Vatican News

Pope expresses closeness to Argentinians hit by heavy rains

Vatican News - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 06:31
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to José María Arancedo, Archbishop of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz and President of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, to express his closeness to the people of Argentina who have been hit by torrential rains which have battered the country in recent days. In the correspondence the Holy Father said that he was spiritually near to the thousands of people who have been evacuated from their homes and who have lost everything; “the fruits of many years of sacrifice and work,” he added. Pope Francis also wrote that he wished to accompany and offer words of encouragement to his brother bishops, priests and parishioners in this moment of need. In conclusion, and imparting his Apostolic Blessing, he prayed that collaboration between authorities, institutions and volunteers, in a spirit of unity, would bring to all those affected a testimony of fraternal solidarity.   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Holy See calls for end to Syria violence

Vatican News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 10:34
(Vatican Radio) A senior Vatican archbishop has urged all sides of the Syrian conflict to end violence and restore solidarity in the wake of a deadly chemical gas attack. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, called for increased funding from the international community for displaced people and refugees during an address at the European Union in Brussels. The conference, called “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”, came just one day after 72 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in an chemical weapons attack in the north of the country. Archbishop Gallagher said: “The Holy See invites all parties to the Syrian conflict to spare no effort to end the seemingly endless cycle of violence, to restore that sense of solidarity that is the basis of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. “While the crisis has entered, regrettably and painfully, into its seventh year, the Holy See remains deeply concerned about the tremendous human suffering, affecting millions of innocent children and other civilians who remain deprived of essential humanitarian aid, medical facilities and education, and urges that international humanitarian law be fully respected, particularly with regard to the protection of civilian populations, guaranteeing them access to necessary medical assistance. “Furthermore, the Holy See also expresses its concern for the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees.” He spoke of the Holy See’s deep concern for the “vulnerable situation of Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, who suffer disproportionately the effects of war and social upheaval in the region, to such an extent that their very presence and existence are gravely threatened.” The Archbishop’s words come as Pope Francis deplored the “ carnage ” of the gas attack in Idlib province during his Wednesday General Audience and appealed for a halt to the tragedy. Archbishop Gallagher pledged a renewed humanitarian assistance by the Church in 2017, building on the $200 million of aid given by Catholic charities last year. The conference brought together 70 countries  and international organisations from across the world and was chaired jointly by the European Union, the United Nations and several national governments. It comes a year after a summit in London at which the international community pledged significant financial support for humanitarian assistance in Syria and promoted a political solution to the crisis. (Richard Marsden) (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Passion Sunday - April 09, 2017

Vatican News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 09:58
Introduction: The Church celebrates this sixth Sunday of Lent as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. This is the time of year we stop to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. What we commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in him, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption.  Attentive participation in the Holy Week liturgy will deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments, one of glory, the other of suffering:  the royal welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem and the drama of His trial, culminating in His crucifixion, death and burial. The Holy Week liturgies present us with the actual events of the dying and rising of Jesus. Just as Jesus did, we, too, must lay down our lives freely by actively participating in the Holy Week liturgies.  But let us remember that Holy Week can become "holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week.  During this week of the Passion -- passionate suffering, passionate grace, passionate love and passionate forgiving – each of us is called to remember the Christ of Calvary and then to embrace and lighten the burden of the Christ Whose passion continues to be experienced in the hungry, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the aged, the lonely and the outcast. The African-American song asks the question, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they nailed Him to a tree?" The answer is yes, a definite yes. Yes, we were there in the crowd on both days, shouting ‘Hosanna!’ and later ‘Crucify Him!’ First reading, Isaiah 50:4-7: Today's first reading, the third of Isaiah's four Servant Songs, like the other three, foreshadows Jesus' own life and mission. In the middle section of the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapters 40-55, there are four short passages which scholars have called the Songs of the Suffering Servant.  These four songs are about a mysterious figure whose suffering brings about a benefit for the people.  In the original author's mind, the servant was probably a figure for the people of Israel, or for a faithful remnant within the people. However, Jesus saw aspects of His own life and mission foreshadowed in the Servant Songs, and the Church refers to them in this time of solemn meditation on the climax of Jesus' life.  In today’s Psalm, the Psalmist puts his trust in Yahweh for deliverance and salvation.  The context of this day's worship also conveys Jesus’ confidence in God’s protection in the midst of His trial and crucifixion. Second Reading, Philippians 2:6-11 is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of Who Jesus is and how His mission saves us from sin and death.  It is a message that Paul received from those who had been converted to Christ.  “Jesus was Divine from all eternity.  But he didn't cling to that. Rather He emptied Himself and became human.  He accepted further humbling by obeying [the constraints of the] human condition even unto death by crucifixion.  So, God highly exalted Him, giving Him the highest title in the universe.”  Christians reading this passage today are joining the first people who ever pondered the meaning of Jesus' life and mission.  We're singing their song and reciting their creed during this special time of the year when we remember the most important things Our Lord did. The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception which Jesus received from His admirers, who paraded with Him for a distance of two miles:  from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem.  Two-and-a-half million people were normally present to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover.  Jesus permitted such a royal procession for two reasons: 1) to reveal to the general public that He was the promised Messiah, and 2) to fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah (9:9) and Zephaniah (3:16-19): “Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion…. see now your King comes to you; He is victorious, triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey…” (Zech. 9:9).  (The traditional “Palm Sunday Procession” at Jerusalem began in the fourth century AD when the Bishop of Jerusalem led the procession from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Ascension).  In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to the Passion of Christ according to Matthew.  We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the story like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.  Exegetical notes on part I of today’s Gospel:   1) Jesus rides on a lowly donkey:  In those days, kings used to travel in such processions on horseback during wartime, but preferred to ride a donkey in times of peace.  I Kings 1:38-41 describes how Prince Solomon used his father David’s royal donkey for the ceremonial procession on the day of his coronation.  Jesus entered the Holy City as a King of peace, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah.  The Gospel specifically mentions that the colt Jesus selected for the procession was one that   had not been ridden before, reminding us of a stipulation given in I Samuel 6:7 concerning the animal that was to carry the Ark of the Covenant.   2) The mode of reception given:  Jesus was given the royal reception usually reserved for a King or military commander.  I Maccabees 13:51ff describes such a reception given to the Jewish military leader Simon Maccabaeus in 171 BC.  II Maccabees 10:6-8 refers to a similar reception given to another military general, Judas Maccabaeus, who led the struggle against the Roman commander, Antiochus IV Epiphanes and liberated the Temple from the Romans in 163 BC. 3) The slogans used: The participants sang the “Hallel” Psalm (Psalm 118), and shouted the words of Psalms 25 and 26.  The Greek word “hosiana” originally meant "save us now" (II Samuel 14:4).  The people sang the entire Psalm 118 on the Feast of the Tabernacles when they marched seven times around the Altar of the Burnt Offering.  On Palm Sunday, however, the people used the prayer “Hosanna” as a slogan of greeting.  It meant “God save the King of Israel.” 4) The symbolic meaning of the Palm Sunday procession: Nearly 25,000 lambs were sacrificed during the feast of the "Pass Over," but the lamb which was to be sacrificed by the High Priest was taken to the Temple in a procession four days before the main feast day.  On Palm Sunday, Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, was also taken to the Temple in a large procession. 5) Reaction of Jesus:  Before the beginning of the procession, Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41-42), and when the procession was over, He cleansed the Temple (Lk 19:45-46).  On the following day, He cursed a barren fig tree. Life Messages: We need to answer 5 questions today: 1) Does Jesus weep over me?  There is a Jewish saying, “Heaven rejoices over a repentant sinner and sheds tears over a non-repentant, hardhearted one."   Are we ready to imitate the prodigal son and return to God, our loving Father, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this last week of Lent and participate fully in the joy of Christ’s Resurrection? 2) Am I a barren fig tree?  God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness.  Am I a barren fig tree?  Or, worse, do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness? 3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with His whip?  Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit in me by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust and impure thoughts words and deeds; neither does He approve of my calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God.  4) Do I welcome Jesus into my heart?  Am I ready to surrender my life to Him during this Holy Week and welcome Him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior, singing “Hosanna”?  Today, we receive palm branches at the Divine Liturgy.  Let us take them to our homes and put them some place where we can always see them.  Let the palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families, that Christ is the King of our hearts and that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives.  And if we do proclaim Christ as our King, let us try to make time for Him in our daily life; let us be reminded that He is the One with Whom we will be spending eternity.  Let us be reminded further that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary.  Let us prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives.  It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in our confused and complex world. 5) Are we ready to become like the humble donkey that carried Jesus?   As we "carry Jesus" to the world, we can expect to receive the same welcome that Jesus received on Palm Sunday, but we must also expect to meet the same opposition, crosses and trials later.  Like the donkey, we are called upon to carry Christ to a world that does not know Him.  Let us always remember that a Christian without Christ is a contradiction in terms.  Such a one betrays the Christian message.  Hence, let us become transparent Christians during this Holy Week, enabling others to see in us Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness and sacrificial service. 6) Can we face these questions on Palm Sunday? Are we willing to follow Jesus, not just to Church but in our daily life?  Are we willing to entrust ourselves to Him even when the future is frightening or confusing, believing God has a plan? Are we willing to serve Him until that day when His plan on earth is fulfilled? These are the questions of Palm Sunday.  Let us take a fresh look at this familiar event.  We might be surprised at what we see.  It could change us forever.(Source: Fr. Anthony Kadavil) (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope meets with Catholic-Muslim delegation from Britain

Vatican News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 09:49
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Wednesday with English Cardinal Vincent Nichols and four Muslim leaders from Britain who came to highlight the deep-rooted interfaith relations among the different religious communities in the UK today. For the past three decades, Nichols and other Catholic leaders have been working to develop strong ties with local Muslim communities. Among some of the practical, grass roots initiatives that have resulted are the setting up of shared food banks for the needy and the welcoming of newly arrived refugee families. Just two weeks ago, Cardinal Nichols stood side by side with the Archbishop of Canterbury plus Muslim and Jewish leaders in London to condemn the terror attack at the Houses of Parliament. As prayers were said for the victims, the cardinal read out a message from Pope Francis offering condolences to the grieving families and solidarity with the whole nation. Just ahead of the papal audience in the Vatican, Philippa Hitchen sat down with Cardinal Nichols and two of the Muslim leaders on the delegation, Muhammad Shahid Raza, originally from India and Syed Ali Raza Rizvi, originally from Lahore in Pakistan. They highlight the importance of standing together to combat hatred, intolerance and violence in the name of religion Listen  Moulana Muhammad Shahid Raza begins by saying they bring a message of “thanks and gratefulness for the kindness and sympathy the Muslim community has always received from Vatican”. He also highlights their “great appreciation” for Cardinal Nichols and the Catholic Church in the UK which made the audience possible. The cardinal notes that Muslim leaders like Muhammad Shahid Raza have been working on interfaith relations in Britain for the past 30 years and he hopes the papal audience will serve to encourage that work. He also thanks the pope for his message of solidarity following the incidents in Westminster two weeks ago. Moulana Syed Ali Raza Rizvi says that “when people see the reality of faith leaders together,” it shows clearly that “what a few criminals are doing is different to what faith leaders are saying”. Standing together, he says, “has a very positive reflection” showing that faith does not divide, but rather it unites people. He continues by noting that “in difficult times, people look to faith communities” and the projects that Muslims and Christians are working on together, especially with refugees “gives a very positive image of faith in the 21st century”. In recent years, he adds, the cardinal has helped “not just [to] bring us together but [to] create a friendship and that has made us increasingly respectful of each other and our communities”. Cardinal Nichols says he and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are seeking to “create a platform from which the Muslim voice can be heard in the UK” . Following the recent terror attack, he says, “Muslims all over the country stood up and said not in our name, Islam is a religion of peace and we condemn these actions” but that voice is not heard. He says he hopes that one of the tangible results of the papal audience is “the right amplification of this voice in our midst”.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope prays for victims and families of Russia bomb attack

Vatican News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 09:11
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is praying for the victims of a bomb attack in Russia and for all those affected by the tragedy. Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the General Audience , the Pope turned his attention to the “serious attack of the past days in the St. Petersburg subway”, which he said, caused victims and a sense of loss and confusion in the Russian population. A bomb exploded in a carriage of the St. Petersburg subway on Monday killing 14 people and injuring 50 others. “While I entrust all those who are tragically deceased to the mercy of God, I express my spiritual closeness to their loved ones and to all those who are suffering because of this dramatic event” he said.  Investigators say they have searched the home of the suspected suicide bomber behind Monday's deadly explosion on the St. Petersburg subway. Russian investigators said they suspect a 22-year old Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen of having detonated the bomb. Another bomb, hidden in a bag, was found and de-activated at another St. Petersburg station just half an hour before the blast. The investigators have also reportedly arrested 6 people in St. Petersburg on suspicion of  “aiding terrorist activities.”  They said that at this moment there is no evidence of connection or acquaintance of the detained with executor of the terrorist action in the St. Petersburg metro”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Audience: ‘God's love basis of our hope’

Vatican News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 09:11
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope during his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, saying that God’s infinite love is the basis for all our hope. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Reflecting on the First Letter of the apostle Peter, Pope Francis at his General Audience invited Christians to imitate the Lord’s redemptive suffering by bearing witness to God’s infinite love as revealed on the Cross. He said God’s love as sealed in the resurrection is the basis of all our hope. “Our hope is not a concept, it is not a sentiment, it is not a mobile phone, it is not a heap of riches! Our hope is a Person, it is the Lord Jesus Whom we recognize as living and present in us and in our brothers, because Christ is risen.” The Holy Father went on to say that Christian hope is not theoretical but must be lived and witnessed in our daily lives. Our hope, he said, “must necessarily be released outwards, taking the exquisite and unmistakable form of gentleness, respect and goodness towards our neighbour, to the point of forgiving those who do us harm.” He said this contrasts with the attitude of the Mafiosi, who believe “evil can be defeated by evil”, because they “do not have hope”. Pope Francis then invited all to be suffer for good in the large and small situations of daily life and to offer a blessing instead of evil. This, he said, “is the proclamation of God’s love, a love without bounds, that is inexhaustible, that never runs out and constitutes the true basis for our hope.” Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s catechesis: Dear brothers and sisters, good morning! The First Letter of the apostle Peter is extraordinarily rich. We must read it once, twice, three times to understand its extraordinary import: it succeeds in bringing great consolation and peace, showing how the Lord is always by our side and never abandons us, especially in the most delicate and difficult times of our lives. But what is the “secret” of this Letter, and in particular of the passage we have just listened to (cf. 1 Pt. 3:8-17)? This is a question. I know that you will take the New Testament, look for the First Letter of Peter and read it very slowly, to understand the secret and the strength of this Letter. What is the secret of this Letter? 1. The secret resides in the fact that this text is rooted directly in Easter, in the heart of the mystery we are about to celebrate, thus allowing us to perceive all the light and joy that spring from the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ is truly risen, and this is a beautiful greeting we can give each other on the day of Easter: “Christ is risen! Christ is risen!”, as many peoples do. Let us remember that Christ is risen, He lives in our midst, and abides in each one of us. This is why St. Peter strongly urges us to adore Him in our hearts (cf. v. 16). There the Lord made His dwelling at the moment of our Baptism, and from there He continues to renew us and our life, filling us with His love and with fullness of Spirit. This is why the Apostle reminds us to acknowledge the hope that is in us (cf. v. 16): our hope is not a concept, it is not a sentiment, it is not a mobile phone, it is not a heap of riches! Our hope is a Person, it is the Lord Jesus Whom we recognise as living and present in us and in our brothers, because Christ is risen. Slavic peoples, when they greet each other, instead of saying “Good morning” or “Good evening” on the days of Easter, they greet each other with this “Christ is risen!”. “Christos voskrese!”, they say to each other, and they are happy to say so! And this is the “Good morning” and “Good evening” they offer one another: “Christ is risen!” 2. We understand, then, that we cannot give a reason for this hope at a theoretical level, but above all through the witness of life, both within the Christian community and outside it. If Christ is living and abides in us, in our heart, then we must also allow Him to be made visible, not to hide Him, and to act in us. This means that the Lord Jesus must increasingly become our model: our model of life and that we must learn to behave as He behaved. Do what Jesus did. The hope that abides in us, then, cannot remain hidden inside us, in our heart: it would be a weak hope, that does not have the courage to come out and let itself be seen; but our hope, as is clear in the Psalm 33 cited by Peter, must necessarily be released outwards, taking the exquisite and unmistakable form of gentleness, respect and goodness towards our neighbour, to the point of forgiving those who do us harm. A person who does not have hope is not able to forgive; he is not able to give the consolation of forgiveness and to receive the consolation of forgiveness. Yes, because this is what Jesus did, and in this way He continues to do so through those who make space in their heart and their life for Him, in the awareness that evil is not vanquished with evil, but with humility, mercy and gentleness. Mafiosi think that evil can be defeated with evil, and so they seek revenge and do all those things we know about. But they do not know what humility, mercy and gentleness area. And why? Because Mafiosi do not have hope. Think about this. 3. This is why St. Peter affirms that “it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil” (v. 17); this does not mean that it is good to suffer, but that when we suffer for good, we are in communion with the Lord, Who accepted to suffer and to be put on the cross for our salvation. So when, in the smallest or the largest situations of our life, we too accept suffering for good, it is as if we sprinkled the seeds of resurrection, the seeds of life around us, and made the light of Easter shine in the dark. This is why the Apostle urges us always to respond “blessing” (v. 9): blessing is not a formality, or merely a sign of courtesy, but rather a great gift that we are the first to have received, and that we have the possibility of sharing with our brothers. It is the proclamation of God’s love, a love without bounds, that is inexhaustible, that never runs out and constitutes the true basis for our hope. Dear friends, we understand also why the apostle Peter calls us “blessed”, when we must suffer for justice (cf. v.13). It is not only for a moral or ascetic reason, but it is because each time we take the side of the last and the marginalized, or that we do not respond to evil with evil, but instead forgive without vengeance, forgiving and blessing, every time we do this we shine as living and luminous signs of hope, thus becoming an instrument of consolation and peace, in accord with the heart of God. And in this way we go ahead with sweetness and gentleness, being amiable and doing good even to those who do not wish us well, or who harm us. Onwards! (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope decries the horror of Syria attacks and appeals for political solution

Vatican News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 05:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed to the consciences of local and international leaders to bring an end to the Syrian tragedy. Speaking during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square , the Pope said that it is “with horror” that we witness the events that have taken place in Syria. 72 people, including 20 children were killed in a rebel-held town in Idlib province on Tuesday in a chemical gas attack that also injured dozens of other civilians.  Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni: “I firmly deplore the unacceptable carnage that took place yesterday in Idlib province, where scores of helpless people, including many children, were killed” he said. And while the Pope said he is praying for the victims and their families, he issued an urgent appeal to “the consciences of those who have political responsabilities, on a local and international level, to halt this tragedy and bring relief to the population that has been sorely tried by war for far too long” he said. Pope Francis also encouraged those who, notwithstanding the insecurity, are continuing in their efforts to bring help to the inhabitants of the region.          (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis meets British royals Charles and Camilla

Vatican News - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 15:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Tuesday with the heir to the British throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. The meeting came on the fourth day of an Italian tour which has taken the prince to the northern city of Vicenza for a First World War commemoration, to the earthquake hit town of Amatrice in central Italy, and to Florence, where he visited a Caritas-run project for immigrants, the elderly and single mothers. The Duchess also spent a day in Naples meeting with trafficked women and youngsters with learning difficulties at a former Mafia villa which was confiscated by the State. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:   A press release from the British embassy to the Holy See said that during the papal audience in the Paul VI hall the pope and the prince talked about a number of topics of mutual interest. They also exchanged gifts: Pope Francis gave the royal couple a bronze representation of an olive branch, and copies of his three major documents, ‘ Laudato Sì ’, ‘ Evangelii Gaudium ’ and ‘ Amoris Laetitia ’. Prince Charles presented the Holy Father with a hamper of food from the royal estate at Highgrove, to be shared among the poor and homeless. The half hour private meeting was reportedly relaxed and informal, marking the prince’s fourth visit to the Vatican but his first encounter with Pope Francis. Given their shared concern for the environment, it’s likely that protection of the planet featured prominently in the conversation.   Accepting an award in Florence on Monday, the prince spoke of the interdependence of human beings with the natural world, as well as highlighting the vital contribution of the UK and Italy to global peacekeeping. Interfaith dialogue may also have been a topic for discussion: among those meeting the prince earlier in the day at the Venerable English College was English Cardinal Vincent Nichols and four Muslim leaders from the UK, who will have their own papal audience on Wednesday morning. Before leaving the Vatican Prince Charles met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See Secretary of State. The royal couple were also given a tour of the Vatican library and secret archives, allowing them to see some of the priceless historical documents preserved in both collections. These included the last letter written by condemned Mary Queen of Scots in 1587, before her execution for treason; another letter by Pope Paul IV condemning Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, one of the leaders of the English Reformation; and a letter by King Charles I approving the appointment of his ambassador in Rome. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Card Parolin celebrates Mass for Populorum Progressio anniversary

Vatican News - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 11:36
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, celebrated Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 50th anniversary of the encyclical ‘ Populorum Progressio ’. During his homily for the Mass on Monday, Cardinal Parolin thanked the members and consultors of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for Health Pastoral Care, and Cor Unum for their collaboration and service as the Councils were merged into the new Dicastery for Integral Human Development. “The celebration of this Eucharist, with you and for you, is a fitting occasion to give thanks to the Lord for the establishment of this Office that serves the Holy Father in the exercise of his Petrine ministry. The particular characteristic of this service is a commitment to the integral development of every person.” Cardinal Parolin said the new Dicastery “will carry out its mandate only to the extent that it walks the way of the Gospel in its efforts to support the fullest possible growth of every person and of every country. This will entail a constant concern for the dignity of the person – in the trilogy of body and soul, man and woman, individual and society – but also for the common good, to be pursued in truth and in justice.” Please find below the original English version of the homily: Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I offer a warm greeting to all of you, representatives of the offices of the Roman Curia and of the rich variety of ecclesial realties from various continents.  A special greeting goes to the Members and Consultors who have served the universal Church by collaborating with the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for Health Pastoral Care and Cor Unum, which, on 1 January 2017, merged to form the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The celebration of this Eucharist, with you and for you, is a fitting occasion to give thanks to the Lord for the establishment of this Office that serves the Holy Father in the exercise of his Petrine ministry.  The particular characteristic of this service is a commitment to the integral development of every person. It is significant – even providential – that the creation of the new Dicastery coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio of Blessed Paul VI, which the Conference that we inaugurate today is meant to commemorate. I readily recall that this Encyclical, the preparation of which began in 1963, was published on 26 March 1967, Easter Day, causing some to speak of the “Encyclical of the Resurrection”, aimed at shedding the light of the Gospel and the Resurrection on the social problems of the time. In the Encyclical, Paul VI outlined the principles of a new “universal humanism”.  These were taken up twenty years later by Saint John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, and once again, forty years later, by Pope Benedict XVI, in Caritas in Veritate.  They have also been tirelessly reiterated by Pope Francis, who, often without it being recognized, draws inspiration from the vision of his predecessor.  Pope Paul’s vision continues to be completely timely in its dramatic and radical diagnosis: “Human society is sorely ill.  The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations” (No. 66). The treatment proposed by the Holy Father also remains valid and timely: namely, a human development that is both “integral” and “fraternal”.  The Encyclical sets out the coordinates of an integral development of the human person and a fraternal development of humanity, two themes which can be considered as the axes around which the text is structured.  Development consists in the passage from less humane living conditions to more humane living conditions: “What are less than human conditions?  The material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love; oppressive political structures resulting from the abuse of ownership or the improper exercise of power, from the exploitation of the worker or unjust transactions. What are truly human conditions?  The rise from poverty to the acquisition of life’s necessities; the elimination of social ills; broadening the horizons of knowledge; acquiring refinement and culture.  From there one can go on to acquire a growing awareness of other people’s dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace.  Then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end.  Finally and above all, there is faith – God’s gift to men of good will – and our loving unity in Christ, who calls all men to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men” (No. 21). But how do we arrive at this development?  It is significant that Pope Benedict XVI, in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which was intended “to pay tribute and to honour the memory of the great Pope Paul VI,” wished to emphasize the extent to which “development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us.  For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God’s love” (No. 79) God is Alpha and Omega.  God is the origin and goal of human development, which is always his gift.  For our part, we need to receive from on high the gifts of truth and love in order to become bearers, stewards and multipliers of those same gifts, especially for the benefit of those in greatest need.  This means promoting, in the light of the Christian message, a world where none are marginalized or prey to persistent violence and extreme poverty, a world without globalized indifference to the needs of others. Today’s readings offer an invitation and an encouragement to lift up our eyes to God, in whose name is our help.  The first reading admonishes us: “Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).  There is no lack of debates and strategies for eliminating conditions that violate human dignity, for overcoming the manifold injustices, both individual and structural, encountered on a daily basis, and for proposing a future of general well-being.  Yet solutions are often proposed that contradict those good intentions, favouring economic and military power in relations with others, choosing power, in whatever form it is expressed.  Loving in deed and in truth means substituting “the love of power” with “the power of love”.  For what is the power of Jesus Christ, if not the power of an ultimately unsettling love (cf. Jn 13:1), a love that, the more we reflect on it, the more our self-regard diminishes and God’s dominion in our life increases? The Gospel passage we have just heard speaks clearly and dramatically of the importance of concrete actions.  It is charity that leads to salvation and entrance into the Kingdom.  “Come, O blessed of my Father… I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:34-36).  It matters not to which race, religion, ethnic or social group people belong, in order to receive charity from the disciples of Jesus.  This universality is truly radical.  Every act of solidarity is shown to the Lord, present in the person who is suffering.  “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). This is the horizon against which the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development must operate.  It will carry out its mandate only to the extent that it walks the way of the Gospel in its efforts to support the fullest possible growth of every person and of every country.  This will entail a constant concern for the dignity of the person – in the trilogy of body and soul, man and woman, individual and society – but also for the common good, to be pursued in truth and in justice. As the Encyclical Populorum Progressio reminds us: “The development we speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone.  To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man… What counts for us is man – each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.” (No. 14). In the Motu Proprio Humanam Progressionem (31 August 2016), Pope Francis stated his reasons for establishing the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development: “so that the Holy See may be solicitous in [the] areas [of “attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation”], as well as in those regarding health and charitable works...  This Dicastery will be competent particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.” These are the forms of marginalization, suffering, injustice and hurt to which we must bring the oil of mercy and justice, hope and new life. Do not be frightened by the immensity of the challenges that lie ahead of you, or by the limited nature of the means at your disposal.  Do not reject or undervalue any contribution that may be suggested.  For such contributions will be the result of cooperation between the Superiors and Officials of the new Dicastery, drawing on the competence and experience of each of the bodies that have merged into it, together with the authoritative assistance of the Members and Consultors.  And, as Blessed Paul VI wished, your work will be carried out in harmonious cooperation with the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, with other Christians and believers, with all people of good will, and with political and cultural leaders (Populorum Progressio, Nos. 81-86) No one is too small to play a part in helping development to serve all humanity and the whole human person.  We think of the account of the multiplication of the loaves: it was a young person who enabled Jesus to feed the crowd (cf. Jn 6:9).  We think too of today’s Gospel and the parable of the Last Judgment. With the merging of the former Dicasteries, you have now become a single body with different functions, each at the service of the other, like the Church herself, which is the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-30).  “We must travel this road together,” Paul VI urged, “united in minds and hearts.” No. 80).  United and concerned for one another, you will be all the stronger in your efforts to attain the goals set for you. So do not be afraid of swimming against the tide in proclaiming the Gospel of our salvation, in centres and on the peripheries.  The dialogue between cultures and religions, peace, disarmament and the reconciliation between individuals and peoples, a correct anthropology of the person and of the family, migration: all these and many more questions call for generous commitment on the part of all.  Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty.  Like Jesus, bend down to embrace every human situation with generosity and dedication, to save lives and to instil hope, peace and justice in the world. May the Lord bless the mission of the new Dicastery and your tireless labour in his vineyard.  Amen. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope's prayer intention for April: Youth

Vatican News - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 10:20
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for April is dedicated to Youth : 'For young people, that they might know how to respond generously to the vocation God has given them, and immerse themselves in the great causes of the world.' The  Apostleship of Praye r has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: I know that you, young people, don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you aim high. Is that true, or am I wrong? Don’t leave it to others to be the protagonists of change. You, young people, are the ones who hold the future!  I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world.  It is a challenge, yes it is a challenge. Do you accept it? Pray with me that young people may respond generously to their own vocation and mobilize for the great causes of the world. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope: 'the Cross is not a badge of belonging'

Vatican News - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 09:04
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday told Christians not to wear the crucifix merely as a symbol of belonging, but to look to Jesus on the Cross as He who died for our salvation. The Pope’s words came during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta .  Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni: Three times, Pope Francis said, in today’s liturgical reading Jesus says to the Pharisees: “You will die in your sins”. That’s because their hearts were closed and they did not understand the mystery of the Lord. “To die in your sins” he said, is a bad thing. Reflecting on the First Reading in which the Lord tells Moses to make a saraph serpent and mount it on a pole and “whoever looks at it after being bitten will live,” the Pope said the serpent is “the symbol of the devil,” the father of lies, he who caused humanity to sin. And he recalled that Jesus said “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own.” This, Francis said, is the mystery of the Cross. “The bronze serpent was the sign of two things: the sign of sin and of the seductive power of sin”, and it was a prophecy of the Cross, he said.  The Cross, he continued, is not only a symbol of belonging, but it is the memory of God who was made sin for love. As Saint Paul says: “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin”. Taking upon Himself all the filth of humanity, the Pope said, He was lifted so that all men wounded by sin would be able to see Him. "Salvation comes only from the Cross, from this Cross that is God made flesh” he said. And he pointed out: “There is no salvation in ideas, there is no salvation in good will, in the desire to be good ... The only salvation is in the crucified Christ, because like the bronze serpent, He was able to take all the poison of sin and heal us.” Then the Pope asked: “what is the Cross for you? Yes, it is the Christian symbol. We make the sign of the Cross, but often we do not do it well…” For some, he said, the Cross is like a badge of belonging, they wear it to show they are Christians, or even in search of visibility, they wear it as an ornament decorated with precious gems. But, he reminded the faithful: "God said to Moses “whoever looks at the serpent will live”; and Jesus said to his enemies “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am the son of God”.  He who does not look to the Cross with faith, the Pope said, will die in his sins, will not receive salvation. Today, Pope Francis said, the Church proposes “a dialogue with the Mystery of the Cross, with God who became sin for our sake”. “Each of us can say He became sin ‘for love of me’” he said. Inviting all faithful to think about how theywear the Cross, and how aware they are when making the sign of the cross, the Pope concluded asking each of us to look to this God who became sin so that we do not die in our sins, and to reflect on the questions just suggested. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope receives Populorum progressio conference participants

Vatican News - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 07:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday received participants attending an International Conference marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI social encyclical 'Populorum progressio', telling them that only the path of integration between peoples can bring about a future of peace and hope. Listen to our report: 50 years ago Blessed Paul VI promulgated his social encyclical 'Populorum progressio' on the development of peoples. In it the Pope calls for all nations to initiate dialogue and collaboration so developing countries no longer risk being overwhelmed by debt. It also expresses the principle of solidarity. To mark the milestone anniversary of this document an International Conference has been taking place this week aimed at studying the theological anthropological and pastoral perspectives of the encyclical and formulate guidelines for the activity of the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. And it was on this subject of Integral Human Development that Pope Francis addressed participants who have been attending this meeting. He asked those present what does this phrase means today and in the near future? The Holy Father answered that Integral Human Development meant  “to integrate the different peoples of the earth.” The duty of solidarity, he continued,  “requires us to seek a fair sharing mode, because there is a dramatic inequality between those who have too much and those who have nothing, including those who discard and who are discarded. Only the path of integration between peoples can bring about  a future of peace and hope.” Integral Human Development, the Pope went on to say, “is to offer viable models of social integration. “Everyone has a contribution to make to the whole of society, everyone has a feature that can be used to live together, no one is excluded from making something for the good of all. This is both a right and a duty”, he said Quoting his predecessor Blessed Paul VI, the Pope said that “development is not reduced to a mere economic growth. It does not consist in having more and more goods…” The development of the human person, explained the Holy Father at the end of the day means the integration of  body and soul. But he noted, that this integration also means that “no development work can really achieve its purpose if it does not respect the place where God is present to us and speaks to our hearts.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

New pastoral provisions for Sacrament of Marriage for SSPX

Vatican News - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 07:09
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has established new provisions for the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony by members of the faithful who are attached to the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  In a letter approved by Pope Francis, Cardinal Gerhard Müller says, “The Holy Father . . . has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society.” The Pope's decision adopts a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, both of which are headed by Cardinal Müller.  The new provisions are part of a number of ongoing meetings and initiatives aimed at bringing the Society into full communion; Cardinal Müller’s letter mentions specifically the recent decision of Pope Francis to grant all priests of the Society the faculty to validly administer the Sacrament of Penance to the faithful in order “to ensure the validity and liceity of the Sacrament and allay any concerns on the part of the faithful.” The grant of faculties for the celebration of marriage is subject to several provisions: “Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary [that is, normally the local Diocesan Bishop] is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.” That is, a priest in good standing is to preside at the celebration of the marriage itself, which in the extraordinary form takes place before the nuptial Mass. The Mass itself may then be celebrated by a priest of the SSPX. The letter also foresees that circumstances may exist where those provisions are not possible, or where no Diocesan priest is able to receive the consent of the parties. In such cases, the Pope allows the Ordinary to grant faculties to the priest who will celebrate the nuptial Mass. Cardinal Müller closes his letter expressing his conviction that “in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated”; and that, to that end, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei “relies” on the cooperation of the prelates of the Episcopal Conferences concerned in this matter. Below, please find the full text of Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s letter: Your Eminence, Your Excellency, As you are aware, for some time various meetings and other initiatives have been ongoing in order to bring the Society of St. Pius X into full communion. Recently, the Holy Father decided, for example, to grant all priests of said Society the faculty to validly administer the Sacrament of Penance to the faithful (Letter Misericordia et misera , n.12), such as to ensure the validity and liceity of the Sacrament and allay any concerns on the part of the faithful. Following the same pastoral outlook which seeks to reassure the conscience of the faithful, despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity in which for the time being the Society of St. Pius X finds itself, the Holy Father, following a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei , has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society, according to the following provisions. Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo , by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society. Where the above is not possible, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him of the duty to forward the relevant documents to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible. Certain that in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated, this Dicastery relies on Your cooperation. The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 24 March 2017, confirmed his approval of the present letter and ordered its publication.   Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 27 March 2017.   Gerhard Card. L. Müller President   + Guido Pozzo Secretary Titular Archbishop of Bagnoregio   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope tells Christians to be witnesses of life and hope

Vatican News - Sun, 04/02/2017 - 10:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday told the faithful not to remain trapped in the rubble of life, but to rise from the rubble and rebuild their lives with the help of God. The Pope’s words came during the homily as he celebrated Mass for about 70 thousand people gathered in the central square of Italy’s northern town of Carpi. His one-day visit to the Emilia Romagna region comes after a pair of deadly earthquakes five years ago and where extensive restoration efforts have been cited as exemplary. Reaching out to those who lost loved ones and livelihoods during the 2012 quake, Pope Francis said God does not magically make bad things vanish, but He is close to those who suffer and faith has the power to transform that suffering. Reflecting on the Gospel reading that tells of the resurrection of Lazarus, the Pope recalled that Jesus himself wept for the death of Lazarus, but “within the mystery of suffering in which rationality is shattered and crushed like flies against a glass pane” he said, “Jesus does not allow himself to be imprisoned by pessimism”.    Before that sepulcher, he said, on the one hand there is sorrow, delusion, precariousness; on the other there is hope “that conquers death and evil”. “Jesus, he continued, did not offer a remedy to lengthen life, but proclaimed: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live’”. Pope Francis said that we are called to decide on what side to stand, and either close ourselves in sadness or be open to hope.    “There are those who remain buried in the rubble of life, and there are those, like you, who with the help of God rise from the rubble to rebuild” he said. Francis invited the faithful to avoid the temptation to be imprisoned in hopelessness and self-commiseration, to not yield to the useless and inconclusive logic of fear and resignation. “Jesus’ words to Lazarus are also meant for us: leave sadness and hopelessness behind; with Jesus hope is reborn and pain is transformed into peace. He is always there to help us rise” he said. “Let us ask for the grace, the Pope concluded, to be witnesses of life and hope in a world that is thirsting for it.” Before celebrating Mass the Pope visited the quake-damaged Duomo cathedral of Carpi, where he laid a bouquet of white flowers at the foot of a statue of the Madonna inside. After years of restoration, the cathedral reopened just last weekend. During his daylong visit, Pope Francis is also scheduled to meet with families who lost loved ones in the quake, lunch with clergy and meet privately with priests, nuns and seminarians for an open discussion.  The Emilia Romagna model of rebuilding after the magnitude 6.1 and 5.8 quakes that killed 28 people in 2012 has often been cited as exemplary. It included bringing together politicians, entrepreneurs and bishops to decide common priorities. The papal visit is seen as a sign of gratitude for the rebuilding and as a sign of hope that rebuilding is possible for the people of central Italy, who suffered an earthquake in 2016 that killed nearly 300 people, displaced tens of thousands and wreaked extensive damage to homes, businesses, Churches and infrastructure.   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope appeals for Colombia, DRC, Venezuela and Paraguay

Vatican News - Sun, 04/02/2017 - 08:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed deep pain for the tragedy that has struck the city of Mocoa in Colombia where a gigantic landslide has killed over 250 people and left scores missing. Listen to  the report by Linda Bordoni : Colombia's security forces are searching for over 200 missing people after heavy mudslides reportedly left at least 254 dead, and injured more than 400. Torrential rain flooded the city of Mocoa in the country's south-west with mud and rocks, burying whole neighbourhoods and forcing residents to flee their homes. Speaking after the Angelus prayer which he recited during his visit to the northern Italian town of Carpi, the Pope said he is praying for the victims and he assured his closeness to those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. He also thanked all those who are working to assist the victims and provide rescue efforts.    Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to the situation of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo ’s Kasai region where, he said, bloody armed clashes are killing and displacing people. He appealed for prayers for peace in the nation, exhorting believers to pray so that “the hearts of those who are behind such crimes be freed from the slavery of hatred and violence, because hatred and violence are always destructive”.     The Pope noted that the violence in DRC is also affecting Church members, Churches and Church-run institutes like hospitals and schools.    Francis finally focused attention on the crises that are creating socio-political turmoil in Venezuela and in Paraguay . “I pray for those populations who are very dear to me, he said, and invite all to tirelessly persevere in their search for political solutions, avoiding every kind of violence”.           (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis receives Spanish College of St Joseph students

Vatican News - Sat, 04/01/2017 - 10:06
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the students, faculty, and staff of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph on Saturday, in a special audience to mark the 125th anniversary of the founding of the institution. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Saturday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, the Holy Father shared a reflection on the three key terms in Jesus’ response to the Levite, who questioned him about the greatest commandment: to love the Lord with all one’s heart, all one’s soul, and all one’s strength. Click below to hear our report “To love with all your heart,” said Pope Francis, “means to do it without reserve and without ulterior motives, without spurious interests and without seeking personal success for oneself.” “To love with all one’s soul,” he continued, “is to be willing to offer one’s life,” an attitude the Holy Father said must persist in time, and embrace our whole being. “To love with all our strength,” Pope Francis went on to say, is a command that, “reminds us that where our treasure is, there is our heart,” and that it is, “in our little gestures – assurances and signs of affection – that we play out whether we shall say ‘yes’ to the Lord, or – like the rich young man – turn our back on Him.”   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope writes to Peru's Catholic University on its 100 year anniversary

Vatican News - Sat, 04/01/2017 - 09:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has encouraged teachers, students and graduates of Peru’s Catholic University to be united and “walk together” giving value to its legacy in contemporary society and transmitting it to the new generations. The Pope’s words came in a letter addressed to Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Peru, on the occasion of the first centenary of the institution.   Please find below an English translation of Pope Francis’ letter: Dear brother, I am pleased to greet you and through you, to those who compose the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, on the occasion of the first centenary of this institution. I join you in giving thanks to the Lord for all the benefits received from His infinite goodness during these years dedicated to the service of the Church and the society of this beloved country. This pleasing anniversary gives us the opportunity to reflect on the nature and purpose of the University. In its Statutes it is defined as a “community of teachers, students and graduates dedicated to the essential purposes of a Catholic university institution” (Article 1). This formulates the summary of a whole project, not only educational but also of life. It is primarily a community, which means recognizing members of the same family who share a common history based on the same principles that gave rise to and motivated them. The community is formed and consolidated when it walks together, united, valuing the legacy it has received and that it must safeguard, making it live in the contemporary world and transmitting it to the new generations. It is undeniable that the founders of this educational centre launched a courageous initiative in the service of Peruvian society and the Church. It is a call to openness to other cultures and realities; if one is locked in oneself, contemplating only one’s own knowledge and achievements, one is doomed to failure. However, knowledge of other thoughts and customs enriches us, and stimulates us to reflect within ourselves more deeply in order to engage in a serious and fruitful dialogue with our surrounding environment. The community is made up of teachers, students and graduates. Their roles are different but they all need each other to exercise them authentically. The Master is one, our Lord (Mt 23:8; Jn 13:13); And he who is called to teach must do so in imitation of Jesus, the good teacher, Who went out to sow every day with His Word, and was patient with those who followed Him and humble in his dealings with them. If we look at his example, we realize that in order to teach one has first to learn and to be a disciple. The latter is the one who follows the example of his teacher and is attentive to his teachings in order to be able to excel and be better. This inner tension helps us to recognize ourselves as humble and in need of divine grace in order to bring the received talents to fruition. Teaching and learning are slow and meticulous processes, which necessitate attention and constant love, because they involve collaborating with the Creator to give shape to the work of His hands. Performing this “sacred” task fosters the knowledge and fruitfulness of the perfection and goodness in every creature that loved by God and is a reflection of God's infinite wisdom and goodness (cf. Laudato Si’ , 69). In this task, everyone – teachers, students and graduates – is necessary. Each one contributes the competence of his knowledge and his specific vocation and life, so that this centre of studies shines not only in its academic excellence, but also as a school of humanity. Finally, this community has the challenge of seeking and striving towards the essential purpose of a Catholic university institution; that is, to be evangelized so as to evangelize. Every Christian has been conquered by the Lord and that encounter is transformed into witness. The acquisition of knowledge is not enough, it is necessary to bring it to life, like leaven in the mass. We are missionary disciples and are called to become a living gospel for the world. Through the example of our life and our good works we will bear witness to Christ, so that the heart of man can change and become a new creature. This institution, with all its members, must face the challenge of meeting the man and woman of today, bearing an authentic and sure word. To achieve this end, the truth must be ardently and rigorously pursued, as well as its adequate transmission, thus contributing to the promotion of the human person and to the construction of society (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae , 2). This University, which in accordance with its origin, history and mission, has a special link with the Successor of Peter and, in communion with him, with the Universal Church, will have achieved its objectives if it can bring to the social fabric those doses of professionalism and humanity proper to the Christian able to seek with passion that synthesis of faith and reason. I commend to Our Mother the Virgin Mary, Throne of Wisdom, the projects and challenges of this Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and I pray to the Lord for all those who make up this educational community, as well as their families and their loved ones. I ask you not to forget to pray for me, and impart an Apostolic Blessing. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

New Evangelization to care for shrines

Vatican News - Sat, 04/01/2017 - 07:22
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Saturday, in which he transfers general responsibility for the creation, discipline and administration of Catholic shrines and sanctuaries throughout the world, to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The new arrangement leaves in place the special laws granting other authorities specific competence over certain shrines and sanctuaries – and the pilgrims and pilgrimages associated with them. The Council for New Evangelization will now be directly responsible the establishment of international Sanctuaries and the approval of their respective statutes, as well as for the study and implementation of measures to promote the evangelizing role of the sacred places in the life of the Church and of the faithful, to promote an organic pastoral care plan for shrines and to promote both national and international gatherings aimed at fostering renewal of pilgrimages to places of worship and works of popular piety more generally. In addition, the Council for New Evangelization will be responsible for promoting training for shrine operators and support for pilgrims, as well as cultural and artistic enhancement of  sanctuaries, “according to the via pulchritudinis as one of the Church’s particular modes of evangelization. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

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