Saturday, 20 December 2014

Kenyan Christian leaders ask Muslims "for a deliberate and concerted effort" to stop the violence of the Shabaab

"We want to see a deliberate and concerted effort by our Muslim brothers and sisters. They (Muslim leaders) must move merely beyond condemning the spate of attacks targeting non-Muslims to initiating practical steps to the sympathizers of terror and helping us to build bridges between faiths and communities", say the Christian leaders of Kenya in a joint statement entitled "The State of The Nation".
            According to CISA and CANAA Catholic agencies, the statement submitted to the press on December 10, was signed by Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist religious leaders and African Inland Church.
            Christian leaders claim to have "reflected deeply with heavy hearts" on various issues of national concern after the recent attacks carried out by Al Shabaab Somali fundamentalists. "The attacks, which initially targeted Christian places of worship in Nairobi, Garissa and Mombasa, are now directly targeting innocent Christians in public transport and their places of work" said the statement, referring to the recent massacre of 22 November and 2 December in Mandera County (north-eastern Kenya), in which more than 60 people were killed on the basis of their religious affiliation (see Fides 24 November and 2 December 2014).
            "This year alone, over 20 attacks have been recorded in the country leaving behind a trail of death and destruction where over 200 Kenyans have lost their lives" the leaders recalled.
            "The reality of this situation regrettably leads us to the conclusion that these attacks, perpetuated by people claiming to be Al Shabaab, are taking a religious angle", say the religious leaders who call upon all Kenyans "to avoid statements that further incite and divide the Country along religious lines". 
            The Church leaders concluded by also urging Kenyan politicians to desist from politicizing issues of national security, insisting that debates on insecurity be characterized with sobriety, realism and the fostering of national unity. (Source: Agenzia Fides 12/12/2014)

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Pope Speaks

Pope Francis sends message of hope to Christians being 'driven from Mideast'
And Urges Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism carried out in the name of Islam
On December 8th, Pope Francis said Christians are being “driven from the Middle East,” in a message to Iraqi Christians forced to flee by Islamic State group jihadists.
“I think of the wounds, of the pain of women with their children, the elderly and the displaced, the wounds of those who are victims of every type of violence,” Francis said according to a transcript. 

Thousands of Christians took refuge in Arbil after IS jihadists in June overran Mosul, Iraq's second city, and forced hundreds of thousands of them, as well as members of the Yazidi community, to flee their homes.
“Due to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially, but not only, Christians and Yazidi, have suffered and continue to suffer, inhuman violence because of their religious and ethnic identity,” the pope said.
“Christians and Yazidi have been forced out of their homes; they have had to abandon everything to save their lives, but they have not denied their faith.
“Even holy buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural heritage have been affected by the violence, almost as if to cancel every trace, every memory of the other.”

After the Pontiff visited Turkey, he urged Muslim leaders worldwide to “clearly” condemn terrorism carried out in the name of Islam, and called for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christian, Muslim leaders vow to 'walk hand in hand' to promote peace      
            Holding the third Christian-Muslim Summit in Rome between December 2 and 4, the leaders said that while more and more women are involved in high-level dialogues, there is still much to be done, including recognizing that "women play a key role in peacebuilding." The Catholic, Sunni and Shiite delegations at the summit each included one woman scholar; the Anglican delegation included two women clergy and two female scholars.
            "Enough is enough. We are brothers in Abraham, we speak different languages, we live in different parts of the world," but Christianity and Islam both teach that "humanity is one family" and religious leaders have an obligation to resist attempts to divide brothers and sisters with violence, said Episcopal Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington.
            Bishop Chane spoke December 4 at the final, public session of the summit, which concluded with a "call to action" that also included pledges: to travel together to areas affected by severe violence as a sign to their followers that Christianity and Islam are religions of peace; to focus more attention on equipping young people to live with respect for other faiths; and to promote collaboration among Catholic, Anglican and Muslim aid agencies.
            Shahrzad Houshmand, an Iranian member of the Shiite delegation and professor of Islamic studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, said she was listened to and her ideas were welcomed by the group. "In such a troubled world, what we accomplished in these three days was not small," Houshmand said.
            Cardinal Tauran, who also participated in the first summit in Washington in 2010 and the second in Beirut in 2012, said Catholic-Muslim dialogue "is not so easy today," especially when such ferocious violence is enflaming Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. "For many years, we have practiced dialogue face to face," the cardinal said. "Now we have to walk hand in hand."
            Pope Francis met the summit participants December 3 and told them personal visits "make our brotherhood stronger. I thank you for your work, for what you do to help us understand each other better and, especially, for what you do for peace. Dialogue: this is the path to peace."
            The declaration was signed by Bishop Chane, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Ayatollah Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad of Iran.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Pope Francis joins religious leaders of different faiths, in fight against modern slavery

Pope Francis joins religious leaders of different faiths, in fight against modern slavery

It's estimated that over 36 million people around the globe, live under some type of slavery, most commonly, forced prostitution or forced labor. Religious leaders of different faiths came together in the Vatican on December 2, to join forces and stop it. 
"We hereby declare on behalf of each and every one of our faiths, that modern slavery, be it human trafficking, forced labor, prostitution or the sale of organs, is a crime against humanity.” 
REV. JUSTIN WELBY, Archbishop of Canterbury
"At a time when faiths are seen wrongly as a cause of conflict it is a sign of real hope that today global faith leaders have together committed themselves publicly to the battle to end modern slavery.” 
"When we have more clarity in our mind we will have compassion not only for the victims, but for the traffickers themselves. Our compassion can help transform them into friends and allies for our cause.” 
"As a Jew, I join all of you, raising my voice with all my strength, so that every kind of slavery is condemned in every way and dealt with, with severe penalties.” 

Among those in attendance was an Indian woman named Mata Amritanandamayi, who in Hinduism, is considered to be holy living person.  There was also a Muslim representative of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, which is the most
important Islamic university. The leader of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew, sent a video message as a sign of support. Two victims who survived human trafficking read a statement, which was later signed by religious leaders. 
The joint meeting was launched by the Global Freedom Network. It came about after the primate of the Anglican Church, Justin Welby shared the idea with Pope Francis in March 2014. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Pope Speaks

Fundamentalism must be counteracted with solidarity and respect for freedom

Nov 28, 2014

After meeting the Turkish President Erdogan, the Pope delivered a speech where he said that Islamophobia is growing in the world. He also regretted that Muslims are seen as terrorists and condemned the violence in the Middle East.

In his address, the Pope denounced the ongoing wars in the region and called for a lasting peace. He stressed that all citizens must enjoy equal rights.

"It is essential that all citizens – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – enjoy, both in the provision and practice of the law, the same rights and respect the same duties. They will then find it easier to see each other as brothers and sisters who are in the same path, seeking always to reject misunderstandings while promoting cooperation and concord.”
The Pope explained that interreligious dialogue and solidarity can overcome fundamentalism and terrorism.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Pope Speaks

We must condemn violence based on religious justification

Nov 28, 2014
The Pope held a meeting with Mehmet Gormez, the president of the Department for Religious Affairs of Turkey. It is the highest Islamic religious authority in the country.
After meeting in private, Pope Francis delivered an address in which he denounced the violence of the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq as well as its intent in eradicating Christianity.

"Particular concern arises from the fact that, owing mainly to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially – though not exclusively – Christians and Yazidis, have suffered and continue to suffer barbaric violence simply because of their ethnic and religious identity. This violence has also brought damage to sacred buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural patrimony, as if trying to erase every trace, every memory of the other.”
The Pope stressed the necessary cooperation among religious leaders. He said that he sends a message that "mutual respect and friendship” are possible, especially in these difficult times. 
"As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights. Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace.”
However, the Pope highlighted the need to work together in finding solutions. He asked for governments and religious leaders to put an end to the violence.
"I wish to express my appreciation for everything that the Turkish people, Muslims and Christians alike, are doing to help the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing their countries due to conflicts. This is a clear example of how we can work together to serve others, an example to be encouraged and maintained.” 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

St John Berchmans
November 26, 2014
John was born at Diest, Brabant. He early wanted to be a priest, and when thirteen became a servant in the household of one of the Cathedral canons at Malines, John Froymont. In 1615, he entered the newly founded Jesuit College at Malines, and the following year became a Jesuit novice. He was sent to Rome in 1618 to continue his studies, and was known for his diligence and piety, impressing all with his holiness and stress on perfection in little things. He died there on August 13. Many miracles were attributed to him after his death, and he was canonized in 1888. He is the patron of altar boys. His feast day is November 26.

John Berchmans was not noted for extraordinary feats of holiness or austerity, nor did he found orders or churches or work flashy miracles. He made kindness, courtesy, and constant fidelity an important part of his holiness. The path to holiness can lie in the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christ the King

Feast of Christ the King
November 23, 2014

Feast of Christ the King is celebrated in the Roman Catholic church in honour of Jesus Christ as lord over all creation. Essentially a magnification of the Feast of the Ascension, it was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Originally, it was celebrated on the last Sunday in October, but in the revised liturgical calendar promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969, it was moved to the last Sunday of Ordinary Time (immediately preceding Advent), where its theme of Christ’s dominion made it a fitting end to the liturgical year. The festival is also observed in Lutheran, Anglican, and other Protestant churches.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 21, 2014

                It is an ancient tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was solemnly offered to God in the temple in her infancy. This festival of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, or, as it is often called by the Greeks, the entrance of the Blessed Virgin into the Temple, is mentioned in the most ancient Greek Menologies extant: also in a constitution of the emperor Emanuel recited by Balsamon. Upon this festival we have several sermons of Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople, in the thirteenth century, of St. Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople, of the emperor Leo the Wise, of George, the chancellor of the see of Constantinople. This festival passed from the Greeks into the West, and was kept at Avignon in 1372.  Three years after this it is mentioned in a letter of Charles V, the French king. Pope Sixtus V in 1585, commanded the office of this day to be recited by the whole church. 

                 By the consecration which the Blessed Virgin made of herself to God in the first use which she made of her reason, we are admonished of the most important and strict obligation which all persons lie under, of an early dedication of themselves to the divine love and service.

Monday, 17 November 2014

November 18, 2014
The Vatican Church, dedicated in honour of St. Peter, is the second patriarchal church at Rome, and in it reposes one half of the precious remains of the bodies of Saints Peter and Paul. The tombs of the great conquerors and lords of the world have been long since destroyed and forgotten; but those of the martyrs are glorious by the veneration which the faithful pay to their memory.
St. Peter’s is probably the most famous church in Christendom. Massive in scale and a veritable museum of art and architecture, it began on a much humbler scale. Vatican Hill was a simple cemetery where believers gathered at St. Peter’s tomb to pray. In 319 Constantine built a basilica on the site that stood for more than a thousand years until, despite numerous restorations, it threatened to collapse. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it razed and reconstructed, but the new basilica was not completed and dedicated for more than two centuries.St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls stands near the Abazia delle Tre Fontane, where St. Paul is believed to have been beheaded. The largest church in Rome until St. Peter’s was rebuilt; the basilica also rises over the traditional site of its namesake’s grave. The most recent edifice was constructed after a fire in 1823.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

St Elizabeth of Hungary

November 17, 2014
St Elizabeth of Hungary (1207 – 1231)
“As long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40)
In her short life Elizabeth manifested such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order. The daughter of the King of Hungary, Elizabeth chose a life of penance and asceticism when a life of leisure and luxury could easily have been hers. At the age of 14 Elizabeth was married to Louis of Thuringia (a German principality), whom she deeply loved; she bore three children. Under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan friar, she led a life of prayer, sacrifice and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate. 

In 1228, Elizabeth joined the Secular Franciscan Order, spending the remaining few years of her life caring for the poor in a hospital which she founded in honor of St. Francis. Working continually with the severely ill, Elizabeth became sick herself, dying of illness in November, 1231 at the age of 24.
Elizabeth understood well the lesson Jesus taught when he washed his disciples' feet at the Last Supper: every Christian, indeed everyone, must be one who serves the humblest needs of others.

Friday, 14 November 2014

St Albert the Great

November 15, 2014
As a young man Albert studied at the University of Padua and there fell under the spell of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe drawing the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.
After several teaching assignments in his order, he came in 1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology. While teaching in Paris, he was assigned by his order in 1248 to set up a house of studies for the order in Cologne. In Paris, he had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians, the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil.
In 1260, he was appointed bishop of Regensberg; when he resigned after three years, he was called to be an adviser to the pope and was sent on several diplomatic missions. In his latter years, he resided in Cologne, took part in the Council of Lyons in 1274, and in his old age traveled to Paris to defend the teaching of his student Thomas Aquinas. His writings are remarkable for their exact scientific knowledge, and for that reason he has been made the patron saint of scientists.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Pope St Leo the Great

Pope St Leo the Great
 November 10, 2014
Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ.
1)      He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism (overemphasizing human freedom), Manichaeism (seeing everything material as evil) and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs.
2)      A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ.
3)      With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.
4)      His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work.
He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people.
As the fifth-century Christological controversy continued, the Pope urged the gathering of an ecumenical council to resolve the matter. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Pope’s teaching was received as authoritative by the Eastern bishops, who proclaimed: “Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo.” He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Eradication of Poverty

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
69th Session of the General Assembly 
Second Committee, Agenda Item 23 (a-c): Eradication of poverty
New York, 23 October 2014
Sustainable development requires the participation of all in the life of families, communities, organizations and societies.  Participation is the antidote to exclusion, be it economic, social, political or cultural. Structures and practices that exclude and leave behind members of the human family will always be barriers to full human development. The ever-increasing economic inequality excludes and leaves behind large segments of populations, because the affluent become more affluent by gaining most of the development benefits. Concrete cases of poverty, especially extreme poverty, tell us that the rising tide does not always lift all boats; often it only lifts the yachts, keeps a few boats afloat, sweeps away many and  sinks the rest.  This cannot be the path to a life of dignity for all. This is not the future we want.

Another barrier to sustainable development is the exclusion of women from equal and active participation in the development of their communities. Excluding women and girls from education and subjecting them to violence and discrimination violate their inherent dignity and fundamental human rights.  Reports show that, in many parts of the world, women and children form the majority of the poor and are affected by the burden of poverty in very specific ways. Poverty often compounds an already unacceptable gap between men and women, between boys and girls in terms of access to basic services and education and in terms of the exercise of basic human rights. The Holy See commends those countries where significant progress has been achieved in these areas, and respectfully invites those where this problem is not yet effectively addressed to do so as a matter of urgency.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

November 2, 2014
All Souls day
The importance of All Souls Day was made clear by Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922), when he granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses on All Souls Day: one, for the faithful departed; one for the priest's intentions; and one for the intentions of the Holy Father.
All Souls Day is an occasion to commemorate those who have died and are now in Purgatory. All Soul's Day is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. This comes from the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family.

                The day purposely follows All Saint's Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory. While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls reminds us of our obligations to live holy lives and that there will be purification of the souls of those destined for Heaven.
                 After death, we believe that souls who have not yet been cleansed of sin live in a “state of purification” that we call “Purgatory”. Praying for souls of loved ones helps to remove the stain of sin, and allow the souls to enter the pearly gates of heaven. Through prayer and good works, living members of the church may help their departed friends and family. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

All Saints' day

November 1, 2014
All Saints' Day
“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.... [One of the elders] said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9,14).
All Saints Day celebrates the lives of all Christians who have died in a state of grace. All Saints Day is a beautiful celebration. Therefore, Catholics should attend Mass on All Saints Day.
The earliest certain observance of a feast in honor of all the saints is an early fourth-century commemoration of "all the martyrs." In the early seventh century, after successive waves of invaders plundered the catacombs, Pope Boniface IV gathered up some 28 wagonloads of bones and reinterred them beneath the Pantheon, a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The pope rededicated the shrine as a Christian church. But the rededication of the Pantheon, like the earlier commemoration of all the martyrs, occurred in May. The Anglo-Saxon theologian Alcuin observed the feast on November 1 in 800, as did his friend Arno, Bishop of Salzburg. Rome finally adopted this date in the ninth century.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Church is the Body of Christ - Pope Francis
October 22, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters:  
Just as our body is one, but made up of many members, so it is with Christ and the Church.  The vision of Prophet Ezechiel, in which God’s Spirit gives flesh and life to a field of dry bones, is a foreshadowing of the Church, filled with the Spirit’s gift of new life in Christ and united in fellowship and love.  Through Baptism we are made one with Christ in the mystery of his death and resurrection; all of us become sharers in the Holy Spirit and members of a mystical body of which the Risen Christ is the head.
Paul uses the image of marital love to illustrate this great mystery: just as a husband and wife are one flesh, so it is with Christ and the Church.  As members of the one body, we are called to live in unity, overcoming every temptation to discord and division.  Prompted by the Holy Spirit, may we work to build up Christ’s Body in love by accepting with gratitude his many gifts, valuing those gifts in others and always showing generous concern for our brothers and sisters in need.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Synod on the family

The Message of Extraordinary General Assembly
Of The Synod of Bishops
We, Synod Fathers, gathered in Rome together with Pope Francis in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, greet all families of the different continents and in particular all who follow Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
We offer you the words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). On his journeys along the roads of the Holy Land, Jesus would enter village houses. He continues to pass even today along the streets of our cities. 

We recognize the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love. This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. It includes the capacity to offer life, affection, and values—an experience possible even for those who have not been able to bear children. Families who live this light-filled adventure become a sign for all, especially for young people.
We recall the difficulties caused by economic systems, by the “the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” (Evangelii gaudium 55) which weakens the dignity of people. We remember unemployed parents who are powerless to provide basic needs for their families, and youth who see before them days of empty expectation, who are prey to drugs and crime.
We think of so many poor families, of those who cling to boats in order to reach a shore of survival, of refugees wandering without hope in the desert, of those persecuted because of their faith and the human and spiritual values which they hold. These are stricken by the brutality of war and oppression. We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good.
The high point which sums up all the threads of communion with God and neighbor is the Sunday Eucharist when the family and the whole Church sits at table with the Lord. He gives himself to all of us, pilgrims through history towards the goal of the final encounter when “Christ is all and in all” (Col 3:11).

Monday, 27 October 2014

October 28, 2014
Saints Simon and Jude
Simon was a simple Galilean, called by Our Lord to be one of the pillars of His Church. "The zealot," was the surname which he bore among the disciples. Armed with this zeal he went forth to the combat against unbelief and sin, and made conquest of many souls for His divine Lord.
The apostle Jude, whom the Church commemorates on the same day, was brother of St. James. St. Jude preached first in Mesopotamia, as St. Simon did in Egypt; and finally they both met in Persia, where they won their crown together.

Saints Simon and Jude left the comfort and safety of their secure environment to go out into the world and to preach the gospel, converting many hearts. The Lord chooses the simple and the weak and empowers them with grace to do the "impossible." Let us pray that we, too, will be obedient to the Lord in the little tasks He calls us to do each day so that we, too, can carry out His will in our lives.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Pope Saint John Paul II

Pope Saint John Paul II
October 22, 2014
Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometres from Cracow, Poland, on May 18, 1920. He was the second of two sons born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. He made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at 18. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Cracow. Ordained on November 1, 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. 
Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching philosophy at Poland’s University of Lublin. 
Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Cracow in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Appointed as archbishop of Cracow in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. 
Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. 
He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. 

One of the well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

“I Will Build My Church”

October 19, 2014
World Mission Sunday
World Mission Day is celebrated for building a better world for all of God's people, a world where everyone has all they need to live a dignified and fulfilling life. It is the day on which we reflect on the urgency to proclaim the Gospel in our times.
As we pray and respond on World Mission Sunday, we are sharing in those celebrations taking place in every parish, seminary, school and convent all over the world. Our brothers and sisters in the Missions themselves offer their prayers and sacrifices so that others may come to know Jesus!
This year, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on October 19, 2014; the theme is “I Will Build My Church” (Mt 16:18). 

Message of the Holy Father
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today vast numbers of people still do not know Jesus Christ. For this reason, the mission ad gentes continues to be most urgent. All the members of the Church are called to participate in this mission, for the Church is missionary by her very nature: she was born “to go forth”. World Mission Day is a privileged moment when the faithful of various continents engage in prayer and concrete gestures of solidarity in support of the young Churches in mission lands. It is a celebration of grace and joy. A celebration of grace, because the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, offers wisdom and strength to those who are obedient to his action. A celebration of joy, because Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, sent to evangelize the world, supports and accompanies our missionary efforts.
All the Lord's disciples are called to nurture the joy of evangelization. The Bishops, as those primarily responsible for this proclamation, have the task of promoting the unity of the local Church in her missionary commitment. They are called to acknowledge that the joy of communicating Jesus Christ is expressed in a concern to proclaim him in the most distant places, as well as in a constant outreach to the peripheries of their own territory, where great numbers of the poor are waiting for this message. On this day of grace and joy, let us pray through the intercession of Mary, the model of humble and joyful evangelization, that the Church may become a welcoming home, a mother for all peoples and the source of rebirth for our world.