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Archbishop Gallagher discusses Japan visit

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 18:02
(Vatican Radio) The Secretary for Relations with States in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, is recently returned from an official visit to Japan. During his trip, Archbishop Gallagher met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and celebrated Mass in the city of Hiroshima. In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio on his return, the Secretary for Relations with States explained the visit was to return the favor of the visit of Japan’s Foreign Minister to the Vatican in 2016. “It was right to reciprocate [the visit],” he explained, “to build up this cooperation, which exists.” Click below to hear the extended conversation between Alessandro Gisotti and the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher… Archbishop Gallagher also reiterated the common commitment of the Holy See with Japan regarding the elimination of nuclear weapons. “They are – for very personal reasons – obviously working for a nuclear-free world,” he said, “but they do feel the nuclear powers have to be part of that debate,” he continued. “Unless we get the nuclear powers on board,” he continued, “nothing is going to change substantially.” Archbishop Gallagher also spoke of the visit in the broader context of the Holy See’s diplomacy. “I think the Holy Father wishes – in what he refers to as his ‘creative diplomacy’ – he wishes this to be an expression of the Church’s general service and mission,” Archbishop Gallagher said. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis prays for Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 17:21
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has asked for prayers for the Rohingya people in Myanmar who are persecuted and forced to flee from their homes. He delivered his appeal during the weekly General Audience asking those present to join him in prayers “for our Rohingya brothers and sisters who are being chased from Myanmar and are fleeing from one place to another because no one wants them.” “They are good people, they are not Christians, they are peaceful people, they are our brothers and sisters and for years they have been suffering, they are being tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith” he said.  And together with the some 7,000 people present in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican, he prayed the ‘Our Father’ for all exploited and humiliated migrants, and in a special way for the Rohingyas.  Pope Francis was marking the Feast day of Saint Josephine Bakita, herself a Sudanese slave who was freed and went on to become a Canossian religious sister in Italy. She was canonized in the year 2000. Human rights groups have urged Myanmar’s government to back an independent international investigation into alleged abuses by security forces against members of the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority, including killings, the razing of homes and the reported systematic use of sexual violence. The estimated 1 million Rohingya face official and social discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, also known as Burma. Most do not have citizenship and are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even when their families have lived in the country for generations. Violence in 2012 forced many to flee their homes, and more than 100,000 still live in squalid refugee camps. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope calls for action in the fight against human trafficking

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 16:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed to government leaders to be strong in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking . Marking Wednesday’s ‘ International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking ’ marked annually on 8 February, and focusing this year on the trafficking of children and adolescents,  the Pope had words of encouragement for all those who in different ways, help minors who have been enslaved and abused to be freed from this terrible oppression. “I urge all those in government positions to combat this scourge with firmness, giving voice to our younger brothers and sisters who have been wounded in their dignity. All efforts must be made to eradicate this shameful and intolerable crime” he said.       He explained that the 'International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking" falls on the feast day of Saint Josephine Bakita : "this enslaved, exploited and humiliated girl in Africa never lost hope" he said  but persevered in her faith and ended up as a migrant in Europe where she heard the call of the Lord and became a nun. Let's pray to Saint Josephine Bakita for all migrants and refugees who are exploited and suffer so much". The Pope also recalled the beatification on Tuesday in Japan of Justo Takayama Ukon , a Japanese lay person who died a martyr in Manila in 1615. “Rather than bowing to compromise, he renounced honor and wealth, and accepted humiliation and exile. He remained faithful to Christ and to the Gospel” he said. For this reason, the Pope said, “he represents an admirable example of strength in faith and dedication in charity.”  Pope Francis also mentioned the upcoming ‘ 25th World Day of the Sick ’ in memory of Our Lady of Lourdes. He said the main celebration will take place on Saturday in Lourdes and will be presided over by the Cardinal Secretary of State.  He concluded asking for prayers for all sick people, especially those are in grave condition and are alone, and also for those who care for them.     (from Vatican Radio)...

General Audience: English Summary

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 16:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday encouraged the faithful to strive to be living signs of hope for the human family. Speaking during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued his catechesis on Christian hope, conceding that especially in times of darkness and difficulty  , hope is no easy virtue. Please find below the English synopsis of the Pope’s catechesis: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we have seen that the virtue of hope is rooted in the Lord’s resurrection and its promise of our own.  Christian hope is intensely personal yet also communitarian.  Saint Paul frequently encourages the members of the early Church to sustain one another in hope, through mutual prayer and practical concern for those in need.  This support must be given especially to the poor, the weak in faith, the suffering and those tempted to despair.  Christian hope, necessarily linked to charity, needs to be “embodied” in a community of mutual support and loving concern.  That body is the Church and its soul is the Holy Spirit.  Our witness of hope in Christ’s promises is meant to expand and enrich the life of society as a whole.  We know that, especially in times of darkness and difficulty, hope is no easy virtue.  Yet the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts teaches us to trust in the Lord’s provident care and to strive constantly, in our communities, to be living signs of hope for the entire human family. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass: ‘God created us as children in His image’

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 18:47
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday said that God created man in His image, made him lord of the earth, and gave him a woman at his side to love. The Pope’s words on these three gifts of God in Creation came during his homily at daily Mass in the Casa Santa Marta. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: The Holy Father’s homily at Mass focused on the verses of Psalm 8: "Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor,” and on the Book of Genesis’ account of the Creation of man and woman. God has given us the DNA of children, in His image The Pope spoke about the first of three great gifts, which God gave humanity in creation. "First of all, He gave us His 'DNA', that is, He made us children, created us in His image, in His image and likeness, like Him. And when one makes a child, he cannot take it back: the son is made, he exists. And whether or not he carries resembles the father, he is a son; he has received his identity. If the child is good, his father is proud of that son, right?, 'Look at how good he is!'. And even if he is a little ugly, the father in any case says: 'Isn’t he beautiful!', because a father is like this. Always. And if the son is bad, the father justifies him, waiting for him ... Jesus taught us how a father waits for his children. He gave us the identity of a child: to 'man and woman', we must add the identity of ‘child’. We 'are like gods', because we are children of God." The Earth is entrusted to humanity to preserve it through work God’s second gift in Creation, Pope Francis said, is a ‘task’: God ‘gave us all the earth’, to ‘dominate’ and ‘subdue’, as the account in Genesis narrates. God therefore has given humanity a certain ‘royalty’, he added, because God does not want a ‘slave’ but ‘a lord, a king’, entrusted with a task: "As [God] worked in Creation, He has given us work, the work of advancing Creation. Not to destroy it; but to make it grow, to care for it, to keep it and make it carry on. He gave everything. It’s funny, I sometimes think, ‘He did not give us money.’ We have everything. Who gave us money? I don’t know. Grandmothers have this saying that ‘the devil enters through the pocket’. This may be… God gave humanity all of Creation to preserve it and care for it: this is the gift. And finally, 'God created mankind in His image, male and female He created them.'" Love: God’s third gift in Creation Pope Francis went on to explore the third and final gift, love, beginning with the love shared between a man and a woman. “Male and female He created them. It is not good for the man to be alone. And He made his partner,” the Pope said. In love, God gives man love and a "dialogue of love", which, the Holy Father said, must have been the first between man and woman. The Pope concluded with a look at Creation, thanking God for these three gifts given in Creation. "Let us thank God for these three gifts He has given us: an identity, a gift/duty, and love. And let us ask for the grace to preserve this identity of a child, to work with the gift He has given us and to advance this gift with our work, and the grace to learn to love ever more each day." (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope's Lenten message: The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 18:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ Lenten message was released on Tuesday entitled “The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift.” Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report Below find the English language translation of Pope Francis’ Lenten message. The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift. Dear Brothers and Sisters,             Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us.  Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).             Lent is a favorable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life.  It exhorts us to sincere conversion.   The other person is a gift             The parable begins by presenting its two main characters.  The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.             The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means “God helps”. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).             Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbor or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.   Sin blinds us             The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).             The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10).  It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.             The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).             The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness.  The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.             Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).   The Word is a gift             The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).             We too see what happens in the afterlife. There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.             The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.             The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive.  But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).             The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore.  At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.             Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.               From the Vatican, 18 October 2016             Feast of Saint Luc the Evangelist (from Vatican Radio)...

Holy See calls on UN to address economic, social, spiritual poverty

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 15:39
(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See’s representative to the United Nations has told a commission for social development that world leaders must address “not only economic poverty but also social and spiritual poverty with policies and investments that people can see and touch”. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer to the UN, addressed the 55th Session of the Commission for Social Development on Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all. He said, “Wars and conflicts are the main causes of forced migrations and massive displacements of populations. Thus, putting an end to violent conflicts must become our priority, if we are to eradicate poverty and build lasting peace.” Archbishop Auza also said working with young people on education, jobs, and opportunities encourages their “personal growth and provide them a place in society to make meaningful contributions” so as not to “fall prey to extremist ideologies”. “While recognizing that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda also recognizes that poverty cannot be reduced to economics,” he said. Please find below the full text of Archbishop Auza’s address: Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, during the 55th Session of the Commission for Social Development Agenda Item 3 (a): Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all New York, 2 February 2017 Mr. Chair, At the outset, my delegation wishes to congratulate you and your bureau on your election to the Commission this year. It is the first year that the Commission has been tasked by the Economic and Social Council with providing substantive inputs to the high-level political forum in the area of social development, and so our discussions take on added importance. The focus of this year’s High-level Political Forum in July also fits perfectly within our priority theme for the 55th Session, providing the Commission with a particular opportunity to address poverty eradication by focusing on its social dimensions, a critical element that is often overlooked. Mr. Chair, While recognizing that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda also recognizes that poverty cannot be reduced to economics. Instead, it calls on the international community to “address poverty in all its forms and dimensions” in order to ensure that “all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment”. It goes even further in recognizing that poverty eradication is intimately linked with commitments to “combating inequality within and among countries”, “preserving the planet”, “fostering social inclusion” and ultimately “building peaceful societies.” During his annual address to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis similarly recognized that “civil progress” combined with concrete “economic development”, is the only road to peace. Peace, he continued, is an “active virtue, one that calls for the engagement and cooperation of each individual and society as a whole.” Mr. Chair, Unfortunately, for many people today, as was also recently emphasized by Pope Francis, “peace appears as a blessing to be taken for granted, for all intents [it is considered] an acquired right to which not much thought is given. Yet, for all too many others, peace remains merely a distant dream.” As we know far too well, millions of people currently find themselves living amid conflicts, fueled by senseless violence, hatred and fear. Even in places that we once considered secure, lack of opportunity and the economic and social strains caused by global insecurity and forced migrations have left the world less stable and in desperate need of concrete signs of hope. Mr. Chair, Wars and conflicts are the main causes of forced migrations and massive displacements of populations. Thus, putting an end to violent conflicts must become our priority, if we are to eradicate poverty and build lasting peace. This means addressing not only economic poverty but also social and spiritual poverty with policies and investments that people can see and touch. First and foremost, we must work to provide young people with education, jobs and opportunities that encourage their personal growth and provide them a place in society to make meaningful contributions. Such investments ensure not only that our youth can provide for themselves and their families — but that they can contribute to building a culture of peace; for, when our youth know they are valued and belong, they will not fall prey to extremist ideologies. Additionally, we must also find ways to address the needs of the most marginalized in our societies, such as our elderly who have not only contributed to society's economic wealth but who continue to generate social wealth through experience and knowledge. Here again, the role of the family is crucial; it also happens to be the most cost effective social safety net that society can offer, especially when supported by tax credits or other targeted government policies that allow the family to provide supports that would otherwise become the responsibility of the State. Finally, sustainable development for all should embrace migrants, displaced persons and refugees. Not only must we respect the right of every person to migrate, but we must also cooperate to make investments that ensure they are integrated fully into the societies in which they are received without, as Pope Francis reminds us, “the latter sensing that their security, cultural identity and political-social stability are threatened.” Mr. Chair, Not unlike poverty eradication, “peace will never be achieved once and for all, but must be built up continually.” Thus let us take advantage of the work of this Commission to identify and support those best practices that will contribute most toward making progress on the challenging road that lies before us. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis at Mass: be open, receptive to God's gifts

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 20:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning. In remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the theme of Christian freedom, saying that the follower of Christ is a “slave” – but of love, not of duty, and urging the faithful not to hide in the “rigidity” of the Commandments. Click below to hear our report   The Pope took the Responsorial Psalm, 103 (104) as his starting point: a “song of praise” to God for His wonders. “The Father,” said Pope Francis, “works to make this wonder of creation and with His Son to accomplish this wonder of re-creation.” Pope Francis also recalled an episode in which a child asked him what God was doing before He created the world: “He was loving,” was the response. Open your heart, do not take refuge in the rigidity of the Commandments Why then did God create the world? “Simply to share His fullness,” Francis said. “To have someone to whom [to give] and with whom to share His fullness.” In the re-creation, God sends His Son to “set things right” – to make “the ugly one handsome, of the mistake a true [cast], of the villain a good guy”: “When Jesus says: ‘The Father is always at work: I, too, am always at work,’ the teachers of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him for this. Why? Because they could not receive the things of God as a gift! Only as Justice: ‘These are the Commandments: but they are few, let’s make more. And instead of opening their heart to the gift, they hid, have sought refuge in the rigidity of the Commandments, which they had multiplied up to 500 or more ... They did not know how to receive the gift – and the gift is only received with freedom – and these rigid characters were afraid of the freedom that God gives us: they were afraid of love.” The Christian is a slave of love, not of duty The Pope went on to note that it was after that, that the Gospels tell us, “They wanted to kill Jesus.” To this, he added, “Because he said that the Father made this wonder as a gift:  receive the gift of the Father!”: “And that is why today we have praised the Father: ‘You are great, O Lord! I love you so much, for you have given this gift. You saved me, you created me.’ And this is the prayer of praise, the prayer of joy, the prayer that gives us the joy of the Christian life. And not the closed, sad  prayer of the person who never knew how to receive a gift because he is afraid of freedom that always carries with it a gift. Such a one knows only how to do duty, but closed duty. Slaves of duty, but not love:  when you become a slave of love, you are free! It is a beautiful bondage that, but such men did not understand that.” Ask how we receive the gift of redemption and forgiveness of God Here, then, are the “two wonders of the Lord,” he went on to say: “the wonder of creation and the wonder of redemption, the re-creation.” The he asked, “How do I receive this gift that God has given me – creation? And if I receive it as a gift, do I love creation, do I care for the created order?” The reason, he stressed, is that it is a gift: “How do I receive the redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, the making of me a son with His Son? Lovingly, tenderly, with freedom? Or do I hide in the rigidity of the closed Commandments, that are more and more “safe” – with emphasis on the scare-quotes – but that do not give joy, because they does not make you free. Each of us ought to ask himself wonder how he is experiencing these two wonders: the wonder of creation and even greater wonder of re-creation. May the Lord make us understand this great thing and make us understand what He was doing before creating the world: He was loving. Let us understand His love for us, and may we say – as we said today: ‘Lord, you are great! Thank you, thank you!’ Let us go forward like this. (from Vatican Radio)...

German Catholics and Lutherans take new steps towards unity

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 20:13
(Vatican Radio) The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation offers Catholics and Lutherans an opportunity to take further steps towards reconciliation and full Christian unity. That was Pope Francis ’ message on Monday to an ecumenical delegation from Germany, led by Cardinal Reinhard Marx , president of the German bishops conference, and top Protestant Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm , chairman of the Evangelical Churches in Germany (EKD). Welcoming the delegation to the Vatican, Pope Francis praised the positive relationship between Catholics and Lutherans in Germany, urging them to be courageous and determined in their continuing journey together. “We share the same baptism”, he said, “we must walk together tirelessly!” Reflecting on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation , he said it’s an opportunity to put Christ back at the centre of their ecumenical relations. Just as the question of a merciful God was the driving force of Luther and the other Reformists, so it must be at the heart of our joint efforts propose the radical truth of God’s limitless mercy to men women today. Speaking of the tragedy of divisions and conflict, fomented by political interests, the Pope praised the initiative of the German delegation to hold an ecumenical service of penitence and reconciliation entitled “Healing memories – witnessing to Jesus Christ”.  Catholics and Lutherans will also be participating in other joint events this year, he said, including a shared pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a congress to present new translations of the Bible and an ecumenical day dedicated to shared social responsibility. Thanks to a shared spiritual communion that has been rediscovered over recent decades, the Pope said, Catholics and Lutherans can together deplore the failures of the Reformation on both sides, as well as appreciating the many gifts which we have received from it. The current challenges of faith and morals facing our Churches today, Pope Francis concluded, impel us to step up our efforts and increase our cooperation in the service of the poor and the protection of our planet. In a period of serious divisions and new forms of exclusion, he said, we are urgently called by God to follow the path of unity and reconciliation.German  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: May this year's Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 22:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday reached out to Americans urging them to make this year’s Super Bowl a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity to the world.   In a specially recorded video message for the event which holds the attention of much of the nation and commands a television audience larger than for any other event of the year, the Pope pointed out that great sporting events like the championship game of the National Football League are highly symbolic, and show that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace.   “By participating in sport, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest - and in a healthy way - we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules. May this year's Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity to the world” he said.  The 2017 Super Bowl takes place in Houston and features the final NFL showdown between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Vice President Mike Pence, who is scheduled to attend, will be the fourth sitting vice president to see the game in person.   Listen to our report:      (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: 'respond to logic of waste with culture of life'

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 20:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged all believers to respond to “the logic of waste and demographic downturn” by upholding and promoting a “culture of life”. Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square after the recitation of the Angelus prayer, the Pope marked Sunday’s celebration in Italy of the “Day for Life” with a call to join Italian Bishops in promoting a culture of life in which “no one is left alone”. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : “Each life is sacred” Pope Francis said, let’s pray together for those children who risk a pregnancy termination and for those who are nearing the end of life.” “May no one, he continued, be left alone and may love defend the sense of life.” Quoting the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “Life is beauty, admire it; Life is life, fight for it” he said that is true for the child about to be born and for the person who is about to die: “Every life is sacred!”            During his catechesis, the Pope referred to the Gospel reading of the day that tells of the Sermon on the Mount and  urged Christians to preserve society from corruption and gossip. “We are the salt of the earth” he said, and the mission of Christians in society is to give flavor to life with faith and with the love that Christ has given us “rejecting the polluting germs of selfishness, envy and gossip.” “These germs, the Pope said, ruin the texture of our communities that must be places of welcome, solidarity and reconciliation”. To be able to fulfill this mission, he continued, “it is necessary to be free from the corrupting degeneration of worldly influences that are contrary to Christ and to the Gospel.” Thus, Francis invited the faithful never to let down their guard but to be purified continuously  regenerating the spirit of the Gospel every day in our lives. “We Christians, he said, are recognizable as true disciples of Christ in our actions” he said. The Pope pointed out that it is above all our behavior, for the better or for the worse, which leaves a mark in others. “Thanks to the light of faith, the gift that we have received, we have the duty and the responsibility not to keep it to ourselves as if it were our property, but to allow it to shine in the world and give it to others through works of charity” he said. “The world, he said, is much in need of the light of the Gospel that transforms, heals and gives salvation to he who embraces it.” When we give of the light of our faith, Pope Francis said, we do not extinguish it, but strengthen it, but, he warned, it must be nurtured with love and with works of charity.         (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope names Archb. Becciu personal delegate to Order of Malta

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 19:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has named Archbishop Angelo Becciu as his personal special delegate to the Sovereign Order of Malta. In a letter Saturday addressed to Archbishop Becciu, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, the Pope gives him “all necessary powers” to help the Order reform its Constitution and elect a new leader. Naming Becciu “as my special delegate to the distinguished Order” of Malta, the Pope emphasized that he will work in “strict collaboration” with the Order’s interim leader, Fra' Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein. The two of them, he said, must work for “greater good of the Order and for the reconciliation among all its components, religious and lay.” Additionally, they will be responsible for developing together “a study in view of the appropriate spiritual renovation” of the Order’s Constitution. Pointing to Becciu’s role in particular, the Pope said he will be charged with caring for “everything related to the spiritual and moral renewal of the Order, especially the professed members.” “You will be my exclusive spokesman” in everything relating to relations between the Order and the Vatican” and “I delegate to you, then, all the necessary powers to determine any issues that may arise concerning the implementation of the mandate entrusted to you” the letter said. Becciu’s mandate will end with the conclusion of the extraordinary Council to elect a new Grand Master, after the former, Matthew Festing, resigned last month upon the request of Pope Francis. The appointment of Becciu falls shortly after Festing’s resignation on January 24 from his position as Grand Master at the request of Pope Francis, and the reinstatement of ousted leader Albrecht von Boeselager as Grand Chancellor. The “Council Complete of State” to elect a new Grand Master must be held within three months of the former’s resignation or death. Though no dates have yet been set, at a press conference highlighting the Order’s priorities this week, Boeselager said the council is expected to take place in late April. The Sovereign Order of Malta is a chivalric order which was founded in 1099, originally to provide protection and medical care to Holy Land pilgrims. It now performs humanitarian work throughout the world, and its two principle missions are defense of the faith and care for the poor. It maintains sovereignty, holding diplomatic relations with more than 100 states and United Nations permanent observer status. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Try to change the rules of the socio-economic system

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 18:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday called for a change of “the rules of the game of the socio-economic system,” adding “imitating the Good Samaritan of the Gospel is not enough.” The Holy Father was speaking to participants of a meeting to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Economy of Communion . Associated with the Focolare Movement , the project sets up businesses that follow market laws, but pool the profits in communion. “Economy and Communion,” – Pope Francis said – “These are two words that contemporary culture keeps separate and often considers opposite.” The Pope commended the organization for holding their profits in communion, and warned about the danger posed by money. “Money is important, especially when there is none and food, school, and the children’s future depend on it,” – the Pope said – “But it becomes an idol when it becomes the aim.” He said the “goddess fortune” has become the divinity of a hazardous financial system which is destroying millions of families around the world. “This idolatrous worship is a surrogate for eternal life,” – Pope Francis explained – “Individual products (cars, telephones ...) get old and wear out, but if I have money or credit, I can immediately buy others, deluding myself of conquering death.” The Holy Father went on to note that although there are many public and private initiatives to fight poverty, “capitalism continues to produce discarded people whom it would then like to care for.” “The principal ethical dilemma of this capitalism is the creation of discarded people, then trying to hide them or make sure they are never seen,” – the Pope continued – “A serious form of poverty in a civilization is when it is no longer able to see its poor, who are first discarded and then hidden.” Pope Francis said the Economy of Communion , if it wants to be faithful to its charism, must not only take care of the victims, but also build a system where the victims are fewer and fewer, until maybe there are no longer any. “As long as the economy still produces one victim and there is still a single discarded person, communion has not yet been realized; the celebration of universal fraternity is not full,” he said. “Therefore, We must work toward changing the rules of the game of the socio-economic system,” – the Pope continued – “imitating the Good Samaritan of the Gospel is not enough.”  “Of course, when an entrepreneur  or any person happens upon a victim, he or she is called to take care of the victim and, perhaps like the Good Samaritan, also enlist the fraternal action of the market (the innkeeper),” – Pope Francis continued – “I know that you have sought to do so for 25 years. But it is important to act above all before the man comes across the robbers, by battling the frameworks of sin that produce robbers and victims. An entrepreneur who is only a good Samaritan does half of his duty:  He takes care of today’s victim, but does not curtail those of  tomorrow.” The Holy Father told the members of the group that their first gift is the gift of self: “Your money, although important, is too little.” “Capitalism knows philanthropy, not communion,” – the Pope said – “It is simple to give a part of the profits, without embracing and touching the people who receive those ‘crumbs.’ Instead, even just five loaves and two fishes can feed the multitude if they are sharing of all our life. In the logic of the Gospel, if one does not give all of himself, he never gives enough of himself.” “May the ‘no’ to an economy that kills become a ‘yes’ to an economy that lets live,” – he concluded – “because it shares, includes the poor, uses profits to create communion.”   The full text of the Pope’s prepared remarks is below   Dear Bothers and Sisters, I am pleased to welcome you as representatives of a project in which I have been genuinely interested for some time. I convey my cordial greeting to each of you, and I thank in particular the coordinator, Prof. Luigino Bruni, for his courteous words.             Economy and communion. These are two words that contemporary culture keeps separate and often considers opposites. Two words that you have instead joined, accepting the invitation that Chiara Lubich offered you 25 years ago in Brazil, when, in the face of the scandal of inequality in the city of São Paulo, she asked entrepreneurs to become agents of communion. She invited you to be creative, skilful, but not only this. You see the entrepreneur as an agent of communion. By introducing into the economy the good seed of communion, you have begun a profound change in the way of seeing and living business. Business is not only incapable of destroying communion among people, but can edify it and promote it. With your life you demonstrate that economy and communion become more beautiful when they are beside each other. Certainly the economy is more beautiful, but communion is also more beautiful, because the spiritual communion of hearts is even fuller when it becomes the communion of goods, of talents, of profits.             In considering your task, I would like to say three things to you today.             The first concerns money. It is very important that at the centre of the economy of communion there be the communion of your profits. The economy of communion is also the communion of profits, an expression of the communion of life. Many times I have spoken about money as an idol. The Bible tells us this in various ways. Not by chance, Jesus’ first public act, in the Gospel of John, is the expulsion of the merchants from the temple (cf. 2:13-21). We cannot understand the new Kingdom offered by Jesus if we do not free ourselves of idols, of which money is one of the most powerful. Therefore, how is it possible to be merchants that Jesus does not expel? Money is important, especially when there is none, and food, school, and the children’s future depend on it. But it becomes an idol when it becomes the aim. Greed, which by no coincidence is a capital sin, is the sin of idolatry because the accumulation of money per se becomes the aim of one’s own actions.             When capitalism makes the seeking of profit its only purpose, it runs the risk of becoming an idolatrous framework, a form of worship. The ‘goddess of fortune’ is increasingly the new divinity of a certain finance and of the whole system of gambling which is destroying millions of the world’s families, and which you rightly oppose. This idolatrous worship is a surrogate for eternal life. Individual products (cars, telephones ...) get old and wear out, but if I have money or credit I can immediately buy others, deluding myself of conquering death.             Thus, one understands the ethical and spiritual value of your choice to pool profits. The best and most practical way to avoid making an idol of money is to share it with others, above all with the poor, or to enable young people to study and work, overcoming the idolatrous temptation with communion. When you share and donate your profits, you are performing an act of lofty spirituality, saying to money through deeds: ‘you are not God’.             The second thing I would like to say to you concerns poverty, a central theme of your movement.             Today, many initiatives, public and private, are being carried out to combat poverty. All this, on the one hand, is a growth in humanity. In the Bible, the poor, orphans, widows, those ‘discarded’ by the society of those times, were aided by tithing and the gleaning of grain. But most of the people remained poor; that aid was not sufficient to feed and care for everyone. There were many ‘discarded’ by society. Today we have invented other ways to care for, to feed, to teach the poor, and some of the seeds of the Bible have blossomed into more effective institutions than those of the past. The rationale for taxes also lies in this solidarity, which is negated by tax avoidance and evasion which, before being illegal acts, are acts which deny the basic law of life: mutual care.             But — and this can never be said enough — capitalism continues to produce discarded people whom it would then like to care for. The principal ethical dilemma of this capitalism is the creation of discarded people, then trying to hide them or make sure they are no longer seen. A serious form of poverty in a civilization is when it is no longer able to see its poor, who are first discarded and then hidden.             Aircraft pollute the atmosphere, but, with a small part of the cost of the ticket, they will plant trees to compensate for part of the damage created. Gambling companies finance campaigns to care for the pathological gamblers that they create. And the day that the weapons industry finances hospitals to care for the children mutilated by their bombs, the system will have reached its pinnacle.             The economy of communion, if it wants to be faithful to its charism, must not only care for the victims, but build a system where there are ever fewer victims, where, possibly, there may no longer be any. As long as the economy still produces one victim and there is still a single discarded person, communion has not yet been realized; the celebration of universal fraternity is not full.             Therefore, we must work toward changing the rules of the game of the socio-economic system. Imitating the Good Samaritan of the Gospel is not enough. Of course, when an entrepreneur or any person happens upon a victim, he or she is called to take care of the victim and, perhaps like the Good Samaritan, also to enlist the fraternal action of the market (the innkeeper). I know that you have sought to do so for 25 years. But it is important to act above all before the man comes across the robbers, by battling the frameworks of sin that produce robbers and victims. An entrepreneur who is only a Good Samaritan does half of his duty: he takes care of today’s victims, but does not curtail those of tomorrow. For communion one must imitate the merciful Father of the parable of the Prodigal Son and wait at home for the children, workers and coworkers who have done wrong, and there embrace them and celebrate with and for them — and not be impeded by the meritocracy invoked by the older son and by many who deny mercy in the name of merit. An entrepreneur of communion is called to do everything possible so that even those who do wrong and leave home can hope for work and for dignified earnings, and not wind up eating with the swine. No son, no man, not even the most rebellious, deserves acorns.             Lastly, the third thing concerns the future. These 25 years of your history say that communion and business can exist and grow together. An experience which for now is limited to a small number of businesses — extremely small if compared to the world’s great capital. But the changes in the order of the spirit and therefore of life are not linked to big numbers. The small flock, the lamp, a coin, a lamb, a pearl, salt, leaven: these are the images of the Kingdom that we encounter in the Gospels. And the prophets have announced to us the new age of salvation by indicating to us the sign of a child, Emmanuel, and speaking to us of a faithful ‘remnant’, a small group.             It is not necessary to be in a large group to change our life: suffice it that the salt and leaven do not deteriorate. The great work to be performed is trying not to lose the ‘active ingredient’ which enlivens them: salt does not do its job by increasing in quantity — instead, too much salt makes the meal salty — but by saving its ‘spirit’, its quality. Every time people, peoples and even the Church have thought of saving the world in numbers, they have produced power structures, forgetting the poor. We save our economy by being simply salt and leaven: a difficult job, because everything deteriorates with the passing of time. What do we do so as not to lose the active ingredient, the ‘enzyme’ of communion?             When there were no refrigerators, to preserve the mother dough of the bread, they gave a small amount of their own leavened dough to a neighbour, and when they needed to make bread again they received a handful of leavened dough from that woman or from another who had received it in her turn. It is reciprocity. Communion is not only the sharing but also the multiplying of goods, the creation of new bread, of new goods, of new Good with a capital ‘G’. The living principle of the Gospel remains active only if we give it: if instead we possessively keep it all and only for ourselves, it goes mouldy and dies. The economy of communion will have a future if you give it to everyone and it does not remain only inside your ‘house’. Give it to everyone, firstly to the poor and the young, who are those who need it most and know how to make the gift received bear fruit! To have life in abundance one must learn to give: not only the profits of businesses, but of yourselves. The first gift of the entrepreneur is of his or her own person: your money, although important, is too little. Money does not save if it is not accompanied by the gift of the person. Today’s economy, the poor, the young, need first of all your spirit, your respectful and humble fraternity, your will to live and, only then, your money.             Capitalism knows philanthropy, not communion. It is simple to give a part of the profits, without embracing and touching the people who receive those ‘crumbs’. Instead, even just five loaves and two fishes can feed the multitude if they are the sharing of all our life. In the logic of the Gospel, if one does not give all of himself, he never gives enough of himself.             You already do these things. But you can share more profits in order to combat idolatry, change the structures in order to prevent the creation of victims and discarded people, give more of your leaven so as to leaven the bread of many. May the ‘no’ to an economy that kills become a ‘yes’ to an economy that lets live, because it shares, includes the poor, uses profits to create communion.             I hope you continue on your path, with courage, humility and joy. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). God loves your joyfully given profits and talents. You already do this; you can do so even more. I hope you continue to be the seed, salt and leaven of another economy: the economy of the Kingdom, where the rich know how to share their wealth, and the poor are called ‘blessed’. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends greetings to Nobel peace laureates’ summit

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 20:40
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent his greetings on Friday to the participants in the XVI World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, taking place from 2 to 5 February in Bogotá, Colombia. Pope Francis encouraged participants “in their efforts to promote understanding and dialogue among peoples”. He made special mention of the peace efforts in Colombia between the government and rebel forces, saying they “can inspire all communities to rise above animosity and division, for ‘when victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promoters of nonviolent peacemaking.’” The Holy Father concluded his message invoking ‘blessings of wisdom and strength’ on all participants. “With prayers that nonviolence will thus become the “hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms” (Message for the 2017 World Day of Peace), His Holiness cordially invokes upon all gathered for the Summit meeting the divine blessings of wisdom and strength.” The message was written by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and sent through the Apostolic Nuncio to Colombia, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero. Please find below the full text of the message: Your Eminence, The Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, on behalf of the Holy Father Francis, has sent a message to the participants in the XVI World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. I would ask you kindly to communicate what follows to all participants: His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn that the XVI World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates will be held in Bogotá from 2 to 5 February 2017, and he sends greetings to all present for the occasion. As the participants reflect on the many challenges to peace in the modern world, His Holiness encourages them in their efforts to promote understanding and dialogue among peoples. In a particular way, he trusts that the efforts in Colombia to build bridges of peace and reconciliation can inspire all communities to rise above animosity and division, for “when victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promoters of nonviolent peacemaking”. With prayers that nonviolence will thus become the “hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms” (Message for the 2017 World Day of Peace), His Holiness cordially invokes upon all gathered for the Summit meeting the divine blessings of wisdom and strength. Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State   With gratitude for your valued assistance and with every good wish, Respectfully yours in Christ, Ettore Balestrero Apostolic Nuncio   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope celebrates Mass for feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 00:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday celebrated Mass for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life participated in the Liturgy. Listen to our report:  The Mass also commemorates the World Day for Consecrated Life. On this day, the Church celebrates and prays for those who have consecrated their lives to God by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. The World Day for Consecrated Life was established in 1997 by Pope Saint John Paul II; 2017 marks the twenty-first annual observance of the Day. The liturgical feast chosen for the commemoration celebrates the presentation of the newborn Jesus in the Temple by Joseph and Mary forty days after His birth, in accordance with the law of the Old Testament. The feast is also known as “Candlemas” on account of the blessing of candles and the procession that takes place at the beginning of the Mass. The candles blessed during the Liturgy thus symbolize both Christ, who is the Light of the World; and the lives of consecrated women and men who are called to reflect the light of Christ for all peoples. In his homily for during the Mass, Pope Francis spoke of the “hymn of hope” pronounced by Simeon and Anna when they saw the Saviour appearing in the Temple. We, too, the Pope said, “have inherited this hymn of hope from our elders… We would do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day, and once more encounter what originally set our hearts on fire.” But he also warned of a “temptation” that can make the consecrated life barren: the temptation of “survival”, which urges us to protect ourselves at the expense of our dreams. “The temptation of survival,” Pope Francis said, “makes us forget grace.” The Holy Father reminded consecrated women and men, that they are called to put themselves “with Jesus in the midst of His people.” Pope Francis concluded his homily with the exhortation: “Let us accompany Jesus as He goes forth to meet His people, to be in the midst of His people.” This year’s celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life has a particular significance, being devoted to thanksgiving and prayer for the give of vocations, especially in view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to the theme: “Youth, faith and vocational discernment.” The Synod is expected to meet in October 2018.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Homily for feast of the Presentation of the Lord: full text

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 00:13
(Vatican Radio) On Thursday, Pope Francis celebrated a solemn Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and also commemorated the 21st annual World Day for Consecrated Life. In his homily for the Mass, the Holy Father called on consecrated women and men to “accompany Jesus as He goes forth to meet His people, to be in the midst of His people.” Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord:  Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis Feast of the Presentation of the Lord 2 February 2017 When the parents of Jesus brought the Child in fulfilment of the prescriptions of the law, Simeon, “guided by the Spirit” ( Lk 2:27), took the Child in his arms and broke out in a hymn of blessing and praise.  “My eyes”, he said, “have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” ( Lk 2:30-32).  Simeon not only saw, but was privileged to hold in his arms the long-awaited hope, which filled him with exultation.  His heart rejoiced because God had come to dwell among his people; he felt his presence in the flesh.  Today’s liturgy tells us that in that rite, the Lord, forty days after his birth, “outwardly was fulfilling the Law, but in reality he was coming to meet his believing people” ( Roman Missal , 2 February, Introduction to the Entrance Procession).  This encounter of God with his people brings joy and renews hope. Simeon’s canticle is the hymn of the believer, who at the end of his days can exclaim: “It is true, hope in God never disappoints” (cf. Rm 5:5).  God never deceives us.  Simeon and Anna, in their old age, were capable of a new fruitfulness, and they testify to this in song.  Life is worth living in hope, because the Lord keeps his promise.  Jesus himself will later explain this promise in the synagogue of Nazareth: the sick, prisoners, those who are alone, the poor, the elderly and sinners, all are invited to take up this same hymn of hope.  Jesus is with them, Jesus is with us (cf. Lk 4:18-19). We have inherited this hymn of hope from our elders.  They made us part of this process.  In their faces, in their lives, in their daily sacrifice we were able to see how this praise was embodied.  We are heirs to the dreams of our elders, heirs to the hope that did not disappoint our founding mothers and fathers, our older brothers and sisters.  We are heirs to those who have gone before us and had the courage to dream.  Like them, we too want to sing, “God does not deceive; hope in him does not disappoint”.  God comes to meet his people.  And we want to sing by taking up the prophecy of Joel and making it our own: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (2:28). We do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day and once more encounter what originally set our hearts afire.  Dreams and prophecies together.  The remembrance of how our elders, our fathers and mothers, dreamed, and the courage prophetically to carry on those dreams. This attitude will make us fruitful.  Most importantly, it will protect us from a temptation that can make our consecrated life barren: the temptation of survival .  An evil that can gradually take root within us and within our communities.  The mentality of survival makes us reactionaries, fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up in our houses and in our own preconceived notions.  It makes us look back, to the glory days – days that are past – and rather than rekindling the prophetic creativity born of our founders’ dreams, it looks for shortcuts in order to evade the challenges knocking on our doors today.  A survival mentality robs our charisms of power, because it leads us to “domesticate” them, to make them “user-friendly”, robbing them of their original creative force.  It makes us want to protect spaces, buildings and structures, rather than to encourage new initiatives.  The temptation of survival makes us forget grace; it turns us into professionals of the sacred but not fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters of that hope to which we are called to bear prophetic witness.  An environment of survival withers the hearts of our elderly, taking away their ability to dream.  In this way, it cripples the prophecy that our young are called to proclaim and work to achieve.  In a word, the temptation of survival turns what the Lord presents as an opportunity for mission into something dangerous, threatening, potentially disastrous.  This attitude is not limited to the consecrated life, but we in particular are urged not to fall into it. Let us go back to the Gospel passage and once more contemplate that scene.  Surely, the song of Simeon and Anna was not the fruit of self-absorption or an analysis and review of their personal situation.  It did not ring out because they were caught up in themselves and were worried that something bad might happen to them.  Their song was born of hope, the hope that sustained them in their old age.  That hope was rewarded when they encountered Jesus.  When Mary let Simeon take the Son of the Promise into his arms, the old man began to sing of his dreams.  Whenever she puts Jesus in the midst of his people, they encounter joy.  For this alone will bring back our joy and hope, this alone will save us from living in a survival mentality.  Only this will make our lives fruitful and keep our hearts alive: putting Jesus where he belongs, in the midst of his people.  All of us are aware of the multicultural transformation we are experiencing; no one doubts this.  Hence, it is all the more important for consecrated men and women to be one with Jesus, in their lives and in the midst of these great changes.  Our mission – in accordance with each particular charism – reminds us that we are called to be a leaven in this dough.  Perhaps there are better brands of flour, but the Lord has called us to be leaven here and now, with the challenges we face.  Not on the defensive or motivated by fear, but with our hands on the plough, helping the wheat to grow, even though it has frequently been sown among weeds.  Putting Jesus in the midst of his people means having a contemplative heart, one capable of discerning how God is walking through the streets of our cities, our towns and our neighbourhoods.  Putting Jesus in the midst of his people means taking up and carrying the crosses of our brothers and sisters.  It means wanting to touch the wounds of Jesus in the wounds of a world in pain, which longs and cries out for healing. To put ourselves with Jesus in the midst of his people!  Not as religious “activists”, but as men and women who are constantly forgiven, men and women anointed in baptism and sent to share that anointing and the consolation of God with everyone. To put ourselves with Jesus in the midst of his people.  For this reason, “we sense the challenge of finding and sharing a ‘mystique’ of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another, of stepping into this flood tide which, while chaotic, can [with the Lord] become a genuine experience of fraternity, a caravan of solidarity, a sacred pilgrimage…  If we were able to take this route, it would be so good, so soothing, so liberating and hope-filled!  To go out of ourselves and to join others” ( Evangelii Gaudium , 87) is not only good for us; it also turns our lives and hopes into a hymn of praise.  But we will only be able to do this if we take up the dreams of our elders and turn them into prophecy. Let us accompany Jesus as he goes forth to meet his people, to be in the midst of his people.  Let us go forth, not with the complaining or anxiety of those who have forgotten how to prophesy because they failed to take up the dreams of their elders, but with serenity and songs of praise.  Not with apprehension but with the patience of those who trust in the Spirit, the Lord of dreams and prophecy.  In this way, let us share what is truly our own: the hymn that is born of hope.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope's February Prayer Intention: Welcome the Needy

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 19:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for February is to Comfort for the Afflicted: That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities. The Apostleship of Prayer has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: Welcome the Needy We live in cities that throw up skyscrapers and shopping centers and strike big real estate deals … but they abandon a part of themselves to marginal settlements on the periphery.1 The result of this situation is that great sections of the population are excluded and marginalized: without a job, without options, without a way out. 2 Don’t abandon them. Pray with me for all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.3 [1]Address of Pope Francis to the participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements. Old Synod Hall, Tuesday, 28 October 2014. [1] Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel", Art. 53. [1] Universal Prayer Intention of the Holy Father entrusted to the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). February 2017. . (from Vatican Radio)...

Archb. Gallagher in Japan promoting culture of peace

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 18:05
(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher is wrapping up a week-long visit to Japan during which he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and celebrated Mass in the city of Hiroshima. The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States confirmed the Holy See's cooperation with Japan regarding the elimination of nuclear weapons. On Wednesday Archbishop Gallagher held a ‘Lectio Magistralis’ at the Jesuit-run University of Sophia in Tokyo, dedicated to the promotion of a culture of peace. During his lesson, Gallagher spoke of the important contribution made by a Catholic University which takes into account a global and not merely intellectual formation of the whole person. Quoting Pope Francis he said that “if the university becomes no more than an academy of ideas or an assembly line of professionals, or its structure is determined by a business mentality, then it has truly lost its way”. He said that one must never tire of  looking at the world, with its events and actors, critically but also constructively, asking us not to  “exclude” and appealing  for “necessary dialogue” as a method proper to cultural and educational processes. Referring to the core message of his lesson, Gallagher said “the question of peace involves more than politics or diplomatic activity; it is directly linked to culture and to the sphere of ethics and moral conscience that can generate much apprehension, yet is so greatly needed in international relations”. He pointed out  that the “vision of peace proposed by the magisterium of the Catholic Church does not necessarily coincide with that current in the community of the nations, as summarized, for example, by the contents of the UN Charter.  The difference does not simply have to do with issues involving the use of force or the obligations incumbent upon states, but with the conviction that peace calls first and foremost for preventing the causes that lead to war.  “To bring about true peace, it is necessary to bring people together concretely so as to reconcile peoples and groups with opposing ideological positions.  It is also necessary to work together for what persons, families, peoples and nations feel is their right, namely to participate on a social, political and economic level in the goods of the modern world”. Thus, Gallagher said, peace on earth is thus the result of any number of factors, of which a culture of peace is the vehicle.  He said Pope speaks of  “a war being fought piecemeal” as a way of perceiving, among the many possible causes of conflict (selfish interests, poverty, lack of development, territorial dominion, spheres of influence...), the one that is essential.   Working for peace, he said, demands returning to the bases of human relationships and thus recovering the bases of the internal order of nations and the international order.   “As Pope Francis sees it, this means that true peace cannot come about “without the recognition of certain incontestable natural ethical limits and without the immediate implementation of those pillars of integral human development”.  A true culture of peace, then, calls for concrete commitments requiring solid and structured foundations: exactly the opposite of the frequently heard idea that “a single theoretical and aprioristic solution will provide an answer to all the challenges”. Archbishop Gallagher’s long lesson goes on to illustrate tools that are at the disposal of world leaders, he talks about the culture of peace and the threat to peace which today “comes not only from traditional wars and hostilities, whether domestic or international, but also from other problems”. He talks of a return to the vision of just peace which includes religious freedom in its varied forms, among which is conscientious objection and points out that a culture of peace can also make a huge contribution to anti-terrorism strategies. Archbishop Gallagher talked about the goals to be achieved, the use of dialogue, discussion and negotiation as well as “the language of the magisterium, this involves a correct and consistent application of the principle of subsidiarity”. He reflected on the areas of development and international cooperation, on the more general fight against poverty which “presupposes a common agreement that can only be the result of an effective solidarity between states”.    “This would involve a greater appreciation of the role of intellectual property, an area in which a consistent culture of peace is called to recognize the right of researchers and producers to just compensation, so that new developments can truly be at the service of the common good of the human family” he said. Gallagher concluded calling for a “prophetic vision that can bring together the human, cultural and religious aspects and thus offer our contemporary world a firm common witness to the service of goodness, the service of dialogue and the service of peace.  In this context, the university has a fundamental task as a place of encounter between faith and reason, between memory of the past and scientific development towards the future, and as a place of encounter and discussion between different visions of life, technology, politics and religious convictions.  That task is to prepare the way for a future of peace, an attainable future, a future for all”.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Week of awareness for plight of trafficked children

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 23:07
(Vatican Radio) The exploitation and enslavement of children is the focus of a week of activities leading up to the February 8th world day of prayer for an end to human trafficking. Three years ago, Pope Francis asked women and men religious to organize a day, on the feast of the Sudanese saint Josephine Bakhita, to raise awareness of the plight of millions of victims of human trafficking. At a press conference on Wednesday sisters from the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) announced initiatives taking place in countries around the world, with a focus this year on the theme of children in slavery. Here in Rome, activities include a seminar at the Gregorian University, a film evening, a prayer vigil at the Rome parish of Ognissanti on the Via Appia and participation in the Pope’s general audience. To find out more about the focus for this year’s event, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the president of the UISG, Sr Carmen Sammut ….. Listen:  Sr Carmen recalls that the sisters asked the pope for a world day against slavery on the Church’s calendar and he entrusted them with the duty to organize a commemoration of trafficking victims. She notes that ‘Talitha Kum’, the international network of religious against human trafficking, is present in around 80 countries where members mark the day of prayer as an important annual event.   Speaking of this year’s focus on trafficked children, Sr Carmen says it’s “the most horrible of things to think that a child is not given the possibility to be a child” but is taken instead into slavery for forced labour, sexual abuse or organ harvesting. She describes it as “really heartbreaking” but adds that the phenomenon is growing, due in part to growing poverty. She recounts her experience of Filipino Cardinal Luis Tagle telling her, tearfully, that he sees families and parents selling their children out of poverty. Also she notes that because of increasing numbers of migrants, there are also more unaccompanied children. Talking about solutions, Sr Carmen says the media must create greater awareness that this is a problem happening in every single country, though very often we choose to ignore it. Secondly, she says, if demand for the products made from slave labour is removed, there’s a possibility of less demand for trafficked children. Sr Carmen quotes Pope Francis’ words that “purchasing is not only an economic but also a moral action”, adding that we need to realise that we can make a difference by not buying certain products. The same with sexual exploitation, she says, if there’s “not so much demand for sexual services, especially from children”.    (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican supermarket offers support for earthquake region

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 22:58
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican supermarket is supporting those affected by the earthquakes in central Italy by offering goods for sale made by local farmers in the region, especially the small town of Amatrice, which was hit hardest by the quake on 24 August 2016. The Vatican supermarket can be used by employees, retirees, and others affiliated with the Vatican who are provided with a special card providing them access. Immediately after the earthquake, Pope Francis sent members of the Vatican fire department to aid in rescue efforts, and medical personnel working at the Vatican also volunteered to help. Nearly 300 people died in the August quake, and dozens of others have died in subsequent tremors. (from Vatican Radio)...

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