Vatican Roundup

Pope hosts unique Mass for prisoners

Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass for prisoners in the presence of 1,000 inmates on November 6.

Organissed as part of the Vatican’s Year of Mercy celebrations, the Mass at St Peter’s Basilica brought prisoners together from 12 countries along with their families as well as prison chaplains.

Addressing his congregation, the Pontiff insisted that while all “have made mistakes”, none should give up on the hope of God’s mercy.

“Sometimes, a certain hypocrisy leads to people considering you only as wrongdoers, for whom prison is the sole answer,” he said. “We don’t think about the possibility that people can change their lives. We put little trust in rehabilitation…into society. But in this way we forget that we are all sinners and often, without being aware of it, we too are prisoners.”

Pope Francis expanded on this message in his weekly Angelus when he urged political leaders to back policies helping prisoners to return to society and to at least improve prison conditions.


Holy See’s UN representative laments rise in racist incidents

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations has expressed concern at a rise in xenophobic incidents, especially directed towards migrants.

In an address to the UN on November 2, Archbishop Bernardito Auza decried the “marked increase in the number of racist and xenophobic incidents of violence, especially in the public sphere”. This, he went on, “seems to be driven by fear of the other, in particular, the fear in front of our responsibility to care for the marginalised and vulnerable, for those in desperate need of our compassion and solidarity”.

Turning his attention to the migrant crisis, and the high death toll for those attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, Archbishop Aura lamented the 3,740 lives lost to date for 2016 and insisted: “Migrant or resident, human dignity is not negotiable or determined by national laws. The human rights of every individual, rooted in the innate dignity of the human person, are inviolable, without distinction. “Alarmed by today’s many manifestations of racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance, the whole human family must reaffirm once more its common determination to fight all forms of discrimination and intolerance as contrary to the dignity and equality inherent in all human beings,” he concluded.


Pope condemns idolatry of wealth

Pope Francis has condemned the idolatry of wealth which places the human good in a lesser place. Addressing an audience at the Vatican of representatives of popular movements working for the poor on November 5, the Pontiff asked: “What’s happening in today’s world that, when a bank goes bankrupt, immediately scandalous sums appear to save it, but when there’s a ‘bankruptcy of humanity,’ there isn’t one-one thousandth of the same amount to save these brothers who suffer so much?”

He added that, just like terrorism, an economy focused solely on making money relies on people’s fear for its effectiveness. He warned: “Fear, besides being good business for merchants of weapons and death, weakens and destabilises us, destroying our psychological and spiritual defences, anesthetising us to the suffering of others and, in the end, making us cruel.”

The Pope went on to point out  that the social doctrine of the Church and the Magisterium “rebel against money as an idol that reigns instead of serves, tyrannising and terrorising humanity”.