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Pope at Angelus: Christians must have fraternal attitude

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 18:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ Angelus address focused on the words of Jesus from Sunday’s Gospel, including the Lord’s “severe criticisms” of the scribes and Pharisees, and His directions to Christians “of all times,” including our own. Christ’s saying that “the scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses” and His command to “do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you” means that they have the authority to teach what is in conformity to the Law of God, the Pope said. But, the Lord immediately adds, “do not follow their example; for they preach but they do not practice.” Pope Francis said this is a “frequent defect” of those in authority: They are demanding towards others, and they are often correct; but while their directions are just, they fail to practice them themselves. “This attitude is a wicked exercise of authority,” the Pope said, which should instead lead by good example, “helping others practice what is right and due, supporting them in the trials that they encounter on the path of goodness.” If authority is exercised badly, he said, “it becomes oppressive, it does not allow people to grow and it creates a climate of distrust and of hostility, and also brings corruption.” The behaviours of the scribes and Pharisees, which Jesus denounced, are temptations that come from human pride, which the Pope said is not easy to overcome. “It is a temptation to live solely for appearances.” “We disciples of Christ should not seek titles of honour, of authority, or of supremacy, because among us there ought to be a fraternal attitude,” Pope Francis said. “I tell you, it saddens me personally to see people psychologically running after the vanity of honorifics. We disciples of Christ should not do this, because among us there ought to be a simple and fraternal attitude. If we have received special gifts from God, “we should put them at the service of our brothers, and not profit by them for our personal satisfaction.” As Christians, he concluded, we “should not consider ourselves superior to others; modesty is essential for an existence that wants to be conformed to the teaching of Christ, who is meek and humble of heart, and who came not to be served, but to serve. ” (from Vatican Radio)...

The University of the People transforming lives to build a better world

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 02:00
(Vatican Radio) One of the organizations represented at this week’s conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University on the role and the responsibility of universities and educators in offering help – and hope -  to the growing numbers of migrants and refugees was The University of the People .  And together with other conference participants, Shai Reshef , President of The University of the People, was also at the audience with Pope Francis on Saturday morning in the Vatican. During that audience the Pope praised the commitment and the work of those present at “ Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibility and Responses of Universities ” conference and spoke of the need for “distance courses for those living in camps and reception centres”  which happens to be one of the main missions of the The University of the People as Shai Reshef explained: Listen :  “The University of the People is the first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online University for students who graduate from high school, are qualified for higher education  but cannot attend higher education, either because they don’t have the money, either because they live in places where there aren’t enough universities, or they are deprived for political or cultural reasons such as refugees, women in some cultures… to all these people, we bring - through the internet – tuition-free  university to enable them to get higher education, a better future for themselves, for their families, for their societies and hopefully for the world as a whole” he said. Shai Reshef says that currently The University of the People counts over 10,000 students from countries from across the globe – many of them from Syria. He describes the just ended conference in Rome as focusing on a very important aspect of the migration and refugee topic and said that bringing together different universities that deal with the issue of providing education to displaced people is the first of its kind giving life to an extremely relevant conversation. “We were very fortunate to be encouraged by the Pope who met with us” he said. “The people who came to the conference, Reshef pointed out, are the ones  who believe in this goal of building a better future for all by providing access to education”. Look at the Syrian refugees for example: “there are 200,000 Syrians who are left out of higher education” because of reasons caused by the conflict in their nation. “If each university in the world would take ten Syrians – that’s not a lot. We can accommodate all of them!” he said. Reshef said that at The University of the People “we are already doing it. We have taken over 1000 refugees and over 600 Syrian refugees. But each university could afford to take ten refugees  and that’s basically what the Pope said: think about these people and see how you can address this issue”. He said he is in total agreement with the Pope’s belief that this is a global co-responsibility and described Pope Francis as “a champion of resolving the issue and understanding that it is not ‘their’ problem: it’s ‘our’ problem”. He pointed out that from a pragmatic point of view you can look at the issue not just as a human rights cause, but understanding that “if it is not resolved these people will continue to be miserable and being miserable  means not only that they will not be productive members of society and are going to suffer, but the consequences of this we all are going to bear” he said. “If these people have hope probably they will behave differently” he said. He said that if you take people who strive for opportunity and you give them opportunity, they will go a long way and hopefully be builders of a better world. Reshef said the conference contained promise for the future and it reinforced his belief that ‘on-line’ tuition is assuming a more and more important role in the discussion of the solution. On-line is what can be relevant and offer a solution to every person he pointed out. Concluding, Reshef specified that while the University of The People is tuition-free it is not free as fees are requested for exams unless the student cannot afford to pay; in that case (as often is the case for refugees and migrants) scholarships are offered. Finally he said: “For me to shake the Pope’s hand and receive – as the University of the People – his blessing, was a very exciting moment and I am very happy to have it”.   For more information on The University of the People: www.uopeople.edu       (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Amato presides at Beatification Mass for Sr Rani Maria

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 00:59
(Vatican Radio) Martyred Indian Sister Rani Maria , who was slain by an assassin 22 years ago in central India, was proclaimed a Blessed at a beatification ceremony during Holy Mass in Indore, in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state on Saturday, November 4th.    Cardinal Angelo Amato , Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Beatification Mass. During his homily he described Sister Rani Maria as one who lived and died preaching the gospel of charity and defending the poor…  Listen :   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope encourages Sixt Children's Aid charity in its committment

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 19:41
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday greeted members of the Sixt Family encouraging them to pursue their work which is aimed at helping children in various situations of need. Headed by Regine Sixt, the main purpose of the Regine Sixt Children’s Aid Foundation is the worldwide improvement of humane living conditions for children through program areas that include health, care, education and emergency aid. Please find below the Pope’s address below: Dear Members of the Sixt Family, Dear Friends, I offer a warm welcome to you, the representatives of the Sixt company from throughout the world.  I thank Mrs Regina Sixt for her introduction, which spoke of your shared commitment to works of charity, carried out through the Drying Little Tears Foundation and aimed above all at helping children in various situations of need. These efforts allow you the opportunity to make your professional activity a noble vocation, by recognizing a greater meaning in life.  Beyond personal and financial success, you are striving to serve the common good by working to increase the goods of this world and to make them more available to all (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 203). You have assembled here in Rome to meet the Successor of Peter, who has a special place in his heart for the least and the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  Such are our children.  Drying their tears through concrete projects of assistance is a way of combatting the culture of waste and helping to build a more humane society. I encourage you to pursue your work in the conviction that God’s tender love can be seen in a particular way on the faces of innocent children in need of care and support.  May the Lord reward you with his many gifts. I ask your prayers for my mission in the service of the Church, and to you, your dear grandchildren and all your families, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis highlights importance of education for migrants and refugees

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 17:49
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday addressed members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities at the conclusion of their conference entitled,  "Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities". Listen to our report:  Addressing the International Conference participants on Saturday in the Vatican the Pope, congratulating them on their work, also pointed out the importance of their contribution in three areas:  research, teaching and social promotion in order, he said, to bring about “the construction of a more just and humane world.” Studying migration Reflecting on the theme of their conference "Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities", the Holy Father spoke about the need “to do further studies into the root causes of forced migration with the aim of identifying viable solutions…” He also added, that it was equally important to reflect on the negative, sometimes discriminatory, and xenophobic reactions that migrants face in countries of ancient Christian traditions and look also to creating more awareness of this issue. Promoting education initiatives for refugees Pope Francis underlined the contributions that migrants and refugees can make to the societies that welcome them and expressed the hope that Catholic universities would develop programmes that “promote refugee education at various levels, both through the provision of distance courses for those living in camps and reception centres, and through the granting of scholarships that allow for their relocation.” During his address, the Pope invited Catholic universities to educate their students, some of whom, he said, would be political leaders of the future, entrepreneurs and artists of culture, to study carefully the migratory phenomenon, in a justice, and global co-responsibility perspective. With regard to the complex world of migration, said Pope Francis, the Migration and Refugee Section of the Dicastery for Integrated Human Development  has suggested "20 Action Points" as a contribution to the process that will lead to the adoption by the international community of two Global Pacts , one on migrants and one on refugees in the second half of 2018. In this and in other areas, he concluded, universities can play their part as privileged actors including the social field, “such as in incentives for student volunteering in programs of assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants.”     (from Vatican Radio)...

AMERICA/HAITI - Haitian lay people called to rediscover their mission in society and the Church

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 17:36
Port au Prince - - 180 Catholic lay faithful from all the dioceses of Haiti took part in the National Congress of Laity held in Port au Prince from 31 October to 3 November. The meeting, promoted by the Church of Haiti in collaboration with the Social School of CELAM, tried to outline the mission of lay baptized in the Church and in society, called to animate temporal realities in the light of the Church's social doctrine. The Congress's work highlighted the urgency of deepening the knowledge of the Church's social doctrine among the laity. The Congress was presided by Francisco Niño, Colombian Priest and vice secretary of CELAM’s General Secretariat. Haiti, the poorest Country in America, is trying to regain social stability. The Church supports the Haitian people and its admirable and moving desire to start again. ...

NEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - Violence and insecurity in Venezuela

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 16:12
The nation is going through a deep crisis: it is ranked second among the most violent countries in the world, with over 91 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The State seems to have handed over the control of security to criminal gangs and seems to have abandoned the respect for the rule of law. The country cries out justice, while poverty and food insecurity overwhelm the population. Human rights activists call the international community for urgent action. Link correlati : Continue to read news analysis-Omnis Terra...

Pope at Mass: 'our faith makes us men and women of hope'

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 22:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for all those Cardinals and Bishops who have died over the past year . During his homily the Pope reflected on the reality of death, but he also reminded us of the promise of eternal life which is grounded in our union with the risen Christ. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : “Today’s celebration, Pope Francis said, once more sets before us the reality of death.  It renews our sorrow for the loss of those who were dear and good to us.” But more importantly, reflecting on the liturgical reading of the day, he said it increases our hope for them and for ourselves, as it expresses speaks of the  resurrection of the just. The resurrection of the just “They are the multitude – he continued - that, thanks to the goodness and mercy of God, can experience the life that does not pass away, the complete victory over death brought by the resurrection”. And recalling Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross the Pope said that “by His love, He shattered the yoke of death and opened to us the doors of life”. Our faith in the resurrection opens the doors to eternal life The faith we profess in the resurrection, Pope Francis explained, makes us men and woman of hope, not despair, men and women of life, not death, for we are comforted by the promise of eternal life, grounded in our union with the risen Christ. He urged the faithful to be trusting in the face of death as Jesus has shown us that death is not the last word. Our souls, he said, thirst for the living God whose beauty, happiness, and wisdom has been impressed on the souls of our brother cardinals and bishops whom we remember today.   Hope does not disappoint Pope Francis concluded giving thanks for their generous service to the gospel and the Church and reminding those present that Hope never disappoints.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis’prayer intention for November: To witness the Gospel in Asia

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 21:14
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released a video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for November 2017. This month’s intention is for Evangelization: To witness to the Gospel in Asia . That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions The text of the video message reads: The most striking feature of Asia is the variety of its peoples who ar  heirs of ancient cultures, religions and traditions. On this continent where the Church is a minority, the challenges are intense. We must promote dialogue among religions and cultures. Let us pray that Christians in Asia may promote dialogue, that peace and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions .     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' homily for Deceased Cardinals and Bishops

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 19:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for deceased Cardinals and Bishops . During his homily the Pope reflected on the reality of death reminding us that “the faith we profess in the resurrection makes us men and woman of hope, not despair, men and women of life, not death, for we are comforted by the promise of eternal life, grounded in our union with the risen Christ”. Please find below the full text of the Pope’s homily : Today’s celebration once more sets before us the reality of death.  It renews our sorrow for the loss of those who were dear and good to us.  Yet, more importantly, the liturgy increases our hope for them and for ourselves. The first reading expresses a powerful hope in the resurrection of the just: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:2).  Those who sleep in the dust of the earth are obviously the dead.  Yet awakening from death is not in itself a return to life: some will awake for eternal life, others for everlasting shame.  Death makes definitive the “crossroads” which even now, in this world, stands before us: the way of life, with God, or the way of death, far from him.  The “many” who will rise for eternal life are to be understood as the “many” for whom the blood of Christ was shed.  They are the multitude that, thanks to the goodness and mercy of God, can experience the life that does not pass away, the complete victory over death brought by the resurrection. In the Gospel, Jesus strengthens our hope by saying: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:51).  These words evoke Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  He accepted death in order to save those whom the Father had given him, who were dead in the slavery of sin.  Jesus became our brother and shared our human condition even unto death.  By his love, he shattered the yoke of death and opened to us the doors of life.  By partaking of his body and blood, we are united to his faithful love, which embraces his definitive victory of good over evil, suffering and death.  By virtue of this divine bond of Christ’s charity, we know that our fellowship with the dead is not merely a desire or an illusion, but a reality. The faith we profess in the resurrection makes us men and woman of hope, not despair, men and women of life, not death, for we are comforted by the promise of eternal life, grounded in our union with the risen Christ. This hope, rekindled in us by the word of God, helps us to be trusting in the face of death.  Jesus has shown us that death is not the last word; rather, the merciful love of the Father transfigures us and makes us live in eternal communion with him.  A fundamental mark of the Christian is a sense of anxious expectation of our final encounter with God.  We reaffirmed it just now in the responsorial psalm: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42:2).  These poetic words poignantly convey our watchful and expectant yearning for God’s love, beauty, happiness, and wisdom. These same words of the psalm were impressed on the souls of our brother cardinals and bishops whom we remember today.  They left us after having served the Church and the people entrusted to them in the prospect of eternity.  As we now give thanks for their generous service to the Gospel and the Church, we seem to hear them repeat with the apostle: “Hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5).  Truly, it does not disappoint!  God is faithful and our hope in him is not vain.  Let us invoke for them the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, that they may share in the eternal banquet of which, with faith and love, they had a foretaste in the course of their earthly pilgrimage. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope’s prayer at Ardeatine Caves

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 00:42
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the Ardeatine Caves Memorial on the Feast of All Souls to commemorate those who lost their lives in the horror of war. Rome’s Ardeatine Caves are the site of a 1944 massacre of 335 Italian civilian men and boys  in revenge for an attack by resistance fighters who killed 33 members of a Nazi military police unit. The Pope spent some time in prayer at the Memorial and then gave a brief reflection. This is Vatican Radio’s unofficial translation of his words :   God of Abraham, of Isaac, God of Jacob: with this name, You presented Yourself to Moses when You revealed to him Your desire to free your people from the slavery of Egypt. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, God who binds Himself in a pact with humanity, God who binds Himself with a covenant of faithful love forever, merciful and compassionate to every man and every people suffering oppression. “I have observed the misery of my people, I have heard their cry, I know their sufferings.” God of the faces and names, God of each of the 335 men murdered here, on March 24, 1944, whose remains lie in these tombs. You, Lord, know their faces and their names: all, even those of the 12, who remain unknown to us. To You, no one is unknown. God of Jesus, our Father in Heaven: thanks to Him, the Risen Christ, we know that your name – God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob – means You are not the God of the dead but of the living , that Your faithful covenant of love is stronger than death and is a guarantee of resurrection. O Lord, that in this place devoted to the memory of the fallen for freedom and justice we might put off the shackles of selfishness and indifference, and through the burning bush of this mausoleum, listen silently to Your name: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of Jesus, God of the living. Amen.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope visits Ardeatine caves to pray at war victims' memorial

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 23:55
(Vatican Radio) After celebrating Mass to mark All Souls Day at the Nettuno American War Cemetery on Thursday, Pope Francis travelled to the Ardeatine Caves where he spent time in prayer at the memorial to victims of a Second World War massacre.  The Ardeatine caves, or Fosse Ardeatine as they’re called in Italian, are located on the south-eastern outskirts of Rome, on the site of a disused volcanic ash quarry. Listen to our report:  It was there on March 24th 1944 that German occupying troops carried out a massacre of 335 Italian men of all ages and backgrounds. They were shot at close range, in retaliation for a partisan attack in the city centre the previous day that had killed 33 German policemen. Reprisal killings   Hitler himself authorized the reprisal, which called for 10 Italians to be rounded up and shot for each victim of the attack in the central Via Rasella. Those killed in the caves represented a cross section of Italian society, some already in jail, including 57 Jews,  others rounded up by security police in the vicinity of the attack. The youngest was a teenage boy, while the oldest was a man in his late 70s. Massacre site discovered The victims were forced to kneel in groups of five and shot with a bullet to the back of the head. Their bodies were piled up and covered with rocks inside the caves, which were then sealed with explosives. It was not the war was over, more than a year later, that the massacre site was uncovered and the victims were exhumed for burial.  Subsequently, the caves were declared a memorial cemetery and national monument. Annual commemoration Every year, on the anniversary of the killings, a solemn State commemoration is held at the monument. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have also visited the site to pay tribute to these innocent victims of war. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis warns warmongers: the only fruit of war is death

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 22:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of All Souls Day on Thursday commemorating all those who have died in war, reminding humanity not to forget past lessons and warning that the only fruit yielded by conflict is death.  His words of warning and his powerful condemnation of warmongers came during his homily at the Sicily-Rome American War Cemetery some 50 kilometers south of Rome. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Taking the occasion to reiterate his deep conviction that “wars produce nothing more than cemeteries and death” the Pope said he chose to visit a war cemetery as a sign “in a moment when our humanity seems not to have learned the lesson, or doesn't want to learn it.”  The Nettuno US War Cemetery and Memorial is the final resting place for thousands of men who died during military operations carried out to liberate Italy –  from Sicily to Rome – from Nazi Germany.  Its chapel contains a list of the 3095 missing. Pope Francis arrived at the War Cemetery early in the afternoon so that he could spend time reflecting and paying his personal respects to the 7,860 – mostly young – soldiers who gave their lives in the name of freedom and respect for humanity. Walking in poignant silence between the rows and rows of tombstones, Pope Francis bowed to read some of the names and dates inscribed in the white marble: stark reminders of the fact – as he stated during his homily – that the only fruit of war is death. Please God: no more war To the somber congregation gathered on this holy day to honour all those who have died, Pope Francis said he chose to come to a place where thousands died in bloody combat, to appeal to the Lord – yet again “Please God: stop them. No more war. No more useless carnage.” The Pope delivered his off-the-cuff homily with an emotion charged by the dramatic setting provided by hundreds of thousands of graves of young men whose hopes – he said - were cruelly severed, at a time in which the world is again at war and is even preparing to step-up war. “Please God – he prayed – everything is lost with war” There are men today who are doing everything to declare war and step up conflict “There are men, Francis said, who are doing everything to declare war and to enter into conflict. They end up destroying themselves and everything.” Remarking on the fact that today is a day of hope, but also of tears, he said that the tears wept by those who have lost husbands, sons and friends at war should never be forgotten. Humanity does not seem to want to learn the lesson “But humanity, the Pope continued, has not learnt the lesson and seems not to want to learn the lesson”. Let us pray, he said, in a special way for all those young people caught up in conflict, “many of whom are dying every day in this piecemeal war”. And he remembered the thousands of innocent children who are also paying the price of war. “Let us ask the Lord, Pope Francis concluded, to give us the grace to weep”.               (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: Celebrating the Saints who transmit the light of God

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 20:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis during the Angelus on Wednesday marked the feast of All Saints, telling the faithful in St Peter’s Square that it was a celebration of the many simple and hidden people who help God to push the world forward. Listen to our report:    “Saints are not perfect models, but people marked by God. We can compare them to church stained-glass windows, which bring light into different shades of color.” Those were Pope Francis’ words on Wednesday on the Solemnity of All Saints, during his Angelus address from St Peter’s Square. The Pope explained that “Saints are our brothers and sisters who have received the light of God in their hearts and have transmitted it to the world , each according to their own "tonality". This is the purpose of life, continued Pope Francis, to pass on the light of God; and also the purpose of our lives....” Referring to Wednesday’s Gospel reading, the Holy Father said, “Jesus speaks to his own, to all of us, saying "Blessed". “Whoever is with Jesus is blessed, he is happy, noted the Pope, adding that happiness is not in having something or becoming someone, “no, the real happiness is to be with the Lord and to live for love, he said.” The Beatitudes The Pope told those gathered in St Peter’s Square that, “the ingredients for a happy life are called the beatitudes”. They do not require tremendous gestures, he said, “they are not for supermen, but for those who live through daily trials and struggles. They are for us.” Returning to the Saints, the Holy Father described how “they too have breathed in all the air polluted by the evil that is in the world, but on the journey they never lose sight of the path of Jesus, that is indicated in the beatitudes, which, he said, are like the map of Christian life. Saints of Today The Pope went on to say that the feast of All Saints is a celebration of all those who have “reached the goal indicated by this map: not only the saints of the calendar, but so many brothers and sisters "next door" that we may have met and known.” This day, Pope Francis said, “is a family celebration of many simple and hidden people who actually help God to push the world forward.”     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis prays for terror attack victims

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 18:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis, during his Angelus address on the feast of All Saints on Wednesday, expressed his deep sorrow following recent terrorist attacks in Somalia, Afghanistan and on Tuesday in New York. Speaking from the window of his studio in the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father deplored such acts of violence, adding, “I pray for the deceased, for the wounded and their family members. We ask the Lord to convert the hearts of terrorists and free the world from hatred and homicidal folly that abuses the name of God spreading death.” Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, the Pope had a special greeting for participants of the Race of the Saints mini marathon which was run in celebration of this feast day. Before concluding his address, the Pope reminded the faithful that he would be travelling to the American Cemetery of Nettuno, South of Rome and then to the Fosse Ardeatine National Monument on November 2nd to mark the feast on Feast of all Souls. Pope Francis, said,” I ask you to accompany me with prayer in these two stages of memory and suffrage for the victims of war and violence. Wars produce nothing but cemeteries and death: that is why I wanted to give this sign at a time when our humanity seems not to have learned the lesson or does not want to learn it."   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: ‎Courage is needed for the Kingdom of God to grow

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 20:34
To help the Kingdom of God grow, courage is needed to sow the mustard seed and mix the yeast, in the face of many who prefer a “pastoral care of conservation” without dirtying their hands.  Pope Francis made the point in his homily at Mass, Tuesday morning, in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.  The Pope took his cue from Luke’s Gospel where Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed and yeast , which though small, "have a power within” to grow.   Suffering to glory In his Letter to the Romans, the Pope said, St. Paul speaks about the many anxieties of life that are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.  Commenting on the struggle between suffering and glory, the Pope said, in our sufferings there is in fact “an ardent expectation” for a “great revelation of the Kingdom of God".  It is an expectation that belongs not only to us but also to creation,  that is frail like us whoa are yearning for the “revelation of the children of God".  This inner strength that leads us to hope for the fullness of the Kingdom of God, the Pope pointed out, is the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit brings hope, growth The Pope said it is this hope that leads us to fullness, the hope of coming out of this prison, this limitation, this slavery, this corruption, and reaching glory, is a journey of hope.  And hope, the Pope said, is the gift of the Holy Spirit who is in us and leads us to liberation, to great glory. This is why Jesus says that inside this tiny mustard seed there is the force that “unleashes an unimaginable growth' ".  It is the same within us and in creation, the Pope pointed out.  It is the  the Holy Spirit that bursts forth and gives us hope. Getting hands dirty rather than being museum custodians The Pope noted that in the Church one can see both the courage and the fear to sow the seed and mix the yeast.  There are those who feel secure with a “pastoral care of conservation,” that denies the Kingdom of God to grow. The Pope admitted there is always some loss in sowing the Kingdom of God. One loses the seed and gets hands dirty.  He warned those who preach the Kingdom of God with the illusion of  not getting dirty.  Comparing them to museum custodians, he said they prefer beautiful things without sowing that allows the inner force to burst forth, and without mixing the yeast that triggers growth.  The Pope said that both Jesus and Paul point to this passing from the slavery of sin to the fullness of glory.  It speaks of hope that does not disappoint, because like a mustard seed and yeast, hope is small and  humble like a servant but where there is hope, there is the Holy Ghost, who carries forward the Kingdom of God, the Pope added.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: a good shepherd is always close to his people

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 20:08
(Vatican Radio) A good shepherd is always close to his people, while a bad priest is only interested in power and money. That was Pope Francis’ message at the Santa Marta Mass on Monday, as he reflected on the Gospel reading for the day. Listen to our report: In the reading from St Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is in the synagogue where he meets a woman who has been crippled for years and is unable to stand up straight. The pope notes how Luke uses five verbs to describe Jesus’ actions as the good shepherd who is always close to his people. Jesus saw, he called her, he spoke to her, he laid his hands on her and he cured her. Bad priests interested in power and money But the doctors of the Law, the Pharisees and Sadducees, those who are very distant from their people, rebuke him continuously. These were not good shepherds, the pope explained, as they were closed within their own world and not interested in their people. Or perhaps, he added, they were only interested in them when the service was over and they wanted to see how much money had been collected. Jesus feels compassion for marginalised Jesus, on the other hand, is close to the woman and this closeness comes from the compassion he feels in his heart. Pope Francis said Jesus was always there with the most marginalized people, those who had been rejected by the clerical crowd, the poor and the sick, the sinners and the lepers. The good shepherd comes close and feels compassion, he said, adding that he is not ashamed to touch the wounded flesh of those marginalized people, just as Jesus did. God teaches us to be close to others A good shepherd, the pope insisted, doesn’t say, “Yes, yes, I’m with you in spirit,” and keep his distance, but rather he does what God did in sending his Son: he taught us to show mercy and compassion by lowering himself, emptying himself and making himself a servant to others. Hypocrites are offended by Jesus' words The clerical crowd, Pope Francis continued, are only close to power and money, making friends with influential people and worrying about their own pockets. They are the hypocrites who are not interested in their people but become offended when Jesus accuses them, saying that they always follow the Law. We will be judged by closeness to others Luke tells us that the whole crowd rejoiced when Jesus’ adversaries were humiliated – while that is a sin, the pope said, the people were glad because they had suffered so much. But the good shepherd, he concluded, is the one who sees, calls, speaks, touches and heals. Just as God came close to us through Jesus Christ, he said, all of us will be judged by how we try to be close to those who are hungry, sick,  in prison or in any kind of need.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Angelus: Love is God's dream for man

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 19:08
(Vatican Radio) Thousands of people joined Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, for the weekly recitation of the Angelus . With the sun peeking out through slightly overcast skies, the Holy Father spoke on the Gospel reading for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time . In the day’s Gospel, Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Pope Francis noted that the question was “insidious,” because there were more than six hundred precepts in the Old Testament. But, he said, “Jesus answers without hesitation: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’; and He adds, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.” This response, the Pope continued, is not obvious, because in some ways, the Ten Commandments, given directly by God to Moses, were the most important, because they were conditions of the covenant between God and His people. But, the Pope said, Jesus wants to make us understand that without love of God and of our neighbour, there can be no true fidelity to the covenant. In answering the Pharisees who had posed the question, Jesus sought to help them put their religious devotion in the right order; to help them understand “what truly matters, and what is less important.” In fact, Pope Francis said, Jesus’ own life was an example; His words and actions showed what was truly essential: love. Love, the Pope said, “gives impetus and fruitfulness to life and to the journey of faith: without love, both life and faith remain sterile.” The ideal proposed by Jesus corresponds “to the most authentic desires of our heart,” the Pope continued. “In fact, we were created precisely in order to love and to be loved. God, Who is Love, has created us in order to make us partakers of His life, to be loved by Him and to love Him, and to love with Him all other persons.” This, Pope Francis said, “is God’s dream for man.” But we can realize this dream only by being open to God’s grace. It is only through His grace that we are able to receive within ourselves the capacity to love. And it is precisely for this reason that Jesus offers Himself to us in Holy Communion. In the Eucharist, the Pope said, “we receive His Body and His Blood; that is, we receive Jesus in the greatest expression of His Love, when He has offered Himself to the Father for our salvation.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks with the prayer that “the Holy Virgin might help us to welcome in our lives the ‘ great commandment ’ of love of God and of our neighbour.” Listen to our report:  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope on Christians' contribution to the future of Europe

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 01:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday addressed the participants of a conference, sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) , on the theme of " (Re)Thinking Europe — A Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project ." “It is significant,” the Pope said, “that this meeting was intended above all as a dialogue , pursued in a spirit of openness and freedom, for the sake of mutual enrichment.” Speaking of a “Christian contribution” to the future of the continent, he said, means “to consider our task, as Christians today, in these lands which have been so richly shaped by the faith down the centuries.” Beginning with the figure of St Benedict , the patron of Europe, the Holy Father focused especially on two main contributions that Christians have made to Europe, and can make for the future. The first, “and perhaps the greatest” contribution Christians can make to Europe is " to remind her that she is not a mass of statistics or institutions, but is made up of people .” The second contribution is related to the first: “To acknowledge that others are persons means to value what unites us to them. To be a person connects us with others; it makes us a community.” The second contribution, then, is " to help recover the sense of belonging to a community. ” It is within the family , “the primordial community,” that we are first able to come to an understanding of unity in diversity. The family, the Pope said, “is the harmonious union of the differences between man and woman, which becomes stronger and more authentic to the extent that it is fruitful, capable of opening itself to life and to others.” The wider civic community is similar, in that it is able to flourish when it is open to the “differences and gifts” of every person within the community. “Person and community are thus the foundations of the Europe that we, as Christians, want and can contribute to building,” the Pope said. And “the bricks of this structure are dialogue, inclusion, solidarity, development and peace. ” Pope Francis concluded his address with a quote from the Letter to Diognetus, a writing from the earliest ages of Christianity, which says, “ what the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world. ” “In our day,” the Pope said, “Christians are called to revitalize Europe and to revive its conscience, not by occupying spaces, but by generating processes capable of awakening new energies in society.” Once again calling to mind St Benedict, Pope Francis said, “He was not concerned to occupy spaces in a wayward and confused world.   Sustained by faith, Benedict looked ahead, and from a tiny cave in Subiaco he gave birth to an exciting and irresistible movement that changed the face of Europe.” The Pope prayed, “May Saint Benedict, ‘messenger of peace, promoter of union, master of civilization’ make clear to us, the Christians of our own time, how a joyful hope, flowing from faith, is able to change the world.” Listen to our report:  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope's at "(Re)Thinking Europe Conference": Full text

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 01:09
(Vatican Radio) Here is the full text of Pope Francis' remarks at the conference on  (Re)Thinking Europe: a Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project , sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE):  Address of His Holiness Pope Francis  to the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community Saturday, 28 October 2017 Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Authorities, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to join you at the conclusion of your Dialogue on the theme ( Re)Thinking Europe – a Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project , sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).  In a particular way I greet the President of the Commission, His Eminence Cardinal Reinhard Marx, and the Honourable Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, and I thank them for their kind words.  To each of you I express my deep appreciation for your active contribution to this important discussion. In these days, your Dialogue has allowed for wide-ranging reflection on the future of Europe from a variety of viewpoints, thanks to the presence of leading figures from the ecclesial, political and academic sectors, and from civil society as a whole.  The young have been able to present their expectations and hopes, and to share them with their elders, while these in turn have drawn on their own reflections and experiences.  It is significant that this meeting was intended above all to be a dialogue , pursued in a spirit of openness and freedom, for the sake of mutual enrichment.  It has sought to shed light on the future path of Europe, the road that all of us are called to travel in surmounting present crises and facing challenges yet to come. To speak of a Christian contribution to the future of the continent means, before all else, to consider our task, as Christians today, in these lands which have been so richly shaped by the faith down the centuries.  What is our responsibility at a time when the face of Europe is increasingly distinguished by a plurality of cultures and religions, while for many people Christianity is regarded as a thing of the past, both alien and irrelevant? Person and community           In the twilight of the ancient world, as the glories of Rome fell into the ruins that still amaze us, and new peoples flooded across the borders of the Empire, one young man echoed anew the words of the Psalmist: “Who is the man that longs for life and desires to see good days?” [1]   By asking this question in the Prologue of his Rule , Saint Benedict pointed the people of his time, and ours as well, to a view of man radically different from that of classical Greco-Roman culture, and even more from the violent outlook typical of the invading barbarians.  Man is no longer simply a civis , a citizen endowed with privileges to be enjoyed at leisure; no longer a miles , a soldier serving the powers of the time; and above all, no longer a servus , a commodity bereft of freedom and destined solely for hard labour.            Saint Benedict was not concerned about social status, riches or power.  He appealed to the nature common to every human being, who, whatever his or her condition, longs for life and desires to see good days.  For Benedict, the important thing was not functions but persons.  This was one of the foundational values brought by Christianity: the sense of the person created in the image of God.  This principle led to the building of the monasteries, which in time would become the cradle of the human, cultural, religious and economic rebirth of the continent.           The first and perhaps the greatest contribution that Christians can make to today’s Europe is to remind her that she is not a mass of statistics or institutions, but is made up of people.  Sadly, we see how frequently issues get reduced to discussions about numbers. There are no citizens, only votes.  There are no migrants, only quotas.  There are no workers, only economic markers.  There are no poor, only thresholds of poverty.  The concrete reality of the human person is thus reduced to an abstract – and thus more comfortable and reassuring – principle.  The reason for this is clear: people have faces; they force us to assume a responsibility that is real, personal and effective.  Statistics, however useful and important, are about arguments; they are soulless.  They offer an alibi for not getting involved, because they never touch us in the flesh.           To acknowledge that others are persons means to value what unites us to them.  To be a person connects us with others; it makes us a community .  The second contribution that Christians can make to the future of Europe, then, is to help recover the sense of belonging to a community.  It is not by chance that the founders of the European project chose that very word to identify the new political subject coming into being.  Community is the greatest antidote to the forms of individualism typical of our times, to that widespread tendency in the West to see oneself and one’s life in isolation from others.  The concept of freedom is misunderstood and seen as if it were a right to be left alone , free from all bonds.  As a result, a deracinated society has grown up, lacking a sense of belonging and of its own past.             Christians recognize that their identity is primarily relational.  They are joined to one another as members of one body, the Church (cf. 1 Cor 12:12), and each, with his or her unique identity and gifts, freely shares in the common work of building up that body.  Analogously, this relationship is also found in the areas of interpersonal relationships and civil society.  By interacting with others, each one discovers his or her own qualities and defects, strengths and weaknesses.  In other words, they come to know who they are, their specific identity.           The family, as the primordial community, remains the most fundamental place for this process of discovery.  There, diversity is valued and at the same time brought into unity.  The family is the harmonious union of the differences between man and woman, which becomes stronger and more authentic to the extent that it is fruitful, capable of opening itself to life and to others.  Secular communities, likewise, are alive when they are capable of openness, embracing the differences and gifts of each person while at the same time generating new life, development, labour, innovation and culture.           Person and community are thus the foundations of the Europe that we, as Christians, want and can contribute to building.  The bricks of this structure are dialogue, inclusion, solidarity, development and peace.   A place of dialogue             Today the whole of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the North Pole to the Mediterranean, cannot miss the chance to be first and foremost a place of candid and constructive dialogue, in which all participants share equal dignity.  We are called to build a Europe in which we can meet and engage at every level, much as in the ancient agorá , the main square of the polis .  The latter was not just a marketplace but also the nerve centre of political life, where laws were passed for the common good.  The presence of a temple dominating the square was a reminder that the horizontal dimension of daily life ought never to overlook the transcendent, which invites us to see beyond the ephemeral, the transitory and the provisional.           This leads us to reflect on the positive and constructive role that religion in general plays in the building up of society.  I think, for example, of the contribution made by interreligious dialogue to greater mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims in Europe.  Regrettably, a certain secularist prejudice, still in vogue, is incapable of seeing the positive value of religion’s public and objective role in society, preferring to relegate it to the realm of the merely private and sentimental.  The result is the predominance of a certain groupthink , [2] quite apparent in international meetings, which sees the affirmation of religious identity as a threat to itself and its dominance, and ends up promoting an ersatz conflict between the right to religious freedom and other fundamental rights.           Favouring dialogue, in any form whatsoever, is a fundamental responsibility of politics.  Sadly, all too often we see how politics is becoming instead a forum for clashes between opposing forces.  The voice of dialogue is replaced by shouted claims and demands.  One often has the feeling that the primary goal is no longer the common good, and this perception is shared by more and more citizens.  Extremist and populist groups are finding fertile ground in many countries; they make protest the heart of their political message, without offering the alternative of a constructive political project.  Dialogue is replaced either by a futile antagonism that can even threaten civil coexistence, or by the domination of a single political power that constrains and obstructs a true experience of democracy.  In the one, bridges are burned; in the other, walls are erected.           Christians are called to promote political dialogue, especially where it is threatened and where conflict seems to prevail.  Christians are called to restore dignity to politics and to view politics as a lofty service to the common good, not a platform for power.  This demands a suitable formation, since politics is not the “art of improvising”.  Instead, it is a noble expression of self-sacrifice and personal dedication for the benefit of the community.  To be a leader demands thoughtfulness, training and experience.   An inclusive milieu           Leaders together share responsibility for promoting a Europe that is an inclusive community, free of one fundamental misunderstanding: namely that inclusion does not mean downplaying differences.  On the contrary, a community is truly inclusive when differences are valued and viewed as a shared source of enrichment.  Seen in this way, migrants are more a resource than a burden.  Christians are called to meditate seriously on Jesus’ words: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” ( Mt 25:35).  Especially when faced with the tragedy of displaced persons and refugees, we must not forget that we are dealing with persons, who cannot be welcomed or rejected at our own pleasure, or in accordance with political, economic or even religious ideas.           Nor is this opposed to the duty of all government authorities to address the migration issue “with the virtue proper to governance, which is prudence”. [3]   Authorities should keep in mind the need for an open heart, but also their ability to provide for the full integration, on the social, economic and political level, of those entering their countries.  We cannot regard the phenomenon of migration as an indiscriminate and unregulated process, but neither can we erect walls of indifference and fear.  For their part, migrants must not neglect their own grave responsibility to learn, respect and assimilate the culture and traditions of the nations that welcome them.   Room for solidarity           Striving for an inclusive community means making room for solidarity .  To be a community in fact entails supporting one another; bearing burdens and making extraordinary sacrifices do not fall to some few, while the rest remain entrenched in defence of their privileged positions.  A European Union that, in facing its crises, fails to recover a sense of being a single community that sustains and assists its members – and not just a collection of small interest groups – would miss out not only on one of the greatest challenges of its history, but also on one of the greatest opportunities for its own future.           Solidarity, which from a Christian perspective finds its raison d’être in the precept of love (cf. Mt 22:37-40), has to be the lifeblood of a mature community.  Together with the other cardinal principle of subsidiarity, it is not limited to relations between the states and regions of Europe.  To be a solidary community means to be concerned for the most vulnerable of society, the poor and those discarded by social and economic systems, beginning with the elderly and the unemployed.  At the same time, solidarity calls for a recovery of cooperation and mutual support between the generations.           An unprecedented generational conflict has been taking place since the 1960’s.  In passing on to new generations the ideals that made Europe great, one could say, with a touch of hyperbole, that betrayal was preferred to tradition.  The rejection of what had been passed down from earlier generations was followed by a period of dramatic sterility.  Not only because Europe has fewer children, and all too many were denied the right to be born, but also because there has been a failure to pass on the material and cultural tools that young people need to face the future.  Europe has a kind of memory deficit .  To become once more a solidary community means rediscovering the value of our own past, in order to enrich the present and to pass on a future of hope to future generations.            Instead, many young people are lost, without roots or prospects, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” ( Eph 4:14).  At times they are even “held captive” by possessive adults who struggle to carry out their own responsibilities.  It is a grave responsibility to provide an education, not only by offering technical and scientific knowledge, but above all by working “to promote the complete perfection of the human person, the good of earthly society and the building of a world that is more human”. [4]   This demands the involvement of society as a whole.  Education is a shared duty that requires the active and combined participation of parents, schools and universities, religious and civil institutions.  Without education, culture does not develop and the life of the community dries up.   A source of development           A Europe that rediscovers itself as a community will surely be a source of development for herself and for the whole world.  Development must be understood in the terms laid down by Blessed Paul VI: “To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man.  As an eminent specialist on this question has rightly said: ‘We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man – each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole’”. [5] Work certainly contributes to human development; it is an essential factor in the dignity and growth of the person.  Employment and suitable working conditions are needed.  The last century provided many eloquent examples of Christian entrepreneurs who understood that the success of their ventures depended above all on the ability to provide employment opportunities and dignified working conditions.  There is a need to recover the spirit of those ventures, for they are also the best antidote to the imbalances caused by a soulless globalization which, more attentive to profits than people, has created significant pockets of poverty, unemployment, exploitation and social unease. It would also be helpful to recover a sense of the need to provide concrete opportunities for employment, especially to the young.  Today, many people tend to shy away from certain jobs because they seem physically demanding and unprofitable, forgetting how indispensable they are for human development.  Where would we be without the efforts of those whose work contributes daily to putting food on our tables?  Where would we be without the patient and creative labour of those who produce the clothes we wear or build the houses in which we live?  Many essential professions are now looked down upon.  Yet they are essential both for society and, above all, for the satisfaction that they give to those who realize that they are being useful in themselves and for others, thanks to their daily work.  Governments also have the duty to create economic conditions that promote a healthy entrepreneurship and appropriate levels of employment.  Politicians are especially responsible for restoring a virtuous circle that, starting from investments that favour the family and education, enable the harmonious and peaceful development of the entire civil community.   A promise of peace Finally, the commitment of Christians in Europe must represent a promise of peace .  This was the central concern that inspired the signatories of the Treaties of Rome.  After two World Wars and atrocious acts of violence perpetrated by peoples against peoples, the time had come to affirm the right to peace. [6]   Yet today we continue to see how fragile is that peace, and how particular and national agendas risk thwarting the courageous dreams of the founders of Europe. [7] Being peacemakers (cf. Mt 5:9), however, does not mean simply striving to avoid internal tensions, working to end the bloodshed and conflicts throughout our world, or relieving those who suffer.  To be workers for peace entails promoting a culture of peace .  This requires love for the truth, without which authentic human relationships cannot exist; it also requires the pursuit of justice, without which oppression becomes the rule in any community. Peace also requires creativity.  The European Union will remain faithful to its commitment to peace only to the extent that it does not lose hope and can renew itself in order to respond to the needs and expectations of its citizens.  A hundred years ago, in these very days, the battle of Caporetto was fought, one of the most dramatic of the First World War.  It was the culmination of that war of attrition, which set a sinister record in reaping countless casualties for the sake of risible gains.  From that event we learn that entrenchment in one’s own positions only leads to failure.  Now is not the time, then, to dig trenches, but instead to work courageously to realize the founding fathers’ dream of a united and harmonious Europe, a community of peoples desirous of sharing a future of development and peace.   To be the soul of Europe Your Eminence, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, The author of the Letter to Diognetus states that “what the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world”. [8]   In our day, Christians are called to revitalize Europe and to revive its conscience, not by occupying spaces, but by generating processes [9] capable of awakening new energies in society.  This is exactly what Saint Benedict did.  It was not by chance that Paul VI proclaimed him the Patron of Europe.  He was not concerned to occupy spaces in a wayward and confused world.   Sustained by faith, Benedict looked ahead, and from a tiny cave in Subiaco he gave birth to an exciting and irresistible movement that changed the face of Europe.  May Saint Benedict, “messenger of peace, promoter of union, master of civilization” [10] make clear to us, the Christians of our own time, how a joyful hope, flowing from faith, is able to change the world.  Thank you.   [1]  SAINT BENEDICT, Rule , Prologue, 14; cf. Ps 34:12. [2] La dittatura del pensiero unico , Morning Reflection in the Domus Sanctae Marthae Chapel, 10 April 2014. [3] Cf. Press Conference on the Return Flight from Colombia , 10 September 2017. [4] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Declaration Gravissimum Educationis (28 October 1963), 3. [5] PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio (26 March 1967), 14. [6] Cf. Address to Students and Academic Authorities , Bologna, 1 October 2017, 3. [7] Cf. ibid. [8] Op. cit., VI. [9] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium , 223. [10] PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Pacis Nuntius , 24 October 1964.   (from Vatican Radio)...

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