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The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for everyone, Pope Francis says

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 23:04

Vatican City, Jun 4, 2017 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday, Pope Francis said that the grace of the Holy Spirit is for everyone – something we must keep in mind as we continue to walk the path toward Christian unity through prayer and good works.

“Share with everyone in the Church Baptism in the Holy Spirit, praise the Lord without ceasing, walk together with Christians of different Churches and Christian communities in prayer and action for the most needy,” Pope Francis said June 3.

The grace of the Holy Spirit “is for the whole Church, not just for some, and none of us is the ‘master’ and all the others the servants. No. We are all serving this current of grace.”

Pope Francis addressed around 50,000 members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement during an ecumenical prayer vigil inside Rome’s Circus Maximus on June 3. The vigil was part of five days of celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the movement.

The May 31-June 4 jubilee was organized by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services and the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.

Saturday night’s meeting with Pope Francis, on the eve of Pentecost, was preceded by praise and worship music, readings and testimonies. Papal preacher Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. also gave a meditation. On stage were leaders of the Charismatic Renewal and representatives of Evangelical, Pentecostal and other Christian churches.

During the encounter, the Pope reminded those present that they are in a privileged place for working toward Christian unity, something for which they should never stop striving.

The most precious gift we have all received, he explained, is our Baptism. “And now the Spirit leads us on the path of conversion that goes through the whole Christian world…”

Additionally, praising God should be accompanied by serving those in need.

“To serve the poorest and the sick, this is what the Church and the Pope are expecting from you, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, but from all of you, everyone, all of you who have entered this current of grace!”

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movement is the perfect time, he said, to stop and reflect.

“And I would say to you: It is time to move forward with more force, leaving behind us the dust of time we have left to accumulate, giving thanks for what we have received and facing the new with faith in the action of the Holy Spirit!”

Today, he said, we are gathered in an open-air space, because we are not afraid and because our hearts are open to the promises of the Father. Together, we all profess that “Jesus is Lord.”

People may have come from many different parts of the world, but in the Holy Spirit, we are united, “to announce together the love of the Father for all his children! To announce the Good News to all peoples! To show that peace is possible.”

Showing to the world that peace is possible isn’t always so easy, the Pope continued, “but in the name of Jesus we can prove with our testimony that peace is possible!”

“Jubilee, cheerfulness, joy, fruit of the same action of the Holy Spirit! The Christian either experiences joy in his heart or there is something that does not work. The joy of announcing the Good News of the Gospel!”

Francis also commented on the unity found in the “ecumenism of blood,” a phrase he has used before, in speaking about the number of Christian martyrs there are today. When Christians are killed for their faith, he said, they aren’t asked, “Are you Orthodox? Are you a Catholic? Are you evangelical? Are you Lutheran? Are you a Calvinist?”

“Today, it is more urgent than ever before, the unity of Christians, united by the Holy Spirit, in prayer and action for the weak. Walk together, work together. Love each other,” he said.

“And now we are here and we are many!” he continued. “We have come together to pray together to ask for the coming of the Holy Ghost over each of us to go out into the streets of the city and the world to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

 

Pope on Pentecost: Division isn’t from the Holy Spirit

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 17:54

Vatican City, Jun 4, 2017 / 05:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis said that division doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit, who forms the universal Church with both unity and diversity – and we must pray to resist the temptation to encourage division.

The Holy Spirit creates diversity in unity, Pope Francis said June 4, because in every time and place he gives and nurtures different charisms and graces. And he does so in a way that “effects true union, according to God’s will, a union that is not uniformity, but unity in difference.”

But there are two temptations we must avoid in order to receive these graces, he warned. One is the temptation to seek diversity without unity, which is what happens when we take sides or get locked in our own way of doing things, perhaps even thinking that we are better than other people or always in the right.

“When this happens, we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church,” he said. “We become avid supporters for one side, rather than brothers and sisters in the one Spirit. We become Christians of the ‘right’ or the ‘left,’ before being on the side of Jesus.”

Pope Francis spoke about the Holy Spirit during the celebration of Mass for around 60,000 people in St. Peter’s Square for the Solemnity of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, which fell on June 4 this year.

He explained that another common temptation people can fall into is the opposite: to seek unity without diversity. This makes unity into uniformity: “everyone has to do everything together and in the same way, always thinking alike.”

This kind of unity takes away freedom, Francis said. “But, as Saint Paul says, ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor 3:17).”

“So the prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive his unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves his Church, our Church,” he continued.

Making this prayer, then we can “accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion.”

We should also pray, he went on, “to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.”

Pope Francis explained how the Holy Spirit is a “Creator Spirit,” constantly bringing about new things. The readings for Mass, he said, show us two new things in particular that the Spirit creates.

“In the first reading, the Spirit makes of the disciples a new people; in the Gospel, he creates in the disciples a new heart.”

The first is a new people. “On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down from heaven, in the form of ‘divided tongues, as of fire... [that] rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages’ (Acts 2:3-4).”

“This is how the word of God describes the working of the Spirit: first he rests on each and then brings all of them together in fellowship. To each he gives a gift, and then gathers them all into unity,” the Pope said.

The second thing the Holy Spirit renews is the heart. The first gift of Jesus after his resurrection is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Above all, he gives the disciples the ability to forgive sins, saying to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (Jn 20:22-23).”

“Here we see the beginning of the Church,” he said, “the glue that holds us together, the cement that binds the bricks of the house: forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is “the greatest love of all,” Pope Francis said, saying that it preserves unity and prevents collapse. It consolidates and strengthens.

“Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh. Forgiveness gives hope; without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.”

Embracing a spirit of forgiveness helps us to resolve problems with harmony, rejecting other ways, such as hasty judgment and criticism of others. Let us as ask for the grace to make Our Holy Mother Church more beautiful with a renewed spirit of forgiveness and self-correction, he said.

Only after we do this, he explained, will we “be able to correct others in charity.”

“The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts, even though we often cover him with the ash of our sins,” the Pope concluded.

“Let us ask him: ‘Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come! Like water, we need you to live. Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us. Amen.’”

Humanity urgently needs the Gospel, Pope says for World Mission Day 2017

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 16:20

Vatican City, Jun 4, 2017 / 04:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his message for World Mission Day, Pope Francis said that the Church needs to spread the Gospel, caring for the spiritual wounds of people who desperately need the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“The world vitally needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis said June 4.

“Through the Church, Christ continues his mission as the Good Samaritan, caring for the bleeding wounds of humanity, and as Good Shepherd, constantly seeking out those who wander along winding paths that lead nowhere.”

The Pope’s message was published by the Vatican on June 4, the Solemnity of Pentecost; a few months ahead of the Church’s celebration of World Mission Day, which will take place October 22, 2017.

“Thank God, many significant experiences continue to testify to the transformative power of the Gospel,” the Pope continued, such as those of recent martyrs and those for whom it is difficult to even go to Mass or receive the Eucharist.

The Pope mentioned, for example, “the gesture of the Dinka student who, at the cost of his own life, protected a student from the enemy Nuer tribe who was about to be killed.”

“I think of that Eucharistic celebration in Kitgum, in northern Uganda,” he said also, “where, after brutal massacres by a rebel group, a missionary made the people repeat the words of Jesus on the cross: ‘My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?’ as an expression of the desperate cry of the brothers and sisters of the crucified Lord.”

“For the people, that celebration was an immense source of consolation and courage.”

In his message, Francis pointed out that the Church is missionary by nature, “otherwise, she would no longer be the Church of Christ, but one group among many others that soon end up serving their purpose and passing away.”

Because of this, we must ask ourselves certain questions about our responsibility as Christians and believers, especially in a world “marked by confusion, disappointment and frustration, and torn by numerous fratricidal wars that unjustly target the innocent.”

The questions the Pope proposed we ask ourselves are: “What is the basis of our mission? What is the heart of our mission? What are the essential approaches we need to take in carrying out our mission?”

One essential, Francis said, is that Church’s mission in the world be constantly invigorated by a spirituality of “exodus” and “pilgrimage;” that we are called to go forth into the world, past our own comfort zones, in order to reach people on the peripheries.

“The Church’s mission impels us to undertake a constant pilgrimage across the various deserts of life, through the different experiences of hunger and thirst for truth and justice,” he explained.

“The Church’s mission inspires a sense of constant exile, to make us aware, in our thirst for the infinite, that we are exiles journeying towards our final home, poised between the ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Taking part in the missionary aspect of the Church reminds us that the Church isn’t our end goal in itself, he said, but an instrument for bringing about the Kingdom of Heaven.

And part of the Kingdom of Heaven is spreading the message of the Gospel of Christ, also called the “Good News,” he said, because it is filled with a contagious joy, the offer of a new life in Christ, who through the Holy Spirit becomes for us the Way, the Truth and the Life.

And it is this life that “sets us free from every kind of selfishness, and is a source of creativity in love.”

God desires our “existential transformation,” the Pope continued, guided by the Holy Spirit, which finds expression in worship and in an imitation of Jesus.

Francis went on to explain what this means for the mission of the Church, which he said is not about spreading a “religious ideology” or a “lofty ethical teaching.”

Instead, “through the mission of the Church, Jesus Christ himself continues to evangelize and act; her mission thus makes present in history the Kairos, the favorable time of salvation.”

“Through the proclamation of the Gospel, the risen Jesus becomes our contemporary, so that those who welcome him with faith and love can experience the transforming power of his Spirit, who makes humanity and creation fruitful, even as the rain does with the earth.”

Quoting from the words of Benedict XVI in “Deus Caritas Est,” Francis said that Christianity is an encounter with a Person, not an “ethical choice or lofty idea.”

And through the Sacraments of the Church, this Person “continually offers himself and constantly invites those who receive him with humble and religious faith to share his life by an effective participation in the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection.”

The Pope mentioned the important role of both young people and the Pontifical Mission Societies in serving humanity “with courage and enthusiasm.”

In the Pontifical Mission Societies, “thanks to a profound missionary spirituality, nurtured daily, and a constant commitment to raising missionary awareness and enthusiasm, young people, adults, families, priests, bishops and men and women religious work to develop a missionary heart in everyone,” he said.

The celebration of World Mission Day in October, promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, “is a good opportunity for enabling the missionary heart of Christian communities to join in prayer, testimony of life and communion of goods, in responding to the vast and pressing needs of evangelization.”    

Finally, Francis said, in carrying out her mission, the Church must draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelization.

“Moved by the Spirit, she welcomed the Word of life in the depths of her humble faith. May the Virgin Mother help us to say our own ‘yes,’ conscious of the urgent need to make the Good News of Jesus resound in our time,” he concluded.

“May she obtain for us renewed zeal in bringing to everyone the Good News of the life that is victorious over death. May she intercede for us so that we can acquire the holy audacity needed to discover new ways to bring the gift of salvation to every man and woman."

Francis declares future month of prayer for missionary work

Sat, 06/03/2017 - 23:23

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2017 / 11:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis agreed to dedicate the month of October 2019 to reflection and prayer for the missionary work of the Church.

“To renew the ardor and passion, the spiritual engine of the apostolic activity of innumerable saints and missionary martyrs, I very much welcomed your proposal… to announce an extraordinary time of prayer and reflection on the Ad gentes mission,” Pope Francis said during a meeting with members of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, met with the Pope at 11 a.m. on June in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

The Pope made the announcement for the extraordinary month based on a proposal by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to dedicate time to pray and reflect on Ad gentes, a Second Vatican Council decree on the missionary activity of the Church, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on Dec. 7, 1965.

Francis said that he hopes the month will be a promising time of prayer and reflection on the testimony of missionary saints and martyrs, the Bible and theology, as well as catechesis and charitable missionary work towards the evangelization of the Church.

This taking place: the Church may “once again find the freshness and ardor of the first love for the crucified and risen Lord,” going out to “evangelize the world with credibility and evangelical efficacy.”

The month of October 2019 was chosen because of its proximity to the centenary anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XV’s apostolic letter, Maximum Illud, which was published on Nov. 30, 1919.

“In this most important document of his Magisterium about the mission,” Pope Francis said, Pope Benedict XV remembers “the necessity of the sanctity of life to the apostolate's effectiveness.”

“Therefore he recommends an ever stronger union with Christ and a more convivial and joyful engagement in his divine passion to proclaim the Gospel to all, loving and using mercy for all.”

This, Francis highlighted, is even more essential for the Church’s mission today. In fact, he said - quoting from Maximum Illud - men and women “distinguished by zeal and holiness” are needed for the mission more and more.

Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi: “Evangelizing, the Church begins with evangelizing herself,” the Pope pointed out.

This renewal requires a personal conversion, he said, “living the mission as a permanent opportunity to announce Christ,” meeting him and helping others to have a personal encounter with him too.

Responsible for material and spiritual assistance to churches around the world, the Pope said that he hopes the aid of the Mission Societies will make the churches “more and more based on the Gospel and on the baptismal involvement of all the faithful, laymen and clerics.”

Because “the Church's only mission,” he continued, is “to make God's love close to every man, especially to those most in need of his mercy.”

“The Extraordinary Month of Prayer and Reflection on Mission as First Evangelization will serve this renewal of ecclesial faith so that the Easter of Jesus Christ, the only Savior, Lord and Spouse of his Church, will always and ever work.”

Concluding his meeting, the Pope gave his blessing on the eve of the Solemnity of Pentecost, asking the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of the Church, to give her motherly intercession.

“May the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, the holy martyrs Carlo Lwanga and his companions, Blessed Paul Manna, never cease to pray to God for all of us, his missionaries,” he said.

Francis declares future month of prayer for missionary work

Sat, 06/03/2017 - 23:23

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2017 / 11:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis agreed to dedicate the month of October 2019 to reflection and prayer for the missionary work of the Church.

“To renew the ardor and passion, the spiritual engine of the apostolic activity of innumerable saints and missionary martyrs, I very much welcomed your proposal… to announce an extraordinary time of prayer and reflection on the Ad gentes mission,” Pope Francis said during a meeting with members of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, met with the Pope at 11 a.m. on June in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

The Pope made the announcement for the extraordinary month based on a proposal by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to dedicate time to pray and reflect on Ad gentes, a Second Vatican Council decree on the missionary activity of the Church, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on Dec. 7, 1965.

Francis said that he hopes the month will be a promising time of prayer and reflection on the testimony of missionary saints and martyrs, the Bible and theology, as well as catechesis and charitable missionary work towards the evangelization of the Church.

This taking place: the Church may “once again find the freshness and ardor of the first love for the crucified and risen Lord,” going out to “evangelize the world with credibility and evangelical efficacy.”

The month of October 2019 was chosen because of its proximity to the centenary anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XV’s apostolic letter, Maximum Illud, which was published on Nov. 30, 1919.

“In this most important document of his Magisterium about the mission,” Pope Francis said, Pope Benedict XV remembers “the necessity of the sanctity of life to the apostolate's effectiveness.”

“Therefore he recommends an ever stronger union with Christ and a more convivial and joyful engagement in his divine passion to proclaim the Gospel to all, loving and using mercy for all.”

This, Francis highlighted, is even more essential for the Church’s mission today. In fact, he said - quoting from Maximum Illud - men and women “distinguished by zeal and holiness” are needed for the mission more and more.

Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi: “Evangelizing, the Church begins with evangelizing herself,” the Pope pointed out.

This renewal requires a personal conversion, he said, “living the mission as a permanent opportunity to announce Christ,” meeting him and helping others to have a personal encounter with him too.

Responsible for material and spiritual assistance to churches around the world, the Pope said that he hopes the aid of the Mission Societies will make the churches “more and more based on the Gospel and on the baptismal involvement of all the faithful, laymen and clerics.”

Because “the Church's only mission,” he continued, is “to make God's love close to every man, especially to those most in need of his mercy.”

“The Extraordinary Month of Prayer and Reflection on Mission as First Evangelization will serve this renewal of ecclesial faith so that the Easter of Jesus Christ, the only Savior, Lord and Spouse of his Church, will always and ever work.”

Concluding his meeting, the Pope gave his blessing on the eve of the Solemnity of Pentecost, asking the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of the Church, to give her motherly intercession.

“May the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, the holy martyrs Carlo Lwanga and his companions, Blessed Paul Manna, never cease to pray to God for all of us, his missionaries,” he said.

Pope hears testimonies of earthquake children, asks them to trust in Jesus

Sat, 06/03/2017 - 21:06

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2017 / 09:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday, Pope Francis met with 400 children from towns hit by earthquakes in central Italy, telling them that during times of tragedy and natural disasters, we must deepen our trust in the Lord, who helps us.

“What you have experienced is a bad thing because it is a calamity,” Pope Francis told the children June 3.

“Is it true or not? It's a calamity. And calamities wound the soul. But the Lord helps us to recover.”

The Pope met with the school-age children at the Vatican as part of the fifth edition of the “Children's Train” initiative, promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture’s “Court of Gentiles” and Trenitalia, the Italian train company which sponsored the children’s train ride from Rome’s main station, Termini, to a station inside the Vatican.

Sitting in the atrium outside the Pope Paul VI hall, Francis led the children in an informal exchange which included random comments from one child about visiting the beach later with her mother, sister and cousin and another about being hungry for lunch.

“Do you trust in the Lord, or not?” the Pope asked them, as they sat on the floor, holding balloons they received on the train.

“Yes!” the children responded, Pope Francis asking again, “Are you sure?” to which they enthusiastically responded: “Yes!”

“And also in Our Lady?” the Pope continued, saying “and now, if we trust, we thank Our Lady for the good things that she has given us in this calamity.” The Pope then led them in praying the Hail Mary.

At the beginning of the meeting, Francis had said: “Boys and girls, they tell me I have to talk. But I like to listen! You, do you want to talk?”

He listened carefully while a few children offered some brief testimony about their experiences during the earthquake, which hit parts of central Italy on August 24, 2016 and resulted in nearly 300 deaths.

One boy from the town of Norcia, one of the most severely-hit, shared how after the earthquakes, they couldn’t return to their school building, but had to hold school in tents for a period of time. Only after March of this year being able to return to a normal schedule and building.

The Pope told each child “good job,” after hearing their testimony.

“One of the things that Jesus likes most, one of the words that most pleases the Lord,” the Pope told the young boys and girls, “are the words ‘Thank you very much.’"

He thanked them all for their visit and for remembering the “bad time” with him.

“Was the train nice?” he asked. “Yup!” the children responded in a group.

“Are you hungry?” he continued. The answer was again: “Yes!”

“Have you heard? They are hungry,” the Pope concluded to the parents and chaperones. “Goodbye, thank you!” he said smiling.

Pope Francis to honor two priests who lived ahead of their times

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 04:04

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2017 / 04:04 pm (CNA).- With a visit to the tombs of Father Lorenzo Milani and Father Primo Mazzolari this June, Pope Francis will pay homage to two historic Italians who aimed to change their society for the better.

Both Fr. Milani and Fr. Mazzolari combined their social advocacy with a profound devotion and obedience to the Church.

Both priests have been wrongly portrayed as “anti-clerical” priests. Their writings have often been misquoted in order to make them appear to dissent from the Church. However, they always obeyed any restriction the Church placed upon them, and they never preached outside of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Mazzolari believed that a parish priest was called to be a reference point for the community, and also called to work for the re-evangelization of Christianity. He clearly describes this approach in his book “La Bella Avventura,” or “The Beautiful Journey.”

Fr. Milani had a similar approach, which he applied by teaching poor children about the social doctrine of the Church. At a time of increasing communist influence in the region, he declared that “only the Gospel” would be his guide.

Pope Francis’ June 20 visit will start in the small municipality of Bozzolo in Lombardy, where Fr. Mazzolari is buried.

There, he will deliver a short commemorative speech. Then, he will go to the even smaller municipality of Barbiana in South Tyrol, where Fr. Milani lived. He will meet with some former students of the priest’s “people’s school.”

Father Primo Mazzolari was born in 1890 in a village close to Cremona, in Northern Italy. He entered the seminary in 1902, at the age of 11. Soon after being ordained a priest a decade later in 1912, he found himself discerning how to react to the First World War. He was originally in favor of Italy’s entry into the war. He worked as a military chaplain, but the war experience changed his mind. He became a strong pacifist.

He distinguished himself as an anti-fascist under Italy’s fascist regime. After Italy signed an armistice with Allied forces in 1943, he became an active member of the Italian Resistance against the Nazi occupation.

With the end of the Second World War, he developed a strong social commitment. He founded and edited the bi-monthly magazine “Adesso,” whose name means “Now.”

The magazine was shut down in 1951 under order of the Congregation of the Holy Office, which later became the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That same year, the Holy Office barred the priest from preaching outside of his diocese.

At the time, pre-Vatican II, many of the social advocacy topics covered by “Adesso”  were seen as controversial. In addition, the regent of the Pontifical Household wrote a book describing the publication as “combative.”

Within a year, “Adesso” was reopened, but Fr. Mazzolari was then ordered not to write about social issues. As was his response to every request from Church authorities, he obeyed.

The Mazzolari Foundation is dedicated to the priest’s legacy. Fr. Bruno Bignami, the foundation’s current president, met with Pope Francis at the end of April.

Fr. Bignami gave the Pope one of Fr. Mazzolari’s books and an issue of the foundation’s magazine, which included an article that emphasized the links between Fr. Mazzolari and Fr. Milani.

One of Fr. Mazzolari’s books, “You Shall Not Kill,” underscored a “preferential option for non-violence” which should be expressed in “a strong movement of Christian resistance against war,” Fr. Bignami said. These issues are echoed in Pope Francis’ latest message for the World Day of Peace.

Late in his life, Fr. Mazzolari met Pope St. John XXIII, who called him “the trumpet of the Holy Spirit.” Bl. Paul VI was known to voice appreciation for the priest after his death.

Historians recognize that Fr. Mazzolari had an impulsive personality, and was so bold that his words were hardly welcomed at first. He nevertheless humbly accepted the restrictions issued against him by the Holy Office from 1934 to 1960, though he always noted that he was never sanctioned for doctrinal issues. He died in 1959.

The cause for his beatification was started in 2013, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints took up his case in 2015.

Equally faithful and impulsive was Fr. Milani.

Pope Francis lauded the priest in an April 23 video message for a presentation of Fr. Milani’s complete works.

Fr. Milani came from a wealthy family of staunch secularists, and converted to Catholicism in his youth. Ordained a priest in 1947, he had his first experience of parish life in the Church of San Donato near Florence. Then he was appointed parish priest of Barbiana, a small village in the Tuscany mountains, in December 1954. It was there that he began his commitment to the education of the poor.

A few days after his arrival, he gathered the youth in a “people’s school” originally created outside the official Italian educational system. In 1956, he organized a high school that offered training in industrial trades.

In 1958, he published the book “Pastoral Experiences,” in which he offered an analysis of the Church of the time. He offered his own explanation of the increasing divide between the Church and the Italian people.

The book bore the imprimatur of Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa, then-Archbishop of Florence, authorizing its publication. Its foreword was written by Bishop Giuseppe d’Avack of Camerino. Nevertheless, the Holy Office ordered the book removed from circulation, determining that although it did not contain doctrinal errors, reading it was “deemed not opportune.”

The prohibition was formally removed  in 2014 by Pope Francis – at the request of Cardinal Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Fr. Milani’s old diocese – allowing “Pastoral Experience” to be reprinted without express ecclesiastical authorization.

Fr. Milani carried on with his educational project for the poor. In 1965, he again faced controversy when he wrote an open letter to Tuscany’s military chaplains.

The priest strongly criticized the chaplains’ statement that claimed that Christian conscientious objection was “strange to the Christian commandment of love and an expression of cowardice.”

The priest’s strong defense of Christian objection to war and military service was declared “a crime against the state” by political authorities, and Fr. Milani was tried for defending a crime. He was declared not guilty at his first trial but found guilty by the appeals court. He died of leukemia in 1967, before he faced sentencing.

Fr. Milani also co-authored a book with his boys and girls in Barbiana. The book, titled “Letter to A Professor,” expressed the need for more efforts to provide poor children with equal educational opportunities. The book has been translated to more than 40 languages.

As Pope Francis noted, Fr. Milani wrote: “I will never revolt against the Church, because I need for my sins to be forgiven several times a week, and I do not know where to seek this forgiveness if I left the Church.”

 

Pope Francis: I am always joyful when I see young priests

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 20:54

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2017 / 08:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis spoke with the Vatican department in charge of priests, saying he is always happy when he sees young priests, because they are important for Christ and represent the youthful face of the Church.

“I am always joyful when I meet young priests, because in them I see the youth of the Church,” the Pope said June 1.

He pointed to various young biblical figures, such as David, who was not presented by his father as a potential king because of his young age, and the prophet Jeremiah, who thought that he was too young for the mission the Lord entrusted to him.

Speaking directly to young priests, Francis said “you are chosen, you are dear to the Lord! God looks at you with the tenderness of a Father and, after making your heart fall in love, will not let your steps waver.”

“You are important in his eyes and he has confidence that you will be at the height of the mission to which you have been called,” he said, stressing that it’s important for young priests to find pastors and bishops “who encourage them in this perspective, and not only wait for them because there is need for a replacement and to fill empty places!”

Pope Francis spoke to members of the Congregation for Clergy currently participating in their plenary assembly.

The gathering takes place just six months after the promulgation of the congregation’s new “Ratio Fundamentalis,” the Vatican's document on priestly formation, which was released Dec. 7, 2016.

This document, Francis said, “speaks of integral formation, capable of including all aspects of life; and so it indicates the path to form the missionary disciple. A fascinating and demanding path.”

In reflecting on the fascinating and demanding aspects of this path, the Pope said he immediately thought of young priests, who “live the joy of the beginning of ministry and, together, feel the weight.”

A young priest, he said, “lives between the enthusiasm of the first projects and the anxiety of apostolic fatigue, in which they immerse themselves with a certain fear, which is a sign of wisdom.”

While the joy and strength of his recent anointing is acutely felt, the new priest’s shoulders gradually become “burdened” by the weight of the responsibility of his various pastoral commitments and the expectations of his flock, the Pope observed.

“How does a young priest live all this? What does he carry in his heart? What does he need so that his feet, which run to bring the joyful announcement of the Gospel, are not paralyzed in front of the fear of the first difficulties?” the Pope asked.

He noted that young people today are frequently judged “a bit superficially, and are too easily labeled as a ‘liquid’ generation, deprived of passions and ideals.”

While there are certainly youth who are fragile, disoriented and “infected by the culture of consumerism and individualism,” this doesn’t mean that youth capable of generous service and involvement don’t exist, Francis said.

“With all their limits, they are always a resource,” he said, and urged participants to ask themselves how they, in their parishes, view young priests.

Turning again to the new Ratio, which speaks of the priest as “a missionary disciple in permanent formation,” Pope Francis underlined three attitudes he said are key for any priest, but especially those who are just beginning their ministry.

These attitudes, he said, are: to pray without ceasing, to always walk and to share with your heart.  

Consistent prayer is essential in the life of a priest “because we can be fishers of men only if we first recognize that we have been ‘caught’ by the tenderness of the Lord,” he said.

Like the fishermen of Galilee who dropped their nets and followed Jesus, priests have also left behind their own personal plans in order to take up their own nets and “catch” the faithful entrusted to them, the Pope said, adding that “if we are not strictly linked to (the Lord), our fishing will never be successful.”

To live in harmony in prayer, work and rest “represents a precious resource to face apostolic fatigues,” Francis said, stressing that “every day we need to stop ourselves, putting ourselves in a position to listen to the Word of God and to pause in front of the tabernacle.”

He also touched on the need to listen to one’s body, “which is a good doctor,” and which tells us when we’ve reached the limit.

On the need to always keep walking, the Pope said this is important because a priest never really “arrives,” but remains a disciple, a pilgrim “overlooking the threshold of the ministry of God and the holy ground of the people entrusted to him.”

A priest, Pope Francis said, can never “feel satisfied” or let go of a certain “healthy apprehension that makes him stretch out his hands to the Lord” in order to be trained and fulfilled.

He told priests to always “be open to the surprises of God,” adding that with this openness to what is new, young priests especially “can be creative in evangelization, frequenting with discernment the new places of communication, where faces, stories and the questions of people are met, developing the ability to socialize, to relate and to announce the faith.”

Finally, Francis pointed to the need to share with one’s heart, because “priestly life is not a bureaucratic office nor a collection of religious or liturgical practices to get through.”

Priests, he said, carry in their own flesh “the joys and anguish of the people,” spending time with them and listening “in order to heal the wounds of others, and offering the tenderness of the Father to all.”

New priests have a prime opportunity to live this experience by sharing with youth and teens, Francis said, explaining that this means being with them “not only as a friend among others, but as the one who knows how to share their life with his heart, to listen to their questions and participate concretely in the different ups and downs of their lives.”

“Youth don’t need a professional on the sacred or a hero who, from above and from the outside, responds to their questions,” he said. “Rather, they are attracted by whoever sincerely commits their lives, supporting them with respect and listening to them with love.”

To genuinely share their experiences “means having a heart full of passion and compassion, above all toward youth,” the Pope said, adding that these three qualities imply the priestly life is lived by “looking up and thinking big.”

“It’s not an easy task, but one can full trust in the Lord, because He always precedes us on the journey!” he said, and asked for Mary’s intercession and guidance.

Vatican soccer champs dedicate victory to Coptic Christians

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 04:00

Vatican City, May 31, 2017 / 04:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Upon winning the Vatican's annual soccer championship last week, the victorious team honored Christians in Egypt who have faced increasingly brutal persecution in recent years.

“I would like to dedicate this trophy to our friends from the Coptic Church,” said Deacon Sama Joan Romeo of Cameroon, the team captain of the Urban Lions.

Catholic seminarians and clergy drew soccer teams from the pontifical universities and colleges of Rome May 27 for the 13th annual Clericus Cup competition.

The competition's press officer, Felice Alborghetti, said the competition should be considered a “world cup” because players from five continents and 66 countries are on the teams, which went through four qualifying rounds to reach the finals.

“In the final we have at least 20 countries (represented),” he told the EWTN news show Vaticano. “There are a lot of Europeans, Spaniards, Rumanians, Germans, a Croatian and a Hungarian player.”

African players are  heavily represented on the team from the Pontifical Urban University, nicknamed “The Lions of Africa.” They hail from countries including Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania and Botswana.

“All the world is playing in the field, not so much to highlight the word of soccer, as that of the Gospel,” Alborghetti said.

Over 400 players competed, but the May 27 finals came down to two teams: one from the Pontifical Gregorian University, called “Gregoriana,” the other from the  Pontifical Urban University, the “Urban Lions.”

Classmates and fans of the teams gathered to show support in the bleachers around a field in view of St. Peter's Basilica. Some wore painted faces and played guitars. The rectors of both schools cheered on their teams.

Monsignor Nuno da Silva Gonçalves, rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, reflected on the nature of the competition.
 
“We're very committed to supporting our own team,” he told Vaticano. “Our university is trying to give thorough training programs, with a global and academic reach – which is very important to us – but also human and spiritual training and sport is part of this thorough approach.”

The players have also “sacrificed a lot to be here,” said Monsignor Vincenzo Viva, rector of the Urban College. “We mustn't forget that it’s the exam period now at the university, so they've really made a great effort.”   

Amid the festivities, the final match of 2017 began with a serious moment of prayer. Then the opening whistle blew.

The Urban Lions took advantage, scoring the first goal. With high passions, the bleachers roared. There were fouls and penalties. Then a corner kick led to a second goal for the Urban Lions.

They took the match, and the Clericus Cup, with a 2-0 win.

“We came here and we knew we could win because last year we almost won the cup, and anyway it was a great match and a match of brotherhood,” said Antonio, an Angolan a seminarian from the Urban College. “This is the joy of being here and taking part in all this.”

Pour Porbumbi, a Kenyan seminarian at the same college, noted the fans' effort to sing and sing so that their team could play well.

Deacon Sama Joan Romeo added that the team is “not playing for honor or for any glory, we are just playing for friendship, for fraternity for our spiritual goals.”

The win marks the third time the Urban College's team has won a Clericus Cup.

Pope Francis condemns 'abhorrent' Kabul attack

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 18:35

Vatican City, May 31, 2017 / 06:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After a major suicide bomb tore through a busy neighborhood in Kabul, killing at least 80 people, Pope Francis condemned the ‘brutal’ act, offering his prayers for the victims and for peace in the country.

“Having learned with sadness of the abhorrent attack in Kabul and of the many dead and seriously injured, Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt condolences to all affected by this brutal act of violence,” a May 31 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said.

Pope Francis, he said, “commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty, and assures the people of Afghanistan of his continued prayers for peace.”

The Pope’s letter, addressed to Afghani ambassador to Italy, was sent hours after a suicide bomb exploded in the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, Afghanistan, killing some 80 people and wounding nearly 300 others, according to CNN.

Hidden in a water delivery truck, the bomb exploded near the German Embassy and the Afghan presidential palace in one of the busiest areas in town. A major local cell phone company and a popular TV station, as well as several large shops and supermarkets, were in close vicinity, making the likelihood of a high number of civilian casualties a guarantee.

The BBC’s Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir, who spent four years with the broadcaster and had a young family, was among the casualties. According to the BBC, four of their journalists were also injured in the attack, but are expected to live.

According to CNN, the Taliban in a statement denied responsibility for the attack, despite the fact they have been gaining territory in the area. As of now, group has yet claimed responsibility.

Wednesday’s bombing took place just four days after 29 Christians were gunned down in buses by militants wearing masks and military uniforms.

Claimed by the Islamic State, the attack targeted Christians en route to St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya, Egypt, and was the latest in a string of attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt.  

A similar attack took place in Kabul in July 1016, when twin explosions went off during a demonstration by members of Afghanistan’s mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority, who had been protesting the planned route of a multi-million-dollar powerline.

At least 80 people were killed and 230 people wounded in the explosions, which were claimed by the Islamic State.

Pope: A good Christian spreads hope – not bitterness

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 17:54

Vatican City, May 31, 2017 / 05:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit has the power to fill us with the hope of Christ, in turn making us Christians vessels that bring hope to others, rather than bitterness or desperation.

“The Holy Spirit makes us not only able to hope, but also to be sowers of hope, that we too are, like him and thanks to him – the “paraclete” – consolers and defenders of our brothers, sowers of hope,” Pope Francis said May 31.

“A Christian can sow bitterness, can sow perplexity, and this is not Christian,” he said, adding: “whoever does this is not a good Christian. Sow hope: sow the oil of hope, sow the fragrance of hope, and not the vinegar of bitterness and hopelessness.”
 
Francis continued his reflections on the virtue of hope during the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, this time centering on the role of the Holy Spirit in anticipation of the Feast of Pentecost.

Hope is simultaneously, as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews, like an anchor and a sail, the Pope said. “If the anchor is what gives the boat safety and keeps it ‘anchored’ between the waves of the sea, the sail, instead, is what makes it proceed and advance on the waters.”

“Hope is really like a sail; it collects the wind of the Holy Spirit and transforms it into a driving force pushing the boat, depending on the case, offshore or to shore,” he explained.

“The Spirit is the wind that drives us forward, that keeps us on the road, makes us hear pilgrims and strangers, and does not allow us to sit and become a ‘sedentary’ people.”

This is why hope does not disappoint: “because there is the Holy Spirit within us that pushes us forward, always!” he said.

It’s also because of the Holy Spirit that we have the ability to rest in hope, and have hope even “against all hope,” as St. Paul says in Romans, the Pope continued.  

To illustrate his point, Francis pointed to Abraham’s obedience when God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, and to the Virgin Mary as she stood at the foot of the cross of her son, Jesus, as examples of this supernatural hope.

It is possible to have this kind of “invincible” hope, he said, because the Holy Spirit helps us to recognize that we are children and heirs of God.

Again pointing to St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Francis noted that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

“The expression ‘God of hope’ does not just mean that God is the object of our hope, that is, the one we hope to reach one day in eternal life; it also means that God is the one who already makes us hope, indeed, makes us ‘happy in hope,’” he said.

According to a popular saying, “as long as there is life, there is hope.” While this is true, the Pope said that the opposite is also true: “As long as there is hope, there is life. Men need hope to live.”  

Quoting from a speech of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, Francis said: “Educated by our own suffering, by our own sorrow, indeed by our own sins, we will have a mind and heart practiced in every work of love towards those that have need.”

“We will be, in measure of our capacity, consolers in the image of the Paraclete,” the Pope said. “That is, the Holy Spirit, and in all the senses that this word implies: advocates, helpers, comforters. Our words and our counsel, our way of acting, our voice, our gaze, will be gentle and peaceful.”

“Brothers and sisters, the coming feast of Pentecost – which is the birthday of the Church, eh? –  we find ourselves together in prayer, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus and of us,” he said in conclusion.

“And the gift of the Holy Spirit makes us abound in hope,” he said, but explained that there is more: the Holy Spirit “makes us ‘waste’ hope with all those who are most needy, the most discarded and with all those who need it.”

South Korean president seeks Pope's support in reconciliation efforts

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 12:29

Vatican City, May 31, 2017 / 12:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the eve of President Trump’s visit to the Holy See, the newly elected president of South Korea sent a special envoy to ask for Vatican support in efforts to foster reconciliation in the Korean peninsula.

Bishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong, archbishop of Gwangju and president of the Korean Bishops Conference, served as South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s special envoy for a one-week mission.

He was able to meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on May 23, and to talk briefly with Pope Francis at the end of morning Mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae on May 26.

“I was sent by the president to ask the Holy Father for his support in the reconciliation process between North and South Korea, and I hope the Vatican can act as a mediator,” he told CNA.

He added that the mediation “could be the same as the mediation made during the restoration of relations between Cuba and the Unites States.”

Bishop Kim said that one of the main goals of the mission is to ask the Holy See to facilitate the opening of relations between North Korea and the United States, which “would help Korea in the path toward reconciliation” with the South, as at the moment “North Korea has not the trust of Western countries.”

The bishop stressed that “dialogue is the only way. North Korea is trying to show its military strength, but we have to keep engaging in dialogue. If North Korea becomes open to dialogue, tensions in the Korean peninsula will drop.”

Bishop Kim said that the meeting with Cardinal Parolin was scheduled to be only 15 minutes, but lasted instead 45 minutes.

“Cardinal Parolin,” he underscored, “wanted to know in depth the situation in South Korea and the relations with the North. He agreed that dialogue is the only way out.”

The meeting with Pope Francis was just a short greeting at the end of the morning Mass. It lasted about five minutes, and Bishop Kim briefed the Holy Father on the Korean situation. “The Pope seemed very interested to get the details,” he said.

According to the bishop, “the Catholic Church is a reference point in South Korea. For any issue of national interest, they look at the Catholic Church, and look for the Church’s statements and recommendations.”

Bishop Kim is familiar with the situation inside North Korea, and has able to travel across the border a number of times. He will be in the North again next week as part of a delegation of seven South Korean religious leaders invited by Pyongyang to a meeting.

“There is the wish for North Korea to allow Catholics to travel to the South, and let South Korean priests to meet the communities in the North,” he explained.

“The Holy See has always been on the side of Korea in the difficult moments of its history, and we hope this will happen again. If we achieve peace between North and South Korea, we state as from now our commitment to work for peace in East Asia and, on a larger scale, for peace in the world. We want to be a tool for peace.”
 

 

Pope Francis: A shepherd must freely follow the Spirit

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 04:53

Vatican City, May 30, 2017 / 04:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Tuesday urged priests and bishops not to be afraid to “step down completely” from their assignment when they are called to a new duty.

“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take,” he said during his homily May 30 at the chapel of the Vatican's Santa Marta residence.

The shepherd must “be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position,” he said.

In the first reading of the Mass, St. Paul addresses the Church leaders in Ephesus. The Pope said Paul left the Ephesus to go to Jerusalem, following the Holy Spirit’s call.

The Pope highlighted what he called the three “apostolic attitudes” demonstrated by St. Paul during a council with the priests of Ephesus, and he urged the faithful to pray that priests, bishops, and the Pope would live their lives accordingly.

The first attitude involves never turning back, and guiding the Church without compromise.

The second is obedience to the Spirit and the recognition that the life of a shepherd is a “journey,” always open to the voice of God.

St. Paul left Ephesus “because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them … this is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”

The third attitude involves the acknowledgement that “I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant.”

“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops,” Pope Francis exhorted. “Let us pray for our shepherds.”

Vatican: South Sudan not on Pope's itinerary for 2017

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 18:25

Vatican City, May 30, 2017 / 06:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed that while Pope Francis had voiced his desire to travel to South Sudan for an ecumenical visit alongside Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, it won’t be happening this year.

The trip is still being considered, just “not this year,” Burke told journalists May 30. He did not elaborate on when the visit, which had been tentatively planned for October, might take place.

Francis had hoped to travel to the war-torn country to promote peace, after making a similar effort during his 2015 visit to the Central African Republic.

Although Burke didn’t cite specific reasons for the postponement of the Pope’s visit to South Sudan, various Italian media outlets have reported that the decision was made due to security concerns.

The Pope previously voiced his intention to visit South Sudan alongside Anglican Primate and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The trip would have marked the first time Catholic and Anglican leaders made such a trip together.

The idea was likely the fruit of a meeting the Pope had with ecumenical leaders from South Sudan last fall, when Archbishop Paulino Luduku Loro of Juba traveled to Rome together with Rev. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan.

The three of them met with Pope Francis Oct. 27, 2016, to discuss the desperate situation of the country with Pope Francis. During the visit, they not only highlighted their joint collaboration in seeking to alleviate the effects of the crisis, but they also invited the Pope for a formal visit.

Arranged by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Vatican’s dicastery for Integral Human Development, the meeting focused largely on current tensions dividing Sudanese people, and the collaboration of different Christian denominations in promoting reconciliation and the common good.

Sudan has been the scene of nearly continuous civil war since it gained independence in 1956. Many of the initial problems were caused by corruption in the government, which led to the political, economic, and religious marginalization of the country’s peripheries.

South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, but has been torn by a civil war since December 2013, between the state forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – and opposition forces, as well as sectarian conflict.

A peace agreement was eventually signed, but was broken by violence in the summer of 2016, prompting the South Sudan Council of Churches to publicly condemn the violence and pray for peace. A ceasefire was then ordered by President Kiir and then-Vice President Machar in July.

Machar, the former rebel leader, ended up fleeing the country. However, despite this, violent fighting in the country has continued.

In comments to CNA after their meeting with the Pope in 2016, Archbishop Loro emphasized the joint ecumenical effort of Christian Churches in South Sudan, saying “all are Christian religions and we are perfectly together.”

Different Christian communities have always spoken about the situation of the country together, and because of this it was “perfectly in place” that the three of them would come to the Vatican together to voice concerns surrounding the state of their country.

“We are together and we are really speaking one voice and one language” to raise awareness of the humanitarian, political and social crisis of the country both locally and internationally, the archbishop said.

Should Francis ever go to South Sudan, Loro said the Pope would visit as “a religious leader” whose presence “would have a great impact and would be very welcome by us and by civil society, and it would be a great help for us.”

As far as international visits go, the only other confirmed trip on the Pope’s calendar is his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia. Pope Francis has also spoken about a possible trip to India and Bangladesh toward the end of 2017, however, it has not yet been confirmed.

Here's what Pope Francis and Justin Trudeau talked about

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 22:40

Vatican City, May 29, 2017 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a private audience which focused on religious freedom as well as reconciliation with native people of Canada.

According to a brief May 29 communique from the Vatican, Pope Francis and Prime Minister Trudeau conversed on the topics of integration and reconciliation with indigenous people, as well as religious liberty and current ethical issues.

In their 36-minute meeting which the Vatican described as “cordial,” they touched on the positive bilateral relations between the Holy See and Canada, “along with the contribution of the Catholic Church to the social life of the country.”

Afterward “in the light of the results of the recent G7 summit, attention turned to various matters of an international nature, with special attention to the Middle East and areas of conflict,” the communique stated.

During the visit, Trudeau extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit the country of Canada, during which time he could bring the Church’s apology for harm done to indigenous people in Canada in the mid-19th through 20th centuries when 150,000 children from native tribes were forced to undergo “enculturation” to the state through attendance at residential schools.

Some 6,000 children died in the schools and though they were state-owned, a number were managed by Catholics. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran from 2008-2015, called for action on 94 points, one of which was an apology from the Catholic Church.

In 2009, Benedict XVI did apologize for the Church’s participation in the system during a meeting with the head of the Canadian National Assembly, Phil Fontaine, showing “his pain and anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church,” adding that “acts of abuse can never be tolerated by society.”

The Prime Minister's spokesman, Cameron Ahmad, said Trudeau’s main agenda for the conversation with Francis was reiterating the open invitation to the Pope to come to Canada and for “reconciliation” with the indigenous communities on this point.

Ahmad also said that other important topics for Trudeau included the climate, religious and ethnic diversity – such as interreligious dialogue – and immigration.

At the end of the meeting, the Pope gave Trudeau a medallion symbolizing forgiveness, joy and mutual acceptance. It also references the scripture passage from Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Francis also gave him a copy of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, as well as copies of his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”

Along with the three customary documents, the Pope also gave the prime minister a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, which he signed, just like the one he gave to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting last week.

For his part, Trudeau gifted Francis a copy of “Relations de Jesuits du Canada,” a rare 6-volume edition that documents the Jesuits’ reports on Canadian territory, and a Jesuit vocabulary in a special edition.

The meeting was not Trudeau’s first visit to the Vatican. A Catholic, he met St. John Paul II in 1980 during the papal meeting of his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau with the pope.  
 
Afterward, Trudeau met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

Absent from Trudeau’s agenda for the audience were any topics related to life-issues, particularly that of euthanasia. Assisted suicide was legalized by the federal government in Canada on June 17, 2016. It now falls to the local provinces to reform the medical system to be in conformity with the new laws.

Canadian bishops from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec met with Pope Francis recently for their ad limina visits in April and the beginning of May. During the meetings the bishops all expressed concerns regarding the threat to freedom of conscience in relation to euthanasia’s legalization.

Holy Cross priest tapped as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee diocese

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 17:56

Vatican City, May 29, 2017 / 05:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of Fr. William “Bill” A. Wack to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida.

A member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, a religious order of priests, Bishop-elect Wack succeeds Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, who was appointed Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida by Pope Francis on Nov. 28, 2016 and installed on Jan. 4, 2017.

Fr. Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, said that they are delighted at the selection of Fr. Wack to serve as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

“Bishop-elect Wack is a gifted pastor and administrator who possesses an extremely welcoming personality. He is quick to reach out to all, is strong enough to lead and humble enough to listen. Above all, he is an outstanding priest who is passionate in his faith and absolutely dedicated to serving the People of God,” he said May 29.

Blessings on my Holy Cross brother and friend, @pt_diocese Bishop-elect Bill Wack @FrWack #SpesUnica pic.twitter.com/mLFerqkhtK

— Fr. Dennis Strach (@DennisStrachCSC) May 29, 2017 He said Fr. Wack, who has served as pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr parish in Austin, Texas since 2009, “has been a blessing” to the people there and will “no doubt be a blessing to all in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.”

“As his brothers in Holy Cross, we are proud of him and are united with him in prayer as he assumes this important responsibility in our Church.”

Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez said in a statement May 29 that he received the good news of Pope Francis’ appointment “with joy” and offered his prayers for Bishop-elect Wack and the faithful of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

“I know the faithful of Pensacola-Tallahassee are excited to receive their new shepherd. Father Wack is an exemplary priest who is well-respected by his brother priests and loved by those he serves,” he said.

“Father Wack has been of great help to me, and I express my deep appreciation to him for his years of service in the Diocese of Austin. As the people of Pensacola-Tallahassee come to know him, they will see his love for the Church and his desire to serve his flock with warmth and compassion.”

Bishop-elect Wack, 49, wrote on Twitter after the announcement that in his life he has never wanted to be anything but a Holy Cross priest, but “because God called (through Pope Francis) I can only say, ‘Here I Am.’”

Pope Francis is a pope of many surprises. I just didn't think that I would be one of them! #blessed

— Fr. Bill Wack, CSC (@FrWack) May 29, 2017 Fr. Wack was born on June 28, 1967 in South Bend, Indiana. He studied government at Holy Cross College, eventually receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend in 1990.

He also did ecclesiastical studies at Notre Dame and received a diploma in Executive Management from the school in 2002.

Entering the seminary at Notre Dame in 1985, he professed his solemn vows in the Congregation of Holy Cross on August 28, 1993. He was ordained a priest in the congregation the following year on April 9, 1994.

Fr. Wack’s brother, Fr. Neil Wack, is also a Holy Cross priest.

During his formation, Fr. Wack was involved in ministering at detention centers, a prison, homeless shelters, AIDS Services of Austin, and among the people of the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.

After his ordination, the bishop-elect served as parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs, Colo. for three years.

From 1997-2002 he was Associate Director of Vocations for the Congregation of Holy Cross and he was a member of the administrative council of Holy Cross Associates from 1998-2002.

He was also a member of the Caritas of the Diocese of Phoenix from 2003-2008.

Since 2009 he has been the pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas. He served as a member of the Austin Diocesan Advisory School Board from 2010-2016 and was Vice President of the Presbyteral Council of the diocese and Dean of the Austin Central Deanery.

Bishop-elect Wack speaks both English and Spanish.

Our task is to make the Gospel accessible, Pope Francis says

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 16:21

Vatican City, May 28, 2017 / 04:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the Feast of the Ascension, Pope Francis said that when Jesus rose into heaven, he entrusted his Church with the great and dignified responsibility of spreading his Word and making it accessible to everyone.

In addition to signaling the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus’ Ascension reminds us of his constant assistance and that of his Spirit, “who gives strength and security to our Christian witness in the world,” the Pope said May 28.

The Holy Spirit “reveals to us why the Church exists: she exists to announce the Gospel” he said. “Only for that. And also, the joy of the Church is to announce the Gospel.”

Francis said the Church includes all faithful that have been baptized, who today “are invited to better understand that God has given us the great dignity and responsibility of announcing it to the world, of making it accessible to humanity.”

“This is our dignity, this is the greatest honor of the Church!” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Regina Coeli address, which is prayed during the Easter season instead of the Angelus.

In his brief speech, the Pope said Jesus’ ascension into heaven signaled the end of his own earthly ministry, and the beginning of the Church’s mission.

“From this moment, in fact, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in him and announce him,” he said, adding that this mission will last “until the end of history and will enjoy every day the assistance of the Risen Lord,” who promised to be with his disciples “until the end of the age.”

Jesus’ constant presence, he said, “brings strength in persecution, comfort in tribulation, support in situations of difficulty that the mission and the announcement of the Gospel encounter.”

As the Church throughout the world turns their gaze toward heaven, where Christ ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father, Christians must strengthen their own steps so as “continue with enthusiasm and courage our journey, our mission of bearing witness to and living the Gospel in every environment,” the Pope said.

However, he cautioned that this mission doesn’t depend on human efforts, resources or our ability to organize, because only the “light and strength” of the Holy Spirit makes it possible to “effectively fulfill our mission of making Jesus’ love and tenderness more known and experienced.”

Pope Francis then asked for Mary’s intercession in becoming “more credible” witnesses of the Resurrection, and led pilgrims in praying the Regina Coeli.

After the prayer, voiced his closeness to Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II following the May 26 attack on buses carrying Coptic Orthodox en route to St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya.

Gunmen who stopped the buses opened fire, killing 29 and injuring at least 22 others, including children. The attack marked the latest act in a string of violence against the community in recent months.

In his comments to pilgrims, Pope Francis prayed for the Coptic Orthodox community in Egypt after undergoing “another act of ferocious violence.”

“The victims, among whom were also children, are faithful who were going to the shrine to pray, and were killed after they refused to deny their Christian faith,” he said, and prayed that God would “welcome into his peace these courageous witnesses, and convert the hearts of the violent.”

He also voiced his sorrow for the May 23 terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena in England, killing some 22 people, most of whom were youth who had be enjoying a concert by popular teen artist Ariana Grande.

Francis prayed for the victims of the “horrible attack,” which left many young lives “cruelly shattered,” and voiced his closeness to the families and “all who mourn the deceased.”

Finally, the Pope noted that the day also marks World Day of Social Communications, which this year holds the theme “Fear not, for I am with you: Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”

Social networks, he said, “offer the opportunity to share and disseminate the news in an instant; this news can be good or bad, true or false.” He prayed that communications, in every form, would be “constructive, at the service of the truth by refusing prejudices, and spread hope and trust in our time.”

In Genoa, Pope challenges workers, religious and youth

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 18:02

Vatican City, May 27, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis paid a visit to the Italian diocese of Genoa, where he had lengthy Q&A sessions with youth, the city’s working class, and their bishops, priests and religious, challenging them and offering antidotes to modern problems.  

After landing just around 8a.m. local time May 27, the Pope was greeted by Genoa’s archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who just finished his term as president of the Italian Bishops Conference. He was replaced by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia.
 
Once he left the airport, Francis immediately went to a warehouse where he met with the city’s workers. Afterward, he met the diocese’s bishops, priests and religious at the city’s cathedral before heading to a special shrine where he spoke with youth.

In each of the meetings Pope Francis responded to questions, taking his time to respond well to each of their concerns.  

After the meetings, he is slated to eat lunch with the poor, refugees and prisoners before greeting sick children at the Pediatric Gianna Gaslini Hospital. The Pope made a phone call to the hospital earlier this week to tell the children that he was coming to see them, and assured them that Jesus is always with us difficult moments.

Established in 1931, the hospital is linked to the University of Genoa and is considered as one of the most prestigious children’s hospitals in Europe. It has formally recognized as a scientific institute for research, hospitalization and healthcare.

After greeting the children, Pope Francis will head to the city’s Kennedy Square to celebrate Mass before returning to Rome.

Workers

In his audience with the workforce, Francis responded to four questions: one from an entrepreneur, the head of a company, who asked for a word of encouragement in his responsibilities; two questions from workers on how to recover from the economic crisis and how to avoid careerism and foster fraternity, and one question from an unemployed woman who asked how to stay strong despite challenges of not having consistent work.

In his responses, Francis said that in the world today, work today is “at risk,” because “it’s a world where work isn’t considered with the dignity it has and gives.” Work, he said, “is a human priority,” and because of this, “it’s a Christian priority, and also a priority of the Pope!”

Speaking inside a warehouse, the Pope said he wanted to meet with them there because the Church is where the people are, “in your places of work, in the places where you are.”

In his response to the first question, the Pope said, “there is no good economy without good businessmen,” adding that they are “the figure of a good economy,” since society functions well when there are honest and caring people in charge.

He cautioned against the temptation to do one’s work well just because they get paid to do it, saying this mentality is an injustice to the working system, “because it negates the dignity of work, which begins with working for dignity, for honor.”

On the other hand, a good boss “knows his workers, because he works beside them, with them,” the Pope said. “Let’s not forget that a businessman above all must be a worker. If he doesn’t have this sense of the dignity of work, he won’t be a good businessman.”

The Pope then warned against the temptation to solve problems in a company by firing people, explaining that a person who does this “is not a businessman, he is a commercialist. Today he sells his employees, tomorrow he sells his own dignity.”

“A sickness of the economy is the progressive transformation of workers into speculators, profiteers,” he said, adding that “workers must absolutely not be confused with profiteers,” because they are different things.

Profiteers, he said, “eat” people, leaving the economy abstract and “without a face.” In addition, laws intended to help the honest then end up penalizing the honest and profiting the corrupt.

He also warned the workers against competition in the workplace, calling it “an anthropological and Christian error,” as well as an “economic error,” since it forces people to work against each other.

Too much competition destroys the “fabric of trust” that binds every organization, he said, noting that when a crisis arrives, “the company implodes” because there is no longer a sense of collegiality uniting it.

Francis then issued a stern warning against the “non-virtue” of meritocracy, referring to the political philosophy that power ought to be invested in individuals solely based on their abilities and talents.

This attitude “denatures” the human being and creates inequality, he said, explaining that under this mentality the poor are faulted for their disadvantage and the rich are “exonerated.”

On the economic crisis, Francis noted that with unemployment, there often come illegal contracts and inhumane working conditions.

He noted that many people are forced into working 11 hours a day for just 800 euro a month, or they are paid illegally under the table with no contract or benefits.

In these cases, work becomes about survival, he said, noting that while this is part of is, work is about “much, much more,” because by working, “we become more human,” since we participate in God’s act of creation.

“Work is man’s friend, and man is work’s friend,” he said, explaining that there are few joys greater than what one experiences in a good and healthy workplace, and there are fewer sorrows than when one work harms, exploits or even “kills” people.

He pointed to the societal paradox that there is an increasing number of people who are unemployed but want to work, and that there are fewer and fewer people who work too much and want time off.

This is based on the logic of consumption, Francis said, calling it “an idol of our time” that eventually leads us to worship “pure pleasure,” rather than appreciating the value of “fatigue and sweat,” which are the backbone of work.

Bishops, Priests and Religious

Pope Francis opened his nearly 2-hour conversation with bishops, priests, religious and seminarians by leading them in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of yesterday’s attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt, that killed 28.

After then reciting a Hail Mary for the deceased, the wounded and their families, the Pope took four questions on how to maintain a good spiritual life daily, how to keep the charism of an order fresh as time passes, how to foster priestly brotherhood and what to do about the current vocational crisis.

When it comes to having a good spiritual life, the Pope said two things are essential: a constant encounter with God through prayer, and being close to the people.

He noted that the world today is constantly “in a hurry,” and that it’s often difficult to take time to be with people and listen to their problems and concerns. But this doesn’t mean being inactive, he said, adding that “I am afraid of static priests.”

Priests who are obsessed with structure and organization are better “businessman” than pastors, he said, noting that they might pray and celebrate Mass, Jesus himself was “always a man on the street,” in the midst of his people and “open to the surprises of God.”

There’s a certain tension between these two extremes, he said, but urged consecrated people to “not be afraid of this tension,” because it’s a sign of “vitality” and movement.

He told priests to be flexible in their prayer, always seeking a true encounter with God, and urged them to allow themselves to “get worn out be the people,” and not to “defend your own tranquility,” since Jesus himself prioritized relationships with the people, yet always set aside time to be with his Father.

When it comes to fostering a stronger sense of brotherhood among priests, the Pope said that first of all this means letting go of “that image of the priest who knows everything,” and who doesn’t need the input of others.

Self-sufficiency does a lot of harm to a consecrated person, he said, and asked the priests and religious how many times during a meeting they stop paying attention to what a fellow brother or sister is saying, and let their minds to “into orbit” with other things.

Even if what the other person says isn’t necessarily of immediate interest, it’s important to pay attention, he said, explaining that each person “is a richness.” He told them to look for moments to pray together, go for lunch or play sports together, which all help to form stronger ties.

He also warned against “murmuring” and “jealousy,” noting that at times when he reviews information collected on possible candidates for bishops, “you find true calumny or opinions that could be serious calumny but which devalue the priest.”

To speak poorly of a brother is to “betray” him, Francis said, and warned, as he often does, about the dangers of gossip and the importance of forgiveness.

When it comes to keep charisms fresh, the Pope emphasized the importance of staying attached to the concrete realities of a diocese or project.

While a congregation might be “universal” in the sense that it has houses throughout the world, the “concreteness” of involvement in the helps give the order “roots,” allowing it to stay remain and also to grow as they see different needs come up.

On the vocational crisis, Francis immediately pointed out the low birthrate in Europe, particularly Italy, saying the lack of vocations is also tied to the “demographic problem” that people don’t want to get married or have children.

“If there are no young men and women, there are no vocations,” he said, explaining that while this is not the only reason for the crisis, it’s something that must be kept in mind.  

He also stressed the importance of looking critically at what is happening in the world and posing the question: “what is the Lord asking right now?”

“The vocational crisis is affecting the entire Church,” including the priesthood, religious life and even marriage, he said, noting that many young couples don’t want to commit themselves to the vocation of marriage, but instead prefer to cohabitate.

Give the widespread nature of the crisis, “it’s a time to ask ourselves, to ask the Lord, what must we do? What must we change?” he said, adding that “to face the problems is necessary, (but) to learn from problems is obligatory.”

His words have a special resonance given that the next Synod of Bishops, set to take place in October 2018, will address the topic: “Young People, Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

Francis cautioned against the temptation of “conquest” when it comes to filling empty convents and seminaries, stressing that true vocational work “is hard, but we must do it.”

“It’s a challenge, but we must be creative,” he said, and emphasized the importance of bearing personal witness through the living of one’s own vocation, which “is key” to showing youth how rewarding a life offered for Christ and others can be.

Youth

In a meeting with youth at Genoa’s Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Guard, he also took questions from four youth, two boys and two girls, telling them he wouldn’t give them “pre-made answers,” but personal answers.  

In their questions, the youth asked how to be a missionary in the face modern challenges; how to go beyond modern distractions and love those in difficulty and crisis around us; how to have a strong prayer and spiritual life, and how to have sincere relationships in a culture of indifference.

Francis said that being a missionary above all “means letting yourself be transformed by the Lord.

“Normally when we live these activities, we are joyful when things go well, and this is good, but there is another transformation that you don’t see, it’s hidden and is born in the lives of all of us,” he said, adding that to be a missionary “allows us to learn how to look, how to see with new eyes.”

He told the youth to stop being “tourists,” many of whom come to the city and take pictures of everything, but “don’t look at anything.”

“To look at life with the eyes of tourists is superficial...it means I don’t touch reality, I don’t see things as they are,” he said, noting that going on mission helps us to go beyond the superficial and “draw near to the heart of another...and it destroys hypocrisy.”

For adults, but especially for youth to have this attitude, “is suicide. Understand? It’s suicide,” he said, stressing that accepting Jesus’ invitation to me a missionary helps us to look at each other in the eye and purifies us from seeing the Church divided into the “good” and the “bad.”

He said that to respond to the needs of people in difficulty – the poor, migrants, homeless and unemployed – we must first of all “love them. We can’t do anything without love.”

No matter how many projects we set up or are involved in, it’s useless without love he said, explaining that whenever he can he likes to ask people, when they give to the poor, if they “touch the hand of the person” they give to, or if they pull back immediately.

Love, he said, is the ability to take hold of the “dirty hand” and to look at people in situations of drugs, poverty and hardship, and to say that “for me, you are Jesus.”

Pope Francis said focusing on the person who has been wounded and excluded, rather than their situation, is part of “the madness of the faith,” and of the announcement of Jesus.

He told the youth to never ignore people or “make the person into an adjective,” calling them a “drunk,” because they are a person with a name. “Never make people into adjectives!” he said, adding that “God is the only one who can judge, and he will do it in the Final Judgement for each one of us.”

Giving advice for how to have a strong spiritual life, the Pope tied the his answer to the city’s link with boaters and sailors, telling them that if they want to be a good disciple, “you need the same heart as a navigator: a horizon and courage.”

“If you don’t have a horizon...you will never be a good missionary,” he said, and warned against the distractions new media technologies bring.

“You have the opportunity to know everything with new technologies, but these information technologies make you fall into a canal many times, because instead of informing us, the saturate us,” he said, adding that when you are saturated, the horizon “gets closer and closer” and soon “you have a wall in front of you.”

When this happens, the horizon is lost as is the ability to contemplate, he said, and told the youth to take time to contemplate and make good decisions, instead of eating whatever is put in front of them.

He also urged the youth to question what has become almost routine in today’s “normal culture,” using smoking as an example. Instead of just accepting that this is normal, he told them to ask themselves: “is this normal, or is this not normal?” and to “have courage to seek the truth.”

At the close of his meeting with youth, Francis offered a special greeting to prisoners of watching the meeting via television before heading to lunch with poor, refugees, homeless and prisoners from Genoa.

Francis calls Don Orione Sisters to be 'missionaries without borders'

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 23:37

Vatican City, May 26, 2017 / 11:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Addressing the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity on Friday, Pope Francis spoke to them about their charism for evangelization, especially to the poor, encouraging them to be joyful in their mission.

“You are called, and are by vocation, 'missionaries'; that is, evangelizers, and at the same time you are at the service of the poor. Sisters, be missionaries without borders,” the Pope said May 26 at the Vatican's Consistory Hall.

“To all, but especially to the poor, in whom you are called to recognize the flesh of Christ, bring the joy of the Gospel that is Jesus Himself. To all, show the beauty of God's love manifested in the merciful face of Christ. With this beauty fill the hearts of those you encounter. Closeness, encounter, dialogue, and accompaniment are your missionary approach. And do not let yourselves be robbed of the joy of evangelization.”

The Little Missionary Sisters of Charity are holding their 12th General Chapter in Rome throughout the month of May. They are also known as the Don Orione Sisters, after their founder, St. Luigi Orione. The Italian priest founded the order in 1915 to perform works of charity among the poor, orphans, the aged, and the handicapped.

Pope Francis thanked the sisters for their apostolate “in the various activities of youth ministry, in schools, in homes for the elderly, in the little 'Cottolengo' institutes, in catechesis and oratories, with new forms of poverty, and in all places where Divine Providence has placed you.”

Mission and service “help you overcome the risks of self-referentiality, of limiting yourselves to survival and self-defensive rigidity” and “make you take on the dynamics of exodus and giving, of coming out of yourselves, of walking and sowing,” he reflected. “For all these purposes, it is vital to nurture communion with the Lord” in prayer, he added.

“In the Church, mission is born of the encounter with Christ … The centre of the Church’s mission is Jesus. As His disciples, you are called to be women who work assiduously to transcend, projecting towards the encounter with the Master and the culture in which you live.”

Missionaries must be “bold and creative,” the Pope said. “The convenient criterion of 'it has always been the case' is not valid. It is not valid. Think of the aims, the structures, the style and the methods of your mission.”

“We are living in a time when we need to rethink everything in the light of what the Spirit asks us,” Pope Francis maintained. “This demands a special look at the recipients of the mission and reality itself: the look of Jesus, which is the look of the Good Shepherd; a gaze that does not judge, but which grasps the presence of the Lord in history; a gaze of closeness, to contemplate, to be moved, and to stay with the other as often as necessary; a deep look of faith; a respectful gaze, full of compassion, that heals, frees, and comforts.”

This gaze “will make you courageous and creative and will help you always to be in search of new ways to bring the Good News that is Christ to all.”

He also said that missionary must be free, “without anything of his or her own. I never tire of repeating that comfort, lethargy and worldliness are forces that prevent the missionary from 'going out', 'starting out' and moving on, and ultimately sharing the gift of the Gospel. The missionary can not walk with the heart full of things (comfort), an empty heart (lethargy) or in search of things extraneous to the glory of God (worldliness).”

“The missionary is a person who is free of all these ballasts and chains; a person who lives without anything of his own, only for the Lord and His Gospel; a person who lives on a constant path of personal conversion and works without rest towards pastoral conversion.”

A missionary must also be “inhabited by the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit Who reminds the disciples of all that Jesus said to them, Who teaches them, Who bear witness to Jesus and leads the disciples, in turn, to bear witness to Him. The missionary is asked to be a person obedient to the Spirit, to follow His movement.”

This obedience should lead them “to become capable of perceiving the presence of Jesus in so many people discarded by society,” he said. “You too, dear sisters, be in this sense spiritual people, let yourselves be led, driven and guided by the Spirit.”

Pope Francis said a missionary's spirituality must be based on Christ, the Word of God, and on the liturgy. A 'holistic' spirituality, involving the whole person in its various dimensions, based on complementarity, integrating and incorporating. It allows you to be daughters of heaven and daughters of the earth, mystical and prophetic, disciples and witnesses at the same time.”

“Finally, the missionary is required to be a prophet of mercy … Your charism of service to the poor demands that you exercise the prophecy of mercy, that is, to be people centred on God and on the crucified of this world. Let yourselves be provoked by the cry of help from so many situations of pain and suffering. As prophets of mercy, announce the Father’s forgiveness and embrace, a source of joy, serenity and peace.”

“Along with the other institutes and movements founded by Don Orione, you form a family. I encourage you to walk the paths of collaboration with all the members of this rich charismatic family … Cultivate between you the spirit of encounter, the spirit of family and cooperation.”

Francis concluded by offering the Visitation as “an example for your mission and for your service to the poor.”

“Like the Virgin Mary, go on your way, in haste – not the rush of the world, but that of God – and, full of the joy that dwells in your heart, sing your Magnificat. Sing the love of God for every creature. Announce to today’s men and women that God is love and can fill the heart of those who seek Him and who let themselves be encountered by Him.”

 

Pope taps Bishop Angelo de Donatis as new Vicar of Rome

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 16:32

Vatican City, May 26, 2017 / 04:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday the Vatican announced that Bishop Angelo de Donatis had been chosen by Pope Francis as the new Vicar of Rome, who will oversee the administrative needs of the Roman diocese, including her clergy.

He will be taking over for Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who has held the position since 2008, under Benedict XVI. Currently also a member of the Council for the Economy established by Pope Francis in 2014, Vallini previously served as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 2004 until his appointment as Vicar of Rome.

Bishop Donatis was born in Casarano, in the Nardo-Gallipoli province of Italy, in 1954 and served as a priest for the diocese until the early 1980s, when he was incardinated as a priest in Rome.

Well known and loved among Romans and expats alike, Donatis was appointed an auxiliary bishop for Rome by Pope Francis in 2015.

While the Pope is the official Bishop of Rome, the Cardinal Vicar is hand-picked by the Pope after consulting with priests, bishops and cardinals who serve in and around Rome, and is charged with the spiritual administration of the diocese.

According to canon law, every Catholic diocese must have at least one or more vicar generals, however, the Vicar of Rome serves more as a “de facto” bishop due to the Pope’s heavy workload with his various responsibilities and commitments.  

The man who holds the position also serves as the Archpriest for the papal Basilica of St. John Lateran.

There is also a Vicar General for the Vatican City State, who is the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and is charged with looking after the spiritual needs of the small country. This position is currently held by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was tapped for the role by Benedict XVI in 2005.

Donatis, after working in various parishes throughout Rome, was in 1990 named Director of the Office of the Clergy for the Diocese of Rome, a position he held until 1996. He was then named as Spiritual Director at the Pontifical Roman Seminary.

Since 2003 he has served as the parish priest for St. Mark the Evangelist parish, located near Rome’s famous Piazza Venezia, and was also named the Assistant for the diocese of Rome’s National Association for the Family of Clergy.

In 2014 Pope Francis tapped Donatis to preach the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia during their weeklong retreat in Ariccia. A year later he was named auxiliary bishop.

After the conclusion of their spiritual exercises in 2014, Pope Francis thanked Donatis for accompanying the Curia and for planting “the seed of the Word of God” in their hearts.

“The Lord will seed the rain and that seed will grow and bear fruit,” he said, but added, “we must also thank the sower, no? Because you were the sower and you know how to do it!”


Donatis was ordained a bishop by Pope Francis himself, who during the liturgy connected the ordination to the opening of the Jubilee of Mercy, which at the time was still a month away.

“At the beginning of the year of Mercy I ask you as a brother to be merciful,” Francis said, adding that “the world needs mercy so much. Teach priests and seminarians the path of mercy; with words, but also with your attitude.”

“The mercy of the Father which is always placed in the heart, never hurts anyone,” he said, adding that “this is what I wish for you: mercy.”

Donatis chose as his episcopal motto the phrase: “Nihil Caritate dulcius,” meaning “Nothing is sweeter than love.”

His coat of arms includes a shield bearing the image of the lion of St. Mark the Evangelist at the top right, named for the parish he has led since 2003, on top of the color red, symbolizing both blood and love.

Below the shield is a pomegranate – the fruit that in the Bible is a symbol of the blood poured out by Christ and the martyrs. The background of the image is silver in reference to the purity and transparency of the Virgin Mary, to whom Donatis entrusted his episcopal ministry.

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