Monday, November 23, 2020

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church

 Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs
Lectionary: 504
Reading 1
RV 14:14-19
I, John, looked and there was a white cloud,
and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man,
with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
Another angel came out of the temple,
crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud,
“Use your sickle and reap the harvest,
for the time to reap has come,
because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.”
So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth,
and the earth was harvested.
Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven
who also had a sharp sickle.
Then another angel came from the altar, who was in charge of the fire,
and cried out in a loud voice
to the one who had the sharp sickle,
“Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth’s vines,
for its grapes are ripe.”
So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth’s vintage.
He threw it into the great wine press of God’s fury.
Responsorial Psalm
96:10, 11-12, 13
R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice 
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
RV 2:10C
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
LK 21:5-11
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” 
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ 
Do not follow them! 
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.” 
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”  
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion.
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint November 24 - St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions Martyred in Vietnam - A Convert who became a Catechist and Priest

Andrew Dung-Lac (1795-1839) was an indigenous Vietnamese priest who along with a brother priest was tortured and beheaded under the emperor Ming-Mang in 1839.

Saints Andrew Dung Lac and companions, Martyrs. Andrew (1795-1839), were beheaded at Hanoi and are listed among 117 canonised martyrs who died in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862:ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spanish Dominicans, and ten presbyters from the Paris Foreign Mission Society. They are honoured as representatives of the thousands of Christians tortured and martyred in Vietnam between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries: clergy and lay people, children and adults. Andrew Dung-Lac, martyr 

(1795-1839) was  baptised at the age of fifteen, worked first as a lay missionary and then as a diocesan presbyter before being beheaded at Hanoi (Vietnam). He along with a brother priest was tortured and beheaded under the emperor Ming-Mang in 1839. They were canonised by Pope John Paul II in Rome on 19th June 1988 along with 115 other notable martyrs – both foreign and indigenous – from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The traditional religion of Vietnam is Buddhism, along with elements of Taoism, Confucianism and local ancestors’ cult.

 The process of beatification and canonisation gathered 117 of  the best documented cases. Of that group, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 Spaniards, and 10 French. There were 8 bishops, 50 priests, and 59 lay Catholics in the group. Of the 50 priests, 11 were Dominicans, 10 belonged to the Paris Foreign Mission Society, and the rest were diocesan priests, along with one seminarian.

Among those who came in for special mention during the canonisation by Pope John Paul II on 19th June 1988 were: Andrew Dung-Lac, a diocesan priest; Thomas Tran-Van-Thien, a seminarian; Emmanuel Le-Van-Pung, the father of a family; two Dominican bishops Jerome Hermosilla and Valentine Berrio-Ochoa; and Théophane Vénard, a priest of the Paris Foreign Mission Society, whose letters inspired St Thérèse of Lisieux to want to be a missionary.

Andrew Dung-Lac
Originally called Dung An Trân, Andrew was born about 1795 into a poor and pagan family in Bac-Ninh in North Vietnam. When he was twelve the family had to move to Hanoi so his parents could find work. There he met a catechist who gave him food and shelter, as well as education in the Christian faith for three years. He was baptised with the Christian name Andrew (Andrew Dung). After learning Chinese and Latin he himself became a catechist, and taught catechesis in the country. Chosen to study theology, he was ordained a priest on 15th March 1823. As parish priest he was tireless in his preaching. He often fasted and lived a simple and moral life that was so good an example to the people that many were baptised.

In 1835 he was imprisoned under emperor Minh-Mang’s persecutions (he was called Vietnam’s emperor Nero), but his freedom was purchased by donations from members of the congregation he served. To avoid persecutions he changed his name to Lac (Andrew Lac) and moved to another prefecture to continue his work. But in 1839 he was again arrested with another Vietnamese priest Peter Thi, to whom he gone visiting so that he could go to confession. Once again the people paid money so that he and Peter could be released. However, their freedom was brief. They were soon re-arrested, taken to Hanoi, where both suffered a dreadful torture and were finally beheaded on 21st December 1839.

Source: - Patrick Duffy

US Bishops' Chairmen Call on Government to End Federal Executions - FULL TEXT

WASHINGTON —In the wake of more federal executions scheduled in coming weeks, two bishop chairmen have issued a statement calling on the Administration to act as a witness to the dignity of all human life. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:

“Sadly, we must call on the Administration yet again to stop an execution, this time scheduled on November 19.  Two more are scheduled in December.  We are now on pace for ten federal executions in 2020, more than double the previous record of four in 1938.    

“The death penalty is not necessary to protect society.  It is not necessary to hold people accountable for grave crimes.  The decision not to execute someone, even someone who has done something terrible, is not ‘soft on crime’; rather, it is strong on the dignity of life.  As Pope Francis writes in his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti:

‘. . . not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.’  The firm rejection of the death penalty shows to what extent it is possible to recognize the inalienable dignity of every human being and accept that he or she has a place in the universe.  If I do not deny that dignity to the worst of criminals, I will not deny it to anyone (no. 269).

“We ask President Trump and Attorney General Barr, as an act of witness to the dignity of all human life: stop these executions.”

For additional USCCB statements and resources on the death penalty and the recent resumption of federal executions:

  • In July of 2019, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, then-chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the administration to abandon plans to resume federal executions. 
  • In October 2019, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane participated in a roundtable discussion for the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
  • Archbishop Coakley, Archbishop Gregory, and Bishop Dewane co-authored an op-ed in America Magazine in December 2019. 
  • The USCCB restated its opposition to the death penalty in an amicus curiae brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2020.  
  • Archbishop Coakley called on Attorney General Barr and President Trump to reverse course on the executions after the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals of the death row inmates in June 2020. 
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in August 2020 urging the administration to stop the executions. 
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in September 2020 asking the administration to forgo the executions. 
  • A USCCB action alert continues to allow Catholics to raise their voices in opposition to the death penalty. 
  • Source: USCCB

Cardinal Collins Writes Letter Criticizing School Board for Preventing Reading of the Catechism at Meeting- Video

"At a recent meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board a member of a delegation attempted to quote from the section of the catechism of the Catholic Church which contains the teaching and the Pastoral practice of the Church in caring for our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attractions. Shortly after he had begun reading the quotation he was interrupted and it was suggested that to continue reading from the catechism was to be treading in dangerous waters and would be putting down a marginalized and vulnerable community and that the language of the catechism is not proper," wrote Cardinal Collins in a letter after the incident. (See Video)
“That a Catholic should be criticized, and effectively be prevented by Catholic trustees from reading from the Catholic Catechism at a meeting of a Catholic School Board is reprehensible,” said Cardinal Collins.
 “The world in which we live is dominated by a shallow secular vision of the human person, and of the purpose of life, a vision which is contrary to divine revelation, to reason, and to the profound heritage of Christian faith. It is disappointing when Catholic trustees allow that secular vision to replace the fullness of faith articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We are called to be guided by the Holy Spirit, not by the deceptive spirit of the age,” Cardinal Collins wrote. “If Jesus Himself were to attend a meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, I wonder if He would be interrupted, if he were to begin to say: ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near,’ or many other things He says in the Gospel, because those words are perhaps not sufficiently soothing, and perhaps might offend.”
FULL TEXT Letter available at Source:

Attorney General Launches Lawsuit Against Diocese of Buffalo for Failure of Protection from Abuse - FULL TEXT Statement by Diocese

Statement of the Diocese of Buffalo on the Lawsuit announced by the Attorney General
Mon, Nov 23rd 2020 04:00 pm

We will be reviewing this lawsuit just announced (see below) by the New York Attorney General and weighing the Diocese’s response. In the meantime, we wish to reiterate that there is zero tolerance for sexual abuse of a minor or of sexual harassment of an adult in the Diocese of Buffalo by any member of the clergy, employee or volunteer. The Diocese has put in place rigorous policies and protocols governing required behavior as well as a code of conduct which all clergy are expected to abide by. Moreover, the Diocese has committed to full cooperation with all civil authorities in both the reporting and investigation of alleged crimes and complaints. 

Press Release Attorney General: 

Attorney General James Takes Action Against Catholic Diocese of Buffalo for Failing to Protect Minors from Sexual Abuse by Clergy

Church Leadership Failed to Respond to Sexual Abuse Allegations,
Engaged in Cover-Up of Credible Claims of Improper Sexual Conduct by Priests

BUFFALO – New York Attorney General Letitia James today filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and former senior leaders, Bishop Emeritus Richard J. Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, for failing to follow mandated policies and procedures that would help to prevent the rampant sexual abuse of minors by priests within the Catholic Church. The Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) two year-long investigation into the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults within the New York dioceses of the Catholic Church found that allegations of improper sexual conduct against diocesan priests in Buffalo were inadequately investigated, if at all, and were covered-up for years. Even though the diocese’s leadership found sexual abuse complaints to be credible, they sheltered the accused priests from public disclosure by deeming them as “unassignable,” and permitted them to retire or go on purported medical leave, rather than face referral to the Vatican for possible removal from the priesthood.

“When trust is broken with spiritual leaders, it can lead to a crisis of faith. For years, the Diocese of Buffalo and its leadership failed to protect children from sexual abuse,” said Attorney General James. “Instead, they chose to protect the very priests who were credibly accused of these atrocious acts. Individuals who are victims of abuse deserve to have their claims timely investigated and determined, and the Buffalo Diocese refused to give them that chance. While we will never be able to undo the wrongs of the past, I can guarantee that my office will do everything in its power to ensure trust, transparency, and accountability moving forward.”

In 2002, following media reports of widespread sexual abuse of minors by priests, the United States Conference of Bishops adopted specific policies and procedures that required dioceses to conduct proper investigations, and take swift and immediate action on those investigations. Both Bishop Malone and Auxiliary Bishop Grosz personally voted for adoption of these policies, and the Diocese of Buffalo had publicly announced that, beginning in 2002, it complied with them. During its investigation, OAG found that the Buffalo Diocese, Bishop Malone, and Auxiliary Bishop Grosz failed to comply with the measures by refusing to take substantive action when faced with claims of sexual abuse within the diocese. The diocese has recently and publicly admitted that it found substantiated allegations of improper sexual conduct against 78 diocesan priests.

Attorney General James’ civil complaint alleges that, contrary to the diocese’s governing policies and the diocese’s public statements concerning its stance on sexual abuse by priests, more than two dozen of the identified priests were not referred to the Vatican for potential removal from the priesthood — an action that only the Vatican is authorized to approve. Instead, diocese leadership granted the priests protection from public disclosure, resulting in the misuse or waste of charitable assets by supporting priests whom the diocese considered to have committed sexual abuse, and a failure to provide victims with public vindication of their claims.

The suit, filed in the New York County Supreme Court, applies New York’s civil laws governing nonprofit charitable corporations, religious corporations, and charitable assets to address the failed institutional and individual responses to the decades-long crisis of clergy sexual abuse. Under New York law, the Diocese of Buffalo and its leaders have a responsibility to discharge their duties in good faith and with the care a prudent person would use, including their duty to comply with the procedures they have publicly adopted to respond to victims and address the conduct of their employees.

The complaint illustrates these unlawful acts, in part, through a detailed examination of personnel histories for 25 priests in the diocese who were accused of abuse. After extensive delays, most were ultimately removed from ministry, but were not timely referred to the Vatican for a trial and potential removal from the priesthood.

The complaint seeks an order requiring compliance with the mandatory policies and procedures by the diocese and defendant Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, who, as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo, serves as the interim leader of the diocese. The OAG is also seeking the appointment of an independent compliance auditor to monitor and review the diocese’s compliance with sexual abuse policies and procedures. The claims against Bishop Malone and Auxiliary Bishop Grosz, who resigned from the diocese during the duration of the OAG investigation, seek restitution and a bar on future service in a secular fiduciary role in a nonprofit or charitable organization operating in New York.

In addition to today’s suit, Attorney General James filed a motion to allow for the disclosure of the accused priests’ names and alleged conduct outlined in the complaint.

The OAG’s extensive investigation into the sexual abuse of children within the New York dioceses of the Catholic Church began in September 2018, following reports of priests accused of sexual abuse who had been based in New York. OAG issued subpoenas to the Diocese of Buffalo in addition to seven other dioceses in New York. The OAG’s investigation into other New York dioceses is ongoing.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Daniel Roque, Catherine Suvari, Steven Shiffman, Jonathan Conley, and Diane Hertz, with the assistance of Legal Assistants Jacqueline Sanchez and Nina Sargent, all under the supervision of Charities Bureau Chief James G. Sheehan and Enforcement Section Co-Chief Emily Stern. The Charities Bureau is part of the Division of Social Justice, led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux, and all under the oversight of First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.


Saint November 23 : Blessed Miguel Pro - Viva Christo Rey - a Martyr for Christ the King!


Miguel Pro was born January 13, 1891, at Guadalupe Zacatecas, Mexico.

In 1909, twenty-year-old Miguel Augustin Pro joined the Jesuits as a novice in Mexico. A year later a revolution erupted and by 1914 the Jesuits were forced to flee. Via Texas, California, Nicaragua, and Spain, Miguel received his seminary training en route to Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925.
The Jesuits sent Padre Pro to Mexico City in 1926, hoping a return home might relieve the priest’s chronic stomach ailment. Just twenty-three days after Padre Pro arrived, President Calles banned all public worship. Since he was not known as a priest, Padre Pro went about clandestinely—sometimes in disguise—celebrating Mass, distributing communion, hearing confessions, and anointing the sick. He also did as much as he could to relieve the material suffering of the poor. In a letter he gave this faith-filled account:
We carry on like slaves. Jesus help me! There isn’t time to breathe, and I am up to my eyebrows in this business of feeding those who have nothing. And they are many—those with nothing. I assure you that I spin like a top from here to there with such luck as is the exclusive privilege of petty thieves. It doesn’t even faze me to receive such messages as: “The X Family reports that they are twelve members and their pantry is empty. Their clothing is falling off them in pieces, three are sick in bed and there isn’t even water.” As a rule my purse is as dry as Calles’s soul, but it isn’t worth worrying since the Procurator of Heaven is generous.
People give me valuable objects to raffle off, something worth ten pesos that I can sell for forty. Once I was walking along with a woman’s purse that was quite cute (the purse not the woman) when I met a wealthy woman all dolled up.
“What do you have there?”
“A lady’s purse worth twenty-five pesos. You can have it for fifty pesos which I beg you to send to such-and-such a family.”
I see God’s hand so palpably in everything that almost—almost I fear they won’t kill me in these adventures. That will be a fiasco for me who sighs to go to heaven and start tossing off arpeggios on the guitar with my guardian angel.
In November 1927, a bomb was tossed at Calles’s car from an auto previously owned by one of Miguel’s two brothers. All three brothers were rounded up and condemned to death. The youngest was pardoned, but Padre Pro and his brother Humberto were executed by a firing squad. Calles had news photographers present, expecting the Pros to die cowardly. But Padre Pro refused the blindfold and welcomed the bullets with his arms extended in the form of a cross, crying out, “Viva Cristo Rey!” Although Calles outlawed any public demonstration, thousands of Mexicans defiantly lined the streets, honoring the martyr as he was carried in procession to his grave.
Once while walking with Concepcion, his favorite sister, Miguel noticed in a window an especially gaudy statue of the Virgin. She thought it was “hideous.” To tease her, he ran to the owner’s door and knocked. “Hello,” he said, “my sister loves your beautiful statue. Will you sell it?”
“Sorry,” was the answer. “That madonna is a family treasure.”
Quick-witted and lighthearted Miguel played similar practical jokes all his life. He also played them in death. President Calles thought executing Padre Pro publicly would demoralize Catholics, but it had the opposite effect. Miguel even promised to joke in heaven. “If I meet any long-faced saints there,” he said, “I will cheer them up with a Mexican hat dance!”
Excerpt from Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi

Pope Francis Suggests "Rediscover.....God’s dream that we learn to be keepers of our brothers and sisters and those most vulnerable..." Full Text to Economists


[Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, 19-21 November 2020]


Saturday, 21 November 2020


Dear young people, good afternoon!

Thank you for being there, for all the work you have done, and for the efforts you have made over the past months, despite changes in our programme. You did not lose heart, and in fact I have appreciated the level of reflection, precision and seriousness with which you have worked. You brought to it all of your passion for the things that excite you, cause you concern, make you indignant and urge you to work for change.

Our original idea was to meet in Assisi, to find inspiration in the footsteps of Saint Francis. In the crucifix at San Damiano, and in many other faces – like that of the leper – the Lord came to Francis, called him and gave him a mission. He empowered Francis to cast off the idols that had isolated him from others, the questions and doubts that had paralyzed him and kept him trapped in thinking “this is the way things have always been done” (for that is a trap!), or in the bittersweet melancholy of those caught up only in themselves. The Lord made it possible for Francis to intone a hymn of praise, an expression of his joy, freedom and self-giving. I consider this virtual meeting in Assisi not as an endpoint, but rather the beginning of a process that we are asked to undertake together as a vocation, a culture and a covenant.

The vocation of Assisi

“Francis, go and repair my house, which you can see is in ruins”. These were the words that so stirred the young Francis, and have become a special summons addressed to each one of us. When you feel called to share actively in the building of a new “normal”, you respond by saying “yes” and this is a source of great hope. I know that you immediately accepted this invitation because you yourselves are in a position to realize that things cannot go on the way they are. This was evident from your interest and your active participation in this covenant, which has surpassed all expectations. You showed a personal interest in identifying the crucial issues we are facing, and you did this from a particular perspective: that of the economy, which is your area of research, study and work. You recognize the urgent need for a different economic narrative, for a responsible realization that “the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view”[1] and is harming our sister earth, so gravely maltreated and despoiled, together with the poor and the excluded in our midst. Those two things go together: if you harm the earth, the number of poor and excluded increases. They are the first to be hurt… and the first to be forgotten.

Be careful, though, not to be talked into believing that this is just another banal problem. Your voice is much more than an empty, passing outcry that can be quelled with the passage of time. Rather, you are called to have a concrete impact on cities and universities, workplaces and unions, businesses and movements, public and private offices, and to work with intelligence, commitment and conviction in order to reach the centres where ideas and paradigms[2] are developed and decided. That is why I have invited you to make this covenant. The gravity of the present situation, made all the more evident by the Covid pandemic, demands that a responsible stand be taken by all social actors, all of us, with yourselves in the forefront. The effects of our actions and decisions will affect you personally. Consequently, you cannot remain outside the centres that are shaping not only your future, but also, I am convinced, your present. You cannot absent yourselves from those places where the present and future are generated. You are either part of them or history will pass you by.

A new culture

We need change; we want change and we seek change.[3] But the problem arises when we realize that we lack adequate and inclusive answers to many of our current problems. Indeed, we experience a certain fragmentation in our analyses and diagnoses that ends up blocking every possible solution. Deep down, we lack the culture required to inspire and encourage different visions marked by theoretical approaches, politics, educational programmes and indeed spirituality, that cannot be fit into a single dominant mindset.[4] Given the urgent need to come up with answers, it is indispensable to promote and support leadership groups capable of shaping culture, sparking processes – remember that word: processes – blazing trails, broadening horizons and building common bonds… Every effort to organize, care for and improve our common home, if it is to be meaningful, will also demand a change in “life-style, models of production and consumption, and established structures of power which today govern societies”.[5] Without this, you will accomplish nothing.

We need, on the local and institutional levels, leadership groups that can take up problems without becoming trapped or frustrated by them, and in this way challenge the tendency – often unconscious – to submit to certain ideological ways of thinking that end up justifying injustices and paralyzing all efforts to combat them. As a example, we can think of hunger, which, as Benedict XVI rightly pointed out, “is not so much dependent on a lack of material resources as on a shortage of social resources, the most important of which are institutional”.[6] If you are able to resolve this problem, you will open up a path to the future. Let me repeat those words of Pope Benedict: hunger depends less on lack of material resources than on the lack of social resources, the most important of which are institutional.

The social and economic crisis that many people are experiencing at first hand, and that is mortgaging the present and the future by the abandonment and exclusion of many children, adolescents and entire families, makes it intolerable for us to privilege sectorial interests to the detriment of the common good. We need to recover a sense of the common good. Here I would bring up an exercise that you have experimented with as a method for a sound and revolutionary resolution of conflicts. In these months, you have shared a number of reflections and significant theoretical models. You have considered twelve problems (the “villages” as you call them) in order to debate, discuss and identify practical approaches to resolving them. You have experienced the urgently needed culture of encounter, which is the opposite of the throwaway culture now in vogue. This culture of encounter makes it possible for many voices to be heard around the same table, in order to dialogue, consider, discuss and formulate, in a polyhedral perspective, different aspects and possible responses to global problems involving our peoples and our democracies.[7] It is not easy to move towards real solutions when those who do not think like ourselves are discredited, slandered and misquoted! Discrediting, slandering and misquoting are cowardly ways of refusing to make the decisions needed to solve many problems. Let us never forget that “the whole is greater than the part, but it is also greater than the sum of its parts”,[8] and that “the mere sum of individual interests is not capable of generating a better world for the whole human family”.[9]

This exercise – encountering one another aside from all legitimate differences – is the first step towards any change that can help generate a new cultural and consequently economic, political and social mentality. For you will never be able to undertake great things solely from a theoretical or individual perspective, without a spirit that drives you, without meaningful interior motivations, without a sense of belonging and rootedness that can enhance personal and communal activities.[10]

The future will thus prove an exciting time that summons us to acknowledge the urgency and the beauty of the challenges lying before us. A time that reminds us that we are not condemned to economic models whose immediate interest is limited to profit and promoting favourable public policies, unconcerned with their human, social and environmental cost.[11] Policies that assume we can count on an absolute, unlimited and indifferent availability of resources. We are not forced to continue to think, or quietly accept by our way of acting, that “some feel more human than others, as if they were born with greater rights”[12] or privileges for the guaranteed enjoyment of determined essential goods or services.[13] Nor is it sufficient to trust in the search for palliatives in the third sector or in philanthropic models. Although their efforts are crucial, they are not always capable of confronting structurally the current imbalances, which affect those most excluded, and they unintentionally perpetuate the very injustices they seek to combat. Nor is it simply or exclusively a matter of meeting the most essential needs of our brothers and sisters. We need to accept structurally that the poor have sufficient dignity to sit at our meetings, participate in our discussions and bring bread to their own tables. It is about much more than “social assistance” or “welfare”: we are speaking of a conversion and transformation of our priorities and of the place of others in our policies and in the social order.

Today, well into the twenty-first century, “it is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside, or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it”.[14] Think about this: exclusion strikes at the root of what it means to be a part of the society in which we live, since those who are excluded are no longer society’s underside, or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. This is the culture of waste, which not only discards, but makes others feel discarded, rendered invisible on the other side of the wall of indifference and comfort.

I remember the first time I saw a closed neighbourhood: I didn’t know they existed. I had to visit the Jesuit novitiates, and in one country, as I passed through the city, they told me: “You can’t go to that part, because it is a closed neighbourhood”. Inside, there were walls, houses and streets, but closed off: a neighbourhood living in indifference. I was quite struck by this. But afterwards those neighbourhoods grew and kept growing, everywhere. Let me ask you: is your heart like a closed neighbourhood?

The Assisi covenant

Certain questions can no longer be deferred. The enormous and urgent task of facing them demands generous commitment in the areas of culture, academic training and scientific research, and a refusal to indulge in intellectual fashions or ideological positions, little islands that isolate us from life and from the real suffering of people.[15] Dear young economists, entrepreneurs, workers and business leaders, the time has come to take up the challenge of promoting and encouraging models of development, progress and sustainability in which people, especially the excluded (including our sister earth), will no longer be – at most – a merely nominal, technical or functional presence. Instead, they will become protagonists in their own lives and in the entire fabric of society.

This calls for more than empty words: “the poor” and “the excluded” are real people. Instead of viewing them from a merely technical or functional standpoint, it is time to let them become protagonists in their own lives and in the fabric of society as a whole. Let us not think for them, but with them. Not acting, according to the model of the Enlightenment, as enlightened élites, where everything is done for the people, but nothing with the people. This is not acceptable. Let us, then, not think for them, but with them. Let us learn from them how to propose economic models that will benefit everyone, since their structural and decisional approaches will be determined by the integral human development clearly set forth by the Church’s social doctrine. Politics and economics must not “be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is an urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life”.[16] Lacking such focus and direction, we would remain prisoners of an alienating circularity that would perpetuate only dynamics of degradation, exclusion, violence and polarization. “Every program organized to increase productivity should have but one aim: to serve persons. They should reduce forms of inequality, eliminate discrimination, free people from the bonds of servitude… It is not enough to increase the general fund of wealth and then distribute it more fairly. This is not enough. Nor is it enough to develop technology so that the earth may become a more fitting dwelling place for human beings”.[17] This too is not enough.

The approach of integral human development is good news to be proclaimed and put into practice. Not a dream, but a concrete path: good news to be proclaimed and put into practice, for it proposes that we rediscover our common humanity on the basis of the best of ourselves, namely, God’s dream that we learn to be keepers of our brothers and sisters and those most vulnerable (cf. Gen 4:9). “The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true for both individuals and for society”.[18] The measure of humanity: a measure that must be embodied in our decisions and our economic models.

How reassuring it is to hear once more the words of Saint Paul VI, who in his desire that the Gospel message permeate and guide all human realities, wrote that “development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well-rounded; it must foster the development of each person and of the whole person… We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man, each individual man and woman, each human group, and humanity as a whole”.[19]

Many of you will have the ability to affect and shape macro-economic decisions involving the destiny of many nations. Here too, there is great need for individuals who are well-prepared, “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16). Individuals capable of caring for “the sustainable development of countries and [ensuring] that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence”.[20] Lending systems, by themselves, lead to poverty and dependence. It is legitimate to call for the development of a model of international solidarity capable of acknowledging and respecting interdependence between nations and favouring mechanisms of control that prevent any kind of subjection. And working for the promotion of the most disadvantaged and developing countries, for every people is called to become the artisan of its own destiny and that of the entire world.[21]

* * *

Dear young people, “today we have a great opportunity to express our innate sense of fraternity, to be Good Samaritans who bear the pain of other people’s troubles rather than fomenting greater hatred and resentment”.[22] An unpredictable future is already dawning. Each of you, starting from the places in which you work and make decisions, can accomplish much. Do not seek shortcuts, however attractive, that prevent you from getting involved and being a leaven wherever you find yourselves (cf. Lk 13:20-21). No shortcuts! Be a leaven! Roll up your sleeves! Once the present health crisis has passed, the worst reaction would be to fall even more deeply into feverish consumerism and forms of selfish self-protection. Remember: we never emerge from a crisis unaffected: either we end up better or worse. Let us foster what is good, make the most of this moment and place ourselves at the service of the common good. God grant that in the end there will no longer be “others”, but that we adopt a style of life where we can speak only of “us”.[23] Of a great “us”. Not of a petty “us” and then of “others”. That will not do.

History teaches us that no system or crisis can completely suppress the abilities, ingenuity and creativity that God constantly awakens within us. With dedication and fidelity to your peoples, and to your present and future, you can join others in forging new ways to make history. Do not be afraid to get involved and touch the soul of your cities with the gaze of Jesus. Do not fear to enter courageously the conflicts and crossroads of history in order to anoint them with the fragrance of the Beatitudes. Do not fear, for no one is saved alone. You are young people from 115 countries. I ask you to recognize our need for one another in giving birth to an economic culture able “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands, and inspire in young people – all young people, with no one excluded – a vision of the future filled with the joy of the Gospel”.[24]

Thank you!

[1] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 61. Hereafter, LS.

[2]Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 201), 74. Hereafter, GE.

[3]Cf. Address for the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Santa Cruz de Sierra, 9 July 2015.

[4] Cf. LS, 111.

[5] SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991), 58.

[6] Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 27.

[7] Cf. Address to the Seminar “New Forms of Solidarity towards Fraternal Inclusion, Integration and Innovation”, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (5 February 2020). Let us recall that “true wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data, which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution” (LS, 47).

[8] EG, 235.

[9] Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020), 105. Hereafter, FT.

[10] Cf. LS, 216.

[11] Favouring, when necessary, fiscal evasion, lack of respect for the rights of workers, and “the possibility of corruption by some of the largest world businesses, not infrequently in collusion with the governing political sector” (Address to the Seminar “New Forms of Solidarity towards Fraternal Inclusion, Integration and Innovation”, cited above).

[12] LS, 90. For example, “to blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes it has the right to consume in a way that can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption” (LS, 50).

13] Although all of us are endowed with the same dignity, not all of us start from the same place and with the same possibilities when we consider the social order. This challenges us to consider ways to make freedom and equality not a merely nominal datum that lends itself to favouring injustice (cf. FT, 21-23). We would do well to ask ourselves: “What happens when fraternity is not consciously cultivated, when there is a lack of political will to promote it through education in fraternity, through dialogue and through the recognition of the values of reciprocity and mutual enrichment?” (FT, 103).

[14] EG, 53. In a world of virtual possibilities, changes and fragmentation, social rights cannot only be exhortations or empty appeals but must be a beacon and compass for the way, for “the health of a society’s institutions has consequences for the environment and the quality of human life” (LS, 142).

[15] Cf. Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium (8 December 2017), 3.

[16] LS, 189.

[17] SAINT PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio (26 March 1967), 34. Hereafter, PP.

[18] BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi (30 November 2007), 38.

[19] PP, 14.

[20] Address to the United Nations General Assembly (25 September 2015).

[21] Cf. PP, 65.

[22] FT, 77.

[23] Cf. ibid., 35.

[24] Opening Address at the Synod for Young People (3 October 2018).

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