Vatican News

Pope Francis General Audience: English summary

Vatican News - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 04:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall. Please find below the official English-language summary: Dear Brothers and Sisters: As we continue to explore the virtue of Christian hope, we discover in the final pages of the Bible that the ultimate destination of our Christian pilgrimage will be the heavenly Jerusalem.  And on this pilgrimage we encounter the God of surprises who treats us with infinite tenderness, like a father welcoming his children home after a long and difficult journey.  Even if many experience life as a prolonged period of suffering – think of the fearful faces of those haunted by violence and war – still there is a Father who weeps with infinite compassion for his children, and who waits to console them with a very different future.  We believe that neither death nor hatred have the last word, for we Christians see, with great hope, a larger horizon: the Kingdom of God, where all evil is banished forever.  It is Jesus himself who is the light of this new future, and who even now accompanies us on our way.  Creation did not stop on the sixth day of Genesis, because God is continually looking after us, always ready to pronounce his blessing: “Behold, I make all things new! (Rev 21:5)”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican, Russia agree visa-free diplomatic travel, need for dialogue in Venezuela

Vatican News - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 09:09
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov for talks on Tuesday, during which they discussed issues of international concern and agreed to visa-free diplomatic travel. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: During the press conference following their talks, the Holy See and the Russian Federation signed an Agreement waiving visa requirements for holders of diplomatic passports. Cardinal Parolin and Foreign Minister Lavrov called this a sign of the two countries’ desire to continue to work together on bilateral relations and issues of international concern. Cardinal Parolin said he raised questions regarding the Catholic Church’s life and activity in Russia with his counterpart. He said difficulties remaining between the Vatican and Russia include “working residency permits for non-Russian personnel and the restitution of several churches necessary for the pastoral care of Catholics in the country.” Christians in Middle East Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov evoked the need for solutions for Christians living in the Middle East. “We need to find similar solutions that would provide proper balance between different ethnic and religious groups in Yemen, Libya, and Iraq, where state building processes are underway,” Mr. Lavrov said. Cardinal Parolin said he recognized the difference in approach between Russia and the Holy See on these issues. But he said the two share a “strong concern for the situation of Christians in several countries of the Middle East and the African continent”. “The Holy See nourishes constant concern that religious liberty be preserved in all States and in all political situations,” Cardinal Parolin said. Dialogue in Venezuela Responding to a question about the situation in Venezuela, Cardinal Parolin said he believes Russia can help to overcome this very difficult moment.” He said Russia can promote the Vatican’s efforts to create dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the opposition. “This is the only solution the Holy See sees for an exit to this situation.” Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Parolin describes meeting with Hilarion as 'very constructive'

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 13:33
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State on Monday described the tone of his two-hour meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion , chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow,  as “very constructive”. Cardinal Pietro Parolin is on a four-day visit to Russia during which he is scheduled to meet the Russian Patriarch Kirill and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday before holding talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday. The website of the Moscow Patriarchate showed a picture of Parolin clasping hands with Hilarion and holding talks in a room decorated with Orthodox icons. It said the two men discussed "key topics of bilateral relations... in the context of the current international situation." Answering journalists’ questions after the Monday meeting, the Vatican Secretary of State said that a good part of the conversation touched on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine as well as on the Holy See's concern for the situation in Venezuela. The Russian news agency Tass highlighted the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See reportedly share the same position regarding “the need for a peaceful solution for the middle-eastern region and in particular for Syria” and that a return to normality in that country will be possible only after the total expulsion of IS militants from the occupied territories.” Cardinal Parolin reportedly noted that Christians are beginning to return to the areas that have been taken back from the so-called Islamic State, but said that notwithstanding some positive developments, the general situation remains very difficult, especially from a humanitarian point of view.     (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope encourages Methodists and Waldensians to walk path to full Christian unity

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged Methodist and Waldensian Churches to continue to walk together with the Catholic Church on the path towards full Christian unity pointing out that in a world lacerated by violence and fear it is all the more important to live and to convey the Christian message of welcome and fraternity.   The Pope’s words of friendship and closeness came in a message on Monday to the annual Synod of the Italian Methodist and Waldensian Churches taking place in Torre Pellice - near Turin - from 20 to 25 August. Recalling recent encounters between the Churches and a shared celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the Pope said “May Jesus’ gaze brighten our relationship so that it is never just formal or proper, but fraternal and lively.” “The Good Shepherd – he continued – wants us to walk together and his gaze embraces all of his disciples whom He wants to see fully united”. Francis also said that to walk towards full unity with the hope that derives from the knowledge that God’s presence is stronger than evil, is all the more important today, “in a world scarred by violence and fear, by wounds and indifference, in which the egoism of self-affirmation to the detriment of others overshadows the simple beauty of welcome, sharing and loving”. “Our Christian witness, he said, must not yield to the logic of the world: let’s help each other to choose and live the logic of Christ.” At the Synod some 180 representatives of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches – both pastors and lay people in equal number – will be deciding on Church programmes for the coming year, and will be electing their executive and administrative bodies. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Cardinal Pietro Parolin on goals of 4-day Russia visit

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:35
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who is on a 4-day visit to Russia, gave a wide-ranging interview with the Russian state news agency TASS, ahead of his arrival on Monday. Cardinal Parolin speaks at length about the aims of his visit to Moscow and gives his views on various international issues.  Please find below a full transcript in English of the interview with Cardinal Parolin: Q: Your Eminence, this is the first time you come to Russia as the Cardinal Secretary of State. What is on the agenda of your visit? Are you going to meet with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and President Vladimir Putin? You act simultaneously in two capacities – as a high-ranking representative of the Roman Catholic Church and as the head of the Holy See’s government. How would you describe the contacts between Catholics and Orthodox believers, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as relations between Vatican and Russia? R: We have been working on the idea of the visit to Russia for a long time, and it will take place from August 20 to 24. The meeting with President Putin is scheduled for August 23. A day earlier, I will have a conversation with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. On August 21, I will meet with Catholic bishops of Russia and on the same evening I will serve a liturgy for the Catholic community of Moscow at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary. I will also meet with Patriarch Kirill and have a conversation with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. As you correctly noted, the Holy See simultaneously performs both a spiritual and a diplomatic role. That is why the Vatican diplomacy is of special nature. It does not rely on any other force, except for taking care of every person and every nation through dialogue. Taking into account these very aspects, I will discuss with my Russian dialogue partners the issues which are of mutual interest for us, as well as crises in different parts of the world, which are both distant and very near. The conversation with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church proves the openness that emerged in recent years and was marked by the historic meeting in Havana last year. Then Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill spoke of rapprochement as a shared path. When we walk this path together and conduct fraternal dialogue, we can feel the moments of unity. This path requires the search for truth, as well as love, patience, persistence and determination. Q: Did the historic meeting in Havana of Pope Francis and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill give an impetus to a better understanding? What are the future steps to develop the ecumenical dialogue and the prospects for an even closer rapprochement between the two (Christian) Churches? R: That meeting was the first step that had been expected for a long time. Not only it strengthened the contacts of the representatives of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, which became more frequent and filled with concrete content, but also prompted the two churches to look at the discrepancies we had in the past and their causes in a new way. Although the negative effect of those differences can still be felt now, the meeting also helped us see the unity we are striving for, the unity which is required by the Gospels we profess. It is very important that we have this renewed mutual positive view that every servant of the God, priest and believer will share. This is the condition, in my opinion, for the fulfillment of new and, I would say, unprecedented steps in the development of the ecumenical dialogue and the rapprochement of our Churches, the steps that the Holy Spirit will hint to those who listen carefully to his voice. Q: Millions of believers in Russia had an opportunity to venerate relics of St. Nicholas, which had been brought for the purpose from the city of Bari to Moscow and St. Petersburg. This was one of the practical results of that landmark meeting. What is the significance of bringing such a revered Christian relic to Russia? R: I know that the relics of St. Nicholas were received in Russia with a special spiritual uplift, and that for more than two months an impressive number of clergymen and believers in Moscow and St. Petersburg venerated the relics. There is no doubt that this event and other similar initiatives, which can be called the "ecumenism of the saints", give an opportunity to fully feel what already unites Christians. This was not only an important event in the spiritual life of believers, but also an example for other initiatives that strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation in various fields. At the same time, a new impetus was given to dialogue on more complex issues in church relations, as well as to dialogue between churches and society on spiritual, cultural and political issues of our time. Q: Both our churches, Catholic and Orthodox, now face the danger of losing traditional Christian values. What can be done to preserve them? Russia in this sense is widely regarded as the last stronghold of those values, for example, such as traditional family values. On the other hand, it's no secret that our country is often criticized in Europe for the lack of liberalism and rejection of relations between people of nonstandard sexual orientation. Is it possible today to ensure that traditional values ​​are not in conflict with modern vision of democracy? R: Today, there is no shortage of challenges that the modern world produces. It is not only about preserving values but the very concept of human personality and human dignity. Showing respect to a human being and his work, social justice, interpersonal relations and interaction between different states – these are all challenges of a peaceful existence. As we face these challenges, our task remains the same as St. Peter defined it in his First Epistle General: “But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to articulate a defense to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But respond with genetleness and respect.” (Peter 3:15) When the churches insist on following the evangelical message and respecting the values ​​established in the Holy Scripture, they do so not to humiliate a modern person or to put unnecessary pressure on him but to show the path to salvation and fulfillment. When performing this mission, which never ends, it is extremely important to establish effective cooperation between different religious denominations. It is also important because, as you noted, the challenges Christians are facing in the West and in Eastern Europe are seen from different angles. Greater mutual understanding between the Churches, exchange of experience in different regions, may become an important contribution to understanding of these problems. It is always useful to learn a different vision, so to speak, a look from beyond, in order to have the most complete picture of reality, less prone to the trends that gradually become very common. Q: Another serious threat of the present day is the Islamic terrorism, which makes no difference between peoples and religions. How can this phenomenon be defeated and how does the Holy See views Russia’s counter-terrorism efforts? R: I can see at least two aspects in this matter. On the one hand, there are steps made by this or that government, which are often dictated by concrete situations. When one faces a situation of this kind, one has to make a certain choice based on the politicians’ assessments. No doubt, the need to tackle terrorism is evident for the Church, but all actions must be weighted in order to prevent a situation in which the use of force would trigger spiraling violence or lead to violations of human rights, including the freedom of religion. On the other hand, the Church is always guided by the long-term perspective. First of all, it is the encouragement and assistance in personal development, especially among the young generations, as well as solid dialogue between religions. During the past decades, the Holy See has been making all possible efforts to establish, strengthen or restore dialogue on the cultural and religious levels and in the social and humanitarian sphere. I’m absolutely convinced that life under the guidance of the Gospel would in itself make an important contribution into forming the society and culture, which simultaneously assists personal development and encourages an intense and constructive dialogue with other authentic cultures and religions. Q: At the moment, the whole world has its eyes set on US President Donald Trump, who has been making rather controversial decisions during his first months of office, starting from his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change. It turned out that even a meeting with Pope Francis, who pays great attention to the climate change problem, could not change his mind. Of course, you have plenty of information about the United States, a country that plays a very important role in the modern world. What can be expected and what does Vatican expect from the current US president? R: The meeting between the Pope and President Trump (in late May - TASS) was held in the atmosphere of mutual respect and I would say, with mutual sincerity. Both the Pontiff and the US leader were able to share their visions on numerous issues, including the climate change problem. I hope that despite the determination to fulfill the electoral promises and despite Washington’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Accord, pragmatic approaches will prevail, in continuation to the US administration’s decision to keep the climate change discussion running. We, in our turn, can only wish that President Trump, just like other members of the international community, does not neglect the extremely difficult task of tackling the global warming and its negative consequences that affect the global population, in particular spurring the growth of inequality and poverty. In my opinion, modern international relations are becoming increasingly dominated by the understanding that policies and strategies based on open clashes and confrontations, with I would describe as a dialogue of the deaf, or, worse, (policies that) fuel fears and are based on intimidation with nuclear or chemical weapons, do not lead to correct solutions and fail to ease tensions between states. It has to be noted, as Pope Francis often says, that building peace is a path, which is a lot thornier than war and conflict. Building peace requires a patient and constructive dialogue with mutual respect instead of focusing all attention to own national interests. This is all that is expected from the leaders of global powers. Q: Before Pope Francis appointed you to your current post, you have spent several years of diplomatic service as the Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) in Venezuela. What is Vatican’s opinion of the situation in this Latin American country? A.: I’m seriously concerned by the situation in Venezuela, a country which is dear to my heart and where I have many friends. As I have already said on numerous occasions, the Holy See has closely followed the development of the Venezuelan crisis from its very outset and made numerous attempts aimed at searching for a peaceful and democratic solution, despite lots of differences that still remain. As far as prospects for reconciliation are concerned, I think that there is always only one way: it is necessary to negotiate, to create the atmosphere of trust and at the same time avoid steps that may aggravate tensions and incite new clashes. One should treat opponents with respect, conduct a serious dialogue, observe the principles of democracy and respect justice. One also needs to stay focused and determined in fulfilling the reached agreements, viewing the well-being of the people, who have many needs, as an utmost priority. The country is hit by a serious humanitarian crisis, and people are dying due to lack of food and medicine, and this should not be forgotten or treated as a secondary problem. I would also like to add that the international community, including nations that have friendly ties with Venezuela, have great responsibilities and should offer selfless assistance aimed at facilitating a positive solution for the current situation. Interviewed by Vera Shcherbakova (Vatican). (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis calls for a shared response to challenge of contemporary migration

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees was released on Monday under the title, “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees. In the message the Pope calls for a shared response to the challenges of contemporary migration, adding that "in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable." Listen to our report:   Shared response In the message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees the Pope says that “The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future. This solidarity, he adds, “must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.”   Pope Francis goes on to say that this is a great responsibility, which “the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities. Pope Francis sums up that shared response in four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”. Welcoming, explains the Holy Father means, “above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.  This, he says, calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.”  The Pope also emphasises the importance of “offering migrants and refugees adequate and dignified initial accommodation.” Protecting migrants The second verb, protecting Pope Francis continues “may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status. When duly recognised and valued, the Pope says, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them.” Speaking about the third verb Promoting, the Holy Father notes that “many migrants and refugees have abilities, such as their ability to work. He goes on to encourage a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship. With regard to integration, the Pope comments that integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, he adds, “contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.” Global  Contribution  Concluding the message the Holy Father underlines that the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed. Yet, he stresses, “in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities. Pope Francis also invites the faithful to play their part in the process leading to the approval of the two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope's message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees is released

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis' message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was released by the Vatican on Monday. In the message the Holy Father says that providing aid to migrants and refugees is a "great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities." Please find below the Message of  Pope Francis for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees” Dear brothers and sisters! “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34). Throughout the first years of my pontificate, I have repeatedly expressed my particular concern for the lamentable situation of many migrants and refugees fleeing from war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty.  This situation is undoubtedly a “sign of the times” which I have tried to interpret, with the help of the Holy Spirit, ever since my visit to Lampedusa on 8 July 2013.  When I instituted the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, I wanted a particular section – under my personal direction for the time being – to express the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking. Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43).  The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future.[1] This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.  This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities. In this regard, I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”.[2] Considering the current situation, welcoming means, above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.  This calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.  At the same time, I hope that a greater number of countries will adopt private and community sponsorship programmes, and open humanitarian corridors for particularly vulnerable refugees.  Furthermore, special temporary visas should be granted to people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring countries.  Collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions, particularly where people are returned to countries which cannot guarantee respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.[3]  Once again, I want to emphasise the importance of offering migrants and refugees adequate and dignified initial accommodation.  “More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success”.[4]  The principle of the centrality of the human person, firmly stated by my beloved Predecessor, Benedict XVI,[5] obliges us to always prioritise personal safety over national security.  It is necessary, therefore, to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained.  The situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal safety and access to basic services.  For the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation.[6] The second verb – protecting – may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.[7]  Such protection begins in the country of origin, and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practices.[8]  This must be ongoing, as far as possible, in the country of migration, guaranteeing them adequate consular assistance, the right to personally retain their documents of identification at all times, fair access to justice, the possibility of opening a personal bank account, and a minimum sufficient to live on.  When duly recognised and valued, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them.[9]  This is why I hope that, in countries of arrival, migrants may be offered freedom of movement, work opportunities, and access to means of communication, out of respect for their dignity.  For those who decide to return to their homeland, I want to emphasise the need to develop social and professional reintegration programmes.  The International Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a universal legal basis for the protection of underage migrants.  They must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status, and must be guaranteed regular access to primary and secondary education.  Equally, when they come of age they must be guaranteed the right to remain and to enjoy the possibility of continuing their studies.  Temporary custody or foster programmes should be provided for unaccompanied minors and minors separated from their families.[10]  The universal right to a nationality should be recognised and duly certified for all children at birth.  The statelessness which migrants and refugees sometimes fall into can easily be avoided with the adoption of “nationality legislation that is in conformity with the fundamental principles of international law”.[11]  Migratory status should not limit access to national healthcare and pension plans, nor affect the transfer of their contributions if repatriated. Promoting essentially means a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees – as well as the communities which welcome them – are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator.[12]  Among these, we must recognize the true value of the religious dimension, ensuring to all foreigners in any country the freedom of religious belief and practice.   Many migrants and refugees have abilities which must be appropriately recognised and valued.  Since “work, by its nature, is meant to unite peoples”,[13] I encourage a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all – including those seeking asylum – the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship, together with sufficient information provided in their mother tongue.  In the case of underage migrants, their involvement in labour must be regulated to prevent exploitation and risks to their normal growth and development.  In 2006, Benedict XVI highlighted how, in the context of migration, the family is “a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values”.[14]  The family’s integrity must always be promoted, supporting family reunifications – including grandparents, grandchildren and siblings – independent of financial requirements.  Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with disabilities must be granted greater assistance and support.  While I recognize the praiseworthy efforts, thus far, of many countries, in terms of international cooperation and humanitarian aid, I hope that the offering of this assistance will take into account the needs (such as medical and social assistance, as well as education) of developing countries which receive a significant influx of migrants and refugees.  I also hope that local communities which are vulnerable and facing material hardship, will be included among aid beneficiaries.[15] The final verb – integrating – concerns the opportunities for intercultural enrichment brought about by the presence of migrants and refugees.  Integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.  This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings”.[16]  This process can be accelerated by granting citizenship free of financial or linguistic requirements, and by offering the possibility of special legalisation to migrants who can claim a long period of residence in the country of arrival.  I reiterate the need to foster a culture of encounter in every way possible – by increasing opportunities for intercultural exchange, documenting and disseminating best practices of integration, and developing programmes to prepare local communities for integration processes.   I wish to stress the special case of people forced to abandon their country of arrival due to a humanitarian crisis.  These people must be ensured adequate assistance for repatriation and effective reintegration programmes in their home countries. In line with her pastoral tradition, the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed above.  Yet in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities. At the United Nations Summit held in New York on 29 September 2016, world leaders clearly expressed their desire to take decisive action in support of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights, sharing this responsibility on a global level.  To this end, the states committed themselves to drafting and approving, before the end of 2018, two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants. Dear brothers and sisters, in light of these processes currently underway, the coming months offer a unique opportunity to advocate and support the concrete actions which I have described with four verbs.  I invite you, therefore, to use every occasion to share this message with all political and social actors involved (or who seek to be involved) in the process which will lead to the approval of the two Global Compacts. Today, 15 August, we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.  The Holy Mother of God herself experienced the hardship of exile (Matthew 2:13-15), lovingly accompanied her Son’s journey to Calvary, and now shares eternally his glory.  To her maternal intercession we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them, so that, responding to the Lord’s supreme commandment, we may all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves. Vatican City, 15 August 2017 Solemnity of the Assumption of the B.V. Mary [1] Cf. Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, Titulus Primus, I. [2] Address to Participants in the International Forum on “Migration and Peace”, 21 February 2017. [3] Cf. Statement of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the 103rd Session of the Council of the IOM, 26 November 2013. [4] Address to Participants in the International Forum on “Migration and Peace”, 21 February 2017. [5] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 47. [6] Cf.  Statement of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the 20th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 22 June 2012. [7] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 62. [8] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi, 6. [9] Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the 6th World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, 9 November 2009. [10] Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2010) and Statement of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the 26th Ordinary Session of the Human Rights Council on the Human Rights of Migrants, 13 June 2014. [11] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons, 2013, 70. [12] Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 14. [13] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 27. [14] Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2007). [15] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons, 2013, 30-31. [16] John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2005). (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope condemns “inhuman violence” of recent terror attacks

Vatican News - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 06:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his sorrow for a series of deadly terror attacks in recent days and condemned the “inhuman violence” that spawned them. His remarks came after his Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.  Please see below a translation into English of the Pope’s remarks after the Angelus prayer: “We carry in our hearts the pain over the terroristic attacks in recent days that have claimed numerous victims in Burkina Faso, in Spain and in Finland.” Let us pray for those who died, for the wounded and for their families and let us implore the Lord, the God of mercy and of peace, to free the world from this inhuman violence.”   Earlier before the recitation of the Marian prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading where Jesus healed the daughter of the Canaanite woman, describing the mother as an example of perseverance and having a “courageous and unshakable faith.” The Pope said this Gospel reading from Matthew gives us an unusual example of faith in Jesus coming from a Canaanite woman who begs Jesus to heal her daughter saying she is “tormented by a devil.” The (initial) apparent lack of response from Jesus, said the Pope, “does not discourage this courageous woman who persists in her plea.” He went on to explain that “the inner strength of this woman which enables her to overcome every obstacle” springs from “her maternal love and her faith that Jesus can grant her request.” This account, the Pope continued, “makes me think about the strength of women” who “with their strength are able to obtain great things.” Faced with her persistence, in the end Jesus is struck “by the faith of this pagan woman” said the Pope, and tells the mother her desire is granted and so her daughter is healed. This Gospel reading, he continued, “helps us to understand that all of us need to grow in our faith and strengthen our faith in Jesus.” “He can help us to rediscover the way when we have lost our bearings”, when the road forward appears uphill and "arduous" and when “it is difficult to remain faithful to our duties.” Pope Francis concluded his reflections by stressing the importance of “nourishing our faith each day by listening carefully to the Word of God, with the celebration of the Sacraments and with “our personal prayer like a ‘cry’ towards Him, and with concrete acts of charity towards our neighbour.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Apostolic Nuncio: 'Card Parolin to build bridges and dialogue in Russia'

Vatican News - Sat, 08/19/2017 - 13:01
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin travels to Russia for a state visit on 21-24 August out of a desire to "build bridges and increase mutual understanding and dialogue" and to "multiply opportunities of encounter" with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, made that assessment of the Secretary of State's trip in an interview with Susy Hodges. Listen to the full interview: Archbishop Migliore said the Holy See "is following with attention and concern the various crises underway throughout the world." Cardinal Parolin's four-day visit to Russia, he said, offers a way "to contribute to a peaceful resolution" to those crises, as he will call "for goodwill, opportunities, and understanding among the main actors on the international scene." Turning to the relationship between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Archbishop Migliore said Pope Francis' meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Havana in February 2016 "led to an important new stage in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church". "It is now a question of walking together in the Gospel footsteps, multiplying opportunities for fraternal encounter, exchange of views and experiences, proclamation of the Gospel, and cooperation in the service to human society." Archbishop Migliore said Cardinal Parolin was invited by "top Russian authorities" and that he would meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov. He will also meet with Patriarch Kirill and the Catholic bishops and community. Cardinal Pietro Parolin's visit to Russia is seen as a completion of the tour he has made of the region over the past few years. Since his appointment as Secretary of State in 2013, Cardinal Parolin has visited Belarus, the Caucasus nations, the Baltic countries, and Ukraine. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Vatican releases logo, motto of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Peru

Vatican News - Sat, 08/19/2017 - 12:55
(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican has released the official logo and motto for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Peru, which takes place on 18-21 January 2018. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: “United for Hope” (Unidos por la esperanza) is the official motto for the Journey, signifying that the encounter will be “a great feast of hope to be received in unity”. Logo The logo expresses the Pope’s closeness to the Peruvian people and his accompaniment of their journey of faith. Two outstretched hands under the motto and date of the visit evoke the colors of the Peruvian and Vatican flags: red and yellow, respectively. They form the shape of wings as a sign of prayer, praise, and joy for the arrival of Pope Francis in Peru. To the left, Pope Francis joyfully reaches out of a map of Peru in a sign of closeness to the country and of unity with it. Third papal visit to Peru Pope Francis becomes the second Pope to visit Peru, following Pope St. John Paul II’s two visits in 1985 and 1988. Thirty years then since the last papal visit, Peru requested that Pope Francis journey there, in order to strengthen the bond between God and his Peruvian people and to aid in “a new missionary awakening” in the country. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis sends letter to special envoy to Jubilee of Lima in Peru

Vatican News - Sat, 08/19/2017 - 09:09
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop Emeritus of Quito, Ecuador, whom he appointed as his special envoy at the concluding celebration of the Archdiocesan Jubilee of Lima in Peru. The event takes place on 30 August 2017, on the occasion of the four-hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Rose of Lima. The papal mission accompanying Cardinal Vela Chiriboga will be composed of: - Don Alberto Jesús Maraví Petrozzi, spiritual director of the Conciliar Seminary of “Santo Toribio”; - Don Jaime Jesús Calvo Zárate, chancellor of the Archdiocesan Curia and spiritual director of the Hermandad del Señor de Los Milagros de Las Nazarenas. The full Latin text of the Pope's letter is below: Venerabili Fratri Nostro RADULFO EDUARDO S.R.E. Cardinali VELA CHIRIBOGA Archiepiscopo Emerito Quitensi Clarissima sancta Rosa de Lima, quae sicut lilium inter spinas (Ct 2,2) crevit, Domini amica facta est ab infantia, eo quod iam puellula Ipsi virginitatem suam vovit et virtutes colere coepit. Inde Beatissimae Virginis Mariae et sanctae Catharinae Senensis exemplo et intercessione concitata, plane vitam suam Deo obtulit, habitu Sororum Tertii Ordinis regularis Praedicatorum assumpto, paenitentiae ac orationi dedita atque zelo ardens peccatores et indigenas cunctos Christo in aeternum lucrifacere. Sed etiam omnis creationis amore inflammata, uti sancti Dominici spiritalis filia, animalia, flores, herbas cunctaque viventia ad Creatori laudem tribuendam saepe invitabat. Haud casu igitur ea caelestis Patrona utriusque Americae, Philippinarum et Indiarum occidentalium a Decessore Nostro Clemente X est declarata. Cum autem proximo mense Augusto quadringentos elapsos annos recordabimur ab illa die iucundissima qua haec Sancta felix ad caelestes nuptias cum divino Sponso pervenit, Venerabilis Frater Noster Ioannes Aloisius S.R.E. Cardinalis Cipriani Thorne, Archiepiscopus Metropolita Limanus, Nos certiores fecit de Anno Iubilari, quo illius in feliciorem vitam transitus a Christifidelibus una cum Pastoribus Peruviae et Americae celebratur, simul postulans ut quidam Legatus Noster adforet qui huius fausti eventus exitum Nostra salutatione et benedictione iuvaret. Permoti quidem petitione eiusdem sacri Pastoris, sed etiam Peruviani populi magni aestimantes fidem et devotionem erga sanctam Rosam ceterosque plurimos sanctos et beatos, qui ista in regione quinque per saecula Evangelium annuntiabant et copiosos fructus spiritales colligebant, decernimus Purpuratum Patrem illuc mittere, qui die XXX proximi mensis Augusti Archidioecesis Limanae Annum Iubilarem sollemniore ritu concludet. Ad te verum fidentes nunc recurrimus, Venerabilis Frater Noster, qui sexaginta annos sacerdotalis comples ministerii et quadraginta quinque per annos Episcopi digne fers onera, et Patronam hanc devotione prosequens et populum fidelem sincere diligens. His proinde Litteris te, benemeritum Praesulem, Nostrum Missum Extraordinarium ad memoratam celebrationem libenter destinamus. Die igitur XXX mensis Augusti dictis liturgicis celebrationibus Nostro nomine praesidebis Nostramque benignam Pastoribus et Christifidelibus congrue significabis salutationem. Populum congregatum hortaberis ad ferventem erga sanctam Rosam de Lima devotionem, ut ipsa a Deo plurimas impetret gratias in bonum tum universae archidioecesis Limanae tum etiam aliorum hominum sive in Peruviae regionibus sive in toto terrarum orbe. Cuius patrocinium et Nostro summo Petrino ministerio exposcatis humiliter rogamus. Denique Benedictionem Nostram Apostolicam imo ex corde tibi imprimis, Venerabilis Frater Noster, faustam sexagesimam anniversariam presbyteralis ordinationis memoriam hodie laetanti animo celebranti, deinde dilectis Pastoribus ac filiis et filiabus illic congregatis omnibusque faustum hunc eventum participantibus amanter dilargimur. Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die XXVIII mensis Iulii, anno MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto. FRANCISCUS (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

XX Sunday - August 20, 2017

Vatican News - Fri, 08/18/2017 - 09:19
Is 56: 1, 6-7 : Rom 11: 13-15, 29-32:  Mt 15: 21-28 Anecdote: “ Never give up !” :   Many y ears ago in Illinois, a young man with six months schooling to his credit ran for an office in the legislature. As might have been expected, he was beaten. Next, he entered business but failed in that too, and spent the next seventeen years paying the debts of his worthless partner. He fell in love with a charming lady, they became engaged – and she died. He had a nervous breakdown. He ran for Congress and was defeated. He then tried to obtain an appointment to the U.S. Land Office but didn’t succeed. He became a candidate for the Vice-Presidency and lost. Two years later he was defeated in a race for the Senate. He ran for President and finally was elected. That man was Abraham Lincoln.     Today’s Gospel episode of healing gives us the same message in a more powerful way.   Introduction: All three readings today speak of the expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God,” although salvation was offered first to the Jews Although God set the Hebrew people apart as His chosen race, He included all nations in His plan for salvation and blessed all families of the earth in Abraham (Gn 12:1-3). By declaring through the prophet Isaiah ( the first reading ), “ My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” God reveals the truth that in His eyes there is no distinction among human beings on the basis of race, caste or color.  Today’s Responsorial Psalm  (Ps 67) rejects all types of religious exclusivity: "Let all the peoples praise You, O God; …For You judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the earth, so that Your saving power may be known among all the nations." In the second reading , Paul explains that, although the Jews were the chosen people, God turned to the Gentiles who received mercy through their Faith in Jesus. In the Gospel story, Jesus demonstrates that salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong Faith. Thus, Jesus shows that God's mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith. The first reading explained, (Is 56: 1, 6-7 ): The third part of the book of the prophet Isaiah (chapters 56-66), was written mainly for the Jews who were returning from the Babylonian exile to join their relatives who had been left behind in Judea. But today’s lesson is primarily addressed to those Jews who, after the Exile had officially ended, still chose to remain in Babylon as Jews among the Gentiles. In this passage, the Lord God not only pleaded with these people who preferred exile to the labor of returning to the Promised Land to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, but also tried to make them understand the role the Gentiles would have in their restored kingdom. Though in the past all who came to the God of Israel were required to accept the Law and the Covenant, God’s concern for those outside that Covenant led Him to a new and radical solution. “The foreigners,” the Lord God declared through Isaiah , “who join themselves to Yahweh, ministering to Him, loving the name of Yahweh and becoming His servants . . . them I will bring to My holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer . . . for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Thus Isaiah's prophecy consoled those Jews who had married Gentiles by assuring them that their God was equally interested in the people of other nations and in the descendants of Abraham. In short, the prophet reports, everyone has a part to play in God’s plan — even those who don’t belong to the “true religion.” In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) the Psalmist sings God’s blessing on the people of Israel and calls on all nations and peoples to praise God. The Psalm is a response to Yahweh’s declaration in the first reading that the Gentiles will be accepted at the altar of Yahweh. Second Reading (Rom 11: 13-15, 29-32) explained: In Romans 9 – 11, Paul asks how God could apparently go back on His promise  to Abraham that Abraham's descendants would always be God's chosen people. Paul answers his own question by explaining that it had been God's plan he should turn to the Gentiles and bring them into the Covenant. Frustrated by the slow pace of Jewish conversions, Paul devoted his preaching mission to the Gentiles.  Thus, God’s secret plan to invite all people into the Covenant would be revealed and completed. Paul was convinced that the Jewish nation would eventually accept Christ because God's ”irrevocable” call, given to them through Abraham, was a call to eternal salvation. Paul's failure to convert his fellow-Jews serves as a model for us who must accept failure in our own lives, especially when it concerns our loved ones who refuse what we judge to be to their advantage.  Gospel exegesis : The significance of the miracle: The Gospels describe only two miraculous healings Jesus performed for Gentiles:  the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:10-12) in Capernaum, and the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman which we hear today. The encounter with the Canaanite woman took place outside Jewish territory in Tyre and Sidon, two coastal cities, twenty-five and fifty miles north of Galilee in present-day Lebanon.  The story of this miracle is told by Mark (7:24-30) as well as by Matthew (15:21-23).  Both miracles foreshadow the extension of the Gospel, the Good News, to the whole world.   The woman in the today’s miracle belonged to the old Canaanite stock of the Syro-Phoenician race.  The Canaanites were regarded as pagans and idolaters and, hence, as ritually unclean.  But this woman showed “a gallant and an audacious love which grew until it worshipped at the feet of the Divine, an indomitable persistence springing from an unconquerable hope, a cheerfulness which would not be dismayed” (Fr. James Rowland).  By granting the persistent request of the pagan woman, Jesus demonstrates that his mission is to break down the barriers and to remove the long-standing walls of division and mutual prejudice between the Jews and the Gentiles. God does not discriminate but welcomes all who believe in Him, who ask for His mercy and who try to do His will. Trustful persistence rewarded.   Jesus first ignores both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples to send the woman away. He then tries to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman by an indirect refusal, telling her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."   But the woman is persistent in her request. She kneels before him and begs , "Lord, help me."   Now Jesus makes a seemingly harsh statement, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." The term " dogs " was a derogatory Jewish word for the Gentiles. Dogs were regarded by the Jews as unclean, because they would eat anything given to them, including pork. The woman noticed , however, that Jesus had used the word kunariois-- the word for household pets – rather than the   ordinary Greek word for dogs - kuon.   She also observed that Jesus had used the word for dogs in a joking way – a sort of test of the woman's Faith.  So she immediately matched wits with Jesus. Her argument runs like this:  Pets are not outsiders but insiders.  They not only belong to the family, but are part of the family. While they do not have a seat at the table, they enjoy intimacy at the family's feet.  Hence, the woman replied: "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table" (v. 27), expressing her Faith that Jesus could and would heal her daughter.  Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit and responded exuberantly, "Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish." We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he granted her request and finally, the fourth time, her persistence was rewarded and her plea was answered.  This Gospel episode is an account of a woman who got more from the Kingdom of God than she hoped for. The woman came to Jesus asking for one miracle and she got two. This is really a double miracle, for the daughter was exorcised of her demonic possession and received a new life, and the mother, through her experience with Christ, found a new life as well. The greatness of this woman's Faith consists in: a) her willingness to cross the barrier of racism; b) her refusal to be put off or ignored because of her position in life and c) her humility in admitting that she did not deserve the Master’s attention and time. Life messages: #1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence .  Although the essential parts of prayer are adoration and thanksgiving, the prayer of petition plays a big part in most people’s daily life. We cannot provide, by our unaided selves, for our spiritual and temporal needs. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: "Ask and you shall receive." Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have the "great Faith” we need to be able to receive all that Christ wants to grant us in response to our requests. We must realize and remember that we do not always get exactly what we ask for, but rather what God knows we need, what He wants for us and what is really best for us.  What we need most is to receive the peace and security that come from being in harmony with God's will for us.  As Christians, we also know that our particular requests may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our, or their, eternal harm. But if the prayer is sincere and persevering, we will always get an answer – one which is better than what we asked for. Hence let us trust that every time we pray for something, the answer is already on its way before we even asked God. We just need to trust God’s timetable and infinite wisdom that he will answer us according to His will and purpose. #2) We need to pull down our walls of separation and share in the universality of God’s love: Very often we set up walls which separate us from God and from one another. Today's Gospel reminds us that God's love and mercy are extended to all who call on him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are. In other words, God’s care extends beyond the boundaries of race and nation to the hearts of all who live, and God’s House should become a House of prayer for all peoples. It is therefore fitting that we should pray that the walls which our pride, intolerance and prejudice have raised, may crumble. Next, we have to be grateful to God for all the blessings we enjoy. As baptized members of the Christian community, we have been given special privileges and easy access to God's love.  But we also have serious responsibilities arising from these gifts. One of these responsibilities is to make clear to others, with true humility and compassion, that God's love, mercy and healing are for them also because they too are the children of God.(Fr. Antony Kadavil) (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis sends condolences for ‘cruel’ Barcelona terror attack

Vatican News - Fri, 08/18/2017 - 08:00
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday sent a telegram expressing his condolences for the victims of the terrorist attack on Barcelona, in which at least 13 people died and more than a hundred were injured. Listen to our report: Pope Francis expressed his “deepest sympathy” for the victims of Thursday’s terrorist attack on Barcelona “Las Ramblas Boulevard” with a telegram to the city’s Archbishop, Cardinal Juan José Omella. The telegram was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin. Pope Francis condemned the “blind violence” manifested in the attack, saying it is “a grave offense to the Creator”. He prayed for those who “lost their lives to such an inhuman act”. “In these moments of sorrow and pain,” the Pope “wishes also to offer his support and closeness to the many injured, to their families, and to all Catalan and Spanish society,” it read. Turning to the future, Pope Francis said he raises his “prayers to the Most High that He help us continue to work with determination for peace and harmony in the world.” Finally, the Holy Father imparted his Apostolic Blessing “upon all the victims, their families, and the beloved Spanish people”. Please find below the official English translation of the telegram: CARDINAL JUAN JOSÉ OMELLA Y OMELLA ARCHBISHOP OF BARCELONA FOLLOWING THE NEWS OF THE CRUEL TERRORIST ATTACK THAT HAS SOWN DEATH AND PAIN IN LAS RAMBLAS IN BARCELONA, POPE FRANCIS WISHES TO EXPRESS HIS DEEPEST SYMPATHY FOR THE VICTIMS WHO HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES TO SUCH AN INHUMAN ACT, AND OFFERS PRAYERS FOR THEIR ETERNAL REPOSE. IN THESE MOMENTS OF SORROW AND PAIN, HE WISHES ALSO TO OFFER HIS SUPPORT AND CLOSENESS TO THE MANY INJURED, TO THEIR FAMILIES, AND TO ALL CATALAN AND SPANISH SOCIETY. THE HOLY FATHER ONCE AGAIN CONDEMNS BLIND VIOLENCE, WHICH IS A GRAVE OFFENCE TO THE CREATOR, AND RAISES PRAYERS TO THE MOST HIGH THAT HE HELP US CONTINUE TO WORK WITH DETERMINATION FOR PEACE AND HARMONY IN THE WORLD. WITH THESE WISHES, HIS HOLINESS INVOKES UPON ALL THE VICTIMS, THEIR FAMILIES AND THE BELOVED SPANISH PEOPLE HIS APOSTOLIC BLESSING. CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN SECRETARY OF STATE OF HIS HOLINESS (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis prays for victims of Sierra Leone mudslide

Vatican News - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 06:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his “closeness” to those who have loved ones in the tragic mudslide that struck Sierra Leone . A telegram signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin says the Holy Father is praying for all those who have died; and that he invokes “divine blessings of strength and consolation” on their grieving family and friends. The telegram assures rescue workers of Pope Francis’ solidarity and support. The full text of the telegram, addressed to Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba of Freetown, can be read below: Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time.  He prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.  His Holiness likewise expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis prays Angelus for Solemnity of the Assumption

Vatican News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 08:04
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Angelus on Tuesday. The feast of the Assumption, also known as Ferragosto , is an important religious and civil holiday in Italy, and thousands of faithful were present in St Peter’s Square to celebrate with the Holy Father. In his remarks, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading, which relates the meeting of Mary with Elizabeth, and records Mary’s triumphant song of praise, the Magnificat . “The greatest gift that Mary brings to Elizabeth,” the Pope said, “is Jesus, who already lives within her – not in faith and hope, as in so many women in the Old Testament: Jesus has taken human flesh from the Virgin, for His mission of salvation.” Elizabeth, the Pope said, had already received the joy of pregnancy, after having felt for so long the sorrow of not having a baby. Now, at the arrival of Mary, her joy “overflows and bursts from her heart, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills her senses.” That joy is echoed by Mary in the Magnificat, a song of praise for God, who accomplished His plan of salvation through the poor and humble. God is able to do great things through the humble because, the Pope said, “ humility is like an emptiness that leaves room for God.” The humble person “is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong.” He challenged the faithful to reflect on their own efforts to foster the virtue of humility. In the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, the Pope continued, “the coming of Jesus through Mary creates not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, to prayer, to praise.” And we too, Pope Francis continued, desire these things for our homes. “Celebrating Mary Most Holy, Assumed into Heaven,” he said, “we would like her, once more, to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, that immense Gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all other graces that we have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!” Mary, the Pope said in conclusion, “is the model of virtue and of faith. In contemplating her today assumed into heaven, at the final completion of her earthly journey, we give thanks that she always goes before us in the pilgrimage of life and of faith.” And, he said, “we ask that she protect and sustain us; that we might have a strong, joyful, and merciful faith; that she might help us to be saints, to meet together with her, one day, in Paradise.” Following the Angelus, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary, as Queen of Peace , “the anxieties and sorrows of peoples who, in many parts of the world, are suffering on account of natural calamities, of social tensions or of conflicts.” He prayed, “May our heavenly Mother obtain consolation for all, and a future of serenity and of concord.” (from Vatican Radio) ...
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Angelus: Listen to the Lord not horoscopes or fortune tellers

Vatican News - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 07:07
(Vatican Radio)"When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”. Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square. He was referring to the Gospel of the day where Jesus walks on the waters of Lake Galilee to save Peter and the disciples from sinking in their boat due to the heavy waves of the sea. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report: The Pope recounted how this story is rich in symbolism. The boat, he continued, “is the life of each of us, but it is also the life of the Church; The wind represents difficulties and trials.” Peter's invocation: "Lord, command me to come to you!" And his cry, "Lord, save me", the Holy Father noted  “are so much like our desire to feel the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the toughest moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.” Pope Francis explained, that at that moment, Peter was not sure of the word of Jesus, which was like a rope to cling to in hostile and turbulent waters. This is what can happen to us as well, he said,   “when you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but to have more security in consulting  horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”. The Gospel of today, the Pope underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life. But faith, the Holy Father went on to say, “gives us the assurance of a Presence, that is Christ, which pushes us to overcome the existential buffs; Faith, in short, is not a loophole from the problems of life, but it sustains our journey and gives it meaning.       (from Vatican Radio)...
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Centenary of Romero's birth celebrated in Southwark

Vatican News - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 10:05
(Vatican Radio) August 15th 2017 marks the centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated for speaking out on behalf of the poor and oppressed during his country’s military dictatorship. There are many events planned to mark the anniversary year , both in his native El Salvador but also in countries around the world, where his life and legacy continue to motivate those working for justice and peace today. In the London diocese of Southwark a Mass will be celebrated at St George's Cathedral on August 12th, while an ecumenical evensong will be held in Westminster Abbey on September 23rd. The Archbishop of Southwark Peter Smith will preside at the Mass on Saturday, while Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia will travel from Rome to preach the homily. Archbishop Paglia currently serves as head of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the St John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. He is also the postulator of the cause for canonisation of Archbishop Romero. Philippa Hitchen talked to Archbishop Paglia about why the murdered Salvadoran Church leader continues to inspire so many people of all faiths and none. Listen to the full interview:   Archbishop Paglia says the example of Romero is “a universal example” and “a clear evangelical witness of love” in a world of difficulties, injustices, war and terror attacks. His voice and his testimony, he says, is clear and understandable for all people, above all for the poor and voiceless. 'Providential link' between Pope and Romero Archbishop Paglia says there is “an interesting alliance between the first Latin American pope and the first martyr of Vatican II” . He describes the “providential link between Romero’s witness and Pope Francis’ engagement” as “a sort of good link between heaven and earth in this current moment”.  In a certain sense, he adds, Pope Francis needs the witness of Romero to continue to preach the Gospel of love for the poor as a strategic pastoral initiative. Hopes for canonisation   After attending the beatification of Romero in San Salvador in May 2015, Archbishop Paglia says he hopes that during the next year the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints may approve a miracle and make its final decision for his canonisation. After the difficulties of those who opposed Romero’s beatification, Archbishop Paglia says “even those who were against him have to accept the decision of the pope”.  The magisterium of Pope Francis is now linked to the witness of Romero, he says, as “a clear sign of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration in the Church”. Building a globalisation of solidarity Archbishop Paglia notes how many people are struck by the example of Romero, not just in the Catholic and Anglican Churches, but followers of other religions “and also a lot of non-believers” Romero continues “to show, to push all of us”, Archbishop Paglia says, “to trust in the Gospel, to accept the Word of God and put into practice the word of the Gospel”.  If we follow this example, he concludes, “we can not only testify to the Gospel” but we can change the world by helping to “construct a better globalization” of solidarity. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Audience: ‘Divine mercy is foundation of Christian hope’

Vatican News - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 08:08
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope with pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the Wednesday General Audience, saying that God’s mercy as embodied by Jesus both transforms us and renews our hope. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: In his address to pilgrims at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about God’s mercy and forgiveness as the driving force or the “motor” of Christian hope. He reflected on the passage in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 7:44-50) in which Jesus forgives the sins of the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and a precious ointment. Pope Francis said that Jesus’ merciful action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of his time. Jesus, he said, embraced sinners and the “untouchables” of his day, rather than rejecting them as was commonplace. “Jesus, faced with human pain, feels mercy; Jesus’ heart is merciful. Jesus feels compassion. Literally: Jesus feels a tremor within.” The Pope said Jesus’ astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy. And this gives a sure foundation to our hope. Pope Francis then invited all present to reflect on the cost of sin. “Jesus does not go to the cross because He heals the sick, preaches charity, or proclaims the beatitudes. The Son of God goes to the cross above all because He forgives sins, and because He wants the total and definitive liberation of the human heart.” Finally, Pope Francis said God’s mercy both transforms us and renews our hope. “[W]e are all poor sinners, in need of the mercy of God Who has the strength to transform us and to restore our hope every day.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis decries attack on Nigerian churchgoers, violence in CAR

Vatican News - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 05:36
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis appealed on Wednesday for an end to “every form of hatred and violence”, especially those “perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray”. He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria and to recent violence against Christians in the Central African Republic. Listen to our report: At his General Audience, Pope Francis said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.” At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha. The Pope also decried an incident which occurred on Wednesday in the Central African Republic. “And, unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community.” He expressed his desire that attacks on places of worship should cease. “I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.” After a brief pause, the Holy Father invited all present to think about “our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in the Central African Republic” and to pray for them. He then led the crowd in the recitation of the Hail Mary. Pope Francis already on Monday sent a telegramme of condolences to Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke of Nnewi following the attack on the church in his diocese. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis' catechesis at General Audience: English Summary

Vatican News - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 04:28
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at the Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, reflecting on divine forgiveness as the "driving force of hope". Please find below the official English summary of the Pope's catechesis: In our continuing catechesis, we now consider God’s mercy as the driving force of Christian hope.  When Jesus forgives the sinful woman, his action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of the time.  Instead of rejecting sinners, Jesus embraces them, those who are outcast, “untouchable”.  With a compassion that literally causes him to tremble in his depths, he reveals the merciful heart of God.  This astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy, and gives a sure foundation to our hope.  We who have experienced God’s forgiveness should avoid the danger of forgetting that this mercy was purchased at a great price: Christ’s death on the Cross.  Our Lord died not because he healed the sick, but because he did what only God can do: forgive sins.  This divine mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.  Our Lord, who rejects no one, graciously bestows upon us the mission to proclaim his mercy to the world. (from Vatican Radio)...
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