POPE ANNOUNCES A TRIP, PRAYS FOR IRAQ AT ANGELUS - POPE, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP MEET, TALK OF ERADICATING SLAVERY, HUMAN TRAFFICKING - CHALDEAN PATRIARCHATE CALLS FOR DAY OF FASTING, PRAYER FOR PEACE
Monday, June 16, 2014
I placed an incorrect link at the end of the following paragraph in my Friday blog: I have corrected that, so read on and enjoy the story and photos from that column:

And here is a link to what I wrote on February 19, 2010, during my first visit to Iraq when I visited Kirkuk and Mosul. I stayed at the Chaldean seminary in Ankawa, near Erbil, Kurdistan in northern Iraq, where I visited all the dioceses. How sad to re-read these words today, given the disastrous situation in Mosul (Apologies for the misspellings that I obviously did not note in the original column probably because of the very late hour at which I wrote the blog): For that column: Click for blog

As Iraq leads the news these days, I am posting a story from todays edition of Fides, a new agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, about the day of fasting and prayer for peace called for by the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad. The synod mentioned in the story has been moved from Baghdad to Ankawa, near Erbil, in Kurdistan, to the Chaldean seminary that was, interestingly enough, my home for two weeks in 2010.

The papal agenda for Sunday and today was filled to the brim with meetings, speeches, and a mini-trip within Rome. Ill provide just a few of the highlights, but basically here is what Francis was up to in the past day and a half: Sunday at noon, feast of the Holy Trinity, he prayed the Angelus with the faithful in St. Peters Square during which he announced a trip and asked for prayers for Iraq, and, in late afternoon, he visited the SantEgidio center and the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere; Monday the Pope celebrated morning Mass as usual in the Santa Marta residence chapel, welcomed Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, addressed participants of the two-day Symposium Investing for the Poor that is taking place in the Vatican, and received in audience Monica Jimenez de la Jara, ambassador of Chile, presenting her Letters of Credence, and Archbishop Luigi Bianco, apostolic nuncio in Honduras. One of the more interesting meetings occurred today with Archbishop Welby as the two Church leaders discussed the Global Freedom Network, an ecumenical initiative born in March 2014, to fight trafficking in humans and slavery. See separate story below.

Ambassador John McCarthy of Australia to the Holy See, discussed this exciting initiative with a small group of journalists at his home last Friday night over dinner, a splendid meal that followed a concert with tenor Lorenzo Rositano and to our enormous surprise and delight! - Johns wife Christine, who is a brilliant classical pianist! John, as you will see when you explore the website, is a GFN council member.

Human trafficking and the arms trade are two very big items on the Popes agenda and horizon. If you want to beome well-informed on these issues, visit the site (see below). BYW, Yesterday, I reflected on my Twitter and Facebook pages that, given the Popes announcement of a September trip to Albania, I would not put it past him to announce the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa who was born in Albania and died on September 5, 1997.

POPE ANNOUNCES A TRIP, PRAYS FOR IRAQ AT ANGELUS

In his weekly reflections at Sundays Angelus, the Pope focused on the days feast of the Holy Trinity as well as the celebration this Thursday of the feast of Corpus Christi, and said, the Eucharist is like the burning bush in which the Trinity humbly dwells and communicates Itself. He reminded the faithful of the custom in Rome of celebrating the Mass of Corpus Christi at St. John Lateran basilica, followed by a Eucharistic procession down the kilometer-long Via Merulana to the basilica of Saint Mary Major. I invite Romans and pilgrims to participate, he said, in order to express our desire to be a people gathered in the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Following the Angelus, Francis made some announcements and pleas for prayer.

He spoke of his great concern concern at the dramatic events that are unfolding in Iraq, and his hope that the future will bring peace and reconciliation for the people of this country. I invite you all to join with me in prayer for the beloved Iraqi nation, especially the victims and those who suffer most keenly the consequences of the escalation of violence, and in particular those, including many Christians, who have had to flee their homes. I wish security and peace upon all the population and hope for a future of reconciliation and justice, in which all Iraqis, regardless of their religious beliefs, will be able to build their homeland together, making it into a model of coexistence.

Pope Francis then announced that on Sunday, September 21 he will visit the Albanian city of Tirana. With this brief trip I wish to confirm in the faith the Church in Albania, and offer my encouragement and love to a country that has suffered greatly as a result of the ideologies of the past.

Pope Francis also offered some words to domestic collaborators and those who care for the elderly, who come from all over the world and provide a valuable service to families, especially in their care for the elderly and for those who are not independent. Very often we do not do justice to the great and good work they perform in families. Thank you very much!

POPE, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP MEET, TALK OF ERADICATING SLAVERY, HUMAN TRAFFICKING

This morning at the Vatican, the Archbishop of Canterbury met with Pope Francis to strengthen their commitment to work together to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking as crimes against humanity.

According to the website of the four-month old GFN, this bilateral visit is the first high-level meeting following the March 2014 agreement between Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby of Canterbury, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar and Australian philanthropist Andrew Forrest, president of the Walk Free Foundation, to establish the Global Freedom Network. The Global Freedom Networks inaugural chair, Bishop Marcelo Snchez Sorondo, who is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, said: The Global Freedom Network believes that one person enslaved is one too many. This summit highlights the personal commitment of Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury to ensure all necessary strategies are deployed to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking and declare them crimes against humanity. During his two-day visit to Rome, Archbishop Welby met Sunday with the Council of the Global Freedom Network at the Casina Pio IV, which houses the pontifical academies.

Despite the best endeavours of so many in so many countries, notes the new organizations website, modern slavery and human trafficking continue to expand. Victims are hidden away: in places of prostitution, in factories and farms, on fishing boats, in illegal establishments, in private homes behind locked doors and in myriad other places, in cities, villages and slums in the worlds richest nations and poorest nations.

With an estimated 29.8 million people forced to live in slavery around the world today, there is an urgent and compelling need to eradicate modern slavery and trafficking in human beings.

Eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking across the world by 2020 is the objective of the ground-breaking agreement that was announced on March 17 at the Vatican. This unprecedented agreement among representatives of major faiths inaugurates the Global Freedom Network (GFN), which also has the Walk Free Foundation as a founding partner.

The Global Freedom Network is an open association, explains the website, and other faith leaders will be invited to join and support this initiative. It will also carry out a program of coordinated action and activity with international organizations, governments and national authorities, civil society organizations and NGOs, as well as people of good will around the world, to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

Explore further at the Global Freedom Network website to learn about the executive board, the GFN council, etc. text here

CHALDEAN PATRIARCHATE CALLS FOR DAY OF FASTING, PRAYER FOR PEACE

(Fides) - The Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, with a widespread appeal on Sunday June 15, called on all Chaldean communities in Iraq and the world to "dedicate next Wednesday, June 18 to fasting and prayer for the restoration of security and stability in Iraq. "Fasting and Prayer," says the statement released to promote the initiative, "are capable of changing the hearts of people and encouraging them towards dialogue and respecting each other through the blessing of God."

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako addressed the invitation to all Chaldean churches directly from the United States where, along with other bishops, he continues his pastoral visit to the Chaldean communities present in North America. The dramatic developments of the situation in Iraq, triggered by the capture of Mosul by militant jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are followed with concern by the Chaldean Patriarchn and the bishops, who return to Iraq this week, who for now have decided not to cancel the meeting of the Synod of the Chaldean Church scheduled from June 24 to 28.

Originally the important summit of the Chaldean episcopate was to be held in Baghdad. Instead, with a significant change in the program, the meeting will be held in Ankawa, near Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The transfer of the seat in a region controlled by the Kurds and not affected by the conflict will facilitate the participation of the bishops of Mosul and Kirkuk. The agenda of the synod was initially focused on pastoral and jurisdictional issues concerning the life of the Church, such as the choice of new bishops for the vacant episcopal sees and the unification of the rituals in the liturgical celebrations of baptism and marriage. "Obviously," Father Albert Hisham, a spokesman for the Patriarchate, told Fides, "the new situation in Iraq will lead to a change in the agenda. The bishops will evaluate new emergencies that mark the condition of the Christian community and those concerning the country.

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