Catholic News Agency
Vatican City, Apr 27, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has donated the rent for a private Italian beach that allows disabled people to enjoy the shore, the charity that manages the project announced this week.
The group Work of Love, a Catholic non-profit, has rented part of the Little Madonna beach located near Rome since 2012 in an effort to give disabled people better access to the beach. It is equipped with ramps, walkways and specialized beach chairs and water-friendly wheelchairs, and includes amenities such as a snack bar, changing rooms, and showers.
The beach is run by a group of volunteers and specialized FINP (Italian Swimming Federation Paralympic) staff and is open every day of the week during peak summer swimming season.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, told CNN Pope Francis gave the group an undisclosed sum to "support the project that helps disabled youth and in particular to cover the cost of the annual rent for the beach known as the Little Madonna."
The beach is the only one of its kind in the region, and was created to allow all people to enjoy the beach “without architectural and mental barriers,” the group states on their site.
In a statement, the charity said they received the donation with "enthusiasm and astonishment."
It is not the first time Pope Francis has sponsored trips to the beach. Last summer, Archbishop Krajewski told Vatican Insider that the Holy Father had been treating Rome’s homeless to beach trips followed by pizza parties, sometimes with the Pope himself serving up a slice.
He said the van would take about 10 people each day to go swimming on the Italian coast, nearly 20 miles from Rome. The archbishop drove the van, while passengers sang and listened to the radio. At the beach, each guest was offered a swimsuit and towel and afterwards was treated to pizza.
“We certainly are not saving the world with some of these initiatives, we are not solving the problems of the homeless in Rome, but at least we are restoring to them a little dignity,” Archbishop Krajewski said at the time.
Other initiatives carried out by Archbishop Krajewski on behalf of the Pope include a dormitory, barber services and showers for those in need. In 2015, the Pope invited a group of homeless people in Rome to the Sistine Chapel. In 2016, he invited 2,000 homeless people and migrants to the circus. Pope Francis also sent an electronic scooter to an elderly couple with disabilities, who had difficulty getting around. He has also given Christmas gifts to poor migrants and umbrellas to the homeless.
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2017 / 03:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals met this week to continue discussion on reforming the Roman Curia, focusing on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council Promoting the New Evangelization.
According to an April 26 communique, during their 19th session the cardinals studied texts to propose to Pope Francis regarding the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the three courts.
No big changes are expected out of this latest round of meetings – those changes were the new dicasteries formed last fall, Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, told journalists at a briefing Wednesday.
This time, Burke said, the cardinals and Pope focused on regulation within the departments, hoping to arrive at something like a “new Pastor bonus,” the 1988 apostolic constitution of St. John Paul II that regulates the competencies and work of the Roman Curia.
In the meetings they inspected texts for the three courts of the Roman Curia: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Apostolic Signatura, and the Roman Rota.
The Apostolic Penitentiary is the tribunal in charge of cases involving excommunication and serious sins, including those whose absolution is reserved to the Holy See, while the Signatura functions as a sort of Supreme Court. The Rota, for its part, is akin to a court of appeals or court of “last instance,” and is also where marriage nullity cases are judged.
They also spent a significant amount of time discussing the selection and training of staff of the Holy See, both laity and clerics.
In addition to the nine members of the council and Pope Francis, officials of the State Secretariat, the Council of the Economy, and the Office of Work of the Apostolic See (ULSA) also took part.
Cardinal George Pell gave an update on the Secretariat for the Economy, particularly on the monitoring of budgets and “the formation of personnel and human resources.”
The cardinals, in addition to speaking about the tribunals and bishop selection, continued to discuss points brought up during the last round of meetings, including the possible restructuring of the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples and Oriental Churches, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley gave an update on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he heads, speaking about their plenary meeting in March and their visits to various ministries.
Carrying over from previous meetings, the council of cardinals also discussed decentralization, the relationship between bishops’ conferences and the Roman Curia, and how to be more in service to local bishops.
Established by Pope Francis shortly after his pontificate began in 2013, the council serves as an advisory body on Church governance and reform, with special emphasis on the reform of Pastor bonus.
Keywords that have come out of the cardinals’ meetings so far and which have emerged as guiding principles for the ongoing Curial reform are harmonization, simplification, synodality, and the Church’s “missionary drive.”
The council of cardinals is set to meet again June 12-14 to continue discussion on moving forward in reforming curial structures.
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2017 / 12:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, now head coach for the University of Michigan football team, is also a Roman Catholic – and he said Wednesday that faith plays a major role in his life.
“The role that (faith) plays in my life is in the priorities that I have,” he said April 26, “faith, then family, then football.”
Coach Harbaugh spoke to CNA following a general audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square April 26. He and his wife, Sarah, greeted Francis following the audience and presented him with a gift from the team – a University of Michigan helmet and pair of cleats.
The helmet included both the Italian and American flags and a little cross by the chinstrap. The Pope gave Harbaugh “some marching orders,” the coach said, “he told me to pray for him.”
Following the encounter, Harbaugh and his family and the University of Michigan football team were hosted for lunch on the terrace of the EWTN Rome bureau offices. After lunch they held a brief press conference.
Harbaugh, 53, has been head football coach for the University of Michigan since 2015. He played college football at Michigan from 1983-1986 and played in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons from 1987-2000. He has seven children.
Speaking to CNA about his experience meeting Pope Francis, Harbaugh quoted his father-in-law, Merrill Feuerborn, who told him, “To live in a state of grace, put your trust in the Lord, and be not afraid.”
“When I met Pope Francis today, I was riding on a state of grace,” he said, “that feeling was beyond description. And I know that there's something that I'm supposed to do with that opportunity, with that encounter, of meeting the Holy Father. I'm going to pray about it.”
Harbaugh is in Rome April 22-30. He brought along his family as well as almost his entire team and staff – some 150 people. He said he wanted to give his players an experience they might not otherwise have.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, he brought the team and staff to Rome for a week of team-building, cultural and historical experiences, and of course, spring practices.
The aim of this trip was to “have an educational experience like none other,” he told CNA.
“Not all learning is done in a classroom or on a football field, you know? It's out connecting to people, and having a chance for our players and staff to see things they've never seen before, eat things they’ve never tasted, to hear a language they've never heard.”
One goal for the trip was to connect his team with people they otherwise might not have met, he said. Their first day in Rome, the group met and picnicked with a group of refugees, including several from Syria.
Later on Wednesday, Harbaugh and some members of the team and his family visited the SOS Children’s Village, a community made up of homes for children who are in positions of family or social hardship.
Harbaugh said that attending the general audience and meeting Pope Francis was an emotional experience, not just for him but for his team as well. Asked what he hopes his team will take away from the experience, he said just that “the relationship with God is a personal one.”
He said his suggestion for each of his players would be to spend time in silence and think and pray “about what it means, and what they should take away from it.”
“Because we don't always know what to do with it,” he continued. “I don't know what to do with the encounter I had meeting Pope Francis today. What exactly did it mean? What opportunity was given and what am I supposed to do with that?”
Immediately afterward, Harbaugh said he was able to speak with a priest from Detroit, Msgr. Robert McClory, about the experience: “And that was the advice that he gave me: to be silent, to pray, to be with God and listen, and you'll get it, you'll figure it out.”
Two players had the opportunity to get a little bit closer to the Pope during the audience, which Harbaugh chose through an essay competition. The winners, offensive lineman Grant Newsome and defensive tackle Salim Makki, both said they are inspired by Francis.
Attending the audience “was just an incredible experience,” Newsome said.
“Not only as a Christian, but as a person in general, just to listen to someone who is so internationally renowned as Pope Francis and to hear him and have him bless us was just an incredible experience for me and I know for a lot of the other guys on the team.”
Makki, a Muslim, said he looks up to Pope Francis as a hero. “He's always shown that Muslims and Christians and Catholics can combine – we're all brothers and sisters, we can co-exist together.”
Jack Wangler, a senior wide receiver told CNA, “I can speak for everybody, I think: this has been a once-in-a-lifetime trip.”
“It's been great to come here with the team and use it as a bonding experience and a cultural experience, to expand what we've learned in the classroom,” said Catholic fullback Joe Beneducci.
He told CNA that he remembers reading about the Church and the Vatican at school and watching St. John Paul II’s funeral on TV. “Coming here to see it in person, it put it all in perspective and made me appreciate it just that much more.”
“I think it's brought me closer to my faith as well, which is very nice.”
About the qualities of a good sportsman, Harbaugh said, “It talks about it in the Bible: strive hard to win the prize. To have that motivation, to have that quality of perseverance and discipline and drive is what really makes a good athlete.”
Sunday, before they leave to return to Michigan, Harbaugh’s infant son, John Paul, will be baptized at St. Peter’s Basilica. His daughter, Addison, will also make her first Holy Communion.
In the press conference, Harbaugh told journalists that if he accomplished nothing else in his life, to have met the Pope, and see his son be baptized and his daughter receive First Communion at the Vatican, would make him feel like “a blessed man.”
“This has been the experience of a lifetime.”
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2017 / 04:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said Christian hope, rather than coming from the empty promises of other human beings, is rooted in Christ’s promise to never leave us, and to stay by our side until the end of time.
“How long, by comparison, will God's care for mankind last?” the Pope asked April 26. “The Gospel's answer leaves no doubt: until the end of the world!”
“The heavens will pass away, the earth will pass away, human hope will be erased, but the Word of God is greater than everything and will not pass away.”
“There will be no day of our life where we will cease to be a concern for the heart of God,” he said, adding that “God will certainly provide for all our needs, he will not abandon us in times of trial and darkness.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during his weekly general audience, continuing his catechesis on the theme of hope.
In his speech, he stressed that for Christians, hope is not a vague feeling, or the same thing as the “changing sentiment” of those who want to change the world using only their own willpower.
“Christian hope, in fact, finds its root not in the attraction of the future, but in the security of what God has promised us and made in Jesus Christ,” he said.
Because of this promise, we can follow the Lord without fear, he said, explaining that “if the beginning of every vocation is a ‘follow me’ by which he assures us he will always remain before us, then why fear? With this promise, Christians can walk everywhere.”
Even in those places of the world filled with wounds or bad circumstances, we can be assured of Christ’s presence, he said. As Psalm 23:4 says: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
“It is exactly where the darkness spreads that we need to keep lighting a light,” he said.
Francis noted how in St. Matthew’s Gospel, the evangelist recalls the prophetic announcement which is also found in the Book of Isaiah: “To him will be given the name of Emmanuel, which means God with us.”
This verse, along with the promise at the end of the Gospel, “I am with you every day until the end of the world,” together communicate the mystery of God’s identity – that he is “God with us,” the Pope said.
“Our existence is a pilgrimage, a journey,” but on this journey, we are never alone, he said. “Above all, the Christian does not ever feel abandoned, because Jesus promises to not wait until the end of our long journey, but to accompany us in each of our days.”
However, Francis warned that if we rely on our own strength in this journey, we will be discouraged and disappointed, “because the world often proves resistant to the laws of love.”
This, he said, is why “the holy faithful people of God are people standing and walking in hope. And wherever they go, they know that God's love has preceded him: there is no part of the world that escapes the victory of the Risen Christ, the victory of love.”
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2017 / 02:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Early Wednesday morning Pope Francis addressed the TED 2017 conference, telling participants that to have a hopeful outlook for the future, we must plant seeds of humility, solidarity and tenderness today.
Referencing his 80 years of life, the Pope opened his talk saying that “quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.”
“We all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent ‘I,’ separated from the other,” he said.
“We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone,” the Pope continued, adding that that while we might not think about it often, “everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.”
“Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me.”
This “flare” embedded deep within our hearts “needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.”
Pope Francis gave his TED Talk April 26 at 3:30a.m. local time in Rome for TED 2017, which is taking place April 24-28 in Vancouver, Canada.
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TED is an international media organization that posts brief talks online that are for free distribution and run under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” The organization was founded in February 1984 as a conference, which has been held annually since 1990.
The talks are typically run between 10-20 minutes, and are given by influential speakers who are experts in various fields such as business, science and technology, among others. Subtitles are available in more than 100 languages.
Pope Francis is the first pontiff to give a TED Talk, however, just days before announcing his resignation in 2013 Benedict XVI was given the “Charter of Compassion” by the organization’s European director, Bruno Giussani.
This year’s TED conference holds the theme “The Future You,” and is dedicated to addressing the pressing questions of our time.
In his talk, which lasted 18 minutes and was filmed inside Vatican City, Pope Francis offered a response to today’s challenges, focusing on how to maintain an attitude of hope through solidarity with one another.
He noted that for many people a happy future is something that seems distant and at times impossible to achieve.
However, while these concerns must be taken seriously, they are not “invincible,” he said, explaining that happiness can be discovered when looking to the harmony that exists between the whole and each individual part.
Francis then moved to his second point, saying it would be ideal if scientific and technological growth were coupled with greater equality and social inclusion.
“How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries,” he said.
Only a thorough education in solidarity can overcome the “culture of waste” prevalent in today’s society, turning people’s attention not so much toward goods and food, but toward people.
“Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary,” he said, but noted that solidarity “is not an automatic mechanism.”
“It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone,” he said, explaining that to truly do good to another person, courage, memory and creativity are needed.
“I know that TED gathers many creative minds,” the Pope observed, but stressed that when it comes to developing projects and ideas, “good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough.”
Rather, a concrete and “ingenious” attitude is needed, he said. “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The ‘you’ is always a real presence, a person to take care of.”
Pope Francis then pointed to the parable of the Good Samaritan, explaining, as he often does, that while the two powerful men of the day ignored the man on the side of the road, it was the Samaritan, a “despised ethnicity” at the time, who had compassion and paid for the man’s healing out of his own pocket.
The story of the Good Samaritan can easily sum up the state of humanity today, Francis said, explaining that many people’s paths are “riddled with suffering,” as if everything centered around money and things, rather than people.
“And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves ‘respectable,’ of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road.”
Pointing to Mother Teresa, whom he canonized in September 2016, Francis said she is an example of the people who are “creating a new world” based on care for others.
“We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day?” he asked.
While not everyone can achieve the scale of Mother Teresa or the Good Samaritan, the Pope stressed that we are all precious and irreplaceable in the eyes of God, and that amid today’s conflicts, each of us “can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.”
“To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is hope,” he said, explaining that hope doesn’t mean being “optimistically naïve,” ignoring suffering or dwelling on the past, but is a virtue that is able “to see a tomorrow.”
“Hope is the door that opens onto the future,” he said, noting that it is like the hidden yeast that makes bread grow, and as such “can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness.”
“A single individual is enough for hope to exist,” telling conference participants: “that individual can be you.”
“And then there will be another ‘you,’ and another ‘you,’ and it turns into an ‘us,’” he said, explaining that hope begins with a “you,” and when an “us” develops, “there begins a revolution.”
The Pope then repeated his frequent call for a “revolution of tenderness,” which is “the love that comes close and becomes real.”
“Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need,” he said, noting that God himself descended to our level, which is the same thing the Good Samaritan did.
To have tenderness, he said, “the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility.”
Pointing to a common phrase in Argentina, Francis said “power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach. You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness.”
Pope Francis closed his speech saying the future of humanity isn’t just in the hands of politicians or great leaders or big companies, but is primarily in the hands “of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us.’”
“We all need each other, he said. “So, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us.”
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2017 / 12:29 am (CNA).- It is interesting that in her appearances at Lourdes, Fatima and other locations, the Mother of God repeatedly recommends praying the Rosary. She does not invite us to pray the Divine Office, or to do spiritual reading, or Eucharistic Adoration, or practice interior prayer or mental prayer. All the mentioned forms of prayer are good, recognized by the Church and practiced by many saints. Why does Mary “only” place the Rosary in our hearts?
We can find a possible answer by looking at the visionaries of Lourdes and Fatima. Mary revealed herself to children of little instruction, who could not even read or write correctly. The Rosary was for them the appropriate school to learn how to pray well, since bead after bead, it leads us from vocal prayer, to meditation, and eventually to contemplation. With the Rosary, everyone who allows himself to be led by Mary can arrive at interior prayer without any kind of special technique or complicated practices.
This does not mean – and I want to emphasize this point – that praying the Rosary is for “dummies” or for simple minded people. Even great intellectuals must come before God as children, who in their prayers are always simple and sincere, always full of confidence, praying from within.
All Christians are called to the kind of interior prayer that allows an experience of closeness with God and recognition of his action in our lives. We can compare the Rosary to playing the guitar. The vocal prayers – the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be – are the central prayers of Christianity, rooted in Scripture. These are like the rhythm in a song.
But simply strumming a guitar is not a song. And mindless repetition of words is not interior prayer. In addition to rhythm, keys are needed. The Mysteries of the Rosary are like the chords on the guitar. The vocal prayers form the framework for meditation on the Mysteries.
There are always these five chords to the rhythm of the repetition of the prayers, which make the lives of Jesus and Mary pass before our eyes. With meditation, we go on reflecting on what happens in each Mystery and what it means for our lives: At Nazareth, the Son of God is incarnated in Mary. In Holy Communion, He also comes to me. In Gethsemane, Jesus sweats blood. He suffers, is in anguish, and yet his friends remain asleep. Can I keep vigil with Him or do my eyes close with tiredness? On Easter morning, Jesus rises and breaks forth from the tomb. The first day of creation brought light. The first day of the week conquered death and gave us life. Christ can change the darkness in my life into light.
And so, our prayer begins to change into music. That is to say, it is no longer monotonous and boring, but now it is full of images and thoughts. And when the grace of God permits, it is also filled with supernatural illuminations and inspirations.
There is one more thing needed to have really great music, or to have a prayer that is even more profound and intimate: the melody that the heart sings. When playing the guitar, a voice is needed to interpret the song. When praying the Rosary, it is the song of our heart, as we place our own life before God, to the tempo of the prayers and meditations.
It is this song of the heart that allows us to enter into the mysteries of the Rosary: For my sake you were scourged, and it was I who struck you. Forgive me! You have ascended into Heaven, Lord. I long for You, I for your kingdom, my true homeland.
In contemplation, the person praying sees the mysteries pass before his eyes, and at the same time he abides in particular affections or movements of the heart before God. The one who prays sings the song of his own life, in which naturally there can arise specific desires: You wanted to be the son of a human Mother; help my sick mother! You were crowned with thorns; help me in this financial difficulty which I can't get out of my head. You sent the Holy Spirit; without You I don't have the courage or the strength to make a good decision.
With this understanding, the following tips can help those who pray the Rosary move from vocal prayer to meditation to inner contemplation:
1) Schedule the time
Our schedule is full of appointments. More or less consciously, we also plan out the time we're going to need for each task or appointment. Sometimes it is good to set aside 20 or 30 minutes to pray the Rosary, and write it down in the schedule. This “appointment” with Jesus and Mary is then just as important as all the other ones planned. For all of us, it is possible to set aside a time to pray the Rosary, at first, once, twice or three times a week. Over time – and this is the goal – it will be easier to find a time to pray the Rosary daily.
2) Don’t rush
We can learn a lesson about prayer by observing people in love. During a romantic candlelit dinner, no one would be constantly looking at the clock, or choking down their food, or leaving the dessert to one side to finish as quickly as possible. Rather, a romantic meal is stretched out, maybe lingering for an hour to sip a cocktail, and enjoying every moment spent together. So it is with praying the Rosary. It shouldn't be treated as sets of Hail Mary’s to be performed as if one were lifting weights. I can spend time lingering on a thought. I can also break away from it. I can, principally at the beginning, simply be peaceful. If I keep this peaceful attitude and an awareness of how important this 20-minute “appointment” is, then I will have prayed well. It will have been a good prayer, because my will is focused on pleasing the Beloved and not myself.
3) Savor the experience
Saint Ignatius recommends what's called the “third form of prayer,” which consists in adjusting the words to the rhythm of one's own breathing. Often it is sufficient in praying the Rosary to briefly pause between the mysteries, and to remember that Jesus and Mary are looking at me full of joy and love, recognizing with gratitude that I am like a little child babbling words every so often to in some way affirm that I love God. To do this, it can be useful to pause and take a few breaths before resuming vocal prayer.
4) A gaze of love
The vocal prayers of the Rosary only provide the rhythm of the prayer. With my thoughts, I can and should go out from the rhythm to encounter the Mystery which is being contemplated. This is more clear in German, where the mystery is announced not only at the beginning of each decade, but before each Hail Mary. It’s a time to look your Beloved in the eyes and let Him look back, with eyes full of love.
5) Allow yourself to be amazed
One of the first and most important steps for inner prayer is to go from thinking and speculation to looking upon and being amazed. Think of lovers who meet, not to plan out what they're going to give each other or what they might do on the next vacation, but to enjoy the time together and to rejoice in each other. Looking at a family photo album is very different from looking at a history book. In the photo album, we see people who are important to us, whom we love – and even more – who love us! That's how our gaze at Jesus and Mary ought to be in the Rosary.
6) Allow your “inner cameraman” to notice details
Some people close their eyes while praying in order to concentrate. Others find it useful to focus their eyes on a certain point (such as a crucifix). Either way, what is important is for the eyes of the heart to be open. Praying the Rosary is like going to the movies. It's about seeing images. It's useful to ask yourself: Who, What, Where am I looking at when I contemplate the birth of Jesus, or his crucifixion, or his ascension into Heaven? And on some occasions, like a good cameraman does, come in for a close-up image of some detail: contemplate the warm breath of the ox that's warming the Child, the pierced hand of Jesus that spread so much love, the tears in John's eyes as he gazes at Jesus rising up to Heaven.
7) Pray in words, mind, and heart
The words accompany, the mind opens, but it is the heart that has the leading role in prayer. All the great spiritual authors agree that inner prayer is about dwelling in the affections, that is, the inner sentiments and movements. Teresa of Avila says very simply: “Don't think a lot, love a lot!” An elderly lady was ruefully complaining to me that she could not reflect while praying her daily Rosary, and that in that situation she could barely say “Jesus, Mary, I love you!” I congratulated the lady. That is exactly what praying the Rosary ought to lead us to.
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2017 / 05:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis expressed his joy for his upcoming trip to Cairo in a video message, saying he hopes to bring peace and friendship to all Egyptian citizens.
“I am truly happy to come as a friend, as a messenger of peace and as a pilgrim to the Country that gave, more than two thousand years ago, refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family fleeing from the threats of King Herod,” the Pope said an April 25 video message.
The video shows Pope Francis expressing his excitement to visit the land “where Patriarchs and Prophets lived,” and wishes to bring strength and comfort to the Christian community.
“I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East; a message of friendship and esteem to all inhabitants of Egypt and the region.”
On April 10, the Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed the Pope's trip to Egypt despite the recent violence from the Islamic State taking place within the country.
Coptic Christians make up the majority of Egypt's Christian community, but suicide bombings, kidnappings, and other violent attacks from the Islamic State have affected both Christians and Muslims.
General Minister of the Franciscan Community acknowledged the present dangers and said the Pope is “very informed” of the issues occurring in Egypt.
“Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land – needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace, free and liberating people, courageous people able to learn from the past to build a future without closing themselves up in prejudices,” Pope Francis said.
He added, “It needs builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, brotherhood, justice, and humanity.”
The Pope hopes he may bring “a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world, in which Egypt occupies a primary position.”
Pope Francis will begin his trip by giving an address for an international conference of peace at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, an esteemed Muslim institute. He will be speaking with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, who is considered by some to be head of the Sunni Muslim branch of thought.
Afterwards, the Pope will meet with the state officials and Patriarch Tawadros II of Alexandria, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Patriarch Tawadros II was nearly injured during one of the two attacks which killed 44 people and injured over 100 more. During Palm Sunday liturgy, one suicide bomber detonated at the entrance of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria.
The Pope will then celebrate mass on Saturday, and have a meeting with the Coptic Catholic Bishops over lunch. Pope Francis was invited by the Coptic Catholic Patriarchy during their ad limina visit to the Vatican on Feb. 6.
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2017 / 10:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will not use a bulletproof vehicle during his trip to Egypt this weekend, despite recent terror attacks against Christians in the country, according to Reuters.
"The Pope will use a closed car to move around, but not an armoured one," Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed yesterday. "That's how he wanted it."
This is not the first time Pope Francis has done so - he typically prefers to travel in more open vehicles, or ones that are not bulletproof, because he feels that allows him to better interact with the people on the streets.
Pope Francis will be traveling to Cairo, Egypt, April 28-29 for his first international trip of the year. Interfaith dialogue with Muslims and showing solidarity with persecuted Christians will be main priorities of the trip.
His trip comes after several recent attacks on Christian in the country.
In December, a bombing at Cairo's main Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens of others, most of them women and children.
On Palm Sunday, the bombing of two Coptic churches killed 43 and injured more than 100 others.
Last week, gunmen attacked security forces near the famous St Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai desert, killing a police officer and injuring three others. This attack and the church bombings were all claimed by ISIS.
Egypt’s president has declared a three-month state of emergency in the country following the Palm Sunday attacks. Despite the risk, the Vatican announced earlier this month that the Pope’s trip to Egypt would continue as planned.
Pope Francis was invited to visit Egypt by Coptic Catholic bishops during their visit at the Vatican Feb. 6. The Pope had also received an invitation to visit Egypt from the country’s president and from the Grand Imam of al Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, after his visit to the Vatican in the spring of 2016, marking a thaw in Vatican-Muslim relations in Egypt.
During his trip, Pope Francis will meet with the Grand Imama state officials, leaders of Egypt’s Catholic Coptic and Orthodox Coptic churches, and Catholic priests and religious of the country.
Vatican City, Apr 24, 2017 / 11:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage June 20 to visit the graves of two 20th century Italian priests in the towns of Bozzolo and Bariana, the Vatican announced Monday.
Fr. Lorenzo Milani and Fr. Primo Mazzolari both have reputations for being anti-establishment, though they were obedient to the Church throughout their lives. The Pope's visit to their graves will take place in a “private and unofficial manner,” the April 24 communique stated.
The pilgrimage takes place in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Fr. Milani, who lived from 1923-1967. Pope Francis spoke about Fr. Milani in a video message to the participants of a presentation on the priest's complete works in Milan Sunday.
“I would love to remember him especially as a believer, in love with the Church even though he was wounded,” the Pope said in the message April 23, “and as a passionate educator with a vision of the school that seems to me to respond to the need of the hearts and the intelligence of our children and youth.”
Pope Francis' brief visit – only half a day – will begin with an early morning helicopter flight to Bozzolo June 20, landing at 9:00 a.m. He will be welcomed by the Mayor of Bozzolo and the Bishop of Cremona, Antonio Napolioni.
From there the Pope will proceed to the parish of St. Peter to pray at the tomb of Fr. Primo Mazzolari, after which he will give a commemorative speech to the faithful present at the church.
At 10:30 a.m. he will leave for Barbiana, arriving at the Barbiana church at 11:15 a.m. He will be welcomed there by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and the Mayor of Vicchio, a municipality of Florence.
He will then visit privately the cemetery of the church to pray at the grave of Fr. Lorenzo Milani. Afterwards, Pope Francis will meet in the church with still-living disciples of Fr. Milani.
After a short visit to the rectory in the adjacent garden he will give a speech in the presence of around 200 people, including the disciples, priests of the diocese and some children living in family homes in the area. The Pope will return to the Vatican by about 1:15 p.m.
Fr. Milani came from a wealthy but secular family, the son of an atheist father and a Jewish mother. He studied art, which had a profound influence on his conversion to Catholicism and eventual entrance into the priesthood in 1947.
His “frankness that sometimes seemed too rough when not marked by rebellion” carried over even into his priesthood, Pope Francis noted in his video message. This led to some friction and misunderstandings with ecclesiastical and civil structures “because of his educational proposal, his preference for the poor, and defense of conscientious objection.”
Despite this, however, he was always deeply obedient to the Church and to her directives. He once wrote: “I will never oppose the Church because I need (her) several times a week for the forgiveness of my sins, and I would not know to whom else to go to look for it if I had left the Church.”
Fr. Primo Mazzolari lived from 1890-1959. He grew up in a small neighborhood of the town of Cremona, Italy, entering the seminary in 1902. Some have called him a “priest of the embankment,” because he grew up on the banks of the Po River and also at the “embankment” of the Church.
Very politically active, he intervened in the First World War and after, and was so anti-fascist he refused to sing the “Te Deum” after a failed attack on Mussolini by Tito Zaniboni in 1925.
His greatness already recognized, he was invited to the Vatican by both Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI before his death. In 2015 permission was formally granted to open the diocesan phase of Fr. Mazzolari's cause for beatification.
Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report.
Vatican City, Apr 24, 2017 / 10:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Saturday comforted the sister of Father Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old priest who was killed by ISIS sympathizers while celebrating Mass in Normandy, France last summer.
According to the Associated Press, the Pope gripped the hands of Roselyne Hamel and spoke quietly to her during an April 22 liturgy honoring the “new martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Rome’s Tiber Island.
Fr. Hamel was killed July 26, 2016 while celebrating Mass after two armed gunmen stormed a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy. The assailants entered the church and took the priest and four others hostage. Local law enforcement reported that the priest’s throat was slit in the attack, and that both of the hostage takers were shot dead by police. The attackers were identified as Islamist extremists.
Pope Francis issued a statement at the time decrying the “absurd violence.” He later said during a Mass in September at the Vatican in honor of Fr. Hamel that the slain priest “is blessed now,” according to Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen who was there.
The Pope referred to the priest as “an example of courage” because “he emptied himself to serve others, to build brotherhood among men.”
Last October, the French diocese of Rouen officially began an inquiry into the beatification of Fr. Hamel after the Pope waived the traditional five-year waiting period.
At the service Saturday, Roselyne shared with the congregation how her brother was “strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for people, whoever it was, and – I am certain – also for his killers.”
She said that his death was a witness for the whole world, and continued the ‘yes’ with which he had given his life in service to Christ at the moment of his ordination.
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Vatican City, Apr 23, 2017 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Divine Mercy Sunday Pope Francis said mercy is essential in living the Christian life, because it not only allows us to understand ourselves and God better, but it also prompts us to recognize and help those in need.
“Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone of the life of faith, and concrete way with which we give visibility to the Resurrection of Jesus,” the Pope said April 23.
Mercy, he said, is understood as a true awareness of “the mystery” that the Church is living, particularly during the Easter season.
Not only is mercy understood in various ways such as through the senses, intuition and reason, but we can also become aware of it through an act of mercy that we personally experience, he said, adding that “this opens the door of the mind to better understand the mystery of God and of our personal existence.”
“It makes us understand that violence, resentment and revenge have no meaning, and the first victim is whoever lives these sentiments, because it deprives them of their own dignity,” he said.
Additionally, mercy also allows us to open the door of our hearts and draw close to those who are “alone and marginalized,” recognizing those in need and finding the right words to say to comfort them.
“Mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of our brothers with sharing and participation,” Francis said, explaining that in the end, mercy “commits everyone to being instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during his Sunday Regina Coeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter. The Regina Coeli is traditionally prayed instead of the Angelus throughout the liturgical Easter season.
In his brief speech, the Pope noted now the Sunday after Easter in the past was referred to as “in albis,” meaning “in white,” as a reminder of the white garments worn by those who had come into the Church on Easter Sunday.
In the time after Easter, he said, Sunday takes on “an even more illuminating” aspect, especially considering the previous traditional custom in which the garment would be worn by the person for the entire week after their baptism until the following Sunday, when they began their new life in Christ and the Church.
Francis then pointed to how the Sunday after Easter was later designated as Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope Saint John Paul II during the Jubilee year 2000.
“It was a beautiful institution!” he said, noting that his own Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy concluded just a few months ago, on the Nov. 20, 2016, Solemnity of Christ the King.
In wake of the Jubilee, Divine Mercy Sunday “invites us to take up with strength the grace that comes from the mercy of God,” he said, noting that in the day’s Gospel from John, Jesus appears to his disciples in the upper room, and gives them the message: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.”
After saying this, Jesus then entrusts them with a special task, telling them “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.”
“This is the meaning of the mercy that is presented to us on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus as forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said, explaining that the Risen Christ gave his Church as a first task “his same mission of bringing to all the concrete announcement of forgiveness.”
Francis said this commission is a visible sign of Christ’s mercy, which brings both peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord.
He closed his address praying that Mary, the Mother of Mercy, would “help us to believe and live all of this with joy,” and led pilgrims in praying the Regina Coeli.
The Pope then greeted pilgrims from various countries around the world, giving a special shout-out to Spain, where yesterday the priest Fr. Luis Antonio Rosa Ormières was proclaimed a Blessed, and to all youth who had been confirmed or are currently candidates for Confirmation.
He then thanked everyone who sent him messages wishing him a happy Easter before asking for prayers and giving his blessing.
Rome, Italy, Apr 22, 2017 / 11:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The devil’s hatred for Christ and for our redemption is the root cause of all persecution since the beginnings of the Church, Pope Francis said at a special liturgy that focused on modern martyrs.
“The memory of these heroic witnesses, old and new, confirms us in the knowledge that the Church is a Church of martyrs… they have received the grace of confessing Jesus until the end, until death,” the Pope said April 22.
He said that if we look well into history, the root cause of every persecution is “the hatred the prince of this world has toward those who have been saved and redeemed by Jesus with his death and with his Resurrection.”
Pointing to Jesus’ words “Do not be afraid! The world will hate you, but know that before you, it hated me,” from the Gospel passage read at the liturgy, Francis said the use of the word “hatred” is both strong and frightening.
“He, who is the master of love, who liked so much to speak of love, speaks of hatred,” he said, noting that Jesus “always wanted to call things by their name.”
Jesus has chosen and redeemed us as “a free gift of his love,” he said, adding that through this love, we have been saved from “the power of the world, from the power of the devil, from the power of the prince of this world.”
“And the origin of hatred is this: that we are saved by Jesus, and the prince of this world doesn’t want it, he hates us and provokes persecution, which since the time of Jesus and the early Church continues until our days.”
Pope Francis offered his reflections during a special April 22 liturgy honoring the “new martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Rome’s Tiber Island. Overseen by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the basilica was founded at the end of the 10th century and contains a vast number of relics belonging to 20th century martyrs.
The collection was initially gathered after the Jubilee of 2000. A year ahead of the jubilee, Pope John Paul II established the “New Martyrs” commission to study and investigate modern cases of martyrdom in preparation for the event.
As a result, the commission gathered some 12,000 dossiers of martyrs and witnesses of the faith from around the world.
To commemorate the heroic witness of those who had given their lives for Christ, John Paul II in 2002 had a large icon made and placed in the basilica of St. Bartholomew, which sits on the main altar to this day.
In addition to the icon, various relics and items belonging to the martyrs have been placed in each of the basilica’s side chapels, and are divided by either specific points in history, such as the “new martyrs of Nazism,” or geographical locations, including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe.
Benedict XVI visited the basilica in April 2008, making Pope Francis the third pontiff to set foot in the basilica, and to keep the papal tradition of honoring new martyrs.
In his homily, Pope Francis lamented the fact that “many Christian communities are objects of persecution!”
However, he noted that often in difficult moments, people call for “heroes.” The Church today also needs the heroic witness of martyrs and saints, he said, explaining that this includes “the saints of everyday life,” who move forward with coherency, but also those who “have the courage to accept the grace of being witnesses until the end, until death.”
“All of them are the living blood of the Church. They are the witnesses who carry the Church forward,” he said. By demonstrating with their lives that Jesus is alive and risen, they also “attest with the coherency of their lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit that they have received this gift.”
Pope Francis then paused for a moment and deviated from his prepared text. He recalled an encounter he had with a Muslim man he met during his 2016 trip to Lesbos who, along with his three children, had fled his village after his wife, who was a Christian, was killed by extremists.
When the militants came to their home and asked what their religion was, the woman said she was Christian, and, when she refused to throw down a crucifix she that was hanging on the wall, she was killed in front of her family.
This woman, Francis said, is “another crown” that can be added to the rest of the martyrs honored in St. Bartholomew, because “she is looking at us from heaven.”
Pope Francis closed his homily saying the ability to remember the many modern-day martyrs inside a basilica filled with their relics is “a great gift,” because “the living heritage of the martyrs today gives us peace and unity.”
“These ones teach us that, with the strength of love, with meekness, one can fight against tyranny, violence and war and can realize peace with patience,” he said, and prayed, asking that each person present might be a worthy witness of the Gospel and the love of God.
Before giving his homily, Pope Francis heard the testimonies of three people who were relatives or friends of modern-day martyrs.
First was Karl Schneider, son of Paul Schneider, a pastor of the Reformed Church who was killed in the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1939 because he defied Nazism as “irreconcilable with the words of the Bible.”
In his brief reflection, Schneider said his father had been “strongly opposed every temptation to politically influence the Church.”
“All of us, even today, make too many compromises,” he said, “but my father stayed faithful only to the Lord and to the faith. He was a pastor and a spiritual guide. Even in the concentration camp!”
Despite the torture and suffering his he endured, Schneider’s father shouted out from his cell, offering words of comfort and hope from the Bible to the other prisoners.
Recalling words spoken by his elderly mother before her death, Schneider said his mother said her husband “was chosen to announce the Gospel and this is my consolation.” As his son, Schneider said he “I feel this consolation until today.”
Next was Roselyne, sister of Fr. Jacques Hamal, the 85-year-old priest who was murdered by two young ISIS sympathizers in Rouen, France in July 2016.
Speaking to the congregation, Roselyne said that in his old age Fr. Hamal had been fragile, but “he was also strong. Strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for people, whoever it was, and – I am certain – also for his killers.”
His death, she said, “is in line with the life of a priest, which was one of a life given: a life offered to the Lord, when he said ‘yes’ at the moment of his ordination, a life of service to the Gospel, a life given for the church and her people, above all the poorest.
She pointed to the “paradox” that while alive her brother never wanted to be “at the center,” but that after his death, “has given a testimony for the entire world, the greatness of which we cannot measure.”
After her brother died, Roselyne said the reaction of the community was strong. Rather than wanting revenge, there was a desire for “love and forgiveness,” she said, explaining that even Muslims who wanted to show solidarity with Christians came to visit the parish for Sunday Masses in a show of support.
Despite her loss, Roselyne said “it’s a great comfort to see how many new encounters, how much solidarity, how much love have been generated by the witness of Jacques,” and prayed that his sacrifice would “bring fruits, so that the men and women of our time can find the path to living together in peace.”
Finally, a man named Francisco Hernandez gave a brief reflection on his friend William Quijano, killed in El Salvador in 2009 because of his work with youth that sought to promote peace and draw them away from the violence of criminal gangs.
In his reflection, Hernandez said the only crime of his friend was that of “dreaming of a world of peace.”
“William never ceased teaching peace, but rather, his commitment has broken the chain of violence,” he said, recalling how Quijano had always insisted that ending violence begins with the youth, and so dedicated himself to working with children.
Hernandez said his friend “never spoke of repression or revenge against the gangs, but insisted on the need for a change in mentality.”
“In every existential periphery, William bore witness to his hope in a different world, founding himself on the Gospel and the most human virtues, on the centrality of closeness,” he said, adding: “this is the greatest gift of that the small life of William Alfredo Quijano Zetino, my friend.”
Vatican City, Apr 20, 2017 / 08:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent a letter to the president of Brazil, apologizing for his inability to visit in 2017 and encouraging the leader's attention to the country's social issues.
“Since in his letter President Temer made reference to his efforts to confront the social problems of the country, the Pope underlined that aspect and encouraged him to work for the promotion of the country's poorest people,” the Vatican press office said April 4, confirming a letter the Pope sent a few days before.
President Michael Temer invited Pope Francis to visit Brazil for the 300th anniversary of a Marian apparition known as Our Lady of Aparecida.
The story behind the apparition involves a clay statue of Mary Immaculate that was caught by three fishermen in October 1717 in preparation for a feast dedicated to royalty passing through the town.
Guarantinqueta, a small city along the Paraiba River, was expecting to receive the Count of Assumar on his travels to a gold mining site in Vila Rica.
The feast required a vast amount of fish, but it was not the season for it and weather conditions proved to be a challenge. After a night of fishing, the men caught nothing.
Having prayed to our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the fishermen first brought up the body of the statue and then the head. After the statue was brought up, the men decided to pray with faith to “Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida” – which means Our Lady of the Appeared Conception. Their nets suddenly became very full, and the catch has been considered a miracle.
During an inauguration of a statue of Aparecida at the Vatican Gardens in 2016, Pope Francis said he did not know when he would be able to visit Aparecida in Brazil again “but at least I will have her very close, here.” The new statue was designed by a Brazilian artist and depicted Our Lady of Aparecida next to the three men with full nets of fish.
The Pope said Our Lady of Aparecida is close to the heart of the working class, “especially those who need work, education, those who are deprived of dignity.”
He encouraged President Temer's for the efforts made to resolve the county's social issues, reiterating Aparecida's closeness to the poor.
President Michael Temer was brought into office last August when his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached from office for an alleged abuse of power. Brazil's economy has been in its worst recession since the 1980s; inflation increased by 10.7 percent and unemployment increased to 9 percent in 2015. Prices for Brazilian oil, iron ore, and soya also dropped.
Since his induction into office, Temer has aimed to reduce the country's spending and the level of public debt.
Vatican City, Apr 20, 2017 / 10:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Time Magazine has released its 2017 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Pope Francis is among the leaders highlighted by the publication.
The nomination included a brief reflection on Pope Francis, written by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, who reflected on the Pope’s humility, saying that his powerful witness is what attracts so many people to his message.
Cardinal Cupich recalled that in his first interview after being elected to the pontificate, Pope Francis acknowledged himself as a sinner, and that when he hears confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica, he also goes to confession himself, “because one cannot accompany a suffering world without acknowledging one’s own faults.”
“The same goes for the church Francis leads,” the cardinal reflected. “Before being elected Pope, Francis gave a speech to his fellow Cardinals warning against becoming a ‘self-referential’ church, rather than one that goes out of itself to the margins of society to be with those who suffer.”
“That is where God is working in the world and where he calls us to be. This has rung especially true this year, as Francis has spoken out on the need to welcome refugees amid a global crisis,” he continued.
Other people on the Time Magazine list include U.S. President Donald Trump, actress Viola Davis, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, NBA star LeBron James, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Fatima, Portugal, Apr 20, 2017 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The niece of Blessed Franciso and Jacinta Marto has voiced excitement for the coming canonization of her relatives, sharing stories of the time of the Fatima apparitions and personal memories of what it was like growing up in a family that had saints among its members.
“My family, my grandparents, my parents, all of us always accepted it as a gift from God,” Jacinta Pereiro Marto told CNA in an interview.
“God chose my uncle and aunt because this is what he wanted, so much that my grandfather used to say that the Virgin wanted to come to Fatima and she chose his children, but that we didn't deserve anything,” she said.
Because of this attitude instilled in the family by her grandfather – father to Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto – “we always lived very simply because God chose, and he chooses who he wants. We don't deserve anything.”
Marto, 74, is the daughter of Joao Marto, the brother of Fatima visionaries Bl. Francisco and Jacinta, and she shares the exact same name as her saintly aunt.
Just two years older than Francisco, Joao was the closest in age to the two out of the many Marto siblings.
Bl. Francisco and Jacinta this year will become the youngest non-martyrs in the history of the Church to be canonized after witnessing apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as the Our Lady of Fatima, alongside their elder cousin Lucia dos Santos in 1917.
In her interview with CNA, Marto said that she had “the joy” of being born in the same family home as Francisco and Jacinta, and to grow up there, since her father Joao continued to live in the house with his elderly parents.
“They always instilled in me a great love for God and for the Virgin, a life of simplicity, of belief and of religiosity,” she said, speaking of her grandparents.
Their home remains the property of the family, but is now open for visitors and pilgrims to see where the visionaries grew up. Across the street, Marto runs a souvenir shop and a small museum-of-sorts containing original photos and artifacts belonging to the family, including shawls used by Jacinta, the rosary Francisco prayed with before dying, and the bed he passed away in.
Marto said that it is thanks to her grandmother Olimpia Marto, mother of Franciso and Jacinta, that she received the same name as her aunt. Olimpia had wanted a grandchild that shared the exact same name as her saintly daughter, and was told by Joao's wife that the next girl they had would get the name.
So when Marto was born, her grandmother, who was also asked to be her godmother, chose to call her Jacinta.
“I feel very happy to be Jacinta,” Marto said, explaining that “I feel a very strong presence and a great protection from my uncle and aunt. I think that Jacinta and my uncle are protecting me.”
“I am no one, I sin like the whole world,” she said, “but I believe they are protecting me, I feel that they and Our Lady protect me.”
Recalling memories shared by her father, Marto said Joao had been present with Francisco and Jacinta at the apparition of Mary in Valinhos, which took place in August, “but he didn't see anything.”
“It was only Francisco, Jacinta, Lucia and my father, but he said that even though he opened his eyes and looked, he saw nothing,” she said.
Around the time Mary was to appear, Jacinta wasn't there at first, she said, explaining that when Lucia asked him to go find her, Joao “didn’t want to, because he wanted to see.” He eventually went to find Jacinta, and when she arrived Mary appeared, but even though he waited with them, Joao couldn't see anything.
Two months later when the “miracle of the sun” took place Oct. 13, 1917, Marto said her father, who was only 11 at the time, stayed behind that day because rumors were spreading, likely from other children, that “if the miracle of the sun didn't happen the whole family would die.”
In order to help the people believe in the authenticity of the apparitions, Lucia had asked Our Lady during the apparition of July 13, 1917, to perform a miracle so people would see that they were true.
However, on that occasion Mary responded by saying that should the children continue to come each month until October, the miracle would occur. So on Oct. 13, the last apparition of Mary to the children, 30-100,000 people gathered to witness the miracle.
News reports and witnesses from the time said the miracle took place when the formerly cloudy sky parted and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disk in the sky. Multicolored lights flashed across the landscape and those present before the sun then spun toward earth and then zig-zagged back to its normal position in the sky. Additionally, clothes and mud previously wet from the rain had dried.
But while many members of their family were present for the miracle, Marto said her father “stayed at home (because) he was afraid to die” if the miracle didn't happen, as the rumors had stated.
At just 11 years old, Marto said her father didn't understand everything that was going on, but that after Francisco and Jacinta died, “my father said that he cried a lot, a lot. Because he saw that everything they said was happening.”
Speaking of her grandparents, Marto said her grandfather Manuel, father of Francisco and Jacinta, didn’t initially understand some of what was happening either, but had always believed his children were telling the truth.
Jacinta was the first one to tell her parents about seeing Mary after coming home from the first apparition, Marto said, explaining that when people began to say the children had made everything up, her grandfather would respond saying: “My children are not liars. I taught them, so if they say they saw, I think they saw.”
After the first appearance Manuel accompanied his children to the following apparitions, and although he didn’t see anything, “he said that he heard a sound, like a bee inside a jar.”
He was also present for the miracle of the sun, Marto said, explaining that “if he believed before, he continued to believe” after.
Marto said that for her, this belief was extraordinary, because “my grandparents weren't at the beatification, none of it. When their children died they were known, but not with the fame of sanctity.”
“So they thought their children were a little different from the others, but they didn't know how it was going to be. It was a question every day,” she said, but noted that her grandfather in particular “always believed.”
Referring to news of the acceptance of a second miracle allowing for the canonization of her uncle and aunt, Marto said she feels “a big joy” knowing they will be proclaimed saints. The two will be canonized May 13, during Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Portugal.
However, she stressed that the news “is not only for the family, it’s for Portugal and the whole world. Because Our Lady came for the world, and they were a message for the world.”
“I sometimes ask myself how two children that were seven and nine years old managed to capture and respond to the message of God. They had a message and assumed this message,” she said, noting that Francisco was all about “praising God, adoring God, worshiping God.”
Jacinta, however, was primarily concerned with conversion, and wanted that “everyone return to God, that everyone convert, that everyone went to heaven.”
“She lived this in anguish,” Marto said, explaining that she often asked herself: “we who have all these means of communication, we know what is happening in the world, all the suffering in the world, we see it on television…and what do we do?”
At just 7-years-old Jacinta had visions of wars, famines and persecutions, and as a result she “assumed the responsibility” of offering and making sacrifices so that everyone could be saved.
“And us? What are we doing?” she said, stressing that with television and social media it's not necessary to have a vision of the suffering and tragedy in the world, but “we are part of this humanity and we are a bit responsible for everyone. Sometimes we don’t think well about this.”
Marto said that for her, she believes the core of the Our Lady of Fatima's message is that she came “that we might return to God. That we don’t forget that God loves us, but that we have to praise him and must give thanks to him.”
In addition to this, “we must pray for each other,” she said, explaining that in her instructions to the children, Mary “didn’t ask many things that we can’t do.”
Pointing to the rosary, she said that according to Lucia, Mary asked that people pray it because “it's an easy prayer,” and can be recited at church, in the car or while walking.
If someone isn't able to pray the rosary, Marto suggested at least trying to pray one Hail Mary and Our Father a day, to honor Mary and give thanks to God “for being our friend.”
“God loves us very much and at times sends us his mother to refresh us a bit in order continue,” she said, explaining that “God wants us to be a bit better every day. Because we are always sinners, we are not perfect, but try to be a bit better every day.”
Marto said that she hopes to be present for Pope Francis' visit to Fatima for the centenary of the apparitions in May. Having attended the beatification of her uncle and aunt in 2000, she said she also hopes to be present for the May 13 canonization of the visionaries.
She received communion from Bl. Pope Paul VI when he became the first Pope to visit Fatima in 1967, and was also present for the visit of St. John Paul II in 1982, but was farther away.
Although she wasn't able to attend Mass when Benedict XVI came in 2010, she hopes to have a good seat at Mass with Francis, and “to be close to him.”
Vatican City, Apr 20, 2017 / 03:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his trip to Portugal for the centenary of the Fatima Marian apparitions next month, Pope Francis will canonize visionaries Francisco and Jacinta Marto, making them the youngest non-martyrs to ever be declared saints.
The children will be canonized during Pope Francis' May 13 Mass in Fatima. The decision for the date was made during a April 20 consistory of cardinals, which also voted on the dates of four other canonizations, in addition to that of Francisco and Jacinta, that will take place this year.
Some martyrs who will soon be saints are diocesan priests Andrea de Soveral and Ambrogio Francesco Ferro, and layman Matteo Moreira, killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil in 1645; and three teenagers – Cristóbal, Antonio, and Juan – killed in hatred of the faith in Mexico in 1529, who will be canonized October 15.
Bl. Angelo da Acri, a Capuchin priest who died in October 1739, and Faustino Míguez, a Piarist priest who founded the Calasanziano Institute of the Daughters of the Divine Shepherd, will also be canonized October 15.
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, is the man who was largely responsible for advancing the visionaries’ cause, paving the way for them to become the first canonized children who were not martyred.
Previously, the Portuguese cardinal told CNA, children were not beatified, due to the belief “that children didn’t yet have the ability to practice Christian heroic virtue like adults.”
But that all changed when the cause for Francisco and Jacinta Marto arrived on his desk.
Francisco, 11, and Jacinta, 10, became the youngest non-martyr children in the history of the Church to be beatified when on May 13, 2000, the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Pope John Paul II proclaimed them "Blessed," officially showing that young children can become Saints.
The brother and sister, who tended to their family’s sheep with their cousin Lucia Santo in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima.
During the first apparition, which took place May 13, 1917, Our Lady asked the three children to pray the Rosary and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. The children did this and were known to pray often, giving their lunch to beggars and going without food themselves. They offered up their sacrifices and even refrained from drinking water on hot days.
When Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with the Spanish flu in October 1918, Mary appeared to them and said she would to take them to heaven soon.
Bed-ridden, Francisco requested and received his first Communion. The following day, Francisco died, April 4, 1919. Jacinta suffered a long illness and was eventually transferred to a Lisbon hospital, where she underwent an operation for an abscess in her chest. However, her health did not improve and she died Feb. 20, 1920.
Francisco and Jacinta “practiced Christian virtue in a heroic way,” Cardinal Martins said, explaining that among other things, one of the most obvious moments in which this virtue was apparent for him was when the three shepherd children were arrested and intimidated by their mayor on August 13, 1917.
Government stability in Portugal was rocky following the revolution and coup d’état that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and subsequent establishment of the First Portuguese Republic in 1910.
A new liberal constitution separating Church and state was drafted under the influence of Freemasonry, which sought to omit the faith – which for many was the backbone of Portuguese culture and society – from public life.
It was in this context that, after catching wind of the Virgin Mary’s appearance to Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, district Mayor Artur de Oliveira Santos had the children arrested on the day Mary was to appear to them, and threatened to boil them in hot oil unless they would confess to inventing the apparitions.
At one point in the conversation at the jailhouse, Jacinta was taken out of the room, leaving Francisco and Lucia alone. The two were told that Jacinta had been burned with hot oil, and that if they didn’t lie, the same would happen to them.
However, instead of caving to the pressure, the children said: “you can do whatever you want, but we cannot tell a lie. Do whatever you want to us, burn us with oil, but we cannot tell a lie.”
“This was the virtue of these children,” Cardinal Martins said, noting that to accept death rather than tell a lie is “more heroic than many adults.”
“There’s a lot to say on the heroicness of children,” he said, adding that “because of this I brought their cause forward.”
Cardinal Martins was also the one to bring Lucia’s cause to the Vatican following her death in 2005. The visionary had spent the remainder of her life after the apparitions as a Carmelite nun.
Typically the must be a five-year waiting period after a person dies before their cause can be brought forward. However, after only three years Martins ask that the remaining two be dismissed, and his request was granted.
Although the diocesan phase of the cause has already been finished, Cardinal Martins – who knew the visionary personally – said Lucia’s process will take much longer than that of Francisco and Jacinta not only due to her long life, but also because of the vast number of letters and other material from her writings and correspondence that needs to be examined.
The cardinal, who will be present in Fatima with the Pope during his May 12-13 visit for the centenary of the apparitions, said he views the occasion as the conclusion of a process that began with him changing a norm regarding the view of children "and their heroic virtue.”
This process is important, he said, because it means there could be other children who practiced heroic virtue that can now be canonized, so “it’s certainly something important.”
“It needs to be seen that (children) are truly capable of practicing heroic virtue,” not only in Fatima, but “in the Christian life,” he said.
Although canonizations, apart from a few exceptions, are typically held in Rome, it was only recently that beatifications began to be held outside of Rome, in the local Church which promoted the new Blessed's cause.
This change was made by Cardinal Martins in September 2005, after receiving the approval of Benedict XVI.
In the past, a beatification Mass in Rome would be presided over by the Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints during the morning, with the Pope coming down to the basilica to pray to the new Blessed in the afternoon. Cardinal Martins said he decided to change this because the beatification and the canonization “are two different realities.”
“While the canonizations had a more universal dimension of the Church, the beatifications have a more local dimension, where they (the Blessed) came from,” he said, noting that this is reflected even in the words spoken during the rites for each Mass.
“Because of this, I made a distinction: the beatification in their (the Blessed’s) own church, in their diocese, and the canonizations in Rome.”
The result was “a fantastic revolution,” he said, explaining that while maybe 2-3,000 people would participate in the beatification ceremonies in Rome, hundreds of thousands started to come for the local beatification Masses of new Blessed in their home dioceses.
The cardinal said that “it’s beautiful” to see people – many times including friends and family members of new Blessed – join in honoring their countryman, asking for their intercession, and seeking to follow their example.
He believes the custom will remain like this, adding that it is beautiful particularly from the standpoint of evangelization.
“The new Blessed says to their brothers, many of whom they knew, ‘I am one of you, one like you, so you must follow my path and live the Gospel in depth’,” the cardinal said, explaining that this is “a formidable act of evangelization, and with everyone happy about the new Blessed, they’ll immediately do what they say!”
Cardinal Martins said the decision was also prompted by the emphasis placed on local Churches during the Second Vatican Council.
“I thought, one of the most effective ways to highlight the importance of local Churches is to conduct in the local diocese the beatification of one of their sons,” he said.
Vatican City, Apr 19, 2017 / 06:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As the Church jumps into the Easter season, Pope Francis Wednesday offered a reflection on Christ’s Resurrection and the start of Christianity, saying it’s not about us and what we do, but what the Lord has done for us.
“(Christianity) is not so much our search for God, but rather God's search for us. How beautiful to think that Christianity, essentially, is this!”
Jesus, the Pope said April 19, “has taken us, has seized us, has conquered us in order to not leave us anymore.”
In his catechesis for his first general audience of the Easter season, Francis spoke about the “grace” and “surprise” found in our Christian faith, saying we need hearts able to wonder, because hearts that are closed-off cannot understand the truth of what Christianity is.
Even though we are sinners and might look at our lives realizing how many times we have failed to live out our good intentions, we can follow the example of the men and women in the Gospel on Easter morning, he said.
“We can do as those people spoken of in the Gospel: go to the tomb of Christ, see the large upturned stone and reflect that God is building for me, for all of us, an unforeseen future.”
And more, we can all go into the tomb of our hearts, he said, and see how God is able to transform death into life.
“Here is happiness, here is joy and life where everyone thought there was only sadness, defeat and darkness,” Francis said, adding that “God raises his most beautiful flowers in the midst of the most arid stones.”
Pope Francis then reflected on the start of Christianity following Christ’s death and resurrection, emphasizing that these events aren’t just an “ideology” or a “philosophical” belief, but real events witnessed by Jesus’ disciples.
These, he said, are the facts: “he died, was buried, is risen and has appeared. That is, Jesus is alive! This is the core of the Christian message.”
If facts had been different and Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, but only died for us, we would perhaps have an example of heroism or supreme dedication, but it could not be the source of our faith, he said.
Instead, our faith is born out of Christ’s resurrection, the Pope said, noting that this is true even for the faith of St. Paul, who was no “altar boy,” but actually persecuted Christians and the Church.
“And the persecutor becomes an apostle because?” he asked, explaining that the reason is because he saw the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus.
“This is the foundation of Paul's faith, like the faith of the other Apostles, like the faith of the Church, of our faith,” he said. “Because I have seen Jesus alive! I have seen the risen Jesus Christ!”
Francis closed his audience saying that Christianity comes not from death, but from God’s love for us in defeating our “bitter enemy.”
“God is bigger than anything, and you only need one lite candle to overcome the darkest of nights,” he said. “Paul cries, echoing the prophets: ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’”
“In these days of Easter, let us carry this cry in our hearts, and if they ask us for the reason for our smile and our patient sharing, then we can respond that Jesus is still here, he continues to live in the midst of us. Jesus is alive!”
Vatican City, Apr 19, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Existing in some form since several hundred years before Christ, the Latin language seems like an unlikely subject to still be generating brand new research, especially among young scholars.
Nevertheless, the theme this year of the Vatican’s humanities-themed contest, the Prize of the Pontifical Academies, is all about Latin. And the final winner – awarded 20,000 euros (more than $21,400) – will be chosen by Pope Francis.
So why does the Catholic Church care so much about promoting the Latin language? For quite a few reasons it turns out.
“In the Vatican some of the more important documents issued by the Pope and the Holy See are officially written in Latin,” Fr. Roberto Spataro, secretary of the Pontifical Academy for Latin, told CNA. The Church’s standard version of the Bible, called the Vulgate, is also in Latin.
Apart from this very practical reason, he said, through Latin we are also able to be in touch with the vast heritage of the Church throughout the ages and “discover that this very language has long been the medium of dialogue between faith and reason.”
The 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies is sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Academy for Latin, or Pontificia Acadamia Latinitatis, which was founded by Benedict XVI in 2012 through the motu proprio Latina Lingua.
“Pope Benedict … wanted to inspire the universal Church lest it forget Latin is the key of an immense treasure of wisdom and knowledge,” Fr. Spataro said.
This is the Church’s most recent document affirming the importance of the study and preservation of Latin, but by no means is it the only one.
In 1962, St. John XXIII issued the apostolic constitution Veterum Sapientia, in which he “solemnly stated” that Latin has three distinctive characteristics making this ancient language the “rightful language for the Roman Catholic Church,” Fr. Spataro said.
Just as the Church is by nature ‘catholic’, or ‘universal,’ the Latin language is also international, not belonging to one country or place; and because it is no longer a living language, it is also immutable.
This “makes it perfect for dogmatic and liturgical assessments as such intellectual activity requires a lucid language that leaves no ambiguity in expression,” he explained.
And finally, “it is beautiful and elegant, and the Church is always a lover of arts and culture.”
Organized every year by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies is on two themes: Methodological proposals for teaching Latin today, and the reception of ancient Christian Latin between the medieval and modern eras.
The first topic “is reserved to institutions (academies, schools, associations, foundations, research groups etc.) that are engaged in formative activity among the youth,” the Prize’s press release states.
The second is for scholars between the ages of 25 and 40 who have produced doctoral theses or publications on the theme in the last five years. The deadline for candidates and institutions to submit applications is May 12.
“After a thorough and detailed discussion among the members of the Academy, these two areas are chosen because they are seemingly inspiring,” Fr. Spataro said. “Many researchers are studying the influence of Classical and Christian Latin throughout the centuries.”
“Moreover, new and successful methodologies to teach Latin have been adopted in the last years over all the world,” he continued, “especially the so-called ‘natural method’ according to which Latin should be taught as a spoken language.”
Latin’s role in the Church’s liturgy is another important aspect of the language.
Fr. Spataro highlighted one point in particular: that the original editions of the liturgical books of the Roman rite are all written in Latin.
This is to ensure the “necessary unity in the Church’s official prayer. As a matter of fact, modern translations of these liturgical texts are based on the original Latin one,” he pointed out, so it is important that the Church has scholars to read and interpret them.
Fr. Spataro also pointed out that the number of groups who celebrate the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, or the Traditional Latin Mass, has seen continuous growth since Benedict XVI made it clear in 2007 that it had never been abrogated.
In this form of the Mass, Latin is used almost exclusively.
“This language, with its rhythm and melodic expression, contributes to create a fascinating atmosphere of sacredness and mystery and helps the celebrants and the participants to grasp the ungraspable, which is God himself,” Fr. Spataro reflected.
In addition to his work for the Pontifical Academy for Latin, Fr. Spataro is also part of the Pontificium Institutem Altioris Latinitatis at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.
The institute, established by Blessed Paul VI in 1964, “is for the profound studies on Latin which in some way or another shapes the face of our Church today,” he said.
“It is our greatest hope to introduce such wonderful language and tradition to the world,” he continued. He hopes there will be “more and more students, both lay and clergy from all around the world, of different countries and cultural backgrounds, to come to study with us!”
Vatican City, Apr 19, 2017 / 05:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday the Vatican announced the appointment of Msgr. Thomas Robert Zinkula as the new leader of the Davenport diocese in Iowa, and Fr. John P. Dolan as a new auxiliary bishop for San Diego.
In an April 19 statement published the same day as the Vatican’s official announcement, outgoing Davenport Bishop Martin J. Amos – who is retiring after having reached the age limit of 75 – said he welcomes the appointment of Msgr. Zinkula with “joy and great pleasure.”
“I introduce to you the answer to our prayers, Bishop-elect Thomas Robert Zinkula,” he said, after explaining that the appointment is an answer to the prayer the diocese has been reciting for the past 4 months, requesting “a pastor who will please you by his holiness and will show us your watchful care.”
Born April 19, 1957 in Mount Vernon, Iowa, Msgr. Zinkula has a hefty and diverse academic background.
After graduating from Mount Vernon High School, he eventually received a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Economic and Business from Cornell College in 1979. He later graduated from the University of Iowa in 1983 with a degree in Law, working for several years as a civil lawyer.
He then entered seminary, studying at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington before later obtaining a licentiate in Canon Law from St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada in 1998.
Zinkula was ordained a priest in May 26, 1990, for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, serving in various capacities including Parochial Vicar of Saint Columbkille Parish from 1990-1993 and Saint Joseph the Worker Parish from 1993-1996.
The bishop-elect then served as pastor of Saint Joseph parish in Rickardsville and administrator of the parishes of Saint Francis of Assisi in Balltown and Saints Peter and Paul in Sherill from 1998-2002.
He was also a judge for the archdiocesan tribunal from 1998-2000, after which he held the position of Judicial Vicar for the diocese until 2010. At the same time, Zinkula also served as pastor of Holy Ghost Parish and Holy Trinity Parish in Dubuque – positions he held until 2011.
The next post he held was Episcopal Vicar for the Region of Cedar Rapids, which he stayed in until being named Rector of the Saint Pius X seminary in Dubuque in 2014. He received the title of “Monsignor” from Benedict XVI in 2012.
Bishop Amos will continue to serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese until Zinkula officially takes possession of the diocese June 22 at Saint John Vianney Church in Bettendorf.
As for San Diego’s new auxiliary, bishop-elect John Dolan was born June 8, 1962, in the diocese he will serve.
He completed his studies in philosophy at the Saint Francis seminary and the University of San Diego in 1985. His theological studies, however, were done at the Saint Patrick seminary in Menlo Park, and completed in 1989.
Dolan was ordained a priest for the San Diego diocese July 1, 1989, and afterward served as Parochial Vicar for the parishes of Saint Michael in San Diego and Santa Sophia in Spring Valley.
In 1992, he was named Director of Priestly Vocations, a position he held for two years. In 1996, he was named pastor of Saint Mary Star of the Sea parish in Oceanside.
He then served as pastor for several other parishes around the diocese until his 2016 appointment as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and pastor of Saint John Parish in San Diego. In addition to English, the new bishop-elect also speaks Spanish.
Vatican City, Apr 18, 2017 / 07:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Just two months after Pope Francis faced intense backlash for his reforms when critical posters were plastered around Rome, a new set went up around the city over Easter, this time praising the Pope for his commitment to mercy and inclusion.
“Thank you Pope Francis! For your true Christian engagement with love and mercy, as demanded by Jesus so often in our Holy Bible.”
This was the phrase written on some 300 posters that were hung April 14 around Rome’s city center and near the Vatican, and which will remain until April 22.
Sponsored by The Global Tolerance Initiative, the posters referred to a website called “Love is Tolerance,” which explained that Pope Francis had been named by the organization as their “Global Champion of Tolerance Easter 2017.”
Written in both Italian and English, the posters call on all cardinals, priests and bishops to follow with love the “wise advice” of the Pope, and to “read our Holy Bible with open eyes, hearts and minds.”
The posters conclude with an appeal for everyone to “pray for you and the Church with a ‘thinking heart and loving mind.’”
In addition to the text, the posters also feature three black-and-white images of Pope Francis taken during the Pope’s historic visit to the Holy Land in June 2014, including one of him in a helicopter and one of his pectoral cross.
The overwhelmingly positive tone of these posters stands in stark contrast to the unsigned posters that appeared in Rome Feb. 4, criticizing Pope Francis for several recent decisions made as part of his ongoing process of reform.
Depicting a sour-faced Pope Francis, the posters read: “Ah Francis, you’ve taken over congregations, removed priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, ignored Cardinals…but where’s your mercy?”
Whereas the February posters were quickly covered by “abusive posting” signs and removed by the city of Rome, the posters praising the Pope have the city’s official stamp of approval, allowing them to stay up from April 14-22.
On the website, The Global Tolerance Initiative said that in addition to the 300 posters that went up around the city, another 700 have been handed out to priests, bishops, students, media and activists in Rome as part of a larger project intended to draw attention both to well-known individuals and the “unsung, hidden champions from different cultures.”
The photos of the Pope are part of the “Champions and the Art of Tolerance Project” by Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann – in cooperation with Esra Rotthoff and the recently deceased Tom Lemke – and depict the three photos together in the style of a three-paneled art piece, called a triptych.
Besides Pope Francis, other honorees on the site include the Dalai Lama, teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, and Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jordan.
The organization is calling the Pope Francis Easter posters “street art action,” intended to celebrate “a Pope of love, tolerance and mercy,” Hoffman said, according to the news site Globalo.
“We represent the majority of people, not only Catholics, who admire Pope Francis for his crystal clear vision of Christianity with a lovely smiling face of deep humanity,” Hoffman said.
Whether a Christian or not, Hoffman said “he is our Lighthouse of Hope Easter 2017.”
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has been a strong promoter of both ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, speaking frequently about the need to treat others – no matter their differences – with openness and mercy.
Easter was no exception. In his Regina Coeli address on Easter Monday, Francis preached about how Christ’s resurrection brought hope and life into the world, and how we are called to live that out in how we act toward our brothers and sisters around the world.
“In the midst of events that afflict the world,” he said April 17, “in the midst of worldliness that is distant from God,” we are called to show solidarity, welcoming and peace to people.
These are only human signs that we can give, he continued, but “inspired and sustained by faith in the Risen Lord,” we can gain effectiveness “well beyond our capacity.”