Stay in touch
Get the latest news from the Holy See Mission:
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Thursday with participants at an international conference on combatting human trafficking. The Santa Marta Group, which organised the two day conference, was established in 2014 to pledge closer cooperation on anti-trafficking initiatives between the Catholic Church and law enforcement agencies worldwide.
At a concluding press conference Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, one of the founding members of the group, and two survivors of human trafficking spoke of the progress that has been made over the past couple of years.
In his words to the group of bishops and religious, police and security officials, Pope Francis described trafficking as "one of the major challenges of our time" and he praised participants for the important contribution they’re making to end this scourge of modern slavery.
The number of victims, he noted, keeps growing year by year and it’s essential both to support victims of trafficking, but also to tackle the complex problems that lead to their exploitation.
Cardinal Nichols told journalists the group had presented the pope with the a report of positive developments in the 30 countries that are now part of the Santa Marta process...
“Above all perhaps, what this report shows is that human slavery and trafficking is not so hidden as it used to be. There is an increasing awareness that this, in the phrase of the Holy Father, is an open wound in the flesh of humanity, and that voices that were once completely hidden are now being heard”.
Those voices include that of Nigerian survivor Princess Inyang, who was trafficked into Italy in 1999 and forced into prostitution, until she was able to escape, with help from a priest working in the northern city of Asti. She shared her story at the conference and called for deportation of the traffickers, as well as more education and skills training for vulnerable girls in her home country...
“The women are vulnerable because of the poverty in Nigeria, the background of the polygamy system of the families, the non-employment, and now we know that the traffickers go into the rural areas to get these young women because of their serious problems”.
Another survivor, who also works to help others avoid the traffickers, is former Premier League player Al Bangura, originally from Sierra Leone. A keen footballer from an early age, he was tricked into going to England with promises of a dream career. He managed to escape the traffickers and now serves as ambassador for a UK based charity called Sport for Freedom.
“With everything I’ve been through, I want to be out there to share my story, to educate kids and talk to parents who’re desperate for their kids to achieve….we also work with the Premiership… to make sure the kids are going in the rights direction and make sure we stop this slavery thing.”
From Africa to Latin America, from Asia to Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, the conference heard many encouraging stories of success in combatting the trade in people for prostitution, forced labour or sale of their body parts. But as their report also underlines, there is much frustration too, coupled with a renewed determination to work more effectively together for an end to what Pope Francis himself describes as a “crime against humanity”.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said God weeps over today's calamities, the wars waged to worship ‘the idol of money’ and over the many innocent victims killed by the bombs. He stressed that God weeps because humanity does not understand “the peace that He offers us.” His words came during the Mass celebrated on Thursday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from a reading from the gospel of Luke where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, the “closed” city that “kills the prophets and stones those sent” to it, Pope Francis’ homily reflected on some of the moments of weeping during Christ’s ministry. He explained that Jesus had the tenderness of His Father looking at his children when he wept over the city of Jerusalem in the gospel account saying: “How many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling.”
“Somebody said that God became man in order to be able to weep, to weep over what His children had done. The weeping in front of the tomb of Lazarus is the weeping of a friend. This is the weeping of the Father.”
In the same way, the Pope continued, we can look at the behaviour of the father of the prodigal son and what happens when this son asks for his inheritance and leaves home. He said the father did not go to his neighbours to say “Look what has happened to me! This horrible thing he did to me! But I will curse this son…” Pope Francis said he is certain that the father did not do this although maybe he went “to weep alone in his bedroom.”
“And why do I tell you this? Because the Gospel does not talk about this, it says that when his son returned home, he saw him from afar: this means that the Father was continually going up onto the terrace to look at the road to see if his son was coming back. And a father who does this is a father who lives in tears, waiting for his son to return home. This is the weeping of God the Father. And with his weeping, the Father recreates through his Son all of creation.”
Turning next to the moment when Jesus is carrying the cross to Calvary, Pope Francis reflected on the pious women who were weeping, saying they were not weeping over Him but over their own children. He stressed that this weeping like that of a father and of a mother is one that God still continues to do in our times.
“Even nowadays in front of the calamities, the wars waged in order to worship the god of money, the many innocent people killed by the bombs launched by those who worship the idol of money, God still weeps and He also says: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, my children, what are you doing?’ And he also says this to the poor victims, to the arms traffickers and to all those who sell the life of people. We’d do well to think both about how God our Father became man in order to be able to weep and how God our Father weeps nowadays: he weeps over humanity that ends up not understanding the peace that He offers us, the peace of love.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the administration, faculty, students, and staff of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome on Thursday, at the opening of the Institute’s academic year.
The Holy Father’s address was also in view of the Institute’s upcoming 35th anniversary, to be marked in November.
In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Thursday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis described the Church’s understanding of the family based on marriage as an expression and fulfilment of human nature and ordered to the general flourishing of the human race as a “great treasure” that is in need of “ransom” from several alarming intellectual, cultural, and social trends threatening it in many political societies around the world.
“It is necessary,” said Pope Francis, “to apply ourselves with greater enthusiasm to the work of rehabilitating – I would almost say the ‘ransom’ of this amazing ‘invention’ – of this divine creation,” which is marriage and the family. “This work of ransom must be taken seriously,” he said, “both in the doctrinal sense in the practical senses of ministry and witness: the dynamics of the relationship between God, man and woman, and their children, are the golden key to understanding the world and history, with all that they contain.”
Click below to hear our report
Pope Francis went on to explain that, as we are about our work in the world, we must not be unmindful of the frailty and wickedness in human nature. “Let us bear always in mind that we carry this treasure in ‘vessels of clay’,” he said.
Quoting from his recent post-Synodal exhortation, Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis went on to say, “At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite.”
“Theology and pastoral solicitude go hand-in-hand,” said Pope Francis. “A theological doctrine that does not let itself be guided and shaped by the evangelizing purpose and the pastoral concern of the Church is just as unthinkable as a pastoral plan for the Church that does not know how to make a treasure of revelation and tradition with a view to the better understanding and transmission of the faith.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday called for solidarity with migrants and refugees.
Speaking to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope reflected on two particular corporal works of mercy - welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked – and said that the growing numbers of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty calls us to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Pope Francis reflected on the many stories of migration that are to be found in the Bible and on how, through the centuries, so many committed Christians have found generous ways of meeting the needs of people fleeing violence and injustice.
“Today – he said – the current economic crisis unfortunately fosters attitudes of closure instead of welcome”.
“In some parts of the world walls and barriers are being built. It appears that the silent work of men and women who, in different ways, do what they can to help and assist refugees and migrants, is being drowned out by the noise made by those who give voice to an instinctive egoism” he said.
And saying that closure is never a solution, the Pope said it actually ends up favouring criminal trafficking. The only solution, he said, is solidarity: “Solidarity with the migrant, solidarity with the foreigner…”
Pope Francis reiterated that this is a commitment that we must all make: “no one excluded”.
“Dioceses, parishes, religious institutes, organisations and individual Christians: we are all called to welcome our brothers and sisters who are fleeing war, hunger, violence and cruel conditions of life” he said.
And setting aside his text, Pope Francis told the story of a lady who was approached by a refugee asking directions for the Holy Door. The man, the Pope said, was dirty and barefoot but wanted to go to St. Peter’s Basilica to cross the holy threshold. The woman took stock of his bare feet and called a taxi, but the taxi driver initially didn’t want him on board because he was ‘smelly’. The taxi driver ended up boarding the woman and the man who, during the drive, told his story of pain, war, hunger and migration. Upon destination, Pope Francis recounted that the taxi driver, the same man who initially didn’t want the refugee to board his taxi because he was ‘smelly’, refused to accept payment for his service from the woman because he said: “It is I who should pay you because thanks to you I have listened to a story that has changed my heart”.
The Pope continued saying that the woman was well aware of the pain of a migrant because she had Armenian blood and knew the suffering of her people.
“When we do something like that initially there is some discomfort – ‘a smell’ – but at the end, a story like this brings fragrance to our soul, and changes us. Think about this story and think what you can do for refugees” he said.
So too, ‘clothing the naked’ he said, increasingly means caring for those whose dignity has been stripped from them, and working to ensure that it is upheld and safeguarded.
And this, he explained, means literally giving clothes to those who have none, but it also means thinking of women whose bodies are exploited by human traffickers and of the many other ways people – even minors – are used as a form of merchandise.
“Having no job, no home, no just salary is also a form of nakedness, as is suffering discrimination because of race or faith. These are all forms of ‘nakedness’ that we Christians are called to act upon” he said. As followers of Christ, Pope Francis concluded, may we never close our hearts to those in need. By being open to others, our lives are enriched, our societies can enjoy peace and all people can live in a way befitting their dignity.
(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the work of the cataloguing and digitalizing of the archival material possessed by the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, the Apostolic Nunciature in Buenos Aires, and the Vatican’s Secretariat of State related to Argentina’s Military Dictatorship Period (1976-1983) has ended.
The statement said the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States, on Saturday, 15 October, to assess the project.
The Executive Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina is composed of the President, Archbishop of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, José María Arancedo; the First Vice President, Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli; the Second Deputy, Archbishop of Salta, Mario Antonio Cargnello; and the Secretary General, Bishop of Chascomus, Carlos Humberto Malfa.
The statement noted the process of organization and digitization, “which was performed in accordance with the decisions and directives of the Holy Father, and is the continuation of work already started years ago by the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, has ended.”
It went on to say “based on a protocol to be established soon,” the documents will be able to be accessed and consulted by the victims, the immediate family members of the desaparecidos (disappeared) and detained, and – in the case of religious and ecclesiastical personnel – their superiors.
The statement said those involved wanted to “emphasize this work was performed by having it its heart the service of truth, justice, and peace by continuing a dialogue open to the culture of encounter.”
It concluded by saying “the Holy Father and Episcopate of Argentina entrust their homeland to the merciful protection of Our Lady of Luján, trusting in the intercession of the beloved Saint José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said God’s Kingdom grows through its members showing docility and warned Christians against concentrating too much on structures and organization charts. He was speaking during his morning Mass on Tuesday celebrated in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from the day’s readings, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of God’s Kingdom during his homily, saying it is not a fixed structure but constantly evolving and describing what helps it to grow. He stressed that God’s Law is not just there to be studied but to journey forward with during our lives.
“What is the Kingdom of God? Well, perhaps the Kingdom of God is a very well-made structure, everything tidy, organization charts all done, everything and the person who does not enter (into this structure) is not in the Kingdom of God. No, the same thing can happen to the Kingdom of God as happens to the Law: unchanging, rigidity… the Law is about moving forward, the Kingdom of God is moving forward, it is not standing still. What’s more: the Kingdom of God is re-creating itself every day.”
The Pope reminded how Jesus in his parable about things in our daily lives spoke about the yeast that does not remain yeast because in the end it is mixed in with the flour and therefore it is on a journey and becomes bread. And then there is the seed that does not remain a seed because it dies and gives life to the tree. Both the yeast and the seed, explained Pope Francis, are on a journey to do something but in order to do this they die. It is not a problem of smallness, be it small, of little count or a big thing. It’s a question of journeying and whilst on this journey the transformation occurs.
The Pope went on to warn against being a person who sees the Law but does not journey forward and has a rigid attitude.
“What is the attitude that the Lord asks from us in order that the Kingdom of God can grow and be bread for everybody and is a house too for everybody? Docility: the Kingdom of God grows through docility to the strength of the Holy Spirit. The flour ceases to be flour and becomes bread because it is docile to the strength of the yeast and the yeast allows itself to be mixed in with the flour… I don’t know, flour has no feelings but allowing itself to be mixed in one could think that there is some suffering here, right? But the Kingdom too, the Kingdom grows in this way and then in the end it is bread for everybody.”
Just as the flour is docile to the yeast, continued Pope Francis, the seed too allows itself to be fertilized and loses its identity as a seed and becomes something much larger: it transforms itself. He said it’s the same with the Kingdom of God that is journeying “towards hope” and “journeying towards fullness.”
Saying the Kingdom of God re-creates itself every day, the Pope stressed that the Kingdom grows through our docility to the Holy Spirit that, just like the pinch of yeast or the tiny seed, transform themselves in order to grow. He warned that if Christians do not journey forward they become rigid and this rigidity makes them orphans without the Father.
“A rigid person only has masters and no father. The Kingdom of God is like a mother that grows and is fertile, gives of herself so that her children have food and lodging, according to the example of the Lord. Today is a day to ask for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit. Many times we are not docile to our moods, our judgements. ‘But I do what I want….' The Kingdom does not grow in this way and neither do we grow. It is docility to the Holy Spirit that makes us grow and be transformed like the yeast and the seed. May the Lord give us all the grace of this docility.”(from Vatican Radio)