Displaying items by tag: Pope Francis
Democratic Republic of Congo: ‘poison of greed’
When Pope Francis visited the DRC he said that the rich world must realise that people are more precious than minerals in the earth beneath them. Speaking to dignitaries at the presidential palace, he talked of ‘terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity, where vast mineral wealth fuels war, displacement and hunger. Hands off the DRC. Hands off Africa. Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.’ Congo has some of the world's richest diamond deposits as well as gold, copper, and other minerals. ‘The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood,’ he said. An estimated 5.7 million people are internally displaced in Congo; 26 million face severe hunger, largely due to armed conflict. Half of the population are Roman Catholics, and the Church plays a crucial role in running schools and health facilities, as well as promoting democracy.
Greece: Pope condemns treatment of migrants
Speaking on the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis said the migrants there were being used for political propaganda. He urged people to focus on the causes of migration, such as ‘forgotten wars’, instead of punishing those suffering from their effects. He criticised building walls to keep people out. Saying that there are people persisting in treating the problem as something that doesn’t concern them, history teaches us ‘narrow self-interest and nationalism lead to disastrous consequences.’ The pandemic showed that major challenges must be confronted together and there were some signs of this in climate change, but little sign of such an approach to migration. He spoke in front of refugees but aimed all comments at European political leaders. His words betrayed frustration at ‘the failure of politicians to adequately address the migrant issue’.
South Sudan: churches write to leaders
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis, and Church of Scotland moderator Jim Wallace have written to South Sudan's political leaders on the tenth anniversary of its independence. They said that the anniversary calls to mind past struggles and points with hope to the future, and that the nation is blessed with immense potential. They encouraged leaders to make even greater efforts to enable their people to enjoy the full fruits of independence. They also said, ‘When we wrote to you at Christmas, we prayed that you might experience greater trust among yourselves and be more generous in service to your people. Since then, we are glad to see some small progress. Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the “justice, liberty and prosperity” celebrated in your national anthem. Much more needs to be done to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom.’
Bringing hope to Iraq
Pope Francis is making a monumental trip to Iraq in order to bring healing to the war-torn society. As the very first pope to set foot on Iraq's soil, he plans to meet with key Christian and Muslim leaders to address issues faced by both groups. This event is being heralded by the Iraqi government as a ‘historic event, symbolising a message of peace to Iraq and the whole region.’ Peace indeed is needed for the small remnant of Christians left in Iraq. Christian communities were scattered by the Daesh onslaught in 2014, further shrinking the country’s already dwindling Christian population. Their struggle to endure will get a boost from the historic visit in March, his first foreign trip since the coronavirus pandemic and a sign that ‘You’re not alone, there’s someone who is thinking of you, who is with you’.
Pope Francis: put away phones at mealtimes
Despite their ability to connect us to others across the globe, mobile phones may undermine the benefits we derive from interacting with those across the table at mealtimes. Pope Francis wants us all to switch off our cell phones and socialise during dinner, and research backs him up. Researchers have grown increasingly concerned about the psychological and social consequences of excessive smartphone use, and some restaurateurs have taken matters into their own hands by instituting cell phone bans or offering diners discounts if they surrender their phones. In a recent piece of research for a psychological journal, participants felt more distracted during mealtimes when their phones were present, thus decreasing their enjoyment of time spent with friends and family. Also, incidents of head and neck injuries related to cell phone use have risen steadily over the past two decades.
Bulgaria: Pope urges ‘welcome refugees’
Bulgaria’s prime minister welcomed Pope Francis when he visited Bulgaria on 5 May, saying it reflects his interest in the peaceful economic development of the Balkans. Francis’ tour included a visit to a refugee camp in the outskirts of Sofia, where he said, ‘Bulgaria confronts the phenomenon of those crossing its borders in order to flee wars, conflicts or dire poverty in attempts to reach the wealthiest areas of Europe. They want new opportunities in life or simply a safe refuge. To all Bulgarians, familiar with the drama of emigration, I respectfully suggest that you not close your eyes, your hearts, or your hands - in accordance with your best tradition - to those who knock at your door.’ The Orthodox Church rejected the idea of holding joint prayers with the pontiff.
South Sudan: Pope kisses the feet of leaders
After being invited to an unprecedented 24 hours of prayer and preaching in the Vatican, South Sudanese leaders appeared stunned as the 82-year-old pontiff, who suffers from chronic leg pain, was helped by aides to kneel and kiss the shoes of the two main opposing leaders. He appealed to President Salva Kiir, his former deputy turned rebel leader Riek Machar, and three other vice-presidents to respect an armistice they signed and commit to forming a unity government next month. ‘I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let us go forward. There will be many problems, but they will not overcome us’, the Pope said. His appeal was made more pressing as anxiety grew over the coup in neighbouring Sudan, which could risk the fragile peace deal that ended South Sudan’s brutal five-year civil war.
UAE: signs of religious freedom?
An estimated 180,000 people attended mass with the Pope in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, close to the birthplace of Islam. The crowds gathered to hear him just a day after he called on Christians and Muslim leaders to work together in the rejection of war. He spoke about how Christians should live, pointing out that Jesus came to serve and not be served. He went on to say Jesus lived in poverty in respect to things, but displayed wealth in love. He healed so many lives, but did not spare his own. In his speech to an audience consisting of Abu Dhabi's crown prince, hundreds of imams, muftis, ministers, and rabbis, the Pope warned that the future of humanity was at stake unless religions come together to resist the ‘logic of armed power.’ ‘We will either build the future together, or there will not be a future. God is with those who seek peace.’
Venezuela: backstory to crisis
Juan Guaidó and Nicolás Maduro both claim to be president. While resolving their standoff over leadership is critical, finding prosperous and stable paths forward requires taming criminal non-state groups controlling local territory and illicit industries across Venezuela, often operating with overlapping allegiances and activities. Well-armed neighbourhood criminal gangs called colectivos have been co-opted by the regime to suppress dissent in the capital and work with other quasi-official repression squads that it has created as an insurance against fickle loyalties of rank and file soldiers and police. There are also regional criminal syndicates controlling illegal mining and drug trafficking industries, which operate alongside local or national officials and transnational crime networks. If a resolution is achieved between Guaidó and Maduro, these groups will want to expand their positions and exploit any local power vacuums created. Pope Francis has expressed an openness to mediate in Venezuela’s political situation if both sides are willing. See
Vatican City: C-9 and sexual abuse
The ‘C-9’ are nine cardinals from around the world who meet four times a year to advise the Pope. At the end of their most recent meeting they announced that he had summoned senior bishops from around the world to the Vatican to discuss the protection of minors. The heads of the national bishops' conferences will meet in February 2019 to try to come to grips with a spreading sexual abuse crisis in the USA, Chile, Australia, Germany, and elsewhere. It was recently revealed that 1,670 German priests had sexually abused 3,677 minors, mostly males, over a seventy-year period. A US grand jury found 301 priests in Pennsylvania guilty of sexually abusing minors over a similar period. In August, Italian archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò accused the Pope of knowing about sexual misconduct by a US cardinal and doing nothing about it.