Friday, November 15, 2019

Saint November 16 : St. Gertrude the Great a Benedictine and Patron of Nuns, Travellers, West Indies

St. Gertrude the Great

6 January 1256 at Eisleben, Germany
November 17, 1302, Helfta, Germany
received equipotent canonization, and a universal feast day declared in 1677 by Pope Clement XII
Patron of:
nuns, travellers, West Indies

Memorial: November 16 - in Germany: November 17 Also known as: Getrude; Gertrud the Great of Helfta, Gertrude the Great
Saint Gertrude is one of the greatest and most wonderful saints in the Church of God. Gertrude was born January 6, 1256, in Eisleben, Thuringia ((part of modern Germany). When she was about 5 years old, she became a student at the Benedictine monastery at Helfta, near Eisleben (southwest of Magdeburg, Germany). The Abbess at the time was Gertrude of Hackerborn a woman who ensured that both spiritual and intellectual life flourished. The child Gertrude was put in the care of Mechthilde (became later a Saint), the sister of the Abbess who was head of the school associated with the monastery. Gertrude studied the Scriptures, the Liturgy, and the writings of the Fathers of the Church.
Her life was crowded with wonders. She has in obedience recorded some of her visions, in which she traces in words of indescribable beauty the intimate converse of her soul with Jesus and Mary. Gertrude had her first vision of Christ at the age of twenty-six. She tells us that she heard Christ say to her, "Do not fear. I will save you and set you free." This was the first in a series of visions that transformed her life. From then on, she spent many hours reading the bible and writing essays on the word of God. When she was asked to write about her experiences, she claimed that it would serve no purpose. When she was told that her words would encourage others, Gertrude agreed to write spiritual autobiography. Gertrude committed to writing many of her mystical experiences in the book commonly called the "Revelations of Saint Gertrude." These Revelations form one of the classics of Catholic writing. And although they would have to be classified as “mystical literature,” their message is clear and obvious, for this book states many of the secrets of Heaven in terms that all can understand. Recorded here are Saint Gertrude's many conversations with Our Lord, wherein He reveals His great desire to grant mercy to souls and to reward the least good act. In the course of their conversations, He reveals wonderful spiritual “shortcuts” that will help everyone in his or her spiritual life. She also composed many prayers, ‘sweeter than the honeycomb’, and many other examples of spiritual liturgically inspired Exercitia spiritualia is a gem still awaiting in-depth analysis.
But Gertrud’s most important legacy is universally acknowledged to be the Legatus memorialis abundantiae divinae pietatis, or Herald of the Memorial of the Abundance of Divine Love. This complex work, usually abbreviated in English to The Herald of Divine Love, is worthy of attention both in itself and as a fascinating test case for the study of medieval women’s theology. Another most important book is “The spiritual exercises”. Through her writings helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart. She meditated on the Passion of Christ which many times brought a flood of tears to her eyes. She had a tender love for Our Lady.
During the long illness of five months from which she would die, she gave not the slightest sign of impatience or sadness; her joy, on the contrary, increased with her pains. When the day of her death arrived, November 17, 1302, she saw the Most Blessed Virgin descend from heaven to assist her, and one of her Sisters perceived her soul going straight to the Heart of Jesus, which opened to receive it. Saint Gertrude died at Helfta monastery of natural causes.
She is properly known as Saint Gertrude for, although never formally canonized, she was equipollently canonized in 1677 by Pope Clement XII when he inserted her name in the Roman Martyrology. Her feast was set for November 16. Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title "the Great" to distinguish her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn and to recognize the depth of her spiritual and theological insight.
When the community was transferred in 1346 to the monastery of New Helfta, the present Trud-Kloster, within the walls of Eisleben, they still retained possession of their old home, where doubtless the bodies of Saint Gertrude and Saint Mechtilde still buried, though their place of sepulture remains unknown.
Saint Gertrud and Saint Mechtilde:
When Gertrude was five years old, she was placed in the care of Mechtilde. She became the first teacher of Gertrude. They became close friends, and Mechtildis (Mechtilde), who had mystical experiences of her own, helped Gertrude with her Book of Special Graces (also called The Revelations of St. Mechtildis), and the two Saints collaborated on a series of prayers. Mechtidle died November 19, 1298 at Helfta monastery of natural causes. Text shared from MaryPages

Pope Francis tells Law Congress "Our societies are called to advance towards a model of justice founded on dialogue..." Full Text - Video


Sala Regia
Friday, November 15, 2019

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all I want to apologize for the delay. Excuse me, it was a miscalculation: two big appointments that last ... The opposite of what happened in the Book of Joshua happened: there the sun went back; here the clock, the sun, went on. Excuse me, and thank you for your patience.

I cordially greet you and, as in our previous meeting, I express my gratitude for your service to society and for the contribution you offer to the development of a justice that respects the dignity and rights of the human person. I would like to share with you some reflections on questions that also involve the Church in its mission of evangelization and service to justice and peace. I thank Prof. Paola Severino for her words.

About the current state of criminal law

For several decades, the criminal law has incorporated - especially from contributions from other disciplines - different knowledge about some problems related to the exercise of the sanctioning function. I referred to some of them in the previous meeting [1].

However, in spite of this epistemological openness, the criminal law has not succeeded in preserving itself from the threats which, in our days, hang over democracies and the full validity of the rule of law. On the other hand, criminal law often neglects the data of reality and in this way assumes the appearance of a merely speculative knowledge.

We see two relevant aspects of the current context.

1. Market idolatry. The fragile, vulnerable person finds himself defenseless before the interests of the divinized market, which have become the absolute rule (see Evangelii gaudium, 56; Laudato si ’, 56). Today, some economic sectors exercise more power than the States themselves (see Laudato si ', 196): a reality that is even more evident in times of globalization of speculative capital. The principle of profit maximization, isolated from any other consideration, leads to a model of exclusion - automatic! - which violently attacks those who suffer in the present its social and economic costs, while future generations are condemned to pay environmental costs.

The first thing jurists should ask themselves today is what they can do with their knowledge to counteract this phenomenon, which puts democratic institutions and the very development of humanity at risk. In concrete terms, the present challenge for every criminal lawyer is to contain the punitive irrationality, which manifests itself, among other things, in mass imprisonment, crowding and torture in prisons, arbitrariness and abuses of the security forces, expansion of the sphere of the penalty, the criminalization of social protest, the abuse of preventive imprisonment and the repudiation of the most elementary penal and procedural guarantees.

2. The risks of criminal idealism. One of the major current challenges of criminal science is the overcoming of the idealistic vision that assimilates having to be to reality. The imposition of a sanction cannot be morally justified with the alleged ability to strengthen trust in the normative system and in the expectation that each individual takes on a role in society and behaves according to what is expected of him.

Criminal law, even in its normativist currents, cannot disregard elementary data of reality, such as those that manifest the concrete operation of the sanctioning function. Any reduction of this reality, far from being a technical virtue, helps to hide the most authoritarian features of the exercise of power.

The social damage of economic crimes

One of the frequent omissions of criminal law, a consequence of the sanction selectivity, is the scarce or null attention that the crimes of the most powerful receive, in particular the macro-delinquency of the corporations. I am not exaggerating with these words. I appreciate that your Congress has taken this issue into consideration.

Global financial capital is at the origin of serious crimes not only against property but also against people and the environment. It is responsible for organized crime, among other things, the over-indebtedness of states and the plundering of the natural resources of our planet.
Criminal law cannot remain extraneous to conduct in which, taking advantage of asymmetrical situations, a dominant position is exploited to the detriment of collective well-being. This happens, for example, when the prices of public debt securities are artificially reduced, through speculation, without worrying that this influences or exacerbates the economic situation of entire nations (see Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones. Considerations for an ethical discernment about some aspects of the current economic-financial system, 17).

These are crimes that have the seriousness of crimes against humanity, when they lead to hunger, poverty, forced migration and death from avoidable diseases, environmental disaster and the ethnocide of indigenous peoples.

The legal and penal protection of the environment

It is true that the penal response comes when the crime has been committed, that with it the damage is not repaired or reiteration is prevented and that it rarely has dissuasive effects. It is also true that, due to its structural selectivity, the sanctioning function usually falls on the most vulnerable sectors. I am also aware that there is a punitivist current which claims to solve the most varied social problems through the penal system.

Instead, an elementary sense of justice would impose that some behaviors, of which the corporations are usually responsible, do not go unpunished. In particular, all those that can be considered as "ecocide": the massive contamination of the air, of the resources of the earth and water, the large-scale destruction of flora and fauna, and any action capable of producing an ecological disaster or destroy an ecosystem. We must introduce - we are thinking - into the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, the "ecological sin" against the common home, because a duty is at stake.

In this sense, recently, the Synod Fathers for the Pan-Amazonian Region proposed to define ecological sin as an action or omission against God, against others, the community and the environment. It is a sin against future generations and is manifested in the acts and habits of pollution and destruction of the harmony of the environment, in the transgressions against the principles of interdependence and in the breaking of networks of solidarity among creatures (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 340-344) [2].

As has been reported in your works, "ecocide" means the loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems of a specific territory, so that its enjoyment for part of the inhabitants has been or may be severely affected. This is a fifth category of crimes against peace, which should be recognized as such by the international community.

In this circumstance, and through you, I would like to appeal to all leaders and representatives in the sector to contribute to their efforts to ensure adequate legal protection of our common home.

About some abuses of sanctioning power

To conclude this part, I would like to refer to some problems that have worsened over the years since our previous meeting.

1. Improper use of pre-trial detention. I had reported with concern the arbitrary use of preventive detention. Unfortunately, the situation has worsened in several nations and regions, where the number of prisoners without conviction is already well over fifty percent of the prison population. This phenomenon contributes to the deterioration of the conditions of detention and is the cause of an illicit use of the police and military forces for these purposes [3]. Preliminary imprisonment, when imposed without the occurrence of exceptional circumstances or for an excessive period, affects the principle that every defendant must be treated as innocent until a final conviction establishes his guilt.

2. The involuntary incentive to violence. In several countries reforms of the institution of legitimate defense have been implemented and an attempt has been made to justify crimes committed by agents of the security forces as legitimate forms of the fulfillment of duty [4]. It is important that the juridical community defend traditional criteria to prevent punitive demagogy from degenerating into an incentive to violence or a disproportionate use of force. They are inadmissible behaviors in a state of law and, in general, they accompany racist prejudices and contempt for socially marginalized groups.
3. The culture of waste and that of hatred. The culture of waste, combined with other psycho-social phenomena widespread in welfare societies, is showing the serious tendency to degenerate into a culture of hatred. There are unfortunately not isolated episodes, certainly in need of a complex analysis, in which the social problems of both young people and adults find their outlet. It is no coincidence that emblems and actions typical of Nazism sometimes reappear. I confess that when I hear some speech, some person in charge of the order or of the government, I am reminded of Hiltler's speeches in '34 and '36. Today. These are typical actions of Nazism which, with its persecutions against Jews, Gypsies and people of homosexual orientation, represent the negative model par excellence of a culture of waste and hatred. This was done at that time and these things are reborn today. We need to be vigilant, both in the civil and in the ecclesial sphere, to avoid any possible compromise - which is assumed to be involuntary - with these degenerations.

4. The lawfare. It is verified periodically that recourse is made to false charges against political leaders, advanced in concert by the media, adversaries and colonized judicial bodies [5]. In this way, with the instruments proper to the lawfare, the always necessary struggle against corruption is instrumentalized in order to fight against unwanted governments, reduce social rights [6] and promote an anti-political sentiment which benefits those who aspire to to exercise authoritarian power.

And at the same time, it is curious that the use of tax havens, an expedient that serves to hide all sorts of crimes, is not perceived as a matter of corruption and organized crime [7]. Similarly, massive phenomena of appropriation of public funds go unnoticed or are minimized as if they were mere conflicts of interest. I invite everyone to reflect on this.

Appeal to responsibility

I would like to address an invitation to all of you, scholars of criminal law, and to those who, in different roles, are called to perform functions concerning the application of criminal law. Bearing in mind that the fundamental purpose of criminal law is to protect the most important legal assets for the community, every task and every task in this area always has a public resonance, an impact on the community. This requires and at the same time implies a more serious responsibility for the justice operator, in whatever degree it is, from the judge, the official of the chancellery, to the agent of the public force.

Every person called to carry out a task in this area will have to constantly keep in mind, on the one hand, respect for the law, whose prescriptions are to be observed with an attention and a duty of conscience adequate to the gravity of the consequences. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the law alone can never achieve the purposes of the criminal function; its application must also take place in view of the effective good of the persons concerned. This adaptation of the law to the concreteness of cases and persons is an exercise as essential as it is difficult. So that the criminal judicial function does not become a cynical and impersonal mechanism, we need balanced and prepared people, but above all passionate - passionate! - of justice, aware of the grave duty and of the great responsibility they carry out. Only in this way the law - every law, not only the criminal law - will not be an end in itself, but at the service of the people involved, whether they are the perpetrators of the crimes or those who have been offended. At the same time, by acting as an instrument of substantive and not just formal justice, the criminal law can fulfill the task of real and effective protection of the essential legal assets of the community. And we must certainly go towards a restorative criminal justice.

Towards a restorative criminal justice

In every crime there is an injured party and there are two damaged ties: that of the person responsible for the fact with his victim and that of the same with the company. I pointed out that between the punishment and the crime there is an asymmetry [8] and that the fulfillment of an evil does not justify the imposition of another evil as an answer. It is about doing justice to the victim, not executing the aggressor.
In the Christian view of the world, the model of justice finds a perfect incarnation in the life of Jesus, who, after being treated with contempt and even with violence that led him to death, ultimately, in his resurrection, brings a message of peace , forgiveness and reconciliation. These are values ​​that are difficult to achieve but necessary for the good life of all. And I resume the words that Professor Severino said about prisons: prisons must always have a "window", that is, a horizon. Look at a reintegration. And we must, on this, think deeply about the way of managing a prison, the way to sow hope of reintegration; and think if the penalty is able to bring this person there; and also the accompaniment to this. And seriously consider life imprisonment.

Our societies are called to advance towards a model of justice founded on dialogue, on encounter, because where possible the bonds affected by the crime are restored and the damage caused is repaired. I don't think it's a utopia, but it's certainly a great challenge. A challenge that we must all face if we want to deal with the problems of our civil coexistence in a rational, peaceful and democratic way.

Dear friends, I thank you for three things: for your double patience: to wait an hour and, the other patience, to listen to this long speech. And I thank you for this meeting. Thanks. I assure you that I will continue to be close to you in this arduous work in the service of man in the area of ​​justice. There is no doubt that for those of you who are called to live the Christian vocation of your own Baptism, this is a privileged field of evangelical animation of the world. Everyone, even those who are not Christians among you, we need God's help, source of all reason and justice. I invoke for each of you, through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, the light and strength of the Holy Spirit. I cordially bless you and, please, I ask you to pray for me. Thanks.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation
[2] Cfr Documento finale del Sinodo dei Vescovi per la Regione Panamazzonica: Nuovi Cammini per la Chiesa e per una Ecologia Integrale, 26 ottobre 2019, 82.
[5] Cfr Omelia, 17 maggio 2018L’Osservatore Romano (17 maggio 2018).

Pope Francis says "that companies providing internet navigation" should "verify the age of their prevent minors from accessing pornographic sites."


Clementine Hall
Thursday, 14 November 2019

Your Majesty,
Your Highness,
Distinguished Authorities and Religious Leaders,
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen

I thank His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Father Federico Lombardi for their kind words of greeting and introduction to this meeting.
The issues that you will be addressing in these days are of immense importance. Many of you have been dealing with these issues with determination and farsightedness for some time. When, two years ago, I received the participants in the Congress on “Child Dignity in the Digital World”, I urged you to join forces in order to address more effectively the protection of the dignity of children in the digital world. In effect, this complex problem calls for cooperation on the part of all: experts in science and technology, entrepreneurs and economists, legislators, politicians and security agents, educators and psychologists, and, not least, religious and moral leaders (cf. Address to the Participants in the Congress on “Child Dignity in the Digital World”, 6 October 2017). I am pleased to know that you have continued on this path, along with new initiatives, including particularly the interreligious conference held in Abu Dhabi a year ago, taken up by our meeting today.
In recent decades, from painful and tragic experience, the Catholic Church has become profoundly aware of the gravity and effects of the sexual abuse of minors, the suffering it causes, and the urgent need to heal wounds, combat such crimes and establish effective means of prevention. For this reason, the Church senses the duty to approach these issues with a long-term vision.
We are in fact confronting critical challenges that threaten the future of the human family due to the astonishing development of technology in the information and communications media. Doubtless, the development of new technologies in the digital world provides great opportunities for minors, for their education and for their personal growth. It allows for a wider sharing of knowledge, promotes economic development and offers new possibilities in a number of areas, including that of health care. New technologies open up new horizons, particularly for those minors living in situations of poverty and distant from the urban centres of more industrialized countries.
The challenge before us, then, is to ensure that minors have safe access to these technologies, while at the same time ensuring their healthy and serene development and protecting them from unacceptable criminal violence or grave harm to the integrity of their body and spirit.
Tragically, the use of digital technology to organize, commission and engage in child abuse at a distance, cutting across national borders, is outstripping the efforts and resources of the institutions and security agencies charged with combating such abuse; as a result, it becomes quite difficult to fight these horrific crimes effectively. The spread of images of abuse or the exploitation of minors is increasing exponentially, involving ever more serious and violent forms of abuse and ever younger children.
The dramatic growth of pornography in the digital world is, in itself, most serious, the fruit of a general loss of the sense of human dignity; frequently it is linked to human trafficking. What makes this phenomenon even more disturbing is the fact that this material is widely accessible even to minors via the internet, especially through mobile devices. The majority of scientific studies have highlighted the profound impact of pornography on the thinking and behaviour of children. It will surely have lifelong effects on them, in the form of grave addiction, violent behaviour and deeply troubled emotional and sexual relationships.
A greater awareness of the enormity and gravity of these phenomena is urgently required. Indeed, one feature of today’s technological development is that it is always one step ahead of us, for frequently we first see its most attractive and positive aspects (which indeed are many), but only realize their negative effects once they are widespread and very hard to remedy. I would say this to you, who are scholars and researchers: you find yourselves before an essential challenge! Since these problems are vast and complex, a clear understanding of their nature and extent is needed. We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that we can address these issues on the basis of shallow and superficial knowledge. Laying the foundations for greater protection of the dignity of minors should be one of the most noble aims of your scientific research.
The role of the communications media is no less important. There is a need to increase throughout society an awareness of the risks inherent in an unchecked development of technology. We have not yet understood – and often do not want to understand – the gravity of this issue in its totality and future consequences. This cannot come about without close cooperation with the media, that is, with you, communications workers, for you have the ability to influence society and public opinion.
You have rightly chosen as the theme of this meeting: “From Concept to Action”. Indeed, it is not enough to understand; we must act. The moral condemnation of the harm inflicted on minors through the misuse of new digital technologies needs urgently to be translated into concrete initiatives. The longer we wait, the more entrenched and insurmountable this evil becomes. This concern has been raised by those who – like many of you – have generously dedicated their lives to this battle in direct contact with this crime and its victims, whether as educators, law enforcement and security agents, and many others.
A crucial aspect of the problem concerns the tension – which ultimately becomes a conflict – between the idea of the digital world as a realm of unlimited freedom of expression and communication, and the need for a responsible use of technologies and consequently a recognition of their limits.
The protection of complete freedom of expression is linked to the protection of privacy through increasingly sophisticated forms of message encryption, which would make any control extremely difficult, if not impossible. A fitting balance must be found between the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and the interests of society, so as to ensure that digital media are not used to perpetrate criminal activities against minors. For the sake of advancing the development of the internet and its many benefits, companies that provide services have long considered themselves mere suppliers of technological platforms, neither legally nor morally responsible for the way they are used. The potential of digital technology is enormous, yet the possible negative impact of its abuse in the area of human trafficking, the planning of terrorist activities, the spread of hatred and extremism, the manipulation of information and – we must emphasize – in the area of child abuse, is equally significant. Public opinion and lawmakers are finally coming to realize this. How can we help them take suitable measures to prevent abuse? Allow me to emphasize two things.
First. Freedom and the protection of privacy are valuable goods that need to be balanced with the common good of society. Authorities must be able to act effectively, using appropriate legislative and executive measures that fully respect the rule of law and due process, in order to counter criminal activities that harm the life and dignity of minors.
Second. Large companies are key players in the astonishing development of the digital world; they easily cut across national borders, are at the cutting edge of technological advances, and have accumulated enormous profits. It is now clear that they cannot consider themselves completely unaccountable vis-à-vis the services they provide for their customers. So I make an urgent appeal to them to assume their responsibility towards minors, their integrity and their future. It will not be possible to guarantee the safety of minors in the digital world without the full involvement of companies in this sector and without a full awareness of the moral and social repercussions of their management and functioning. Such companies are bound not only to respect the law, but also to be concerned with the direction taken by the technological and social developments which they produce and promote, since such developments are far ahead of the laws that would seek to regulate them.
Although these challenges are difficult to meet, there are a number of areas of action. I will limit myself to a few examples.
Initiatives such as the “Safety by Design” legislation sponsored by a Commission of the Australian government are valuable because they ensure that the digital industry is proactive and consistent in its approach to customer safety starting from the development of online products and services. In this way, responsibility for overall safety is explicitly acknowledged to be incumbent upon not only the consumer, but also on those who manufacture, develop and supply such products and services.
In some countries too, legislators are committed to ensuring that companies providing internet navigation on mobile devices are obliged to verify the age of their customers, in order to prevent minors from accessing pornographic sites. This is to be encouraged. Indeed, minors today for the most part use cell phones, and the filters used for PCs have remained ineffective. Reliable studies tell us that the average age of first access to pornography is currently eleven, and tends to keep lowering. This is in no way acceptable.
While parents are primarily responsible for raising their children, it must be acknowledged that, for all their good will, it is increasingly difficult for them to control their children’s use of electronic devices. Therefore, the industry must cooperate with parents in their educational responsibilities. Consequently, the identification of a user’s age should not be considered a violation of the right to privacy, but an essential requirement for the effective protection of minors.
The possibilities offered by technology are constantly growing. Today there is much talk about the applications of artificial intelligence. The identification and elimination of illegal and harmful images from circulation on the net by the use of increasingly refined algorithms, represents a very significant area of research. Scientists and those working in the digital world should continue to promote such research, engaging in a noble competition to combat the wrongful use of newly available technology. I therefore appeal to computer engineers to feel personally responsible for building the future. It is their task to undertake, with our support, an ethical development of algorithms, and in this way, to help create a new ethics for our time.
The development of technology and the digital world involve huge economic interests. The influence that these interests tend to have on the conduct of companies cannot be overlooked. There is a need to ensure that investors and managers remain accountable, so that the good of minors and society is not sacrificed to profit. We have seen how society has grown more sensitive to the areas of environmental care and respect for the dignity of labour. A similar concern for the effective protection of minors and the fight against pornography should become increasingly felt in the finance and the economy of the digital world. The safe and sound growth of our young is a noble goal worth pursuing; it has far greater value than mere economic profit gained at the risk of harming young people.
In a world like ours, where boundaries between countries are continually blurred by the developments in digital technology, our efforts should emerge as a global movement associated with the deepest commitment of the human family and international institutions to protecting the dignity of minors and every human person. This demanding task sets before us new and challenging questions. How can we defend the dignity of persons, including minors, in this digital age, when the life and identity of an individual is inextricably linked to his or her online data, which new forms of power are constantly seeking to possess? How can we formulate shared principles and demands in the globalized digital world? These are challenging questions that call us to cooperate with all those working with patience and intelligence for this goal at the level of international relations and regulations.
Man’s creativity and intelligence are astonishing, but they must be positively directed to the integral good of the person from birth and throughout life. Every educator and every parent is well aware of this, and needs to be helped and supported in this task by the shared commitment born of a new alliance between all institutions and centres of education.
A contribution to this can be made not only by sound ethical reasoning, but also by a religious vision and inspiration, which has universal scope because it places respect for human dignity within the framework of the grandeur and sanctity of God, the Creator and Saviour. In this regard, I am gratified by the presence of a number of distinguished religious leaders who, in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, have readily taken up the task of addressing these problems. I greet them with great respect and I thank them most heartily. We ought to be as one in the effort to protect minors in the digital world, now and in the future. For in this way, we bear witness to God’s love for each person, beginning with the smallest and the most vulnerable, so as to foster in everyone, in every part of the world and in every religious confession, concern, care and awareness. We must ban from the face of the earth violence and every form of abuse against children. Let us look into their eyes: they are your sons and daughters; we must love them as God’s masterpieces and children. They have the right to a good life. We have the duty to do everything possible to ensure that right. Thank you.
FULL TEXT + Image Source:

#BreakingNews New high Tide causes severe flooding in Venice with World-Famous St. Mark's Square closed

Walkways were removed from St Mark's Square, which is now closed
Flooded Venice has been hit by a new high tide of 160cm (5.3ft), giving residents no respite from a crisis costing millions of euros.

World-famous St Mark's Square, a magnet for tourists, has been closed, and schools are shut for a third day.

The 187cm peak on Tuesday was the highest level for more than 50 years, damaging cultural monuments, businesses and homes. More than 80% of the canal city was flooded.

The government declared a state of emergency in the Unesco world heritage site.

Residents with flood-damaged homes will get up to €5,000 (£4,300; $5,500), and businesses up to €20,000 in compensation.

The BBC's Jenny Hill in Venice writes:

Nearby streets quickly flooded. Tourists, shoes covered in plastic bags, carried their luggage along raised narrow trestle walkways, which the authorities have put up to keep the pedestrian traffic moving.

The Grand Canal's water is now level with the pavement
"It hurts to see the city so damaged, its artistic heritage compromised, its commercial activities on its knees," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who visited Venice on Wednesday, wrote in a Facebook post (in Italian).

The city is made up of more than 100 islands inside a lagoon off the north-east coast of Italy. It suffers flooding on a yearly basis.

The government has pledged to release €20m in aid for Venice.

Only once since official records began in 1923 has the tide been higher than it reached this week - hitting 194cm in 1966.

The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, blamed climate change for the flood, saying the impact was "huge" and would leave "a permanent mark". Strong winds lashing the area are contributing to the crisis.

Mr Conte said the government would accelerate the building of structural defences for the city, referring specifically to the so-called Mose project - a hydraulic barrier system to shut off the lagoon in the event of rising sea levels and winter storms.
Edited from the BBC

Pope Francis' message "Therein lies the centrality of Christian life: in the Eucharist, the sacrament that brings us Christians together as a people..." to Havana, Cuba


Dear brothers and sisters of Havana:
I am happy to be able to join, through this video message, in the celebration of the fifth centenary of the foundation of your city of San Cristóbal de La Habana.
Interwoven in the five hundred years of history of that beloved people, there are the many lives given by others, many dreams, efforts, and shared sacrifices to build the present and the future of the children of Cuba.
On this occasion, I would like to highlight three historical aspects that were present from the beginning, and still continue to be pillars for this time. And these are faith, charity and hope.
Faith is at the roots of the city. And roots sustain life that is gestating, roots nourish, roots help to grow. Do not forget those roots, the testimony of faith of your ancestors. The founding act of the city of Havana was the celebration of Holy Mass. Therein lies the centrality of Christian life: in the Eucharist, the sacrament that brings us Christians together as a people in the presence of the Lord Who speaks to us, nourishes us, and sends us to be witnesses in the midst of the world. Witnesses of the Gospel.
The Lord Jesus invites us to be witnesses of faith and also witnesses of charity and love. Charity is another aspect that distinguishes the Cuban people. You have learned it from Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who from the beginning was present among you in the invocation of the Virgin of Charity of Copper. The charity that Mary teaches us is to give love, and to give it with tenderness, with dedication, and to give love in daily life. Where? Well, in the family, among neighbours, at work, with everyone and always. It doesn’t matter if one thinks in one way or another. Let there be love, let there be harmony. And this is how the unity of the Cuban people is founded. Harmony among you. Each one of you. May Mary teach us to live this charity, which is not only to give “something” to others, but above all to “give” ourselves. To live the “social friendship” that helps a people to move forward.
And finally, another pillar is hope: may the Jubilee you celebrate be a reason to renew hope. Just as Saint Christopher lifted up and carried his brothers on his shoulders, so also among yourselves, please support each other, help each other, encourage each other and continue without faltering, always with your eyes on the goal. There will always be difficulties in life, peoples have difficulties, but this unity of a people, united in charity, in the hope of moving forward, helps the people to grow strong.
I ask the Lord that these pillars of faith and charity and hope that sustain them, as well as the joy that characterizes them, may be renewed and increased in this time of Jubilee grace.
May Jesus bless you, may He bless all the Cuban people, whom I remember with affection when I visited you: What a great people! And may Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre take care of you. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you very much.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Philippines warns Media against ‘Glamorizing’ Evil at Catholic Mass Media Awards

Cardinal warns media against ‘glamorizing’ evil
 Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila is seen on a giant screen while delivering his message for this year’s Catholic Mass Media Awards at the GSIS Theatre in Pasay City Nov. 13.
November 14, 2019
 Manila, Philippines Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has warned news organizations against a constant focus on “bad news”, extolling the vicious cycle of fear and pessimism. While exposing evil is a matter of journalistic duty, he encouraged the media to also engage in constructive forms of communication that foster hope. “Let us not glamorize evil,” Tagle said during this year’s Catholic Mass Media Awards at the GSIS Theatre in Pasay City on Nov. 13. “Sometimes unwittingly or unconsciously, our way of presenting evil present in society some times glamorizes the very evil that we want to denounce,” he said. The cardinal also cautioned allowing consciousness to be dulled into hopelessness by a media industry that thinks that good news does not sell. Echoing Pope Francis’ message for the 2017 World Communications Day, he instead called for a style of communication that inspires a positive approach on the part of the recipients. “If the good news is too boring to report, then does the Gospel which is Good News have a place in communication?” Tagle said. “Yes, we become truthful even reporting evil. But as believers in Jesus who has triumphed over sin and death, we should be more zealous and animate in proclaiming Good News,” he added. First given in 1978, the CMMA was organized by the Archdiocese of Manila to stress the importance of mass media and to instill a sense of responsibility among communicators. In 1980, no other than Pope John Paul II himself graced the ceremonies, handing out personally the awards to the winners.
Full Text Source: CBCP News (Catholic Bishops of the Philippines)

US Bishops' Chairmen Statement on Court Cases Upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

USCCB Chairmen Issue Statement on Supreme Court Cases Upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

November 12, 2019
WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, commented on three cases argued before the Supreme Court today – Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California; McAleenan, Secretary of Homeland Security v. Vidal; Trump, President of U.S. v. NAACP. These cases challenge whether decisions in the lower court to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) were lawful.
On October 4, the USCCB, with other Catholic and evangelical partners, filed an amicus curiae brief in the cases. The brief argues that rescinding DACA without considering crucial facts underlying the program irreparably harms hundreds of thousands of families by placing them at imminent risk of separation, which violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and is thus unlawful.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez offered the following statement on the hearing:
“DACA youth are leaders in our parishes and significant contributors to our economy and communities. They are hard-working young people who know the United States as their only home. We continue to urge Congress and the President to work together to find a permanent legislative solution to the plight of all DREAMers, including DACA beneficiaries. In the meantime, ending DACA would disrupt DACA recipients’ continued contributions and integration to our country and could needlessly separate them from their families. Not allowing these young people to continue to utilize DACA to reach their God-given potential is against the common good and our nation’s history of welcoming the immigrant.”
USCCB’s amicus curiae brief in these consolidated cases is available at:
---Full Text Release USCCB

#BreakingNews Gang attacks Monastery in Ireland - Damages Church and Verbally attacks elderly Nuns

Vandals 'desecrate' church at quiet north Dublin monastery where elderly nuns live.
A gang gained entry to the chapel in broad daylight

A group of men broke into a church at a north Dublin convent inhabited by an order of elderly nuns in broad daylight yesterday.

Gardai are investigating after a gang of anti-social vandals gained entry to the tranquil Star of the Sea Carmelite Nuns monastery in Malahide shortly after 1pm on Monday before damaging the chapel on the premises.

It's understood that the vandals daubed graffiti in the church, while a local priest told mass-goers that the thugs had shouted offensive slurs at the nuns in the lunchtime attack.

The news was announced during 10am Mass in St Anne’s Church in nearby Portmarnock by co-parish priest Fr Jimmy McPartland, who informed worshippers that vandals had "desecrated" the sisters' place of worship, which is normally open to the public.

Fr Jimmy, who often says Mass at the quiet oratory on the convent grounds, added that the gang had shouted "very horrible things" about the nuns after vandalising the consecrated place of prayer.

The cleric had earlier said 8:30am Mass at the small monastery chapel, and he warned mass-goers that because of the vandalism, they would no longer be able to access the chapel freely as it would now need to be locked.

A Garda spokesperson told Dublin Live: "Gardaí are investigating an incident of criminal damage that occurred at a Church in Seapark Hill, Malahide, Dublin on Monday 11th November 2019 at approximately 13.15pm.

"No arrests have been made at this time and investigations are ongoing."

A parishioner from Portmarnock who often goes to the convent told Dublin Live: "The sad outcome of this is that those wishing to pray in the oratory at the convent can no longer do so freely.

"The chapel has always to be open during the day for anyone who wanted to go in and pray or reflect - now because of the actions of a few thugs, we can no longer use this beautiful place of worship freely, but must instead request a key.

"The poor sisters who live there play such an integral part of life in the area and it’s outrageous that a small group of thugs would target them like this.

"Fr Jimmy was visibly upset telling us about it at Mass this morning and the congregation was shocked to hear this distressing news.

"He mentioned that the thugs had said very offensive things about the nuns and there was possibly racist graffiti."

Local TD Darragh O'Brien described the incident as "disgraceful" and said it demonstrated the need to reopen Malahide Garda Station on a 24/7 basis.

The deputy from Malahide told Dublin Live: "Any vandalism is bad but on a group of elderly nuns is disgraceful.

"Unfortunately we've become used to burglaries and break-ins in the area, but this type of violation of a monastery - to desecrate a religious building - is shocking.

"The effect this has on a group of lovely women - most of whom are elderly -  will disgust people in the area.

He continued: "And while we've managed to successfully campaign for a few extra guards in Malahide, this latest incident - involving a group of elderly nuns who do nothing but good work - highlights the need for Malahide to be reinstated as a 24/7 Garda Station and for more garda resources to be allocated to deter criminality in the area."

Daily Mass will still be open to the public at the Carmelite monastery at 8:30am.
Edited from a report ByAengus O'Hanlon - Image Source:

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday, November 15, 2019 - #Eucharist

Friday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 495

Reading 1WIS 13:1-9

All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God,
and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is,
and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
But either fire, or wind, or the swift air,
or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water,
or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods,
let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these;
for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
Or if they were struck by their might and energy,
let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them.
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things
their original author, by analogy, is seen.
But yet, for these the blame is less;
For they indeed have gone astray perhaps,
though they seek God and wish to find him.
For they search busily among his works,
but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.
But again, not even these are pardonable.
For if they so far succeeded in knowledge
that they could speculate about the world,
how did they not more quickly find its Lord?

Responsorial PsalmPS 19:2-3, 4-5AB

R.(2a) The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

AlleluiaLK 21:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 17:26-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be in the days of the Son of Man;
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage up to the day
that Noah entered the ark,
and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot:
they were eating, drinking, buying,
selling, planting, building;
on the day when Lot left Sodom,
fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all.
So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
On that day, someone who is on the housetop
and whose belongings are in the house
must not go down to get them,
and likewise one in the field
must not return to what was left behind.
Remember the wife of Lot.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it.
I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed;
one will be taken, the other left.
And there will be two women grinding meal together;
one will be taken, the other left."
They said to him in reply, "Where, Lord?"
He said to them, "Where the body is,
there also the vultures will gather."