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Pope Francis upholds legacy of two 'inconvenient' priests

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 23:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday travelled to two small towns in northern Italy to pay homage to two Italian parish priests of the past century who championed the poor and challenged powerful prelates to step outside their comfort zones.  Arriving by helicopter in Lombardy town of Bozzolo to pray at the tomb of   Don Primo Mazzolari , Pope Francis was greeted by Cremona Bishop Antonio Napolioni who announced the process to beatify Mazzolari will start on September 18th. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Don Mazzolari, who died in 1959, was the parish priest of Bozzolo. He was also  a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, an anti-fascist activist who opposed the Mussolini regime and an ardent champion of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI.  Pope Francis’ lengthy tribute to Mazzolari – whom he described as Italy’s parish priest - was above all a call to priests not to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best and an exhortation to them to take the Gospel message into the peripheries in poverty and with simplicity, turning away from the temptations of clericalism and careerism.   Francis  then flew to Barbiana, near Florence, to pray at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani , a man he has described as “a believer, enamored of the Church”  a “passionate educator” who used “original ways.”  Milani, who died in 1967, is universally acknowledged for having been an optimum interpreter of modern and contemporary pedagogy, a priest attentive to formative methods for young people, and  especially alert to the needs of the poor and the rights of workers. Milani , the Pope said, taught the importance of giving the poor the capacity to speak up for themselves, because “without the word, there’s no dignity and therefore no justice or freedom”.   A pilgrimage the Pope himself said was undertaken  in the footsteps of two parish priests whose legacy he described as “scomodo” which means challenging or inconvenient, but that has left a radiant  trace in their service to the Lord and to the people of God.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope’s condolence for the death of Cardinal Ivan Dias

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 19:25
Pope Francis has expressed his sadness at the death of Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias.  The 81 year old retired prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and former archbishop Emeritus of Bombay passed away on Monday in Rome.  Pope Francis sent a condolence message to the late cardinal’s brother Francis Dias, recalling his service to the Holy See, particularly his efforts in rebuilding the Church in Albania. Please find below the full text of the Pope's condolence message: Deeply saddened to learn of the death of your dear brother, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and the Dias family.  I recall with gratitude the late Cardinal’s years of faithful service to the Apostolic See, especially his contribution to the spiritual and physical reconstruction of the suffering Church in Albania and the missionary zeal demonstrated in his work as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  I likewise unite my prayers to those of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Bombay, where the pastoral concern and broad apostolic vision that marked his service as Archbishop are fondly remembered.  In union of prayer with all who mourn his passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I commend the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord. FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis pays tribute to "Italy's parish priest"

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 19:25
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday made a pilgrimage to northern Italy to honor two 20th-century parish priests whose commitment to the poor and powerless challenged many faithful - inside and outside the Vatican - to step outside their comfort zones. The Pope flew by helicopter to Bozzolo, near Cremona in the region of Lombardy, to pray at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari , parish priest of a small town, a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, he opposed the Mussolini regime and emphasized the importance of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Father Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI. He died in 1959. The Pope then travelled to Barbiana, near Florence to pay tribute to Don Lorenzo Milani, a wealthy convert to Catholicism who founded a parish school to educate the poor and workers.  In Bozzolo, Francis stood in silent prayer before the simple tomb of Mazzolari, and then delivered a long tribute to the priest whom he described as “Italy's parish priest.” The Pope quoted Mazzolari’s writings about the need for the Church to accompany its flock and recalled his exhortation that a priest's job isn't to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best.  Quoting Mazzolari’s own words he said: ``Let us have good sense! We don't to massacre the backs of these poor people.'' He said the legacy of priests like Don Mazzolari is a bright one that challenges us to leave our comfort zones. “Don Mazzolari tried to change the world without regrets for the past; he was not one who hung on to the Church of the past, but tried to change the Church through love and unconditional dedication” he said. Pope Francis warned against those men of the Church who “do not want to soil their hands” and who “observe the world through a window”; he warned against those who engage in what he called “separatist activism” where one runs Catholic institutions like banks or businesses; and he spoke out against the temptation for spiritualism which dehumanizes and is devoted only to the apostolate. Don Mazzolari, the Pope said, conceived the Church going forth into world in the firm belief that that is the only way to reach out to those who do not come to Church any more. “He was rightly described as ‘the parish priest of those who are far’ because he always loved those on the peripheries and to them dedicated his mission. Pope Francis concluded his speech with an exhortation to all priests to “listen to the world”, to “step into the dark areas without fear because it is amongst the people that God’s mercy is incarnate.” He urged them to live in poverty and said that the credibility of the Gospel message is in the simplicity and poverty of the Church and he reminded them always to treasure the lesson of Don Mazzolari.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope prays at tomb of Don Milani in Italian town of Barbiana

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 19:25
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday visited and prayed at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani, an Italian priest and educator from the Diocese of Florence, and spoke to the faithful present for his visit in Barbiana. Calling Don Milani a “priest who was as transparent and hard as a diamond”, Pope Francis reflected on his life and legacy as an educator in the northern Italian city of Barbiana from 1954 until 1967. The Pope said he wished to pray at his tomb “in order to pay homage to the memory of a priest who witnessed to how, in the gift of self to Christ, we discover our brothers and sisters in their moment of need, and we serve them”. He told the people of Barbiana that they were “witnesses to his passion as an educator and his desire to reawaken the human aspect in persons in order to open them to the divine.” The Holy Father said education for Don Milani was the concrete expression of his priesthood. “[He sought] to give back the word to poor people, because without language there is neither dignity nor freedom and justice.” Pope Francis went on to thank all educators for their “service towards promoting the growth of new generations, especially those who find themselves in uncomfortable situations.” He said Don Milani’s educative drive was born of his priesthood, which in turn was born of his faith. “His was a totalizing faith, which allowed him to give himself completely to the Lord”. Turning to the priests present, Pope Francis invited them to be “men of faith” and to “love the Church and make her loved by showing her to be a mother for all, especially for the poorest and most fragile”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis opens annual Diocese of Rome pastoral conference

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 13:09
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis made his second visit to Rome’s Cathedral, St. John Lateran, in as many days on Monday evening to open the Diocese of Rome’s annual pastoral conference. Ahead of his visit, the Holy Father met with a group of refugees who have been hosted by some of the thirty-eight Roman parishes and religious communities who responded to his 2015 appeal that parishes to do their part by hosting those persons fleeing war and poverty. Listen to Linda Bordoni's report: Pope Francis opened Rome’s annual diocesan meeting on Monday evening with a reflection on how to accompany parents in educating their adolescent children. Offering several “assumptions” for this aspect of pastoral care, the Bishop of Rome invited the city’s pastors to think in the Roman dialect, that is, with the faces of their flocks fixed in their minds. “Family life and the education of adolescents in a big metropolis like this requires particular attention," he said. "The complexity of the capital does not admit of reductive syntheses, but stimulates us to think in the form of a polyhedron, in which every neighborhood finds its own echo in the diocese”. Pope Francis then reflected on the modern experience of being “uprooted”. He said “an uprooted society or uprooted family is a family without a history, memory, or roots… For this reason one of the first things we must think about is how to provide roots and relationships and how to promote a vital network that allows them to feel at home.” The Pope said the adolescent experience is one of tension and transition between childhood and adulthood. He called this a precious and difficult time in which the whole family is called to grow. And he invited the Roman pastors not to treat adolescence as a “pathology to be medicated”; rather, he called it “a normal part of growth,” since “where there is life there is movement and change”. The Holy Father said this offered parents a unique opportunity to stimulate young people by involving them in projects that challenge them to reach their full potential. In conclusion, Pope Francis said one of the greatest threats to the education of teenagers is the idea of “eternal youth”. He said when adults want to stay young and young people want to be adults there is a hidden risk of leaving teenagers out of their own growth processes, because parents have taken their place. This, the Pope said, deprives teenagers of an experience of confrontation necessary for growth into adulthood. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope celebrates Mass for Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 01:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated Mass at the Roman Basilica of St John Lateran which was to be followed by a procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major to mark the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. In his homily for the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis chose to reflect on one word, “Memory”. The Pope said that “remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.”  Memory, the Holy Father went on to say is important, “because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mind-ful, “never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.”  This Solemnity, Pope Francis underlined, reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist.   Below find the English language translation of the Pope's Homily On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the idea of memory comes up again and again.  Moses says to the people: “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you….  Lest… you forget the Lord your God, who fed you in the wilderness with manna” (Dt 8:2, 14, 16).  Jesus will tell us: “Do this in memory of me” (1 Cor 11:24).  The “living bread, come down from heaven” (Jn 6:51) is the sacrament of memory, reminding us, in a real and tangible way, of the story of God’s love for us.  Today, to each of us, the word of God says, Remember!  Remembrance of the Lord’s deeds guided and strengthened his people’s journey through the desert; remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.  Remembrance is essential for faith, as water is for a plant.  A plant without water cannot stay alive and bear fruit.  Nor can faith, unless it drinks deeply of the memory of all that the Lord has done for us.  Remember.  Memory is important, because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mind-ful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.  Yet nowadays, this singular ability that the Lord has given us is considerably weakened.  Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl.  We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories.  Leaving our memories behind and living only for the moment, we risk remaining ever on the surface of things, constantly in flux, without going deeper, without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going.  In this way, our life grows fragmented, and dulled within.  Yet today’s Solemnity reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist.  In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life.  The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love.  There, “[Christ’s] sufferings are remembered” (II Vespers, antiphon for the Magnificat) and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey.  This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.  The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit.  When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love.  In saying this, I think in particular of you boys and girls, who recently received First Holy Communion, and are here today in great numbers.  The Eucharist gives us a grateful memory, because it makes us see that we are the Father’s children, whom he loves and nourishes.  It gives us a free memory, because Jesus’ love and forgiveness heal the wounds of the past, soothe our remembrance of wrongs experienced and inflicted.  It gives us a patient memory, because amid all our troubles we know that the Spirit of Jesus remains in us.  The Eucharist encourages us: even on the roughest road, we are not alone; the Lord does not forget us and whenever we turn to him, he restores us with his love. The Eucharist also reminds us that we are not isolated individuals, but one body.  As the people in the desert gathered the manna that fell from heaven and shared it in their families (cf. Ex 16), so Jesus, the Bread come down from Heaven, calls us together to receive him and to share him with one another.  The Eucharist is not a sacrament “for me”; it is the sacrament of the many, who form one body.  Saint Paul reminded us of this: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17).  The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity.  Whoever receives it cannot fail to be a builder of unity, because building unity has become part of his or her “spiritual DNA”.  May this Bread of unity heal our ambition to lord it over others, to greedily hoard things for ourselves, to foment discord and criticism.  May it awaken in us the joy of living in love, without rivalry, jealousy or mean-spirited gossip. Now, in experiencing this Eucharist, let us adore and thank the Lord for this greatest of gifts: the living memorial of his love, that makes us one body and leads us to unity.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: Jesus food of eternal life

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 19:11
(Vatican Radio) In a sunny St Peter’s Square on Sunday Pope Francis recalled the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi. Listen to our report:  Following the Angelus prayer and taking his cue from the Gospel of St John, the Holy Father reminded the pilgrims and tourists present that Jesus states that he is “the living bread which has descended from heaven. The Pope explained that the Father has sent him into the world as the food of eternal life, and for this reason he will sacrifice himself on the Cross, donating his body and shedding his blood. Pope Francis went on to say that “in the Eucharist, Jesus, as he did with the disciples of Emmaus, accompanies us, pilgrims in order to nourish faith, hope and charity in us; To comfort us in trials; To support us in our commitment to justice and peace. This solidarity, the Pope said, is everywhere. Feeding on Jesus in the  Eucharist, the Holy Father continued  “also means abandoning ourselves with confidence and letting ourselves be led by Him.” The Pope also reminded the faithful that he would celebrate Mass in the Roman Basilica of St John Lateran on Sunday evening followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope’s India visit could be postponed to 2018 – Card. Gracias ‎

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 20:31
It is very likely that the visit of Pope Francis to India and Bangladesh planned for the end of this year, could be postponed to next year, a prominent Indian Catholic Church leader said on Thursday.  In an interview to National Catholic Reporter (NCR) on June 15, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay said that discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government about a papal visit this year have taken longer than expected.  " I am beginning to lose hope about 2017 ," said the cardinal who is the president of both the Latin-rite bishops’ group, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), as well as the  Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC).  "We are already in June. Even if they suddenly say, 'Come,' it is a pastoral visit ... [it] will take several months for the dioceses to prepare the people," Card. Gracias said.  "It should not just be a flash in the pan, he comes and goes," he said, explaining that when Pope St. John Paul II visited India in 1999, the Indian bishops "planned for almost a year before he came to make it effective." Pope Francis first hinted about a possible visit to India and Bangladesh in 2017 during and in-flight press conference on October 2, 2016, while returning from a visit to Azerbaijan.  Again in an interview to German weekly Die Zeit in March, the Pope spoke about his visit to India and Bangladesh, without giving dates.  Earlier, Bangladeshi Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario had told reporters that given the weather conditions of Bangladesh, October-November would be ideal for a papal visit.   Second papal visit to be postponed this year The India-Bangladesh visit would be the second papal visit to be postponed this year, after that of South Sudan.  Originally planned for autumn this year, the Vatican confirmed on May 30 that the visit to the war-torn African nation wound not  take place in 2017.  South Sudan’s deteriorating security situation obviously appeared to be reason. Card. Gracias told NCR that working with the Indian government to prepare the papal visit has been "a little bit of ‎a difficult situation" as Modi's calendar has been filled up with state visits from other leaders .‎  ‎"We have to find a good spot where we can give the Holy Father his due importance and respect," Card. Gracias ‎said.‎  (Source: NCR) (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends condolences upon death of Helmut Kohl

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:52
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis sent his condolences on Saturday to German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon the death of her predecessor, former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Helmut Kohl died on Friday at the age of 87, having served as Chancellor from 1982 to 1998. In a telegramme, the Pope sends his “heartfelt condolences” for the loss of the “Chancellor of Unity”. “Chancellor Kohl, that great statesman and convinced European, worked with far-sightedness and dedication for the good of the German people and those in neighboring European countries.” The Holy Father prayed that “Merciful God reward him for his tireless efforts in favour of the unity of Germany and the European Union, as well as for his commitment to peace and reconciliation.” He closed the telegramme with a prayer that the Lord give him “eternal joy and life in the heavenly Fatherland” and extended to all who mourn ex-Chancellor Kohl the blessings of God. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:22
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband on Saturday in a private audience at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. A communique from the Holy See Press Office called their discussions “cordial” and said they spoke about “the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany”. “They then spoke about questions of common interest, with particular consideration given to the upcoming meeting of the G20 in Hamburg, and they agreed on the need to dedicate special attention to the responsibility of the international community towards counteracting poverty and hunger, the global threat of terrorism, and climate change.” During the course of their discussions, Pope Francis and Chancellor Merkel also recalled the “tireless efforts” of the late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl “towards the reunification of Germany and the unity of Europe”. After meeting with Pope Francis, Chancellor Merkel met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. (from Vatican Radio)...

Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 18:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received in his Audience His  Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the meeting, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the Decrees concerning: - the martyrdom of the Venerable Servant of God Teresio Olivelli, Laity; Killed in hatred of the Faith on January 17, 1945; The heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Antonio Giuseppe De Sousa Barroso, Bishop of Porto; Born on 5 November 1854 and died on August 31, 1918; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Joseph of Jesus López y González, Bishop of Aguas Calientes and Founder of the Congregation of the Maestro Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Born on 16 October 1872 and died on November 11, 1950; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Agostino Ernesto Castrillo, Bishop of San Marco Argentano-Bisignano, of the Order of Friars Minor; Born on 18 February 1904 and died on October 16, 1955; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God James of Balduina (Benjamin Filon), professor priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins; Born on 2 August 1900 and died on July 21, 1948; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Mary of Angels ( Giuseppa Operti), professed monk of the Order of the Barmen Carmelites and founder of the Carmelite Sisters of Santa Teresa of Turin; Born on 16 November 1871 and dead on October 7, 1949; - heroic virtues of the Servant of God Humility Patlán Sánchez (Mary), Sister of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; Born March 17, 1895 and died on June 17, 1970. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends condolences to London fire victims

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 16:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of condolence to the victims and families of the Grenfall Tower fire in London. In the message signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy Father says he was "saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury." He also praised the efforts of the emergency services in reponding to the tragedy.   Below find the Pope's message addressed to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminster His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury. He entrusts the souls of those who have died to the Lord’s loving mercy and offers his heartfelt condolences to their families.  With appreciation for the brave efforts of the emergency service personnel and all committed to supporting those who have lost their homes, His Holiness invokes upon the local community God’s blessings of strength and peace.  Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass: God’s power saves us from weakness and sins

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 20:17
(Vatican Radio)  In order to be saved and healed by God we must recognize that are weak, vulnerable and sinful like earthen vessels, said ‎Pope Francis on Friday.  And this will lead us to happiness, he said in ‎his homily at the morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta chapel in the Vatican.  He was reflecting on the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where St. Paul speaking about the mystery of Christ, says we have this treasure of Christ in our fragility and vulnerability because we are vessels made of clay. Not being shameful is hypocrisy   "All of us are vulnerable, fragile, weak, and we need to be healed,” the Pope said.  But recognizing our vulnerability is one of the most difficult things of life.  At times, we try to cover this vulnerability with cosmetics in order to disguise it, pretending it does not exist.  And disguises are always shameful, the Pope said. “They are hypocrisy." Temptation to cover our weakness and sins Pope Francis explained that besides being hypocritical towards others, we are also hypocritical within ourselves believing "to be something else”, hence not needing healing and support.  This, the Pope pointed out, is the path to vanity, pride and self-reference of those who do not feel themselves made of clay and thus seek salvation and fulfilment in themselves.  Instead, as St. Paul says, it is the power of God that saves us because of our vulnerability. Hence we are troubled but not crushed; we are shaken but not desperate; we are persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not killed.  There is always this relationship between clay and power, clay and treasure. But the temptation, the Pope said,  is always the same: to cover, conceal and not believing we are made of clay.  This is the hypocrisy towards ourselves. When we accept our weakness, God comes with His salvation and happiness In this regard, Pope Francis spoke about confession where we confess our sins in a way whitewashing the clay a bit in order to appear strong.  Rather, the Pope said, we must accept our weakness and vulnerability, even if it is "difficult" to do so.  Hence the importance of "shame".  It is shame that broadens the heart to allow the power of God in -  the shame of being clay and not a silver or gold vase.   When Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet, he did not realize he was made of clay needing the Lord’s power to be saved.  It’s only when we accept we are made of clay that the extraordinary power of God will come and give us the fulfilment, salvation, happiness and joy of being saved, thus receiving the Lord's "treasure". (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis writes preface to book on the curse of corruption

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 21:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written the preface for a new book on corruption by Cardinal Peter Turkson , former president of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Council and current head of the office for Integral Human Development. The volume, which was published on Thursday, explores the origins and devastating consequences of corruption, which the Pope describes as a "curse" and a “cancer” that can consume our lives. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: In his preface, the Pope describes corruption as the breakdown of relationships that every human being has with God, with our neighbours and with the natural world around us. Origin of all exploitation He describes it as the worst scourge of societies because it is the lifeblood of the mafia and other criminal organisations. Corruption, he says, is the origin of all exploitation and trafficking of people, drugs and weapons. It is at the heart of all injustice, lack of development, unemployment and social degradation. Corruption tempts us all Pope Francis praises the book for exposing the ramifications of corruption and the way it can tempt all of us in our political, economic, cultural or spiritual lives. The spirit of worldliness can corrupt us all, the pope warns, leading to a hardening of our hearts and indifference to those around us. The Pope ends his preface with an urgent appeal to all Christians and all people of good will to combat this curse, this cancer which can consume our lives. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis gives special greeting to sick and disabled at Audience

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 21:45
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis greeted the many sick and disabled persons gathered in the Paul VI Hall ahead of his Wednesday General Audience. The group followed his Audience from within the air conditioned audience hall to stay out of the sweltering Roman heat, to which the Pope alluded in a short address to them, saying it would be “like a Turkish bath out there today”. Thanking them for coming, the Holy Father invited the group to listen to his words “with a heart united to those in [St. Peter’s] Square” where his Audience was held. He said the Church is like this because it is united by the Holy Spirit, with “one group here and another there, but all are united.” Before exiting to hold his General Audience, Pope Francis prayed the Our Father and Hail Mary and gave his blessing to his special guests. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at audience: God's unconditional love gives hope

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 19:48
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his reflections on Christian hope, as he greeted thousands of pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square and in the Paul VI audience hall for his weekly general audience.  Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: Pope Francis began his reflection by noting that none of us can live without love. Yet many people today, he went on, are anguished or empty inside because they don’t believe they are beautiful or important enough to be loved by others. Imagine a world where everyone is seeking attention and no-one is prepared to give love in a gratuitous way, he said. Behind so much narcissistic behaviour and incomprehensible actions we discover feelings of solitude and abandonment. When adolescents feel unloved, the pope continued, they may turn to violence, hatred or delinquent behaviour. There is no such thing as bad children or evil adolescents, he said, but there are unhappy people. When we look and smile freely at someone who is sad, he said, we open their hearts and offer them a way out of their unhappiness. Pope Francis said that God loves us with an unconditional love, not because we deserve it, but rather because he himself is love. Like the father of the prodigal son, he said, God has compassion for us even when we are far away from him. He also recalled the many mothers he met, back in Buenos Aires, who continued to love their sons unconditionally, even when they did wrong and ended up in prison. It is a time of Resurrection for us all, the pope concluded, because Jesus died to forgive us our sins. It is time to lift up those who are discouraged and to live in the hope of God the Father who loves us for ever, just as we are..May all of us find in God’s embrace the promise of new life and freedom, he said, for in his love is the source of all our hope. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at general audience: God's infinite love gives hope

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 17:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his reflections on Christian hope, as he greeted thousands of pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square for his weekly general audience. A second group of sick and disabled pilgrims also took part in the encounter, following the pope live on video screens in the Paul VI audience hall. Please find below the text of Pope Francis’ words to English speaking pilgrims present at the audience Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our catechesis on Christian hope, we have found the source of that hope in God’s unconditional love, revealed for us in the coming of the Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  None of us can live without love. Happiness comes from the experience of knowing love, freely given and received.  So much unhappiness in our world is born of the feeling of not being loved for our own sake.  Faith teaches us that God loves us with an infinite love, not for any merit of our own, but out of his sheer goodness.  Even when we stray from him, God seeks us out, like the merciful father in the parable of the prodigal son, offers us forgiveness, and restores us to his embrace.  In the words of Saint Paul: “While we still were sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), so that we might become beloved sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.  Through the resurrection of Jesus and the grace of the Holy Spirit, we become sharers in God’s own life of love.  May all of us find in God’s embrace the promise of new life and freedom.  For in his love is the source of all our hope. I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Sweden, Hong Kong, Pakistan, the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Canada and the United States of America.  Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. (from Vatican Radio)...

Synod Secretariat announces launch of interactive website

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 18:25
(Vatican Radio) The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced a new website on Tuesday, in preparation for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October, 2018. The Synod Assembly is to be dedicated to the role of young people in the life of the Church. A statement from the Secretariat explains that the site is designed to promote the broad, interactive participation of young people from all around the world in preparations for the Assembly. The new website includes an online questionnaire addressed directly to young people in different languages ​​(Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese). Answers will have to be sent to the General Secretariat by 30 November 2017. The statement goes on to encourage young people especially to visit the site and respond to the Questionnaire, saying that wide and fulsome response will be of great use in the process of preparing the Synod Assembly, and will be part of the extensive consultation that the General Secretariat is doing at all levels of the people of God. The website will be active from June 14 th of this year (2017), and may be found at the following address: http://youth.synod2018.va (from Vatican Radio)...

First World Day of the Poor message released

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 18:16
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday released Pope Francis' message for the First World Day of the Poor which will be observed later this year on the 19th of November.   Please find the English translation of the message below:    Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the First World Day of the Poor Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time 19 November 2017   Let us love, not with words but with deeds   1.         “Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).  These words of the Apostle John voice an imperative that no Christian may disregard.  The seriousness with which the “beloved disciple” hands down Jesus’ command to our own day is made even clearer by the contrast between the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves.  Love has no alibi.  Whenever we set out to love as Jesus loved, we have to take the Lord as our example; especially when it comes to loving the poor.  The Son of God’s way of loving is well-known, and John spells it out clearly.  It stands on two pillars: God loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:10.19), and he loved us by giving completely of himself, even to laying down his life (cf. 1 Jn 3:16).             Such love cannot go unanswered.  Even though offered unconditionally, asking nothing in return, it so sets hearts on fire that all who experience it are led to love back, despite their limitations and sins.  Yet this can only happen if we welcome God’s grace, his merciful charity, as fully as possible into our hearts, so that our will and even our emotions are drawn to love both God and neighbour.  In this way, the mercy that wells up – as it were – from the heart of the Trinity can shape our lives and bring forth compassion and works of mercy for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in need. 2.         “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him” (Ps 34:6).  The Church has always understood the importance of this cry.  We possess an outstanding testimony to this in the very first pages of the Acts of the Apostles, where Peter asks that seven men, “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3), be chosen for the ministry of caring for the poor.  This is certainly one of the first signs of the entrance of the Christian community upon the world’s stage: the service of the poor.  The earliest community realized that being a disciple of Jesus meant demonstrating fraternity and solidarity, in obedience to the Master’s proclamation that the poor are blessed and heirs to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3).             “They sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45).  In these words, we see clearly expressed the lively concern of the first Christians.  The evangelist Luke, who more than any other speaks of mercy, does not exaggerate when he describes the practice of sharing in the early community.  On the contrary, his words are addressed to believers in every generation, and thus also to us, in order to sustain our own witness and to encourage our care for those most in need.  The same message is conveyed with similar conviction by the Apostle James.  In his Letter, he spares no words: “Listen, my beloved brethren.  Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?  But you have dishonoured the poor man.  Is it not the rich who oppress you, and drag you into court? ... What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?  Can his faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled”, without giving them the things needed for the body; what does it profit?  So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead’ (2:5-6.14-17). 3.         Yet there have been times when Christians have not fully heeded this appeal, and have assumed a worldly way of thinking.  Yet the Holy Spirit has not failed to call them to keep their gaze fixed on what is essential.  He has raised up men and women who, in a variety of ways, have devoted their lives to the service of the poor.  Over these two thousand years, how many pages of history have been written by Christians who, in utter simplicity and humility, and with generous and creative charity, have served their poorest brothers and sisters!             The most outstanding example is that of Francis of Assisi, followed by many other holy men and women over the centuries.  He was not satisfied to embrace lepers and give them alms, but chose to go to Gubbio to stay with them.  He saw this meeting as the turning point of his conversion: “When I was in my sins, it seemed a thing too bitter to look on lepers, and the Lord himself led me among them and I showed them mercy.  And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of mind and body” (Text 1-3: FF 110).  This testimony shows the transformative power of charity and the Christian way of life.             We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work, or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience.  However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people’s needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life.  Our prayer and our journey of discipleship and conversion find the confirmation of their evangelic authenticity in precisely such charity and sharing.  This way of life gives rise to joy and peace of soul, because we touch with our own hands the flesh of Christ.  If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist.  The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  Saint John Chrysostom’s admonition remains ever timely: “If you want to honour the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honour the Eucharistic Christ with silk vestments, and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness” (Hom. in Matthaeum, 50.3: PG 58).              We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.  Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself. 4.         Let us never forget that, for Christ’s disciples, poverty is above all a call to follow Jesus in his own poverty.  It means walking behind him and beside him, a journey that leads to the beatitude of the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20).  Poverty means having a humble heart that accepts our creaturely limitations and sinfulness and thus enables us to overcome the temptation to feel omnipotent and immortal.  Poverty is an interior attitude that avoids looking upon money, career and luxury as our goal in life and the condition for our happiness.  Poverty instead creates the conditions for freely shouldering our personal and social responsibilities, despite our limitations, with trust in God’s closeness and the support of his grace.  Poverty, understood in this way, is the yardstick that allows us to judge how best to use material goods and to build relationships that are neither selfish nor possessive (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 25-45).             Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty.  Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve him in the poor.  If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.  At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life. 5.         We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is.  Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.  Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money.  What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!             Tragically, in our own time, even as ostentatious wealth accumulates in the hands of the privileged few, often in connection with illegal activities and the appalling exploitation of human dignity, there is a scandalous growth of poverty in broad sectors of society throughout our world.  Faced with this scenario, we cannot remain passive, much less resigned.  There is a poverty that stifles the spirit of initiative of so many young people by keeping them from finding work.  There is a poverty that dulls the sense of personal responsibility and leaves others to do the work while we go looking for favours.  There is a poverty that poisons the wells of participation and allows little room for professionalism; in this way it demeans the merit of those who do work and are productive.  To all these forms of poverty we must respond with a new vision of life and society.             All the poor – as Blessed Paul VI loved to say – belong to the Church by “evangelical right” (Address at the Opening of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 29 September 1963), and require of us a fundamental option on their behalf.  Blessed, therefore, are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: they are hands that bring hope.  Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity.  Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”: they are hands that call down God’s blessing upon their brothers and sisters. 6.         At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.  To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor.             I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father.  This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.  At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity.  God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded. 7.         It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.  They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday.  The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God’s love.  Jesus’ complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.             This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favourable moment to encounter the God we seek.  Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently.  With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God’s providence. 8.         At the heart of all the many concrete initiatives carried out on this day should always be prayer.  Let us not forget that the Our Father is the prayer of the poor.  Our asking for bread expresses our entrustment to God for our basic needs in life.  Everything that Jesus taught us in this prayer expresses and brings together the cry of all who suffer from life’s uncertainties and the lack of what they need.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he answered in the words with which the poor speak to our one Father, in whom all acknowledge themselves as brothers and sisters.  The Our Father is a prayer said in the plural: the bread for which we ask is “ours”, and that entails sharing, participation and joint responsibility.  In this prayer, all of us recognize our need to overcome every form of selfishness, in order to enter into the joy of mutual acceptance. 9.         I ask my brother Bishops, and all priests and deacons who by their vocation have the mission of supporting the poor, together with all consecrated persons and all associations, movements and volunteers everywhere, to help make this World Day of the Poor a tradition that concretely contributes to evangelization in today’s world.             This new World Day, therefore, should become a powerful appeal to our consciences as believers, allowing us to grow in the conviction that sharing with the poor enables us to understand the deepest truth of the Gospel.  The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practise in our lives the essence of the Gospel.   From the Vatican, 13 June 2017 Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: hearts open to gift and service of consolation

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 20:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning. In remarks to the faithful following the Readings of the Day, the Holy Father reflected on the gift of consolation, focusing specifically on the spiritual aptitudes most conducive to receiving the gift of consolation from God and sharing the gift with our fellows. Consolation is not autonomy The reading from the 2 nd Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians teaches us that consolation is not – Pope Francis said – “autonomous”: “The experience of consolation, which is a spiritual experience, always needs ‘someone else’ in order to be full: no one can console himself, no one – and whoever tries to do it ends up looking into the mirror – staring into the mirror and trying to ‘make oneself up’. One ‘consoles’ with these closed things that do not let one grow, and the air that one breathes is that narcissistic air of self-reference. This is the made up consolation that does not let one grow – and it is no [real] consolation, because it is closed, it lacks an alterity.” Click below to hear our report There are so many people in the Gospel, says the Pope in Homily at Casa Santa Marta. For example, the doctors of the Law, "full of their own sufficiency," the wealthy Epulone who had a feast on holiday thinking he was so consoled, but above all to express this attitude better is the Pharisee's prayer in front of the altar, which says: "Thank you for not being like everyone else." "This was in the mirror," the Pope notes, "looking at his soul made up of ideologies and thanking the Lord." Jesus therefore sees this possibility of being people who in this way of life "will never come to fullness, to the utmost to" swelling ", that is, to the vantage. Pope Francis said that the “Doctors of the Law” of which the Gospels speak are like this: “filled with self-sufficiency.” He also offered the example of the rich man – a priest – in the Gospel according to St. Luke, who lived his days from one feast to another, believing himself thus to be “consoled” – or the figure par excellence of the Pharisee who prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for not making me like those others.” “That man looked at himself in the mirror,” said Pope Francis. “He gazed on his one likeness embellished with ideologies, and thanked the Lord.” The Holy Father went on to say that Jesus shows us such persons because they represent a real possibility – it is possible to live in such a manner that, “one shall never arrive at fullness, but only achieve a state of being bloated,” that is, of being puffed up with vainglory. Consolation is gift and service In order to be true, consolation therefore needs an “other”. First of all, consolation is received, because, “it is God who consoles,” who gives this “gift.” Then true consolation also matures in another “other”, when one who has been consoled, consoles in turn. “Consolation is a state of transition from the gift received to the service given,” the Pope explains: “True consolation has this twofold ‘otherness’: it is gift and service. And so it is, if I let the consolation of the Lord enter as a gift it is because I need to be consoled. I am in need: in order to be consoled, one must recognize oneself as being in need of consolation. Only then does the Lord come, console us, and give us the mission to console others. it is not easy to have one’s heart open to receive the gift and to serve, the two ‘alterities’ that make consolation possible.” The teaching of the Beatitudes An open heart is needful, then, and in order to be open a heart must be happy – and the Gospel Reading of the day tells us precisely “who are the happy, the ‘blessed’.”: “The poor: the heart is opened with an attitude of poverty, of poverty of spirit; those who know how to cry, the meek ones, the meekness of heart; those hungry for justice who fight for justice; those who are merciful, who have mercy on others; the pure of heart; peace-makers and those who are persecuted for justice, for love of righteousness. Thus is the heart opened and [then] the Lord comes with the gift of consolation and the mission of consoling others.” Those who have their heart closed Such people are contrasted with those who are “closed” and feel “rich in spirit” – that is, “sufficient,” i.e., “those who do not need to cry because they feel they are in the right,” the violent who do not know what meekness is, the unjust who commit injustice, those who are without mercy, who never need to forgive because they do not feel the need to be forgiven, “the ones whose hearts are dirty,” the “makers of war” and not of peace, and those who are never criticized or persecuted because injustice done to other people is of no concern to them. “These,” Pope Francis says, “have a closed heart.” They are not happy because the gift of consolation cannot enter their closed hearts, and so they cannot give it in turn to those who need it. Open the door of the heart In conclusion, Pope Francis asked the faithful to think about their own hearts, whether they are open and able to ask for the gift of consolation and then give it to others as a gift from the Lord, saying that we need to return during the course of each day to this consideration, and thank the Lord, who “always seeks to console us,” and “asks us to open the doors of our hearts even only just a little bit.” Then, said Pope Francis, “[The Lord] will find a way in.”  (from Vatican Radio)...

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