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Sing to the Lord – “For the Beauty of the Earth”

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St. Augustine told us, “He who sings, pray twice.”

I love music. I believe that music is sound reaching out to truth and prayer in song is music reaching out to love.

“For the Beauty of the Earth” is one of the hymns I really like. The lyrics are written by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint and the content is related to the psalm. The version I have listened to is written by John Rutter. This hymn is praising the creation of God.

In 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical “Laudato Si” in which he called on people to “care for our common home.” He reminds us of how beautiful of all the things in the world are and we have to treasure and share those natural resources with others.

Today, try to put down your electronic devices, open your window or go outside, close your eyes, breathe deeply, feel the wind blowing, listen to the birds singing…then open your eyes to look at the trees, the grass, the sky, the people. These are signs of the unconditional love from God. Let us sing praise to our lord by singing this hymn. Amen!

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heav’n.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.


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Rodney Leung is a Chinese producer for Salt + Light. Follow him on Twitter!

There’s no app for happiness – Perspectives

There’s no app for happiness. That’s what Pope Francis told young people this weekend during his homily for the Jubilee of young people. He had a few other surprises up his sleeve as well. We have details on Perspectives. Plus, we look at the church’s role in rebuilding Ecuador after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the nation last week.

Cardinal Wuerl Interview on Amoris Laetitia #VisibleSign

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Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, and the Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, Susan Timoney, STD, sit down to discuss Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (On Love in the Family). See the video below:

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Homily of Pope Francis at Mass for the Jubilee of Young People

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On Sunday, April 24, 2016, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Jubilee of Young People. Read below for the full text of his Homily:

St. Peter’s Square – Sunday April 24, 2016

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”

 Dear young friends, what an enormous responsibility the Lord gives us today! He tells us that the world will recognize the disciples of Jesus by the way they love one another. Love, in other words, is the Christian’s identity card, the only valid “document” identifying us as Christians. It is the only valid document. If this card expires and is not constantly renewed, we stop being witnesses of the Master. So I ask you: Do you wish to say yes to Jesus’ invitation to be his disciples? Do you wish to be his faithful friends? The true friends of Jesus stand out essentially by the genuine love; not some “pie in the sky” love; no, it is a genuine love that shines forth in their way of life. Love is always shown in real actions. Those who are not real and genuine and who speak of love are like characters is a soap opera, some fake love story. Do you want to experience his love? Do you want this love: yes or no? Let us learn from him, for his words are aschool of life, a school where we learn to love. This is a task which we must engage in every day: to learn how to love.

Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness. But it is not an easy path. It is demanding and it requires effort. Think, for example, of when we receive a gift. It makes us happy, but receiving a gift means that someone generous has invested time and effort; by their gift they also give us a bit of themselves, a sacrifice they have made. Think too of the gift that your parents and group leaders have given you in allowing you to come to Rome for this Jubilee day dedicated to you. They planned, organized, and prepared everything for you, and this made them happy, even if it meant that they had to give up a trip for themselves. This is putting love into action. To love means to give, not only something material, but also something of one’s self: one’s own time, one’s friendship, one’s own abilities.

Look to the Lord, who is never outdone in generosity. We receive so many gifts from him, and every day we should thank him… Let me ask you something. Do you thank the Lord every day? Even if we forget to do so, he never forgets, each day, to give us some special gift. It is not something material and tangible that we can use, but something even greater, a life-long gift. What does the Lord give to us? He offers us his faithful friendship, which he will never take back. The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself. This is an example of genuine love that Jesus teaches to us. This is very important! Because the biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us – and that is always a sadness – from feeling that we are all alone. The Lord, on the other hand, is always with you and he is happy to be with you. As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to “put out into the deep” and to “cast your nets wide” trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear. Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say “yes”.

Dear young friends, at this stage in your lives you have a growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection. The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful. He will guide your hearts to “love without being possessive”, to love others without trying to own them but letting them be free. Because love is free! There is no true love that is not free! The freedom that the Lord gives to us is his love for us. He is always close to each one of us. There is always a temptation to let our affections be tainted by an instinctive desire to “have to have” what we find pleasing; this is selfishness. Our consumerist culture reinforces this tendency. Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside. The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love. It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them. This is putting tenderness and love into action.

At this point in life you feel also a great longing for freedom. Many people will say to you that freedom means doing whatever you want. But here you have to be able to say no. If you do not know how to say “no”, you are not free. The person who is free is he or she who is able to say “yes” and who knows how to say “no”. Freedom is not the ability simply to do what I want. This makes us self-centred and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends; it is not true to say “it is good enough if it serves me”. No, this is not true. Instead, freedom is the gift of being able to choose the good: this is true freedom. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort, even if it is not easy. I believe that you young men and women are not afraid to make the effort, that you are indeed courageous! Only by courageous and firm decisions do we realize our greatest dreams, the dreams which it is worth spending our entire lives to pursue. Courageous and noble choices. Do not be content with mediocrity, with “simply going with the flow”, with being comfortable and laid back. Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions. Be sceptical about people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough like the heroes in films or if you wear the latest fashions. Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love. True freedom is something else altogether.

That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart; love is a responsibility, but a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams! Woe to your people who do not know how to dream, who do not dare to dream! If a person of your age is not able to dream, if they have already gone into retirement… this is not good.Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness. Love does not happen because we talk about it, but when we live it: it is not a sweet poem to study and memorize, but is a life choice to put into practice! How can we grow in love? The secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world. And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall. Throughout life we will fall many times, because we are sinners, we are weak. But there is always the hand of God who picks us up, who raises us up. Jesus wants us to be up on our feet! Think of the beautiful word Jesus said to the paralytic: “Arise!”. God has created us to be on our feet. There is a lovely song that mountain climbers sing as they climb. It goes like this: “In climbing, the important thing is not to not fall, but to not remain fallen!. To have the courage to pick oneself up, to allow oneself to be raised up by Jesus. And his hand is often given through the hand of a friend, through the hand of one’s parents, through the hand of those who accompany us throughout life. Jesus himself is present in them. So arise! God wants us up on our feet, ever on our feet!

I know that you are capable of acts of great friendship and goodness. With these you are called to build the future, together with others and for others, but never againstanyone! One never builds “against”; this is called “destruction”. You will do amazing things if you prepare well, starting now, by living your youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work. Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice. Let your daily programme be the works of mercy. Enthusiastically practice them, so as to be champions in life, champions in love! In this way you will be recognized as disciples of Jesus. In this way, you will have the identification card of the Christian. And I promise you: your joy will be complete.

Behind Vatican Walls: Syrian Refugees

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While Pope Francis has been personally helping Syrian refugees relocate to Europe, a joint Catholic – Russian Orthodox delegation visited Lebanon and Syria. The delegation identified ways the two churches can work together to help Syrians.

Officials from the Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need and officials from the Moscow patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church visited Beirut, Damascus and Lebanon’s Bekka Valley. The group found two ways they can help Syrian Christians: compiling information about churches and shrines that have been destroyed, and providing aid to children.

Peter Humenik, the Russian expert for Aid to the Church in Need, was quoted in a press release from the organization as saying that Christians identified rebuilding of churches as one of the most pressing needs for their communities. According to Humenik they identified rebuilding churches as more urgent than rebuilding homes, because the life of the local Christian communities happened in those churches, shrines and parish buildings.

Christians in the communities visited told the joint delegation that recording testimonies about the martyrdom of Syrian Christians is also highly important to them.

The Moscow-based news agency Interfax quoted Humenik as saying that the joint delegation decided to hold “an action” at the end of the year ‘in favour of children of Syria in the city of Homs.”

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This week – Friday April 22 –  the Jewish faithful celebrate Passover.

Pope Francis sent this telegram to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni :

“In remembering with renewed gratitude our meeting on 17 January, when I was cordially welcomed by you and by the Jewish Community of the city in the Great Synagogue, I wish to express my most heartfelt wishes for the feast of Passover. It points out that the Almighty has released His beloved people from slavery and brought them to the Promised Land. May God also accompany you today with the abundance of His Blessings, protect your community and, in His mercy, bestow peace upon everyone. I ask you to pray for me, as I assure you of my prayers for you: may the Almighty allow us to be able to grow more and more in friendship”

We here at Salt + Light would like to wish a Happy Passover to all of our Jewish friends and supporters!

Watch this week’s episode of Vatican Connections below:


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Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.

Celebrate Earth Day with Salt + Light TV!

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Why should we care for the environment?

Producer and host Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann joins Sr. Damien Marie Savino, FSE, as they try to find the answer within God’s revelation as found in his creation and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

 

Creation shows that dealing with environmental issues by focusing on political, economic, or ideological solutions alone is noble, but lacking. Instead, what the Catholic Church has said over the centuries about the sacredness of all creation can lead us to real answers to today’s environmental challenges – answers grounded in the truth of creation as good, full of dignity, and deserving of our care.

 

Creation takes us all over North America to meet people with stories that highlight Catholic environmental principles. Our stories draw attention to many issues – waste management, urban and local farming, water shortages, contamination and waste water treatment– and offer the answers that many of you are seeking with regards to our concerns about the environment.

Watch the marathon on April 22, 2016!

Creation Ep. 1 –  Sense of Wonder: 12 pm ET / 9 am PT
Creation Ep. 2. – The Human Person: 12:30 pm ET / 9:30 am PT
Creation Ep. 3 – Respect: 1 pm ET / 10 am PT
Creation Ep. 4 – Groaning: 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT
Creation Ep. 5 – Grammar of Creation: 2 pm ET / 11 am PT
Creation Ep. 6 – Integral Ecology: 2:30 pm ET / 11: 30 am PT

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Laudato Si’: Let’s Redefine Progress

Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Archbishop emeritus of Cape Coast (Ghana),  delivered this year’s John M. Kelly Lecture in Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College, entitled Laudato Si’: Let’s Redefine” Progress,” on Monday, March 21, in St. Basil’s Parish, in Toronto.

As President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Turkson had a role in the drafting of Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis’ encyclical published last spring on the need to safeguard our world. In a recent speech to a gathering of bishops, the Cardinal expounded on the contents of the encyclical, noting that “the way we interact with the natural world is deeply related to how we interact with our fellow human beings. …Therefore, all decisions about the natural environment are ethical decisions, just as social options have environmental consequences.”

Watch Laudato Si’: Let’s Redefine Progress on April 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm PT!

 

Bishop Thornton: Amoris Laetitia

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This post originally appeared on Bishop Tim Thornton’s blog. 

Timothy Thornton was born in Leeds, England and educated at Devonport High School for Boys. He took an honours degree in Theology at Southampton University and trained for the priesthood at Oxford, later working in London, Wakefield and Cardiff. Timothy was Bishop of Sherborne for seven years before becoming the 15th Bishop of Truro in 2008. He is Trustee of a number of organizations as well as serving as Chairman of the Children’s Society which is a national charity working to help the most deprived children and disadvantaged young people. He was introduced to the House of Lords in April 2013.

Bishop Tim, as he is known to his flock, has not been afraid to voice his concerns on controversial matters of the day and has said that the greatest threat to Christianity is a lack of confidence in the faith saying: “My biggest concern is that Christians are not willing or able to bear witness to the faith that they believe. …If we believe what the gospel says then we ought to have the confidence in what we believe.”

Pope Francis appointed him as a fraternal delegate to the October 2015 Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. Bishop Thornton is married to Sian who is a teacher. They have two children and two grandchildren, twin girls.

Given I was at the Synod of Bishops last year and that is where my blog began I thought it was only right and proper that I write a blog now that Pope Francis has published the Post Synodical Exhortation.

As it happens I have one or two things to say about it and its reception so far.

The first thing to say is that it is well worth reading.  It is not a short document and it will not be necessarily easy reading for everyone but I do think Pope Francis has a fascinating style that is a good mix of being based in scripture and the tradition and a very immediate and straightforward way of putting things.  For example, “in the family three words need to be used.  I want to repeat this!  Three words, ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’.  Three essential words! (p.100)”

The immediacy that comes through at various parts of this document is refreshing and challenging.

I would also commend to you the section on Our Daily Love in Chapter Four (pp. 71 ff.)  It is an exposition on I Corinthians chapter 13 and is rich and helpful.   It is well worth studying and again is a mix of scriptural explanation and to the point advice and wisdom.  “Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like.”  (p. 73).

Of course the Exhortation has been long awaited and is the result of a process that has taken place over a number of years.  Inevitably there are huge expectations on the part of many many people.  As the response to the document shows, and as we all know anyway, we cannot please all the people all the time.  Reactions to The Joy of Love have been that it is either too liberal or too conservative.  Depending on who you read and who you are it is either making too much change or is allowing no change at all.

You could say that a very good document is one that is open to such wide interpretation.  I think that the document is well worth reading and that is part of the problem.  Most people will not read the document and want someone to tell them what it says on certain issues; the ones they believe are the key issues.

The Pope begins with a significant statement, “Since, ‘time is greater than space’, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by the intervention on the magisterium.” (p. 4).  I am fascinated by the suggestion that time is greater than space which Pope Francis has said before but I don’t want to get unduly distracted by it.  Apart from this I am struck by the power of the Pope stating at the beginning of such an important report that the Magisterium is not to be used to solve all the problems.  He goes on to say, “Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it.” (p. 4).

I believe this is a thread that runs through this Exhortation and is not easy for any of us to grasp.  Pope Francis, while in no way denying his role or his proper sense of authority, is constantly helping every one of us to understand that under God, under His Son Jesus Christ who died and rose again for us, under the Holy Spirit who gives us power and strength, our life’s work is to accept who we are and become who God wants us to be.  That means we need to try and stop being dependent and grow through independence and aim towards interdependence.

So the report moves to look at the controversial issues faced by the Synod last year and no doubt frustratingly for many Pope Francis does not issue diktats or utter infallible statements other than that every one of us needs to grow in Christ.

Pope Francis shows he has a real understanding and empathy with the situation within families of all sorts and shapes and sizes (perhaps not quite all but almost all) today.  He also, in different ways throughout this report, keeps stressing there are no easy answers or solutions to the problems that beset family life.  He emphasises the importance of inclusion and that way exclusion is not a gospel option.  I can do no better than to quote at some length from the very end of The Joy of Love.

“As this Exhortation has often noted, no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love. There is a never ending vocation born of the full communion of the Trinity, the profound unity between Christ and his church, the loving community which is the holy family of Nazareth and the pure fraternity which exists among the saints of heaven. Our contemplation of the fulfilment we have yet to attain, also allows us to see, in a proper prospective, the historical journey which we make as families, and, in this way, to stop demanding of our interpersonal relationships a perfection, a purity of intentions and a consistency which we will only encounter in the Kingdom to come. It also keeps us from judging harshly those who live in situations of frailty. All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families and every family must feel this constant impulse. Let us make this journey as families, let us keep walking together.  What we have been promised is greater than we can imagine. May we never lost heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us.” (p.255)

We all have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others and we all put impossible burdens on to other people. The Joy of Love does not answer all the questions that are in peoples’ minds as a result of the Synod on the Family.  There are many who will feel this is not any answer to any of the questions.  Some, from a conservative perspective, will decide it is too liberal, and some liberals will decide it is far too conservative.  I think it is well worth reading and reflecting on, above all to consider how each and every one of us can take seriously the call ‘to grow and mature in the ability to love’.

At times during the Synod last year I did worry that there was an ideal family in the minds of some of the Cardinals and an unreality about some of the interventions and contributions.  The Joy of Love is not in any way guilty of seeing the family, any family, as ideal and I believe it is one more step on the way to encouraging us all to grow up and mature in the ability to love.

Synod 2015 Interview with Bishop Timothy Thornton (Anglican Communion)

WITNESS Interview with Bishop Timothy Thornton

This post originally appeared on Bishop Tim Thornton’s blog. 

Pope Francis in Lesbos: Meeting at the Port of Mytilene – Remembering the Victims of Migration

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Prayer of Archbishop Ieronymos

O God of all spirits and flesh, Who has trodden down death, destroying the power of the devil, bestowing life on Your world to the soul of Your servants departed this life, do You Yourself, O Lord, give rest in a place of light, in a place of green pasture, in a place of refreshment, from where pain and sorrow and mourning are fled away. Every sin by them committed in thought, word, or deed, do You as our good and loving God forgive, seeing that there is no man that shall live and sin not, for You alone are without sin: Your righteousness, and Your law is truth.

For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Your servants, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up Glory, as to Your Eternal Father and Your All-Holy, Good, and Life- creating Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Lord of mercy, compassion and all comfort, we pray to You for our brothers in difficult circumstances and we offer to Your Goodness:

Nurture the infants; instruct the youth; strengthen the aged; give courage to the faint hearted; reunite those separated; sail with those who sail; travel with those who travel; defend the widows; protect the orphans; liberate the captives; heal the sick. Remember, O God, those who are in mines, in exile, in harsh labor, and those in every kind of affliction, necessity, or distress; and all those who entreat Your loving kindness; those who love us and those who hate us; and pour out upon all Your rich mercy, granting them their petitions for salvation

Again we pray, Lord of life and of death, grant eternal repose to the souls of Your departed servants, those who lost their lives during their exodus from war-torn regions and during their journeys to places of safety, peace and prosperity.

For You, Lord, are the helper of the helpless, the hope of the hopeless, the savior of the afflicted, the haven of the voyager, and the physician of the sick. Be all things to all, You who know each person, his requests, his household, and his need. Deliver this island, O Lord, and every city and country, from famine, plague, earthquake, flood, fire, sword, invasion of foreign enemies, and civil war. Amen.

Prayer of Pope Francis

Merciful God, we pray to you for all the men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life. Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished. May we never forget them, but honour their sacrifice with deeds more than words.

We entrust to you all those who have made this journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation, in order to reach a place of safety and hope. Just as you never abandoned your Son as he was brought to a safe place by Mary and Joseph, so now be close to these, your sons and daughters, through our tenderness and protection.

In caring for them may we seek a world where none are forced to leave their home and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace.

Merciful God and Father of all, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering, and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self-centredness. Inspire us, as nations, communities and individuals, to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters. May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand, and recognize that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away, where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.

Pope Francis in Lesbos: Address to the Population of Lesbos

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Distinguished Authorities, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have wanted to visit Lesvos ever since migrants arrived here seeking peace and dignity. Today I give thanks to God who has granted me this wish. I express my appreciation to President Pavlopoulos for inviting me, together with Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos.

I wish to express my admiration for the Greek people who, despite their own great difficulties, have kept open their hearts and their doors. Many ordinary men and women have made available the little they have and shared it with those who have lost everything. God will repay this generosity, and that of other surrounding nations who from the beginning have welcomed with great openness the large numbers of people forced to migrate.

Your island is blessed by the generous presence of many volunteers and various associations that, together with public institutions, have offered and continue to offer their assistance, visibly expressing their fraternal concern.

Today, I renew my heartfelt plea for responsibility and solidarity in the face of this tragic situation. Many migrants who have come to this island and other places in Greece are living in trying conditions, in an atmosphere of anxiety and fear, at times even of despair, due to material hardship and uncertainty for the future.

The worries expressed by institutions and people, both in Greece and in other European countries, are understandable and legitimate. We must never forget, however, that migrants, rather than simply being a statistic, are first of all persons who have faces, names and individual stories. Europe is the homeland of human rights, and whoever sets foot on European soil ought to sense this, and thus become more aware of the duty to respect and defend those rights. Unfortunately, some, including many infants, could not even make it to these shores: they died at sea, victims of unsafe and inhumane means of transport, prey to unscrupulous thugs.

You, the residents of Lesvos, show that in these lands, the cradle of civilization, the heart of humanity continues to beat; a humanity that before all else recognizes others as brothers and sisters, a humanity that wants to build bridges and recoils from the idea of putting up walls to make us feel safer. In reality, barriers create divisions instead of promoting the true progress of peoples, and divisions sooner or later lead to confrontations.

To be truly united with those forced to flee their homelands, we need to eliminate the causes of this dramatic situation: it is not enough to limit ourselves to responding to emergencies as they arise. Instead, we need to encourage political efforts that are broader in scope and multilateral. It is necessary, above all, to build peace where war has brought destruction and death, and to stop this scourge from spreading. To do this, resolute efforts must be made to counter the arms trade and arms trafficking, and the often hidden machinations associated with them; those who carry out acts of hatred and violence must be denied all means of support. Cooperation among nations, international organizations and humanitarian agencies must be tirelessly promoted, and those on the frontlines must be assisted, not kept at a distance. In this regard, I reiterate my hope that the First World Humanitarian Summit being held in Istanbul next month will prove productive.

All of this can be achieved only if we work together: solutions to the complex issue of refugees which are worthy of humanity can and must be sought. In this regard, the contribution of Churches and religious communities is indispensable. My presence here, along with that of Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos, is a sign of our willingness to continue to cooperate so that the challenges we face today will not lead to conflict, but rather to the growth of the civilization of love.

Dear brothers and sisters, God is neither indifferent to, nor distant from, the tragedies that wound humanity. He is our Father, who helps us to work for good and to reject evil. Not only does he come to our aid, but in Jesus he has shown us the way of peace. Before the evil of this world, he made himself our servant, and by his service of love he saved the world. This is the true power that brings about peace. Only those who serve with love build peace. Service makes us go beyond ourselves and care for others. It does not stand by while people and things are destroyed, but rather it protects them; service overcomes that dense pall of indifference that clouds hearts and minds.

Thank you, for you are guardians of humanity, for you care with tenderness for the body of Christ, who suffers in the least of his brothers and sisters, the hungry and the stranger, whom you have welcomed (cf. Mt 25:35).

Evharistó!

Pope Francis in Lesbos: Joint Declaration of Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew And Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens

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JOINT DECLARATION
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
And Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens

We, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, have met on the Greek island of Lesvos to demonstrate our profound concern for the tragic situation of the numerous refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who have come to Europe fleeing from situations of conflict and, in many cases, daily threats to their survival. World opinion cannot ignore the colossal humanitarian crisis created by the spread of violence and armed conflict, the persecution and displacement of religious and ethnic minorities, and the uprooting of families from their homes, in violation of their human dignity and their fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources. From Lesvos, we appeal to the international community to respond with courage in facing this massive humanitarian crisis and its underlying causes, through diplomatic, political and charitable initiatives, and through cooperative efforts, both in the Middle East and in Europe.

As leaders of our respective Churches, we are one in our desire for peace and in our readiness to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. While acknowledging the efforts already being made to provide help and care to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, we call upon all political leaders to employ every means to ensure that individuals and communities, including Christians, remain in their homelands and enjoy the fundamental right to live in peace and security. A broader international consensus and an assistance programme are urgently needed to uphold the rule of law, to defend fundamental human rights in this unsustainable situation, to protect minorities, to combat human trafficking and smuggling, to eliminate unsafe routes, such as those through the Aegean and the entire Mediterranean, and to develop safe resettlement procedures. In this way we will be able to assist those countries directly engaged in meeting the needs of so many of our suffering brothers and sisters. In particular, we express our solidarity with the people of Greece, who despite their own economic difficulties, have responded with generosity to this crisis.

Together we solemnly plead for an end to war and violence in the Middle East, a just and lasting peace and the honourable return of those forced to abandon their homes. We ask religious communities to increase their efforts to receive, assist and protect refugees of all faiths, and that religious and civil relief services work to coordinate their initiatives. For as long as the need exists, we urge all countries to extend temporary asylum, to offer refugee status to those who are eligible, to expand their relief efforts and to work with all men and women of good will for a prompt end to the conflicts in course.

Europe today faces one of its most serious humanitarian crises since the end of the Second World War. To meet this grave challenge, we appeal to all followers of Christ to be mindful of the Lord’s words, on which we will one day be judged: «For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me… Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me» (Mt 25:35-36, 40).

For our part, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, we firmly and wholeheartedly resolve to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians. We reaffirm our conviction that «reconciliation [among Christians] involves promoting social justice within and among all peoples… Together we will do our part towards giving migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers a humane reception in Europe» (Charta Oecumenica, 2001). By defending the fundamental human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, and the many marginalized people in our societies, we aim to fulfill the Churches’ mission of service to the world.

Our meeting today is meant to help bring courage and hope to those seeking refuge and to all those who welcome and assist them. We urge the international community to make the protection of human lives a priority and, at every level, to support inclusive policies which extend to all religious communities. The terrible situation of all those affected by the present humanitarian crisis, including so many of our Christian brothers and sisters, calls for our constant prayer.

Lesvos, 16 April 2016
Ieronymos II
Francis
Bartholomew