Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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Cor Unum Gathering in the Americas for Caritas


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” today announced that from 2 to 6 June a series of spiritual exercises will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, under the direction of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household.
Some 500 men and women from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, leaders of the Catholic Church’s mission of charity, will participate in the initiative. The Holy Father has sent them a Message in which he “invites all to intensify their friendship with the Lord Jesus. This divine dimension of love characterises the Church’s charitable organisations and makes their activity irreplaceable”.

The “Cor Unum” English-language communique continues: “The generosity of people today and their willingness to help whenever catastrophe strikes, such as the tsunami or the cyclone in Myanmar, is truly impressive. At the same time, Christians are convinced that, beside material assistance, human affliction needs a message of hope that only Christ can give though faith-filled witness. The Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’, the dicastery of the Holy See charged with orienting and co-ordinating the Church’s charitable activities, has proposed this gathering as a school for deepening faith”.

Filed under: Caritas, Cor Unum, Social Doctrine


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2008 (VIS) – The Feast of the Eucharist, as celebrated at Corpus Christi, was the theme of remarks that Benedict XVI addressed to faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, before praying the Angelus today.

“The Lord and Creator of all things became a ‘grain of wheat’ to be sown in our land, in the furrows of our history”, said the Pope. “He became bread in order to be …. shared; … He became our food in order to give us life, His own divine life”.

“The Eucharist is a school of charity and solidarity”, he went on. “Those who nourish themselves on the bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent before people who, even in our own time, are without daily bread. Many parents have great difficulty in feeding themselves and their children. It is an ever more serious problem which the international community struggles to resolve. The Church not only prays to ‘give us this day our daily bread’ but, following the example of her Lord, seeks in all ways ‘to multiply the five loaves and the two fish’, through countless initiatives of human promotion and participation so that no-one may lack what they need to live”.

“May the Feast of Corpus Christi be an occasion to increase this authentic concern for our brothers and sisters, especially the poor”, said Benedict XVI and he concluded by calling upon the Virgin Mary “from whom the Son of God drew flesh and blood”, to intercede to this end.

ANG/EUCHARIST/… VIS 080526 (260)

Filed under: Papal Teachings, Social Justice

Holy See UN Permanent Observer: Agriculture


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) – On 16 May, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, pronounced a discourse during the 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council.
“Investing in long-term and sustainable agriculture programmes at the local and international levels remains central to the development prospects of so many”, he said in his English-language remarks. “This investment must be done in a way that addresses the prices of food commodities as well as the distribution and production of food around the world, in particular in Africa”.

Noting the fact that “seventy percent of the world’s poor live in the same rural areas where widespread chronic malnourishment continues to persist” archbishop Migliore explained that this “illustrates that in addressing sustainable development we must continue to focus not merely upon those who consume food commodities but also upon those who produce it.

“Greater investment in small-holder farmers which enables them to increase production in a sustainable manner would provide an important element to addressing the continued presence of chronic hunger and malnourishment in certain regions”, he concluded.

Filed under: Social Doctrine, Social Justice

Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples


VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2008 (VIS) – “The emigrant and itinerant family” is the theme of the 18th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, which was inaugurated this morning by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of that dicastery.

In his opening address, the cardinal drew from the most recent documents published by the pontifical council, in order to illustrate the pastoral guidelines it follows in the various areas in which it undertakes its mission.

A communique released by the council explains that the plenary – which is being held in the Vatican from 13 to 15 May – is to be attended by 26 members, including cardinals, archbishops and bishops from various countries, and by 14 consultors, also of various nationalities, specialists in the various aspects of human mobility with which the council concerns itself. These aspects, listed by the communique, are: emigrants, refugees and displaced persons, foreign students, nomads, circus workers, tourists and pilgrims, seafarers, airport workers, drivers, women and children who live on the streets, and people of no fixed abode.

Over these days the plenary assembly is also scheduled to include testimonies from people who work directly with families in certain sectors of human mobility, from various countries: Australia , U.S.A. , Colombia , Dominican Republic , Great Britain , France , Italy , Spain and Germany .


Filed under: Migration, Social Justice

Papal Message on Disarmament, Development and Peace
“Promote the Good of Every Man and of the Whole Man”

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2008 ( ).- Here is a Vatican translation of the message Benedict XVI addressed to Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The message was sent on the occasion of an April 11-12 conference in Rome titled: “Disarmament, Development and Peace: Prospects for Integral Disarmament.”

* * *

Venerable Brother
Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

I have great pleasure in sending a cordial greeting to the participants in the International Seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the theme: “Disarmament, Development and Peace. Prospects for Integral Disarmament”, and express my deep appreciation of such a timely initiative. I assure you, Your Eminence, and all who are taking part of my spiritual closeness.

The subject on which you are intending to reflect is more topical than ever. Humanity has made formidable progress in science and technology. Human ingenuity has resulted in achievements that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. At the same time, some areas in the world are still without adequate human and material development; many peoples and people lack the most fundamental rights and freedoms. Even in regions of the world where there is a high standard of living, pockets of marginalization and poverty seem to be spreading. Although the worldwide globalization process has opened new horizons, it has not yet brought the hoped-for results. And although after all the horror of the Second World War the human family gave proof of a great civilization by founding the United Nations Organization, today the international community seems at a loss. In various areas of the world tension and war persist, and even where the tragedy of war is not being played out there is nonetheless a widespread feeling of fear and insecurity. Furthermore, phenomena such as terrorism on a world scale make the boundary between peace and war transient, seriously jeopardizing the hope of humanity’s future.

How should we respond to these challenges? How can we recognize the “signs of the times”?

Joint action is certainly needed at the political, economic and juridical levels, but even before that we need to reflect together on the moral and spiritual level: the promotion of a “new humanism” seems to be ever more urgently necessary in order to enlighten human beings on the understanding of themselves and the meaning of their journey through history. In this regard the teaching of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI and his proposal of an integral humanism, which aims, in other words, “to promote the good of every man and of the whole man”, is more timely than ever (Populorum Progressio, n. 14). Development cannot be reduced to mere economic growth: it must include the moral and spiritual dimensions. At the same time, an authentic and integral humanism can only consist of solidarity, and solidarity is one of the loftiest expressions of the human spirit; it is one of the natural duties of the human being (cf. Jas 2: 15-16), applicable to both individuals and peoples (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 86); the full development of peace depends on the implementation of this duty. Indeed, when man pursues material well-being alone, remaining absorbed in himself, he bars the way to his own total fulfilment and authentic happiness.

At your Seminar you are reflecting on three interdependent issues: disarmament, development and peace. Indeed, authentic and lasting peace is inconceivable without the development of every person and people; as Paul VI said: “The new name for peace is development” (Populorum Progressio, n. 87). Nor is a reduction of armaments conceivable without first eliminating violence at its root, that is, without humankind first being determined to seek peace, goodness and justice. Like any form of evil, war originates in the human heart (cf. Mt 15: 19; Mk 7: 20-23). In this sense, disarmament does not only refer to State armaments but involves every person who is called to disarm his own heart and be a peacemaker everywhere.

As long as there is a risk of offence, States will need to be armed for reasons of legitimate defence, which is a right that must be listed among the inalienable rights of States since it is also connected with the duty of States themselves to defend the security and peace of their peoples. Yet an excessive accumulation of arms does not appear legitimate to us, because “a State may possess only those means necessary to assure its legitimate defence” (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The International Arms Trade, Vatican City, 1994, p. 13). Lack of respect for this “principle of sufficiency” leads to the paradox by which States threaten the life and peace of the peoples they intend to defend, and, from being a guarantee of peace, arms for defence risk becoming a tragic preparation for war.

There is a close connection, then, between disarmament and development. The immense military expenditure, involving material and human resources and arms, is in fact detracted from development projects for peoples, especially the poorest who are most in need of aid. This is contrary to what is stated in the Charter of the United Nations, which engages the international community and States in particular “to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources” (Article 26). In fact, in 1964 Paul VI was already asking States to reduce their military expenditure on armaments and to create a world fund with the amount saved for development projects for the neediest people and peoples (cf. Message to the World, Entrusted to Journalists, 4 December 1964). What, however, is being recorded is that the production and trade in arms are constantly growing and are becoming a driving force in the world economy. Indeed, this trend has resulted in civil and military economies overlapping, as is demonstrated by the continuous distribution of goods and knowledge “for a dual purpose”, that is, for possible double use: civil and military. It is a grave risk in the biological, chemical and nuclear sectors, where civil programmes can never be assured without a general and complete renunciation of military programmes of confrontation. I therefore renew my appeal to States to reduce their military expenditure on weapons and to consider seriously the idea of creating a world fund to finance projects for the peaceful development of peoples.

A close relationship between development and peace also exists in a double sense. War can in fact break out because of serious violations of human rights, injustice and poverty, but one must not overlook the risk of true and proper “wars of well-being”, in other words, wars caused by expansionist ambitions or in order to exercise economic control at the expense of others. Mere material well-being, without a consistent moral and spiritual development, can make man so blind as to incite him to kill his own brother (cf. Jas 4: 1ff.). Today, even more urgently than in the past, the International Community is required to make a decisive option for peace. At the economic level, it is vital to work to ensure that the economy is oriented to the service of the human person, to solidarity and not only to profit. At the juridical level, States are called in particular to renew their commitment to respect the international treaties in force on disarmament and the control of all types of weapons, as well as the ratification and consequent entry into force of the instruments already adopted, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and to the success of negotiations currently underway, such as those on banning cluster bombs, the trade in conventional weapons or fissionable material. Lastly, every effort is required to prevent the proliferation of light, small calibre weapons which encourage local wars and urban violence and kill too many people in the world every day.

It will nevertheless be difficult to find a solution to the various technical issues without man’s conversion to goodness at the cultural, moral and spiritual levels. Every person, in any walk of life, is called to convert to goodness and to seek peace in his own heart, with his neighbour and in the world. In this regard the Magisterium of Bl. Pope John XXIII is still valid. He clearly pointed out the objective of integral disarmament, saying: “Unless this process of disarmament be thorough-going and complete, and reach men’s very souls, it is impossible to stop the arms race or to reduce armaments…. Everyone must sincerely cooperate in the effort to banish fear and the anxious expectation of war from men’s minds” (Pacem in Terris, 11 April 1963, n. 113 [Vatican Website version]). At the same time, the effect that armaments produce on the human psyche and behaviour should not be ignored. Arms, in fact, tend in turn to increase violence. Paul VI showed his very acute understanding of this aspect in his Discourse to the United Nations General Assembly in 1965. He said at their headquarters, where I am preparing to go in the next few days: “Those weapons, especially the terrible weapons that modern science has given you, long before they produce victims and ruins, cause bad dreams, foster bad feelings, create nightmares, distrust and sombre resolves; they demand enormous expenditure; they obstruct projects of solidarity and useful work; they falsify the very psychology of peoples” (n. 5).

As was said several times by my Predecessors, peace is a gift of God, a precious gift that must also be sought and preserved using human means. It thus requires the contribution of all. A unanimous dissemination of the culture of peace and a common education in peace are becoming more and more necessary, especially for the new generations for whom the adult generations have grave responsibility. Moreover, emphasizing every person’s duty to build peace does not mean neglecting the existence of a true and proper human right to peace. It is a fundamental and inalienable right, indeed, one on which the exercise of all the other rights depends. “Peace is a good so great”, St Augustine wrote, “that even in this earthly and mortal life there is no word we hear with such pleasure, nothing we desire with such zest or find to be more thoroughly gratifying” (City of God, XIX, 11).

Your Eminence and all of you who are taking part in the Seminar, in turning one’s gaze to the concrete situations in which humanity lives today, one might be overcome by a justifiable uneasiness and resignation: in international relations, diffidence and solitude sometimes seem to prevail; peoples feel divided and are at odds with one another. Total war, from being a terrible prediction, risks turning into a tragic reality. Yet war is never inevitable and peace is always possible. Indeed, it is only right! The time has come to change the course of history, to recover trust, to cultivate dialogue, to nourish solidarity. These are the noble objectives that inspired the founders of the United Nations Organization, a real experience of friendship among peoples. Humanity’s future depends on everyone’s commitment. Only by following an integral and supportive humanism in whose context the question of disarmament takes on an ethical and spiritual nature, will humanity be able to walk towards the desired authentic and lasting peace. It will certainly not be an easy journey and will be subject to dangers, as my venerable Predecessor Paul VI already recognized 30 years ago in his Message to the First Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations General Assembly: “The journey that leads to the construction of a new international order that can eliminate wars and their causes, hence, rendering weapons useless, will not on any account be a brief one” (n. 6). Believers find support in the Word of God that encourages us in faith and in hope, with a view to the definitive peace of the Kingdom of God where “mercy and truth will meet, justice and peace will embrace” (cf. Ps 85[84]: 11). Let us therefore with fervent prayers invoke from God the gift of peace for all humanity. With these sentiments, I renew my congratulations to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on having promoted and organized this Meeting on such a delicate and urgent theme. I assure a particular remembrance in prayer for the success of your work and cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.

From the Vatican, 10 April 2008


Filed under: Papal Teachings, Social Justice