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Pope Francis to address UN FAO on World Food Day

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 23:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will travel to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome on Monday to attend a ceremony marking World Food Day. This year’s theme is “ Change the future of migration ”. The Holy Father will be joined by the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva and G7 Agriculture Ministers. George Rapsomanikis is a Senior Economist at FAO and spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the Pope’s upcoming visit. Listen to the interview:  Speaking about expectations for the Pope’s visit, Mr Rapsomanikis noted that World Food Day was a very important occasion for FAO as the organization was founded on the 16th of October 1945. The theme for this year’s World Food Day highlights the issue of migration and the FAO economist said that, “the presence of Pope Francis links directly with migration…” He added, Pope Francis will strengthen the message to promote safe and regular migration and will uplift it; he is committed to the poor and migration is an issue which is very close to his heart.” Asked about some of the common concerns that the Holy See and FAO share in the world today, one of the issues Mr Rapsomanikis noted was the care for the environment and climate change . He went on to say the Papal Encyclical on the care for creation, Laudato Si , “has contributed to the debate on climate change and sustainability and these are key factors in achieving food security and relate directly to FAO’s work and mandate.” In the world today, underlined, Mr Rapsomanikis, “we have an unprecedented situation, conflict, political instability that are exacerbated by extreme climatic events like drought; they have resulted in severe food insecurity in South Sudan, in Somalia, in Northeastern Nigeria and Yemen. The Pope, commented the FAO economist, “is a spiritual leader of more than 1 billion people, but his views on peace and on social justice are shared by many more people of different nationality, faith and colour. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope says new Saints show us how to say 'yes' to God's love

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 21:53
(Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints , nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”. To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Canonization Mass, the Pope said “They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love, they said ‘yes’ (to God's love) with their lives and to the very end”.   Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Those canonized included thirty martyrs, both priests and lay persons, who suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil, while three indigenous children in 16th century Mexico were martyred for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions. The other two new saints are a 20th-century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who died in 1739. The Lord's desire for a true communion of life with us The Pope’s homily inspired by the Parable of the Wedding Banquet speaks of the Lord’s desire for a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness. “Such, he said, is the Christian life:  a love story with God.   We are all invited, Francis said, and no one has a better seat than anyone else. “At least once a day, he continued, we should tell the Lord that we love him” because once love is lost, the Christian life becomes empty.  It becomes a body without a soul, an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason.   Every day is a wonderful opportunity to say 'yes' “We are the beloved, the guests at the wedding, and our life is a gift, because every day is a wonderful opportunity to respond to God’s invitation” he said. But he added, the Gospel warns us that the invitation can be refused.  Many of the invited guests said no, because they were caught up in their own affairs.   "They were more interested in having something, he explained,  rather than in risking something, as love demands: this is how love grows cold, not out of malice but out of a preference for what is our own: our security, our self-affirmation, our comfort…"   The temptation of settling into the easy chair of profits And the Pope warned Christians against the temptation of “settling into the easy chair of profits, pleasures, or a hobby that brings us some happiness.  And we end up aging badly and quickly, because we grow old inside.  When our hearts do not expand, they become closed in on themselves”. God never closes the door He said the Gospel asks us then where we stand: “with ourselves or with God?  Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.  The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite.  When he hears a “no”, he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation.  In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love”. Love is the only way to defeat evil This is what love does, the Pope said, because this is the only way that evil is defeated.  And inviting us all to live in true love and “practice” love every day, Francis said “the Saints who were canonized today, and especially the many martyrs, point the way: They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love; they said they ‘yes’ with their lives and to the very end”.  At Baptism, he concluded, we received a white robe, the wedding garment for God: Let us ask him, through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters, for the grace to decide daily to put on this garment and to keep it spotless” by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness”.   “This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love” he said. Who the new saints are The newly-declared saints include 30 so-called “Martyrs of Natal,” who were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil. Also from Latin America was a group of three indigenous martyrs from Mexico - Cristobal, Antonio and Juan - known as the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala.” Aged between 12 and 13, they were among the first indigenous Catholics of Mexico, murdered between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce their faith and return to their ancient ‎traditions.‎ And then there are Father Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries, and Father Angelo d‘Acri, an Italian itinerant preacher who died in 1739 after serving in some of the most remote areas of southern Italy. Announcement of Special Assembly of Synod of Bishops for the Amazon After the Mass, Pope Francis recited the Angelus prayer and announced a   Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon regionm to take place in October 2019.    (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis canonizes 35 new saints

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 20:18
(Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints , nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”. To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Canonization Mass , he said “They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love, they said ‘yes’ with their lives and to the very end”.   Those canonized included thirty martyrs, both priests and lay persons, who suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil, while three indigenous children in 16th century Mexico were martyred for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions. The other two new saints are a 20th-century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who died in 1739. Please find below the full text of the Pope’s homily for the Mass of Canonization : The parable we have just heard describes the Kingdom of God as a wedding feast (cf. Mt 22:1-14).  The central character is the king’s son, the bridegroom, in whom we can easily see Jesus.  The parable makes no mention of the bride, but only of the guests who were invited and expected, and those who wore the wedding garments. We are those guests, because the Lord wants “to celebrate the wedding” with us.  The wedding inaugurates a lifelong fellowship, the communion God wants to enjoy with all of us.  Our relationship with him, then, has to be more than that of devoted subjects with their king, faithful servants with their master, or dedicated students with their teacher.  It is above all the relationship of a beloved bride with her bridegroom.  In other words, the Lord wants us, he goes out to seek us and he invites us.  For him, it is not enough that we should do our duty and obey his laws.  He desires a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness. Such is the Christian life, a love story with God.  The Lord freely takes the initiative and no one can claim to be the only one invited.  No one has a better seat than anyone else, for all enjoy God’s favour.  The Christian life is always born and reborn of this tender, special and privileged love.  We can ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him; if we remember, among everything else we say, to tell him daily, “Lord, I love you; you are my life”.  Because once love is lost, the Christian life becomes empty.  It becomes a body without a soul, an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason.  The God of life, however, awaits a response of life.  The Lord of love awaits a response of love.  Speaking to one of the Churches in the Book of Revelation, God makes an explicit reproach: “You have abandoned your first love” (cf. Rev 2:4).  This is the danger – a Christian life that becomes routine, content with “normality”, without drive or enthusiasm, and with a short memory.  Instead, let us fan into flame the memory of our first love.  We are the beloved, the guests at the wedding, and our life is a gift, because every day is a wonderful opportunity to respond to God’s invitation. The Gospel, however, warns us that the invitation can be refused.  Many of the invited guests said no, because they were caught up in their own affairs.  “They made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business” (Mt 22:5).  Each was concerned with his own affairs; this is the key to understanding why they refused the invitation.  The guests did not think that the wedding feast would be dreary or boring; they simply “made light of it”.  They were caught up in their own affairs.  They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands.  This is how love grows cold, not out of malice but out of a preference for what is our own: our security, our self-affirmation, our comfort…  We settle into the easy chair of profits, pleasures, or a hobby that brings us some happiness.  And we end up aging badly and quickly, because we grow old inside.  When our hearts do not expand, they become closed in on themselves.  When everything depends on me – on what I like, on what serves me best, on what I want – then I become harsh and unbending.  I lash out at people for no reason, like the guests in the Gospel, who treated shamefully and ultimately killed (cf. v. 6) those sent to deliver the invitation, simply because they were bothering them.   The Gospel asks us, then, where we stand: with ourselves or with God?  Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.  The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite.  When he hears a “no”, he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation.  In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love.  When we are hurt by the unfair treatment of others or their rejection, we frequently harbour grudges and resentment.  God on the other hand, while hurt by our “no”, tries again; he keeps doing good even for those who do evil.  Because this is what love does.  Because this is the only way that evil is defeated.  Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love, to overcome resignation and the whims of our peevish and lazy selves. There is one last idea that the Gospel emphasizes: the mandatory garment of the invited guests.  It is not enough to respond just once to the invitation, simply to say “yes” and then do nothing else.  Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the “habit” of practising love.  We cannot say, “Lord, Lord”, without experiencing and putting into practice God’s will (cf. Mt 7:21).  We need to put on God’s love and to renew our choice for him daily.  The Saints who were canonized today, and especially the many martyrs, point the way.  They did not say a fleeting “yes” to love; they said they “yes” with their lives and to the very end.  The robe they wore daily was the love of Jesus, that “mad” love that loved us to the end and offered his forgiveness and his robe to those who crucified him.  At baptism we received a white robe, the wedding garment for God.  Let us ask him, through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters, for the grace to decide daily to put on this garment and to keep it spotless.  How can we do this?  Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness.  This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope announces Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 19:50
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops  for the Pan-Amazon region  that will focus on the needs of its indigenous people, on new paths for evangelization and on the crisis of the rain forest. The Pope’s announcement came on Sunday during the Angelus after a canonization Mass during which he canonized 35 new saints, including three indigenous children martyred in 16th century Mexico. “Accepting the desire of some Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, which will take place in Rome in the month October 2019”  he said. Evangelization, indigenous people, crisis of rain forest  The main purpose of the Amazon synod, the Pope explained, will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization of God’s people in that region”. Special attention, he added, will be paid to the indigenous people who are “often forgotten and without the prospect of a serene future, also because of the crisis of the Amazonian rain forest, a ‘lung’ of primary importance for our planet.” REPAM In 2014 The Catholic Church in Pan-Amazonia founded a Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network – REPAM - as “God's answer to this heartfelt and urgent need to care for the life of people so they are able to live in harmony with nature, starting from the widespread and varied presence of members and structures of the Church in Pan-Amazonia”. REPAM is constituted not only by the regional Bishops’ Conferences, but also by priests, missionaries of congregations who work in the Amazon jungle, national representatives of Caritas and laypeople belonging to various Church bodies in the region.  As reported on the REPAM website “The Amazon territory is the largest tropical forest in the world. It covers six million square kilometers and includes the territories of Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. It is home to 2,779,478 indigenous people, comprising 390 indigenous tribes and 137 isolated (uncontacted) peoples with their valuable ancestral cultures, and 240 spoken languages belonging to 49 linguistic families”.  It is “a territory that is devastated and threatened by the concessions made by States to transnational corporations. Large-scale mining projects, monoculture and climate change place its lands and natural environment at great risk”, leading to the destruction of cultures, undermining the self-determination of peoples and above all affronting Christ incarnate in the people who live there (indigenous and riparian peoples, peasant farmers, afro-descendants and urban populations).  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends video-message to pilgrims in Fatima for end of Centenary celebrations

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 01:27
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a video-message to pilgrims gathered in Fatima to mark the closing of the Centenary of the Fatima Apparitions . “ Never be afraid, God is infinitely greater than all of our problems. He loves us very much. Go forward in your journey without losing sight of the Mother, like a child who feels safe when close to his mother, we too are safe when close to Our Lady ” he said.    In his message which was broadcast on giant screens at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima on 13 October , the Pope recalled his own pilgrimage to Fatima in May and the blessings received and he urged the faithful “never to put the Rosary aside, but to continue to recite it as She asked”.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to declare 35 new saints on Sunday

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 23:29
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will declare 33 martyrs and 2 others from Brazil, Mexico, Spain and Italy, as the Catholic Church’s new saints on Sunday at a Canonization Mass in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square.   They include 30 so-called  “ Matryrs of Natal ”, including priests and lay people, who were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil. Another group of 3 indigenous martyrs from Mexico - Cristobal, Antonio and Juan – known as the " Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala " will also be canonized.  Aged between 12 and 13, the children were among the first indigenous Catholics of Mexico who were ‎killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce their faith and return to their ancient ‎traditions.‎  Among the new saints will also be two European priests.  One of them is Spanish Piarist Father, Manuel Míguez González , the founder of the Daughters of the Divine Shepherdess, or the Calasanzian Institute.  He died in 1925.  The other  is Italian Cappuchin priest, Fr. Angelo da Acri , who died in 1739.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to attend high-level forum on 60 years of EU

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 23:29
(Vatican Radio)  A high-level forum of dialogue to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the “Treaty of Rome”, that established the European Community, will take place in the Vatican end of October, in which Pope Francis will participate.  Organized by the Holy See and the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), the October 27-29 congress on the theme, “(Re)thinking Europe” will see hundreds of high-level Church and European Union political representatives join other grassroots actors to contribute to a constructive reflection on the fundamental challenges facing the European project.  Organizers said the meeting will be in the form of a dialogue, with workshops and debates, to facilitate a frank and open discussion between stakeholders of different geographic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds, putting in practice the motto of the EU: “unity in diversity”.  “Willing to work for the common good and to put human dignity at the center of public policies, the participants will be called to look for new ways to involve all actors in the society in their respective religious or political responsibilities,” organizers said. Pope Francis will address the participants on 28 October to reiterate his sincere engagement to a common reflection on the future of the EU and recall the commitment of the Church to this Peace project.  What is the European Community today was born as the European Economic Community (EEC) with the signing of the “Treaty of Rome” on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.  It came into force on 1 January 1958.   The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 established the European Community and introduced the European citizenship.  The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon renamed it the "Treaty on the functioning of the European Union".  Since its inception, the EU has expanded to include new members.  Today it has 28 member states with an estimated population of over 510 million. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis receives Vincentian Family

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 18:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received members of the Vincentian Family in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday, in occasion of the 4 th centenary of the origin of their charism of service on behalf of the poor. Vincentians then and now 2017 is a year charged with particular significance for the Vincentians , for it marks the 400 th anniversary of  a pair of decisive events in the life of the man we know today as St. Vincent de Paul: on January 25th, the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, St. Vincent preached “the first sermon of the mission” in Folleville (France), a few days after the confession of a dying man him acutely aware of the spiritual abandonment of the poor country people; and later that year, in August, St.Vincent experienced the material poverty and misery of his parishioners in in Châtillon, because of which he decided to dedicate himself to the work of charity that made him an exemplar of holiness. Click below to hear our report... The events that took place in 1617, therefore, mark the origin of the Vincentian charism, which has animated St. Vincent de Paul ’s spiritual sons and daughters – the members of the Vincentian Family – through the course of four centuries. Today, the Vincentian Family has 225 members and affiliate groups, including religious communities and lay associations, which work in more than 80 countries on 5 continents in health care ministry, education and faith formation, and general human promotion and development. They care for the homeless, refugees and displaced persons, orphaned and abandoned children, and single mothers. Pope Francis to Vincentians: adore, welcome, go forward to serve In remarks prepared for the 11 thousand members of the  Vincentian Family gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday, Pope Francis said, “St. Vincent gave rise to a charitable élan that has endured for centuries.” “Today,” he continued, “I would like to encourage you to continue this journey.” The Holy Father focused on three forms of action, which he said epitomize the Vincentian charism and are of the essence to Christian life in general: adoration, welcome, and being on the way as pilgrims in the world. To adore the Lord, “is to place oneself before [Him], with respect, with calm and in silence, giving to Him the first place, and abandoning oneself to Him in faith and trust,” Pope Francis said. Pope Francis went on to say, “To be welcoming means to resize one’s self, to straighten out one’s  way of thinking, to understand that life is not one’s private property, and that time does not belong to any one of us.” “Love,” Pope Francis continued, “is dynamic: it goes out of itself; one who loves does not sit in his chair and watch, waiting for the advent of a better world; rather, with enthusiasm and simplicity, he rises and is on his way.” Vincentians in the Jubilee Year This year, the leadership of the Vincentian Family are encouraging members to participate in four special activities to celebrate this Jubilee year: The pilgrimage of the relic of the heart of St. Vincent – which began on January 25 th in Folleville, was present at the audience on Saturday in St. Peter's Square and venerated by Pope Francis, and is being received in each of the 80 countries where Vincentian Family has a presence; Projects to end homelessness throughout the world in all its forms; An International Symposium – underway in Rome this weekend – to reflect on the Vincentian mission and charism; An International Film Festival focusing on the life of St. Vincent de Paul. You can read and learn more about the Vincentian Family and their common projects for this 400 th Jubilee Year here . (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope addresses Emperor Karl League of Prayer

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 18:15
(Vatican Radio)  The challenges of our times demand the collaboration of all people of good will, especially with prayer and sacrifice.  Pope Francis made the exhortation in a brief address to some 130 members of the Emperor Karl League of Prayer , who are in Rome for their annual general assembly.  The League promotes the cause of canonization of  Karl I (1887-1922), the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire , the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary, and the last monarch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.  Church leaders have praised Karl for adopting Christian faith in making political decisions and for his peace efforts during World War I.  The Catholic Church has recognized Karl’s heroic virtues and a miracle through his intercession, following which St. Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed on 3 October 2004.  Peace initiatives Pope Francis noted that the general assembly of Emperor Karl League of Prayer was taking place in Rome in the context of the centenary of the peace initiatives of Pope Benedict XV, a contemporary of the Austrian Emperor , in trying to avert the disaster of WWI .    The Holy Father drew attention to the three objectives of the League – namely, seeking and observing God’s will, committing oneself to peace and justice and expiating for the injustice of history, saying they were, so to say, a recurring feature of the life of Blessed Karl as a statesman, as a husband and father of a family, and as a son of the Church.  “By giving himself to the will of God,” the Pope said, “he accepted the suffering and offered his life as a sacrifice for peace, always sustained by the love and faith of his wife, the Servant of God Zita.”  Pope Francis invited the Emperor Karl League of Prayer to maintain their promise of participating in the numerous efforts of the Pope on behalf of peace with their prayers and personal sacrifices .   He said he counted on them, as the Successor of Peter cannot carry out his mission in the world without the support of the prayers of the faithful.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Telegram for California fire victims

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 20:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the families of victims of widespread wildfires in northern California , and promising prayers for all those affected. Signed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See , Cardinal Pietro Parolin , and jointly addressed to the Archbishop of San Francisco , Salvatore Cordileone , and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles , the telegram promises Pope Francis ’ prayerful solidarity with everyone affected by the fires. It goes on to say Pope Francis is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing, and offers Pope Francis ’ encouragement to civil authorities and emergency workers. The wildfires sweeping through California have killed at least 31 people and damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings. More than 20 thousand people have been displaced by 21 fires, and as many as 400 people remain missing amid the chaos of displacement and the ongoing battle to bring the blazes under control. Below, please find the full text of the Telegram ********************************** The Most Reverend Salvatore Joseph Cordileone Archbishop of San Francisco The Most Reverend José Horacio Gómez Archbishop of Los Angeles Informed of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of property caused by the wildfire in California, the Holy Father assures you of his heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster.  He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.  His Holiness offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this tragedy. To all he sends his blessing.                                                                           Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis receives Lebanese PM Hariri

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 20:32
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Rafic Hariri on Friday morning, in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. A Communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See reports that the Pope and the Prime Minister held cordial conversation over a range of subjects, including various aspects of the situation in Lebanon. They expressed for the strengthening of stability in the country, and offered the opportunity for expressions of appreciation for the welcome Lebanon has given to many refugees. Pope Francis and Prime Minister Hariri also discussed the broader situation in the Middle East, focusing on the need to find a just and comprehensive solution to the conflicts that plague the region. The importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue was also a subject of discussion, as was the value of cooperation between Christians and Muslims to promote peace and justice, along with the historic and institutional role of the Church in Lebanese life and the importance of the Christian presence in the whole region. Below, please find the full text of the Communique from the Press Office of the Holy See, in its official English translation ******************************** This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience H.E. Mr. Saad Rafic Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by H.E. Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. The discussions, which took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, enabled the examination of various aspects of the situation in Lebanon and the latest developments in the Middle East. Satisfaction was then expressed for the strengthening of stability in the country, in the hope of increasingly fruitful collaboration between the various political powers to promote the common good of the entire Nation. Appreciation for the welcome Lebanon has given to many refugees was reaffirmed, and the parties focused on the need to find a just and comprehensive solution to the conflicts that plague the region.  Furthermore, the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue was highlighted, as well as the value of collaboration between Christians and Muslims to promote peace and justice, taking into consideration the historic and institutional role of the Church in the life of the country and the importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges Christians to watch out against worldliness

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 20:05
(Vatican Radio)  Only Christ crucified will save us from the demons that make us " slide slowly into worldliness ", saving us also from the "stupidity" that St. Paul talks about to the Galatians, and from seduction .  This was central message of the homily of Pope Francis at his Mass, Friday morning, at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.  He was reflecting on the episode in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus casts out a demon , which some people interpret as through power of the devil. Watchfulness against Devil's stealth  The Pope said the Lord asks us be watchful in order not to enter into temptation.  This is why a Christians have to be awake, watchful and careful like a sentinel.  Jesus was not narrating a parable but was stating a truth, i.e when the unclean spirit comes out of a man, he roams about in abandoned places looking for refuge and not finding any, decides to return to where he came from, where the freed man lives.  Hence the demon decides to bring in "seven other spirits worse than him.”  Pope Francis emphasized the word “worse”, saying it has much force in the passage because the demons enter quietly . Worldliness The demons thus start being part of the man's life. With their ideas and inspirations, they help the man to live better and entering his life and heart and start changing him from within, but quietly without making any noise.  This method is different from the earlier diabolic possession which was strong, the Pope explained, adding this time it a diabolic possession, something like in a “living room”.  The devil slowly changes our criteria to lead us to worldliness. It camouflages our way of acting, which we hardly notice. And so, the man, freed from the demon, becomes a bad man, a man burdened by worldliness. And that's exactly what the devil wants – worldliness , the Pope stressed. Worldliness, Pope Francis explained, is a spell, a seduction , because the devil is the "father of seduction". When the devil enters "so sweetly, politely and takes possession of our attitudes," the Pope said, our values pass from the service of God to worldliness. Thus we become " lukewarm Christians, worldly Christians", a mixture, something that the Pope described as a “ fruit salad ” of the spirit of the world and the spirit of God.  All this distances us from the Lord, the Pope said and stressed that the way to avoid it by being vigilant and calm without alarm. Christ crucified who saves Watchful means understanding what goes on in my heart, the Pope said, adding, “ It means stopping for a while to examine my life , whether I a Christian, whether I educate my children, whether my life is Christian or worldly?” And one understands this, as Paul points out, by looking at Christ crucified .  One understands where worldliness lies and is destroyed before the Lord's cross.  The Crucifix saves us from the charms and seductions that lead us to worldliness. The Holy Father exhorted Christians to examine themselves whether they look up to Christ crucified, whether they pray the Way of the Cross in order to understand the price of salvation, not just from sins but also from worldliness.  The examination of conscience, the Pope said, is done always before Christ crucified, with prayer , after which one has to break loose from one’s comfortable attitudes, through works of charity, visiting the sick, helping someone in need and so on.  This breaks the harmony and the spiritual worldliness that the demon together with seven others tries to create in us, the Pope added.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis greets Special Olympics Footballers

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday greeted Special Olympics athletes who are taking part in a Unified Football tournament this week at the Pio XI sports centre here in Rome. Listen to our report: Speaking to the althletes gathered, the Pope said, “you are the symbol of a sport that opens one's eyes and heart to the value and dignity of individuals and people who would otherwise be subject to prejudice and exclusion.” The Holy Father told them that, in these days they would have the opportunity to reaffirm the importance of "unified" sport, “through which athletes with and without intellectual disabilities play together.” “This beautiful reality,” he continued, “which you carry out with commitment and conviction, nourishes the hope of a positive and fruitful future of sport, because it makes it a real opportunity for inclusion and involvement.” Pope Francis urged the athletes present to never tire of, “showing the world of sport your shared commitment to building more fraternal societies in which people can grow and develop and fully realize their abilities.” Universal Language of Sport Sport, underlined Pope Francis is a universal language and demonstrates the stories of so many individuals, who thanks to it, overcame exclusion, poverty and injury to be an inspiration to others. The Unified Football Tournament takes place from the 13th -15th October in Rome and each side has 5 Special Olympians and four partner players, all between the ages of 18 and 30. The event takes place at the Pio XI sports centre with the support of the Knights of Columbus. 9 countries are taking part; they are Lituania, France, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Romania and Italy.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope greets organisers of 2015 Sri Lanka visit

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:36
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with members of an organizing committee for the journey that he made to Sri Lanka back in January 2015. Welcoming the group, the pope said his own visit to Sri Lanka was a moment of “special grace” at  a time when the nation was “ striving for reconciliation and healing” after years of suffering and strife.  Religions and cultures united Pope Francis said he was deeply moved by the numbers of Sri Lankans, united across religions and cultures, who came out to greet him during the visit, as well as the vast crowds that gathered prayerfully around the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, a symbol of reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Finally he said he was struck also by the celebration of the canonization of Saint Joseph Vaz, the great missionary to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ words: Dear friends, I am pleased to welcome members of the Organizing Committee for my Pastoral Visit to Sri Lanka back in January 2015.  I greet each of you, together with your spouses who have come on this pilgrimage.  As you welcomed me to your land, and planned my visit so carefully, also in cooperation with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, so now I gladly welcome you here; and even though I would like our visitors to feel at home, I cannot quite equal the forty elephants that greeted me on the road from the airport to Colombo…!  The possibility of visiting your country was a special grace for me, at a moment when, after years of strife and suffering, the nation was striving for reconciliation and healing.  I was deeply moved by the great number of Sri Lankans, united across religions and cultures, who came out to greet me at the airport and along the road to Colombo.  I was struck also by the moving and beautiful celebration of the canonization of Saint Joseph Vaz, the great missionary to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, surely the high point of our time together, as well as by the vast crowds that gathered prayerfully around the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, symbol of refuge and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.  Looking back with gratitude on my Visit, I thank you in a special way for all your hard work, often unseen and at a great cost in time and energy, that made my Visit so fruitful.  I thank your families too, who made many sacrifices and encouraged you in your work.  Your presence here today has brought something of Sri Lanka’s fragrant air to our house, and so reminds us of the many divine graces we experienced together in your country. Entrusting Sri Lanka’s people and her leaders to the intercession of Our Lady of Madhu, I willingly invoke God’s blessing upon you, your families and all who cooperated with you in the planning of this Visit, as a pledge of peace and strength in the Lord. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pontifical Oriental Institute: a bridge between East and West

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 21:32
(Vatican Radio) Church leaders from the different Eastern Catholic rites have been gathered in Rome this week to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Pope Francis visited the Institute on Thursday and issued a mesage praising its "high achievements" and reminding it to be always attentive to the "enormous challenges facing Christians in the East".   In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, Pope Benedict XV established the Institute to be a bridge between East and West and to make the rich traditions of the Oriental Churches available to the entire Catholic world. A century on, the Institute maintains a world class reputation for its research, teaching and publishing on all issues of Eastern theology, liturgies, patristics, history, canon law, literature, spirituality, archeology, as well as questions of ecumenical and geopolitical importance. Jesuit Father David Nazar , is the current rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Born in Canada to a family of Ukrainian origin, he’s a former superior of the Society of Jesus in Ukraine and  former Provincial of the Jesuits in the English Canada Province. Listen:  He explains that the ‘Orientale’ as it’s known, is a papal institute, entrusted to the Society of Jesus, to focus on matters concerning all of the Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches. Eastern treasures available to all Since many of the Eastern Churches are smaller and lacking the resources of Christians in the West, he says, the popes were concerned to make sure that the wealth of research on liturgy, ancient traditions, and original manuscripts could be made available to Christians across the globe. World class library Fr Nazar says that over the past century, the Jesuits have worked hard to establish a world class library, which was funded for a number of years by friends of Pope Pius XI. It remains second to none in the world, he notes, in the study of the ancient traditions and languages of the Eastern world. Ancient rites and traditions Much of this work has been significant for the West as well, he adds, such as the Second Vatican Council’s document on the importance of the Eastern  Churches “which would have been unimaginable without the fifty years of research that had been done at the Orientale”.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Message to mark 100 years of the Pontifical Oriental Institute

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 19:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute , Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, who is also the Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches . The Pontificium Institutum Orientale , or “Orientale” as it is known in Roman shorthand, was founded in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, and became part of the “Gregorian Consortium” including also the University and the Biblical Institute, under the direction and tutelage of the Society of Jesus. In his Message, Pope Francis makes note of the high achievements in the twofold mission of research into liturgical, theological, ecclesiological, and spiritual sources of the Christian East, and the preparation of instruments by which to make the riches of the Eastern Christianity more readily available and accessible to Christians in the West. The Pope also calls on the Orientale to mindfulness of and solicitude for the enormous challenges facing Christians in the East. “Keeping intact the attention and application of traditional research,” Pope Francis writes, “This Institute, through research, teaching and testimony, has the task of helping our [Eastern] brothers and sisters to strengthen and consolidate their faith in the face of the tremendous challenges they face,” challenges which, in the present day, include strong temptations to leave their native homelands, and often forced displacement under threat of persecution and even martyrdom. The Holy Father concludes his message, “In joining myself to the thanksgivings to God for the work it has done over these 100 years, I hope that the Pontifical Oriental Institute will pursue its mission with renewed impetus, studying and spreading with love and intellectual honesty, with scientific rigor and pastoral perspective, the traditions of the Oriental churches in their liturgical, theological, artistic and canonical variety, better and better responding to the expectations of today’s world to create a future of reconciliation and peace.” (from Vatican Radio)...

AB Fisichella reflects on Pope's catechism speech

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 18:32
(Vatican Radio) The President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization , Archbishop Rino Fisichella, has been speaking about Pope Francis’ speech on Wednesday evening marking the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Council sponsored a meeting to celebrate the anniversary and,  reflecting on the Pope’s address, Archbishop Fisichella said that, “there are many different issues in the discourse of Pope Francis.” Archbishop Fisichella spoke with Vatican Radio’s Blandine Hugonnet about some of these issues. Listen to the interview: The Archbishop noted in particular the Pope’s reference to Pope John XXIII ’s opening speech to the Second Vatican Council . The Pope, noted Archbishop Fisichella, explains that faith is not static but dynamic . The Archbishop added that, “ in this speech I would say the dynamic of the Christian truth and our faith is what, in my humble opinion, touched me personally.” Asked about Pope Francis’ reference to the death penalty, Archbishop Fisichella said the Holy Father’s comments are very much in line with the words of St Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI on this issue. But he continued, “yesterday it seems to me that Pope Francis said something more, because he said that when we have a voluntary suppression of a human life this is against the Gospel itself. I think that this is something strong; very profound and very strong.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges Oriental Churches to continue courageous witness

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 18:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday celebrated Mass in the Basilica of St Mary Major to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute  and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. In his homily the pope encouraged all Christians of the Oriental Churches to continue with their courageous witness, despite the dramatic persecutions that they suffer. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report Recalling the establishment of the Institute by Benedict XV in 1917, during the First World War, Pope Francis said that today we are living though another “piecemeal” world war. When we see the persecution and worrying exodus of Christians, he said, just like the people of the Old Testament, we cry out “Why?” Persecution of Christians In today’s reading from the prophet Malachi, the pope continued, we read about those who turn away from God and do evil, yet they go unpunished. In the same way today, he said, we see unscrupulous people who destroy others in order to pursue their own ends and we ask God, “Why?” We find the answer in the verses of Malachi, Pope Francis said, as we read about the way God listens to his people and records their suffering in a ‘book of memories’. Pray and trust in the Lord Pointing to the words from St Luke’s Gospel, the pope said if we pray and trust in the Lord, we know that “everyone who asks, receives; those who seek, find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened”. But do we really know how to pray, to knock on the door of God’s heart, the pope asked? The Gospel reminds us that if we, sinners, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” God's gift of the Holy Spirit The Spirit is God’s great gift to us, Pope Francis concluded, so let us learn how to knock courageously on the door of God’s heart. May courageous prayer inspire and sustain your service to the Church, he told the Oriental Church leaders, so that it may bear fruit which does not wither and die. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: The dynamic word of God cannot be moth-balled

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 00:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday evening addressed participants attending a meeting celebrating the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. In his prepared remarks to those gathered  the Pope said that, it is in the very nature of the Church to “guard” the deposit of faith and to “pursue” the Church’s path, so that the truth present in Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel may grow in fullness until the end of time.   Medicine of Mercy He went on to say that, “with the joy born of Christian hope, and armed with the “medicine of mercy”, we approach the men and women of our time to help them discover the inexhaustible richness contained in the person of Jesus Christ. The Pope described the Catechism as an important instrument adding that, it  “presents the faithful with the perennial teaching of the Church so that they can grow in their understanding of the faith.” Death Penalty During his discourse, the Holy Father brought up the subject of the death penalty saying that  it is a “subject that ought to find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a more adequate and coherent treatment”… Pope Francis went on to say that, “it must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity.” Concluding his remarks the Holy Father said that, “ the word of God cannot be moth-balled like some old blanket in an attempt to keep insects at bay! No.  The word of God is a dynamic and living reality that develops and grows because it is aimed at a fulfilment that none can halt”, he said.   Before imparting his Apostolic Blessing on those present, the Pope underlined that,  “doctrine cannot be preserved without allowing it to develop, nor can it be tied to an interpretation that is rigid and immutable without demeaning the working of the Holy Spirit.”       Please find the English language  translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks below:            I offer a warm greeting to all of you and I thank Archbishop Fisichella for his kind words of introduction.          The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, by which Saint John Paul II, thirty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, offers a significant opportunity for taking stock of the progress made in the meantime.  It was the desire and will of Saint John XXIII to call the Council, not primarily to condemn error, but so that the Church could have an opportunity at last to present the beauty of her faith in Jesus Christ in language attuned to the times.  “It is necessary,” the Pope stated in his opening address, “that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers.  But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate” (11 October 1962).  “It is our duty,” he continued, “not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves, with an earnest will and without fear, to that work which our era demands of us, thus pursuing the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries” (ibid.).          It is in the very nature of the Church to “guard” the deposit of faith and to “pursue” the Church’s path, so that the truth present in Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel may grow in fullness until the end of time.  This is a grace granted to the People of God, but it is also a task and a mission for which we are responsible, that of proclaiming to our contemporaries in a new and fuller way the perennial Good News.  With the joy born of Christian hope, and armed with the “medicine of mercy” (ibid.), we approach the men and women of our time to help them discover the inexhaustible richness contained in the person of Jesus Christ.          In presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Saint John Paul II stated that it should “take into account the doctrinal statements which down the centuries the Holy Spirit has made known to his Church.  It should also help illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past” (Fidei Depositum, 3).  The Catechism is thus an important instrument.  It presents the faithful with the perennial teaching of the Church so that they can grow in their understanding of the faith.  But it especially seeks to draw our contemporaries – with their new and varied problems – to the Church, as she seeks to present the faith as the meaningful answer to human existence at this moment of history.  It is not enough to find a new language in which to articulate our perennial faith; it is also urgent, in the light of the new challenges and prospects facing humanity, that the Church be able to express the “new things” of Christ’s Gospel, that, albeit present in the word of God, have not yet come to light.  This is the treasury of “things old and new” of which Jesus spoke when he invited his disciples to teach the newness that he had brought, without forsaking the old (cf. Mt 13:52).          One of the most beautiful pages in the Gospel of John is his account of the so-called “priestly prayer” of Jesus.  Just before his passion and death, Jesus speaks to the Father of his obedience in having brought to fulfilment the mission entrusted to him.  His words, a kind of hymn to love, also contain the request that the disciples be gathered and preserved in unity (cf. Jn 17:12-15).  The words, “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3), represent the culmination of Jesus’s mission. To know God, as we are well aware, is not in the first place an abstract exercise of human reason, but an irrepressible desire present in the heart of every person.  This knowledge comes from love, for we have encountered the Son of God on our journey (cf. Lumen Fidei, 28).  Jesus of Nazareth walks at our side and introduces us, by his words and the signs he performs, to the great mystery of the Father’s love.  This knowledge is strengthened daily by faith’s certainty that we are loved and, for this reason, part of a meaningful plan.  Those who love long to know better the beloved, and therein to discover the hidden richness that appears each day as something completely new.          For this reason, our Catechism unfolds in the light of love, as an experience of knowledge, trust, and abandonment to the mystery. In explaining its structure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church borrows a phrase from the Roman Catechism and proposes it as the key to its reading and application: “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.  Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 25).          Along these same lines, I would like now to bring up a subject that ought to find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a more adequate and coherent treatment in the light of these expressed aims.  I am speaking of the death penalty.  This issue cannot be reduced to a mere résumé of traditional teaching without taking into account not only the doctrine as it has developed in the teaching of recent Popes, but also the change in the awareness of the Christian people which rejects an attitude of complacency before a punishment deeply injurious of human dignity.  It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity.  It is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true judge and guarantor.  No man, “not even a murderer, loses his personal dignity” (Letter to the President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, 20 March 2015), because God is a Father who always awaits the return of his children who, knowing that they have made mistakes, ask for forgiveness and begin a new life.  No one ought to be deprived not only of life, but also of the chance for a moral and existential redemption that in turn can benefit the community.          In past centuries, when means of defence were scarce and society had yet to develop and mature as it has, recourse to the death penalty appeared to be the logical consequence of the correct application of justice.  Sadly, even in the Papal States recourse was had to this extreme and inhumane remedy that ignored the primacy of mercy over justice. Let us take responsibility for the past and recognize that the imposition of the death penalty was dictated by a mentality more legalistic than Christian.  Concern for preserving power and material wealth led to an over-estimation of the value of the law and prevented a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  Nowadays, however, were we to remain neutral before the new demands of upholding personal dignity, we would be even more guilty.          Here we are not in any way contradicting past teaching, for the defence of the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death has been taught by the Church consistently and authoritatively.  Yet the harmonious development of doctrine demands that we cease to defend arguments that now appear clearly contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth.  Indeed, as Saint Vincent of Lérins pointed out, “Some may say: Shall there be no progress of religion in Christ’s Church?  Certainly; all possible progress.  For who is there, so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it?” (Commonitorium, 23.1; PL 50). It is necessary, therefore, to reaffirm that no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person.          “The Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes” (Dei Verbum, 8).  The Council Fathers could not have found a finer and more synthetic way of expressing the nature and mission of the Church.  Not only in “teaching”, but also in “life” and “worship”, are the faithful able to be God’s People.  Through a series of verbs the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation expresses the dynamic nature of this process: “This Tradition develops […] grows […] and constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth, until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her” (ibid.)          Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision regards the “deposit of faith” as something static.  The word of God cannot be moth-balled like some old blanket in an attempt to keep insects at bay!  No.  The word of God is a dynamic and living reality that develops and grows because it is aimed at a fulfilment that none can halt.  This law of progress, in the happy formulation of Saint Vincent of Lérins, “consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age” (Commonitorium, 23.9: PL 50), is a distinguishing mark of revealed truth as it is handed down by the Church, and in no way represents a change in doctrine.          Doctrine cannot be preserved without allowing it to develop, nor can it be tied to an interpretation that is rigid and immutable without demeaning the working of the Holy Spirit.  “God, who in many and various ways spoke of old to our fathers” (Heb 1:1), “uninterruptedly converses with the bride of his beloved Son” (Dei Verbum, 8).  We are called to make this voice our own by “reverently hearing the word of God” (ibid., 1), so that our life as a Church may progress with the same enthusiasm as in the beginning, towards those new horizons to which the Lord wishes to guide us.          I thank you for this meeting and for your work, and to all of you I cordially impart my blessing.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets with young cricketers from Buenos Aires

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 00:49
(Vatican Radio) Cricket is not a sport normally associated with Argentina, but among the groups greeting Pope Francis at his general audience on Wednesday was a team of young cricketers from his native Buenos Aires . Cricket Sin Fronteras (Cricket Without Borders) is a project that was begun almost a decade ago in the poorest parts of the capital,  the ‘ villas miserias ’ where the Church is engaged in offering alternatives to the widespread violence and crime. Though few Argentinians were familiar with the sport, its popularity has grown and now hundreds of kids, both boys and girls, take part in the project. This week a team of young players was invited to play against St Peter’s Cricket Club , set up under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture and comprised mainly of seminarians studying for the priesthood here in Rome. The cricketers attending the audience in St Peter’s Square had brought with them bats to be blessed, made by inmates from a local jail. The organisers insist that through the sport, youngsters learn values of respect, inclusion and teamwork that will enable them to build a brighter future. Among them is the team’s head coach, Hernan Fennell , who talked to Philippa Hitchen about how the project began: Listen:  Fennell explains that the idea was proposed in 2009 to Fr Pepe [Di Paola], one of the best known Catholic priests working in the poorest areas of Buenos Aires. Among the founders of the project was Daniel Juarez, a longtime friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who was on hand in St Peter’s Square to tell him more about the initiative. Example of inclusion Pope Francis blessed the team and encouraged them to “keep it going, really, it’s an example [of inclusion] for all of us”. Fennell explains that the project began with just four or five kids from the poorest part of town. As it became more popular, the team needed to find more coaches and it has recently been rolled out in state schools as well. Almost 800 boys and girls, aged between six and twenty, are now learning to play the sport Teaching spirit of cricket Among the major challenges, Fennell, goes on, it the difficulties of teaching ‘the spirit of cricket’ to those living in a football culture. If we can make that spirit better known, he says “it’ll be a huge win for us”. (from Vatican Radio)...

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