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Pope Francis: In the Eucharist we receive the grace to love

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 19:14

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2017 / 07:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ command to love God above all things, and your neighbor as yourself, saying that it is in the Eucharist that we receive the grace to carry this out.

“God, who is Love, has created us to make us part of his life, to be loved and to love Him, and to love all other people with Him. This is God's 'dream' for man. And in order to accomplish it we need his grace, we need to receive in us the ability to love that comes from God himself.”

For this reason “Jesus offers himself to us in the Eucharist...” the Pope said Oct. 29. “In it we receive his Body and His Blood, that is, we receive Jesus in the best expression of his love, when He has offered himself to the Father for our salvation.”

Pope Francis reflected on Sunday’s “short, but very important” Gospel passage from St. Matthew in his brief message before leading the Angelus with around 30,000 people in St. Peter’s Square.

In the Gospel passage, a Pharisee asks Jesus what, among the more than 600 Jewish laws, is the greatest. And Jesus, not hesitating at all, answers: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself."

The Ten Commandments, which were communicated directly to Moses by God, are a covenant with the people. And in his answer, “Jesus wants to make it clear that without love of God and neighbor there is no true fidelity to this covenant with the Lord,” the Pope pointed out.

In answering this question, Jesus is trying to help the Pharisees understand the proper order and importance of things, and how all other laws depend on these two.

“What Jesus proposes on this evangelical page is a wonderful ideal that corresponds to the most authentic desire of our heart,” he said. “In fact, that we have been created to love and to be loved.”

Francis emphasized that we can do many good things, follow all the laws, but if we do not have love it is useless. This is how Jesus lived his life: preaching and performing works always with what is “essential, that is, love.”

“Love gives momentum and fecundity to life and to the journey of faith: without love, both life and faith remain sterile.”

In fact, even if we have known the commandment to love from the time we were children, we must never stop trying to conform ourselves to this law, putting it into practice in whatever situation we find ourselves in, he concluded.

And as we try to live out this commandment to love, we can turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help, he said: The Holy Virgin helping us “to welcome into our lives the 'great commandment' of love of God and of neighbor.”

Religious freedom, not secularism, key to Europe’s future, Vatican official says

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 10:30

Rome, Italy, Oct 28, 2017 / 10:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In 2003, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was asked about his faith during a magazine interview.  As Blair began to offer an answer, he was interrupted, cut off by Alastair Campbell, the prime minister’s director of strategy and communications.

“We don't do God,” Campbell said. “ I'm sorry.”

Campbell seemed to know, in the not-so-distant past of European politics, that any public mention of religion was a serious taboo.

This week, as top ecclesial and political leaders gather in Rome to discuss the future and identity of Europe, Vatican Secretary for Relations with the States Archbishop Paul Gallagher said that religion is no longer a forbidden subject in European politics.  

“The days when you could say 'we don't do religion' are over,” Gallagher said.

“Many diplomatic services throughout Europe and elsewhere are now running courses, literally accelerated courses to make up time on religion,” he said, explaining that political leaders are beginning to recognize that “the world is a very religious place.”

Increase in religious affiliation worldwide continues to grow around the world, he said, explaining that this fact “brings with it a very big responsibility for believers.” 

“I think we have to take that responsibility very seriously, and make sure that religion is making a positive contribution, and that religion, and if you want to say even the Catholic religion, is a part of the solution and not the problem.”

Archbishop Gallagher spoke alongside German Cardinal Reinhard Marx at an Oct. 27 press conference on a major conference titled “(Re)Thinking Europe: A Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project,” taking place in Rome this week, drawing hundreds of high-level European Church and political leaders. 

Running Oct. 27-29, the conference is organized by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) in partnership with the Holy See, and will consist of a joint, constructive reflection on the challenges facing Europe.

Some 350 participants from 28 delegations representing all E.U. countries are in attendance, including high-level E.U. politicians and Catholic hierarchy, academics, ambassadors, representatives of different Catholic organizations and movements, as well as from other Christian delegations.

Responding to a question posed by CNA on the role religion can play in Europe given its Christian roots, Pope Francis' continuous call to go back to those roots, and the growing presence of Islam, Gallagher said he believes there is a growing awareness and recognition in the world of “the positive things religion does.”

Although Europe continues to grapple with a high influx of migrants, Gallagher said,“I think we have to stick to principles.  If we believe in religions freedom, then it is valid for a Hindu, for a Muslim or anybody, as it's valid for a Christian.”

The archbishop also said that, in his view, there is “often a great degree of misinformation and 'scaremongering' of the sizes of the Islamic communities around Europe.” The Pew Research Center estimates that Muslims constituted 6% of Europe’s population in 2010.

While Europe works to carve out a path forward, Gallagher said he believes religions will play “a positive role.” This, he said, is first of all because “we do recognize that some of the liberal, secularist thought that was part of much of our societies, is not in good health either.”

He said we have to “combat a lot of political correctness that exists within Europe,” as well as the tendency “to kick religion into the private sphere and not to allow it to be part of the public debate.”

“This is something which we obviously have to work on, and it is a work in progress,” he said. 

Also weighing in on the issue, Cardinal Marx, Archbishop of Munich, President of the COMECE and Coordinator of the Vatican's Council for the Economy, noted that 20 years ago many people thought “religion would disappear” from society. 

“That was the common conviction of many sociologists and politicians, that society will progress and religion will disappear; secularism.” However, “that's not the case.”

“Religions will be very important for the 21st century,” he said, explaining that a key question conference participants will have to ask themselves on the role of religions is: “will they be an instrument of peace and dialogue, or of confrontation?”

For Christians in particular, the Second Vatican Council said the People of God, the Church, are “a sacrament of unity for all human beings,” and not just those inside the Church. 

“We are not only for us, and the Pope is underlining this,” Marx said. “We are not narcissistic, inside ourselves, we are part of a solution for all human beings.”

“I do not see that the Church is 'less interesting' in the public world,” he said, and stressed the need to continue pursuing a dialogue with Islam, which he noted isn't new to Europe.

“So for the future, I think the Catholic Church has to play a very important role to find ways of dialogue, ways of relating to this religion, which is very important for the 21st century and Europe,” he said.

The cardinal said his greatest fear moving forward is not so much that religion will be ignored or eradicated, but that “it will be instrumentalized for other reasons, for political reasons. That will be perhaps the great fear for the 21st century.”


Pope to European civil and Church leaders: men and women are different

Sat, 10/28/2017 - 22:36

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2017 / 10:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a lengthy speech to civil and ecclesiastical leaders of Europe on Saturday, Pope Francis defended the family as being made up of a man and woman open to life – saying that this fundamental community is also a model for secular communities.

“The family is the harmonious union of the differences between man and woman, which becomes stronger and more authentic to the extent that it is fruitful, capable of opening itself to life and to others.”

“Secular communities, likewise, are alive when they are capable of openness, embracing the differences and gifts of each person while at the same time generating new life, development, labor, innovation and culture,” the Pope said Oct. 28.

In the family we find an example for all types of community, he continued, where “diversity is valued and at the same time brought into unity.”

In this way, the person and community “are thus the foundations of the Europe that we, as Christians, want and can contribute to building,” he emphasized in an audience for a Vatican-sponsored conference on the future of Europe.

Taking place in Rome Oct. 27-29, “(Re)Thinking Europe: A Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project” gathered together hundreds of high-level Church and E.U. political leaders, including academics, ambassadors, bishops and European politicians.

The Pope has addressed E.U. leaders several times over the last few years, beginning in Strasbourg, France in November 2014.

His most recent address took place in March of this year, when he spoke on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community and is one of the two most important treaties in the modern-day European Union (EU).

In a departure from his earlier speeches, however, Francis did not appeal to the “Christian roots” or cultural patrimony of Europe, but instead focused specifically on what the “Christian contribution” is and can be for Europe, specifically in politics.

He pointed to the common secular philosophy that seeks to omit religion from the political sphere, calling it a regrettable “secularist prejudice,” which is “incapable of seeing the positive value of religion’s public and objective role in society.”

The result of relegating religion to merely the private sphere results in a “certain groupthink,” he said; one which appears frequently in international meetings and which “see the affirmation of religious identity as a threat to itself and its dominance.”

What this does, he said, is promote a false conflict between the right to religious freedom and other fundamental rights.

The Pope stated that instead, politics has a “fundamental responsibility” to favor dialogue, “in any form whatsoever.”

He pointed out that unfortunately politics is becoming a forum for conflict, dialogue being replaced by shouting and demands, the primary goal of the common good abandoned.

Extremist and populist groups, which are gaining ground in some countries, have made “protest the heart of their political message, without offering the alternative of a constructive political project,” he argued.

In the face of these challenges, “Christians are called to promote political dialogue,” he said, “especially where it is threatened and where conflict seems to prevail.”

Echoing previous messages, not just to European leaders, but also in general audiences, Francis urged Christians to be involved in politics, saying they’re called to restore its dignity, viewing it as a lofty service to the common good.

“This demands a suitable formation, since politics is not the ‘art of improvising,’” he said. “Instead, it is a noble expression of self-sacrifice and personal dedication for the benefit of the community. To be a leader demands thoughtfulness, training and experience.”

The Pope also emphasized that the European Union, at a time of crisis such as now, needs to work together to promote a positive future.

“A European Union that, in facing its crises, fails to recover a sense of being a single community that sustains and assists its members – and not just a collection of small interest groups – would miss out not only on one of the greatest challenges of its history, but also on one of the greatest opportunities for its own future,” he said.

Civil, ecclesial leaders of Europe find common ground in their concerns

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 23:55

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2017 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The concern felt by both the Catholic Church and local civil leaders for the future of Europe provides an opportunity for collaboration in creating a better future, a high-level European politician said Friday.

“So if we both, political and Church, are concerned, then we surely have the capacity between us to make it better. This is what it's about,” Mairead McGuinness, vice president of the European Parliament, said Oct. 27.

“We're looking at ways of trying to listen, engage, move the conversation along, from a place where we're both concerned about the future of Europe.”

She spoke to journalists on the first day of a Vatican-sponsored conference on the future of Europe, taking place in Rome Oct. 27-29.

Titled “(Re)Thinking Europe: A Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project,” the conference gathers together hundreds of high-level Church and E.U. political leaders.

Some 350 participants from 28 delegations representing all E.U. countries are in attendance, as well as academics, ambassadors, representatives of Catholic organizations and movements, as well as other Christian delegations.

Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the E.U. (TFEU) requires dialogue between the parliamentary institutions and religious and non-confessional organizations. As vice president of the European Parliament, McGuinness said it is her job to look after this dialogue.

This has been “really uplifting,” she said, “first of all to know the depth of interest among the religious communities to have this engagement. And second, we can learn a lot by just listening to those who are in leadership roles and we can learn from each other.”

In a speech to open the conference, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Holy See is not indifferent to the problems and fate of Europe “and it will always want to offer its own contribution to the idea of the people of the continent.”

We must never lose sight of the fact that the foundation of the European Union is the many beliefs of the women and men who make up the continent, he said, ensuring that all ideas for the future are steeped in reality, placing the human being at the center.

“The E.U. Project is a human project,” he said, something which can’t be forgotten as Europe searches for a way forward.

As Europe faces uncertain future, ambassadors eager to exchange ideas

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 15:04

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2017 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ahead of a Vatican conference exploring the future of the European Union, several ambassadors to the Holy See have said the event is a prime opportunity to share ideas with those who are beyond their usual circles.

And the Church, they said,  is in a unique position to speak on major issues, offering key insights from which many global leaders could benefit.

Hungary's Ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg, told CNA that when exploring the current challenges that Europe is facing, it's important to recognize that there are different visions, “but that they are reconcilable, and that if you speak to each other you can march in a good direction.”

“I think the greatest enemy of Europe is the idea that everybody agrees on everything which is just one vision. It doesn't work like that,” he said. “We're a big family with many different members who sort-of agree on a general direction, but who may sometimes have different opinions on things.”

Habsburg, who will be leading an Italian-language group during the conference, said he is looking forward to the discussion because “it's not going to be the usual people together; they are really going to mix (it up) so that you sit with people you don't usually meet.”

Because of this “there's no danger that everybody pats each other on the back in mutual agreement on everything, but you are really going to be exposed to different ideas and different geographic regions, and that's a very, very exciting prospect,” he said.

Added to this is the desire to more intentionally involve the voice of the Church, which is organizing the event. So another key goal, then, is “to bring Church people into contact with E.U. people to engage the Church more into E.U. business and topics.”

In comments to CNA, Irish Ambassador to the Holy See Emma Madigan said that given this year's celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome that established the E.U., “we want as many voices as possible involved in the future of Europe.”

“Europe is only strengthened by the engagement of thoughtful people, hearing their concerns and their criticism and their hopes,” she said.

The conference is an opportunity “for a broader and a deeper exchange of views among people of great experience and insight,” Madigan said, voicing her belief that the event “will benefit both from the different perspectives the participants will bring, but also the common ground they share in terms of the global challenges they identify and the fundamental values of dialogue, cooperation and inclusion.”

Titled “(Re)Thinking Europe: A Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project,” the conference takes place in Rome Oct. 27-29, and will gather together hundreds of high-level Church and E.U. political leaders.

It is being organized by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community in partnership with the Holy See, and will draw hundreds of civil and ecclesial leaders from across Europe and the E.U. to offer a constructive reflection on the challenges facing Europe.

Rather than an official congress with a formal concluding declaration, the event will be more of a frank discussion between the various stakeholders, as well as an opportunity to for the different parties to exchange ideas and opinions.

Some 350 participants from 28 delegations representing all E.U. countries are slated to attend, including high-level E.U. politicians and Catholic hierarchy, academics, ambassadors, representatives of different Catholic organizations and movements, as well as from other Christian delegations.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin will open the conference with a keynote speech Friday, and his address will be followed by a speech from former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox on the “crossroads” at which Europe currently stands.

From there, discussion will dive into topics such as the state of democracy in Europe and how to build bridges among the various E.U. member-states, as well as what kind of economy is best for Europe amid a changing world.

On Saturday, various ambassadors to the Holy See will chair discussion groups divided by language, so the various interlocutors can meet and exchange ideas with representatives from different countries and organizations, both civil and ecclesial.  

The conference will close with an audience with Pope Francis, who throughout his pontificate has been outspoken about his vision for Europe, including the need to “rediscover” the Christian roots of the continent and to find new, innovative and creative solutions to modern problems.

Habsburg said he is happy to see the bishops organizing the event, and that from the words the Pope has spoken, it's obvious that Francis “really cares about Europe, and the E.U.”

“I was present at the E.U. 60th anniversary meeting in Rome, and you could feel that he really cares about Europe and tries to engage in a dialogue,” he said.

As far as the conference and the role of Church leaders in shaping the future of the E.U., Habsburg said he believes the event was organized in part because the Holy See wants to “sensitize the local bishops conferences to E.U. topics in order to help governments.”

“My interpretation is that the Pope wants to expose Church members from different European states to major E.U. issues and make them a partner in the discussion,” he said. And coupled with this is also the fact that “one doesn't want religion to be pushed out of political talk and everyday reality in the E.U.”

“I'm very happy that this comes from the bishops,” he said, adding that “perhaps sometimes, through all the hectic everyday politics, you need those moments where you can sit back and look at the greater picture.”

In comments to CNA, British Ambassador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy noted that Pope Francis continually encourages “both the Church and governments to respond to the challenges that they see around them with compassion for the vulnerable and a strong sense of our values.”

“We support him in that,” she said, adding that the British government also welcomes the fact that European bishops and Church leaders want to contribute to the discussion on the future of Europe.

“It is important that the religious perspective on Europe’s future direction is heard,” she said.

Similarly, Madigan noted that Pope Francis' words about Europe have been strong, and that he has always sought “to challenge European leaders to create the best version of Europe they possibly can.”

Madigan, who has been Ireland's ambassador to the Holy See since 2014, pointed to what she has perceived as a “subtle development” in the Pope's approach to Europe the past few years, continuing to challenge, but with greater focus on “the extent to which Europe exemplifies values that should be more prevalent in the world than they are – peace, democracy, dialogue, cooperation and respect for human dignity and freedom.”

French Ambassador to the Holy See Philippe Zeller also commented on the poignancy of the Pope's message on Europe, particularly in his recent speeches.

Also pointing to the subtle change in the tone used by Pope Francis – who during his visit to Strasbourg in 2014 told E.U. leaders that a “grandmother Europe” needed to move beyond “outdated” systems, but in March was much more keen in highlighting the potential that Europe has for the future – Zeller said the March speech especially “was very well received,” particularly the reference to Europe's roots.

Noting how in his March speech Francis pointed out that the six “founding fathers” of the E.U. “were all engaged in, in a personal view of course, the Catholic religion, in Christianity,” Zeller said that to present this view is “very important right now,” as Europe is re-thinking its identity.

Both Zeller and Habsburg stressed the importance of remembering Europe's Christian roots.

It's crucial to introduce ideas based on “common heritage, on cultural roots,” Zeller said, and voiced his excitement at having the opportunity for leaders and politicians to have an open discussion about Europe, “which actually is not doing very well.”

“The E.U. faces real and difficult challenges now,” he said, so the idea of having a meeting among the episcopal conferences in Europe as well as political leaders is “very interesting and we are happy as European ambassadors to the Holy See to be associated and to share the views of these different conferences.”

Likewise, Habsburg said he believes that for Europe truly to advance, it must “go back to core values, and some of those core values, in my opinion, are the Christian roots of Europe.”

Both family and solidarity are two key values that need to be re-emphasized today, he said, adding that there has to be a careful balance “between doing things together and having a healthy respect of the differences.”

In terms of the message each country wants to bring to the discussion table, Madigan, Habsburg, and Zeller all voiced their desire to both share their own local experience on key issues, and to listen.

For France, Zeller said their new president, Emmanuel Macron, has a lot of ideas on the challenges Europe faces, including security and defense policies, economic and business policies, as well as the desire to reduce unemployment and increase trade opportunities.

“It's interesting for us to see that those ideas presented by our new president and government could be shared or could trigger some ideas” within the E.U., he said, and pointed to what he believes is a need to “re-introduce this aspect of common values.”

As for Ireland, which in many ways is facing a heightened sense of national uncertainty following the 2016 Brexit vote, Madigan noted that almost immediately after the result of the UK referendum was known, members of the E.U.27 met in Bratislava, where they recognized that “the E.U. is not perfect but it is the best instrument we have for addressing the new challenges we are facing.”

Looking forward, Madigan said the future of the E.U. “is inseparable from the future of the world,” and that as such, members must adapt to the new challenges faced not only on the continent, but throughout the world.

Europe is and must be “much more than a debate on institutions,” she said. Rather, “it is about achieving outcomes for all our citizens and the expression of our values in the world.”

Voicing his hopes for the outcome of the conference, Habsburg said his biggest desire is that “we should not talk so much about each other, but talk with each other, and most of all listen to each other.”

“I have the impression that some countries which are at times being perceived as being very critical of Europe or even rebellious, often only have wishes that could somehow also further the common European cause, but are often not listened to or are often drowned in lots of political narratives,” he said.

However, during the conference everyone will be able to speak up about their own ideas and visions of Europe, he said, explaining that discussion groups will focus largely on questions such as “what is your idea about the path of Europe in your part of the world? What are you dreams? Where could we go? What do we have in common?”

“It's a real serious stopping, sitting down together and talking, and I think Europe really needs that now,” he said. And while heads of state meet with regularity, the conference is unique in that so many people from different levels of both Church and state will attend and share ideas.

“So it's really going to be a very interesting experience,” he said. “I think this conference is an incredible sign of hope.”


Hannah Brockhaus contributed to this report.

Pope talks meaning of life in call with Space Station astronauts

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 00:53

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2017 / 12:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis conversed with astronauts orbiting earth on the International Space Station on Thursday, discussing questions as diverse as man’s place in the universe, the fragility of life and the planet, and international cooperation.

“Astronomy makes us contemplate the horizons of the universe and raises questions in us: Where did we come from? Where are we going?” the Pope said.

His first question to the astronauts: “What is your thought on man’s place in the universe?”

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli responded, saying that man’s place in the universe is a “complex question,” especially for him since his specialties are in the technical realm.

However, he noted that being in space has helped him to realize that the more humanity learns, the more clearly we can see how much we still do not know.

“I would love for people like you, not just engineers, not just physicists, but people like you (Holy Father) – theologians, philosophers, poets, writers... – to come here in space, and this will surely happen in the future, I would love (for them) to come here to explore what it means to have a human being in space,” he said.

Pope Francis contacted NASA’s International Space Station via a satellite call from the Vatican on Oct. 26. Aboard the space station are a total of six astronauts, including three Americans, two Russians and one Italian, who have been orbiting the earth, about 220 miles away.

Three will return to earth in December of this year, and the other three in February 2018.

Josef Aschbacher, director of the earth observation programs (ESA), told journalists after the call that for the astronauts, speaking with the Pope was an “experience of a lifetime.”

He said the Pope’s questions were all “very interesting” because they have to do with “our life, as humanity.”

For example, Francis asked the team what motivated them to become astronauts, and what they enjoy about being in space.

“Traveling in space modifies so many things that are taken for granted in everyday life, for example the idea of up and down,” he said, also asking if there is anything about living in the space station that has surprised them.

American Randolph Bresnik said that what gives him the greatest joy in space is being able “to look outside and see God's creation maybe a little bit from his perspective. People cannot come up here and see the indescribable beauty of our earth and not be touched in their souls.”

There’s an incredible peace and serenity to our planet when you see it in orbit, he said, and there are “no borders, no conflict, it’s just peaceful.”

He also said that from space you can see “the thinness of the atmosphere, and it makes you realize how fragile our existence here is.”

Pope Francis responded by saying that he loved that answer, how Bresnik had pointed out the earth’s fragility, how it’s a “passing moment,” the earth turning at a rate of 10 km per second.

The astronauts also spoke with Francis about their own diversity and how it is an asset in their work on the International Space Station.

“As we work here on the space station and in our international partnership, we hope that the example of what we can achieve together is an example for all the world and humanity,” Bresnik said.

Francis said that although our society is very individualistic, cooperation is essential in life, asking about examples of collaboration in their work.

The International Space Station is a great example of international collaboration, American Joseph Acaba replied, because the crew members are from different countries and cultures, and they work together, also communicating on a daily basis with control centers in the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada, and nine different countries in Europe.

“It's our diversity that makes us stronger,” Acaba said. “And I think we need to embrace who we are as individuals and respect those around us. And by working together we can do things much better than we can as individuals.”

The other astronauts on the call were American Mark T. Vande Hei, and Russians Aleksandr Misurkin and Sergey Ryazanskiy.

The encounter between the astronauts on the space station and the Pope was a fascinating intersection between religion and science, said Aschbacher, noting that science can assist in the search for God through its curiosity to better understand our world.

Science asks some of the same questions as religion, such as, “where we are from and where we are going and where do we live,” he said.

Roberto Battiston, president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), added that “there is no doubt that science is a way of searching for the truth” and though religion and science may have different ways of searching, they still have the same goal.

Pope Francis’ call marks the second time a pope has contacted astronauts in space. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI became the first when he called the International Space Station via satellite link, speaking with 12 astronauts for about 20 minutes.

In the call, Benedict asked the astronauts questions about what it is like to view the earth from outer space and if it gave them a new perspective on the importance of promoting peace and caring for our planet’s resources.


"The world needs to know that I don’t 'suffer' from Down syndrome"

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 15:01

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In her own words, Bridget Brown is “a self-advocate, an inclusion advocate, an actress… and a young woman with Down syndrome.” She also loves her life and wants others to know that each and every person is precious.

“The world needs to know that I don’t ‘suffer’ from Down syndrome,” she wrote in a letter to Pope Francis. “I have a full and wonderful life, and I am filled with joy to be alive.”

“I absolutely love my life.”

Brown met Pope Francis Oct. 21 as part of a Vatican-sponsored conference dedicated to catechesis for those with intellectual disabilities.

Titled “Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church,” the conference took place Oct. 20-22 at the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome.

Brown told CNA Oct. 20 that she was very excited to meet the Pope with her parents. She was also looking forward to speaking with him about “the right to life of babies with Down syndrome.”

Tragically, children with Down syndrome are often aborted, she said, pointing to the example of an August article from CBS News declaring that Iceland is “eradicating Down syndrome” through abortion.

“People with Down syndrome are so precious,” she said. “I love babies, and I especially love babies with Down syndrome.”

In a letter to Pope Francis, she said that her heart breaks when she thinks that she might be part of the last generation of people with Down syndrome and that “the world will never again benefit from our gifts.”

Brown noted that people with disabilities are often the first to be killed during genocides, and observed that Adolph Hitler’s mass killings began with the murder of disabled children.

“It seems to me we are doing the same thing to children with disabilities today in our country,” she said.

Even though Brown finds this to be discouraging at times, she said she still has hope, praying for those who think people with disabilities don’t have the right to live.  

“I believe in the sacred dignity of all people. And most people I know with disabilities can lead full and productive lives, just like me,” she said.

The right to life of people with disabilities should never be disregarded, Brown told CNA. “God said…that we have a purpose, no matter who we are. It’s not right to exclude or kill anybody, because we are part of the human race.”

Quoting Meister Eckhart, a medieval Dominican theologian, she said, “If the only prayer I say in my life is 'thank you,' that would be enough.”

Brown, who spoke at the conference Oct. 21, noted that she attended to help promote inclusion in parishes, hoping they will open their doors “to allow people with disabilities to be included in the Church.”

She hopes people walk away from the conference with a deeper realization that “people with disabilities have a purpose.”

More than that, she wants to move the conversation about people with disabilities beyond inclusion.

It’s about more than just the right to survive, she said, but about being able “to dwell in the possibilities, to have fun and full, exciting lives,” just like anyone else.


Related news:


#Iceland is 'eradicating' Down syndrome…by aborting everyone who has it

— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) August 17, 2017



Pope: Heaven isn't a 'fairy tale' – it's an embrace with God

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 17:40

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2017 / 05:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Wednesday spoke about the hope Christians have at the end of life, which is found in God’s promise to be with us at the moment of our death, and to give us eternal life with him in heaven.

“Paradise is not a fairy tale, nor is it an enchanted garden. Paradise is an embrace with God, (who is) infinite Love, and we enter thanks to Jesus, who died on the cross for us,” the Pope said Oct. 25.

“Where there is Jesus, there is mercy and happiness; without Him there is the cold and darkness,” he said, explaining that at the hour of death, “the Christian repeats to Jesus: ‘Remember me.’ And even if there is no one who remembers us, Jesus is there, beside us.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during his general audience, which he announced would conclude his year-long catechesis on Christian hope. He dedicated his address to a reflection on heaven, which is the ultimate “goal of our hope.”

He recalled, for example, the scene at Calvary, when Jesus was hanging on the cross between two criminals, and one, whom we call the “good thief,” had the courage to make the most humble request: “Remember me when you enter into your kingdom.”

The thief didn’t have good deeds to bring before the Lord, but he relied on the mercy of Jesus, recognizing that Jesus was “innocent, good, and so different from him,” the Pope said.

“That word of humble repentance was enough to touch the heart of Jesus,” the Pope said, noting that Jesus’ response – “today you will be with me in paradise” – is the only time the word “paradise” appears in the Gospels.

In this episode, “the good thief reminds us of our true condition before God: that we are His children, that He has compassion for us, that He is disarmed every time we show him the nostalgia of his love.”

Francis then recalled how Jesus’ words of hope to the good thief also give us hope for the end of our own lives.

Even when someone is on their deathbed and makes a final examination of conscience only to realize how many opportunities for good works they have missed, “they must not be discouraged, but trust in the mercy of God,” he said.

There is no person, no matter how bad, that cannot receive the grace of God, he said, adding that Jesus “wants to bring us to the most beautiful place that exists. He wants to bring us there with the little or great good that has been in our lives, because nothing is lost” that has been redeemed by him.

Jesus will carry everything still in need of redemption to his father, Francis said, including the faults and mistakes of an entire life, because “this is the goal of our existence: that everything is done and transformed into love.”

If we believe this, we don’t have to fear death, but can instead repeat the words of Simeon, who finally meets Jesus after a lifetime of waiting, and says: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.”

“And at that moment, at last, we will no longer need anything, we will not see in a vague way,” he said. “We will no longer weep unnecessarily, because everything has passed; even prophecies, even knowledge. But love no, that remains. Because ‘love has no end’”

At the end of the audience, the Pope reminded those present that the month of October is also the month of the Rosary, and offered a special reflection in this regard to young people, the sick, and newly married couples.

Speaking to youth in particular, Francis said “you know this Marian prayer is an occasion for you, dear young people, to penetrate more deeply the mysteries of Christ working in your life.”

And to the sick, he told them to “love the Rosary… because it gives consolation and meaning to your suffering.” To spouses, he noted that the rosary “becomes for you, dear new spouses, an occasion to experience that spiritual intimacy with God who establishes a new family.”

The tradition of sacred choral music needs to be 'revived'

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 12:08

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For one member of “the Pope's Choir,” the Catholic Church, while appreciating sacred music, has in some respects lost the art of singing it in her parishes, prompting the need for a revival of traditional style across the world.

“Coming from the UK, I'm used to a choral tradition, it's a great Anglican tradition,” Mark Spyropoulos told CNA, noting that much of the sacred music they sing is written for great Catholic choirs, but “generally, across Europe at least, we've lost touch with that.”

“The cathedrals are mostly silent,” he said, and while the Vatican is an exception, “from a personal stance, as a choral singer, I would like to see that tradition revived” in Catholic choirs “because it's absolutely wonderful.”

Originally from London, Spyropoulos has been a member of the Sistine Chapel Choir for two and a half years, and is the first person from Britain to join the choir, which just returned from a tour in the United States, the first in 30 years, which included stops in Washington D.C., New York and Detroit.

“I would like to see our touring also promote something of a revival of great Catholic choirs,” he said.
He was present for the Oct. 24 presentation of the choir's annual CD, which this year is titled “Veni Domine: Advent and Christmas at the Sistine Chapel.”

When it comes to sacred music, Spyropoulos said he believes it has “a huge place” in the Church, and has much to offer, even outside of an ecclesial context.

Sacred music, he said, “puts young singers in touch with their history, their culture, and it's an inspirational thing to do, not just to be part of it, but to hear it.”

Whenever the choir sings, “our intention is that it should inspire people, that people would listen to it and be transported away from the mundane and the banal, and that their minds would be directed to something that is spiritual, beautiful and transcendent,” he said.

The singer shared that in his experience, there isn't just a need for sacred music, but also a desire for it, because “when we sing, people seem to be amazed.”

Simply being “the Pope's choir” is enough to attract people, Spyropoulos said, while adding that there also seems to be “more than that” fueling peoples' interest.

“This music has such a deep power to it,” he said. Using the image of a fresco as an example, he said that when people look at one, “it's incredibly beautiful, but when you sing this music it's not like looking at a fresco, it's like being in a fresco, it's like being painted in it – you have to create it, and people listen to that.”

Recalling the choir's recent tour of the United States, the singer said each of their venues were packed, and that highlights from the trip for him were singing in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, where they got “a standing ovation from thousands of people, that was wonderful.”

He also reflected on singing Evensong in the Anglican parish of St. Thomas on First Avenue, which he said was “a very special moment” given his own background and formation in the Anglican choral tradition.

The people they met in each city, he said, “were so kind and so generous to us all the way through... we were really welcomed so warmly. We had a great time.”

While no official plans have been made, Spyropoulos said there are rumors the choir will return to the U.S., perhaps traveling along the West Coast.

Why did Pope Francis write to Cardinal Sarah?

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 04:45

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2017 / 04:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- To understand the recent publication of a letter sent by Pope Francis to Cardinal Robert Sarah, it is helpful to understand the wider discussion into which it fits.

The letter was sent as a reaction to a commentary the cardinal wrote on the Pope’s motu proprio “Magnum Principium.”

With that motu proprio, issued this September, Pope Francis changed and amended those parts of the Code of Canon Law governing the translations of liturgical books into “vernacular languages.”

The document gave more flexibility to bishops’ conferences to propose and draft their translations, leaving to the Apostolic See to “confirm” their drafts.

At the time the motu proprio was issued, Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, released an official commentary, explaining that “the confirmatio of the Apostolic See is not to be considered as an alternative intervention in the process of translation, but rather as an authoritative act by which the competent Dicastery ratifies the approval of the bishops.”

Roche’s commentary went on to say that, “obviously, this presupposes a positive evaluation of the fidelity and congruence of the texts produced, with respect to the typical editions on which the unity of the Rite is founded, and, above all, taking account of the texts of greatest importance, in particular the sacramental formulae, the Eucharistic Prayers, the prayers of Ordination, the Order of Mass and so on.”

If things were so clear, why did Cardinal Sarah draft an additional commentary, and why did Pope Francis react so strongly to it?

These questions have no definitive answers, but there are some clues as to why these things happened.

Pope Francis’ push for decentralization

First of all, Pope Francis wanted to reiterate that his reform is intended to fit the de-centralizating goals of his papacy.

In Evangelii Gaudium, widely considered the playbook for Pope Francis’ pontificate, Francis wrote that “it is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound ‘decentralization’.”

With the letter to Cardinal Sarah, the Pope continued to pursue “a sound decentralization,” in this case, with regard to the liturgy.

The Pope’s letter stressed that “it should be pointed out that the judgment of fidelity to Latin and any necessary corrections had been the task of the dicastery, but now the norm grants to episcopal conferences the right to judge the quality and consistency between one term and another in the translation from the original, even if this is in dialogue with the Holy See”.

So, the Pope said, “confirmatio no longer supposes a detailed word-by-word examination, except in the obvious cases that can be brought to the bishops for their further reflection.”

Pope Francis and Liturgiam Authenticam

Pope Francis’ letter can also be understood best in light of his amendments to Liturgiam Authenticam.

Issued in 2001, Liturgiam Authenticam was the fifth of a series of instructions delivered by the Congregation for the Divine Worship, intended to implement the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

A note delivered by the Holy See Press Office in 2001, when the instruction was issued, helps to fully understand the instruction.

Liturgiam Authenticam was presented as “a new formulation of principles of translation with the benefit of more than thirty years' experience in the use of the vernacular in liturgical celebrations.”

Among these guidelines, there was the need “not to extend or restrict the meaning of the original terms” and to avoid “terms that recall publicity slogans or those that have political, ideological or similar overtones” since “the handbook on styles” cannot be uncritically used as “the Church has distinctive things to say and a style of expression that is appropriate to them.”

The presentation of Liturgiam Authenticam also stressed that “the preparation of translations is a serious charge incumbent in the first place upon the bishops themselves,” and so “at least some of the bishops should be closely involved” in the process of translations. Procedures for the approval of texts from bishops and the presentation of those texts for review and confirmation from the Congregation of the Divine Worship were clearly established, ensuring that translations done by bishops’ conferences would be vetted for fidelity at the Holy See.

In his letter to Cardinal Sarah, the Pope clarified that “recognition” and “confirmation” are not interchangeable, and stressed that “Magnum Principium no longer argues that translations must conform in all points to the norms of Liturgiam authenticam, as was previously the case.”

The Pope specifically mentioned n. 76 and n. 80 of Liturgiam Authenticam, which said that “the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will be involved more directly in the preparation of the translations into these major languages,” and that “the required recognitio of the Apostolic See is intended to ensure that the translations themselves, as well as any variations introduced into them, will not harm the unity of God’s people, but will serve it instead.”

Francis’ decision can be understood as a shift in focus to bishops’ conferences, which are entrusted with making faithful translations on their own, although a confirmation from the Holy See is still required.

The Pope wrote to Cardinal Sarah that “confirmatio is not merely a formality, but necessary for publication of the translated liturgical book: it is granted after the version has been submitted to the Apostolic See for ratification of the bishops’ approval, in a spirit of dialogue and aid to reflection, if and when necessary, respecting their rights and duties, considering the legality of the process followed and its various aspects.”

Was the Pope attacking Cardinal Sarah?
Can these clarifications be read as an attack on Cardinal Robert Sarah?

It is no mystery that Cardinal Sarah’s approach to liturgy is not that of Pope Francis. Cardinal Sarah often spoke about a “reform of the reforms,” as did Benedict XVI, that would reform some liturgical practices and norms developed after the Second Vatican Council, without changing the Council’s teaching on liturgy.

On July 5, 2016, Cardinal Sarah delivered a speech at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London urging priests to start celebrating Masses ad orientem, often seen as a hallmark of the “reform of the reform” movement, and his words were interpreted as new liturgical directives.

A statement from the Holy See Press Office some days later explained that the Pope and Cardinal Sarah had discussed the issue, and that Sarah’s remarks did not constitute new liturgical directives.  

Despite this difference of views, Pope Francis’ letter to Sarah seems mostly a reaction to the fact that Cardinal Sarah’s “commentary” was leaked to several magazines. The letter ends with the Pope’s request to “provide this response to the same sites” where the Cardinal Sarah’s commentary was published, “and also to send it to all episcopal conferences, and the members and consultors of your dicastery.”

The Pope recognized that the commentary’s leak was “erroneously attributed” to Cardinal Sarah; it seems clear that Pope Francis does not consider Cardinal Sarah to be the “leaker” of the letter.

Cardinal Sarah’s commentary was first published in French, in the magazine L’Homme Nouveau, and then translated into several languages. A source within the Congregation for the Divine Worship shared with CNA that the commentary was initially sent only to the Pope, and shared by Sarah only with some high-ranking officials.

If this account is true, why was the letter leaked, and why was the Pope’s reaction so strong?

A debate that started long ago

Once more, it is important to go back to the beginning of the story, in January, when veteran Vatican watcher Sandro Magister reported that “directed by the secretary of the Congregation (for Divine Worship), the English archbishop Arthur Roche, a commission has been set up within the dicastery at the behest of Francis” with the goal of demolishing “one of the walls of resistance against the excesses of the post-conciliar liturgists,” namely “the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam issued in 2001, which sets the criteria for the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into the modern languages.”  

According to Magister, the agenda of the commission was established by an article drafted by the theologian Andrea Grillo, which apparently had the support of Pope Francis.

Grillo’s article criticized the way the instruction addressed the issue of the “too liberal translations,” and suggested that it contained the groundwork for Benedict XVI’s motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum,” which liberalized the use of the so-called “Extraordinary Form.”

According to Grillo, the fact that the phrase Summorum Pontificum is already present within Liturgiam Authenticam, together with the “new season of renewal” called for by the instruction suggests that it was the framework for the “reform of the reform” Cardinal Sarah advocated.

Grillo, however, said that “it is evident that a new season of renewal will be possible only overcoming the contradictions and nostalgic naivete of this act of interruption of the pastoral turn began with the Second Vatican Council.”

Apparently, the Pope felt he had to make sure that his understanding of liturgical reform is not sidelined by any other possible interpretations.

Though reaffirming the need for a confirmation of the Apostolic See, the Pope intended to show that he really aims for a decentralization, giving more responsibility to local bishops in the area liturgy. More, the Pope intended to show that there is no way to reverse the liturgical reforms he understands to be required by the Second Vatican Council.

In the end, the Pope himself, speaking Aug. 24 to the participants of the 68th Italian Liturgical Week, stated, “After this magisterium, and after this long journey, we can assert with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

The concern that some of those advocating a “reform of the reform” might really be reversing Vatican II’s liturgical reforms is ultimately – at least in part – the reason why Pope Francis reacted with an unprecedented public letter to Cardinal Sarah’s commentary.

Sistine Chapel Choir releases new album for Advent, Christmas

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 23:16

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2017 / 11:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the third year in a row, the Sistine Chapel Choir has released a new CD, which this year is dedicated to Advent and Christmas, and features unique scores based on historic manuscripts from the Vatican Library.  

Created in partnership with the classical music label Deutsche Grammophon, the album will be released Oct. 27 in Italy and is titled “Veni Domine: Advent and Christmas at the Sistine Chapel.” It will be released to the rest of the world a week later, on Nov. 3.

Music featured in the album includes a repertoire of scores from several Renaissance manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel reserve of the Vatican library.

A sample of singing we'll hear on the new Sistine Chapel Choir CD #music #Vatican

— Elise Harris (@eharris_it) October 24, 2017 It also features Perotin's “Beata Viscera Mariae Virginis.” Perotin, also known as “Perotin the Great,” was a European composer, likely French, who lived from around 1160-1230, and became one of the most well-known composers of his time.

The 16-track album also features the voice of Cecilia Bartoli, an Italian mezzo-soprano opera singer and recitalist, who is the first woman to have ever recorded with the choir.

Like previous albums, the CD includes several scores written by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, an Italian Renaissance sacred music composer who lived from 1525-1594, and is perhaps one of the most well-known composers of sacred polyphony.

The CD was presented Oct. 24 inside the Vatican Press Office by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Pontifical Household; Mirko Gratton, director of the Classical and Jazz Division of Universal Music Italia; and Msgr. Massimo Palombella, director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

In his comments during the presentation, Ganswein said that when the choir first decided to record CDs three years ago, he never imagined they would enjoy so much success.

The selection of songs included on the new disc, he said, “inspire an intimate joy and immerse us in a horizon of rare beauty that expresses, as St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori says, the joy of creation and of man for the birth of the Savior.”

What is especially unique about the Christmas album, he said, is that it is based on “translating into music the manuscripts present in the Sistine Chapel reserve of the Vatican Library.”

Ganswein noted that the Sistine Chapel reserve is “one of the larges archives of Renaissance music in the world,” where manuscripts from the greatest composers of this era can be found.

However, apart from shedding light on the historical significance of the music featured, Ganswein said the deeper reason for the CD is the “ecclesial service” the choir, like the rest of the Church, is called to undertake.

“A record production of this type is, in fact, an announcement of the Good News which acts through art, specifically music,” he said, adding that it hopes to inspire “a growth in the spiritual path and even a first questioning about He who is the origin of every beauty.”

It is also through music that the Church is able to go to the existential “peripheries” of the world and “offer to all a concrete possibility of encounter with a God who loves, forgives and wants for each one of us a life in abundance,” he said.

In comments to CNA, Palombella said this year's CD is important specifically because it uses the ancient manuscripts from the archive of the Vatican Library.

At times, study and research are seen as being opposed to music, he said. However, research actually helps improve the musical product, so that it is “accessible to everyone.”

Without study or research, a person can do pastoral work for the Church, but it will only be “for the moment” and cannot go deeper, he said.

Noting how retired Pope Benedict XVI has a strong appreciation for music, Palombella said Pope Francis “ is absolutely in continuity” on this point, and has both supported and encouraged their work because “it is directed toward evangelization.”

Music, he said, echoing Archbishop Ganswein, also has the ability to reach people on the peripheries, “because many people would never have access to evangelization if it weren't through music and art.”

As in previous years, all funds collected from sales of the CD will go directly to the papal charities.

This Facebook bot lets you 'Chat with the Pope'

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 18:06

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2017 / 06:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An initiative from the Vatican this month is inviting people to virtually connect with Pope Francis and learn more about Church missions and how to support them.  

MissioBot is an automatic chat system on Facebook Messenger, which helps guide users through a chat experience with words from Pope Francis. Through any computer or smart phone with the Facebook Messenger app, users can learn about mission projects around the world.

The participant then has the opportunity to pray for particular intentions or donate to specific causes, such as orphans or victims of famine. People will also be able to click on “Papal Wisdom” to receive snippets of advice from Pope Francis.

MissioBot is available for the entire month of October in commemoration of World Mission Sunday, Oct. 22.

In a press conference on Saturday, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, emphasized that mission work is an essential aspect of the Christian faith.

“In the Christian faith, there is a pulse that gives life to the body. If the pulse stops, we enter into crisis, shock,” said Cardinal Filoni, adding that the pulse of faith is mission work.

Every Christian is called to be a missionary in some way, he said, pointing to Saint Francis Xavier, who spread the Gospel by traveling to Japan, and Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, who supported missionaries through prayer.

World Mission Sunday was begun in 1926 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and is now promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies.

The Pope's message for the 91st World Mission Day was published by the Vatican earlier this year. Pope Francis said that World Mission Day “is a good opportunity for enabling the missionary heart of Christian communities to join in prayer, testimony of life and communion of goods, in responding to the vast and pressing needs of evangelization.” 

'An idolatry that kills': Pope Francis on greed

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 22:20

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2017 / 10:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis preached Monday about the idolatry of money, which causes us to ignore those in need, allowing others to go hungry and die while we turn money and worldly possessions into false gods.

Today there are people who are greedy for more money and worldly goods, people who have “so much,” but walk by “hungry children who have no medicine, who have no education, who are abandoned,” he said Oct. 23 during his homily at Mass at the chapel of the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta.

This is “an idolatry that kills,” that makes “human sacrifices” to the god of money, the Pope said.

“This idolatry causes so many people to starve,” he stated, pointing to the example of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people who have been displaced from their home in Burma, also known as Myanmar, due to ethno-religious persecution.

There are 800,000 Rohingya people in refugee camps, the Pope said. And of these, 200,000 are children. They are “malnourished, without medicine,” he said.

“Even today this happens,” he emphasized, noting how our prayers against idolatry “must be strong.”

We should pray: “Lord, please, touch the hearts of these people who worship… the god of money. Touch also my heart so I do not fall into” the same thing, that I can see everything clearly, he said.

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group who reside in the Rakhine state of majority-Buddhist Burma. They have been denied citizenship for nearly 40 years, and their persecution by the government has intensified in recent years.

Pope Francis has spoken out on behalf of the minority many times in recent years. In November he will visit Burma, as well as Bangladesh, where he will undoubtedly speak out for the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.

In his homily, he reflected on the words of Christ in the day’s Gospel from St. Luke: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

God who ultimately puts a limit on our attachment to money, Pope Francis said, since at the end of life it becomes worthless.

Many men worship money and make money their god, he continued, but their life has no meaning. “Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God,” Francis said, quoting from the Gospel of Luke.

God underlines this with “gentleness” in the end, he said. To make ourselves rich in what matters to God, “that is the only way. Wealth, [yes], but in God.”

Pope to Canadian youth: Let Christ lead you in the adventure of life

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 21:54

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2017 / 09:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a video message to participants in a youth forum in Canada, Pope Francis told young people to meet Jesus in prayer, letting Christ direct their lives – thus leading them on an incredible adventure.

“Young people, let Christ reach you,” the Pope said.

“Let Him speak to you, embrace you, console you, heal your wounds, dissolve your doubts and fears – and you shall be ready for the fascinating adventure of life, that precious and inestimable gift that God places every day in your hands.”

Continuing, the Pope encouraged young people to go “meet Jesus, be with Him in prayer.”

“Entrust yourselves to Him, give your whole life over to His merciful love, and your faith…will be the luminous witness of generosity and of the joy there is in following Him, wherever He should lead you.”

Pope Francis sent the 8-minute video message to youth participating in the Canadian National Youth Forum, which was held Oct. 22 on the theme of the upcoming 2018 Synod of Bishops, “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

The nationally televised forum was hosted by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and by Fr. Thomas Rosica, founder and CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.

In his message, Francis told the youth not to let people destroy and exploit the world – a world that reveals its beauty when people work together, looking for the good of each person.

“I invite you to flood the places where you live with the joy and enthusiasm typical of your youthful age, to irrigate the world and history with the joy that comes from the Gospel, from having met a Person: Jesus, who has enthralled you and has drawn you to be with Him,” he said.

He also said he wanted to remind them of the Jesus’ words when his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, where do you live?” and he answered, “Come and see.”

Jesus says the same thing to us, inviting us to come to him, he said, asking: Have you heard his voice? Encountered his gaze? Though “din and dizziness seem to reign in the world, this call continues to resonate in your soul, to open it to full joy,” he stated.

In order to respond to this call, you must discern God’s plan for your life, the Pope continued, a plan he has for each and every one of you. Even in difficulty or failure, God, “rich in mercy,” is always giving you his hand to help pick you back up again.

The Pope noted that some of these words were part of the letter he wrote to young people in January when he presented the theme of the upcoming Synod.

He emphasized that the world and the Church are in need of courageous young people, who don’t run away from difficulty, but face trials with “hearts open” to others.

He asked that they would not ignore their peers’ cries for help. “I count on your willingness, your commitment, your ability to face important challenges and dare to make the future, to take decisive steps along the path of change,” he said.

Concluding, Francis voiced his hope that the meeting between young people of Canada would be like the meeting of the first disciples, and that it would open them up to the beauty of a life spent following the Lord.

“For this reason I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like you, to whom God turned His loving gaze,” he said.

“Let yourselves be taken by Mary’s, and let her guide you to the joy of saying a full and generous, ‘Here I am!’ Jesus watches you and awaits a ‘Here I am!’ from each of you.”    


Religions in Jerusalem must live in peace, Pope says

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 16:26

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2017 / 04:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Meeting with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem on Monday, Pope Francis said that the different religions in Jerusalem must live together in peace, preserving dignity and rights so that suffering and violence can end.

“The Holy City, whose Status Quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all,” the Pope said Oct. 23.

He expressed his closeness to all those who have suffered due to the conflict affecting the Holy Land for many years. The uncertainty of the situation and the lack of understanding between different groups continue to create insecurity, he noted.

And this insecurity, along with a restriction of fundamental rights, causes people to flee from their land. “I invoke God’s help in this,” he said, “and I ask all those involved to intensify their efforts to achieve a stable peace based on justice and recognition of the rights of all.”

To do this, we must reject all violence, discrimination or intolerance against people of Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith and their places of worship, the Pope emphasized.

Pope Francis spoke during a meeting with His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, offering his greeting to all of the members of the various Christian communities in the Holy Land.

He explained that it is his hope that Christians in the Holy Land will continue to be recognized as an integral part of the society and that they may continue to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace.

“This contribution will be the more effective to the extent that there is harmony among the region’s different Churches. Particularly important in this regard would be increased cooperation in supporting Christian families and young people, so that they will not be forced to leave their land,” he said.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem had an audience with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome Oct. 22-25. He was accompanied by Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina and Archdeacon Markos.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Theophilos III have met on two previous occasions. Once during the Pope's pilgrimage to Jerusalem in May 2014 and again in June of the same year during an Invocation for Peace held in the Vatican Gardens.

In their meeting Monday, Francis said that we must continue to look toward the future and toward reconciliation, not letting ourselves get bogged down by past failures and mistakes. “I know that past wounds continue to affect the memory of many people,” he said.

“It is not possible to change the past, but, without forgetting grave failures of charity over the centuries, let us look to a future of full reconciliation and fraternal communion, and take up the work before us, as the Lord desires.”

The Pope explained that to not take up our work of reconciliation and communion today would be “an even graver fault,” because to do this would be to disregard “the urgent call of Christ.”

“May we not let the memory of times marked by lack of communication or mutual accusations, or present difficulties and uncertainty about the future, prevent us from walking together towards visible unity,” he continued.

We also shouldn’t let it keep us from praying and working together to serve those in need and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

After their meeting, Patriarch Theophilos also met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

He also met with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“Here,” the Pope said, “I would reaffirm my heartfelt desire and commitment to progress on our way to full unity, in obedience to Jesus’ fervent prayer in the Cenacle ‘that they may all be one… so that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).”

He pointed out that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been an active and constructive participant in the ongoing theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, which he finds a “sign of hope on our journey.”

“How good it would be to say of Catholics and Orthodox living in Jerusalem,” he said, “what the Evangelist Luke said of the first Christian community: ‘All who believed were together… one heart and soul’ (Acts 2:44, 4:32).”

Concluding his speech, the Pope thanked Theophilos for his visit and reaffirmed his closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.

“I hope and pray that the day of a stable and lasting peace for all will soon come,” he said.

Pope offers clarifications on new process for liturgical translations

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 00:43

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2017 / 12:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a letter responding to questions raised by Cardinal Robert Sarah on the new process of translating liturgical texts from Latin into vernacular languages, Pope Francis offered several points of clarification.

The Pope discussed points regarding the approval of new translations and the relationship between translations and Latin texts.

He clarified that while in the past, it was the task of the Vatican's liturgical office to judge whether or not a translation is faithful to the original Latin, episcopal conferences themselves have now been given the faculty of “judging the goodness and consistency of one and the other term in the translations from the original, in dialogue with the Holy See.”

Dated Oct. 15, the Pope's letter was in response to one he had received from Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the end of September thanking the Pope for his recent motu proprio “Magnum Principium” (MP) on the translation of liturgical texts, and offering a commentary on how to interpret the motu proprio.

The motu proprio, published Sept. 9, granted episcopal conferences the task of both preparing and approving texts that had been “faithfully” translated from the original Latin, while cementing the role of the Apostolic See in confirming the translations approved by bishops.

In his commentary, Cardinal Sarah had argued that the new process for translating liturgical texts still follows the rules put into place with the 2001 Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (LA), which said the vernacular versions must faithfully reflect the language and structure of the Latin texts.

Sarah also looked at the role of the Holy See and bishops' conferences in both “recognizing” (recognitio) and “confirming” (confirmatio) modifications to liturgical texts, arguing that the term “recognitio” used in the new canons involves adaptions of texts, while “confirmatio” involves translations.

Because of this, the terms are different, even if they are “interchangeable with respect to the responsibility of the Holy See,” Sarah said. He also argued that the “recognitio” of liturgical texts implies a preliminary consultation with the Holy See before translation processes begin, with the “confirmatio” of the Holy See being the final step.

In his letter to Cardinal Sarah, the Pope thanked him for his commitment and for sending the commentary, but offered some simple “observations” on the commentary “which I consider to be important, especially for the proper application and understanding of the motu proprio and to avoid any misunderstanding.”

The first point Francis made was that his motu proprio Magnum Principium “abolished” the process for translating used by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments after LA was published in 2001. Magnum Principium, he said, “sought to change” this process.

The Pope said of the terms “recognitio” and “confirmatio,” that it cannot be said that they are “strictly synonymous or interchangeable or that they are interchangeable at the level of responsibility of the Holy See.”

The distinction between “recognitio” and “confirmatio,” he said, emphasizes “the different responsibility” that the Apostolic See and episcopal conferences have in liturgical translations.

“Magnum Principium no longer claims that translations must conform on all points to the norms of LA, as was done in the past,” the Pope said, explaining that because of this, individual numbers in LA have to be “carefully re-understood.”

He said this includes numbers 79-84, which deal specifically with the requirement for a vernacular translation to have the “recognitio” of Rome. These numbers, Francis said, “have been abrogated,” and “re-formulated” with the publication of MP.

The “confirmatio” of the Vatican, then, “no longer supposes a detailed word-by-word examination,” he said, except in obvious cases which can be brought to the bishops for further reflection. This, the Pope said, applies to texts such as the Eucharistic Prayers or sacramental formulas.

Pope Francis said the new norms imply “a triple fidelity,” first of all to the original Latin text, to the particular languages the text is translated into, and to the comprehension of the text by its recipients.

In this sense, the “recognitio” of the texts only implies “the verification and preservation of conformity” to the Code of Canon Law and the communion of the Church, he said.

Francis also emphasized that in the process of translating liturgical texts, there should be no “spirit of imposition” on bishops conferences of a translation done by the Vatican's liturgical department.

The Pope said “it is wrong to attribute to the 'confermatio' the purpose of the 'recognitio,'” which is to “verify and safeguard” in accordance with the law. He also stressed that the “confirmatio” is not “merely a formal act, but necessary for the edition of the translated liturgical book,” and is granted after the version has been submitted to the Apostolic See for a confirmation of the bishops' approved text.

Pope Francis closed his letter noting that Cardinal Sarah's commentary had been published on several websites, and asked that the cardinal transmit his response to the same outlets, as well as to members and consultors of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Pope Francis: putting God first doesn't mean avoiding reality

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 17:18

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2017 / 05:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis spoke on the importance of both fulfilling our earthly duties and making God a priority, stressing that the two are never in opposition, but are complementary, with the primacy of God giving direction to our daily activities.

“The Christian is called to commit themselves concretely in human and social realities without putting God and Cesar into opposition, but by illuminating the earthly reality with the light that comes from God,” the Pope said.

Giving priority to God and having hope in him “do not lead to an escape from reality,” he said, but rather, “they make industrious that which belongs to him.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square for his Oct. 22 Sunday Angelus address, which coincided with both World Mission Sunday and the feast of St. John Paul II.

In his speech, the Pope centered his reflection on the day's Gospel reading from Matthew, in which the Pharisees question Jesus about whether or not is is just to pay taxes to Cesar.

This meeting constitutes yet another “face-to-face encounter” between Jesus and his opponents, the Pope said, noting that the “thorny” issue of taxes is supposed to be a trap.

However, rather than falling into it, Jesus offers a calm response and “takes advantage of the malicious question in order to give an important teaching, rising above the polemics and opposing sides.”

By looking at the image and inscription of Cesar carved onto the Roman coins and telling the Pharisees to “render to Cesar what is Cesar's, and to God what is God's,” Jesus on one hand says that paying taxes to the Roman emperor “is not an act of idolatry, but an act of duty to the earthly authority.”

On the other hand, in his reference to God, Jesus “recalls the primacy of God, asking to give him what is owed to him as the Lord of life, of man and of history.”

While the image of Cesar recalls our rights and duties as citizens of the state, the reference to God symbolically points to the image that is imprinted on every person, which is “the image of God,” the Pope said.

“He is the Lord of all, and we, who were created in his image, belong above all to him,” Francis said, asking pilgrims From the question posed by the Pharisees, Jesus derives a more vital and radical question for each one of us: “to whom do I belong?”

“To our family, our city, our friends, school, work, politics, or the state? Yes, certainly. But above all, Jesus reminds us, you belong to God,” he said, adding that the Lord is the one who has given us all that we have and are.

And therefore, in our daily lives “we can and must live them in renewed knowledge of this fundamental belonging and in the recognition of our heart to the Father, who created each one of us unique and unrepeatable, but always in the image of his beloved Son, Jesus,” he said. “It is a marvelous mystery.”

Pope Francis then led pilgrims in praying the traditional Angelus prayer. Afterward, he noted how yesterday Spanish martyrs Matteo Casals, Teofilo Casajús, Fernando Saperas and their 106 companions were beatified in Barcelona, and prayed that their “heroic example” and intercession would support Christians all over the world who today endure persecution and discrimination.

He also noted how Oct. 22 marks World Missionary Day, which was launched in 1926 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and is now promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Francis invited everyone to “live the joy of missionary witness to the Gospel” in their various states of life and urged faithful to support missionaries around the world either financially or through prayer.

To this end, the Pope announced that an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” will take place in October 2019 in order to “nourish the ardor of the evangelizing activity of the Church “ad gentes,” or “to the nations.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">During Angelus, <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PopeFrancis</a> announced an Extraordinary Missionary Month for October 2019  in order to “nourish the ardor&quot; of evangelization <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Elise Harris (@eharris_it) <a href="">October 22, 2017</a></blockquote>
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In an Oct. 22 letter marking the centenary anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XV's 1919 apostolic letter “Maximum Illud” on Catholic missions after the First World War, Pope Francis said the main aim for the missionary month is to foster “an increased awareness of the 'missio ad gentes' and taking up again with renewed fervor the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity.”

Addressed to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the letter noted that “Maximum Illud” had called on the Church to transcend national boundaries and bear witness, “with prophetic spirit and evangelical boldness, to God’s saving will through the Church’s universal mission.”

The Pope voiced his hope that the 100th anniversary of Benedict XV's letter would be an incentive to “combat the recurring temptation lurking beneath every form of ecclesial introversion, self-referential retreat into comfort zones, pastoral pessimism and sterile nostalgia for the past.”

“Instead, may we be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel,” he said, and prayed that in “our troubled times” of war and conflict, the good news that “forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear,” would be proclaimed to the world “with renewed fervor, and instill trust and hope in everyone.”

He also prayed that the 2019 missionary month would “prove an intense and fruitful occasion of grace, and promote initiatives and above all prayer, the soul of all missionary activity.”

“May it likewise advance the preaching of the Gospel, biblical and theological reflection on the Church’s mission, works of Christian charity, and practical works of cooperation and solidarity between Churches, so that missionary zeal may revive and never be wanting among us.”

In his comments after the Angelus, Pope Francis also offered prayers for peace throughout the world, specifically in Kenya, where there is ongoing debate over their recent presidential elections.

General elections took place in Kenya Aug. 8, and initial results showed that President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected with the majority vote. However, his main rival, Raila Odinga, refused to accept the result and fought it in the country's Supreme Court.

As a result, the vote was annulled and fresh elections scheduled to take place Oct. 17. However, the date of the new election was later changed to Oct. 26.

In his remarks, Francis prayed that Kenya would “know how to face the current difficulties in a climate of constructive dialogue, having at heart the pursuit of the common good.”

Missionary work begins with everyone, cardinal says

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 04:05

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2017 / 04:05 pm (CNA).- In a press conference ahead of World Mission Day, Cardinal Fernando Filoni stressed the importance of missionary work, saying that it is a necessary aspect of the Christian faith, and that it must begin with each of us.

“In the Christian faith there is a pulse that gives life to the body. If the pulse stops, we enter into crisis, shock,” he said Oct. 20. This pulse of the Christian faith is missionary work, “and this pulse also begins with us.”

Head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Filoni emphasized that all Catholics are called to be a missionary in some way, not only religious men and women and priests, but also young people and all laity.

For example, the two patron saints of missions are St. Francis Xavier and St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who were both missionaries in completely different ways, he pointed out.

The former traveled to Japan to spread the faith, while the latter stayed within the confines of a monastery, yet they were both great missionaries, each in their own way, he said.

To these, Filoni said he hopes to someday add a third patron saint, Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, a French laywoman who in the 19th century founded the Society of the Propagation of the Faith.

“Jaricot is a laywoman who realized the role of lay people in missionary life,” he said. And she not only recognized the importance of active missionary work, but also of prayer.

One of her first initiatives was to create “a crown of prayer” for missionaries, because she knew that missionaries, who work at the “outposts” of society, could not survive without a network of prayer for support, he said.

Filoni spoke to journalists just two days ahead of World Mission Day, which falls on Oct. 22.

World Mission Sunday was begun in 1926 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and is now promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies.

The Pope's message for the 91st World Mission Day was published by the Vatican earlier this year. Pope Francis said that World Mission Day “is a good opportunity for enabling the missionary heart of Christian communities to join in prayer, testimony of life and communion of goods, in responding to the vast and pressing needs of evangelization.”    
This is because “the world vitally needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

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

You can tell that mission is “deeply imbedded” in the Pope’s heart, Fr. Tadeusz Nowak, OMI, said in the press conference Friday.

Representing the Pontifical Missionary Societies, Nowak said that Pope Francis “would want all Christians to have this deep sense of longing to share the faith and allow others to encounter personally Jesus Christ risen from the dead.”


Pope slams 'eugenic' mentality that seeks to eliminate disability

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 16:47

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2017 / 04:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis issued a harsh condemnation of the underlying eugenic mentality in society that leads many to abort children who are are disabled, saying the Church must be a place of acceptance and welcome for all who are vulnerable.

While great strides have been made in recent years in terms of recognizing the dignity of every person, especially the weakest and most vulnerable, “at the cultural level there are still expressions that undermine the dignity of these people for the prevalence of a false conception of life,” the Pope said Oct. 21.

“An often narcissistic and utilitarian vision unfortunately leads not a few to consider people with disabilities as marginal, without perceiving in them the multifaceted human and spiritual wealth,” he said.

Far too prevalent in common thought is also “an attitude of rejection” toward people with disabilities, as if their handicap “impedes them from being happy and fully realizing themselves,” he said.

“This is proven by the eugenic tendency to suppress the unborn who have some form of imperfection.”

An example of this “eugenics” mentality is a recent article in CBS News claiming that Iceland has come close to being the first country to “eradicate” Downs Syndrome, meaning they are aborting every unborn child found to have the condition.

Pope Francis offered his comments to participants in a Vatican-sponsored conference dedicated to catechesis for those with intellectual disabilities, titled “Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church.”

Taking place Oct. 20-22 at the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome, the conference drew over 420 people who work in catechesis from professions and countries all over the world, as well as disabled people themselves.

Among the participants is Bridget Brown, a young actress, speaker and prolife advocate with Downs Syndrome. In a letter written to the Pope, Brown said her heart breaks to think that “I might be the last generation of people with Downs Syndrome.”

“The world will never again benefit from our gifts,” she said, explaining that she does not “suffer” from the condition, but is “filled with joy” to be alive.

Referring to German dictator Adlof Hitler and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. commemorating the thousands of people who died under the Nazi regime, Brown noted how people with disabilities were often the first to be killed.

“It seems to me we are doing the same thing to children with disabilities today in our country,” she said. However, despite being discouraged, Brown said she has hope for people with disabilities, and prays for people “who think we don't have the right to live.”

In his speech, Pope Francis said the response to this “eugenic tendency” must be one of love. “Not the false, clever and pious kind,” he said, “but the one that is true, concrete and respectful.”

To the extent that people with disabilities are “welcomed, loved, included in the community and accompanied to look to the future with confidence,” a true path of life develops and “lasting happiness is experienced.”

This goes for everyone, but even more so the most fragile, he said, adding that faith is “a great companion” which allows these people to feel God's presence closely, no matter their condition.

Francis said that as far as the Church goes, she cannot be “voiceless” or “out of tune” in the defense and promotion of people with disabilities.

“Her closeness to families helps them to overcome the loneliness which they often risk closing themselves into due to a lack of attention and support,” he said, adding that to have this closeness is even more important for those who form others in the Christian life.

Neither words nor gestures can be missing for “the encounter and welcome of people with disabilities,” especially in the liturgy, he said, because this encounter with the Lord and the community is a source of “hope and courage” on a path that isn't easy.

Catechesis, then, “is called to discover and experience coherent forms so that each person, with their gifts, their limits and their disabilities, even serious ones, is able to encounter Jesus on their path and abandon themselves to him in faith.”

“No physical or psychological limit can ever be an impediment to this encounter, because the face of Christ is shown in the intimacy of every person,” the Pope said, stressing that everyone, but especially ministers of the Church, must be careful “not to fall into the neo-pelagian error of not recognizing the need for the strength of grace which comes from the Sacraments of Christian initiation.”

The Church and her ministers must learn to “intelligently 'invent' adequate instruments” of catechesis to ensure that no one lacks “the support of grace,” he said.

Catechists must be formed, “first of all by example,” who are “increasingly able to accompany these people so that they grow in faith and give their genuine and unique contribution to the Church,” he said.

Pope Francis closed his address voicing hope that within the Christian community, people with disabilities can themselves increasingly “be catechists, even with their testimony, to transmit the faith in a more effective way.”

Though his speech was little over 10 minutes long, the Pope stayed with the group for more than an hour, personally shaking hands with participants. 

Don't sacrifice justice and family for efficiency, Pope tells business leaders

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 02:43

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2017 / 02:43 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis met Friday with leaders in business and civil society, telling them not to get carried away by wealth and the demands of the global market, but rather to promote justice by eliminating the root causes of inequality.

“We must ask the market not only to be efficient in the production of wealth and in the assurance of sustainable growth, but also to be at the service of integral human development,” the Pope said Oct. 20.

“We cannot sacrifice on the altar of efficiency – the 'golden calf' of our times – fundamental values such as democracy, justice, freedom, the family, and creation,” he said, explaining that instead, “we must seek to 'civilize the market' with a view to an ethic friendly to man and his environment.”

Pope Francis spoke to members of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, who are gathered in Rome for an Oct. 19-21 conference on “Changing Relations Among Market, State and Civil Society.”

In his speech, the Pope spoke on the need to develop “new models of cooperation” among the market, the state, and civil society that more accurately respond to the challenges of our time.

Pointing to two primary causes which he said “nourish the exclusion of the existential peripheries,” Francis said the sharp levels of inequality today are caused in large part by the exploitation of the planet and the lack of opportunity for dignified work.

The first cause, he said, “is the endemic and systemic increase of inequalities and of the exploitation of the planet, which is greater than the increase in income and wealth.”

Both inequality and exploitation depend, aside from individual behaviors, on the economic rules “that a society decides to give themselves,” he said, and pointed to energy production, the labor market, the banking system, the welfare system, the tax system, and the school sector as examples.

The more these are projected, the more they have consequences “on the way in which income and wealth are divided among those who have competed to produce them,” he said. “If the aim of profit prevails, democracy tends to become a plutocracy in which inequalities and the exploitation of the planet grow.”

Neither of these phenomena are inevitable or a historic constant, he said, asserting that “there are periods in which, in some countries, inequalities diminish and the environment is better protected.”

Turning to what he said is another key cause of exclusion, the Pope focused on work “unworthy of the human person.”

“Yesteryear, in the age of Rerum novarum, 'just wages for workers' were demanded. Today, beyond this sacrosanct exigency, we also ask ourselves why it has not yet been possible to translate into practice what is written in the Constitution Gaudium et spes: 'The entire process of productive work, therefore, must be adapted to the needs of the person and to his way of life'.”

To this can be added, he said, respect for creation, referring to his 2015 encyclical Laudato si'.

In creating new opportunities for work “open and enterprising people, people of fraternal relations, of research and investment in the development of clean energy to resolve the challenges of climate change” are needed, he said, adding that this is concretely possible today.

He said it's also necessary “to get rid of the pressures of public and private lobbyists that defend sectoral interests,” and stressed the need to “overcome forms of spiritual laziness.”

“It is necessary for political action to be placed truly at the service of the human person, of the common good and of respect for nature.”

The explained that the challenge to meet “is to strive with courage to go beyond the prevailing model of social order prevalent today, transforming it from within,” such that the market will serve integral human development, as well as the production of wealth.

He also addressed “the rethinking of the figure and the role of the nation-state in a new context which is that of globalization, which has profoundly modified the previous international order,” the Pope said, explaining that the state “cannot understand itself as the sole and exclusive holder of the common good by not allowing intermediate bodies of society to express, in freedom, their full potential.”

To do this, he added, “would be a violation of the principle of subsidiarity which, combined with solidarity, is a cornerstone of the Church’s social doctrine.”

The role of society, then, can be summed up with an image used by French poet Charles Peguy, who described the virtue of hope as the “younger sister” in the middle of the other theological virtues: faith and charity.

“Hope then moves, taking them by the hand and pulling them forward. This is how the position of civil society seems to me: 'pulling' the state and the market forward so that they can rethink their reason for being and how they operate.”