Friday, August 2, 2013

POPE FRANCIS MESSAGE TO MUSLIMS "BE TRUE PROMOTERS OF MUTUAL RESPECT"

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican has published a message from Pope Francis to the world's Muslims for the conclusion of Ramadan. This year, the Islamic period of prayer and fasting concludes between August 8th and 9th

Though it’s usually issued by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pope Francis says at the start of his pontificate, he wished to personally send this message of good wishes to the world’s Muslims himself as they celebrate Id al-Fitr, breaking their fast. 
In the message, the Pope proposes a theme of common reflection “that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education.”

Saying respect is a mutual “process” of kindness, Pope Francis invited Muslims and Christians to respect each person “first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices. We are therefore called to think, speak and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation. Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal.”

Where interreligious relations are concerned, “especially between Christians and Muslims,” the Pope said, “ we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values. Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!”

In educating our Muslim and Christian youth, the Pope said, “we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices.”

Reiterating “the great importance of dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular Christians and Muslims,” Pope Francis said these need to be “enhanced” and he expressed his hope that people of both faiths “may be true promoters of mutual respect and friendship, in particular through education.”
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Below, please find the text of Pope Francis’ message:


To Muslims throughout the World

It gives me great pleasure to greet you as you celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr, so concluding the month of Ramadan, dedicated mainly to fasting, prayer and almsgiving.

It is a tradition by now that, on this occasion, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you a message of good wishes, together with a proposed theme for common reflection. This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders.

As you all know, when the Cardinals elected me as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, I chose the name of “Francis”, a very famous saint who loved God and every human being deeply, to the point of being called “universal brother”. He loved, helped and served the needy, the sick and the poor; he also cared greatly for creation.

I am aware that family and social dimensions enjoy a particular prominence for Muslims during this period, and it is worth noting that there are certain parallels in each of these areas with Christian faith and practice.

This year, the theme on which I would like to reflect with you and with all who will read this message is one that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education.

This year’s theme is intended to underline the importance of education in the way we understand each other, built upon the foundation of mutual respect. “Respect” means an attitude of kindness towards people for whom we have consideration and esteem. “Mutual” means that this is not a one-way process, but something shared by both sides.

What we are called to respect in each person is first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices. We are therefore called to think, speak and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation. Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal.

Turning to mutual respect in interreligious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values. Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!

It is clear that, when we show respect for the religion of our neighbours or when we offer them our good wishes on the occasion of a religious celebration, we simply seek to share their joy, without making reference to the content of their religious convictions.

Regarding the education of Muslim and Christian youth, we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices.

We all know that mutual respect is fundamental in any human relationship, especially among people who profess religious belief. In this way, sincere and lasting friendship can grow.

When I received the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on 22 March 2013, I said: “It is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world.” With these words, I wished to emphasize once more the great importance of dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular Christians and Muslims, and the need for it to be enhanced.

With these sentiments, I reiterate my hope that all Christians and Muslims may be true promoters of mutual respect and friendship, in particular through education.

Finally, I send you my prayerful good wishes, that your lives may glorify the Almighty and give joy to those around you. 
Happy Feast to you all!
From the Vatican, 10 July 2013
Shared from Radio Vaticana 

NEW BOOK ON VATICAN EXPERIENCE - HOLY SEE, UNHOLY ME - BY TIM FISCHER OF AUSTRALIA

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
1 Aug 2013
Michael Casey and Danny Casey from the Archdiocese of Sydney and Tim Fischer at his Sydney book launch
It is very rare to read a book but feel the author is talking directly to you with all the inflections, nuances and personal characteristics of that person.
This is certainly the case with Holy See, Unholy Me - tales from Tim Fischer's 1,000 days in Rome as Australia's first resident Ambassador to the Holy See
At his Sydney book launch at Mary MacKillop Place today Tim left no-one in doubt about the unique perspective he brought to the Holy See with his words of wit and wisdom.
The book provides a rare, fascinating and often humorous insight into the workings (and sometimes non- workings) of the Vatican by the former National Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister who has always epitomised colour, movement and action.
This phase in Tim's life started with a phone call from the then, and again present, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in July 2008. In January the following year he was launched into a new job which combined all his favourite things - politics, trains, food, faith, history,  Rome and of course family when they could visit.
He was both observer and active participant in a world of protocols and diplomacy. There were also other significant dimensions to his role.
In October 2012 Australia was to contest the ballot for a rotational seat on the United Nations Security Council. This would mean an intense four year campaign and Rome was seen as one of the hubs for this activity.
Ambassador Fischer meets Pope Benedict XVI
Australia had also become a key member of the G20, a pet project of the PM, but was the only country of this group that did not have a full-time resident ambassador to the Holy See.
Tim Fischer was certainly going to have his hands full.
As he navigated the world scene of religious and political leaders Tim became a popular and respected  ambassador around the Papal state, easily recognisable with his Black Akubra and welcoming, open presence.
As Tim writes in his book, no matter where an ambassador is in ninety-five different locations around the world, they are part of Team Australia and their job is to promote Australia, and the policies and priorities of the Australian Government.
In that sense Tim Fischer could well be seen as opening batsman and he stayed at the crease at the Vatican for three years.
Although a very experienced politician and administrator the skills Tim Fischer needed in his new position stretched from dinner party table-talk diplomacy to avoiding world leaders like Colonel Gaddafi and even cultivating a friendship with a robust Weimaraner.
When Tim Fischer arrived in Rome the former South Australian Senator Amanda Vanstone was Ambassador to Italy. A hard hitter and hard worker who scored a lot of goals for Australia, Amanda had brought her rather large dog, Gus to Rome.
Pope Benedict meets Tim's family - Judy and sons Dominic and Harrison
As Tim writes Gus was also not without influence.
"Great Gus, a rather expressionful  Weimaraner, was allowed many liberties, and depending on your point of view he lent great life and colour to some diplomatic occasions - especially when becoming 'friendly' with the Pakistani Ambassador to Italy," Tim writes.
"Now, it has long been argued by Amanda that Gus did not try to eat the Pakistani Ambassador and definitely did not bite her; it was merely a nick. However, it is accepted that Gus did clash with the distinguished ambassador, who required tetanus and rabies shots immediately."
In re-telling this tale at the launch today Tim admitted the first draft required a slight rewrite. He was warned - Gus might sue!
Tim made friends easily in his role. Even the Swiss Guards got to know the affable Australian well. While others were often detained while careful identity examination took place, Tim would wave his Akubra and pass through to the Vatican City.
Getting to know who's who in the Vatican and the various diplomatic corps and missions put Tim on a fast and frenetic learning curve. And if he thought he had left politics behind in Australia then this was a whole new ball game with the Vatican often playing a vital role in "applying the glue of peace to delicate political processes".
Tim with the recognisable Akubra beside the Tiber
His stories during this time are intriguing and revealing as well as highly entertaining.
Apart from Vatican city duties, Tim was also required to attend numerous conferences and missions on everything from trade and food security  to immigration, astronomy and interfaith dialogue. All with their various challenges.
However he admits one of the worst conferences by far was the week-long African Unity Conference, conducted in a huge tent with chandeliers near the Libyan capital of Tripoli. This was during the last hurrah of the Gaddafi regime in mid 2009. Countries were being encouraged to travel to Libya to "celebrate" the 40th anniversary of the Gaddafi-led revolution. Tim drew the short straw for Australia.
"I was given some specific instructions. I was to be seen to represent Australia, but was not to shake the hand of Gaddafi or be photographed with him," Tim writes.
The conferences was self-indulgent, mediocre and quite bizarre. While Tim made good contacts with other representatives he rose to the biggest challenge - giving Gaddafi the "brush-past" and avoiding a meeting or conversation.
Tim also writes of the role he and his staff played in preparing for and welcoming Australians for "The Canonisation of the Great Aussie Battler" - Mary MacKillop.
Sr Maria Casey, Postulator for the Cause of Canonisation for Mary MacKillop worked closely with Tim Fischer to achieve Australia's first saint
His efforts and work before, during and after this event were mammoth. Not only was his work behind the scenes vital  to the success of the canonisation but he always made himself available to the thousands of media requests at the time.
The big final occasion of Tim Fischer's posting was the opening of Domus Australia - a place for accommodation for pilgrims and travellers to Rome. A joint project by several Australian dioceses under the leadership of Cardinal Pell.
To the surprise of some, including Vatican staff, Pope Benedict XV1 agreed to officially open Domus Australia. It was a big event and also the venue for Tim's farewell reception in January 2012.
Anyone who knows Tim Fischer also knows he has a great love for trains and the chapter on the little-used Vatican railway and the Caritas Express is a delight.
But it is not all about behind-the-scenes intrigue or light-hearted moments. Tim also addresses the issue of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, the resignation of Pope Benedict (he predicted the event, just not the year), the conclave and election of Pope Francis and the future of the Vatican.
Tim Fischer is a great raconteur. Not surprising Holy See, Unholy Me is an enjoyable read.
Holy See, Unholy Me - 1,00days in Rome by Tim Fischer is published by Harper Collins and available through ABC Books
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

38000 DISPLACED IN MYANMAR DUE TO DEVASTATING RAIN

UCAN 38,000 people displaced following worst rains in 30 years
<p>Eastern Myanmar has been hit by heavy monsoon rains over the past week (AFP photo/Yamounnar)<span style="background-color: #262626; color: #ffffff; font-family: arial; font-size: 12px; text-transform: uppercase;"><br /></span></p>
UCAN NEWS REPORT: Eastern Myanmar has been hit by heavy monsoon rains over the past week (AFP photo/Yamounnar)
  • Thomas Toe, Yangon
  • Myanmar
  • Flooding in southeastern Myanmar has killed at least three people and left one missing, state media said today.
The worst rains in 30 years in Kayin and Mon states on Myanmar’s border with Thailand also displaced 38,000 people as rice fields and bridges were washed away.
People have been sheltering in 113 relief camps since the rains hit on July 27, said state-runMyanmar Ahlin.
Mahn Panthi, a spokesman for the Karen National Union, the political wing of a Kayin ceasefire group, said that they had counted four dead so far “and the death toll may be more than the official figures.”
Henry, an aid worker with German agency Malteser International based in Kayin state’s capital Hpa-an, said that large numbers of displaced people have started to return home.
But many houses remained flooded, he added, meaning that relief aid is still required even as water levels in the Salween River continued to drop.
“Local authorities, NGOs and private donors have reached out to the relief camps supporting [the provision of] food and water,” he said.
SHARED FROM UCAN NEWS