1. Vatican summit seeks comprehensive, global healthcare reform.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, November 17, 2017

All over the world, questions abound about who has access to healthcare, and how they pay for it. In the U.S., debt caused by healthcare costs contributes to 62 percent of personal bankruptcy cases. Globally, 100 million people slide into poverty as a result of essential medical care payments.

It’s worth remembering, however, that fully one third of the world’s population has no access to needed medicines to begin with.

Life expectancy at birth in sub-Saharan Africa is 46 years, while in countries such as Italy it’s over 80. In the former, however, an estimated 6 million children last year didn’t reach the age of five.

These are some of the statistics given by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s office for Integral Human Development, and Beatrice Lorenzin, Italy’s Health Minister, at a healthcare summit taking place in Rome.

They were speaking on Thursday, in the opening session of a Nov. 16-18conference titled “Addressing Global Health Inequalities,” taking place at the Vatican’s New Synod Hall. The gathering is organized by Turkson’s office and the International Confederation of Catholic Healthcare Institutions (CIISAC).

According to Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State and Pope Francis’s right-hand man, this inequality in access to healthcare is “avoidable.” These disparities, he argued, “arise from inequalities within society and between different societies.”

They are a “regrettable” situation because they deny the “fundamental right” to access adequate health care. This is a right, Parolin said, which must be guaranteed to everyone, regardless of their economic, social, or cultural situation.

Francis also said that health care laws must take a “broad and comprehensive view of what most effectively promotes the common good” in each situation, including looking out for society’s most vulnerable people.


2. Myanmar cardinal defends Suu Kyi on eve of pope trip. 

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, November 17, 2017, 7:08 AM

Myanmar’s Catholic cardinal on Friday defended Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi against “unfair” criticism over the military crackdown on Muslim Rohingya, and said that terming it “ethnic cleansing” was unhelpful and premature.

Cardinal Charles Bo spoke to The Associated Press ahead of Pope Francis’ visit next week to Myanmar and Bangladesh, to where nearly 620,000 Rohingya have fled to escape the violence by Myanmar security forces in the poverty-wracked Rakhine state.

During the visit starting Nov. 27, Francis will be toeing a very delicate diplomatic line, given that he has in the past strongly condemned the “persecution of our Rohingya brothers,” denounced their suffering and called for them to receive “full rights.”

In a video message to Myanmar released Friday, Francis didn’t mention Rohingya or the conflict, but said he wanted to bring a message of “reconciliation, forgiveness and peace” to Myanmar. He said that message was rooted in the Gospel, which “teaches the dignity of every man and woman and compels us to open our hearts to the other, especially the poorest and neediest.”


3. Pope to lawmakers: Protect all people with health care laws.

By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, November 16, 2017, 12:05 PM

Pope Francis on Thursday urged lawmakers to ensure that health care laws protect the “common good,” decrying the fact that in many places only the privileged can afford sophisticated medical treatments.

“Increasingly, sophisticated and costly treatment are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population, and this raises questions about the sustainability of health care delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care,” the pope said.

He also reiterated Vatican teaching that says “not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment. From an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong.”

In addressing end-of-life issues, the pope said, countries must “defend the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being.”


4. Synod Preparations Reveal Church, Young Adults at Crossroads: The consultative processes for the upcoming synod is providing the Church a frank snapshot of its relationship with Catholic young adults.

By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register, November 16, 2017

For the past several months, dioceses and Catholic organizations across the country consulted youth and young adults on their most pressing concerns and their relationship with the Church, as part of the preparation for the upcoming 2018 Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment in Rome.

Gathered in Baltimore for their fall general assembly, members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops listened as conference president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston delivered a summary report with a sobering appraisal of the Church’s relationship with young people ranging in age from 16 to 29 years old.

“Young people frequently cited economic struggles, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, isolation, anxiety and societal pressures as the top challenges,” he said. “They also expressed a desire for the Church to accompany them through these concerns.”

Cardinal DiNardo said the report confirmed that young people are disaffiliating at greater rates than historically seen, and youth and young adult ministers are struggling to connect.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of religiously disaffiliated or “Nones” in the United States has risen rapidly from an estimated 36.6 million people in 2007 to an estimated 55.8 million in 2014. Approximately 35% of millennials (the generation born between 1981 and 1996) are “Nones” and may identify as atheists, agnostics or believe “nothing in particular.”

At the same time, Cardinal DiNardo explained, the reports showed that the Church in the U.S. has been able to develop talented youth and young-adult ministers and shows “best practices” are emerging.

“The reports reveal some untapped opportunities that exist to connect young people to a relationship with Christ, the Church and her mission and to their vocational pathway,” he said.

Cardinal DiNardo said the report is being sent to the Vatican Synod Office overseeing the synod preparations.


5. Spirit of communion needed in church, world, pope tells priests.

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, November 16, 2017

Sincere, harmonious unity is needed in the world and in the church, Pope Francis told an international association for Catholic priests.

“It’s very sad when we find in a presbyterate that this unity doesn’t exist,” and, instead, gossip and backstabbing are the rule, he said.

“Gossip destroys the diocese, destroys unity among priests – between themselves and with the bishop,” he said.

The pope spoke during an audience Nov. 16 with participants in the international assembly of the Apostolic Union of the Clergy, a global confederation of groups promoting brotherhood and mutual support among members of the diocesan clergy whether they are bishops, priests or deacons.

The best evangelizers, he said, are the saints. Organized programs and activities are important, but it is the work of the divine through individuals and their striving for holiness that is fruitful.

That is why worldliness is so harmful in ministers, the pope said. “The temptation of spiritual worldliness” is often “hidden in rigidity; one follows the other, they are step-sisters.”