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Vatican newspaper: Climate change report is 'cry of alarm for the future of the planet' (CWN)

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, devoted its most prominent front-page article on March 21 to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s remarks on the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s synthesis report.

Welcoming migrants, refugees is first step toward peace, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Safe, organized, legal and sustainable migration is in the interest of all countries, Pope Francis wrote.

"If this is not recognized, there is a risk that fear will erase people's future and justify those barriers against which lives are shattered," he said in a written address to refugees and to the volunteers and organizations who helped welcome and integrate them in Europe.

Speaking to the refugees and those who have helped them, the pope said, "Thank you for promoting this work of welcoming which is a concrete commitment to peace. Welcoming is the first step toward peace."

The Vatican audience hall March 18 was filled with individuals and families from many countries at war or affected by severe humanitarian emergencies, such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, Libya and Ukraine.

The pope only read a few passages from his prepared text, but spent about 25 minutes making his way, seated in a wheelchair, through the hall greeting guests and exchanging many hugs with enthusiastic children. One small boy insisted the pope accept his gift of a stuffed Spider-Man doll.

The migrants and refugees came to Italy and other European countries thanks to an initiative started in 2016 to create "humanitarian corridors" in which volunteers and organizations on the ground in areas of conflict identify people who are especially vulnerable and arrange for their safe and legal passage to communities prepared to take them in. They also help with housing, education and other forms of assistance.

The Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio established the project together with the Federation of Evangelical Churches, the Waldensian church of Italy, the Italian branch of Caritas and the Italian bishops' conference.

The project was started to help people avoid dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels, to prevent exploitation by human traffickers and to give priority to those in especially precarious conditions. More than 6,000 people have been offered legal passage and integration through the project since 2016.

In his spoken remarks, the pope thanked the organizations for their generosity and creativity and the commitment shown by governments for welcoming newcomers.

In his written address, the pope mentioned the recent shipwreck near Cutro, Italy, in which nearly 90 migrants, including children, died. "That disaster should never have happened and everything possible needs to be done to ensure that it will not be repeated," he wrote.

"Humanitarian corridors build bridges that many children, women, men and older persons fleeing from unstable and gravely dangerous situations cross in order to arrive safely, legally and with dignity, in their host countries," he wrote.

"Still, much effort is needed to expand this work and to open even more legal migration routes," he wrote. "Where political will is lacking, effective models like yours offer new and viable avenues."

"Safe, orderly, regular and sustainable migration is in the interest of all countries," he added.

This approach, he wrote, "points a way forward for Europe, to avoid its remaining frozen, fearful and lacking vision for the future."

The pope praised the project's emphasis on properly integrating people in host communities, and he thanked those who generously offer their homes, resources and help, writing that "you represent a beautiful face of Europe, one that is open, not without some sacrifice, to the future."

Addressing those who left their homelands, he underlined his own history as a son of a family of immigrants and wrote, "Your good example and industriousness help to dispel fear and apprehension about foreigners."

Jesus showed the way when he said, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me," the pope wrote. It is a path everyone must take "together and with perseverance."

In his written text, the pope also told those who have fled Ukraine that "the pope does not give up seeking peace, hoping for peace and praying for peace. I do this for your gravely afflicted country and for other countries affected by war."

Pope: We must integrate refugees!

Pope: We must integrate refugees!

Pope Francis greeted refugees March 18 who found safety and stability in Europe through "humanitarian corridors."

US bishops' doctrine committee: Catholic health care services must not perform transgender procedures (CWN)

The US bishops’ Committee on Doctrine has issued a 14-page Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body.

Historic French church vandalized with Satanic and anarchist graffiti (CNA)

The Église du Sacré-Coeur de Bordeaux was completed in 1884. The Archdiocese of Bordeaux said it “shares the strong emotions of the Catholic faithful and residents shocked by this act” of vandalism.

Bishop ordained for Northern Arabia (News of Bahrain)

In a sign of hope for Christians on the Arabian Peninsula, Father Aldo Berardi, OSST, was ordained the second bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia on March 18 (video). The see had been vacant since the death of his predecessor in 2020.

The ordination took place at the new Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, the peninsula’s largest church, which was built on land donated by Bahrain’s king. Pope Francis visited the cathedral during his apostolic journey to Bahrain in November.

As Vicar Apostolic of Northern Arabia, Bishop Berardi will minister to Catholics in Bahrain (one parish), Kuwait (four parishes), Qatar (one parish), and Saudi Arabia (no religious freedom for Christians). Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, traveled from Rome to preside at the ordination.

+Archbishop Joseph Powathil, 92 (The Hindu)

A former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) has passed away at the age of 92.

Born in 1930, Syro-Malabar Archbishop Joseph Powathil was ordained to the priesthood in 1962 and to the episcopate in 1972. He was Archbishop of Changanacherry from 1985 until his retirement in 2007 and was also the president of the bishops’ conference from 1994 to 1998.

The Pioneer, a newspaper based in Uttar Pradesh, reported that the prelate played a key role in warding off Communist control of Catholic educational institutions and that he had a “personal rapport” with Pope Benedict for more than 40 years.

The prelate’s funeral was held at the cathedral in Changanacherry (video).

Vatican 'foreign minister' visits Albania (Vatican News)

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, has completed a three-day visit to Albania.

The prelate met with Olta Xhacka, the nation’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, as well as with President Bajram Begam, who emphasized the important role that the Holy See plays in fostering peace in the western Balkan region.

The Southeastern European nation of 3.1 million (map) is 59% Muslim, 19% Orthodox, and 18% Catholic. Pope Francis made an apostolic journey there in 2014.

'The Church never abandoned its people,' former nuncio recalls on 20th anniversary of Iraq war (Vatican News)

Cardinal Fernando Filoni was apostolic nuncio to Iraq during the American invasion in 2003; he refused to leave Baghdad as the bombs fell. In this interview, he reflects on the Iraq War and its legacy.

Papal prayer for the Ukrainian people, who 'continue to suffer due to war crimes' (Vatican Press Office)

“Brothers and sisters, let us not forget to pray for the battered Ukrainian people, who continue to suffer due to war crimes,” Pope Francis said to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, following his March 19 Angelus address.

The Pope also expressed his closeness to victims of the Guayas earthquake in Ecuador; led a prayer for fathers on St. Joseph’s Day; and congratulated participants in the Rome Marathon, “because, spurred on by Vatican Athletics, you are making this important sporting event an occasion for solidarity in favor of the poorest.”

Archbishop admits spying on other Vatican officials [News analysis] (CWN)

Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, the sostituto or deputy secretary of state, has admitted that he authorized electronic surveillance of the director of the Vatican bank, without legal authorization.