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Pope to ROACO recalls suffering of Eastern-rite Christians

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:36
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with members of ROACO , (Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches) who have been holding their 90th plenary assembly in Rome this week. The meeting brings Church leaders from countries across the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe together with donor organisations which raise funds for Christians in the Eastern-rite Churches. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: The four day meeting has been focused on the difficult situation of Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Holy Land, as well as reflecting on the training of priests and seminarians in all the Eastern-rite Churches. In his message to participants, Pope Francis thanked them for their constant work of charity and solidarity over the past half century in support of Latin and Eastern-rite communities under the care of the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches. Persecution and emigration These Churches of the Middle East, as well as in Eastern Europe, he said, have often suffered from “terrible waves of persecution and pain”. Emigration has also significantly weakened the presence of these Churches in places where they flourished for centuries. Freedom has now returned to some of those regions, the Pope said, but others, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, are still devastated by “wars and absurd violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.” These experiences are a source of both suffering and salvation, he said, as we experience the Cross of Christ. Temptations of social status Speaking about the formation of priests and seminarians, Pope Francis noted the dedication and heroic witness of so many prelates. But he also warned about the temptations of seeking social status that is associated with the priesthood in some parts of the world. The Congregation for Oriental Churches and donor agencies must continue to support projects and initiatives which build up the Church in an authentic way, the Pope said. We must remember we are living stones, built around Christ as our corner stone, he added. Witness to the Gospel Finally, the Pope remembered all those Christians – Catholics, Orthodox or Protestant – whose blood continues to be spilled because of their witness to the Gospel. When Eastern-rite Christians are forced to emigrate, he said, they must be welcomed in their new countries and allowed to continue their worship according to their own traditions (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Mass: Discern and denounce evil, care for others

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:11
(Vatican Radio) A shepherd must be passionate, must know how to discern and how to denounce evil. Those were Pope Francis’ words during Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta, where he focused on the figure of the Apostle Paul and then turned his attention to the example offered by Don Milani. Like the parish priest of Barbiana, the Pope said, one should take care of one’s neighbour. "The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep," said Pope Francis during his homily, drawing inspiration from the readings of the day and dwelling on the characteristics that a shepherd should have. The Pope noted in Saint Paul, the figure of the "true shepherd", who does not abandon his sheep unlike a "mercenary". The first quality, therefore, the Holy Father indicated, is that St Paul  is "passionate". Passionate,  he added, "to the point of telling his people, 'I feel for you all a kind of divine jealousy'." He  is "divinely jealous," the Pope commented. The true shepherd knows how to discern, on guard against at the seduction of evil A passion therefore becomes almost "madness", "stupidity" for his people. "And this – the Pope added - is that which we call apostolic zeal: he cannot be a true shepherd without this fire." A second characteristic, he continued, the pastor must be "a man who knows how to discern": "He knows what seduction in life is. The lying father is a seducer. The Shepherd, is not. The shepherd loves. Instead, the snake, the father of lies, is a seducer. He is a seducer trying to turn away from fidelity, because that divine jealousy of Paul was to bring the people to a single groom, to keep the people loyal to their bridegroom. In the history of salvation, in Scripture many times we turn away from God, disloyalty towards the Lord, idolatry as if it were a maternal infidelity. " You must know how to report evil, not be naïve The Shepherd’s first characteristic, then, "is to be passionate, zealous, zealous". The second feature is, "someone who knows how to discern: to discern where the dangers are, where the graces are... where the real road is". This, the Pope said, "means he always accompanies his sheep: in beautiful moments and even in bad moments, even in moments of seduction, with patience he brings them to the fold." And the third feature: is "the ability to denounce": "An apostle cannot be naive: 'Ah, it's all right, let's go ahead, eh? It's all right ... Let's party, everyone ... everything is possible ...'. because there is the fidelity to the only groom, to Jesus Christ, to be defended. And he knows how to condemn it: that concreteness, to say ' no,' like the  parents say to the baby when he starts to clap and goes to the electric socket to put his fingers in : 'No, no! It's dangerous!'. But, I think so many times of that 'tuca nen' (do not touch anything ndr) that my parents and grandparents told me at those moments where there was a danger. " Take care of others  as Don Milani did  "The Good Shepherd – Pope Francis said - can denounce, by name and surname" as St. Paul did. The Holy Father returned to his visit to Bozzolo and Barbiana, this week, referring, "to those two good shepherds of Italy." And speaking of Don Milani, he recalled his "motto" when he "taught his boys": "I care. But what does it mean? They explained to me that he wanted to say 'I care'. He taught that things were to be taken seriously, against the fashion motto at that time that was 'I do not care,' but said in another language, which I dare not say here. And so he taught the kids to move on. Take care: take care of your life, and this no! '" Paul's apostolic zeal, was passionate, zealous. Man, commented the Holy Father knows how to discern because he knows the power of seduction and knows the devil seduces. The Pope then concluded with a prayer "for all the shepherds of the Church, for Saint Paul who intercede before the Lord, for all of us pastors in order to serve the Lord." (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope donates funds to support aid projects in South Sudan

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 23:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has pledged to donate about half a million dollars to support Church-run education, healthcare and agricultural projects in South Sudan. At a press conference in the Vatican on Wednesday, Cardinal Peter Turkson , head of the office for Integral Human Development, led a panel of speakers giving details of those humanitarian projects, run by Caritas and by missionaries from different religious institutes. The cardinal also outlined numerous initiatives that the Holy See has taken to stop the war, which flared across the country in 2013. Listen to Philippa HItchen's report: Pope Francis may have postponed a planned visit to war-torn South Sudan this year, but he’s clearly more determined than ever to raise awareness about the need to support those suffering from conflict and starvation. Over half the population doesn’t have enough food to eat, a million and a half people have fled their homes, thousands are suffering from a cholera epidemic and untold numbers are victims of killings, rapes and other violent crimes. Faces behind the statistics But beyond the shocking statistics of this largely forgotten war, it’s vital to remember the individual victims – that’s why aid workers have started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #southsudanwecare Among those speaking at the Vatican press conference was Sr Yudith Pereira-Rico , from Solidarity with South Sudan, an organisation founded by male and female religious congregations over a decade ago: “ We don’t talk about numbers, we talk about individuals who are suffering….any time a young man or woman in South Sudan clicks this hashtag they will know how many people care.....this moral support is very important " Part of the pope’s donation will go to support a college in Yambio run by Solidarity with South Sudan to train teachers, nurses, midwives, farmers and community leaders. As well as learning vital job skills, the students from many different ethnic groups learn about the values of diversity and collaboration, an important sign of hope for the country which gained independence in 2011. Caritas and Comboni missionaries Other beneficiaries of the initiative entitled ‘ The Pope for South Sudan ’ include two hospitals run by Comboni missionaries and an agricultural project, run by Caritas, to provide livelihoods for 2.500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Yambio and Torit. Michel Roy , secretary general of Caritas Internationalis , told journalists that while peace must be the priority for South Sudan, the international community must also do more to save lives of those dying from hunger and disease “ The UN has launched an appeal, right now it is half funded, there’s a real need for the international community to engage more, much more. This cannot be just another forgotten conflict, like Darfur …” Holy See mediation efforts Asked about Vatican initiatives to try and stop the fighting, Cardinal Peter Turkson said he had been personally involved in two mediation efforts to bring together warring leaders President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. Amid concerns that the conflict was spreading across the region, the nuncio in Kenya also met with Machar last December to urge the parties to come to the negotiating table. Planned peace pilgrimage So far, these attempts have failed to bring peace, but Cardinal Turkson stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan. That’s a key condition before a planned visit to the region by the pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, can take place. While they had hoped to travel together in October to endorse peace efforts of all Christians in the region, that trip has been postponed until at least 2018. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to NFL Hall of Famers: foster fair play, teamwork

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 20:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received a delegation from the National Football League’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Addressing the 43-member delegation representing the trustees and members of the organization that honors the great players in the history of the premier professional American football league, the Holy Father spoke of sport as a bridge-builder that can be a powerful tool in creating a culture of encounter, especially by fostering virtues of fair play, teamwork, and pursuit of excellence. Click below to hear our report “Our world,” said Pope Francis, “and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.” Pope Francis concluded expressing the hope that the delegates’ visit to Rome might help them grow in gratitude for gifts received and inspire them to share those gifts ever more generously in shaping a more fraternal world. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis at General Audience: ‘Saints are sign of Christian hope’

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 19:07
(Vatican Radio)  We are called to be saints, just like the multitude of witnesses before us, so as to be heralds of hope for the world. That was Pope Francis’ message during the catechesis portion of his Wednesday General Audience, in which he reflected on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Pope Francis at his General Audience in a sunny St. Peter’s Square said the Saints who have gone before us show us the path of Christian hope and teach us to follow in their footsteps. Taking the Letter to the Hebrews (11:40-12:12a) as his guide, the Pope said the saints are “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”. He spoke about three important moments in the life of the Church in which the “great cloud of witnesses” is evoked: in the liturgies of Baptism, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. He said the saints are called upon in these moments because “they have passed along our same path, have known the same toil, and live forever in the embrace of God.” “God never abandons us,” he said. “Whenever we are in need, one of His angels will come to pick us up and console us. ‘Angels’ sometimes have a human face and heart, because the saints of God are always here, hidden in our midst.” Pope Francis went on to assure his audience that the Christian ideal is attainable, as the lives of the saints have shown. He said, “It is possible to be saints because the Lord helps us.” Being a saint, he said, means doing your daily duties, like “praying, working, taking care of the kids”, but “doing all with a heart open to God”. In conclusion, the Holy Father said living a saintly life is “the great gift that each of us can offer to the world.” “Our history needs ‘mystics’, that is, people who reject every dominion and aspire to charity and solidarity: Men and women who live by accepting even a portion of suffering, because they take upon themselves the difficulties of their neighbor. Without these men and women, the world would be without hope.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis greets NFL Hall of Fame delegation

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 16:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted a delegation from the premier American football league's Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Ahead of the weekly General Audience, the Pope received the delegation from the National Football League Hall of Fame. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's remarks in their official English translation... **************************************** Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Wednesday, 21 June 2017 Dear Friends, I am pleased to greet you, the members and directors of the American Pro Football Hall of Fame, and to welcome you to the Vatican.  As many of you know, I am an avid follower of “football”, but where I come from, the game is played very differently! I thank Mr. Anderson for his gracious words of introduction, which stressed the traditional values of sportsmanship that you seek to embody, both on the field and in your own lives, your families and your communities.  Our world, and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.  Teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence are the values – in the religious sense, we can say virtues – that have guided your own commitment on the field.  Yet these same values are urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.  They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family.  How greatly our world needs this culture of encounter! Dear friends, I pray that your visit to the Eternal City will increase your gratitude for the many gifts you have received and inspire you to share them ever more generously in shaping a more fraternal world. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you all! (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis holds General Audience: English Summary

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 16:12
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, reflecting on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope. Please find below the official English-language summary: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now look to the saints, to “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.  The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the saints as “a great cloud of witnesses” who support us on our pilgrim way through this present life.  In the sacraments of baptism, marriage and ordination, we pray the Litany of the Saints to implore their intercession and help in the particular vocation we have received.  The lives of the saints remind us that the Christian ideal is not unattainable.  Despite our human weakness, we can always count on God’s grace and the prayers of the saints to sustain us in faith and in hope for the transfiguration of this world and the fulfilment of Christ’s promises in the next.  May the Lord enable all of us to become saints, to be living images of Christ in our time.  May he strengthen us to be his witnesses and to bring the Gospel to all our brothers and sisters, especially the suffering and those most in need of its message of undying hope. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis upholds legacy of two 'inconvenient' priests

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 23:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday travelled to two small towns in northern Italy to pay homage to two Italian parish priests of the past century who championed the poor and challenged powerful prelates to step outside their comfort zones.  Arriving by helicopter in Lombardy town of Bozzolo to pray at the tomb of   Don Primo Mazzolari , Pope Francis was greeted by Cremona Bishop Antonio Napolioni who announced the process to beatify Mazzolari will start on September 18th. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Don Mazzolari, who died in 1959, was the parish priest of Bozzolo. He was also  a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, an anti-fascist activist who opposed the Mussolini regime and an ardent champion of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI.  Pope Francis’ lengthy tribute to Mazzolari – whom he described as Italy’s parish priest - was above all a call to priests not to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best and an exhortation to them to take the Gospel message into the peripheries in poverty and with simplicity, turning away from the temptations of clericalism and careerism.   Francis  then flew to Barbiana, near Florence, to pray at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani , a man he has described as “a believer, enamored of the Church”  a “passionate educator” who used “original ways.”  Milani, who died in 1967, is universally acknowledged for having been an optimum interpreter of modern and contemporary pedagogy, a priest attentive to formative methods for young people, and  especially alert to the needs of the poor and the rights of workers. Milani , the Pope said, taught the importance of giving the poor the capacity to speak up for themselves, because “without the word, there’s no dignity and therefore no justice or freedom”.   A pilgrimage the Pope himself said was undertaken  in the footsteps of two parish priests whose legacy he described as “scomodo” which means challenging or inconvenient, but that has left a radiant  trace in their service to the Lord and to the people of God.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope’s condolence for the death of Cardinal Ivan Dias

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 19:25
Pope Francis has expressed his sadness at the death of Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias.  The 81 year old retired prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and former archbishop Emeritus of Bombay passed away on Monday in Rome.  Pope Francis sent a condolence message to the late cardinal’s brother Francis Dias, recalling his service to the Holy See, particularly his efforts in rebuilding the Church in Albania. Please find below the full text of the Pope's condolence message: Deeply saddened to learn of the death of your dear brother, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and the Dias family.  I recall with gratitude the late Cardinal’s years of faithful service to the Apostolic See, especially his contribution to the spiritual and physical reconstruction of the suffering Church in Albania and the missionary zeal demonstrated in his work as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  I likewise unite my prayers to those of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Bombay, where the pastoral concern and broad apostolic vision that marked his service as Archbishop are fondly remembered.  In union of prayer with all who mourn his passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I commend the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord. FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis pays tribute to "Italy's parish priest"

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 19:25
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday made a pilgrimage to northern Italy to honor two 20th-century parish priests whose commitment to the poor and powerless challenged many faithful - inside and outside the Vatican - to step outside their comfort zones. The Pope flew by helicopter to Bozzolo, near Cremona in the region of Lombardy, to pray at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari , parish priest of a small town, a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, he opposed the Mussolini regime and emphasized the importance of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Father Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI. He died in 1959. The Pope then travelled to Barbiana, near Florence to pay tribute to Don Lorenzo Milani, a wealthy convert to Catholicism who founded a parish school to educate the poor and workers.  In Bozzolo, Francis stood in silent prayer before the simple tomb of Mazzolari, and then delivered a long tribute to the priest whom he described as “Italy's parish priest.” The Pope quoted Mazzolari’s writings about the need for the Church to accompany its flock and recalled his exhortation that a priest's job isn't to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best.  Quoting Mazzolari’s own words he said: ``Let us have good sense! We don't to massacre the backs of these poor people.'' He said the legacy of priests like Don Mazzolari is a bright one that challenges us to leave our comfort zones. “Don Mazzolari tried to change the world without regrets for the past; he was not one who hung on to the Church of the past, but tried to change the Church through love and unconditional dedication” he said. Pope Francis warned against those men of the Church who “do not want to soil their hands” and who “observe the world through a window”; he warned against those who engage in what he called “separatist activism” where one runs Catholic institutions like banks or businesses; and he spoke out against the temptation for spiritualism which dehumanizes and is devoted only to the apostolate. Don Mazzolari, the Pope said, conceived the Church going forth into world in the firm belief that that is the only way to reach out to those who do not come to Church any more. “He was rightly described as ‘the parish priest of those who are far’ because he always loved those on the peripheries and to them dedicated his mission. Pope Francis concluded his speech with an exhortation to all priests to “listen to the world”, to “step into the dark areas without fear because it is amongst the people that God’s mercy is incarnate.” He urged them to live in poverty and said that the credibility of the Gospel message is in the simplicity and poverty of the Church and he reminded them always to treasure the lesson of Don Mazzolari.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope prays at tomb of Don Milani in Italian town of Barbiana

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 19:25
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday visited and prayed at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani, an Italian priest and educator from the Diocese of Florence, and spoke to the faithful present for his visit in Barbiana. Calling Don Milani a “priest who was as transparent and hard as a diamond”, Pope Francis reflected on his life and legacy as an educator in the northern Italian city of Barbiana from 1954 until 1967. The Pope said he wished to pray at his tomb “in order to pay homage to the memory of a priest who witnessed to how, in the gift of self to Christ, we discover our brothers and sisters in their moment of need, and we serve them”. He told the people of Barbiana that they were “witnesses to his passion as an educator and his desire to reawaken the human aspect in persons in order to open them to the divine.” The Holy Father said education for Don Milani was the concrete expression of his priesthood. “[He sought] to give back the word to poor people, because without language there is neither dignity nor freedom and justice.” Pope Francis went on to thank all educators for their “service towards promoting the growth of new generations, especially those who find themselves in uncomfortable situations.” He said Don Milani’s educative drive was born of his priesthood, which in turn was born of his faith. “His was a totalizing faith, which allowed him to give himself completely to the Lord”. Turning to the priests present, Pope Francis invited them to be “men of faith” and to “love the Church and make her loved by showing her to be a mother for all, especially for the poorest and most fragile”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis opens annual Diocese of Rome pastoral conference

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 13:09
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis made his second visit to Rome’s Cathedral, St. John Lateran, in as many days on Monday evening to open the Diocese of Rome’s annual pastoral conference. Ahead of his visit, the Holy Father met with a group of refugees who have been hosted by some of the thirty-eight Roman parishes and religious communities who responded to his 2015 appeal that parishes to do their part by hosting those persons fleeing war and poverty. Listen to Linda Bordoni's report: Pope Francis opened Rome’s annual diocesan meeting on Monday evening with a reflection on how to accompany parents in educating their adolescent children. Offering several “assumptions” for this aspect of pastoral care, the Bishop of Rome invited the city’s pastors to think in the Roman dialect, that is, with the faces of their flocks fixed in their minds. “Family life and the education of adolescents in a big metropolis like this requires particular attention," he said. "The complexity of the capital does not admit of reductive syntheses, but stimulates us to think in the form of a polyhedron, in which every neighborhood finds its own echo in the diocese”. Pope Francis then reflected on the modern experience of being “uprooted”. He said “an uprooted society or uprooted family is a family without a history, memory, or roots… For this reason one of the first things we must think about is how to provide roots and relationships and how to promote a vital network that allows them to feel at home.” The Pope said the adolescent experience is one of tension and transition between childhood and adulthood. He called this a precious and difficult time in which the whole family is called to grow. And he invited the Roman pastors not to treat adolescence as a “pathology to be medicated”; rather, he called it “a normal part of growth,” since “where there is life there is movement and change”. The Holy Father said this offered parents a unique opportunity to stimulate young people by involving them in projects that challenge them to reach their full potential. In conclusion, Pope Francis said one of the greatest threats to the education of teenagers is the idea of “eternal youth”. He said when adults want to stay young and young people want to be adults there is a hidden risk of leaving teenagers out of their own growth processes, because parents have taken their place. This, the Pope said, deprives teenagers of an experience of confrontation necessary for growth into adulthood. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope celebrates Mass for Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 01:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated Mass at the Roman Basilica of St John Lateran which was to be followed by a procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major to mark the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. In his homily for the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis chose to reflect on one word, “Memory”. The Pope said that “remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.”  Memory, the Holy Father went on to say is important, “because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mind-ful, “never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.”  This Solemnity, Pope Francis underlined, reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist.   Below find the English language translation of the Pope's Homily On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the idea of memory comes up again and again.  Moses says to the people: “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you….  Lest… you forget the Lord your God, who fed you in the wilderness with manna” (Dt 8:2, 14, 16).  Jesus will tell us: “Do this in memory of me” (1 Cor 11:24).  The “living bread, come down from heaven” (Jn 6:51) is the sacrament of memory, reminding us, in a real and tangible way, of the story of God’s love for us.  Today, to each of us, the word of God says, Remember!  Remembrance of the Lord’s deeds guided and strengthened his people’s journey through the desert; remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.  Remembrance is essential for faith, as water is for a plant.  A plant without water cannot stay alive and bear fruit.  Nor can faith, unless it drinks deeply of the memory of all that the Lord has done for us.  Remember.  Memory is important, because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mind-ful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.  Yet nowadays, this singular ability that the Lord has given us is considerably weakened.  Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl.  We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories.  Leaving our memories behind and living only for the moment, we risk remaining ever on the surface of things, constantly in flux, without going deeper, without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going.  In this way, our life grows fragmented, and dulled within.  Yet today’s Solemnity reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist.  In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life.  The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love.  There, “[Christ’s] sufferings are remembered” (II Vespers, antiphon for the Magnificat) and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey.  This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.  The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit.  When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love.  In saying this, I think in particular of you boys and girls, who recently received First Holy Communion, and are here today in great numbers.  The Eucharist gives us a grateful memory, because it makes us see that we are the Father’s children, whom he loves and nourishes.  It gives us a free memory, because Jesus’ love and forgiveness heal the wounds of the past, soothe our remembrance of wrongs experienced and inflicted.  It gives us a patient memory, because amid all our troubles we know that the Spirit of Jesus remains in us.  The Eucharist encourages us: even on the roughest road, we are not alone; the Lord does not forget us and whenever we turn to him, he restores us with his love. The Eucharist also reminds us that we are not isolated individuals, but one body.  As the people in the desert gathered the manna that fell from heaven and shared it in their families (cf. Ex 16), so Jesus, the Bread come down from Heaven, calls us together to receive him and to share him with one another.  The Eucharist is not a sacrament “for me”; it is the sacrament of the many, who form one body.  Saint Paul reminded us of this: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17).  The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity.  Whoever receives it cannot fail to be a builder of unity, because building unity has become part of his or her “spiritual DNA”.  May this Bread of unity heal our ambition to lord it over others, to greedily hoard things for ourselves, to foment discord and criticism.  May it awaken in us the joy of living in love, without rivalry, jealousy or mean-spirited gossip. Now, in experiencing this Eucharist, let us adore and thank the Lord for this greatest of gifts: the living memorial of his love, that makes us one body and leads us to unity.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: Jesus food of eternal life

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 19:11
(Vatican Radio) In a sunny St Peter’s Square on Sunday Pope Francis recalled the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi. Listen to our report:  Following the Angelus prayer and taking his cue from the Gospel of St John, the Holy Father reminded the pilgrims and tourists present that Jesus states that he is “the living bread which has descended from heaven. The Pope explained that the Father has sent him into the world as the food of eternal life, and for this reason he will sacrifice himself on the Cross, donating his body and shedding his blood. Pope Francis went on to say that “in the Eucharist, Jesus, as he did with the disciples of Emmaus, accompanies us, pilgrims in order to nourish faith, hope and charity in us; To comfort us in trials; To support us in our commitment to justice and peace. This solidarity, the Pope said, is everywhere. Feeding on Jesus in the  Eucharist, the Holy Father continued  “also means abandoning ourselves with confidence and letting ourselves be led by Him.” The Pope also reminded the faithful that he would celebrate Mass in the Roman Basilica of St John Lateran on Sunday evening followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope’s India visit could be postponed to 2018 – Card. Gracias ‎

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 20:31
It is very likely that the visit of Pope Francis to India and Bangladesh planned for the end of this year, could be postponed to next year, a prominent Indian Catholic Church leader said on Thursday.  In an interview to National Catholic Reporter (NCR) on June 15, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay said that discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government about a papal visit this year have taken longer than expected.  " I am beginning to lose hope about 2017 ," said the cardinal who is the president of both the Latin-rite bishops’ group, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), as well as the  Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC).  "We are already in June. Even if they suddenly say, 'Come,' it is a pastoral visit ... [it] will take several months for the dioceses to prepare the people," Card. Gracias said.  "It should not just be a flash in the pan, he comes and goes," he said, explaining that when Pope St. John Paul II visited India in 1999, the Indian bishops "planned for almost a year before he came to make it effective." Pope Francis first hinted about a possible visit to India and Bangladesh in 2017 during and in-flight press conference on October 2, 2016, while returning from a visit to Azerbaijan.  Again in an interview to German weekly Die Zeit in March, the Pope spoke about his visit to India and Bangladesh, without giving dates.  Earlier, Bangladeshi Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario had told reporters that given the weather conditions of Bangladesh, October-November would be ideal for a papal visit.   Second papal visit to be postponed this year The India-Bangladesh visit would be the second papal visit to be postponed this year, after that of South Sudan.  Originally planned for autumn this year, the Vatican confirmed on May 30 that the visit to the war-torn African nation wound not  take place in 2017.  South Sudan’s deteriorating security situation obviously appeared to be reason. Card. Gracias told NCR that working with the Indian government to prepare the papal visit has been "a little bit of ‎a difficult situation" as Modi's calendar has been filled up with state visits from other leaders .‎  ‎"We have to find a good spot where we can give the Holy Father his due importance and respect," Card. Gracias ‎said.‎  (Source: NCR) (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends condolences upon death of Helmut Kohl

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:52
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis sent his condolences on Saturday to German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon the death of her predecessor, former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Helmut Kohl died on Friday at the age of 87, having served as Chancellor from 1982 to 1998. In a telegramme, the Pope sends his “heartfelt condolences” for the loss of the “Chancellor of Unity”. “Chancellor Kohl, that great statesman and convinced European, worked with far-sightedness and dedication for the good of the German people and those in neighboring European countries.” The Holy Father prayed that “Merciful God reward him for his tireless efforts in favour of the unity of Germany and the European Union, as well as for his commitment to peace and reconciliation.” He closed the telegramme with a prayer that the Lord give him “eternal joy and life in the heavenly Fatherland” and extended to all who mourn ex-Chancellor Kohl the blessings of God. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:22
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband on Saturday in a private audience at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. A communique from the Holy See Press Office called their discussions “cordial” and said they spoke about “the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany”. “They then spoke about questions of common interest, with particular consideration given to the upcoming meeting of the G20 in Hamburg, and they agreed on the need to dedicate special attention to the responsibility of the international community towards counteracting poverty and hunger, the global threat of terrorism, and climate change.” During the course of their discussions, Pope Francis and Chancellor Merkel also recalled the “tireless efforts” of the late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl “towards the reunification of Germany and the unity of Europe”. After meeting with Pope Francis, Chancellor Merkel met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. (from Vatican Radio)...

Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 18:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received in his Audience His  Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the meeting, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the Decrees concerning: - the martyrdom of the Venerable Servant of God Teresio Olivelli, Laity; Killed in hatred of the Faith on January 17, 1945; The heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Antonio Giuseppe De Sousa Barroso, Bishop of Porto; Born on 5 November 1854 and died on August 31, 1918; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Joseph of Jesus López y González, Bishop of Aguas Calientes and Founder of the Congregation of the Maestro Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Born on 16 October 1872 and died on November 11, 1950; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Agostino Ernesto Castrillo, Bishop of San Marco Argentano-Bisignano, of the Order of Friars Minor; Born on 18 February 1904 and died on October 16, 1955; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God James of Balduina (Benjamin Filon), professor priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins; Born on 2 August 1900 and died on July 21, 1948; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Mary of Angels ( Giuseppa Operti), professed monk of the Order of the Barmen Carmelites and founder of the Carmelite Sisters of Santa Teresa of Turin; Born on 16 November 1871 and dead on October 7, 1949; - heroic virtues of the Servant of God Humility Patlán Sánchez (Mary), Sister of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; Born March 17, 1895 and died on June 17, 1970. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends condolences to London fire victims

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 16:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of condolence to the victims and families of the Grenfall Tower fire in London. In the message signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy Father says he was "saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury." He also praised the efforts of the emergency services in reponding to the tragedy.   Below find the Pope's message addressed to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminster His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury. He entrusts the souls of those who have died to the Lord’s loving mercy and offers his heartfelt condolences to their families.  With appreciation for the brave efforts of the emergency service personnel and all committed to supporting those who have lost their homes, His Holiness invokes upon the local community God’s blessings of strength and peace.  Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass: God’s power saves us from weakness and sins

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 20:17
(Vatican Radio)  In order to be saved and healed by God we must recognize that are weak, vulnerable and sinful like earthen vessels, said ‎Pope Francis on Friday.  And this will lead us to happiness, he said in ‎his homily at the morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta chapel in the Vatican.  He was reflecting on the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where St. Paul speaking about the mystery of Christ, says we have this treasure of Christ in our fragility and vulnerability because we are vessels made of clay. Not being shameful is hypocrisy   "All of us are vulnerable, fragile, weak, and we need to be healed,” the Pope said.  But recognizing our vulnerability is one of the most difficult things of life.  At times, we try to cover this vulnerability with cosmetics in order to disguise it, pretending it does not exist.  And disguises are always shameful, the Pope said. “They are hypocrisy." Temptation to cover our weakness and sins Pope Francis explained that besides being hypocritical towards others, we are also hypocritical within ourselves believing "to be something else”, hence not needing healing and support.  This, the Pope pointed out, is the path to vanity, pride and self-reference of those who do not feel themselves made of clay and thus seek salvation and fulfilment in themselves.  Instead, as St. Paul says, it is the power of God that saves us because of our vulnerability. Hence we are troubled but not crushed; we are shaken but not desperate; we are persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not killed.  There is always this relationship between clay and power, clay and treasure. But the temptation, the Pope said,  is always the same: to cover, conceal and not believing we are made of clay.  This is the hypocrisy towards ourselves. When we accept our weakness, God comes with His salvation and happiness In this regard, Pope Francis spoke about confession where we confess our sins in a way whitewashing the clay a bit in order to appear strong.  Rather, the Pope said, we must accept our weakness and vulnerability, even if it is "difficult" to do so.  Hence the importance of "shame".  It is shame that broadens the heart to allow the power of God in -  the shame of being clay and not a silver or gold vase.   When Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet, he did not realize he was made of clay needing the Lord’s power to be saved.  It’s only when we accept we are made of clay that the extraordinary power of God will come and give us the fulfilment, salvation, happiness and joy of being saved, thus receiving the Lord's "treasure". (from Vatican Radio)...

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