Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Household items for refugees - what we need!

Our Catholic Charities collection of household items for newly-arrived refugees continues.  There is a box for your donation in the church vestibule. THANK YOU!

Here's what we need:
dish soap
liquid detergent
laundry detergent
(NO windex - we have a lot in supply)

shower gel
toilet paper
feminine hygiene products
shaving cream
tooth brushes

trash bags

Monday, September 5, 2016

Flu / Pneumonia Vaccinations here 23 Oct.

It that time of year to be thinking of Flu Prevention.

Flu and Pneumonia vaccinations will be offered by the Visiting Nurses Association at St Benedict's Parish on October 23rd from 9am (after the 8am mass) to 1pm in the  school cafeteria.

No reservations are needed.  Just bring your insurance card.

Friday, July 8, 2016

ACTION ALERT - Conscience Protection- HEALTHCARE

Now is the time to contact your representatives to urge them to co-sponsor and work to enact the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 4828/S. 2927).

Please tell your members to uphold the right of conscientious objection to abortion by enacting this much-needed legislation. The bill, now introduced into both chambers, contains the policy of what in past years has been called the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA).

The need for federal conscience protection has only grown since 2014, when California started forcing almost all health plans in the state to cover elective abortions, even late-term abortions. This policy has no exemption for moral or religious objections. A mandate for hospitals, even religious ones, to perform abortions may be next. What is more, other states such as Washington and New York may be following California's lead. 

These actions clearly violate a federal law known as the Weldon Amendment, which forbids governments receiving federal health care funds to discriminate against those who decline to take part in abortion or abortion coverage. Unfortunately, this amendment has legal weaknesses that make it largely ineffective against such challenges.

The Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 4828/S. 2927),  will protect health care providers from being forced to pay for or participate in abortions, and allow victims of discrimination a "right of action" to defend their rights in court. For example, nurses threatened with loss of their jobs unless they assist in abortions have found they have no right to go to court to see the law enforced. Congress should reaffirm a principle that has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support: Government should not force hospitals, doctors, nurses and other providers to stop offering much-needed health care because they cannot in good conscience participate in destroying a developing life.

Recommended Actions to take immediately:
  • Send emails through the USCCB Action Center
  • Contact your Representative by phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at202-224-3121 or call his or her local office. Members' mailing addresses may be found at www.house.gov
  • Follow us on Twitter @usccbfreedom and retweet our posts. Repost the link to this alert on your Facebook page or other social media platforms
On June 7, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William E. Lori – as chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively – called for immediate action by the U.S. House of Representatives to enact the Conscience Protection Act of 2016.  The bishops wrote that "disturbing new actions to force healthcare providers to participate in the destruction of human life cry out for an immediate federal remedy."  See the full text of their letter at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/cardinal-dolan-and-archbishop-lori-urge-passage-of-the-conscience-protection-act-of-2016.cfm.

For a joint letter from the USCCB and twenty-five other major pro-life, religious, and health care organizations urging support for H.R. 4828, see:humanlifeactioncenter.org/sites/default/files/Joint-Ltr-Conscience-Protection-Act-2016.pdf

Friday, June 24, 2016

Modern usurers - Payday lenders.

A Catholic Call 
to End Payday Lending Abuses 
by Jean Hill 

Say the words “payday lender” in some circles and stories of friends, family members, or neighbors who sought quick loans to make ends meet and ended up caught in a devastating cycle of debt will begin to flow.

Often, these stories begin with someone living paycheck to paycheck and unsure how to make a rent payment, buy food, pay bills, and cover other short term expenses. The tales end with harassing phone calls and court filings for repayment of ridiculously high-interest rate loans and mounting debts that now include court costs.

As Catholics, we are called not only to empathize with these stories but to act to protect the poor and vulnerable who find themselves preyed upon by unscrupulous businesses. Prohibitions against charging outrageous interest on loans go back to Babylonian times. More than one Old Testament prophet condemned usury, along with exploitation of the poor. Yet usury not only persists in our modern economy, it prospers. In 2010, there were an estimated 19,700 payday loan stores in the United States (That number does not include Internet loan sources. A recent federal agency report found at least 332 separate Internet loan providers). Thirty-two states permit loans with triple digit or no caps on the amount of interest the lenders may charge.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church insists that “economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit and power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community” (no. 2426). In theory, payday lenders provide a service to individuals who are often barred from traditional bank loans. In practice, however, these loans are vehicles for exploiting people already in a highly vulnerable financial state.

In a typical payday loan transaction, the customer seeks to make ends meet until the next paycheck, or maybe the next two. Unlike a traditional loan, however, the individual will not sit down with the lender and determine a reasonable repayment structure based on ability to pay. The customer will not be able to bargain for a better rate or realistic payment plan. Instead, the astronomically high interest rates (the national average is above 400 percent per loan), fees, and payment schedule will be based solely on the needs of the lenders. In short, the loan is all about the profit of the business, rendering the persons seeking help, in the words of Pope Francis, “as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away” (Address, May 16, 2013).

The social doctrine of our faith compels each of us to be involved in changing such an unjust system. We can raise our Catholic voices to remind payday lenders that their customers are first and foremost human beings, not profit centers. We can insist that our state and federal governments establish reasonable limits on the actions of the lenders to ensure they are not “so powerful as to reduce the [consumer] to subservience” (St. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, no. 15).

Now, as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers regulations to address some payday lending abuses, is an opportune moment to challenge our congressmen and women to take additional actions against usury to protect the working poor, as our Pope and our doctrine urge us to do.

Jean Hill is government liaison for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. Article taken from To Go Forth, a blog from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development. Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, copyright © 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana–United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Quote from Pope Francis, copyright © 2013, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City State. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Quote from St. John Paul II, copyright © 1991, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City State. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May - Mental Health Month - Parish Nurses

From the Parish Nurses

The magnitude of mental illness in this country is staggering. According to the Surgeon General, one in every five Americans experiences a mental disorder in any given year and half of all Americans have such disorders at some time in their lives. These illnesses of the brain affect all of us, regardless of age, gender, economic status or ethnicity. Mental illness affects the mind, body and the spirit. It is a real, common and treatable illness. Mental illnesses are far more common than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. 

Mental Health First Aid

Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. In the Mental Health First Aid course, you learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns; strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations; and where to turn for help.

Topics covered will include: depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorder, trauma, psychosis and substance use disorders.

This eight-hour program will be divided into two, four hour sessions, and offered at:
Good Shepherd Community of Faith
187 Southside Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14220
Saturday, June 4th, 2016 and
Saturday June 11th, 2016 9am-1pm

There is NO FEE. Light refreshments will be available. ALL are welcome.
Class size is limited.

To reserve your spot contact:
Sue Allen
Good Shepherd Community of Faith
Wellness Ministry, Coordinator
Call or text 716-697-1657 or email bsuea@yahoo.com

Home Again Refugee Resettlement Project update

The Salt and Light Group has collected many household items for the Home Again Project. We are all set with furniture donations. We could use clothing hangers, window fans, household decorating items,  a microwave and male and female hygiene items (comb, brush, shampoo, bar soap, etc).

For donation pick up please call Maura MacDonald at 832-5429 or email her at sixmacs85@gmail.com.

Also remember to volunteer on June 11th - move in day, we have 3 crews:

Cleaning crew - 9-11a
Move In crew - 11a-1p
Decorating crew- 1-4p

Please let her know where you can help. Many hands make light work.
Thank you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Prescription Drug drop off - from our Parish Nurses

From Catholic Health & the Parish Nurses

As we know, prescription drugs is the easiest way drug addiction starts. So let us not have any laying around. (This includes ANY prescription drug.) 

You can drop off old prescription this Saturday.

Saturday, April 30 from 10 am- 2pm at the following hospitals:

    Kenmore Mercy Hospital
    Sisters of Charity Hospital
    St. Joseph's Hospital Campus

For additional info visit: 
    www.nationalprescriptiondrugdropoff.com or call 649-2640

Monday, April 25, 2016

Naloxone (Narcan) training - from our Parish Nurses


Good Shepherd Community of Faith, 187 Southside Parkway, Buffalo NY, 14220 is responding to the opioid epidemic in WNY by housing a “COMMUNITY TRAINING OPIOID OVERDOSE RECOGNITION & NALOXONE USE workshop offered by Erie County Department of Health on Tuesday, May 3, 20166-8pm.
Attendees will learn how to recognize symptoms of drug overdose and how to administer naloxone (Narcan) via nasal spray.
A free two-dose naloxone kit will be given to each person over the age of sixteen upon completion of this two hour workshop.
This event is free of charge. Light refreshments will be available
Online registration  www.eriecounty.gov/health.  Or call 716-858-7960.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March - Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities
Awareness Month

As Catholics we are called to always be aware of and respond to the needs of people who feel marginalized. However, months dedicated to particular issues of awareness offer the opportunity for enhancing attention and education.   March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.  When a person lives with a disability or condition, the whole family is impacted. The term "developmental disabilities" is a broad category thatClick hererefers to an often lifelong disability occurring before the age of 22 that can be intellectual, physical, or both.  For more information click here. 
Having a developmental disability does not minimize a person’s ability for meaningful participation in the Church.  Yet as Church we do not always appreciate the many different forms of gifts that come from the people of God.   At times we are too impatient to appreciate the richness the diversity of the human family provides. 
Mother praying with child in church.
Take a few minutes to watch this video, A Life Like Yours to see the many ways Maddie shares the gift of her presence, talents and interests: Let us be more aware of the richness and diversity within our Church and world.
A Life Like Yours: Maddie's Story
Consider proactive steps your parish or diocese can undertake to build awareness and create communities where meaningful participation thrives.  Visit http://ncpd.orgfor a wide range of resources.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day

(for more information, visit https://worlddownsyndromeday.org/wdsd-2016)
As we see from the A Life Like Yours video, Maddie has a rich life.  Her faith is important to her, as are her family and friends.  But as mentioned in the video, lives are threatened each day by the reality of prenatal diagnosis and abortion. 
Up to 90% of pregnancies in which Down syndrome or a similar condition is detected end in abortion.  Check out this link for information on a webinar and toolkit resources available from NCPD on this topic:  http://ncpd.org/webinars/prenatal.  Learn more about Be Not Afraid (and on Facebook ) and other ministries available in numerous dioceses that support families when they receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or other disabilities or life-threatening conditions.

HOME AGAIN meeting March 29th at 7pm

Jerusalem from our church windows
Our Salt and Light Group here at St Benedict's is taking on a bigger role this year. After the successful collection of the many household items over these past many months, we have decided to step up our efforts.

We are going to participate in a project called HOME AGAIN where we actually prepare an apartment from start to finish for a refugee family. We are collaborating again with our neighbors from St Peter's Episcopal Church.

Our first organizational meeting will be held Tuesday March 29th at 7pm in the school cafeteria. Please feel free to call Maura MacDonald with any questions at 832-5429 or email her at sixmacs85@gmail.com. Light refreshments will be served.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Historic Meeting - Pope Francis & Patriarch Kyrill

Christian history was made today (12 February 2016) when Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill met in Havana, Cuba.  It is the first time that a Pope and a Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church have met. They issued the following Joint Declaration.

Following is the full text, as supplied by the Vatican Press Office. It has been edited and formatted for style. [National Catholic Register]

“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 Corinthians 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 John 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 labor of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (1 Peter 3:15).
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 Savior: “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” (John 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 fervor 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 defense 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 neighboring 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 Savior of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Isaiah 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 Peter 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 Corinthians 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 Corinthians 1:27–29).

19. The family is the natural center 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 (Genesis 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 (Matthew 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 neighbor. 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 (Matthew 5:14, 16). Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith (Matthew 13:46) you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that “you have been purchased at a great price” (1 Corinthians 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” (Romans 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” (Romans 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 neighbors. 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” (John 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 Savior, 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” (Luke 12:32)! Christ is the wellspring 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 Peter 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!

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

12 February 2016, Havana (Cuba)