Vatican News

Pope greets Italian police who protect the Vatican

Vatican News - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 10:30
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted the members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican of the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) in a traditional new year meeting on Friday. Although Vatican City State has its own police force – the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps –  this force cooperates closely with its Italian counterparts, and the Italian police help patrol St. Peter’s Square. In his address, Francis expressed his gratitude to all of them for their generous service, not without difficulties and risks. “I know that you run risks”, he said. “You are, in a certain sense, the ‘guardian angels’ of St. Peter’s Square. Indeed, every day you keep watch over this peculiar centre of Christianity, and other relevant areas of the Vatican, with great care, professionalism and a sense of duty. And especially in these recent times, you have shown competence and courage in facing the many challenges and various dangers, working with generosity in the prevention of crimes. In this way you have ensured safe access for pilgrims to the Basilica and to meetings with Peter’s Successor. For all this I thank you. I thank you: they are not merely words, these, they come from the heart. Thank you! I know the hardships of your work and the sacrifices that you must make every day. Know that I appreciate you greatly and often think with sincere gratitude of you and your valuable work”. “The extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, an event of unique spiritual significance, has seen many pilgrims flock to Rome from all over the world in recent months. You too have been required to make greater efforts in your work, to ensure that the celebrations and events connected with the Jubilee were able to take place in safety and serenity. The external order over which you kept watch with great diligence, thoughtful care and constant willingness, thus contributed to fostering inner calm in pilgrims in search of peace in their encounter with the Lord’s mercy”. The Pope recalled that the Christmas celebrations came to an end just a short while ago, in which “we turned our gaze to Bethlehem, to that land and that family who became Jesus’ dwelling. Christmas urges us to measure ourselves, once again, with the lowering of the Son of God, Who wished to make Himself similar to us in everything other than sin, to make us understand the love with which He loved, and loves, us. This immeasurable love is a constant invitation to turn to acceptance, solidarity and forgiveness of our brothers. In this way we will be able to experience within ourselves that peace that the angels in Bethlehem proclaimed to men of good will”. The Holy Father concluded by asking the Lord to protect those present and commending them to the Virgin Mary, and reiterating his gratitude for the tenacity and fidelity with which they perform their work. “I ask you to pray for me, and impart my heartfelt apostolic blessing”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: Get moving if you want to follow Jesus

Vatican News - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 07:57
(Vatican Radio)  During his homily on Friday morning in the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that authentic faith must be ready to take risks and that real hope is the reward. Listen to our report: Commenting on the Gospel account of the paralytic who is lowered from the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching, the Pope said people follow Jesus out of self interest or because they are looking for a comforting word. Even if no intention is totally pure or perfect, he said, the important thing is to follow Jesus. People were drawn to Him because of the “things He said and the way he said them. They understood Him. He healed them and many people followed Him to be healed”. There were times, said Pope Francis, when Jesus admonished people who were more interested in their own well-being than in the Word of God. Don’t be Christians to look at life from the balcony and judge others There were other times, continued the Pope, when people wanted to make Jesus King, thinking He was “the perfect politician!”. But they were wrong and Jesus “went away and hid”. Even so, the Lord let anyone follow Him because He knew that we are all sinners. The bigger problem, confirmed the Pope, “was not with those who followed Jesus”, but with those who stayed where they were.  “Those who didn’t move…and watched. They were sitting down…watching from the balcony. Their life was not a journey: their life was a balcony! From there they never took risks. They just judged. They were pure and wouldn’t get involved. But their judgements were severe. In their hearts they said: What ignorant people! What superstitious people! How often, when we see the piety of simple people, are we too subject to that clericalism that hurts the Church so much”. Reflecting on those who don’t move in their lives, Pope Francis referenced the man who “sat beside the pool for 38 years, without moving, embittered by life, without hope…someone else who failed to follow Jesus and had no hope”. Encountering Jesus means taking risks But those who did follow Jesus, continued the Pope, were ready to risk in order to meet Him, in order to “find what they wanted”. Going back to the day’s Gospel reading, Pope Francis said “the men who made a hole in the roof took a risk”. They risked the owner of the house suing them and taking them to court to pay for the damages. They were ready to risk because “they wanted to go to Jesus”. The woman who was sick took a risk when she furtively touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak: she risked being ridiculed. But she risked: because she wanted to be cured, “she wanted to reach Jesus. Remember the Canaanite woman: women risk more than men do! That’s true: they are better at it! We have to admit that”. Following Jesus, the Pope went on, “isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful! And it’s always a risk”. There are times, he said, when we risk “being ridiculous”. But we achieve what counts: “our sins are forgiven”. Beneath whatever request we are making, whether it be for good health or for a solution to a problem, “there’s the desire to be healed in spirit, to be forgiven”. All of us know we are sinners, said Pope Francis, “and that’s why we follow Jesus: to meet Him. So we take risks”. Beware of a soul that is static, closed and without hope Let’s ask ourselves, concluded Pope Francis: “Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company?” Because “that’s not the way to follow Jesus. That way you don’t move, like those who judge”. Do we follow Jesus because we need something, or do we follow Him because we are ready to risk? “This is faith: trusting in Jesus, having faith in Jesus. And with this faith in Him, these men cut a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher down in front of Jesus so he could cure the sick man”. “Do I put my faith in Jesus?”, asked the Pope. “Do I entrust my life to Jesus? Am I walking behind Jesus even if sometimes I seem ridiculous? Or am I sitting still, watching what others are doing?” Am I watching life with a soul that is static, “with a soul that is closed with bitterness and lack of hope? We should each be asking ourselves these questions today”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope writes to young people ahead of Synod on Vocational Discernment

Vatican News - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 06:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter to young people as the Church prepares for a Synod of Bishops on the theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”. The Pope’s letter was published on Friday ahead of a press conference at the Holy See Press Office to present the preparatory document for the Synod which will take place in October 2018. Please find below the text of the letter :   My Dear Young People,      I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.     I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God's voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.         When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?         But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).         I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher [...] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God's plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.         In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, [...], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).         A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).         Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).          With paternal affection, FRANCIS (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Audience: ‘Christian hope born of trust in God's word, not idols’

Vatican News - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 07:23
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his series of catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, in which he contrasted authentic hope, born of trust in God's word, with the temptation of false hope in idols. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Taking issue with the false idols offered by our modern world, Pope Francis at his Wednesday General Audience said that “hope is a primary need in man” but that we can get lost in our search for security by trusting in the false hopes offered by idols. He said the Scriptures teach us that side by side with authentic hope, born of trust in God’s word, we can be tempted by false hopes and worldly idols, like money, power or physical beauty. Idols, he said, “confuse the mind and heart, and, instead of favoring life, they lead to death. The Pope then told a story he had heard in Buenos Aires of a “very beautiful woman who bragged of her beauty”. The woman commented, he said, “as if it were natural: ‘Oh yes, I had to have an abortion because my figure is very important.’” He went on to say, “Faith is trusting in God, but there comes a moment in which [we], confronted with life’s difficulties, experience the fragility of that trust and feel the need for other certainties, more tangible and concrete.” The Scriptures, especially the prophets and wisdom writers, he said, reveal the fleeting nature of idols and the hope they offer. In Psalm 115, the Psalmist ironically presents these idols as silver and gold, made of human hands. “The message of the Psalm is very clear,” Pope Francis said, “one who places their hope in idols becomes like them: empty images with hands that don’t touch, feet that don’t walk, mouths that cannot speak. One has nothing else to say and becomes incapable of helping, of changing things, of smiling, giving of oneself, and of loving.” In contrast, God is always greater than we are, making us incapable of reduce God to our size, made in our own image and tailored to our desires. The Holy Father concluded, with Psalm 115, that the grandeur of God enables Christians to trust and hope in the Lord. “Trusting in the Lord, one becomes like Him; His blessing transforms us into His children, who share His life. Hope in God makes us enter, as it were, within the range of God’s action, of His memory which blesses and saves us.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Daily homily: Jesus had authority because He was a servant

Vatican News - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 07:43
(Vatican Radio) Jesus had authority because He served the people, He was close to persons and He was coherent, as opposed to the doctors of the law who considered themselves princes. These three characteristics of Jesus’ authority were highlighted by Pope Francis in his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father noted, on the other hand, that the doctors of the law taught with a clericalist authority: they were far distant from the people, and didn’t live what they preached. The respective authority of Jesus and that of the Pharisees were the two poles around which the Pope’s homily revolved. The one was a real authority, the other was merely formal. The day’s Gospel speaks of the amazement of the people because Jesus taught “as one who has authority” and not like the scribes: they were the authorities of the people, the Pope said, but what they taught didn’t enter into their hearts, while Jesus had a real authority: He was not a “seducer,” He taught the Law “down to the last point,” He taught the Truth, but with authority. Jesus served the people while the doctors of the law considered themselves princes The Pope then entered into details, focusing on the three characteristics that distinguished the authority of Jesus from that of the doctors of the law. While Jesus “taught with humility,” and said to His disciples, “the greatest should be as one who serves: he should make himself small,” the Pharisees considered themselves princes: Jesus served the people, He explained things because the people understood well: He was at the service of the people. He had an attitude of a servant, and this gave authority. On the other hand, these doctors of the law that the people… yes, they heard, they respected, but they didn’t feel that they had authority over them; these had a psychology of princes: ‘We are the masters, the princes, and we teach you. Not service: we command, you obey.’ And Jesus never passed Himself off like a prince: He was always the servant of all, and this is what gave Him authority. The second characteristic of the authority of Jesus is closeness It is being close to the people, in fact, that confers authority. Closeness, then, is the second characteristic that distinguishes the authority of Jesus from that of the Pharisees. “Jesus did not have an allergy to the people: touching the lepers, the sick, didn’t make Him shudder,” Pope Francis explained; while the Pharisees despised “the poor people, the ignorant,” they liked to walk about the piazzas, in nice clothing: They were detached from the people, they were not close [to them]; Jesus was very close to the people, and this gave authority. Those detached people, these doctors, had a clericalist psychology: they taught with a clericalist authority – that’s clericalism . It is very pleasing to me when I read about the closeness to the people the Blessed Paul VI had; in number 48 of Evangelii nuntiandi one sees the heart of a pastor who is close [to the people]: that’s where you find the authority of the Pope, closeness. First, a servant, of service, of humility: the head is the one who serves, who turns everything upside down, like an iceberg. The summit of the iceberg is seen; Jesus, on the other hand, turns it upside down and the people are on top and he that commands is below, and gives commands from below. Second, closeness. Jesus was coherent; the clericalist attitude is hypocritical But there is a third point that distinguishes the authority of the scribes from that of Jesus, namely ‘coherence.’ Jesus “lived what He preached.” “There was something like a unity, a harmony between what He thought, felt, did.” Meanwhile, one who considers himself a prince has a “clericalist attitude” – that is, hypocritical – says one thing and does another: On the other hand, this people was not coherent and their personality was divided on the point that Jesus counselled His disciples: ‘But, do what they tell you, but not what they do’: they said one thing and did another. Incoherence. They were incoherent. And the attitude Jesus uses of them so often is hypocritical . And it is understood that one who considers himself a prince, who has a clericalist attitude, who is a hypocrite, doesn’t have authority! He speaks the truth, but without authority. Jesus, on the other hand, who is humble, who is at the service of others, who is close, who does not despise the people, and who is coherent, has authority. And this is the authority that the people of God senses. The amazement of the innkeeper in the parable of the Good Samaritan In conclusion, the Pope, in order to make this better understood, recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan. Seeing the man left half-dead in the street by the robbers, the priest passed by, and kept on going, perhaps because there was blood and he thought that if he touched him, he would become impure. The Levite passed by and, the Pope said, “I believe that he thought” that if he got mixed up in the affair he would then have to go to court and give testimony, and he had many things to do. And so he, too, kept on going. Finally, the Samaritan came, and sinner, and he, instead, had mercy. But there was another person in the parable, Pope Francis noted: the innkeeper, who was amazed, not because of the assault of the robbers, because that was something that happened along that road; not because of the behaviour of the priest and the Levite, because he knew them; but because of the behaviour of the Samaritan. The amazement of the innkeeper at the Samaritan: “But this is crazy… He’s not Jew, he’s a sinner,” he could have thought. Pope Francis than connected this amazement to the amazement felt by the people in the day’s Gospel in the face of Jesus’ authority: “a humble authority, of service… an authority close to the people” and “coherent.” Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope’s January prayer intention: ‘Christians serving humanity’

Vatican News - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 11:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for January is for Christians serving the challenges facing humanity , in which he asks that full ecclesial communion be restored in order to serve the challenges facing humanity. The  Apostleship of Prayer  has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: In today’s world, many Christians from various churches work together to serve humanity in need, to defend human life and its dignity, to defend creation, and to combat injustice. [1] This desire to walk together, to collaborate in service and in solidarity with the weakest and with those who suffer, is a source of joy for us all. [2] Join your voice to mine in praying for all who contribute through prayer and fraternal charity to restoring full ecclesial communion in service of the challenges facing humanity. [3] _____________________ [1] Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity for the 50th anniversary of the decree " Unitatis Redintegratio ". [2] Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity for the 50th anniversary of the decree " Unitatis Redintegratio ". [3] Universal Prayer Intention of the Holy Father entrusted to the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). January 2017. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Peace, security focal points of Pope's speech to Diplomats

Vatican News - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 10:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday called on people of every religious tradition to join in condemning the misuse of God’s name to justify acts of violence. Speaking in the Apostolic Palace to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See during the traditional exchange of New Year’s greetings with the diplomats, Pope Francis said, “[O]ne can never kill in God’s name,” adding that the world is, “dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power.” Pope Francis also said,  “Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty, and often is linked to significant social poverty.” Click below to hear our report “It can only be fully defeated with the joint contribution of religious and political leaders,” he continued. Security and peace were the twin focal points of the Holy Father’s broad-ranging address , which is often described as his "state of the world" address and this year was articulated in some thirty-four paragraphs and twenty footnotes.  “In today’s climate of general apprehension for the present, and uncertainty and anxious concern for the future, I feel it is important to speak a word of hope, which can also indicate a path on which to embark,” the Pope said. The Holy Father pointed out some of the areas where conflict is affecting people’s lives. “I think particularly of the fundamentalist-inspired terrorism that in the past year has also reaped numerous victims throughout the world: in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States of America, Tunisia and Turkey,” he said. “These are vile acts that use children to kill, as in Nigeria, or target people at prayer, as in the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo, or travelers or workers, as in Brussels, or passers-by in the streets of cities like Nice and Berlin, or simply people celebrating the arrival of the new year, as in Istanbul,” he continued. The Pope called on the international community to work for peace. “Peace,” Pope Francis said, is a gift, a challenge and a commitment,” that each of us and all together are called to receive, to answer, and embrace with care and dedication. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Christians put Jesus at the center of their lives

Vatican News - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 09:37
(Vatican Radio) Christian life is simple; a Christian does not need to do strange or difficult things, but put Jesus at the center of his or her daily choices. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis ’ homily on Monday during morning Mass. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Resuming the daily Santa Marta Mass after the Christmas break, the Pope remarked on the fact that we have begun a new liturgical season in ordinary time, highlighting however that Jesus is always at the center of Christian life: "Jesus Christ manifested himself; we are invited to get to know him, to recognize him in our lives and in so many circumstances of life” he said. The Pope also explained that Saints and apparitions are important, but without Jesus, he said, they would not exist.    Hence, he said, we must ask ourselves the question: “is Jesus Christ at the center of my life? And what is my relationship with Jesus Christ? " Thus, the Pope continued, we have three tasks because "to be able to put Jesus at the center we must make sure that we know Him and that we are able to recognize Him.  “In His time many did not recognize him: the doctors of the law, the chief priests, the scribes, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Indeed, they persecuted Him and they killed Him. We too must ask ourselves: ‘Am I interested in getting to know Jesus? Or am I perhaps more interested in watching soap operas, in gossiping, in pursuing an ambition or talking about the lives of others?’” he said. To get to know Jesus, the Pope explained, there is prayer, there is the Holy Spirit, “there is also the Gospel, which we should carry with us and read a passage every day.  It’s the only way to get to know Jesus.  And then the Holy Spirit does the work afterwards. He who makes the seed sprout and grow is the Holy Spirit”. The second task, Francis continued, is to worship Jesus: “not just asking things of Him and thanking Him”, but praying silently in adoration, and removing from our hearts other things we adore and that capture our interest. “All the rest, he said, is of use only if I am capable of worshiping God alone”.  And the Pope invited the faithful to pray the ‘Glory Be’: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit”.  Pointing out that too often we recite it like parrots, he said: “this prayer is adoration!” It is a way of worshiping the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. A little prayer, in silence, before the greatness of God is a way to worship Jesus and say: 'You are the only one, you are the beginning and the end, and I want to stay with you throughout my life, throughout eternity. It is a way to chase away the things that prevent me from worshiping Jesus.” The third task, the Pope said, is to follow Jesus, as illustrated in today's Gospel in which the Lord calls his first disciples. It means putting Jesus at the center of our lives: “Christian life is simple, but we need the grace of the Holy Spirit to awaken the desire to know Jesus, to worship Jesus and to follow Him. That’s why, during the Collect we asked the Lord what we are called to do and we asked Him for the strength to do it” he said.  Christians, Pope Francis concluded, do not need to do strange, difficult or superfluous things, so let us ask the Lord for the grace to know Jesus, to worship Jesus and to follow Him. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Angelus: Pope urges care for homeless in freezing weather

Vatican News - Sun, 01/08/2017 - 09:07
(Vatican Radio) Speaking to pilgrims gathered in a freezing St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis asked for prayers for all those living and dying on the streets at this time of year. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  The Pope’s words came during his Angelus address at the end of Mass marking the feast of Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan. As Jesus came to be baptised, the Pope said, John the Baptist tries to stop him, saying he is the one who should be baptised by Jesus. But, the Pope continued, Jesus came down to earth to close the gap between God and man, to fulfill God’s will and to show that God remains close to us, his children. Christians must be humble servants As Jesus was baptized, the voice of God was heard saying “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” and a dove was seen as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Pope said that was the moment when Jesus began his public mission, in the style of a humble servant. All disciples of Christ, he said, must use that same missionary style, not shouting or scolding people, not with arrogance or imposition, but firmly and gently with the example of their own lives. After praying the Angelus prayer, the Pope remembered the homeless and especially those who’ve died during the extreme cold weather. May the Lord warm our hearts to be able to help those who live on the streets, he said. Practical support for homeless The Pope’s almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, told Vatican Radio yesterday that the three hostels run by the Vatican, close to St Peter’s and to Termini train station, will remain open 24 hours a day while the cold weather continues. He said a number of cars have also been made available as a place to sleep for those who wish to remain on the streets, while special thermal sleeping bags and gloves are being provided to try and protect the homeless from the freezing temperatures.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis baptises 28 babies in the Sistine Chapel

Vatican News - Sun, 01/08/2017 - 08:26
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday baptised 28 babies during Mass in the Sistine chapel, telling their families that Jesus’ first sermon was the sound of his crying in the stable at Bethlehem. Surrounded by the sounds of baby noises, the Pope gave a short, off-the-cuff homily on the faith which is given to children in Baptism. Faith, he said, does not just mean reciting the Creed on Sundays, but rather it means believing in the truth, trusting in God and teaching others with the example of our lives. Listen to Philippa HItchen's report:  Faith, the Pope continued, is also the light which grows in our hearts – that’s why a lighted candle is given to every person being baptized. In the early years of the Church, he noted, baptism was called ‘illumination’ to show the way in which faith helps us see things in a different light. To the parents who had brought their children to be baptized, he said “you have the task of making that faith grow, of nurturing it, so that it may bear witness to others”. As the sounds of crying grew louder, the Pope joked that the concert had begun. The babies are crying, he said, because they are in an unfamiliar place, or because they had to get up early, or sometimes simply because they hear another child crying. Jesus did just the same, Pope Francis said, adding that he liked to think of Our Lord’s first sermon as his crying in the stable. And if your children are crying because they are hungry, the Pope told the mothers present, then go ahead and feed them, just as Mary breastfed Jesus.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Angelus: Choose to be guided by the star of Jesus

Vatican News - Fri, 01/06/2017 - 08:28
(Vatican Radio) "We learn from the Magi not to devote only spare time and some thoughts every now and then. Like the Magi, let us set out, clothe ourselves in the light following the star of Jesus, and love the Lord with all our might". Those were Pope Francis’ words to the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus of the Epiphany, to which he donated a book on Mercy distributed by the poor attendance. Like the Magi chose to be guided by the star of Jesus - said the Pope, "even in our life there are several stars. It's up to us to choose which to follow." "There are flashing lights that come and go, like the small pleasures of life: although good, they are not enough… “ The Magi invite us to follow the true light that is Lord - said Pope Francis - "a light that does not dazzle, but it accompanies and gives a unique joy. Follow today, among the many shooting stars in the world, the bright star of Jesus! Following it, we will have the joy, like  that of the Magi. " "I would like, the Pope said, to invite everyone not to be afraid of this light and open up to the Lord. Above all I would say to those who have lost the strength to look, to those who, are dominated by the darkness of life, …Courage, the light of Jesus can overcome the darkest darkness. " "We learn from the Magi not to devote to Jesus only spare time and some thoughts every now and then…” Concluding the Angelus, Pope Francis donated to those present in St Peter’s Square a small booklet on Mercy which was distributed by more than 300 poor people present in St Peter's Square to whom the Pope offered lunch. "The Magi offered their gifts to Jesus, And speaking of gifts, I thought I'd give you a little gift: The "Icons of mercy" booklet. The gift of God is Jesus, the Father's mercy; and so, to remember this gift of God, I will give this gift that will be distributed by the poor, the homeless and refugees along with many volunteers and religious whom I cordially greet and thank you wholeheartedly. " (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Epiphany: Magi personify all who believe and long for God

Vatican News - Fri, 01/06/2017 - 08:05
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday celebrated Mass for the feast of the Epiphany telling the faithful in St Peter's Basilica the Magi personify all those who believe and long for God. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report: The 6th of January is synonymous with the Magi who, following a star are led to the Christ child in Bethlehem. And it was next to a manger containing the baby Jesus in St Peter’s Basilica that Pope Francis in his homily spoke about these three Kings who, he said, “personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland.”  They reflect, he added,  “the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts become anesthetized.” Like these kings, the Pope explained, “a holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life.  That longing keeps hope alive in the community of believers, which from week to week continues to plead: “Come, Lord Jesus”.” Longing for God, continued the Holy Father, “has its roots in the past yet does not remain there: it reaches out to the future.  Pope Francis said, “believers who feel this longing are led by faith to seek God, as the Magi did, in the most distant corners of history, for they know that there the Lord awaits them.  They go to the peripheries, to the frontiers, to places not yet evangelized, to encounter their Lord.” But the Pope noted, “an entirely different attitude reigned in the palace of Herod, … He slept, anesthetized by a cauterized conscience.  He was bewildered, afraid.  It is the bewilderment which, when faced with the newness that revolutionizes history, closes in on itself and its own achievements, its knowledge, its successes.”  A bewilderment, the Holy Father stressed,  “born of fear and foreboding before anything that challenges us, calls into question our certainties and our truths, our ways of clinging to the world and this life.”  The Magi, underlined Pope Francis, “had to discover that what they sought was not in a palace, but elsewhere, both existentially and geographically.  There, in the palace, they did not see the star guiding them to discover a God who wants to be loved.  For only under the banner of freedom, not tyranny, the Pope said, “is it possible to realize that the gaze of this unknown but desired king does not abase, enslave, or imprison us.” It is a merciful gaze, noted the Pope, that heals, forgives, and comforts those who suffer. What the Magi found in Bethlehem concluded Pope Francis. “was a promise of newness.  There something new was taking place.  The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out.  And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.”   (from Vatican Radio)...
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The Pope's homily on the feast of the Epiphany

Vatican News - Fri, 01/06/2017 - 05:49
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over Mass for the feast of the Epiphany which was celebrated on Friday in St Peter's Basilica. Below is an English translation of the Pope's homily. “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?  For we have observed his star in the East, and have come to worship him” (Mt 2:2). With these words, the Magi, come from afar, tell us the reason for their long journey: they came to worship the newborn King.  To see and to worship.  These two actions stand out in the Gospel account.  We saw a star and we want to worship. These men saw a star that made them set out.  The discovery of something unusual in the heavens sparked a whole series of events.  The star did not shine just for them, nor did they have special DNA to be able to see it.  As one of the Church Fathers rightly noted, the Magi did not set out because they had seen the star, but they saw the star because they had already set out (cf. Saint John Chrysostom).  Their hearts were open to the horizon and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness.  They were open to something new.              The Magi thus personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland.  They reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts become anesthetized.             A holy longing for God wells up in the heart of believers because they know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present.  A holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life.  A holy longing for God is the memory of faith, which rebels before all prophets of doom.  That longing keeps hope alive in the community of believers, which from week to week continues to plead: “Come, Lord Jesus”.             This same longing led the elderly Simeon to go up each day to the Temple, certain that his life would not end before he had held the Saviour in his arms.  This longing led the Prodigal Son to abandon his self-destructive lifestyle and to seek his father’s embrace.  This was the longing felt by the shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep in order to seek out the one that was lost.  Mary Magdalen experienced the same longing on that Sunday morning when she ran to the tomb and met her risen Master.  Longing for God draws us out of our iron-clad isolation, which makes us think that nothing can change.  Longing for God shatters our dreary routines and impels us to make the changes we want and need.   Longing for God has its roots in the past yet does not remain there: it reaches out to the future.  Believers who feel this longing are led by faith to seek God, as the Magi did, in the most distant corners of history, for they know that there the Lord awaits them.  They go to the peripheries, to the frontiers, to places not yet evangelized, to encounter their Lord.  Nor do they do this out of a sense of superiority, but rather as beggars who cannot ignore the eyes of those who for whom the Good News is still uncharted territory.             An entirely different attitude reigned in the palace of Herod, a short distance from Bethlehem, where no one realized what was taking place.  As the Magi made their way, Jerusalem slept.  It slept in collusion with a Herod who, rather than seeking, also slept.  He slept, anesthetized by a cauterized conscience.  He was bewildered, afraid.  It is the bewilderment which, when faced with the newness that revolutionizes history, closes in on itself and its own achievements, its knowledge, its successes.  The bewilderment of one who sits atop his wealth yet cannot see beyond it.  The bewilderment lodged in the hearts of those who want to control everything and everyone.  The bewilderment of those immersed in the culture of winning at any cost, in that culture where there is only room for “winners”, whatever the price.  A bewilderment born of fear and foreboding before anything that challenges us, calls into question our certainties and our truths, our ways of clinging to the world and this life.  Herod was afraid, and that fear led him to seek security in crime: “You kill the little ones in their bodies, because fear is killing you in your heart” (SAINT QUODVULTDEUS, Sermon 2 on the Creed: PL 40, 655).              We want to worship.  Those men came from the East to worship, and they came to do so in the place befitting a king: a palace.  Their quest led them there, for it was fitting that a king should be born in a palace, amid a court and all his subjects.  For that is a sign of power, success, a life of achievement.  One might well expect a king to be venerated, feared and adulated.  True, but not necessarily loved.  For those are worldly categories, the paltry idols to which we pay homage: the cult of power, outward appearances and superiority.  Idols that promise only sorrow and enslavement.             It was there, in that place, that those men, come from afar, would embark upon their longest journey.  There they set out boldly on a more arduous and complicated journey.  They had to discover that what they sought was not in a palace, but elsewhere, both existentially and geographically.  There, in the palace, they did not see the star guiding them to discover a God who wants to be loved.  For only under the banner of freedom, not tyranny, is it possible to realize that the gaze of this unknown but desired king does not abase, enslave, or imprison us.  To realize that the gaze of God lifts up, forgives and heals.  To realize that God wanted to be born where we least expected, or perhaps desired, in a place where we so often refuse him.  To realize that in God’s eyes there is always room for those who are wounded, weary, mistreated and abandoned.  That his strength and his power are called mercy.  For some of us, how far Jerusalem is from Bethlehem!              Herod is unable to worship because he could not or would not change his own way of looking at things.  He did not want to stop worshiping himself, believing that everything revolved around him.  He was unable to worship, because his aim was to make others worship him.  Nor could the priests worship, because although they had great knowledge, and knew the prophecies, they were not ready to make the journey or to change their ways.              The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare.  They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day.  But there, in Bethlehem, was a promise of newness, of gratuitousness.  There something new was taking place.  The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out.  And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope meets with survivors of central Italy's earthquakes

Vatican News - Thu, 01/05/2017 - 08:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with hundreds of Italians from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes over the past six months. The central Italian town of Amatrice and surrounding areas were hit by a 6.3 magnitude quake in August which killed nearly 300 people. Other powerful quakes caused major damage in the same region on October 26th and 30th, with the latest tremors reported in Spoleto last Monday, January 2nd. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  Around 800 people, led by their Bishop Renato Boccardo and local civic authorities, travelled to Rome for the audience in the Paul VI hall. Many of them had lost their houses, livelihoods and friends or family members in the largest earthquakes which reduced parts of many towns and villages to piles of rubble.   Regional reconstruction Pope Francis sat and listened as a survivor and a local parish priest described the immense suffering of people, now seeking to rebuild their shattered communities. In his off-the-cuff response, the Pope said the worst thing to do in such circumstances was to offer a prepared sermon, but instead he reflected on the work of physical, mental and spiritual reconstruction that has been taking place throughout the region. Healing hands Pope Francis spoke of the wounds which have affected those who’ve lost their loved ones and the importance of crying together as they seek to heal the pain. He spoke too of the healing hands of doctors, nurses, firemen and all those who worked together to pull survivors from the rubble or offer help to those most in need. Sharing and solidarity Finally the Pope spoke of the spirit of solidarity and nearness which is vital for the reconstruction process. While everyone affected by the earthquakes will continue to bear scars, he said it’s important to find the courage to dream again.  Sharing and remaining close together, he said, makes us more courageous and more human as we face this daunting task. Amatrice visit The Pope’s words come three months after he made a surprise visit to Amatrice and two neighbouring towns to meet with survivors and relatives of victims. During the visit, he said he had not come to make speeches, but simply to be close to those suffering and to pray with all those affected by the earthquakes. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: 'Fostering vocations requires passion and gratitude'

Vatican News - Thu, 01/05/2017 - 06:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with participants in a Conference organized by the national Office for Pastoral Care for Vocations of the Italian Episcopal Conference. The theme of the conference is “Arise, go forth, and fear not. Vocations and sanctity: I am on a mission. ” Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: During the encounter, Pope Francis set aside his prepared remarks and spoke off-the-cuff to the 800 seminarians and religious men and women present. Recalling the conference’s theme, the Holy Father asked himself aloud, “How many young people, boys and girls, today hear in their heart that ‘Arise’, and how many – priests, consecrated men and women – close the door? And they wind up frustrated.” To remedy this situation, the Pope offered several thoughts on ways to increase vocations to religious life and the priesthood. “The doors are opened through prayer, though good will, through risk,” he said. “Jesus told us that the first way to have vocations is prayer, but not all are convinced of this.” Rather, he went on, “Pray with the heart, with your life, with everything.” Speaking about the role of bishops in vocations, the Holy Father said their “first task is prayer; the second is to proclaim the Gospel”. The third recommendation he offered was to “Open the doors so that [young people] may enter our churches.” “To receive vocations, hospitality is key”, the Pope continued, it is necessary to be particularly devoted to listening, to be able to “waste time” in order to hear and understand the questions and desires of young people and to practice the “apostolate of the ear”. The fourth and final recommendation Pope Francis made regarded the witness of the messenger. “May they see you live what you preach, that which brought you to become priests, sisters, and lay people who work with strength in the House of the Lord.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Goa to host international film festival on Mother Teresa

Vatican News - Wed, 01/04/2017 - 10:44
The Catholic Church in Goa, India is hosting a  six day Mother Teresa International Film Festival starting from January 5. The Festival  will screen Indian and international films based on the life and work of the Albanian-born saint. A press statement issued by the Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media, Goa, said that the aim of the festival "is to make known the life and works of Mother Teresa so that all may be inspired by her life to serve the society". The event is a part of a series of celebratory events being organised by the Church in honour of Mother Teresa, the statement added. As part of the festival, films will be screened at venues in Panaji as well as in Margao. Some of the films which will be screened at the six-day festival, which kicks off on January 5, are "In the name of God's poor" (USA), "All for God's Love" (India), "Mother Teresa and Me" (UK), "The Fifth World" (Spain) and "Nirmal Hriday" (India). (UCAN)   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Tears of a mother's pain become seeds of life and hope

Vatican News - Wed, 01/04/2017 - 07:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his series of reflections on Christian hope, speaking of the inconsolable pain of a parent losing a child. The Pope focused his words on the Old Testament figure of Rachel, wife of Jacob, who is described by the prophet Jeremiah as weeping bitter tears for her children in exile. Philippa Hitchen reports:  In the book of Genesis, we learn that Rachel died in childbirth, giving life to her second son, Benjamin. But the prophet Jeremiah talks about her inconsolable grief at the loss of her children who’ve been sent into exile. There are no words or gestures, the Pope said, that can console a mother faced with the tragedy of losing a child.   There are many mothers today, he went on, who are crying and inconsolable, unable to accept the senseless death of a child. Rachel’s pain, he said, encapsulates the suffering of all mothers and the tears of all people who weep for an irreparable loss. This story, the Pope said, teaches us how delicate and difficult it is to console another person’s grief. Before speaking of hope, he said, we must share in their tears and if we can’t find words to do that, then it’s better to keep silent, offering only a gesture or a caress instead. And yet God responds to Rachel’s tears, the Pope said, promising that her children will return to their homeland. The bitter tears of the woman who dies in childbirth become the seeds of new life and generate new hope. In a similar way, he said, the death of Christ on the Cross offers life and hope to the innocent children of Bethlehem who are murdered by King Herod in the days following Jesus’ birth. Pope Francis spoke of his own reaction to people who ask difficult questions about why children suffer. “I don’t know what to reply”, he said, “I simply say, ‘Look at the Cross: God gave us his Son, he suffered and perhaps you will find a reply there”. The Son of God entered into our human suffering, the Pope concluded, sharing our pain and welcoming death. From the Cross, he gave new life to Mary, making her the mother of all believers. Through Mary’s and Rachel’s tears, he fulfills the words of the prophet and generates new hope.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope renews appeal for prison reform following Brazil riots

Vatican News - Wed, 01/04/2017 - 06:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday expressed his “sorrow and concern” upon hearing news of the prison riots that took place Monday in Brazil. More than 50 people were killed, making the riots the deadliest to hit Brazil in two decades. Listen:  During his General Audience on Wednesday, the Holy Father called for prayer “for those who have died, for their families, for all the inmates of that prison, and for those who work there.” The Pope also renewed his appeal “that prisons might be places of re-education and re-integration into society; and that the conditions of life of prisoners might be worthy of human persons.” In improvised remarks following the appeal, Pope Francis led the crowd in a prayer for the prisoners involved in the riots, both living and dead, and for all prisoners throughout the world. He prayed to Mary, the Mother of prisoners, that prisons might not be overcrowded, but might be places of rehabilitation.  Brazil's justice minister on Tuesday proposed an overhaul of the penal system to tackle chronic prison overcrowding  The minister, Alexandre de Moraes, said his country needed to improve conditions in jails, which are home to an estimated 600,000 inmates, after visiting the prison in the jungle city of Manaus. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope to meet with earthquake victims on eve of Epiphany

Vatican News - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 10:05
(Vatican Radio) On Thursday, 5 January, the Vigil of Epiphany, Pope Francis will meet at the Vatican with victims of the devastating earthquakes that struck central Italy in the course of the past year. Almost 300 people were killed in an earthquake that struck near the town of Amatrice on August 24. Just over two months later, a series of quakes struck the same region, including a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on October 30 - the largest quake to strike Italy in over thirty years. Only two people died in the October quakes, although a number of towns, including Norcia, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, suffered serious damage.  The Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Renato Boccardo, said the meeting with the Pope “is dedicated especially to those who lost their loved ones, their homes, their economic security, those who have been displaced from their land.” The Pope, he said, wanted to welcome especially those who, in different ways, have been wounded by the quakes, and who are looking for “consolation and hope." Approximately 800 people from the diocese, with their Archbishop and their pastors, will take part in the audience. Representatives of the civil authorities leading rebuilding efforts will also be present. The pastor of the Abbey of S. Eutizio near the town of Preci will address the Holy Father in the name of all those present. A press release from the Archdiocese said the meeting will strengthen the local church in its principle task following the earthquake. The Church, it said, is called primarily to support “the interior-moral renewal of the people.” To that end, a further important gathering will take place next Sunday, when the Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, will celebrate Mass for earthquake victims in the village of San Pellegrino di Norcia.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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