November 18, 2014

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service

Summary

- The Pope receives in audience the President of Senegal: Church's commitment to peace and national reconciliation

- International Conference on autism: three days to inspire hope

- The Holy See at the United Nations: civilians are the first victims of conventional weapons

- Fifty years on from the Council decree Unitatis Redintegratio

The Pope receives in audience the President of Senegal: Church's commitment to peace and national reconciliation

Vatican City, 18 November 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father Francis received in audience Macky Sall, president of the Republic of Senegal, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the secretary for Relations with States, His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

During the discussions, the cordial relations between the Holy See and Senegal were noted, and the important contribution offered by the Church in the sectors of education and healthcare was underlined, as well as her generous and greatly appreciated commitment to promoting peace and national reconciliation.

Finally, there was an exchange of views on various themes of international interest, with particular reference to the current situations of crisis in the Region.

International Conference on autism: three days to inspire hope

Vatican City, 18 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the 29th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, on the theme “The person with autism spectrum disorders: animating hope”, which will take place in the Vatican from 20 to 22 November.

The speakers were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care); Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery; and Stefano Vicari, head of the Department of Child Neuropsychiatry at the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital, Rome.

Archbishop Zimowski explained that the term “autism” was first used by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to describe the introversion of schizophrenic patients. Subsequently, in 1943, his colleague Leo Kanner described the disorder for the first time, affirming that autistic children were born with a congenital incapacity to establish normal contact with other people. It is currently defined as a “neuro-behavioural disturbance (also known as Kanner's Syndrome) of a pervasive type”, of multifactorial origin. In general, autism spectrum disorders manifest themselves before the age of three, and are life-long. The most recent statistics confirm that around 1% of children worldwide are affected.

“The many difficulties, including those of an ethical, moral and spiritual nature, faced by those with autism spectrum disorders and their carers have led us to choose such an important, difficult and delicate theme for this conference”, the prelate explained. “It will be a special occasion for observing the advances that have been made in research and treatment, as well as legal and political-administrative aspects; three valuable days for listening and exchanging experiences, and learning from the world's most qualified specialists.”

The Conference will be attended by more than 650 people from 57 different countries, and will include an encounter with the Holy Father during the Wednesday general audience, as well as an exhibition of paintings by the Taiwanese autistic artist Leland Lee, a moment of prayer and testimonies from people affected by autism spectrum disorders, their families, and associations. Various famous Italian singers will offer a musical contribution.

The Holy See at the United Nations: civilians are the first victims of conventional weapons

Vatican City, 18 November 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations in Geneva spoke at the annual meeting of Parties to the Convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects (CCW), held on 13 November.

Speaking in English, the prelate presented three issues to be considered. First, he spoke on the work carried out on lethal autonomous weapons systems. He emphasised that, with regard to the automation and consequent risk of the dehumanisation of war, a global – “scientific, legal, cultural, economic, ethical, and humanitarian” – rather than solely military approach is indispensable. He added, “I would like to reaffirm our wish that the mandate regarding this topic be renewed taking into account the importance of preserving an official trace of the statements, documents, debates and discussions”.

Secondly, he considered the theme of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. “With growing urbanisation of the world population, the tendency of urban wars will increase. How to protect the civilian populations? What should we do to safeguard civil infrastructures, indispensable for the livelihood of large communities? … What is certain, from the observations and data presently available, is that civilian populations are the first victims of conflicts. In many cases, they have no protection: millions of refugees and displaced people, a majority of them civilian victims, a great number are women and children; there is total or partial destruction of numerous urban centres; total disorganisation of social, academic, economic and political life; the exacerbation of hatred and of feelings of revenge that makes the re-establishment of peace and national reconstruction more difficult, if not impossible. It seems to me that an essential question touches all States parties: Does the CCW have something to say and do in such a situation? For the credibility and the integrity of the Convention and for the respect of the numerous victims, I would like to suggest adding this question to the agenda of the CCW”.

Finally, he mentioned the use of armed drones. “We are witnessing a certain proliferation of this technology and a growing use of it in various conflicts. … The choice of indifference in relation to this question is counter-productive. The fact of not addressing problems at the right moment can have disastrous consequences and make them almost insoluble, as experience in other domains teaches us”. He concluded by emphasising that “there is still time for the CCW to become interested in drones before they become an additional source of greater destabilisation when the international community needs, more than ever, stability, cooperation and peace”.

Fifty years on from the Council decree Unitatis Redintegratio

Vatican City, 18 November 2014 (VIS) – On 21 November 1964, after a long and laborious process, the Council Fathers approved the decree on ecumenism, “Unitatis Redintegratio” by 2,137 votes to 11. The document, which undoubtedly marked a qualitative leap in the relations between the Catholic Church and the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, continues to represent an indispensable point of reference for the Catholic Church in her commitment to ecumenism.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the decree with two events. On Thursday, 20 November, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, Vespers will be celebrated, open to all, and attended by the members and consultors of this Council and the representatives of the Churches and ecclesial communities present in Rome, to give thanks to God for the fruits already gathered along the path of ecumenism during these last fifty years, and to invoke His blessing for the road that still lies ahead.

On 21 November a meeting will take place in the Great Hall of the Pontifical Gregorian University, during which the Pastors and theologians of the Catholic Church and other Churches and ecclesial communities will reread the Council decree, each from his own point of view, discussing today's ecumenical challenges and those that await us in the future. The moderator of the event will be Professor Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L'Osservatore Romano, and the speakers will be Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Bishop Irinej Bulovic of Backa, the Serb Orthodox Patriarch; Professor Timothy George of the Baptist World Alliance; Fr. William Henn, O.F.M. Cap., of the Pontifical Gregorian University; Teny Pirri Simonian of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholicosate of Cilicia; and Friederike Nussel of the Lutheran Church.

The meeting will conclude the Council's plenary session, which will take place from 18 to 21 November and will focus on the theme: “The aim of ecumenism: principles, opportunities and challenges, fifty years after 'Unitatis Redintegratio'”. Fifty years after its promulgation, the dicastery considers it useful to examine how the Council degree continues to inspire the ecumenical efforts of the Catholic Church in a changing landscape.

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