Category Archives: Vatican News

Without God, social media is ‘destructive’  

The archbishop Mgr Villegas tells online missionaries that if people use the new forms of communication irresponsibly, they “can divide and deceive” and cause the “slow death for our cherished values and virtues”.

Manila – Social media are a “blessing from God” but “without God” they can become “destructive”, this according to Mgr Socrates Buenaventura Villegas, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan.

Mgr Villegas (pictured) makes the point in his message for the upcoming Catholic Social Media Summit (CSMS), which is organised by Youth Pinoy, a group of online missionaries, in co-operation with Areopagus Communications and the Media Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

The theme of the meeting, which will be held at the Siena College in Quezon City on 17 November, is #Activate, and is expected to draw online missionaries like young professionals, social media managers, diocesan communicators and religious, congregations and communities from across the country.

Mgr Villegas warns though that using the new forms of communication irresponsibly “can “divide and mislead” people, causing the “slow death our cherished values and virtues”.

The former CBCP president notes that social media without ethics “spoil human progress and render development meaningless”.

“We need social media with God, for the service of God and for the glory of God,” he said. “Then and only then can this latest of human inventions also become the best of human creations”.

In his view, “Social media is power because it can teach, it can ignite, it can inspire. It is a powerful human invention that continues to evolve and get better every minute”. – AsiaNews/CBCPNews

Food waste: Deadlier than Malaria

An FAO report highlights the extent of food waste, the repercussions it has on a global scale, and the benefits that would come from reducing it.

Farmers in India (AFP or licensors)

“The scale and pace of food production would not need to increase…to feed an extra 1 billion people by 2030.” This is according to a report released this week by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO). The message FAO, along with other non-governmental organisations, is trying to get across on a global level is simple: 3 billion people worldwide are affected by poor-quality diets but there is neither a lack of food, nor a lack in food quality upon production.

If you don’t steal, don’t waste

In fact, the report states that the loss in the food quality and quantity occurs after its production. In low-income countries “food is mostly lost during harvesting, storage, processing and transportation”, whereas in high-income countries “the problem is one of waste at retail and consumer levels”. Basically, low-income countries face a lack of infrastructure, whereas in high-income countries carelessness and “waste at the end of the food chain” prevail. Pope Francis once stated that “wasting food is like stealing from the poor”.

Hunger: the deadliest disease

It is shocking to see that one in every five deaths globally are associated with poor diets. The report explains that poor diets are caused by consuming poor-quality foods as well as by a general lack of food, of any sort. More people die from not receiving the appropriate amount of food and nutrients that they are entitled to than from threatening illnesses like malaria and tuberculosis. This makes little sense when you consider that food production is totally within human control.

The fact that “one third of all food produced for human consumption never reaches the consumer’s plate”, sheds light on why FAO is urging us to “prioritise the reduction of food-loss and waste as a way of improving people’s access to nutritious and healthy food”.

Fixing one fixes three

The report analyses the benefits that would come from reducing loss and waste in nutritious foods. It would not only be the horrific hunger and malnutrition that would be tackled. When humanity for some reason cannot be put at the top of other people’s list of priorities, very often money can and “the value of food lost or wasted annually at the global level is estimated at $ 1 trillion” should be motivating enough to consider acting. Because said action would also yield substantial benefits for the natural environment.

The changes proposed in the report would “contribute to the efficiencies needed to address climate change”; “unlock savings in water and energy consumption, land use, and resources used in industrial food fortification”. Humanity, the environment and money. Three of what can be considered the most prominent aspects of life on earth, tackled by approaching one global issue.

The benefits of tackling this global issue should be more appealing than the negative outcomes that come from ignoring it: “addressing loss and waste of nutritious foods should be a specific new priority for improving nutrition” and the report highlights some of the ways in which this could be feasible through policy actions, Public-Private partnerships, non-profit interventions and the use of innovative technologies. – Francesca Merlo, Vatican news, 08 Nov 2018

Second Christian-Taoist Colloquium – Seven Key Points of Agreement

Cathedral_of_the_Good_Shepherd_new_nave – Wikimedia Commons

Singapore -The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, and the Taoist Federation of Singapore (TFS) jointly organized the Second Christian-Taoist Colloquium in Singapore from November 5-7, 2018. The theme of the Colloquium was “Christian and Taoist Ethics in Dialogue.” Seventy Christian and Taoist scholars and practitioners of interreligious dialogue mainly from Singapore but also from China, France, South Korea, Malaysia, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the Vatican, took part in this event. The participants included a representative each from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the World Council of Churches.

Tan Thiam Lye, Chairman TFS, gave the welcome address and several other representatives offered their greetings. H.E. Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Secretary PCID, delivered the keynote address.

The Colloquium focused on the following topics: Today’s Crisis of Ethics and Hope for Tomorrow; Taoist and Christian Responses to the Crisis of Ethics; Social Institutions and the Transformation of Human Persons; Spiritual Development and Self-Cultivation; Global Ethics and the Interdependency of All Human Beings; Fostering a United and Harmonious Society; and Emerging Orientations for Future Christian-Taoist Engagement. The program also included cultural and interreligious visits to the Taoist Kew Ong Yah Temple, the Catholic Church of the Transfiguration, and the Harmony in Diversity Gallery.

Following their spiritual and interdisciplinary exchanges, the participants agreed on the following:

  1. We acknowledge that the Second Christian-Taoist Colloquium has helped strengthen our bonds of friendship and nurture our desire for further collaboration.
  2. We shared our concerns and hopes for the future.
  3. We affirm – because of the fundamental ethical teachings of our religious traditions to do good and avoid evil – that no one can escape the moral responsibility of transforming unjust socioeconomic, political, cultural, religious and legal structures.
  4. We recognize that today’s crisis of ethics requires a rediscovery of universal values based on social justice, integral ecology, as well as the dignity of human life at every stage and circumstance. Therefore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) remains a shared fundamental expression of human conscience for our times and offers a solid basis for promoting a more just world.
  5. We believe in the capacity of our religious traditions to inspire a multi-faceted response to the challenges of our times. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the methods of communication our traditions and stories in a language that is easily understandable.
  6. We believe that families, educational institutions, and religious communities are places of spiritual and moral formation where today’s youth can learn to shape tomorrow’s world into a better place.
  7. We have seen that interpersonal and scholarly exchanges between our religious traditions enabled us to work together to shape the ethical frameworks needed for the common good of this and future generations. –, 08 Nov 2018

Ethiopian Catholic Church glad with first female President

The Catholic Church in Ethiopia is optimistic that the election of Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president will Inspire women and girls to reach their full potential as influential actors in society.

Ethiopia’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde (AFP or licensors)

The Ethiopian Catholic Church says it is pleased that women in Ethiopia are getting their rightful place in the development of the country. According to a statement from the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, it is a blessing to see that Ethiopians are recognising the invaluable talent women have to offer to the integral development of the nation.  The Church’s affirmation came in a statement made available to Vatican Radio’s Africa Service, following the recent election of Sahle-Work Zewde as the first female President of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Appointment normalises women as decision makers in public life

Ethiopian Members of Parliament recently elected the veteran diplomat as its first-ever female head of state to succeed former president, Mulatu Tehsome, who recently resigned following a cabinet reshuffle. This makes Sahle-Work the only female head of state in Africa after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf completed her term of office this year.

The office of president in Ethiopia is mostly ceremonial.

Ethiopia’s defacto leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed the election of the new head of state saying, “In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalises women as decision-makers in public life.”

An inspiration for girls and other women

In Ethiopia, the Catholic Church has for years worked towards the empowerment of women, by providing young girls with education and opportunities for them to explore their potential. The Church hopes that the election of a woman to the Presidency will inspire other women and young girls throughout the country to recognise their potential and strive to become influential actors in the international arena. – Africa Service, Vatican News, 06Nov2018

Christians in dialogue with Taoists

Discovering common values through Christian Scriptures and saints and Taoist holy writings and sages can lead to building a more harmonious society.

Stained glass windows portraying 4 saints (Christian Baum / Bonsai Multimedia)

Christian and Taoist scholars met for a Colloquium in Singapore from 5-7 November. In an interview with Sr Bernadette Reis, Fr Indunil Kodithuwakku, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke about how Christians and Taoists can contribute to resolving the crisis of ethics.

Colloquium background

Fr Kodithuwakku explained that the first Colloquium was held in Taiwan in 2014. The theme for the second Colloquium is on ethics. He said that the Colloquium can be characterized as a Christian-Taoist dialogue because the World Council of Churches was represented, as well as the Presbyterian and Anglican traditions. The majority of the 70 participants were from Singapore. Others came from Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea, France, Malaysia and Switzerland.

Crisis of ethics

The world is facing an ethical crisis, Fr Kodithuwakku said. “Both Christians and Taoists have the spiritual resources to respond to this ethical crisis”. In the first part of the Colloquium, the crisis itself was analyzed. Scholars then presented the teachings of Jesus and St Paul, Lao-Tzu and other Taoist sages. After looking at the sacred writings of both traditions, “we tried to find some of the orientations, some solutions to make the world a better place”.


In addition, both traditions presented aspects of their spiritual heritage. Fr Kodithuwakku mentioned that St Teresa of Avila and St Ignatius were 2 saints proposed from the Christian tradition. “We saw many similarities”, he said. “The human person is looking for something beyond this world. There are different spiritual paths, but there are also convergences”.

Building a harmonious society

Naming the common values then allowed the participants to plan what they can do together to “build a harmonious society, or for Christians, the Kingdom of God, together”. – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, Vatican News, 07 Nov 2018


Pope ‘Good politics is at the service of peace’, theme for next World Day of Peace

The subject of the Pope Francis message to be on “political responsibility” which “belongs to every citizen, and in particular to those who have received the mandate to protect and govern”.

Vatican City – The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the message for the 52nd World Day of Peace celebrated on January 1, 2019 is “Good politics is at the service of peace”.

In today’s news, the Holy See Press Office also issued a comment stating that “Political responsibility belongs to every citizen, and in particular to those who have received the mandate to protect and govern. This mission consists in safeguarding the law and encouraging dialogue between the actors of society, between generations and between cultures. There is no peace without mutual trust. And trust has as a first condition respect for the word given,” the statement said, adding that the political commitment of citizens “is one of the highest expressions of charity,” and as such, it brings with it concern for “the future of life and of the planet, of the young and the weakest, in their thirst for fulfillment.”.

“When man is respected in his rights – as St. John XXIII recalled in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963) – the sense of the duty to respect the rights of others is born within him. The rights and duties of man boost the awareness of belonging to the same community, with others and with God (cf. ibid., 45). We are therefore called to bring and announce peace as the good news of a future where every living being will be considered in his dignity and in his rights “. – AsiaNews, 6 Nov 2018

Pope appoints new archbishop in Cotabato in the Philippines

Bishop Angelito R. Lampon, the Vicar Apostolic of Jolo, is the new Archbishop of Cotabato.

Photo credit cbcpnews 

Pope Francis on Tuesday made an appointment in the Catholic Church in the southern Philippines.

He appointed Bishop Angelito R. Lampon, the Vicar Apostolic of Jolo, as the new Archbishop of Cotabato.  The 68-year old bishop takes over from Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo who has stepped down having reached the retirement age of 75 back in 2014.

Both the 79-year old cardinal and the new archbishop belong to the congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI).

Bishop Lampon was born in M’lang, Cotabato, on 1 March 1950.  After his novitiate with OMI in Tamontaka, Cotabato, he studied philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, and theology at the Loyola School of Theology, also in Quezon City.

Bishop Lampon was ordained an OMI priest on 26 March 1977.

As a priest he held the following responsibilities:

1977-1978: Assistant parish priest in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat and in the Cathedral of Cotabato

1979-1981: Staff member at Cotabato City Seminary

1981-1982: Studied at SIADI (South Asian Interdisciplinary Institute), Intramuros, Manila

1988-1992: Director of OMI postulants and scholastics

1992-1997: Counsellor general at the OMI generalate /headquarters in Rome, Italy

On his return to the Philippines, Bishop Lampon was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Jolo on 21 November 1997 and was consecrated bishop on 6 January 1998.

In the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Bishop Lampon was president of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue from 2011 to 2017.  Currently, he is president of the Commission for Ecumenical Affairs. – Vatican News

New international body for Catholic Charismatic Renewal

The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life unveils a new body that will provide services to the international Catholic Charismatic Renewal which will be established on 8 December.

The Holy See is establishing a body that will provide a “new, single, international service for the needs of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Church”. This news was announced by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life in a Press Release on 31 October.

Details of the new organization

According to the Press Release, December 8 is the day that will see this new structure come to light. In addition, the statutes governing it will be approved, “ad experimentum” (i.e. on an experimental basis). Pope Francis himself has requested the creation of such an organization “on several occasions”, the Press Release states. CHARIS will be its name and it “will operate in favour of all expressions of the current of grace that is Catholic Charismatic Renewal”.


CHARIS will have no authority over what the press release calls “realities of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal”. Each Charismatic entity will remain autonomous, under “the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical authority upon which it currently depends”. All of these groups will be able to benefit from the services that CHARIS will provide.

CHARIS Members

After December 8, the following people will be appointed by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life to various services within CHARIS for a 3-year period beginning on Pentecost in 2019:

Dr. Jean-Luc Moens from Belgium as Moderator

Members of the International Service Communion:

Bishop Peter Leslie Smith from the United States for English and French speaking North America and the Caribbean
Mr. Andrés Arango from the United States for Spanish-speaking North America and Caribbean
Mrs. María Eugenia de Góngora from Guatemala for Central America
Mr. Pino Scafuro from Argentina for Spanish-speaking South America
Mrs. Gabriella Marcia da Rocha Días from Brazil for Portughese-speaking South America
Mr. Cyril John from India for Asia
Br. James Shin San-Hyun from South Korea for Asia
Mr. Jean-Christophe Sakiti from Togo for French-speaking Africa
Mr. Fred Mawanda from Uganda for English-speaking Africa
Mr. Paolo Maino from Italy for Europe
Rev. Deacon Etienne Mellot from France for Europe
Mr. Shayne Bennett from Australia for Oceania
Mr. José Prado Flores from Mexico for Diverse Catholic Charismatic Renewal ministries
Fr. Etienne Vetö from the United States for Charismatic priests or religious:
Mr. Jean Barbara from Lebanon for Charismatic communities
Deacon Johannes Fichtenbauer from Austria for Charismatic Communities:
Mr. François Prouteau from France for Associations with Holy See recognition
Ms. Giulia Rancan from Italy for young charismatic Catholics under 30 years of age
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. from Italy as the Ecclesiastical Assistant

Statutes and finances

The Press Release concludes by setting the Solemnity of Pentecost, 2019, as the day on which the Statutes take effect. On that day the following organizations “will cease to exist”: International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service and the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships. “The patrimony of these two bodies will be transferred to CHARIS, in order to provide this new body with the financial means necessary to undertake the mission intended for it by the Holy Father.”Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, Vatican News, 01 Nov 2018

Vatican in two inter-faith events in Singapore, Thailand

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID) has announced two inter-faith events in Singapore and Thailand.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID) has announced two inter-faith events next week in Asia – one in Singapore and the other in Thailand.


The PCID is organizing the Second Christian-Taoist Colloquium at Fr. Jean Marie Beurel Centre, in Singapore, November 5-7, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Singapore and the Taoist Federation of Singapore.

Seventy-two scholars and people engaged in interreligious dialogue from Singapore, China, France, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Switzerland, Vatican and Taiwan will discuss the theme, “Christian and Taoist Ethics in Dialogue”, in its various aspects.

Among the participants are also representatives of the PCID, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The PCID explained that the colloquium intends to provide opportunities for academics and those engaged in Christian-Taoist dialogue to share views and aspects related to the theme by means of the conference podium as well as informal discussions.

The meeting also aims at acting together urgently, with a shared sense of co-responsibility, to face the grave human, ethical and social degradation in the world on the basis of a patrimony of moral values common to all human beings.


The second event is a commemorative ceremony of the 230th Anniversary of the Buddhist Royal Temple of Chetupon (Wat Pho) in Bangkok, Thailand on November 9.  On this occasion, Venerable Phra Thepweeraporn, Abbot of the temple has invited two officials from the PCID, who will be joined by Holy See’s officials and local Catholic Church representatives of Thailand.

Good relations

According to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the Holy See and the Wat Phra Chetupon (Wat Pho) enjoy a long-lasting friendship and mutual collaboration.

His Majesty King Rama VII of the Kingdom of Thailand visited Pope Pius XI on 21 March 1934. The King gifted the Pope with a copy of Phra Malai, a sacred Buddhist Scripture written in ancient Khmer alphabets. At the request of the Vatican Museums, a group of Buddhist scholars from Chetupon Temple translated this sacred book into both the Pali and Thai languages.

On 16 May 2018, a delegation comprising of fifty Buddhist monks, government representatives and lay people led by Venerable Phra Rajaratanasunthon presented the copies of the translation to His Holiness Pope Francis during a private audience.

The first delegation of Buddhist monks from Thailand visited the Vatican on 5 June 1972 and had an audience with Pope Paul VI. One of the three monks of the delegation was Most Venerable Somdej Phra Wanaratana, former abbot of Wat Phra Chetupon (Wat Pho). – Vatican News, 01 Nov 2018

Vatican’s Deepavali Message urges defence of the vulnerable

Woman in India lights a lamps for Deepavali

The Hindu Festival of Lights, or Deepavali, takes place in November, prompting the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to send “cordial greetings and prayerful best wishes”.

Vatican – On November 6 and 7, millions of people throughout the world will celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Deepavali. Rooted in the Hindu culture, Deepavali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. As is customary, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a message on 31 October entitled “Christians and Hindus: In Defence of the Vulnerable of Society”.

Dear friends

“Dear Hindu Friends”, the message begins. “The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you most cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes as you celebrate Deepavali. May the celebrations surrounding this festival strengthen the spirit of friendship and fraternity among you and enhance peace and joy in your families and communities!”

Defending the vulnerable

The message then stresses how both Hindus and Christians can be inspired by this celebration in order to defend those who are vulnerable in society. This stems from a “shared belief that we are all God’s” children who share an equal dignity. Furthermore, we are responsible for one another, and everyone is vulnerable at times looking to others “to offer a helping hand”. The result is “doing all we can to alleviate” suffering, defend rights and restore dignity.

Together in the triumph of good over evil

In conclusion, the message calls on all believers to be active participants in the triumph of good over evil.

“May we join hands with the adherents of other religious traditions and all people of good will to make a collective and concerted effort to secure a joyful present and a hopeful future for our vulnerable brothers and sisters! We wish all of you a happy Deepavali!”

Where Deepavali is celebrated

The countries Guyana, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago are celebrating Deepavali as a public holiday on 6 November. Fiji, India, Kenya, Mauritius, and Suriname are celebrating it on 7 November. – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, Vatican news, 31 Oct 2018

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