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Pope Francis gives TED talk: 'We build future together'

The Vatican Today - 1 hour 46 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has broke new ground in the way he communicates his message, when the first-ever papal TED Talk went on line. TED is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading ideas in the form of short talks. What began in 1984 as a conference covering Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), today provides talks from a wide range of different speakers – except popes. Until today. Seàn-Patrick Lovett's reports: Those of us following TED’s annual Conference in Vancouver had been promised a surprise “world figure” who would deliver his 18-minute message on the conference theme, “The Future You”, alongside tennis superstar, Serena Williams, entrepreneur, Elon Musk, and chess champion, Garry Kasparov. But no one expected to see the Pope’s face appear on the screen. “I very much like this title – ‘The Future You’”, began Pope Francis, “because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a ‘you’…The future is made of you’s…because life flows through our relations with others”. Speaking in his typically personal and informal style, the Pope reminded us of how “everything is connected” and of how “life is about interactions”. “None of us is an autonomous and independent ‘I’”, he said. “We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”. His second message regarded “educating people to a true solidarity” in order to overcome the “culture of waste” that puts products at the centre of techno-economic systems, instead of people. “The other has a face”, he said. “The ‘you’ is…a person to take care of”. The Pope illustrated his point by quoting Mother Teresa and the parable of the Good Samaritan, before going on to talk about Hope – which he described as “a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree”. “A single individual is enough for hope to exist”, he said. “And that individual can be you”. Pope Francis’ third and final message was dedicated to what he called “the revolution of tenderness”. Tenderness means “being on the same level as the other”, he said. It is not weakness, but strength: “the path of solidarity…of humility”. And through humility, even power becomes a service and a force for good. The Pope concluded by affirming that the future of humankind is not in the hands of politicians or big companies but, most of all, in the hands of those people “who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’”. Because: “We all need each other”. Listen to the English-dubbed version of the Pope's TED talk: (from Vatican Radio)...

Ahead of trip, Pope Francis sends message of joy to Egypt

Catholic News Agency - 8 hours 41 min ago

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2017 / 05:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis expressed his joy for his upcoming trip to Cairo in a video message, saying he hopes to bring peace and friendship to all Egyptian citizens.

“I am truly happy to come as a friend, as a messenger of peace and as a pilgrim to the Country that gave, more than two thousand years ago, refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family fleeing from the threats of King Herod,” the Pope said an April 25 video message.

The video shows Pope Francis expressing his excitement to visit the land “where Patriarchs and Prophets lived,” and wishes to bring strength and comfort to the Christian community.

“I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East; a message of friendship and esteem to all inhabitants of Egypt and the region.”

On April 10, the Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed the Pope's trip to Egypt despite the recent violence from the Islamic State taking place within the country.  

Coptic Christians make up the majority of Egypt's Christian community, but suicide bombings, kidnappings, and other violent attacks from the Islamic State have affected both Christians and Muslims.

General Minister of the Franciscan Community acknowledged the present dangers and said the Pope is “very informed” of the issues occurring in Egypt.

“Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land – needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace, free and liberating people, courageous people able to learn from the past to build a future without closing themselves up in prejudices,” Pope Francis said.

He added, “It needs builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, brotherhood, justice, and humanity.”

The Pope hopes he may bring “a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world, in which Egypt occupies a primary position.”

Pope Francis will begin his trip by giving an address for an international conference of peace at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, an esteemed Muslim institute. He will be speaking with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, who is considered by some to be head of the Sunni Muslim branch of thought.

Afterwards, the Pope will meet with the state officials and Patriarch Tawadros II of Alexandria, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.  

Patriarch Tawadros II was nearly injured during one of the two attacks which killed 44 people and injured over 100 more. During Palm Sunday liturgy, one suicide bomber detonated at the entrance of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria.

The Pope will then celebrate mass on Saturday, and have a meeting with the Coptic Catholic Bishops over lunch. Pope Francis was invited by the Coptic Catholic Patriarchy during their ad limina visit to the Vatican on Feb. 6.

Pope's Egypt trip a sign of solidarity with suffering Christians

The Vatican Today - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 22:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ meeting with the Coptic Orthodox leader, Pope Tawadros in Cairo on Friday will be an important sign of solidarity with Christians who suffer and die for their faith in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. That’s the view of Msgr Gabriel Quicke who heads the office for dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches at the Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity. Last week he accompanied Cardinal Kurt Koch and Pope Francis’ private secretary to Egypt with a personal message of condolences in the wake of two bomb attacks on churches in Alexandria and Tanta , north of Cairo. The twin attacks on Palm Sunday, claimed by so-called Islamic State militants, left at least 45 people dead and dozens of others injured. Msgr Quicke says the Coptic Pope was deeply “touched by that sign of spiritual attention” and closeness to the suffering Christian communities. Speaking to Philippa Hitchen, he says Pope Francis’ encounter with Tawadros will be an important “continuation of the ecumenical path towards full and visible unity” of the Churches. Listen Msgr Quicke recalls that in 2015, following the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, the Coptic bishop in Italy, Msgr Barnaba asked if Pope Francis could send a message of solidarity with the Coptic community. On Palm Sunday, he said, following the latest attacks, the Holy Father asked him to accompany Cardinal Kurt Koch, together with his own private secretary, to Egypt with a message of condolences. It was a very brief visit, with an overnight stay at the Apostolic nunciature in Cairo, followed by an early morning journey to Alexandria to the residence of Pope Tawadros there. Spiritual closeness to victims The Catholic delegation brought a message of condolences and solidarity, expressing Pope Francis “spiritual closeness in prayer, in heart and mind” to all those affected by the attacks. Msgr Quicke says the Coptic leader was “very touched emotionally, by that sign of spiritual attention” and  asked “to express his closeness as well” recalling that during their meeting in Rome in 2013 , “they promised one another to pray for one another every day”. Ecumenism of blood During that encounter in the Vatican, shortly after both men were elected, Msgr Quicke notes that Pope Francis spoke forcefully about “the ecumenism of blood” of the Coptic martyrs. He repeated the phrase following the beheadings in 2015, stressing that “they are not persecuted because they are Orthodox” or Copts, but “because they are Christian”. Citing the early Christian author from Carthage, Tertullian, he said “as the blood of the [first] martyrs became the seed for the growing of the Christian Church, [so] the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed nowadays for the unity of Christians”. Strengthen solidarity among Christians During the brief visit to Cairo, Msgr Quicke says he sensed that “not only the Coptic Orthodox Church, but all Christians, the whole Muslim community and all Egypt is waiting for the visit of the pope ”. Although the encounter between two popes will be an important “continuation of the ecumenical path” towards Christian unity, the papal trip will also be an opportunity for the Holy Father to meet with the small Catholic community “ to strengthen the bonds of solidarity and fraternity between all Christians”.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis refuses bullet-proof vehicle for Egypt trip

Catholic News Agency - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 22:32

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2017 / 10:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will not use a bulletproof vehicle during his trip to Egypt this weekend, despite recent terror attacks against Christians in the country, according to Reuters.  

"The Pope will use a closed car to move around, but not an armoured one," Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed yesterday. "That's how he wanted it."

This is not the first time Pope Francis has done so - he typically prefers to travel in more open vehicles, or ones that are not bulletproof, because he feels that allows him to better interact with the people on the streets.

Pope Francis will be traveling to Cairo, Egypt, April 28-29 for his first international trip of the year. Interfaith dialogue with Muslims and showing solidarity with persecuted Christians will be main priorities of the trip.

His trip comes after several recent attacks on Christian in the country.

In December, a bombing at Cairo's main Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens of others, most of them women and children.

On Palm Sunday, the bombing of two Coptic churches killed 43 and injured more than 100 others.

Last week, gunmen attacked security forces near the famous St Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai desert, killing a police officer and injuring three others. This attack and the church bombings were all claimed by ISIS.

Egypt’s president has declared a three-month state of emergency in the country following the Palm Sunday attacks. Despite the risk, the Vatican announced earlier this month that the Pope’s trip to Egypt would continue as planned.

Pope Francis was invited to visit Egypt by Coptic Catholic bishops during their visit at the Vatican Feb. 6. The Pope had also received an invitation to visit Egypt from the country’s president and from the Grand Imam of al Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, after his visit to the Vatican in the spring of 2016, marking a thaw in Vatican-Muslim relations in Egypt.  

During his trip, Pope Francis will meet with the Grand Imama state officials, leaders of Egypt’s Catholic Coptic and Orthodox Coptic churches, and Catholic priests and religious of the country.

Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Egypt visit

The Vatican Today - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 18:31
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a video message to the people of Egypt ahead of his Apostolic Journey to the country, saying the “world needs peace, love and mercy”. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Pope Francis began his video message to the people of Egypt with the traditional greeting in Arabic: “ As-salamu alaykum! (Peace be with you!)” He said he is “coming as a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim to the country that, over two thousand years ago, gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod.” The Pope thanked those who invited him, including the President, Patriarch Tawadros II, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch, as well as all those people preparing for his arrival. He said he would like his visit to “be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East”. He called his interreligious and ecumenical visit “a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place.” Speaking about recent “blind violence” in the country, Pope Francis said, “Our world needs peace, love and mercy. It needs peacemakers, people who are free and who set others free, men and women of courage who can learn from the past in order to build the future, free of every form of prejudice.” He went on to say “Our world needs people who can build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity.” Finally, Pope Francis extended a warm embrace to the Egyptian people of all religions, age, and means. “ Shukran wa Tahiaì Misr! (Thank you and may Egypt flourish!)” Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s video message: Dear People of Egypt, As-salamu alaykum! Peace be with you! With a heart full of joy and gratitude I will soon visit your beloved country, the cradle of civilization, the gift of the Nile, the land of sun and hospitality, the land where Patriarchs and Prophets lived, and where God, Benevolent and Merciful, the Almighty and One God, made his voice heard. I am truly happy to be coming as a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim to the country that, over two thousand years ago, gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod (cf. Mt 2:10-16).  I am honoured to visit the land visited by the Holy Family! I greet all of you warmly and I thank you for your invitation to visit Egypt, which you call ‘Umm il Dugna – Mother of the universe! I offer heartfelt thanks to the President of the Republic, to His Holiness Patriarch Tawadros II, to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and to the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch, all of whom invited me.  I also thank each of you for opening your hearts to me, and in particular all those who worked so hard to make this journey possible. I would like this visit to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place.  I would also hope that my visit will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church. Our world is torn by blind violence, a violence that has also struck the heart of your beloved land.  Our world needs peace, love and mercy.  It needs peacemakers, people who are free and who set others free, men and women of courage who can learn from the past in order to build the future, free of every form of prejudice.  Our world needs people who can build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity. Dear Egyptian brothers and sisters, young and old, women and men, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor…  I embrace you warmly and I ask Almighty God to bless you and protect your country from every evil. Please pray for me!  Shukran wa Tahiaì Misr! (Thank you and may Egypt flourish!).  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Gospel must be proclaimed with humility

The Vatican Today - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 18:06
(Vatican Radio) The Gospel must be proclaimed with humility, overcoming the temptation of pride. That was the exhortation of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, on the feast of St Mark the Evangelist. Among those taking part in the Mass were the Cardinal counsellors of the C-9. The Holy Father spoke about the necessity for Christians of “going out to proclaim” the Good News. A preacher, he said, must always be on a journey, and not seek “an insurance policy,” seeking safety by remaining in one place. Jesus gave His disciples a mission: to proclaim the Gospel, “to not remain in Jerusalem, but to go out to proclaim the Good News to all. In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on passage from the Gospel of St Mark, which relates the story of the Great Commission. He said “the Gospel is always proclaimed on the journey, never seated, always on the journey.” Going out to proclaim the Good News, never remaining stopped but always on the journey Christians, the Pope said, need “to go out where Jesus is not known, or where Jesus is persecuted, or where Jesus is disfigured, to proclaim the true Gospel”: “To go out in order to proclaim. And, also, in this going out there is life, the life of the preacher is played out. He is not safe; there are no life insurance policies for preachers. And if a preacher seeks a life insurance policy, he is not a true preacher of the Gospel: He doesn’t go out, he stays in place, safe. So, first of all: Go, go out. The Gospel, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, goes forth, always; on a journey, always. On a physical journey, on a spiritual journey, on a journey of suffering: we think of the proclamation of the Gospel that leads to so many wounded people – so many wounded people! – who offer their sufferings for the Church, for the Christians. But they always go out of themselves.” But what is “the style of this proclamation?” the Pope asked. “Saint Peter, who was St Mark’s teacher, was perfectly clear in his description of this style”: “The Gospel must be announced in humility, because the Son of God humbled Himself, annihilated Himself.” This, the Pope said, “is the style of God”; there is no other. “The proclamation of the Gospel,” he said, “is not a carnival, a party.” This is “not the proclamation of the Gospel.” The Gospel must be announced with humility, overcoming the temptation of worldliness The Gospel, the Pope said, “cannot be announced with human power, cannot be proclaimed with human power, cannot be proclaimed with the spirit of climbing and advancement.” “This is not the Gospel.” All of us, then, are called to vest themselves with “humility, one towards another,” because “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”: “And why is this humility necessary? Precisely because we carry forward a proclamation of humiliation – of glory, but through humility. And the proclamation of the Gospel undergoes temptation: the temptation of power, the temptation of pride, the temptation of worldliness, of so many kinds of worldliness that they bring preaching or to speaking; because he does not preach a watered down Gospel, without strength, a Gospel without Christ crucified and risen. And for this reason St Peter says: ‘Be vigilant, be vigilant, be vigilant… Your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.’ The proclamation of the Gospel, if it is true, undergoes temptation." Pope Francis said that if a Christian says he is proclaiming the Gospel “but is never tempted,” it means that “the devil is not worried,” because “we are preaching something useless.” Let us ask the Lord that we might go out of ourselves in order to evangelize For this reason, the Pope continued, “in true preaching there is always some temptation, and also some persecution.” He said that when we are suffering, the Lord is there “to restore us, to give us strength, because that is what Jesus promised when He sent the Apostles”: “The Lord will be there to comfort us, to give us the strength to go forward, because He works with us if we are faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel, if we go out of ourselves to preach Christ crucified, a scandal and a folly, and if we do this with a style of humility, of true humility. May the Lord grant us this grace, as baptized people, all of us, to take the path of evangelization with humility, with confidence in Him, announcing the true Gospel: ‘The Word is come in the flesh.’ The Word of God is come in the flesh. And this is a folly, it is a scandal; but doing it with the understanding that the Lord is at our side, He works with us, and He confirms our work.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends letter to Cardinal Rodé for Madonna of Scutari anniversary

The Vatican Today - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 16:33
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to Cardinal Franc Rodé, CM, his special envoy at the celebration of the 550th anniversary of the Madonna of Shkodra’s arrival in the Church of Genazzano near Rome, Italy. The celebration takes place on 26 April at the National Shrine of Shkodra in Albania. It commemorates the arrival of the Madonna of Shkodra at the Madonna of Good Council Church in Genazzano after the Albanian sanctuary was destroyed by the Ottomans in 1467. Cardinal Franc Rodé is the Prefect-emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Please find below the Latin text of the Pope’s letter: Venerabili Fratri Nostro FRANCISCO S.R.E. Cardinali RODÉ, C.M. Praefecto olim Congregationis pro Institutis vitae consecratae et Societatibus vitae apostolicae  Quingentesima et quinquagesima anniversaria memoria appropinquante adventus praeclarae imaginis Dominae Scodrensis in sacram aedem Genatiani, prope Romam, Matri Boni Consilii dicatam, fideles dilectae terrae Albaniae Beatam Mariam Virginem singulari cultu prosequuntur eaque intercedente Salvatori gratias agunt pro omnibus beneficiis saeculorum decursu acceptis. In archidioecesi potissimum Scodrensi-Pulatensi varia incepta suscipiuntur in praeparanda praecipua festivitate die XXVI mensis Aprilis celebranda. Mater Dei enim, cuius memorata icona peculiari splendore eminet, christifideles Albanienses difficilibus temporibus auxiliis est prosecuta apud Filium suum et Dominum nostrum divina dona efflagitans. De hac re sanctus Ioannes Paulus II clare est locutus qui in visitatione apostolica in Albaniam die XXV mensis Aprilis anno MCMXCIII in cathedrali Scodrensi lapidem benedixit novi sanctuarii aedificandi atque totum Albaniensem populum Matri Boni Consilii concredidit. His rerum adiunctis diligenter consideratis Venerabilis Frater Angelus Massafra, O.F.M., Archiepiscopus Metropolita Scodrensis-Pulatensis atque Conferentiae Episcopalis Albaniensis Praeses, humanissime rogavit ut eminentem virum mitteremus, qui Nostras vices memorato die gereret Nostramque erga istum populum dilectionem manifestaret. Ad Te autem, Venerabilis Frater Noster, qui, Sloveniae clarus filius, olim pergrave munus Praefecti Congregationis pro Institutis vitae consecratae et Societatibus vitae apostolicae diligenter exercuisti, mentem Nostram vertimus atque Te hisce Litteris MISSUM EXTRAORDINARIUM NOSTRUM nominamus ad celebrationem quae die XXVI huius mensis Aprilis apud Sanctuarium Nationale Scodrense agetur.   Sollemni ibidem praesidebis Eucharistiae atque Archiepiscopum Metropolitam aliosque sacros Praesules, sacerdotes, religiosos viros mulieresque, publicas auctoritates atque universos christifideles Nostro salutabis nomine. Optamus etiam ut de pondere Marialis cultus in historia Ecclesiae quae est in Albania loquens, omnes adstantes sermone tuo ad diligentiore usque modo viam per Mariam ad Iesum prosequendam cohortaberis. Nos autem Te, Venerabilis Frater Noster, in tua missione implenda precibus comitabimur intercessionem ipsius Dominae Scodrensis invocantes atque beatorum martyrum Albaniensium Vincentii Prennushi et XXXVII Sociorum. Denique Benedictionem Nostram Apostolicam libentes Tibi impertimur, signum Nostrae erga Te benevolentiae et caelestium donorum pignus, quam omnibus celebrationis participibus rite transmittes. Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die XXII mensis Aprilis, anno MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto. FRANCISCUS (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to visit graves of two 20th century Italian priests

Catholic News Agency - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 23:28

Vatican City, Apr 24, 2017 / 11:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage June 20 to visit the graves of two 20th century Italian priests in the towns of Bozzolo and Bariana, the Vatican announced Monday.

Fr. Lorenzo Milani and Fr. Primo Mazzolari both have reputations for being anti-establishment, though they were obedient to the Church throughout their lives. The Pope's visit to their graves will take place in a “private and unofficial manner,” the April 24 communique stated.

The pilgrimage takes place in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Fr. Milani, who lived from 1923-1967. Pope Francis spoke about Fr. Milani in a video message to the participants of a presentation on the priest's complete works in Milan Sunday.

“I would love to remember him especially as a believer, in love with the Church even though he was wounded,” the Pope said in the message April 23, “and as a passionate educator with a vision of the school that seems to me to respond to the need of the hearts and the intelligence of our children and youth.”

Pope Francis' brief visit – only half a day – will begin with an early morning helicopter flight to Bozzolo June 20, landing at 9:00 a.m. He will be welcomed by the Mayor of Bozzolo and the Bishop of Cremona, Antonio Napolioni.

From there the Pope will proceed to the parish of St. Peter to pray at the tomb of Fr. Primo Mazzolari, after which he will give a commemorative speech to the faithful present at the church.

At 10:30 a.m. he will leave for Barbiana, arriving at the Barbiana church at 11:15 a.m. He will be welcomed there by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and the Mayor of Vicchio, a municipality of Florence.

He will then visit privately the cemetery of the church to pray at the grave of Fr. Lorenzo Milani. Afterwards, Pope Francis will meet in the church with still-living disciples of Fr. Milani.

After a short visit to the rectory in the adjacent garden he will give a speech in the presence of around 200 people, including the disciples, priests of the diocese and some children living in family homes in the area. The Pope will return to the Vatican by about 1:15 p.m.

Fr. Milani came from a wealthy but secular family, the son of an atheist father and a Jewish mother. He studied art, which had a profound influence on his conversion to Catholicism and eventual entrance into the priesthood in 1947.

His “frankness that sometimes seemed too rough when not marked by rebellion” carried over even into his priesthood, Pope Francis noted in his video message. This led to some friction and misunderstandings with ecclesiastical and civil structures “because of his educational proposal, his preference for the poor, and defense of conscientious objection.”

Despite this, however, he was always deeply obedient to the Church and to her directives. He once wrote: “I will never oppose the Church because I need (her) several times a week for the forgiveness of my sins, and I would not know to whom else to go to look for it if I had left the Church.”

Fr. Primo Mazzolari lived from 1890-1959. He grew up in a small neighborhood of the town of Cremona, Italy, entering the seminary in 1902. Some have called him a “priest of the embankment,” because he grew up on the banks of the Po River and also at the “embankment” of the Church.

Very politically active, he intervened in the First World War and after, and was so anti-fascist he refused to sing the “Te Deum” after a failed attack on Mussolini by Tito Zaniboni in 1925.

His greatness already recognized, he was invited to the Vatican by both Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI before his death. In 2015 permission was formally granted to open the diocesan phase of Fr. Mazzolari's cause for beatification.
 
Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report.

Pope Francis comforts sister of French priest slain last year

Catholic News Agency - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 22:07

Vatican City, Apr 24, 2017 / 10:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Saturday comforted the sister of Father Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old priest who was killed by ISIS sympathizers while celebrating Mass in Normandy, France last summer.

According to the Associated Press, the Pope gripped the hands of Roselyne Hamel and spoke quietly to her during an April 22 liturgy honoring the “new martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Rome’s Tiber Island.

Fr. Hamel was killed July 26, 2016 while celebrating Mass after two armed gunmen stormed a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy. The assailants entered the church and took the priest and four others hostage. Local law enforcement reported that the priest’s throat was slit in the attack, and that both of the hostage takers were shot dead by police. The attackers were identified as Islamist extremists.

Pope Francis issued a statement at the time decrying the “absurd violence.” He later said during a Mass in September at the Vatican in honor of Fr. Hamel that the slain priest “is blessed now,” according to Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen who was there.

The Pope referred to the priest as “an example of courage” because “he emptied himself to serve others, to build brotherhood among men.”

Last October, the French diocese of Rouen officially began an inquiry into the beatification of Fr. Hamel after the Pope waived the traditional five-year waiting period.

At the service Saturday, Roselyne shared with the congregation how her brother was “strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for people, whoever it was, and – I am certain – also for his killers.”

She said that his death was a witness for the whole world, and continued the ‘yes’ with which he had given his life in service to Christ at the moment of his ordination.

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Pope Francis to visit Italian cities of Bozzolo, Barbiana in June

The Vatican Today - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 21:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will make a private visit to the northern Italian towns of Bozzolo and Barbiana on 20 June 2017 to pray at the tombs of Don Primo Mazzolari and Don Lorenzo Milani. Bozzolo is in the Diocese of Cremona and Barbiana is in the Diocese of Florence. A communique from the Holy See Press Office says the visit "will take place in a private rather than an official form". The Holy Father recently dedicated a video message to Don Lorenzo Milani .  Please find below the full programme of the Pope's visit: Tuesday, 20 June 7.30   Departure by helicopter from the Vatican heliport 9.00   Arrival at the sports field of Bozzolo, Mantua The Holy Father is welcomed by: His Excellency Msgr. Antonio Napolioni, bishop of Cremona and the Mayor of Bozzolo Parish of San Pietro: prayer at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari (1890-1959) The Holy Father will give a commemorative address to the faithful present in the Church 10.30   Departure from the sports field of Bozzolo 11.15   Arrival at the forecourt in front of the Church of Barbiana The Holy Father is welcomed by: His Eminence Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence and the Mayor of Vicchio, Florence Private visit to the cemetery, and prayer at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani (1923-1967), on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death In the Church: encounter with the living disciples of Don Milani and brief visit to the vicarage in the adjacent garden: the Holy Father gives a commemorative address, in the presence of the disciples, to a group of priests from the diocese and some young people housed in family residences (a total of around 200 people) 12.30   Departure from Barbiana 13.15   Return to the Vatican (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: The Spirit makes us free, without compromise, rigidity

The Vatican Today - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 21:10
(Vatican Radio) Never forget that our faith is concrete, and rejects compromises and idealizations. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Among those present at the Mass were the Cardinal counselors of the C-9, who are meeting with the Holy Father on Monday. The Pope reflected on the liberty the Holy Spirit gives us, which brings about the proclamation of the Gospel without compromises or rigidity. Listen to our report:  Following the Easter break, Pope Francis on Monday resumed his regular morning Masses, focusing his homily on the Gospel account of Jesus’ meeting with Nicodemus. The Holy Father said that Jesus, with love and patience, explained to Nicodemus that he must be “born from above… born of the Holy Spirit.” To understand this better, the Pope said, one can consider the first Reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles. Peter and John have healed a crippled man, and the doctors of the Law don’t know what to do, how “to hide” what happened, “because the event was public.” When they were questioned, Peter and John “answered with simplicity”; and when they were ordered not to speak about what happened, Peter responded, “No! We cannot remain silent about what we have seen and heard. And we will continue to do as we have been doing.” The Word became flesh; our faith is concrete See, then, the Pope said, “the concreteness of a fact, the concreteness of the faith” in contrast to the position of the doctors of the law who “wanted to enter into negotiations, to come to a compromise”: Peter and John “have courage, they have frankness, the frankness of the Spirit,” “which means speaking the truth openly, with courage, without compromises.” This is “the point,” “the concreteness of the faith”: “At times we forget that our faith is concrete: the Word was made flesh; it is not made an idea. And when we recite the Creed, everything we say is concrete: ‘I believe in God the Father, Who made heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ Who was born, Who died…’ These are all concrete things. Our Creed does not say, ‘I have to do this, I have to do that, I have to do something else, or that some things are for these ends.’ No! They are concrete things. [This is] the concreteness of the faith that leads to frankness, to bearing witness even to the point of martyrdom, which is against compromises or the idealization of the faith.” At times, even the Church has fallen into “a theology of ‘yes you can,’ ‘no you can’t” For these doctors of the law, he continued, the Word “was not made flesh: it was made law: and you must do this up to this point, and no further”; “you must do this, and nothing else”: “And so they were imprisoned in this rationalistic mentality, which did not end with them. Because in the history of the Church – although often the Church Herself has condemned rationalism, illuminism – later it often happened that it fell into a theology of ‘yes, you can, no you can’t; up to this point, thus far.’ And it forgot the strength, the liberty of the Spirit, this rebirth of the Spirit that gives you liberty, the frankness of preaching, the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord.” The Lord gives us the Spirit in order to proclaim the Gospel without rigidity “Let us ask the Lord,” the Pope said, for “this experience of the Spirit Who comes and goes and bears us onward; of the Spirit Who gives us the anointing of the faith, the anointing of the concreteness of the faith”: “The wind blows where it will and you hear the voice, but you don’t know where it is coming from or where it is going. So it is for anyone who is born of the Spirit: He hears the voice, he follows the voice, he follows the voice of the Spirit without knowing where it will end. Because he has made an option for the concreteness of the faith and the rebirth of the Spirit. May the Lord grand to all of us this paschal Spirit, of going forward along the path of the Spirit without compromises, without rigidity, with the liberty of proclaiming Jesus Christ as He Who has come: in the flesh .” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope dedicates videomessage to Italian educator

The Vatican Today - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 00:31
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to a festival organised to promote books and reading, which is taking place in Milan from 19 to 23 April. The videomessage is dedicated to Don Lorenzo Milani, the prior of Barbiana, and writer of many works including “letter to a professor”. The Italian priest is also being remembered at the event entitled “Time for Books”. In the videomessage the Holy Father describes Don Milani as a believer, in love with the Church even though he was hurt, and a passionate educator with a vision for  school life. He goes on to say that “going to school means opening the mind and heart to reality, to the richness of its aspects, its dimensions.” The Pope adds that Don Milani displayed a spiritual restlessness, fueled by love for Christ, the Gospel, the Church, society, and school, which he increasingly dreamed of as a "field hospital" to help the wounded, and to help make the lives of the marginalized and discarded better.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

Regina Caeli: With Mercy violence and rancor have no sense

The Vatican Today - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 18:36
(Vatican Radio) In his Angelus address in a sunny St Peter’s Square, Pope France recalled the Church tradition of calling the first Sunday after Easter “in albis”, an expression he said, meant to recall the rite of those who had received baptism in white on the Easter Vigil. The Pope went on to say that  in the Jubilee of Year of 2000, St. John Paul II established that this particular Sunday was to be dedicated to Divine Mercy. Listen to our report: In the last months, the Holy Father said, “we have concluded the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and this Sunday invites us to resume the grace that comes from the mercy of God.” Drawing inspiration from the  Gospel reading of the day, the Holy Father  reminded those present of Jesus’ words, "receive the Holy Spirit. Those to whom you will forgive sins will be forgiven ". Here is the sense of the mercy, the forgiving of sins, noted Pope Francis, “that occurs on the day of the resurrection of Jesus.” The Risen Jesus, he continued  has sent to his Church, as a first task, his own mission to bring to everyone the concrete announcement of forgiveness. This visible sign of his mercy brings with him the peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord. Mercy said the Pope, makes us realize that violence, rancor, and revenge have no sense. Mercy also opens the door of the heart and allows us to express our closeness, above all to those who are alone and marginalized. Mercy, in short, said Pope Francis is everyone committed to being instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace. Let us never forget that mercy, he concluded, is the keystone in the life of faith, and the concrete form in which we give visibility to the resurrection of Jesus. Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father remembered the Beatification in Oviedo, Spain on Saturday of Father Luis Antonio Rosa Ormières an educator who lived in the nineteenth century, and founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Guardian Angel. The Pope also greeted Polish pilgrims on the Feast of Divine Mercy and thanked Caritas Poland for their support of so many families in Syria.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Mercy is key to the life of faith, Pope Francis says

Catholic News Agency - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 16:45

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2017 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Divine Mercy Sunday Pope Francis said mercy is essential in living the Christian life, because it not only allows us to understand ourselves and God better, but it also prompts us to recognize and help those in need.

 “Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone of the life of faith, and concrete way with which we give visibility to the Resurrection of Jesus,” the Pope said April 23.

Mercy, he said, is understood as a true awareness of “the mystery” that the Church is living, particularly during the Easter season.

Not only is mercy understood in various ways such as through the senses, intuition and reason, but we can also become aware of it through an act of mercy that we personally experience, he said, adding that “this opens the door of the mind to better understand the mystery of God and of our personal existence.”

“It makes us understand that violence, resentment and revenge have no meaning, and the first victim is whoever lives these sentiments, because it deprives them of their own dignity,” he said.

Additionally, mercy also allows us to open the door of our hearts and draw close to those who are “alone and marginalized,” recognizing those in need and finding the right words to say to comfort them.

“Mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of our brothers with sharing and participation,” Francis said, explaining that in the end, mercy “commits everyone to being instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during his Sunday Regina Coeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter. The Regina Coeli is traditionally prayed instead of the Angelus throughout the liturgical Easter season.

In his brief speech, the Pope noted now the Sunday after Easter in the past was referred to as “in albis,” meaning “in white,” as a reminder of the white garments worn by those who had come into the Church on Easter Sunday.

In the time after Easter, he said, Sunday takes on “an even more illuminating” aspect, especially considering the previous traditional custom in which the garment would be worn by the person for the entire week after their baptism until the following Sunday, when they began their new life in Christ and the Church.

Francis then pointed to how the Sunday after Easter was later designated as Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope Saint John Paul II during the Jubilee year 2000.

“It was a beautiful institution!” he said, noting that his own Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy concluded just a few months ago, on the Nov. 20, 2016, Solemnity of Christ the King.

In wake of the Jubilee, Divine Mercy Sunday “invites us to take up with strength the grace that comes from the mercy of God,” he said, noting that in the day’s Gospel from John, Jesus appears to his disciples in the upper room, and gives them the message: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.”

After saying this, Jesus then entrusts them with a special task, telling them “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.”

“This is the meaning of the mercy that is presented to us on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus as forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said, explaining that the Risen Christ gave his Church as a first task “his same mission of bringing to all the concrete announcement of forgiveness.”

Francis said this commission is a visible sign of Christ’s mercy, which brings both peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord.

He closed his address praying that Mary, the Mother of Mercy, would “help us to believe and live all of this with joy,” and led pilgrims in praying the Regina Coeli.

The Pope then greeted pilgrims from various countries around the world, giving a special shout-out to Spain, where yesterday the priest Fr. Luis Antonio Rosa Ormières was proclaimed a Blessed, and to all youth who had been confirmed or are currently candidates for Confirmation.

He then thanked everyone who sent him messages wishing him a happy Easter before asking for prayers and giving his blessing.

Pope Francis: 'martyrs are the living blood of the Church'

The Vatican Today - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 00:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday paid tribute to modern day martyrs whom he said “are the living blood of the Church". The Pope was presiding over a Liturgy of the Word at the Church of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber , a shrine to the martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries. Speaking during his homily , the Pope had words of closeness for the many Christian communities being persecuted today “because of the hatred of the spirit of this world”. “How often, he said, in difficult moments of history, have we heard it said: ‘Today our country needs heroes’.? Likewise, we can ask, ‘Today what does our Church need?’ Martyrs, witnesses, that is, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death”. He said that martyrs are “the witnesses who carry forward the Church; those who witness to the fact that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive, who witness to Him with coherent lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift”. And, speaking off-the-cuff the Pope turned his attention to refugees who have been forced to flee their homelands because of their faith and said that many, today, find themselves in refugee camps, many of which he said, are like concentration camps, while international agreements seem to be more important than human rights.     Please find below Vatican Radio’s the full translation of the Pope’s homily : We have come as pilgrims to this Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island, where the ancient history of martyrdom joins the memory of the new martyrs, of many Christians killed by the insane ideologies of the last century, and killed only because they were disciples of Jesus. The memory of these heroic, old and recent witnesses confirms us in the awareness that the Church is a Church of martyrs. And martyrs are those who, as the Book of Revelation reminds us, "Are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They had the grace to confess Jesus until the end, until death. They suffered, they gave their lives, and we receive the blessing of God for their witness. And there are also many hidden martyrs, those men and women who are faithful to the gentle strength of love, to the voice of the Holy Spirit, those who in their daily lives seek to help their brothers and sisters and to love God without reserve. If we look hard, we can see that the cause of every persecution is the hatred of the prince of this world toward those who have been saved and redeemed by Jesus through His death and resurrection. In the Gospel we just heard (cf. Jn 15: 12-19), Jesus uses a strong and frightening word: the word "hatred". He, who is the master of love, who so enjoyed talking about love, speaks of hatred. But he always liked to call things by their name. And he tells us, "Do not be afraid! The world will hate you; but know that before it hated you, it hated me. " Jesus chose us and redeemed us as a free gift of His love. With His death and resurrection He redeemed us from the power of the world, from the power of the devil, from the power of the prince of this world. And the origin of hatred is this: since we are saved by Jesus, and the prince of the world does not want that, he hates us and encourages persecution, which from the time of Jesus and the birth of the Church continues to this day. How many Christian communities are being persecuted today! Why? Because of the hatred of the spirit of this world. How often, in difficult moments of history, have we heard it said: "Today our country needs heroes."? Likewise, we can ask, "Today what does our Church need?" Martyrs, witnesses, that is, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death. All these are the living blood of the Church. They are the witnesses who carry forward the Church; those who witness to the fact that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive, who witness to Him with coherent lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift. Remembering these witnesses of the faith and praying in this place is a great gift. It is a gift for the Community of Sant'Egidio, for the Church in Rome, for all the Christian communities of this city, and for so many pilgrims. The living legacy of martyrs today gives us peace and unity. They teach us that with the strength of love, with gentleness, one can fight against arrogance, violence, and war - and that peace can be achieved with patience.  And so we can pray: O Lord, make us worthy witnesses of the Gospel and of your love; pour out your mercy upon humanity; renew your Church, protect persecuted Christians, grant peace to the whole world, soon. (from Vatican Radio)...

Who conquers the devil's hatred? God's new martyrs, Pope says

Catholic News Agency - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 23:52

Rome, Italy, Apr 22, 2017 / 11:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The devil’s hatred for Christ and for our redemption is the root cause of all persecution since the beginnings of the Church, Pope Francis said at a special liturgy that focused on modern martyrs.

“The memory of these heroic witnesses, old and new, confirms us in the knowledge that the Church is a Church of martyrs… they have received the grace of confessing Jesus until the end, until death,” the Pope said April 22.

He said that if we look well into history, the root cause of every persecution is “the hatred the prince of this world has toward those who have been saved and redeemed by Jesus with his death and with his Resurrection.”

Pointing to Jesus’ words “Do not be afraid! The world will hate you, but know that before you, it hated me,” from the Gospel passage read at the liturgy, Francis said the use of the word “hatred” is both strong and frightening.

“He, who is the master of love, who liked so much to speak of love, speaks of hatred,” he said, noting that Jesus “always wanted to call things by their name.”

Jesus has chosen and redeemed us as “a free gift of his love,” he said, adding that through this love, we have been saved from “the power of the world, from the power of the devil, from the power of the prince of this world.”

“And the origin of hatred is this: that we are saved by Jesus, and the prince of this world doesn’t want it, he hates us and provokes persecution, which since the time of Jesus and the early Church continues until our days.”

Pope Francis offered his reflections during a special April 22 liturgy honoring the “new martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Rome’s Tiber Island. Overseen by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the basilica was founded at the end of the 10th century and contains a vast number of relics belonging to 20th century martyrs.

The collection was initially gathered after the Jubilee of 2000. A year ahead of the jubilee, Pope John Paul II established the “New Martyrs” commission to study and investigate modern cases of martyrdom in preparation for the event.

As a result, the commission gathered some 12,000 dossiers of martyrs and witnesses of the faith from around the world.

To commemorate the heroic witness of those who had given their lives for Christ, John Paul II in 2002 had a large icon made and placed in the basilica of St. Bartholomew, which sits on the main altar to this day.

In addition to the icon, various relics and items belonging to the martyrs have been placed in each of the basilica’s side chapels, and are divided by either specific points in history, such as the “new martyrs of Nazism,” or geographical locations, including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe.  

Benedict XVI visited the basilica in April 2008, making Pope Francis the third pontiff to set foot in the basilica, and to keep the papal tradition of honoring new martyrs.

In his homily, Pope Francis lamented the fact that “many Christian communities are objects of persecution!”

However, he noted that often in difficult moments, people call for “heroes.” The Church today also needs the heroic witness of martyrs and saints, he said, explaining that this includes “the saints of everyday life,” who move forward with coherency, but also those who “have the courage to accept the grace of being witnesses until the end, until death.”

“All of them are the living blood of the Church. They are the witnesses who carry the Church forward,” he said. By demonstrating with their lives that Jesus is alive and risen, they also “attest with the coherency of their lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit that they have received this gift.”

Pope Francis then paused for a moment and deviated from his prepared text. He recalled an encounter he had with a Muslim man he met during his 2016 trip to Lesbos who, along with his three children, had fled his village after his wife, who was a Christian, was killed by extremists.

When the militants came to their home and asked what their religion was, the woman said she was Christian, and, when she refused to throw down a crucifix she that was hanging on the wall, she was killed in front of her family.

This woman, Francis said, is “another crown” that can be added to the rest of the martyrs honored in St. Bartholomew, because “she is looking at us from heaven.”

Pope Francis closed his homily saying the ability to remember the many modern-day martyrs inside a basilica filled with their relics is “a great gift,” because “the living heritage of the martyrs today gives us peace and unity.”

“These ones teach us that, with the strength of love, with meekness, one can fight against tyranny, violence and war and can realize peace with patience,” he said, and prayed, asking that each person present might be a worthy witness of the Gospel and the love of God.

Before giving his homily, Pope Francis heard the testimonies of three people who were relatives or friends of modern-day martyrs.

First was Karl Schneider, son of Paul Schneider, a pastor of the Reformed Church who was killed in the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1939 because he defied Nazism as “irreconcilable with the words of the Bible.”

In his brief reflection, Schneider said his father had been “strongly opposed every temptation to politically influence the Church.”

“All of us, even today, make too many compromises,” he said, “but my father stayed faithful only to the Lord and to the faith. He was a pastor and a spiritual guide. Even in the concentration camp!”

Despite the torture and suffering his he endured, Schneider’s father shouted out from his cell, offering words of comfort and hope from the Bible to the other prisoners.

Recalling words spoken by his elderly mother before her death, Schneider said his mother said her husband “was chosen to announce the Gospel and this is my consolation.” As his son, Schneider said he “I feel this consolation until today.”

Next was Roselyne, sister of Fr. Jacques Hamal, the 85-year-old priest who was murdered by two young ISIS sympathizers in Rouen, France in July 2016.

Speaking to the congregation, Roselyne said that in his old age Fr. Hamal had been fragile, but “he was also strong. Strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for people, whoever it was, and – I am certain – also for his killers.”

His death, she said, “is in line with the life of a priest, which was one of a life given: a life offered to the Lord, when he said ‘yes’ at the moment of his ordination, a life of service to the Gospel, a life given for the church and her people, above all the poorest.

She pointed to the “paradox” that while alive her brother never wanted to be “at the center,” but that after his death, “has given a testimony for the entire world, the greatness of which we cannot measure.”

After her brother died, Roselyne said the reaction of the community was strong. Rather than wanting revenge, there was a desire for “love and forgiveness,” she said, explaining that even Muslims who wanted to show solidarity with Christians came to visit the parish for Sunday Masses in a show of support.

Despite her loss, Roselyne said “it’s a great comfort to see how many new encounters, how much solidarity, how much love have been generated by the witness of Jacques,” and prayed that his sacrifice would “bring fruits, so that the men and women of our time can find the path to living together in peace.”

Finally, a man named Francisco Hernandez gave a brief reflection on his friend William Quijano, killed in El Salvador in 2009 because of his work with youth that sought to promote peace and draw them away from the violence of criminal gangs.

In his reflection, Hernandez said the only crime of his friend was that of “dreaming of a world of peace.”

“William never ceased teaching peace, but rather, his commitment has broken the chain of violence,” he said, recalling how Quijano had always insisted that ending violence begins with the youth, and so dedicated himself to working with children.

Hernandez said his friend “never spoke of repression or revenge against the gangs, but insisted on the need for a change in mentality.”

“In every existential periphery, William bore witness to his hope in a different world, founding himself on the Gospel and the most human virtues, on the centrality of closeness,” he said, adding: “this is the greatest gift of that the small life of William Alfredo Quijano Zetino, my friend.”

Testimonies of family and friends of the "New Martyrs"

The Vatican Today - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 23:48
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ visit to the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew on the Tiber Island (San Bartolomeo all’Isola) featured a Liturgy of the Word for the Vigil of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries. During the Liturgy, family members and friends of three of the many new “witnesses of the faith” offered their testimonies about the witness of their loved ones: Karl Schneider, the son of Reformed Church pastor Paul Schneider, who was killed in Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald; Roselyne, the sister of Fr Jacques Hamel, killed by radical Islamists in France last year; and Francisco Hernandez Guevara, a friend of William Quijano, killed in El Salvador in 2009. Mementos of all three martyrs are preserved by the Sant’ Egidio Community at the Basilica. Karl Schneider said his father Paul worked to maintain “a Christian orientation” in German society during the Nazi era. Paul Schneider, he said, was killed because he knew that the goals of National Socialism were irreconcilable with the words of the Bible. Despite his age – he was 85 years old when he was murdered – Père Jacques Hamel was “strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for the people” – including, his sister said, even his murderers. Finally, William Quijano, who organized “Schools for Peace” in El Salvador, “never spoke of repression or revenge against the violent gangs in his country. His friend, Francisco Guevara, said Quijano “never gave up teaching peace… His commitment broke the chain of violence.” Below, please find the prepared testimonies of the family and friends of the “new martyrs”: Testimony of Karl A. Schneider, son of Paul Schneider, Reformed Church pastor, killed at Buchenwald on 18 July 1939 Holy Father, dear Sant’Egidio community, dear Christian community, I want to offer heartfelt thanks for the great honour you paid today to my father Paul Schneider, and for the fact that my daughter and I are able to be here. My father was killed in 1939 at the Buchenwald concentration camp because for him the goals of National Socialism were irreconcilable with the words of the Bible. The Church has the task of watching over the State. With this conviction, my father strongly opposed any attempt to influence the Church politically. He committed himself so that the German people might maintain a Christian orientation in the state and in society. All of us, even today, make too many compromises, but my father remained faithful only to the Lord and to the faith. He was a shepherd and a spiritual guide – even in the concentration camp! Until the end, whenever possible, despite torture and suffering, he cried with courage from the window of his cell in the bunker words of consolation and hope of the Bible to other prisoners. This is why he was called “the Preacher of Buchenwald.”   And he did not forget us, his family. In a letter from the concentration camp kept in this church, my father strongly affirms his faith in the Easter victory of life. And he writes knowing that my mother, I, my brothers and sisters, are also under the protection of God. My mother's words, even when she was very old, were: “He was chosen to proclaim the Gospel and this is my consolation.” I, as his son, feel this consolation to this day. Reading from Revelation 7:11-14): Lector : And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” ***** Testimony of Roselyne, sister of Père Jacques Hamel, killed in Rouen, 26 July 2016 Holy Father, last year, on July 26, my brother, Jacques Hamel, was killed at the end of the Mass he had just celebrated at Sant’Etienne de Rouvray in Normandy. Jacques was 85 years old when two young men, radicalized by hate speech, thought they would commit a heroic act by turning murderous violence. At his age Jacques was frail, but he was also strong. Strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for the people, whoever they might be – and, I’m certain, for his killers as well. As your Holiness said in memory of Jacques, in this difficult time he did not lose his presence of mind when, from the altar, he accused the true author of the persecution: “Begone Satan!” Truly, “killing in the name of God is always satanic.” His death is in line with his priestly life, which was a “given” life: a life offered to the Lord when he said “yes” at the time of his ordination, a life serving the Gospel, a life given to the Church and for the people, especially for the poorest, whom he always served on the outskirts of Rouen. There is a paradox: he who never wanted to be spotlight bore witness to the entire world, [a witness] whose cannot yet be measured. We have lived the reaction of all those Christians who have not yet preached revenge or hatred, but love and forgiveness; we have seen it in the solidarity of Muslims who wanted to visit the Sunday assemblies after his death; we have seen it in France, which has shown its unity around the tenderness for this priest. For us, his family, there is surely pain and emptiness. But it is a great comfort to see how many new encounters, how much solidarity, and how much love has been generated by Jacques’s witness. As he wrote, “Our vocation is to participate in building a new fraternity in a new world context.” Yes, Jacques, my brother, with his life wanted to live as a brother with all those who had been entrusted to him; with his death he became to all. Last September we accompanied Jacques’ breviary which is now preserved in this Basilica, and we are deeply grateful for the memory of the witnesses of the faith here and for the solidarity [we experienced]. May Jacques’ sacrifice bear fruit, that men and women of our time might find the way to live together in peace. ***** Witness of Francisco Hernandez Guevara , friend of William Quijano, killed in El Salvador on 28 September 2009 Holy Father, my name is Francisco Guevara, and I come from El Salvador in Central America. I am absolutely certain: Love and friendship enlarge the heart; William, too, had a heart enlarged by hope, and this was his strength. He loved life, and in his friendly way he attracted many young people and children to the “School of Peace.” And on September 28, 2009, he was killed. What was his crime? He dreamed of a world of peace. William never gave up teaching peace; indeed his commitment broke the chain of violence. He said, “The world is full of violence, so we must work for peace, beginning with children. We must have the courage to be teachers, because a country without schools or teachers is a country without a future and without hope. The Schools of Peace are sanctuaries that place a barrier in the way of violence and poverty. Security is not only achieved with firmness, but with love.” He spoke to everyone about his dream: “We have the heart [ anime ], the intelligence and the strength to put ourselves to work. And prayer will sustain us.” It is surprising that William never spoke of repression or revenge against maras (as the gangs are called Salvador), but insisted on the need for a change of mindset. For everyone. In the children, first of all; and he sought to give them affection in order to show that with the study they could progress, they could have a future – [but he also saw the need for a change in attitude] in young people, in adults. He had effected just such a change in himself. He could have been one of the many who said, “No, nothing can be done here.” But instead he entered so profoundly into the dream of the Community, the dream of a new humanity, that he wanted to live it to the full. Children could and should change; young people could and should change. What happened to William, although it is tragic, makes us believe that another Latin America can be built, free from the nightmare of the maras . In the existential periphery, William bore witness to his hope in a different world, based on the Gospel and on more human values, on the centrality of closeness. This is the great gift of the small life of William Alfredo Quijano Zetino, my friend.   (from Vatican Radio)...

19th century French priest beatified in Spain: Louis Antoine Ormières

The Vatican Today - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 17:52
(Vatican Radio)  The 19th century French priest Louis Antoine Ormières was beatified in the Spanish town of Oviedo on Saturday by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. Founder of the Sisters of the Guardian Angel and 87 schools in France and Spain, Fr. Ormières (1809-1890) dedicated his life to providing education for young people. “My principle has always been to do good and allow others to speak” was Blessed Ormières’ oft repeated phrase. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Giada Aquilino, Cardinal Angelo Amato called the new Blessed “an enterprising man and a born educator with a personality rich in Christian virtues, like faith, hope, and charity, and in human qualities, like goodness, gratitude, serenity, and friendship.” As examples of Blessed Louis Antoine Ormières’ charity, Cardinal Amato said he “once defended a man unjustly accused of theft, offered hospitality to exiles from Spain, pleaded with well-off people to help a young man who had to take care of his family at the death of his father, and helped out a single mother of two young boys.” “He was so generous in helping the sick that his bishop called him a martyr of charity,” Cardinal Amato said. The miracle attributed to Fr. Ormières, which paved the way for his beatification, was of one of the Spanish sisters of the Guardian Angel who was suffering from a maxillofacial cancer. Pope Francis recognized the miracle in a decree on 8 July 2016. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican's message to Buddhists on Vesakh

The Vatican Today - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 17:25
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on Saturday, issued a message on the occasion of the Buddhist feast of Vesakh on the theme ‘Christians and Buddhists: Walking Together on the Path of Nonviolence’. The Message signed by Council President, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Council Secretary, Fr Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ emphasizes the urgent need to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence as both these values were promoted by Jesus Christ and the Buddha. The text reiterates how Jesus walked the path of nonviolence to the very end, to the cross and calls his followers  today to embrace his teaching about nonviolence.  Buddha also heralded the same message and encouraged all to overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth. Therefore the message calls for a  common enterprise, to study the causes of violence, combat violence  and to pray for world peace while walking together on the path of nonviolence. The full text of the message is here below:                                                              MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF VESAKH                                                                                                  2017 Dear Buddhist Friends, 1.       In the name of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we extend our warmest greetings and prayerful good wishes on the occasion of Vesakh. May this feast bring joy and peace to all of you, to your families, communities and nations. 2.       We wish to reflect this year on the urgent need to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence. Religion is increasingly at the fore in our world today, though at times in opposing ways. While many religious believers are committed to promoting peace, there are those who exploit religion to justify their acts of violence and hatred. We see healing and reconciliation offered to victims of violence, but also attempts to erase every trace and memory of the “other”; there is the emergence of global religious cooperation, but also politicization of religion; and, there is an awareness of endemic poverty and world hunger, yet the deplorable arms race continues. This situation requires a call to nonviolence, a rejection of violence in all its forms. 3.       Jesus Christ and the Buddha were promotors of nonviolence as well as peacemakers. As Pope Francis writes, “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet, he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come’ (Mk 7:21)” (2017 Message for the World Day of Peace, Non-Violence: A Style of Politics for Peace, no. 3). He further emphasises that “Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16)” (ibid.). Accordingly, “to be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence” (ibid.). 4.       Dear friends, your founder, the Buddha also heralded a message of nonviolence and peace. He encouraged all to “Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” (Dhammapada, no. XVII, 3). He taught further that “Victory begets enmity; the defeated dwell in pain. Happily the peaceful live, discarding both victory and defeat.” (ibid. XV, 5). Therefore, he noted that the self-conquest is greater than the conquest of others: “Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the noblest victor who conquers himself” (ibid, VIII, 4). 5.       In spite of these noble teachings, many of our societies grapple with the impact of past and present wounds caused by violence and conflicts. This phenomenon includes domestic violence, as well as  economic, social, cultural and psychological violence, and violence against the environment, our common home. Sadly, violence begets other social evils, and so “the choice of nonviolence as a style of life is increasingly demanded in the exercise of responsibility at every level […] ” (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Letters of Credence, 15 December 2016). 6.      Though we recognize the uniqueness of our two religions, to which we remain committed, we agree that violence comes forth from the human heart, and that personal evils lead to structural evils. We are therefore called to a common enterprise:  to study the causes of violence: to teach our respective followers to combat evil within their hearts;  to liberate both victims and perpetrators of violence from evil; to bring evil to light and challenge those who foment violence;  to form the hearts and minds of all, especially of children, to love and live in peace with everyone and with the environment; to teach that there is no peace without justice, and no true justice without forgiveness; to invite all to work together in  preventing  conflicts and rebuilding broken societies;  to urge the media to avoid and counter hate speech, and biased and provocative reporting; to encourage educational reforms to prevent the distortion and misinterpretation of history and of scriptural texts;  and to pray for world peace while walking together on the path of nonviolence. 7.       Dear friends, may we actively dedicate ourselves to promoting within our families, and social, political, civil and religious institutions a new style of living where violence is rejected and the human person is respected. It is in this spirit that we wish you once again a peaceful and joyful feast of Vesakh! Vatican City Cardinal Jean-Louis Taura         President   Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ                       Secretary                   (from Vatican Radio)...

St Egidio church honours memory of modern day martyrs

The Vatican Today - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 17:02
(Vatican Radio) The memory of the modern martyrs , killed for their Christian faith over the past century, will be honoured on Saturday evening as Pope Francis presides at a prayer service in Rome’s Basilica of St Bartholomew on the Tiber island . The initiative, organised by the lay Catholic St Egidio community , also aims to highlight the difficulties and discrimination that many Christians still face in countries around the world today as they try and witness to their faith. Altars in six chapels around the church display objects such as letters, prayer books and other personal possessions recalling the witness of men and women from many countries and different Christian traditions who have laid down their lives for their faith. Claudio Betti is a professor of modern history and assistant to the St Egidio community president. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the church of St Bartholomew and about the importance of sharing the memory of these modern day martyrs Listen:  Betti notes that the basilica is dedicated to two ancient martyrs, St Bartholomew the apostle and the 10th century Bohemian missionary St Adalbert. In the 1990s the church was given to the St Egidio community and in the year 2000 Pope John Paul II decided to dedicate it to the memory of the modern martyrs. St Egidio’s founder Andrea Riccardi and other members had already been collecting together for publication thousands of dossiers and objects that were then incorporated into the altars around the church. Relics of the martyrs The first object they were given was the last letter written by Reformed Pastor Paul Schneider , killed in the Buchenwald Nazi death camp for refusing to stop proclaiming Christ as Saviour. A more modern relic is the missal with which Archbishop Oscar Romero had been celebrating Mass when he was murdered in San Salvador in 1980. Most recent of all is the prayer book of French Father Jacques Hamel , killed during a terror attack on his church near Rouen in July of last year. During Saturday’s celebration Fr Jacques’ sister will speak about his witness of faith. Prayer service features testimonies Claudio Betti notes there will be three different testimonies during the simple liturgy on Saturday: alongside Fr Jacques’ sister will be the son of Rev. Schneider, and a young man from El Salvador where community member  William Quijano was murdered in 2009 for trying to help people escape from the criminal gangs. Following the readings and homily of Pope Francis, there will be prayers for these modern martyrs, as well as for those who are considered martyrs, such as two Orthodox bishops Mar Gregorios Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi,as well as Fr Paolo del Oglio, who were kidnapped in Syria by ISIS and have not been heard of since. Blood of martyrs unites Christians Betti also underlines the ecumenical dimension of these martyrs, noting that the specially commissioned icon on the main altar makes clear that martyrdom is what unites Christians. In the blood of the martyrs, he says, unity is already achieved, such as the Catholic and Orthodox bishops who worked and were killed together in the Soviet gulags. Betti says the message of the martyrs is very clear, showing that unity is more important than individual lives and ambitions. While the martyrs were not looking for death, he says, they show that there are things worth dying for. The memories of their lives tell stories of people who have served the poor and marginalized until death, calling us back to what Christianity really means. (from Vatican Radio)...

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