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Pope's prayer intention for May: Christians in Africa

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 22:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for May is dedicated to  Christians in Africa:  That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace. The Apostleship of Prayer  has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: When we look at Africa, we see much more than its great natural richness. We see its joie de vivre, and above all, we see grounds for hope in Africa’s rich intellectual, cultural and religious heritage. But we cannot fail to see the fratricidal wars decimating peoples and destroying these natural and cultural resources. Let us join with our brothers and sisters of this great continent, and pray together that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at daily Mass: To evangelize, go out, listen, rejoice

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 20:06
(Vatican Radio) The Church should be on its feet and on the journey, listening to the restlessness of the people, and always with joy. That was the message of Pope Francis this morning in the homily for the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. In the first eight chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope said, “there is a summary of the whole history of the Church”: preaching, baptism, conversion, miracles, persecution, joy, but also the ugly sin of those who join themselves to the Church for their own ends, “those benefactors of the Church who in the end cheat the Church,” like Ananias and Sapphira. The Holy Father began his homily with this reflection, then moved on to a consideration of the day’s readings. He first emphasized that the Lord from the beginning accompanied His disciples, confirming the Word with miraculous signs. He never left them alone, not even in the worst moments. Pope Francis the focused on three “words” taken from the day’s first Reading, inviting those present to re-read the passage at home. The first saying was the words of an angel to Philip: “ Get up and go. ” “This,” the Pope said, “is a sign of evangelization”: the vocation, and the great consolation of the Church, is to evangelize. “But in order to evangelize: ‘Get up and go!’ One doesn’t say: ‘Stay seated, calm, in your house’: No! In order to be faithful to the Lord, the Church should always be on its feet and on the journey: ‘Get up and go.’ A Church that does not rise up, that is not on the journey, is sick.” And, the Pope continued, this can cause the Church to be closed in on itself, with many psychological and spiritual traumas – “closed into a little world of gossiping, of things… closed, without horizons.” And so, he said, the Church must “get up and go,” it must be “on its feet and on the journey.” This is how the Church must go about evangelizing. “ Go up and join with that chariot ” – the second message Philip received from the Spirit – was the next expression Pope Francis emphasized. In the chariot was an Ethiopian, a proselyte of the Jewish religion, a eunuch who had come to Jerusalem to worship God. As he travelled, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The passage concerns the conversion of a “finance minister,” which, the Pope said, means it was a “great miracle.” The Spirit called Philip to join himself to that man, Pope Francis continued, emphasizing how important it was for the Church to know she must listen to the restlessness in the heart of every man: “All men, all women have a restlessness in their hearts – [they may be] good or bad, but there is a restlessness. Listen to that restlessness. It’s not saying: ‘Go out and proselytise.’ No, no! ‘Go and listen.’ Listening is the second step. The first: ‘Get up and go’; the second: ‘Listen.’ That ability to listen: What do people feel? What does the heart of the people feel? What does it think? But do they think mistaken things? But I want to hear these mistaken things, in order to understand where the restlessness is. We all have this restlessness within. The second step for the Church is to find the restlessness of the people.” It is, then, the Ethiopian himself who, seeing Philip approach, asks who the prophet is speaking about, and asks him to join him in the chariot. And so, the Pope said, Philip began to preach “with meekness.” The restlessness in the heart of that man found an explanation that responded to the hope in his heart. This was possible, Pope Francis continued, “because Philip joined him and listened to him.” While the Ethiopian listened, the Lord was working within him. In this way, the man understood that the Prophet Isaiah was speaking of Jesus. His faith in Jesus then grew to such a point that when they arrived at a place where there was water, he asked to be baptized. “He asked for Baptism because the Lord had worked in his heart,” the Pope said. Then, after he had been baptized, when the Spirit took Philip and bore him away, the eunuch continued on his way, filled with joy. This “ joy of the Christian ,” Pope Francis said, is the third “word” from the Reading. Pope Francis concluded his homily with the hope that the Church would be “on its feet,” “a mother who listens,” and “with the grace of the Holy Spirit … finds the Word to say”: “Mother Church, which gives so many children to the light with this method, we would say – let us use the word – this method which is not proselytistic: it is the method of the witness to obedience. The Church, which tells us today: ‘Rejoice.’ To rejoice; joy.  The joy of being Christian, even in ugly moments. Because after the stoning of Stephen a great persecution arose, and the Christians scattered everywhere, like seed carried on the wind. And it fell to them to preach the Word of Jesus. May the Lord give to all of us the grace to live the Church in this way: on our feet and going out, listening to the restlessness of the people, and always in joy.”  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: 'Vatican media reform must embrace the challenge of change'

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 19:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged members of Vatican media platforms not to be afraid of reform, and to embrace the challenge of change that will enable them to bring the message of the Gospel to all.  Addressing representatives of the Secretariat for Communications (SPC) gathered for its first Plenary Assembly, the Pope said that to “reform is not just to whitewash things; it’s to give them a different form and organization”.  “It’s something, he said to those charged with overhauling the Vatican’s different news and media outlets, to be done with intelligence and what he called a good kind of  ‘violence’.” Headed by the Prefect, msgr. Dario Viganò, the new Dicastery was created by Pope Francis exactly two years ago with the mandate to unify all Vatican communications platforms: the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Publishing House, The Osservatore Romano  newspaper, Vatican Radio, the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Photographic Service, the Vatican Internet Service, the Vatican Printing Press and the former Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Describing the issues addressed during the Plenary are “very dear to his heart,” Pope Francis said the work  taken on by the SPC aims to “find new criteria and new ways of communicating the Gospel of mercy to all peoples and cultures making use of the new digital culture at our disposal”. He highlighted the fact that – as specified in his ‘Motu proprio’ which established the new Dicastery - the reform is not about coordinating or merging the various platforms, but sets up something completely new with a single and unified management which will be able to better respond to the needs of the Church’s mission. Reflecting on the fact that in the past each platform had its own channels and mediums of communication (the written word, images, audio) the Pope said that “all these forms of communication today are transmitted with a single code that uses the binary system.”  Thus, he said, the Vatican newspaper is called to find a new and different way  to reach a much higher number of readers that it does through its printed format. He said that through the years Vatican Radio has become an ensemble of portals and “must be reshaped according to new models so it can conform to modern technologies and to the needs of  our contemporaries”. And regarding the Vatican’s radiophonic service, the Pope had special words of appreciation for the efforts being made in consideration of countries that are not technologically developed – “I think of Africa” he said – praising  the “rationalization of Short Wave frequencies that have never been dismantled. “History undoubtedly represents a precious patrimony of experience to be safeguarded and used as a push towards the future” he said, pointing out that otherwise it would be a mere museum: “interesting and nice to visit, but unable to provide the strength and courage for the continuation of the journey.” Pope Francis concluded his address encouraging the SPC to courageously  bring the reform to completion with an apostolic and missionary spirit, and asked there be a special regard and attention for situations of need, poverty and difficulty within the knowledge that they must be faced with adequate solutions: “Let us resist the temptation of being attached to a glorious past; let’s all be team players in order to better respond to the new communication challenges posed by culture today without fear and without foreseeing apocalyptic scenarios.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

Holy See and Myanmar to establish diplomatic relations

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 19:12
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See and Myanmar announced on Thursday their intention to establish diplomatic relations. The announcement came in the context of an audience Pope Francis granted the State Counsellor and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi. Below, please find the full text of the statement from the Press Office of the Holy See ************************************* The Holy See and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, keen to promote bonds of mutual friendship, have jointly agreed to establish diplomatic relations at the level of Apostolic Nunciature, on behalf of the Holy See, and Embassy, on the part of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. (from Vatican Radio)...

General Audience: Pope reflects on Apostolic Voyage to Egypt

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 20:47
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on last weekend’s Apostolic Voyage to Egypt during his weekly General Audience, recalling the various stages of his trip. The Holy Father thanked the people of Egypt for their warm welcome, and noted the “extraordinary commitment” of the Egyptian authorities to ensure his visit went off without a hitch. He spoke of his visit to the Al-Azhar University, which was focused on both “ dialogue between Christians and Muslims” and “the promotion of peace ” in the world. Pope Francis summarized his address at the International Conference for peace, emphasizing Egypt’s history as a “ land of civility ” and a “ land of covenant. ” Egypt, he said, echoing the speech of the Grand Imam, “reminds us that peace is built through education, formation in wisdom, a humanism that includes the religious dimension, the relationship with God, as an integral part.” He continued, saying peace is built on the relationship between God and men, and on the alliance between all men. This, the pope said, is the foundation for a civil and social order in which all are called to participate. Pope Francis also spoke about the role of Christians, who are called to be a “leaven of fraternity, in Egypt and elsewhere. He said his meeting with his “dear brother” Pope Tawadros II – the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch – and their “Common Statement” were signs of the commitment of Christians to that fraternity. The Pope recalled the prayers for the martyrs of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the victims of very recent violence, whose sacrifice and common witness lent a particular fruitfulness to the work of ecumenism. The second day of the Pope’s voyage was dedicated to the Catholic faithful. The Mass celebrated by Pope Francis was, he said, a feast of faith and fraternity. He recalled his homily, in which he encouraged Egyptian Catholics to relive the experience of the disciples at Emmaus, when they “encountered the Lord.” The Holy Father also reflected on the final event of his Voyage, the meeting with priests, religious, and seminarians. He noted in particular the many seminarians in Egypt, which he called a “consolation.” Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis said Christians in the region, guided by their pastors, should be “salt and light” for the Middle East. He called his voyage to Egypt a sign of hope, refuge, and help.” His voyage, he said, “signifies walking together along the path of hope,” and called Egypt a “sign of hope” for fraternity, not just in the past, but also in the present day.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: English summary of General Audience

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 17:00
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, during which he spoke of his recently concluded visit to Egypt. Below, please find the official English-language summary of the Holy Father's prepared remarks ... ****************** Dear Brothers and Sisters:  My recent Apostolic Journey to Egypt took place at the invitation of the President of the Republic, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Catholic Coptic Patriarch.  I thank all those who helped in its planning and organization.  My meeting with the Gran Imam, and my message to the International Conference for Peace, recalled that peace is the fruit of an education to wisdom and a humanism that respects the religious dimension of our existence.  Our covenant with God, grounded in the commandment of love of God and neighbour, inspires our efforts to build a just and peaceful civil order in which all have a part to play.  Egypt’s great cultural and religious heritage gives the nation a special role in this work of peacemaking.  In my meeting with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, we reaffirmed our mutual commitment to unity and prayed together for the victims of the recent attacks.  At Mass with the Catholic community, and in my meeting with priests, religious and seminarians, I saw the beauty of the Church in Egypt and I encouraged everyone to persevere in the hope of the Gospel.  May the Holy Family, who once found refuge in Egypt, bless and protect its people with prosperity, fraternity and peace. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pont. Academy Social Sciences calls for new roads to integration

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 21:46
The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences wrapped up its Plenary Assembly on Tuesday with a call for inclusion of the most marginalized in society. The five-day Plenary Session focused on the theme “Towards a Participatory Society: New Roads to Social and Cultural Integration”. A message from Pope Francis provided the guidelines for the Plenary. Recalling the movements and the battles for the rights of workers in the past two centuries, the Pope pointed out that “those battles are far from over” and called for a new world vision that has the value of fraternity at its basis. Present at this mornings’ press conference in the Vatican was one of the participants of the Plenary, Professor Paulus Zulu who highlighted the fact that in Africa one of the major causes for exclusion is to be found in political systems which prevent the people from accessing even the basic resources of life. Listen:  Professor Zulu explains that in Africa there is a crisis of representative democracy which leads to major causes of social exclusion. Consequently, he says, there are growing inequalities. “One of the consequences – migration - often represents a response to these inequalities” he says. “Some of the excluded populations, he says,  try to seek measures of existence – not only just inclusion – measures of existence outside their continent”  or country. Prof. Zulu concludes that that is one of the manifestations which one would refer to as original.  “Part of the solution, or what communities deem as the possible mechanism, is through social movements which are trying to garner mechanisms towards social inclusion, particularly access, where inclusion leads to access of the basic resources of life” he says.    (from Vatican Radio)...

The Lord softens those with hard hearts says Pope

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 21:04
(Vatican Radio) “The Lord softens those with hard hearts, those who condemn all who are outside the law.” This was the message of Pope Francis homily, during tuesday’s Mass in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.  He said that those who are hard hearted do not know the tenderness of God and his ability to remove hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Beginning with the first reading, in which St Stephen was stoned to death by the temple authorities in Jerusalem, the Pope reflected on the witness of Christian obedience. He said that those who stoned Stephen to death did not understand the word of God. Stephen had called them “circumcised of heart,” which was the equivalent of calling someone a pagan. According the Pope, there are different ways of not understanding the word of God. For example, when Jesus had met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, he had called them “fools.” This was not an expression of praise, but it was also not a strong word either, unlike Stephen’s expression. “They did not understand, they were afraid, because they did not want problems, they had fear, but they were good men, open to the truth” said the Pope. “And when Jesus rebuked them, they let his words enter them and their hearts burned within them, whilst those who stoned Stephen were furious and did not want to listen!” This, according to the Pope, is the drama of the closed hearted. Turning to Psalm 94, the Lord admonished his people not to harden their hearts. Then Pope Francis said, the prophet Ezekiel makes a “beautiful promise” to change the heart of stone into a heart of flesh, a heart that knows how to listen and receive the witness of obedience. “This causes suffering in the Church. The closed hearts, the hearts of stone, the hearts which do not want to be open, do not want to hear, the hearts which only know the language of condemnation. They know how to condemn, they do not know how to say ‘Explain it to me, why do you say this? Why this? Explain it to me.’ No, they are closed. That’s all they know. They have no need of explanations,” said Pope Francis. The rebuke that Jesus speaks of also led to the killing of the prophets, “because they spoke to you what you did not want to hear. A closed heart cannot let the Holy Spirit enter in.” Pope Francis said “There was no place in their hearts for the Holy Spirit. In fact, the letter today speaks of how Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, he had understood everything, he was a witness to the obedience of the word made flesh, and this was done by the Holy Spirit. He was filled. A closed heart, a hardened heart, a pagan heart doesn’t let the spirit in and feels himself in himself” According to the Pope, the disciples on the road to Emmaus represent us, “with our many doubts, many sins. Many times we want to move away from the Cross, from the truth, but let us make space to hear Jesus, who makes our hearts burn. The other group, who are closed in the rigidity of the law, who do not want to hear Jesus, are saying worse things than Stephen did.” The Pope concluded with a reflection on the meeting between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. He said that every one of us enters into a dialogue between Jesus and the victim of the hearts of stone, the adulteress. And to those who want to stone her, Jesus says “Look within yourselves:” “Today, we look at the tenderness of Jesus, the witness of obedience, that great witness, Jesus, who has given life, which makes us look for the tenderness of God, confronting us, our sins, our weaknesses. Let us enter this dialogue and let us call for the grace of the Lord which softens the rigid hearts of those people who are always closed in the law and condemn all who are outside the law. They do not know that the word became flesh, that the word is a witness to obedience. They do not know the tenderness of God and his ability to take out the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh."     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: fraternity can generate a just society with dignity for all

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 21:12
(Vatican Radio) On May 1st the Church  remembers Saint Joseph the worker, a day marked across the globe as International Labour Day. Pope Francis ’ thoughts in these days go especially towards young people as expressed in his May 1st tweet: “May Saint Joseph give young people the ability to dream, to take risks for big tasks, the things that God dreams for us,” many of whom are faced with unprecedented high rates of unemployment and socio-financial difficulties. And in a message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that in these days is holding its Plenary Assembly in the Vatican (28 April-2 May), the Pope recalls the “hard battles” of workers during the 19th and 20th centuries which took place “in the name of solidarity and rights”. He says these battles “are far from over” pointing to the “social exclusion and marginalization of millions of men and women today.” “Today, solidarity is not sufficient, it is necessary to increase  the parameters of the traditional concept of justice” he said. In the current liberal and individualistic vision of the world, he continues, almost everything has become a “trade commodity”; in a “state-centric” vision everything is accomplished out of “duty”. These are two visions, the Pope says, that have not and will not solve the grave problems of economy and work. In his message the Pope says it is “necessary to attempt new paths that are inspired by Christ’s message.” He says the key word is fraternity and he highlights the content of Pope Pius XI’s social encyclical issued in 1931: “Quadragesimo Anno,” which he says, decries the egoism which is at the basis of injustice and is the opposite of fraternity. He points out that it also foresaw the affirmation of a “global economic dictatorship” that Pius XI called the “international imperialism of money”. The solution, Pope Francis says, is a fraternal society in which work “before being conceived as a right, is recognized as a capacity and an inalienable need of each person”. Only in a fraternal society, he says, can work be “just”, meaning that not only will it assure an equitable remuneration, but it will correspond to the vocation of the person and therefore  be able to contribute to the development of his or her capacities and talents. “This is the proposal of the Gospel – a proposal that is able to create a new humanism” the Pope says, and “a new energy that will generate freedom, justice, peace and dignity for all”. Pope Francis concludes his message quoting from a speech to managers and workers of the Terni steel mill in 2014: “Dear brothers and sisters, never stop hoping for a better future. Fight for it, fight. Do not be trapped in the vortex of pessimism, please! If each one does his or her part, if everyone always places the human person — not money — with his dignity at the centre, if an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing inspired by the Gospel is strengthened, you will be able to leave behind the morass of a hard and difficult economic season of work”.        (from Vatican Radio)...

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