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Vatican Weekend for October 22nd, 2017

Vatican Weekend for October 22nd, 2017 features our weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading, “There’s more in the Sunday Gospel than Meets the Eye,” plus we find out more about a special Church-sponsored program that helps couples whose marriage is heading for the rocks.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges: 


World Methodist Council: dialogue must reach local level

(Vatican Radio) Methodist and Catholic theologians are meeting just outside Rome this week, marking the 50th anniversary of the first ecumenical dialogue group following the Second Vatican Council. That first session of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission was held in the hill town of Ariccia in October 1967.

Pope Francis met with members of the current Commission on Thursday, together with leaders of the World Methodist Council, saying that half a century of dialogue has set us free from estrangement and suspicion and helped us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

South African Bishop Ivan Abrahams is General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the concrete fruits of this ecumenical journey….


He says two of the key ingredients that have marked this “50 year pilgrimage or journey” are the love and trust that has been built up and that are reflected in the seven joint reports that have been produced thus far.

One of the great challenges, he says, is to let the fruits of this dialogue “percolate to the local level and we need to see how we can do that much more effectively”.

'That they may be one'

He notes that the latest dialogue report entitled ‘A Call to Holiness: from glory to glory’ stresses that working for unity is “a fundamental part of our mission and our witness to the world, to see that Jesus’ high priestly prayer is made reality”.

Speaking about the situation in his native South Africa, Abrahams says that as he saw the demise of apartheid in his lifetime, “I’d hoped to see the reality of “that they may be one” in my lifetime”.

Autonomy in mission and witness

Talking about the Methodist model of governance, he says there’s no compromise on key issues of faith, but “we don’t apply the ‘one size fits all’ model”, leaving the various conferences autonomy to make their own decisions about mission and witness.

Asked about Pope Francis’ efforts to give local Catholic bishops’ conferences with more autonomy over pastoral decision making, Abrahams says “I think that it is really the only way to go, if we speak about the integrity of the Gospel, because every cultural context is uniquely different”.

Pope Francis embodies unity

While practical cooperation on issues like migration, refugees or climate change are important, he says, consensus in the theological dialogue remains crucial because “we need to clarify so we can walk together”.

Finally Bishop Abrahams praises Pope Francis’ way of reaching out to young generations, saying he is “a beacon of hope” and “somebody who embodies the unity that we’re seeking to live”.

Vatican Weekend for October 21st, 2017

Vatican Weekend for October 21st, 2017 features a report on Pope Francis’ Wednesday general audience where he deplored the terrorist attack in Somalia, we remember the figure of Pope Saint John Paul II on his liturgical feast day with the help of his biographer George Weigel and leading Vatican expert John Allen, an insight into the Polish Pope's intense prayer life from one of his closest advisors, plus a leading Church historian takes us back to 1870 when Italian reunification forces captured Rome and put an end to the Papal States.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges:

JRS looks at the problem of ME refugees

(Vatican Radio) Fr. Cedric Prakash who is currently based in Beirut and working as Regional Advocacy and Communications Officer, is a human rights activist and a Jesuit priest of the Gujrat province in India. He was the director of ‘Prashant’, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, which he founded in 2001.  He has been at the forefront on issues related to human ‎rights, justice, peace and other advocacy matters for which he has been honoured both in India and ‎abroad. 

He was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, one of the highest French civilian awards, acknowledging his commitment to the defence and the promotion of Human Rights in India.  Other than this, Fr. Cedric Prakash has also been awarded numerous other awards - the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award presented for Humanitarian Work by the Indian Muslim Council, USA in 2003, the Kabir Puraskar conferred on him by the President of India for his work in the promotion of Communal Harmony and Peace in 1995, and the Minorities Rights Award by the National Commission for Minorities of the Government of India in 2006.  He was one of the recipients of Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice in 2013.

On his visit to Rome this week for a  JRS Meet he spoke to Vatican Radio about the plight of the refugees today and how we can help them to live a life of greater stability and security.  

Listen Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ

Pope meets Methodists: grandchildren of the Reformation

(Vatican Radio) As “grandchildren of the Reformation”, Methodists never experience a split from Rome and the two Churches have learnt much from each other’s traditions over half a century of ecumenical dialogue. That’s the view of Gillian Kingston, vice-president of the World Methodist Council, who was among those meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Thursday.

The papal audience included members of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission who are marking fifty years of dialogue, as well as the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Vice-president Kingston is a member of the Irish Council of Churches and served on the international dialogue commission for two decades from 1986 to 2006. She talked to Philippa Hitchen about the history of Methodist-Catholic relations


She notes that the Methodist-Catholic Commission was “arguably the first international  commission established in the wake of Vatican II” and since then has been picking up on themes of interest to both sides.

Historically, she says, there was never a breaking point between Methodist and Catholics. Unlike Lutherans and Anglicans, she adds, Methodists see themselves as “grandchildren of the Reformation so we don't have any history, any doctrine, any event” to resolve.

Common sense of holiness

Instead, she says, we have in common a sense of holiness, not meaning “we’re so heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly use, but rather it is a dedication to God and to the work of God”.

Through the dialogue, Kingston says, each side learns to appreciate the other’s traditions, so Catholics are interested in the Eucharistic hymns of John and Charles Wesley because “they see a Eucharistic theology which resonates with their own”. 

Emphasis on scripture and laity

From the Catholic Church, she adds, Methodists learn about the importance of structure and “leadership to which all may look”, while they can offer Catholics an emphasis on scripture and the importance of involving lay people.

Most people at local level, Kingston says, don’t know about the fruits of this dialogue, despite a focus in the first ‘Denver’ document of 1971 on the need to “to permeate to pew and the pulpit, the seminary and the church”. There is still a real need to break “a glass ceiling” to ensure that the documents can bear fruit at the local level.

Dialogue must permeate pew and pulpit

Finally she notes that one of our themes the World Methodist Council has adopted for the next five years is a focus on the poor and marginalized. Pope Francis, she says, has been “a wonderful leader for people of all faiths and none”, especially through his document Laudato Si’ about the interconnectedness of people and our planet.

Card Gracias: 'Go forth to those in need of the light of the Gospel'

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India in his message for World Mission Sunday, invites his flock to obey the call of Jesus to go forth from their  comfort zone in order to reach the "peripheries" in need of the light of the Gospel.

Recalling Pope Francis’ message for the World Mission Sunday this year  Cardinal Gracias said the Pope invites us to understand more than ever that our ‘mission’ constitutes an essential aspect of the ‘Christian faith.’ He affirms that ‘we are sent to our brothers and sisters in order to bear witness to our faith in Christ and to proclaim his Gospel,’ he added.

The Pope’s every year choose Pentecost Sunday to convey their message for the World Mission Sunday. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year is ‘Rediscovering Mission at the Heart of Christian Faith’.  

World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the penultimate Sunday of October every year. This year it will be celebrated globally on the 22nd October. World Mission Sunday is a day set aside by the Catholic Church throughout the world to remind the faithful of the command of Jesus to go forth and make disciples.  It was first started by  Pope Pius XI in 1926 as the day of prayer for missions. In October and especially on Mission Sunday Catholics are invited to be specifically conscious of the Church’s missionary (Ad Gentes) through prayer, sacrifice and financial contributions. 

Read below the full text of the Cardinal’s message:

We celebrate World Mission Sunday this year on October 22. The theme chosen by the Holy Father is, ‘Rediscovering Mission at the Heart of Christian Faith.’ The Pope invites us to understand more than ever that our ‘mission’ constitutes an essential aspect of the ‘Christian faith.’ He affirms that ‘we are sent to our brothers and sisters in order to bear witness to our faith in Christ and to proclaim his Gospel.’ The Holy Father exhorts us to become a Mission Centred Church. The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth”. To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1:7). Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” echoes in our changing scenario and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this missionary “going forth.” Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, and all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach the "peripheries" in need of the light of the Gospel. I congratulate all those who have taken different initiatives for the promotion of Mission Sunday. In the years gone by the Archdiocese of Bombay was known all over the country for its leadership role in the promotion of Mission Sunday. We are called to rekindle that fire once again. Mission Sunday is an opportunity for us to teach our children about the missions, promote love of the missions in our families, and different cells in our parishes co-ordinating their activities with a sense of mission. This is what all the recent Popes have been reminding us, taking a specific relevant theme each year in their Mission Sunday Messages. Promotion material for Mission Sunday has already been sent to our parishes. Do use this material for encouraging our people to keep alive an enthusiasm for the missions. The collection made at all Masses on the weekend of Oct 21-22, expresses our solidarity with the Universal Church and goes to help the needy Churches in their apostolate. I thank you for your generosity.

+Oswald Cardinal Gracias

Archbishop of Bombay


Christian Conference of Asia marked 60 years

Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) marked its 60th anniversary on Sunday in Yangon, Myanmar with Thanksgiving Service and the Diamond Jubilee commemorative public meeting.

We are grateful to God as CCA marks the 60th anniversary of its founding at Prapat in 1957, as the first regional ecumenical organization in the world said Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, General Secretary, CCA during its Diamond Jubilee celebration.

More than 6,000 people, including 600 delegates who attended the Asia Mission Conference joined the Thanksgiving Service and the Diamond Jubilee commemorative public meeting held at the Franc Auditorium of the Baptist Church.

In his speech Dr. Chunakara  stressed the importance of ecumenical movement while giving a brief background on CCA’s inception in 1957 in Prapat, Indonesia where, for the first time Protestant churches from 23 countries, discussed the theme, “Our common evangelistic tasks in Asia’. The Diamond Jubilee commemoration is a celebration of the journeying together of the Asian Churches and all members of the wider ecumenical family and fellowship, he said.

 “The theme, “Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia,” which was chosen for the Asia Mission Conference that coincided with the Diamond Jubilee, was linked to the role and relevance of the CCA in the Asian context.

Delivering the Diamond Jubilee message on the occasion of the founding of the CCA Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches said, “an anniversary is a benchmark on the road, a place to pause and to reflect, but not to stop. It is significant the theme begins with a description of the past that also points to the way forwards. CCA is a vibrant and living forum continuing cooperation among the churches and national Christian bodies in Asia, within the framework of the wider ecumenical movement. You are participating in the mission of God in Asia – and you are working for the benefit of the wider world,” said Rev. Dr. Tveit.

The Homily was preached by the only living participant of the1957 Prapat Conference Bishop Dr Soritua Nababan based on the Biblical text, Acts. 1: 8.

Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado of Vasai, chairman of the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Federation of Asian Bishop Conferences (FABC), and Dr.Ja Bu of Myanmar Council of Churches delivered greetings and felicitations at the meeting.

The Christian Conference of Asia includes the Anglican Churches in South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, northern India, Pakistan, southern India, Myanmar, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand as well as other Asian Christian confessions and organizations.(

Shining the spotlight on Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities

(Vatican Radio) Hundreds of experts from around the world are in Rome this weekend to attend a conference looking at best practices to help people with disabilities fully engage in the life of the Church.

The aim of the event entitled "Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church"  is to bring together all the resources available for the catechesis of people with disabilities.

On Saturday the 450 participants, including those with special needs, will have a private audience with Pope Francis.

One of the experts taking part is Dr Liam Waldron, whose specialist subject is isolation and disability.

He spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the important place those with special needs have in the life of the Church and the issue of isolation and loneliness which many people with disabilities can face  ”

Listen to the interview:

Disability and the Church

Speaking about the role the Church can play with regard to best practice for those with special needs, Dr Waldron says, “people with disabilities of all kinds are members of our parishes all over the world… but I think that really what we have to watch is, issues of caring for people with disabilities is not just somebody’s job, one person’s job or the job of a committee for example…it’s everyone’s business because they are our brothers and sisters, they’re part of our communities everywhere around the world and I think that it’s important that they’re seen as key and core to the lives of our parishes everywhere.”

Isolation and the role of Radio and TV

A real issue affecting many people with disabilities is isolation and loneliness and it’s a subject that Dr Waldron has studied at length. “There are so many people with disabilities around the world who have no friends and this really is a scandal, and I think we as Christians need to be doing something about it”, he stresses. They’re at home, they’re isolated, they’re in houses and apartments on their own, they have the radio, that’s where they get their companionship, that’s where they hear what’s happening in the world even related to the Church for example. If there are Church people they listen in, a lot of people have told me that. So Radio, TV, all of those media are really rightly important lifelines for people who have disabilities and they often tell me that their day is punctuated by certain radio shows and radio programmes…”

Asked about what he hopes the conference will achieve, Dr Waldron says, “I would like this conference to be the beginning of another renewed conversation about the vitally important place of people with disabilities in the life of the Church.”

The three day conference is being sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and partnered by The Kairos Forum, a UK based organisation that focuses on the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities.

It runs from Oct 20 to 22nd.

Catholics and Methodists celebrate 50 years of progress

(Vatican Radio) Catholic and Methodist theologians wind up a meeting at the weekend that has been marking the 50th anniversary of their first ecumenical dialogue group, established in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The first session of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission was held in the hill town of Ariccia in October 1967.

Pope Francis met with members of the current Commission on Thursday, saying that half a century of dialogue has freed us “from estrangement and mutual suspicion”, helping us to recognize each other “as brothers and sisters in Christ”.

To find out more about the achievements of the past half century, Philippa Hitchen spoke to Bishop John Sherrington, Catholic co-chair of the dialogue commission, and to his Methodist counterpart, Rev Dr. David Chapman..


Dr. Chapman says that among the key achievements are a convergence in understanding of the faith of the apostles, the sacraments, and “the way in which the Spirit has guided the Church authoritatively throughout the centuries”. While there are outstanding differences, he says, our understanding “of teaching authority, the nature of revelation and faith are all solid achievements”.

Bishop Sherrington says a major cause for celebration is the “way in which we’re no longer strangers, but pilgrims travelling  together, members of God’s household”, learning to overcome differences and sharing great unity in much  of our mission as followers of Christ.

Gifts of Methodism to wider Church

Rev Chapman says a major achievement of the Methodism movement in 18th century was “to encourage a serious attention to the claims of Christian discipleship in holy living” building on the support of small groups. This has been one of the gifts of Methodism to the wider church, he says and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council showed “a great convergence in Christian life as understood as growth in grace and holiness”.

Scripture, fellowship, social justice

Bishop Sherrington notes the renewal in the Catholic Church’s on the role of scripture echoes John Wesley’s focus, learning to explore and study in small groups.  Also, he says, the way some new movements live their fellowship is an insight from John and Charles Wesley. And most importantly, he adds, the focus on social holiness, working for justice with the poor and marginalized has helped revitalise the Catholic Church’s social teaching.

While both men point to the challenges of order and ministry, including the ordination of women, they believe there is “a lot we can do together” in mission and  daily living.

Pope promises to send special message to FAO meeting in Ethiopia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked World Food Day this week with a visit to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) where he called on world leaders and policymakers to work for a concrete, practical consensus to prevent the most tragic effects of climate change hitting the weakest and most defenseless.

“We need to change our lifestyles, the use of resources, production and consumption patterns,” the Pope said, and he decried what he described as the “negligence” that is damaging the “delicate balances of the ecosystems” and the “arrogance of manipulating and controlling” the planet.

Hosting the Pope at FAO’s Headquarters in Rome was FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, who immediately afterwards spoke to Vatican Radio:


Da Silva points out that the Vatican has Permanent Observer Status at FAO but most important, he says, as the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church he represents values that FAO shares: solidarity, dignity, and hope in a better world.

“We share those values in FAO and Pope Francis is a continuing inspiration for us, and not only through ‘Laudato Sì’ where he approaches the issue of climate change – a very important common global value” he says.

He says that Pope Francis is one of those rare people who have dedicated their entire lives to promoting important values: “these people are indispensable”.

“I think that Pope Francis is one of those people who have worked hard all of their lives and that he is one of the few indispensable people in the world today” he says.

Before addressing his audience at FAO, da Silva says he had the opportunity to speak with Pope Francis personally about some of the programmes his organization shares with the Vatican.

“We discussed particularly the need to concentrate our efforts in Africa and to stop the conflicts, and also to deal with the impact of climate change” he says.

Da Silva also revealed that Pope Francis promised to send a special message for the meeting that FAO is organizing during the African Union Summit that FAO is organizing next January 2018 in Addis Ababa.