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British embassy hosts seminar on digital communications

(Vatican Radio) How to be engaging on social media. How to build relationships beyond our own virtual world. How to rebuild trust through an authentic online presence. Those questions were at the heart of a seminar on Wednesday at Rome’s Pontifical Holy Cross university, focused on the theme ‘Communicating in the Digital Culture’.

Organised by the British embassy to the Holy See, the encounter featured presentations by two well-known speakers, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Civiltà Cattolica journal, and the former British ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher, now a professor of international relations at New York University.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:

Love them or hate them, social media sites are an important part of daily life for a large part of the global population. So much so, that Fr Spadaro insists it’s no longer possible to talk about pastoral work without understanding what goes on in the digital world.

Pope Francis’s social media accounts are currently among the most influential of all world leaders, with over 33 million followers on Twitter and over four million on his more recent Instagram profile.

Communicating the Gospel of Mercy

This clearly offers huge opportunities to communicate “the Gospel of Mercy to all peoples and cultures”, as the pope himself puts it. Yet Fr Spadaro notes it also raises new challenges about how we engage people effectively in this new digital environment.

Asking the right questions

We live in world of search engines, he says, where “everything has an answer” yet we are losing sight of the important questions in life. The best way forward, he goes on, is not to “consider the Gospel itself as a book of answers, but as a book of questions”.

Sometimes, he says, “the Church […]is answering questions that no one is interested in” so we have to recover the ability to discern which are the important questions for our life today.

Breaking out of the filter bubble

Secondly, he notes how digital technology filters the results of our searches, so that “in the end, our world is shrinking so we are caged in a kind of filter bubble” in which “we’re always in touch with people who think  like us”. We have to break out of this bubble, he says, by being curious and posing the right questions.

Creating relationships

Thirdly, Fr Spadaro says, we have to realise that communicating no longer means broadcasting, but rather it means sharing in a way that “each one of us is involved”. If we post on Facebook, he explains, we don't just share a content, but we communicate ourselves, becoming witnesses and creating relationships – if we don't create relationships, he says, “we can’t spread the Gospel”.

For the diplomatic world too, Professor Tom Fletcher believes that social media sites are the best tool for building trust to promote coexistence and cooperation.

Promoting coexistence

The “big dividing line of the 21st century”, he says, “is between people who believe in coexistence” across different faiths, communities and nationalities, and “people who don’t, the people who believe that the answer to the 21st century is just a bigger wall”.

Rules of engagement

Fletcher spells out his three basic rules of engagement in the digital world: firstly, he says, “it’s really important to be authentic”, secondly, “always try to be engaging” by creating “new interesting content”, and thirdly, “be purposeful”, which, for him, means both promoting national interests, but also promoting partnership and collaboration between people.

Don't leave space to extremists

Fletcher urges everyone to “take the plunge” into social media because “if we leave this space to extremists, but also to those who are basically apathetic or cynical”,  there is “a real risk of the next generation only hearing their voices”. The “silent majority tend to be outshouted”, he concludes, “so we need to hear more from the coexisters”.

CAR bishops appeal for end to bloodshed

(Vatican Radio) Following a new wave of violence engulfing the nation, bishops of the Central African Republic (CAR) have launched an appeal to all men and women of goodwill to “staunch the violence that is spreading like wildfire.” 

Noting that notwithstanding the accord signed between the government and armed groups on June 19, CAR bishops decry the fact that clashes have not ceased and over 100 people have been killed in the past weeks.

The recent deal, mediated by the Rome-based Catholic Saint Egidio Community was signed by Bangui government leaders and 13 of the 14 armed groups and aimed at ending a 4-year sectarian conflict that has killed thousands of people.

The bishops point out that all those killed – be they defenseless civilians, soldiers fighting on behalf of the government and members of an armed group – are all brothers and sisters of ours”.

They recall that also Caine and Abel were born in the same family and grew up and were educated with the same values, they were not saved from fratricidal violence.

“Is there a way out of the violence?” the bishops ask, “How can we heal an evil-orientated heart?” “How can we take responsibility before criminal acts and destruction?” “How can we build together a society in which no one causes another to suffer?”

According to the bishops “the cries of our brothers and sisters reach the Lord and He is asking us to change our perspective, our behavior and take responsibility for our actions” because welcome and collaboration are the high road towards true dialogue and sincere reconciliation”.

The bishops’ appeal came in a pastoral letter released during their Plenary Assembly which ended on June 25. It spoke also of the pain and frustration of the bishops themselves as they continue to witness the bloodshed of innocent people.

They say they are certain that “hatred and the spirit of revenge will not become an endless spiral of violence if the reciprocal effort is made to view each other as neighbors”.

“In order to overcome religious, political and social differences (…) the parties must disarm their hearts and stop being instruments of death”, overcoming the fear of the other and giving reconstruction and trust a chance, “putting talent and intelligence at the service of reconstruction and not of destruction” they say.

Finally, the bishops ask the people of CAR to “give the Institutions a chance to favor peace and economic development and ask leaders of all the parties involved to overcome ideological divisions and personal interests in the name of common good.

The letter concludes with a “thank you” to the international community and to all those who continue to lend their support in the painful journey towards peace and reconstruction. 

The conflict in CAR began when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power and ousted then-President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisal killings from anti-balaka militias drawn from the Christian minority.

According to the UN the inter-religious and inter-communal conflict has led to between 3000 and 6000 death and displaced more than 450,000 others, majority of whom have fled to neighboring Cameroon.

The armed militia that did not attend the Rome meetings was one of the smaller ones, the “Retour Reclamation et Rehabilitation” or 3R.

A Saint Egidio spokesman added that its absence was due to logistical problems and that the other signatories were confident that they would be able to convince the group to join the pact.

Church tells Timorese political parties to put people first

As political parties in Timor-Leste or East Timor are in the midst of a campaign for next month parliamentary elections, the Catholic Church in Asia’s youngest nation is urging them to ramp up their efforts in reducing poverty and improving the lives of people. Twenty-one parties are vying with one another for 65 parliamentary seats in the 22 July elections.  The election that kicked off on 20 June will run up to 19 July.

"The most important thing is that political parties take concrete action to improve the lives of today's poor," said Father Herminio Goncalves, chairman of Dili Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission.  While more than 80 percent of people rely on agriculture, there has been no improvement in the sector. A case in point are the rice fields that have dried up because of poor irrigation.

According to the government, poverty in Timor-Leste is decreasing with the national poverty rate having fallen from 50.4 percent in 2007 to 41.8 percent in 2014.  The country's GDP per capita has also improved from US$762.17 in 1999 to US$983.50 in 2015, the last time it was recorded.  However, Church leaders and observers say poverty rate remains high, with many going without electricity or sanitation. Many suffer malnutrition, unemployment and poor education.  (Source: UCAN)

"This is a serious problem that needs immediate attention from parties," Father Goncalves said on June 26.  The priest also said the church will continue voicing these concerns throughout the campaign.

With over 95% of its 1.2 million people professing Catholicism, the Church in Timor-Leste has a powerful voice. ‎ The former Portuguese colony was invaded by Indonesia after Portugal withdrew in 1975.  The violence that followed saw up to 200,000 people killed before the Timorese voted for independence in 1999. That was met with further violence. Timor-Leste became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on 20 May 2002. 

According to the International Republican Institute, a U.S.-based nonprofit and nonpartisan organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide, the Fretilin party and CNRT (National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction) established by Xanana Gusmao in 2007 are the election frontrunners in the elections, followed by the Democratic Party and the newly established People's Liberation Party by former president Taur Matan Ruak.

Former president and CNRT leader, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, told thousands of supporters last week that under his leadership there have been many pro-poor programs.  Gusmao said his party has played a crucial role in preserving peace, unity and stability, which are fundamental cornerstones to ensuring the success of development.  "For the next five years, CNRT will focus more on improving the lives of small people, especially in rural areas, to create more job opportunities," he said. 

Myanmar cardinal calls for probe into crimes against Rohingyas ‎

(Vatican Radio)  Myanmar’s prominent Catholic Church leader has appealed to the government to probe allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing’, war crimes and crimes against humanity in a truly independent way that results in justice and accountability.  In a statement on Monday,  Cardinal Charles Bo said he was raising his voice “at a great personal risk”, to speak out for the rights and dignity of every people against “religious extremism.”  “Even when many voices were muted, I have raised my voices against religious extremism, the plight of IDPs [internally displaced persons] and treatment of  minorities,” he wrote in the 26 June statement.

The cardinal who is ‎archbishop of Yangon, spoke against the peresecution of minorities and described the “horrific persecution” of the Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine state as “an appalling scar on the conscience” of his country.  The “devastating report” of the United Nations on the treatment of  ‘Rohingyas’, he said, should ‎have served as “a wake-up call for all.”  ‎He urged for a full and independent investigation of allegations of so-called “ethnic cleansing”, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, and throughout ‎Myanmar, in a way that “results in justice ‎and accountability."‎

Myanmar’s first cardinal indicated that extreme positions and words, unless reined in, could force the country back to the dark decades military dictatorship “where no one had any rights”,  and ‎Myanmar, he said, “cannot live through another such spell.‎” 

The 68-year old archbishop was however optimistic that peace conferences and inter-religious peace  gatherings were gaining strength, sidelining the extremist elements.  

In a special greeting to Muslims on the occasion of Eid that marks the end of their holy month of Ramadan, Card. Bo noted they have “served the poor and vulnerable in this country through commendable generosity.”   “The holy month has given way to celebration of fraternity,” the cardinal noted and wished peace and joy to those “brothers and sisters” suffering “war and displacement.”

Pope makes appointments in Indonesia, South Korea and Marshal Islands ‎

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday made appointments in the Asia and Pacific regions, with a bishop in Indonesia, a coadjutor bishop and an auxiliary bishop in South Korea and  a prefect apostolic in the Marshal Islands. 

INDONESIA - PANGKALPINANG

In Indonesia he appointed Franciscan Father Adrianus Sunarko the Bishop of Pangkalpinang.  The 50-year old priest is the Franciscan provincial superior of Indonesia as well as the president of the Conference of Men Major Superiors of Indonesia (KOPTARI).   He takes over from Bishop Hilarius Moa Nurak SVD, who passed away on 29 April, 2016. Bishop Yohanes Harun Yuwono of Tanjungkarang was serving as its Apostolic Administrator.

‎Born on 7 December, 1966 in Merauke, Papua, Fr. Sunarko attended the minor seminary of Mertoyudan.  He did his philosophical studies at the Driyarkara High School of Philosophy in Jakarta and his theology at the Wedhabhakti Pontifical Faculty in Yogyakarta.   He took his perpetual vows as a member of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) on 15 August, 1994, and was ordained a priest on 8 July, the following year. 

As a priest, Fr. Sunarko was assigned various responsibilities:

1995-1996:     Assistant parish priest of Kramat (Jakarta Archdiocese)

1996-2002:     Bachelors degree in theology at the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany

Since From 2002:    Professor at Driyarkara High School of Philosophy in Jakarta

2004-2007:     OFM provincial definitor

2007-2009:     OFM vice provincial of Indonesia

Since ‎2010:    OFM provincial superior of India ( 2 terms)

Since ‎2014:    President of the Conference of Men Major Superiors of Indonesia (KOPTARI)

The Diocese of Pangkalpinang, created in 1961, is a suffragan of Palembang Archdiocese. Out of a total population of  3.345.000 over an area of 30,442 sqkm, Pangkalpinang has 58.000 Catholics.  They are being ministered to by 76 priests (61 diocesan and 15 religious), 78 nuns and 15 seminarians.

SOUTH KOREA - SEOUL

In South Korea, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Job Koo Yobi as Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul Archdiocese in the capital.  With this appointment, the 66-year old parish priest of Po-I Dong has been assigned the titular see of Sfasferia. Fr. Koo will assist the Archbishop, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung who is already being aided by three other auxiliary bishops. 

Born on 25 January, 1951, Fr. Koo studied at the major seminary of the Suwon (1985-1989 and 1990-1993).  Enrolled for mandatory military service, he served as sergeant in aviation (1989-1990).  He was ordained a priest for Seoul Archdiocese on 24 February, 1981.

As a priest he held the following positions:

‎1981-1982:      Assistant parish priest of I-Mun Dong

‎1982-1983:      Assistant parish priest of ‎Shin-Dang Dong;‎

‎1983-1986:      Studied at the Association of Priests of Prado at Lyons, France

‎1986-1991:      Parish priest of Guro Dong

‎1991-1993:      Parish priest of ‎ Sang-ge Dong

‎1993-1998:      National director of the Association for Young Catholic Workers; member of the Labour Pastoral Commission, in-charge of the Association of Priests of Prado in South Korea.

‎1998-2000:     Studied for licentiate in spirituality a the Catholic Institute of Paris

‎2000-2002:    Parish priest of Jong-ro

‎2002-2007:    Spiritual director of the major seminary

‎2007-2013:      In charge of the Association of Priests of Prado in South Korea; member of the International Council of Association of Priests of Prado, headquartered in South Korea.

Since 2013:    Parish priest of Po-I Dong.‎

SOUTH KOREA - CHEJU

Elsewhere in South Korea the Pope appointed Father Pius Moon Chang-woo as Coadjutor Bishop of Cheju Diocese that is headed by 71-year old Bishop Peter Kang U-il.   Unlike an auxiliary bishop, a coadjutor bishop has the right to succession in the case of the ‎retirement, ‎resignation or death of the current bishop.  ‎

Fr. Moon, the principal of the Shinsong Girls’ Middle School in Cheju, was born on 15 March, 1963 in Cheju.  He studied philosophy and theology at the major seminary of Gwangju, and followed it up with a master’s degree in theology (1994-1996).

After his priestly ordination for Cheju Diocese on 10 February, 1996, he held the following positions:

1996-1997:      Assistant parish priest of Seomoon

1997-1998:      Assistant parish priest of ‎ Chungang

1998-1999:      Parish priest of Choongmoon

1999-2006:      Director of the diocesan Office for Youth and Education and of the Diocesan Students’ Association,  director of the Office for Catechesis and Migrants.

2006-2016:      Professor and spiritual father at the Catholic University of Gwangju

2010-2015:      Doctoral studies

Since 2016:     Principal of the Shinsong Girls’ Middle School

Erected in 1977, Cheju Diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Gwangju.  Out of a population of 641,355 spread across an area of 1,849 sqkm, Catholics number 75,579.  They are served by 47 diocesan priests,  7 religious priests, 108 nuns and 13 major seminarians. 

MARSHALL ISLANDS

Meanwhile, in the Marshall Island in the Pacific Ocean, the Pope appointed Fr. Ariel Galido as Prefect Apostolic.  The priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) takes over from 71-year old Fr.. Raymundo  Sabio MSC, who has stepped down.

Fr. Galido was born on 3 June, 1975, at Bacuag, Surigao del Norte, in the Philippines.  He was ordained a priest on 9 June, 2004, and the following year was sent to the Marshall Islands, where he served in various islands of the islands. 

Created in 1993, the Prefecture Apostolic of the Marshall Islands was entrusted to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.  Made up of 5 islands and 29 atolls, Marshall Islands has an area of 181.3 sqkm with a population of 58,800.  Of these, 4.925 are Catholics, who are ministered to by 6 priests (1 diocesan, 5 religious), a deacon, a religious brother and 8 sisters. 

Pope Francis to new Cardinals: your mission is to serve

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over an Ordinary Public Consistory for the Creation of Cardinals on Wednesday in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father created five new Cardinals – who are representative members of the Clergy of Rome, whose duties are to elect the Bishop of Rome, to advise the Pope, and to assist him in governing the universal Church.

Listen to the report by Chris Altieri:

The five new Cardinals are: Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako, Mali; Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​Spain; Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden; Luis Marie-Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Paksé, Laos; Gregorio Rosa Chávez, Bishop of Mulli, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Savador.

In his allocution on the occasion, the Holy Father focused on the mission of service to which the new Cardinals are called.

“[Jesus]  calls you to serve like him and with him,” Pope Francis said, “to serve the Father and your brothers and sisters.”

The Pope went on to say, “He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity.” Pope Francis went on to offer an exhortation. “Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection.”

The Consistory took place on the eve of the great Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, martyrs and patrons of the Church of Rome.

Pope Francis: Allocution at Consistory for Creation of Cardinals

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered an allocution on Wednesday at the Ordinary Public Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The prelates to be created Cardinals during the Consistory are: Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako, Mali; Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​Spain; Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden; Luis Marie-Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Paksé, Laos; Gregorio Rosa Chávez, Bishop of Mulli, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Savador. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis' prepared remarks, in their official English translation...

******************************************

“Jesus was walking ahead of them”.  This is the picture that the Gospel we have just read (Mk 10:32-45) presents to us.  It serves as a backdrop to the act now taking place: this Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals.

Jesus walks resolutely towards Jerusalem.  He knows fully what awaits him there; on more than one occasion, he spoke of it to his disciples.  But there is a distance between the heart of Jesus and the hearts of the disciples, which only the Holy Spirit can bridge.  Jesus knows this, and so he is patient with them.  He speaks to them frankly and, above all, he goes before them.  He walks ahead of them.

Along the way, the disciples themselves are distracted by concerns that have nothing to do with the “direction” taken by Jesus, with his will, which is completely one with that of the Father”.  So it is that, as we heard, the two brothers James and John think of how great it would be to take their seats at the right and at the left of the King of Israel (cf. v. 37).  They are not facing reality!  They think they see, but they don’t.  They think they know, but they don’t.  They think they understand better than the others, but they don’t…

For the reality is completely different.  It is what Jesus sees and what directs his steps.  The reality is the cross.  It is the sin of the world that he came to take upon himself, and to uproot from the world of men and women.  It is the innocent who suffer and die as victims of war and terrorism; the forms of enslavement that continue to violate human dignity even in the age of human rights; the refugee camps which at times seem more like a hell than a purgatory; the systematic discarding of all that is no longer useful, people included.

This is what Jesus sees as he walks towards Jerusalem.  During his public ministry he made known the Father’s tender love by healing all who were oppressed by the evil one (cf. Acts 10:38).  Now he realizes that the moment has come to press on to the very end, to eliminate evil at its root.  And so, he walks resolutely towards the cross.

We too, brothers and sisters, are journeying with Jesus along this path.  I speak above all to you, dear new Cardinals.  Jesus “is walking ahead of you”, and he asks you to follow him resolutely on his way.  He calls you to look at reality, not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects.  He has not called you to become “princes” of the Church, to “sit at his right or at his left”.  He calls you to serve like him and with him.  To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters.  He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity.  Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection.

And now, with faith and through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bridge every gap between our hearts and the heart of Christ, so that our lives may be completely at the service of God and all our brothers and sisters.

Vatican Museums release documentary on Pope Francis’ idea of art

(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican Museums has presented a new documentary, entitled “Pope Francis. My idea of art”, which explores the Pope’s concept of art through 11 celebrated works.

The documentary is based on the book “Pope Francis – My idea of art” (Papa Francesco – La mia idea di Arte), written by the Pope with Tiziana Lupi and published jointly by Mondadori and Vatican Museums Publishing House in December 2015.

Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums, presented the documentary during a press conference on Tuesday.

“The art of mercy is truly Pope Francis’ idea of art. It is art that is directed toward the humble,” she said. “And the Vatican Museums correspond directly to the Pope’s message on art.”

During the presentation, spectators were treated to “a kind of ideal art gallery”, which exemplified the Holy Father’s concept of art and its goal of “evangelizing and contrasting a throwaway culture”.

The DVD documentary is subtitled in 6 languages and will be distributed in Italy and throughout the rest of the world in the coming months.

Here is a preview of the documentary:

‘Donations should help migrants and local poor’ – Holy See to GFMD

(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See has called for financial donations to developing countries hosting refugees and forced migrants to go equally towards supporting arriving migrants and the local poor.

It also said migrants and refugees should be both welcomed in their countries of arrival and accompanied before, during, and after their migratory journey.

Fr. Michael Czerny S.J., Undersecretary of the Migrants & Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, made the appeal to the Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD) on Wednesday.

The GFMD is a “voluntary consultative process in which governments can share their various experiences in migration and development” and seeks to “foster practical and action-oriented outcomes”. It takes place this year in Berlin, Germany on 28-30 June.

In the first of two roundtable events, Fr. Czerny said the human challenge facing migrants “requires others to welcome, to protect, to promote, and to integrate.”

These actions, he said, must be put into place in the four phases of the migratory journey: “in their country of origin, in countries of transition, in the country of destination and integration, and possibly in returning to the country of origin.”

He gave an example of a recent visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he witnessed a migrant boat arriving.

That moment, Fr. Czerny recalled, made him realize that “Africa’s best - the youth, the talent, the courage, the hope” – was being drained from the continent and relocated to Europe.

But the exchange, he noted, did not necessarily promise “much benefit to those who had survived the dangerous journey and finally arrived on shore.”

He went on to call donor nations to follow a “50-50 principle” in which half of a donation goes to help arriving migrants, while the other half supports the local poor where those migrants are located.

“In this way, the arriving poor and the local poor would be equally eligible for much-needed assistance in terms of food, water, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, communication, security and development. Thus so-called “emergency” funds will in fact move “beyond emergencies” if they obey the sound principle of justice, transparency and good sense of the 50-50 approach.”

Please find below the full text of Fr. Czerny’s address:

Tenth Global Forum on Migration and Development "Towards a Global Social Contract on Migration and Development"

Roundtable 2.1: Moving beyond emergencies – Creating development solutions to the mutual benefit of host and origin communities and displaced persons
Holy See Intervention of Reverend Father Michael Czerny S.J., Undersecretary, Migrants & Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

The human community can offer an adequate response to the needs of forced migrants by paying attention to two linked sets of four dimensions. First, the full human challenge faced by migrants requires others “to welcome, to protect, to promote, and to integrate” 1 Second, these relationships must take place while accompanying those forced to flee in the four important phases of their trajectory: in their country of origin, in countries of transition, in the country of destination and integration, and possibly in returning to the country of origin.

During the second informal thematic session at the United Nations in New York, “Addressing drivers of migration”, the Holy See held a side event entitled “Ensuring the right of all to remain in dignity, peace and security in their countries of origin” (22 May 2017). As the New York Declaration affirmed, migration must become “orderly, safe, regular and responsible” (§ 16). That is, the most important way of moving beyond emergencies and creating sustainable development solutions which meet the criteria of human dignity, is effectively to guarantee “the right to remain as prior to, as deeper and broader than, the right to migrate. It includes access to the common good, the right to live in dignity, the right to human development.” These rights are the responsibility of one’s own country and one’s own State. 2 As Pope John Paul II stated in 1988, “It is a basic human right to live in one’s own country. However this right becomes effective only if the factors that urge people to emigrate are constantly kept under control.” 3 Orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration is only possible when people are really free to stay in their place of origin.

In mid-April this year, I was privileged to spend part of Holy Week and Easter on the island of Lampedusa. On Easter morning at 3:00 a.m., I went with the Parish Priest to the harbour to meet a boatload of migrants. The dramatic, deeply human moment of arrival did not seem to promise the mutual benefit of host and origin communities. On the contrary, I could not help but think. ‘Here is the arrival of Africa’s best - the youth, the talent, the courage, the hope.’ Yet, it seemed to be a moment of net loss for Africa, without necessarily promising much benefit to those who had survived the dangerous journey and finally arrived on shore.

Yet the Catholic Parish of San Gerlando in Lampedusa has discovered an important key to moving beyond the emergency towards durable solutions. For every financial donation is equally divided, half-and-half, to meet the needs of the arriving migrants and of the local poor. This is exercising a very simple, concrete and sound principle for moving beyond emergencies and creating durable development solutions.

The 50-50 principle, relatively easy to apply, brings us back to one of the key foundations of the Sustainable Development Goals: to address the needs of people in both developed and developing countries in such a way that “No one is left behind.”

Since most displaced persons remain in or near their countries of origins, and similarly the majority of asylum seekers, a permanent and generous funding facility should be established, accessible to the areas, districts or regions receiving large numbers. These are the locations that bear the maximum stress of welcoming and integrating many newcomers, and where conflicts can arise between them and the local established populations which are also very needy. In this way, the arriving poor and the local poor would be equally eligible for much-needed assistance in terms of food, water, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, communication, security and development. Thus so-called “emergency” funds will in fact move “beyond emergencies” if they obey the sound principle of justice, transparency and good sense of the 50-50 approach.

Working towards “sustainable and integral human development” allows each person and all people “to become active agents of their own development. This includes the full integration of migrants into the economic, social, political, and cultural life of the nation, or their choice of a speedy and safe return to their homelands as circumstances permit.” 4 This should also include the ongoing integration or reintegration of the host poor and excluded into the local and national economic, social, political, and cultural life.

Addressing the Fortune and Time Global Forum in December 2016, Pope Francis expressed exactly why people want to move beyond emergencies: “Inequality between peoples continues to rise, and many communities are impacted directly by war and poverty, or the migration and displacement which flow from them. People want to make their voices heard and express their concerns and fears. They want to make their rightful contribution to their local communities and broader society, and to benefit from the resources and development too often reserved for the few.” These convictions apply to the emergencies of displacement and to the ‘emergencies’ of poverty. If we face them squarely, the Holy Father concludes, we shall “realize that we are living in a moment of hope.” 5

1 Cf. Pope Francis, Address to the International Forum on “Migration and Peace”, 21.02.2017. 2 Michael Czerny S.J., “The Right to Remain,” N.Y., 22.05.2017.

3 John Paul II, Address to the Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, 9 October 1998.

4 “Ethics in Action” at the Pontifical Academy of Science, 25-26.05.2017.

5 Pope Francis, Greetings to participants of the Fortune-Time Global Forum, 3.12.2016.

Abortion not part of ‘reproductive health’ - Holy See to UN

(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See has told the United Nations that abortion should not be considered part of the term ‘sexual and reproductive health’ and that ‘gender’ means only biological sexual identity and difference.

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, made the remarks during a meeting on a UN resolution for coordinating humanitarian assistance.

He said the Holy See regrets the inclusion of several abortion methods, especially the “vacuum extractor”, in a resolution entitled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations”.

Archbishop Jurkovič said the Holy See insists “insist that healthcare services must never be intended - or operate - against the life of the most defenseless or the unborn. The application of the right to life must never discriminate based on the various stages of life.”

“Although we acknowledge the particular risks that women and children face in humanitarian emergencies contexts and their specific and integral needs regarding access to basic healthcare, essential obstetric services, sanitary and food security, we cannot accept as an appropriate solution those services that provide and/or promote abortion,” he continued.

Archbishop Jurkovič also clarified the Vatican’s position on two points regarding abortion and gender identity. He said:

1. The Holy See does not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients as a dimension of the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive healthcare services”.

2. With reference to “gender”, the Holy See understands the term to be grounded in biological sexual identity and difference. We kindly ask that the text of this statement be included on the official records of this meeting.

Please find below the full address:

Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the ECOSOC Humanitarian Segment Explanation of Position on the resolution entitled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” 

Geneva, 23 June 2017 

Mr. President and Distinguished Co-facilitators,

My Delegation would like to thank the co-facilitators and OCHA for their commitment and hard work in achieving consensus during this year’s informal negotiations of the resolution entitled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.”

Despite an open and fruitful cooperation of many delegations, this year’s negotiations have been particularly difficult. If, on the one hand, we made some progress, such as specific paragraphs on famine and food insecurity, on the other hand, we regret the inclusion of the controversial Minimal Initial Service Package (MISP) in the text.

The Minimal Initial Service Package (MISP) is a set of priority activities, provided by UNFPA, and includes 13 types of Reproductive Health Kits designed for women and girls of reproductive age, some of which entail abortion. Among them, “KIT 10” provides the well-known “vacuum extractor”, which is the most common method to procure abortion, and which brings serious risks also to the mother’s health.

Our Delegation would like to insist that healthcare services must never be intended - or operate - against the life of the most defenseless or the unborn. The application of the right to life must never discriminate based on the various stages of life. Although we acknowledge the particular risks that women and children face in humanitarian emergencies contexts and their specific and integral needs regarding access to basic healthcare, essential obstetric services, sanitary and food security, we cannot accept as an appropriate solution those services that provide and/or promote abortion. For these reasons, our Delegation dissociates itself from the paragraphs of the resolution that promote MISP as a proper answer to the already dramatic situations faced by so many women and children in challenging humanitarian settings.

In addition, our Delegation would like to reiterate its reservations on the following concepts:

1. The Holy See does not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients as a dimension of the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive healthcare services”.

2. With reference to “gender”, the Holy See understands the term to be grounded in biological sexual identity and difference. We kindly ask that the text of this statement be included on the official records of this meeting.

I thank you.