday Papal audience of 11 October, in Saint Peter’s Square, Moschetti gave Pope Francis a copy of his book. The Pope told Moschetti: “I really would like to go to this country (South Sudan). I would like to go there as soon as it is possible.”
“Sud Sudan: Il lungo e sofferto cammino verso pace, giustizia e dignità,” 250 pp., 14 Euro, is published by Dissensi. In the meantime, Fr. Moschetti has taken up an advocacy appointment in New York and Washington.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio)
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope Francis to address UN FAO on World Food Day

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will travel to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome on Monday to attend a ceremony marking World Food Day.
This year’s theme is “ Change the future of migration ”.
The Holy Father will be joined by the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva and G7 Agriculture Ministers.
George Rapsomanikis is a Senior Economist at FAO and spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the Pope’s upcoming visit.
Listen to the interview: 

Speaking about expectations for the Pope’s visit, Mr Rapsomanikis noted that World Food Day was a very important occasion for FAO as the organization was founded on the 16th of October 1945. The theme for this year’s World Food Day highlights the issue of migration and the FAO economist said that, “the presence of Pope Francis links directly with migration…” He added, Pope Francis will strengthen the message to promote safe and regular migration and will uplift it; he is committed to the poor and migration is an issue which is very close to his heart.”
Asked about some of the common concerns that the Holy See and FAO share in the world today, one of the issues Mr Rapsomanikis noted was the care for the environment and climate change . He went on to say the Papal Encyclical on the care for creation, Laudato Si , “has contributed to the debate on climate change and sustainability and these are key factors in achieving food security and relate directly to FAO’s work and mandate.”
In the world today, underlined, Mr Rapsomanikis, “we have an unprecedented situation, conflict, political instability that are exacerbated by extreme climatic events like drought; they have resulted in severe food insecurity in South Sudan, in Somalia, in Northeastern Nigeria and Yemen.
The Pope, commented the FAO economist, “is a spiritual leader of more than 1 billion people, but his views on peace and on social justice are shared by many more people of different nationality, faith and colour.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope says new Saints show us how to say ‘yes’ to God’s love

(Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints , nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”.
To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Canonization Mass, the Pope said “They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love, they said ‘yes’ (to God’s love) with their lives and to the very end”.  
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :

Those canonized included thirty martyrs, both priests and lay persons, who suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil, while three indigenous children in 16th century Mexico were martyred for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions. The other two new saints are a 20th-century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who died in 1739.
The Lord’s desire for a true communion of life with us
The Pope’s homily inspired by the Parable of the Wedding Banquet speaks of the Lord’s desire for a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness.
“Such, he said, is the Christian life:  a love story with God.  
We are all invited, Francis said, and no one has a better seat than anyone else.
“At least once a day, he continued, we should tell the Lord that we love him” because once love is lost, the Christian life becomes empty.  It becomes a body without a soul, an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason.  
Every day is a wonderful opportunity to say ‘yes’
“We are the beloved, the guests at the wedding, and our life is a gift, because every day is a wonderful opportunity to respond to God’s invitation” he said.
But he added, the Gospel warns us that the invitation can be refused.  Many of the invited guests said no, because they were caught up in their own affairs.  
“They were more interested in having something, he explained,  rather than in risking something, as love demands: this is how love grows cold, not out of malice but out of a preference for what is our own: our security, our self-affirmation, our comfort…”  
The temptation of settling into the easy chair of profits
And the Pope warned Christians against the temptation of “settling into the easy chair of profits, pleasures, or a hobby that brings us some happiness.  And we end up aging badly and quickly, because we grow old inside.  When our hearts do not expand, they become closed in on themselves”.
God never closes the door
He said the Gospel asks us then where we stand: “with ourselves or with God?  Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.  The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite.  When he hears a “no”, he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation.  In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love”.
Love is the only way to defeat evil
This is what love does, the Pope said, because this is the only way that evil is defeated. 
And inviting us all to live in true love and “practice” love every day, Francis said “the Saints who were canonized today, and especially the many martyrs, point the way: They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love; they said they ‘yes’ with their lives and to the very end”. 
At Baptism, he concluded, we received a white robe, the wedding garment for God: Let us ask him, through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters, for the grace to decide daily to put on this garment and to keep it spotless” by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness”.  
“This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love” he said.
Who the new saints are
The newly-declared saints include 30 so-called “Martyrs of Natal,” who were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil.
Also from Latin America was a group of three indigenous martyrs from Mexico – Cristobal, Antonio and Juan – known as the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala.” Aged between 12 and 13, they were among the first indigenous Catholics of Mexico, murdered between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce their faith and return to their ancient ‎traditions.‎
And then there are Father Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries, and Father Angelo d‘Acri, an Italian itinerant preacher who died in 1739 after serving in some of the most remote areas of southern Italy.
Announcement of Special Assembly of Synod of Bishops for the Amazon
After the Mass, Pope Francis recited the Angelus prayer and announced a   Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon regionm to take place in October 2019. 
 
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Homily of Pope Francis’Canonization Mass for 35 new saints

(Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints , nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”.
To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Canonization Mass , he said “They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love, they said ‘yes’ with their lives and to the very end”.  
Those canonized included thirty martyrs, both priests and lay persons, who suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil, while three indigenous children in 16th century Mexico were martyred for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions. The other two new saints are a 20th-century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who died in 1739.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s homily for the Mass of Canonization :
The parable we have just heard describes the Kingdom of God as a wedding feast (cf. Mt 22:1-14).  The central character is the king’s son, the bridegroom, in whom we can easily see Jesus.  The parable makes no mention of the bride, but only of the guests who were invited and expected, and those who wore the wedding garments. We are those guests, because the Lord wants “to celebrate the wedding” with us.  The wedding inaugurates a lifelong fellowship, the communion God wants to enjoy with all of us.  Our relationship with him, then, has to be more than that of devoted subjects with their king, faithful servants with their master, or dedicated students with their teacher.  It is above all the relationship of a beloved bride with her bridegroom.  In other words, the Lord wants us, he goes out to seek us and he invites us.  For him, it is not enough that we should do our duty and obey his laws.  He desires a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness.
Such is the Christian life, a love story with God.  The Lord freely takes the initiative and no one can claim to be the only one invited.  No one has a better seat than anyone else, for all enjoy God’s favour.  The Christian life is always born and reborn of this tender, special and privileged love.  We can ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him; if we remember, among everything else we say, to tell him daily, “Lord, I love you; you are my life”.  Because once love is lost, the Christian life becomes empty.  It becomes a body without a soul, an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason.  The God of life, however, awaits a response of life.  The Lord of love awaits a response of love.  Speaking to one of the Churches in the Book of Revelation, God makes an explicit reproach: “You have abandoned your first love” (cf. Rev 2:4).  This is the danger – a Christian life that becomes routine, content with “normality”, without drive or enthusiasm, and with a short memory.  Instead, let us fan into flame the memory of our first love.  We are the beloved, the guests at the wedding, and our life is a gift, because every day is a wonderful opportunity to respond to God’s invitation.
The Gospel, however, warns us that the invitation can be refused.  Many of the invited guests said no, because they were caught up in their own affairs.  “They made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business” (Mt 22:5).  Each was concerned with his own affairs; this is the key to understanding why they refused the invitation.  The guests did not think that the wedding feast would be dreary or boring; they simply “made light of it”.  They were caught up in their own affairs.  They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands.  This is how love grows cold, not out of malice but out of a preference for what is our own: our security, our self-affirmation, our comfort…  We settle into the easy chair of profits, pleasures, or a hobby that brings us some happiness.  And we end up aging badly and quickly, because we grow old inside.  When our hearts do not expand, they become closed in on themselves.  When everything depends on me – on what I like, on what serves me best, on what I want – then I become harsh and unbending.  I lash out at people for no reason, like the guests in the Gospel, who treated shamefully and ultimately killed (cf. v. 6) those sent to deliver the invitation, simply because they were bothering them.  
The Gospel asks us, then, where we stand: with ourselves or with God?  Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.  The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite.  When he hears a “no”, he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation.  In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love.  When we are hurt by the unfair treatment of others or their rejection, we frequently harbour grudges and resentment.  God on the other hand, while hurt by our “no”, tries again; he keeps doing good even for those who do evil.  Because this is what love does.  Because this is the only way that evil is defeated.  Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love, to overcome resignation and the whims of our peevish and lazy selves.
There is one last idea that the Gospel emphasizes: the mandatory garment of the invited guests.  It is not enough to respond just once to the invitation, simply to say “yes” and then do nothing else.  Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the “habit” of practising love.  We cannot say, “Lord, Lord”, without experiencing and putting into practice God’s will (cf. Mt 7:21).  We need to put on God’s love and to renew our choice for him daily.  The Saints who were canonized today, and especially the many martyrs, point the way.  They did not say a fleeting “yes” to love; they said they “yes” with their lives and to the very end.  The robe they wore daily was the love of Jesus, that “mad” love that loved us to the end and offered his forgiveness and his robe to those who crucified him.  At baptism we received a white robe, the wedding garment for God.  Let us ask him, through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters, for the grace to decide daily to put on this garment and to keep it spotless.  How can we do this?  Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness.  This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope announces Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops  for the Pan-Amazon region  that will focus on the needs of its indigenous people, on new paths for evangelization and on the crisis of the rain forest.
The Pope’s announcement came on Sunday during the Angelus after a canonization Mass during which he canonized 35 new saints, including three indigenous children martyred in 16th century Mexico.
“Accepting the desire of some Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, which will take place in Rome in the month October 2019”  he said.
Evangelization, indigenous people, crisis of rain forest 
The main purpose of the Amazon synod, the Pope explained, will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization of God’s people in that region”.
Special attention, he added, will be paid to the indigenous people who are “often forgotten and without the prospect of a serene future, also because of the crisis of the Amazonian rain forest, a ‘lung’ of primary importance for our planet.”
REPAM
In 2014 The Catholic Church in Pan-Amazonia founded a Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network – REPAM – as “God’s answer to this heartfelt and urgent need to care for the life of people so they are able to live in harmony with nature, starting from the widespread and varied presence of members and structures of the Church in Pan-Amazonia”.
REPAM is constituted not only by the regional Bishops’ Conferences, but also by priests, missionaries of congregations who work in the Amazon jungle, national representatives of Caritas and laypeople belonging to various Church bodies in the region. 
As reported on the REPAM website “The Amazon territory is the largest tropical forest in the world. It covers six million square kilometers and includes the territories of Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. It is home to 2,779,478 indigenous people, comprising 390 indigenous tribes and 137 isolated (uncontacted) peoples with their valuable ancestral cultures, and 240 spoken languages belonging to 49 linguistic families”. 
It is “a territory that is devastated and threatened by the concessions made by States to transnational corporations. Large-scale mining projects, monoculture and climate change place its lands and natural environment at great risk”, leading to the destruction of cultures, undermining the self-determination of peoples and above all affronting Christ incarnate in the people who live there (indigenous and riparian peoples, peasant farmers, afro-descendants and urban populations). 
(from Vatican Radio)…

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