During a recent audience with participants in the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Passionists), Pope Francis said: “The Church needs ministers who speak with tenderness, who listen without condemning and who welcome with mercy. The Church today strongly hears the call to come out of itself and to go to the peripheries, both geographic and existential.

“Your commitment to embracing the new frontiers of mission implies not only going to new territories to take the Gospel, but also facing the new challenges of our time, such as migration, secularism and the digital world. This means being present in those situations where people perceive the absence of God, and trying to be close to those who, in any way or form, are suffering.

“In this age of change, which is instead an epoch change, you are called to be attentive to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, reading the signs of the times. New situations require new responses.”

‘Journey of hope’

The following is a quote from a document issued by the English bishops’ conference calling for prison sentencing reform, entitled ‘Journey of Hope: A Catholic Approach to Sentencing Reform’:

“There is an unprecedented crisis facing our criminal justice system and our prisons are failing society. Numerous reports demonstrate systematic failures within the prison system, from violence, to drug use, to self-harm and suicide. This means that offenders’ chances for rehabilitation are severely lessened, resulting in frequent reoffending and reconviction after release.

“The case for a wide-ranging reform of sentencing practice is clear from both a long-term financial and practical perspective, as well as from a moral and humanitarian one. We must help offenders to return to the right road by building a system which enables them to do so. We have a duty to support both victims of crime and those who have offended by helping them to undertake a journey of hope, mercy, forgiveness and redemption.”

Human trafficking

At the synod of bishops, Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, said: “What would we offer to young women in our country? During the synod I was reflecting on the situation of young people here in Europe, and in Asia; it’s quite different, but especially in Myanmar, with the help of religious congregations and the Church, we are focusing on saving young wo­men and girls from human trafficking from Myanmar to Thailand, and especially from Myanmar to China. Because of the one-child policy in China, many girls and women have been trafficked desperately into China.”

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)

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