In Vatican City this morning, His Holiness Pope Francis held his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Arriving by pope mobile, the Holy Father took time to travel through the square greeting the many tens of thousands of pilgrims present. He even took time to get up close and personal with a number of pilgrims, taking pictures with them, chatting and shaking hands. After ascending the steps of the basilica the pope opened the general audience. This was followed by the proclamation of the gospel in eight different languages, before the Holy Father began his catechesis. Here now is summary of the Holy Father’s words in English delivered by Canada’s Father Owen Keenan.
In addition to his Catechesis, Pope Francis broke from his prepared remarks and vocally condemned slave labor, human trafficking and the weapons manufacturers. He said that, "One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God." The Pontiff stated that tens of millions of children are exposed to this scourge around the world. He told the audience that June 12 was the World Day Against Child Labor. Francis called on everyone, especially families to protect the dignity of a healthy upbringing for every child. This he said was critical in granting them the possibility of a future filled with hope.
A desperate humanitarian crisis is developing in northern Iraq as over 500,000 people have fled the city of Mosul over the last three days. The mass exodus comes on the heels of fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant taking control of the city. The al-Qaeda splinter group has taken control of government buildings, banks, foreign government consulates, and broadcast stations, taking several prisoners. Speaking to Catholic News Service, Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona, Archeparch of Mosul, said that, “All our churches in Mosul are closed, and there is not one Christian in the city." He said that police and military abandoned the city requiring the Church organize quickly. Archbishop Nona said they are currently scrambling to relocate and find homes for countless families who are on foot with no possessions. He has called for international humanitarian assistance for what he calls a tragedy. To date, violence in Iraq has seen as many as 700,000 Christians flee the war-torn country.
Finally, Brazil’s bishops have issued a red card to the organizers of this year’s World Cup. In a statement released by the country’s bishop conference, it said “The Church wants to contribute to the public debate and express its concern regarding the inversion of priorities in the use of public money that should go to health, education, basic sanitation, transportation and security.” The bishops are also critical of the eviction of the poor from their homes, disregard for environmental regulations, while also highlighting the need to combat sexual exploitation and human trafficking. All told, the tournament which starts tomorrow has cost Brazil $11 billion, money critics including the bishops say should have been spent on alleviating poverty.