(Vatican Radio) The parable of the poor man, Lazarus, lying at the rich man’s door, was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at the Santa Marta Mass on Thursday morning. The Pope warned of the risks we run if we have the same uncaring attitude towards the poor and homeless people we see around us today.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:
Reflecting on the Gospel story of Lazarus, from St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis warned against those who place their trust in things of the flesh. Trusting in vanity, pride and riches, he said, will distance us from the Lord. He highlighted the fruitfulness of those who trust in the Lord and the sterility of those who rely only on themselves and the things they can control.
Wealth can harden our hearts
When people live in a closed environment, surrounded by wealth and vanity and trusting in their own devices, the Pope said, those people lose their sense of direction and have no idea of their limitations. Exactly as happens to the rich man in the Gospel, who spends his time at dinner parties and takes no notice of the poor man lying at his door.
Crossing the line from sin to corruption
He knew who that poor man was, he even knew his name, but he just didn’t care, the Pope said. Was he a sinner? Yes, he was, and though the Lord forgives those who repent, this man’s heart was leading him on a one-way road to death. There is a moment, Pope Francis stressed, a line that we cross when sin turns into corruption.
This man was not simply a sinner but a corrupt person because he was aware of all the suffering but he couldn’t care less. Damned are those who place their hope in themselves, the Pope said, because there is nothing more treacherous than a hardened heart. Once we are on that road, he added, it’s very hard for our hearts to be healed.
How do we feel about child beggars?
What do we feel in our hearts when we see the homeless or the children begging in the streets, Pope Francis asked? Do we say, ‘No, those are the ones who steal? What do we feel for the poor or the homeless, even if they are well dressed but they don’t have a job and can’t pay the rent? Do we say this is normal? Do we see the homeless as part of the landscape of our cities, like statues or bus stops or post offices?
Are we touched by the plight of the poor?
We must be careful, the Pope warned, because if we eat, drink and assuage our consciences by simply giving a coin and walking past, this is not the right way to go. Instead, he said, we must realise when we are on that slippery slope from sin to corruption. We must ask ourselves, what do I feel when I see on the news that a bomb has fallen on a hospital and lots of poor children have been killed? Do I just say a prayer and go on my way like before? Is my heart touched, or am I like the rich man whose heart was not touched by Lazarus but only the dogs had pity on him? If that is the case, the Pope said, we are on the road from sin to corruption.
May the Lord look into our hearts
For this reason, he concluded we must ask the Lord to look into our hearts to see if we are on that slippery slope to corruption, from which there is no return. Sinners can repent and turn back, he said, but it is very hard for those with closed and corrupt hearts, so let us pray that the Lord will show us which road we are following.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a private audience on Thursday with Mr. Michel Aoun, President of the Republic of Lebanon, and his wife, Nadia.
A communique from the Holy See Press Office said their discussions were "cordial".
"The Parties focused on the good bilateral relations between the Holy See and Lebanon, underlining the historic and institutional role of the Church in the life of the country. Satisfaction was then expressed for the efforts on the part of all the various political parties in putting an end to the presidential vacancy, emphasising the hope for an increasingly fruitful future collaboration between the members of diverse ethnic and religious communities in favour of the common good and the development of the nation," the communique read.
Turning to current events on the international stage, the Pope thanked President Aoun for his country's welcome of Syrian refugees.
"The discussion then turned to Syria, with special attention to international efforts to find a political solution to the conflict. Furthermore, appreciation was expressed at the welcome that Lebanon has extended to many Syrian refugees. Finally, there was a broader exchange of views on the regional context, referring also to other ongoing conflicts and the situation of Christians in the Middle East."
President Michel Aoun subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis ’s scheduled visit to the northern Italian town of Carpi on 2 April will include a meeting with communities struck by the 2012 earthquake and a visit to the badly damaged Cathedral of Mirandola .
A communiqué released by the Holy See Press Office provides details of the Pope’s 1-day journey to Carpi, a town counting some 70,000 inhabitants in the Modena area of the Emilia Romagna region.
Over 20 people were killed and dozens of farms, castles, churches and other buildings were destroyed or damaged in the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the region in May 2012.
The Holy Father is scheduled to celebrate Mass, pray the Angelus, give his blessing to three new diocesan buildings, talk to priests and religious, and visit sites of the earthquake such as the Duomo di Mirandola.
Pope Francis, who will be travelling by helicopter, will depart from the Vatican at 8.15 am and arrive in Carpi at 9.45am at the “Dorando Pietri” rugby field.
The Bishop of Carpi, Francesco Cavina, will welcome the Pope who is to start his day celebrating Mass in Carpi’s central Piazza Martiri. At the end of Mass, Pope Francis will bless the first stones of three new buildings of the diocese: Saint Agatha Parish in Carpi, Saint Antonio retreat house in Novi, and the “citadel of charity” in Carpi.
The Pope will have lunch at the Episcopal Seminary with bishops and elderly priests who reside there. Afterwards, he will meet with diocesan priests, religious men and women and seminarians in the seminary chapel. After leaving the chapel Pope Francis will stop briefly at the cathedral before going to the ‘Duomo di Mirandola’ which remains closed since the earthquake in 2012.
In front of the entrance of the ‘Duomo’, at about 4.30pm, he will meet and talk to people affected by the earthquake and visit a floral monument adjacent to the church in honor of the victims of the disaster.
At 5.30pm the Pope will leave Carpi from a sports field near the Church of San Giacomo Roncole, and he will arrive back at the Vatican at 7.00pm.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has told a group of employees of the Italian branch of the TV platform “Sky” that it is a “very grave sin” to fire employees “as a result of economic operations and unclear negotiations”.
He made the remarks at the end of his weekly General Audience .
“Work gives dignity,” the Pope said, “and managers are obliged to do all possible so that every man and woman can work and so carry their heads high and look others in the eye with dignity.”
He added: “He who shuts factories and closes companies as a result of economic operations and unclear negotiations, depriving men and women from work, commits a very grave sin” he said.
Sky Italy is currently undergoing downsizing and has announced plans to move 300 employees and their families from Rome to Milan.
The Holy Father expressed his hope for a rapid solution that “takes into account the respect for the rights of all, especially for families”.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of encouragement and thanks to members of the International Association for Charity (AIC) as it celebrates the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the first Confraternity of Charity by Saint Vincent de Paul in Châtillon, France.
This very first group has grown into today’s AIC, an international network for fighting against poverty, which now has over 150,000 volunteers in 53 countries.
In his message the Pope notes that true promotion of human dignity cannot take place without the proclamation of the Gospel.
“It is with joy, he writes, that I am spiritually united to you to celebrate this anniversary and I hope that your beautiful work continues its mission of bringing an authentic testimony of God's mercy to the poorest”.
Pope Francis points out that the Charities were born of the tenderness and compassion of Monsieur Vincent for the poorest and the marginalized.
“His work with them wanted to reflect the goodness of God towards his creatures. He saw the poor as the representatives of Jesus Christ, as the members of His suffering body. He understood that the poor too were called to build up the Church and to convert us”.
The Pope says that in the wake of Vincent de Paul, who had entrusted the care of these poor people to lay people, and especially to women, AIC aims to promote the development of the most disadvantaged and to alleviate their material, physical, moral and spiritual pain.
“It is in the Providence of God that the foundation of this commitment is to be found” he says.
For “what is Providence but the love of God who acts in the world and asks for our cooperation?” the Pope continues, encouraging AIC members to continue to accompany the person in full and to pay particular attention to the precarious living conditions of many women and children.
He says it is faith that allows us to perceive the reality of the person, his or her incomparable dignity which is not limited to material goods, to social, economic and political problems, but as a person created in the image and likeness of God, a brother, a sister, a neighbor for whom we are responsible.
This is why, Pope Francis continues, human promotion, the authentic liberation of man, does not exist without the proclamation of the Gospel “for the most sublime aspect of human dignity lies in this vocation of man to communicate with God”.
Pope Francis recalls that in the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy he expressed the hope that “the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God” and he invites all to pursue this path as the credibility of the Church goes through the path of merciful love and compassion that open to hope.
“This credibility, he concludes, passes also through your personal testimony: it is not only a question of meeting Christ in the poor, but that the poor perceive Christ in you and in your action. By being rooted in Christ's personal experience you can contribute to a "culture of mercy" that deeply renews hearts and opens up to a new reality”.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his catechesis on Christian hope , focusing on charity, which he said, “is a grace, the fruit of our saving encounter with God’s own love”.
The Pope was addressing the faithful during his weekly General Audience .
Listen to the report by Linda Bordon i:
To the over 12.000 pilgrims gathered in a sunny St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that he who loves has the joy of hope because one day he will be united with the source of all love: the Lord.
Reflecting on readings from Matthew and from Saint Paul, the Pope focused on what he described as our vocation for love and charity.
He warned against the risk of hypocrisy and of a “hypocritical love” which he said, can be tainted by self-interest and urged the faithful to not be tempted to carry out works of charity driven by the desire to put ourselves on show as we seek visibility and approval.
It is important, he said, to remember that love – charity - is a grace; it is a gift that God is happy to give us if we ask for it; it is the fruit of our saving encounter with God’s own love.
The Pope said that Saint Paul reminds us that the Lord’s grace forgives our sins, heals our hearts and enables us to become channels of his own unconditional love.
We can become instruments of God’s love, he explained, when we allow ourselves to be healed and renewed by the Resurrected Christ, but it is up to us as well:
“The Resurrected Lord who lives with us heals our heart if we ask him to” he said.
He allows us, the Pope continued, to experience the compassion of the Father and to celebrate the wonder of his love: “Thus it is clear that all we can do for our brothers and sisters is in response to what God has done and continues to do for us.”
So, conscious of our human weakness, he urged the faithful to ask our Lord daily to renew the gift of his love within us and to enable us to be witnesses of that love to others, especially those in greatest need.
As always after the catechesis, Pope Francis had greetings for the many groups of people present in the Square.
As he blessed the crowds he had a special thought and prayer for those from Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East.
The Pope also turned to a group of employees of the Italian branch of the TV platform “Sky” which is undergoing change and downsizing, and expressed his hope for a rapid solution that “takes into account the respect for the rights of all, especially for families”.
“Work gives dignity. He who shuts factories and closes companies as a result of economic operations and unclear negotiations, depriving men and women from work, commits a very grave sin” he said.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Avoiding evil, learning to do good, and allowing yourself to be carried forward by the Lord: this is the path of Lenten conversion pointed out by Pope Francis in his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. It is a conversion, the Pope said, that is manifested not with words, but with “concrete things.”
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
The Pope’s attempt to trace out the lines of Lenten conversion took its starting point from the words of the Prophet Isaiah from the day’s First Reading. Avoiding evil and learning to do good – the heart of Isaiah’s exhortation – are stages along this path. “Each one of us, every day, does something ugly.” The Bible, in fact, says that even “the most holy people sin seven times a day.”
Avoiding evil and learning to do good is a journey
The problem, the Pope said, lies in not getting into the habit of “living in ugly things” and avoiding those things that “poison the soul,” that make it small. And then we have to learn to do good:
“It’s not easy to do good: we must learn it, always. And He teaches us. But: Learn. Like children. Along the path of life, of the Christian life one learns every day. You have to learn every day to do something, to be better than the day before. To learn. Avoiding evil and learning to do good: this is the rule of conversion. Because being converted doesn’t come from a fairy who converts us with a magic wand: No! It’s a journey. It’s a journey of avoiding and of learning.”
You learn to do good with concrete actions, not with words
And so one needs courage, to learn to avoid evil; and humility to learn to do good, which is expressed in concrete actions:
“He, the Lord, names three concrete things, but there are many: seek justice, relieve the oppressed, give orphans justice, defend the cause of the widow… but concrete things. You learn to do good with concrete things, not with words. With deeds… For this reason Jesus, in the Gospel we have heard, rebukes this ruling class of the people of Israel, because ‘they talk and don’t act,’ they don’t know concreteness. And if there is no concreteness, there can be no conversion.”
Lift yourself up with the help of the Lord with humility, and we will be forgiven
The First Reading then continues with the invitation from the Lord: “Come [It: ‘su’ – arise], let us reason together.” “Arise” – a beautiful word, Pope Francis said, a word that Jesus addressed to the paralytics, to the daughter of Jairus, as well as to the son of the widow of Naim. And God gives us a hand to help us up. And He is humble, He lowers Himself so much to say, “Come, let us reason together.” Pope Francis emphasized how God helps us: “Walking together with us to help us, to explain things to us, to take us by the hand.” The Lord is able “to do this miracle” – that is, “to change us” – not overnight, but on a journey:
“An invitation to conversion, avoid evil, learn to do good… ‘Come, arise, come to me, let us reason together, and let us go forward.’ But [you might say] I have so many sins…’ ‘But don’t worry’ [God responds]. ‘If your sins should be like scarlet, they will become white as snow.’ And this is the path of Lenten conversion. Simple. It is the Father who speaks, it is the Father who loves us, who really loves us. And who accompanies us on this path of conversion. Only He asks us to be humble. Jesus says to the rulers: ‘He who exalts himself will be humble; and he who humbles himself will be exalted’.”
Francis concluded his homily by recalling the stages along the path of Lenten conversion: avoiding evil, learning to do good, getting up and going with Him. And then, he said, “our sins will all be forgiven.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio). Jorge Bergoglio became the 266th Pope on March 13, 2013 . His humble and direct style was immediately clear as he uttered his first words as pontiff: “buona sera.”
Four years on, his reform of the Church and of the Curia ploughs ahead, he continues to enjoy the acclaim of cheering crowds every Wednesday at the weekly General Audience and at all public appearances, his call for mercy and his openness and pastoral outreach towards the peripheries and towards the most vulnerable stand out as constant traits of his ministry.
The past year of France’s pontificate has given us unforgettable moments and important teachings such as the historic embrace with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba, his silent prayer in Auschwitz, the canonization of Mother Teresa, his ecumenical journey to Lund to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the publishing of his Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, to name but a few.
The Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, one of Pope Francis’ closest collaborators looked back on the year gone by with Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti starting with that unique “buona sera” with which the new Bishop of Rome greeted his flock asking it for prayers, thus entrusting himself not only to the Lord, but to “the holy people of God”.
It was immediately clear, Parolin said, that his vision of a Church going forth, of walking together – shepherd and flock – entrusted to prayer and to the grace and the mercy of God, would be important characteristics of the new Pontificate. A trait that Bergoglio reinforced with the choice of the name “Francis” and his attitude which exudes simplicity, peace and serenity.
Cardinal Parolin highlighted the fact that although Pope Francis continues to call for a Church that goes forth and that is able to accompany men and women in the difficulties and challenges of everyday life, he does so always attentive to the voice and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
He also pointed out that although the Jubilee Year of Mercy is concluded, mercy continues to be one of the pillars of Frances’ pontificate. He explained however that the Pope’s insistence on mercy does not derive from a personal sensitivity, but focuses attention on God’s love and on the mystery of salvation.
“The Pope, Parolin said, is directing us to God’s love and making sure the Church acts as a channel for that love and a place of encounter between God’s mercy and man as he lives the concrete joys and sorrows of life on earth.”
Parolin also said that the fruits the Year of Mercy have yielded are many including the ‘re-discovery’ on the part of many Christians of the Sacrament of Confession and a heightened attention towards situations of poverty and need.
Regarding the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, Parolin described it as a gift that has given great impulse to the pastoral ministry of the family, and has produced fruits of renewal, hope and accompaniment for those in fragile family situations.
Cardinal Parolin also mentioned the reality of some criticism towards the Church and expressions of dissent saying “there have always been critical voices in the Church!”
The important thing, he said, as the Pope himself says is that they be “sincere and constructive, and willing to find a way to make progress together and a better way of putting God’s will to work!”
At the heart of Pope Francis’s pontificate, Parolin concluded, is the desire to continue to reform the Curia because he believes that – to use an evangelical word – “the Church must continuously seek conversion, it must strive to be evermore authentic, get rid of the crusts accumulated in centuries of history and shine forth with the transparency of the Gospel”.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of St. Magdalene of Canossa on Sunday afternoon, meeting with young people and the sick and elderly before celebrating Mass with the parish community.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:
His visit began with a conversation with the children and young adolescents of the parish in the parish sports field.
The Holy Father also met with parents and newborns baptized during the course of the year and with the elderly and sick of the parish in the parish hall.
In off-the-cuff remarks, he told the infirm and elderly that “sickness is a Cross – as you well know – but the Cross is always a seed of life and by carrying it well you are able to give so much life to many people, even without knowing it. Then in Heaven, it will become known. Thank you, he said, for carrying your infirmity in this way.”
Pope Francis then met with parishioners active in faith formation and pastoral outreach before celebrating the Sacrament of Penance with several people.
The Pope’s visit concluded with the celebration of Mass in the parish church.
In his homily, he reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts Jesus’ Transfiguration.
He spoke of the “two faces of Jesus”, one “brilliant in the Transfiguration” and the other face of his Passion and Crucifixion, when “he was made sin for us” (cfr 2 Cor 5,21).
Pope Francis said that, in this Lenten Season, the Church “is on the path towards Easter, towards the Resurrection. With the confidence of the Transfiguration we go forward, he said, seeing this brilliant, beautiful face, which is the same face as the Resurrection and the same we will find in Heaven.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of St. Magdalene of Canossa on Sunday afternoon.
The schedule released by the Vatican ahead of the visit included time with the children and young adolescents of the parish in their sports field, a meeting in the parish theatre with parents and newborns baptized during the course of the past year, a visit with the elderly and sick of the parish in the parish hall, and an encounter with parishioners active in faith formation and pastoral outreach, time for the Sacrament of Penance, and Mass in the parish church.
St. Magdalene of Canossa was born into a prominent Veronese family in the middle of the second half of the 18 th century. She used her family’s considerable wealth to serve and advocate on behalf of the poor of her city, eventually founding the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor .
Click below to hear our report
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday called for prayerful solidarity with the victims of a deadly fire at a shelter for troubled youth in Guatemala.
The blaze the Refugio Virgen home on the outskirts of Guatemala City claimed at least 35 lives.
Authorities say the fire began in the girls’ dormitory, where reports say someone ignited the mattresses in protest after a foiled mass breakout attempt the day before.
Click below to hear our report
The shelter has long been the subject of complaints about abuse, as well as criticism for inadequate food and overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.
Built to house 500 people, there were reportedly at least 800 guests registered at the time of the fire.
“I express my closeness to the people of Guatemala, who are living in mourning over the grave and sad fire that broke out inside the Casa Refugio Virgen de la Asunción [this past week], causing deaths and injuries among the girls who lived there,” said Pope Francis.
“May the Lord receive their souls, heal the wounded, console their grieving families and the whole nation,” he prayed, following the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
“I also pray and ask you to pray with me for all the girls and boys who are victims of violence, abuse, exploitation and war,” he continued.
“This is a plague,” he said, “this hidden scream that should be heard by all of us and that we cannot continue to pretend not to hear and to see.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the Second Sunday of Lent.
In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father reflected on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from the 17th chapter of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, and that recounted the Transfiguration of Our Lord.
“Transfigured on Mt. Tabor,” said Pope Francis, “Jesus desired to show His glory to His disciples, not to keep them from going through the Cross, but to show them to where He was carrying the Cross.”
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“Whoever dies with Christ, with Christ shall rise again,” said Pope Francis, “those who struggle with Him, with Him shall triumph.”
“The Cross is the gate of the Resurrection,” he said.
The Holy Father went on to say that the message of hope, which the Cross contains, is one that constantly calls us to be strong in our lives. “The Christian Cross is not something to hang in the house ‘to tie the room together’ [It. suppellettile di casa] or an ornament to wear, but a call to that love, with which Jesus sacrificed Himself to save humanity from sin and evil.”
“In this Lenten season,” said Pope Francis, “let us contemplate devoutly the image of the Crucified Lord: it is the symbol of the Christian faith; it is the symbol of Jesus, who died and rose for us. Let us make sure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten journey, that we might understand more and more [perfectly] the gravity of sin and the value of the sacrifice with which the Redeemer has saved us – all of us.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the staff and volunteers of the Telefono Amico Italia service on Saturday. Celebrating fifty years of activity this year, Telefono Amico is a volunteer service that makes itself available to anyone feeling lonely, depressed, anxious, or angry – or who simply wants to reach out and talk to a friendly person willing to listen.
There are 700 volunteers staffing the organization’s telephones in 20 locations throughout Italy, from 10am to midnight every day.
Click below to hear our report
The Holy Father told his guests dialogue allows us to know and understand each other's needs.
“First,” he said, “it shows a great deal of respect, because it places people in an attitude of openness to one another, in order for each to receive the best aspects of his interlocutor.”
Dialogue is also an expression of charity, insofar as it can help people search out paths forward while respecting each other’s differences, all with a view to the common good. “Through dialogue,” said Pope Francis, “we can learn to see the other not as a threat, but as a gift of God[.]”
The Pope went on to say, “Dialogue helps people to humanize their relationships and overcome misunderstandings.”
“If there was more dialogue - real dialogue - in families, in the workplace, in politics,” he added, “so many questions would be resolved so much more easily.”
The Pope went on to say that the ability to listen – which unfortunately is not very common – is a basic and necessary condition of dialogue. “Listening to the other requires patience and attention,” said Pope Francis. “Only those who can keep quiet, know how to listen: to God, to one’s brother or sister who needs help; to a friend, or a family member.”
The Pope said God himself is the finest example of listening.
“[E]ach time we pray,” he said, “He hears us, without asking for anything and he even precedes us and takes the initiative in meeting our requests for help.”
“Aptitude for listening, of which God is the model,” said Pope Francis, “urges us to break down the walls of misunderstanding, [and] to create bridges of communication, overcoming isolation and closure in within one’s own little world.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Vatican representative to the United Nations in Geneva, on Friday addressed the Human Rights Council on the 'moral obligation' of universal access to medicines.
He said policy coherence is necessary to achieve this goal.
"In relation to pursuing of the double goals of access to medicines and necessary medical innovation, policy coherence is fundamental for effective, sustainable and equitable progress towards universal health coverage and improved health outcomes for all."
"In order to promote human dignity and to adopt policies rooted in a human rights approach," Archbishop Jurkovič said, "we need to confront and remove barriers, such as monopolies and oligopolies, lack of access and affordability and, in particular, both overwhelming and unacceptable human greed."
Please find below the full text of the address:
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva 34th Session of the Human Rights Council – Item 3 General Debate “Access to Medicines” Geneva, 10 March 2017
Mr. President, With regard to the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, my Delegation wishes to raise additional concerns regarding the need for effective action in order to guarantee universal access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and medical devices. Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and of human labour is not mere philanthropy.
This is a moral obligation. In relation to pursuing of the double goals of access to medicines and necessary medical innovation, policy coherence is fundamental for effective, sustainable and equitable progress towards universal health coverage and improved health outcomes for all. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) created an enabling framework for progress toward the achievement of both access and innovation. SDG 3, in particular, includes the targets to support “the research and development of vaccines and medicine for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries” and to provide “access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on TRIPs Agreement and Public Health”. In this sense, the Holy See appreciates the entry into force, last January, of the amendment to the TRIPs Agreement. The amendment provides a secure and legal pathway to access affordable medicines and helps the most vulnerable access treatments that meet their needs, including those related to HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, as well as other epidemics. Access to affordable medicines no longer represents a challenge only for the Least Developed and other developing countries; it has also become an increasingly urgent issue for higher-income countries as well. States find themselves unable to combat antimicrobial resistance. Moreover, developing countries are confronted with a serious lack of new medicines, especially as public health budgets have been constrained worldwide. Mr. President, As we all are aware, health is a fundamental human right, essential for the exercise of many other rights, and necessary for living a life in dignity. Therefore, the Catholic Church provides a major contribution to health care in all parts of the world – through local churches, religious institutions and private initiatives, which act on their own responsibility and with respect of the law of each country.
These include the sustenance of 5,158 hospitals, 1 6,523 dispensaries and clinics, 61 2 leprosaria, and 15,679 homes for the elderly, the chronically ill, or disabled people. With firsthand information coming from these facilities in some of the poorest, isolated, and marginalized communities, my Delegation is obliged to report that the rights detailed in the international instruments and in the SDGs already mentioned are far from being realized. Mr. President, Pope Francis decries the selfishness and short-term thinking that sabotage progress on saving the environment, on peace building, and on public health crises as well. He insists on dialogue “as the only way to confront the problems of our world and to seek solutions that are truly effective”.  Authentic dialogue is honest and transparent. It does not permit the interests of individual countries, or specific interest groups, to dominate discussions. “Science and technology are not neutral”.  It is our moral obligation to seek, fight and build a better future that we are expected to deliver for our future generations. “There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history, a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere”.  In order to promote human dignity and to adopt policies rooted in a human rights approach, we need to confront and remove barriers, such as monopolies and oligopolies, lack of access and affordability and, in particular, both overwhelming and unacceptable human greed. If we fully intend to build a better world and future for the generations that will come after us, we must remedy and correct the misalignments and policy incoherence between the intellectual property rights of inventors, innovators or manufacturers and the human rights of human persons. As such, trade could be considered in the context of public health and access to technologies and thus be closely linked to both the fundamental human rights to health and to life. All our efforts must be directed to ensure human dignity, quality of health and life and to the building of a better world for the generations to come. Thank you, Mr. President.
1. Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting Sponsored by the "Foundation for Sustainable Development" on “Environment Justice and Climate Change”, 11 September 2015.
2. Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter, Laudato Sì, n. 114.
3. Ibid., n. 113.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican announced Friday that Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Colombia from 6 to 11 September 2017.
Listen to our report:
A communique from the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Holy Father will visit the cities of Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín, and Cartagena:
“Accepting the invitation of the President of the Republic and the Colombian bishops, His Holiness the Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Trip to Colombia from 6 to 11 September 2017, visiting the cities of Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena. The programme for the trip will be published shortly.”
Official Logo and Motto
The logo of the Journey contains the motto of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey: “Let’s take the first step” [Demos el primer paso].
A message accompanying the logo says the words refer to "the more than 50 years of violence" which divided Colombia.
“The visit of Pope Francis to Colombia is a moment of grace and happiness in order to dream about the possibility of transforming our country and taking the first step. The Holy Father is a missionary of reconciliation.”
The message goes on to say the logo represents the Pope’s visit “with the image of the Holy Father walking, as a symbol of action, taking a step to begin to build and to dream, because every change begins with the conversion of the heart (individual) and every change requires a moment to return to encountering one another (collective). It is the moment in our history to discover our identity as a country, which is reflected in the depiction of Colombia’s pre-Columbian figure.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) On Friday morning, in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel, the Preacher to the Pontifical Household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., delivered the first sermon for Lent 2017.
The theme of this year’s series of Lenten homilies is “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3) – the Holy Spirit introduces us to the ‘fullness of the truth’ about Jesus and about His Paschal mystery.”
Below, please find the full text of Fr Raniero Cantalamessa’s First Sermon for Lent 2017 (delivered in Italian; English translation courtesy of Marsha Daigle-Williamson):
THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS US INTO THE MYSTERY
OF THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST
1. “He will bear witness to me”
One thing impressed me while reading the initial prayer of the Mass of the First Sunday of Lent this year. We don’t pray that God the Father give us the strength to accomplish one of the classic Lenten works: fasting, praying, doing charity; we ask rather to “grow in the knowledge of the mystery of Christ.” I believe that this is indeed the most important and most acceptable work in God’s eyes, and it is to this end that my Lenten meditations would like to contribute.
Following the reflection begun in the Advent on the Holy Spirit who should permeate the whole life and proclamation of the Church (“Theology of the Third Article”!), in these Lenten meditations I intend to move from the third article to the second article of the creed. In other words, we will try to highlight how the Holy Spirit “leads us into all the truth” about Christ and his paschal mystery, that is, about the Savior’s being and work. Concerning Christ’s work we will try, in keeping with the liturgical season of Lent, to delve into the role the Holy Spirit plays in the death and resurrection of Christ and in our personal death and resurrection.
The second article of the creed, in its complete formulation, is as follows:
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
This central article of the creed reflects two different stages of faith. The phrase, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,” reflects the earliest faith of the Church immediately after Easter. What comes next in the article of the creed, “born of the Father before all ages . . . ,” reflects a later, more evolved stage, subsequent to the Arian controversy and the Council of Nicea in 325. Let us dedicate the present meditation to the first part of the article, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,” and see what the New Testament tells us about the Spirit as the author of the true knowledge of Christ.
St. Paul affirms that Jesus Christ was manifested as the “Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness” (Rom 1:4), that is, according to the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul reaches the point of declaring that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3), thanks to his inner revelation. He attributes to the Holy Spirit the “insight into the mystery of Christ” that was given to him and was also “revealed to his holy apostles and prophets” (Eph 3: 4-5). He says that, “strengthened with might through his Spirit,” believers will be able to “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3: 16, 19).
In the Gospel of John, Jesus himself proclaims this work of the Paraclete in his regard. The Holy Spirit will take what is his and will declare it to the disciples; the Spirit will remind them of all that Jesus said; he will lead them into all the truth about Jesus’ relationship with Father and will bear witness to him (see Jn 16:7-15). From this point on, the precise criterion for recognizing if something is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit will be if one is moved to acknowledge that Jesus has come in the flesh (see 1 Jn 4:2-3).
Some people believe that the current emphasis on the Holy Spirit could overshadow the work of Christ almost as though that work was incomplete or imperfect. This is a complete misunderstanding. The Spirit never says, “I”; he never speaks in the first person; he always points to Christ; he does not claim to establish a work of his own but always refers himself to Christ and leads believers to him. Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life; the Spirit is the one who helps us understand all this!
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost results in a sudden illumination of the whole work and person of Christ. Peter concludes his discourse at Pentecost with a solemn declaration, which today could be called “ urbi et orbi ”: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord [ Kyrios ] and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). From that day on, the early community began to look at the life of Jesus, his death, and resurrection in a different way; everything seemed clear now, as if a veil had been removed from their eyes (see 2 Cor 3:16). Although they had lived side by side with him, without the Spirit they had not been able to penetrate the profundity of his mystery.
Today a rapprochement is occurring between Orthodox and Catholic theology on this topic of the relationship between Christ and the Spirit. At a conference in Bologna in 1980, the theologian John D. Zizioulas expressed reservations, on the one hand, about the ecclesiology of Vatican II because, according to him, “the Holy Spirit was brought into ecclesiology after the edifice of the Church was constructed entirely on a Christological basis”; on the other hand, he recognized that Orthodox theology also needed to rethink the relationship between Christology and pneumatology to avoid constructing an ecclesiology based only on pneumatology. In other words we Latins are urged to deepen our understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church (which is what happened after the Second Vatican Council) while our Orthodox brethren are urged to deepen their understanding of the role of Christ and, consequently, of the presence of the Church in history.
2. Objective and Subjective Knowledge of Christ
Let us turn, then, to the role of the Holy Spirit with respect to the knowledge of Christ. In the New Testament, two kinds of knowledge of Christ are already outlined, or two areas in which the Spirit is at work. There is an objective knowledge of Christ—of his being, his mystery, and his person—and there is a knowledge that is more subjective, practical, and interior that aims at knowing what Jesus “does for me” rather than at what he “is in himself.”
In Paul what predominates is an interest in understanding what Christ has done for us, in what was accomplished by Christ, and in particular his paschal mystery; in John what predominates instead is an interest in understanding who Christ is in himself: the eternal Logos who was with God and came in the flesh, the one who says, “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30). But it is only from subsequent developments that these two tendencies become evident. I note them briefly because this will help us understand the gift the Holy Spirit is giving to the church today on this matter.
In the patristic age, the Holy Spirit appears above all as the guarantor of the apostolic tradition concerning Jesus to counter new doctrines introduced by the Gnostics. St. Irenaeus affirms that the Spirit is the gift God entrusted to the Church; those who separate themselves with their false doctrine from the truth proclaimed by the Church are not partakers of him. Tertullian argues the apostolic churches cannot have erred in their preaching of the truth. To think otherwise would signify that the Holy Spirit, “the Steward of God, the vicar of Christ,” who was sent by Christ and asked by the Father to be the teacher of truth, would have “neglected his office.”
During the time of the great dogmatic controversies, the Holy Spirit is seen as the custodian of Christological orthodoxy. In the councils, the Church has the firm certainty of being “inspired” by the Spirit in formulating the truth about the two natures of Christ, the unity of his person, and the completeness of his humanity. The emphasis is thus clearly on the objective, dogmatic, and ecclesial knowledge of Christ.
This tendency remains predominant in theology up until the Reformation. With one difference, however. The dogmas, at the time of their formulation, were vital questions and the result of lively participation by the whole Church, but once sanctioned and handed down, they tended to lose their incisiveness and become formal. “Two natures in one person” became a ready-made formula rather than the arrival point of a long and difficult process. During all this time there were certainly wonderful experiences of the intimate, personal knowledge of Christ that was full of fervent devotion to him like that of St. Bernard or Francis of Assisi. But these experiences did not have much influence on theology. Such experiences are still mentioned today in the history of spirituality but not in the history of theology.
The Protestant reformers reversed the situation and said, “To know Christ is to know his benefits and not . . . to reflect upon his natures and the modes of his Incarnation.” The Christ “for me” jumps to first place. A subjective, intimate knowledge is placed in contrast to objective, dogmatic knowledge; an “inner witness” from the Holy Spirit about Jesus in the heart of every believer is placed in contrast to the external testimony of the Church about Jesus. When this theological innovation also tended in official Protestantism to be transformed later into a “dead orthodoxy,” periodically movements, like Pietism in Lutheran circles and Methodism in Anglican circles, sprang up to bring it back to life. The apex of the knowledge of Christ coincides in these movements with the moment in which believers, moved by the Holy Spirit, become aware that Jesus has died “for them,” for each one of them in particular, and they recognize him as their personal Savior:
Then with my heart I first believed,
believed with faith divine,
power with the Holy Ghost received
to call the Savior mine.
I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
close to my soul applied.
Let us conclude this brief look at history by noting a third stage in the way of conceiving of the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of Christ, one that has characterized the centuries of the Enlightenment of which we are the direct heirs. An objective, detached knowledge is now back in vogue, but it is no longer in the ontological category, as it was in the ancient era, but in the historical category. In other words, the interest is not in knowing who Jesus Christ is in himself (his pre-existence, his natures, his person) but who he was in history. It is the age of research surrounding the so-called “historical Jesus”!
In this stage the Holy Spirit no longer plays a role in the knowledge of Christ; he is entirely absent from it. The “inner witness” of the Holy Spirit now becomes identified with reason and the human spirit. The “external testimony” is the main thing, but this no longer means the apostolic testimony of the Church but only that of history, ascertained through various critical methods. The common presupposition of this effort was that to find the real Jesus, one needed to look outside the Church, releasing him “from the wrappings of ecclesiastical doctrine.”
We know what the result of all this search for the historical Jesus has been: a failure, even though this does not mean it did not have many positive fruits. However, in this regard, there still persists an equivocation at bottom. Jesus Christ—and after him other people like St. Francis of Assisi—did not simply live in history but created a history and now live in the history they created, like a sound living in the wave that it produced. The fierce effort of rationalistic historians seems to be to separate Christ from the history he created in order to restore him to a common universal history, as though one could better perceive a sound in its authenticity by separating it from the wave that carries it. The history that Jesus initiated, or the wave he emitted, is the faith of the Church animated by the Holy Spirit, and it is only through that faith that one can know its source.
The legitimacy of normal historical research on Christ is not excluded by all this, but this research must be more aware of its limits and recognize that it is does not exhaust all that can be known about him. Just as the noblest act of reason is to recognize that “there is an infinity of things that are beyond it,” so too the most honest act of the historian is to recognize that there exists something that cannot be reached by history alone.
3. The Sublime Knowledge of Christ
At the end of his classic work on the history of Christian exegesis, Henri de Lubac reached a rather pessimistic conclusion. He said that certain conditions were missing for us moderns to be able to revive a spiritual reading like that of the Fathers. What we lack is that enthusiastic faith, that sense of the fullness and unity of Scriptures they had. The desire to imitate their boldness in reading the Bible today would be almost risking profanation because we are lacking the spirit from which such readings arise. Nevertheless, he did not entirely close the door to hope; in another work he says that “If we aspire to find something of what was the spiritual interpretation of Scripture in the early centuries of the Church, . . . it is a spiritual movement that we must reproduce above all.”
What de Lubac noted with regard to the spiritual understanding of Scripture can be applied all the more to the spiritual understanding of Christ. It is not enough to write new and more updated treatises on pneumatology. If we lack the underpinnings of a lived experience of the Spirit, analogous to that which accompanied the first elaboration of the theology of the Spirit in the fourth century, whatever is said will always remain external to the real issue. We would lack the necessary conditions to raise us to the level at which the Paraclete operates: the enthusiasm, the boldness, and that “sober intoxication of the spirit” about which almost all the great authors of that century spoke. We cannot present a Christ in the anointing of the Spirit if we do not live, in some way, in that same anointing.
The great innovation hoped for by Father de Lubac is now coming to pass. In the last century there arose a “spiritual movement,” which is continually growing, that has created the basis for a renewal of pneumatology that begins from an experience of the Spirit and of his charisms. I am speaking about the Pentecostal and Charismatic phenomenon. In its first fifty years, this movement—born in reaction to the liberal and rationalistic tendency in theology, like Pietism and Methodism mentioned above—has deliberately ignored theology and has in turn been ignored (and even ridiculed!) by academic theology.
However, when around the middle of the last century that movement penetrated traditional churches in possession of a vast theological apparatus and received a basic welcome from those respective hierarchies, theology could no longer ignore it. In a book called Erfahrung und Theologie des Heiligen Geistes [The Experience and Theology of the Holy Spirit], the most noted theologians of the day, Catholic and Protestant, examined the significance of the Pentecostal and charismatic phenomenon for the renewal of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
What interests us in all of this at this point only concerns the knowledge of Christ. What understanding of Christ is emerging in this new spiritual and theological atmosphere? The most significant fact is not the discovery of new perspectives and new methodologies following the latest trends in philosophy (structuralism, linguistic analysis, etc.) but the rediscovery of a basic biblical fact: Jesus Christ is Lord! The lordship of Christ is a new world that can be entered into only “by the action of the Holy Spirit.”
St. Paul speaks of a “superior” or even “sublime” knowledge of Christ that consists in knowing him and proclaiming him precisely as “Lord” (see Phil 3:8). This is the proclamation which, accompanied by faith in the resurrection of Christ, can make a person “saved”: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). This knowledge is made possible only by the Holy Spirit: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). Anyone can of course just mouth those words without the Holy Spirit, but it would not then lead to the wonderful event we just referred to; it would not save a person.
What is so special about this affirmation that makes it so decisive? That can be explained from different points of view that are objective and subjective. The objective power of the statement, “Jesus is Lord,” is that it makes history, and in particular the paschal mystery, present. It is the conclusion derived from two events: Christ died for our sins; he was raised for our justification; therefore, he is Lord. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom 14:9). The events that led to it are contained in this conclusion and become present and operative in it. In this case words are truly “the house of Being.” The proclamation “Jesus is Lord” is the seed from which the whole kerygma and subsequent Christian preaching developed.
From the subjective point of view, or what pertains to us, the power of this proclamation is the fact that it also entails a decision. Whoever proclaims it, is deciding the direction of his or her life. It is as if the person said, “You are my Lord; I submit myself to you, and I freely acknowledge you as my savior, my master, my teacher, the one who has all rights over me. I belong to you more than I do to myself because you have bought me at a price” (see 1 Cor 6:19-20).
The decision that is inherent in the proclamation of Jesus as “Lord” takes on a particular relevance today. Some people believe that it is possible, and even necessary, to lay aside the affirmation of the uniqueness of Christ in order to promote interfaith dialogue. However, to proclaim Jesus as “Lord” means precisely to proclaim his uniqueness. It is not without reason that the article has us proclaim, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ.” St. Paul writes,
Although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Cor 8:5-6)
The apostle wrote these words at the time when the Christian faith, small and newly birthed, was facing a world dominated by powerful and prestigious cults and religions. The courage it takes today to believe that Jesus is “the only Lord” is nothing compared to the courage it took back then. But the “power of the Spirit” is not granted except to the one who proclaims Jesus as Lord in its powerful original meaning. It is a fact of experience. Only after a theologian or a preacher has decided to gamble everything on Jesus Christ, the “only Lord” —even at the cost of being “cast out of the synagogue”—only then does that person experience a new certainty and power in his or her life.
4. From the “Personage” of Jesus to the “Person” of Jesus
This luminous discovery of Jesus as Lord is, as I said, the innovation and the grace that God is granting in our time to his Church. I realized that when I questioned Tradition regarding all the other topics and words of Scripture, the testimony of the Fathers would come crowding into my mind. But when I tried to question it on this point, Tradition remained virtually silent. Already in the third century, the title “Lord” was no longer understood in its kerygmatic meaning. Outside of Jewish religious circles, the meaning of that word was not sufficient to express the uniqueness of Christ. Origen, for instance, considers “Lord” (Kyrios) to be a title used by someone who is still at the stage of fear; the relationship Lord–servant is inferior to the relationship Teacher– disciple.
People of course continued to speak of “the Lord” Jesus, but it became a name for Christ like other names, and most often it was one of the components of Christ’s complete name: “Our Lord Jesus Christ.” But it is one thing to say, “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” and another to say, “Jesus Christ is our Lord!” One indication of this change is the way the text of Philippians 2:11 came to be translated in the Vulgate: “Omnis lingua confiteatur quia Dominus noster Iesus Christus in gloria est Dei Patris,” “every tongue must confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.” It is one thing to say, “Our Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” and quite another thing to say, “Jesus Christ is our Lord to the glory of God the Father.” In this second rendering, which is what current translations say, it is not just a name that is being uttered but a profession of faith that is being proclaimed.
Where in all this is the qualitative leap that the Holy Spirit leads us to make in our understanding of Christ? It is in the fact that the proclamation of Jesus as Lord is the door that leads us into the knowledge of the risen and living Christ! Christ is no longer a personage but a person; he is no longer a set of theses, dogmas (and corresponding heresies); he is no longer merely a figure to worship and remember, but a living person who is always present in the Spirit.
This spiritual and existential knowledge of Jesus as Lord does not lead to the neglect of objective, dogmatic, and ecclesial knowledge of Christ but instead revitalizes it. “By the Spirit of God,” St. Irenaeus says, revealed truth, “renewing its youth, as if it were some precious deposit in an excellent vessel, causes the vessel itself containing it to renew its youth also.” We will dedicate our next meditation, God willing, to one of these truths, the dogma that constitutes the second part of that article of the creed: “begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.”
I do not know a better practical resolution we can make at the end of these reflections than what we read at the beginning of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium by Pope Francis:
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her. (no. 3)
Translated from Italian by Marsha Daigle-Williamson
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has thanked Fr. Giulio Michelini for directing the Spiritual Exercises from which the Holy Father returned on Friday.
Before returning to the Vatican, the Pope expressed his and the Roman Curia’s appreciation for Fr. Michelini’s preparation and direction.
“I would like to thank you for the good you wanted to do for us and the good you have done us. Above all, thank you for having shown yourself as you are and for being natural without ‘putting on a face from a holy card’.”
Pope Francis also thanked him for the work put into his preparation: “This implies responsibility, taking things seriously.”
“There was a mountain of things upon which to meditate, but St. Ignatius says that when one finds something in the Exercises something that gives consolation or desolation, one must stop there and not go forward. I’m sure all of us found one or two among all of this material. The rest is not wasted; it remains and will serve for another time.”
The Holy Father went on to tell the story of a famous Spanish preacher to show that “sometimes a little word, a tiny thing” can serve as a point of reflection.
“After giving a grand, well-prepared sermon, a man – a great public sinner – came up to him in tears, asking for confession. He confessed in an outburst of sin and tears, sin and tears. The confessor – shocked because he knew the life of this man – asked him: ‘But, tell me, in what moment did you feel that God had touched your heart? With what word…?’ [He responded,] ‘When you said, Let’s move to another topic’. Sometimes it is the simplest words that help us, or sometimes those more complicated: To each the Lord gives the [right] word.”
Finally, Pope Francis told Fr. Michelini: “Above all, I wish you [the grace] to be a good friar.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The preacher of the Pontifical Household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa gave the first Lenten sermon on Friday for Pope Francis and other Vatican officials gathered in the town of Ariccia for their annual Lent retreat.
The Capuchin friar will be giving another four reflections for the Pope and members of the Pontifical Household on the Fridays leading up to Holy Week. This year the theme of these Lenten homilies is the work of the Holy Spirit, based on the biblical verse from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 3: ‘No-one can say “Jesus is Lord”, except by the Holy Spirit.’
In an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Fr Cantalamessa explains the two reasons why he wanted to focus on the Holy Spirit for both Lent and for last year’s season of Advent.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:
Firstly, Fr Cantalamessa says, he chose this subject because the real novelty of the post Vatican II period is a clearer understanding of the role of the Spirit in the life and theology of the Catholic Church. Secondly, he says 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, which has spread to include millions of people all over the globe. Pope Francis, he notes, will be celebrating the anniversary, with a particularly ecumenical focus, around the feast of Pentecost this year.
The first two sermons, Fr Cantalamessa continues, explore the question of who Christ is, not just as a historical figure, but who He is for me and for the world today. The mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection, he says, is the most important question for Christians today and will be at the heart of these reflections in light of our rediscovery of the role of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit, Fr Cantalamessa insists, is not merely an abstraction or idea, but a living reality, represented in Scripture by the symbols of wind, fire, water, fragrance or a dove. In our technologically driven era, we try and teach a computer to think, yet no-one has conceived of a computer which is able to love. The Holy Spirit, he concludes, is the purest source of all love and is the only thing which can bring humanity’s parched soul back to life again.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis has returned to the Vatican after having concluded the Spiritual Exercises.
On Friday morning, before leaving Arricia – where the retreat was taking place – the Holy Father celebrated Mass for Syria.
He also sent €100,000 to the poor of Aleppo, thanks to a contribution of the Roman Curia. The donation will be made by the Office of Papal Charities, the Elemosineria Apostolica (Apostolic Almoner).
On Friday evening, Pope Francis is set to travel to the Vicariate of Rome where he will meet with the prefects of the Diocese. The meeting, a normal part of the life of the local Church, will be strictly private.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) “I too know moments of emptiness.” In an interview for German newsweekly Die Zeit, Pope Francis spoke about the “spiritual dark moments” in his own life, times when he has said, “Lord, I don’t understand this.”
Asked about how the faithful can help when people experience crises of faith, the Holy Father said, “One cannot grow without crises: in human life, the same thing happens. Even biological growth is a crisis, no? The crisis of a child who becomes an adult. And faith is the same.”
Pope Francis’ admission of his own doubts was perhaps the most striking moment in the interview with Die Ziet’s editor-in-chief, Giovanni di Lorenzo. “Faith is a gift,” the Pope said when asked how one returns to the faith. One cannot recover one’s faith on one’s own, but must ask it from God: “I ask, and He responds. Sooner or later, eh? But at times, you have to wait, in a crisis.”
The conversation covered a wide range of topics, from the Pope’s devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots; to the vocations crisis (“optional celibacy is not the solution); to the question of whether men are intrinsically good or evil.
The Pontiff spoke once again about what he has called the “Third World War,” being waged piecemeal, drawing attention to ongoing conflicts in Africa, Ukraine, Asia, Iraq, and elsewhere. He spoke, too, about contemporary currents of populism, warning against “a messianism” that always lurks behind such phenomena.
Current events in the Church, including criticisms of Pope Francis, were also touched on in the interview. “I will make a confession about this, a sincere one,” he said. “From the moment I was elected Pope I have never lost my peace. I understand that someone might not like [my] way of acting, and I even justify it: there are so many ways of thinking; it is licit, it is human, and it is even a richness.” In particular, he complimented the “cultured” Roman dialect used in notorious posters that appeared in Rome, accusing the Pope of not being merciful.
“It’s good that you can laugh at these things,” his interviewer said, to which Pope Francis responded, “But of course! [It’s] one of the things I pray for each day, with the prayer of St Thomas More: I ask for a sense of humour.”
The conversation ended with a discussion of possible future travels, with the Holy Father confirming his plans to visit India, Bangladesh and Colombia, as well as Fatima in Portugal. He said, however, that a hoped-for trip to South Sudan might not be possible after all.
Pope Francis concluded the interview with an apology: “I’m sorry if I haven’t met your expectations… Pray for me!”
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
(from Vatican Radio)...