News From the Vatican

 To the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception: proclaim the Good News with methods and language understandable to people of our time

To the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception: proclaim the Good News with methods and language understandable to people of our time

The Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, present in twenty countries, is celebrating its General Chapter in Rome from 5 to 25 February. The Pope received them this morning in the Consistory Hall, and in his address to them he recalled that one of the main aims of this Chapter is to reflect on the laws and regulations of the Congregation.

“This is an important task”, Francis observed, before quoting from the apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata of his predecessor St. John Paul II: “There is a pressing need today for every Institute to return to the Rule, since the Rule and Constitutions provide a map for the whole journey of discipleship, in accordance with a specific charism confirmed by the Church”. He added, “I urge you, therefore, to carry out this reflection with fidelity to the charism of the Founder and the spiritual heritage of your Congregation and, at the same time, with a heart and mind open to the new needs of the people. It is true, we must go ahead towards the new needs, the new challenges, but remember: we cannot go ahead without memory. It is a continual tension. If I want to go ahead without memory of the past, of the history of the founders, the great figures and also the sins of the Congregation, I cannot do so. This is a rule: memory, this ‘deuteronomic’ dimension of life must always be used when we update the constitutions of a religious congregation”.

He went on to reiterate that their Founder, St. Slanislaus of Jesus and Mary, canonised last year, had fully understood the meaning of being a disciple of Christ when he prayed his “Christus Patiens”: “Lord Jesus, if You would unite me to You through charity, who will wrench me from You? If you will join me to You in mercy, who will sever me from You? Let my spirit cleave to You, let Your most merciful right hand support me”. “From this perspective”, he said, “your service to the Word is witness to the Risen Christ, Whom you have met on your journey and Whom, with your style of life, you are called to take wherever the Church sends you. Christian witness also requires commitment to and with the poor, a commitment that has characterised your Institute since the beginning. I encourage you to keep alive this tradition of service to the poor and humble, through the proclamation of the Gospel with language understandable to them, with works of mercy and prayer for the souls of the departed. That closeness to people like us, simple. I like the passage of St. Paul to Timothy: ‘a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother and your mother’, the simplicity of the mother, the grandmother. This is the foundation. We are not princes, sons of princes or counts or barons: we are simple people, of the people. And for this reason we draw close with this simplicity to the simple people and those who suffer the most: the sick, children, the abandoned elderly, the poor … all of them. And this poverty is at the heart of the Gospel: it is the poverty of Jesus, not sociological poverty, but that of Jesus”.

Another significant aspect of the spiritual heritage of this religious family consists of the writings of Blessed Jorge Matulaitis: the total dedication to the Church and to man, so as to “go bravely to work and fight for the Church, especially where there is greatest need”. “May his intercession help you to cultivate this attitude, which in recent decades has inspired your initiatives for spreading the charism of the Institute to poor countries, especially in Africa and Asia”, the Pope added.

“The great challenge of inculturation requires that today you proclaim the Good News using languages and methods comprehensible to the men of our time, involved in processes of rapid social and cultural change. Your Congregation has a long history, written by courageous witnesses of Christ and of the Gospel. You are called, in their wake, to walk with renewed zeal so as to set out, with prophetic freedom and wise discernment – both of them together! – along apostolic roads and missionary frontiers, cultivating close collaboration with the bishops and other members of the ecclesial community”.

The horizons of evangelisation and the urgent need to bear witness to the evangelical message before all, without distinctions, constitute the vast field of your apostolate. Many still await knowledge of Jesus, the sole Redeemer of man, and many situations of injustice and moral and material hardship challenge believers. Such an urgent mission requires conversion at personal and community levels. Only hearts that are fully open to the action of Grace are able to interpret the signs of the times and to hear the calls of humanity in need of hope and peace”.

“Dear brothers, following the example of your Founder, be courageous in your service to Christ and to the Church, responding to new challenges and new missions, even though at a human level they may seem risky. Indeed, the ‘genetic code’ of your community includes what St. Stanislaus himself affirmed from his own experience: ‘Despite the countless difficulties, divine goodness and wisdom initiate and conclude what they will, even when the means, by human judgement, are inadequate. Indeed, for the Almighty, nothing is impossible. This has been clearly demonstrated in me’. And this attitude – which comes from the smallness of means, even from our own smallness, even from our unworthiness, inasmuch as we are sinners, it comes from there, but has a broad horizon. [This attitude] is the act of faith in the power of the Lord: the Lord can, the Lord is capable. And our smallness is in fact the seed, that then germinates, grows; the Lord waters it, and in this way it goes ahead. But the sense of smallness is that first impulse towards trust in the power of God. Go, go ahead on this road”.

“To your Mother and Patroness, Mary Immaculate, I entrust your journey of faith and growth, in the constant union with Christ and with the Holy Spirit, that makes you witnesses of the power of the Resurrection”, Francis concluded, before imparting his apostolic blessing to all those present, to all the Congregation and to their lay collaborators.

 Ukrainian troops repel enemy attack near Avdiyivka on Sunday morning


A skirmish between Ukrainian troops and Russia's hybrid military forces near the Ukrainian-controlled town of Avdiyivka in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, was reported to have broken out at about 05:00 a.m. local time on Sunday, February 19, 2017, according to the press center of the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. War 10:55, 19 February 2017 944 READ LATER REUTERS "The militant attack has been repelled," the ATO HQ said in an update on Sunday morning. The total number of attacks on Ukrainian positions in the past 24 hours was 105 incidents, it said. Six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action; three had minor injuries over the period under review. Read alsoUkraine volunteer killed in Donbas – ATO HQThe enemy used proscribed 122mm artillery systems in the Donetsk sector to shell the village of Nevelske, the ATO HQ said. They also fired mortars, grenade launchers, large-caliber machine guns and small arms on Avdiyivka, and the villages of Novoluhanske, Pisky, Kamyanka, Nevelske, Troyitske, Luhanske, Novoselivka, Opytne, and Zaitseve. Novoluhanske also came under sniper fire, while Troyitske was attacked by an infantry fighting vehicle. In the Luhansk sector, mortars of various calibers were used to attack the villages of Novo-Oleksandrivka and Krymske. Grenade launchers were used to fire on the villages of Stanytsia Luhanska and Novozvanivka. The occupiers also used anti-tank missile systems to shell Krymske. Read alsoATO HQ update: 2 WIA, 49 militant attacks in DonbasIn the Mariupol sector, Russia's hybrid military forces used banned 122mm artillery systems to shell the villages of Vodiane and Novohryhorivka. Mortars of various calibers were used to attack the towns of Maryinka and Krasnohorivka, and the villages of Starohnativka, Vodiane, Pavlopil, and Novotroyitske. They also used grenades and small arms to fire on the villages of Pavlopil, Hnutove, Vodiane, Shyrokyne, and Talakivka. Shyrokyne was also attacked by enemy infantry fighting vehicles. In the evening, the invaders lobbed 30 Grad rockets onto Ukrainian positions close to the village of Vodiane.

WATCH: Will latest Iraqi offensive mean end of ISIL in Mosul?

Iraqi forces and their allies have been fighting for months to push ISIL out of Mosul.



The Iraqi army and its allies have begun an offensive to drive fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group out of the most populated western area of Mosul.

Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, made the announcement during his appearance in Munich for an international security conference.

Just a month ago, Iraqi troops took control of the eastern side of Mosul, the last ISIL stronghold in Iraq.

The government forces are expected to target the city's airport first during this new phase.

It is located at the southern edge, to the west of the Tigris River, which divides the city.

Western Mosul is where the old city centre is located.

Commanders say the battle may prove to be more difficult than in the east, because tanks and armoured vehicles cannot pass through its narrow streets.

Fighters of ISIL, also known as ISIS, have also developed a network of passage ways and tunnels that could aid their defence.

How challenging will the offensive be? And what will it take to regain full control of Mosul?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan


Ahmed Rushdi - director of the House of Iraqi Expertise Foundation

Judit Neurink - journalist based in Erbil and author of The War of ISIS: On the Road to the Caliphate

Source: Al Jazeera News


Sweden wants Trump to explain mysterious ’last night in Sweden’ incident

The Swedish government on Sunday demanded that the White House clarifies what US President Donald Trump meant while speaking at a Florida rally on Saturday during which he referred to what appeared to be a serious incident “last night in Sweden”.

The only twist was that nothing spectacular happened in Sweden on Friday.

Twitter ran wild with speculation about what the American leader might have been referring to - the fact that it had snowed? That a large amount of reindeers had crossed the border? Or perhaps Sweden’s generous social welfare system? - and a series of hashtags sprung to life, including #LastNightInSweden and #JeSuisIkea.

The Swedish government, however, wasn’t as amused.

Government spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson told Swedish news agency TT that Stockholm is now demanding an explanation from the Trump administration.

“Our embassy in Washington has been in contact with the US foreign affairs office to get clarification. We’re of course wondering [what he referred to],” she said.

“Let’s see if we get an answer from the embassy.”

Several high profile Swedish politicians, including former prime minister Carl Bildt, reacted to Trump’s comment.


Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström appeared to be equally baffled, tweeting an extract of the country’s foreign policy declaration for 2017 and which talks about Oxford Dictionaries declaring the term “post-truth” its international word of the year.

Disability Works: Breaking down barriers in business

The BBC's Johny Cassidy began to lose his eyesight when he was in his teens

Across the world up to 1.2 billion people live with some sort of disability, it is estimated. That's equivalent to the population of China.

In the UK, it is thought that some seven million people of working age have a disability, which all adds up to an awful lot of spending power.

Latest figures from the UK's Department of Work and Pensions estimate that this spending power, the so-called "purple pound", is worth £249bn to the economy.

So what should businesses be doing to try to get a share of this money?

That's what we'll be asking during Disability Works week from the BBC's business and economics unit.

We'll be looking at how businesses work with people with disabilities and how disabled people have made business work for them.

Challenging stereotypes

I gradually began to lose my eyesight when I was in my teens so I understand the difficulties for disabled people getting into work. I've been a producer in the BBC's business and economics unit for nearly nine years.

I'm keen to address the stereotype of disabled people that we all too often see in the media. For every one of the superheroes climbing mountains or the wheelchair marathon runners, there are dozens of people quietly getting on with running their own business.

There are also likely to be a lot of disabled people watching the news who miss out on seeing people like themselves reflected in bulletins. I'm hoping that this week will go some way to addressing that.

Jacob Anthony has ataxic cerebral palsy - he's set up his own bakery but it's not been easy

We'll be talking to disabled men and woman who have decided to start their own businesses, from the Welsh baker just at the start of his journey into entrepreneurship, right the way through to the Christmas tree farmer who's been selling trees for over 20 years.

Business sense, not charity

Many big businesses realise that by simply listening to and understanding the needs of their disabled customers, a rich new revenue stream can be opened up.

It is not about charity, though. It makes hard business sense to address the needs of this demographic.

Diversity in a workforce has long been said to be beneficial to a company. The need to reflect your customer base within the workforce brings empathy and understanding, and far from being a hindrance to a business, this diversity can bring a strength.

We'll look at the UK fragrance house that has teamed up with a college for the blind in Mumbai in India in order to train people to become perfumers and the South African business that is training disabled welders.

Ravi Vanniyar's company uses blind people like himself to check the smell of raw materials that go into making perfumes

The whole idea is to show that with a little bit of adaptation and understanding, disabled people can and do add to the economy.


Disability Works

The BBC's business and economics unit is looking at how businesses work with people with disabilities and how disabled people have made business work for them