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Pope Francis blesses work of new Argentine radio station

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 16:45
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent an audio message to a new Argentinian radio station, which began broadcasting to Buenos Aires on Sunday, 2 July. “Cristo de los villeros” Radio was founded by Fr. José María (“Pepe”) Di Paola, a friend and collaborator of Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. To those who labored to establish the Radio, Pope Francis offered his gratitude and support. “Thanks for all the work you do; thanks for putting yourselves in play for good things, for communicating yourselves, and for building bridges instead of putting up walls. Thanks for not destroying yourselves with gossip but rather offering an outstretched hand. May you continue in this way”. He went on to say that “this is how one builds a society of brothers and sisters”. The Pope concluded his transmission by offering his blessing. “May the Lord bless you, and please pray for me. I will pray for you, and I will do it from the heart. Go forward with enthusiasm!” (from Vatican Radio)...

Remembering Joaquín Navarro-Valls

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 16:38
(Vatican Radio) The former Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, passed away on Wednesday, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old. Navarro trained as a medical doctor with a specialization in psychiatry, as well as in journalism, moving to Rome in the early 1970’s, becoming a foreign correspondent and eventually being elected president of the foreign press association in the city. In 1984, he accepted an offer from Pope St. John Paul II to become the new head of the Press Office of the Holy See, a position he held until 2006.   A statement on the website of Opus Dei, of which Navarro was a member, informs that a vigil is scheduled for Thursday, July 6, starting at 4pm in the sacristy of the basilica of the church of St. Eugene (Viale delle Belle Arti 10, Rome), and that Msgr. Mariano Fazio, Vicar General of the Prelature of Opus Dei, will celebrate a funeral Mass for him on Friday, July 7 at 11am Rome Time. Click below to hear our conversation with Joaquín Navarro-Valls’ successor in the directorship of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, who remembers his predecessor as a multi-faceted man of many talents, highly professional, and capable of great warmth in his personal relations, who was also a man of deep faith and devotion to the Church… (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: 'openness is necessary for a culture of encounter'

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 01:20
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to the Congress of the Scholas Occurentes which concludes on Wednesday in Jerusalem. The Congress focused on the theme “ Between the University and the School, building peace through the culture of encounter .” Christopher Wells reports on the Pope’s message:  In his message, Pope Francis encouraged the participants, young and old, who had come from Israel, the Palestinian territories, and from other countries from across the globe. “I want to celebrate these days lived out there in Jerusalem,” he said, “because you yourselves, beginning from your differences, have achieved unity.” The Holy Father praised them for seeing one another without prejudice; an attitude, he said, that is essential “because it produces an encounter.” This encounter, he said, gives our lives meaning and purpose.   And it is precisely because our lives have meaning that we feel the need to celebrate. Even more, this meaning leads us to a feeling, a sentiment, of gratitude. And it is this sentiment, the Pope said, that the Scholas has perceived to be of the essence of education, which opens us to the unknown, which frees us from prejudices that keep us from dreaming and seeking new paths. It is for this reason, he continued, “that we adults cannot take from our children and young people the capacity to dream, or to play—which is, in a certain sense, a waking dream.” Pope Francis said the Congress in Jerusalem teaches us that we have a duty to hear young people, and to give them a context of hope so that their dreams might grow and be shared. Shared dreams can produce a “utopia” to strive after; and the utopia of the Scholas is to create a culture of encounter that allows people to arrive, not at uniformity, but at harmony.   The Pope concluded his address by thanking the adults for not closing themselves up in themselves; and for putting their learning at the service of listening. And he thanked the young people for committing themselves “to dreaming, to seeking meaning, to creating, to being grateful, to celebrating, to offering their minds, their hands, and their hearts in order to transform the culture of encounter into reality.”         (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends telegramme on death of Cardinal Meisner

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 22:02
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a telegramme upon the death of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne, who died on Wednesday at the age of 83. “With profound emotion I learned that, suddenly and unexpectedly, Cardinal Joachim Meisner was called from this earth by the God of mercy,” the Pope wrote. The Pope addressed his telegramme to Cardinal Rainer Woelki, current Archbishop of Cologne. He said Cardinal Meisner was “dedicated to the proclamation of the Good News” with “profound faith and sincere love for the Church”. “May Christ the Lord reward him for his faithful and intrepid efforts in favour of the good of people of East and West.” Pope Francis closed the telegramme by imparting his Apostolic Blessing on all who “commemorate the late Pastor with prayers and sacrifices”. With the death of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the College of Cardinals stands at 224, 121 of whom are Cardinal electors. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends letter in support of migration info portal

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 16:38
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Italian news agency ANSA (Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata), expressing his approval and support for the new InfoMigrants news portal aimed at providing migrants with accurate information. InfoMigrants.net was launched in March by ANSA, in coordination with France’s Media Monde and Germany’s Deutsche Welle, and publishes content in English, Arabic, and French. Pope: 'Project promotes integration' In the letter to ANSA’s Editor-in-Chief, Luigi Contu, Pope Francis said he learned “with pleasure” about the “important project”. The service seeks to provide migrants and prospective migrants with information regarding all aspects of the journey to Europe and life there once they have arrived. “I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the important project, and I hope, on the one hand, that it promotes the integration of these persons with all due respect for the laws of the countries which welcome them and, on the other, that it elicit within society a renewed commitment to an authentic culture of welcome and solidarity,” the Pope wrote. Opportunity for human growth He went on to describe the phenomenon of migration as an “opportunity for human growth”. "The presence of so many brothers and sisters who experience the tragedy of immigration is an opportunity for human growth, encounter, and dialogue between cultures in view of the promotion of peace and fraternity among peoples." Pope Francis assured those involved in the project his prayers and invoked the protection of God, “Father of all, that He may accompany all who are constrained to leave their homelands because of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine, and oppressive regimes.” Finally, the Pope said he hoped migrants encounter “brothers and sisters under every sky, who share with them bread and hope along our common journey.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis' prayer intention for July: 'Those distant from Christian faith'

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 01:04
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released his video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for July. This month’s intention is for those distant from the Christian faith: "that our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the beauty of the Christian life." The text of the video message reads: "Let us never forget that our joy is Jesus Christ — his faithful and inexhaustible love. When a Christian becomes sad, it means that he has distanced himself from Jesus. But then we must not leave him alone! We should offer him Christian hope — with our words, yes, but more with our testimony, with our freedom, with our joy. Let us pray that our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the beauty of the Christian life." The Pope's  Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer  developed the "Pope Video" initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis makes donation to Greek Lesbos island after earthquake

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 17:54
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has donated 50,000 Euro in aid for victims of the 12 June earthquake on the Greek island of Lesbos, according to the Apostolic Nunciature of Greece. “It is an unexpected donation and concrete sign of the closeness and affection of [Pope] Francis for the population, which has been deeply tried by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake,” remarked Msgr. Massimo Catterin, chargé d affaires of the Nunciature. The Pope’s donation will be used to help out the Orthodox village of Vrisa, which was completely destroyed in the tremors. One 43-year old woman was killed by falling debris. Msgr. Catterin said the donation came “after Archbishop Nikólaos Printesis of Naxos, Andros, Tinos, and Mykonos, who is also the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Chios, had asked the Nunciature to inform the Holy Father of the situation on the island.” He said, “The Pope’s donation has great value, also from an ecumenical point-of-view, since those who will benefit the most are Orthodox faithful. Indeed, on Lesbos there are only 50 Catholics.” Msgr. Catterin said the decision on how to distribute the funds would be made when he and Archbishop Printesis visit Vrisa next week. “There is great recognition and appreciation towards the Pope on Lesbos. He knows the seismic emergency adds to the weight of the first emergency related to migrants.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to FAO: int. cooperation must be rooted in solidarity

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 23:22
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday said that the Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO - must always be in a position to intervene when people do not have enough to eat. The Pope was addressing staff and employees of the Rome-based United Nations food agency gathered for their 40th General Conference.  FAO’s mission is to help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition across the globe. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : In a message delivered by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Pope, Francis said that "When a country is incapable of offering adequate responses because its degree of development, conditions of poverty, climate changes or situations of insecurity do not permit this, FAO and the other intergovernmental institutions need to be able to intervene specifically and undertake an adequate solidary action." The urgency of his words echo FAO Director General José Graziano Da Silva’s dire revelation at the opening of the conference on Monday that the number of hungry people in the world has increased since 2015, reversing years of progress. Da Silva noted that FAO has identified 19 countries in a protracted crisis situation and said that almost 60 percent of the people suffering from hunger in the world live in countries affected by conflict and climate change. Thus, highlighting the right of every person to be free of poverty and hunger, the Pope said it depends on the duty of the entire human family to provide practical assistance to those in need and said there is an urgent need for solidarity to be the criterion inspiring all forms of cooperation in international relations. Pointing out that the difficulties posed by a world scenario in which wars, terrorism and forced displacements increasingly hinder efforts of cooperation, the Pope decried the fact that hunger and malnutrition are not only the result of natural or structural phenomena, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few.   Promising to be present in person at FAO headquarters this coming October 16th  to mark World Food Day, Pope Francis made a symbolic contribution to the FAO programme that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought.   This gesture, he said, is offered in addition to the work that the Church continues to carry out, in accordance with her vocation to stand at the side of the earth’s poor and to accompany the effective commitment of all on their behalf.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends message to UN Food and Agriculture Organization: Full Text

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 17:33
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday sent a message to participants in the 40th General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome. The message was read out by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. At the end of the message, Cardinal Parolin officially announced that Pope Francis will visit the Rome headquarters of the FAO on World Food Day, 16 October 2017, at the invitiation of its Director-General, José Graziano da Silva. Please find below the official English translation of the message: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Participants in the 40th General Conference of FAO 3 July 2017 Mr President, I offer my respectful and cordial greetings to you, and to all the Representatives of the Member States of FAO, as you assemble for the Organization’s fortieth Conference. My greeting also goes to the Director-General and to the leaders of the other International Organizations present at this meeting, which is called to provide appropriate responses to issues involving the agricultural and food production sector, on which the expectations of millions of people depend. 1. I regret that I cannot be present with you today, as has been an established tradition dating back to the beginning of FAO’s presence in Rome.  I have therefore asked Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, to convey to you my message of encouragement and support, as well as my respect and esteem for the demanding task that you must carry out. The Holy See closely follows the work of the international community and wishes to assist its efforts to promote not mere progress or development goals in theory, but rather the actual elimination of hunger and malnutrition.  All of us realize that the intention to provide everyone with his or her daily bread is not enough.  Rather, there is a need to recognize that all have a right to it and they must therefore benefit from it.  If the goals we continue to propose still remain distant, that is largely dependent on the lack of a culture of solidarity, which fails to make headway amid other international activities, which often remain bound only to the pragmatism of statistics or the desire for efficiency that lacks the idea of sharing. The commitment of each country to increase its own level of nutrition, to improve agricultural activity and the living conditions of the rural population, is embodied in the encouragement of the agricultural sector, in increased production or in the promotion of an effective distribution of food supplies.  Yet this is not enough.  In effect, what those goals demand is a constant acknowledgment that the right of every person to be free of poverty and hunger depends on the duty of the entire human family to provide practical assistance to those in need. Hence, when a country is incapable of offering adequate responses because its degree of development, conditions of poverty, climate changes or situations of insecurity do not permit this, FAO and the other intergovernmental institutions need to be able to intervene specifically and undertake an adequate solidary action.  Since the goods that God the Creator has entrusted to us are meant for all, there is an urgent need for solidarity to be the criterion inspiring all forms of cooperation in international relations. 2. A glance at the current world situation does not offer us a comforting picture.  Yet we cannot remain merely preoccupied or, worse, resigned.  This moment of evident difficulty must make us even more conscious that hunger and malnutrition are not only natural or structural phenomena in determined geographical areas, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few.  The wars, acts of terrorism and forced displacements that increasingly hinder or at least strongly condition even cooperative efforts are not inevitable, but rather the consequence of concrete decisions.  We are dealing with a complex mechanism that mainly burdens the most vulnerable, who are not only excluded from the processes of production, but frequently obliged to leave their lands in search of refuge and hope.  Likewise, decisions taken in full freedom and conscience determine the data relative to assistance given to poor countries.  This continues to decrease daily, in spite of reiterated appeals in the face of ever more devastating crisis situations emerging in different areas of the planet. We need to be aware that in these cases the freedom of choice of each must take into account solidarity towards all, in relation to actual needs, and the fulfilment in good faith of commitments undertaken or proclaimed.  In this regard, inspired also by the desire to encourage governments, I would like to make a symbolic contribution to the FAO programme that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought.  This gesture is offered in addition to the work that the Church continues to carry out, in accordance with her vocation to stand at the side of the earth’s poor and to accompany the effective commitment of all on their behalf. This commitment is asked of us today by the 2030 Development Agenda, when it restates the idea that food security is a goal that can no longer be put off.  Yet only an effort inspired by authentic solidarity will be capable of eliminating the great number of persons who are undernourished and deprived of the necessities of life.  This is a very great challenge for FAO and for all the Institutions of the international community.  It is also a challenge that the Church is committed to on the front lines. It is my hope that the sessions of this Conference can give renewed impulse to the work of the Organization and provide the practical responses needed and desired by millions of our brothers and sisters.  For they see in the activity of FAO not only a technical contribution to increase resources and to distribute the fruits of production, but also a concrete and even unique sign of a fraternity that helps them to look to the future with confidence. May Almighty God, who is rich in mercy, bless you and your service, and grant you the strength needed to contribute to the authentic progress of our human family. From the Vatican, 3 July 2017 (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis expresses closeness to Charlie Gard’s parents

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 15:06
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has expressed his “affection and emotion” at the situation of Charlie Gard and “his own closeness to his parents”. A statement from Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, on Sunday said the Pope prays for 10-month old Charlie Gard’s parents and hopes “that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored.” Charlie was born with a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. The European Court of Human Rights last week rejected a plea from the baby’s parents to be allowed to move him to the United States for experimental medical treatment. Please find below a Vatican Radio English translation of the full statement: "The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the case of little Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents. For them he prays, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored." (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis at Angelus: missionary disciples put Christ first

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 21:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis used his remarks ahead of the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer to reflect on the essential characteristics of Christian missionary discipleship, which he identified as being bound to Our Lord Jesus Christ and being bearers of Him – ambassadors of Christ, as St. Paul says – who put on Christ and bring Him to others, forsaking themselves and all others and everything else in the world for His sake. “Not,” explained Pope Francis, “because He wants us to be heartless and ungrateful – not hardly, not at all.” “On the contrary,” he continued, “because the condition of the disciple requires that one’s relationship with the Master take precedence over all others.” Departing from his prepared text, the Holy Father said, “Any and every disciple, whether he be a lay man, a lay woman, a priest, a bishop: the relationship [with Christ, the Divine Teacher] takes precedence.” Pope Francis concluded, saying, “The Virgin Mary felt in her own person what it means to love Jesus, detaching oneself from oneself, giving new meaning to family ties, beginning with faith in Him: may she help us, with her maternal intercession, to be free and cheerful missionaries of the Gospel.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis appeals for peace, reconciliation in Venezuela

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 20:00
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for peace and reconciliation in Venezuela on Sunday. Addressing pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the traditional noonday Angelus with him on Sunday, the Holy Father renewed his call for prayerful solidarity with the people of Venezuela, just a few days ahead of the nation’s Independence Day on July 5 th . “I promise my own prayers for this beloved nation [Venezuela] and express my closeness to the families who have lost their children in the streets,” Pope Francis said, referring to the often violent – protests in the country that began in March in the wake of a constitutional crisis and subsequent political stalemate that has yet to be broken. Nearly one hundred people have been killed in the ongoing civil unrest. “I call for end to violence and a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis,” the Holy Father said, before imploring the intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto – Patroness of Venezuela – and leading the faithful gathered beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the recitation of the Hail Mary. (from Vatican Radio)...

Abp Ladaria to succeed Card. Müller as Prefect of CDF

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 19:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday named Archbishop Luis Ladaria, SJ, to replace Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the end of Cardinal Müller's five-year term. Archbishop Ladaria is a Spanish Jesuit and theologian who spent many years teaching at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, before being called to serve as Secretary of CDF in 2008. A note from the Press Office of the Holy See released Saturday says the Holy Father thanks Cardinal Müller at the end his quinquennial mandate as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission, and now calls the former Secretary, Archbishop Ladaria, to take on those roles. Cardinal Müller’s term as Prefect officially expires on July 2 nd . (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Address to Italo-Latin American Organization

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 20:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Friday morning with representatives of the Italo-Latin American Organization , an institution dedicated to promoting development and coordination, as well as identifying possibilities for reciprocal assistance and for common action among the member countries. The Holy Father’s address to the members of the organization focused precisely on three aspects of those goals: identifying potential, coordinating action, and moving forward. Pope Francis noted that the countries of Latin America are “rich in history, culture, and natural resources; that their people are good, and committed to solidarity with others. Such values must be appreciated and strengthened. But, he said, in spite of these goods, the people of Latin America are experiencing an economic and social crisis that has led to increased poverty, unemployment, and social inequality, as well as abuse and exploitation of our common home. Any analysis of the situation must recognize the real needs and potentials of the people of these countries. The second point, the Pope said, is “to coordinate efforts to offer concrete answers, to meet the demands and the necessities of the sons and daughters of our countries.” This does not mean leaving the work to others, and signaling our approval afterwards, he said, but requires time and effort on our part. He focused especially on the phenomenon of migration, which has grown steadily in recent years. In this area, the Pope said, we must not seek to place blame and avoid responsibility, but must rather work together in a coordinate manner. Finally, among the many things that can be done, Pope Francis identified the promotion of a culture of dialogue as fundamentally important. Many countries, he said, are going through social, political, and economic crises; and it is the poor who are the first to note the corruption that exists between different social classes, and the “wicked” distribution of wealth. Dialogue, he said, is essential to facing these crises. But dialogue, the Pope said, must not be a “dialogue between the deaf.” Rather, “it requires a receptive attitude that welcomes suggestions and shares aspirations.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks by encouraging the representatives of the Italo-Latin American Organization in their commitment to work “for the common good of the American continent”; and he expressed his hope that “collaboration among all can favour the construction of an ever more human and more just world.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Peter and Paul: Pope highlights Christian persecution, prayer, confession

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 19:50
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter's Square on Thursday to celebrated the feast of Saints Peter and Paul highlighting the plight of persecuted Christians, the importance of prayer and confessing the faith. Listen to this report: In a sunny St Peter’s Square on Thursday, Pope Francis was joined by new Cardinals and Metropolitan Archbishops created in the last year, as well as pilgrims and Romans alike, to celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Co-Patrons of the eternal city. Following a blessing of the Pallium which will be placed on the 36 Metropolitan Archbishops in their own dioceses, the Pope in his homily focused his attention on three words, confession, persecution and prayer, which he said, “are essential for the life of an apostle.” Confession Beginning with the word confession, the Holy Father referred to the day’s readings in which Jesus asks  “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” Pope Francis explained that the Lord puts the decisive question to his disciples, saying  “But you, who do you say that I am?” Today, Pope Francis went on to say, “Jesus puts this crucial question to us, to each of us, and particularly to those of us who are pastors, adding, It does not allow for a non-committal answer, because it brings into play our entire life.” To confess the faith, the Holy Father said, “means this: to acknowledge in Jesus the long-awaited Messiah, the living God, the Lord of our lives.” Persecution Speaking about the second word, persecution, the Pope noted how Peter and Paul shed their blood for Christ, He went on to say that,  “today too, in various parts of the world, sometimes in silence – often a complicit silence – great numbers of Christians are marginalized,… subjected to violence and even death, not infrequently without due intervention on the part of those who could defend their sacrosanct rights.” Prayer Finally, reflecting on the third word, that of prayer, Pope Francis described it as “the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity.” The Lord answers our prayers, he said,  “He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial.”  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Angelus prays for city and people of Rome

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 18:30
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday prayed for the city and people of Rome, as he gave an Angelus address for the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Italian capital. Listen to our report: Speaking from his study window to the crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled how both of these two apostles suffered persecution and gave their lives in service to the first Christian communities. The liturgical readings of the day, the Pope continued, remind us that even in the most difficult moments of persecution, the Lord remained close to Peter and Paul, just as he remains by our side today. Especially in our times of trial, he said, God holds out his hand and comes to help us, liberating us from the threats of our enemies. Our real enemy, Pope Francis, said, is sin, but when we are reconciled with God, through the Sacrament of Confession, we are liberated from evil and the burden of sin is lifted from us. The Pope welcomed especially the members of an Orthodox delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as the five new cardinals, who received their red hats at Wednesday’s consistory, and the Metropolitan Archbishops who were named over the past year. Greeting visitors from across the globe, the Pope said he prayed especially for all the people of Rome as they celebrate their feast day through traditional flower and firework displays. May they live in peace, he said, witnessing to the Christian faith with the same fervor as the apostles Peter and Paul.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: homily for feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 17:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday morning celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Square to mark the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. In his homily the Pope focused on three words, confession, persecution and prayer, which he said are essential for the life of an apostle today. Please see below the full text of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass for the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul The liturgy today offers us three words essential for the life of an apostle: confession, persecution and prayer. Confession.  Peter makes his confession of faith in the Gospel, when the Lord’s question turns from the general to the specific.  At first, Jesus asks: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” (Mt 16:13).  The results of this “survey” show that Jesus is widely considered a prophet.  Then the Master puts the decisive question to his disciples: “But you, who do you say that I am?” (v. 15).  At this point, Peter alone replies: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).  To confess the faith means this: to acknowledge in Jesus the long-awaited Messiah, the living God, the Lord of our lives. Today Jesus puts this crucial question to us, to each of us, and particularly to those of us who are pastors.  It is the decisive question.  It does not allow for a non-committal answer, because it brings into play our entire life.  The question of life demands a response of life.  For it counts little to know the articles of faith if we do not confess Jesus as the Lord of our lives.  Today he looks straight at us and asks, “Who am I for you?”  As if to say: “Am I still the Lord of your life, the longing of your heart, the reason for your hope, the source of your unfailing trust?”  Along with Saint Peter, we too renew today our life choice to be Jesus’ disciples and apostles.  May we too pass from Jesus’ first question to his second, so as to be “his own” not merely in words, but in our actions and our very lives.  Let us ask ourselves if we are parlour Christians, who love to chat about how things are going in the Church and the world, or apostles on the go, who confess Jesus with their lives because they hold him in their hearts.  Those who confess Jesus know that they are not simply to offer opinions but to offer their very lives.  They know that they are not to believe half-heartedly but to “be on fire” with love.  They know that they cannot just “tread water” or take the easy way out, but have to risk putting out into the deep, daily renewing their self-offering.  Those who confess their faith in Jesus do as Peter and Paul did: they follow him to the end – not just part of the way, but to the very end.  They also follow the Lord along his way, not our own ways.  His way is that of new life, of joy and resurrection; it is also the way that passes through the cross and persecution. Here, then, is the second word: persecution.  Peter and Paul shed their blood for Christ, but the early community as a whole also experienced persecution, as the Book of Acts has reminded us (cf. 12:1).  Today too, in various parts of the world, sometimes in silence – often a complicit silence – great numbers of Christians are marginalized, vilified, discriminated against, subjected to violence and even death, not infrequently without due intervention on the part of those who could defend their sacrosanct rights. Here I would especially emphasize something that the Apostle Paul says before, in his words, “being poured out as a libation” (2 Tim 4:6).  For him, to live was Christ (cf. Phil 1:21), Christ crucified (cf. 1 Cor 2:2), who gave his life for him (cf. Gal 2:20).  As a faithful disciple, Paul thus followed the Master and offered his own life too.  Apart from the cross, there is no Christ, but apart from the cross, there can be no Christian either.  For “Christian virtue is not only a matter of doing good, but of tolerating evil as well” (Augustine, Serm. 46,13), even as Jesus did.  Tolerating evil does not have to do simply with patience and resignation; it means imitating Jesus, carrying our burden, shouldering it for his sake and that of others.  It means accepting the cross, pressing on in the confident knowledge that we are not alone: the crucified and risen Lord is at our side.  So, with Paul, we can say that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken” (2 Cor 4:8-9). Tolerating evil means overcoming it with Jesus, and in Jesus’ own way, which is not the way of the world.  This is why Paul – as we heard – considered himself a victor about to receive his crown (cf. 2 Tim 4:8).  He writes: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7).  The essence of his “good fight” was living for: he lived not for himself, but for Jesus and for others.  He spent his life “running the race”, not holding back but giving his all.   He tells us that there is only one thing that he “kept”: not his health, but his faith, his confession of Christ.  Out of love, he experienced trials, humiliations and suffering, which are never to be sought but always accepted.  In the mystery of suffering offered up in love, in this mystery, embodied in our own day by so many of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, impoverished and infirm, the saving power of Jesus’ cross shines forth.   The third word is prayer.  The life of an apostle, which flows from confession and becomes self-offering, is one of constant prayer.  Prayer is the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity.  Prayer makes us feel loved and it enables us to love in turn.  It makes us press forward in moments of darkness because it brings God’s light.  In the Church, it is prayer that sustains us and helps us to overcome difficulties.  We see this too in the first reading: “Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5).  A Church that prays is watched over and cared for by the Lord.  When we pray, we entrust our lives to him and to his loving care.  Prayer is the power and strength that unite and sustain us, the remedy for the isolation and self-sufficiency that lead to spiritual death.  The Spirit of life does not breathe unless we pray; without prayer, the interior prisons that hold us captive cannot be unlocked. May the blessed Apostles obtain for us a heart like theirs, wearied yet at peace, thanks to prayer.  Wearied, because constantly asking, knocking and interceding, weighed down by so many people and situations needing to be handed over to the Lord; yet also at peace, because the Holy Spirit brings consolation and strength when we pray.  How urgent it is for the Church to have teachers of prayer, but even more so for us to be men and women of prayer, whose entire life is prayer! The Lord answers our prayers.  He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial.  He accompanied the journey of the Apostles, and he will do the same for you, dear brother Cardinals, gathered here in the charity of the Apostles who confessed their faith by the shedding of their blood.  He will remain close to you too, dear brother Archbishops who, in receiving the pallium, will be strengthened to spend your lives for the flock, imitating the Good Shepherd who bears you on his shoulders.  May the same Lord, who longs to see his flock gathered together, also bless and protect the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with my dear brother Bartholomew, who has sent them here as a sign of our apostolic communion.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to new Cardinals: your mission is to serve

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 22:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over an Ordinary Public Consistory for the Creation of Cardinals on Wednesday in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father created five new Cardinals – who are representative members of the Clergy of Rome, whose duties are to elect the Bishop of Rome, to advise the Pope, and to assist him in governing the universal Church. Listen to the report by Chris Altieri: The five new Cardinals are: Jean Zerbo , Archbishop of Bamako, Mali;  Juan José Omella , Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​Spain;  Anders Arborelius , Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden;  Luis Marie-Ling Mangkhanekhoun , Apostolic Vicar of Paksé, Laos;  Gregorio Rosa Chávez , Bishop of Mulli, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Savador. In his allocution on the occasion, the Holy Father focused on the mission of service to which the new Cardinals are called. “[Jesus]  calls you to serve like him and with him,” Pope Francis said, “to serve the Father and your brothers and sisters.” The Pope went on to say, “He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity.” Pope Francis went on to offer an exhortation. “Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection.” The Consistory took place on the eve of the great Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, martyrs and patrons of the Church of Rome. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Allocution at Consistory for Creation of Cardinals

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 22:37
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered an allocution on Wednesday at the Ordinary Public Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The prelates to be created Cardinals during the Consistory are: Jean Zerbo , Archbishop of Bamako, Mali; Juan José Omella , Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​Spain; Anders Arborelius , Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden; Luis Marie-Ling Mangkhanekhoun , Apostolic Vicar of Paksé, Laos; Gregorio Rosa Chávez , Bishop of Mulli, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Savador. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis' prepared remarks, in their official English translation... ****************************************** “Jesus was walking ahead of them” .  This is the picture that the Gospel we have just read ( Mk 10:32-45) presents to us.  It serves as a backdrop to the act now taking place: this Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals. Jesus walks resolutely towards Jerusalem.  He knows fully what awaits him there; on more than one occasion, he spoke of it to his disciples.  But there is a distance between the heart of Jesus and the hearts of the disciples, which only the Holy Spirit can bridge.  Jesus knows this, and so he is patient with them.  He speaks to them frankly and, above all, he goes before them .  He walks ahead of them. Along the way, the disciples themselves are distracted by concerns that have nothing to do with the “direction” taken by Jesus, with his will, which is completely one with that of the Father”.  So it is that, as we heard, the two brothers James and John think of how great it would be to take their seats at the right and at the left of the King of Israel (cf. v. 37).  They are not facing reality!  They think they see, but they don’t.  They think they know, but they don’t.  They think they understand better than the others, but they don’t… For the reality is completely different.  It is what Jesus sees and what directs his steps.  The reality is the cross.  It is the sin of the world that he came to take upon himself, and to uproot from the world of men and women.  It is the innocent who suffer and die as victims of war and terrorism; the forms of enslavement that continue to violate human dignity even in the age of human rights; the refugee camps which at times seem more like a hell than a purgatory; the systematic discarding of all that is no longer useful, people included. This is what Jesus sees as he walks towards Jerusalem.  During his public ministry he made known the Father’s tender love by healing all who were oppressed by the evil one (cf. Acts 10:38).  Now he realizes that the moment has come to press on to the very end, to eliminate evil at its root.  And so, he walks resolutely towards the cross. We too, brothers and sisters, are journeying with Jesus along this path.  I speak above all to you, dear new Cardinals.  Jesus “is walking ahead of you”, and he asks you to follow him resolutely on his way.  He calls you to look at reality , not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects.  He has not called you to become “princes” of the Church, to “sit at his right or at his left”.  He calls you to serve like him and with him.  To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters.  He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity.  Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection. And now, with faith and through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bridge every gap between our hearts and the heart of Christ, so that our lives may be completely at the service of God and all our brothers and sisters. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis calls for new social contract for labour

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 21:36
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged companies and businesses to bring more young people into the workplace saying it is both “foolish and short-sighted” to force workers to carry on working in old-age. The Pope’s words came as he addressed representatives and members of Italy’s CISL - Confederation of Trade Unions - whom he received in the Vatican. Francis  described work as a “form of civil love” that allows men and women not only to earn their livings and flourish as persons, but also to keep the world going.  But, he pointed out that work is not everything and no one must work all the time. He also said that there are people who must not work – like children - who must be safeguarded from child labour – sick people whose right it is not to work, and elderly people who have a right to a “just pension”. And on the topic of pensions, the Pope denounced both the ``golden retirements'' given to some pensioners and the meager ones given to others and said that both are an offense to the dignity of work. He also made a strong appeal to employers and policy-makers saying that “a society that forces its workers to work for too long, thus keeping an entire generation of young people from taking their places, is foolish and short-sighted”. “There is an urgent need – the Pope said – for a new social contract for labour” in order to bring more young people into the workforce. Highlighting the “epochal challenges” faced by trade unions at this time in history, he urged them to be the prophetic face of society, to continue to give voice to the voiceless and to defend the rights of the most fragile and vulnerable workers. “In our advanced capitalistic societies, trade unions risk losing their prophetic nature and becoming too similar to the institutions and the powers they should be criticizing. With the passing of time Unions have ended up looking too much like political parties” he said. The other fundamental challenge for Unions Pope Francis pinpointed is that of the capacity to be renewed and updated. Not only, he explained, must Unions protect those who are within the system, it must also look to and protect those who have no rights, because those who are excluded from the world of work are deprived of their rights and excluded from democracy. Pope Francis concluded his address with a reflection on how capitalism seems to have forgotten the social nature of economy. “Let us think, he said, of the 40% of young people in Italy who have no work. That is the existential periphery where you have to take action.” “And women, he said, are still considered second class workers; they earn less and they are more easily exploited” he said: “Do something!” (from Vatican Radio)...

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