Tag Archives: Church

With rare unity, Catholic leaders urge ‘transformation’ climate deal

Christian Science Monitor

An international group of Catholic leaders has appealed to the United Nations to forge a strong climate agreement that is fair to poorer nations.

By Henry Gass, Staff writer

Cardinal Oswald Gracias (c.) signs an appeal next to Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez (2nd l.) during a news conference at the Vatican, Monday. Roman Catholic leaders from around the world on Monday made a joint appeal to a forthcoming United Nations conference on climate change to produce a 'fair, legally binding and truly transformational' agreement. Al­essandro Bianchi/Reuters
Cardinal Oswald Gracias (c.) signs an appeal next to Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez (2nd l.) during a news conference at the Vatican, Monday. Roman Catholic leaders from around the world on Monday made a joint appeal to a forthcoming United Nations conference on climate change to produce a ‘fair, legally binding and truly transformational’ agreement. Al­essandro Bianchi/Reuters

Following in the footsteps laid by Pope Francis in June, Roman Catholic leaders from around the world have issued an unprecedented joint appeal to an upcoming United Nations conference on climate change to produce “a truly transformation” agreement to stem global warming.

The group, which included Catholic cardinals, patriarchs, and bishops from five continents, signed the 10-page appeal at the Vatican on Monday. The document, based on the Pope’s landmark encyclical “Laudato Si”, says that any climate agreement must be fair to the poorest and most vulnerable nations. Continue reading With rare unity, Catholic leaders urge ‘transformation’ climate deal

Pope Francis: Companies can become places of holiness

Independent Catholic News
Pope Francis addressed 7000 members of the Union of Italian Christian Business Executives in the Paul VI hall this morning (Saturday), and told them that companies can become places of holiness. The Union brings together Catholic entrepreneurs who set themselves the goal of being the architects for the development of the common good. He told them their emphasis on Christian formation and training, mainly through the deepening of the social teaching of the Church, was a noble work. He also spoke about the importance of having the right balance between work and family life.

The Pope noted how a company and the executive office of companies can become places of holiness, by the commitment of everyone to build fraternal relations between entrepreneurs, managers and workers, encouraging co-responsibility and collaboration in the common interest.

The Holy Father also noted that the call to be missionaries of the social dimension of the Gospel in the difficult and complex world of labor, economics and business, involved being open and close to diverse situations such as poverty. Continue reading Pope Francis: Companies can become places of holiness

Laudato Si’ and Multinational Corporations

Independent Catholic News
The following is a talk given by Fr Seán McDonagh, SSC, on 22 September at a Rome Seminar, ‘Laudato Si’: Then Greening of the Church’.

Fr Seán McDonagh, SSC,

Criticism of the extraordinary economic and political power of multinational corporations runs right through Laudato Si’. Towards the end of No.34, Pope Francis tells us that the impact of commercial business if often making the world less rich and less beautiful. Further on, in No.37 he decries “proposals to internationalize the Amazon which only serves the economic interest of transnational corporations.” Pope Francis is particularly critical of the way transnational mining corporations operate in poor countries. “There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries in ways they could never do at home in the country in which they raise their capital. We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals” (No. 51). He returns to this theme in No. 173 where he gives the example of “powerful companies dump(ing) contaminated waste or offshore, polluting industries in other countries.” Continue reading Laudato Si’ and Multinational Corporations


“Before making any comment it is worth highlighting some peculiarities of the Laudato Si’ encyclical of Pope Francis.” –Leonardo Boff

Earth Charter International

The Magna Carta of integral ecology: Cry of the Earth, Cry of the poor
By Leonardo Boff, theologist and ecologist

Before making any comment it is worth highlighting some peculiarities of the Laudato Si’ encyclical of Pope Francis.

It is the first time a Pope has addressed the issue of ecology in the sense of an integral ecology (as it goes beyond the environment) in such a complete way. Big surprise: he elaborates the subject on the new ecological paradigm, which no official document of the UN has done so far.

He bases his writing on the safest data from the life sciences and Earth. He reads the data affectionately (with a sensitive or cordial intelligence), as he discerns that behind them hides human tragedy and suffering, and for Mother Earth as. The current situation is serious, but Pope Francis always finds reasons for hope and trust that human beings can find viable solutions. He links to the Popes who preceded him, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, quoting them frequently.

And something absolutely new: the text is part of collegiality, as it values the contributions of dozens of bishops’ conferences around the world, from the US to Germany, Brazil, Patagonia-Comahue, and Paraguay. He gathers the contributions of other thinkers, such as Catholics Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Romano Guardini, Dante Alighieri, the Argentinian maestro Juan Carlos Scannone, Protestant Paul Ricoeur and the Sufi Muslim Ali Al-Khawwas. The recipients are all of us human beings, we are all inhabitants of the same common home (commonly used term by the Pope) and suffer the same threats.

Pope Francis does not write as a Master or Doctor of faith, but as a zealous pastor who cares for the common home of all beings, not just humans, that inhabit it.

One element deserves to be highlighted, as it reveals the “forma mentis” (the way he organizes his thinking) of Pope Francis. This is a contribution of the pastoral and theological experience of Latin American churches in the light of the documents of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) in Medellin (1968), Puebla (1979) and Aparecida (2007), that were an option for the poor against poverty and in favor of liberation. Continue reading ARTICLE BY LEONARDO BOFF ON THE POPE’S ENCYCLICAL

Martyred American nun could be the patron saint of the pope’s eco-encyclical

By John L. Allen Jr.

Sister Dorothy Stang, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Belem, northern Brazil, in 2004. The nun was 73 when she was murdered Feb. 12, 2005, on an isolated road near the Brazilian town of Anapu. (Reuters/CNS/2004)
Sister Dorothy Stang, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Belem, northern Brazil, in 2004. The nun was 73 when she was murdered Feb. 12, 2005, on an isolated road near the Brazilian town of Anapu. (Reuters/CNS/2004)

When Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on the environment, appears on June 18, it will seem obvious to most people who the patron saint of the document is: St. Francis of Assisi, the great 12th- and 13th-century lover of all creation, whose famed “Canticle of the Sun” gives the text its title.

On Thursday, however, Francis provided an indirect clue that there’s another strong candidate as the patron, someone much closer in time though not yet formally declared a saint: Sister Dorothy Stang, an American missionary nun assassinated in Brazil in 2005 for defending the Amazon rainforest and the rights of poor farmers.

Sister Stang is known today as the “Martyr of the Amazon,” and the cause for which she laid down her life seems set to form a central component of Francis’ environmental agenda.

In remarks to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on Thursday, Francis said that climate change is not the only ecological danger and warned that increasing reliance on biofuels is also dangerous when it supplants food production and exacerbates global hunger.

No doubt the Latin American pontiff was thinking in part of the Amazon, where biofuel production is both driving a new wave of deforestation and reducing the land devoted to food crops. According to Oxfam International, in 2012 the amount of crops consumed as biofuel by G8 countries, most of it produced in Brazil and Indonesia, could have fed more than 441 million people for an entire year.

Francis’ speech to FAO suggested that deforestation and the link between environmentalism and hunger will be a major concern of Laudato Si. In contemporary Catholic history, few figures are more associated with those issues than Sister Stang.

In her day, biofuels were just coming on the horizon. The main threat to the Amazon came from large-scale ranchers, who ruthlessly drove farmers from their lands in order to clear them by burning, often buying off police and judges to look the other way. Sister Stang was one of the few foreign missionaries in the area, and the defense of the forest became her life’s work.

Sister Stang grew up in Dayton, Ohio, joining the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at age 17 with dreams of serving abroad. In 1966, she left for the city of Coroatá in Brazil, where her first assignment was to educate local farmers with no formal schooling.

When large-scale deforestation began in the 1970s, Sister Stang moved to the town of Anapu, described at the time as the “Wild West” of the Brazilian Amazon.

Sister Stang’s biographer, Sister Roseanne Murphy, set the scene: “The area is lawless. If the ranchers want more land for cattle, they simply send thugs with guns and say, ‘This is our land’.”

Famous for wearing T-shirts, shorts, and a baseball cap as she made her way through what amounted to a free-fire zone, Sister Stang emerged as the champion of farmers, indigenous groups, and the forest itself. One of her favorite T-shirts bore the slogan, A Morte da floresta é o fim da nossa vida, Portuguese for “The death of the forest is the end of our life.”

Sister Stang would camp outside police stations and courthouses, demanding that the rights of her people be upheld. At one point, local ranchers put a $50,000 bounty on her head.

“I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection,” Sister Stang said. “They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”

Her time came in February 2005, when a powerful local rancher ordered that the houses belonging to 12 farmers be burned down near the town of Esperanza — which, interestingly, means “hope.” Sister Stang organized a meeting to encourage the farmers to stay put.

She invited gunmen working for the rancher to attend, trying to persuade them to reject violence. According to the later testimony of one of those gunmen, Sister Stang walked with them to the meeting, showing them the land that belonged to the farmers on a map.

They asked if she had a gun, prompting her to pull out a Bible and tell them it was the only weapon she had. Sister Stang read to them from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

Obviously unmoved, they shot Sister Stang seven times, leaving her dead body along a muddy forest road. She was 73 at the time, having served in Brazil for 39 years.

David Stang, Dorothy’s brother, perhaps captured her legacy best. “Sometimes we think of nuns as gentle women with habits on, and we say, ‘Aren’t they nice servants?’ She was not that. She wasn’t that at all. She chose to be a servant, but she wasn’t anybody’s slave.”

Her story is a powerful reminder that Laudato Si won’t just drop out of a clear blue sky.

The ground for the pope’s environmental manifesto has been prepared by the witness and courage of scores of Catholic thinkers, pastors, and activists, and few put more on the line to make it possible than Dorothy Stang.

Pope Francis warns mission societies against becoming NGOs


World Mission Day 2015 (AP Photo)
World Mission Day 2015 (AP Photo)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The mission-oriented agencies of the church must guard against operating like nongovernmental organizations, empty of Christ’s  presence, Pope Francis said. “Please, guard against falling into the temptation of becoming an NGO, a distribution office for subsidies, small or large. Money can help, but it can also be the ruin of the mission,” said Pope Francis in an audience June 5 with members of the pontifical mission societies.

The societies, who were holding their annual meeting in Rome, are the four missionary awareness and mission-funding agencies coordinated under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The agencies support the church in developing countries, as well as the formation of seminarians, priests and religious in pontifical colleges, the pope noted.

However, he warned the groups’ members that “when functionalism becomes central or takes up a lot of space, as if it were the most important thing, it will lead to ruin; because the first way to die is to take for granted the ‘sources,’ that is he who moves the mission.” The work of the pontifical mission societies belongs to Jesus, he continued, urging members not to “remove Jesus Christ” from their “many plans and programs.”

Six Things to Expect When Francis Goes to Washington

By David Gibson (RNS)

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Credit: America Magazine)
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Credit: America Magazine)

Everyone wants Congress to stop fighting and get working, and that includes Pope Francis, a top adviser said on April 29 in a preview of the pope’s upcoming U.S. trip.

The Argentine-born pontiff has never been to the U.S., but he will make history in September as the first pope to address a joint meeting of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill.

“The pope will come humbly but will talk clearly,” Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a top adviser to Francis, told an audience at Georgetown University. More…

35 years after Romero, El Salvador is still at war

by John Allen Jr. (Associate Editor)

Members of the 18th street gang gather together at the Cojutepeque Jail in El Salvador.  (Photo: Getty Images)
Members of the 18th street gang gather together at the Cojutepeque Jail in El Salvador. (Photo: Getty Images)

SAN SALVADOR — When the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador is beatified on Saturday, it will mark a public celebration of a martyr shot to death at the altar in 1980 for seeking justice and peace in a country that, on the cusp of a brutal civil war, was sorely lacking in both.

Although it’s hard to know what Romero might make of the honor, it seems far more certain he would have mixed feelings about what’s happened in El Salvador in the 35 years since his death.

On one hand, following a deadly conflict from 1980 to 1992 that saw an estimated 85,000 people killed, 8,000 missing, and 1 million displaced, a peace agreement between the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and a US-backed conservative Salvadoran government produced a cease-fire that has never been broken.

US Bishops warn ‘without nuclear disarmament, world is in great danger’


Nagasaki Bomb
Nagasaki Bomb

The US Bishops’ International Justice and Peace Committee has urged Secretary of State, John Kerry, to step up efforts to advance nuclear disarmament and ensure the success of a multilateral conference being held in New York. The comments were made in a May 12 letter issued as the Ninth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) meeting continues at the United Nations.

“For most Americans, there is an assumption that the nuclear threat receded with the end of the Cold War. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth,” said Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee. “In a multi-polar world where there are risks of nuclear proliferation and even nuclear terrorism, it is imperative that the world move systematically and relentlessly toward nuclear disarmament and the securing of nuclear materials. Preserving the NPT is a cornerstone of this effort.”

The International Justice and Peace Committee also urged bold and concrete commitments to “accelerate verifiable nuclear disarmament, including taking weapons off ‘launch on warning’ status to prevent a catastrophic accident, deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals, ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and serious negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and other prudent measures.” Read full text of the letter…

London: Campaigners hold prayer vigil at Foreign Office over deaths of refugees in Mediterranean


miggrntMore than 40 international religious peace activists highlighted the deaths of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and the culpability of the UK government on Friday. The gathering consisted of a silent procession to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a public prayer vigil, and a symbolic representation of the deaths at the Home Office.

Since January 1, 2015 over 65,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe. So far this year at least 1,800 men, women and children have drowned in their bid to reach Europe; a direct result of the indefensible decision to disband Mare Nostrum, the search and rescue operation. These include refugees fleeing oppression, poverty and war, forced to submit to acts of desperation and the risks of human trafficking in their search for a better life.

In the face of this crisis, European governments, including the UK, have reduced search and rescue operations leading to the death toll increasing ten times that of the same period in 2014 (according to the International Organisation for Migration).

Last month, under humanitarian pressure… More…