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Pope addresses Emperor Karl League of Prayer

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 18:15
(Vatican Radio)  The challenges of our times demand the collaboration of all people of good will, especially with prayer and sacrifice.  Pope Francis made the exhortation in a brief address to some 130 members of the Emperor Karl League of Prayer , who are in Rome for their annual general assembly.  The League promotes the cause of canonization of  Karl I (1887-1922), the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire , the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary, and the last monarch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.  Church leaders have praised Karl for adopting Christian faith in making political decisions and for his peace efforts during World War I.  The Catholic Church has recognized Karl’s heroic virtues and a miracle through his intercession, following which St. Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed on 3 October 2004.  Peace initiatives Pope Francis noted that the general assembly of Emperor Karl League of Prayer was taking place in Rome in the context of the centenary of the peace initiatives of Pope Benedict XV, a contemporary of the Austrian Emperor , in trying to avert the disaster of WWI .    The Holy Father drew attention to the three objectives of the League – namely, seeking and observing God’s will, committing oneself to peace and justice and expiating for the injustice of history, saying they were, so to say, a recurring feature of the life of Blessed Karl as a statesman, as a husband and father of a family, and as a son of the Church.  “By giving himself to the will of God,” the Pope said, “he accepted the suffering and offered his life as a sacrifice for peace, always sustained by the love and faith of his wife, the Servant of God Zita.”  Pope Francis invited the Emperor Karl League of Prayer to maintain their promise of participating in the numerous efforts of the Pope on behalf of peace with their prayers and personal sacrifices .   He said he counted on them, as the Successor of Peter cannot carry out his mission in the world without the support of the prayers of the faithful.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Telegram for California fire victims

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 20:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the families of victims of widespread wildfires in northern California , and promising prayers for all those affected. Signed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See , Cardinal Pietro Parolin , and jointly addressed to the Archbishop of San Francisco , Salvatore Cordileone , and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles , the telegram promises Pope Francis ’ prayerful solidarity with everyone affected by the fires. It goes on to say Pope Francis is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing, and offers Pope Francis ’ encouragement to civil authorities and emergency workers. The wildfires sweeping through California have killed at least 31 people and damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings. More than 20 thousand people have been displaced by 21 fires, and as many as 400 people remain missing amid the chaos of displacement and the ongoing battle to bring the blazes under control. Below, please find the full text of the Telegram ********************************** The Most Reverend Salvatore Joseph Cordileone Archbishop of San Francisco The Most Reverend José Horacio Gómez Archbishop of Los Angeles Informed of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of property caused by the wildfire in California, the Holy Father assures you of his heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster.  He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.  His Holiness offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this tragedy. To all he sends his blessing.                                                                           Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis receives Lebanese PM Hariri

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 20:32
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Rafic Hariri on Friday morning, in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. A Communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See reports that the Pope and the Prime Minister held cordial conversation over a range of subjects, including various aspects of the situation in Lebanon. They expressed for the strengthening of stability in the country, and offered the opportunity for expressions of appreciation for the welcome Lebanon has given to many refugees. Pope Francis and Prime Minister Hariri also discussed the broader situation in the Middle East, focusing on the need to find a just and comprehensive solution to the conflicts that plague the region. The importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue was also a subject of discussion, as was the value of cooperation between Christians and Muslims to promote peace and justice, along with the historic and institutional role of the Church in Lebanese life and the importance of the Christian presence in the whole region. Below, please find the full text of the Communique from the Press Office of the Holy See, in its official English translation ******************************** This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience H.E. Mr. Saad Rafic Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by H.E. Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. The discussions, which took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, enabled the examination of various aspects of the situation in Lebanon and the latest developments in the Middle East. Satisfaction was then expressed for the strengthening of stability in the country, in the hope of increasingly fruitful collaboration between the various political powers to promote the common good of the entire Nation. Appreciation for the welcome Lebanon has given to many refugees was reaffirmed, and the parties focused on the need to find a just and comprehensive solution to the conflicts that plague the region.  Furthermore, the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue was highlighted, as well as the value of collaboration between Christians and Muslims to promote peace and justice, taking into consideration the historic and institutional role of the Church in the life of the country and the importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges Christians to watch out against worldliness

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 20:05
(Vatican Radio)  Only Christ crucified will save us from the demons that make us " slide slowly into worldliness ", saving us also from the "stupidity" that St. Paul talks about to the Galatians, and from seduction .  This was central message of the homily of Pope Francis at his Mass, Friday morning, at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.  He was reflecting on the episode in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus casts out a demon , which some people interpret as through power of the devil. Watchfulness against Devil's stealth  The Pope said the Lord asks us be watchful in order not to enter into temptation.  This is why a Christians have to be awake, watchful and careful like a sentinel.  Jesus was not narrating a parable but was stating a truth, i.e when the unclean spirit comes out of a man, he roams about in abandoned places looking for refuge and not finding any, decides to return to where he came from, where the freed man lives.  Hence the demon decides to bring in "seven other spirits worse than him.”  Pope Francis emphasized the word “worse”, saying it has much force in the passage because the demons enter quietly . Worldliness The demons thus start being part of the man's life. With their ideas and inspirations, they help the man to live better and entering his life and heart and start changing him from within, but quietly without making any noise.  This method is different from the earlier diabolic possession which was strong, the Pope explained, adding this time it a diabolic possession, something like in a “living room”.  The devil slowly changes our criteria to lead us to worldliness. It camouflages our way of acting, which we hardly notice. And so, the man, freed from the demon, becomes a bad man, a man burdened by worldliness. And that's exactly what the devil wants – worldliness , the Pope stressed. Worldliness, Pope Francis explained, is a spell, a seduction , because the devil is the "father of seduction". When the devil enters "so sweetly, politely and takes possession of our attitudes," the Pope said, our values pass from the service of God to worldliness. Thus we become " lukewarm Christians, worldly Christians", a mixture, something that the Pope described as a “ fruit salad ” of the spirit of the world and the spirit of God.  All this distances us from the Lord, the Pope said and stressed that the way to avoid it by being vigilant and calm without alarm. Christ crucified who saves Watchful means understanding what goes on in my heart, the Pope said, adding, “ It means stopping for a while to examine my life , whether I a Christian, whether I educate my children, whether my life is Christian or worldly?” And one understands this, as Paul points out, by looking at Christ crucified .  One understands where worldliness lies and is destroyed before the Lord's cross.  The Crucifix saves us from the charms and seductions that lead us to worldliness. The Holy Father exhorted Christians to examine themselves whether they look up to Christ crucified, whether they pray the Way of the Cross in order to understand the price of salvation, not just from sins but also from worldliness.  The examination of conscience, the Pope said, is done always before Christ crucified, with prayer , after which one has to break loose from one’s comfortable attitudes, through works of charity, visiting the sick, helping someone in need and so on.  This breaks the harmony and the spiritual worldliness that the demon together with seven others tries to create in us, the Pope added.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis greets Special Olympics Footballers

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday greeted Special Olympics athletes who are taking part in a Unified Football tournament this week at the Pio XI sports centre here in Rome. Listen to our report: Speaking to the althletes gathered, the Pope said, “you are the symbol of a sport that opens one's eyes and heart to the value and dignity of individuals and people who would otherwise be subject to prejudice and exclusion.” The Holy Father told them that, in these days they would have the opportunity to reaffirm the importance of "unified" sport, “through which athletes with and without intellectual disabilities play together.” “This beautiful reality,” he continued, “which you carry out with commitment and conviction, nourishes the hope of a positive and fruitful future of sport, because it makes it a real opportunity for inclusion and involvement.” Pope Francis urged the athletes present to never tire of, “showing the world of sport your shared commitment to building more fraternal societies in which people can grow and develop and fully realize their abilities.” Universal Language of Sport Sport, underlined Pope Francis is a universal language and demonstrates the stories of so many individuals, who thanks to it, overcame exclusion, poverty and injury to be an inspiration to others. The Unified Football Tournament takes place from the 13th -15th October in Rome and each side has 5 Special Olympians and four partner players, all between the ages of 18 and 30. The event takes place at the Pio XI sports centre with the support of the Knights of Columbus. 9 countries are taking part; they are Lituania, France, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Romania and Italy.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope greets organisers of 2015 Sri Lanka visit

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:36
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with members of an organizing committee for the journey that he made to Sri Lanka back in January 2015. Welcoming the group, the pope said his own visit to Sri Lanka was a moment of “special grace” at  a time when the nation was “ striving for reconciliation and healing” after years of suffering and strife.  Religions and cultures united Pope Francis said he was deeply moved by the numbers of Sri Lankans, united across religions and cultures, who came out to greet him during the visit, as well as the vast crowds that gathered prayerfully around the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, a symbol of reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Finally he said he was struck also by the celebration of the canonization of Saint Joseph Vaz, the great missionary to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ words: Dear friends, I am pleased to welcome members of the Organizing Committee for my Pastoral Visit to Sri Lanka back in January 2015.  I greet each of you, together with your spouses who have come on this pilgrimage.  As you welcomed me to your land, and planned my visit so carefully, also in cooperation with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, so now I gladly welcome you here; and even though I would like our visitors to feel at home, I cannot quite equal the forty elephants that greeted me on the road from the airport to Colombo…!  The possibility of visiting your country was a special grace for me, at a moment when, after years of strife and suffering, the nation was striving for reconciliation and healing.  I was deeply moved by the great number of Sri Lankans, united across religions and cultures, who came out to greet me at the airport and along the road to Colombo.  I was struck also by the moving and beautiful celebration of the canonization of Saint Joseph Vaz, the great missionary to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, surely the high point of our time together, as well as by the vast crowds that gathered prayerfully around the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, symbol of refuge and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.  Looking back with gratitude on my Visit, I thank you in a special way for all your hard work, often unseen and at a great cost in time and energy, that made my Visit so fruitful.  I thank your families too, who made many sacrifices and encouraged you in your work.  Your presence here today has brought something of Sri Lanka’s fragrant air to our house, and so reminds us of the many divine graces we experienced together in your country. Entrusting Sri Lanka’s people and her leaders to the intercession of Our Lady of Madhu, I willingly invoke God’s blessing upon you, your families and all who cooperated with you in the planning of this Visit, as a pledge of peace and strength in the Lord. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pontifical Oriental Institute: a bridge between East and West

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 21:32
(Vatican Radio) Church leaders from the different Eastern Catholic rites have been gathered in Rome this week to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Pope Francis visited the Institute on Thursday and issued a mesage praising its "high achievements" and reminding it to be always attentive to the "enormous challenges facing Christians in the East".   In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, Pope Benedict XV established the Institute to be a bridge between East and West and to make the rich traditions of the Oriental Churches available to the entire Catholic world. A century on, the Institute maintains a world class reputation for its research, teaching and publishing on all issues of Eastern theology, liturgies, patristics, history, canon law, literature, spirituality, archeology, as well as questions of ecumenical and geopolitical importance. Jesuit Father David Nazar , is the current rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Born in Canada to a family of Ukrainian origin, he’s a former superior of the Society of Jesus in Ukraine and  former Provincial of the Jesuits in the English Canada Province. Listen:  He explains that the ‘Orientale’ as it’s known, is a papal institute, entrusted to the Society of Jesus, to focus on matters concerning all of the Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches. Eastern treasures available to all Since many of the Eastern Churches are smaller and lacking the resources of Christians in the West, he says, the popes were concerned to make sure that the wealth of research on liturgy, ancient traditions, and original manuscripts could be made available to Christians across the globe. World class library Fr Nazar says that over the past century, the Jesuits have worked hard to establish a world class library, which was funded for a number of years by friends of Pope Pius XI. It remains second to none in the world, he notes, in the study of the ancient traditions and languages of the Eastern world. Ancient rites and traditions Much of this work has been significant for the West as well, he adds, such as the Second Vatican Council’s document on the importance of the Eastern  Churches “which would have been unimaginable without the fifty years of research that had been done at the Orientale”.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Message to mark 100 years of the Pontifical Oriental Institute

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 19:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute , Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, who is also the Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches . The Pontificium Institutum Orientale , or “Orientale” as it is known in Roman shorthand, was founded in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, and became part of the “Gregorian Consortium” including also the University and the Biblical Institute, under the direction and tutelage of the Society of Jesus. In his Message, Pope Francis makes note of the high achievements in the twofold mission of research into liturgical, theological, ecclesiological, and spiritual sources of the Christian East, and the preparation of instruments by which to make the riches of the Eastern Christianity more readily available and accessible to Christians in the West. The Pope also calls on the Orientale to mindfulness of and solicitude for the enormous challenges facing Christians in the East. “Keeping intact the attention and application of traditional research,” Pope Francis writes, “This Institute, through research, teaching and testimony, has the task of helping our [Eastern] brothers and sisters to strengthen and consolidate their faith in the face of the tremendous challenges they face,” challenges which, in the present day, include strong temptations to leave their native homelands, and often forced displacement under threat of persecution and even martyrdom. The Holy Father concludes his message, “In joining myself to the thanksgivings to God for the work it has done over these 100 years, I hope that the Pontifical Oriental Institute will pursue its mission with renewed impetus, studying and spreading with love and intellectual honesty, with scientific rigor and pastoral perspective, the traditions of the Oriental churches in their liturgical, theological, artistic and canonical variety, better and better responding to the expectations of today’s world to create a future of reconciliation and peace.” (from Vatican Radio)...

AB Fisichella reflects on Pope's catechism speech

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 18:32
(Vatican Radio) The President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization , Archbishop Rino Fisichella, has been speaking about Pope Francis’ speech on Wednesday evening marking the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Council sponsored a meeting to celebrate the anniversary and,  reflecting on the Pope’s address, Archbishop Fisichella said that, “there are many different issues in the discourse of Pope Francis.” Archbishop Fisichella spoke with Vatican Radio’s Blandine Hugonnet about some of these issues. Listen to the interview: The Archbishop noted in particular the Pope’s reference to Pope John XXIII ’s opening speech to the Second Vatican Council . The Pope, noted Archbishop Fisichella, explains that faith is not static but dynamic . The Archbishop added that, “ in this speech I would say the dynamic of the Christian truth and our faith is what, in my humble opinion, touched me personally.” Asked about Pope Francis’ reference to the death penalty, Archbishop Fisichella said the Holy Father’s comments are very much in line with the words of St Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI on this issue. But he continued, “yesterday it seems to me that Pope Francis said something more, because he said that when we have a voluntary suppression of a human life this is against the Gospel itself. I think that this is something strong; very profound and very strong.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges Oriental Churches to continue courageous witness

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 18:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday celebrated Mass in the Basilica of St Mary Major to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute  and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. In his homily the pope encouraged all Christians of the Oriental Churches to continue with their courageous witness, despite the dramatic persecutions that they suffer. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report Recalling the establishment of the Institute by Benedict XV in 1917, during the First World War, Pope Francis said that today we are living though another “piecemeal” world war. When we see the persecution and worrying exodus of Christians, he said, just like the people of the Old Testament, we cry out “Why?” Persecution of Christians In today’s reading from the prophet Malachi, the pope continued, we read about those who turn away from God and do evil, yet they go unpunished. In the same way today, he said, we see unscrupulous people who destroy others in order to pursue their own ends and we ask God, “Why?” We find the answer in the verses of Malachi, Pope Francis said, as we read about the way God listens to his people and records their suffering in a ‘book of memories’. Pray and trust in the Lord Pointing to the words from St Luke’s Gospel, the pope said if we pray and trust in the Lord, we know that “everyone who asks, receives; those who seek, find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened”. But do we really know how to pray, to knock on the door of God’s heart, the pope asked? The Gospel reminds us that if we, sinners, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” God's gift of the Holy Spirit The Spirit is God’s great gift to us, Pope Francis concluded, so let us learn how to knock courageously on the door of God’s heart. May courageous prayer inspire and sustain your service to the Church, he told the Oriental Church leaders, so that it may bear fruit which does not wither and die. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: The dynamic word of God cannot be moth-balled

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 00:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday evening addressed participants attending a meeting celebrating the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. In his prepared remarks to those gathered  the Pope said that, it is in the very nature of the Church to “guard” the deposit of faith and to “pursue” the Church’s path, so that the truth present in Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel may grow in fullness until the end of time.   Medicine of Mercy He went on to say that, “with the joy born of Christian hope, and armed with the “medicine of mercy”, we approach the men and women of our time to help them discover the inexhaustible richness contained in the person of Jesus Christ. The Pope described the Catechism as an important instrument adding that, it  “presents the faithful with the perennial teaching of the Church so that they can grow in their understanding of the faith.” Death Penalty During his discourse, the Holy Father brought up the subject of the death penalty saying that  it is a “subject that ought to find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a more adequate and coherent treatment”… Pope Francis went on to say that, “it must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity.” Concluding his remarks the Holy Father said that, “ the word of God cannot be moth-balled like some old blanket in an attempt to keep insects at bay! No.  The word of God is a dynamic and living reality that develops and grows because it is aimed at a fulfilment that none can halt”, he said.   Before imparting his Apostolic Blessing on those present, the Pope underlined that,  “doctrine cannot be preserved without allowing it to develop, nor can it be tied to an interpretation that is rigid and immutable without demeaning the working of the Holy Spirit.”       Please find the English language  translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks below:            I offer a warm greeting to all of you and I thank Archbishop Fisichella for his kind words of introduction.          The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, by which Saint John Paul II, thirty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, offers a significant opportunity for taking stock of the progress made in the meantime.  It was the desire and will of Saint John XXIII to call the Council, not primarily to condemn error, but so that the Church could have an opportunity at last to present the beauty of her faith in Jesus Christ in language attuned to the times.  “It is necessary,” the Pope stated in his opening address, “that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers.  But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate” (11 October 1962).  “It is our duty,” he continued, “not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves, with an earnest will and without fear, to that work which our era demands of us, thus pursuing the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries” (ibid.).          It is in the very nature of the Church to “guard” the deposit of faith and to “pursue” the Church’s path, so that the truth present in Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel may grow in fullness until the end of time.  This is a grace granted to the People of God, but it is also a task and a mission for which we are responsible, that of proclaiming to our contemporaries in a new and fuller way the perennial Good News.  With the joy born of Christian hope, and armed with the “medicine of mercy” (ibid.), we approach the men and women of our time to help them discover the inexhaustible richness contained in the person of Jesus Christ.          In presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Saint John Paul II stated that it should “take into account the doctrinal statements which down the centuries the Holy Spirit has made known to his Church.  It should also help illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past” (Fidei Depositum, 3).  The Catechism is thus an important instrument.  It presents the faithful with the perennial teaching of the Church so that they can grow in their understanding of the faith.  But it especially seeks to draw our contemporaries – with their new and varied problems – to the Church, as she seeks to present the faith as the meaningful answer to human existence at this moment of history.  It is not enough to find a new language in which to articulate our perennial faith; it is also urgent, in the light of the new challenges and prospects facing humanity, that the Church be able to express the “new things” of Christ’s Gospel, that, albeit present in the word of God, have not yet come to light.  This is the treasury of “things old and new” of which Jesus spoke when he invited his disciples to teach the newness that he had brought, without forsaking the old (cf. Mt 13:52).          One of the most beautiful pages in the Gospel of John is his account of the so-called “priestly prayer” of Jesus.  Just before his passion and death, Jesus speaks to the Father of his obedience in having brought to fulfilment the mission entrusted to him.  His words, a kind of hymn to love, also contain the request that the disciples be gathered and preserved in unity (cf. Jn 17:12-15).  The words, “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3), represent the culmination of Jesus’s mission. To know God, as we are well aware, is not in the first place an abstract exercise of human reason, but an irrepressible desire present in the heart of every person.  This knowledge comes from love, for we have encountered the Son of God on our journey (cf. Lumen Fidei, 28).  Jesus of Nazareth walks at our side and introduces us, by his words and the signs he performs, to the great mystery of the Father’s love.  This knowledge is strengthened daily by faith’s certainty that we are loved and, for this reason, part of a meaningful plan.  Those who love long to know better the beloved, and therein to discover the hidden richness that appears each day as something completely new.          For this reason, our Catechism unfolds in the light of love, as an experience of knowledge, trust, and abandonment to the mystery. In explaining its structure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church borrows a phrase from the Roman Catechism and proposes it as the key to its reading and application: “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.  Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 25).          Along these same lines, I would like now to bring up a subject that ought to find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a more adequate and coherent treatment in the light of these expressed aims.  I am speaking of the death penalty.  This issue cannot be reduced to a mere résumé of traditional teaching without taking into account not only the doctrine as it has developed in the teaching of recent Popes, but also the change in the awareness of the Christian people which rejects an attitude of complacency before a punishment deeply injurious of human dignity.  It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity.  It is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true judge and guarantor.  No man, “not even a murderer, loses his personal dignity” (Letter to the President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, 20 March 2015), because God is a Father who always awaits the return of his children who, knowing that they have made mistakes, ask for forgiveness and begin a new life.  No one ought to be deprived not only of life, but also of the chance for a moral and existential redemption that in turn can benefit the community.          In past centuries, when means of defence were scarce and society had yet to develop and mature as it has, recourse to the death penalty appeared to be the logical consequence of the correct application of justice.  Sadly, even in the Papal States recourse was had to this extreme and inhumane remedy that ignored the primacy of mercy over justice. Let us take responsibility for the past and recognize that the imposition of the death penalty was dictated by a mentality more legalistic than Christian.  Concern for preserving power and material wealth led to an over-estimation of the value of the law and prevented a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  Nowadays, however, were we to remain neutral before the new demands of upholding personal dignity, we would be even more guilty.          Here we are not in any way contradicting past teaching, for the defence of the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death has been taught by the Church consistently and authoritatively.  Yet the harmonious development of doctrine demands that we cease to defend arguments that now appear clearly contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth.  Indeed, as Saint Vincent of Lérins pointed out, “Some may say: Shall there be no progress of religion in Christ’s Church?  Certainly; all possible progress.  For who is there, so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it?” (Commonitorium, 23.1; PL 50). It is necessary, therefore, to reaffirm that no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person.          “The Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes” (Dei Verbum, 8).  The Council Fathers could not have found a finer and more synthetic way of expressing the nature and mission of the Church.  Not only in “teaching”, but also in “life” and “worship”, are the faithful able to be God’s People.  Through a series of verbs the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation expresses the dynamic nature of this process: “This Tradition develops […] grows […] and constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth, until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her” (ibid.)          Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision regards the “deposit of faith” as something static.  The word of God cannot be moth-balled like some old blanket in an attempt to keep insects at bay!  No.  The word of God is a dynamic and living reality that develops and grows because it is aimed at a fulfilment that none can halt.  This law of progress, in the happy formulation of Saint Vincent of Lérins, “consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age” (Commonitorium, 23.9: PL 50), is a distinguishing mark of revealed truth as it is handed down by the Church, and in no way represents a change in doctrine.          Doctrine cannot be preserved without allowing it to develop, nor can it be tied to an interpretation that is rigid and immutable without demeaning the working of the Holy Spirit.  “God, who in many and various ways spoke of old to our fathers” (Heb 1:1), “uninterruptedly converses with the bride of his beloved Son” (Dei Verbum, 8).  We are called to make this voice our own by “reverently hearing the word of God” (ibid., 1), so that our life as a Church may progress with the same enthusiasm as in the beginning, towards those new horizons to which the Lord wishes to guide us.          I thank you for this meeting and for your work, and to all of you I cordially impart my blessing.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets with young cricketers from Buenos Aires

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 00:49
(Vatican Radio) Cricket is not a sport normally associated with Argentina, but among the groups greeting Pope Francis at his general audience on Wednesday was a team of young cricketers from his native Buenos Aires . Cricket Sin Fronteras (Cricket Without Borders) is a project that was begun almost a decade ago in the poorest parts of the capital,  the ‘ villas miserias ’ where the Church is engaged in offering alternatives to the widespread violence and crime. Though few Argentinians were familiar with the sport, its popularity has grown and now hundreds of kids, both boys and girls, take part in the project. This week a team of young players was invited to play against St Peter’s Cricket Club , set up under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture and comprised mainly of seminarians studying for the priesthood here in Rome. The cricketers attending the audience in St Peter’s Square had brought with them bats to be blessed, made by inmates from a local jail. The organisers insist that through the sport, youngsters learn values of respect, inclusion and teamwork that will enable them to build a brighter future. Among them is the team’s head coach, Hernan Fennell , who talked to Philippa Hitchen about how the project began: Listen:  Fennell explains that the idea was proposed in 2009 to Fr Pepe [Di Paola], one of the best known Catholic priests working in the poorest areas of Buenos Aires. Among the founders of the project was Daniel Juarez, a longtime friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who was on hand in St Peter’s Square to tell him more about the initiative. Example of inclusion Pope Francis blessed the team and encouraged them to “keep it going, really, it’s an example [of inclusion] for all of us”. Fennell explains that the project began with just four or five kids from the poorest part of town. As it became more popular, the team needed to find more coaches and it has recently been rolled out in state schools as well. Almost 800 boys and girls, aged between six and twenty, are now learning to play the sport Teaching spirit of cricket Among the major challenges, Fennell, goes on, it the difficulties of teaching ‘the spirit of cricket’ to those living in a football culture. If we can make that spirit better known, he says “it’ll be a huge win for us”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at audience calls for attitude of attentive waiting

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 00:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his reflections on Christian hope, talking this week about the attitude of 'attentive waiting'. His words came during his weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square. Listen to our report:  Pope Francis said just as Jesus tells his disciples to be like those who await the return of their master, with lamps alight, Christians must always be attentive, awaiting the Lord’s return. Attentiveness requires patience Every day is a new opportunity to be attentive to God, the pope continued, to welcome the day as his gift, and to live that day by offering our good works to him.  Such attentiveness requires patience, he said, yet no night is so long, as to make us forget the joy that comes with dawn. Future guided by God's providence As Christians, the pope concluded, we know that that no matter what we may suffer, life has its purpose and the merciful Lord will greet us at its end.  Thus we can look upon history and our own lives with confidence and hope, he added, knowing that the future is not guided solely by the work of our hands, but by God’s providence.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis General Audience: English summary

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 17:45
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his catechesis on hope at his General Audience in St Peter’s Square. Please find below the full English summary of his words Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today I wish to speak about that dimension of hope which we can call attentive waiting.  Jesus tells his disciples to be like those who await the return of their master, with lamps alight (cf. Lk 12:35-36).  As Christians, therefore, we are always attentive, awaiting the Lord’s return, when God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).  Every day is a new opportunity to be attentive to God, to welcome the day as his gift, and to live that day by offering our good works to him.  Such attentiveness requires patience, however, if we are not to lose sight of God’s grace when our days are monotonous, or our difficulties many.  For no night is so long, as to make us forget the joy that comes with dawn.  As Christians, we know that Christ will return; that no matter what we may suffer, life has its purpose and deeper meaning, and that the merciful Lord will greet us at its end.  Thus we can look upon history and our own lives with confidence and hope, knowing that the future is not guided solely by the work of our hands but by God’s providence.  May we repeat everyday the words of the first disciples: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).  And in our most difficult moments, may we hear the consoling response of Jesus: “Behold, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:7). I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Demark, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America.  In particular I greet those who will be celebrating World Sight Day tomorrow, and I assure all who are blind and visually impaired of my closeness and prayers.  Upon you and your families, I invoke the grace of the Lord Jesus, that you may be steadfast in hope and trust in God’s providence in your lives.  May God bless you all! (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges harmony among India’s Latin and Eastern rite bishops

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 20:39
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday urged for a " fruitful and harmonious cooperation ” among the bishops of the three ritual Churches of India, as they reach out to provide pastoral care to their respective faithful, spread out in various parts of the country.  “In India itself, overlapping jurisdictions should no longer be problematic, for the Church has experienced them for some time, such as in Kerala,” the Pope wrote in a letter the Indian Bishops.  The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) is the apex body of the Catholic Church of India, ‎that is composed of three ‘sui iuris’  Churches:  the Latin rite and the two ‎eastern rites – the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara ‎Churches, which claim their origin from St. Thomas the Apostle.  Of the 172 dioceses in India, 132 belong to the Latin rite.  “In a world where large numbers of Christians are forced to migrate, overlapping jurisdictions have become customary and are increasingly effective tools for ensuring the pastoral care of the faithful while also ensuring full respect for their ecclesial traditions,” the Pope wrote.  He thus authorized the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches to erect two eparchies (dioceses)  for the the Syro-Malabar Church and to extend the boundaries of two others.  Please find below the full text of Pope Francis letter to the bishops of India: Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Bishops of India Dear Brother Bishops,          1.  The remarkable varietas Ecclesiarum, the result of a long historical, cultural, spiritual and disciplinary development, constitutes a treasure of the Church, regina in vestitu deaurato circumdata variegate (cf. Ps 44 and Leo XIII, Orientalium Dignitas), who awaits her groom with the fidelity and patience of the wise virgin, equipped with an abundant supply of oil, so that the light of her lamp may enlighten all peoples in the long night of awaiting the Lord’s coming.          This variety of ecclesial life, which shines with great splendour throughout lands and nations, is also found in India.  The Catholic Church in India has its origins in the preaching of the Apostle Thomas.  It developed through contact with the Churches of Chaldean and Antiochian traditions and, from the sixteenth century onward, through the efforts of Latin missionaries.  The history of Christianity in this great country thus led to three distinct sui iuris Churches, corresponding to ecclesial expressions of the same faith celebrated in different rites according to the three liturgical, spiritual, theological and disciplinary traditions.  Although this situation has sometimes led to tensions in the course of history, today we can admire a Christian presence that is both rich and beautiful, complex and unique.          2.  It is essential for the Catholic Church to reveal her face in all its beauty to the world, in the richness of her various traditions.  For this reason the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, which celebrates its centenary year, having been established through the farsightedness of Pope Benedict XV in 1917, has encouraged, where necessary, the restoration of Eastern Catholic traditions, and ensured their protection, as well as respect for the dignity and rights of these ancient Churches.          3.  The Second Vatican Council embraced this vision of the Church and reminded the faithful of the need to protect and preserve the treasure of the particular traditions of each Church.  “Moreover, within the Church particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity (cf. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom., Praef.), and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it” (Lumen Gentium, 13).          4.  As Lumen Gentium teaches, it is for the Bishop of Rome to promote unity in the diversity of the Body of Christ.  In this task, the Roman Pontiffs faithfully interpret and apply the voice of the Second Vatican Council, which expressed the ardent desire that the Oriental Churches, venerated for their antiquity, should “flourish and with new apostolic vigour execute the task entrusted to them” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 1).  Their responsibility is not only to become ever more effective instruments of that “special duty of promoting the unity of all Christians, especially Eastern Christians” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 24), but also to promote their “equal dignity […] for they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 3).          Thirty years ago, my beloved predecessor Saint John Paul II wrote a Letter to the Bishops of India.  Drawing on the Second Vatican Council, he sought to apply the conciliar teaching to the Indian context.  In India, even after many centuries, Christians are only a small proportion of the population and, consequently, there is a particular need to demonstrate unity and to avoid any semblance of division.  Saint John Paul II also stated that the need for unity and the preservation of diversity are not opposed to one another: “This need to be faithful to the traditions and patrimony of one’s own rite must not be interpreted as an interference with the Church’s task of ‘gathering into one the children of God who are scattered abroad’ (Jn 11:52) or with the mission of the Church to promote the communion of all people with the Redeemer” (Epistula ad Indiae Episcopos, 28 May 1987).          5.  Five decades ago, when the Syro-Malabar Church expanded to some central and northern parts of India with “missionary eparchies”, it was generally thought by the Latin Bishops that there should be just one jurisdiction, that is, one bishop in a particular territory.  These eparchies, created from Latin dioceses, today have exclusive jurisdiction over those territories, both of the Latin and Syro-Malabar faithful.  However, both in the traditional territories of the Eastern Churches, as well as in the vast area of the so-called diaspora (where these faithful have long been established), a fruitful and harmonious cooperation between Catholic bishops of the different sui iuris Churches within the same territory has taken place.  This cooperation not only offers an ecclesiological justification for such a solution, but also demonstrates its pastoral benefits.  In a world where large numbers of Christians are forced to migrate, overlapping jurisdictions have become customary and are increasingly effective tools for ensuring the pastoral care of the faithful while also ensuring full respect for their ecclesial traditions.          6.  In India itself, overlapping jurisdictions should no longer be problematic, for the Church has experienced them for some time, such as in Kerala.  Saint John Paul II’s Letter authorized the erection of a Syro-Malabar eparchy in the Bombay-Pune region, which became the Eparchy of Kalyan.  In 2012 the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad was erected in the region of Delhi and its neighbouring states, while the boundaries of the Eparchy of Mandya were extended in 2015 to include the metropolitan area of Bangalore.  In the same year, an Eparchy and an Apostolic Exarchate were erected for the Syro-Malankar faithful, so that by these ecclesiastical circumscriptions the Syro-Malankar Church could provide pastoral care for its faithful throughout the territory of India.  All these developments show that, albeit not without problems, the presence of a number of bishops in the same area does not compromise the mission of the Church.  On the contrary, these steps have given greater impetus to the local Churches for their pastoral and missionary efforts.          7.  In 2011 my predecessor Benedict XVI wished to provide for the pastoral needs of the Syro-Malabar faithful throughout India, and I confirmed his intention following the plenary session of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in 2013.  Archbishop Raphael Thattil is currently the Apostolic Visitor for those Syro-Malabar faithful in India who live outside their own territory, and he has provided detailed reports to the Apostolic See.  This issue has been examined in meetings at the highest levels of the Church.  Following these steps, I believe the time is now right to complete this process.          I have therefore authorized the Congregation for the Oriental Churches to provide for the pastoral care of the Syro-Malabar faithful throughout India by the erection of two Eparchies and by the extension of the boundaries of the two already in existence.          I decree also that the new circumscriptions, as with those already in existence, be entrusted to the pastoral care of the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly and to the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, according to the norms of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.          8.  I hope that my decision will be welcomed with a generous and peaceful spirit, although it may be a source of apprehension for some, since many Syro-Malabars, deprived of pastoral care in their own rite, are at present fully involved in the life of the Latin Church.  I am convinced, however, that all those involved will understand that there is no need for concern: the Church’s life should not be disrupted by such a provision.  Indeed it must not be negatively interpreted as imposing upon the faithful a requirement to leave the communities which have welcomed them, sometimes for many generations, and to which they have contributed in various ways.  It should rather be seen as an invitation as well as an opportunity for growth in faith and communion with their sui iuris Church, in order to preserve the precious heritage of their rite and to pass it on to future generations.  There is already an instruction by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches to the Eparchy of Faridabad, which indicates that a member of the Syro-Malabar faithful, by virtue of the same law, is also a member of the Syro-Malabar parish where he or she is domiciled (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Can, 280 §1); yet at the same time, he or she can remain fully involved in the life and activities of the parish of the Latin Church.  No dispensation is required from the law currently in force for the faithful to practice their faith serenely, and they may do this with the pastoral care of either Latin or Syro-Malabar pastors (cf. Prot. No. 197/2014, 28 January 2016).               9. The path of the Catholic Church in India cannot be that of isolation and separation, but rather of respect and cooperation.  The presence of several bishops of the various sui iuris Churches in the same territory will surely offer an eloquent witness to a vibrant and marvellous communion.  This is the vision of the Second Vatican Council, which I quote once again: “Between all the parts of the Church there remains a bond of close communion whereby they share spiritual riches, apostolic workers and temporal resources.  For the members of the people of God are called to share these goods in common, and of each of the Churches the words of the Apostle hold good: ‘According to the gift that each has received, administer it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God’ (1 Pet 4:10)” (Lumen Gentium, 13).  It is in this spirit that I urge all the beloved Churches in India to be generous and courageous as they witness to the Gospel in the spirit of fraternity and mutual love.  For the Syro-Malabar Church, this continues the valued work of their priests and religious in the Latin context, and sustains their availability for those Syro-Malabar faithful who, although choosing to attend Latin parishes, may request some assistance from their Church of origin.  The Latin rite Church can continue to generously offer hospitality to members of the Syro-Malabar communities who do not have church buildings of their own.  The cooperation among all the sui iuris Churches should continue, for example in the area of retreats and seminars for clergy, Bible conferences, celebrations of common feast days and ecumenical endeavours.  With the growth of spiritual friendship and mutual assistance, any tension or apprehension should be swiftly overcome.  May this extension of the pastoral area of the Syro-Malabar Church in no way be perceived as a growth in power and domination, but as a call to deeper communion, which should never be perceived as uniformity.  In the words of Saint Augustine, who sang the praises of the Trinity and of the wonderful communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I also ask you: dilatentur spatia caritatis (Sermon 69, PL 5, 440.441).  May there be a growth in love, communion and service.          Dear brother Bishops, I commend all of you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and I assure you of my closeness in prayer.  To all of you, the Church and the faithful in India, I impart my Apostolic Blessing, and I ask that you pray for me. From the Vatican, 9 October 2017   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass: 'God's omnipotence is manifested in His mercy'

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 20:22
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday reminded the faithful that God’s infinite mercy prevails over all, but he warned against rigidity and invited Christians to always open their hearts. The Pope was speaking during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta . Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni Reflecting, for the second consecutive day, on a reading from the Book of Jonah, Pope Francis concluded that it is God’s mercy that opens our hearts and wins over everything.  Recalling the story of the prophet Jonah whom – he said – “was a stubborn man who wanted to teach God how to do things” he described him as “sick with rigidity”, “a starved soul”. In the Bible story, the Pope said, the Lord asks Jonah to convert the city of Nineveh. First the prophet refuses to do so and runs away; then he carries out God’s orders “and he does it well”. But still, Francis observed, Jonah is “angry” and indignant because the Lord shows forgiveness towards the people who, with open hearts, showed repentance. Rigidity is an obstacle “Those who have stubborn souls do not understand what God's mercy is” he said.  They are like Jonah, he continued, they do not know how to open their hearts to the Lord. He described them as “faint-hearted” - with little hearts that are closed to mercy - and attached to issues of naked righteousness: “they forget that the justice of God became flesh in his Son, it became mercy and forgiveness; they forget that God’s heart is always open to forgiveness”. Something else they forget, the Pope added, is that “the omnipotence of God is manifested primarily in His mercy and forgiveness”. God's omnipotence is primarily manifested in in His mercy “It is not easy to understand God's mercy, it is not easy. Much prayer is needed because it is a grace” he said. And, Francis noted, we are so accustomed to the tit-for-tat attitude - that kind of attitude that implies that justice means paying for what you did, but – he said: “Jesus paid for us and continues to pay.” Referring again to the story of the Jonah, he said that God could have abandoned the prophet to his stubbornness and to his rigidity. Instead, he went to talk to him and convinced him; he saved him just as he saved the people of Nineveh. The God of patience who know how to open hearts “He is the God of patience, He is the God who knows how to give a caress, who knows how to open hearts”. Pope Francis pointed out that the message at the heart the prophetic Book is to be found in the dialogue between prophecy, penance, mercy and faint-heartedness or stubbornness. And, he said, it is in the fact that God’s mercy always prevails because His omnipotence is manifested in His mercy. I advise you, Francis concluded, to read the Book of Jonah today: “it is very small, only three pages, and see how the Lord acts, how His mercy transforms our hearts, and thank the Lord for being so merciful”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Schedule of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Myanmar, Bangladesh

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 17:56
The Vatican on Tuesday released the schedule of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh.   The two-nation papal visit was announced earlier by the Vatican on August 28.  ‎After visiting Myanmar, Nov 27 to 30 , he will proceed to neighbouring Bangladesh,  Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 . He is scheduled to land in Yangon , Myanmar in the afternoon on Nov. 27, where he will be given an official welcome.  The following afternoon (Nov. 28) he will fly to the capital Nay Pyi Taw , where after meeting the president, government officials and the diplomatic corps, he will fly back to Yangon  at night.   On Nov. 29 the Holy Father will celebrate his first public Mass, meet the Buddhist supreme council and Myanmar’s bishops.  Pope Francis will wrap up his Myanmar with a Mass for young people on Nov. 30 and fly to neighbouring Bangladesh in the afternoon.  After a welcome ceremony at Dhaka airport, the Pope will pay homage to Bangadesh’s martyrs and father of the nation.  He will then pay courtesy visit to the president and address the diplomatic corps.  On Dec. 1, the Pope will celebrate a public Mass with priestly ordination, meet the prime minister, the country’s bishops and representatives of various religions and Christian Churches.  On the last day, Dec. 2,  the Pope will visit a home run by the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa, address priests, religious seminarians and novices.  Before flying back to Rome in the evening, he will meet the young people.    (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope receives German president in private audience ‎

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 20:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany in a private audience in the Vatican on Monday.  The Holy See’s Press office issued a statement saying Steinmeier later met Vatican Secretary ‎of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin along with Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher . During the “cordial talks”, the Press Office said, the two sides expressed satisfaction over the good relations and fruitful relations between the Holy See and Germany, and between Church and the institutions in the country.  They also expressed appreciation for the positive inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue, especially between Catholics and Protestants during the 5th centenary of the Lutheran Reformation.  Monday’s talks also touched upon some issues of common interest, such as the economic and religious situation in Europe and in the world, with special reference to the phenomenon of migration and the promotion of the culture of welcome and solidarity.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: The Good Samaritan manifests the mystery of Christ ‎

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 20:12
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday urged Christians to emulate the figure of the Good Samaritan and help those in need to get up, like Christ who “continues to pay” for us.   Delivering a homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, he reflected on the attitude of the various actors in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s Gospel, which, he said, was an answer to the doctor of the Law on who his neighbour was. Actors in the parable  Commenting on the robbers , the priest who is “a man of God”, and the Levite who is “close to the law”, all of whom passed by the wounded and half-dead man, the Pope said this is a very common habit among us.  We see an ugly calamity and pass by and later read about it, painted with a bit of “scandal and sensation’, in the newspapers.  Instead the Samaritan, a pagan and sinner “saw and did not pass by”, the Pope said, drawing attention to the words of Luke - “he had compassion.”  Making the wounded man his neighbour, the Samaritan approached him, bandaged his wounds pouring in oil and wine.  Neither did he leave him there and go his way.  He carried him on his animal to the innkeeper, whom he paid to look after him and promised to pay the extra expenses on his return.  Mystery of Christ “This,” the Pope said “is the mystery of Christ who became a servant, humbled and annihilated himself and died for us .”  Jesus, the Pope said, is the Good Samaritan who invited the doctor of the law to do the same.  The mystery of Jesus Christ is not a children’s tale, the Pope pointed out adding, the parable reveals the depth and breadth of the mystery of Jesus Christ.  The doctor of the law did not understand the mystery of Christ but he surely understood the human principle behind it - that every man who looks from above at another man down below , does so only to help him get up .  One who does this, the Pope stressed, is on the right path to Jesus. Self examination Pope Francis said the innkeeper understood nothing of this, bewildered at meeting someone who did things he never heard before.  This, the Pope said is what happens when one meets Jesus.  The Holy Father urged Christians to re-read this parable and examine themselves on their attitude – a robber, a cheater, a corrupt man, a priest, a Catholic manager, or a sinner.  "Do I approach and make myself a neighbour and servant to those in need like Jesus," the Pope asked, concluding his homily. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: The novelty of Christianity is God's mercy

Sun, 10/08/2017 - 19:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis during his Angelus address on Sunday told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square that the great novelty of Christianity is a God who, though disappointed by our sins, is merciful. Listen to our report: “God continues to put in place the "new wine" of his vineyard, that is, mercy. There is only one impediment to the tenacious and tender will of God: our arrogance and our presumption, which sometimes can becomes violence.” Those were Pope Francis’ words to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square during his Angelus address , as he reflected on this Sunday’s liturgy, the parable of the vine-growers. The Pope recounted the story of the vine growers who are put in charge of the vineyard by their Master, but abuse their position to the point of killing the owner’s son. The Holy Father described this Gospel passage as a love story which had both positive and negative moments. A God who does not avenge Pope Francis said that in order to understand how God the Father responds to those opposed to his love, the Gospel passage proposes the question, "when will the master of the vineyard arrive and what will he do to those growers?" This question,  the Pope noted, “stresses that the disappointment of God for the wicked behaviour of men is not the last word. Here is the great novelty of Christianity : a God who, though disappointed by our mistakes and our sins, does not fail in his word, does not stop and above all it does not avenge”. The Holy Father went on to say that, faced with these attitudes and where no fruit is produced, the Word of God warns that, "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will bear fruit". The urgency of responding with good fruits to the call of the Lord, who calls us to become his vineyard, explained Pope Francis, “helps us to understand what is new and original in Christianity. It is an invitation to enter this love story, becoming a lively and open vine, rich in fruit and hope for everyone.” At the end of the Angelus, the Pope recalled the Beatification on Saturday in Milan of Father Arsenio da Trigolo, a priest of the Capuchin Friars Minor saying, “we praise the Lord for this humble disciple, who even in adversity and trials never lost hope.” (from Vatican Radio)...

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