The Pope in Turkey, Czech Republic, Poland

Pope in Turkey: the destinations of Pope Bergoglio’s visit It’s a journey in the wake of ecumenical brotherhood and of the long historical tradition that has brought the Popes to the land of Turkey: with these words Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, presented Pope Francis’s visit to Ankara and Istanbul, from 28 to 30 November. There are several “motivations” that have led Francis to Turkey. These are: “attention for the hosting country; interreligious dialogue in a country with a Muslim majority population that is home to a small Catholic community that needs to be encouraged; and the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with whom profound friendship and fraternal dialogue has been developed”. The program of the visit is very similar to Benedict XVI’s visit in 2006, although this time the Pope won’t stop in Smyrna. The Pope will arrive November 28 at Esemboða airport in Ankara and will proceed to the Mausoleum of Atatürk for “a tribute to the founder of the State of Turkey”. He will then head to the Presidential Palace, where he will be received by the President of the Republic and by the Prime Minister. In Istanbul, November 29, Bergoglio will visit the Museum of Hagia Sophia and then the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, commonly known as the “Blue Mosque”. The Pope will then address in the garden of the papal representation a group of about fifty Catholic dignitaries representing the Catholic Communities (of 4 rites) present in Istanbul and will celebrate Mass in the Latin Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, to the presence of Patriarch Bartholomew. Later in the afternoon, at the Phanar, a “short and simple” ecumenical prayer service will take place at the patriarchal St. George’s Church followed by a private meeting with Bartholomew. On Sunday, the Pope will receive the Chief Rabbi of Turkey and at 9:30 am local time is scheduled the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of St. George that will be followed by speeches by Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew. Czech Republic: Iustitia et Pax on unemployment Owing to escalating unemployment, which in some European countries has reached 25%, governments have decided to transform the fight against unemployment into a top political priority. The Council for Justice and Peace (Iupax) of the Czech Bishops’ Conference follows these challenges with great attention, noting that “in today’s globalized world, the unemployment rate has ceased being just a local problem. In fact it has become a significant issue at supranational level”. Msgr. Vaclav Maly, president of the dicastery, said that the responsibility of all people of good will is not only to “raise their voices if political leaders forget that having a job is a basic human need”, but also “to offer a form of solidarity and practical cooperation in this field wherever it is possible. “IUPAX invites to be vigilant in this regard, although the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic is currently well below the European average. Poland/1: “Understanding religious vocations” “In the world today there are about 950 thousand consecrated persons, whose number is thus twice that of priests”, pointed out in a statement Bishop Kazimierz Gurda, President of the Commission for consecrated life of the Polish episcopate on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life that opens Sunday, November 30. “In Poland, recalled the prelate, there are 35 thousand consecrated persons and that means one every thousand Poles, although often we don’t even realize it either, since consecrated persons are rooted in our every day life. On the occasion of the Year dedicated to consecrated persons the bishops “encourage everyone to show interest in the daily lives” of the religious. “Seek a personal contact with consecrated persons, try to understand the reasons for their choice”, is the advice of the bishops, in the belief that this “could help each one to better understand their vocation and responsibility for the gift of life received from God”. Poland/2: no to the publicity of alcoholic beverages “Over one and a half million children live in families where at least one parent is dependent on alcohol”: pointed out Bishop Tadeusz Bronakowski, president of the pastoral group for abstinence from substances that produce dependence and harmful effects of the Polish Bishops’ Conference during the launch of the campaign for a total ban on advertising of alcoholic beverages, including beer. The prelate quoted the opinions of experts according to whom “the elimination of advertising and the introduction of restrictions in the purchase of alcoholic beverages can reduce the cases of alcohol abuse and dependence.” The appeal to the Head of State and to the highest authorities in the country voiced over the past few days is motivated by ” dangerous and harmful parliamentary initiatives to liberalize laws on the advertising of alcoholic beverages.” Statistics, the prelate noted, show that 11 thousand deaths a year are due to alcohol abuse, while 4 million people make excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and over 2 million are victims of violence caused by drunkenness.

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