November 26, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- The Pope in Kenya: the link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order

- Interreligious meeting in Nairobi: service to the common good

- Mass at the University of Nairobi: build our lives on the firm foundation of His Word

- Memorandum of understanding between the Holy See and Italy for the protection of Rome's historic city centre

The Pope in Kenya: the link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – The clear relationship between the protection of nature and constructing a just and equitable social order, the aspirations of the young and a fair distribution of natural and human resources were the central themes of Pope Francis' first discourse in Africa yesterday.

The Holy Father spoke in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta, the authorities and representatives of the political, economic and cultural spheres, in the gardens of the State House, the president's residence in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kenya, he said, “is a young and vibrant nation, a richly diverse society which plays a significant role in the region. In many ways your experience of shaping a democracy is one shared by many other African nations. Like Kenya, they too are working to build, on the solid foundations of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation, a multi-ethnic society which is truly harmonious, just and inclusive”.

“Yours too is a nation of young people. … The young are any nation’s most valuable resource. To protect them, to invest in them and to offer them a helping hand, is the best way we can ensure a future worthy of the wisdom and spiritual values dear to their elders, values which are the very heart and soul of a people”.

“Kenya has been blessed not only with immense beauty, in its mountains, rivers and lakes, its forests, savannahs and semi-deserts, but also by an abundance of natural resources. The Kenyan people have a strong appreciation of these God-given treasures and are known for a culture of conservation which does you honour. The grave environmental crisis facing our world demands an ever greater sensitivity to the relationship between human beings and nature. We have a responsibility to pass on the beauty of nature in its integrity to future generations, and an obligation to exercise a just stewardship of the gifts we have received. These values are deeply rooted in the African soul. In a world which continues to exploit rather than protect our common home, they must inspire the efforts of national leaders to promote responsible models of economic development”.

“In effect, there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order”, the Holy Father emphasised. “There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself. To the extent that our societies experience divisions, whether ethnic, religious or economic, all men and women of good will are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing. In the work of building a sound democratic order, strengthening cohesion and integration, tolerance and respect for others, the pursuit of the common good must be a primary goal. Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration. Ultimately, the struggle against these enemies of peace and prosperity must be carried on by men and women who fearlessly believe in, and bear honest witness to, the great spiritual and political values which inspired the birth of the nation”.

Addressing the country's political, cultural and economic leaders, he remarked that “the advancement and preservation of these great values is entrusted in a special way” to them. “This is a great responsibility, a true calling, in the service of the entire Kenyan people. The Gospel tells us that from those to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. In that spirit, I encourage you to work with integrity and transparency for the common good, and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society. I ask you in particular to show genuine concern for the needs of the poor, the aspirations of the young, and a just distribution of the natural and human resources with which the Creator has blessed your country. I assure you of the continued efforts of the Catholic community, through its educational and charitable works, to offer its specific contribution in these areas”.

“I am told that here in Kenya it is a tradition for young schoolchildren to plant trees for posterity. May this eloquent sign of hope in the future, and trust in the growth which God gives, sustain all of you in your efforts to cultivate a society of solidarity, justice and peace on the soil of this country and throughout the great African continent. I thank you once more for your warm welcome, and upon you and your families, and all the beloved Kenyan people, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings”.

Interreligious meeting in Nairobi: service to the common good

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi the Holy Father met with the heads of different Christian confessions (Anglican, Evangelical, Methodist, Pentecostal, and others) and of other religions (Animist, Muslim), along with seven other figures involved in the promotion of interreligious dialogue. The Pope spoke about the challenges presented by interreligious encounters, emphasising that ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury, but rather “essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs”.

“Indeed, religious beliefs and practice condition who we are and how we understand the world around us”, he continued. “They are for us a source of enlightenment, wisdom and solidarity, and thus enrich the societies in which we live. By caring for the spiritual growth of our communities, by forming minds and hearts in the truths and values taught by our religious traditions, we become a blessing to the communities in which our people live. In democratic and pluralistic societies like Kenya, cooperation between religious leaders and communities becomes an important service to the common good. In this light, and in an increasingly interdependent world, we see ever more clearly the need for interreligious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness”.

He continued, “By upholding respect for that dignity and those rights, the religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling in the young the profound spiritual values of our respective traditions, and training good citizens, capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person over power and material gain. Here I think of the importance of our common conviction that the God whom we seek to serve is a God of peace. His holy Name must never be used to justify hatred and violence. I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds. All too often, young people are being radicalised in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies. How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect! May the Almighty touch the hearts of those who engage in this violence, and grant His peace to our families and communities”.

The Holy Father recalled that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, “at which the Catholic Church committed herself to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship. I wish to reaffirm this commitment, which is born of our conviction of the universality of God’s love and the salvation which He offers to all. The world rightly expects believers to work together with people of good will in facing the many problems affecting our human family”. He concluded, “As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences. Let us pray for peace”.

Mass at the University of Nairobi: build our lives on the firm foundation of His Word

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – Following the ecumenical and interreligious meeting, the Pope transferred to the University of Nairobi where he was awaited by around one million people. He celebrated Holy Mass in the same place as St. John Paul II during his trips to Africa in 1980, 1985 and 1995. “The Lord tells us that in the desert He will pour forth water on the thirsty land; He will cause the children of His people to flourish like grass and luxuriant willows. We know that this prophecy was fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But we also see it fulfilled wherever the Gospel is preached and new peoples become members of God’s family, the Church. Today we rejoice that it was fulfilled in this land. Through the preaching of the Gospel, you too we have all become part of the great Christian family”.

Francis commented that Isaiah’s prophecy invites us to look to our own families, and to realise how important they are in God’s plan. “Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children”, he said. “The health of any society always depends on the health of its families. For their sake, and for the good of society, our faith in God’s word calls us to support families in their mission in society, to accept children as a blessing for our world, and to defend the dignity of each man and woman, for all of us are brothers and sisters in the one human family”.

“In obedience to God’s word, we are also called to resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women, do not care for the elderly and threaten the life of the innocent unborn. We are called to respect and encourage one another, and to reach out to all those in need. Christian families have this special mission: to radiate God’s love, and to spread the life-giving waters of his Spirit. This is especially important today, for we are seeing the growth of new deserts created by a culture of materialism selfishness and indifference to others”.

The Pope made a special appeal to the young people of the nation: “Let the great values of Africa’s traditions, the wisdom and truth of God’s word, and the generous idealism of your youth guide you in working to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity. May you always be concerned for the needs of the poor, and reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God”.

He remarked that Jesus, “wants all of us to build our lives on the firm foundation of His word. And that is the charge which the Lord gives to each of us. He asks us to be missionary disciples, men and women who radiate the truth, beauty and life-changing power of the Gospel. Men and women who are channels of God’s grace, who enable His mercy, kindness and truth to become the building blocks of a house that stands firm. A house which is a home, where brothers and sisters at last live in harmony and mutual respect, in obedience to the will of the true God, Who has shown us, in Jesus, the way to that freedom and peace for which all hearts long”.

“Stand strong in faith! Do not be afraid, for you belong to the Lord”, he concluded. “Mungu awabariki! God bless you! Mungu abariki Kenya! God bless Kenya!”.

Memorandum of understanding between the Holy See and Italy for the protection of Rome's historic city centre

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – Today in the in the Palace of the Governorate, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Governorate of Vatican City State and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism of the Italian Republic on cooperation in the protection and enhancement of cross-border UNESCO site, the “Historic centre of Rome, the extraterritorial properties of the Holy See in the city and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls”, registered in the World Heritage List.

The Memorandum was signed on behalf of the Holy See by Bishop Fernando Vergez Alzaga, L.C., general secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and for the Italian Republic by Antonia Pasqua Recchia, general secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.

Given that the cross-border site, “Historic centre of Rome, the extraterritorial properties of the Holy See in the city and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls” necessarily involves both Italy and the Holy See, each in accordance with its own jurisdiction, the Memorandum of Understanding, notwithstanding reciprocal competences and in compliance with its legislation, the Parties undertake to continue their cooperation in the protection and enhancement of the site, as well as the conservation of its exceptional universal value, as established in the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the related guidelines.

To reach these objectives, this agreement also institutes a permanent body for mutual cooperation, the “Cross-Border Coordination Group”, to whom the competences of coordination, monitoring, information and the enhancement of the site are conferred.

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