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Pope Francis returns to Vatican from Colombia visit

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 21:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has returned to the Vatican at the end of his five day apostolic visit to Colombia. After the papal plane touched down at Rome’s Ciampino airport on Monday afternoon, the pope went to the Rome Basilica of St Mary Major, as he habitually does, to give thanks for his successful journey. Inside the ancient basilica, he spent a few moment in prayer in front of the icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani. During the eleven hour flight, Pope Francis answered questions from the journalists who had been covering his visit to the Colombia cities of Cartagena, Medellin, Villavicencio and the capital Bogotà. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends telegrams on return trip from visit to Colombia

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 20:29
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent telegrams to the countries over which he flew on his return flight to Rome at the conclusion of his Apostolic Visit to the Colombia. Those countries include: Colombia, the Netherlands, United States, Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy. Please find below the original telegrams: Colombia HIS EXCELLENCY JUAN MANUEL SANTOS PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA BOGOTÁ RETURNING TO ROME AT THE CONCLUSION OF MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA I ONCE AGAIN WISH TO EXPRESS SINCERE THANKSGIVING TO ALMIGHTY GOD FOR THE MANY GRACES RECEIVED OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS.  WITH RENEWED GRATITUDE FOR THE HOSPITALITY I HAVE RECEIVED, I ASSURE YOUR EXCELLENCY AND ALL THE BELOVED PEOPLE OF COLOMBIA OF MY CONTINUED PRAYERS FOR THE PEACE AND PROSPERITY OF THE NATION.  AS A PLEDGE OF PEACE IN THE LORD I GLADLY INVOKE UPON ALL OF YOU GOD’S ABUNDANT BLESSINGS. FRANCISCUS PP. The Netherlands HIS MAJESTY WILLEM-ALEXANDER KING OF NETHERLANDS EN ROUTE TO ROME AT THE CONCLUSION OF MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I ONCE AGAIN GREET THE PEOPLE OF THE CARIBBEAN PARTS OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS, PRAYING FOR THE BLESSING OF PEACE, HEALTH AND PROSPERITY. FRANCISCUS PP. United States (Ocean & Puerto Rico)  THE HONORABLE DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WASHINGTON AS I FLY THROUGH UNITED STATES AIRSPACE FOLLOWING MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I ONCE AGAIN PRAY FOR YOUR EXCELLENCY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS, THAT ALL OF YOU MAY CONTINUE TO ENJOY THE ABUNDANT BLESSINGS OF ALMIGHTY GOD. FRANCISCUS PP. Portugal HIS EXCELLENCY MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA PRESIDENT OF THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC LISBON AS MY RETURN JOURNEY TO ROME TAKES ME ONCE MORE THROUGH YOUR AIRSPACE, I CORDIALLY RENEW MY PRAYERS THAT ALL THE PORTUGUESE PEOPLE MAY BE BLESSED WITH THE ABUNDANT BLESSINGS OF ALMIGHTY GOD. FRANCISCUS PP. Spain HIS MAJESTY KING FELIPE VI KING OF SPAIN MADRID RETURNING TO ROME FOLLOWING MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I ONCE AGAIN SEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOUR MAJESTY, THE MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY, AND THE PEOPLE OF SPAIN, WITH RENEWED PRAYERS FOR THE SECURITY, WELLBEING AND PROSPERITY OF ALL. FRANCISCUS PP. France HIS EXCELLENCY EMMANUEL MACRON PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC PARIS RETURNING FROM MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I ONCE AGAIN GREET YOUR EXCELLENCY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS, WILLINGLY INVOKING UPON YOU AND ALL THE FRENCH PEOPLE ABUNDANT BLESSINGS OF ALMIGHTY GOD. FRANCISCUS PP. Italy A SUA ECCELLENZA ON. SERGIO MATTARELLA PRESIDENTE  DELLA  REPUBBLICA ITALIANA PALAZZO  DEL  QUIRINALE - 00187   ROMA AL RIENTRO DAL VIAGGIO APOSTOLICO IN COLOMBIA, DOVE HO POTUTO INCONTRARE NUMEROSI FEDELI E RAPPRESENTANTI DI QUELLA CARA NAZIONE AMMIRANDONE LA FEDE E IL DESIDERIO DI CRESCITA SPIRITUALE E SOCIALE, ESPRIMO A LEI, SIGNOR PRESIDENTE, IL MIO CORDIALE SALUTO ED ASSICURO UNA SPECIALE PREGHIERA PER IL BENE, LA SERENITA’ E LA PROSPERITA’ DEL POPOLO ITALIANO, AL QUALE INVIO CON AFFETTO LA MIA BENEDIZIONE FRANCISCUS PP.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis and the C9: Interview with Council Secretary

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 15:37
(Vatican Radio) The Council of Cardinal Advisors – the so-called C-9 – is holding its 29th Reunion this week, with meetings set to take place in the Vatican from 11-13 September. The Council, established by Pope Francis on 28 September 2013, was created to assist the Holy Father in the governance of the universal Church, and to study the project of revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus , which regulates the Roman Curia . The group consists of nine Cardinals from the Vatican and around the world, as well as a Secretary, Bishop Marcello Semeraro . In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti, Bishop Semeraro spoke about the work of the C-9, how Pope Francis participates in the group’s activities, and the next phase of the ongoing reform of the Curia. WORK OF THE COUNCIL Bishop Semeraro described the work of the Council of Cardinals with three key words: listening , reflecting , and verifying . The Council, he said, listens to the contributions of the Church; reflects on those contributions, and looks into the details of them, considering the best way of going forward. It then makes proposals to the Pope; as Bishop Semeraro explained, the Council has a consultative, rather than a deliberative role. The Council, he said, is a synodal structure, and in this sense the Cardinals are able to serve both the Pope and the local Churches. Pope Francis chose them precisely in order that they might be, “in some sense ‘sensitive antennae’ that are capable of capturing, somehow, the instances of the local Churches over a broad range.” As such, it is an organism that is situated within the context of episcopal collegiality . POPE FRANCIS' PARTICIPATION The Pope himself takes part in the Council’s work, habitually being present in the meetings of the Cardinals. Bishop Semeraro said the Pope is present above all through listening, although he does intervene, “with great discretion,” when there is need of clarifying some point, or presenting his own experiences or calling attention to certain realities within the Church. The Bishop emphasized that the reform of the Curia is only one aspect of the Council’s work; it’s principle duty is to collaborate with the Pope, and to give him advice or share their opinions “when [the Pope] considers it necessary to make this consultation.” He gave the example “the sorrowful reality which is the abuse of minors” which the Council has brought to the Pope’s attention. “This, of itself, is not part of the reform of the Roman Curia,” he said, “and yet the Pope decided to listen to the Council” even with regard to this issue. PROGRESS OF REFORM Asked about the progress of the reform, Bishop Semeraro said the reform is more than three quarters done, at least with regard to the work of the Cardinals. That is, he said, it is almost to the point where the Cardinals are able to present their proposals to the Holy Father. “I think that within a few months this revision will be more or less complete,” he said, and “then the Pope will have at his disposition the proposals that regard all the Dicasteries and I would expect him to decide how and when to actuate them.” He noted that Pope Francis has preferred, up to this point, a more gradual reform, with a kind of “breaking-in” period, which allows for corrections that are inevitably called for as the reform moves from theory to practical reality.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis offers final greetings to Colombia

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 08:50
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis offered a final greeting at the conclusion of his Apostolic Visit to Colombia following Mass in Cartagena, inviting Colombians to continue the journey anew each day. He thanked the many people who had prepared his visit for their hard work and sacrifice, especially offering his gratitude to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and civil authorities. “These have been intense and beautiful days; I have been able to meet many people and to experience many things that have touched me deeply,” he said. Pope Francis invited Colombians not to be content with “taking the first step”. “Instead, let us continue our journey anew each day, going forth to encounter others and to encourage concord and fraternity. We cannot just stand still.” Finally, the Holy Father had one final exhortation. “Colombia, your brothers and sisters need you. Go out to meet them.  Bring them the embrace of peace, free of all violence. Be “slaves of peace, forever”. SLAVES OF PEACE, FOREVER.” Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s prepared remarks: At the conclusion of this celebration, I would like to thank His Grace Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, Archbishop of Cartagena, for his kind words on behalf of his brother bishops and the entire people of God. I also greet President Juan Manuel Santos, the civil authorities, and all those who have taken part in this Eucharistic celebration, whether here or through the communications media. I am deeply grateful for the hard work and sacrifice that have made this visit possible.  Many people helped, giving freely and readily of their time and energy.  These have been intense and beautiful days; I have been able to meet many people and to experience many things that have touched me deeply.  You have done me much good. Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to leave you with one last word.  Let us not be content with “taking the first step”.  Instead, let us continue our journey anew each day, going forth to encounter others and to encourage concord and fraternity. We cannot just stand still. In this very place, on 8 September 1654, Saint Peter Claver died, after forty years of voluntary slavery, of tireless work on behalf of the poor.  He did not stand still: his first step was followed by many others.  His example draws us out of ourselves to encounter our neighbours.  Colombia, your brothers and sisters need you.  Go out to meet them.  Bring them the embrace of peace, free of all violence.  Be “slaves of peace, forever”.  SLAVES OF PEACE, FOREVER. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope leaves Colombia urging the people not to stop at the first step

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 08:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis came to Colombia to help its people “ Take the first step ” as the country tackles an uphill road to reconciliation and reconstruction. And it was overwhelming to witness the real joy of the people who welcomed Pope Francis as a friend and a brother, with open arms. But dire poverty, exclusion, degradation and need are everywhere here in Bogotá and elsewhere in the country. Even careful pre-papal visit efforts to clean and embellish city centres and the venues where Francis was scheduled to be, were unable to conceal the true face of a deeply divided society in which so many have been “discarded.” A reality that the Pope spoke of again and again during his five days in the country, a reality that could place the government’s plan for peace in serious jeopardy. Our correspondent Linda Bordoni is in Colombia and sent this report: It was clear from the start of the visit that the eyes of the world were viewing this apostolic journey through a political perspective in such a crucial moment of the nation’s history. It was only when I started speaking to the people – people from all walks of life - did I realise that their joy for his presence sprung from a deep spiritual vitality and that the overwhelmingly Catholic Colombians received his presence as a blessing, a gift, a moment of grace, happiness and hope. Of course they hope – and together with ‘Papa Francisco’ they are praying - for a conversion of hearts. And most of those whom I spoke to promise to heed his words of encouragement  and say they are committed “to build peace, speaking not with tongue but with the hands and works”. Pope Francis has asked them to forgive those who have harmed them as it is the only possibility in a dialogue aimed at  healing and reconciliation; he has asked them to place reason above revenge and to resist normalizing the logic of violence and exclusion that is so deeply entrenched in their nation’s tragic history. No easy feats for sure. The lush beauty of Colombia’s environment, the rich diversity of its people, the political effort to overcome a decades-long conflict and build a new country based on reconciliation and harmony have all provided a powerful backdrop and extra poignancy to the themes dearest to Pope Francis. And of course his devotion to Mary which resonates so intensely here in Colombia where the people venerate the Virgin of Chiquinquirá, an image of  Our Lady who for many years was treated like an old piece of cloth, shown no respect  and discarded. Then a humble woman had the courage and the faith to put the blurred and torn fabric upon which her figure is embroidered in a special place and restore its lost dignity. A powerful symbol indeed for many “discarded” Colombians. It is in her loving hands and in the power of her intercession that  Pope  Francis has urged the people of Colombia to place themselves as they strive to find the path to true reconciliation, overcome division and regain the peace of which they have been robbed. In Colombia,with Pope Francis I’m Linda Bordoni (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass in Cartagena urges Colombians to tackle roots of injustice

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 08:25
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has concluded his intense 5-day apostolic journey to Colombia with yet another call to uphold human dignity and to work for a just society in which inequality and oppression give way to hope and fraternity. Celebrating Mass on the final day of his visit in the port area of Cartagena , the Pope’s homily addressed many of the issues he has highlighted during his visit to the country which is struggling to put behind over five decades of bloody internal conflict and embark on a path to peace. And in the nation that is sadly renown for the production of cocaine and the power of drug cartels, the Pope also made an off-the-cuff denunciation of drug dealers and traffickers, condemning them as unscrupulous merchants of death who “cut short so many hopes and destroy so many families.” “You can't play with the lives of our brothers or manipulate their dignity” he said. His often poetic homily during which he called on Colombians to continue to dream and to work for a project that includes everyone echoed many of the themes touched upon in the past days such as the need to forgive those who have harmed us – a fundamental concept in a process for healing and reconciliation. Yet again he reminded the leaders of the nation who are drawing up a peace plan after having signed a deal with rebels, that real peace is only possible if the causes of social injustice, inequality and oppression are tackled. “If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is  that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands” he said in a forceful voice. And he didn’t shy away from naming and decrying, one by one, the evils that undermine a culture of encounter including drug abuse, the devastation of natural resources, pollution, the exploitation of labour, illicit money trafficking and financial speculation which, he said, expose millions of men and women to poverty, prostitution, human trafficking, the tragedy of migrants who are exploited and manipulated. Notwithstanding their suffering and the wounds of conflict and of centuries of exploitation, the people of Cartagena, which is built on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, brought joy, colour and beauty to the ceremony with their rich tradition of music and dance. And Pope Francis concluded with a message of Christian hope, inviting all Colombians to lift their eyes to heaven together because, he said: “the Lord is able to untie that which seems impossible to us, and he has promised to accompany us to the end of time, and will bring to fruition all our efforts”. In Colombia with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope in Colombia at Mass: ‘Peace requires healing of sins’

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 06:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Cartagena’s port area on Sunday at the conclusion of his Apostolic Visit to Colombia . The Holy Father reflected on the peace that Jesus brings through the community and how necessary it is for Colombian society. “For decades Colombia has yearned for peace”, he said, “but, as Jesus teaches, two sides approaching each other to dialogue is not enough; it has also been necessary to involve many more actors in this dialogue aimed at healing sins.” He said people cannot be ignored when making peace, in placing reason above revenge, and in respecting “the delicate harmony between politics and law”. “Peace is not achieved by normative frameworks and institutional arrangements between well-intentioned political or economic groups. Jesus finds the solution to the harm inflicted through a personal encounter between the parties,” he said. Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s prepared homily: Homily: “The Dignity of the Person and Human Rights.” Cartagena de Indias Sunday, 10 September 2017 In this city, which has been called “heroic” for its tenacity in defending freedom two hundred years ago, I celebrate the concluding Mass of my Visit to Colombia.  For the past thirty-two years Cartagena de Indias is also the headquarters in Colombia for Human Rights.  For here the people cherish the fact that, “thanks to the missionary team formed by the Jesuit priests Peter Claver y Corberó, Alonso de Sandoval and Brother Nicolás González, accompanied by many citizens of the city of Cartagena de Indias in the seventeenth century, the desire was born to alleviate the situation of the oppressed of that time, especially of slaves, of those who implored fair treatment and freedom” (Congress of Colombia 1985, law 95, art. 1). Here, in the Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver, where the progress and application of human rights in Colombia continue to be studied and monitored in a systematic way, the Word of God speaks to us of forgiveness, correction, community and prayer. In the fourth sermon of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to us, who have decided to support the community, to us, who value life together and dream of a project that includes everyone.  The preceding text is that of the good shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one that is lost.  This fact pervades the entire text: there is no one too lost to deserve our care, our closeness and our forgiveness.  From this perspective, we can see that a fault or a sin committed by one person challenges us all, but involves, primarily, the victim of someone’s sin.  He or she is called to take the initiative so that whoever has caused the harm is not lost. During these past few days I have heard many testimonies from those who have reached out to people who had harmed them; terrible wounds that I could see in their own bodies; irreparable losses that still bring tears.  Yet they have reached out, have taken a first step on a different path to the one already travelled.  For decades Colombia has yearned for peace but, as Jesus teaches, two sides approaching each other to dialogue is not enough; it has also been necessary to involve many more actors in this dialogue aimed at healing sins.  The Lord tells us in the Gospel: “If your brother does not listen to you, take one or two others along with you” (Mt 18:16). We have learned that these ways of making peace, of placing reason above revenge, of the delicate harmony between politics and law, cannot ignore the involvement of the people.  Peace is not achieved by normative frameworks and institutional arrangements between well-intentioned political or economic groups.  Jesus finds the solution to the harm inflicted through a personal encounter between the parties.  It is always helpful, moreover, to incorporate into our peace processes the experience of those sectors that have often been overlooked, so that communities themselves can influence the development of collective memory.  “The principal author, the historic subject of this process, is the people as a whole and their culture, and not a single class, minority, group or elite. We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone. It is about agreeing to live together, a social and cultural pact” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 239). We can contribution greatly to this new step that Colombia wants to take.  Jesus tells us that this path of reintegration into the community begins with a dialogue of two persons.  Nothing can replace that healing encounter; no collective process excuses us from the challenge of meeting, clarifying, forgiving.  Deep historic wounds necessarily require moments where justice is done, where victims are given the opportunity to know the truth, where damage is adequately repaired and clear commitments are made to avoid repeating those crimes.  But that is only the beginning of the Christian response.  We are required to generate “from below” a change in culture: so that we respond to the culture of death and violence, with the culture of life and encounter.  We have already learned this from your own beloved author whom we all benefit from:  “This cultural disaster is not remedied with lead or silver, but with an education for peace, built lovingly on the rubble of an angry country where we rise early to continue killing each other... a legitimate revolution of peace which channels towards life an immense creative energy that for almost two centuries we have used to destroy us and that vindicates and exalts the predominance of the imagination” (Gabriel García Márquez, Message About Peace, 1998).   How much have we worked for an encounter, for peace? How much have we neglected, allowing barbarity to become enfleshed in the life of our people?  Jesus commands us to confront those types of behaviour, those ways of living that damage society and destroy the community.  How many times have we “normalized” the logic of violence and social exclusion, without prophetically raising our hands or voices!  Alongside Saint Peter Claver were thousands of Christians, many of them consecrated… but only a handful started a counter-cultural movement of encounter.  Saint Peter was able to restore the dignity and hope of hundreds of thousands of black people and slaves arriving in absolutely inhuman conditions, full of dread, with all their hopes lost.  He did not have prestigious academic qualifications, and he even said of himself that he was “mediocre” in terms of intelligence, but he had the genius to live the Gospel to the full, to meet those whom others considered merely as waste material.  Centuries later, the footsteps of this missionary and apostle of the Society of Jesus were followed by Saint María Bernarda Bütler, who dedicated her life to serving the poor and marginalized in this same city of Cartagena. [1] In the encounter between us we rediscover our rights, and we recreate our lives so that they re-emerge as authentically human.  “The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature” (Address to the United Nations, 25 September 2015). Jesus also shows us the possibility that the other may remain closed, refusing to change, persisting in evil.  We cannot deny that there are people who persist in sins that damage the fabric of our coexistence and community: “I also think of the heart-breaking drama of drug abuse, which reaps profits in contempt of the moral and civil laws.  I think of the devastation of natural resources and ongoing pollution, and the tragedy of the exploitation of labour. I think too of illicit money trafficking and financial speculation, which often prove both predatory and harmful for entire economic and social systems, exposing millions of men and women to poverty. I think of prostitution, which every day reaps innocent victims, especially the young, robbing them of their future. I think of the abomination of human trafficking, crimes and abuses against minors, the horror of slavery still present in many parts of the world; the frequently overlooked tragedy of migrants, who are often victims of disgraceful and illegal manipulation” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2014, 8), and even with a pacifist “sterile legality” that ignores the flesh of our brothers and sisters, the flesh of Christ.  We must also be prepared for this, and solidly base ourselves upon principles of justice that in no way diminish charity.  It is only possible to live peacefully by avoiding actions that corrupt or harm life.  In this context, we remember all those who, bravely and tirelessly, have worked and even lost their lives in defending and protecting the rights and the dignity of the human person.   History asks us to embrace a definitive commitment to defending human rights, here in Cartagena de Indias, the place that you have chosen as the national seat of their defence. Finally, Jesus asks us to pray together, so that our prayer, even with its personal nuances and different emphases, becomes symphonic and arises as one single cry.  I am sure that today we pray together for the rescue of those who were wrong and not for their destruction, for justice and not revenge, for healing in truth and not for oblivion.  We pray to fulfil the theme of this visit: “Let us take the first step!” And may this first step be in a common direction. To “take the first step” is, above all, to go out and meet others with Christ the Lord.  And he always asks us to take a determined and sure step towards our brothers and sisters, and to renounce our claim to be forgiven without showing forgiveness, to be loved without showing love.  If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands.  Only if we help to untie the knots of violence, will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements.  We are asked to take the step of meeting with our brothers and sisters, and to risk a correction that does not want to expel but to integrate.  And we are asked to be charitably firm in that which is not negotiable.  In short, the demand is to build peace, “speaking not with the tongue but with hands and works” (Saint Peter Claver), and to lift up our eyes to heaven together.  The Lord is able to untie that which seems impossible to us, and he has promised to accompany us to the end of time, and will bring to fruition all our efforts. [1] She also had the wisdom of charity and knew how to find God in her neighbour; nor was she paralyzed by injustice and challenges, because “when conflict arises, some people simply look at it and go their way as if nothing happened; they wash their hands of it and get on with their lives. Others embrace it in such a way that they become its prisoners; they lose their bearings, project onto institutions their own confusion and dissatisfaction and thus make unity impossible. But there is also a third way, and it is the best way to deal with conflict. It is the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process” (Evangelii Gaudium, 227). (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope in Colombia appeals for ‘rejection of violence in political life’

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:08
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has appealed for “the rejection of all violence in political life” and for an end to the crisis in Venezuela, while on his Apostolic Visit to Colombia. The Holy Father made the appeal following the prayer of the Angelus on Sunday in Cartagena. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: In greetings following the Angelus, Pope Francis said, “I assure all of you of my prayers for each of the countries of Latin America, and in a special way for neighbouring Venezuela.” He expressed his closeness to the people of Venezuela, “as well as to all those who have found a place of welcome here in Colombia.” “I appeal for the rejection of all violence in political life and for a solution to the current grave crisis, which affects everyone, particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged of society,” he said. Finally, Pope Francis asked the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede “for all the world’s needs and for every one of her children.” Please find the official English translation of the Pope’s remarks below: Dear Brothers and Sisters: I assure all of you of my prayers for each of the countries of Latin America, and in a special way for neighbouring Venezuela.  I express my closeness to all the sons and daughters of that beloved nation, as well as to all those who have found a place of welcome here in Colombia.  From this city, known as the seat of human rights, I appeal for the rejection of all violence in political life and for a solution to the current grave crisis, which affects everyone, particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged of society.  May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for all the world’s needs and for every one of her children.  I greet those who have come here from different places, as well as all those who are following my visit on the radio and television.  I wish you all a blessed Sunday.  And please, do not forget to pray for me. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis in Colombia prays Angelus in Cartagena

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:01
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis prayed the Angelus on Sunday with the faithful of Cartagena during his Apostolic Visit to Colombia, inviting them to pay attention to the example of the poor and humble of the Earth. The Pope recited the traditional prayer of Marian devotion outside the Church and Monastery of St. Peter Claver in Cartagena de Indias. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: Ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis recalled how the image of Our Lady of Chinquinquirá was restored. The Pope prayed before her image at the Cathedral of Bogota on Thursday. He said that for a long time the image was “abandoned, discoloured, torn and full of holes. It was treated like an old piece of cloth, shown no respect, and finally discarded.” Tradition has it, he said, that “a humble woman, Maria Ramos, and the first devotee of the Blessed Virgin of Chiquinquirá, saw something different in that piece of cloth.” The Pope said Ms. Ramos had the courage and faith to restore the image and its lost dignity. “She encountered and honoured Mary who held her Son in her arms, doing precisely what was despicable and useless in the eyes of others.” In this way, he said, she became “a model for all those who, in different ways, seek to restore the dignity of our brothers and sisters lost through the pain of life’s wounds, to restore the dignity of those who are excluded.” Pope Francis said the Lord “teaches us through the example of the humble and those who are not valued” because, through their lowliness, they are able to recognize “the radiance of divine light which transforms and renews all things.” Finally, the Holy Father noted that the Virgin Mary of Chinquinquirá, as well as the example of St. Peter Claver, invites us to work to promote the dignity of all people, especially the poor, the outcast, the abandoned, immigrants, and those who suffer violence and human trafficking. “They all have human dignity,” he said, “because they are living images of God.” Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s prepared remarks: Cartagena de Indias Sunday, 10 September 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters, Shortly before I entered this church where the relics of Saint Peter Claver are kept, I blessed the first stones of two institutions that will minister to the those most in need, and I visited the house of Mrs Lorenza, who daily welcomes many of our brothers and sisters, offering them food and affection.   These visits have done me much good because they demonstrate how the love of God is made visible each day. As we pray the Angelus, recalling the incarnation of the Word, we also reflect on Mary who conceived Jesus and brought him into the world.   We look to her this morning under the title of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá.  As you well know, over a long period of time this image was abandoned, discoloured, torn and full of holes.  It was treated like an old piece of cloth, shown no respect, and finally discarded. It was then that, according to tradition, a humble woman, Maria Ramos, and the first devotee of the Blessed Virgin of Chiquinquirá, saw something different in that piece of cloth.  She had the courage and faith to put this blurred and torn fabric in a special place, restoring its lost dignity.  She encountered and honoured Mary who held her Son in her arms, doing precisely what was despicable and useless in the eyes of others. And so, this woman became a model for all those who, in different ways, seek to restore the dignity of our brothers and sisters lost through the pain of life’s wounds, to restore the dignity of those who are excluded.  She is a model for all those who make efforts to provide dignified accommodation and care to those most in need.  She is, above all, a model for all those who pray perseveringly so that the men and women who are suffering may regain the splendour of the children of God which they have been robbed of. The Lord teaches us through the example of the humble and those who are not valued.  While he gave María Ramos, an ordinary woman, the grace to receive the image of the Blessed Virgin in its poor and torn state, he also granted to the indigenous Isabel and her son Miguel the grace of being the first to see the transformed and renewed fabric of the Blessed Virgin.  They were the first to look humbly upon this completely renewed piece of fabric and recognize there the radiance of divine light which transforms and renews all things. They are the poor, humble ones, who contemplate the presence of God, and to whom the mystery of God’s love is revealed most clearly.  They, the poor and simple of heart, were the first to see the Blessed Virgin of Chinquinquirá and they became missionaries and heralds of her beauty and holiness. In this church we will pray to Mary, who referred to herself as “the handmaid of the Lord”, and to Saint Peter Claver, the “slave of the blacks forever”, as he wanted others to know him from the day of his solemn profession.  He waited for the ships from Africa to arrive at the New World’s main centre of commerce in slavery.  Given the impossibility of verbal communication due to the language difference, he often ministered to these slaves simply through evangelizing gestures.  He knew that the language of charity and mercy was understood by all.  Indeed, charity helps us to know the truth and truth calls for acts of kindness.  Whenever he felt revulsion towards the slaves, he kissed their wounds. Saint Peter Claver was austere and charitable to the point of heroism.  After consoling hundreds of thousands of people in their loneliness, he spent the last four years of his life in sickness and confined to his cell which was in a terrible state of neglect. Saint Peter Claver witnessed in a formidable way to the responsibility and care that we should have for one another. Furthermore, this saint was unjustly accused of being indiscreet in his zealousness and he faced strong criticism and persistent opposition from those who feared that his ministry would undermine the lucrative slave trade. Here in Colombia and in the world millions of people are still being sold as slaves; they either beg for some expressions of humanity, moments of tenderness, or they flee by sea or land because they have lost everything, primarily their dignity and their rights. María de Chiquinquirá and Peter Claver invite us to work to promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants, and those who suffer violence and human trafficking.  They all have human dignity because they are living images of God.  We all are created in the image and likeness of God, and the Blessed Virgin holds each one of us in her arms as her beloved children. Let us now turn to Our Blessed Virgin Mother in prayer, so that she may help us recognize the face of God in every man and woman of our time. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope blesses cornerstones for 2 charity houses in Colombia

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 00:55
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday blessed the cornerstones for two houses of charity at St. Francis of Assisi Square in Cartagena and visited the house of a local charity-worker , while on his Apostolic Visit to Colombia. One cornerstone is destined for the Talitha Kum house for trafficked persons, and the other will serve as the foundation of a Homeless Shelter . The Holy Father blessed the cornerstones with the following prayer: “Let us pray. Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of mercy, Who in your Son You have given us an admirable example of charity and through Him you have strongly recommended to us the commandment to love; fill with your blessings these servants of yours, who wish to devote themselves generously to the help of their brothers; so that, in urgent needs, they may serve you faithfully and fully in the person of their neighbor. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” Listen to our correspondent in Colombia, Linda Bordoni, reporting live on the pope's activities there in Cartagena : Talitha Kum (Mark 5:41) is an International Network of Consecrated Life against human trafficking. Founded in 2009 by the International Unions of Superiors General, the network helps men and women religious working in 70 countries to fight human trafficking, human exploitation, and prostitution. Following the blessing of the cornerstones, Pope Francis made a short visit to the house of Ms. Lorenza, a 77-year old woman who has worked for more than 50 years as a volunteer at the local soup kitchen for the poor. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope in Colombia spells out priorities for the clergy

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 07:41
(Vatican Radio) Some 12,000 priests, men and women religious, consecrated laypeople and seminarians with their families crowded into Medellin’ s “La Macarena” event centre on Friday to listen to Pope Francis ’ thoughts, proposals and instructions regarding their ministry. On the podium, the relics of Saint Mother Laura Montoya, a nun who was the first female Colombian Saint. Canonized by Pope Francis himself in 2013, Mother Laura was a teacher and prolific author who hosted classes in her own home when the 1895 civil war in Colombia forced schools to close. And in the presence of the relics of this inspiring figure, the Pope put his long text of  prepared remarks  aside, and engaged with his audience who rose to the occasion reacting enthusiastically to his exhortations and comments. In a town – Medellin – which used to be the reign of the powerful drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, Pope Francis pointed his finger against the drug traffickers of today who, he said, continue to destroy the lives of so many young people. He asked those present to pray for a conversion of the hearts of the traffickers, to ask forgiveness to the Lord for having ruined the lives of so many boys and girls, and to accompany the new generations on a path of rebirth and hope. He touched on a theme that is dear to him warning the clergy that the devil too often finds its way into their hearts “through their wallets.” “That’s how corruption spreads, he said, never be attached to material things.” He told them it is not possible to serve both God and wealth and urged them never to take advantage of their condition as religious and of the generosity of the faithful in order to be served or to obtain material riches. And in a powerful condemnation of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis decried “the poison of lies and hidden things”,  the manipulation and abuse of God’s people, of the most fragile of God’s people, especially the elderly and children. This poison, he said, “must find no space in our communities,” every dead branch must be severed. Pope Francis concluded his animated address reminding all those who have received a spiritual vocation never to forget the joy with which they must live their mission. In Colombia with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis speaks to Colombia's priests, religious, seminarians: Full Text

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 05:58
(Vatican Radio)   Pope Francis , who is currently on an Apostolic Visit to Colombia, spoke on Saturday to priests, religious, seminarians and their families in Medellin , some 200 kms northwest of the capital Bogota, where he was on a day-long trip. The Pope’s last event of the day at Medellin’s Macarena Entertainment Center, included listening to testimonies of a priest, a cloistered nun and a family, who contemplated on their vocation.   The Pope spoke of a “ contagious apostolic zeal ” that results from knowing and encountering Jesus, saying that “making him known by our word and deeds is our joy.” Comparing the Church of Colombia to “Jesus’ vine” , Pope Francis explained that the health of the vine is gauged by the harvest of genuine vocations despite today’s cultural crisis.   This vine, he said, needs to be pruned of its imperfections through an “intimate and fruitful union with Jesus.”  Pope Francis offered three ways in which their dwelling in Christ can be effective. Below, please find the official English translation of the Pope's prepared speech: Meeting with priests, men and women religious, seminarians and their families. Medellín Saturday, 9 September 2017 Dear Brother Bishops, Dear Priests, Men and Women Religious, and Seminarians, Dear Families, Dear “Paisas”! The parable of the true vine which we have just heard from the Gospel of John is given within the context of Jesus’ Last Supper.  In that intimate moment, marked by a certain tension but full of love, the Lord washed the feet of his disciples, and wished to perpetuate his memory in the bread and wine, as he spoke from the depths of his heart to those he loved the most.  In this first “Eucharistic” night, in this first sunset after his example of service, Jesus opens his heart; he entrusts to them his testament.  Just as the Apostles, some women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1: 13-14) continued to meet in that Upper Room, so too we are gathered here together to listen to him, to listen to one another.  Sister Leidy of Saint Joseph, María Isabel and Father Juan Felipe have offered us their testimonies… So also each of us here could share our own vocation story.  All these would converge in our experience of Jesus who comes to meet us, who chooses us first, thus seizing our hearts.  As Aparecida says: “Knowing Jesus is the best gift that any person can receive; that we have encountered him is the best thing that has happened in our lives, and making him known by our word and deeds is our joy” (Aparecida Document, 29). Many of you, young people, have discovered the living Jesus in your communities; communities with a contagious apostolic zeal, which inspire and attract others.  Where there is life, zeal, the desire to take Christ to others, geniune vocations arise; the fraternal and fervent life of the community awakens the yearning to devote oneself entirely to God and to evangelization (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 107).  Young people are naturally restless and, although there is a crisis of commitment and of communitarian relationships, many of them stand together against the evils of the world and become involved in various forms of political action and voluntary work.  When they do so for Jesus, feeling that they are a part of the community, they become “street preachers (callejeros de la fe)”, to bring Jesus Christ to every street, every town square and every corner of the earth (cf. ibid. 106).  This is the vine which Jesus refers to in the text we have just proclaimed: that vine which is the “people of the covenant”.  The prophets, such as Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel, refer to the people as a vine, as does Psalm 80, which says: “You brought a vine out of Egypt… Your cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land” (vv. 9-10).  At times they express the joy of God contemplating the vine, at other times his anger, bewilderment, and disappointment; yet he never forgets his people, he never ceases to feel their distance and go out to them, who, when they turn away from him, dry up, burn away and are destroyed. How is the land, the sustenance, the support where this vine is growing in Colombia?  Under what conditions are the vocational fruits of special consecration born?  No doubt in situations full of contradictions, of light and darkness, of complex relational realities.  We all would like to count on a world with straightforward families and relationships, but we are a part of this cultural crisis and, in the midst of it, in response to it, God continues to call.  It would be almost unrealistic to think that all of you heard the call of God in the midst of families sustained by a strong love and full of values such as generosity, compromise, fidelity and patience (cf. Amoris Laetitia, 5); some are like this, and I pray to God that they are many.  But keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground means recognizing that our vocational experiences, the awakening of God’s call, brings us closer to what God’s word already reveals and to what Colombia knows so well: “This thread of suffering and bloodshed runs through numerous pages of the Bible, beginning with Cain’s murder of his brother Abel.  We read of the disputes between the sons and the wives of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the tragedies and violence marking the family of David, the family problems reflected in the story of Tobias and the bitter complaint of Job” (ibid., 20).  It has been this way since the beginning: God manifests his closeness and his election; he changes the course of events to call men and women in the frailty of their personal and shared history.  Let us not be afraid, in that complex land, for God always brings about the miracle of producing good clusters on the vine, like arepas at breakfast.  May there be vocations in every community and in every family in Medellín!   This vine – which is Jesus’ vine – has the characteristic of being true.  He has used this term before on other occasions in the Gospel of John: true light, true bread from heaven, and true testimony.  Now, truth is not something that we receive – as bread or light – but rather what springs up from within.  We are a people chosen for the truth, and our call has to be in truth.  There can be no place for deceit, hypocrisy or small-mindedness if we are branches of this vine, if our vocation is grafted onto Jesus.   We must all be careful that every branch fulfils its purpose: to bear fruit.  From the start, those who accompany the vocational process need to encourage a right intention, a genuine desire to be configured to Jesus, the shepherd, the friend, the spouse.  When these processes are not nourished by this true sap that is the Spirit of Jesus, then we experience dryness and God learns with sadness that these branches are already dead.  Vocations associated with special consecrations die when they love to be sustained with honours, when they are driven by a search for personal reassurance and social advancement, when the motivation is “to climb the ladder”, to cleave to material interests and to strive shamefully for financial gain.  As I have said before on other occasions, the devil enters through the wallet.  This not only applies to the early stages of vocation; all of us have to be careful because the corrupting of men and women in the Church begins in this way, little by little, and then – as Jesus himself says – it takes root in the heart and it ends up dislodging God from our lives.  “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:21, 24), we cannot take advantage of our religious state and the goodness of our people in order to be served and gain material benefits. There are some situations, customs and choices that evidence signs of dryness and death: they cannot keep hindering the flow of sap that nourishes and gives life!  The poison of lies, obfuscation, manipulation and the abuse of the People of God, the weak and especially the elderly and young, can have no place in our communities; they are branches that are determined to dry us out and that God tells us to cut off. And God does not only cut away; the allegory goes on to say that God purifies the vine of its imperfections.  The promise is that we will bear fruit, and abundantly, just like the grain of wheat, if we are able to give ourselves, to offer our lives freely.  In Colombia, there are examples that this is possible.  We remember Saint Laura Montoya, a remarkable religious whose relics are with us and who, going forth from this city, gave herself completely to a great missionary effort on behalf of indigenous people throughout the country.  How much we can learn from this consecrated woman of silent and selfless surrender, who had no greater desire than to transmit the maternal face of God.  So too we remember Blessed Mariano de Jesús Euse Hoyos, one of the first students of the Seminary of Medellín, and other Colombian priests and women religious, whose canonization processes have begun; as well as so many others, thousands of unknown Colombians who in the simplicity of their daily lives knew how to give of themselves for the Gospel, and whom you hold dear in your memory and who encourage you in your own commitment.  They all show us that it is possible to respond faithfully to the Lord’s call, that it is possible to bear much fruit. The good news is that the Lord is willing to cleanse us, that we will not be cut off, that as good disciples we are on the way.  How does Jesus eliminate those things which lead to death and which take hold of our lives and distort his call?  By inviting us to dwell in him.  Dwelling does not only signify being, but rather also indicates maintaining a relationship that is alive, existential and absolutely necessary; it means to live and grow in an intimate and fruitful union with Jesus, “the source of eternal life”.  Dwelling in Jesus cannot be a merely passive act or a simple abandonment without any consequences in our daily and concrete lives.  Allow me to propose three ways of making this “dwelling” effective:  Dwelling by touching Christ’s humanity: With the gaze and attitude of Jesus , who contemplates reality not as a judge, but rather as a good samaritan; who recognizes the value of the people who walk with him, as well as their wounds and sins; who discovers their silent suffering and who is moved by peoples’ needs, above all when they are overwhelmed by injustice, inhumane poverty, indifference or by the perverse actions of corruption and violence. With Jesus’ gestures and words , which express love for those nearby and search for those far away; tender and firm in denouncing sin and in announcing the Gospel, joyful and generous in surrendering and in service, especially for the smallest among us, steadfastly rejecting the temptation to believe that all is lost, to accomodate ourselves or to become mere administrators of misfortune. Dwelling by contemplating his divinity: Awakening and sustaining an admiration for the study which increases knowledge of Christ because, as Saint Augustine reminds us, we cannot love someone we do not know (cf. Saint Augustine, The Trinity, Book X, ch. I, 3). Giving priority, in this way of knowing, to the encounter with Sacred Scripture , especially the Gospel where Christ speaks to us, reveals his unconditional love for the Father, and instils the joy that comes from obedience to his will and from serving our brothers and sisters.  Whoever does not know the Scriptures, does not know Jesus.  Whoever does not love the Scriptures, does not love Jesus (cf. Saint Jerome, Preface to the Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, PL 24, 17).  Let us spend time prayerfully reading the Word of God, listening to what God wishes for us and for our people. May all of our study help us to interpret reality with the eyes of God, that it may not be a way of avoiding what is happening to our people, nor be subject to the whim of fashions or ideologies.  May our study not be overcome by nostalgia or the tendency to confine the mystery, nor may it be unwilling to respond to questions that people no longer ask themselves, and may it not abandon those who find themselves in an existential void and who question us from their worlds and cultures.     Dwelling in and contemplating his divinity by making prayer a fundamental part of our lives and our apostolic service.  Prayer frees us from the burden of worldliness, and teaches us to live joyfully, to distance ourselves from what is superficial, in an exercise of true freedom.  Prayer draws us out of our self-centredness, from being reclusive in an empty religious experience; it leads us to place ourselves, with docility, in the hands of God in order to fulfil his will and to realize his plan of salvation.  And prayer teaches us to adore.  To learn to adore in silence.  Let us be men and women who have been reconciled in order to reconcile .  Being called does not give us a certificate of right conduct and sinlessness; we are not clothed in an aura of holiness.  We are all sinners and we need forgiveness and God’s mercy to rise each day.  He uproots whatever is not good in us, as well as the wrong we have done, casting it out of the vineyard to be burned up.  He cleanses us so that we may bear fruit.  This is the merciful fidelity that God shows his people, of which we are part.  He will never leave us at the side of the road.  God does everything to prevent sin from defeating us and clsoing the doors of our lives to a future of hope and joy.  Finally, dwelling in Christ in order to live joyfully : If we remain in him, his joy will be in us.  We will not be sad disciples and bitter apostles.  On the contrary, we will reflect and be heralds of true happiness, a complete joy that no one can take away.  We will spread the hope of a new life that Christ has given to us.  God’s call is not a heavy burden that robs us of joy.  He does not want us to be immersed in a sadness and weariness that comes from activities lived poorly, but rather wants a spirituality that brings joy to our lives and even to our weariness.  Our contagious joy must be our first testimony to the closeness and love of God.  We are true dispensers of God’s grace when we reflect the joy that comes from encountering him.  In the Book of Genesis, after the flood, Noah planted a vine as a sign of a new beginning; at the end of the Exodus, Moses sent scouts to inspect the promised land, who returned with a cluster of grapes, a sign that in the land flowed milk and honey.  God has looked upon us, our communities and families.  The Lord has cast his gaze on Colombia: you are a sign of this loving election.  It is now up to us to offer all our love and service while being united to Jesus, our vine.  To be the promise of a new beginning for Colombia, that leaves behind the floods of discord and violence, a Colombia that wants to bear abundant fruits of justice and peace, of encounter and solidarity.  May God bless you; may God bless the consecrated life in Colombia.  And, please, do not forget to pray for me. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis tells Colombia's youngest victims that Jesus loves them

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 05:41
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis ’ apostolic visits always feature at least one event in a place of suffering, of solidarity, of rebirth. He always makes sure he spends some precious time with the poorest and the weakest of the world, be they prisoners, disabled adolescents, elderly people, slum-dwellers… In Medellin on Friday he visited the community at Hogar San José : a Jesuit-run home for orphaned children victims of Colombia’s conflict . The over 300 children cared for by the nuns, lay people and volunteers of the Home come from across the ravaged nation. All of them carry the wounds of violence and abuse. One little girl, Claudia Yesenia, told the story of her own suffering when – aged two - she was wounded and lost all when a rebel attack in the San Carlos Antioquia area wiped out her entire community and most of her family. But she also told of her rebirth at the San José Home for children where she was cherished and cared for and is being given an education so that she too can, one day, offer care and love to children in need. Pope Francis listened with attention, smiled and embraced the children as he always does, and put everything else aside to be able to enjoy their songs, their joy, their presence. He told them that Jesus loves them more than anyone else and that He protects them to make sure that they – who are the future of Colombian society – may grow and be strengthened in wisdom and grace. In this nation where nature is so lush and generous, where the national flower is the sophisticated orchid, each child was holding a small bouquet of little white daisies: the simplest and most humble of blossoms. Just like those closest to Pope Francis’ own heart. In Colombia with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni         (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope in Colombia greets children in Hogar San Jose Home: Full text

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 04:36
(Vatican Radio) “Saint Joseph can never be without Jesus and Mary”, Pope Francis assured Claudia Yesenia, who shared her courageous testimony, and the children of “St. Joseph’s Children's Home” in Medellin on Saturday. Responding to the testimony of Claudia, Pope Francis reflected on how Baby Jesus was also a victim of hatred and persecution but God protected him and Mary by inspiring St. Joseph to leave his country and his home. Listening to her testimony, the Pope said he was reminded of the unjust suffering of so many boys and girls throughout the world, who have been and continue to be innocent victims of the evil that others commit. Pope Francis affirmed that, just as Saint Joseph protected and defended the Holy Family from danger, so too he is defending them, caring for them, and accompanying them. He also said that with Saint Joseph is Jesus and Mary, because Saint Joseph can never be without Jesus and Mary. Please find below the official English translation of the Pope's prepared Greeting: “Saint Joseph’s Children's Home” Medellín Saturday, 9 September 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Boys and Girls,           I am very happy to be with you here at “Saint Joseph’s Home”.  Thank you for the welcome you prepared for me.  I am grateful also to the director, Monsignor Armando Santamaría, for his words.           I wish to express my thanks to you, Claudia Yesenia, for your courageous testimony.  Hearing all of the difficulties you experienced, I thought of the unjust suffering of so many boys and girls throughout the world, who have been and continue to be innocent victims of the evil that others commit.           The Baby Jesus was also a victim of hatred and persecution; he too had to run away with his family, to leave his country and his home, in order to escape death.  To see children suffer, wounds our hearts because children are Jesus’ favourites.  We can never accept that they are mistreated, that they are denied the right to live out their childhood peacefully and joyfully, that they are denied a future of hope.            Jesus, however, never abandons those who suffer, much less you, boys and girls, who are his special ones.  Claudia Yesenia, in the midst of all the horrible things that happened, God gave you an aunt to watch out for you, a hospital to care for you, and finally a community to welcome you.  This “home” is a sign of Jesus’ love for you, and of his desire to be very close to you.  He does this through the loving care of all those good people who are with you, who love you and teach you.  I think of those who direct this house, the sisters, the staff and so many others who are already a part of your family.  For this is what you do here, you make this place a home: the warmth of a family where we feel loved, protected, accepted, cared for and accompanied.            I am happy that this place bears the name of Saint Joseph, and the other homes the names of “Jesus the Worker” and “Bethlehem”.   It means that you are in good hands.  Do you remember what Saint Matthew writes in his Gospel, when he tells us that Herod, in his foolishness, decided to kill the Infant Jesus?  How, in a dream, God spoke to Saint Joseph by means of an angel, and entrusted to his care and protection his most valuable treasures: Jesus and Mary?  Matthew tells us that, as soon as the angel spoke, Joseph immediately obeyed, and did all that God told him to do: “He rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt” ( Mt 2:14).  I am sure that, just as Saint Joseph protected and defended the Holy Family from danger, so too he is defending you, caring for you and accompanying you.  Alongside him are Jesus and Mary, because Saint Joseph can never be without Jesus and Mary.           To you, brothers and sisters, religious and lay people, and to those in the other homes who welcome and lovingly care for these children that from infancy have experienced suffering and sorrow: I would like to remind you of two realities that you must never forget because they are part of the Christian identity – the love that knows how to see Jesus present in the smallest and weakest, and the sacred duty of bringing children to Jesus.  In this task, with your joys and hardships, I commend you also to Saint Joseph’s protection.  Learn from him, that his example may inspire you and help you in your loving care for these little ones, who are the future of Colombian society, of the world and of the Church, so that like Jesus, they may grow and be strengthened in wisdom and grace, before God and others (cf. Lk 2:52).  May Jesus and Mary, together with Saint Joseph, accompany and protect you, and fill you with their tenderness, joy and strength.           I promise to pray for you, so that in this place of family love, you may grow in love, peace and happiness, and your wounds of body and heart may heal.  God will not abandon you, but protect you and help you.  And the Pope will keep you in his heart.  Please do not forget to pray for me.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges Colombian priests at Medellin Mass to 'get involved'

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 03:38
(Vatican Radio) The theme of day four of Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia is “Vocations” and he travelled to the country’s most Catholic city – Medellin – on Saturday to celebrate Mass and to encourage his brother priests to be like Jesus who looked beyond rigid doctrine, cared for sinners and welcomed them in. Reiterating a concept which is clearly a priority for Francis - in Colombia and across the globe - he  said to them: “the Church is not a customs post, it wants its doors to be open”. The overwhelming majority of the some 1 million faithful present at the Mass were wearing white – the colour of peace – and injecting his message with the overreaching leitmotiv of the journey, Francis urged all Colombians to “get involved” in helping each other and to embrace “acts of non-violence, reconciliation and peace.” “Get involved” was the call at the heart of his message to the clergy as he recalled the figure of Jesuit priest Saint Peter Claver and his motto – “Slave of the blacks forever” – because, the Pope said, “he understood as a disciple of Jesus, that he could not remain indifferent to the suffering of the most helpless and mistreated of his time, and that he had to do something to alleviate their suffering.” “Brothers and sisters, the Church in Colombia is called to commit itself with greater boldness, to forming missionary disciples” whom, the Pope said, look at reality with eyes and heart of Jesus: “Disciples who risk, act, and commit themselves”. His appeal is a poignant one in a country where so many hunger for food, dignity and justice, a country in which peace is only possible if the causes of social injustice, inequality and oppression are tackled. Francis’ ‘brother priests’ - as he calls them – have always been committed and continue to be in the forefront in Colombia. Not only as advocates for peace and human rights, but as key figures in making sure the voices of the victims were heard during the recent peace negotiations, in providing demobilization spaces for former guerrillas and developing programmes for their eventual integration in society, as well as offering education and assistance to the poor, to the displaced and the traumatized of the conflict. Colombian priests have an important and difficult responsibility and task as they guide their flocks on the rocky path to reconciliation. To them – Pope Francis said – “Remain steadfast in Christ, in such a way that you manifest him in everything you do.” In Colombia with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass in Medellin Colombia: 'Remain steadfast and free in Christ'

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 00:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Saturday at the Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellín, in both Latin and Spanish, in memory of St. Peter Claver, Jesuit priest, who was an apostle to the African slaves. In his homily, the Pope reflected on the cost of discipleship.  He said one should not feel secure merely by following certain precepts, prohibitions, and mandates, dispensing oneself from the uncomfortable question: “What would God like us to do?” Instead, the Holy Father said God wants us to follow Him in such a way as to focus on the essential , to be renewed, and to get involved . He said these are the three attitudes which must form our lives as disciples. "Missionary disciples", he said, ought to "know how to see, without hereditary short-sightedness; looking at reality with the eyes and heart of Jesus, and only then judging." These, he said, are "disciples who risk, act, and commit themselves." In conclusion, Pope Francis invited those present to remain steadfast and free in Christ, in such a way that they manifest him in everything they do; take up the path of Jesus with all their strength, know him, allow themselves to be called and taught by him, and proclaim him with great joy. Please find below the full text of the official English translation of the Pope's prepared Homily: “The Christian Life as Discipleship” Medellín – John Paul II Airport Saturday, 9 September 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters, During the Mass on Thursday in Bogotá, we heard Jesus calling his first disciples; the part of Luke’s Gospel which opens with this passage, concludes with the call of the Twelve.  What are the evangelists reminding us of between these two events?  That this journey of following Jesus involved a great work of purification in his first followers.  Some of the precepts, prohibitions and mandates made them feel secure; fulfilling certain practices and rites dispensed them from the uncomfortable question: “What would God like us to do?”  The Lord Jesus tells them that their fulfilment involves following him, and that this journey will make them encounter lepers, paralytics and sinners.  These realities demand much more than a formula, an established norm.  The disciples learned that following Jesus presupposes other priorities, other considerations in order to serve God.  For the Lord, as also for the first community, it is of the greatest importance that we who call ourselves disciples not cling to a certain style or to particular practices that cause us to be more like some Pharisees than like Jesus.  Jesus’ freedom contrasts with the lack of freedom seen in the doctors of the law of that time, who were paralyzed by a rigorous interpretation and practice of that law.  Jesus does not live according to a superficially “correct” observance; he brings the law to its fullness.  This is what he wants for us, to follow him in such a way as to go to what is essential , to be renewed , and to get involved .  These are three attitudes that must form our lives as disciples.  Firstly, going to what is essential .  This does not mean “breaking with everything” that does not suit us, because Jesus did not come “to abolish the law, but to fulfil it” ( Mt 5:17); it means to go deep, to what matters and has value for life.  Jesus teaches that being in relationship with God cannot be a cold attachment to norms and laws, nor the observance of some outward actions that do not lead to a real change of life.  Neither can our discipleship simply be motivated by custom because we have a baptismal certificate.  Discipleship must begin with a living experience of God and his love.  It is not something static, but a continuous movement towards Christ; it is not simply the fidelity to making a doctrine explicit, but rather the experience of the Lord’s living, kindly and active presence, an ongoing formation by listening to his word.  And this word, we have heard, makes itself known to us in the concrete needs of our brothers and sisters: the hunger of those nearest to us in the text just proclaimed, or illness as Luke narrates afterwards. Secondly, being renewed .  As Jesus “shook” the doctors of the law to break them free of their rigidity, now also the Church is “shaken” by the Spirit in order to lay aside comforts and attachments.  We should not be afraid of renewal.  The Church always needs renewal – Ecclesia semper reformanda .  She does not renew herself on her own whim, but rather does so “firm in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” ( Col 1:23).  Renewal entails sacrifice and courage, not so that we can consider ourselves superior or flawless, but rather to respond better to the Lord’s call.  The Lord of the Sabbath, the reason for our commandments and prescriptions, invites us to reflect on regulations when our following him is at stake; when his open wounds and his cries of hunger and thirst for justice call out to us and demand new responses.  In Colombia there are many situations where disciples must embrace Jesus’ way of life, particularly love transformed into acts of non-violence, reconciliation and peace.   Thirdly, getting involved .  Even if it may seem that you are getting yourself dirty or stained, get involved.  Like David and those with him who entered the Temple because they were hungry and the disciples of Jesus who ate ears of grain in the field, so also today we are called upon to be brave, to have that evangelical courage which springs from knowing that there are many who are hungry, who hunger for God, who hunger for dignity, because they have been deprived.  As Christians, help them to be satiated by God; do not impede them or stop this encounter.  We cannot be Christians who continually put up “do not enter” signs, nor can we consider that this space is mine or yours alone, or that we can claim ownership of something that is absolutely not ours.  The Church is not ours, she is God’s; he is the owner of the temple and the field; everyone has a place, everyone is invited to find here, and among us, his or her nourishment.  We are simple servants (cf. Col 1:23) and we cannot prevent this encounter.  On the contrary, Jesus tells us, as he told his disciples: “You give them something to eat” ( Mt 14:16); this is our service.  Saint Peter Claver understood this well, he whom we celebrate today in the liturgy and whom I will venerate tomorrow in Cartagena.  “ Slave of the slaves forever ” was the motto of his life, because he understood, as a disciple of Jesus, that he could not remain indifferent to the suffering of the most helpless and mistreated of his time, and that he had to do something to alleviate their suffering.  Brothers and sisters, the Church in Colombia is called to commit itself, with greater boldness, to forming missionary disciples, as the Bishops stated when they were gathered in Aparecida in 2007.  Disciples who know how to see, judge and act, as stated in that Latin-American document born in this land (cf. Medellín , 1968).  Missionary disciples that know how to see, without hereditary short-sightedness; looking at reality with the eyes and heart of Jesus, and only then judging.  Disciples who risk, act, and commit themselves. I have come here precisely to confirm you in the faith and hope of the Gospel.  Remain steadfast and free in Christ, in such a way that you manifest him in everything you do; take up the path of Jesus with all your strength, know him, allow yourselves to be called and taught by him, and proclaim him with great joy.  Let us pray through the intercession of Our Mother, Our Lady of Candelaria, that she may accompany us on our path of discipleship, so that, giving our lives to Christ, we may simply be missionaries who bring the light and joy of the Gospel to all people. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope very happy in Colombia says his spokesman

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 10:45
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis loves being in Colombia. The warm welcome of the people gives him a real “kick” says Greg Burke, papal spokesman and Holy See Press Office Director. Burke was speaking to Vatican Radio at the end of day three of Francis’ 5-day visit to the nation and after a particularly emotional Prayer Meeting for Reconciliation in Villavicencio. Listen to Linda Bordoni's interview with Holy See Press Office Director, Greg Burke: “I think he’s thrilled to be here” he said: “what he sees is a lot of young people, a lot of joyful people and he feeds off that joy.” Burke spoke briefly about how special are the intimate moments that take place every evening in front of the nunciature before the Pope retires for the night. “They are very short, they are organized along different themes” he explained and he recalled the encounter on Thursday evening with a group of disabled children with whom the Pope engaged telling them that “we are all vulnerable” and commenting later: “that was pure theology”. Regarding Friday’s events focussed on Reconciliation in the town of Villavicencio Burke said they were very important for him as “from day one since his election he has been talking about mercy” and to be able to listen to the stories of the victims at the Prayer Meeting and how they have moved forward was very significant because that is what the Pope is about: “he’s about asking forgiveness of God;  he says we learn to ask forgiveness from others and we learn to grant forgiveness and when he sees that in action, it’s incredibly moving for him”. Finally commenting on the sometimes rather “exuberant” enthusiasm of the Colombian people who run after the pope-mobile and try to grab him, Burke says “the Pope is totally calm and even gets a kick out of it.” “Obviously here there’s a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of youth, so you are going to see a lot of people running after him!” he said. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Colombia prayer meeting for reconciliation weeps with victims

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 07:14
(Vatican Radio) White, the colour of peace, was worn on Friday by everyone present at the Prayer Meeting for National Reconciliation in the Colombian town of Villavicencio. Our correspondent Linda Bordoni is in Colombia and sent this report: A disfigured, mutilated and burnt black Christ hung over the gathering, a stark reminder of the evil of violence and death, that as Pope Francis said, breeds more violence and death in an endless cycle of destruction unless that chain is broken by the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. He listened intently to the personal testimonies of victims and perpetrators of violence, their terrible stories of suffering and abuse acting as healing memories in the effort to overcome and unite for the good of the nation and all of its children. And then Francis told them that he wasn’t at the meeting in Villavicencio to tell them what to do, but rather to weep with them and embrace them as they help their country take the first, difficult but fundamental steps towards peace. He thanked Luz for the gift of her crutch, a symbol – he said – of the more important crutch we all need which is love and forgiveness. He bowed to Pastora’s powerful and precious witness as she spoke of how the loss of two children to the conflict did not prevent her from conquering hatred and the desire for vengeance. He listened to the stories of former guerrillas Deisy and Juan Carlos thanking them for helping us understand that they too are victims and that there is hope also for those who did wrong. The crowd that lined the streets as Pope Francis was driven to pray and pay tribute to a memorial to the victims of the Colombian conflict also wore white. A black stone on the memorial monument carries the number of those who died, ‘disappeared’ or were displaced: it reads 8 million four hundred and seventy two thousand one hundred and forty three. As Pope Francis said right at the beginning of this heart-wrenching but incredibly uplifting afternoon, he had been especially looking forward to it. It’s no secret he has come to Colombia as a pilgrim of peace and hopefully this simple but powerful time together will be forceful enough to create a deep and definitive fracture in that deadly cycle of violence that can only lead to more division and grief.. In Colombia with Pope Francis, I'm Linda Bordoni   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope in Colombia: Key points from reconciliation event in Villavicencio

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 05:50
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday held a prayer service for reconciliation  in Colombia , meeting with both victims and perpetrators of the violence that has plagued the country for over half a century. Here are the highlights from his speech which you can read here : Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: It wasn’t so much words that Pope Francis wanted to offer Colombia’s injured and bereaved families, but rather a listening ear, a warm embrace and the chance to weep together with them. He pointed to a broken Crucifix that once hung on the altar of a church in the town of Bojayà, site of a massacre of over a hundred people, mainly women and children in 2002. As paramilitaries and guerillas fought for control of a key drug trafficking route, terrified residents fled into the church. Pope: Disfigured Christ shows love is stronger than death FARC fighters launched gas cylinder bombs, one of which went through the roof and landed on the altar, blowing away the arms and legs of the crucified Christ. While Christ has been mutilated and wounded, the pope said, his face remains and reminds us that hatred doesn’t have the last word and that love is stronger than violence and death. He said he was moved by the stories of suffering and anguish he’d just heard, but also by the words of love and forgiveness that speak of life and hope. Pope: Break the cycle of hatred and revenge Pope Francis listened to four people sharing dramatic, personal testimonies of the way they’ve suffered from the conflict, through injuries, the murder of family members or by fighting on one side or the other. He responded to each one, thanking them for their efforts to forgive and thus break the violent cycle of hatred and revenge. It’s a huge challenge to learn to trust and welcome those who’ve committed offenses, the pope acknowledged, but it’s the only way to heal the pain and find peace. Pope: Truth liberates and helps us to trust again It’s also vital to uncover the truth, he said, helping families find out what really happened to their missing relatives or confessing violent crimes carried out in the name of warped ideologies. Finally, Pope Francis prayed that all Colombians might be builders of peace, becoming the hands and feet of the disfigured Christ as they reach out to embrace, console and bless those who weep alone. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope addresses Colombian prayer for National Reconciliation: Full text

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 05:43
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis participated in a prayer for National Reconciliation in the Las Malocas Park in Villavicencio on Friday during his Apostolic Visit to Colombia, expressing his desire to be with the Colombian people who, he said, are carrying in their hearts and their flesh the signs of tragic events they have faced. Addressing the people gathered for the prayer event, Pope Francis said he had been waiting for the moment from the time of his arrival.  He said he wished to be close to the people and to see them with his own eyes, in order to open his heart to their witness of life and faith.  Making the suffering the people of Colombia have gone through his own, the Holy Father said he wished to embrace them all and weep with them, asking them to pray for one another and ask forgiveness together so that together they could go forward in faith and hope. The Pope was moved as he listened to the testimonies of four people. He said their stories were not just of suffering and anguish, but also, and above all, that they were stories of love and forgiveness which speak to us of life and hope; stories of not letting hatred, vengeance or pain take control of our hearts. Please find below the official English translation of the Pope's prepared speech: Villavicencio Friday, 8 September 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters,           I have been looking forward to this moment since my arrival in your country.  You carry in your hearts and your flesh the signs of the recent, living memory of your people which is marked by tragic events, but also filled with heroic acts, great humanity, and the noble spiritual values of faith and hope.  I come here with respect and with a clear awareness that, like Moses, I am standing on sacred ground (cf. Ex 3:5).   A land watered by the blood of thousands of innocent victims and by the heart-breaking sorrow of their families and friends.  Wounds that are hard to heal and that hurt us all, because every act of violence committed against a human being is a wound in humanity’s flesh; every violent death diminishes us as people.           I am here not so much to speak, but to be close to you and to see you with my own eyes, to listen to you and to open my heart to your witness of life and faith.  And if you will allow me, I wish also to embrace you and weep with you.  I would like us to pray together and to forgive one another – I also need to ask forgiveness – so that, together, we can all look and walk forward in faith and hope.           We have gathered at the feet of the Crucifix of Bojayá, which witnessed and endured the massacre of more than a hundred people, who had come to the Church for refuge on 2 May 2002.  This image has a powerful symbolic and spiritual value.  As we look at it, we remember not only what happened on that day, but also the immense suffering, the many deaths and broken lives, and all the blood spilt in Colombia these past decades.  To see Christ this way, mutilated and wounded, questions us.  He no longer has arms, nor is his body there, but his face remains, with which he looks upon us and loves us.  Christ broken and without limbs is for us “even more Christ”, because he shows us once more that he came to suffer for his people and with his people. He came to show us that hatred does not have the last word, that love is stronger than death and violence.  He teaches us to transform pain into a source of life and resurrection, so that, with him, we may learn the power of forgiveness, the grandeur of love.  I thank our brothers and sisters who have shared their testimonies with us, on behalf of so many others.  How good it is for us to hear their stories!  I am moved listening to them.  They are stories of suffering and anguish, but also, and above all, they are stories of love and forgiveness that speak to us of life and hope; stories of not letting hatred, vengeance or pain take control of our hearts. The final prophecy of Psalm 85 – “Mercy and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other” (v. 10) – follows the working of grace and the petition to God: “Restore us!”  Thank you, Lord, for the witness of those who inflicted suffering and who ask for forgiveness; for the witness of those who suffered unjustly and who forgive.  This is only possible with your help and presence… this is already a great sign of your desire to restore peace and harmony in this land of Colombia.           Pastora Mira, you put it well: you want to place all your suffering, and that of the thousands of victims, at the feet of Jesus Crucified, so that united to his suffering, it may be transformed into blessing and forgiveness so as to break the cycle of violence that has reigned over Colombia.  You are right: violence leads to more violence, hatred to more hatred, death to more death.  We must break this cycle which seems inescapable; this is only possible through forgiveness and reconciliation.  And you, dear Pastora, and so many others like you, have shown us that this is possible.  Yes, with the help of Christ alive in the midst of the community, it is possible to conquer hatred, it is possible to conquer death and it is possible to begin again and usher in a new Colombia.  Thank you, Pastora; you have helped us greatly today by the witness of your life.  It is the Crucified One of Bojayá who has given you this strength to forgive and to love, to help you to see in the shirt that your daughter Sandra Paola gave to your son Jorge Aníbal not only a remembrance of their deaths, but the hope that peace will finally triumph in Colombia.            We are also moved by what Luz Dary said in her testimony: that the wounds of the heart are deeper and more difficult to heal than those of the body.  This is true.  Even more important, you realized that it is not possible to live with resentment, but only with a love that liberates and builds .   And so you also began to heal the wounds of other victims, to rebuild their dignity.  This going out of yourself has enriched you, has helped you look ahead, find peace and serenity and a reason to keep moving forward.  I thank you for the crutch you have given me.  Although you still have physical side-effects from your injuries, your spiritual gait is fast and steady, because you think of others and want to help them.  Your crutch is a symbol of the more important crutch we all need, which is love and forgiveness.  By your love and forgiveness you are helping so many people to walk in life.  Thank you.           I wish to acknowledge also the powerful testimony of Deisy and Juan Carlos.  You have helped us to understand that, in the end, in one way or another, we too are victims , innocent or guilty, but all victims.  We are all united in this loss of humanity that means violence and death.  Deisy has said it clearly: you realized that you yourself were a victim and you needed to be given a chance.  So you started to study, and now you work to help victims and prevent young people from falling into the snares of violence and drugs.  There is also hope for those who did wrong; all is not lost.  Of course justice requires that perpetrators of wrongdoing undergo moral and spiritual renewal.  As Deisy said, we must make a positive contribution to healing our society that has been wounded by violence.           It can be difficult to believe that change is possible for those who appealed to a ruthless violence in order to promote their own agenda, protect their illegal affairs so they could gain wealth, or claim – dishonestly – that they were defending the lives of their brothers and sisters.  Undoubtedly, it is a challenge for each of us to trust that those who inflicted suffering on communities and on a whole country can take a step forward .  It is true that in this enormous field of Colombia there is nevertheless room for weeds…  You must be attentive to the fruit… care for the wheat and do not lose peace because of the weeds.  When the sower finds weeds mingled with the wheat, he or she is not alarmed.  Search for the way in which the Word becomes incarnate in concrete situations and produces the fruit of new life, even if it appears to be imperfect or incomplete (cf. Evangelii Gaudium , 24).  Even when conflicts, violence and feelings of vengeance remain, may we not prevent justice and mercy from embracing Colombia’s painful history.  Let us heal that pain and welcome every person who has committed offences, who admits their failures, is repentant and truly wants to make reparation, thus contributing to the building of a new order where justice and peace shine forth. As Juan Carlos has let us glimpse in his testimony, throughout this long, difficult, but hopeful process of reconciliation, it is also indispensable to come to terms with the truth .  It is a great challenge, but a necessary one.  Truth is an inseparable companion of justice and mercy.  Together they are essential to building peace; each, moreover, prevents the other from being altered and transformed into instruments of revenge against the weakest.  Indeed, truth should not lead to revenge, but rather to reconciliation and forgiveness.  Truth means telling families torn apart by pain what happened to their missing relatives.  Truth means confessing what happened to minors recruited by violent people.  Truth means recognizing the pain of women who are victims of violence and abuse.           I wish finally, as a brother and a father, to say this: Colombia, open your heart as the People of God and be reconciled.  Fear neither the truth nor justice.  Dear people of Colombia: do not be afraid of asking for forgiveness and offering it.  Do not resist that reconciliation which allows you to draw near and encounter one another as brothers and sisters, and surmount enmity.  Now is the time to heal wounds, to build bridges, to overcome differences.  It is time to defuse hatred, to renounce vengeance, and to open yourselves to a coexistence founded on justice, truth, and the creation of a genuine culture of fraternal encounter.  May we live in harmony and solidarity, as the Lord desires.  Let us pray to be builders of peace, so that where there is hatred and resentment, we may bring love and mercy (cf. Prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi ). I wish to place all of these intentions before the image of the Crucified One, the black Christ of Bojayá: * * * O black Christ of Bojayá, who remind us of your passion and death; together with your arms and feet they have torn away your children who sought refuge in you.   O black Christ of Bojayá, who look tenderly upon us and in whose face is serenity; your heart beats so that we may be received in your love.   O black Christ of Bojayá, Grant us to commit ourselves to restoring your body. May we be your feet that go forth to encounter  our brothers and sisters in need; your arms to embrace  those who have lost their dignity; your hands to bless and console  those who weep alone.   Make us witnesses to your love and infinite mercy.  (from Vatican Radio)...

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