Vatican News

Vatican: AB Gallagher on Iran visit and Rohingya crisis

Vatican News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 10:57
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican is following closely the plight of the Rohingya people , as Pope Francis prepares to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh at the end of November. Archbishop Paul Gallagher , the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, confirmed on Friday that the pope raised his concerns with Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, during her private visit to the Vatican in May. He said the country’s bishops will continue to put pressure on the government to stop the attacks on Rohingya villages and to respect the rights of these suffering people. The Vatican foreign minister discussed the plight of the Rohingyas recently with top Iranian leaders in Teheran. During that September 5th to 9th visit, he also had “very frank” discussions about the difficulties facing Christians in Iran , as well as in war torn Syria and Iraq. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Gallagher also spoke of the latest escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula , insisting that the crisis must be seen in a broader context of “unprecedented dangers” due to the worst global insecurity since the Second World War. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Archbishop Paul Gallagher:  Archbishop Gallagher said the Holy See is “extremely concerned” about increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula . Noting that there was no formal resolution of the Korean war, he said the Holy See “remains committed to promoting a nuclear free world ”, based “on an ethic of fraternity, rather than the ethics of aggression”. Pressure on North Korea He urged the international community to “continue to make pressure on North Korea”, adding that the Vatican offers “whatever encouragement we can”. Recalling his trips to Pyongyang 20 years ago, he said today “our channels [of communication] with North Korea are very weak indeed”. Danger of global insecurity Speaking of his forthcoming visit to the UN, the Vatican foreign minister stressed the need for a united approach to North Korea and other areas of conflict. He said it’s “very important for the international community to see the crisis on the Korean peninsula as also part of a general situation of great insecurity”, adding that “we should be really waking up to the great dangers which are now facing the world, unprecedented dangers since the Second World War”. Iran's role in Syria and Iraq Sharing details of his encounter with Iranian government leaders in Teheran, Archbishop Gallagher spoke of efforts underway in Geneva to end the Syria conflict. Asked about the future of the Christian communities in Syria and Iraq, Archbishop Gallagher replied that many of those who’ve fled the fighting will not return. Those in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, he said, will come back if there are assurances of peace and incentives, such as an initiative regarding the renewal of villages on the Nineveh plain. Christian presence in Middle East The Vatican foreign minister stressed that Christians play “an essential role in the Middle East, they’re a bit like the cement that holds society” together. In the midst of ethnic or religious conflicts, he said, “Christians, who’ve been there forever, need to continue to be part of that society, to be citizens like everybody else, and to make their contribution for the rebuilding of these nations”. Difficulties for Catholics in Iran Discussing the difficulties facing Catholics in Iran, Archbishop Gallagher said he raised these concerns openly in talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. He spoke of the different understandings of religious freedom, saying that the Iranian authorities were “very complimentary about the role and contribution that Christians make” but at the same time “it’s also quite clear that rules of the game are very demanding on our Christian communities”. He said he hoped his visit would draw attention to their plight and lead to future cooperation “to face some of the practical problems of these communities”. Possible papal visit to Teheran? Asked about the possibility of a papal visit to Iran, Archbishop Gallagher said: “I think we’re a long way from that,”. He noted the positive relations with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue but said he stressed “that good relations with the Holy See are also supposed to be reflected in good relations with local Christian communities”. Myanmar's Rohingya crisis The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States said he discussed the Rohingya crisis with Iran's political and religious leaders. He said both Pope Francis and Cardinal Parolin raised their concerns with Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to the Vatican, noting that “her reply was in line with other things that have been said in recent days”. Cardinal Bo and local bishops, he added, will continue to put pressure on the authorities “in a very complex and difficult situation”, while the Holy See will follow developments closely in preparation for the pope’s visit there. Pope concern for plight of refugees  Archbishop Gallagher stressed how Pope Francis has shown “great courage” in speaking out at times which could have jeopardized progress in bilateral relations. But he added, “the pope is clear that the plight and suffering of ordinary people is as important to him as the interests of the great and powerful”. Asked if the crisis could jeopardise the papal visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, he replied: “As we all know, it takes quite a lot to discourage the pope”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope sends letter to Card. Parolin for Casamari Cistercian Abbey celebration

Vatican News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 08:47
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis sent a letter on Friday to the papal legate for the celebration of the 8th centenary of the consecration of the Basilica of the Casamari Cistercian Abbey in Italy. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, was appointed on 19 August as the papal legate for the celebration, which takes place on 15 September. Cardinal Parolin is accompanied by a mission composed of the following ecclesiastics: - Don Ugo Gianluigi Tagni, abbot vicar general of the Congregation of Casamari; - Rev. Fr. Sebastiano Paciolla, O.Cist., under-secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. The following is the Pope's full letter to the Cardinal Secretary of State: Venerabili Fratri Nostro PETRO S.R.E. Cardinali PAROLIN Secretario Status Octingenti transeunt anni ab illo die quo Summus Pontifex Honorius III, Decessor Noster rec. mem., adstantibus Cardinalibus, Episcopis et  fidelibus, in sollemni liturgia Basilicam consecravit Casamariensem, sanctis martyribus Romanis dicatam Ioanni et Paulo nec non Beatae Deiparae et Virgini Mariae. Sacra illa aedes saeculis decurrentibus in provincia potissimum spirituali, morali et cultus divini magni ponderis exstitit non solum in terris circumstantibus, sed etiam in tota Italia media et meridionali. Venusta eius architectura animum monachorum Cisterciensium revelans, magnificum constituit testimonium eorum precis, cantus, meditationis atque apud multos peregrinos et visitatores singularem suscitat admirationem. Fausta ergo occasione memorati iubilaei data, dilecti sodales Congregationis Cisterciensis Casamariensis evangelici itineris elementa altiore usque modo perscrutantur, Domini vocem diligenter auscultant, spiritali ratione fideles abbatiam invisentes sequuntur ut omnes clare Divinam providentiam misericordiamque experiri possint. Die autem XV proximi mensis Septembris sollemnis agetur in memorata sacra aede celebratio, signum gratitudinis erga Deum omnipotentem ob tanta Eius beneficia quae saeculorum decursu fidelibus ibidem orantibus largiri est dignatus. Quapropter Reverendus Dominus Eugenius Romagnuolo, Abbas Praeses Congregationis Cisterciensis Casamariensis, humanissimas Nobis litteras scripsit quibus Nosmet Ipsos ad celebrationem hanc invitavit. Grati omnino hac de invitatione, quam in corde Nostro tenemus, decernimus tamen eminentem Virum illuc mittere qui Nostras vices Casamarii gerat Nostramque erga Christi discipulos ibi commorantes et adstantes dilectionem significet. Ad Te ergo, Venerabilis Frater Noster, qui munus Secretarii Status studiose exerces, mentem Nostram vertimus Teque hisce Litteris LEGATUM NOSTRUM nominamus ad octavam centenariam memoriam consecrationis Basilicae Casamariensis, quae memorato die Casamarii sollemniter perficietur. Praeclaro illo in templo sollemni praesidebis Eucharistiae atque omnes adstantes, sacros Pastores, presbyteros, religiosos viros ac mulieres, christifideles laicos, sermone tuo ad diligentiorem usque Christi vitae imitationem cohortaberis: oportet enim ut novis viribus novaque diligentia peculiarem dilectionem Ecclesiae et Evangelii demonstrent atque fidei virtute cotidie ardeant. Singularem insuper salutationem Nostram dilectis monachis Cisterciensibus transmittes; exoptamus omnino ut omnipotens Deus hanc monasticam Congregationem auxiliis suis foveat ita ut, vestigiis suos antecessores secuti, tum in sanctificatione adipiscenda tum in sacro ministerio explendo uberes iugiter fructus colligant (cfr Pius PP. XII, Litterae apostolicae Cum ex Summi Pontificatus, AAS 35 [1943], 392). Nos autem Te, Venerabilis Frater Noster, in tua missione implenda precibus comitabimur. Denique Benedictionem Apostolicam, caelestium donorum pignus, libentes Tibi impertimur, quam omnibus celebrationis participibus rite transmittes. Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die XXV mensis Augusti, anno MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis travelling entertainers: “The vocation of your life and work is Joy”

Vatican News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 07:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with the Italian National Association of travelling show people, telling them that “theirs is a path that is enlightened by faith.” Listen to our report: “The vocation of your life and work is Joy” that is what Pope Francis told travelling circus performers, employees of amusement parks and fairs, street performers, artists, designers puppeteers, and musicians when he met them on Friday in the Vatican. The Pope said, “I think if we go back to the origins of each of your shows, your caravans, we always find someone , a grandfather, a grandmother, a great-grandfather, who is passionate about this kind of show, he has felt a joyful vocation , and for this reason he/she was willing to make great sacrifices.” The Holy Father noted that theirs is a path that is enlightened by faith, a faith, he said, “ that you live especially in the family, and this is very important: the family travelling with God, animated by trust in providence. During the encounter, Pope Francis invited those present to draw close to the sacraments and make time for prayer. Reiterating comments he made last year for the Jubilee for Circus and Travelling Show People, the Pope reminded them that they were,"artisans of festivities, wonder, and beauty, called to nourish feelings of hope and trust." “Your vocation is a mission the Holy Father said, “the mission of offering people, children, but also adults and the elderly, opportunities for healthy, clean fun. And within this vocation and mission, how can there not be the hand of God?”   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope contemplates Our Lady of Sorrows at Santa Marta Mass

Vatican News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 07:36
Pope Francis’ homily at the Mass in the Casa Santa Marta this morning focused on the figure of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast day the Church celebrates on September 15th. Contemplating the Mother of Jesus We need to contemplate the Mother of Jesus, said the Pope, we need to contemplate “this sign of contradiction, because Jesus is victorious, but upon the Cross”. This is a contradiction, he said, that we can’t understand. “It takes faith to understand it, at least to come close (to understanding) this mystery”. The first disciple Mary knew and lived her whole life with a pierced heart. “She followed Jesus and heard the people’s comments, sometimes for Him, sometimes against. But she was always right behind her Son. That’s why we call her the first disciple”. It was Mary’s concern, continued Pope Francis, that brought about this “sign of contradiction” in her heart. At the foot of the Cross She was there at the end, in silence, at the foot of the Cross, watching her Son. Perhaps she heard comments like: “Look, there’s the Mother of one of the three criminals”. But, said the Pope, she “showed her face for her Son”. “Behold your children” Pope Francis said he was offering these few and simple words to help us contemplate this mystery in silence. In this moment, beneath the Cross, Mary gave birth to the Church and to all of us: “Woman”, says her Son, ‘behold your children”. He doesn’t say “Mother”, he says “Woman”. This strong and courageous Woman was there to say: “This is my Son. I do not deny Him”. A call to contemplation More than a call to reflection, said Pope Francis, today’s Gospel is a call to contemplation. “May the Holy Spirit”, he concluded, “be the one to tell each one of us that which we need (to hear)”.      (from Vatican Radio)...
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Card Farrell: Importance of the Laity and hopes for World Meeting of Families

Vatican News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 05:09
(Vatican Radio) It’s been just over a year since the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life was created by Pope Francis to replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. Since then this “new” dicastery, as it’s still often referred to, has been carving out a path under the guidance of its Prefect, Cardinal Kevin Farrell , formerly the Bishop of Dallas, Texas in the US, who was asked by the Pope to take up the multifaceted role. Cardinal Farrell spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the workings of this office, the importance of the laity and future projects which include the 2018 World Meeting of Families to be held in Dublin, Ireland. Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Cardinal Kevin Farrell: Dicastery Work Speaking about the dicastery, the Cardinal said, “my challenge is to bring it all together, to combine or bring together laity, family and life and the logic of all of that is the fact that laity live out their lives generally, not always but generally in the married state and it’s the marriage state that gives life to the world and so obviously it’s a great challenge.” He also comments that “it took me almost a year to try and understand exactly what these two Pontifical Councils have done in the past.” Laity Cardinal Farrell pointed out that one of the aims of this new office is to have more laity in it and notes that under the statutes of the dicastery the Prefect and the Secretary can be lay people, adding he will “continue to promote the laity at every level in the Church”. Talking passionately about the work of the laity all over the world, he also underlined that now is the time to implement fully what the Second Vatican Council called for, that is, “the vocation of the laity within the Church.” World Meeting of Families One of the most important dates in the dicastery’s calendar is the World Meeting of Families which will take place in Dublin, Ireland in August 2018. The WMOF was established by Saint John Paul II in 1994 and next year’s event will include a three day congress on the “Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” Preparations are well underway and for the Dublin born Cardinal this event is a moment to bring together Catholics, Christians and all people of good will who “believe strongly in the importance of the family for the success of humanity.” Asked about the significance of having the World Meeting of Families 2018 in the Irish capital, Cardinal Farrell said, Pope Francis chose Ireland, adding that, “it would be our hope that we would give an impulse to the family in Ireland . It is a unique opportunity for Ireland; there were many other options but Pope Francis chose Ireland and hoped that would attract people from northern Europe.” On a personal level the Cardinal said, he was extremely proud that this gathering would be taking place in the city he grew up in. There is the great hope that Pope Francis will come to Ireland for the meeting and Cardinal Farrell said that if that happens, “I can’t wait to be there to welcome the Holy Father when he gets off that plane.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis urges new Bishops to cultivate discernment

Vatican News - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 11:18
 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday urged Bishops to cultivate what he called an “attitude of listening” and to avoid being “imprisoned by nostalgia.” Addressing Catholic Bishops from across the globe who have been appointed during the past year, the Pope focused on the need for discernment.      The Bishops have just completed an annual training programme organized by the Congregation for Bishops. LIsten to the report by Linda Bordon i:    “Authentic discernment,” the Pope said, “although definitive at every step, is always an open and necessary process, and can be completed and enriched”. Insisting that discernment “can’t be reduced to repeating formulas” Francis  pointed out that it is, in fact, an “antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions aren’t valid everywhere.”  You must  have the courage  to ask yourself whether yesterday’s proposals are still evangelically valid, the Pope said to the new Bishops, highlighting the importance for all pastors to not be stuck in the margins but to have the capacity of “evaluating God’s times.”     Saying that the gift of discernment cannot be taken for granted, he described it as the primary condition upon which to draw as the Bishops strive to “discern the paths of God” for the salvation of those entrusted to them. The practice recommended by the Pope for achieving the right kind of balance in personal and ecclesiastical behavior is that of deep and regular prayer. He also pointed out that discernment is not a private exercise by an individual priest, but an activity that unfolds in a community. “The Bishop is not the ‘self-sufficient father-patron’ and still less the frightened and isolated ‘solitary pastor” he said. Those to be consulted in the attempt to reach the right decisions, he continued, are the bishops’ own brother Bishops, their priests and the lay faithful. Real people in concrete situations, he explained, wish to “draw from the treasure of the Church what’s most useful for the ‘today’ of their salvation”. And insisting on the need for all clergy to always keep contact with ordinary people he warned that without such an exchange “the faith of the most cultivated can degenerate into indifference, and that of the humblest into superstition.” Pope Francis also called on bishops to be attentive to the “the culture of religiosity of the people” noting that popular piety is often the “foundation of a people’s self-understanding,” and that discernment has to enter into dialogue with it. “Remember that God was already present in your diocese before you got there” he told the new Bishops, “and he’ll still be there when you leave”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Mass: ‘Cross of Christ is mystery of love’

Vatican News - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 08:32
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated his first daily Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday following the summer break, reflecting on the Cross of Christ as the mystery of love. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Pope Francis during his homily at daily Mass preached on the “mystery of love” that is the Cross of Christ and warned against two spiritual temptations related to it. The first temptation, he said, is to think of Christ without a cross or to reduce him a “spiritual teacher”. The second, he said, is to think of a cross without Christ or to remove all hope in a type of “spiritual masochism”. Pope Francis said the Liturgy speaks of the Cross as a noble and faithful tree, pointing out that it is not always easy to understand the Cross. “We advance in the mystery of love only through contemplation,” he said. Mystery of the Cross In the day’s Gospel, Jesus explains the Cross to Nicodemus with the verbs “to go up” and “to come down”. “Jesus comes down from Heaven to raise all of us up to Heaven. This is the mystery of the Cross,” he said. In the First Reading, St. Paul says that Jesus “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” “Jesus’ descent is to the lowest point, even unto humiliation. He emptied himself for love, and because of this God exalted him and made him go up. Only if we succeed in understanding this complete descent can we understand the salvation which this mystery of love offers us.” Two temptations Pope Francis pointed out that true understanding is not easy, because there is always the temptation to aim for one goal instead of the other. St. Paul rebukes the Galatians for “giving in to the temptation not to enter the mystery of love but to explain it”. As the serpent had bewitched Eve and had poisoned the Israelites in the desert, Pope Francis said the Galatians were bewitched “by the illusion of a Christ without a cross and a cross without Christ.” “A Christ without a cross is not the Lord: he is a teacher, nothing else. This is perhaps what Nicodemus, without realizing it, was seeking. It is one of the temptations. Yes, Jesus: ‘What a good teacher’, but… without the cross, [only] Jesus. Who bewitched you with this image? Paul is angry. Jesus Christ is presented but not as crucified. The other temptation is a cross without Christ, that is, the anguish of remaining down, depressed by the weight of sin and without hope. This is a type of spiritual masochism: only the cross, without hope and without Christ.” Mystery of love Pope Francis said the Cross without a Christ would be a “mystery of tragedy”, like a pagan tragedy. “The Cross is a mystery of love; the Cross is faithful; the Cross is noble. Today we should take a minute to ask ourselves these questions. Is Christ crucified a mystery of love? Do I follow Jesus without a cross: a spiritual teacher who fills me with consolation and good counsel? Do I follow a cross without Jesus, without complaining, with this masochism of the spirit? Do I let myself be carried by this mystery of lowering, that is, of total emptying and lifting up of the Lord?” Pope Francis concluded with the wish that the Lord grant His grace, not just to understand, but to enter into this mystery of love “with the heart, mind, and body. Totally.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis moved by meeting with rescued Indian priest

Vatican News - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 07:04
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met privately in the Vatican with the Indian Catholic priest who was freed from abduction by gunmen in Yemen. The Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported on the Pope's meeting with Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil  at the papal residence of Santa Marta, after his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.  After being rescued on Tuesday, the 57-year old missionary was flown to the Omani capital, Muscat, and then to Rome, where he is recuperating in a Salesian community. He will return to India after a short stay in Rome. 'Pope visibly moved' Upon meeting the Pope, Fr. Uzhunnalil went down on his knees kissing the feet of the Holy Father in profound reverence.   The Pope lifted Father Tom to his feet and kissed his hands.  Pope Francis embraced and encouraged the Indian missionary assuring him of his continued prayers, just as he had done during Fr. Tom's captivity.  L’Osservatore Romano said the Pope, “visibly moved, blessed him.”  Among several photos circulating the social media, one showed Pope Francis kissing the hand of Fr. Uzhunnalil. Born in Ramapuram, in southern India’s Kerala state, Father Uzhunnalil belongs to the Bangalore Salesian province. He ‎was abducted on March ‎‎4, 2016 when four unidentified gunmen attacked a care home in Yemen's ‎southern port city of Aden, ‎killing 16 people, including four Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother ‎Teresa. The 57-year old priest had been working for more than four years as a chaplain at the care home. ‎ Interior prayer Fr. Uzhunnallil thanked the Pontiff saying he “prayed for him every day, offering his suffering for his mission and for the good of the Church.”  The Pope was touched by his words, the L’Osservatore Romano reported. The Salesian priest also said he was  “unable to celebrate the Eucharist,” but would recite “in my heart all the prayers of the Mass.”  The Indian priest assured the Pope he would continue praying for all who had been close to him spiritually. He particularly recalled the four Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother Teresa and twelve people killed during the attack last year. Fr. Uzhunnallil was particularly grateful to the government of Oman for obtaining his release. The Holy See, in a communique, has already expressed its gratitude to all those in obtaining his release, especially the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos, and competent authorities of the sultanate.  'Jesus is great and loves us' Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, who is in the Vatican for the 'C9' Council of Cardinals meeting, accompanied the Salesian priest to the Pope. “After this terrible experience, the essential message that Fr. Tom gives is that Jesus is great and loves us,”  Cardinal Gracias told L’Osservatore Romano.  Fr. Uzhunnalil agreed with him saying, “Really, every day, I felt Jesus close to me.  I always knew and felt in my heart that I was not alone.”  L’Osservatore Romano said that Fr. Uzhunnalil will be in Rome in a Salesian community for some time to undergo some medical check-ups. Cardinal Gracias said that the priest was in “good” health, adding that during his 18-month captivity he did not have any particular problem and was treated well.   Fr. Uzhunnalil was born and brought up in a devout Catholic family. His uncle Matthew, who died in 2015, was also a Salesian priest, and founded the mission in Yemen, where he served.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis at Audience: English-language summary

Vatican News - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 06:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis dedicated his General Audienc e on Wednesday to a reflection on his Aposotolic Visit to Colombia , which concluded on Sunday. He prayed, “through the prayers of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, Patroness of Columbia,” that the nation might “continue to progress in the way of peace in love, justice and truth.” Below, please find the official English-language summary of Pope Francis’ remarks at the General Audience for Wednesday, 13 September 2017: Dear Brothers and Sisters: My recent Pastoral Visit to Colombia, in the footsteps of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, sought to encourage the process of reconciliation in that country following a half century of conflict and division. Its motto – Let us Take the First Step – was also an appeal to the nation to discover in its deep Christian roots the spiritual resources needed to advance the work of healing and rebuilding. In Bogotá, I was warmly welcomed, especially by the young, who are the future of the country. The Beatification of two martyrs and the reconciliation service celebrated in Villavicencio were particularly moving. In Medellín, the emphasis was on Christian discipleship and mission, exemplified in the help given to youth through the Hogares group homes and in the faces of the many young men and women who are responding to Jesus’ call to the priesthood and the consecrated life. In Cartagena, the example of Saints Peter Claver and Maria Bernarda Bütler reaffirmed our evangelical commitment to human promotion and the defence of human rights. Through the prayers of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, Patroness of Columbia, may the nation continue to progress in the way of peace in love, justice and truth.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis challenges Colombians to build peaceful future

Vatican News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 12:02
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has concluded his visit to Colombia where he spent five days meeting victims of the country’s civil war and urging all people to work together for peace and national reconciliation . But as the spotlight fades and organisers dismantle the Mass venues, what effect will the pope’s words have on the politicians, religious leaders and Colombians from all walks of life who flocked to see and hear him speak in Cartagena, Medellin, Villavicencio and the capital, Bogotà? Our correspondent in Bogotà, Linda Bordoni , put that question to Beatrice Canal, a professional translator and mother of two grown up children, who shares her own reactions to the papal visit. Listen:  Beatrice says she was “pleasantly surprised” and deeply moved to see so many people welcoming the pope “with happiness in their eyes”. The visit, she says, “has brought us together” and “touched the hearts of every Colombian” who had the chance to see him at the main events or simply line the streets as he drove by. Colombians very touched by visit She says she was happy to see that the trip was “completely unpolitical”, but as an overwhelmingly Catholic nation (over 80 percent of the population) “we were very touched by the visit”. In particular, Beatrice says, Colombians are “all very happy that he is the first Latin American pope and “we see him as one of our own”. Desire to reach out to others Asked what impact the papal visit may have on the future of her country, Beatrice notes the pope spoke extensively “about peace and reaching out to others”. She adds: “I hope he leaves behind the desire in every Colombian to again feel and share that brotherly and fraternal love he’s been speaking so much about”. People want to live in peace While she acknowledges that the implementation of the peace agreements remains fraught with difficulties, Beatrice insists that “every Colombian is hopeful to live in a country in peace”. Learn to accept former insurgents She notes that her own children, aged 30 and 35, have never lived in a country in peace, and that she was “a little girl when the violence broke out”. She says: “I know that the signing of a paper does not translate immediately into peace, now comes the most difficult part where every Colombian has to chip into the process and to open our hearts and be accepting of the former insurgents”. Victims need to live without fear Also the victims, she concludes, need to “find a place in their heart to want to forgive” and to be able to live, free of the fear that has caused so much suffering for those living the countryside.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis returns to Vatican from Colombia visit

Vatican News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 10:38
(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)...
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Pope Francis sends telegrams on return trip from visit to Colombia

Vatican News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 09:29
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Pope Francis and the C9: Interview with Council Secretary

Vatican News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 04:37
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis offers final greetings to Colombia

Vatican News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 21:50
(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)...
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Pope leaves Colombia urging the people not to stop at the first step

Vatican News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 21:44
(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)...
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Pope at Mass in Cartagena urges Colombians to tackle roots of injustice

Vatican News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 21:25
(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)...
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Pope in Colombia at Mass: ‘Peace requires healing of sins’

Vatican News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 19:44
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

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

Vatican News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 14:08
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis in Colombia prays Angelus in Cartagena

Vatican News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 14:01
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope blesses cornerstones for 2 charity houses in Colombia

Vatican News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 13:55
(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)...
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