A PALESTINIAN CATHOLIC WHO HAD LUNCH WITH POPE FRANCIS SHARES HIS STORY ON VI - POPE: THE EVIL OF DRUG ADDICTION IS NOT SOLVED WITH DRUGS - RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION, MORE WIDESPREAD TODAY THAN 1700 YEARS AGO
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Thank you, St Anthony! I have my cell phone. One friend wrote that when she loses or misplaces something, she prays to the Three Kings as they found Baby Jesus! I love it.

Two things for today, June 21:

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini was elected Pope on this day in 1963 and chose the name Paul VI. He reigned for 15 years and presided over Vatican Council II, started by his predecessor St John XXIII, closing it in 1965.

Second thing: there is an app called Praying for the Pope where Francis asks you - his voice - to pray for him. Download it online.

The Holy Father, as you know, presided at the Corpus Christi Mass last night at St. John Lateran and later, at the basilica of St. Mary Major, welcomed the Blessed Sacrament that had been carried in procession down Via Merulana. During Mass Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to avoid the false bread of the world, and to remember that Gods food truly satisfies. To live the experience of faith means to let the Lord nourish us and to build our existence not on material goods, but on the reality that does not perish: the gifts of God, His word and His body. He said, The Body of Christ is the bread of the end times, capable of giving life, and eternal life, because the substance is this bread of love.

Two important talks today by the Pope: one was on recreational drugs and the second concerned religious freedom. Please find the VIS summaries of those talks below.

Id also like to highlight something that has been in the news lately - and taken out of proportion (or context) by some of the media - that is, the fact that the Vatican announced that Pope Francis is reducing his summer work schedule. As if he has never done this. As if no Pope ever took some time off for a working vacation, with a reduced schedule of public activities. The media implies there must be an ulterior motive perhaps health.

Here is the June 14 announcement from the Vatican regarding the Pope's engagements for July and August 2014:

During the month of July, all Wednesday general audiences will be suspended. They will resume on the first Wednesday of August in the Vatican, taking place on August 6, 20 and 27. On Wednesday, August 13, there will be no general audience as the Pope will travel to Korea (from 13 to 18 August). The Angelus prayer will continue to take place in the Vatican every Sunday in July, except during the days of the Holy Father's absence during his trip to Korea (August 15, Assumption, and Sunday 17). The morning Mass at the Santa Marta will be suspended during the summer, from early July until the end of August, and will resume at the beginning of September.

And last year (2013): The Prefecture of the Papal Household announced on June 6 that, during the summer period, all private and special papal audiences will be suspended, including the Wednesday general audiences of July 3,10, 17, and 31. On July 1, it added: There will be no Wednesday audiences in August. They will resume on Wednesday September 4. On Sundays during the month of August, Pope Francis will recite the Angelus prayer in the Vatican. On the August 15 Feast of the Assumption, however, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in the Parish of Castelgandolfo and later recite the Angelus prayer with the faithful at the papal summer residence in the Roman hill town.

A PALESTINIAN CATHOLIC WHO HAD LUNCH WITH POPE FRANCIS SHARES HIS STORY ON VI

Tune in to Vatican Insider this week and meet Joseph Hazboun, a Palestinian Catholic who works in Jerusalem at the Pontifical Mission for Palestine. We spoke when I was in the Holy Land for Pope Francis trip.

At Pontifical Mission Office.

Joseph and his wife Rima, their son Yazan (16) and their daughter Laian (18) were among the families who had lunch with Pope Francis in Bethlehem on Sunday, May 25. He was seated across from the Pope as he speaks several languages, including Italian, and was ready to act as an interpreter.

The individuals and families present at the papal lunch were chosen because each one represented one of the issues faced by Christians living in Israel: Separation Wall, land confiscation, the Gaza blockade, Palestinians in Israeli prisons, etc. Joseph is from Bethlehem and Rima is from Jerusalem and they are one of the many cases of families who cannot be reunited.

This is a Do Not Miss interview as Joseph talks about the Israel occupation of Palestine, the myriad problems Christians face with residency permits, land confiscation,jobs, the Separation Wall, etc. Joseph asked Pope Francis to be their spokesperson in front of the whole world.

Those chosen to lunch with the Pope (names and descriptions are from www.lpj.org, the site of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) included:

- George Sbeit and his wife Shadia with their children Nicole (15) and Cesar (13). They are from Ikrit, a Christian village entirely evacuated by the Israeli army in 1948. The inhabitants have not been able to return. - Elias Abu Mohor and his wife Juliet, and their two young daughters, Isabel and Elizabeth from Cremisan, Beit Jala. They risk losing their land, situated beyond the dividing wall, if this latter is completed as intended by the Israeli army. - Shawki Halaby and his wife Abla with two sons, Fadi (30) and Tamer (27) from Jerusalem. Another of their sons is serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison. - Layla Shatara, a widow from Bethlehem, who has a son exiled to Gaza following the siege of the Basilica of the Nativity in 2002. - Rania Michel Mizak (37), of the Gaza Christian community. - Mike Abed Rabbo (23) a young man from Beit Jala, unable to hold any form of identity document. -Zakaria Zakakaria from Bethlehem: Now an adult, rehabilitated following drug dependency, with health problems.

LISTENING TO VATICAN INSIDER: As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see LISTEN TO EWTN. Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE: THE EVIL OF DRUG ADDICTION IS NOT SOLVED WITH DRUGS

(VIS) This morning the Pope received the participants in the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference, which took place in Rome from June 17 to 19. He thanked them for their work in combating this most serious and complex problem of our time, and expressed his hope that they will accomplish their goals: a more effective coordination of anti-narcotics policies, better sharing of relevant information and the development of an operative strategy aimed at fighting the drug trade.

In his address, the Holy Father commented that, the scourge of drug use continues to spread inexorably, fed by a deplorable commerce that transcends national and continental borders. As a result, the lives of more and more young people and adolescents are in danger. Faced with this reality, I can only manifest my grief and concern.

Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs! Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem. Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called 'recreational drugs' are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects. Substitute drugs are not an adequate therapy but rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon. Here I would reaffirm what I have stated on another occasion: No to every type of drug use. It is as simple as that. No to any kind of drug use! But to say this 'no', one has to say 'yes' to life, 'yes' to love, 'yes' to others, 'yes' to education, 'yes' to greater job opportunities. If we say 'yes' to all these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction.

The Church, said the Holy Father, faithful to Jesus command to go out to all those places where people suffer, thirst, hunger and are imprisoned, does not abandon those who have fallen into the trap of drug addiction, but goes out to meet them with creative love. She takes them by the hand, thanks to the efforts of countless workers and volunteers, and helps them to rediscover their dignity and to revive those inner strengths, those personal talents, which drug use had buried but can never obliterate, since every man and woman is created in the image and likeness of God.

The example of all those young people who are striving to overcome drug dependency and to rebuild their lives can serve as a powerful incentive for all of us to look with confidence to the future, Francis concluded, encouraging the members of the conference to carry on their work with constantly renewed hope.

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION, MORE WIDESPREAD TODAY THAN 1700 YEARS AGO

(VIS) -The Pope this morning received the participants in an international congress taking place in Rome June 20 and 21 on the theme: Religious Freedom According to International Law and the Global Conflict of Values. It was organized by the Department of Law of the Maria SS. Assunta University of Rome (LUMSA) and the School of Law of St. John's University. Francis remarked that the theme of religious freedom has recently become the subject of intense debate between governments and the various religious confessions, and noted that the Catholic Church has a long history of supporting religious freedom, culminating in the Vatican Council II Declaration Dignitatis humanae.

Every human is a 'seeker' of truth on his origins and destiny, he explained. In his mind and in his 'heart', questions and thoughts arise that cannot be repressed or stifled, since they emerge from the depths of the person and are a part of the intimate essence of the person. They are religious questions, and religious freedom is necessary for them to manifest themselves fully. Francis emphasized that reason recognizes that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity, that of seeking the truth and adhering to it, and recognizing it as an indispensable condition for realizing all his potential. Religious freedom is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.

The Pope described this situation as the great challenge of the globalized world, a sickness, in which weak thought even reduces the general ethical level, in the name of a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences.

Legal systems, at both national and international level, are therefore required to recognize, guarantee and protect religious freedom, which is a right intrinsically inherent in human nature, in man's dignity as a free being, and is also an indicator of a healthy democracy and one of the main sources of the legitimacy of the State. He added that, religious freedom favors the development of relationships of mutual respect between the different Confessions and their healthy collaboration with the State and political society, without confusion of roles and without antagonism.

The Hoy Father underlined that it is incomprehensible and troubling that people continue to suffer discrimination, restriction of their rights and even persecution for professing their faith. Nowadays, persecution of Christians is stronger than it was in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs than in that time. This is happening 1700 years after the edict of Constantine, which granted Christians the freedom to publicly profess their faith.

Pope Francis concluded by expressing his hope that the Congress would demonstrate in depth and with scientific rigor the reasons that oblige legal systems to respect and defend religious freedom.

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