Sunday, 28 December 2014

At the peripheries

Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi address on Christmas day referred to situations in different parts of the world where people who suffer might feel, with some justification, that they have been abandoned by the international community. In doing this, Pope Francis placed these peripheries at the heart of international attention. Pope Francis spoke in a particularly forceful way about the suffering of children:
May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers; children, so many abused children..... 
The Child Jesus. My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life; be they children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence. I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born. Even today, their impotent silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods. On their blood stands the shadow of contemporary Herods. Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus.
On Christmas Day, Cardinal Vincent Nichols was interviewed on BBC Radio 2's Good Morning Christmas (ie the Christmas Day equivalent of the weekly Good Morning Sunday). It was very striking that Cardinal Nichols chose to identify as his highlight of 2014 the work of the Santa Marta Group , which brings together bishops and police authorities from around the world in an effort to prevent people trafficking and provide support to those who are victims of trafficking. The group is led by Cardinal Nichols and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and held its second meeting in London in early December 2014. This page at the website of the Romanian Embassy in London gives some indication of the potential of the Santa Marta Group to engage at the highest international levels. The work of the Group is also linked to the elements of the Bakhita initiative - see this page at the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

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