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||Ukraine: voters hold controversial referendum in Crimea||(Vatican Radio) Voters in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula decided Sunday on whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia in a controversial referendum that has raised concerns in the West. Sunday's vote was held a time when Russian troops have "occupied" the Black Sea peninsula, said Ukraine's interim government. Listen: 00:02:01:08 With thousands of Russian forces more or less looking over their shoulders, most voters in Crimea were expected to choose joining Russia in Sunday's referendum. Moscow has pledged to recognize the referendum, raising expectations that the region leaves Ukraine and becomes part of the Russian Federation as soon as next week. About seven out of 10 eligible voters in Crimea had taken part in the referendum by early afternoon, including two pro-Russian women. JOINING RUSSIA "I am here to vote for joining Russia," an elderly woman said. "It does not mean ofcourse that we quickly receive benefits. But we hope life will become better," added another female voter. Yet minority Crimean Tartars boycotted the referendum. The Tartars want to stay within Ukraine, as they still recall World War II when Soviet leader Josef Stalin deported them to Central Asia. The West has condemned the referendum as undemocratic. But Crimea's prime minister Sergey Aksyonov strongly disagrees. "There is no pressure on people. As you can see everybody is free to vote the way they want. There is no pressure," he said, after voting in a polling station where some protesters unveiled a Ukrainian flag. EAST-WEST TENSION However Sunday's vote and Russian military movements in Crimea have alarmed Ukraine's interim government and triggered the worst crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War. The West has threatened to impose sanctions against Russia. And, in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also condemned a Russian attempt to try to enter a spit of land belonging to Kherson, a region adjacent to Crimea. Yet, her spokesman said Putin had welcomed Merkel's plan to send more observers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Ukraine, as part of international efforts to ease tensions in the strategic former Soviet republic.||16 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||Pope Francis: Sunday Angelus focuses on prayer and action||(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, the second Sunday of Lent. Speaking ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father focused on the Gospel reading of the day, which tells the story of the Transfiguration. Three were the principal elements that Pope Francis identified in his reflection: the importance of listening, of being attuned and attentive to the Word of God; and the twofold movement of ascent and descent that characterizes the Gospel episode (Mt. 17:1-9), in which the Lord takes Peter, James and John to the top of Mt Tabor, reveals Himself in His glorified form, and returns down the mountain with them, with grave warnings to the disciples who accompanied Him not to speak of what they had seen. Listen: 00:02:00:22 “The mountain is the site of the encounter intimate closeness with God - the place of prayer, in which to stand in the presence of the Lord,” said Pope Francis. “We, the disciples of Jesus,” he continued, “are called to be people who listen to His voice and take seriously his words.” He added, “To listen to Jesus , we must follow Him.” The Holy Father went on to say, “We need to go to [a place of] remove, to climb the mountain [and go to] a place of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the voice of the Lord.” We cannot stay there, however. “The encounter with God in prayer again pushes us to ‘come down from the mountain’ and back down into the plain,” he said, “where we meet many brothers and sisters weighed down by fatigue, injustice, and both material and spiritual poverty.” Pope Francis said that we are called to carry the fruits of the experience we have with God to our troubled brothers and sisters, sharing with them the treasures of grace received. He concluded with an invitation: returning to the theme of attunement and attentiveness to God’s word, the Holy Father asked all the faithful to begin keeping a little book of the gospels with them and to read short passages from it throughout the day. “Don’t forget,” he said, “this week, listen to Jesus – and then, next week, you’ll tell me whether you’ve kept that little edition of the Gospels with you, in your pocket or your bag, in order to read a little bit every day.”||16 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||Pope Francis makes visit to suburban parish||(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began a visit to a provincial parish dedicated to Our Lady of Oration on Sunday, at 4PM Rome Time. Santa Maria dell’Orazione is in the Setteville neighbourhood east of Rome, outside the city and about a third of the way to Tivoli. Founded juridically in 1989, the parish church was dedicated and inaugurated in 2002. The schedule of the visit included: greetings with the faithful gathered in the square before the church; a visit with the sick and disabled persons of the parish; a meeting with children making their first communion and young people making their confirmation; an encounter with the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way that are present in the parish; another with families that have baptized children in the past year; confessions, Mass and a brief exchange with the family members of the priests serving the parish. Listen: 00:05:29:86 The pastor at Santa Maria dell’Orazione, don Francesco Bagalà, told Vatican Radio more about the territory and the people of his parish. “This is a parish in the outskirts of Rome and also of Guidonia. Here, there is lack of social services and also of schools, services, squares ... The population is young: the typical day of someone who has moved here from Rome in the suburbs begins at about six to go to work and ends at eight in the evening.” Don Bagalà also spoke of his – and his parishoners’ – excitement at the visit. “[We expect] the joy of hearing the kerygma: the proclamation that Jesus Christ gave his life for us, that He has forgiven our sins,” he said. “God is mercy, God is love,” explained don Bagalà. “[M]an today needs to return to God with confidence,” he explained, adding, “[people need] to rediscover their Baptism, the call to be holy, without blemish.” At noon on Sunday, a few hours before beginning his visit to the parish of Santa Maria dell’Orazione, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square. Speaking ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father focused on the Gospel reading of the day, which tells the story of the Transfiguration. Three were the principal elements that Pope Francis identified in his reflection: the importance of listening, of being attuned and attentive to the Word of God; and the twofold movement of ascent and descent that characterizes the Gospel episode (Mt. 17:1-9), in which the Lord takes Peter, James and John to the top of Mt Tabor, reveals Himself in His glorified form, and returns down the mountain with them, with grave warnings to the disciples who accompanied Him not to speak of what they had seen. “The mountain is the site of the encounter intimate closeness with God and with Him - the place of prayer, in which to stand in the presence of the Lord,” said Pope Francis. “We, the disciples of Jesus,” he continued, “are called to be people who listen to His voice and take seriously his words.” He added, “To listen to Jesus , we must follow Him.” The Holy Father went on to say, “We need to go to [a place of] remove, to climb the mountain [and go to] a place of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the voice of the Lord.” We cannot stay there, however. “The encounter with God in prayer again pushes us to ‘come down from the mountain’ and back down into the plain,” he said, “where we meet many brothers and sisters weighed down by fatigue, injustice, and both material and spiritual poverty.” Pope Francis said that we are called to carry the fruits of the experience we have with God to our troubled brothers and sisters, sharing with them the treasures of grace received.||16 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||East Timor bishops prepare for first-ever Ad Limina visit||(Vatican Radio) The bishops of East Timor are preparing for their first-ever Ad Limina visit to Rome and for their first meeting with Pope Francis, set to begin on Monday. The Democratic Republic of East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia 14 years ago, has the second-largest Catholic population in Asia. Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento of Bacau and president of the East Timorese episcopal conference told Vatican Radio that he and his brother-bishops plan to discuss the current challenges in East Timor. “The main problem for us is the formation (of the faithful),” he said. In an Italian-language interview the bishop said while the majority of Timorese were baptized during the 24-year war for independence, there was little time and resources for formation in the faith. The Timorese Church is also in need of resources for priestly formation. However, the bishop said, the Church plays an important role in both formal and popular education. “Democracy, for example, is a new thing for East Timor,” he said. “We’ve gone from a traditional system to a modern system that the population needs to learn about and I believe that the role of the Church today is to educate for democracy.” “The Timorese Church still has a great influence in our society (after independence),” he said in English, “but we are now facing a new reality, so we are trying to find the way to prepare our people to live in this new situation.” During their visit to Rome, the bishops also intend to invite the Pope to visit East Timor in 2015, which mark 500 years of evangelization in the country. “Both the bishops and the Government of East Timor, all of us, would like to extend the invitation to the Pope to come and celebrate with us next year,” he said. Bishop Do Nascimento said he would employ the Pope’s own words to describe East Timor as a country in the “periphery”, both in terms of development and geography in that it is at “the end of the world”. The population of East Timor is nearly 1.8 million. The two official languages are Portuguese and Tetum. More than 40 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Listen to Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento in English: 00:01:24:58 Interview by Rafael Belincanta; report by Laura Ieraci||15 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||'Deliberate act' rerouted Malaysian jet||(Vatican Radio) Following over a week of speculation, Malaysian Prime minister Najib Razak confirmed in a press conference that the rerouting of the Malaysian jet liner was a “deliberate act” and not a technical failure. However, he clarified that despite media reports of a hijack, the investigation is still underway. Shortly after the press conference, police conducted a search of one of the missing pilot’s home. He said analysis of the plane's last communication with satellites placed it somewhere in one of two corridors: a northern corridor stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, or a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. Among the several countries concerned with the missing jet, China has called for a more thorough, accurate examination of the information, and has sent a team to assist in the process. Listen to Andrew Summerson's report: 00:01:28:10||15 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||Biden to visit Europe amid Ukraine crisis||(Vatican Radio) The White House says United States Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Poland and Lithuania to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and to show support for allies of the NATO military alliance. Late Friday's announcement came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov failed to agree on how to end tensions in Ukraine, where Russian forces control the Crimean Peninsula. The U.S. and Russia are involved in separate massive military war games near the borders of Ukraine, in what is seen as a show of force in a geopolitical battle over the strategic former Soviet nation. It comes amid an information war, with Russian officials claiming a U.S. drone was intercepted, prompting the Pentagon to deny it had deployed drones or lost any aircraft over Crimea. In a glimmer of hope, however, Lavrov denied Russia had plans to invade Ukraine. “Russia has and can have no plans to invade southeastern regions of Ukraine,” he said, adding: “We think the rights of Russians, Hungarians, Bulgarians and Ukrainians should definitely be ensured and should be defended.” He also made clear that Moscow would recognize the outcome of Sunday's controversial referendum in Crimea on whether to join Russia. Lavrov said Crimea for Russia means "immeasurably more than the Comoros for France or the Falklands for Britain". The peninsula was part of Russia until 1954. REFERENDUM ‘ILLEGITIMATE’ However, Kerry maintained that Sunday’s planned referendum in Crimea is illegitimate and warned Russia would face “consequences” if it “doesn’t find a way to change course”. “We hope President Putin will recognise that none of what we’re saying is meant as a threat, it’s not personal,” he said. “It’s meant as a matter of respect for the international, multi-lateral structure that we have lived by since World War II, and for the standards of behaviour about annexation, about secession, about independence and how countries come about it.” The U.S. and the European Union are planning far-reaching sanctions against Russia, including imposing travel bans on key Russian officials and companies. Biden was expected to discuss these issue with leaders in Lithuania and Poland, which border Ukraine, and to make clear that the U.S. will “support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Biden will be in the region from Monday through Wednesday, when Crimea is expected to declare itself part of Russia. Listen to the report by Stefan Bos: 00:03:09:26||15 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||Irish bishops focus on migrants for St Patrick’s Day||(Vatican Radio) The bishops of Ireland are calling for prayers for migrants on the upcoming feast of St Patrick, 17 March. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick said St Patrick recalls “the importance of looking after migrants … (and) those who have emigrated”. Bishop Leahy said the Irish bishops’ Council for Migrants, in their outreach and ministry among migrants both at home and abroad, has issued a practical information pack, which seeks to prepare migrants for the cultural changes they can expect. “Because things that might seem very obvious aren’t always so obvious to many people,” he explained. “And we’ve seen this from the requests we’re getting in our own pastoral outreach to some of these countries that many young people are finding themselves in need to ask for help in these very practical issues, and this pack attempts to reach that need.” He shared how some young Irish migrants abroad struggle with many issues, both practical and psychological. “And the more we can do to accompany them in their migration the better it is for them and therefore for those of us here in Ireland, who remember them,” he said. The official message, issued by the Irish bishops, notes that St Patrick’s Day this year will be celebrated “in the midst of an ongoing economic recession, which has resulted in domestic heartbreak throughout Ireland for many individuals and families due to the pressure of unemployment and emigration. “As the plight of Patrick, himself a migrant, has been faced by many Irish people who have struggled to live and integrate into new cultures,” it continues, “we encourage all the faithful to pray for migrants at home and abroad as many face challenges arising from displacement and poverty.” The bishops also urge Catholics to mark the feast day with Mass. Listen to the interview with Bishop Brendan Leahy: 00:02:53:71 Report and interview by Laura Ieraci||15 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||HIV/AIDS decrease in Africa||(Vatican Radio) The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Africa has decreased overall, but the real gains are in mother-to-child transmission, “where tremendous success” has been recorded in reducing cases, reports the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS to the continent, Specioza Wandira Kazibwe. As well, more than seven million people are now eligible for anti-retroviral treatments. However, the challenges of gender, violence and the ineffective engagement of men in testing, she said. When both spouses come to natal clinics, it is easy to have both of them tested and, if positive, have them both agree to the medical treatment for themselves and for their child. However, testing women on their own presents a challenge as “they would fear to actually inform their husbands that they are HIV positive,” she said. The strategy now in continuing to battle HIV/AIDS in Africa is to assist those countries where there is the greatest number of infections, namely Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as those where there is likely to be an increase, namely countries where there is violence and insecurity, such as South Sudan and Mozambique. “I believe there are countries, like Uganda, that have a good track record of fighting HIV,” she said. “Those ones we also want to examine and say…what is it that a country does to regress (in the number of infections among the population).” Listen to Specioza Wandira Kazibwe: 00:01:58:37||15 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||Pope grants radio interview, remembers priests close to the poor||(Vatican Radio) In a video interview with Argentinean Radio Station, 88.1 FM Bajo Flores, Pope Francis called for the adoption of a spirit of poverty and defended priests, who live and work in slums among the poor. The radio station, which broadcasts from the slums of Buenos Aires, projected the video interview on a large screen in the local parish on the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate. Hundreds turned out to watch. This poor neighbourhood, located close to the soccer stadium, are the same slums where Pope Francis, then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, would celebrate the Eucharist, spend time among the poor and assign priests to serve. The interview, titled “El Papa de los villeros” (Pope of the slums), features 12 questions about the presence of the Church among the poor and the marginalized. In it, the Pope remarks on the importance of educating and accompanying the young. He also speaks about the priests who live and minister in the slums. Their ministry, he says, “is not something ideological but an apostolic mission”. “They were not communists,” he says, countering past criticisms, “but great priests that listened to the people of God and fought for justice”. The Pope also expresses the need “to have an attitude of poverty and service, of assistance to others”. At the same time, he continues, we need “to allow ourselves to be helped…we need each other”. When asked what he likes least about the papacy, the Pope says his paperwork, confiding that he has always struggled with office work. He concludes the interview with a greeting to prisoners and to their families and a request for prayers. Listen to the report by Andrew Summerson: 00:02:12:62||15 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
||Syria enters year 4 of conflict||(Vatican Radio) As the deadly conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, UNICEF has announced that the Syrian government has promised greater access for aid groups supporting millions of Syrians. In the meantime, the country's state media announced on Friday that the Syrian Parliament has set residency rules for presidential candidates. The move would bar many of President Bashar al-Assad's foes, who live in exile, from the running. Listen to the report by Christopher Wells: 00:01:29:69||14 3 14||Free||View In iTunes|
- Category: News & Politics
- Language: English
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