As the number of disasters around the world rises, the lack of funds for humanitarian aid is exacerbating an already serious situation. Millions of people in Syria, Gaza, South Sudan and other conflict regions are waiting for help. The United Nations, the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières are sounding the alarm about the lack of resources, Jos de Voogd from Cordaid (Caritas Netherlands) writes. Humanitarian funds are drying up when the need for aid has never been greater. In this 'summer of disasters',
Following the Angelus with pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis called on the faithful and all people of good will to have greater care for creation. Sunday was the Italian Bishops' Day for the Safeguarding of Creation initiative. This year the focus of the day is to promote education in the care for creation. Pope Francis said: “I hope everyone – institutions, associations and citizens – will strengthen their efforts, so as to safeguard the life and health of people by respecting the environment and nature.”
.. The new statement cites respect for Muslims from Vatican II and a number of later papal statements and documents. It expresses sadness over the recent violence and Christians who reject engagement. Joins Pope Francis in saying dialogue leads to growth, witness and peace... They wrote: “Like the pope, we are convinced that the encounter and dialogue with persons different than ourselves offers the best opportunity for fraternal growth, enrichment, witness, and ultimately peace.”
Christian Aid partner in Gaza, the Agricultural Development Association, estimates that the recent conflict has cost the agricultural and fisheries sectors more than US$100 million, resulting in more than 8,700 families losing their means of income. The association has managed to survey 4,700 Gazan farmers and smallholders over the last few weeks, 65 per cent of the farming population, with findings revealing that 3,670 acres of land used for fruit and vegetable production have been damaged or destroyed.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who heads the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, addressed participants of the fifth annual conference of the International Catholic Legislators Network on Friday. The network was founded in 2010 by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and British parliamentarian Lord David Alton, to discuss the promotion of Christian values and morals in the political arena. The four-day event held at Frascati near Rome, ends today... I know that you are here because you are passionate about the 'city on earth'
Argentinian priest Fr Jorge Hernández Zanni, Parish Priest at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza, had a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican today. After his meeting, Fr Jorge, who is a member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word spoke on Vatican Radio. Describing the meeting with Pope Francis as an unexpected grace, he said that during the recent war in Gaza, the Pontiff had emailed a message to the parish which he said, was very encouraging.
A statue of 'La Cachita' the Patron Saint of Cuba, was given a place of honour in the Vatican Gardens yesterday, in a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. A delegation of Cuban bishops, who brought the replica statue of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre'as a gift to Pope Francis, was present for the ceremony. In 1998, Pope John Paul II crowned the Virgin of the Caridad del Cobre during an apostolic journey to the Caribbean country. The Virgin of Charity is closely linked to Cuban history and to the island's independence struggle.
With the number of Ebola cases continuing to rise dramatically across West Africa, CAFOD is working with priests, imams and traditional religious leaders to save lives in remote communities. In Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, CAFOD’s partners in the Caritas family of Catholic aid agencies are training priests, parish volunteers, imams, spiritualists and traditional healers to spread the word about hand-washing, good hygiene and safe burial practices, as well as distributing hygiene kits. The project aims to reach hundreds of thousands of people
After a ceasefire agreement was reached on August 26 between Israel and Hamas, Bishop Ibrahim Shomali, the Latin Patriarchal vicar in Jerusalem, welcomed the end of hostilities and invited people from all over the world to resume pilgrimages to the Holy Land. “We are very pleased to announce that the recent grave war in Gaza is declared finished," Bishop Shomali said."It is, once again, safe to resume pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and we encourage you to visit this beloved and beleaguered land.
Malteser International, the worldwide relief agency of the Order of Malta, will be providing medical assistance for 10,000 displaced Christians and minorities in north Iraq over the next three three months. A shipment containing drugs, medical supplies and hygiene items will be distributed to the camps around Erbil through the humanitarian agency’s network on the ground. “The number of refugees and displaced continues to rise – the United Nations estimates there are over a million just in north Iraq,” Oliver Hochedez, who leads the team on the ground, reports.
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Antoine Audo has appealed for an international peace force to hold back the onslaught of the Islamic State militants advancing in Syria and Iraq. In an interview with the Vatican Radio Italian Service, Bishop Audo said: “We are a bit confused; no one knows exactly what is happening. As Christians, as Syrians, we hope to have a solution of reconciliation, of peace, with the help of the United Nations. An international peace force is needed. The situation in Aleppo is rather difficult, with problems of electricity, water; there is no security.
To celebrate the 50 anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on African American Affairs plans to release a series of resources to highlight the achievements of the Civil Rights era and its connections to the Catholic Church. Over the next 12 months, resources will highlight the Mississippi Freedom Summer (June to August 1964); the Civil Rights Act (July 1964); the March from Selma to Montgomery (March 1965); and the 50 anniversary of the Voting Rights Act in August 2015.
Bullet-riddled facades, collapsed houses and buildings, roofs ripped. Gaza is a ravaged landscape. Few neighborhoods were spared from the fighting and bombings. The latest report from OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations, was issued on 25 August, the day before the cease-fire. The report says that while on their side of the border, 70% of Israelis were at least able to leave their homes which were under constant rocket fire, Gazans had nowhere to flee.
Pope Francis greeted thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square today for his General Audience. During his catechesis, the Holy Father stressed the importance of unity in the Church and in our lives. We, the members of the Church, are all sinners, he said, but the unity and holiness of the Church arise from God and calls us daily to conversion. The Holy Father said that the sins against unity, such as jealousy, envy, and antipathy come about when we place ourselves first - something which does happen in parish communities.
Some weeks ago I wrote an article entitled, 'Requiem for The Great Barrier Reef.' The article was based on an earlier one by Dr Timothy Flannery, an Australian scientist and environmental commentator. The article began with a very blunt statement: “the Great Barrier reef is sick.” A 2012 study found half of the corals composing the reef are already dead as a result of decades of pesticide runoff, soil erosion caused by land clearing, coral bleaching as the surrounding water become warmer.... Flannery went on to argue that the opening of a massive coal mine
The global climate campaign 350.org and partners launched a new campaign today urging Pope Francis to divest the Vatican Bank from all investments in the fossil fuel industry and publicly support the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels.The petition to the head of the Catholic church reads: “Your acknowledgement of the dire threat of climate change, the Vatican’s efforts to become the first carbon-neutral state, and your dedication to caring for Creation give us great hope. We urge you to use the power of your office to set an example for the world.”
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church has sent the following letter to church leaders, politicians and 'all people of good will'..... For nine months, Ukrainians have been on an arduous pilgrimage from post-Soviet fear to freedom and God-given dignity. Traumatized by twentieth century World Wars, brown and red totalitarianism and genocide, they seek a just society and a democratic, European future. With patience, endurance, and great human sacrifice
Around a thousand Christians from northern Iraq, fleeing from jihadists militia of the Islamic State, will be welcomed in Jordan within the next few days thanks to the contribution of Caritas Jordan. Wael Suleiman, Director of Caritas Jordan, said: "So far more than 300 Christians have arrived in Amman after escaping from Mosul and villages of the Nineveh Plain. Within the next week the number will increase to 700." He said that in the following days Caritas is expecting about 1,000 Christians.
More than 900 people attended a 'Mass of Healing, Hope and Peace' at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish in Rochester, New Hampshire in memory of journalist James Foley who was killed in the Middle East last week after being held captive for nearly two years. The evening before, hundreds of people had taken part in a candlelit vigil. Photos of James were placed around the church and a handwritten sign, 'Pray for James Foley & His Family' was placed in the garden outside.
Fairness and justice is what the poor and the oppressed need from those elected to protect and serve them. When the people are in greatest need and government officials turn away then the people have been betrayed ,abandoned and left without help. This is what I experience everyday in our struggle to get justice for the victims of human trafficking child sexual abuse. But there is little justice. The rich and powerful can buy a way out of their crimes. It happens also to the farmers and the urban poor - their oppressors kill with impunity.
Three Catholic Bishops serving in northern Myanmar (Burma) have released a statement calling for peace in their state. Bishop Francis Daw Tang, Bishop Philip Zahawng and Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam released the statement which calls for an end to the civil war that reignited in 2011 in the Kachin and Shan regions. In Kachin State war is being fought between the Burmese government and the KIA (Kachin Independence Army). It has resulted in the death of hundreds of innocent people and the displacement of thousands of Kachin people (most of whom are Christians).
CAFOD has joined leading Muslim charities – including Muslim Aid, Muslim Charities Forum and Islamic Help – to launch an urgent call for an end to the horrific suffering in Iraq. In a joint statement, also signed by the Act Alliance and World Vision, the agencies described the suffering of minorities, including Christians, Yazidis and Turkmens, as “unacceptable” and "despicable". CAFOD’s Alan Thomlinson said: “People of all faiths are appalled by the wave of attacks in Iraq that has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and in desperate need.
"The international community, and in particular the EU and United States cannot remain indifferent" to the "humanitarian catastrophe" unfolding at the hands of Islamic State militants. With these words, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Raphael Louis Sako I has renewed his appeal on behalf of Christians and other persecuted minorities in Iraq. In an open letter released on Sunday, the Chaldean Catholic Church leader calls into question the West’s "moral and historical" responsibility towards religious minorities but also those of the Muslim community.
...Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water. We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!
Around 5,000 Catholics from the diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe, attended this year's Diocesan feast day, Mary Queen of Peace, over the weekend of the 23-24 August. The Diocese of Masvingo has dedicated this year to the family, and all the talks given highlighted family catechesis and Catholic Social Teaching. The gathering started with a scripture reflection and Benediction before a solemn candle-lit procession to the Shrine as pilgrims recited the Rosary