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Updated: 59 min 46 sec ago

Pope Francis: When it comes to evangelization, don't be stuck in your ways

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 00:00

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2017 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with new bishops at the end of their training course at the Vatican, reminding them to be both humble in their work and open to better ways of evangelizing other than just “the way it's always been.”

“Discernment is a remedy for the immobility of 'it has always been so' or 'we take time,'” the Pope said Sept. 14.

“It's a creative process that is not limited to the application of methods. It is an antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions are not good everywhere. Do not be imprisoned by the nostalgia of having only one answer to apply in all cases.”

He continued, warning that to have an easy, one-size-fits-all answer might soothe our performance anxiety, but it threatens to make our lives “dried up.”

Pope Francis spoke in an audience with participants in the annual training course for new bishops held in Rome and organized by the Congregation of Bishops and the Congregation of Eastern Churches.

He reminded them how important it is that they have humility, especially for the work of the Holy Spirit.

“Remember that God was already present in your dioceses when you arrived and will still be there when you are gone,” he said.

“And, in the end, we will all be measured not on the accounting of our works but on the growth of God's work in the heart of the flock that we keep in the name of the 'Shepherd and keeper of our souls' (cf. 1 Pt. 2:25).”

Discernment, the Pope continued, requires humility and obedience. “Humility with regard to your own projects.”

“Obedience with regard to the Gospel, the ultimate standard; to the Magisterium, who guards it; to the norms of the universal Church, which serve it; and to the concrete situation of people,” who are looking to draw from the Church what will be most fruitful to their salvation,” he said.

In achieving this, Francis encouraged the bishops to “cultivate an attitude of listening, growing in the freedom to give up your point of view (when it is partial and inadequate), to assume that of God.”

Listening is necessary, because the bishop’s discernment is always a community action, he said, it does not disregard “the richness of the opinion of his priests and deacons, of the People of God, and of all those who can offer him a useful contribution” – even those which are more concrete than formal.

Discernment is a gift of the Spirit to our Church, the Pope noted. So although bishops may have many personal responsibilities in their job, they are also called to live their own discernment “of Pastor as a member of the People of God, or in ever-ecclesial dynamics, at the service of the koinonìa,” the Christian community.

“The bishop is not the self-sufficient ‘father’ and not even the frightened and isolated ‘Lone shepherd.’”

This is why the bishop must be aware of the great gift, the “Spiritus Principalis” entrusted to him at his ordination, the Pope said.

It is perhaps for this reason that the Church, in the episcopal consecration prayer, derived an expression from the Miserere in which the person praying, after exposing his failure, implores the Spirit to grant him immediate and spontaneous generosity in obedience to God, “so fundamental to those who lead a community.”

“Discernment, therefore, is born in the heart and mind of the bishop through his prayer when he meets people and situations entrusted to him with the Divine Word pronounced by the Spirit,” he said.

It is in the intimacy of prayer that a bishop grows his inner freedom to make good decisions, both in ecclesial and personal matters. “Only in the silence of prayer can one learn the voice of God, perceive the traces of his language, access his truth.”

He explained that bishops and leaders in the church must strive to grow in the kind of discernment which dialogues with the faithful “in a patient and courageous accompanying process.”

Then it can “mature the capacity of each – faithful, families, priests, communities, and societies – all called to advance in the freedom to choose and accomplish the good that God wants.”

Because discernment isn’t just for the wise, clear-sighted, or perfect, he said. God often shows himself to the most humble, in fact.

So true discernment, he continued, is an open and necessary process. It’s not about set formulas or repetition. “The Shepherd is called to make available to the flock the grace of the Spirit, who knows how to penetrate the folds of the real and to take account of its nuances to reveal what God wants to achieve at all times.”

Pope appoints new under-secretaries to CDF and Congregation for Clergy

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 21:00

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2017 / 09:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday, the Vatican announced Pope Francis' appointment of Fr. Matteo Visioli as the new under-secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, following the appointment on Tuesday of Fr. Andrea Ripa as under-secretary of the Congregation for Clergy.

Fr. Visioli, 51, replaces Fr. Giacomo Morandi, who had been under-secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2015 and was promoted to secretary of the dicastery on July 18. Fr. Ripa, 45, was appointed Sept. 12 and replaces Mons. Antonio Neri, who died on June 5.

Both canonists, Fr. Visioli is the author of more than 30 articles and books in the area of church law, including the topics of ecumenical dialogue, the mystery of communion, and the right to receive the sacraments.

He also has several forthcoming publications, including one on confessionalism and the doctrinal principles of the Second Vatican Council, which will be published in the Journal of Law and Religion from Cambridge University Press.

Fr. Visioli was born in Parma, Italy on July 20, 1966, and ordained a priest in May 1992.

He studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University, receiving licenses in theology in 1994 and canon law in 1996. The following year he received a specialization in jurisprudence. He received a doctorate in canon law in 1999.

Fr. Visioli held the position of Episcopal Vicar of the Church-World sector from 1999-2008 and was a member of the Committee for the Entities and the Ecclesiastical Property of the Italian Bishops' Conference from 2001-2008.

He also ministered to parishes in the province of Parma and since 1999 has been head of the Legal Office for the Diocese of Parma.

He is presently the President of Caritas Children Onlus and Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Care for the diocese.

He is the director and professor of the Inter-diocesan Institute of Religious Sciences, “S. 'Ilario di Poitiers,” as well as a professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Studium Generale Marcianum of Venice.

Fr. Ripa was born in Rimini, Italy on January 5, 1972 and ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rimini in 2004. He received his license in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University in 2006 and his doctorate in canon law in 2010.

His doctoral thesis was titled, “The missed innovation: the probative value of the parties' declarations from the 1983 Code to Dignitatis Connubii, the contribution of case law of the Sacred Roman Rota.”

He received a diploma of a Roman Rota lawyer in 2013 and has published multiple scientific articles.

Fr. Ripa was a professor of matrimonial and canon law for the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in Rimini and of the “General Norms” at the Lugano Faculty of Theology and the Pontifical Lateran University.

He was also a judge and vicar of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Flaminio in Bologna.

He has been a part of the Congregation for Clergy since 2013 and in addition to Italian, knows English, French, Spanish and Latin.

Fr. Tom to Pope Francis: I offered my suffering for you and the Church

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 23:25

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2017 / 11:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Just one day after being released from 18 months of captivity, Indian priest Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil shared an emotional meeting with Pope Francis, saying that throughout his time as a prisoner, he offered his suffering for the Pope and the Church.

According to a Sept. 13 article published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the encounter took place at the Pope's residence in the Vatican's St Martha guesthouse immediately after the general audience on Wednesday.

Photos of the encounter show an emotional scene as Fr. Tom bends down to kiss the Pope's feet, after which the Pope tenderly gives the priest his blessing.

While Fr. Tom appeared with an overgrown beard in the majority of photos published during his time in captivity, today's pictures show him clean-shaven and in dressed in fresh clerics.

According to L'Osservatore Romano, Fr. Tom thanked the Pope, saying “(I) prayed for you every day, offering my suffering for your mission and for the good of the Church.” These words, the newspaper reports, moved the Pope to tears.

A Salesian missionary, Fr. Tom first garnered the world's attention when he was kidnapped March 4, 2016, during an attack on a Missionaries of Charity home in Aden, Yemen, that left 16 people dead, including four Sisters.

His international profile grew when rumors spread that he was to be crucified on Good Friday, which were later discredited. After that, numerous photos and videos were released picturing Fr. Tom, thin and with an overgrown beard, pleading for help and for his release, saying that his health was deteriorating and he was in need of hospitalization.

In comments to L’Osservatore Romano, Fr. Tom said he couldn't celebrate Mass while in captivity, but “every day inside, in my heart, I repeated the words of the celebration.”

The priest assured that he will continue to pray “for all those who were beside me spiritually,” and offered a special word of remembrance for the 16 people who died during the attack in which he was kidnapped.

He also offered thanks to the government of Oman, in particular Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, and to the Holy See for their role in brokering his release.

On his part, Pope Francis embraced Fr. Tom and told him that he would continue to pray for him, as he had every day while the priest was imprisoned. Visibly moved, the Pope then gave the priest his blessing, L’Osservatore Romano reported.

Accompanying Fr. Tom was Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and a member of the Pope's Council of Cardinal advisers.

In comments to L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that after this “terrible experience, the essential message that Tom is about to convey is that 'Jesus is great and loves us.'”

He recalled the words of the priest, who after being released said, “Truly, every day I felt Jesus next to me, I always knew and felt in my heart that I was not alone.”

In a Sept. 13 letter, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, Major Rector of the Salesian order, said Fr. Tom arrived to their community around 6 p.m. Sept. 12, having flown to Rome directly from the Muscat airport in Oman.

He said Fr. Tom will stay with them for a few days in order to ensure that he has medical treatment and time to rest, and also “to be able to embrace him in the name of all brother Salesians and the entire Salesian family.”

Artime said that while the community was aware that discussions were underway with the priest's kidnappers, they did not know that Fr. Tom had been freed until he was already on his way to Rome.

He stressed that “the Salesian Congregation was not asked for any ransom payment,” and said they are unaware of any payment that may have been made to ensure Fr. Tom's release.

The rector offered his thanks to the various parties involved in securing Fr. Tom's release, as well as all those who kept the priest in their prayers.

Fr. Tom's freedom, he said, “is a motivation to continue to respond in the future with utmost fidelity and authenticity to the call and to the charism he has entrusted to us, and to which Fr. Tom has given his life: the announcement of Jesus and his Gospel, preaching to young boys, girls and youth throughout the world, among them, the poor and abandoned.”

In a separate article published on the Salesian Information Agency, it was noted that after his arrival, one of Fr. Tom's first requests was to pray in the Salesian community's chapel in the Vatican, and to celebrate Mass.

Due to the necessity of immediate medical examinations, he was not able to celebrate Mass right away, but he asked if he could go to Confession before the medical staff arrived, since he never had the opportunity while in captivity.

The article says Fr. Tom was treated to a traditional Indian meal later that night. In sharing his experience with the community, the priest said he never once felt that his life was in danger, and that at one point, his captors provided medicine for his diabetes.

No official date was given for when Fr. Tom will return to India, however, he is expected to go back to Kerala within a few days.

 

Council of Cardinals says more youth, women needed in Roman Curia

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 21:30

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2017 / 09:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One of the key talking points in the latest round of meetings for the Pope's Council of Cardinals was the selection of personnel in the Roman Curia, with an emphasis on making it more international, and with a higher number of young people and women.

The cardinals gathered for the 21st time in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace from Sept. 11-13 to discuss the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.

Commonly referred to as the “C9,” the group was established by Pope Francis after his election as Bishop of Rome in 2013 to advise him in matters of Church governance and reform.

Absent from this week's meetings were Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa and Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

In comments to journalists during a Sept. 13 press briefing, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that as of now, no one is stepping in for Cardinal Pell during his leave of absence while facing charges for abuse in Australia.

Pope Francis himself was absent for the first day of meetings due to his recent trip to Colombia, but was present for the rest of the sessions apart from Wednesday morning, when he was at the weekly general audience.

In addition to reviewing the status of previous proposals given to the Pope regarding the reform of the Curia, members also took time for a special reflection on past speeches Francis has given on the topic.

Texts examined in the previous round of meetings, which took place in June, included proposals for the dicasteries for Interreligious Dialogue, Eastern Churches, Legislative Texts, and the three courts of the Roman Curia: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Apostolic Signatura, and the Roman Rota.

Led by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, the reflection focused primarily on the speeches given by the Pope during his annual Christmas audiences with the Roman Curia, the consistories of February and October 2015, and his speech for the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops in 2015.

In his comments to the press, Burke said specific themes discussed by the cardinals were the role of the Curia as “an instrument of evangelization and service for the Pope and the local Churches,” decentralization, the role of apostolic nunciatures, and the “selection and competence” of curial personnel.

Specifically, Burke said four points were brought up in regards to Curia personnel -- that the Curia be “less clerical, more international” and that there is “an increase in young people and women” among their ranks.

The role of young people, laity, and women is something Pope Francis has emphasized strongly throughout his pontificate, as is the need for a more international Church that is less “Euro-centric.”

In fact, the laity, youth, and women were key groups Francis brought up to the bishops of Latin America in his audience with CELAM during his visit to Colombia, in which he said they are the faces of hope on the continent.

In his speech to the Curia Dec. 22, 2016, which is among the texts reflected on by the C9, Pope Francis said that when it comes to curial officials, “in addition to priests and consecrated persons, the catholicity of the Church must be reflected in the hiring of personnel from throughout the world.”

This “catholicity” must also be reflected in the presence of “permanent deacons and lay faithful carefully selected on the basis of their unexceptionable spiritual and moral life and their professional competence,” he said.

In this view, “it is fitting to provide for the hiring of greater numbers of the lay faithful, especially in those dicasteries where they can be more competent than clerics or consecrated persons.”

He also stressed that “of great importance is an enhanced role for women and lay people in the life of the Church and their integration into roles of leadership in the dicasteries, with particular attention to multiculturalism.”

In addition to curial personnel, the cardinals also discussed Pope Francis' recent motu proprio Magnum principium, which gave more power to local bishops in the translation and approval of liturgical texts, and its implications for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, also addressed the group, speaking about updates in his dicastery.

Later this afternoon, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will address the group on the latest work of the dicastery, which was a focus of June's meetings.

The cardinals also re-read the statutes of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, which was established in 2016, and is headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell.

Cardinal Farrell also made an appearance at the C9 meetings, and gave his fellow prelates an update on the dicastery's work. Cardinal Sean O'Malley also briefed the group on the most recent work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he was tapped to lead in 2014.

Cardinal O'Malley is slated to meet with the Pope individually later this afternoon. In response to journalists, Burke said the meeting would naturally involve the commission's work, but would also touch on other topics.

The Council of Cardinals' next round of meetings is set to take place Dec. 11-13.

Pope Francis: Colombia is proof that love is stronger than death

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 21:00

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2017 / 09:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wendesday Pope Francis recalled his recent visit to Colombia, saying the desire for peace in the country is proof that the violence of their past doesn't have the last word, but rather, the love and mercy of Christ.

“Colombia, like most Latin American countries, is a country in which the Christian roots are strong,” the Pope said in his Sept. 13 general audience.

“And if this fact makes the pain due to the tragedy of the war that has torn it apart even more acute, at the same time it constitutes the guarantee of peace, the solid foundation of its reconstruction, the lifeblood of its invincible hope,” he said.

Given its recent bloody past, Francis said “it's evident that the Evil One wanted to divide the people in order to destroy the work of God, but it is equally evident that love of Christ and his infinite mercy is stronger than sin and death.”

The Pope spoke to pilgrims present at his general audience, which took place just two days after he returned from his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia.

The visit, which marked Francis' third tour of South America since his election in 2013, took him to a total of four cities, including Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena.

In his audience address, the Pope said that while in Colombia, he felt a strong continuity with Bl. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, who visited the country in 1968 and 1986, respectively. He described it as “a continuity strongly animated by the Spirit, which guides the people of God on the streets of history.”

Pointing to the theme of the trip, “Let us take the first step,” he said it refers to the process of reconciliation Colombia is going through after more than 50 years of conflict between the government and guerrilla and paramilitary groups.

Colombia, he said, is trying “to go out of a half century of internal conflict, which has sown suffering and enmities, causing many wounds that are difficult to heal.”

However, he said that “with the help of God the path is now underway,” adding that during his visit he wanted to “bless the effort of that people, confirm them in faith and in hope, and receive their testimony, which is a richness for my ministry and for the entire Church.”

“This visit was intended to bring the blessing of Christ, the blessing of the Church, to the desire for life and peace which overflows from the heart of that nation,” he said.

Francis then recounted the different stages of his visit to Colombia, recalling how in Bogotá he was able to see this desire in the eyes of the “thousands and thousands of children, teenagers and young people” who came to meet him at the Apostolic Nunciature, where he stayed during his visit.

He also noted that he was able to meet the bishops of Colombia and all of Latin America, and gave thanks “that I could embrace them and for having given them my pastoral encouragement for their mission in service to the sacramental Church of Christ.”

Then in Villavicencio, the day was dedicated to reconciliation, and included a large gathering for national reconciliation and a Mass in which the Pope beatified the two modern martyrs Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve and Fr. María Ramírez Ramos.

The two martyrs, he said, was a reminder “that peace is founded also and above all on the blood of the many witnesses of love, truth, justice and even the true and real martyrs killed for the faith, like the two mentioned.”

Listening to their biographies “was moving to tears: tears of pain and joy together,” he said. And in front of their relics and their faces “the holy people of God felt their own identity strongly, with pain, thinking of the many, too many, victims, and with joy, for the mercy of God extending toward those who fear him.”

Then in Medellín, the perspective for the day was that of “Christian life as discipleship: vocation and mission,” Francis said.

“When Christians commit themselves until the end in the journey following Jesus Christ, becoming true salt, light and leaven in the world,...the fruits are seen abundantly,” he said, explaining that one of these fruits was the children's home he visited for youth who have lost their families due to violence or poverty.  

Finally, the Pope drew attention to his visit to Cartagena, where St. Peter Claver lived. The saint, who was referenced in many of Francis' speeches during the trip, was an “apostle of the slaves,” he said.

St. Peter Claver and St. Maria Bernarda Bütler, a missionary in Colombia, “gave their lives for the poor and marginalized, and so revealed the path to true revolution; evangelical, not ideological, which truly frees people and society from the slavery of yesterday and, unfortunately, today,” he said.

In this sense, “taking the first step” means above all “drawing near, bending down, touching the flesh of the wounded and abandoned brother,” the Pope said. “And in doing it with Christ, the Lord became a salve for us. Thanks to him there is hope, because he is mercy and peace.”

Pope Francis closed his address by entrusting Colombia to the care and intercession of Our Lady of  Chiquinquirá, whose statue he venerated in the cathedral of  Bogotá.

“With the help of Mary, each Colombian can everyday take the first step toward their brother and sister, and so build together, day by day, peace and love, in justice and in truth.”

After his audience, Pope Francis greeted individuals and groups of pilgrims from different countries around the world, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who became Catholic in 2007 and has established several foundations and non-profit organizations based on faith and global advancement.

Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been released, is headed to India

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 19:00

Vatican City, Sep 12, 2017 / 07:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After more than 18 months of questions and uncertainty regarding the fate of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil following his abduction by militants in Yemen, the priest has finally been set free and is on his way home to India.

The news was officially announced by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in a Sept. 12 tweet that read: “I am happy to inform that Fr Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.”

 

I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.pic.twitter.com/FwAYoTkbj2

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) September 12, 2017


 

Fr. Tom, a Salesian missionary, first garnered the world's attention when he was kidnapped March 4, 2016, during an attack on a Missionaries of Charity home in Aden, Yemen, that left 16 people dead, including four Sisters.

His international profile grew when rumors spread that he was to be crucified on Good Friday, which were later discredited. Since then, numerous photos and videos have been released picturing Fr. Tom, thin and with an overgrown beard, pleading for help and for his release.

The Salesian Information Agency, which has been keeping tabs on the status of Fr. Tom's case, also reported the news of his release.

According to the state-run Oman News Agency, Fr. Tom's release was secured by Oman, and he has already arrived in the Omani capital of Muscat. The priest is expected to return to his home in Kerala, India shortly.

In a statement from Oman News Agency, which was published in the Oman Observer, Fr. Tom had “expressed thanks to God Almighty” following his release.

“In compliance with the His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman in coordination with the Yemeni parties have managed find a Vatican priest,” the statement read.

It relayed that Fr. Tom “has been transferred to Muscat from where he will return to his home in Kerala.”

In addition to offering thanks to God, the priest also voiced gratitude to Sultan Qabbos as well as “his brothers and sisters and all relatives and friends who called on God for safety and release.”

Pope Francis was among those who advocated on behalf of Fr. Tom, calling for the priest’s release April 10, 2016, after his Sunday Regina Coeli address in St. Peter’s Square.

“I renew my appeal for the freeing of all kidnapped persons in armed conflict zones,” the Pope said. “In particular, I wish to remember Salesian priest Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in Aden, Yemen last March 4.”

Since his kidnapping, tireless efforts had been made on the part of the government and the Indian bishops to secure his release, and numerous prayer vigils and novenas were organized by the Salesians in Bangalore praying for his safety.

It is still unclear exactly which group is responsible for Fr. Tom's abduction. Many reports claim that ISIS was responsible, however, the rumors remain unconfirmed.

Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since March 2015, when Shia rebels attempted to oust Yemen’s Sunni-led government. Saudi Arabia has led a pro-government coalition. Both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have set up strongholds in the country amid the power vacuum. More than 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Pope Francis: Parents cherishing their kids is a sign of hope for the future

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 04:07

Vatican City, Sep 11, 2017 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On his return flight from Colombia, Pope Francis said that seeing parents’ devotion for their children gives him hope for the country’s future.

Concluding his press conference aboard the papal flight back to Rome, Pope Francis said, “I would like to conclude with an image. What most struck me about the Colombians in the four cities were the people in the streets, greeting me. What most struck me is that the father, mother, raised up their children to help them see the Pope and so the Pope could bless them, as if saying, ‘This is my treasure, this is my hope. This is my future’.”

“This struck me,” he continued. “The tenderness. The eyes of those fathers, of those mothers. Precious, precious.”

Seeing this devotion of parents for the children, he said, is “a symbol of hope, of future.”

“A people that is capable of having children and then showing them to you, helping them see as well, as if saying, ‘This is my treasure,’ is a people that has hope and future.”

The Pope spoke aboard the papal plane Sunday evening on the return flight from Colombia. He visited the country Sept. 6-11 to promote peace and reconciliation in the country, which has suffered from the violence of a decades-long civil war.

During his trip, Pope Francis met with religious and civil leaders, visited a children’s home and a homeless shelter, and spoke at a prayer gathering for national reconciliation. He visited the Colombian cities of Bogota, Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena.

In the 40-minute long press conference aboard the papal flight, the Pope also spoke about the phasing out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), corruption, climate change, and whether Colombia could provide a model of the peace process for other countries.

 

Full text of Pope Francis' in-flight press conference from Colombia

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 22:10

Aboard the papal plane, Sep 11, 2017 / 10:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his conversation with journalists on the return flight from Cartagena to Rome on Monday, Pope Francis touched on a variety of topics, notably the US government's decision to end DACA and the crisis in Venezuela.

He also touched on the peace process in Colombia, Hurricane Irma, climate change, and migration during his Sept. 11 flight.

Please find below CNA's full transcript of the Pope's in-flight press conference.

 

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father, for the time you are dedicating to us today after an intense, tiring trip; very tiring for some, but also a very fruitful trip. On several occasions you thanked the people for what they taught you. We also learn many things in this culture of encounter and we thank you for it.

Colombia in particular, with its recent past, and not only recent, offered us some strong testimonies, some emotional testimonies of forgiveness and reconciliation. But it also offered us a continuous lesson of joy and hope, two words that you used a lot in this trip. Now perhaps you want to say something, and then we can go to the questions. Thank you.

Pope Francis: Good afternoon and thank you very much for your work. I am moved by the joy, the tenderness, the youth and the goodness of the Colombian people. A noble people that isn't afraid to express how they feel, isn't afraid to listen and to make seen how they feel. This is how I perceive it. This is the third time I remember [that I have been in Colombia] - but there is a bishop who told me: no, you have been a fourth time - but only for small meetings. One time in Laceja and the other two in Bogota, or three, but, I did not know Colombia well, what you see on the streets. Well, I appreciate the testimony of joy, of hope, of patience in suffering of this people. It did me a lot of good. Thank you.

Greg Burke: Okay, Holy Father. The first question is from César Moreno of Radio Caracol.

Moreno: Thank you, Your Holiness. Good evening. First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of all the Colombian media that are accompanying us here on this trip, and all of the colleagues and friends for having come to our country, for having given us so many beautiful, profound and affectionate messages, and for such closeness that you demonstrated to the Colombian people. Thank you, Your Holiness.

You arrived, Holy Father, to a divided country. Divided on account of a peace process, between those who accept and those who don't accept this process. What concretely can be done, what steps can be taken, so that the divided parts grow closer, so that our leaders stop this hate, this grudge? If Your Holiness returns, if you could return to our country in a few years, what do you think, how would you like to see Colombia? Thank you.

Pope Francis: I would like the motto to at least be: “Let us take the second step.” That at least it is this. I thought that there were more. I counted 60, but they told me 54 years of the guerrillas, more or less. And here it accumulates a lot, a lot. A lot of hatred, a lot of resentment, a lot of sickness in the soul. And the sickness isn't to blame. It comes. The measles grabs and drags you...oh, sorry! I'll speak in Italian. The sickness is not something to blame, it comes. And in these guerrilla wars - that they really waged, whether they were guerrillas, paramilitaries, or others - and also the corruption in the country, they committed gross sins that lead to this disease of hatred, of...But if they have taken steps that give hope, steps in negotiation, but it has been the last. The ELN ceasefire, and I am very grateful for it, very grateful for this. But there is something else that I perceived. The desire to go forward in this process goes beyond negotiations that they are being done or should be done. It is a spontaneous desire, and this is the strength of the people. This people wants to breathe, but we must help them with the closeness of prayer, and above all with the understanding of how much pain there is inside so many people.

Greg Burke: Now Holy Father, José Mojica, from El Tiempo.

José Mojica: Holy Father, it's an honor to be here, to be here with you. My name is José Mojica and I am a journalist for El Tiempo, the editorial home of Colombia, and I also greet you in the name of my Colombian colleagues and all communications media in my country.

Colombia has suffered many decades of violence due to the war, the armed conflict and also drug trafficking. However, the ravages of corruption in politics have been just as damaging as the war itself, and although corruption is not new, we have always known that it exists, now it's more visible because we no longer have news of the war and the armed conflict. What can we do in front of this scourge, up to what point can we stand the corrupt, how do we punish them? And finally, should the corrupt be excommunicated?

Pope Francis: You ask me a question I have asked myself many times. I put it to myself in this way: do the corrupt have forgiveness? I asked myself like this. And I asked myself when there was an act of...in the province of Catamarca, in Argentina, an act of mistreatment, abuse, the rape of a girl. And there were people stuck there, very attached to political and economic powers in this province.

An article published in La Nacion at that time moved me a lot, and I wrote a small book which is called “Sin and Corruption.” ...always we are all sinners, and we know that the Lord is close to us, that he never tires of forgiving. But the difference: God never tires of forgiving, the sinner sometimes wakes up and asks for forgiveness. The problem is that the corrupt get tired of asking for forgiveness and forget how to ask for forgiveness, and this is the serious problem. It's a state of insensitivity before values, before destruction, before the exploitation of people. They are not able to ask forgiveness, it's like a condemnation, so it's very hard to help the corrupt, very hard. But God can do it. I pray for that.

Greg Burke: Holy Father, now Hernan Reyes, from TELAM.

Hernán Reyes: Holiness, the question is from the Spanish language group of journalists. You spoke of this first step that Colombia has made. Today at the Mass, you said that there hasn’t been enough dialogue between the two parts, but was it necessary to incorporate more actors. Do you think it’s possible to replicate this Colombia model in other conflicts in the world?

Pope Francis: Integrating other people. Also today in the homily I spoke of this, taking a passage from the Gospel. Integrating other people. It’s not the first time, in so many conflicts many people have been involved. It’s a way of moving ahead, a sapiential way of politics. There is the wisdom of asking for help, but I believe that today I wished to note it in the homily - which is a message, more than a homily - I think that these technical, let’s say 'political', resources help and interventions of the United Nations are sometimes requested to get out of the crisis. But a peace process will go forward only when the people take it in their hands. If the people don’t take it in hand, it can go a bit forward, they arrive at a compromise. It is what I have tried to make heard during this visit: the protagonist of the peace process either is the people or it arrives to a certain point, but when the people take it in hand, they are capable of doing it well… that is the higher road.

Greg Burke: Now, Elena Pinardi.

Elena Pinardi (EBU): Good evening, Holiness. First of all, we would like to ask how you are doing. We saw that you hit your head… how are you? Did you hurt yourself?

Pope Francis: I turned there to greet children and I didn’t see the glass and boom!

Pinardi: The question is this: while we were flying, we passed close to Hurricane Irma, which after causing … deaths and massive damage in the Caribbean islands and Cuba, it’s feared that broad areas of Florida could end up underwater, and 6 million people have had to leave their homes. After Hurricane Harvey, there have been almost simultaneously three hurricanes in the area. Scientists say that the warming of the oceans is a factor that contributes to making the storms and seasonal hurricanes more intense. Is there a moral responsibility for political leaders who reject collaborating with the other nations to control the emission of greenhouse gas? Why do they deny that climate change is also be the work of man?

Pope Francis: Thanks. For the last part, to not forget, whoever denies this should go to the scientists and ask them. They speak very clearly. The scientists are precise. The other day, when the news of that Russian boat came out, I believe, that went from Norway to Japan or Taipei by way of the North Pole without an icebreaker and the photographs showed pieces of ice. To the North Pole, you could go. It’s very, very clear. When that news came from a university, I don’t remember from where, another came out that said, ‘We only have three years to turn back, otherwise the consequences will be terrible.’ I don’t know if three years is true or not, but if we don’t turn back we’re going down, that’s true. Climate change, you see the effects and scientists say clearly which is the path to follow. And all of us have a responsibility, all… everyone… a little one, a big one, a moral responsibility, and to accept from the opinion or make decisions, and we have to take it seriously. I think it’s something that’s not to joke around with. It’s very serious. And you ask me: what is the moral responsibility. Everyone has his. Politicians have their own. Everyone has their own according to the response he gives.

I would say: everyone has their own moral responsibility, first. Second, if one is a bit doubtful that this is not so true, let them ask the scientists. They are very clear. They are not opinions on the air, they are very clear. And then let them decide, and history will judge their decisions. Thanks.

Enzo Romeo (TG2): Good afternoon, Holy Father. I unite myself to the question my colleague made earlier because you frequently in the speeches you gave in Colombia, called again, in some way, to make peace with creation. Respecting the environment as a necessary condition so that a stable social peace may be created. The effects of climate change, here in Italy - I don’t know if you’ve been informed - has caused many deaths in Livorno...

Pope Francis: After three-and-a-half months of drought.

Romeo: … much damage in Rome. We are all concerned by this situation. Why is there a delay in taking awareness, especially by governments, that nevertheless appear to be solicitous perhaps in other areas, for example, in arms trade? We are seeing the crisis in Korea, also about this I would like to have your opinion.

Pope Francis: Why? A phrase comes to me from the Old Testament, I believe from the Psalm: Man is stupid. He is stubborn one who does not see, the only animal of creation that puts his leg in the same hole is man… the horse, no, they don’t do it… There is arrogance, the sufficiency of “it’s not like that,” and then there is the “pocket” God, not only about creation, so many decisions, so many contradictions (...) depend on money. Today, in Cartagena, I started in a part, let’s call it poor, of Cartagena. The other part, the touristic side, luxury, luxury without moral measure… but those who go there don’t realize this, or the socio-political analysts don’t realize… ‘man is stupid,’ the Bible said. It’s like that: when you don’t want to see, you don’t see. You just look in another direction. And of North Korea, I’ll tell the truth, I don’t understand. Truly, I don’t understand that world of geopolitics. It’s very tough for me. But I believe that what I see, there is a struggle of interests that don’t escape me, I truly can’t explain… but the other important thing: we don’t take awareness. Think to Cartagena today. Is this unjust. Can we take awareness? This is what comes to me. Thanks.

Valentina Alazraki, Noticieros Televisa: I'm sorry. Holy Father, every time you meet with youth in any part of the world you always tell them: 'Don't let yourselves be robbed of hope, don't let yourselves be robbed of the future.' Unfortunately, in the United States they have abolished the law of the “dreamers.” They speak of 800,000 youth: Mexicans, Colombians, from many countries. Do you think that with the abolition of this law the youth lose joy, hope and their future? And, after, abusing your kindness, could you make a small prayer, a small thought, for all the victims of the earthquake in Mexico and of Hurricane Irma? Thank you.

Pope Francis: I have heard of this law. I have not been able to read the articles, how the decision was made. I don't know it well. Keeping young people away from family is not something that brings good fruit. Every young person has their family. I think that this law, which I think comes not from parliament [sic], but from the executive, if this is the case, which I am not sure, I hope that it will be rethought a little, because I have heard the President of the United States speak as a pro-life man. If he is a good pro-life man, he understands that the family is the cradle of life, and unity must be defended. This is what comes to me. That's why I'm interested in studying the law well.

Truly, when youth feel, in general, whether in this case or another, exploited, in the end they feel that they have no hope. And who steals it from them? Drugs, other dependencies, suicide...youth suicide is very strong and comes when they are taken out from their roots. Uprooted young people today ask for help, and this is why I insist so much on dialogue between the elderly and the youth. That they talk to their parents, but (also) the elderly. Because the roots are there...[inaudible] to avoid the conflicts that can happen with the nearest roots, with the parents. But today's youth need to rediscover their roots. Anything that goes against the root robs them of hope. I don’t know if I answered, more or less.

Alazraki: They can be deported from the United States...

Pope Francis: Eh, yes, the lose a root. But truthfully, on this law I don't want to express myself, because I have not read it and I don't like to talk about something I don't understand.

And then, Valentina is Mexican, and Mexico has suffered a lot. I ask everyone for solidarity with the dean (Editor’s note: a reference to the journalist, who is a veteran reporter and on friendly terms with the Pope) and a prayer for the country. Thank you.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father. Now, Fausto Gasparroni from ANSA.

Fausto Gasparroni: Holiness, in the name of the Italian group, I’d like to pose you a question about the issue of immigrants, particularly about what the Italian Church has recently expressed, let’s say, a sort of comprehension about the new policy of the government of restricting the exit from Libya in boats. It has been written also that about this you had a meeting with the President of the Council, Gentiloni. We’d like to know if effectively in this meeting this topic was spoken about and especially what you think of this policy of closing the exits, considering also the fact that after the immigrants that stay in Libya, as has also been documented by investigations, live in inhuman conditions, in very, very precarious conditions. Thanks.

Pope Francis: The meeting with Minister Gentiloni was a personal meeting and not about that topic. It was before this issue, which came out later, some weeks later. Almost a month later. (It was) before this issue. Secondly, I feel the duty and gratitude toward Italy and Greece because they opened their hearts to immigrants, but it’s not enough to open the heart. The problem of the immigrant is: first an ever open heart, it’s also a commandment of God, no? “Receive them, because you have been a slave in Egypt.” But a government must manage that problem with the virtue proper of a governor: prudence. What does that mean? First: How many places do I have? Second: Not only to receive… (but to) integrate, integrate. I’ve seen examples, here in Italy, of precious integrations. I went to Roma Tre University and three students asked me questions. One was the last one. I looked at her and said, “I know that face.” It was one who, less than a year earlier, had come from Lesbos with me in the plane. She learned the language, is studying biology. They validated her classes and she continued. She learned the language. This is called integrating. On another flight, I think when we were coming back from Sweden, I spoke about the policy of integration of Sweden as a model. But also Sweden said prudently: this number I cannot do. Because there exists the danger of no integration. Third: it’s a humanitarian issue. Humanity takes awareness of these concentration camps, the conditions, the desert… I’ve seen photographs. First of the exploiters. The Italian government gives me the impression that it is doing everything, in humanitarian work, to resolve the problem that it cannot assume. Heart always open, prudence, integration, humanitarian closeness.

And there is a final thing that I want to say, above all for Africa There is a motto, a principle in our collective consciousness: Africa must be exploited. Today in Cartagena we saw an example of human exploitation, in any case. A chief of government said a truth about this: those who flee from war are another problem, but there are many who flee from hunger. Let us invest there so that it may grow, but in the collective consciousness there is the issue that when the developed nations go to Africa it’s to exploit it.

Africa is a friend and must be helped to grow. Today, other problems of war go in another direction. I don’t know if I clarified with this.

Xavier Le Normand (iMedia): Holy Father, today you spoke in the Angelus, you asked that all kinds of violence in political life be rejected. Thursday, after Mass in Bogota, you greeted five Venezuelan bishops. We all know that the Holy See is very committed to a dialogue with this country. For many months you have asked for an end to all violence. But President Maduro, on one hand, has many violent words against the bishops, and on the other hand says that he is with Pope Francis. Would it not be possible to have stronger and perhaps clearer words? Thank you.

Pope Francis: I think that the Holy See has spoken strongly and clearly. What President Maduro says, he can explain. I don't know what he has in his mind, but the Holy See has done a lot, it sent there - with the working group of four ex-presidents there - it has sent a first-level nuncio. After speaking with the people, it spoke publicly. Many times in the Angelus I have spoken about the situation, always looking for an exit, helping, offering help to get out. It seems that it's a very hard thing, and the most painful is the humanitarian problem, the many people who escape or suffer...we must help to resolve it in anyway (possible). I think the UN must also make itself heard there to help.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. I think we have to go.

Pope Francis: For the turbulence? They say there is some turbulence and we need to go. Many thanks for your work. And once more I’d like to thank the example of the Colombian people. I would like to conclude with an image. What most struck me about the Colombians in the four cities was the people in the streets, greeting me. What must struck me is that the father, mother, raised up their children to help them see the Pope and so the Pope could bless them, as if saying, ‘This is my treasure, this is my hope. This is my future.’ I believe you. This struck me. The tenderness. The eyes of those fathers, of those mothers. Precious, precious. This is a symbol, a symbol of hope, of future. A people that is capable of having children and then shows them to you, make them see as well, as if saying, ‘This is my treasure,’ is a people that has hope and future. Many thanks.

Pope Francis: United Nations must help in Venezuela crisis

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 19:46

Vatican City, Sep 11, 2017 / 07:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Aboard his overnight flight from Colombia to Rome Sunday, Pope Francis touched on the dire political and human rights crisis that continues to unfold in Venezuela, stating that the U.N. needs to be involved in reaching a solution.

“It seems that it's a very hard thing, and the most painful is the humanitarian problem, the many people who escape or suffer...we must help to resolve it in any way (possible). I think the U.N. must also make itself felt there to help,” the Pope said Sept. 10.

“I think that the Holy See has spoken strongly and clearly,” he said, also mentioning the many times he has spoken about the situation in Venezuela during his Angelus addresses. 

Journalists also asked Pope Francis about President Nicolás Maduro’s conflicting rhetoric, in particular his claim to be “with” Pope Francis, while at the same time speaking out violently against the bishops. 

About this, Francis replied: “What President Maduro says, he can explain. I don't know what he has in his mind…”

The Pope also mentioned the extensive work of the Holy See to promote dialogue in the country, including the agreement to send a group of four ex-presidents as facilitators in a meeting between the Venezuelan government and the opposition Oct. 30, 2016. 

The group was made up of former Colombian president Ernesto Samper Pizano, the secretary general of UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations); José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain; Martín Torrijos of Panama; and Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic.

The Vatican also sent Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli to participate as a nuncio of the Holy See. 

Pope Francis said that after “speaking with the people,” the Holy See has also spoken to Venezuela in a private manner, possibly referring to a private meeting that occurred between him and President Maduro at the Vatican last October.

The Pope spoke aboard the papal plane Sunday evening on the return flight from Colombia. He visited the country Sept. 6-11 to promote peace and reconciliation in the country, which has suffered from the violence of a decades-long civil war.

In the 40-minute long conference, the Pope also spoke about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), corruption, climate change, and whether Colombia could provide a model of the peace process for other countries.

Venezuela is in the midst of escalating protests and violence, as President Nicolás Maduro has suppressed opposition and democracy activists, and moved to seize legislative power in the country.

The results of a July 30 election convened by Maduro have been dismissed as illegitimate by the United States and several other nations, and a burgeoning economic crisis has led to widespread chaos.

The country was on Pope Francis' mind throughout his visit to Colombia, beginning with the flight over the nation. As his plane took off for Bogota, he greeted journalists, telling them they were going to fly over Venezuela and asking them “to pray so there can be dialogue, that there will be stability, with dialogue with everyone.”

In his Angelus address on Sunday, the Pope again assured those present of his prayers for the countries of Latin America, particularly Venezuela, expressing his closeness to the nation and those from the nation who have been welcomed into Colombia.

“From this city, known as the seat of human rights, I appeal for the rejection of all violence in political life and for a solution to the current grave crisis, which affects everyone, particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged of society,” he said.

He also met briefly with five bishops from Venezuela present in Colombia for his visit, welcoming them to the sacristy after celebrating Mass in Bogota Sept. 7.

Among the prelates Francis met were Cardenal Jorge Urosa, Archbishop of Caracas; Cardenal Baltazar Porras, Archbishop of Mérida; Jesús González de Zárate, Auxiliary Bishop of Caracas; Bishop Mario Moronta of San Cristóbal; and Bishop José Luis Azuaje of Barinas, who is also President of the Latin American branch of Cáritas.
 

Pope hopes Trump will 'rethink' DACA decision on pro-life grounds

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 19:00

Vatican City, Sep 11, 2017 / 07:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During a press conference Sunday aboard the papal plane from Colombia to Rome, Pope Francis said that though he is not familiar with how the decision to end DACA was made, he hopes it will be reconsidered as part of a pro-life ethic which defends the unity of families.

“I hope that it will be rethought a little, because I have heard the President of the United States speak as a pro-life man. If he is a good pro-life man, he understands that the family is the cradle of life, and unity must be defended. This is what comes to me,” Francis said Sept. 10.

“I have heard of this law. I have not been able to read the articles, how the decision was made. I don't know it well,” he stated. “Keeping young people away from the family is not something that brings good fruit.”

Asked if he thought that ending DACA will cause youth who benefitted under the program to lose their joy and hope in the future, he said that when youth feel exploited, whether in this case or others, they are robbed of hope.

Dependency on drugs and other substances, as well as suicide, also provoke hopelessness, he said, which happens when youth are disconnected from their roots.

“Uprooted young people today ask for help, and this is why I insist so much on dialogue between the elderly and the youth. That they talk to their parents, but (also) the elderly,” he said.

The Pope spoke aboard the papal plane Sunday evening on the return flight from Colombia. He made an apostolic visit to the country Sept. 6-11 to promote peace and reconciliation in the country, which has suffered from violence and a decades-long civil war. 

In the 40-minute long conference, the Pope also spoke about the crisis in Venezuela, corruption, climate change and whether Colombia could provide a model for the peace process for other countries.

The Trump administration announced Sept. 5 that it would be taking steps to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA, which has benefited hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors.

Under the program, eligible immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors by their parents could receive a two-year stay on their deportation. In that time period, they could be eligible for work permits and Social Security.

The program was announced in 2012 by President Obama and implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, in the memorandum “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.”

Congress had several times tried and failed to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or a version of it, that would help young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally before the age of 16 to lawfully remain in the U.S. and even have a path to citizenship.

The most recent version has been introduced this year by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and would grant permanent legal status to more than 1 million eligible persons.

DACA was expanded to include eligible parents who brought their children illegally to the U.S. in a program called “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.” In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld a halt on that program going into effect, and U.S. Secretary of State Jeff Sessions warned Tuesday that DACA could get struck down in court.

The Trump administration said it would end DACA by phasing it out. Sessions said that it was an “unconstitutional” overreach of executive power, especially since Congress refused several times to grant such benefits to undocumented immigrants.

However, the decision has been met with harsh criticism, including from U.S. bishops, who said ending the program was a “national tragedy” for all parties and argued that it is unfair to deport young people who did not make the choice to come to the U.S., but who nevertheless have contributed to the country by holding down jobs, going to college and even serving in the nation's armed forces. 
 

Vatican: Pope Francis 'is fine' after hitting face on popemobile

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 22:40

Vatican City, Sep 10, 2017 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis is fine after a mishap on the popemobile in Colombia, when he slipped and hit himself trying to reach a child, prompting a wave of concern on social media.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PopeinColombia?src=hash">#PopeinColombia</a> hit himself on the popemobile trying to reach a child. Vatican says he&#39;s fine, is using ice to lower swelling on face <a href="https://t.co/qXnhtGaqtS">pic.twitter.com/qXnhtGaqtS</a></p>&mdash; Elise Harris (@eharris_it) <a href="https://twitter.com/eharris_it/status/906915308119756800">September 10, 2017</a></blockquote>
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“The Pope is fine,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told members of the press corps traveling with Pope Francis in Colombia. He said Francis hit his cheek and eyebrow on the popemobile when it stopped abruptly as he was reaching for a child, and is using ice to lower the swelling.

In a tweet sent by Colombian radio station “Caracol Radio,” the Pope is seen with a black eye and bandage near his eyebrow, with a few spots of blood on his white cassock. In the video, when the journalist asks the Pope if he's alright, Francis nods and then jests, saying “somebody punched me!”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="es" dir="ltr">???? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/URGENTE?src=hash">#URGENTE</a> &quot;Me di una puñada, estoy bien&quot; dice <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ElPapaEnCaracol?src=hash">#ElPapaEnCaracol</a>. <a href="https://t.co/SwKrpzSCb3">https://t.co/SwKrpzSCb3</a> <a href="https://t.co/mcG2JfAZIe">pic.twitter.com/mcG2JfAZIe</a></p>&mdash; Caracol Radio (@CaracolRadio) <a href="https://twitter.com/CaracolRadio/status/906914434874003457">September 10, 2017</a></blockquote>
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The incident happened in Cartagena on the last day of his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia, which also took him to the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Villavicencio.

Pope issues new directives on revision, translation of liturgical texts

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 20:00

Vatican City, Sep 9, 2017 / 08:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See has release a new “motu proprio” from Pope Francis outlining a shift in the responsibility of local bishops and the Apostolic See for the revision and approval of liturgical texts.

Dated Sept. 3, the document is titled “Magnum Principium,” meaning “The great principle,” and deals explicitly with two specific changes to Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, which addresses the authority of the Apostolic See and national episcopal conferences in preparing liturgical texts in vernacular languages.

The document was published Sept. 9, in the middle of Pope Francis' six-day trip to Colombia.

Specifically, changes were introduced were to paragraphs 2 and 3 of Canon 838.

Canon 838, 2 has until now stated that: “It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books and review their translations in vernacular languages, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.”

However, with Francis' motu proprio, the text has been changed to read: “It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognize adaptations approved by the Episcopal Conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.”

Similarly, 838, 3 previously read: “It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare and publish, after the prior review of the Holy See, translations of liturgical books in vernacular languages, adapted appropriately within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves.”

The text will now read: “It pertains to the episcopal conferences to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.

The changes apportion a greater portion of responsibility for the preparation and approval of liturgical translations to episcopal conferences, rather than the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Additionally, Pope Francis noted that after the Second Vatican Council, the Church was acutely aware of “the attendant sacrifice involved in the partial loss of liturgical Latin, which had been in use throughout the world over the course of centuries.”

However, “it willingly opened the door” so that vernacular liturgical translations, “as part of the rites themselves, might become the voice of the Church celebrating the divine mysteries along with the Latin language.”

In light of the various views expressed by Council Fathers at the time, the Church, he said, was also aware of the challenges the task would present.

“On the one hand it was necessary to unite the good of the faithful of a given time and culture and their right to a conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations with the substantial unity of the Roman Rite,” he said.

Yet on the other hand, “the vernacular languages themselves, often only in a progressive manner, would be able to become liturgical languages, standing out in a not dissimilar way to liturgical Latin for their elegance of style and the profundity of their concepts with the aim of nourishing the faith.”

Pope Francis expressed that “general guidelines” regarding the use of the vernacular “must be followed by Liturgical Commissions as the most suitable instruments so that, across the great variety of languages, the liturgical community can arrive at an expressive style suitable and appropriate to the individual parts, maintaining integrity and accurate faithfulness especially in translating some texts of major importance in each liturgical book.”

The primary goal of translating liturgical texts and biblical texts for the liturgy, he said, is to “announce the word of salvation to the faithful in obedience to the faith and to express the prayer of the Church to the Lord.”

Because of this, “it is necessary to communicate to a given people using its own language all that the Church intended to communicate to other people through the Latin language.”

Francis stressed that while fidelity “cannot always be judged by individual words but must be sought in the context of the whole communicative act and according to its literary genre,” there are particular terms which “must also be considered in the context of the entire Catholic faith because each translation of texts must be congruent with sound doctrine.”

Given the weight of the task, the Pope said it's no surprise that certain problems have arisen between episcopal conferences and the Apostolic See along the way.

In order for decisions about the use of the vernacular language to be of use and value in the future, then, “a vigilant and creative collaboration full of reciprocal trust” between the Apostolic See and bishops conferences is “absolutely necessary.”

Because of this, “in order that the renewal of the whole liturgical life might continue,” Francis said 'it seemed opportune that some principles handed on since the time of the Council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.”

Apt attention ought to be paid to the “benefit and good of the faithful,” while at the same time ensuring that the “right and duty” of episcopal conferences is not forgotten, since it is their task to “ensure and establish that, while the character of each language is safeguarded, the sense of the original text is fully and faithfully rendered and that even after adaptations the translated liturgical books always illuminate the unity of the Roman Rite.”

In order to make collaboration between the Apostolic See and bishops conferences “easier and more fruitful,” and after having listened to advice from a commission of bishops and experts he established to study the issue, the Pope said he wished to make the “canonical discipline” already in force in canon 838 more clear.

Namely, Francis said he wanted the changes to be more directly in line with paragraphs 36, 40 and 63 of the Second Vatican Council Constitution on Sacred Liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium” and the provisions of point nine of Paul VI's 1964 Motu Proprio “Sacram Liturgiam.” so that “the competency of the Apostolic See surrounding the translation of liturgical books and the more radical adaptations established and approved by Episcopal Conferences be made clearer, among which can also be numbered eventual new texts to be inserted into these books.”

All changes will go into effect on Oct. 1 of this year.

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, second of four 'dubia' cardinals, dies at 79

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 21:00

Vatican City, Sep 6, 2017 / 09:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday the Vatican announced that Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna, has died at the age of 79.  He was known for pastoral and academic work in support of marriage and families, especially through the founding of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.

No details regarding the late prelate's death were included in the Sept. 6 announcement of his passing. However, his death comes almost exactly two months after that of Caffara's friend and collaborator, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who passed away July 5 while on vacation in Bad Füssing, Germany.

Cardinals Caffara and Meisner were among the four cardinals who penned a letter with five “dubia,” or questions, about the interpretation of Amoris laetitia to Pope Francis, requesting that he “resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity.”

Signed by Caffarra, Meisner and Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Leo Burke, the letter was sent to Pope Francis privately on Sept. 19, 2016, but was released to the public two months later.

The four cardinals believed themselves obliged to submit the dubia because of “the fact – which only a blind man could deny – that in the Church there exists great confusion, uncertainty, insecurity caused by some paragraphs of Amoris laetitia,” Caffarra said in a Jan. 14 interview with Matteo Matzuzzi of the Italian publication “Il Foglio.”

In the interview, Caffarra said the letter and its dubia “were long reflected on, for months … for my part, they were also the subject of lengthy prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament.”

“In these months, in terms of fundamental questions regarding the sacramental economy (marriage, confession, and the Eucharist) and the Christian life, some bishops have said A, some others have said the contrary of A, with the intention of interpreting well the same text.”

The cardinal said that “the way out of this 'conflict of interpretations' was to have recourse to fundamental theological criteria of interpretation, the use of which I think can reasonably demonstrate that Amoris laetitia does not contradict Familiaris consortio.”

And yet, he said, “we saw that this epistemological model would not suffice. The contrast between the two interpretations continued,” and so the only way to address the question was to ask the author of Amoris laetitia to clarify it.

Born in Samboseto di Busseto, Italy, in 1938, Caffarra was ordained a priest in 1961 and was widely known for his work in the area of marriage and the family.

He held a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, as well as a diploma of specialization in moral theology from the Pontifical Alfonsian Academy.

He taught moral theology and moral ethics, and in 1974 he was tapped by Pope Paul VI as a member of the International Theological Commission. Four years later, in 1978, he participated as a representative of the Holy See at the First World Congress on human sterility and artificial procreation in Venice.

In 1980, Caffarra was named an expert at the Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family, and a year later was appointed by St. John Paul II as founder and president of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family.

He also served as a consultant for the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1983-1988, and was longstanding a friend of the dicastery's prefect, Josef Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI.

During his tenure as consultant for the Vatican's doctrinal department, Caffarra also participated in a study on genetic engineering launched by Italy's health ministry. Then in 1988, he officially founded the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Washington D.C., bringing it to Mexico and Spain shortly after.

On Sept. 8, 1995, he was named Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, a position he held until his appointment in 2003 as Archbishop of Bologna, where he served until his retirement in 2015.

He was named cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2006, and he also held an honorary doctorate in Christian Literature from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

Despite nearing retirement, Caffarra was appointed by Pope Francis as a participant in both the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family in 2014, and the Ordinary Synod on the Family in 2015.

Other roles the cardinal held were as a member of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He was also an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The cardinal's funeral will be celebrated Saturday, Sept. 9, at 11a.m. in Bologna's San Petronino cathedral by the diocese's current Archbishop, Matteo Maria Zuppi. A memorial vigil will be held in the cathedral the night before, beginning at 9p.m.

Pope tells youth to 'break the mirror' of narcissism, focus on others

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 21:18

Vatican City, Sep 4, 2017 / 09:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday Pope Francis told youth to steer clear of modern society's narcissistic tendencies, which he referred to as a vain “illness.” He said they should instead concentrate on helping others and on developing a healthy ability to laugh at oneself.

“This culture that we live in, which is very selfish, (always) looking at yourself, has a very strong dose of narcissism, (of) contemplating oneself and ignoring others,” the Pope said Sept. 4.

In turn, narcissism “produces sadness, because you live worried about 'dressing up' your soul everyday to appear better than you are, contemplating to see if you are more beautiful than others.”

This is called “the sickness of the mirror,” he said, and told young people to “break the mirror; don't look in the mirror, because the mirror deceives!”

Instead, “look outside, look at others. And if one day you want to look at yourself in the mirror, I will give you a mirror: look in the mirror to laugh at yourself.” Doing this, he said, “will refresh your soul.”

To know how to laugh at ourselves, he added, “gives us joy and saves us from the temptation of narcissism.”

Pope Francis spoke off-the-cuff in Spanish to members of the Catholic Shalom Community during an audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

The Community is an ecclesial movement founded in 1982 with a charism focused on contemplation, unity and evangelizaiton. The group is on a Sept. 3-9 pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their foundation.

As usual, Pope Francis was careful to take notes as he listened to various testimonies from the group, including from three youth who spoke about their experiences of loneliness, drugs, their search for God and their process of conversion.

Juan, 26, from Santiago, Chile, shared his story about how he went from living without God and without hope as a youth, to finding meaning through prayer, evangelization and a sense of community. In light of his experience, he asked the Pope how youth can “radiate” mercy to a world marked by desperation and indifference.

The second, Justine, who is 25 and from Spain, said she was baptized during the Jubilee of Mercy. She recalled a commitment she made at the time to live her life for others, and asked Francis what he believes is the role and mission of young people in the Church.

Finally, 22-year-old Matheus from Brazil shared his story of involvement with drugs before discovering the faith through missionaries and rehab. After sharing his story, the youth asked how he can find his vocation in order to respond to the salvation he was given.

Referring to Juan's testimony, the Pope noted that the words the youth used to describe his experience – “praying, sharing and evangelizing” – are are words “of movement, of going out of yourself.”

“You came out of yourself in prayer to encounter God, you came out of yourself in brotherhood to encounter your brothers and sisters, and you came out of yourself to evangelize, to give the good news,” he said, adding that this announcement “is mercy in a world marked by desperation and indifference.”

But simply talking about mercy isn't enough, “we have to bear witness, share and teach by going out of ourselves.” Using a colloquial phrase, he said “we have to put the meat on the grill,” otherwise people won't understand.

“This witness, of not being closed in on yourself, in your own interests, but going out, sharing with others” that God is good and is with us in life's most difficult moments, he said, “is the best message of mercy that one can give.”

Turning to Justine, Francis said it was significant that she was baptized during the Year of Mercy, and that it was precisely on that occasion that “you found God and he allowed you to strip you of yourself.”

Part of this process was “to go from being centered on yourself, to go outside to the joy of living for God and for others,” he said, adding that “one of the characteristics of youth and of the eternal youth of God is joy.”

Francis cautioned against the modern temptation to selfishness and narcissism, which he said only lead to sadness. “And joy is opposed to sadness. A sadness that is, precisely, what you went out from: self-referentiality.”

“A young person who gets into themselves, who only lives for themselves, ends up in an 'impassioned self-referentiality,' full of self-referentiality,” he said, and told the youth present to foster a healthy sense of humor about themselves, so they become too attached.

In reference to Matheus' testimony, the Pope said drugs are “one of the instruments that the culture in which we live has to dominate us.” Because of this, an addict might feel the need “to be subtle, invisible to themselves, as if they were air.”

Drugs, he said, “lead us to negate everything that roots us...it takes the roots out and makes you live in a world without roots, uprooted from everything; from projects, from your past, from your history, your homeland, your family, your love, everything.”

After passing through an experience of being “invisible” and then becoming aware again, Matheus became conscious of God's plan, which is a plan “to console the pain of humanity,” Francis noted.

Pope Francis also pointed out how Matheus said he wanted to discern his vocation during the upcoming Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

Each person has to discern their vocation “in order to see what God wants of us in light of our vocation,” he said, and told participants to “give freely” of themselves and what they have received.  

The Pope also spoke, as he often has, about the importance of the relationship between the elderly and young people. Talking directly to the older members of the community, he stressed the importance of dialogue with youth, telling them to “pass the torch, from the oldest to the youngest.”

“One of the challenges that the world asks of us today is the dialogue between youth and the elderly,” he said, telling participants that “I rely on your testimony” to carry this dialogue forward.

Elderly, he said, are not meant “to be kept in the closet, to be kept hidden,” but are rather “hoping that a youth comes and speaks to them.” And youth, he said, must take the dreams of the elderly and “redeem” them.

The elderly “have wisdom and they need (youth) to beat at their hearts for this wisdom,” Pope Francis said, adding that “this dialogue is a promise for the future. This dialogue helps us to continue going forward.”

Pope's Colombia trip about faith, not politics, Vatican official says

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 04:16

Vatican City, Sep 3, 2017 / 04:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the South American country of Colombia Sept. 6-11 isn't a political statement a Vatican official said, but about the renewal of the Catholic faith of Colombians in order that violence may be combatted at its root.

"But I say immediately, to see the Pope's visit as centering on the process of the peace accords is a mistake," said Guzmán Carriquiry, vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

He told journalists Friday that the Church in Colombia “has to face an enormous challenge to be a point of fundamental reference for not only the revolution of Christianity in the Colombian people, but for the rebirth of Colombia, for the spiritual regeneration, and the reconciliation of this country.”

“The Pope certainly goes in order to recall this Christianity of Colombia... that he can start a movement for tackling, from the bottom, these problems at the very source,” he said.

“Certainly that is the crucial point.”

A professor and vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since May 2014, Carriquiry spoke to journalists after a briefing on the Pope's schedule for Colombia Sept. 1.

The Pope's trip, which will include the cities of Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín, and Cartagena, marks the third time Francis has visited his native South America since becoming Pope.

His schedule includes Mass in each of the four cities, as well as leading the Angelus on Sunday as usual outside of the church of Saint Peter Claver, where the saint’s remains are buried.

On Sept. 8, in Villavicencio, a large prayer meeting for National Reconciliation will take place, at the end of which there will be a presentation from people who have been victims of violence during the country's prolonged civil war.

Pope Francis’ visit comes about one year after a peace accord between the Colombian government and the country's largest rebel group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was finally reached in August 2016.

Following its rejection in an Oct. 2 referendum, a revised agreement was signed Nov. 24 and approved by Colombia's Congress on Nov. 30, this time bypassing a popular vote.

Since 1964, as many as 260,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the civil war.

Pope Francis praised the accord last year, voicing support “for the goal of attaining the peace and reconciliation of the entire Colombian people, in light of human rights and Christian values, which are at the heart of Latin American culture.”

Despite this, the decision for “this voyage of the Holy Father is realized in a pastoral apostolic visit,” said Archbishop José Octavio Ruiz Arenas, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

Archbishop Ruiz, who led the Archdiocese of Villavicencio from 2002 to 2007, told CNA Sept. 1 it is hoped that Francis' visit will "help the Colombian people to seek that reconciliation, that peace, which is deep in the hearts of all Colombians."

There is a "deep desire in the hearts of all Colombians to have peace. The Pope certainly comes to encourage this deep desire," he said.

Colombia faces many challenges at the moment, Carriquiry said, particularly because the reconciliation of a country, after more than 60 years of violence, is difficult.

"The Pope considers the peace process a long and arduous process of reconciliation for the country," he explained, "and all of the Colombian people want this, yes, these negotiations, these accords, peace..."

But ultimately what the country needs is a "grand movement of regeneration and spirituality and reconciliation in Colombian society," he noted.

Explaining that the peace accord will not solve all of the problems the country faces, such as the culture of drugs and drug trafficking, he said what it really needs is a "major conversion."

Colombia is “full of contradictions,” because it is still a stronghold of Christianity and the faith is deeply rooted in the people. But at the same time, it has a culture of violence, drug trafficking, corruption, with decades of war causing many people to be displaced or to become refugees.

Carriquiry said he expects Pope Francis to bring the message of the Gospel to the hearts of Colombians. “Why? Because the Gospel is the greatest force of revolution, of national regeneration, of reconciliation for Colombian society. I am convinced of that aspect of the Pope.”

“For actually when we reduce the Pope's presence to a political character it is completely wrong.”

Pope Francis: To follow Christ means also to accept the cross

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 20:47

Vatican City, Sep 3, 2017 / 08:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis spoke about the sacrifice of the cross, explaining how as followers of Christ we must embrace suffering, because it is through the suffering and death of Christ that his love is made known to us.

“Always, even today, the temptation is to follow a Christ without a cross, rather, to teach God the right path,” the Pope said Sept. 3. Like Peter we maybe say: “No, this will never happen.”

“But Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love,” Francis said, and there is no true love without Christ’s self-sacrifice. We must embrace suffering, because as Christ told his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Before leading the Angelus Pope Francis reflected on our call as Christians not to be absorbed by the world’s vision to live an easy life, but rather to go “against the current,” pointing out the challenge to self-centeredness found in Christ's words, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my cause will find it.”

“In this paradox is contained the golden rule that God has inscribed into the human nature created in Christ: the rule that only love gives meaning and happiness to life,” Pope Francis said.

Spending our time, talents and our energy only to save and take care of ourselves actually leads to loss, to a “sad and sterile existence,” he explained. Whereas, if we live our lives for the Lord, set on fire with love, then our lives will be fruitful and we will have genuine joy.

The Pope pointed out that we rediscover the mystery of Christ’s cross every time we participate in the Eucharist. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, "in which the Son of God completely loses himself to receive himself again from the Father," is made present.

In the Eucharist, we, the lost, are found by Christ. The love of Christ crucified and risen is given to us as food and drink, he said.

“Mary Most Holy, who followed Jesus to Calvary, also accompany us and help us not to fear the cross,” he concluded. “Not a cross without Jesus, the cross with Jesus, that is, the cross of suffering for love of God and brethren.”

After the Angelus, the Pope prayed for all those affected by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast of the United States last week, particularly Texas and Louisiana, asking for the special intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“I also want to express my deepest interest in the suffering of the people of Texas and Louisiana suffering from a hurricane and exceptional rain that have caused casualties, thousands of displaced persons and massive material damage,” he said.

He also renewed his spiritual closeness to the people of South Asia, who have also been affected by severe flooding, asking, “Mary the Most Holy, comfort of the afflicted, to obtain from the Lord the grace of comfort for these our severely tested brothers."

Pope emphasizes peace-building in meeting with Korean religious leaders

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 23:13

Vatican City, Sep 2, 2017 / 11:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a meeting with religious leaders from Korea on Saturday, Pope Francis said the world is looking to them for an example of how to work together peacefully in order to combat violence and preserve the dignity and rights of all people.

“We have, therefore, a long journey ahead of us, which must be undertaken together with humility and perseverance, not just by raising our voices but by rolling up our sleeves,” the Pope said Sept. 2.

We must work “to sow the hope of a future in which humanity becomes more human, a future which heeds the cry of so many who reject war and implore greater harmony between individuals and communities, between peoples and states,” he continued.

Francis met with leaders of Korea’s seven major religions, including Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong of Gwangju, president of the Korean bishops' conference, Sept. 2. The group’s visit to the Vatican took place as threats of nuclear war with North Korea continue to grow.

“We will him ask to impart his prayers and help the Korean people for the reunification of the Korean peninsula,” Archbishop Kim said ahead of the trip, as reported by the Italian news agency Agensir.

“Pope Francis is well informed and closely follows the situation; the Holy Father deeply hopes in the establishment of peace in the Korean peninsula.”

In the meeting Saturday, Francis said religious leaders are called to “initiate, promote and accompany processes for the welfare and reconciliation of all people.”

He called on them to reject violence, and to speak with words which oppose the current “narrative of fear” and “rhetoric of hatred” in the world. “The world is looking to us,” he urged, “it asks us to work together and with all men and women of good will.”

Archbishop Kim also met with Pope Francis in May, when he came to Rome as a special envoy for Korea’s newly-elected President Moon Jae-in.

According to a newsletter from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK), during that visit Archbishop Kim asked Francis to “pray for peace and the reconciliation of the Korean people, expressing gratitude for the Holy Father’s special affection and care for Korea.”

“According to the Archbishop, the Holy Father showed a deep understanding of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, putting emphasis on the importance of dialogue without resort to armed force in dealing with the current difficulties,” the announcement continued.

In August, the CBCK issued an appeal for peace on the Korean peninsula which addressed authorities in North and South Korea, in neighboring countries, Koreans, and Christians around the world.

“Peace on the Korean Peninsula,” it said, “can function as a balance weight for international peace and stability beyond that of the Northeast Asia.”

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula demands our collective efforts to awaken our conscience and use our intelligence in the spirit of solidarity, compassion, cooperation and respect. We must not overlook this crisis with indifference and silence.”

In his speech, Pope Francis also appealed to a spirit of cooperation, especially between religions. The world, he said, “looks to us for answers and a shared commitment to various issues: the sacred dignity of the human person, the hunger and poverty which still afflict too many peoples, the rejection of violence.”

In particular we must reject that violence which profanes the name of God, as well as the corruption that promotes injustice, moral decline, and a crisis of the family, the economy and of hope,” he said.

The Pope pointed out that when interreligious dialogue is open and respectful this is when it can bear fruit leading to the promotion of peace and the common good.

With mutual respect is also found “the right to life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms, such as those of conscience, religion, thought and expression” from which the foundations for lasting peace are built, something we are all called to pray and work for, he said.

Pope Francis met with Korean religious leaders induring a visit to the country in August 2014 as well, which he recalled with gratitude to God and the beloved Korean people.

“I constantly pray that God will bestow upon them the gifts of peace and fraternal reconciliation,” he concluded. May our mindfulness of the friendship and the good things we have received from one another grant us the strength to move forward together, with the help of God.”

Pope, Patriarch: Care for creation includes respect for people

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 21:00

Vatican City, Sep 1, 2017 / 09:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew sent a joint message Friday for the World Day of Care for Creation, which says that we have lost sight of our responsibility for God’s creation, including our fellow human beings.

“The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people,” stated the message, published by the Vatican Sept. 1.

“The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures.”

“The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development,” it continued.

Instituted by Pope Francis in 2015 shortly after the release of his environmental encyclical “Laudato Si,” the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation takes place each year on Sept. 1.

Francis’ decision to implement the event is in keeping with themes expressed in the encyclical, and is also seen as a sign of unity with the Orthodox Church, which established Sept. 1 as a day to celebrate creation in 1989.

This year marks the first time that Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, have issued a statement together for this particular day of prayer.

In the message, the two leaders explained that creation, as told throughout Scripture but especially the Book of Genesis, reveals that from the beginning, "God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment.”

The earth was entrusted to us as a "sublime gift and legacy," which gives us all a shared responsibility in its care, it continued. This is important because “our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.”

However, the message said, our attitude and behavior towards creation has over time obscured our calling as God’s “co-operators.” As morals decline, we have lost sight of the original purpose of creation, alienated by our tendency to destroy delicate ecosystems and our “greed for limitless profits in markets.”

We have also been controlled by an “insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources.” Instead of regarding nature and creation as a gift shared among everyone, we think we can rule over it like a private possession.

In the message the two leaders, “united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good,” urged all people to dedicate a special time for prayer for the environment on Sept. 1.

“On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations,” they wrote, explaining that prayer should be at the center of the celebration, since without the Lord any work is in vain.

One thing we should all pray for is a change in our perception of the world and the way we interact with it, they continued, stating that the goal of the promise to care for creation “is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.”

They also appealed to those in positions of responsibility, especially in areas touching the social, economic, political and cultural, that they might listen to the “plea of millions” in need and “support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation.”

“We are convinced,” the message concluded, “that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.”

Pope Francis sends condolences to victims of Hurricane Harvey

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 20:45

Vatican City, Aug 31, 2017 / 08:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday, Pope Francis voiced his sympathy to those suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, offering prayers for the victims and rescue workers.

In an Aug. 31 letter to Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pope offered his “spiritual closeness and pastoral concern” to all those affected by “the violent hurricane that swept through the states of Texas and Louisiana in these days.”

Signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the letter said Francis has been “deeply moved by the tragic loss of life and the immense material devastation that this natural catastrophe has left in its wake.”

The Pope then offered his prayer for the victims and their families, and for all those involved in “the vital work of relief, recovery and rebuilding.”

So far Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Houston last week and is the most powerful storm to hit Texas in 50 years, has caused some 37 deaths and has left thousands stranded or forced to evacuate their homes, according to CNN.

After ravishing swaths of east Houston, the storm moved on to Port Arthur and has now hit Louisiana, making landfall early Wednesday morning and forcing thousands to evacuate.

Although flood waters in Houston are finally beginning to recede, roughly one-third of the city is still covered in water, and rescuers are unsure how many people are still in need of assistance.  

Early Wednesday morning two explosions were heard at the Arkema chemical plant, which is located in Crosby, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Houston, and had lost power during the flooding. Authorities on the ground expect that there will be more explosions as a result of the storm.

In his telegram, Pope Francis voiced his confidence that the “immense and immediate” needs of the thousands affected will continue to prompt “a vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation.”

He renewed his assurance of prayer, and offered his blessing “as a pledge of consolation, strength and peace in the Lord.”

 

A little bit of 'youthful euphoria' is healthy for Christian life, Pope says

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 16:44

Vatican City, Aug 30, 2017 / 04:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis told pilgrims to ignore gloomy people that drag others down, and stressed the need to maintain a healthy dose of the joy experienced in our first encounter with Christ, which he said must serve as a constant motivation to spread the good news.

“Do not listen to deluded and unhappy people; don't listen to those who cynically recommend not to cultivate hope in life,” the Pope said Aug. 30.

“Let us not entrust ourselves to those who extinguish every enthusiasm saying that no business is worth the sacrifice of an entire life, don't listen to the ‘elderly’ of heart who suffocate youthful euphoria,” he said.

Rather, Francis told pilgrims to instead “cultivate healthy utopias.” God, he said, “wants us to be able to dream like him and with him, while we walk well aware of reality,” and if a dream goes out, “go back and dream it again, drawing with hope on the memory of its beginnings.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience. In his address, the Pope continued his catechesis on Christian hope, focusing on the specific relationship between hope and memory.

The “icon” for this relation is the calling of the first disciples, John and Andrew, he said, noting that “their memory was totally impressed by this experience.”

So strong was the impact of this moment that in the first chapter of his Gospel, John recalls the exact time they met Jesus, saying “it was around four in the afternoon.” John, the Pope said, tells the story “as a clear memory youth, which remains intact in his aged memory.”  

Noting how the two had chosen John the Baptist as their spiritual guide, Francis pointed to the moment when, as Jesus passed by, the Baptist tells the then-young men that “this is the Lamb of God.”

For John and Andrew this meeting is “the spark,” he said, noting that they then leave their first master and follow Jesus, who after some time turns and asks a key question: “what are you looking for?”

In the Gospels, Jesus “appears as an expert of the human heart,” Francis said, explaining that in this moment he met two youth who were “healthily iniquitous.”

“What youth is a satisfied youth, without a search for meaning?” the Pope asked, adding that “young people who do not search for anything are not youth, (but) they have aged before their time.”

In off-the-cuff remarks, Francis addressed the youth in the square and those watching the audience through the media, asking them “what are you looking for? What are you searching for in your heart?”

In the day's the Gospel, Jesus appears as “an arsonist of hearts,” who with his question to John and Andrew brings out “the desire for life and happiness that every young person carries inside.”

The vocation of the two disciples begins with a friendship with Jesus “strong enough to impose a commonality of life and passion with him,” he said. In fact, they barely begin their time with Jesus and “immediately they are transformed into missionaries.”

This, Francis said, is evidenced by the fact that their respective brothers – Simon Peter and James – also begin to follow Jesus. “It was an encounter so moving, so happy, that the disciples will forever remember that day which illuminated and oriented their youth.”

Asking those present how to find one's vocation in modern society, Pope Francis said it can happen in many ways, but, as shown in the Gospel, a first indicator is “the joy of the encounter with Jesus.”

Every vocation – whether to marriage, consecrated life or the priesthood – begins “with an encounter with Jesus who gives us new joy and hope,” he said. The Lord then brings us, even amid trials and hardship, to “an increasingly full encounter with him and to the fullness of joy.”

“Jesus wants people who have experienced that being with him gives immense happiness, which can be renewed every day of life,” he said, adding that a disciple who is not joyful “does not evangelize this world,” and is ultimately “a sad” disciple.

“You become a preacher of Jesus not by refining the weapons of rhetoric,” Francis said, noting that “you can talk and talk and talk,” but if there is no joy, it won't be effective.

Because of this, Christians, like Mary, must “guard the flame of their 'falling in love': in love with Jesus.”

“Of course there are trials in life, there are moments in which we need to go forward despite the opposing cold and wind,” the Pope said. But as Christians, “we know the path which leads to that sacred fire that he has lit once and for all.”

After his address, the Pope greeted pilgrims present from various countries around the world and issued an appeal for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, celebrated September 1 to coincide with the event on the Orthodox calendar.

The event was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015, and in honor of the shared day of prayer, he and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople wrote a joint-statement calling for a merciful approach to caring for creation.

In his comments, Francis noted that in their statement both he and Bartholomew “invite everyone to assume a respectful and reasonable and attitude toward creation.”

“We also make an appeal to those who have an influential role, to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer the most from ecological imbalances.”

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