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US nuncio says he'll stay, help prepare for synod, Biden-pope meeting – The Catholic Sun

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the 75-year-old apostolic nuncio to the United States, said when he met Pope Francis at the Vatican Sept. 6, the pope asked him to remain in his post instead of retiring.

“He asked me to stay, so I stay as long as he wants. And I am happy to do so,” the archbishop told Catholic News Service.

At the top of the nuncio’s to-do list is helping the Holy See prepare for Joe Biden’s first presidential visit to the Vatican, while the president is in Rome for an Oct. 30-31 summit of leading rich and developed nations.

The archbishop confirmed the Biden-pope meeting indirectly: “It would be an anomaly if he did not meet the pope while in Rome,” especially since Biden is the first Catholic president in 58 years.

Despite a “tense situation because of the agenda of the Democratic Party on abortion,” Archbishop Pierre said he believes it will be a good meeting.

Onlookers must think beyond institutions to the people themselves: “These are two human beings with huge responsibilities trying to meet each other. They are not wooden figures. And behind them is a big machine — and the world.” So problematic matters will not be solved quickly, the diplomat said.

Meanwhile, the church is a major factor in American society, “very much present in all issues,” he said. “You have 80 million Catholics, the huge structure of the church, and the bishops are very active.”

The nuncio thinks polarization is one of the most difficult things facing the United States because “as long as you are polarized, you don’t find solutions.”

He says the church defends values without transforming its mission into an ideology.

Ideology quickly gives way to “cultural war,” which leads people to divide reality into those “with us” versus those “against us,” a simplistic framework that the nuncio calls “mystification,” because “reality is extremely complex.”

The church is called to preach the Gospel, advocate dialogue, and resist extremism, he said.

“When the church is contaminated by polarization, we go nowhere” — a real danger, the archbishop said. Instead, the church — simultaneously in the world, but not of the world — is called to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.”

As the pope’s eyes and ears in the United States, Archbishop Pierre is the Vatican’s interlocutor with the U.S. government as well as with the bishops. One of his most important assignments is to help the pope select new bishops, “a businesslike thing” that occupies much of his work with the Vatican.

Archbishop Pierre said Pope Francis — whom he’s known since being appointed nuncio to Mexico in 2007, when Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was a leading figure in Latin American Church deliberations — is easy to talk to and not intimidating, while “challenging us all the time.”

“The pope is not a dictator, he is a mobilizer,” said the French-born diplomat. “What he wants is to help the church be church here (in the U.S.).”

“That is why I insist a lot on synodality, which means walking together, when I talk to bishops,” the nuncio said. “The strength of the church is together, a synodal approach, which has to be implemented.”

Archbishop Pierre is intensely at work on the 2023 Synod of Bishops on synodality, which Pope Francis officially opened Oct. 10. In the last two weeks of September alone, he visited Missouri, Massachusetts, Illinois, Nevada and Kentucky, carrying the pope’s message.

“It is exhausting,” he laughed.

The nuncio described a primary function of his job as providing analysis so the pope can play his role in a complex world — analysis that is “never black and white.”

“We try to preach the Gospel in this world; we aren’t creating a new society,” the archbishop said.

Over the past 45 years, he has worked in nine countries, most of them poor.

“I started in New Zealand and the South Pacific. Then I went to Mozambique with (President) Samora Machel. Then I went to Zimbabwe with (Robert) Mugabe. Then I went to Cuba with Fidel Castro,” he recounted.

“Beautiful figures of dictators: Machel, Mugabe, Fidel Castro. Then a bit later, I was with Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. Then, I was with Trump,” Pierre said.

“We are not like foreigners. As soon as we arrive in a country, we are part of the country, because we are in the church,” he said. “This is our specificity.”

Gazing down on the nuncio as he spoke were portraits of several predecessors.

The largest portrait depicts Italian Cardinal Amleto Cicognani, who built the substantial nunciature. He represented the Vatican in Washington as apostolic delegate — the two countries did not yet have formal diplomatic relations — from 1933 to 1958.

Archbishop Pierre said then-Archbishop Cicognani was hardly utilized by Pope Pius XII, but with the ascent of Pope John XXIII, in a “twist of history,” the Italian diplomat was named to the College of Cardinals in 1958, joining his brother, Gaetano, already a cardinal.

Pope John XXIII named Cardinal Amleto Cicognani secretary of state in 1961. He served as the Vatican’s top diplomat until 1969, when he resigned at age 86.

“He is inspiring,” said Archbishop Pierre, “But I don’t identify with him.”

A smaller painting features Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, nuncio from 2011 to 2016 and author of scandalous statements against Pope Francis.

Asked why the portrait remains on the wall, Archbishop Pierre replied, “Because we are not Americans (who) want to take away the statues. We respect history.”

Besides, Archbishop Pierre added, “I’ve known him for 40 years.”

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'I'm Not Here Without God': US-Based Farai Mutatu's Relationship With Religion, Soccer – New

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MICHIGAN State soccer senior forward Farai Mutatu’s life has been far from the cookie-cutter,  white-picket-fence version.

When Mutatu was about 6 years old, his father was offered the opportunity to pursue a chemistry degree at MSU.

This meant Mutatu had to move away from his home, from what he knew and was comfortable with and brace himself for the unforeseen. In 2006, the Mutatus made their way from Zimbabwe to Haslett, Michigan. Being a family with four young children, this was difficult.

“When we got here … the community was super welcoming,” Mutatu said. “We made a lot of good friends and connections that we still hold today. The community is also kind of how and why I started playing soccer. We became locals fast.”

Eight years later in 2014, things changed again. This time, Mutatu’s parents were forced to return to Zimbabwe for reasons out of their control.

Mutatu has not seen them since. Now in the states, he only has his two older brothers — who are married with families of their own — and his younger sister who is studying mechanical engineering at Notre Dame.

Much like the apostle Peter, who trusted Jesus Christ enough to walk on water in the Gospel of Matthew, Mutatu has put his trust in Jesus Christ enough to stay in the states on his own and living out the opportunities his parents had originally intended for him.

“It was difficult, because I felt like I needed to grow up really fast at that age,” Mutatu said. “I’m thankful that I had soccer because, in a way, it kept me distracted … and gave me something to pursue and work hard towards. I was motivated … and there’s obviously pros and cons to that mentally. As you get older, you look back (at different traumas) and … you’re like, ‘OK, how did this affect me?’”

Mutatu’s faith is the biggest part of his life. Growing up in a Christian household, Farai said he was taught from the get-go to “love the Lord and all he does for his life on this Earth.” Faith has kept him grounded, and he made it something of his own since coming to college, using it to deal with missing his parents or losing a highly anticipated soccer game.

Before every game, Mutatu takes a minute to close his eyes and point up to the Heavens. To him, it serves as a reminder of who he is and how good God is to him.

“I’m not here without him,” Mutatu said. “Everything that I could have ever have, want and need has been given to me. I play out of gratefulness for what Jesus has already done for me.”

“I’ve learned this principle through action and people that have disciplined and mentored me, it’s a concept of an audience of one,” Mutatu said. “So, when I step out on the field, I’m not playing for anything or anyone besides God. That gives me freedom and confidence. It gives me my drive and motivation to play. It’s really a symbol to say, ‘Hey, this is for God.’”

Religion is more important to most of the Spartan soccer team than some might realize. Although Michigan State Head Coach Damon Rensing makes it a point that religion is an individual choice and it’s great that guys like Mutatu have that under their belt to motivate them, Farai said they often attend pregame chapel to pray as a group.

Longtime best friend of Mutatu, senior midfielder Jack Beck, said the journey of growing with Mutatu in the name of the Lord has been a blessing. He also appreciates how the team has grown in their faith.

“Iron sharpens iron,” Beck said. “He’s very outgoing about his faith, and it’s something we’ve gone through together. There’s been times where I’ve fallen, and he’s picked me back up and vice versa. Faith is the most important thing in both of our lives. We play and we fight for something bigger. It’s not our performance that determines who we are, but it’s something God tells us we are.”

Mutatu said he thinks religion is about who you are and what you want to build your life around as a whole. This fact alone reflects as a common theme for a lot of the guys on the team, connecting them deeper, physically, mentally and emotionally.

“It’s changed our lives,” Beck said.

“It’s bigger than just soccer,” Mutatu said.

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Africans in conversation with their Cuban brothers and sisters, By Owei Lakemfa – Premium Times

AFRICAN leaders including former Presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, and Cuban solidarity movements in 23 African countries were last Thursday, October 7, 2021 engaged in conversations with Cubans on their collective past and future.

It was not the usual intercontinental summit of states or institutions where deals are struck, diplomatic commitments made or aid promised. They were discussions among peoples with a shared ancestry, a common past and who foresee a better future based on their unity.

The date chosen was forty eight hours before the ‘Day of the Heroic Guerrilla.’ This refers to the Argentine-born medical doctor-turned Cuban national hero and symbol of international solidarity, Ernesto Che Guevera.

He had left his country to spread the message of hope and liberation among the hopeless, the hapless and the wretched of the earth. Along with Fidel Castro, Che fought in the triumphant Cuban Revolution, waged an armed struggle alongside Laurent-Desire Kabila in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC in an effort to unseat the puppet Joseph Mobutu Seseseko regime before being ambushed and captured in the jungles of Bolivia.

Although a Prisoner of War, he was summarily executed on October 9, 1967 in an attempt to kill a myth, but ironically, this created the myth and legend that is Che Guevera. The Afro-Cuban international conversations held virtually as the biennial conference slated for Maputo, Mozambique could not hold due to COVID-19.

A star contributor in the conversations was Father Michael Lapsley, 72, a Che-like international figure who at 24, left his original New Zealand home for Apartheid South Africa, made so much contribution in the liberation struggle, that within three years, was sent into exile.

But in exile, the Anglican priest became so effective in the international anti-Apartheid movement that even when that evil system was being dismantled with the unbanning of the liberation movements and release of their symbol, Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990, the Apostles of Apartheid still wanted Lapsley dead.

Three months after the release of Mandela, the Apartheid regime sent Lapsley a parcel bomb in Zimbabwe in which he lost both hands, one eye with severe burns. The Father who had written that he was introduced to: “Cuba in gospel terms as providing good news for poor people” said when he was bombed, Cuba offered him free medical care. Partly in appreciation, when he returned to South Africa in 1992, he founded the Friends of Cuba Society, FOCUS.

Lapsley speaking from Cape Town last week as President of FOCUS, told the Cubans: “Since the triumph of the revolution in 1959, you taught the world the meaning of solidarity. You taught us that solidarity is not about giving people the leftovers when you become rich, but sharing what you have however that may be.” Lapsley said Cuba can play a central role in vaccinating the entire African continent against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former President Nujoma relived the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola where Cuban troops defeated the Apartheid army. That forced the Apartheid regime to accept independence for Namibia on March 21, 1990 and South Africa four years later.

Cecilia Muezile, Secretary General of the Namibia-Cuban Solidarity added that struggles of the Cuban people have “inspired millions of oppressed people throughout the world to stand up for their freedom.”

His Excellency Pedro Pires, Prime Minister of Cape Verde for fifteen years from 1975 and President for a decade from 2001, emphasised that “Africans in general have a duty standing with Cuba” for not just assisting in the liberation struggles, but also training cadres for post-independence Africa. He said he personally disagrees with the suffocating blockade against Cuba.

Imani Na Umoja, of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, PAIGC said: “When Africa called, Cuba responded and when Cuba calls Africa responds! Revolutionary Solidarity!

The worst crime in the world is ungratefulness.” In recalling the role Cuba played in the liberation and development of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, he said: “Our children went to Cuba with only their bags and returned as trained cadres: doctors, nurses, lab technicians, teachers, agricultural and agronomic engineers, sports and physical education specialists, among other professionals.”

The Nigeria Movement of Solidarity with Cuba which includes the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC; the Trade Union Congress, TUC; the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU; the Joint Action Forum (Civil Society Coalition) made a written presentation titled “We must not tire, we cannot be defeated!”

In the address, presented by its Co-ordinator, Abiodun Aremu, the Nigerians affirmed that: “the relationship between Nigeria and Cuba is symbiotic and deeply rooted in shared historical and cultural heritage. It is not possible to speak of Cuba and the Cuban without reference to the tremendous influences of African, especially, Nigerian cultures.

Hence, at these times of the tightening of the criminal US Blockade against Cuba with over 243 punitive economic, financial and commercial measures, targeted at crippling the Cuban people, we the Nigeria Movement cannot be indifferent.

We are resolved to stand with Cuba as a duty to defend the Cuban people and the unparalleled gains of the Cuban Revolution. We declare to the whole world that Cuba is never, and will never be alone!”

Kesselee K. Kanneh, President of the Liberia-Cuba Friendship Association said Che Guevara is in the heart of the peoples of Africa. South African, Moeketsi Sekhokoane said: “We as Africans like our respective governments, people and the world at large have categorically rejected the injustice, inhumane and diabolic economic blockade of the USA towards Cuba and its people.

We call upon President Joe Biden and the USA Congress to immediately lift this blockade during these difficult times of COVID-19 and at all times. Cuba medically is assisting many countries and is also assisting in other spheres of our lives. Like our Father President Nelson Mandela said, it helped Africa including in Angola militarily against apartheid racists with no monetary interests at all and suffering more than 2000 casualties.”

The Cuban side included the indomitable internationalist, Victor Dreke, who with Che Guevera, fought in the Congo and participated in the liberation wars in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde under the alias “Commandante Moya.”

The Cubans were led by Fernando Gonzalez Llort, the President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, ICAP. He thanked Africans for their unshaken solidarity with the Cuban people which he says is manifested in the annual vote by all African countries at the United Nations for Cuba, against the American sanctions and embargo. Gonzalez who spent fifteen years in an American prison in Arizona for monitoring the US-based anti-Cuban terrorists, assured that Cuba will never surrender to “imperialists.”

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Rescued by Grace of God – NewsDay

By Erasmus Makarimayi

LACK of appropriate knowledge and illumination of biblical text expose us and make us vulnerable to trampling by the devil and manipulation by charlatans. The New Testament evidence succinctly reveals the liberty into which believers are called because of the finished work of Christ Jesus from custody at the full glare of incriminating past transgressions. Accepting the Gospel of Christ or the Grace of God, leaves scot-free. The had of the Lord that’s not waxed short pulls us out of the intricate web of satanic imprisonment. Obedience to the faith of Jesus Christ is our everlasting freedom occasioned by the grace, mercy and loving kindness of God the Father.

Ephesians 2:2 puts it thus: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” The Name of the Lord is a strong tower and harbour. Biblical promises adduce to the right of inheritance by believers through faith into the grace ushered by the sufferings of Christ which brought glory to those who believe. Salvation delivers to recipients of the Gospel of Christ unmerited, unearned, undeserved and humanly unattainable favour with our Maker.

Christianity is a calling out of bondage from sin, and death to an incorruptible life in Christ. Grace catapults partakers to a new reality released by the sufferings of Christ, His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and sitting on High.

The law imprisoned many before grace came. By law, I refer to the old covenant law given to Moses at Mount Sinai, which Jesus came to free us from. John 1:17 states: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Many are blinded by the devil from this truth and ignorantly kept bound. It’s so clear that we’re free from servanthood to the law to enjoy adoption as sons and daughters of God. Apostle Paul explains in Galatians 4:4-5: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” If you have been redeemed please don’t go back to ask for incarceration. Wisdom teaches us to forge ahead in the newness of life in Christ. Proverbs 26:11 is rather blunt: “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” Forget the past and pursue the future.

Grace has always been the real deal of God’s intention for humankind. Grace came before the law of Moses. The promises to Abraham were and are in Christ.

Galatians 3:17 casts light: “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.”

The law came 430 years later and cannot cancel out what God had already ordained. That’s why we see the heroes of faith making it even before the incarnation and subsequent resurrection of Christ for they believed instead of seeking justification by works. It is, therefore, naive to bind people in this day of grace under the law that was done away with. A mixture of Grace and law is trickery. It’s cross testamental application and it’s an error.

We were shut up, detained or imprisoned by law before the advent of grace and truth. Galatians 3:23 says: “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith, which should afterwards be revealed.”

We were kept without freedom and held up for faith that was to be revealed in Christ. The Amplified Bible paints an even clearer picture: “Now before the faith came, we were perpetually guarded under the Law, kept in custody in preparation for the faith that was destined to be revealed (unveiled, disclosed),” God is love and wants us to enjoy this liberty.

Should we opt for incarceration, He’s not a dictator and leaves us to function on free moral agency. Apostle Paul makes a clarion call in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” What an offer!

We were led to Christ by the law, which opened up its inadequacy to save us. The yoke of the law made us cry for a Saviour. Romans 3:20 shows: “Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” All glory in the Bible centres on Jesus who did it for us.

The Bible is Christocentric. As long as the Gospel of Christ is preached only one hero, Jesus Christ, is seen and manifested.

No human hero will be evident at the grace message. Human hero worship is lack of sound biblical teaching. We have come to Christ to enjoy the liberty into which He has called us. Galatians 3:24-25: “Wherefore, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Grace and peace be multiplied to you through knowledge.

  • All Bible quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise stated.
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