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In the shadow of strict protest laws, young Russians build a climate movement

Screenshot_2019-10-01 In the shadow of strict protest laws, young Russians build a climate movement(1)
Activists attend an environmental demonstration, part of the Global Climate Strike, in Saint Petersburg, Russia September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

MOSCOW, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At 15 years old, Margarita Naumenko is one of the youngest participants in Russia’s Fridays for Future climate protest movement.

Each week, she stands in downtown Moscow with other young activists chanting, brandishing posters and demanding the government take action on worsening climate change threats.

Her parents support her decision to protest, Naumenko said, but they are less convinced about the urgency of slowing the climate change.

“I tried talking to them and changing their opinion,” she said. “But that is not easy.”

Led largely by young people, Russia’s nascent climate protest movement has taken on the challenge of changing minds in a country where, not long ago, both the public and politicians were sceptical about the need to act quickly on climate change.

The protests may be having some effect. Earlier this month, Russia announced it would join the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change – one of the last countries in the world to do so.

The country is the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases and was the biggest emitter not to have agreed to the landmark global climate deal.

Before the announcement, activists in Moscow held about 50 individual protests, after previously having been denied a permit to demonstrate as part of a large-scale global climate strike last week.

On Friday, as young climate campaigners again marched around the globe, about 85 protesters in Moscow held up red and white fabric to spell out the words “Act Now” in front of Russia’s main government building.

Naumenko joined the movement five months ago, inspired after attending a lecture on improving sustainability in the education system and after seeing Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old figurehead of the youth climate movement, speak on television.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I take any action?,'” Naumenko told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We have just one planet. If we do not care about it, who else will?”

GROWING PROTESTS

Since the first mass eco-protest in Moscow’s Sokolniki Park in March – a day students around the world walked out of their classes to call for action on climate change – other Russian cities such as St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Irkutsk, have joined the climate campaign.

For Arshak Makichyan, it was the March protest in Moscow that sparked his involvement in climate activism.

Since then, the 25-year-old violinist has become one of the faces of Russia’s youth protest movement, demonstrating every week, often on his own.

He also acts as one of the coordinators of the movement, and part of his job is to apply for official permission to protest, which can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

New rules adopted after mass protests in Moscow that followed President Vladimir Putin’s 2012 election made it a criminal offence to stage some forms of non-violent protests without a permit.

Single-person protests, on the other hand, do not require a permit, Makichyan explained. But they do have restrictions – for example, in Moscow, protesters must not stand closer than 50 metres (160 feet) from each other.

Makichyan said that, so far, Russia’s climate activists have succeeded in getting permits for two large-scale environmental protests.

And the crowds at protests have been getting bigger over the past few months, he added. These days, an organised climate demonstration in Moscow attracts between 20 and 40 participants.

The number may be small compared to the thousands who come out for protests in other cities around the globe, but it is a big increase from when Russia’s activists first started, Makichyan said.

“The numbers have been growing,” he said. “Ten weeks ago, I was very often protesting on my own. Now every week we get more participants and new cities join in.”

Russia’s government has a history of cracking down on protests that it has declared illegal.

In a case in July that triggered global condemnation, police in Moscow detained more than 1,000 people for taking part in a protest calling for opposition members to be allowed to run in a local election.

Makichyan, who took part in that protest and was detained for three hours, said so far there have been no arrests during any of the climate protests.

 

 

 

 

http://news.trust.org//item/20190927111020-yhl2b/

Free dental clinic in Maryland brings care to over 1,000 patients

Dental
2019 Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy dental event. Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

.- A free dental clinic hosted recently by Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C., offered preventive and emergency dental care to more than 1,000 patients in need.

“The majority were uninsured, and probably had not seen a dentist in years,” said Deacon Jim Nalls, director of Family, Parish and Community Outreach for Catholic Charities of Washington.

Sept. 13-14 marked the fifth Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy, hosted by Catholic Charities, the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Maryland State Dental Association Foundation.

Hundreds of patients waited in line overnight at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center in College Park.

One woman, 69-year-old Linda Frazier, stood in line for the clinic beginning at 6:40 p.m. the night before.

Frazier told the Catholic Standard that she was suffering from a painful tooth and had not received dental care in two years, since the last Mission of Mercy in Mid-Maryland. She said she cannot afford insurance and was grateful to have the opportunity to receive treatment through Catholic Charities.

Maryland does not include full dental coverage for patients on Medicaid, so low-income individuals and people without insurance often find themselves struggling to get the dental care they need.

Mission of Mercy originated in Virginia nearly 20 years ago, when Dr. Terry Dickinson, former executive director of the Virginia Dental Association, saw a major unmet need for dental care among low-income patients, seniors, and people with disabilities.

The first small event was held in rural Virginia with a group of dentists from the Virginia Dental Association. “It was widely successful,” Nalls told CNA. “The need was huge. People lined up literally overnight to get help.”

Today, he said, 42 other states have adopted the Mission of Mercy model, creating free dental clinics with volunteer dentists and support personnel to provide services.

Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C., heard about the clinics and wanted to start one of their own. They began in 2013.

This year, the clinic treated 1089 people, an increase of about 20% from the last time the event was held.

The Mission of Mercy event required hundreds of volunteers to run, including professional volunteers – dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and x-ray technicians – as well as general volunteers, who greeted patients, registered them, and directed them to the correct location.

Patients received both medical and dental screenings, as well as panoramic dental x-rays, Nall said. Volunteer dentists offered fillings, tooth extractions, cleanings, partial dentures, and crowns, among other services.

Dr. Mel Weissburg, who volunteered to do endodontic and root canal work, said the clinic’s dental care can change the lives of the patients being served.

“They are embarrassed because they have missing or cavities in their front teeth,” Weissburg told the Catholic Standard. “They get cleaned up, they get filled, and now they can smile. They can smile when they’re working, they can get a job. The socio-economic impact on that patient and their family, and their children and our society…goes a long way.”

Nalls said patients are extremely appreciative to be receiving care they otherwise could not afford.

“With tears in their eyes, they were grateful,” he said. “It’s a wonderful event. That’s why the volunteers keep coming back, it’s so rewarding to see the immediate response of the people that you’re taking care of, and that the need is so great…Why else would you sleep on a sidewalk overnight?”

One volunteer, Teresa Villanueva, said this is her third time volunteering at the event. She told the Catholic Standard that she is touched to see the suffering of those who do not have insurance.

“Every time they do these events, my heart is joyful,” she said.

Nalls said dental care is sometimes undervalued, both by individuals and the health care system in general.

“There’s no money in the Affordable Care Act for dental services,” he noted. “Dentistry is the red-headed stepchild of the health care industry. It’s treated as if it’s optional or something.”

In reality, he said, dental care is a “very important part of our holistic health” and can cause severe pain and difficulty functioning if problems are left untreated.

With the high turnout showing a continuing need for affordable dental care, Nalls said Catholic Charities will continue to hold Mission of Mercy events in the future.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to sometime soon – if the support system changes and Medicaid covers adult dental, we won’t need to do these,” he said. “But until they do, there’ll be a huge need, and we’ll continue to try to address it as best we can.”

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/free-dental-clinic-in-maryland-brings-care-to-over-1000-patients-53714

Extreme sea level events ‘will hit once a year by 2050’

Glacier
A child walks through floodwaters near a pier in California. The climate crisis can expose millions to flooding. Photograph: Ana Venegas/AP

The Guardian: 25 September 2019 – Extreme sea level events that used to occur once a century will strike every year on many coasts by 2050, no matter whether climate heating emissions are curbed or not, according to a landmark report by the world’s scientists.

The stark assessment of the climate crisis in the world’s oceans and ice caps concludes that many serious impacts are already inevitable, from more intense storms to melting permafrost and dwindling marine life.

But far worse impacts will hit without urgent action to cut fossil fuel emissions, including eventual sea level rise of more than 4 metres in the worst case, an outcome that would redraw the map of the world and harm billions of people.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and approved by its 193 member nations, says that “all people on Earth depend directly or indirectly on the ocean” and ice caps and glaciers to regulate the climate and provide water and oxygen. But it finds unprecedented and dangerous changes being driven by global heating.

Sea level rise is accelerating as losses from Greenland and Antarctica increase, and the ocean is getting hotter, more acidic and less oxygenated. All these trends will continue to the end of the century, the IPCC report said.

Half the world’s megacities, and almost 2 billion people, live on coasts. Even if heating is restricted to just 2C, scientists expect the impact of sea level rise to cause several trillion dollars of damage a year, and result in many millions of migrants.

“The future for low-lying coastal communities looks extremely bleak,” said Prof Jonathan Bamber at Bristol University in the UK, who is not one of the report’s authors. “But the consequences will be felt by all of us. There is plenty to be concerned about for the future of humanity and social order from the headlines in this report.”

The new IPCC projections of likely sea level rise by 2100 are higher than those it made in 2014, due to unexpectedly fast melting in Antarctica. Without cuts in carbon emissions, the ocean is expected to rise between 61cm and 110cm, about 10cm more than the earlier estimate. A 10cm rise means an additional 10 million people exposed to flooding, research shows.

The IPCC considers the likely range of sea level rise but not the worst-case scenario. Recent expert analysis led by Bamber concluded that up to 238cm of sea level rise remains possible by 2100, drowning many megacities around the world. “This cannot be ruled out,” said Zita Sebesvari at the United Nations University, a lead author of the IPCC report.

Even if huge cuts in emissions begin immediately, between 29cm and 59cm of sea level rise is already inevitable because the ice caps and glaciers melt slowly. Sea level will rise for centuries without action, Sebesvari warned. “The dramatic thing about sea level rise is if we accept 1 metre happening by 2100, we accept we will get about 4 metres by 2300. That is simply not an option we can risk.”

Extreme sea level impacts will be felt in many places very soon and well before 2050, Sebesvari said. The IPCC report states: “Extreme sea level events that [occur] once per century in the recent past are projected to occur at least once per year at many locations by 2050 in all scenarios.”

The heating oceans are causing more intense tropical storms to batter coasts, the IPCC report found, with stronger winds and greater deluges of rain. For example, Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented deluge, which caused catastrophic flooding, was made three times more likely by climate change.

Ocean heating also harms kelp forests and other important ecosystems, with the marine heatwaves that sear through them like underwater wildfires having doubled in frequency in the last 40 years. They are projected to increase by at least 20 times by 2100, the IPCC reported.

Extreme El Niño events, which see heatwaves in some regions and floods in others, are projected to occur twice as often this century whether emissions are cut or not, the report said. Coral reefs, vital nurseries for marine life, will suffer major losses and local extinctions. Across the ocean, heat, acidification and lower oxygen is set to cut fisheries by a quarter and all marine life by 15% if emissions are not slashed.

The IPCC report also records the large reduction in Arctic ice. This loss exacerbates global heating, because the exposed darker ocean absorbs more heat from the sun than highly reflective ice. On Monday, scientists announced that the Arctic sea ice in 2019 shrank to its second lowest extent in the 41-year satellite record.

The world’s high mountain glaciers, upon which almost 2 billion people rely for water, are also melting fast, the IPCC found, while landslides are expected to increase. A third of the great Himalayan range is already doomed, with two-thirds projected to vanish if emissions are not cut.

One of the most worrying alarms sounded by the IPCC report is about melting tundra and increasing wildfires in northern latitudes: “Widespread permafrost thaw is projected for this century and beyond.” A quarter is already near certain to melt, it said, and 70% or more would go if emissions are not curbed. In the latter case, hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane could be released, supercharging the climate emergency.

“That risks taking us beyond the point where climate change could be easily constrained,” said Richard Black, at the UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. “Nevertheless, the IPCC’s 2018 report concluded that governments can shrink emissions quickly enough to keep global warming to 1.5C if they choose. None can claim to be unaware of both the dangers of untrammelled climate change nor the feasibility of preventing it.”

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris and chair of the C40 Cities climate coalition, said the IPCC report was shocking. “Around 1.9 billion people and over half of the world’s megacities are all in grave danger if we don’t act immediately. Several cities, home to hundreds of thousands of people, are already disappearing underwater. This is what the climate crisis looks like now.”

Taehyun Park, of Greenpeace East Asia, said: “The science is both chilling and compelling. The impacts on our oceans are on a much larger scale and happening way faster than predicted. It will require unprecedented political action to prevent the most severe consequences to our planet.”

As well as cutting fossil fuel emissions, preparing for the inevitable impacts is also vital, said Sebesvari, especially in poorer nations that lack the funds to build sea walls, move settlements or restore protective coastal marshes.

“Action is needed now to secure the coast for our children and coming generations,” she said. The pressure now being exerted by the global school strikes for climate was important, she said. “I have very strong motivation. I have two kids and we are really being tested by our kids on our actions.”


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/25/extreme-sea-level-events-will-hit-once-a-year-by-2050

 

 

‘Be a voice of conscience,’ pope tells Catholic press

C2A03062-3A14-4019-BFAD-D3C0EE2BF36FPope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 8, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

.- Pope Francis told an association of Italian Catholic news agencies Monday to stay close to the Magisterium and to use their work to distinguish what is good from what is evil.

“To renew your harmony with the magisterium of the Church, I urge you to be a voice of conscience, of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, human choices from inhuman ones,” he said Sept. 23.

“Because today there is a mishmash that does not stand out, and you must help in this. The journalist – who is the chronicler of history – is called to reconstruct the memory of facts, to work for social cohesion, to tell the truth at all costs.”

Pope Francis addressed the Union of Catholic Italian Press to mark their 60th anniversary. He noted a part of the organization’s statutes, which describes itself as “a professional and ecclesial association that finds inspiration in the service of the person, in the Gospel, and in the Magisterium of the Church.”

He counseled the Catholic press to have courage, and to be always respectful and never arrogant. “The [field of] communication needs true words in the midst of so many empty words,” he said.

“And in this you have a great responsibility: your words are told to the world and shape it, your stories can generate spaces of freedom or slavery, of responsibility or dependence on power.”

The pope warned that what a journalist writes is sometimes passed through the “still” of “financial convenience” and the truth gets left behind for “what is not true, what is not beautiful, and what is not good.”

In the era of web journalism, he said the journalist’s task is to identify credible sources, and then contextualize, interpret, and properly order them.

He criticized the idea that a man could die from cold on the street and it would not be news, while instead, every news agency will talk about the stock exchange falling by two points.

Do not be afraid to turn the hierarchy of news on its head, he said, “to give voice to those who do not have it; to tell the ‘good news’ that generates social friendship: not to tell fairy tales, but good real news.”

Pope Francis also pointed to the example of Bl. Manuel Lozano Garrido (“Lolo”) a Spanish journalist who lived at the time of the Spanish war.

Beatified in 2010, he was the first secular journalist to be declared ‘blessed’ by the Church, Pope Francis said.

Despite living with an illness which forced him to be in a wheelchair for 28 years, Bl. Garrido “did not stop loving his profession,” the pope said.

“Truly a beautiful example to follow!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/be-a-voice-of-conscience-pope-tells-catholic-press-19775

Archbishop Gomez at Mass for immigrants: ‘We can heal what is broken in America’

1F7B47FD-E261-4BD8-B718-F0D12D84BF5CSept. 7 Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

.- At a Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles called migrants to witness to America the healing love of Christ, which has the power to restore unity to a divided nation.

“My brothers and sisters, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have a mission in this moment, in this challenging time in our country,” the archbishop said. “We need to show our neighbors a better way. The way of Jesus, the way of love.”

In this critical moment in America, Jesus is offering an invitation “to love those who make themselves our enemies, and to pray for those who would try to cause division in our country,” he said.

“We can heal what is broken in America. We can restore the sense of mutual trust and empathy; the shared belief in our common humanity; in the dignity of those who are different from us,” Gomez stressed. “Love is the only way forward for America. And we are the ones who must show our nation the way.”

The Mass, held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, united Catholics from the diocese of Los Angeles, and the Dioceses of San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego.

Archbishop Gomez presided over the Mass, which was concelebrated by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishops David G. O’Connell, Robert E. Barron, and Marc V. Trudeau, Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Roger Mahony, and Retired Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sartoris, as well as Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange and Orange Auxiliary Bishops Timothy Freyer and Thanh Thai Nguyen.

The Mass concluded a novena in parishes across Southern California, as well as a three-day walking pilgrimage from Orange County to the cathedral in Los Angeles. The 60-mile pilgrimage was a gesture of solidarity with immigrants.

Relics of St. Junípero Serra, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and St. Toribio Romo were available for veneration following Mass.

In his homily, Archbishop Gomez stressed that “[h]atred can never change the one who hates. Only love can.”

“Christian love is not weak or soft,” he said. “Christian love means working for the good of the other. It means talking to those who disagree with us, treating them with kindness and respect, trying to see things through their eyes.”

Each person present at Mass has their own story, the archbishop noted, with their own fears, hopes and dreams, converging at this moment in Southern California.

While the United States has always been an “exceptional” country, welcoming migrants as a “beacon of hope,” he said, the nation is today seeing exceptional polarization, perhaps the worst since the Civil War.

“But as we stand at this altar today, we know there are no divisions, no ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ No matter who we are, or where we come from, we are one family. And we are sinners, all of us in need of God’s mercy and redemption.”

The death of Christ unites all the faithful in a story of redemption and a call to conversion, Gomez said.

”In Jesus Christ, every barrier, every wall falls down,” he said. “There is no Mexican no Vietnamese, Korean or Filipino; no Russian or Venezuelan, no migrant or native-born. In Jesus Christ, we are all children of God, made in his image.”

When viewed through this lens, it is clear that immigration is not merely a political issue, but a spiritual one as well, Gomez said.

“Immigration is not only about borders between nations. It is about barriers in the human heart — barriers that make us fearful of people who do not look like us; barriers that make us see others as less than human, not worth caring about.”

The archbishop pointed to Mary as a special advocate for America. He encouraged all those present to pray a daily Rosary for the conversion of hearts and the healing of the nation.

When circumstances appear bleak, we can remember that Christ “is the Lord of Creation and history,” he said. “That means this world belongs to him. And we belong to him. And he wants each of us to have a place we can call home.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/archbishop-gomez-at-mass-for-immigrants-we-can-heal-what-is-broken-in-america-11439

South Africa: Protesters demand action on violence against women

699FC421-E2A4-4475-92D2-E0AF30BEAF98Demonstrators took to the streets of Cape Town on Friday to protest violence against women [Guillem Sartorio/AFP]

Thousands of protesters wearing all-black, brandishing placards and singing apartheid-era struggle songs took to the streets of Johannesburg to demonstrate against what they called a scourge of femicide in South Africa.

Friday’s demonstrations, which police said were attended by 4,000 people in the Sandton neighbourhood, followed weeks of renewed activism and protests against gender-based violence in the country.

The move has been brought to the forefront of South African society after 19-year-old Nene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered in August by a post office employee Luyanda Botha.

Both told police he struggled to kill Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town student, after luring her to the Clareinch Post Office in the Western Cape to rape her.

“Society has failed women at every level,” said an eight-month pregnant protester, Alex Fitzgerald.

“We have failed them in a legal sense, on a societal sense, in our community and in our churches. Every institution in South Africa has failed to protect women. It’s become so endemic in our society that people somehow think this is the norm,” she said.

Lindelwe Nxumalo, another protester who stood on a blocked-off street in the city centre, said Mrwetyana “had her entire life ahead of her, like so many women that are treated like this by the men in South Africa”.

Nxumalo wore a T-shirt that read #AmINext, the hashtag demonstrators have rallied behind.

Demanding change

The protest, which was organised by a coalition of gender rights activist organisations, culminated in a march to the city’s financial capital and the headquarters of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

There, the attendees demanded that South Africa’s corporate sector provides funding and detailed plans to assist with combatting gender-based violence, carrying placards that read “I don’t want to die with my legs open” and “Actions not words”.

Marching and dancing up and down streets adjacent to the JSE, the protesters brought parts of South Africa’s financial capital to a standstill.

“The pain the women in this country are feeling is palpable. I completely understand the need to be heard,” Nicky Newton-King, JSE’s CEO, told reporters as she accepted a memorandum of demands.

“The important point of this though is to how we mobilise the correct business response to what is a complete tragedy for this country. We have committed to take this to big business and devise how to respond appropriately,” she added as some jeered in the crowd.

The demonstration comes a day after police released official crime statistics showing a countrywide murder rate of 58 a day, a 3.4 percent increase in a year.

During the previous period, for every 100,000 women in South Africa, an average of 15.2 were murdered, according to government data.

The statistics do not provide a breakdown of the motive behind the murder of women, so it is not possible to say how many were killed because they were female.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2016 indicated South Africa had the fourth-highest female interpersonal violence death rate out of the 183 countries listed, behind only Honduras, Jamaica and Lesotho.

Incidents involving sexual violence and assault have also spiked 4.6 percent year on year with a total of 41,583 reported cases of rape in the 2018-19 financial year, according to South African Police Service statistics.

Although this could be higher as a Rhodes University study suggests that only about 10 percent of all rapes are reported to the police.

The numbers also do not paint an accurate reflection of other vulnerable groups in the LBGTQI community too suffering disproportionate violence in South Africa.

“Patriarchy is so strong that it isn’t only straight women that get it. Men think they can do what they like, when they like in this country,” said another protester, Litha Malula, wearing a black beret.

Government response

The government has been criticised for a lax approach towards crime affecting women and children, even after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation last week in the wake of the public outcry, promising tougher action against perpetrators of sexual violence and the national publication of a sex offenders register.

“Cyril isn’t serious!” read one angry banner draped at the protest on Friday.

Ramaphosa has since cancelled his scheduled trip to address the United Nations General Assembly next week to concentrate on “critical domestic matters”, according to a statement released by the presidency.

Ramaphosa will now address an urgent joint sitting of parliament and the national council of provinces on Wednesday, the first of its kind since former President Thabo Mbeki fired his then-deputy Jacob Zuma in 2005.

But many protesters fear tougher laws or other similar government initiatives would not deter offenders or change anything.

Academics have pointed to the high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty as a major contributing factor to the violence directed towards women.

The unemployment rate is 29 percent in a struggling economy, which is expecting meagre growth in 2019.

“Its all leading to a general desperation in society,” said Lisa Vetten, of the University of Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research.

“The disenfranchised cannot exert much power and what that often translates to is people using violence to express their frustration,” she said.

To change the atmosphere of violence, the issues at its root must also be confronted by the men of South Africa, protester Tefo Tlale said.

“Women don’t feel safe. They don’t feel like this is their country. As a black African man, women are not seen as equal decision-makers or having a critical role to play in society,” said Tlale, who was among the crowd gathered outside the JSE.

“We have to undo that learning and ensure the next generation don’t grow up in a society where they think they are better just because they are men,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/south-africa-protesters-demand-action-violence-women-190913132640008.html

 

Do not let go of joy, Pope Francis urges youth in Mozambique

MozamiqueYouth perform a dance in the Maxaquene Pavilion in Maputo before the arrival of Pope Francis Sept. 5, 2019. Credit: Vatican Press Pool Photo.

.- Pope Francis encouraged young people of different faiths in Mozambique Thursday to not give up in the face of their country’s challenges, but to confront them with joy and hope.

“How do you make your dreams come true? How do you help to solve your country’s problems?” the pope asked Sept. 5, repeating questions asked him by Mozambican young people.

“My words to you are these. Do not let yourselves be robbed of joy. Keep singing and expressing yourselves in fidelity to all the goodness that you have learned from your traditions. Let no one rob you of your joy!”

Pope Francis arrived in Maputo, Mozambique in the evening Sept. 4, kicking off a Sept. 4-10 trip to three countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including the island nations of Madagascar and Mauritius.

The interreligious meeting with youth was held at the Maxaquene Pavilion. Maxaquene is a sports club based in Maputo.

Pope Francis entered the pavilion to joyful cheers, singing, and chants of “reconciliation.” The meeting opened up with a song, followed by musical and dance performances by groups of Christian, Mulim, Hindu, and Catholic youth. The pope’s speech was followed by a prayer.

During the encounter, Pope Francis told the estimated 4,500 young people present that “together, you are the beating heart of this people and all of you have a fundamental role to play in one great creative project: to write a new page of history, a page full of hope, peace and reconciliation.”

“I would like to ask you a question,” he added. “Do you want to write this page? When you were singing you sang the word reconciliation.”

He also told them “God loves you, and this is something on which all our religious traditions are agreed.”

“For him, you have worth; you are not insignificant. You are important to him, for you are the work of his hands and he loves you,” he said.

Quoting Christus vivit, his post-synodal exhortation to young people, Francis said “the love of the Lord has to do more with raising up than knocking down, with reconciling than forbidding, with offering new changes than condemning, the love of God has more to do with the future than the past.”

“I know that you believe in this love that makes reconciliation possible and I thank you.”

The pope warned against resignation and anxiety, which he said are two attitudes fatal to dreams and hope.

“These are great enemies of life, because they usually propel us along an easy but self-defeating path, and the toll they take is high indeed… We pay with our happiness and even with our lives,” he said.

It can be easy to give up when things are painful and difficult and everything seems to be falling apart, but that is not the solution, he continued.

He referenced popular Mozambican soccer player “the Black Panther” Eusébio da Silva.

“He began his athletic career in this city. The severe economic hardships of his family and the premature death of his father did not prevent him from dreaming,” the pope stated. “His passion for football [soccer] made him persevere, keep dreaming and moving forward.”

This led him to score 77 goals for his team, Maxaquene, “despite having plenty of reasons to give up…” Francis noted.

He said being part of a team was an important part of da Silva’s success. On a team, everyone has differences, different gifts, he stated, just like at the meeting today. “We come from different traditions and we may even speak different languages, but this has not stopped us from being here together as a group,” he said.

The pope argued that a lot of suffering is caused by people dividing and separating others, choosing those who can “play” and those who have to sit “on the bench.”

You can do something for your country by staying united, building friendships, and avoiding enmity, he said. He had the young people repeat that “social enmity, social division is destructive.”

“‘An old proverb says: “If you want to get somewhere in a hurry, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk with others.’ We need always to dream together, as you are doing today. Dream with others, never against others.”

“Keep dreaming the way you dreamed and prepared for this meeting: all together and without barriers. This is part of Mozambique’s ‘new page of history,’” he stated.

The pope also encouraged young people not to fear mistakes, but to persevere, and to not let worry make them abandon their dreams.

He used another Mozambican athlete as an example: Olympic champion runner Maria Mutola.

She did not win a gold medal in her first three Olympic Games, the pope noted, but on her fourth attempt, the 800-meter athlete won the gold medal in Sydney. And this did not make her self-absorbed. Despite her Olympic gold medal and her nine world titles, she did not forget her people or her roots, he said.

Pope Francis advised young people to listen to their elders and to stay rooted in their history and tradition, saying the older generations have much to offer.

“Sometimes we older people put you in difficulty, we frighten you. We can try to make you act, speak and live the same way we do. You will have to find your own way, but by listening to and appreciating those who have gone before you,” he said.

Noting the two cyclones which struck Mozambique earlier this year, Pope Francis said there is “a pressing challenge of protecting our common home.”

“Many of you were born at a time of peace, a hard-won peace that was not always easy to achieve and took time to build,” he said. “Peace is a process that you too are called to advance, by being ever ready to reach out to those experiencing hardship.”

“How important it is to learn to offer others a helping and outstretched hand! Try to grow in friendship with those who think differently than you, so that solidarity will increase among you and become the best weapon to change the course of history.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/do-not-let-go-of-joy-pope-francis-urges-youth-in-mozambique-73916