Pope Francis’ New Year priorities: Refugees, youths, trips and more Curia reform

Pope Francis greets young people after celebrating Mass with youths Nov. 30 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Yangon, Myanmar. Foreign trips, a focus on the rights and needs of migrants and refugees and a Synod of Bishops dedicated to young people all are on the 2018 calendar for Pope Francis. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) Pope Francis greets young people after celebrating Mass with youths Nov. 30 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Yangon, Myanmar. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Foreign trips, a focus on the rights and needs of migrants and refugees and a Synod of Bishops dedicated to young people all are on the 2018 calendar for Pope Francis.

His activities and the passions that drive them are familiar by now. In fact, March 13 will mark the fifth anniversary of his election as pope, succeeding retired Pope Benedict XVI.

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Pope Francis, newly 81, will begin 2018 with a focus on Mary and on migrants and refugees.

Pope Francis, newly 81, will begin 2018 with a focus on Mary and on migrants and refugees.

As with all modern popes, Pope Francis' Marian devotion and his concern for people forced to flee their homes have been a constant in his ministry.

But Pope Francis is the first to dedicate a celebration of World Peace Day specifically to the theme of migrants and refugees. On Jan. 1, for the 51st time, the Catholic Church will begin the new year praying for peace. The day also is the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and while Pope Francis sent a message to heads of state in November reflecting on the peace day theme, his homily at the Mass is likely to focus on Mary.

The pope's focus on migrants and refugees will come to the fore again Jan. 14 when he adds to the normal papal liturgical calendar a special Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

On Jan. 14, Pope Francis will celebrate a special Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

In both his message for the Jan. 14 celebration and his message for World Peace Day, Pope Francis urged Catholic involvement in the drafting of the U.N. global compacts for migrants and for refugees.

Approving the development of the compacts in September 2016, "world leaders clearly expressed their desire to take decisive action in support of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights," the pope said in his message. He urged Catholics to get involved by lobbying their governments to include in the compacts proposals that would ensure the welcome, protection, promotion and integration of migrants and refugees.

Although work on the compacts suffered a setback when the Trump administration announced in early December it was pulling out of the process and would not be a party to the accords, the United Nations hopes to have a draft of the documents ready by February. Late in 2018, the U.N. General Assembly will hold a conference to adopt the compacts.

On Jan. 15, Pope Francis will set off for a six-day visit to Chile and Peru.

On Jan. 15, Pope Francis will set off for a six-day visit to Chile and Peru. As is his style, the trip will include meetings with government authorities and large public Masses, but also a visit to a women's prison and to a home for children at risk.

As of Dec. 20, no other papal trips for 2018 had been confirmed, although Vatican officials have said it is almost certain Pope Francis will travel to Dublin in late August for the World Meeting of Families; on the same trip, he is likely to be the first pope to visit Northern Ireland.

Vatican officials also have confirmed that a September trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is under consideration. And they do not rule out a spring trip, perhaps to Africa.

The Synod of Bishops focusing on young people and their vocations will be held at the Vatican Oct. 3-28.

One month of the pope's calendar already is booked solid. The Synod of Bishops focusing on young people and their vocations will be held at the Vatican Oct. 3-28. In preparation for the bishops' gathering, the Vatican has asked bishops' conferences around the world to nominate young people to attend a pre-synod gathering March 19-24 in Rome.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said Pope Francis hopes about 300 young people -- mostly, but not all, Catholics -- would attend the gathering. Many of them will speak to the whole group about the hopes and concerns of young people, what they can offer the church and what they need from it. They will discuss the presentations in small groups and will be asked to prepare a summary document for the bishops attending the synod.

The fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' papacy also means 2018 is the fifth anniversary of his international Council of Cardinals and the effort to reform the Roman Curia.

Changes have been made, new laws have been passed, offices have been combined to cut down on duplication. But 2017 ended without a clear indication of when a document presenting a global vision of the Curia and each of its offices would be ready.

Perhaps that is what Pope Francis wants for Christmas 2018.

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Nora Bolcon
9 months 3 weeks ago

One thing is certain until Pope Francis puts ordaining women priests exactly the same as men as his number one priority we won't really need to worry about getting any more youth. They are leaving due to misogyny and other real injustices in our church and not coming into the church because they do care about love and justice, and our pope is not willing to treat discrimination against women as the hatred that it is and has always been. Why keep asking what little is left of our youth the same questions that they have already answered? So you can make them feel twice or triple ignored?

I am not shocked that not many youth replied to this survey. Most have already figured out that our Popes ask questions and just ignore the answers they don't like, in order to pretend to be concerned about what youth think when in fact they don't care at all.

Discrimination based on gender, race, or ethnicity is abuse. It causes mental, physical, emotional and spiritual damage to its targets. This is especially true of discrimination which occurs within religion, as it makes the target believe that even God finds them as a group less from birth than others.

Randal Agostini
9 months 3 weeks ago

Like most of the international laws emanating from the United Nations, or indeed any country the devil is in the details, of which most people are ignorant. Therefore these laws are made by the majority governments, with veto powers by the few founders and imposed upon the ignorant public.
One would have to assume that all governments are the same, assuming that countries like North and South Korea care equally about their subjects. The same could be said about Saudi Arabia, or China or Venezuela - the list goes on.
Then one has to accept rulings that are clearly discriminatory like the recent vote against the United States, who wanted to place their Embassy in the same city as the government of the country.
Finally it would be easy to assume that the United States, along with other democratic countries would become migratory targets, setting in motion scores of uncontrolled Mariel like emigrations.
The Pope has good intentions, but may make assumptions that all are men of goodwill, which clearly is not the case. The message of Christ, though correct, was given to us as a choice, and not written as a series of laws by the Sanhedrin.

Thomas Farrelly
9 months 3 weeks ago

It is disheartening that the Pope's priorities do not include facing up to the disastrous shortage of priestly vocations. Recently a Cardinal was quoted as saying that the Pope wanted national Bishops Conferences to deal with issue of married priests. If true, it was a weird way to make such an announcement, as opposed to a direct motu proprio by the Pope. There has been no follow-up or clarification. This bumbllng is at least an improvement over the inexcusable negligence of his two predecessors, since it implies that there is some awareness of the disaster. But it is a very small improvement.

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