Opinion

On the Supreme Court – Regroup, Don’t Fall Back
(Front Royal – VA) Human Life International (HLI) is disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear two recent cases this week which impact whether states may choose their own Medicaid providers. At issue are both conscience rights and states’ rights, to determine who and who is not a valid service provider. If citizens do not wish state monies to be allocated for abortion and abortifacient procedures, HLI believes the citizens of any and all states have the right to refuse to have hard-earned tax dollars allocated to those who advocate the killing of unborn life. However, HLI Director for Education and Research Dr. Brian Clowes cautions: The pro-life movement should not see the Supreme Court decision to refuse to address the matter of making Planned Parenthood ineligible for Medicaid payments as a defeat, but rather as a punt.  The Court only takes on about two percent of the petitions presented before it and, in the larger scheme of things in the battle over abortion, this is a mere skirmish. The Court simply chose at this time not to become involved in the extremely complex task of disentangling Medicaid payments from abortion. Earlier this week, HLI President Shenan J. Boquet also spoke with Renew America, and you may read his concurring remarks here. Planned Parenthood, as we all know, earns the vast bulk of its profits in providing abortion and contraceptives, and as such can hardly be considered a “health care provider.” Abortion is an elective procedure in which one party is killed and the other is harmed, psychologically and at times physically. While a separate issue, refusal to hear the cases in question is particularly regrettable, as Planned Parenthood has been implicated in many egregious acts by the Center of Medical Progress, documenting the past sale of fetal body parts, a crime in the United States. In his dissenting opinion Justice Clarence Thomas writes: “So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named in ‘Planned Parenthood.’…We are responsible for the confusion among the lower courts and it is our job to fix it.” HLI applauds Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito in their courage to stand for true constitutional rights which defend the freedom of religion and a right to life. And we instead look down the road a year or two, optimistic future cases will be judged with a neutral spirit, not of legislation, but of enforcing the U.S. Constitution. It will inevitably follow that then the Court will much more frequently take the side of life and family, particularly with regard to new appointments. We will continue to work and pray for the protection of human life and freedom of religion in the United States and throughout the world, in keeping with our God-given mission.   The post On the Supreme Court – Regroup, Don’t Fall Back appeared first on Human Life International.
First universities rejected God – now they’re banishing the human spirit
How the fight over Confederate statues relates to the upcoming canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman
Catholic of the Year: the winner is…
In every diocese in the world, faith-filled priests and lay people have given a heroic witness to Christ
How Joseph Ratzinger saw past the Church’s established structures
For the future Pope, the Holy SpIrit was 'speaking up' through the new movements which bypassed old bureaucracies
Glimpsing the divine in St Petersburg
Experiencing an Orthodox service for the first time was a stunning revelation
When it comes to Christmas cards, Prince Charles should know better
The fashion for people putting photos of themselves on their cards is at odds with what Christmas is truly about
From full-time mums to nurses, Britain is failing its carers
Politics is hopelessly biased against care and domesticity
Sisters versus human traffickers
Women religious are liberating people from slavery across the world. Why don’t we hear more about it?
The Difference a Day Made
(HLI Tanzania) – HLI saves lives at the grassroots level. It’s that important to us. Emil Hagamu, HLI Regional Director for English-speaking Africa, began receiving some text or email messages about a year ago. They came from a young woman, and he couldn’t recall where he’d met her. But her messages were full of good will, such as that of October 21st, 2017: “Praise be to Jesus Christ…Good afternoon Sir…God is good all the time.” So, Emil responded in the same spirit. Then, not long after, he received a much longer message. This one shocked his memory, and he has translated the words into English: Judith Leonard with her daughter, JenistaPraise be to Jesus Christ…let me take this opportunity to thank you in person and pro-life Radio Maria program in general. I believe in many ways and to a great extent you have been able to save thousands of unborn children from abortion everywhere by people who listen to Radio Maria. I personally and sincerely thank you, my father, for your counseling which I will never forget. I pray Almighty God blesses you with more years so God may use you to save more souls. I believe God has entrusted in you a holy vocation. It was in November 2015 when I asked you to give me advice on a big problem I was facing. I ran away from home after discovering I was pregnant… At first, 23-year-old Judith Leonard was in fear. She said the man she was with did not accept responsibility for the child. In fact, Judith had been raped, but she was afraid to disclose the details. Judith had thought she was safe. A young man from her church in the Catholic Diocese of Mbeya, Tanzanaia, had asked her to tea. Tea was the last thing on his mind. When she learned she was pregnant, she feared telling her Catholic parents and ran away scared, feeling forced to live elsewhere. She reached out to Emil after hearing him speak, as he does regularly, on Radio Maria’s radio show. He had been talking about the humanity of the unborn child, and how abortion also hurts the mother in so many ways. She did not tell him about the rape, and disguised other details – even lying about the sex of her child, trying to protect her identity. He eventually learned she had been a student, but had to leave Dodoma University. She was living in a foreign village, in poverty. Frustrated, torn apart and humiliated, she landed in the hands of an old woman, who gave her a place to sleep. Judith was forced to work in order to stay alive. Still, Emil sensed her need immediately and began counseling her. His words: I asked her to go back to her parents and appeal for their forgiveness which she did. Due to the deep traumatic condition she was facing, the counseling session (over the phone) covered a period of three months. She was especially damaged by thoughts of loss of her university scholarship, her deeply religious parents, being judged and the shame of being raped. Fast forward. Judith went to stay with her aunt. She became reconciled with her parents and is now back at a different university. The local Catholic parish has even provided her with housing. Now her handsome daughter, Jenista, is two years old. Emil at work on an HLI mission trip to the African nation of MauritiiusConcluding her longer message, Judith Leonard wrote to Emil: After the counseling and advice you gave, I went to stay with my aunt until I gave birth. I still remember the words you said, “Human life is precious. We are all created in the image of God. Your parents may be angry today, but when they see the image of God in their grandchild, they will love it and receive it.” God is good. Last year I gave birth. Thank you for saving my child’s life. May God continue to bless you and your life saving work. And as Emil so aptly comments, “Let us celebrate. HLI has saved another life.”     The post The Difference a Day Made appeared first on Human Life International.
Catholic history of New Orleans highlighted during 300th anniversary
Thirty years ago, investigative reporter Jason Berry pioneered new territory by covering clerical sexual abuse in Louisiana. Since then, his name has become synonymous with the crisis that continues to loom over the Catholic Church today. In his new book, City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at 300, Berry returns to his roots. In an interview with Crux, he details some of the city’s rich Catholic history, its efforts to confront race relations, and why researching some of the city’s saints proved far more fulfilling than his work in Rome. Crux: You’ve spent decades uncovering and chronicling the Church’s shameful history of clerical sex abuse and cover-up, yet this new book switches gears to tell the story of a city — your city — New Orleans. What prompted you to write this book?  Berry: In 1985, when I began investigating clergy abuse cases in Lafayette, Louisiana my second book was heading toward publication, Up from the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II.  After six years on that topic I had become intrigued with jazz funerals, how they arose, what they said about the city. As I gathered documents on clergy predators, the narrative taking shape for Lead Us Not into Temptation (1992) became hugely consuming. I came back from reporting trips, numbed by clerical secrets and crimes, and invariably attended the funeral of a musician. As the mourners danced in the streets, I felt strangely happy. My own church made me sad. The city of my birth was sending rhythms of spiritual hope. This paradox went on for a quarter-century or so as I read about New Orleans alongside church history, while excavating rot in the ecclesiastical culture. Slowly, I found in the funerals’ evolution a mirror on the history of the city. Over time I got tired of the church reporting. What I’d concluded in the 1992 book is what I say in interviews today. How does one reform a hierarchy addicted to lying? I had to cut distance from the Church reporting to give full time to the New Orleans book. I did my last leg in 2015 with Pope Francis’s trip to Washington. I’ve done some op-eds since then but shifted my focus to New Orleans. In many respects, this is more than just a history of New Orleans. It’s a love letter to the city! Is it fair to say New Orleans enjoys some of the richest Catholic history of any city in the country? Well, Christopher, it’s fair to say that the Catholic history of New Orleans is rich in its complexities (unbeknownst to most local Catholics) but please do not accuse me of being a mushy valentine scribe. It would disappoint some locals who loathe me for being a muckraker. Not to mention certain people in old-line Carnival clubs aghast over Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s decision to dismantle four Confederate monuments who would gag over the idea of my book as a love letter. Every book is a voyage of discovery. In this one I found that map-of-the-world neighborhoods give New Orleans its essence; it was a crossroads of humanity long before “melting pot” became a term. The culture of spectacle that arose from public dances of enslaved Africans at a park called Congo Square kept pushing against the official city after the Civil War with a force that fueled the popular culture. I followed that tension of culture vs. law as a thematic line throughout the narrative. How has the city, and in particularly, the Jesuits, reckoned with their history of slave ownership?  The city has had a black voting majority since the 1970s and a string of African American mayors between the administration of Moon Landrieu [1970-78] and that of his son, Mitch, who recently finished an 8-year term. New Orleans is the city where jazz began and now markets that culture effectively. Nevertheless, as in much of the South, there is a contagion here of nostalgia-as-history; some prominent locals avoid the legacy of enslavement as if smiling at a garden party where nobody mentions the cadaver sprawled across the rose bushes. Whitney Plantation is a museum of slavery in a town called Wallace about an hour or so by car upriver. It is a truly amazing place. The museums and universities explore slavery in conferences, courses and symposia that widen our viewfinder on the past. The Church is more complicated. The Ursulines and Jesuits were major slaveholders in New Orleans during the French colonial era [1718-1767]. Emily Clark, a distinguished historian at Tulane, has done impressive work on the complexity of the Ursuline sisters’ plantation and ownership of slaves, some of whom they educated. I have not found the same level of scholarship about the local Jesuits as slaveholders, though as I worked on this book, Georgetown University (where I earned by B.A.) embarked on a major project, confronting the 1838 sale of 272 slaves whom the Society of Jesus sent to Louisiana, by seeking out their descendants in some rough calculus at moral atonement. The Georgetown Memory Project has had its twists and turns yet strikes me as a model for higher education in a country where certain leading universities had serious involvement in the slave economy. Just last month the U.S. bishops issued a new pastoral letter on race. How has the Church in New Orleans historically dealt with race relations–and what’s your assessment of the state of affairs today? The Church in French colonial Louisiana, despite the plantations of religious orders, welcomed slaves and free persons of color, a substantial presence in this society, at St. Louis Church on the main square. After the Spanish took control in 1767, African blooded people who married, baptized their children and buried their dead at the big Church found a hero in Pere Antoine, a rebellious cleric who flaunted Church authority. He was a Spaniard who arrived as a secret agent of the Inquisition – imagine that, in sin city!  – but clashed with the governor who shipped him back to Spain. He returned from exile in 1795, after a triumphant appeal to the king; he then fostered a cult of personality. Pere Antoine went to war with two bishops over his control of St. Louis Church, forcing both to retreat. He’s among the most fascinating figures to me in this character-driven history. A law unto himself, he died in 1829 with the equivalent of a state funeral. The Church soon swung around to supporting the Confederacy.  Not until the late 1950s did the Church embrace racial reconciliation with desegregation of parochial schools under Archbishop Joseph Rummel. Given the historic role of African American Catholics here, and of the parochial schools in educating black youngsters, the Church in that respect is today an enlightened presence. The greater story to me in writing this book was the nature of black spirituality. Mother Catherine Seals, a faith healer of the 1920s had a large compound in the Lower Ninth Ward, far from the city proper. She took in battered women and pregnant girls; she played trombone in a big tent where jazzmen like Harold “Duke” Dejan got his start; he went on to lead the Olympia Brass Band for forty years. The chapter I did on Mother Catherine draws on the unpublished family history of people who grew up in the Manger – three siblings who got married there, one a noted trumpeter, Ernie Cagnolatti. After Mother Catherine’s death, an evangelist named Sister Gertrude Morgan moved into a house near the old Manger site, and in 1957 received a vision that she was a bride of Christ. That religious experience inspired her to paint. Her images of the New Jerusalem, a heavenly realm beckoning those in a fallen world, today hang in museums and command major prices when they come on the market. She also wrote poetry, and wrestled with her role as the bride of the Father and the Son. Sister Gertrude was a dynamic presence during the 1960s’ jazz revival at Preservation Hall. Her French Quarter art dealer could have come from central casting: Larry Borenstein was thrown in jail three times in Mexico for trying to steal antiquities; he adored her and found collectors and curators to buy her works, while falling in love with a woman half his age. I’m convinced that the proximity to her softened Larry. His daughter gave me access to the love letters he wrote her mother. Both parents are deceased. Sister Gertrude was a mystic whose dialogue with the Lord reminded me of the ecstasies of St. Catherine of Siena and the otherworldly verse of William Blake. Researching Mother Catherine and Sister Gertrude was vastly more fulfilling to me than all of the reporting I did over the years in Rome.
The myths that sustained the work of Tolkien and Lewis
As a new essay collection shows, the two authors drew heavily on the Anglo-Saxon and medieval worlds respectively
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Help Us “Be Not Afraid”
“The victory, if it comes, will come through Mary.” These were the dying words of Cardinal August Hlond, as recounted by Pope St. John Paul II in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope. Reflecting on the Cardinal’s prophesy, the pope wrote: During my pastoral ministry in Poland, I saw for myself how those words [of Cardinal Hlond] were coming true. After my election as Pope, as I became more involved in the problems of the universal Church, I came to have a similar conviction: On this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her, because He wants the Church’s victories now and, in the future, to be linked to her. Human Life International founder, Father Paul Marx, shared the Holy Father’s conviction. That is why he chose Our Lady of Guadalupe – whose feast day we celebrate in just a few days – as HLI’s patroness. Fr. Marx, who tirelessly devoted his life to the defense of Life and Family, personally understood the hardships of the great battle between the forces of Life and Death and encouraged all, in every age, to turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe as the solution against fear and hopelessness. “In contemplating her simplicity, we find the strength to emulate her faith,” he said, “and proceed with confidence in the knowledge that God will overcome the seemingly insurmountable barriers looming over the world today.” “Be Not Afraid”Bless Fear and hopelessness are a risk whenever we forthrightly confront the evils in our culture. In the past few decades, while there have been many victories, there have also been many – and catastrophic – losses. Despite the tireless efforts of so many committed pro-life and pro-family activists, abortion is still legal and untold millions of babies have been slaughtered; euthanasia activists are gradually gaining ground; same-sex ‘marriage’ is the law of the land; contraception, divorce, and immoral “reproductive technologies” have been normalized; pornography is epidemic; and gender ideology is sweeping our cultural institutions. In the face of a lost culture wandering ever further from the truth about God, man, and morality, one risks becoming discouraged. But in moments of such discouragement, I often recall the booming voice of Pope St. John Paul II, thundering above the massive crowds who flocked to see him: “Be not afraid!” Pope St. John Paul II first issued that memorable exhortation on October 22, 1978, after which he adopted it as a recurrent theme of his papacy. In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, the Holy Father explained the meaning behind this unofficial motto and linked the fearlessness that he was calling for to Mary’s example. “Be not afraid!’ Christ said to the apostles and to the women after the Resurrection,” he wrote. “According to the Gospels, these words were not addressed to Mary. Strong in her faith, she had no fear.” Mary’s fearlessness arose from her unshakeable conviction in the power of Christ’s redemption, and in the goodness of God. We too should have no fear, said the saintly pope, because “man has been redeemed by God,” and because “the power of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.” Our own fearlessness in the face of evil will arise in proportion to our dependence upon Mary, and the extent to which we emulate her example. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Hope for a Culture of Life Perhaps no Marian apparition provides such cause for hope as does Our Lady of Guadalupe. Before she appeared to the humble peasant Juan Diego, Aztec culture was still in throes of bloody-thirsty paganism. The conquistadors reported that, before they managed to partially curtail the practice of human sacrifice, the Aztecs had routinely sacrificed 10,000 human victims each year, tearing the still-beating hearts out of their victims’ chests. Many of those victims were children. 16th century image, showing Aztec sacrificeMere human calculations would have said that demonic paganism was so deep-seated in Aztec culture that it would take hundreds of years of missionary toil to succeed in ripping it up by the roots. That is the human way: the best we can hope is to change the world by changing one mind and one heart at a time through slow, toilsome work. Instead, within just a few years after Mary’s apparition, paganism had been swept aside, and millions of Aztecs had been converted and baptized as Catholics. Human sacrifice came to an abrupt end. Mary claimed Mexico as her own. In 1910 Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared Patroness of Latin America by Pope St. Pius X, and in 1945 Pope Pius XII declared her to be the Empress of all the Americas. On January 22, 1999 Pope Saint John Paul II named Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the Americas and raised December 12 to the rank of Feast for all the countries of the Americas. Our own culture’s bloodthirsty paganism is sanitized and hidden behind a veneer of clinical efficiency. But, as Fr. Marx never tired of observing, in substance it is no different from the horrors witnessed in the most degenerate pagan civilizations, such as the Aztecs. “In ever greater numbers, society sacrifices our young and aged at demonic altars, hurrying them to destruction through abortion, sex education, prostitution, pornography, infanticide and euthanasia,” said Fr. Marx, “foolishly believing that just a little more contraception, just one additional population control program, and we will be blessed with the happiness and peace that we so desire.” In the face of the systemic, deep-seated, industrial-scale anti-life juggernaut that takes the lives of untold unborn children every year, we may feel a sense of helplessness and even powerless in the face of such evil. But Mary is not powerless. There is no fear in her. In the apparition at Guadalupe, Mary appeared as a young, pregnant native mother. She is carrying the Christ-child in her womb. What a potent symbol! God is present among us, but in a position of utmost dependence: an unborn child in his mother’s womb! Our Lady of Guadalupe is an icon of tender maternity and maternal strength, and of the utmost value and dignity of human life from its earliest stages. If Christ was with us from the first moment of His conception, then each unborn child, made in His image, shares in that dignity. And if Mary could change the course of human history by saying “yes” to God, and serving humbly as His mother, then we too can bring about the end of evil by our own daily “yes” to God, and through our daily work and sacrifices. As the moral decline of the Americas [and the world] intensifies and spreads across the globe, we are in desperate need of renewal, conversion, and amendment of life. We need heavenly guidance and intervention. Sadly, most have accepted and embraced the “wide” path that leads to destruction of which our Lord warns. (Matt. 7:13-14) We are witnessing firsthand a “dramatic” confrontation between two diametrically opposing views, the “Culture of Death” and the “Culture of Life.” Our Lady of Guadalupe brought the “Culture of Life” to pagan Aztec civilization with a speed that defied all human expectations. We need recourse to Mary to win the battle. We must pray the daily Rosary. By meditating on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we obtain the graces to live for Christ alone! We must consecrate ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. We must pray novenas to Our Lady of Guadalupe, begging for the conversion of our culture. Pope St. John Paul II promulgated the following prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe, entrusting Life and Family to the Holy Virgin’s intercession. Please join me in praying this prayer, making it part of your daily devotion. The way to heal our country and the Americas, indeed all the world, is through Our Lady’s motherly guidance that leads us to her Son instructing us to “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Prayer of Pope St. John Paul II to Our Lady of Guadalupe O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer. Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand. Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries. Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children. Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul. We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth. Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. The post Our Lady of Guadalupe, Help Us “Be Not Afraid” appeared first on Human Life International.
Vatican envoy urges media to end ‘cherry-picking’ migration news
ROME – As the Vatican delegation prepares to arrive at a UN global summit on migration set to take place in Morocco this week, one of Rome’s major players on the UN scene told Crux the proposed agreement is basically good news for the Church’s concerns even if certain “tensions” remain. Slovenian Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, wrote in a Dec. 9 email that many of the points presented by the Holy See “have been positively reflected in the text” of the Global compact, which will be up for approval at the summit. State representatives will convene in Marrakesh, Morocco, for the Dec. 10-11 United Nations Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was conceived during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in September 2016. The Holy See has been contributing to the development of these compacts for two years, submitting a total of twenty detailed suggestions for the treatment, welcoming and integration of refugees and immigrants. Still, according to Jurkovič, there are also some remaining “reservations” about the final document, especially concerning “certain terminology and principles” in terms of sexual and reproductive services. Global controversy surrounding the summit arose when several countries, including the United States and Italy, decided to withdraw, leaving doubts as to the meaningfulness of the agreement. But Jurkovič underlined that the 2016 New York Declaration, which all countries signed, still represents an important point of reference even for countries that won’t attend this summit. Echoing the position of the Vatican’s top diplomat, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who will be part of the delegation in Morocco, Jurkovič stressed cooperation among states on immigration, which he described as the “litmus test of solidarity for the family of nations.” Finally, the envoy criticized an “often-distorted” narrative surrounding immigration, calling out the media for “cherry-picking” information that “perpetuates sensationalism and negative stereotypes.” Following are excerpts from the Crux interview with Jurkovič. Crux: What can be expected from the Migration Compact approval summit in Morocco? Will the Catholic Church’s point of view be visible after two years of contributions and collaboration? Slovenian Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Radio Vaticana.) Jurkovič: As the international community moves towards the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration, it’s important to return to the spirit and the letter of the New York Declaration of 19 September 2016, which set the whole process in motion, and to ground responsibility for the shared global management of international migration in the values of justice, solidarity and compassion. In this regard, it is the hope of many that the Global Compact will represent a solid reference and starting point for states to shift from a reactive approach to a more predictable, coordinated, and manageable response to the human reality of migration. From the point of view of the Catholic Church, several of the principles and proposals laid out by the Holy See throughout the two years of discussions and negotiations, including in the document “Twenty Points for Migrants and Refugees” offered by the Holy See’s Migrants and Refugees Section, have been positively reflected in the text. Indeed, the Global Compact seems to offer a perspective that is firmly centered on the human person and his/her dignity. There are several positive elements in the text of the Global Compact. Just to cite a few: the recognition that migration is a natural, positive phenomenon and contributes to development when it is voluntary, safe, orderly, regular and well-managed; the principle of shared responsibility; the importance of the role of the family and the protection of children; the acknowledgment that integration is a two-way process etc… It’s important to highlight that the engagement of the Holy See in the Global Compact consultation and negotiations represents only a portion of the activity of the Catholic Church in favor of migrants. The four verbs suggested by Pope Francis to welcome, to promote, to protect and to integrate are firmly rooted in the Social Doctrine of the Church and ultimately find their origin in the Gospel! At the same time, while welcoming the Global Compact, there are also some strong reservations, in particular with regards to certain terminology and principles which are not in line with the Social Teaching of the Church, in particular with regards to sexual and reproductive health services. Some countries have backed out of the summit, including Italy and the United States. What does this mean for migration policies, especially in the West? The Holy See has always maintained that in order to be fruitful in the long term, international cooperation in the area of migration must consider the interests of all legitimate actors, so that all stakeholders are involved in finding the best solutions and systems. In this regard, it’s important to stress that most international migration occurs legally. Notwithstanding the complexities that come with migration, the perceived challenges of today must not obscure the opportunities and contributions offered by migrants. As Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, who will be leading the Holy See Delegation in Marrakesh, recently stated, it’s also from this perspective that the Holy See tries to help understand and deal with this complex phenomenon. ‘Only on the basis of a mutual understanding may one propose a lasting response to today’s human mobility, sustainable for migrants and refugees, as for all the countries concerned,’ Cardinal Parolin said. It’s also worth noting that, while some states decided not to take part in the adoption of the Global Compact, they signed up to the New York Declaration and in principle are committed to it. Moreover, some states are actually implementing migration policies that partly overlap and reflect the content of the Global Compact. After all, migrants represent the human face of the process of globalization. They come with courage, hope and resilience; they can serve as instruments of peaceful relations among countries thus demonstrating the truth that we are one human family. It is important that we never lose sight of this human face of migration. Most of those in an irregular migratory situation live a grim everyday reality. They find themselves ignored and neglected, gripped by constant fear of expulsion or deportation. Out of desperation, they are compelled to accept dangerous work conditions, and often end up being exploited and abused. It is true that with migration come several complexities, above all the process of integration, which is an ongoing challenge, including for the Church. There can be no successful and sustainable migration policy without a simultaneous, comprehensive, and mutual-enriching integration strategy centered on the human person as the subject who is primarily responsible for development. As Pope Francis repeatedly said, integration is a two-way process, based on mutual knowledge and reciprocal openness. In this regard, integration cannot be mere assimilation that leads migrants or host societies to suppress or to surrender their own cultural identity. This would only lead to social exclusion and disharmony. At the same time, however, it is important that migrants know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that welcome them, in a true spirit of encounter. The Vatican’s agenda on migration can seem revolutionary, considering that many countries are closing their borders. Some believe the Catholic Church has gone too far. What’s your opinion? As I mentioned before, the engagement of the Catholic Church ultimately finds its origin in the Gospel and in the social teachings, developed through the centuries. The experience of the Church on migration, through its various institutions such as ICMC and Caritas, actually predates the efforts of the international community. The Holy See has repeatedly stressed the conviction that, before the divisions of borders, we are one human family and it has called for a greater humanization of the global movement of people. While the Church’s commitment to accompany people on the move is unwavering, it’s also true that it will be up to the sovereign states to implement the content of the Global Compact. The Holy See will continue to encourage, inspire, and assist in a way best described by Pope Francis in his message for the 2018 World Day of Peace, where he said that “practicing the virtue of prudence, government leaders should take practical measures to welcome, promote, protect, integrate and, within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good, to permit them to become part of a new society.” It is important to highlight that the Vatican has always maintained that before the right to migrate, there is a prior right to “remain”, that is, to find integral human development in the country of origin. What’s required is the promotion of the integral human development of migrants, which, as Pope Francis suggested, “begins with their communities of origin. That is where promotion should be guaranteed, joined to the right of being able to emigrate, as well as the right to not be constrained to emigrate, namely the right to find in one’s own homeland the conditions necessary for living a dignified life.” No person with the possibility of living with dignity in his or her home country would feel compelled to flee it irregularly. States must cooperate to create fair and decent social conditions in the countries of origin, thus making migration a choice and not a forced necessity. This will require tremendous resources and several years, a true litmus test of solidarity for the family of nations, rooted in the common origin and shared destiny of the human family. These investments will be investments in humanity and in the future of our ‘common home.’ Where do you see the main obstacles in promoting the Vatican’s and Pope Francis’s view of migration around the globe? It’s more urgent than ever to move beyond mere statistics and to acknowledge that each migrant has a name, a face, and a story, as well as an inalienable right to live in peace and to aspire to happiness. One of the main obstacles lies in the narrative surrounding the migration debate, which is often distorted. The prominence of migration as a public policy issue and newsworthy topic has perhaps never been more pronounced, often defining election outcomes. The media often has a considerable and decisive role. The availability of clear, neutral, and disaggregated data and information on migrants, free from partisan and political interests, must be promoted at both the international and national levels. The media should be driven by the need to portray the broader picture of the human reality of migration and its causes honestly and fairly. ‘Cherry-picking’ of information, which perpetuates sensationalism and negative stereotypes, can hide the truth lying behind decisions to move, which, too often, are prompted by extreme poverty, famine, natural and man-made disasters, violence, and persecution. For example, one of the contradictions about migration is that too often migrants are welcomed only for the valuable contribution they make to the economy of their host country, compensating, in this manner, for demographic deficits and labor shortages. However, sadly, what’s little known is that the journeys of most migrants are by no means comfortable; most often, they involve traumatic experiences that can only be sustained by hope and faith. People move at great personal costs, and frequently are exposed to exploitation, abuse and violence. Even worse, many even die on the perilous ways in search of a better life, of happiness.
Here is how Pope Francis’ reform of Vatican City State mirros his Curia reform
t would be difficult, long and tough for specialists to detail what is that Pope Francis effectively reformed with his motu propio on the approval of the new law for Vatican City State, published on December 6. However, this reform can at least show some of the modus operandi of Pope Francis’ reforms since the beginning of the Pontificate. First of all, a clarification is needed: the reform of the Vatican City State administration is not the Curia reform. Pope Francis did not change the government of the universal Church. He rather changed the organization of the administration of the State. It is different. Vatican City State exists to give the Holy See a territory, thus safeguarding its sovereignty. As head of the Vatican City State, the Pope is not a citizen of any other State, and the same is true of those Cardinals and officials of the Holy See, who have Vatican passports, and hold a functional citizenship that guarantees independence. It is not by chance that the goal of the reform is that of “making even more clear the particular institutional finality of the Vatican City State, called by its nature to guarantee the See of Peter the absolute and visible independence.” The criteria of the reform – an explanatory note of Vatican City State reads – were “functionality, transparency, normative coherence and organizational flexibility.” In the end, the reform is about changing the way the administration is managed, and, in the end, achieving a reduction of costs. This is one of the goals of Pope Francis’ pontificate. The Curia reform merged several pontifical councils in new dicasteries, and several competences coordinated by the single Dicastery for Communication, that became the umbrella of all the media department. Likewise, the reform of the Vatican City State is aiming at reducing offices. Vatican City State administration branches decrease from 9 to 7, central offices from 5 to 2, while “attributions and competences of the operational bodies reorganized have been reviewed and aggregated according to the principle of functionality and effectiveness.” The first talks of Curia reform also focused on the possibility to establish a “moderator Curiae”, and in general about the establishment of controlling bodies for dicasteries. Likewise, the Vatican governorate will have a control body, a “Control and Inspection Unit” with the “specific tasks of verifying norms and procedures of evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of the activities of the bodies.” This control body will likely become crucial for the overall financial reform. At the beginning, the possibility of a unified balance sheet of the Holy See and Vatican City State was considered, but the real issue was controlling the State administration. The State administration generates the biggest profits, through the Vatican museums. And the State administration experienced mismanagement cases – the first Vatileaks was originated by a dispute on the cost of St. Peter’s Square Christmas tree put in place by the then secretary of the Governorate, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. The fact that there is a “directorate for the economy”, that distinguish Vatican City State from other Curia offices, show that there is the need for more transparency. The reform totally changes the way the governatorate works. Vatican City State is always more closely aligned with Holy See action, and is not considered a reality per se. The reform also does not foresee any automatic promotion, nor assured positions. Also these topics – sovereignty and halt to careerism – have been a Pope Francis’ leitmotiv. This was shown by Pope Francis’ decisions in appointing bishops and creating cardinals. The Pope does not consider anymore some position as cardinalatial. The Pope also showed always more the attitude to defend the Holy See sovereignty, after a first era characterized by a Vatican outsourcing and external consultants. The reform of Vatican City State shows Pope Francis modus operandi also in another area: the reform institutionalized what had been already renewed. The reform keeps the already existing disciplinary and staff and commissions, and includes among the governing bodies the Committee for Monetary issues, that had been already established following the Monetary Convention signed by the EU and Vatican City State; and the Commission for the Selection of Lay Personnel (CIVA), established in 2017. So, the reform just made these changes institutional. Likewise, the Curia reform already brought about the establishment of three new dicasteries after a series of mergers that just need to be institutionalized in the next apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium Guiding lines of the reform are transparency and accountability. One of the novelties is that officials at every level will be held accountable for their criminal acts but also regarding how they look after patrimony entrusted to them. The office of the President and of the General Secretary are reformed with changes that were actually already implemented in praxis. Also in this case, the motu proprio merely institutionalized already existing reforms. In addition to that, the branches cannot take measures without the authorization of governing bodies. The governing bodies are thus reinforced, and this meets the criterion of major central control Pope Francis began to adopt. This criterion was also in play recently, when the Pope appointed Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna as adjunct secretary to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith: the appointment showed a major centralization in tackling the response to abuse. In general, the whole reform shows the wish for a change of mentality. Until now, the Governatorate had a plethora of offices and departments, all of them quasi independent. For this reason, the new law will not have effect until June. By the way, the guidelines of reform mirror Pope Francis’ intentions. They could be found in other reforming processes already started: the moderate decentralization that turns into a major central control; the need to do things before making these things institutional; the reduction of costs, necessary in a structure needy of a reform. In addition to that, also this Pope Francis’ reform, like many others during the Pontificate, was made public at the eve of a meeting of the Council of Cardinals. The Council was called to counsel the Pope, not only about Curia reform but also in governing the universal Church. The fact that the Pope makes his decision public before the Council is a sign: Pope Francis listens to everyone, and this is the reason why he establishes advisory bodies. In the end, the Pope will always make the decisions himself.
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Bishop says Iraqi Christians want to stay, contribute to country
LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Bishop Paul McAleenan said he was “shocked” by what he saw during a recent trip to northern Iraq to visit with Christians returning to their homes four years after being driven out by the Islamic State. The Westminster auxiliary is the Lead Bishop for Migrants and Asylum Seekers at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. During his visit to Iraq’s Nineveh Plains – the heartland of the country’s Christian population – he witnessed first-hand the reconstruction efforts in the predominantly Christian towns that were overrun by the Islamic State forces and spoke to many returning Christians who were displaced by the violence. “My experience was a mixture of emotions, actually. It was one of both shock and inspiration. Shock because of the recognizable and visible devastation which even though you are aware of because of media reports, you don’t actually appreciate. The inspiration was because, in response to the devastation and to the need of the people and the reconstruction effort the Church is in the vanguard,” McAleenan told Crux. He saw projects sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need and the Knights of Columbus [a principal partner of Crux] to help the returning population to rebuild their lives. “The Church is leading the reconstruction and ostensibly because there is no obvious civic structure, so someone has to lead and the Church has stepped into the opening, and it is leading the redevelopment and the reconstruction and is making plans for the future, not only in terms of dwelling homes but also in needs like universities and hospitals,” he said. Despite the devastation brought by the Islamic State onslaught, and the threats of future persecution, McAleenan told Crux the Christians of Iraq don’t want to leave. “It’s their country. They have no desire to leave at all. They want to not only stay in the country, they want to play their part in society,” the bishop said. Below are excerpts of Crux’s conversation the bishop. Crux: You visited the Christian areas being reconstructed after ISIS was driven out of the Nineveh plains. Can you describe the experience? McAleenan: My experience was a mixture of emotions, actually. It was one of both shock and inspiration. Shock because of the recognizable and visible devastation which even though you are aware of because of media reports, you don’t actually appreciate. The inspiration was because, in response to the devastation and to the need of the people and the reconstruction effort the Church is in the vanguard. The Church is leading the reconstruction and ostensibly because there is no obvious civic structure, so someone has to lead, and the Church has stepped into the opening, and it is leading the redevelopment and the reconstruction and is making plans for the future, not only in terms of dwelling homes but also in needs like universities and hospitals. What are the spirits of the Iraqi Christians moving back to their homes? Are they hopeful? Fearful? They are grateful for returning. They are positive that their homes are being rebuilt again. At the same time, there is a little bit of residual fear that the same may happen again. So, it isn’t a complete closure; it is a desire to carry on, to reconstruct their whole lives as much as they can – but at the same time, there is a little bit of fear: Will this be repeated. Because speaking to a number of them, this has happened periodically in their history, going back centuries, so there is no guarantee another group may not arise, that at some stage in the future that they will also be persecuted. But there is hope, insofar as they see things happening. Programs are being supplied to them to adjust to their experiences and help them to deal with what has happened in the past, there is physical reconstruction of their homes, and other infrastructure is being put into place as well. So, as for the attitude of the people: There is hope, and as we know if you don’t have hope you can’t continue. There is hope, but we can’t deny there is a little fear as well. Tens of thousands of refugees from the area are still in Iraqi Kurdistan – even more have fled the country. Do you think most of them will return to the Nineveh plains? For those who are still in the country, in the northern part of Iraq and Kurdistan, there is a hope; and the fact that they are still in the country within the confines of the border means that they most likely will – when their house is built again – they will return. However, it is accepted that many people have left the country – for Europe, for Germany, the U.S., and Canada – and there is no guarantee they will return. So that was something that was on the mind of [Erbil Archbishop Bashar Warda] that he was very hopeful that those were still within the landmass of Iraq and Kurdistan would come back, but those who decided to go overseas, it was possible they won’t come back. We often hear Church leaders in the West say we must make sure to preserve the Christian presence in Iraq – and for that matter all over the Middle East. Is this the same attitude of the Christians who are there, and actually facing the persecution? Do they really want to stay in these areas? Absolutely. Undoubtedly. It’s their country. They have no desire to leave at all. They want to not only to stay in the country, they want to play their part in society. There is no desire in the Christians that are remaining there to evacuate and to seek another location to live. It is their country, they insist. They want to be part of their country. They want to be part of their society and contribute to it, and there is no indication at all that they are seeking any means, legal or underhanded, to leave. What can we in the West do to help, both as a Church, and through our governments? That is a very good question. There are some things that we can do. Obviously, financial assistance is required, and that is being supplied by Aid to the Church in Need from this country, and I understand from America, the Knights of Columbus have been very supportive in providing needed funds. Also, what is needed is prayer, of course, but what also can be done is to exert some pressure on our own governments to in turn exert influence on the Baghdad government to establish, for example, a federal police force or a federal army. The reason that’s important: As one travels around northern Iraq, Kurdistan, and as one crosses over into Iraqi-controlled areas, one encounters different militias because the Baghdad government has asked different militias to take responsibility for law and order in different places, and obviously militias will be following their own style of law and order. So, there is a two-fold reason for asking for a federal police force. First of all, there will be one rule of law, applicable by all officers to all the people. Secondly, it would be one of the ideal ways of creating work. The archbishop also told me that what is needed in imploring people to stay … is jobs. And if there was employment in the security forces in the country, that would be work.
Catholic doctor advocates a simpler healthcare billing system
[Landon Roussel is a pioneer in direct primary care, where doctors directly bill their patients without the intermediary of insurance companies, and the owner and chief medical officer of Communitas Primary Care. While an undergraduate at Rice, he spearheaded donation drives and multiple medical mission trips to Mexico and Guatemala. In 2010, he was a member of the inaugural medical cohort for Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) through the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Most recently, he has advocated to congressmen and senators for more transparent pricing for patients in Washington, D.C and Louisiana. Roussel produces and hosts ‘The Direct Primary Care’ podcast and is also author of the book, On the Primitive Way, a religious travel memoir. He spoke to Charles Camosy about incorporating his faith with his medical vocation.] Camosy: Tell us about how you got into medicine. What drove you into the field? Where did you end up studying? Roussel: I was inspired to go into medicine after going to the memorial service for my maternal grandfather. I always thought I was going to be an engineer like my father. My grandfather and nearly all of my uncles worked at the plants and that was the only family I got to know as a child — I spent very little time with my mom’s family. I made good grades in math and science and thought, naturally, I would follow in my dad’s footsteps. When I went to his funeral however, I got to know who he was — an artist, a journalist, a lover of nature, and, most importantly, always eager to experience the human condition each day. When I hear his friends talk about who he was, I saw that in myself, a desire to get to know people each day, experience life with them in their sufferings and in their joys and to use my talents to help them. After the funeral I decided I would enter medicine. That was when I was fifteen, and ever since then I’ve worked hard in my studies to have the skills needed to be that doctor who could help people when they are going through tough times. This drive led me to pursue the best opportunity available to me to become a good doctor. I ended up getting my medical degree at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and then completing a residency in internal medicine with primary care focus at Harvard Medical School/Mt Auburn Hospital. I got to know you, and your strong Catholic faith – I recently discovered that you are a fourth degree Knight of Columbus – when you took my bioethics graduate course while studying at Cornell. Did your Catholic faith drive your interest in bioethics? How was it being a person of deep faith at a school like Cornell? Absolutely. As a Catholic convert, my faith has always been central to my work as a doctor. I grew up as a generic Evangelical Christian, but when I went to college, as a young biochemistry major, I contemplated leaving my faith behind, as my upbringing left me with a very paltry defense against secular professors who heralded the wonders of science and the Enlightenment. Yet neither of these offered a persuasive response as to how we should live our lives. This led me to a soul-searching quest that led me home, to the Catholic Church. I was confirmed on Easter Vigil of 2007 along with Amanda, who eventually became my wife. As a Catholic convert, faith became central to my intellectual development, as faith added the fulfillment of reason that shows us how to use our scientific abilities. Dr. Landon Roussel. (Credit: Communitas Primary Care..) What struck me during my training, however, was how devoid medical education was of moral grounding. In healthcare we make moral decisions every day, yet throughout medical school I repeatedly experienced minimization or thinning out of moral learning at the expense of technical expertise. Habermas characterizes the environment well –’Wissenschaftkeit’ — scientificism. Everything that appears technical or scientific takes priority of the questions of morality, values and conscience. This is a very dangerous state for healthcare where we have potential to intervene so dramatically–for good or for evil–in people’s lives. As a person of faith at a secular medical school, it was at times challenging to defend my faith. I recall my bioethics professor scolding me once in front of the class to “leave scholasticism at home.” That said, I strived earnestly to remain professional and most importantly to defend my positions with cogency and intellectual rigor. My peers respected me for this, even if they disagreed with me. Then it appears that you got bit by the bioethics bug? I wouldn’t call it exactly a bug. As a doctor, when someone tells me a bug, it sounds like a temporary virus that comes and goes. My training in bioethics was not something that came and went but became part of the very fiber of my vocation. What started out as a genuine concern with the moral uprootedness of my profession led me on a path to deepen my own intellectual understanding of the moral basis of healthcare. This started out with your course. The course was so inspiring I knew I needed more. I then went to conferences, published articles and went to every opportunity I could in medical school to deepen my intellectual development in bioethics. After my third year of medical school, I took a year off to get a Master’s in Bioethics, and after that I continued to present at bioethics conferences and from 2015-2017 participated in the Paul Ramsey fellowship with the Center for Bioethics and Culture. Now I’m slated to teach bioethics at Franciscan University next semester. How did your medical and bioethics training get you interested in direct primary care? Just to take a step back, direct primary care is nothing more than being a regular primary care doctor without taking health insurance. Sounds shocking these days but before the 1980s, not taking insurance was virtually the norm. Today we do it by a low-cost monthly fee, though there are certainly some who just charge on a per visit basis. In any case, my background in bioethics has everything to do with my interest in direct primary care. In keeping with the perennial values of my profession, I wanted to be a doctor who has a long-lasting, deep and abiding relationship with my patients with minimal interference from outside influence. Yet what I witnessed repeatedly throughout my training is outside influence in the doctor-patient relationship, by insurance companies, administrators and government. Direct Primary Care allowed me to take back my profession by minimizing unnecessary involvement of third parties in the exam room. More than that, however, in terms of economic values, direct primary care is more in line with our Catholic understanding of right ordering of society. In keeping with our understanding of solidarity, provision of social goods should be provided at the lowest level possible. Healthcare is certainly a social good, and only when its provision can’t be taken care of at a lower level should it be handled by a larger body. Now there’s certainly the case to be made that health insurance can and should be handled by larger bodies — there’s power in numbers.  But going to the doctor’s office is not health insurance, and most people can afford to pay for their primary care doctor out of their own pocket. Your interest in direct primary care was so strong you even went home and opened up a Direct Primary Care practice. How is the practice going? Now that you are in the trenches, what have you found to be the strengths and challenges of the Direct Primary Care approach? The practice is going well. I have offices in Baton Rouge, Gonzales and St James Parish. My panel is nearly full, and I love the opportunity to be a full-fledged primary care doctor with the freedom to care for my patients how they need without being told what to do by insurance companies or administrators. Moreover, we have developed several patient-care niches that are underserved to whom we are offering a genuine value through our services: small-business owners, underinsured patients, home-bound senior citizens and immigrants. These groups often find themselves without health insurance and without access to healthcare, and our approach allows us to provide them quality healthcare, affordably. Being in the trenches, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is dealing with the health insurance mentality. We’ve gotten so accustomed to health insurance paying for everything in our system that it’s become an addiction and it’s colored nearly all of our healthcare choices. Many people I talk to have gotten used to the view of a primary care doctor as a professional paper pusher and box checker. This is, sadly, what’s become of primary care under the insurance model, a cog in the medical-industrial complex. For thousands of years, however, being a doctor has been about being in people’s homes, being in a solo office and spending time with people, forming relationships. Being a primary care doctor is so much richer and fulfilling than what it’s become under the insurance model. We need to recover the profession, take it back and form it into what it should be. But it takes re-envisioning the way healthcare is done. My motto for doing this comes straight from the Tantum Ergo–’Et antiqum documentum, novo cedat ritui,’ –’Ancient forms of grace departing, newer rites of grace prevail.’ We need to take what is good from medicine in the past — the relationship, the common sense, the continuity–and throw away what is simply baggage of history — paternalism, closed-mindedness, even greed. This can be done but it takes close discernment of what was good from the generation of doctors who our parents and grandparents used to see and what wasn’t so good that we need to leave behind.
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Knights of Malta chief: Migrant deaths represent ‘greatest mass grave since WW2’
ROME – Albrecht von Boeselager, Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta, has said Europe cannot ignore its high number of migrant deaths, and stressed the importance of seeking a multilateral solution as nations prepare to adopt the U.N. global compact on migration in Morocco. “It has an effect on the soul of Europe if just across the border we have the greatest mass grave since World War II,” Boeselager said Dec. 5, speaking of the Mediterranean. “I cannot believe that it will leave the soul of Europe unaffected, and the situation, though there is less attention to it, has not become easier or less dangerous.” Speaking to a small group of journalists, he said that while the total number of people crossing the Mediterranean has gone down, the number of those drowning has gone up, while other migrants are dying in the desert after being abandoned by traffickers fleeing police. Noting how many European countries will not be signing the compact, he said “it’s a pity that Europe is so divided,” because the continent is losing credibility and influence on the global stage. “Europe is taken less seriously by other parts of the world, and this is not positive,” he said, adding that migration “is one of the issues which cannot be tackled by one nation. It’s a multinational phenomenon and it has to be dealt with on a multilateral basis. Otherwise we will not be able to cope with it.” Boeselager in late 2016 was at the center of a major internal conflict in the Order of Malta which resulted in weeks of a back-and-forth power-struggle with the Vatican after Boeselager was essentially kicked out, only to be reinstated by Pope Francis himself. Francis then launched an investigation into Boeselager’s exit and, when former Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing refused to cooperate, he asked Festing to resign and ordered the group to undergo an in-depth internal reform, modifying their constitutions and focusing on how to gain new, younger members. He named then-Archbishop, now Cardinal, Angelo Becciu as his special envoy overseeing the reform, which is ongoing. In May Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre was elected as the new Grand Master, and though the order continues to navigate their internal reform, they are moving forward on charitable projects, including the global migration compact to be adopted in Marrakesh during a Dec. 10-11 U.N. summit. Boeselager will be present alongside representatives from over 140 nations to sign the compact, including Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, which has received heavy support from Francis. In his comments to journalists, Boeselager stressed the importance of finding a multilateral solution to the migration phenomenon and engaging with faith-based organizations, saying Francis is “one of the very few, if not the remaining moral authority in the world, and I think people listen to his voice.” Below are excerpts of Boeselager’s conversation with journalists. Crux: We come together just before you and member states are due to sign the migration compact. What input has the Sovereign Order of Malta been able to give in drawing up the document? Boeselager: I think we should at first be very satisfied that it was possible to draw such a compact in negotiations with almost all countries of the world. That’s a great achievement, and I’m quite confident that it will have an effect. You see already in some countries that they are already starting to implement some measures. For instance, resettlement, negotiating resettlement figures, which country could take how many people, and I think for many the negotiations about the compact have also been an eye-opener. The issues have become much more visible for many decision makers. What is your opinion on the position of the Italian government? Our foreign minister, Matteo Salvini, made a statement not only about the global compact, but also about the decision to close our ports to the NGOs. As you know the Order of Malta as such does not make political comments. But perhaps there are two remarks I can make. Our experience is that the behavior of migrants in a country depends very much on how they are treated. If you consider that the majority of these people will stay in the country and cannot be sent back, one should not risk creating a subculture or a group of people who are marginalized and even excluded from society and could pose a threat to society later. It’s not a moral argument but a purely opportunistic argument, but I think that’s something one should have in mind. The other point does not regard Italy alone, it regards Europe. I think it has an effect on the soul of Europe if just across the border we have the greatest mass grave since World War II. I cannot believe that it will leave the soul of Europe unaffected, and the situation, though there is less attention to it, has not become easier or less dangerous. The total numbers of people crossing the Mediterranean has gone down, but the percentage of people drowning has gone up. That’s one side. The other is that since the efforts to better secure the southern border of Libya, from Niger or other countries the traffickers use more secretive but more dangerous routes, bypassing villages and there are increasing reports that people are dying in the desert, because if the traffickers see the police or a patrol they leave the migrants alone and they are lost in the desert. There are no concrete figures because nobody knows, but there are increasing reports of those happenings. It’s a pity that Europe is so divided, because the weight of Europe is going down. Europe is taken less seriously by other parts of the world and this is not positive. Not regarding which policy as such, it is a negative signal. Migration is one of the issues which cannot be tackled by one nation. It’s a multinational phenomenon and it has to be dealt with on a multilateral basis. Otherwise we will not be able to cope with it. Europe is not the only continent where there is an anti-migrant position. There is also the United States, continuing wars in Syria and other countries. Now there is the new crisis with Russia and nuclear weapons. Do you think this context, which is so different than two years ago, will make it more difficult to find a global solution to migration? I think the real challenge is an egoistic attitude of our societies. These politicians don’t fall from heaven. You have short-term allies, but when you always put yourself first, then that’s the end of multilateral attitudes. And that’s due, of course, to fear of losing comfortable living standards. But it’s a short-term attitude. If we don’t talk about religion, we have to still observe the Golden Rule: how you wish to be treated, you should treat others, and if you don’t follow this rule, it will strike back sometime later. Why is engagement between faith organizations and civil society important on these issues, and what can the Order of Malta contribute? At least about 90 percent of the world’s population adheres to religion. That also means that most of them have regard for the authority of their religious leaders, so religious leaders have an important influence on the decision-making of people. I think there’s a growing understanding among politicians that this position of religions has to be taken into regard. Most of the basic, human values are shared by all religions, so they can have a positive impact on decisions. Also, in most religions the rule that a stranger has to be treated acceptably well is a basic value, so it’s important that these factors are taken into account. Pope Francis has been a champion for the past five years in advocating for the rights of migrants. How important has his voice been and how has it been taken into consideration? I think nobody can ignore his voice. Pope Francis is one of the very few, if not the remaining moral authority in the world, and I think people listen to his voice. Whether they then follow it is another question, but I’m sure he’s heard. This is spoken about as a crisis, but some have criticized this terminology since the numbers are very different than two years ago. How would you describe the phenomenon now and what do you think are the misconceptions that lead people to have a more negative perception? You’re right, if you talk about a crisis of the numbers that are arriving at the moment. The figures of people arriving now is low, so in this regard there is no crisis anymore. But there is still a crisis of people risking their lives, being trafficked, becoming slaves. There are more slaves in the world today than have ever been in history, more than 40 million. Many of these migrants become slaves because they are indebted to the trafficking organizations and then forced to slave labor. There is an increasing development that migrants pay with their organs for the trafficking, so there is an increasing criminalization, and in this regard the crisis is not at all over. And everybody says we will be faced with probably increasing migrant movements in the coming decades.