‘Civilize the market’ for common good, care of creation, pope says

Cindy Wooden
CRUX

Pope Francis said on Friday that in societies where profit is allowed to be the only concern, “democracy tends to become a plutocracy, where inequality and the exploitation of the planet grows.” The pontiff said political action “must be placed truly at the service of the human person, the common good and respect for nature.”

Greater inequality and a more rapid destruction of the environment “are not destiny nor even a historic constancy,” the pope told members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. “There have been periods in which, in some countries, inequalities diminished and the environment was better protected.”

Francis addressed academy members Oct. 20 during a three-day meeting devoted to the study of “changing relations among market, state and civil society.” The meeting topic was inspired particularly by retired Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical letter, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”), which upheld the right and obligation of governments and groups to intervene with policies to ensure the market economy leads not only to the creation of goods and services, but that it benefits all members of society.

The discussion was particularly timely, Francis said, given “the widespread and systemic increase of inequality and of exploitation of the planet, which is greater than the increase in income and wealth.”

The process is not automatic, the pope said. It depends on individual actions and also on the economic regulations that states impose.

Individuals and governments make all sorts of interventions in the economy through choices about energy, labor policies, the banking system, taxes, social welfare programs and education, he said. “Depending on how these sectors are programmed, there are different consequences in the way income and wealth are distributed among those who helped produce them.”

In societies where profit is allowed to be the only concern, he said, “democracy tends to become a plutocracy, where inequality and the exploitation of the planet grows.

“The development of clean energy to resolve the challenge of climate change” is one area where both workers and the planet would benefit, the pope said. But that cannot happen unless governments “liberate” themselves from lobbies that continue to promote the fossil-fuels industry.

Political action must be placed truly at the service of the human person, the common good and respect for nature,” he said. “Basically, we must aim at civilizing the market, working for an ethic that is friendly toward the person and his environment.”

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Pope: Market, State, Society Should Cooperate

Zenit

Address to Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

Pope Francis said there is “a need of great current relevance, such as that of developing new models of cooperation between the market, the State and civil society, in relation to the challenges of our time.”

His comments came October 20, 2017, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where he received the participants in the meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

The Holy Father focused on two key points:

  • The endemic and systemic increase of inequality and the exploitation of the planet, which is greater than the increase in income and wealth.
  • The other cause of exclusion is work that is not worthy of the human person.

Continue reading

Cardinal Auza at UN: More Inclusive Economy

Developed Nations Must Lower Protective Tariffs

Zenit

His remarks came at the UN in New York during the Second Committee debates on Agenda Item 17, dedicated to Macroeconomic policy questions and on Agenda Item 18, dedicated to the follow-up and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development.

He also highlighted the importance of increasing official development assistance for LDCs, while expressing concern about debt sustainability for developing countries. He said that increasing debt relief, humanitarian aid, and donor commitments for the growing burden of global refugee costs will help make possible the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

Here is Archbishop Auza’s Statement

 

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee
Agenda Item 17: Macroeconomic policy questions
and Agenda Item 18: Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development
New York, 5-6 October 2017

Mr. Chair,

My Delegation takes serious note of the Secretary-General’s recent reports on a number of different macroeconomic policy issues, including his report on progress made in implementing the outcomes of the international conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa in July 2015. Continue reading

Microsoft rep calls Catholic Church a key ally in protecting kids online

Catholic News Agency

.- The head of Microsoft’s office for online safety has said the Catholic Church is a key ally in the ongoing effort to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation online.

When asked why a major tech company would partner with the Catholic Church on such an important issue, Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer for Microsoft Inc., had a simple response: “why not?”

Beauchere spoke during an Oct. 3-6 conference on Child Dignity in the Digital World, addressing the topic of “How Do Internet Providers and Software Developers Define Their Responsibility and Limits of Cooperation Regarding Safeguarding of Minors.”

Speaking with a small group of journalists at the conference, Beauchere said, “why would you not take advantage of such a huge platform and such a huge array of people to make people aware of the situation?”

Beauchere said she is willing to collaborate with “anyone who wants to talk about these issues,” because “we all can learn from one another. And the only way we’re going to get better, the only way we’re going to do and learn more is to really expand the dialogue.”

She also spoke about the future steps and investments technology companies can make in helping to fight online child exploitation, and action-points for the future, including some highlights from a joint-declaration from conference participants that will be presented to Pope Francis in an audience tomorrow.

Beauchere was one of two representatives of major tech organizations present at the conference, the other being Dr. Antigone Davies, Head of Global Safety Policy for Facebook.

Organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University‘s Center for Child Protection in collaboration with the UK-based global alliance WePROTECT and the organization “Telefono Azzurro,” which is the first Italian helpline for children at risk.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin opened the conference as a keynote speaker. Other participants in the congress include social scientists, civic leaders, and religious representatives. Discussion points include prevention of abuse, pornography, the responsibility of internet providers and the media, and ethical governance.

Please read below for excerpts of Beauchere’s conversation with journalists:

Thank you for your time. It was very interesting to hear what Microsoft is doing to combat this issue. But many speakers that followed you said that more could be done as far as investments and money being put into helping in NGOs that are working to help in this issue, and technologies that can be put into fighting this issue. What is your response? What can be done in the future to address this call to action?

I would say the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement, and we can all do more. We can all do better. We just have to determine what is going to be the best root to direct our resources. So we come at the at the problem from a technology perspective, from an internal governance perspective with policies and standards and procedures, with education and with partnerships. We are already supporting a number of organizations, which I noted in my remarks. We are on the board for the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, I personally sit on the board of the WeProtect organization. I sit on the board of the In Hope organization, I used to sit on the board, now another colleague does, of the Technology Coalition. That’s all technologies coming together to come up with technical solutions, other operational means, to alleviate the problem. So there are many things we are dong, it’s a question of we have so precious few resources – we’re given budgets like every one ounce. We don’t get an unlimited pot of money, so we have to decide where are we going to put our efforts and what is going to deliver the most bang for the buck.

And where do you see this money being used most importantly?

I think efforts like this that really bring together a multitude of stakeholders. As I said, technology companies work together. Sometimes I feel like I work and talk to Twitter and Google and YouTube and Facebook more so in a week than I do with my own colleagues at Microsoft, so we’re always working together. Civil society works together. Academia works together. Government works together. But now we need to bring all of those stakeholders together. WeProtect started that effort, but I could say that there are really only four stakeholder groups there: that would be the technology companies, governments, law enforcement and civil society. But now with this world congress we’re expanding to include the Church and faith-based organizations, to include a broader array of academics, to include the public health sector. Now, with more people it could sometimes present a little bit more conflict, or hiccups or hurdles that we’re going to have to get over, but we’re going to have to find a way that we’re all going to have to agree on certain things, and then build from there.

On a practical level, you’ve spoken about all the boards and committees that you are a part of, and it’s really important to be a part of that conversation, but if you were going to tell me now where you are going to allocate your resources next as the frontier of where to fight this issue, where do you see the challenges and problems? Where should that money be allocated?

It has to be invested in technology. But technology investments don’t pay off immediately, they take time. So a lot of people are asking, ‘can’t you just invent a technology that can determine that that’s a child sexual abuse image, and then it won’t be uploaded from the get-go?’ This is artificial intelligence, this is machine learning, it’s only been in recent years that we’ve been able to identify, via artificial intelligence and via machine learning, that a cat is a cat. So when you put in the complex scenarios of the parade of horribles that could happen to a child, and the different actors that are involved in those scenarios and the different body parts, and the different scenes and places where things could happen as far as these crimes, you’re adding so much more complexity. So there’s a lot of work. These technology investments are not going to pay off immediately. I think people look at technology and they think it’s a silver bullet, they think that technology created these problems, so technology should fix them. Number one, technology didn’t create these problems, and number two, technology alone cannot solve them. So technology investments are key, but they’re not going to pay off immediately. So these kinds of efforts that are multi-party, multi-focused, multi-pronged and faceted, that’s where we need to put our efforts and I think the money will follow. The money will follow what proves the most successful or will at least show the most promise.

In terms of investment, many of the speakers addressed or were from areas of the world that are not as developed in technology, but are starting to gain access to the internet and don’t have the background or the education about what it can do. In terms of investment, do you guys have plans to address this issue in some of these nations that are not as developed?

We have educational and awareness raising resources available everywhere. Personally I see the developing world as an opportunity. Yes they are gaining access to technology quicker, but they have the ability to learn from the Western world and the mistakes that we made, and they have the ability and the opportunity to do things right from the ground up. They just can’t let the technology get ahead of them, they have to really incorporate the learning and the awareness raising and some of the good, healthy practices and habits, developing those habits for going online and keeping oneself and one’s family safe. But I see it as more of an opportunity than as a problem.

You mentioned that you are also trying to broaden your network of allies in fighting this issue, so why broaden it to faith-based organizations, why come to a Jesuit university to participate in this conference?

I say why not? Why would you not take advantage of such a huge platform and such a huge array of people to make aware of the situation. These are very difficult conversations to have. People don’t want, whether it’s people in government or elsewhere, they don’t want to acknowledge that these issues exist. It’s a very delicate topic, it’s a very sensitive topic, in some instances it’s taboo, so it’s been very refreshing to have a new outlet, to have a new audience, to potentially involve new stakeholders, and to see how people are coming to the issue and addressing it very directly, and very head-on, and being very open and transparent about what’s happening in their countries, and about how serious these situations and these issues are. So I will collaborate, I will work with anyone who wants to talk about these issues, we all can learn from one another. And the only way we’re going to get better, the only way we’re going to do and learn more is to really expand the dialogue.

You mentioned that a lot of people say that it’s all technology’s fault. So what can technology do to help in the issue and what should people perhaps take into their own hands?

People need to own their own presence online and they need to know what they are doing. They need to safeguard their own reputation. So there are certain habits and practices that they could develop, we offer a wealth of materials on our website. One thing I want to point out about people and their own learning is sometimes, unfortunately, that leaning comes a little bit too late. We were discussing this in my workshop. It’s been my experience that what drives people to action, and I’m talking about pro-action, is something bad happening to them. Their identity has been stolen, so now I need to go figure out how to protect myself from identity theft. A child’s been bullied, now I need to go figure out what’s been happening with online bullying. Unfortunately we want to galvanize people and rally them to take some proactive steps to safeguard their reputations, to know who and with whom they are talking, to know what they are sharing online, to be discreet where discretion is warranted. That’s not suppressing the kinds of engagements, and connections and interactions they want to have, but that’s doing so with eyes wide open, and that’s doing so with a healthy dose of reality and of what could potentially go wrong and of being aware of risks. I know there was a first part to your question…

What can technology do when it comes to this issue, but what are it’s limits?

Well technology can always help, and we tell people to get help from technology. So technology can help determine for instance, what parents want their kids to see online, what websites they want them to go to, who they want them to communicate with. Some people call them “family controls,” at Microsoft we call them “family safety settings.” And they’re right there in your Windows operating system, in your Xbox live console, so that is our obligation, that is our obligation as a technology company, t put those kinds of tools and resources into the product itself to help people, and to give them the tools they need to better educate themselves, make them aware of these issues, and to hopefully get them to want to teach others, to inform others. So it very much is a multi-stakeholder issue, it’s everyone’s problem and it’s everyone’s opportunity.

Are you going to the meeting with Pope Francis tomorrow?

Absolutely. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Are you Catholic?

Yes, I am. I spoke with my priest before I came here, because I was a bit overwhelmed.

What do you expect from that meeting, what do you hope is going to come out of that meeting tomorrow with the Pope?

Well he’s going to be presented with this declaration, which is a series of commitments, or calls to action, for every stakeholder group who was present at this congress, and it has the ability to be monumental. I really hope there is a follow-up and follow-through, because I have attended things like this before, not of this magnitude, where everyone is so excited and so jazzed to take this forward, and there’s very little follow-up and follow-through, and I personally am someone who always wants to do more and to continue. I don’t sign up to anything, I don’t commit to anything unless I’m going to be fully in.

In many ways Pope Francis has helped put climate change and immigration into the minds of policy makers. Do you think he has the ability to put the protection of minors up there?

Of course, of course.

Some have said there is perhaps anti-Catholic, anti-religious sentiment in Silicon Valley. Will they listen to the Church on this?

Well, we’re not in Silicon Valley, so I can’t attest to what’s going on in Silicon Valley, but I personally don’t see it. When I told my manager, my boss, that I had the ability to come here, he said, ‘get me an invitation, too.’ That was very wonderful to hear, and I did get him an invitation, but unfortunately he changed roles and he didn’t think it was particularly relevant for him to come and though that since he’s not in the same role perhaps he should not. So I’m the only one here for Microsoft, but I’m here.

Pope Francis commits the church to protect children from abuse in the digital world

Gerard O’Connell
America Magazine (Jesuit Owned)

Pope Francis today committed the Catholic Church to work “effectively and with genuine passion,” in close association with lawmakers, police authorities, technological giants in the field of social communications and other actors in civil society, for “the effective protection of the dignity of minors in the digital world.”

He offered this commitment in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall when he addressed the 140 participants from the first world congress on “Child Dignity in the Digital World” that was held at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University, Oct. 3 to 6.

Continue reading

Pope denounces porn and corruption of kids’ minds, bodies

AP

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Friday denounced the proliferation of adult and child pornography on the internet and demanded better protections for children online — even as the Vatican confronts its own cross-border child porn investigation involving a top papal envoy.

Francis met with participants of a Catholic Church-backed international conference on fighting child pornography and protecting children in the digital age. He fully backed their proposals to toughen sanctions against those who abuse and exploit children online and improve technological filters to prevent young people from accessing porn online.

Francis said the Catholic Church knew well the “grave error” of trying to conceal the problem of sexual abuse — a reference to the church’s long history of having priests who rape and molest children and bishops who cover up for them. Several well-known cases have involved priests having child porn, or photographing their victims.

Francis said an international, cross-disciplinary approach was needed to protect children from the dark net and the “corruption of their minds and violence against their bodies.”

Using terms that are certainly new to papal lexicon, Francis denounced “extreme pornography” on the web that adults, and increasingly children consume, and the increasing use of “sexting” and “sextortion” among the estimated 800 million minors who navigate the internet.

“We would be seriously deluding ourselves were we to think that a society where an abnormal consumption of internet sex is rampant among adults could be capable of effectively protecting minors,” he said.

The conference was planned some two years ago, but it unfolded precisely at the time when the Vatican is facing back-to-back child sex scandals: One of Francis’ top advisers, Cardinal George Pell, recently took leave to face old abuse charges in his native Australia, while in August the Vatican recalled a senior diplomat from its embassy in Washington who got embroiled in a child porn investigation.

Canadian police have issued an arrest warrant for Monsignor Carlo Capella, accusing him of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography during a visit to an Ontario church over Christmas. He is now in the Vatican, where prosecutors have opened an investigation.

The Vatican in 2013 criminalized child porn possession, distribution and production, with sanctions varying from up to two years and a 10,000-euro fine ($11,170) to 12 years and a 250,000-euro fine.

Some U.S. church officials and critics balked at the recall, saying the Vatican should have waived diplomatic immunity and let Capella face charges in the U.S. or Canada. Vatican officials have defended the recall as consistent with common diplomatic practice and suggested that Capella will face a criminal trial in the Vatican if the evidence warrants it.

Participants at the congress offered sobering statistics about the problem: Last year, Interpol identified five child victims of online abuse every day, while the Internet Watch Foundation identified more than 57,000 websites containing child sexual abuse images.

The conference, which drew leading researchers in public health, Interpol, the U.N., government representatives as well as executives from Facebook and Microsoft, issued a 13-point call to action that it presented to Francis on Friday. Their declaration demands that:

—Lawmakers and governments improve laws to protect children online and punish perpetrators of child porn production

—Technology companies develop better ways to block redistribution of porn and attack the proliferation of child porn images already on the web

—Law enforcement agencies improve information sharing and ensure help for young victims of online exploitation

—Health professionals enhance training to recognize signs of abuse and increase research into the effects of viewing porn on young minds

—Faith leaders, governments and civil society to increase awareness about the problem.

Francis said he wanted each of them to remember that children look to adults, with light in their eyes and trust in their heart, to protect them.

“What are we doing to make sure they are not robbed of this light, to ensure that those eyes will not be darkened and corrupted by what they will find on the internet?”

The Pontifical Gregorian University drew plaudits for hosting the conference and bringing together a remarkable spectrum of specialists to discuss a little-reported issue. Victims’ advocates and other groups nevertheless pointed to the church’s many cases of priests convicted of having child porn, and church authorities who covered up for them.

“It is astonishing that those problems were not only swept under the rug at this conference, but treated as qualifications for sponsoring the event,” said Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability, an online resource of the abuse scandal.

The victims group SNAP concurred: “The Vatican should not be leading this summit. They should be the target of this summit.”

Pope Francis tells Korean religious leaders to oppose “rhetoric of hatred”

CRUX

Amidst rising tensions between North Korea and the United States, Pope Francis told an interfaith gathering of religious leaders from South Korea that they are called to be “heralds of peace, proclaiming and embodying a nonviolent style, a style of peace, with words clearly different from the narrative of fear, and with gestures opposed to the rhetoric of hatred.”

Pope Francis told religious leaders from South Korea that they are called upon to initiate, promote and accompany processes for the reconciliation of all people.

Representatives from the seven main religious groups on the peninsula are in Rome for an interfaith pilgrimage, amid growing tensions between North Korea and the United States.

President Donald Trump this week said “all options are on the table” after nuclear-armed Pyongyang fired a Hwasong-12 medium range missile over Japan which landed in the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea state media said the missile launch was “the first step of the military operation of the [North Korean military] in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly threatened to attack the U.S. Pacific territory, which has a population of 162,000 people.

Amidst the heated rhetoric, Archbishop Igino Kim Hee-joong, the president of the Korean Bishops’ Conference, said ahead of the audience they would ask the pope to pray for peace and to help the Korean people.

The archbishop told the SIR news agency – which is an arm of the Italian bishops’ conference – the religious leaders were appealing to “seek peace not with weapons or sanctions but through dialogue, negotiation and mutual respect at all costs.”

Francis told the leader the world is looking to them to set an example.

“It looks to us for answers and a shared commitment to various issues: The sacred dignity of the human person, the hunger and poverty which still afflict too many peoples, the rejection of violence, in particular that violence which profanes the name of God and desecrates religion, the corruption that gives rise to injustice, moral decay, and the crisis of the family, of the economy and, not least of all, the crisis of hope,” he said.

 

“We are called to be heralds of peace, proclaiming and embodying a nonviolent style, a style of peace, with words clearly different from the narrative of fear, and with gestures opposed to the rhetoric of hatred,” the pope said.

Although not mentioning the North Korean threat specifically, the pope said interreligious dialogue is directed to the common good and peace, and must always be open and respectful.

“Open, that is to say warm and sincere, carried forward by persons willing to walk together with esteem and honesty,” Francis explained. “Respectful, because mutual respect is at once the condition and the goal of interreligious dialogue: Indeed, it is in respecting the right to life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms, such as those of conscience, religion, thought and expression, that the foundations are laid for building peace, for which each of us is called to pray and work.”

Francis did speak about the North Korean nuclear crisis during his flight back from Egypt last April.

At the time, the pope called on Trump and other world leaders to reinforce the push for a diplomatic solution to the mounting crisis, and asked the United Nations to “resume its leadership” to help diffuse the situation, saying the UN’s role “has been a bit watered down.”

“I’ve called on [world leaders], and I will call on them, to work towards resolving the problems through the path of diplomacy,” Francis said, asked by journalists about the prospect raised by Trump at the time of a “major conflict.”

In his interview with SIR, Igino Kim said the Catholic Church in Korea is focused on advancing denuclearization and peace-building on the Korean peninsula.

“A nuclear war would have devastating consequences on the whole of humanity,” the archbishop said.

Image: 

Members of the Daegu “Pueri Cantores” choir from South Korea play bells as Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 20, 2015. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

Trump attends church service on National Day of Prayer

AP

President Donald Trump declared Sunday a National Day of Prayer for Harvey victims and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana. In his official proclamation he called on “Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers today for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey.” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump is attending a church service on a National Day of Prayer for Harvey victims.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived at St. John’s Church, an Episcopal church near the White House, on Sunday morning.

Trump had declared Sunday a National Day of Prayer for Harvey victims and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana. In his official proclamation he called on “Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers today for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey.

“The entire Nation grieves with Texas and Louisiana.  We are deeply grateful for those performing acts of service, and we pray for healing and comfort for those in need,” the September 1 statement reads.

“When we look across Texas and Louisiana, we see the American spirit of service embodied by countless men and women.  Brave first responders have rescued those stranded in drowning cars and rising water.  Families have given food and shelter to those in need,” it continues.

In his proclamation Trump noted that houses of worship have organized efforts to clean up communities and repair damaged homes, and that individuals of every background are working to aid and comfort people facing devastating losses.

Trump made a second visit on Saturday to communities devastated by Harvey, traveling to Houston and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

An upbeat and optimistic president visited a Houston mega-shelter housing hundreds of displaced people and briefly walked streets lined with soggy, discarded possessions.

Trump met the scene with positivity, congratulating officials on an emergency response still in progress and telling reporters that he’d seen “a lot of love” and “a lot of happiness” in the devastation the storm left behind.

Joined by his wife Melania, Trump brought coloring books and crayons and sat with families that had been displaced. Trump lifted one little girl into his arms and gave her a kiss. He signed his name on the cement wall by the children’s artwork.

With a wide smile and quick banter, Trump served food in the lunch line – at one point joking about his hands being too big for the sanitary gloves – and then moved on to First Church in the Houston suburb of Pearland. There Trump greeted a group of volunteers and lavished praise on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for his state’s response.

“I want to congratulate the governor,” he said. “I want to congratulate everybody that’s worked so hard. It’s been an incredible five days, six days. It seems like it’s been much longer than that, but actually it’s going so well that it’s going fast, in a certain sense.”

The Trumps then helped load small boxes and bottles of water into pickup trucks and minivans.

“I like doing this,” Trump told one of the volunteer coordinators. “I like it.”

As Trump visited, the Houston area was still burying its dead and trying to contain the mess. Nearby Beaumont, Texas, population 120,000, was struggling to restore its drinking water. Firefighters in Crosby, outside of Houston, were warily eyeing the Arkema chemical plant, twice the scene of explosions. Floodwaters have inundated at least seven highly contaminated toxic waste sites in the Houston area, raising concerns about creeping pollution.

Harvey is blamed for at least 44 deaths and believed to have damaged at least 156,000 dwellings in Harris County. The American Red Cross said more than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters such as the one Trump visited.

The White House has asked Congress to approve $7.9 billion for initial relief efforts when lawmakers return to Washington on Tuesday.

Pope Francis’ Message to Rabbis: A Fruitful Dialogue

Zenit

“A moment of fruitful dialogue,” is how Pope Francis welcomed the ever growing “friendly and fraternal “ relations that link the Catholic Church and the Jewish world. Since the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, he said “we have deepened our mutual knowledge and intensified our bonds of friendship.”

The Holy Father received in audience the representatives of the Conference of European Rabbis, of the Rabbinical Council of America and of the Commission of the Grand Rabbinate of Israel, in dialogue with the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, with professor Riccardo di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, on Thursday, August 31, 2017.

On this occasion, the delegation handed the Pontiff a document it elaborated entitled “Between Jerusalem and Rome,” a text addressed to Catholics that, ”if it doesn’t hide the theological differences of our faith traditions” it “expresses, nevertheless, the firm will to collaborate more closely today and in the future.”

After the words of greeting of Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Pope pronounced the following discourse.

HG/VMF

Pope Francis’ Address

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I offer a cordial welcome to all of you, and in a special way to the representatives of the Conference of European Rabbis, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in dialogue with the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

I thank Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt for his kind greeting in your name. In our shared journey, by the graciousness of the Most High, we are presently experiencing a fruitful moment of dialogue. This is reflected in the Statement Between Jerusalem and Rome which you have issued and which you present to me today.

This document pays particular tribute to the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate, whose fourth chapter represents the “Magna Charta” of our dialogue with the Jewish world. Indeed, the ongoing implementation of the Council’s Declaration has enabled our relations to become increasingly friendly and fraternal.

Nostra Aetate noted that the origins of the Christian faith are to be found, in accordance with the divine mystery of salvation, in the Patriarchs, in Moses and in the Prophets. It also stated that, given the great spiritual heritage we hold in common, every effort must be made to foster reciprocal knowledge and respect, above all through biblical studies and fraternal discussions (cf. No. 4).

Consequently, in recent decades, we have been able to draw closer to one another and to engage in an effective and fruitful dialogue. We have grown in mutual understanding and deepened our bonds of friendship. The Statement Between Jerusalem and Rome does not hide, however, the theological differences that exist between our faith traditions.

All the same, it expresses a firm resolve to collaborate more closely, now and in the future. Your document is addressed to Catholics, speaking of them as “partners, close allies, friends and brothers in our mutual quest for a better world blessed with peace, social justice and security”.

It goes on to say that “despite profound theological differences, Catholics and Jews share common beliefs” and also “the affirmation that religions must use moral behavior and religious education – not war, coercion or social pressure – to influence and inspire”. This is most important: may the Eternal One bless and enlighten our cooperation, so that together we can accept and carry out ever better his plans, “plans for welfare and not for evil”, for “a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11).

On the occasion of your welcome visit, I would like to express to you and to your communities beforehand my best wishes for the Jewish New Year which will begin in a few weeks. Shanah tovah! Once more I thank you for coming and I ask you to remember me in your prayers. Finally, I would invoke upon you, and upon all of us, the blessing of the Most High for the shared journey of friendship and trust that lies before us. In his mercy, may the Almighty bestow his peace upon us and upon the entire world. Shalom alechem!

Pope and Patriarch: A common declaration for a shared world

Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis
CRUX

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have issued a joint statement to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, Bartholomew’s theological advisor on environmental issues, says the message comes at a time of global crisis and international instability.

[Editor’s note: This commentary was written for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, to appear along with the joint statement of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the World Day of Care for Creation. With the permission of the author, it also appears here in English.]

The world that we share – the ground we tread, the air we breathe, the water we savor – unites us in a very tangible and profound way. Despite our diverse religious or racial differences, the earth provides a basis of solidarity and the ground of harmony for all people, all creatures, and all things.

It comes, then, as no surprise that the spiritual heads of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches are able to profess with one mind and one voice the sacredness of God’s creation and to proclaim the need to respect and protect its resources for the benefit of all people, especially the vulnerable among us. Continue reading