Holy See hopes UN migration agreement will defend human dignity


New York City, N.Y., Jul 17, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican’s representative at the United Nations expressed hope that a new UN agreement on best practices for international migration will guarantee respect for the human dignity of all migrants.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the UN, spoke July 13 at the concluding session of intergovernmental negotiations on migration, the culmination of a nearly two-year process.

“This first-ever comprehensive framework on migration will serve as the international reference point for best practices and international cooperation in the global management of migration, not only for Governments, but also for non-governmental entities among which are the faith-based organizations, who are truly the hands and feet on the ground to assist migrants in difficulty,” said Auza.

The agreement --  the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration -- details 23 international objectives, including the eradication of human trafficking and “use of migration detention only as a measure of last resort.”

Since 2000, more than 60,000 people have died in their attempt to migrate, according to the International Organization of Migration's research on migrant deaths and disappearances.

The Vatican representative told the UN that “Pope Francis encapsulates these shared responsibilities and solidarity in four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”

“This Global Compact will make it more difficult for anyone — States, civil society or anyone of us — to be unaware of the challenges that people on the move face and to fail to meet our shared responsibilities towards them, in particular toward those most in need of our solidarity,” continued Auza.

Auza quoted Pope Francis’ Mass for Migrants homily on July 6. “Before the challenges of contemporary movements of migration, the only reasonable response is one of solidarity and mercy . . . A just policy is one at the service of the person, of every person involved; a policy that provides for solutions that can ensure security, respect for the rights and dignity of all; a policy concerned for the good of one’s own country, while taking into account that of others in an ever more interconnected world.”

The archbishop added that the Catholic Church “will continue to commit itself fully to the benefit of migrants, always respecting their rights and human dignity.”

The global compact on migration will be formally adopted at a UN meeting in Marrakech, Morocco on Dec. 10-11. Following a decision by the Trump administration, the United States withdrew from the negotiations in December 2017.

“The Holy See nurtures the hope that the Global Compact will not only be a matter of good migration management, but truly be, as is its ultimate purpose, a significant step forward in the service of the person, not only of every migrant, but for all of humanity,” concluded the archbishop.


Surprise! Pope Francis unexpectedly celebrates Vatican wedding


Vatican City, Jul 16, 2018 / 04:22 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis surprised wedding guests Saturday when he unexpectedly celebrated a marriage being held at a small chapel in the Vatican Gardens.

“Look who came as a surprise! Pope Francis is always surprising!” said Brazilian Fr. Omar Reposo on his Instagram account.

The wedding - between Luca Schafer, a member of the Swiss Guard, and Letícia Vera, a former employee of the Vatican Museums, took place in the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians, just outside St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Sources close to the couple told ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese language sister agency, that only the bride and groom know that Pope Francis was going to preside over the wedding. The pope’s arrival surprised the wedding guests, and the priests who concelebrated the wedding.

According to Vatican Media, the pope preached about three verbs that can help couples to experience the fullness of marriage: “to begin,” “to stop,” and “to resume the journey.”

This was not the first time that Pope Francis celebrated a wedding at the Vatican. In September 2014, the pope presided over the marriage of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica and in July 2016 he did the same for a deaf couple in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


Pope: God doesn't meet our expectations – he surprises us instead


Vatican City, Jul 8, 2018 / 04:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Sunday that God always surprises people with the way he works, and because of this, believers should be open to the Lord's way of thinking and acting, rather than expecting him to conform to their aspirations.

“Today the Lord invites us to assume an attitude of humble listening and docile waiting, because the grace of God often presents itself to us in surprising ways, which don't line up with our expectations,” the pope said July 8.

He noted how certain “prejudices” can be nurtured in Christians which prevent them from accepting the reality of how God works, however, “the Lord does not conform to prejudices. We have to force ourselves to open the mind and heart to welcome the divine reality that comes to meet us.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for his Sunday Angelus address, which focused on the day's Gospel reading from Mark. In the passage, Jesus returned to his native land to do ministry, but was unable to perform the same miraculous works he had done in other places since people knew him and were skeptical of his preaching and ministry.

In his speech, Francis said the people were “scandalized” by what Jesus was doing, since they recognized him as one of them.

Asking how it is possible for Jesus' fellow citizens to go from marvel to disbelief, the pope said this is because they made a comparison between the “humble origins” of Jesus and his current abilities to preach and perform miracles.

“He is a carpenter, he did not study, yet he preaches better than the scribes and performs miracles. And instead of opening themselves to the reality, [the people] are scandalized,” he said, noting that for the inhabitants of Nazareth, “God is too great to lower himself to speak through such a simple man!”

This, he said, is “the scandal of the incarnation: the shocking event of a God made flesh, who thinks with a human mind, works and acts with human hands, loves with a human heart; a God who struggles, eats and sleeps as one of us.”

However, in becoming flesh, Jesus “overturns every human scheme: it is not the disciples who washed the feet of the Lord, but it is the Lord who washed the feet of the disciples,” the pope said, noting that this fact is “a cause of scandal and disbelief in every age, even today.”

In off-the-cuff remarks, Francis pointed to St. Teresa of Calcutta, who he canonized in September 2016, as a modern-day example of someone simple who performed great works. Even though she was “a small sister,”  St. Teresa through prayer and simplicity was able to “work wonders,” he said, adding that “she is an example from our day.”

Closing his address, Pope Francis said learning to have a mind and heart open to God's logic above all means having faith.

“The lack of faith is an obstacle to God's grace,” he said, noting that many baptized Catholics “live as if Christ does not exist: they repeat the signs and acts of faith, but they do not correspond to a real adhesion to the person of Jesus and his Gospel.”

Every Christian, he said, “is called to deepen this fundamental belonging, trying to bear witness with a coherent conduct of life, whose leitmotif is charity.”

After leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer, the pope gave a shout-out to patriarchs and representatives from Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches in the Middle East who were present for an July 7 ecumenical gathering in Bari to pray for peace in the region.

Francis said the event was “an eloquent sign of Christian unity,” and thanked all those who participated.

He also noted how July 8 marks the “Sunday of the Sea,” which is dedicated to seafarers and fisherman, and prayed for them and their families, and for the chaplains and volunteers who do ministry to them.

The pope offered a special prayer for those who live at sea in situations of “undignified work,” and for all those who are committed to freeing the sea of pollution.