Vatican News

Pope to Nomadelfia: promote dialogue between generations

Vatican News - Sat, 12/17/2016 - 10:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday met with the Nomadelfia community here at the Vatican. Nomadelfia is a group of Catholic volunteers seeking to build a new civilization according to the Gospel, living in a way that is based the early Christian communities. Listen to Ann Schneible’s report: Reflecting on the mystery of the Son of God becoming Man, the Pope said, Advent is an opportunity to reflect on how we should not “place ourselves above others, but we are called to lower ourselves, to serve out of love for the weakest, to make ourselves little with the little ones.” The Holy Father turned his reflection to the founder of the Nomadelfia community, Fr Zeno Saltini. Fr Saltini, he said, remains “present to us today as an example of a faithful disciple of Christ who, in imitation of the Divine teacher, bends to the suffering of the weakest and poorest, becoming a witness of inexhaustible charity.” Pope Francis spoke to the community members about their “spiritual heritage” which is tied in a special way to the “welcoming of children” and caring for the elderly. “Children and elderly build the future of peoples: children, because they are able to advance history; the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives.” The Pope urged them to not tire of cultivating “this dialogue between the generations.” Pope Francis concluded by wishing everyone a happy journey towards Christmas, and gave them his blessing. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis receives President of Malta in audience

Vatican News - Sat, 12/17/2016 - 08:47
(Vatican Radio) On Saturday the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Malta, Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial discussions, the good relations between the Holy See and Malta were evoked, focusing in particular on the special contribution of the Catholic religion in the formation of the identity of the country and on the relevant role of the Church in promoting the human and cultural progress of society. The conversation continued with an exchange of views on the main questions of an international and regional nature, also in view of the upcoming Maltese presidency of the European Union, with special reference to the phenomenon of migration, current conflicts in the Mediterranean area and the importance of dialogue between religions and cultures. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: memory focus of 80th birthday homily

Vatican News - Sat, 12/17/2016 - 06:23
(Vatican Radio) Memory was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at a Mass of which he was the principal celebrant in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, along with the cardinals resident in Rome, who were assembled to give thanks to God on the occasion of the Holy Father’s 80 th birthday. Memory – not merely recollection – of parents and forefathers, of friends and relatives who have gone before him, of the signs of a life well and fully lived – but most especially the memoria Dei , the “memory of God” that is present throughout salvation history and is the characteristic and the hallmark of Christian life. Click below to hear our report “In Advent we started this journey, of vigilant expectation of the Lord. Today we stop, we look back, we see that the journey has been beautiful, that the Lord has not disappointed us, that the Lord is faithful,” he said. “We also see that both in history, and in our own lives, there have been wonderful moments of fidelity and bad times of sin,” Pope Francis went on to say, “but the Lord is there, with hand outstretched to help you up and tell you: ‘Be on your way forward!’ – and this is the Christian life – going forward, towards the definitive encounter. Let not this journey of such intensity, in vigilant expectation of the Lord’s coming, take away the grace of memory, of looking back on everything the Lord has done for us, for the Church, in the history of salvation. Thus shall we understand why the Church does read this passage [the Genealogy of Jesus, Mt. 1:1-17] that may seem a bit boring – but here is the story of a God who chose to walk with his people and become himself, in the end, a man, like every one of us.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: Mass with Cardinals to mark 80th birthday

Vatican News - Sat, 12/17/2016 - 05:42
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis was the principal celebrant at Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican on the morning of December 17th. The Mass was that of the Saturday in the Third Week of Advent, and the concelebrants were the Cardinals resident in Rome. The reason for the extraordinary liturgical celebration was thanksgiving to God for the life of Pope Francis, who was born 80 years ago this day, on December 17th, 1936. The liturgy unfolded with the simple penitential settings of the season, and the readings were those of the day. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, offered words of greeting in the name of all those present and of all the members of the College, saying, “The risen Jesus appeared to the disciples and addressed these well-known words to Simon-Peter: ‘Simon son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?’ And the Apostle immediately replied: ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love you!’ It is with this love that Your Holiness today carries out His mission in the world. Then we know that we are close to you, especially today, on this beautiful day of your life. Cardinal Sodano went on to say, “Our prayer shall be with you always, well mindful as we are of what we repeat in the Holy Mass every day, and that is: that by communion with the Body and Blood of Christ, may the Holy Spirit unite us in One Body.” At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis offered thanks to the Cardinals present, saying, “For several days now, I’ve been thinking of a word that can seem ugly – no? – dotage. It is scary: just yesterday, [Office Manager for the Dept. for Relations with States in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See] Msgr. [Luigi] Cavaliere  gave me [a copy of] Cicero’s De senectute  - right? Really laying it on [It. una goccia in più]. Only, remember what I said to you on March 15 [2013], in our first meeting: ‘Old age is the seat of wisdom.’ Hopefully it is for me, right? Let us hope that it is so.” The Holy Father also recalled a line of the Roman poet, Ovid: “Tacitu pede lapsa vetustas [with silent steps, old age slips up on one] It is a blow! But also, when one thinks of it as a stage of life that is to give joy, wisdom, hope, one begins to live again, right? And I can think of another poem that I quoted to you that day too [from the German poet, Hölderlin]: Es ist ruhig, das Alter, und fromm, “Old age is quiet and religious”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Fr. Cantalamessa: “strong wine” of Spirit overcomes unbelief

Vatican News - Fri, 12/16/2016 - 10:07
(Vatican Radio) The Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., delivered his third Advent sermon on Friday. Fr. Cantalamessa’s reflection focused on the sober intoxication of the spirit , exploring the theme as it emerged from the writings of the Fathers of the Church. The Preacher of the Papal Household began his reflection with a distinction between physical and spiritual inebriation, noting that the first makes people come out of themselves to live below the level of reason, while the second makes people come out of themselves to live above the level of their reason. Click below to hear our report “How,” he asked in the second portion of his talk, “do we appropriate this ideal of sober intoxication and incarnate it in our current historical and ecclesial situation?” He went on to say, “We need the sober intoxication of the Spirit even more than the Fathers did.” “The world has become so averse to the gospel, so sure of itself, that only the “strong wine” of the Spirit can overcome its unbelief and draw it out of its entirely human and rationalistic sobriety, which passes itself off as “scientific objectivity.” Only spiritual weapons, says the Apostle, “have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Christians should open the road to Jesus

Vatican News - Fri, 12/16/2016 - 08:06
(Vatican Radio) Christians should look to the “great” John the Baptist as a model of humble witness to Jesus, as one who denies himself, even to the point of death, in order to point out the coming of the Son of God. That was Pope Francis’ message, during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, to Bishops and religious celebrating the 50 th anniversary of their ordination, and to married couples celebrating the 50 th anniversary of their wedding vows. John the Baptist, the witness who points to Christ The Church’s liturgy turns once again, as it has in the past two days, to the figure of St John the Baptist, presented in the Gospel as the “witness.” His vocation, the Pope explained in his homily, is “to give witness to Jesus,” “to point out Jesus,” like a lamp with respect to the light: A lamp that points out where the light is, that bears witness to the light. He was the voice. He said of himself: “I am the voice that cries out in the desert.” He was the voice but that bears witness to the Word, points out the Word, the Word of God, the Word. He was only the voice. The Word. He was the preacher of penitence who baptized, the Baptist, but he makes it clear, he says clearly: “After me comes another who is mightier than I, who is greater than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. And He will baptize you in fire and the Holy Spirit.” The humility of John, his self-annihilation is a model for Christians John, then, is the “place-holder who points out the definitive figure”; and the definitive figure is Jesus. This, the Pope said, “is his greatness,” which was demonstrated each time the people and the doctors of the law asked him whether or not he was the Messiah, and he clearly responded, “I am not he”: And this provisional but certain, strong testimony; that torch that was not put out by the wind of vanity; that voice that was not diminished by the force of pride; always becomes one that indicates the other and opens the gate to the other testimony, that of the Father, that which Jesus speaks of today: “But I have a testimony greater than that of John: that of the Father. And John the Baptist opens the gate to this testimony.” And the voice of the Father is heard: “This is my Son.” It was for John to open this gate. And this John was great, always left aside. John is humble, he “annihilates himself,” the Pope emphasized once again, he takes the same road that Jesus would take later, that “of emptying himself.” And it will be thus until the end: “in the darkness of a cell, in prison, beheaded because of the whim of a dancing girl, the envy of an adulteress, the weakness of a drunkard.” If we have to paint a portrait, Francis is of the mind that “this alone is how we must depict it.” This is an image that the Pope then offered to the faithful present, including religious and bishops celebrating their jubilees, and married couples celebrating their 50 th wedding anniversaries. Christians by their lives should open the road to Jesus It is a beautiful day to question ourselves about our own Christian life, if our own Christian life has always opened the road to Jesus, if our own life was full of this act: pointing out Jesus. Giving thanks for the many times that they did it, giving thanks and beginning anew, after the fiftieth anniversary, with this aged youth or this youthful age – like the good wine! – taking a step forward in order to continue to be witnesses of Jesus. May John, the great witness, help you in this new path that you are beginning today, after the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary, of priesthood, of consecrated life, and of matrimony. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pastors should speak the truth, welcome people's first steps

Vatican News - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 09:29
(Vatican Radio) Pastors should speak the truth, but at the same time welcome people for what they are able to give: this is the first step; the rest we leave to the Lord. That was the message of Pope Francis at the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday. St John the Baptist was at the centre of the Pope’s homily. The liturgy of Advent, especially in these days, often reflects on his ministry: a man who lived in the desert, preached, and baptized. The strong preaching of Baptist against the Pharisees and the Doctors of the Law Many people went out into the desert to find John the Baptist, including the Pharisees and the doctors of the law. The latter, though, went out with a certain detachment, intending not to be baptized by John, but to judge him. In the Gospel of the Day, Jesus asks the crowds what they went out to see in the desert: “a reed swayed by the wind? Someone dressed in fine garments?” They weren’t looking for men dressed in fine vestments, because people like that are found in the palaces of kings – “or sometimes of Bishops,” the Pope added. Rather, they went out to see a prophet, one who was “more than a prophet.” Jesus said “among those born of women, no one is greater than John.” He was “the last of the prophets,” the Pope said, because after him came the Messiah. Dwelling on the reason of John’s greatness, Pope Francis explained, “He was a man who was faithful to what the Lord had asked of him”; “he was great because he was faithful. This greatness is seen even in his preaching: He preached forcefully, he said some ugly things to the Pharisees, to the doctors of the law, to the priests, he didn’t say to them: “But dear friends, behave yourselves!” No. He said to them simply: “You race of vipers!” He didn’t use nuance. Because they approached in order to inspect him and to see him, but never with open hearts: “Race of vipers!” He risked his live, yes, but he was faithful. Then to Herod, to his face, he said, “Adulterer! It is not licit for you to live this way, adulterer!” To his face! But it is certain that if a pastor today said in the Sunday homily, “Among you there are some who are a race of vipers, and there are many adulterers,” certainly the Bishop would receive disconcerting letters: “But send away this pastor who insults us.” And he insulted them. Why? Because he was faithful to his vocation and to the truth. The Baptist asked for a first step from the publicans, and then he baptized them The Pope noted, though, that with the people he was understanding: of the publicans – who were known as public sinners because they exploited the people – he said, “Do not ask for more than what is just.” “He began with small things. Then we’ll see. And he baptized them,” Francis continued. “First this step. Then we see.” He asked the soldiers, the police, not to threaten or denounce anyone and to be content with their pay. “This means not entering into the world of tangents,” Pope Francis explained. “When a policeman stops you, he tests you for alcohol, there is a little more: ‘Eh, no, but… how much? Come on!’ No. This no.” John baptized all these sinners, “but with this minimal step forward, because he knew that with this step, the Lord would do the rest.” And they converted. “It is a pastor,” the Pope continued, “who understood the situation of the people and helped them to go forward with the Lord.” John was then the only prophet to whom the grace of pointing out Jesus was given. Even John the Baptist, according to Pope Francis, had his doubts; the great can afford to doubt Although John was great, strong, secure in his vocation, “he still had dark moments,” he had his doubts,” said Francis. In fact, John began to doubt in prison, even though he had baptized Jesus, “because he was a Saviour that was not as he had imagined him.” And so he sent two of his disciples to ask Him if He was the Messiah. And Jesus corrects the vision of John with a clear response. In fact, He tells them to report to John that “the blind see,” “the deaf hear,” “the dead rise.” “The great can afford to doubt, because they are great,” the Pope said. The great can afford to doubt, and this is beautiful. They are certain of their vocation but each time the Lord makes them see a new street of the journey, they enter into doubt. ‘But this is not orthodox, this is heretical, this is not the Messiah I expected.’ The devil does this work, and some friend also helps, no? This is the greatness of John, a great one, the last of that band of believers that began with Abraham, that one that preaches conversion, that one that does not use half-words to condemn the proud, that one that at the end of his life is allowed to doubt. And this is a good program of Christian life.” Helping people take the first step; and God will do the rest Pope Francis than summarized the main points of his homily: saying the truth and accepting from the people what they are able to give, a first step: Let us ask from John the grace of apostolic courage to always say things with truth, from pastoral love, to receive the people with the little that they can give, the first step. God will do the rest. And also the grace of doubting. Often times, maybe at the end of life, one can ask, “But is all that I believed true or are they fantasies?” the temptation against the faith, against the Lord. May the great John, who is the least in the kingdom of Heaven, and for this reason is great, help us along this path in the footsteps of the Lord. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis sends condolences after death of Cardinal Arns

Vatican News - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 09:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of condolences to Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil, following the death on Wednesday of Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, emeritus of the same archdiocese, at the age of 95. “I receive with great sadness the news of the death of our venerated brother, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns”, writes the Holy Father. “I express also to the auxiliary bishops, the clergy, the religious communities and the faithful of the archdiocese of São Paulo, as well as to the family of the deceased, my condolences for the passing of this intrepid pastor who in his ecclesial ministry revealed himself to be an authentic witness of the Gospel amid his people, showing to all the path of truth in charity and in service to the community, in constant attention to the most disadvantaged. I thank the Lord for having given the Church such a generous pastor, and raise fervent prayers that God may grant eternal joy to this good and faithful servant of His. I convey to the archdiocesan community that mourns the loss of its beloved pastor, to the Church of Brazil, which found in him a sure point of reference, and those who share in this hour of sadness that announces the resurrection, the comfort of my Apostolic Blessing”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope to children's hospital: ‘hope is the “fuel” of Christian life’

Vatican News - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 06:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday greeted young patients, their families and hospital staff of Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesù’ Children’s Hospital and encouraged them to nurture hope and to say ‘thank you’ to God for having shown us the way to give meaning to our human existence. Amongst the hundreds of children at the audience receiving care from the Vatican hospital, were young patients from across the world including 15 kids from the Central African Republic where the ‘Bambino Gesù’ has a special cooperation project like the ones in Jordan and in Palestine which reach out to give medical assistance to refugee children from Syria and Iraq. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : The packed audience that took place in the Paul VI Hall was opened by ‘Bambino Gesù’ President Mariella Enoc who spoke about how the hospital has a system stretches well beyond regional and national boundaries with Centers in impoverished Italian regions and with numerous international missions in developing nations. She explained that today the ‘Bambino Gesù’ is present in 12 countries, with the goal of providing care and passing on its experience in the poorest areas of the world.  Pope Francis then listened to questions asked by Valentina, to an appeal made by Dino, to the words of Serena and to the doubts raised by Luca who is at the beginning of his professional and human experience as a pediatric nurse. He told Valentina, who is also a nurse, that he has no answer to her question ‘why do children suffer?’: “I do not have the answer” he said.  Not even Jesus had an answer to this question.  But Jesus, he said, shows us the way to give meaning to our human experience; he himself suffered offering his own life for our salvation. All we can do, the Pope said, is to be close to the child who suffers, cry with him, pray with him, look to the crucified Jesus.  He also urged Christians searching for a balm for those who are close to those who suffer never to neglect the value of gratitude and to always say ‘thank you’. “To say thank you is a medicine against bouts of hopelessness, which is a contagious ailment” he said. To say thank you is to nurture hope, the Pope continued, and hope is the ‘fuel’ of Christian life that allows us to go forward every day. To Dino, a ‘Bambino Gesù’ staff member who was asking for greater spaces to offer the patients of the hospital, the Pope said: “It is essential to open one’s heart: Providence will find concrete spaces!”  But he also took the occasion to warn against the temptation of transforming a hospital into a place in which to do business, a place where doctors and nurses become profiteers saying “one of the worst cancers in a hospital is corruption. With strong words and strong tones against what he called a profit-driven health industry that deceives many, the Pope reiterated that we are all sinners, but we must learn from children and never be corrupt.  And to Luca who is beginning his career as a pediatric nurse the Pope said: “follow your dreams”; never stop doing good and never give up your wish to give life to great projects. “A life without dreams is not worthy of God, a life that is tired, resigned and lacking enthusiasm is not Christian” he said. And finally, to Serena, a former oncological patient of the Children’s Hospital who is studying to become a doctor, the Pope spoke of the special strength and joy of those who dedicated their lives and their talents for others: “this is a gift” he said.  He recalled an Italian nun whom he said saved his life when, as a young man in Buenos Aires he was struck by a severe case of pneumonia. The Pope spoke of her joyfulness and of the joy that derives of “sowing life, of helping young lives to grow, of giving to others”. “This, he said, will be your best stipend!”                   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis releases message for 2017 World Day of Sick

Vatican News - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 06:02
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released his message for the 25th World Day of the Sick to take place on 11 February 2017, the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Day of the Sick was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1992, who called it “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering”. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Pope Francis entitled his message for the 2017 celebration of the World Day of the Sick “Amazement at what God has accomplished: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me…’ (Lk 1:49)”. He said the commemoration “gives the Church renewed spiritual energy for carrying out ever more fully that fundamental part of her mission which includes serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast, and the marginalized.” The Pope also expressed his “closeness to all of you, our suffering brothers and sisters, and to your families, as well as my appreciation for all those in different roles of service and in healthcare institutions throughout the world who work with professionalism, responsibility, and dedication for your care, treatment and daily well-being.” He said all the infirm and those who help them should look to Mary, “Health of the Infirm, the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to his will.” Mary’s apparition at Lourdes to the “poor, illiterate, and ill” Bernadette, he said, reminds us “that every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such. The sick and the those who are disabled, even severely, have their own inalienable dignity and mission in life.” In his message, the Holy Father said God’s solicitude for “the world of suffering and sickness” is revealed in Jesus. “The solidarity shown by Christ, the Son of God born of Mary, is the expression of God’s merciful omnipotence, which is made manifest in our life – above all when that life is frail, pain-filled, humbled, marginalized, and suffering – and fills it with the power of hope that can sustain us and enable us to get up again.” He said the celebration of the World Day of the Sick should provide “new incentive to work for the growth of a culture of respect for life, health and the environment” and “inspire renewed efforts to defend the integrity and dignity of persons, not least through a correct approach to bioethical issues, the protection of the vulnerable and the protection of the environment.” Finally, Pope Francis invited the sick, healthcare workers, and volunteers to turn to Mary in prayer. He said, “May her maternal intercession sustain and accompany our faith, and obtain for us from Christ her Son hope along our journey of healing and of health, a sense of fraternity and responsibility, a commitment to integral human development, and the joy of feeling gratitude whenever God amazes us by his fidelity and his mercy.” He concluded the message with a short prayer to Our Lady: Mary, our Mother, in Christ you welcome each of us as a son or daughter. Sustain the trusting expectation of our hearts, succour us in our infirmities and sufferings, and guide us to Christ, your Son and our brother. Help us to entrust ourselves to the Father who accomplishes great things. Please find below the text of Pope Francis’ message: Dear Brothers and Sisters, On 11 February next, the Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick will be celebrated throughout the Church and in a special way at Lourdes.  The theme of this year’s celebration is “Amazement at what God has accomplished: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me….’” (Lk 1:49).  Instituted by my predecessor Saint John Paul II in 1992, and first celebrated at Lourdes on 11 February 1993, this Day is an opportunity to reflect in particular on the needs of the sick and, more generally, of all those who suffer.  It is also an occasion for those who generously assist the sick, beginning with family members, health workers and volunteers, to give thanks for their God-given vocation of accompanying our infirm brothers and sisters.  This celebration likewise gives the Church renewed spiritual energy for carrying out ever more fully that fundamental part of her mission which includes serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast and the marginalized (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Motu Proprio Dolentium Hominum , 11 February 1985, 1).  Surely, the moments of prayer, the Eucharistic liturgies and the celebrations of the Anointing of the Sick, the sharing with the sick and the bioethical and theological-pastoral workshops to be held in Lourdes in those days will make new and significant contributions to that service. Even now, I am spiritually present at the grotto of Massabielle, before the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, in whom the Almighty has done great things for the redemption of mankind.  I express my closeness to all of you, our suffering brothers and sisters, and to your families, as well as my appreciation for all those in different roles of service and in healthcare institutions throughout the world who work with professionalism, responsibility and dedication for your care, treatment and daily well-being.   I encourage all of you, the sick, the suffering, physicians, nurses, family members and volunteers, to see in Mary, Health of the Infirm, the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to his will.  May you always find in faith, nourished by the Word and by the Sacraments, the strength needed to love God, even in the experience of illness. Like Saint Bernadette, we stand beneath the watchful gaze of Mary.  The humble maiden of Lourdes tells us that the Virgin, whom she called “the Lovely Lady”, looked at her as one person looks at another.  Those simple words describe the fullness of a relationship.  Bernadette, poor, illiterate and ill, felt that Mary was looking at her as a person.  The Lovely Lady spoke to her with great respect and without condescension.  This reminds us that every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such.  The sick and the those who are disabled, even severely, have their own inalienable dignity and mission in life.  They never become simply objects.  If at times they appear merely passive, in reality that is never the case. After her visit to the Grotto, thanks to her prayer, Bernadette turned her frailty into support for others.  Thanks to her love, she was able to enrich her neighbours and, above all, to offer her life for the salvation of humanity.  The fact that the Lovely Lady asked her to pray for sinners reminds us that the infirm and the suffering desire not only to be healed, but also to live a truly Christian life, even to the point of offering it as authentic missionary disciples of Christ.  Mary gave Bernadette the vocation of serving the sick and called her to become a Sister of Charity, a mission that she carried out in so exemplary a way as to become a model for every healthcare worker.  Let us ask Mary Immaculate for the grace always to relate to the sick as persons who certainly need assistance, at times even for the simplest of things, but who have a gift of their own to share with others. The gaze of Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, brightens the face of the Church in her daily commitment to the suffering and those in need.  The precious fruits of this solicitude for the world of suffering and sickness are a reason for gratitude to the Lord Jesus, who out of obedience to the will of the Father became one of us, even enduring death on the cross for the redemption of humanity.  The solidarity shown by Christ, the Son of God born of Mary, is the expression of God’s merciful omnipotence, which is made manifest in our life – above all when that life is frail, pain-filled, humbled, marginalized and suffering – and fills it with the power of hope that can sustain us and enable us to get up again. This great wealth of humanity and faith must not be dissipated.  Instead, it should inspire us to speak openly of our human weaknesses and to address the challenges of present-day healthcare and technology.  On this World Day of the Sick, may we find new incentive to work for the growth of a culture of respect for life, health and the environment.  May this Day also inspire renewed efforts to defend the integrity and dignity of persons, not least through a correct approach to bioethical issues, the protection of the vulnerable and the protection of the environment. On this Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick, I once more offer my prayerful support and encouragement to physicians, nurses, volunteers and all those consecrated men and women committed to serving the sick and those in need.  I also embrace the ecclesial and civil institutions working to this end, and the families who take loving care of their sick.  I pray that all may be ever joyous signs of the presence of God’s love and imitate the luminous testimony of so many friends of God, including Saint John of God and Saint Camillus de’ Lellis, the patrons of hospitals and healthcare workers, and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, missionary of God’s love. Dear brothers and sisters – the sick, healthcare workers and volunteers – I ask you to join me in praying to Mary.  May her maternal intercession sustain and accompany our faith, and obtain for us from Christ her Son hope along our journey of healing and of health, a sense of fraternity and responsibility, a commitment to integral human development and the joy of feeling gratitude whenever God amazes us by his fidelity and his mercy. Mary, our Mother, in Christ you welcome each of us as a son or daughter. Sustain the trusting expectation of our hearts, succour us in our infirmities and sufferings, and guide us to Christ, your Son and our brother. Help us to entrust ourselves to the Father who accomplishes great things. With the assurance of a constant remembrance in my prayers, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing. 8 December 2016, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis receives new Ambassadors

Vatican News - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 04:42
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with newly accredited non resident Ambassadors to the Holy See telling them that those who hold public office at national and international levels are called to cultivate a nonviolent style in their consciences and in the exercise of their duties.   Listen :  Below find the English translation of the Pope's discourse to the Ambassadors Your Excellencies, I am pleased to receive you for presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See on the part of your respective countries: Burundi, Fiji, Mauritius, Moldova, Sweden and Tunisia.  I thank you for your kind words, which attest to your desire to maintain and develop the relations of esteem and cooperation which you enjoy with the Holy See, and I ask you to convey to the Heads of State whom you represent my gratitude and the assurance of my prayers for them and for their nations. You have come from distant and very different areas of the world.  Here in Rome this is always a source of satisfaction, since the horizon of the Holy See is intrinsically universal.  This is due to the vocation and mission entrusted by God to the Successor of the Apostle Peter, a mission that is essentially religious, yet in the course of history has also involved relations with states and those who govern them.  The Catholic Church, whose centre of unity and direction is found, as it were, in the Holy See, is called to pass on and bear witness to those spiritual and moral values grounded in the very nature of human beings and society, and which, as such, can be shared by all those committed to the pursuit of the common good. Preeminent among these values is that of peace, as seen in the fact that for fifty years now, the Popes have dedicated the first day of January to peace, addressing a special Message to the world’s civil and religious authorities, and to all men and women of goodwill.  The Message for the coming World Day of Peace, published just three days ago, has as its theme: Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace.  The happy occasion of our meeting today allows me to share with you some brief reflections on that theme. Nonviolence is a typical example of a universal value that finds fulfilment in the Gospel of Christ but is also a part of other noble and ancient spiritual traditions.  In a world like our own, sadly marked by wars and numerous conflicts, to say nothing of widespread violence evident in various ways in day-to-day life, the choice of nonviolence as a style of life is increasingly demanded in the exercise of responsibility at every level, from family education, to social and civil commitment, to political activity and international relations.  In every situation, this means rejecting violence as a method for resolving conflicts and dealing with them instead through dialogue and negotiation. In a particular way, those who hold public office on the national and international levels are called to cultivate a nonviolent style in their consciences and in the exercise of their duties.  This is not the same as weakness or passivity; rather it presupposes firmness, courage and the ability to face issues and conflicts with intellectual honesty, truly seeking the common good over and above all partisan interest, be it ideological, economic or political.  In the course of the past century, marred by wars and genocides of unheard-of proportions, we have nonetheless seen outstanding examples of how nonviolence, embraced with conviction and practised consistently, can yield significant results, also on the social and political plane.  Some peoples, and indeed entire nations, thanks to the efforts of nonviolent leaders, peacefully achieved the goals of freedom and justice.  This is the path to pursue now and in the future.  This is the way of peace.  Not a peace proclaimed by words but in fact denied by pursuing strategies of domination, backed up by scandalous outlays for arms, while so many people lack the very necessities of life. Dear Ambassadors, it is my desire, and that of the Holy See, to advance, together with the governments of your countries, this process of promoting peace and those other values that contribute to the integral development of individuals and society.  With this in mind, I now offer you my heartfelt best wishes for the mission that you begin today, while assuring you of the ready cooperation of the Roman Curia.  Upon you and your families, and upon your respective countries, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Press Office: C-9 meeting focuses on mission, synodality

Vatican News - Wed, 12/14/2016 - 08:39
(Vatican Radio) The Council of 9 Cardinals met this week in the Vatican, from Monday, December 12 th , to Wednesday, December 14 th . The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Greg Burke, held a briefing on Wednesday to inform journalists of the work done during the sessions. Two key issues emerged as guidelines for the reform of the Curial dicasteries: missionary thrust and synodality. The Cardinals have concluded their study of other departments (Doctrine of the Faith, Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Causes of Saints and Promotion of Christian Unity) and delivered their final proposal to the Holy Father. Considerable time was devoted to the projects of the two new dicasteries. Cardinal Kevin Farrell spoke of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, of which he is Prefect. The discussion focused on the role of the laity, with an invitation to all to re-read the letter of Pope Francis to Card. Marc Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Cardinal Peter Turkson presented the work plan for the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, which combines four offices: Justice and Peace, Cor Unum , Health Care, and Migrants and Itinerant People. Card. Turkson was accompanied by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, who explained the new department as an implementation of the conciliar Constitution Gaudium et Spes . Cardinal Sean O'Malley presented the most recent activities of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, while Cardinal George Pell reported on the latest developments related to the Secretariat for the Economy. The afternoon of Wednesday, December 14 th , was to be devoted to a presentation by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, detailing the steps taken and those coming for the reform of the Holy See’s communications apparatus, with particular attention to personnel training. The next Council meeting is scheduled for February 13 th – 15 th , 2017. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis to pilgrims: thanks for birthday wishes

Vatican News - Wed, 12/14/2016 - 06:16
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered thanks for the many well-wishes he has received ahead of his 80th birthday this coming Saturday. Speaking to Italian pilgrims after the main catechetical portion of the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis departed from his prepared greetings to say, “I thank you all for your well-wishes for my upcoming birthday,” he said, adding again, “many thanks!” The Holy Father went on to tease the crowd, saying, “Those, who offer birthday congratulations ahead of time, are jinxes!” The Holy Father in his greetings also  offered thanks to the pilgrims representing participants in the “Oeration Safe Roads” initiative during the recently concluded Jubilee Year of Mercy, as well as a group of faithful from Petrignano d’Assisi, who brought the Pope a gift of an artistic Christmas crèche. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Audience: "Jesus’ coming brings consolation to thirsting world"

Vatican News - Wed, 12/14/2016 - 05:41
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the theme of 'Christian hope' at his Wednesday General Audience, saying the Kingdom brought by Jesus at his birth calls us to be joyful heralds in a world that “yearns for justice, truth, and peace”. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: Pope Francis focused his reflection on the words of the prophet Isaiah: "How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of the one bringing good news" (Is 52:7,9-10). He said these words help us prepare for the coming feast of Christmas by opening ourselves to the hope of salvation. The prophet calls God’s people to rejoice, for the Lord is near, bringing freedom from exile and the promise of renewal and redemption for the faithful “remnant” who continued to hope in his word.  Pope Francis noted how the prophet speaks “not of the messenger but of the messenger’s feet”. Comparing this to the spouse in the Song of Songs (Sg 2:8), he said, “So also the messenger of peace races to bring the proclamation of liberation, of salvation, and declaring that God reigns.” The Pope said God’s kingdom means that “God has not abandoned His people and has not let them be overcome by evil, because He is faithful and His grace is greater than sin… And the fulfillment of so much love will be exactly the Kingdom established by Jesus, that Kingdom of pardon and peace, which we celebrate at Christmas and which is manifested conclusively in Easter.” “These,” he said, “are the reasons for our hope. When all seems over, when in the face of so many negative realities faith grows weary and the temptation to say that all has lost meaning comes, rather, [look to] the good news brought by those quick feet: God is coming to make something new, to establish a kingdom of peace. God has ‘extended His arm’ and brings liberty and consolation.” Pope Francis went on to say that, strengthened by this promise, we can face difficulties in the confident knowledge that God’s reign has begun, and that we ourselves are called to be its joyful heralds in a world that “yearns for justice, truth, and peace”.  This Christmas, he said, may we open our hearts to the message of salvation brought by the Christ Child, the Son of God who shows his great power by embracing smallness, weakness, and poverty. “This,” he concluded, “is the surprise of a child God, of a poor God, of a weak God, of a God who abandons His greatness in order to draw near to each of us.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope continues 'Christian hope' theme at General Audience: English summary

Vatican News - Wed, 12/14/2016 - 04:33
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the theme of 'Christian hope' at his Wednesday General Audience . His reflection centered on the words of the prophet Isaiah: "How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of the one bringing good news" (Is 52:7). Here is the full text of the English summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis for the General Audience of 14 December 2016: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  The words we have heard this morning from the prophet Isaiah help us prepare for the coming feast of Christmas.  The prophet calls God’s people to rejoice, for the Lord is near, bringing freedom from exile and the promise of renewal and redemption for the faithful “remnant” who continued to hope in his word.  “How beautiful on the mountains”, he says, “are the feet of the messenger” who brings glad tidings of peace and salvation, proclaiming: “Your God reigns” (Is 52:7).  This great prophecy was fulfilled in the kingdom brought by Jesus, that kingdom whose dawning we celebrate at Christmas.  Strengthened by this promise, we can face difficulties in the confident knowledge that God’s reign has begun, and that we ourselves are called to be its joyful heralds in a world that yearns for justice, truth and peace.  This Christmas, may we open our hearts to the message of salvation brought by the Christ Child, the Son of God who shows his great power by embracing smallness, weakness and poverty, in order to draw near to each of us. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Wish Pope Francis happy birthday by email

Vatican News - Tue, 12/13/2016 - 08:35
The Vatican has created new email addresses for well wishers to leave Birthday messages for the Pope.  Pope Francis turns 80 years old on December 17th.  According to his staff, Pope Francis will be working “just as normal” on the day itself. He will reveive the President of Malta in an audience and will later meet with the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Marc Oullet, as well as other guests and dignitaries. He will also celebrate Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican, along with those Cardinals who are living and working in Rome.  Seven new Vatican email addresses have been created, to allow well wishers to leave Birthday messages for the Pope. Messages can be left in Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish and Latin. The email addresses are: Papafranciscus80@vatican.va  (Latin)  PapaFrancesco80@vatican.va   (Italian)  PapaFrancisco80@vatican.va  (Spanish / Portuguese)  PopeFrancis80@vatican.va  (English)  PapeFrancois80@vatican.va  (French)  PapstFranziskus80@vatican.va  (German)  PapiezFranciszek80@vatican.va  (Polish)  A social media hashtag has also been created. #Ponitfex80  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Clericalism distances the people from the Church

Vatican News - Tue, 12/13/2016 - 06:58
(Vatican Radio) The spirit of clericalism is an evil that is present in the Church today, Pope Francis said, and the victim of this spirit is the people, who feel discarded and abused. That was the Pope’s message in the homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Among those taking part in the Mass were the members of the Council of cardinals, who are meeting with the Pope this week in Rome. In his homily, Pope Francis warned pastors of the dangers of becoming “intellectuals of religion” with a morality far from the Revelation of God. The poor and humble people who have faith in the Lord are the victims of the “intellectuals of religion,” those who are “seduced by clericalism,” who will be preceded in the Kingdom of Heaven by repentant sinners. The law of the high priests is far from Revelation The Pope directed his attention to Jesus, who in the day’s Gospel turns to the chief priests and the elders of the people, and focuses precisely on their role. “They had juridical, moral, religious authority,” he said. “They decided everything.” Annas and Caiaphas, for example, “judged Jesus,” they were the high priests who “decided to kill Lazarus”; Judas, too, went to them to “bargain,” and thus “Jesus was sold.” They arrived at this state of “arrogance and tyranny towards the people,” the Pope said, by instrumentalizing the law: But a law that they have remade many times: so many times, to the point that they had arrived at 500 commandments. Everything was regulated, everything! A law scientifically constructed, because this people was wise, they understood well. They made all these nuances, no? But it was a law without memory: they had forgotten the First Commandment, which God had given to our father Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” They did not walk: they always stopped in their own convictions. They were not blameless! The people discarded by the intellectuals of religion And so, the Pope said, they had forgotten the Ten Commandments of Moses”: “With the law they themselves had made – intellectualistic, sophisticated, casuistic – they cancelled the law the Lord had made, they lacked the memory that connects the current moment with Revelation.” In the past their victim was Jesus; in a similar way, now their victim is “the humble and poor people who trust in the Lord,” “those who are discarded,” those who understand repentance even if they do not fulfill the law, and suffer these injustices. They feel “condemned,” and “abused,” the Pope said, by those who are vain, proud, arrogant.” And one who was cast aside by these people, Pope Francis observed, was Judas: Judas was a traitor, he sinned gravely, eh! He sinned forcefully. But then the Gospel says, “He repented, and went to them to return the money.” And what did they do? “But you were our associate. Be calm… We have the power to forgive you for everything!” No! “Make whatever arrangement you can!” [they said.] “ It’s your problem!” And they left him alone: discarded! The poor Judas, a traitor and repentant, was not welcomed by the pastors. Because these people had forgotten what it was to be a pastor. They were the intellectuals of religion, those who had the power, who advanced the catechesis of the people with a morality composed by their own intelligence and not by the revelation. The evil of clericalism can still be found in the Church today  “A humble people, discarded and beaten by these people.” Even today, the Pope observed, this sometimes happens in the Church. “There is that spirit of clericalism,” he explained: “Clerics feel they are superior, they are far from the people”; they have no time to hear the poor, the suffering, prisoners, the sick”: The evil of clericalism is a very ugly thing! It is a new edition of these people. And the victim is the same: the poor and humble people that awaits the Lord. The Father has always sought to be close to us: He sent His Son. We are waiting, waiting in joyful expectation, exulting. But the Son didn’t join the game of these people: The Son went with the sick, the poor, the discarded, the publicans, the sinners – and that is scandalous – the prostitutes. Today, too, Jesus says to all of us, and even to those who are seduced by clericalism: “The sinners and the prostitutes will go before you into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope celebrates Mass for Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Vatican News - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 13:11
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Monday evening in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. Listen to our report: In his homily for the celebration, Pope Francis reflected on how the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds us that we are not orphans, saying she teaches us to look on our brothers and sisters with her eyes full of love. The Holy Father said, “We must certainly learn from [her] receptive and servile faith… learn from this faith which knows how to insert itself within history to be salt and light in our lives and in our societies.” In contrast, he lamented the current direction of human society, which he said is “ever more marked by signs of division,” calling it “a society of distrust”. “A society which likes to boast of its scientific and technological advances but which has turned a blind and insensitive eye to the thousands of faces which get lost on the way, excluded by the blinding pride of a few.” The Holy Father said, “Our beloved American continent has grown accustomed to seeing thousands and thousands of children and young people on the street, begging and sleeping in train stations or wherever they find space… And they feel that there is no space for them on the ‘train of life’”. He said, “In the face of these situations, we need to say with Elizabeth: ‘Blessed are you because you believed’, and learn from this receptive and servile faith which characterized and characterizes our Mother.” The Pope went on to say the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds us we have a mother. “Celebrating Mary is, above all, to remember our Mother, to remember that we are not and never will be an orphan people. We have a Mother!... And where there is the Mother, brothers may quarrel but a sense of unity will always prevail.” Pope Francis concluded by saying Mary’s faith led her to love and serve. “Celebrating Mary’s memory is to celebrate that we, like her, are called to get up and go towards others with the same vision, with her same bands of mercy, with her same gestures.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis sends letter to Syrian President Assad

Vatican News - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 12:46
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, through Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, appealing for "an end to the violence and the peaceful resolution of hostilities" in the country. A communiqué from the Holy See Press Office released on Monday read as follows: "In naming Archbishop Mario Zenari to the College of Cardinals, the Holy Father sought to show a particular sign of affection for the beloved Syrian people, so sorely tried in recent years. "In a letter sent through the new Cardinal, Pope Francis expressed again his appeal to President Bashar al-Assad and to the international community for an end to the violence, and the peaceful resolution of hostilities, condemning all forms of extremism and terrorism from whatever quarter they may come, and appealing to the President to ensure that international humanitarian law is fully respected with regard to the protection of the civilians and access to humanitarian aid." (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: 'Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace'

Vatican News - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 06:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is calling for a renewed culture of nonviolence to inform global politics today, saying military responses to conflicts only breed more violence. The Pope’s appeal was released on Monday in the 50th papal Message for the World Day of Peace , marked on January1st .  Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :   Calling on political and religious leaders, on the heads of international institutions, on business and media executives and on all men and women of goodwill to become instruments of reconciliation and adopt nonviolence as a style of politics for peace, Pope Francis remarked on the  fact that we find ourselves “engaged in a horrifying world war fought peacemeal”, and that  violence is clearly “not the cure for our broken world.” Violence, he said, leads  to forced migrations and enormous suffering , devastation of the environment, terrorism and organized crime. It leads to retaliation and a deadly cycle that end up benefiting only a few warlords.   But, Pope Francis said, Christ’s message offers a radically positive approach. He himself walked the path of nonviolence and became an instrument of reconciliation.  And citing historical figures like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King as models of nonviolent peacemakers, the Pope said nonviolence is more powerful than violence and it  has produced impressive results. He recalled the contribution of Christian communities in the fall of Communist regimes pointing out that peaceful political transitions were made using only the weapons of truth and justice. And he remarked that such efforts are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone but are typical of many religious traditions. “I emphatically reaffirm, he said , that no religion is terrorist (…); and that the name of God cannot be used to justify violence”. Emphasizing also the domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence Pope Francis said that while he pleads for disarmament and the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons, with equal urgency he pleads for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children. My invitation to  political, religious and economic leaders the Pope said, is to take up the challenge of building up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers, to choose solidarity as a way of making history. In a world in which everything is connected, he said, active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is more powerful and more fruitful than conflict, and that differences can be faced constructively and non-violently preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.        “All of us want peace, Francis concluded: “in 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds: (…) Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.   Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Peace:     "Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace" 1.    At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders.  I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity.  Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”,  and make active nonviolence our way of life.      This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace.  In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity.  “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”.  He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.”  Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”.    In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.     On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace.  I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values.  May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.  When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking.  In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms. A broken world 2.    While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal.  It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.       In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment.  Where does this lead?  Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value?  Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?      Violence is not the cure for our broken world.  Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world.  At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.  The Good News 3.    Jesus himself lived in violent times.  Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21).  But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach.  He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives.  He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39).  When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence.  He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16).  Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation.  In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.        To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.  As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness.  This ‘more’ comes from God”.   He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone.  Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.   The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.  More powerful than violence  4.    Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case.  When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another…  And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.   For the force of arms is deceptive.  “While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another”; for such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is “a symbol, an icon of our times”.   Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a Saint.  I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone “through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded…  She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”.   In response, her mission – and she stands for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every wounded body, healing every broken life.      The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results.  The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten.  Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.      Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe.  The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action.  Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II.  Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.   This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”.  Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.        The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.      Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.   I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.   Violence profanes the name of God.   Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence.  Peace alone is holy.  Peace alone is holy, not war!”  The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence 5.    If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families.  This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family.  The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.   From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.   An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue.  Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.   I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.      The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there.  The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence.  They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters.  The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family.  “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.  An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.  My invitation 6.    Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels.  Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount.  The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic.  Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.      This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities.  It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers.  It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost.  To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.   To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society.  Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict.  Everything in the world is inter-connected.   Certainly differences can cause frictions.  But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.       I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence.  On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work.  It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “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”.   Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace. In conclusion 8.    As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary is the Queen of Peace.  At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14).  Let us pray for her guidance.       “All of us want peace.  Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.   In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to build nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.   From the Vatican, 8 December 2016 Francis   (from Vatican Radio)...
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