Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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Caritas Feeding Hungry in Bangladesh

Caritas Feeding Hungry in Bangladesh

Disaster-Preparedness Program Helped Quick Response

DHAKA, Bangladesh, NOV. 22, 2007 ( The international aid organization Caritas already distributed food to 120,000 people in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr.

The cyclone, which hit a week ago, claimed the lives of at least 3,100 people. Rescuers fear that number could climb as high as 10,000, once more remote areas are reached. At least 1.2 million were left homeless.

The executive director of Caritas Bangladesh, Benedict Alo D’Rozario said, “During my visits to the affected areas of Bagerhat and Patuakhali districts, I have seen that the roofs of about 90% of the houses have been blown away. […] [t]he roofs of many schools have been blown away and children do not know where their books are.

“Roads are yet to be cleared for vehicles and transport connections are not fully restored yet. No ferry is available to cross the river at Kalapara. People are still under open sky and searching for their valuables from the debris. Many of them are desperately looking for or waiting for their loved ones to return as thousands of them are still missing.”

Caritas Bangladesh has long-term development and disaster preparedness programs in the worst-hit areas, which helped with the speed of the response.

After completing the first round of aid, Caritas will repeat food assistance to the same families.

Over $3.2 billion worth of crops have been destroyed resulting in the loss of food and income for millions of people. Caritas will be looking at the medium- to long-term impact after the initial phase of the relief effort has ended.

The Bangladesh government promised today to feed the more than 2 million people left destitute after the storm destroyed crops, saying it had promises of some $390 million in international aid.

Filed under: Caritas

Benedict XVI to Sign 2nd Encyclical

Benedict XVI to Sign 2nd Encyclical

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2007 ( Benedict XVI will sign his second encyclical, dedicated to the theme of hope, this Nov. 30, confirmed his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The cardinal confirmed the Pope’s plan today during the 4th world congress of the organizations dedicated to justice and peace, under way in Rome and focusing on the 40th anniversary of Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio.”

Nov. 30 is the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle. Normally, encyclicals and other papal documents are not published on the same day they are signed; rather, the texts are released to the public some time after the official signing date.

The Holy Father’s second encyclical is inspired by St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. His first encyclical, about charity, titled “Deus Caritas Est,” was released in 2006 .

Cardinal Bertone said over the summer that the Pope is also preparing an encyclical about social themes.

Filed under: Papal Teachings



VATICAN CITY, NOV 22, 2007 (VIS) – At midday today, the Pope received participants in the 34th general conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which has its headquarters in Rome.

In his English-language talk to the delegates, the Pope indicated that “all forms of discrimination, and particularly those that thwart agricultural development, must be rejected since they constitute a violation of the basic right of every person to be ‘free from hunger.’ These convictions are in fact demanded by the very nature of your work on behalf of the common good of humanity.”

Benedict XVI highlighted the paradox of “the relentless spread of poverty in a world that is also experiencing unprecedented prosperity, not only in the economic sphere but also in the rapidly developing fields of science and technology.”

Such obstacles as “armed conflicts, outbreaks of disease, adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions and the massive forced displacement of peoples,” said the Pope, “should serve as a motivation to redouble our efforts to provide each person with his or her daily bread.

“For her part, the Church is convinced that the quest for more effective technical solutions in an ever-changing and expanding world calls for far-sighted programs embodying enduring values grounded in the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person,” he added.

“The united effort of the international community to eliminate malnutrition and promote genuine development necessarily calls for clear structures of management and supervision, and a realistic assessment of the resources needed to address a wide range of different situations. It requires the contribution of every member of society – individuals, volunteer organizations, businesses, and local and national governments – always with due regard for those ethical and moral principles which are the common patrimony of all people and the foundation of all social life.”

Benedict XVI continued his talk by saying that “today more than ever, the human family needs to find the tools and strategies capable of overcoming the conflicts caused by social differences, ethnic rivalries, and the gross disparity in levels of economic development.”

“Religion, as a potent spiritual force for healing the wounds of conflict and division, has its own distinctive contribution to make in this regard, especially through the work of forming minds and hearts in accordance with a vision of the human person.”

“Technical progress, important as it is, is not everything,” the Pope told the FAO delegates. “Progress must be placed within the wider context of the integral good of the human person. It must constantly draw nourishment from the common patrimony of values which can inspire concrete initiatives aimed at a more equitable distribution of spiritual and material goods.”

“This principle,” he explained, “has a special application to the world of agriculture, in which the work of those who are often considered the ‘lowliest’ members of society should be duly acknowledged and esteemed.”

In conclusion the Holy Father recalled how “FAO’s outstanding activity on behalf of development and food security clearly points to the correlation between the spread of poverty and the denial of basic human rights, beginning with the fundamental right to adequate nutrition. Peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights are inseparably linked. The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!”

AC/HUNGER/FAO VIS 071122 (570)

Filed under: Social Doctrine, Social Justice

Putting Social Doctrine in the Limelight

ZE07112109 – 2007-11-21

Putting Social Doctrine in the Limelight

Justice and Peace Council Consider Key Task

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2007 ( The Church’s social doctrine is a treasure that needs to be better known and understood, said the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In his Tuesday report to open the dicastery’s plenary assembly, Monsignor Giampaolo Crepaldi explained that the promotion of Christian social doctrine is one of the group’s key tasks.

“Within this perspective,” explained the secretary of the Pontifical Council, “all the activities have been planned as instruments to give a new momentum to social doctrine, in order to detect ways of relaunching it in the various social, economic and political fields.”

Monsignor Crepaldi considered the reception of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, presented for the first time publicly in October 2004, and now already officially released in countries all over the world. The compendium continues to be translated into more and more languages, he said.

“We should try to make a provisional review of the reception of the compendium three years since its publication,” affirmed Monsignor Crepaldi. “I dare say, that it has been welcomed with greater enthusiasm outside Europe — in Asia, Africa, Latin America — than on the European continent.”

According to the secretary of the Vatican dicastery, “There is still much to do so the compendium will be used systematically as a point of reference for a social pastoral plan adapted to these times, conforming to the teachings of the Church, and trusting that the light of the Gospel is still the principal motor of human development.”

Among the many places in which the compendium was presented, Monsignor Crepaldi emphasized Russia and Cuba.

“In Russia, in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the presentation of the compendium helped contact with the Orthodox Church,” the monsignor said. “In Cuba, because of the presence of a communist regime in that country, and on account of the vivacity of a Catholic Church very committed on the part of the laity, the presentation of the compendium was a very opportune initiative.”

For Monsignor Crepaldi, the compendium “can do much good because it helps to clarify, helps one understand and dialogue in search of the truth.”

Filed under: Social Doctrine



VATICAN CITY, NOV 16, 2007 (VIS) – “Problems and prospects of human development today, 40 years after ‘Populorum progressio’,” is the subject due to be examined at the forthcoming plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to be held on November 20 and 21, and at the second world congress of ecclesial organizations active in that sector, to be held in Rome from November 22 to 24.

According to a communique from the pontifical council, its members and consultors “will reflect on the current validity of the historical papal document, with particular emphasis on the moral aspects of development, on new forms of poverty and globalization, on conflicts and disarmament, and on safeguarding and protecting human rights.”

Among those due to participate in the plenary assembly alongside Cardinal Renato Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, are Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo, president of Pax Christi.

More than 300 delegates from more than 80 countries on five continents are expected to participate in the second world congress of ecclesial organizations active in the sector of justice and peace. The specific theme of their meeting will be: “The 40th anniversary of ‘Populorum progressio:’ the development of all of man, the development of all mankind.”

Participants, the communique reads, “will study the new situations that have come into being in the world since the publication of the historic document, and the current challenges of development in the light of the Church’s social doctrine, in particular the questions of human ecology, pluralism and inter-cultural dialogue, and new forms of government in the context of globalization. Particular attention will also be given to the Church’s pastoral commitment to integral and solidary development in the world today.”


Filed under: Social Doctrine, Social Justice