Vatican News

Draw close to those others cast aside, Pope urges

Pope Francis has called for greater attention to those whose health is affected by environmental degradation and pollution. Speaking to a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council of Health Care Workers, he spoke of how he often meets sick people, especially children, afflicted with rare and inexplicable illnesses. “These rare diseases are the consequences of the illnesses we inflict on the environment,” he said, adding, “This is serious.” 

Previous conferences have focused on specific issues like autism or AIDS, but this year’s conference, entitled ‘The Culture of “Salus” and Welcome at the service of Man and the Planet’ is much broader in theme.

Respect and love for life are fulfilled through drawing close to those who need physical and spiritual healing, Pope Francis said, saying that this was what Jesus did when he met with the ill, “public sinners, the possessed, the marginalised, the poor, foreigners…”.

Describing such people as too frequent victims of a “throwaway culture” that “accepts or rejects life based on whether it can be ‘useful’ or ‘efficient’ in society or the economy”, he said the Christian sense of “closeness” entails seeing the other as “belonging to me, even as an enemy belongs to me like a brother”. 


Sainthood for Mother Teresa may be within the year

The Vatican calendar for the Year of Mercy has allocated September 4, 2016 as a possible date for the canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa.

“September 4 is a hypothesis or plan within the calendar for the jubilee year,” Holy See spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi explained, following reports that a panel of physicians believed the recovery of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumours following prayers for the intercession of Blessed Teresa had no medical or natural explanation. 

Urging caution, Fr Lombardi pointed out that the canonisation process “is still underway” and said “official communications will be given at the appropriate time”. 

Members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes must review the physicians’ report, after which, if there are no further difficulties, Pope Francis will be asked to issue a decree recognising the healing as a miracle worked by God through the intercession of Blessed Teresa. A consistory of cardinals will then be asked to recommend Blessed Teresa’s canonisation, and only then will the formal date be set. 

Should the canonisation go ahead on September 4, it will be celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square after a three-day pilgrimage of people who, like Blessed Teresa, have engaged in the corporal works of mercy. 


Ukraine trip on the cards for Pontiff

Pope Francis has accepted an invitation to visit Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. During a meeting with President Poroshenko to discuss the situation in the conflict-riven country, the Pope gave the Ukrainian politician a plaque with a depiction of an olive tree on it and said “This is my desire for peace in Ukraine”. Afterwards President Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook wall to announce that the Pontiff had accepted his invitation to visit.

Ukraine’s clergy have frequently taken issue with the Vatican’s diplomatic approach to Ukraine, feeling that it has been implicitly favourable towards Russian-backed separatists.