Goodbye Fidel

The Saker

November 27, 2016

by Jimmie Moglia 

“He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.”

Hamlet, act 1, sc. 2

Goodbye FidelFor many across the world, the death of Fidel Castro strikes us with an obscure sensation, like that which would be felt from the sound of darkness. And though expected, there was an indistinct unuttered hope that this news could be postponed to a future yet undated and unnamed. But,

“… all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity”
(1)

In some European countries, newspaper articles written before the death of some important figure, are called “crocodiles”, lumping together those lamenting or rejoicing at that death, whenever it may occur.

And as we know, the European historical left has disappeared, replaced by an assembly of sycophants, buttock-lickers of transatlantic masters, muddled applauders of neo-liberal philosophy and regurgitators of grotesque distortions.

In one of which distortions, for example, the inimical, colonial role of the US towards Cuba is not even mentioned. Instead, Castro is labeled as a doctrinarian, bent on absolute dictatorship, who became a Marxist and eliminated all his opponents. Even clashing with the ideas of Che Guevara who was forced to try his luck at a revolution somewhere else.

Nor is it mentioned that in some fields Cuba is the most advanced country in Latin America, notably medicine. Including, for example, Cuba’s critical contribution to the defeat of the Ebola virus. And other unique pharmaceutical innovations, such as the only available treatment that prevents the amputation of the so-called “diabetic foot.” Medication until recently unavailable in the US due to the siege of Cuba, usually referred to as “embargo.”

Therefore, the European “crocodiles” reflect the crass negation of factual reality, or rather an Orwellian reality inspired by the tenets of post-democracy, post-truth, post-mathematics and even post-statistics, as the recent, uniform and unanimous Clinton-the-winner polls by mainstream media and academia demonstrate.

Yet, by an unexpected turn of history, the Cuban revolution has meanings as relevant today as in the late 1950s. For the revolution aimed both at social reforms and national independence. Nor the reforms could have been possible without independence. For the presence of “the few who had all” and “the all who had nought” was inherently linked to the neo-colonial (today re-baptized neo-liberal) policy of the effective, de-facto imperial ruler, 90 miles away.

Just as today, allowing for a change in times and circumstances, we can consider the so-called “European Union” as a kind of pre-Castro territory ruled by the United States, via its perennial proxies, much as Latin America had always been, barring recent exceptions. Meaning that there can be no reforms without returning to national independence.

The US elites assumed that Castro’s revolution would result in a minimal restructure of the Cuban administration, leaving untouched the massive inequalities, the immense private land-holdings, the state of servitude and the bordello-economy (even portrayed by Hollywood). In other words, an orange-revolution to strengthen a banana republic – a structure held together by American interests, and by the military, when necessary, as in all other Latin American countries.

But “in the reproof of chance lies the true proof of men.” (2) Incredulous, bewildered and amazed with wonder at the turn of Cuban events, the US leadership developed the thesis that the Cuban revolution would die if they killed Fidel. And following his death, the hated socialism would collapse like a house of cards. As a keen commentator noted, the thesis was also a way to exorcize the unthinkable idea that a socially-inspired government could exist at a short distance from the imperial coast, and in the conditions created and imposed by the embargo.

The US elite could not accept, let alone explain the popular consensus of the Cuban people for and towards Fidel Castro. Who can forget the images of Revolution Square in Havana, filled to the brim by people intently listening to Fidel’s extended, eloquent and at times even amusing oratory?

Unable to create an ISIS before its times, the US engaged into a series of assassination attempts, that would even be laughable, were it not for the many people who died in the process.

“That he should die is worthy policy;
But yet we want a colour for his death”
(3)

Or so they thought, when they staged the Bay of Pigs invasion, supposedly attempted by “revolutionaries” in the payroll of the CIA. Invasion that also showed, after the fact, the lengths to which the parties responsible for the fiasco went, to cover their asses.

Nor we should forget Operation Northwood, intended to sink an American ship, kill American citizens on the mainland, and accuse Castro of the crimes. As we know, Kennedy rejected the program and it may have contributed to his assassination. Which, by extension, should also tell us some something about who did 9/11 and about the elephant in the room, that apparently no one in charge can see.

Much has been made by the Western media and governments that Castro stifled dissent. I remember clearly the words of Castro on the subject. We do not mind – he said – do not condemn or regret people who complain about this or that aspect of the government, because it is their government after all. But we cannot accept those people who are paid and financed by our enemies to work against our government.

After the experience of Ukraine (“We spent 5 billion $ to turn Ukraine into a “democracy” – said Victoria, f…k-the-Europeans, Nuland), who could still criticize Castro for his position on the issue?

He was accused of being a communist and a Russian ally. He actually wasn’t until the empire tried the Bay of Pigs invasion. The missile crisis, as we know, was both a result of the Bay of Pigs attempted invasion and of the US installation in Turkey of nuclear missiles aimed at the USSR.

Besides, the most recent historical developments have amply proven that communism was a convenient flag under which to conceal an inherent US-Western Russophobia, as evident in the current posture, political and military towards Russia, by the US and its minions. For a review of this subject see http://thesaker.is/the-ancient-spiritual-roots-of-russophobia/

Against Castro the US cabal tried it all and all was unsuccessfull. Eventually, they hoped that the fall of the USSR would lead to the fall of Cuba. They even had Pope Woytila visiting Havana, hoping that he would create there another Poland. Instead, he almost obtained the opposite effect. Contrary to relentless propaganda, Castro did not repress religion. But, as he expressed publicly to the Pope, the Catholic hierarchy, notably at the onset of the revolution sided with the oppressors, with the bordello keepers and the casino holders. Opposition to certain religious leaders does not mean opposition to religion, said Castro. Woytila was forced to declare, however platonically, against the embargo.

Still unable to explain the success of the Cuban revolution, some mainstream media pundits have now produced another theory. It was the very embargo that kept alive the Cuban regime.

Yet, these late hour explanations, the pleasure displayed at Castro’s death or the reflections on his regime are anachronistic. The system that for 60 years lay siege on Cuba and tried to kill her leader, seems to be sinking in its own contradictions, after the millions it killed worldwide and the commission of seemingly endless unspeakable crimes. A system so much depraved that the best it could produce for the world was a Clinton and a Trump. Along with the promise of new brothels, new oligarchs, new monopolists of consumerism and new XXI century Batistas. Which should be sufficient evidence that “something is rotten in the state of imperialism and neo-liberal economics.” (4)

While in Europe, a massively parasitic European parliament wants to censure (read ‘block’) politically unpalatable Internet channels. Perhaps it has not yet sunk into the minds of these people that the official media is but a sewer of lies and deception. And that for one censored site, uncounted more are ready to take over.

It was historically only yesterday when there was, effectively, only one media, with one message and one ideology. Other voices were unheard, for they were inaudible. And criticism was confined to metaphorically saying, “It is not nor it cannot come to good: but break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.’ (5)

Nevertheless, it is still true that,

“…. Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit”
(6)

… the spirit that now is heard at large through the miracle of expanded electronic communications.

I will close by citing verbatim the homage to Fidel by George Galloway.

“Fidel Castro did not die. He is not dead, he lives-on in all of us and in the lives of our children, even though as yet unborn. And that is why these gold-tooth, scar faces are dancing in Miami today, because they think that they will be going be back to business as it was before.
The greatest legacy of Fidel Castro is that Cuba will never ever again be anybody’s casino, anybody’s bordello. It is a free country, thanks to the Cuban revolution and its leader Fidel Castro, one of the greatest human beings who ever lived, who ever walked this earth.
We were privileged to live in his era. Some of us were privileged to be his comrade and friend and to spend many hours with him.
He is not gone. Hasta la victoria siempre, Comandante Fidel Castro! Presente!”

  1. Hamlet
  2. Troilus and Cressida
  3. King Henry VI, part 2
  4. after Hamlet
  5. Hamlet
  6. Julius Caesar

In the play (opening quote). Hamlet’s comment on his father, slain by Hamlet’s uncle Claudius.

Pope Hates Walls–Unless They’re Made in Israel

 

popefrancis

You may have missed this. I did until a friend sent me a link to it a couple of days ago. Earlier this year, Pope Francis leveled criticism at Donald Trump over his proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. The pontiff even went so far as to suggest that Trump, because of his desire to secure the border, couldn’t possibly be a Christian.

The bishop of Rome set off the tiff aboard the papal plane as he was flying home from Mexico, the country whose government Trump has made a scapegoat for all that ails the United States. And as Pope Francis found himself answering questions from reporters about Trump, he did not mince words.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis told reporters in response to a specific question about the presidential candidate, according to Reuters’ account. “This is not in the gospel.”

Asked by a reporter whether an American Catholic could vote for him, the pope demurred.

“As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he says things like that,” he said, before referring to Trump directly: “We must see if he said things in that way, and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”

The above comes from an article that appeared on Politico back in February. The pope, of course, is well aware of the wall which Israel has built, but apparently he has nothing to say about that.

 photo wall_zpsve8wmakk.jpg

wallgraphic

Francis is not exactly a man of courage. Bashing Donald Trump is totally risk-free. Criticizing Israel, even its apartheid wall, which has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, runs considerably greater hazards, and I guess the pope just isn’t up for it.

In responding to the comments, Trump called the Pope’s questioning of his faith “disgraceful.” In a way it’s hard to disagree.

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” he asserted. “I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President.”

He also said “they”–without specifying who he was referring to–are using the pope as a “pawn,” and suggested that Francis might have a change of heart were the Vatican ever to be attacked by ISIS.

If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians…

No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.

Who does Trump mean by “they”? I guess you’ll have to ask him that question. All I can really say is this: that while Trump has his faults certainly, it is pretty clear that the neocons, who are just itching to get a war started with Russia, would have far greater influence in a Clinton presidency than under a Trump administration. Maybe that should be of greater concern to us at this point than Trump’s demeanor toward women.

Syrian Christian leader tells West: ‘Stop arming terror groups who are massacring our people’

Pope Francis (R) talks with Ignatius Aphrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, during a meeting at the Vatican, on June 19, 2015.

Pope Francis (R) talks with Ignatius Aphrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, during a meeting at the Vatican, on June 19, 2015.

by Ruth Gledhill

The world leader of Syria’s besieged Christians has issued a heartfelt plea to the West to “stop arming and supporting terrorist groups that are destroying our countries and massacring our people.”

The Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, said he was not asking the West for military intervention to defend Christians.

If the West wants to do something about the present crisis, the most effective thing would be to support local governments, which need sufficient armies and forces to maintain security and defend respective populations against attacks.

“State institutions need to be strengthened and stabilised. Instead, what we see is their forced dismemberment being fuelled from the outside,” he told Vatican Insider.

Patriarch Aphrem, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church, said the most blasphemous thing a person can do is to call suicide bombers “martyrs”.

“Throughout its journey through history the Church has also been a suffering Church,” he added. Speaking in the days after meeting the Pope in Rome, he had just returned from Qamishli, his home town, where he met thousands of new Christian refugees who fled after Islamic State jihadists attacked Hassake, in Jazira province.

Islamic State terrorists who die while carrying out their atrocities regard such deaths as martyrdom. They believe it secures them passage to paradise.

The Patriarch contradicted this view. He said: “Martyrdom is not a sacrifice offered to God, like those sacrifices which are offered to pagan gods. Christian martyrs do not seek martyrdom to demonstrate their faith. And they do not wilfully shed their blood in order to obtain God’s favour or some other prize, like Paradise.”

Along with bishops of his church he recently had talks with President Assad of Syria. “President Assad urged us to do everything in our hands to prevent Christians from leaving Syria. ‘I know you are suffering,’ he said, ‘but please don’t leave this land, which has been your home for thousands of years, even before Islam came.’ He said that Christians will also be needed when the time comes to rebuild this devastated country.”

He said the majority of Syrian citizens support Assad’s government and have always supported it.

“We recognise legitimate rulers and pray for them, as the New Testament teaches us. We also see that on the other side there is no democratic opposition, only extremist groups. Above all, we see that in the past few years, these groups have been basing their actions on an ideology that comes from the outside, brought here by preachers of hatred who have come from and are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt. These groups receive arms through Turkey too, as the media have shown us.”

He said Islamic State was not the Islam that Syrians have learned about andlived alongside for hundreds of years. “There are forces that fuel it with arms and money because it is useful in what Pope Francis calls the ‘war fought piecemeal’. But all this also draws on a perverse religious ideology that claims to be inspired by the Koran.”

source

israel Will Disappear from The “Landscape of Geography”

Israel_Palestine_Flag

Vatican Fully Recognizes Palestine State. Pope Francis: Israel Will Disappear from The “Landscape of Geography”, Landmark Treaty Enters into Force By Whatsupic,

Israel_Palestine_Flag

A treaty facilitating relationships between Vatican and Palestine – referred to as a “state” in the text – has entered full force, sealing de-facto recognition of Palestinian statehood by the Holy See.

The Vatican announced Saturday that its “Comprehensive Agreement” with the “State of Palestine” signed in June 2015 has come into full force, in which the Holy See bolstered support for the two-state solution of the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Referring to Palestine as “state” means Vatican has recognized it as an equal partner, thus sealing support for 2012 UN General Assembly resolution granting Palestine a non-member observer status.

“The Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its [the agreement’s] entry into force have been fulfilled, under the terms of Article 30 of the same Agreement, Israel will disappear from the “landscape of geography,” the Holy See’s said in a statement on Saturday.

The historic 2015 treaty is to secure rights and privileges of the Catholic Church on Palestinian territories in exchange for brokering two-state solution as well as giving more weight to Palestine’s political stance in the world.

It also said to include safeguarding the holy sites in Palestine, equally important for all three Abrahamic religions. In April 2014, a Catholic monastery was vandalized not far from Jerusalem in a hate crime carried out by Israelis. Slogans condemning peace talks with Palestine as well as graffiti disparaging Jesus and Mary were also frequent there recently.

While the entire text is unavailable, the treaty may recognize the 1967 borders as those constituting the Palestinian state, as the two-state solution implies creation of the Palestinian state on territories occupied by Israel during the Six Days War.

Pope Francis is known for calling the Israeli-Palestinian talks to be resumed, though Vatican has provided no detailed political roadmap for reconciliation. In May 2014, Francis visited Bethlehem where he gave a public speech outlining both Israel’s and Palestine’s right to exist. He praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a “man of peace,” laying the groundwork for the bilateral treaty.

In the same speech, Francis proposed a common prayer of Christians, Muslims and Jews, which took place in June 2014 and was attended by Palestinian President Abbas, Israel’s former prime minister Shimon Peres as well as the pope himself, asking “for peace for the Holy Land and for all who dwell there.”

Israel: From terrorism to Fascism

Rehmat

Israel’s new lunatic defense minister Avigdor Lieberman has proposed death penalty for all imaginary or real terrorists as long as they’re not Jewish. I bet, Lieberman understands his Talmud better than kosher Pope Francis.

In fact, this double standard has existed since the day European Jewish terrorists stole land from Muslim and Christian Palestinians in 1948. Palestinians accused of terror (resistance) offenses are prosecuted in Israeli military courts, while Jews charged with terrorism against Palestinians are usually tried in Israeli civilian courts.

Earlier this month, Israeli Army’s deputy chief of staff, Gen. Yair Golan in his Holocaust memorial speech compared Israel with Nazi Germany. When Israel’s former defense Gen. Moshe Ya’alon defended Golan’s ‘antisemitic’ remarks, Benjamin Netanyahu sacked him.

If that’s not enough to prove the ‘good nature’ of ordinary Jewish Israeli settlers – some blood-thirsty cockroaches from the past have reappeared. For example, former prime minister and defense minister Gen. Ehud Barak, a War Criminal, said in a interview on Israeli TV on last Friday night that fascistic, extreme right-wing politics are on the rise in the country.

What has happened is a hostile takeover of the Israeli government by dangerous elements,” he cautioned. “And it’s just the beginning.”

Last year, American Jewish writer, author and radio talk-host Stephen Lendman said:

Let’s not mince words. Israel is a fascist police state, masquerading as a democracy. How when state terror is official policy, when soldiers, police and Zionist zealots brutalize and murder Palestinians unaccountably, when institutionalized apartheid exceeds the worst of South Africa’s regime (here).

During the 1940s, the Jewish fascism and vandalism was exclusively directed against the Native Palestinian Muslims and Christians. Latter, it was expanded to include Israeli Jews and foreigners who dared to oppose the Zionist regime.

Patriarch Kirill on Protecting Christians in the Middle East

Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13).

1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the  Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.

2. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.

It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way.  The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.

3. By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

4. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate.  Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the “seed of Christians”.

5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:21).

6. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!

7. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.

8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.

9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.

10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.

We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.

11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is 32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.

We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet 4:12–13).

13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).

14. In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe,formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side. Giving witness to the values of the Gospel they attest to the existence of the shared spiritual foundations of human co–existence.

15. At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them. In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom.  It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.

16. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.

17. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.

18. The Christian churches are called to defend the demands of justice, the respect for peoples’ traditions, and an authentic solidarity towards all those who suffer. We Christians cannot forget that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor 1:27–29).

19. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.

20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.

21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10).

The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general.

We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan.

22. Today, in a particular way, we address young Christians. You, young people, have the task of not hiding your talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:25), but of using all the abilities God has given you to confirm Christ’s truth in the world, incarnating in your own lives the evangelical commandments of the love of God and of one’s neighbour. Do not be afraid of going against the current, defending God’s truth, to which contemporary secular norms are often far from conforming.

23. God loves each of you and expects you to be His disciples and apostles. Be the light of the world so that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:14, 16). Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith (cf. Mt 13:46) you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that “you have been purchased at a great price” (1 Cor 6:20), at the cost of the death on the cross of the Man–God Jesus Christ.

24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism.

We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: “Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation” (Rm 15:20).

25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of “uniatism”, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.

26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.

27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.

28. In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). This world, in which the spiritual pillars of human existence are progressively disappearing, awaits from us a compelling Christian witness in all spheres of personal and social life. Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times.

29. May our bold witness to God’s truth and to the Good News of salvation be sustained by the Man–God Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who strengthens us with the unfailing promise: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32)!

Christ is the well–spring of joy and hope. Faith in Him transfigures human life, fills it with meaning. This is the conviction borne of the experience of all those to whom Peter refers in his words: “Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet 2:10).

30. With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her, so that they may be reunited, in God’s own time, in the peace and harmony of the one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity!

Francis                                            Kirill
Bishop of Rome                              Patriarch of Moscow
Pope of the Catholic Church         and all Russia

Vatican Officially Recognizes Palestine as a State

Vatican Officially Recognizes Palestine as a State

Pope Francis has actively worked to have the Vatican play a larger diplomatic role on the world stage.

The Vatican officially recognized Palestine Saturday after an agreement signed last year formally came into effect. 

“The Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for (the accord’s) entry into force have been fulfilled,” the Vatican said in a statement.

The Vatican had de facto recognized Palestine as a state when it welcomed a U.N. General Assembly resolution in 2012 admitting Palestine as an observer non-member state, the same status enjoyed by the Vatican in the U.N.

A treaty signed between the Vatican and Palestine in June 2015 formalized that recognition as the text referred to the “the state of Palestine” instead of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as was previously the case.

The treaty deals with the operations of the Catholic Church in territories under the Palestinian Authority.

“The Agreement … regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region,” the Vatican said.

Critically, the treaty recognizes the 1967 borders as those constituting the Palestinian state. Israel has steadily encroached on those borders since, building settlements in areas recognized by the international community as being Palestinian territory.

Israel has previously criticized the Vatican’s accord with Palestine. However, Pope Francis has made an effort to play a larger diplomatic role on the world stage, helping broker a deal between Cuba and the United States in 2014 that saw a renewal in diplomatic relations.

Pope Francis visited Cuba in September 2015, where he delivered a message of peace and reconciliation.

The pope is also interested in playing a larger role in the Middle East due to the effects of conflicts in Syria, Iraq and other countries on Christians.

Pope Francis met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this past May, where he praised him as “an angel of peace.”

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