Pope and Obama discuss religious freedom, life issues, immigration
Mar. 27, CNS: In their first encounter, Pope Francis received U.S. President Barack Obama at the Vatican March 27 for a discussion that touched on several areas of tension between the Catholic Church and the White House. During a 50-minute meeting, the two leaders discussed “questions of particular relevance for the church in (the U.S.), such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection as well as the issue of immigration reform,” the Vatican said in statement.
The U.S. Bishops celebrated a Mass at the border in remembrance of six thousand migrants who have died in 15 years
April 2, Agenzia Fides: “This Mass is for the 6,000 migrants who have died near a border wall in Nogales alone, 11 million people without documents, 30,000 children without parents who have fled. In the desert near here 400 bodies were found of men, women, children seeking to enter the United States…” These are the harsh words expressed by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M., Archbishop of Boston during the Mass on April 1. The Cardinal and other 8 Bishops walked and prayed in the desert of Nogales, Arizona remembering thousands of Central American migrants who died during their “painful journey” in an attempt to reach the United States. Cardinal O’Malley’s homily highlighted that the United States was a nation of immigrants, and the sacrifices of their ancestors “were the secret of the success of the United States”.
Pope Francis to Rwandan bishops: be instruments of reconciliation
April 3, Vatican Radio: Pope Francis received the bishops of Rwanda on April 3, during the course of their ad limina visits. During the audience in the Vatican, he recalled the genocide in the country and the 20th anniversary of its beginning. At least 800,000 Rwandans were killed during a three month rampage of violence that began on April 6th, 1994. The pope offered his prayer for all victims and their families, for all Rwandans, regardless of religion, ethnicity or political affiliation. He encouraged the bishops to persevere in their commitment to healing and reconciliation. He said, “It is the duty of the Church to form children and young people in Gospel values, which they shall find especially in a particular familiarity with the Word of God, which will be for them like a compass indicating the route.”
Hate speech unsettles in CAR
April 5, Vatican Radio: Chad’s government which sided with the opposed Seleka rebels decided to withdraw its troops from the Central African Republic (CAR) after what was supposed to be a part of Africa’s peacemaking solution for the country ended with 30 dead and 300 wounded this week at the hands of Chadian troops.
Bernard Muna of the International Commission of Inquiry on the CAR, notes the rise of hate speech in the country: “I have noticed, which is worse, that violence continues. People are killed every day. The second thing I have noticed is that there is a development of hate language.[…] When you demean people of other faiths or other religions or other ethnic groups, when you denigrate them, when you give them names, and when you tell your own people that they are not fit to be citizens in your own country, that they should go somewhere else, this is always the beginning of genocide.”
The Bishops alarm after two months of violence: “Venezuela government seeks ‘totalitarian’ regime”
April 3, Agenzia Fides: Venezuela’s organization of Catholic bishops is accusing the government of seeking totalitarian-style rule and has issued a statement which highlights “the fundamental cause of the crisis Venezuela is experiencing, the demand of President Nicolas Maduro’s government to try and impose the so-called ‘Plan of the Fatherland’, behind which hides the imposition of a totalitarian government”.
Draft law will not keep conflict resources out of Europe, campaigners warn
March 5, JRS News: A law proposed by the European Commission on responsible sourcing of minerals is not strong enough to prevent European companies’ mineral purchases from financing conflict or human rights abuses, and falls far short of expectations, campaigners said. Instead of putting forward robust legislation that would require a wide range of EU-based companies to do checks on their supply chains – known as due diligence – the Commission today announced voluntary measures that will only apply to companies importing processed and unprocessed minerals into the European market. The proposal covers companies involved in the tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold sectors. The campaigners warned that the Commission’s proposal is likely to have minimal impact on the way that the majority of European companies extract natural resources.
The illegal extraction of minerals causes death, destruction and displacement. Metals from conflict areas routinely enter the EU in manufactured products like computers, phones, light bulbs and cars.
Campaigners expressed disappointment that the Commission’s proposal does not address other natural resources, but rather is limited to four minerals. Over sixty international non-governmental organizations released a paper last year outlining the need for robust legislation based on existing due diligence standards set by the UN and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
JRS Cambodia celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week
March 28, JRS News: Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia marked World Interfaith Harmony Week with an interfaith event at Mindol Metta Karuna on February 8. The event gathered people of different faiths who want to work together for justice, peace and a development that sustains all especially the poorest and most excluded.
In a JRS booklet titled “Plant a Tree: Stories of People Caring for Environment”, Ernst Jurgensen wrote, “Practically and symbolically the planting of a tree can bring people from various religious groups together for a common cause, for instance, sustainable development. All Cambodians regardless of faith are affected adversely by deforestation, so there is a need to initiate collaboration across faith boundaries; in local communities, between religious institutions and top leaders.”
Fr. Arun De Souza SJ
Hyoe Murayama (Jesuit Scholastic)