Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference
We regret that the “Protection of State Information Bill” was passed by the National Assembly yesterday. While improvements have been made to the Bill there are still flaws which are a cause for concern.
President Zuma has the power to refer the Bill to the Constitutional Court before he signs it into law. We call upon him to do so in order to avoid the risk of a prolonged and expensive court battle and the possibility of more parliamentary time being spent on amendments.
As a result of sustained pressure by civil society and opposition MPs, together with a receptive attitude from many ANC MPs who have dealt with the Bill in both Houses, there are improvements in the Bill which has been passed by Parliament. Even though we are unhappy with the latest version, its journey has been an object lesson in co-operation and engagement between civil society and parliament. We welcome the fact that:
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Reforms in health and retirement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security must not increase poverty or economic hardship among the people they are designed to help, the chairman of two U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committees said in a letter to Congress. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, cautioned in the April 22 letter against shifting the cost of such programs to or diminishing benefits of vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities and the poor.
Catholic News Service
By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Recognizing the inherent dignity of each person is the greatest weapon anyone has against war and violence, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed John XXIII’s encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”).
Peace is intimately connected to working for justice, otherwise violence will be difficult to overcome, Cardinal Turkson said in an address April 10 at The Catholic University of America to about 150 participants in the conference sponsored by the Catholic Peacebuilding Network.
“Peace then is not merely the absence of war and conflict, but it represents … a gift from God,” the cardinal said.
National Catholic Reporter
Just over 50 years ago, the earth as we know it came dangerously close to being engulfed in a nuclear fireball.
In October 1962, the United States commanded the Soviet Union to dismantle and remove nuclear missile sites in Cuba. After the Soviet Union refused, the U.S. established a Cuban naval blockade.
With the situation quickly escalating toward nuclear war, Pope John XXIII issued an urgent appeal for peace.
In a letter to President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Blessed Pope John XXIII pleaded, “We beg all governments not to remain deaf to this cry of humanity. That they do all that is in their power to save peace. They will thus spare the world from the horrors of a war whose terrifying consequences no one can predict.”
Detail of St. Francis of Assisi from “Madonna Enthroned with the Child, St. Francis and four Angels,” a fresco executed by Giovanni Cimabue between 1278-80 for the lower church of St. Francis Basilica in Assisi, Italy. RNS file photo courtesy of the Custodian of St. Francis Basilica in Assisi.
Religious News Service
From the very first moment of his unexpected election as Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has embraced a series of small departures from established tradition.
He took his papal name from a great nonconforming saint of the Middle Ages — and one that no other pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church has taken. He then refused to stand on an elevated platform that would separate him from his “brother cardinals,” and asked the people of Rome to bless him rather than receive his blessing. He even insisted on returning to his hotel to settle his account (as though his credit were in any doubt).
Let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.
I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.
Catholic greens had reason to sound exclamations of joy at today’s inaugural papal Mass. From the announcement of the new pope’s name, Francis, there was speculation about whether Pope Francis would show the same sensitivity for nature that saint who preached to the birds, loved the wild places and tamed the wolf of Gubbio.
Over the weekend, there were hints at the new pope’s meeting with journalists. Asked to explain his choice of name, he said the inspiration came from another Latin American cardinal, who whispered to him as he was elected, “”Don’t forget the poor.” The new pope commented on the attractiveness of the name, Francis: “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation,” the same created world “with which we don’t have such a good relation.” At the end of audience, the pope greeted a blind journalist accompanied by his guide dog, and the pope, as he took the man’s hand, leaned over to pet the dog.
National Catholic Reporter
John L. Allen Jr.
Saturday will mark 10 days since the start of the Pope Francis era, and as introductions go, it’s been a tour de force. Polling around the world suggests that overwhelming majorities have a positive impression of the new pope, and the media have fallen in love with a man who packs his own bags, makes his own calls and prefers to walk rather than taking the limo.
Everything Francis does, however banal, is now a sensation. The fact that TV cameras caught him checking his watch near the end of Tuesday’s inaugural Mass, for instance, launched an essay in one of the Italian papers about his pastoral concern for not holding people too long for an overly elaborate liturgy.
The new papal style certainly has registered with his underlings. On Thursday, I had lunch in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome in an eatery popular among Vatican personnel who work in the Palazzo San Callisto, and I bumped into a cardinal who’s a veteran insider now over 80. When I noted he was dressed in his basic clergyman clothes rather than the usual finery, he smilingly said he was taking his cues from the new boss. Continue reading
Spanish missionary bishop writes an instructive poem for Pope Francis
Pedro Casaldáliga, a Catalan bishop who has spent his life in Brazil, wrote a poem for the new pope before Francis was elected. Casaldáliga is the retired bishop of São Félix do Araguaia in the Amazon. He is the author of A Spirituality of Liberation. Translation by Francis McDonagh.
Leave the Curia, Peter.
Demolish the Sanhedrin and the fortified walls,
Order all the impeccable parchments to be altered
By the words of life, fear.
Let us go to the garden where they plant bananas,
Cloaked and in darkness, whatever the risk,
where the Master sweats the sweat of the poor.
His tunic or cloak is this humble flesh disfigured,
all those children’s cries that go unanswered,
and embroidered with the memory of the anonymous dead.
A legion of mercenaries besiege the frontier where the dawn begins,
and Caesar blesses them in his arrogance.
In his tidy sink Pilate washes, legalistic and cowardly.
The people are just a ‘scrap’,
a scrap of hope. Continue reading
Indigenous women fetching water from a well near San Cristóbal de las Casas in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS
By Marcela Valente
BUENOS AIRES, Mar 22 2013 (IPS) – The new pope’s choice of the name Francis, to honour the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment, has awakened the hopes of ecologists and others who are concerned about rampant consumerism and the deterioration of the planet.
In 1979, then Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226) the patron saint of ecologists. In his first mass as pope, on Mar. 19, Jorge Bergoglio said: “Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”
”It’s excellent that a world leader is taking up this issue as a priority,” Diego Moreno, director of the Fundación Vida Silvestre, Argentina’s main wildlife advocacy organisation, told IPS. “With the Church’s ability to reach people, the fact that the environment is part of the pope’s discourse is very important, because it will get more people involved.” Continue reading