By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will celebrate the Catholic Church’s first World Day of the Poor Nov. 19 by celebrating a morning Mass with people in need and those who assist them. After Mass, he will offer lunch to 500 people in the Vatican audience hall.

As the Year of Mercy was ending in November 2016, Pope Francis told people he wanted to set one day aside each year to underline everyone’s responsibility “to care for the true riches, which are the poor.”

The result was the World Day of the Poor, which is to be marked annually on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time on the church’s liturgical calendar.

An admonition from St. John Chrysostom “remains ever timely,” Pope Francis said in a message for the 2017 celebration. He quoted the fifth-century theologian: “If you want to honor the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honor the eucharistic Christ with silk vestments and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness.”

The pope chose “Love not in word, but in deed” as the theme for 2017.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization is coordinating the celebration and issued a resource book — available online at — that includes Scripture meditations, sample prayer services and suggestions for parishes and dioceses.

An obvious starting place, the council said, is to reach out “to places such as soup kitchens, shelters, prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, treatment centers, etc., so that the words of the pope could arrive to everyone at the same time on this day.”

Every parish and Catholic group, it said, should organize at least one practical initiative, such as “taking groceries to a needy family, offering a meal for the poor, purchasing equipment for elderly persons who are not self-sufficient, donating a vehicle to a family, or making a contribution to the Caritas fund for families.”

One of the primary goals of the day, the council said, is to help Catholics answer the question, “Who are ‘the poor’ today, and where are they around me, in the area in which I live?” and then to find ways to share and create relationships with them.

The resource book also offered 18 “saints and blesseds of charity of the 20th and 21st centuries” as examples. The list is led by St. Teresa of Kolkata, but also includes Blessed Oscar Romero of San Salvador and U.S. St. Katharine Drexel and Blessed Stanley Rother.


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Contributed by S.Vincent Anesthasiar, CMF

 The Refugees and Migrants Working Group (RMWG) hosted the JPIC English Promoters Meeting last October 18. Twenty-eight congregations are currently hosting refugees in 30 of their houses. Since the beginning of the project (2014), 111 persons are on their own. With Fr. Jude Nnorom, CSSP as facilitator, the session began with the prayer on the reality of migration. This was followed by the experiences shared by four resource persons who spoke of their community’s blessings, challenges, best practices and questions. They include Sr. Maria Josè Rosa of the Ursulines of the Roman Union, Fr. Nico Espinosa of the Society of the Divine Word, Fr. David Reid of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, and Sr. Carmen Elissa Bandeo of the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit.



ƒƒ Assisting families and persons to be independent and to recover the dimension of intimacy and family. Refugees/migrants are helped to create new links of networks, contacts, acquaintances and opportunities.

ƒƒ Responding to the call of the Church and to participate  sensitivity to their cultural and religious plurality.



ƒƒ The language becomes a barrier for communication. Caution is necessary regarding boundary

issues, while offering advice, feedback, providing accompaniment, and caring for their health.

ƒƒ There is fear of suffering due to xenophobia and prejudices. Complex issues are related to money. Faced with new people and culture, there is an unconscious drive to save their identity, while integrating into their new local reality.


Best practices

ƒƒ Treating them like neighbors, friends and long term guests; celebrating their important days; keeping the balance between respect for their privacy and making our presence with them; assigning a member of the community as reference point for refugees; stating the boundaries clearly with due care for their employment and religious perspectives; informing them of expectations; respecting the desire to give back in small ways like sharing their meal.

ƒƒ The project has to be regularly evaluated and updated.



ƒƒ How to help the refugees take responsibility for their own life and to create a network amongst

themselves to promote better conditions for their lives?

ƒƒ How can we develop and make known the right of all to emigrate and immigrate, as stated in Catholic Social teaching( cf. Compendium of the Social doctrine of the church, no. 100, 289, 297, 298, 308, 505).

ƒƒ How do we balance the needs of the refugees/migrants

and the local community?

Sr. Maria Jose Rey Merodio, Coordinator of the Centro Astalli Program for Congregations in Rome, explained the Semi-Autonomy Project:

Community of Hospitality, which facilitates the exit of refugees from the reception circuit, creating a bridge to accompany the passage from assisted reception to autonomy. The project allows the gradual involvement of the beneficiaries in the direct participation in their own sustenance and in the re-appropriation of the administration of everyday life. They help to create new links in the

territory and insertion in the fabric of society. The project makes possible new forms of widespread reception.


Challenges for the Centro Astalli Program include: finding a stable and regular working insertion, finding places to rent on a regular basis after the period of semi-autonomous reception, adhering to a straight-line path of integration, logistic and bureaucratic difficulties linked to being transferred—residence, school insertion of minors, being taken charge by the relevant social services, etc., accepting the conclusion of the reception period, cultural difficulties (saving money,

maintenance of the spaces, etc.).


We are grateful that the RMWG will be developing a handbook to share their experiences with other persons interested in working with refugees and migrants.

Following are references to more information regarding refugees/


ƒƒ Centro Astalli

ƒƒ Pope Francis: The protection of migrants is a moral duty

ƒƒ Migrants and refugees

ƒƒ Sendai framework for disaster reduction

ƒƒ Global movement of people

ƒƒ Population of refugees/migrants

ƒƒ New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

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The dark secrets of Italian kitchens


By Mike Dilien. This article was published in the August edition of Wanted in Rome magazine.

Rome. An evening breeze gently caresses your face after a suffocating day among the monuments. The street cobbles have dissipated the day’s heat and now shine under the glow of dim lights. Every bar and restaurant is buzzing with people. “Buonasera,” says a smiling waiter from a wooden terrace. You recognise the restaurant from a review that praised its “delicious regional delicacies” prepared with “carefully selected ingredients.” Why not give it a try?

The waiter guides you to a small table in the corner. At the back of the room, seated at joined tables, a group of British retirees recounts the events of the day. In front of you, a French family is discussing the menu: while the parents consider having starters, the children prefer jumping straight to the main course. Next to your table, an American couple orders pizza.

The waiter returns and hands over the menu. You ask him what he recommends for starters.

Spaghetti con pomodori di S. Marzano,” he says.

A dish with tomatoes sounds good. After all, you are in Italy and the tomato is almost a national symbol, isn’t it? You ask where this type of tomato grows.

“The S. Marzano are from Foggia,” he explains. “They have been hand-picked.”

While you are waiting for your food, you study the cheerful map of Italy that hangs beside you. You eye the south: Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata, Campania and Puglia. You spot the city of Foggia.

According to a Danish report, 18,000 of the 400,000 immigrants who are working illegally in Italy’s agriculture head for Foggia every summer. After the tomato harvest, they pick water-melons or move to Sicily to pick grapes. Most of them pass the winter in Calabria picking citrus fruits.1

The restaurant breathes a bucolic atmosphere: high arches evoke a barn, niches in the bare walls display copper bowls and plates, and demijohn bottles and country-style tablecloths decorate rustic wooden tables.

The immigrant workers live crammed in derelict and abandoned buildings without electricity, running water or sanitation.

The dish is exquisite. The tomato slices are tickling your palate and the pasta mixes well with the juicy S. Marzano.

When Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) visited the workers across the southern Italian regions of Calabria, Puglia, Campania, Basilicata and Sicily in 2004, they diagnosed 94.4 per cent as being chronically ill.2 The workers were suffering from respiratory infections, skin diseases, intestinal parasites and tuberculosis. On top of this, all the workers were undernourished. They earned up to €4 for every crate of 350kg they filled with tomatoes. Yet they had to pay middlemen five cents for every such crate, €5 for transportation per day and €50 a month in rent. The men who were picking food from 06.00-18.00 could afford but one meal a day.

A waitress takes your empty plate. You have a look at the menu: will you try the carciofi alla giudia or rather the zucchine ripiene di carne, both “recipes prepared with local ingredients”? The local ingredients are a well-guarded secret.

In Rome’s hinterland, known as the Agro Pontino, a community of 12,000 Indian Sikhs (Italy has the largest community of Sikhs in the EU after the UK) picks artichokes and courgettes. They have paid employers upfront €14,000 each for sponsoring an entry visa. Once in Italy, however, they do not receive a residence permit. Turned into illegal immigrants, they find themselves at the mercy of their employer and have to endure delayed or non-payment of wages. They work 10 to 12 hours a day. In order to keep up with the work pace, many of them turn to amphetamines or even hard drugs. Substance abuse, however, is taboo in the Sikh religion and is disrupting the community.

Officially, the Agro Pontino counts 10,000 workers for 11,000 companies, a figure that is too absurdly low to be true. A surplus of undocumented workers keeps downward pressure on wages. “The Italian government is well aware of what the employers do,” said a Sikh worker in an interview with Amnesty International, and explained: “We are a subsidy.”

All the fruit and vegetables on the menu have passed through the Centro Agroalimentare Roma in Guidonia, which was opened about ten years ago, replacing the old Mercati Generali in Ostiense. It is now Italy’s largest and Europe’s third-largest wholesale market. In this 140-hectare complex not far from Tivoli, Egyptian boys aged 11-17 work 10 hours a day for €20. Their families pay human traffickers up to €10,000 to take the boys to Italy. Upon arrival, the boys ask for asylum and are sheltered in subsidised host families. It takes them 18 years to pay off their debt.

You go to the bathroom. At one of the tables, a tourist uses her smartphone to take a picture of her plate –“my favourite food! #Italiandinner #Italianrestaurant.” Passing the kitchen, you peep through the half-open door: four Indo-Asian men or north Africans are preparing authentic Roman specialties.

When you get back at your table, the American couple is paying the bill. The man says to the waiter: “This doesn’t taste the same back home, you know. Here, everything just tastes better.”

Already four out of every 10 pizzaioli in Italy are immigrants. In 2013, 29.7 per cent of kitchen staff in Lazio’s restaurants were non-EU immigrants – Italian waiters are there to convince customers that they are experiencing the real thing.

“Any dessert, sir?” asks the waiter and hands you the menu. The restaurant is famous for its desserts, so you have read. You try their sorbetto: “Made with juice from three types of oranges, this sorbet wonderfully balances sweetness and smoothness. It has a refreshing aroma and is served in the orange rind.”

When the waiter brings your dessert, you ask for the bill. It is getting late. Time to go home. In Termini station you will pass immigrants sleeping rough. Many of the Africans that are living on the streets of Rome or squatting in buildings in the outskirts of town have fled the Italian countryside. Some of them used to pick oranges in Rosarno, Calabria. In 2010, the town of Rosarno hosted about 5,000 immigrant workers. After locals shot at them the Africans rebelled – against employers who, on pay day, tip off the police to the workers’ whereabouts; against the disappearance of co-workers who criticised the working conditions; against forced sexual favours; against drive-by shootings and manhunts. The locals then hit back. After two days and nights of violence, the authorities transferred Rosarno’s immigrant workers to detention centres.

The waiter arrives with the bill. It is more than the entire kitchen staff makes in a day. On the late-night bus, you will be the only westerner amid exhausted kitchen staff returning to the suburbs.

Today an immigrant picker earns about a third of what his Italian peer earned 30 years ago but at the same time the price of tomatoes has tripled. Italy is now the world’s largest exporter of canned tomatoes. By 2011 EU subsidies (which reached €6.1 billion in 2013) had turned 211 Italian farmers into millionaires, according to the website.3

In 2012 the Fillea-CGIL trade union accused producers of tomatoes and water melons “made in Italy” of extortion and human trafficking. Food retailers in UK, Norway, Denmark and Germany have at last begun to scrutinise the business ethics of Italian suppliers.

The waiter swipes your credit card through the card reader.

“How was your meal, sir?”

“Very tasty,” you say.

“Yes,” says the waiter. “Our kitchen is based on simplicity, and treats each ingredient with respect.”


  1. 1. From “Behind the Canned Tomatoes: Labour exploitation in the production of canned tomatoes sold in Danish supermarkets“. Published by Danwatch, a non-profit research centre. Danwatch received funds from Amnesty International for this investigation.
  2. 2. Published by MSF in “The Fruits of Hypocrisy
  3. 3. The site is maintained by a non-profit organisation in the UK and the Danish International Centre for Analytical Reporting.
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LUMADS: A Story of Indigenous people in the Southern Philippines


Mindanao is the home of the Lumads ( means native of the land. It refers to the non-Muslim  indigenous ethno-linguistic groups found throughout Mindanao) and the Moro people, is a land rich in natural resources and fertile soil. Yet, the people of this island continue to suffer extreme poverty due to State neglect and persistent military intervention. Majority or 61% of the country’s national minorities are found in the mineral- rich regions of Mindanao, but these regions unjustly get the smallest share of the national budget. Thus, access of Lumad and Moro people to basic social services, especially on education and health, is far below to that of the rest of the country’s population.


More than half a million hectares of ancestral  lands have been taken by foreign, large-scale mining companies and about 700,000 hectares have been converted into-cash crop plantations of multinational companies. This cycle of plunder have propelled the tribes and communities to unite and wage resistance in defense of their ancestral lands and human rights.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis in his talk to numerous indigenous representatives in Rome at the conclusion of the third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum held by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development stated publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on – or impact – their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.

The past few years, the Lumad people have come together to build and sustain community schools. To date, the Lumad people with the assistance of church and civil society organizations have established 216 community schools in far-flung villages of Mindanao providing free and transformative education. These are non-formal schools under the Alternative Learning System Program of the Department of Education. Central to the program of these community schools are basic literacy and numeracy, social science, technology and livelihood education, indigenous, Filipino and English languages, and art appreciation of indigenous arts and culture. In order to attain food sufficiency through a school farm for sustainable agriculture.


How can you help?

Adopt-a-learner, Adopt- a- community teacher, Help build a School, Be a volunteer community teacher  and Be a donor: textbooks, school supplies and food for the feeding program are among the on-going projects being undertaken to help our lumads.

You can send your donations at

Save our Schools Network – National Secretariat

c/o Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern Inc.

2F, 90 J. Bugallon St. Brgy. Bagumbuhay, Project 4, Quezon City, Philippines 1109

Tel. no. ₊263-7789

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2017 Seacology Prize Recipient: Gina Lopez (Philippines)


In recognition of her untiring environmental advocacy in the face of powerful opposition, Regina Paz (Gina) Lopez of the Philippines has been awarded the 2017 Seacology Prize. Seacology awards the $10,000 prize, now in its 27th year, to someone who has shown exceptional achievement in preserving island environments and culture.

“Gina Lopez has shown the vision and courage the Seacology Prize is meant to honor,” said Seacology’s executive director, Duane Silverstein. “She has fought for the Philippines environment and to give island communities there a voice in the decisions that affect their natural resources and their lives.”

For more than 15 years, Ms. Lopez has been an outspoken champion of social and environmental causes in the Philippines. When she spearheaded the rehabilitation of the badly polluted Pasig River and nearby urban streams, she was named to chair the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. Her efforts there led to the cleanup of at least 17 tributaries in the Pasig river system.

She also led a campaign to save La Mesa Watershed, a once-neglected area that contains the last remaining rainforest of its size in Metro Manila, as well as the reservoir from which 12 million people get their drinking water. It is now La Mesa Ecopark, a tree-lined park where urban dwellers can hike, fish, and ride mountain bikes or horses.

As a leader of the Save Palawan Island movement, Ms. Lopez lobbied against the environmental ravages of mining on Philippine islands. Her stance drew angry criticism from the powerful mining industry.

That criticism intensified in 2016, when Ms. Lopez became acting secretary of the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). She established the first-ever forums for consultations between the DENR and indigenous groups, and shut down illegal fish pens in the country’s largest lake. But her strongest actions were directed squarely at mining operations, especially heavily polluting nickel mines. She banned open-pit mines and moved to shut down more than half of the operations of the country’s mining companies.

These bold actions cost Ms. Lopez her job. In May 2017, the members of a congressional commission on appointments—some of whom had ties to the mining industry—voted her out. But inside government or out, she has vowed to keep fighting. She has already started I LOVE (Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies), to lift Filipinos out of poverty by building green businesses at the grassroots level.

“I am honored to receive an award for something I believe in and from an organization doing so much for island ecosystems,” said Ms. Lopez.

“The Philippines is a country of 7,000 islands, and I hope this award will affect the entire country. And because the Philippines has so many diverse ecosystems, and so many animals and plants that occur nowhere else, saving our islands has direct global impact as well.”

This year’s Seacology Prize Ceremony, honoring Gina Lopez, will be held tonight, October 5, at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. The reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the presentation of the award and a presentation about Seacology’s current projects. If you’d like to attend, please use the form below, sign up on Eventbrite, or call 510.559.3505.

Original Press Release:…


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Prague international conference to end the immigration detention of children


”The cost of alternatives is much lower than that of migration detention. In addition, alternatives are  less dangerous than detention; for the children themselves, in terms of the harm that deprivation of liberty inevitably causes.  They are also less dangerous for our societies; the message they deliver is about containing intolerance; about decreasing social tension; and ultimately about preserving the integrity and credibility of our institutions, our belief in human rights and the rule of law, our democratic values”, said the Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe, Christos Giakoumopoulos.

The international conference Immigration Detention of Children: Coming to a Close?  was organised in Prague on 25 and 26 September 2017 by the Czech chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.

It brought together leading human-rights experts, officials from member states and civil society representatives who discussed international standards, good practices and findings from the field, in order to identify ways of promoting alternatives to the migration detention of children. The themes explored included the vulnerability of migrant children and the huge psychological impact that detention has on them. The opening panel on experiences from the ground included Pinar Aksu, who sought asylum in the United Kingdom as a child and who contributed a first-hand account of the effects of migration detention.

On the final panel, the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Tomáš Boček, stressed ” the need for an alliance of actors that will push for change, including enlightened government leaders who will take the lead at European level, parliamentarians engaging in campaigns like that of PACE, lawyers prepared to  initiate strategic litigation before the European Court of Human Rights, committed NGOs, and, most importantly, state officials, civil servants and advisors, who will be convinced themselves of the need to limit the migration detention of children”.

The conference is the first concrete step towards the implementation of the recently adopted Council of Europe Action Plan in Protecting Migrant and Refugee children.

The conference was opened by Czech Minister of Justice Robert Pelikán and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks delivered a keynote speech.

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E-NEWS September 2017



We remember in our prayers the people of Mexico who have suffered a terrible earthquake which has claimed about 250 dead and many others injured. Remember also the people of Puerto Rico and Domenican Republic who have suffered damages from Hurricane Maria. Let us pray for hope and faith as the country goes through a difficult moment.

Pope Francis’ prayer intention: Let us continue to pray with the Holy Father that our parishes, animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen.

The Season of Creation September 1 to October 4. Resource materials continue to be posted on Also consider the Laudato Si Pledge.


26 September International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Read Pope Francis’ message to the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination,” at


11 October: Sr. Dorothy Ezeh of the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Love in Enugu, Nigeria will be discussing her newly released book Human Trafficking and Prostitution. In June, Sr. Dorothy had presented some of her studies to the Anti-Trafficking Working. They found her research and conclusions to be insightful and very interesting.  The Chargé d’ Affaires of Nigeria Stephen Anthony Awuuru will also be present. The event will take place at the USMI – Via Zanardelli, 36. The invitation is available on the Talitha Kum website. The presentation will be in Italian with English translation.

15-18 November—JPIC Promoters Formation Workshop with the theme “Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace”. At Casa per Ferie Enrico De Osso, Via Val Cannuta 134 Roma. The four-day workshop provides new JPIC Promoters with the tools needed to animate members of their congregation. Others engaged in JPIC-related ministries are welcome to attend the full workshop or individual sessions. The workshop is in both English and Spanish. For registration and the flyer, please go to

Starting November 9 Joint Diploma in Ecologia Integrale a partire dalla LaudatoSi. Many of our Catholic Universities are collaborating on this wonderful effort. Elementary knowledge of Italian should suffice.For more information contact Prof. Joshtrom Jureethadam

Starting November 13 Pastoral care of Humanitarian Aid Workers sponsored by the Camillianum International Pastoral Care Theology. The aim of the course is to train humanitarian care workers in light of Pope Francis call for care and concern for suffering humanity. Course in English only. For more information,  and


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