Jesus was a Pastor, not a Moralist - Pope Francis


Quote for June 26th

'A most powerful and efficacious remedy for all evils, a means of correcting all imperfections, of triumphing over temptation, and preserving our hearts in an undisturbed peace, is conformity with the will of God.'

St. Vincent de Paul



VATICAN DOSSIER

IN FOCUS
Preparing for the Synod, Part 1: Concerning Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
Upcoming Synod to Address Challenging Issues Pertaining to Marriage, Family, Sexual Morality


WORLD FEATURES

Supreme Court Decides Pro-Lifers Have 1st Amendment Right to Public Property Outside Abortion Clinics
Overturns Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law


NEWS BRIEFS

English Bishop: Assisted Suicide Bill Will Put Lives of Many Vulnerable People at Risk
Legislation Proposes Licensing Doctors to Supply Lethal Drugs to Those With Less Than Six Months to Live


INTERVIEW

Founder of Advocacy Campaign for African Albinos: 'No One Answered Me, Except the Pope'
Cristiano Gentili Explains How Francis Became 1st Participant in 'Ombra Bianca' Initiative


SPIRITUALITY

Daily Homily: The Troops Tore Down the Walls of Jerusalem
Friday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two


ROME NOTES

New Book Presents Founder of Knights of Columbus as Model for Priests, Helper for Families
Supreme Knight Says Fr. McGivney Is Growing in Relevance and Has Been Lauded by Recent Popes


Rome Reports

Michael McGivney, the 'people's priest' who founded the Knights of Columbus (Video)
Life wasn't easy for Catholics immigrants in the United States back in the XIX century. In the State of Connecticut, for example, they didn't have the right to buy land


DOCUMENTS

Vatican Publishes Working Document for Upcoming Synod on the Family
"Instrumentum Laboris" Summarizes Responses to Questionnaire Sent Out Last Fall

  • Pope Francis' Address to Young Astronomers
    "The Vatican Observatory School in Astrophysics [is] a place where young people the world over can engage in dialogue and collaboration, helping one another in the search for truth, which in this case is concretized in the study of galaxies."

VATICAN DOSSIER


Pope at Morning Mass: Who Do You Follow?
Asks Whether You Turn to Jesus Who "Warms Hearts," Or To ''Those Consumed by Money, Power, Moralism"
VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - At morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis reminded faithful that people followed Jesus since they recognized he was always truly a “good shepherd,” with a loving and merciful voice, and never was like his counterparts “who reduced the faith to moralism, pursued political liberation, or sought deals with power.”
The Pontiff asked those present to consider how Jesus won over the hearts of many. He stressed that Jesus "wasn’t a moralistic, quibbling Pharisee, or a Sadducee who made political deals with the powerful, or a guerrilla who sought the political liberation of his people," nor was he "a contemplative in a monastery."
"He was a pastor! A pastor who spoke the language of His people, Who understood, Who spoke the truth, the things of God."
"He spoke in such a way that the people loved the things of God. That’s why they followed Him," the Holy Father suggested.
Jesus, the Pope said, “was never far from the people, was never far from His Father.” Jesus “was so joined to the Father, He was one with the Father!” and also was “so very close to the people.” He “had this authority, and this is why the people followed Him.” Contemplating Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Pope said, it would be good for us to think about who we like to follow.
Before exporing this further, he turned to why Jesus was followed, saying the crowds followed Jesus not only because “they were astonished by His teaching,” but also because his words “brought wonder to their hearts, the wonder of finding something good, great.” Whereas, he added, others spoke, “but they did not reach the people.”
The Pope mentioned four groups of people that were speaking at the time of Jesus: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Revolutionaries, and the Essenes.
Pharisees:
The Pharisees, he said, were making religion into a chain of commandments, turning the Ten Commandments into “more than three hundred,” loading “this weight” on the backs of the people. The Pope said their obsession with laws and rules essentially became “a reduction of the faith in the Living God,”  and lead to “moral quibbling” and “contradictions.”
“For example, ‘You have to obey the fourth commandment!’ ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ ‘You have to feed your elderly father, your elderly mother!’ ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ ‘But you know, I can’t because I gave my money to the temple!’; ‘You don’t do that? And your parents starve to death!’ So: contradictions of the cruelest kind of moralistic quibbling,” the Pontiff illustrated.
Sadducees:
This group, the Pope said, “did not have the faith, they had lost the faith! They made it their religious work to make deals with the powers: political powers, economic powers. They were men of power.”
Revolutionaries:
The “revolutionaries,” or the zealots, wanted to cause a revolution to free the people of Israel from the Roman occupation, the Pontiff explained. The people, he added, were wise and knew ”to distinguish when the fruit was ripe and when it was not!” and, therefore, didn’t follow them.”
Essenes:
The fourth group, the Essenes, were sort of like monks who consecrated their lives to the Lord and were “good people,” the Pope said. However, he cautioned, that “they were far from the people, and the people couldn’t follow them.”
Describing these groups together, the Pope said that though their voices “reached” the people, they did not have the power to “warm the people’s hearts.” However, this is how Jesus was different,” his voice, instead, did. When Jesus  “approached to the people,” he could heal their hearts because he could “understand their difficulties,” and unlike others, he “was not ashamed to speak with sinners,” and instead “went out to find them,” he added.
Jesus vs. the Others:
Jesus delighted in being with his people. This is why Jesus is “the Good Shepherd:” his flock of sheep hear His voice and follow Him.
Jesus was “never far,” not from the people, nor from His Father. In fact, he added, he was intimately close with both, and, for this reason, he had a unique “authority” and “this is why the people followed Him.”
What About You?
Francis, then turned to today and asked: “Who do I like to follow? Those who talk to me about abstract things or quibbling morals? Those who talk about the people of God but have no faith and negotiate with political, economic powers? Those who always want to do strange things, destructive things, so-called wars of liberation, but which in the end are not the paths of the Lord? Or a faraway contemplative? Who do I like to follow?”
Leaving this as the final thought, he said, “May this question bring us to prayer, and to ask God the Father, who brings us close to Jesus, to follow Jesus, to be amazed at the things Jesus tells us.” (D.C.L.)
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Pope Francis' Address to Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches
"Your works of relief and assistance in nations most affected by these crises respond to basic needs, particularly of those who are powerless and most vulnerable, as well as the many young people tempted to leave their homeland. "
VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Pope Francis today received the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches – ROACO.
Here below is the the official English version of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks.
***
Dear Friends,
A month ago, I had the grace of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Today this meeting with the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and with the representatives of R.O.A.C.O. allows me to reaffirm my closeness to all the Churches of the East.  My pilgrimage was a great source of consolation, but also of encouragement and a renewed sense of responsibility for the advancement of full unity among Christians and of dialogue between religions.
I thank the Cardinal Prefect, who has recalled the various events of the pilgrimage.  With great affection I also greet each of you and the communities to which you belong.  Together let us give thanks to God and pray that the Apostolic Journey will, like a good seed, bring forth abundant fruit.  It is the Lord who will make that fruit blossom and grow, if we but entrust ourselves to him in prayer and press forward, despite every difficulty, along the paths pointed out to us by the Gospel.
The olive tree which I planted in the Vatican Gardens together with the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Presidents of Israel and Palestine, is a symbol of that peace which is secure and enduring only because it is cultivated by many hands.  Those who would cultivate the plant of peace must never forget that God alone gives the growth.  True peace, the peace which the world cannot give, is a gift to us from Jesus Christ.  For all the grievous attacks it endures today, peace can always flourish again.  I am grateful that you continue to “make peace grow” through charity, which is the ultimate aim of all your organizations.  With unity and charity Christ’s disciples strive to be peacemakers everywhere, in all peoples and communities, and to overcome persistent forms of discrimination, starting with those based on religion.
First among those called to be peacemakers are our brothers and sisters of the Oriental Churches, together with their pastors.  Hoping at times against all hope, remaining in the place of their birth where the Gospel of the incarnate Son of God was first proclaimed, may they experience the blessedness reserved to those who are peacemakers: “they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).  And may they always feel the support of the universal Church and never falter in their conviction that the fire of Pentecost, the power of Love, can halt the fire of arms, hatred and vengeance.  Their tears and their anguish are ours, as well as their hope!  We can express this through our solidarity, if it is one which is concrete and effective, capable of ensuring that the international community upholds the rights of individuals and peoples.
In a special way, I join you in telling our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq, their bishops and priests, that the Catholic Church is close to them.  The Church is likewise close to our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and the Middle East, but also to the beloved people of Ukraine in the critical situation in which they find themselves, and to the people of Romania.  This closeness and concern is expressed in the works which your agencies carry out.  I urge you to continue your generous efforts to help them.  Your works of relief and assistance in nations most affected by these crises respond to basic needs, particularly of those who are powerless and most vulnerable, as well as the many young people tempted to leave their homeland.  And since communities of Eastern Christians are present worldwide, you are working everywhere to bring relief to the displaced and to refugees, restoring their dignity and their security in full respect for their identity and religious freedom.
Dear friends, I encourage you to pursue the goals set in your last Plenary Session, especially those regarding the training of young people and teachers.  At the same time, as the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to the family fast approaches, I urge you to give priority to this area, letting yourselves be guided by the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente (Nos. 58-61).  For the Holy Family of Nazareth, “which knew anxiety... as well as the pain of persecution, emigration and hard daily labour” teaches us “to trust the Father, to imitate Christ and to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit” (ibid., 59).  May the Mother of God accompany all families with her prayers, so that through them the Church, filled with the joy and strength of the Gospel, may always be a fruitful mother, anxious to strengthen the unity of the whole family of God.
Once again I thank you for your work.  To all of you I cordially impart my blessing.
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IN FOCUS


Preparing for the Synod, Part 1: Concerning Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
Upcoming Synod to Address Challenging Issues Pertaining to Marriage, Family, Sexual Morality
By Ann Schneible
ROME, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The pastoral care of men and women in same-sex partnerships will be among the more complex topics studied during the forthcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization
This study will be based upon a Preparatory Document “questionnaire” which assessed where Catholics stand on issues pertaining to family issues and sexual morality – including the issue of same-sex unions. The responses to this questionnaire have been summarized in an Instrumentum Laboris (working document), which was presented today at the Vatican Press Office.
The working document dedicates a section to “Concerning Unions of Persons of the Same Sex,” where it addresses various pastoral considerations, such as the civil recognition of same-sex unions, the challenges brought about by gender ideology, and the pastoral care of children of same-sex couples.
Civil Recognition
With regard to the civil recognition of same-sex couples, the working document highlights Catholic Church teaching, explaining that while “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family,” it is nonetheless true that “men and women with homosexual tendencies ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the FaithConsiderations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, 4).
It was also noted that the responses received from the questionnaire varied according to the socio-cultural, religious and political context. Consequently, the episcopal conferences highlighted three contexts in which this applies. First, “when repressive and punitive measures are taken in reaction to the phenomenon of homosexuality in all its aspects, especially when the public manifestation of homosexuality is prohibited by civil law. Some responses indicate that, in this context, the Church provides different forms of spiritual care for single, homosexual people who seek the Church’s assistance.”
The second instance observed is one where “homosexual behavior is not punished, but simply tolerated until it becomes visible or public. In this context, legislation on civil unions between persons of the same sex does not usually exist.” However, it goes on to note an “increasing tendency is to adopt laws providing for registered partnerships or so-called ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex” on the basis of being anti-discriminatory.
The third context is “one where States have introduced legislation recognizing civil unions or so-called ‘marriages’ between homosexual persons” sometimes resulting in the legal redefinition of marriage.  In such cases, “the couple is viewed only in legal terms, with such references as ‘equal rights’ and ‘non-discrimination’ without any thought to a constructive dialogue in the matter based on the deeper anthropological issues involved and the centrality of the integral well-being of the human person, especially the integral well-being of the children in these unions.” In countries where such unions are legaly recognized, same-sex couples are often permitted to adopt children.
An Evaluation of the Particular Churches
The document notes that episcopal conferences seek a “a balance between the Church's teaching on the family and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions.” However: “the extreme reactions to these unions, whether compromising or uncompromising, do not seem to have facilitated the development of an effective pastoral programme which is consistent with the Magisterium and compassionate towards the persons concerned.”
One of the primary challenges affecting the Church’s pastoral care on the issue arise from the promotion of gender identity. “In some places, this ideology tends to exert its influence even at the elementary level, spreading a mentality which, intending to eliminate homophobia, proposes, in fact, to undermine sexual identity.”
It has been observed that, in countries with legislation pertaining to the legality of same-sex unions, “many of the faithful express themselves in favour of a respectful and non-judgmental attitude towards these people and a ministry which seeks to accept them.” However, it is noted that this acceptance does not indicate “that the faithful give equal status to heterosexual marriage and civil unions between persons of the same sex. Some responses and observations voice a concern that the Church’s acceptance of people in such unions could be construed as recognition of their union.”
Some Pastoral Guidelines
The working document addresses some of the complex considerations in offering pastoral care to those actively living the homosexual lifestyle.
For instance, the distinction is made between caring for those “who have made a personal, and often painful, choice and live that choice discreetly so as not to give scandal to others, and those whose behaviour promotes and actively — often aggressively — calls attention to it.”
Some conferences have acknowledged “a certain unease at the challenge of accepting these people with a merciful spirit and, at the same time, holding to the moral teaching of the Church, all the while attempting to provide appropriate pastoral care which takes every aspect of the person into consideration.”
The responses touched on a variety of issues, such as the use of language in speaking about men and women with same-sex attraction, and the need “for theological study in dialogue with the human sciences to develop a multi-faceted look at the phenomenon of homosexuality.”
“The great challenge will be to develop a ministry which can maintain the proper balance between accepting persons in a spirit of compassion and gradually guiding them to authentic human and Christian maturity.”
However, the document acknowledges that “there is still no consensus in the Church on the specific way of receiving persons in [same-sex] unions,” but that “the first step would be a slow process of gathering information and distinguishing criteria of discernment for not only ministers and pastoral workers but also groups and ecclesial movements.”
The Transmission of the Faith to Children in Same Sex Unions
Finally, the document addresses the issue of care for children of same-sex couples.
“The responses are clearly opposed to legislation which would allow the adoption of children by persons in a same-sex union, because they see a risk to the integral good of the child, who has the right to have a mother and father, as pointed out recently by Pope Francis (cf. Address to Members of the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE), 11 April 2014 ).”
However, in response to whether children living in such situations ought to be allowed baptism, “almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children.”
“Clearly, the Church has the duty to ascertain the actual elements involved in transmitting the faith to the child. Should a reasonable doubt exist in the capability of persons in a same sex union to instruct the child in the Christian faith, proper support is to be secured in the same manner as for any other couple seeking the baptism of their children.”
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WORLD FEATURES


Supreme Court Decides Pro-Lifers Have 1st Amendment Right to Public Property Outside Abortion Clinics
Overturns Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law that created an expansive "buffer zone" around the state’s abortion clinics. The law restricted access to abortion clinics for those providing counseling to incoming patients.
“In a brazen affront to the First Amendment, Massachusetts government officials had sought to use the threat of arrest and criminal conviction to silence those offering women life-affirming alternatives to abortion,” said AUL President and CEO, Dr. Charmaine Yoest. “The Supreme Court rightly rejected this unlawful attempt to deny pro-life Americans their First Amendment rights.”
In a unanimous decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the Court held that the Massachusetts law violates the First Amendment.
Americans United for Life filed an amicus curiae brief in the case on behalf of 40 Days for Life, a community-based, peaceful pro-life campaign that takes a “determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families.”
The briefs demonstrated that the Massachusetts law violated the First Amendment rights of 40 Days for Life by establishing a 35-foot “no-pro-life” speech zone outside abortion facilities where no alternatives to abortion could be offered. AUL attorneys argued that the unconstitutional law impermissibly forced pro-life speakers to either “shout or be silent” and effectively prohibited speech by those who engage in personal, direct, and peaceful counseling with women considering abortion.
Importantly, the 2007 law discriminated against peaceful pro-life activists by prohibiting them from “enter[ing] or remain[ing] on a public way or sidewalk adjacent” to a stand-alone abortion facility. But this did not apply equally to everyone. Abortion clinic employees or agents acting within their scope of employment were free to enter the “zone” and speak with women including encouraging them to have abortions.
This discriminatory “no-enter zone” only targeted those opposed to abortion and permitted police to arrest and charge any person engaged in pro-life advocacy. Prohibited conduct under the law included speaking, praying, wearing t-shirts, hats, or buttons, displaying signs, leafleting, and making consented approaches with women or others entering the abortion clinic.
The law effectively sought to prohibit all methods of communicating a pro-life message on public sidewalks—a venue which the Supreme Court has called “a prototypical public forum” where the First Amendment is “at its most protected.”
“The Massachusetts law impermissibly discriminated against and censored pro-life Americans. The pro-abortion position could be represented in the zone, while the pro-life view point was strictly prohibited under threat of criminal sanctions,” Yoest noted.
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NEWS BRIEFS


English Bishop: Assisted Suicide Bill Will Put Lives of Many Vulnerable People at Risk
Legislation Proposes Licensing Doctors to Supply Lethal Drugs to Those With Less Than Six Months to Live
LONDON, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - An English bishop has warned that a bill to legalise assisted suicide may inadvertently lead to the deaths of large numbers of vulnerable people,
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury says that Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, due to receive its Second Reading in the House of Lords on July 18, will diminish the legal protection for some of the weakest members of society.
Bishop Davies, who will warn the faithful of the Bill's implications in a pastoral letter to the Catholics of his Diocese this weekend, says it will be “impossible to predict” the unforeseen consequences of such a change in the law, adding that “in 1967, the politicians who legalised the killing of unborn children in limited and exceptional circumstances did not foresee how violating the sanctity of human life would lead to the wanton destruction of millions of lives”.
It is “incomprehensible”, Bishop Davies will say, that politicians are considering a law which will diminish the protection of the aged and seriously ill at a time when there has been such widespread concern about the ill-treatment of patients and residents in some of the country’s hospitals and care homes.
His letter, whose full contents are below, will be read out at Masses throughout the Diocese of Shrewsbury over the weekend of Sunday June 29, the Feast of the Apostles Ss Peter and Paul.
***
A PASTORAL LETTER
On the Great Challenge for our Generation
To be read at Mass in all the churches and chapels of the Diocese on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul, 29th June 2014
My dear brothers and sisters,
I write to you on the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, when we hear in the Gospel the great promise of Our Lord to Simon Peter:
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.  And the gates of the underworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).
The past century has been marked by the emergence of inhuman ideologies and such unprecedented bloodshed and destruction that it often seemed as if “the gates of hell” had prevailed. However, the Successors of St Peter in the Holy See of Rome have stood at the forefront of the defence of human life, the defence of the value of every human person. They have proclaimed the Gospel of Life in the face of what Saint John Paul II described as, “the culture of death”. Today, that culture of death is manifested in the hidden destruction of the unborn on an industrial scale, and the threat to the sick and the aged of a killing, which its advocates perversely call “mercy.”
Pope Francis continues this unfailing witness in our time, by his words and gestures affirming the eternal value of every human being, especially the weakest and the frailest. In his most recent Exhortation, the Holy Father asks us to be attentive to the new forms of poverty and vulnerability.  Pope Francis specifically speaks of those elderly people
whoare increasingly isolated and abandoned” and of the unborn children “the most defenceless and innocent among us” (Evangelii Gaudium n. 210, 213).
I don’t need to remind you of the widespread concern about the ill-treatment of the aged and those at the end of life in some of our care homes and hospitals - and this in spite of the many dedicated people working in these fields of care. It seems all the more incomprehensible, then, that we would be considering a change in the law to diminish the protection given to those most vulnerable.
Next month a Bill to legalize “assisted suicide” for those at the end of life will begin its passage through Parliament. This legislation will be presented as a “compassionate” measure, whose sole aim is to relieve the suffering of the sick and the aged. Yet, it is far from compassionate to remove the legal protections provided for some of the most vulnerable members of society. The proposed change to our laws will license doctors to supply lethal drugs to assist the deaths of those expected to live for six months or less. If Parliament allows exceptions to the laws which protect the very sanctity of human life, it would be impossible to predict where this will end. In 1967, the politicians who legalised the killing of unborn children in limited and exceptional circumstances did not foresee how violating the sanctity of human life would lead to the wanton destruction of millions of lives. It is not surprising that many vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, are today worried by Lord Falconer’s “assisted dying” Bill. It might sound reasonable to speak of “choicesat the end of life” - as the campaigners for euthanasia do - but what choice will be left for many?
The recent commemorations of D-day have reminded us of how an earlier generation was ready to face death in the defence of human life and dignity, in what Britain’s war-time Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, described as a battle for the survival of “Christiancivilisation”(House of Commons, 18th June 1940). It is the Christian faith which has led us to recognise the sanctity of every human life, the value of every human person. In their quest for the elusive definition of “British values”, our political leaders need look no further for the foundations of our society. And whilst we recall the heroism of generations before us, we must not fail to recognise the great challenge for our own generation. We are now being called upon to defend the sanctity of human life amidst the growing threats against it.
Defending the value of the life and dignity of every human person, from their conception until their natural death, represents the great battle of our life-times, a battle we must fight with the weapons of peace. Together with Pope Francis, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, may you and I be able finally to repeat the words of the Apostle Paul:
Ihave fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith …” (II Tim 4:7).
May it be so, for each one of us. With my blessing,

+ Mark
Bishop of Shrewsbury
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INTERVIEW


Founder of Advocacy Campaign for African Albinos: 'No One Answered Me, Except the Pope'
Cristiano Gentili Explains How Francis Became 1st Participant in 'Ombra Bianca' Initiative
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Cristiano Gentili was working in Africa when he discovered that tens of thousands of Africans are born albinos, and thus suffer a lifetime of discrimination.
Seeing how these people are literally hunted by witchdoctors, and persecuted, he was determined to help.
Gentili decided to write a book that he called “Ombra Bianca" (White Shadow) to use fiction to draw attention to the plight of these people.
He sought the support of thousands of people from various countries and spheres of expertise. But the only one who answered him was Pope Francis.
Now his initiative, which was launched Wednesday, has drawn international attention.
Before meeting with Pope Francis this week and launching the advocacy campaign to raise awareness for African albinos, Gentili sat down with ZENIT at the Vatican.
***
ZENIT: Could you give a little background about yourself and why and how you became involved with this cause?
Gentili: I was an international civil servant for an international organization for more than 10 years. When I was posted in Africa, I was in Sudan, Darfur, then I discovered the inconceivable realty of African albinos. Then, I took a year-long sabbatical from my work, and traveled extensively through Tanzania with human rights activists, to learn more. We went around rural areas and and various other areas of Tanzania to discover the reality of these people. We wanted to see what were their living conditions. After that, I was thinking what would be the best way to raise awareness in the so-called “civilized world” about the disease.
We are talking about tens of thousands of people in Africa with albinism. The continent’s rate of this disease is among the highest in the world. Tens of thousands of Africans suffer from it. So, I was thinking what could be the best tool to raise awareness, so I decided to write a novel, called “Ombra Bianco” (White Shadow). It is fictional, but inspired by real people and stories.
I wrote this novel, and, to put it simply, wrote more than 4,000 letters to important people to get some support, but no one answered me-- except the Pope.
ZENIT: Could you describe the disease of albinism?
Gentili: Yes, thank you for the question. I call it in Italian, “the last of the last” because these people are discriminated against the day they are born until the day they are dead because they are white in Africa and because they are considered as phantoms or spirits. They are discriminated against by their families, by their parents. Some are not given a name at birth, as they don’t belong to the clan, to their own family. Truly on the periphery, they grow up being discriminated against, in every way possible.
Also, they are hunted. Witchdoctors believe albinos can bring good luck. They believe that with their limbs, they’ll discover gold, catch more fish, win elections, and so on. Having sex with a woman with albinism, they believe, can cure someone of AIDs.
So imagine, they are hunted. Discriminated against, hunted, persecuted. In addition to that, try to think what it means to be white without melanin in your skin, and to be under the equatorial sun. So, most of them….their silent killer is skin cancer. They don’t reach their life expectancies. Being under this sun, as you can see [showed the reporter a photo], they die of skin cancer.
There’s been lots of talking, talking, talking, and documentaries, but nothing was done so far--We need to do something. So, I’ve tried to involve the Pope in that and have received his full support. Also, I would like to involve even more people.
ZENIT: How did you contact the Holy Father and what were your hopes when doing so?
Gentili: I wrote a letter to Pope Francis, Vatican City State. He received the letter, and I received a phone call. The Pope invited me to--well, I didn’t speak with him in person, but spoke with one of his assistants, actually, someone very close to him, who contacted me on his behalf-- to an international symposium on Africa that was held at the Pontifical Academy of Science at the Vatican on the 29th of November, 2013. I was a speaker among many authorities, such as Roman Proti, officials of the Italian Ministry for Reintegration, cardinals, very prominent people. In Italy, we would say I was a “fly”...I didn’t count. I addressed the people with my speech, talking about the novel and this reality, the incredible reality of albinism. And since I was working abroad at the time of the conference, I was hosted at Casa Santa Marta, where the Pope is living, for three nights, four days.
ZENIT: Can you explain more about your experience at Santa Marta?
Gentili: Yes, it was amazing also because I had the chance to meet with the Pope in the canteen and I was near all the people that are around the Pope. It was a very nice environment. I was positively struck by that experience.
ZENIT: After the Pope asked you to speak at the conference, what followed?
Gentili: When I finished the conference, the Pope invited me for a private meeting with him. During that meeting, I explained a bit about the albinism problem. However, he knew very well what was going on in Africa and was very sensitive and considerate of African albinos, people considered the “last of the last,” living symbols of the absolute periphery.
Next, I explained to the Pope what I developed. With this company, we, with the help of young IT guys, we developed and created an application which is called a social audio-book, the first one ever.
ZENIT: Why was this initiative chosen?
Gentili: An audio-book is a book read by a person, so that others can listen. So, with this, [social audie-book], symbolically, you could give a voice to one who does not have a voice to speak for themselves.
You are invited to read a sentence of the novel. The novel “Ombra Bianca” is broken into some 2,000 sentences, and maybe hundreds of thousands of words. Many people can register on the website, can register for this application with their email addresses. Then, they can read the sentence or passage of the book and can lend their voice for those affected. It is very moving to see that by having people worldwide symbolically reading sentences to create the first social audiobook ever and get them interested, they, on some level, are lending their voices for those albinos without them. This initiative [was] launched [Wednesday], but the Pope wanted to be the first.
ZENIT: How did the Pope participate?
Gentili: The Pope read some sentences of my book. He read the sentences of a character--and this incredible--that I wrote about who served as a sort of metaphor for the role of the Catholic Church in Africa, which started out well, then sort of got lost. This character created hope.
The name of the character was: Priest Francis. In this book, there is this character Priest Francis. He was named like this before Pope Francis was elected Pope. In the book, he represents the hope for the Church in Africa. What are the odds that, completely unknown to all, Pope Francis would read sentences from this character, Priest Francis, named before Bergoglio would be elected Pope. It’s incredible the character “Priest Francis” was born and written before anyone knew there would be a Pope Francis.
ZENIT: Why is this initiative the first of its kind?
Gentili: Currently, it is a tangible book, but it will become available in audio form: the first social audio-book ever. With the launching of this initiative in which all people can lend their voice, to read a sentence of the book--in Italian. Even though you are a foreigner, you have to read it in Italian. This, will ultimately create the social audio-book. The first voice reading is the Pope, reading some sentences of Priest Francis, in the novel, the metaphor for hope.
ZENIT: For those interested in learning and supporting the cause, in what ways can they do so?
Gentili: Three initiatives are being launched: the social audio-book, a petition, and the hashtag.
[Wednesday], I’ll be meeting with the Pope and the social audio-book will be launched.
The website, www.ombrabianca.com, provides information and is available in five languages: Italian, and is translated into English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Though the social audio-book must be read in Italian, there is a multi-language translation tool available, so all people can understand in their own languages.
It is also very important that there is a petition on the website, in six languages, including Chinese, at www.change.org. The petition can also reached by going from the website. On the left, there is the link to this petition where we ask to help these people. Basically, it’s very short: “Help African Albinos”
There is a link to the website for how people can donate, through Doctors with Africa-CUAMM and partnerships with other NGOs. There is a link on the website. If you click on it, you go immediately to their website and can donate money directly to provide concrete help for African albinos. In this way, I am not getting any money. I can keep my name clean. All the money goes straight to them. So, we are all trying to do our best.
[Wednesday], the hashtag #HelpAfricanAlbinos will also be launched.
ZENIT: Could you elaborate further on what piqued your interest in regards to the albinos?
Gentili: I was curious because this phenomenon is so absurd. It’s very ironic and is an idea which is hard to believe. Being white and discriminated against in Africa seems crazy, as generally those with white skin are not the centers of ridicule and discrimination for skin color. Regardless, it’s proof, we are in a society full of prejudices.
I wanted to do something because it is not so huge. It is not like saying, “I want to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” which is too huge for me to make a change, it would be impossible. However, with this, we can do something. We are talking tens of thousands of people, yes it is many people, but still. Also, prejudice can be eradicated, and we need to work on that. Given all of these factors, I felt I could do something, I had to do something, and did.
ZENIT: Any final hopes you would like to share regarding this cause and the initiatives?
Gentili: Please support this cause. It would be nice to demonstrate that in this “so-called” civilized world, there are people who care for these suffering people. They need to know that in the majority of the world populations, they are not seen as spirits, phantoms, animals, as they are thought to be in Africa.
Even spending some seconds to lend their voice and read some lines in this initiative, following the example of the Pope, or also, in addition, actually, to sign the petition would demonstrate our closeness to them, could achieve this. In doing so, all together, we can see what results can be achieved. Let’s hope to draw attention from world leaders, religious leaders, into this reality of albinism, to human beings who are forgotten or condemned.
***
On the Net:
www.ombrabianca.com
www.change.org
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SPIRITUALITY


Daily Homily: The Troops Tore Down the Walls of Jerusalem
Friday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two
By Fr. Jason Mitchell LC
ROME, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) -
--
2 Kings 25:1-12
Psalm 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Matthew 8:1-4
King Zedekiah's rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, led to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, the palace of the king, the Temple of the Lord, and the walls of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Jeremiah prophesied that the Babylonian exile would last for seventy years: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place" (Jeremiah 29:10-11). God promises to restore Israel, give them a Davidic king who will establish peace and justice in the land.
What is more, "the restored reign of the Davidic king is joined, in Jeremiah's prophecy, to an inner transformation that accomplishes a new passover: 'Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord' (31:31-32). Israel's death will be followed by resurrection" (M. Levering, Ezra & Nehemiah, Brazos Press, 41).
King Nebuchadnezzar will have a dream of a statue and the prophet Daniel will have a dream of four beasts that symbolize the succession of kingdoms, leading to the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The golden head and the lion represents the Neo-Babylonian empire (612-539 BC), the silver chest and the bear represents the Medo-Persian empire (539-331 BC), the bronze torso and the leopard represents the Greek empire (331-63 BC) and the iron legs and feet and ten-horned beast represent the Roman empire. In the days of those kings, God establishes his kingdom, through Jesus Christ, the son of David, which will never be destroyed.
In the Gospel, Jesus comes down from the mountain to perform the first of ten miracles, signs that reveal the nature of the kingdom he announces. Jesus first cures a leper, who exhibits great faith in Jesus and his divine power. Jesus is not made ritually unclean by touching the leper; rather Jesus' holiness transforms the uncleanliness of the leper and makes him clean.
In his Incarnation, the Son is not made unclean by assuming our human nature. He became like us in all things but sin. He was not contaminated by his solidarity with us. Though his passion, Jesus transforms our human nature, he merits for us the Spiritual Bath that will cleanse us of our sin. We are made clean in the waters of Baptism because it is our share in the action by which our human nature was transformed, namely the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus announces his kingdom with a call to repentance. Through the gift of God's grace, we turn from a life of sin and enter into communion with God. Christ, the high priest taken from among men, has made us a new people, a kingdom of priests. Jesus tells the leper to show himself to the priest so that he can be re-introduced into the community of worship. Through our Baptism and our Confirmation we are introduced into the Liturgy of God's Kingdom: we now share in the thanksgiving sacrifice of the Son of God; we truly worship the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.
--
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.
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ROME NOTES


New Book Presents Founder of Knights of Columbus as Model for Priests, Helper for Families
Supreme Knight Says Fr. McGivney Is Growing in Relevance and Has Been Lauded by Recent Popes
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The founder of the largest Catholic men’s organization in the world, started in the U.S. but now active worldwide, was the theme of a book presentation in Vatican City.
The book “Il Parroco: Padre McGivney and American Catholicism” (Parish Priest: Father McGivney and American Catholicism) by Douglas Brinkley and Julie Fenster, tells of how the priest from the Protestant town of New Haven, Connecticut, home to Yale University, helped struggling 19th-century Catholic families in the face of discrimination and social challenges, and, in 1882, founded America's largest Catholic men's organization, the Knights of Columbus.
The launching of the book’s Italian edition took place at Rome’s Patristic Institute Augustinianum and was organized by Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV). It was held Tuesday night in Vatican City.
Among those speaking were the Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight, Dr. Carl Anderson, and Professor Kevin Coyne of Columbia University's School of Journalism, in New York, who also is the author of a forthcoming book on the Knights of Columbus.
Anderson spoke to ZENIT about the Parish of St. Mary’s in New Haven, where the order was born, and gave some historical background. He said that “McGivney was no ordinary priest, he accomplished no ordinary feat, and lived in no ordinary time,” because “this Catholic priest rose to great things” against the "backdrop of a culture that often was hostile to the Catholic faith.”
Not only did he help 19th-century immigrants trying to live out their faith, but McGivney’s vision has increased in relevance today, he said, as he founded, even before Rerum Novarum launched the Social Doctrine of the Chuch, a “lay Catholic organization that would be dedicated to both the spirtual and temporal well being of its members, and would provide charity to those on the margins of  society.”
Papal admiration
Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all lauded the contributions of McGivney. To illustrate, he noted that when Pope Benedict spoke in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York during his 2008 visit, he said that, “Fr. McGivney not only was an ‘examplary American priest,’ but also a model to all priests.'”
Likewise, Anderson noted that Benedict’s predessor, Pope John Paul II promoted the efforts of the Knights as he stressed the role of the laity. For instance, John Paul II said that "the renewal of the Church, wouldn’t be possible without the active presence of the laity,” and therefore, the laity is “largely responsible for the future of the Chuch.”
Lastly, Pope Francis also has helped realize McGivney's dream as he has helped lead the Church ahead. Francis’ efforts in the realms of “charity, evangelization, and protection of families,” as well as his emphasis on “fraternity” resonate deeply with the Knights, whose some 1.8 million members reach out globally with charitable initiatives.
Helping each other
Professor Coyne shared with ZENIT that, “When Father McGivney started the Knights of Columbus in 1882, America was a predominantly Protestant nation that, in many places and many ways, openly discriminated against Catholics. The Catholic Church itself in America had nothing like the power and prestige it had in Europe."
He noted, however, that “Father McGivney's idea was to enlist laymen more directly in the cause -- a fraternal society that would help Catholics take care of each other, do works of charity for others, and advance the Church in the United States.”
Despite its “slow start,” he said it eventually spread across the nation, and into other nations, too. “The Catholic Church needed that extra help in America, and that's what Father McGivney should be remembered for -- coming up with a way to provide that help. For the rest of the world, his message is the power of the laity to help do the work of the Church,” Coyne stressed.
In closing, the participants explored the legacy of Fr. McGivney, and noted that despite the Protestant resistance in New Haven, the day that Fr. McGivney died, his funeral drew more people than for anyone else in the town’s history.
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Rome Reports


Michael McGivney, the 'people's priest' who founded the Knights of Columbus (Video)
Life wasn't easy for Catholics immigrants in the United States back in the XIX century. In the State of Connecticut, for example, they didn't have the right to buy land
By Rome Reports
ROME, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - To view the video click here.
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A realistic and optimistic document will guide the discussion of the Synod on the Family (Video)
Pope Francis believes that the future of the world and the Church depends on how they can deal with the challenges facing families
By Rome Reports
ROME, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - He is also aware that the Catholic proposal is seen as more of a "moral imposition” than a passionate project.
To view the video click here.
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The Pope at Santa Marta: "Jesus was a pastor, not a moralist" (Video)
During his Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis explained why people followed Jesus. He said that Christ would come close to His people and spoke to their hearts
By Rome Reports
ROME, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - To view the video click here.
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DOCUMENTS


Vatican Publishes Working Document for Upcoming Synod on the Family
"Instrumentum Laboris" Summarizes Responses to Questionnaire Sent Out Last Fall
VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The Vatican today published the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization".
An instrumentum laboris (Latin for "working instrument") is an official Vatican document, a summary of responses to the special questionnaire sent out to the Church last fall.
The document summarizes information returned to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in preparation for an Ordinary Assembly that will take place one year later, in October 2015 at the Vatican. The full text of the document can be read here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20140626_instrumentum-laboris-familia_en.html
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Pope Francis' Address to Young Astronomers
"The Vatican Observatory School in Astrophysics [is] a place where young people the world over can engage in dialogue and collaboration, helping one another in the search for truth, which in this case is concretized in the study of galaxies."
VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Pope Francis received in private audience at the Vatican this morning young astronomers participating in the Vatican Observatory's School of Astrophysics' Summer Course.
The theme of the course is: "Galaxies near and far, young and old".
Here below is the speech that the Pope addressed those present:
***
Dear Friends,
I am pleased to welcome you, the professors and students of the Summer Course organized by the Vatican Observatory on the theme "Galaxies: Near and Far, Young and Old". I also offer a cordial greeting to the Jesuit Fathers and Brothers and to the staff of the Observatory. It is gratifying to see the large number of qualified professors and students, drawn from twenty-three different countries, who have taken part in this international programme. In a particular way I thank the instructors who have devoted so much time and energy to introducing these young astronomers to the demanding yet fascinating work of studying the universe, the precious gift of the Creator. I also thank the benefactors whose generosity has provided for various study grants.
For nearly a month now, you have been engaged not only in the study of galaxies, under the direction of professors who are experts in this field, but also in sharing your own cultural and religious traditions. In this way, you have offered an impressive example of dialogue and fruitful cooperation. During these weeks of study you have also made lasting friendships and laid the groundwork for future forms of collaboration. Seeing all of you here today is like looking at a marvelous mosaic made up of people from throughout the world. It is only right that men and women everywhere should have access to research and scientific training. The hope that one day all peoples will be able to enjoy the benefits of science is one which spurs all of us on, scientists in particular.
The Vatican Observatory School in Astrophysics is thus a place where young people the world over can engage in dialogue and collaboration, helping one another in the search for truth, which in this case is concretized in the study of galaxies. This simple and practical initiative shows how the sciences can be a fitting and effective means for promoting peace and justice.
Here too we see a further reason for the Church’s commitment to dialogue with the sciences on the basis of the light provided by faith: it is her conviction that faith is capable of both expanding and enriching the horizons of reason (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 238). In this dialogue, the Church rejoices in the marvelous progress of science, seeing it as a sign of the enormous God-given potential of the human mind (cf. ibid, 243), even as a mother rejoices and is rightly proud as her children grow "in wisdom, and age and grace" (Lk 2:52).
Finally, I would also encourage you to share with people in your own countries the knowledge about the universe which you have acquired. Only a fraction of the global population has access to such knowledge, which opens the heart and the mind to the great questions which human beings have always asked: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Does this universe made up of hundreds of millions of galaxies have any meaning? ... The search for an answer to these questions can lead us to an encounter with the Creator, the loving Father, for "in him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
May the almighty and merciful God, who "tells the number of the stars and calls each one by name" (Ps 147:4), fill all of you with his peace and grant you his blessing.
[Vatican Translation]