Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Templeton Prize awarded to American philosopher Alvin Plantinga

(Vatican Radio) The 2017 Templeton Prize has been awarded to American philosopher Alvin Plantinga for his pioneering work to put religious belief “back on the philosophical agenda”.

Beginning in the late 1950s, his research and writing explored a variety of arguments for the existence of God, at a time when academics generally rejected religiously informed philosophy.

Listen to our report:

His work has influenced three generations of academics, helping to ensure that universities around the world now include philosophy professors who bring their diverse religious convictions to bear on their work.

Affirming life's spiritual dimension

The Templeton Prize is awarded annually to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works. Previous winners include Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the inaugural award in 1973, Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

Compatibility of science and religion

Plantinga, who was raised in Michigan with a strong Calvinist upbringing, was described by Time magazine in 1980 as “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God”. He co-founded the Society of Christian Philosophers in 1978 and over recent years his publications have focused largely on the relationship – and compatibility – of science and religious belief.

The Templeton Prize will be presented to Plantinga at a public ceremony in Chicago on September 24th. 

Egyptian Christians fear for future after latest bombing

(Vatican Radio) An American Catholic priest ministering in Egypt has said Christians there fear for their safety and talk about wanting to leave their homeland in the wake of the Palm Sunday terrorist attacks north of Cairo that killed dozens of people.

Ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Egypt, Father Doug May told Vatican Radio that residents in several predominantly Christian villages that he visited this month are anxious about their future.

'Tired of feeling vulnerable'

Fr May, a priest of the Maryknoll mission movement, said: “It’s the first time that even the successful [Christian villagers] who have fairly nice houses and a decent lifestyle have told me, "If I could leave, I would leave because I am tired of feeling vulnerable in a country that I should call my own because I am being tolerated at best but I am not being accepted as an equal citizen.”

Fr May said he hoped Pope Francis’ visit to Cairo would promote solidarity between leaders and people of the different Christian dominations and the majority Muslim community.

Listen to Susy Hodges' interview with Father Doug May about the current fears of Christian communities in Egypt in the lead up to Pope Francis’ visit to the country.

Pope Francis: St. Adalbert's greetings to Polish pilgrims

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis had special greetings for Polish pilgrims at the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, during which the Holy Father recalled the celebration of the feast of St. Adalbert, one of the Patrons of Poland.

Born in the 10th century, St. Adalbert was the bishop of Prague, and a missionary to the Baltic peoples, who received martyrdom for his efforts to bring them the gospel.

"This past Sunday," said Pope Francis, "on the feast of Divine Mercy, we also commemorated St. Adalbert, Patron of Poland: it was also an occasion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the institution of the Primatial See at Gniezno. To the protection of this great Bishop and Martyr [St. Adalbert], who carried the gospel message and the witness of Christian life into yuor lands, I entrust all the pastors and the faithful of the Church in Poland."

The Holy Father went on to say, "Keep your spiritual and cultural tradition alive for future generations, for that tradition grew up from [St. Adalbert's] blood. God bless you all!"

 

Pope's Egypt trip a sign of solidarity with suffering Christians

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ meeting with the Coptic Orthodox leader, Pope Tawadros in Cairo on Friday will be an important sign of solidarity with Christians who suffer and die for their faith in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

That’s the view of Msgr Gabriel Quicke who heads the office for dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches at the Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity.

Last week he accompanied Cardinal Kurt Koch and Pope Francis’ private secretary to Egypt with a personal message of condolences in the wake of two bomb attacks on churches in Alexandria and Tanta, north of Cairo. The twin attacks on Palm Sunday, claimed by so-called Islamic State militants, left at least 45 people dead and dozens of others injured.

Msgr Quicke says the Coptic Pope was deeply “touched by that sign of spiritual attention” and closeness to the suffering Christian communities. Speaking to Philippa Hitchen, he says Pope Francis’ encounter with Tawadros will be an important “continuation of the ecumenical path towards full and visible unity” of the Churches.

Listen

Msgr Quicke recalls that in 2015, following the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, the Coptic bishop in Italy, Msgr Barnaba asked if Pope Francis could send a message of solidarity with the Coptic community. On Palm Sunday, he said, following the latest attacks, the Holy Father asked him to accompany Cardinal Kurt Koch, together with his own private secretary, to Egypt with a message of condolences.

It was a very brief visit, with an overnight stay at the Apostolic nunciature in Cairo, followed by an early morning journey to Alexandria to the residence of Pope Tawadros there.

Spiritual closeness to victims

The Catholic delegation brought a message of condolences and solidarity, expressing Pope Francis “spiritual closeness in prayer, in heart and mind” to all those affected by the attacks. Msgr Quicke says the Coptic leader was “very touched emotionally, by that sign of spiritual attention” and  asked “to express his closeness as well” recalling that during their meeting in Rome in 2013, “they promised one another to pray for one another every day”.

Ecumenism of blood

During that encounter in the Vatican, shortly after both men were elected, Msgr Quicke notes that Pope Francis spoke forcefully about “the ecumenism of blood” of the Coptic martyrs. He repeated the phrase following the beheadings in 2015, stressing that “they are not persecuted because they are Orthodox” or Copts, but “because they are Christian”. Citing the early Christian author from Carthage, Tertullian, he said “as the blood of the [first] martyrs became the seed for the growing of the Christian Church, [so] the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed nowadays for the unity of Christians”.

Strengthen solidarity among Christians

During the brief visit to Cairo, Msgr Quicke says he sensed that “not only the Coptic Orthodox Church, but all Christians, the whole Muslim community and all Egypt is waiting for the visit of the pope”. Although the encounter between two popes will be an important “continuation of the ecumenical path” towards Christian unity, the papal trip will also be an opportunity for the Holy Father to meet with the small Catholic community “ to strengthen the bonds of solidarity and fraternity between all Christians”. 

Indian Church urges dialogue with Maoists to end violence

Indian Catholic Church officials have urged for dialogue with Maoist rebels after the insurgents killed 25 paramilitary police and injured 6 in their latest attack in a remote region in Chhattisgarh state.  Hundreds of rebels ambushed a contingent of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force guarding road construction workers in Sukma district on April 24. 

The attack has raised fears that the five-decade insurgency is seeing a revival. ‎This year is already one of the bloodiest in recent years, with 72 soldiers killed in the rebel heartland of ‎Chhattisgarh. By comparison, 36 were killed during all of last year. ‎ Monday’s attack was the second such attack this year. At least 12 paramilitary personnel were killed on March 12 in a similar attack in the same district which is a Maoist-stronghold.  Indian soldiers have been battling the rebels across several central and northern states since 1967, when ‎the militants - also known as Naxalites - began fighting to demand more jobs, land and wealth from ‎natural resources for the country's poor indigenous communities. The government has said the ‎insurgents, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, pose the country's most serious ‎internal security threat.‎

Chhattisgarh is one of India's poorest states despite vast mineral riches. Rebel attacks in other Indian ‎states are less frequent, but also sometimes result in casualties. ‎ Church leaders in the area said the continuing violence between government forces and the rebels has made normal life impossible in Sukma and nearby areas. "The government should immediately start the process to set up a dialogue with the rebels to find peace," said Archbishop Victor Henry Thakur of Raipur, based in the state capital. The language of terrorism cannot be accepted as a method to establish justice for the poor, Archbishop Thakur said. The Church supports tribal people asserting their rights but "stands totally against the method of violence.”  “Dialogue should be the only way," he stressed.

Following the Indian Supreme Court's suggestion, the state government, in October 2016, announced plans to hold talks with the rebels. Further plans have been made concerning the surrender and rehabilitation of the Maoists who are mostly young tribal people. However, the government has yet to start the process.  More than 6,000 people have died during the rebels' 20-year fight across parts of India although some sources say the death toll is double that.

Father Thomas Kollikolavil, the social work director of Jagdalpur Diocese that covers Sukma, said "a deep-rooted frustration" among local people was the cause of "this unjustifiable violence."  "Despite the government doing a lot for the poor, there is a feeling that the government has not taken care of their interests in state programmes and policies," Father Kollikolavil said.  The violence could also be seen "as a class struggle between the haves and the have-nots," he said, adding that the poor feel exploited by the rich and their government supporters.

Father Antony Bara, vicar general of Ambikapur Diocese, also in the state, blamed "lopsided government policies" for increasing violence in tribal-dominated areas.  He said the state government amended two laws last year, ending tribal peoples' exclusive rights over their land and helping the government to usurp it for industrial projects.  "In this process, the poor and illiterate tribal people are harassed and deprived of their basic constitutional rights. They feel frustrated and so many young people support the Maoists and revolt against the government," the priest said.  "We want lasting peace in the region so everyone involved in violence should shun it and start the process of dialogue," he said.

Father Abraham Kannampalackal, vicar general and spokesperson of Jagdalpur Diocese, told UCANEWS the killing of the soldiers on duty cannot be justified. "Violence is no solution to any problem," the priest said, also stressing the need for dialogue.  (Source: UCAN)

Press briefing at the conclusion of the meeting of the C-9

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, held a briefing for the press on the XIX Meeting of the Cardinal Councillors with Pope Francis.

The Council of Cardinals, he said, met with the Holy Father for three days: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 24-26 April. All of the members of the Council were present. Pope Francis was absent from the morning meeting on Wednesday on account of the General Audience.

The working sessions took place in the mornings from 9-12:30 and in the afternoons from 16:30-19:00. The sessions were dedicated to further considerations on the various dicasteries of the Curia; in particular, there were continued discussions concerning the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide), and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The Cardinals also considered texts to propose to the Holy Father regarding the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; and three tribunals: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

During the meetings, the Council also studied the selection and formation of the personnel in the service of the Holy See, both clerics and members of the lay faithful. Officials and superiors from the Secretariat of State, from the Council for the Economy, and from the Labour Office of the Holy See took part in the discussions. Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, and Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawłowski were present on behalf of the Secretariat of State. For the Council for the Economy, in addition to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Prof. Franco Vermiglio, a member of the Council, spoke at the meeting. Bishop Giorgio Corbellini and Avv. Salvatore Vecchio addressed the Cardinals for the Labour Office.

Another important theme treated by the Council was the relationship between the Episcopal Conferences and the Roman Curia. Cardinal George Pell gave an update on the work of the Secretariat for the Economy, of which he is the President, with special attention to the review of the budget for the current year. Cardinal Seán O’Malley updated the Council on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of minors, focussing especially on the programme of global education, the last plenary assembly, and the visits to various dicasteries.

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals will take place 12-14 June. 

Pope Francis at audience: our faith an anchor in heaven

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, during which he continued his catechetical reflections on the theme of Christian hope, focusing specifically on the final words of comfort and consolation the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew records Our Lord speaking to the  disciples immediately before ascending into heaven and taking His place at the right hand of the Father.

“‘I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Mt 28:20)’” began Pope Francis in his main catechesis, quoting the very last words of Matthew’s Gospel. “These last words of the Gospel of Matthew,” he went on to say, “recall the prophetic proclamation we find at its beginning: ‘[T]hey shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us, (Mt 1:23; cf. Is. 7:14)’”

Then, departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said, “God will be with us, every day, until the end of the world.”

Click below to hear our report

Returning to his prepared remarks, the Holy Father explained, “Jesus will walk with us every day until the end of the world. “The whole gospel is encapsulated in these two quotations, words that convey the mystery of God, whose name, whose identity is being-with: He is not an isolated God, He is God-with-us, especially with us, that is, with the human creature.”

Again departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said, “[T]he closeness of God, the love of God, the journey of God with us, is also called the ‘Providence of God’: He provides for our lives.”

In a final major departure from his prepared text, Pope Francis reflected on a suggestive nautical image: that of the anchor.

“[T]he anchor,” said Pope Francis, “is the instrument that navigators throw on the beach – and then they grab onto the anchor line to pull the ship to shore. Our faith is the anchor [we have] in heaven: we have our lives anchored in heaven. What must we do? Grab hold of the line – it’s always there – and let us go forward, for we are certain our life has something like an anchor in heaven, on that shore to which we’ll come one day.”

Pope Francis: General Audience Summary

(Vatican Radio) At the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on Christian Hope. The Holy Father spoke on the theme of “the promise that gives hope,” reflecting on Christ’s words in the Gospel, “I am with you all days, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).

Below, please find the English language synthesis of Pope Francis’ catechesis at the General Audience for Wednesday, 26 April 2017:

Speaker: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  During this Easter season, our catechesis on Christian hope reflects on the resurrection of Jesus the basis of our firm trust in God’s constant protection and love.  Saint Matthew’s Gospel begins with the birth of Jesus as Emmanuel – “God with us” – and concludes with the Risen Lord’s promise that he will remain with us always, to the end of the age.  At every step of life’s journey, God is at our side, leading us as he did the patriarchs of old, to the goal of our earthly pilgrimage.  His care lasts “to the end of the age”; the heavens and the earth will pass away, yet he will continue to watch over us in his loving providence.  From ancient times, Christian hope has been symbolized by the anchor, as a sign of its firm basis in God’s promises, which have been fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.   Because our trust is in God, and not in ourselves or this world, we readily take up Jesus’ invitation to follow him, nor do we lose heart before life’s difficulties, disappointments and defeats.  May our hope in victory of the Risen Christ confirm us on every step of our journey towards the fullness of eternal life.

Pope Francis [in Italian]: I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States of America.  In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father.  May the Lord bless you all!

 

Pope Francis gives TED talk: 'We build future together'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has broken new ground in the way he communicates his message when the first-ever papal TED Talk went on line.

TED is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading ideas in the form of short talks. What began in 1984 as a conference covering Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), today provides talks from a wide range of different speakers – except popes. Until today.

Listen to Seàn-Patrick Lovett's report:

Those of us following TED’s annual Conference in Vancouver had been promised a surprise “world figure” who would deliver his 18-minute message on the conference theme, “The Future You”, alongside tennis superstar, Serena Williams, entrepreneur, Elon Musk, and chess champion, Garry Kasparov.

But no one expected to see the Pope’s face appear on the screen.

“I very much like this title – ‘The Future You’”, began Pope Francis, “because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a ‘you’…The future is made of you’s…because life flows through our relations with others”.

Speaking in his typically personal and informal style, the Pope reminded us of how “everything is connected” and of how “life is about interactions”. “None of us is an autonomous and independent ‘I’”, he said. “We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”.

His second message regarded “educating people to a true solidarity” in order to overcome the “culture of waste” that puts products at the centre of techno-economic systems, instead of people. “The other has a face”, he said. “The ‘you’ is…a person to take care of”.

The Pope illustrated his point by quoting Mother Teresa and the parable of the Good Samaritan, before going on to talk about Hope – which he described as “a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree”. “A single individual is enough for hope to exist”, he said. “And that individual can be you”.

Pope Francis’ third and final message was dedicated to what he called “the revolution of tenderness”. Tenderness means “being on the same level as the other”, he said. It is not weakness, but strength: “the path of solidarity…of humility”. And through humility, even power becomes a service and a force for good.

The Pope concluded by affirming that the future of humankind is not in the hands of politicians or big companies but, most of all, in the hands of those people “who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’”.

Because: “We all need each other”.

Listen to the English-dubbed version of the Pope's TED talk:

Pope Francis: Gospel must be proclaimed with humility

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Tuesday for the intentions of his “brother,” Coptic Patriarch Pope Tawadros II, whom he will be meeting in three days’ time as he makes an Apostolic Voyage to Egypt.

The day’s Mass commemorates Saint Mark the Evangelist, who is recognized as the founder of the patriarchate of Alexandria. “I offer this Mass for my brother, Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts,” Pope Francis said. He prayed for “the grace that the Lord might bless our two churches with the abundance of the Holy Spirit.

The Cardinal counsellors who make up the C-9 advisory group were among the faithful taking part in the Pope’s daily Mass.

In his homily during the liturgy, Pope Francis said the Gospel must be proclaimed with humility, overcoming the temptation of pride. The Holy Father spoke about the necessity for Christians of “going out to proclaim” the Good News. A preacher, he said, must always be on a journey, and not seek “an insurance policy,” seeking safety by remaining in one place. 

Listen: 

Jesus gave His disciples a mission: to proclaim the Gospel, “to not remain in Jerusalem, but to go out to proclaim the Good News to all. In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on passage from the Gospel of St Mark, which relates the story of the Great Commission. He said “the Gospel is always proclaimed on the journey, never seated, always on the journey.”

Going out to proclaim the Good News, never remaining stopped but always on the journey

Christians, the Pope said, need “to go out where Jesus is not known, or where Jesus is persecuted, or where Jesus is disfigured, to proclaim the true Gospel”:

“To go out in order to proclaim. And, also, in this going out there is life, the life of the preacher is played out. He is not safe; there are no life insurance policies for preachers. And if a preacher seeks a life insurance policy, he is not a true preacher of the Gospel: He doesn’t go out, he stays in place, safe. So, first of all: Go, go out. The Gospel, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, goes forth, always; on a journey, always. On a physical journey, on a spiritual journey, on a journey of suffering: we think of the proclamation of the Gospel that leads to so many wounded people – so many wounded people! – who offer their sufferings for the Church, for the Christians. But they always go out of themselves.”

But what is “the style of this proclamation?” the Pope asked. “Saint Peter, who was St Mark’s teacher, was perfectly clear in his description of this style”: “The Gospel must be announced in humility, because the Son of God humbled Himself, annihilated Himself.” This, the Pope said, “is the style of God”; there is no other. “The proclamation of the Gospel,” he said, “is not a carnival, a party.” This is “not the proclamation of the Gospel.”

The Gospel must be announced with humility, overcoming the temptation of worldliness

The Gospel, the Pope said, “cannot be announced with human power, cannot be proclaimed with human power, cannot be proclaimed with the spirit of climbing and advancement.” “This is not the Gospel.” All of us, then, are called to vest themselves with “humility, one towards another,” because “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”:

“And why is this humility necessary? Precisely because we carry forward a proclamation of humiliation – of glory, but through humility. And the proclamation of the Gospel undergoes temptation: the temptation of power, the temptation of pride, the temptation of worldliness, of so many kinds of worldliness that they bring preaching or to speaking; because he does not preach a watered down Gospel, without strength, a Gospel without Christ crucified and risen. And for this reason St Peter says: ‘Be vigilant, be vigilant, be vigilant… Your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.’ The proclamation of the Gospel, if it is true, undergoes temptation."

Pope Francis said that if a Christian says he is proclaiming the Gospel “but is never tempted,” it means that “the devil is not worried,” because “we are preaching something useless.”

Let us ask the Lord that we might go out of ourselves in order to evangelize

For this reason, the Pope continued, “in true preaching there is always some temptation, and also some persecution.” He said that when we are suffering, the Lord is there “to restore us, to give us strength, because that is what Jesus promised when He sent the Apostles”:

“The Lord will be there to comfort us, to give us the strength to go forward, because He works with us if we are faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel, if we go out of ourselves to preach Christ crucified, a scandal and a folly, and if we do this with a style of humility, of true humility. May the Lord grant us this grace, as baptized people, all of us, to take the path of evangelization with humility, with confidence in Him, announcing the true Gospel: ‘The Word is come in the flesh.’ The Word of God is come in the flesh. And this is a folly, it is a scandal; but doing it with the understanding that the Lord is at our side, He works with us, and He confirms our work.”