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Church congress on child protection in digital world issues call to action

People attend the World Congress on Child Dignity at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 3-6 Oct 2017.

VATICAN CITY – ‘The Declaration of Rome,’  the final document produced by participants at the World Congress hosted by the Pontifical Gregorian University on ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’, issues an urgent call to action.

One hundred and forty participants from all continents gathered in Rome on 3-6 Oct 2017  for the first world congress focused on addressing the dangers children and adolescents face on the internet.

Organised by a UK-based global alliance called ‘WePROTECT’ and by ‘Telefono Azzurro,’  the first Italian helpline for children at risk, the congress drew delegates from countries across the world, including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Receiving participants at the event on Oct 6 in the Vatican, Pope Francis was handed ‘The Declaration of Rome’ by a young girl “on behalf of millions of young people around the world who need information and far more protection from the risks of sexual and other forms of abuse on the internet.”

“Using your own words,” she said to the Pope, “we believe that ‘A society can be judged by the way it treats its children’.”

While technology, she continued, has changed our lives in so many positive ways, it is also being used in the growing exploitation of children, millions of whom are being abused and exploited all over the world.

Explaining that increasingly extreme and dehumanising content is available at children’s fingertips, she said that some of the effects include cyberbullying, harassment and sextortion, while “online pornography is impacting the malleable minds of young children.”

Highlighting the right of all children to be protected, she called for unity and collaboration in seeking   “positive, empowering solutions for all.”

One of the main points of the document is the need for technology companies and governments to innovate to better protect children.

“This is a problem,” she said, “that cannot be solved by one nation or one company or one faith acting alone, it is a global problem that requires global solutions. It requires that we build awareness and that we mobilise action from every government, every faith, every company and every institution.”

“In this era of the internet the world faces unprecedented challenges if it is to preserve the rights and dignity of children and protect them from abuse and exploitation.  These challenges require new thinking and approaches, heightened global awareness and inspired leadership.  For this reason, this Declaration of Rome appeals to everyone to stand up for the protection of the dignity of children,” she concluded.

One of the participants at the Congress was Antoine Normand from Canada. Normand is the founder of BlueBear, a company that combats child pornography on the Internet thanks to the development of software which analyses and categorises image and video evidence files seized during child pornography investigations and that is used in collaboration with the Police.

Normand was at the audience with the Pope and sums up the content of “The Rome Declaration.” – vatican radio

Pope sets up new institute for marriage and family sciences

VATICAN CITY –  Pope Francis has set up a new pontifical institute for the study of marriage and the family, replacing the organisation set up by his predecessor in 1981.

In a Motu Proprio, published on 19 Sept 2017, the Vatican announced that the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences is being established to carry forward the work of the two recent Synods of Bishops and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Noting the important work that has been carried out by the original institute, founded in the wake of the 1980 Synod on the Family, Pope Francis said the Synods of 2014 and 2015 have brought a renewed awareness of “the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called to respond.”

Contemporary anthropological and cultural changes, the pope said, require “a diversified and analytical approach” which cannot be “limited to pastoral and missionary practices” of the past.

Instead, he said, we must be able to interpret our faith in a context in which individuals are less supported than before as they deal with the complex realities of family life. Faithful to the teachings of Christ, the pope said, we must explore these “lights and shadows of family life” with realism, wisdom and love.

Like its predecessor, the new institute will continue to work as part of the Pontifical Lateran University. It will also be closely connected to the Holy See through the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy for Life and the new Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

The institute, which comes into effect immediately, will offer students courses leading to a diploma, a license and a doctorate in marriage and family sciences. – Vatican Radio

Pope Francis issues “motu proprio” on liturgical translations

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis issued a Motu Proprio on 9 Sept 2017 entitled, Magnum principium which refers to the translation of liturgical texts.

A Motu Proprio is a special document, or apostolic letter, issued by the Pope on his own initiative and signed by him.

In the document Pope Francis writes that, taking into account the experience of the Second Vatican Council with regard to liturgical translations, it seemed opportune that some principles handed on since that time, “should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.”  The changes will take effect on 1 Oct 2017.

According to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican department responsible for publishing the document, “Magnum principium” alters certain norms of Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law regarding the translation of liturgical texts into modern languages.

In a separate note, the Congregation for Divine Worship points out that, “the object of the changes is to define better the roles of the Apostolic See and the Conferences of Bishops in respect to their proper competencies which are different yet remain complementary. They are called to work in a spirit of dialogue regarding the translation of the typical Latin books as well as for any eventual adaptations that could touch on rites and texts.”

“In the encounter between liturgy and culture,” the note continues, “the Apostolic See is called to review and evaluate such adaptations in order to safeguard the substantial unity of the Roman Rite.”

Given the heavy responsibility of translation entrusted to the Bishops’ Conferences, the Motu Proprio itself points out that these Conferences “must ensure and establish that, while the character of each language is safeguarded, the sense of the original text should be rendered fully and faithfully.”

In conclusion, the Motu Proprio provides that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will also “modify its own Rules and Regulations on the basis of the new discipline and help the Episcopal Conferences to fulfill their task.” – Vatican Radio


Vatican opens free laundromat for Rome’s homeless

The new laundromat organised by the papal charities office and the Community of Sant’Egidio. Credit: Comunità di Sant’Egidio

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has opened a free laundry for the homeless people of Rome, the Catholic World News reported 10 Apr 2017.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, said that the initiative was “a concrete sign wanted by the office of papal charities.” The opening of the laundry room follows several other programmes for the homeless begun under Pope Francis, including provisions for free showers, haircuts, and medical care.

The laundromat, located in the People of Peace centre operated by the Sant’Egidio community, features six new washers and six dryers. The machines were donated by the Whirlpool Corporation. The papal almoner also recognised the Procter & Gamble corporation, which has been providing razors and shaving cream, and now has offered a steady supply of laundry detergents.

Pope Francis issues ruling on consecrated life

vatican4VATICAN CITY – Diocesan bishops must consult with the Vatican before establishing a diocesan religious order, Pope Francis ruled.

The consultation “is to be understood as necessary for the validity of the erection of a diocesan institute of consecrated life,” said the rescript or ruling approved by Pope Francis April 4 and published by the Vatican May 20, Catholic News Service reported.

The English translation of the Code of Canon Law states: “Diocesan bishops, each in his own territory, can erect institutes of consecrated life by formal decree, provided that the Apostolic See has been consulted.”

However, some bishops and canon lawyers had argued the consultation was advised, not required, and that a lack of consultation did not make the order’s establishment invalid.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said in a statement that the consultation is necessary because “every new institute of consecrated life, even if it comes into the light and develops within a particular church, is a gift given to the entire church.” – ucanews.com

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