Vatican News

Pope Francis: ‎Courage is needed for the Kingdom of God to grow

Vatican News - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:34
To help the Kingdom of God grow, courage is needed to sow the mustard seed and mix the yeast, in the face of many who prefer a “pastoral care of conservation” without dirtying their hands.  Pope Francis made the point in his homily at Mass, Tuesday morning, in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.  The Pope took his cue from Luke’s Gospel where Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed and yeast , which though small, "have a power within” to grow.   Suffering to glory In his Letter to the Romans, the Pope said, St. Paul speaks about the many anxieties of life that are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.  Commenting on the struggle between suffering and glory, the Pope said, in our sufferings there is in fact “an ardent expectation” for a “great revelation of the Kingdom of God".  It is an expectation that belongs not only to us but also to creation,  that is frail like us whoa are yearning for the “revelation of the children of God".  This inner strength that leads us to hope for the fullness of the Kingdom of God, the Pope pointed out, is the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit brings hope, growth The Pope said it is this hope that leads us to fullness, the hope of coming out of this prison, this limitation, this slavery, this corruption, and reaching glory, is a journey of hope.  And hope, the Pope said, is the gift of the Holy Spirit who is in us and leads us to liberation, to great glory. This is why Jesus says that inside this tiny mustard seed there is the force that “unleashes an unimaginable growth' ".  It is the same within us and in creation, the Pope pointed out.  It is the  the Holy Spirit that bursts forth and gives us hope. Getting hands dirty rather than being museum custodians The Pope noted that in the Church one can see both the courage and the fear to sow the seed and mix the yeast.  There are those who feel secure with a “pastoral care of conservation,” that denies the Kingdom of God to grow. The Pope admitted there is always some loss in sowing the Kingdom of God. One loses the seed and gets hands dirty.  He warned those who preach the Kingdom of God with the illusion of  not getting dirty.  Comparing them to museum custodians, he said they prefer beautiful things without sowing that allows the inner force to burst forth, and without mixing the yeast that triggers growth.  The Pope said that both Jesus and Paul point to this passing from the slavery of sin to the fullness of glory.  It speaks of hope that does not disappoint, because like a mustard seed and yeast, hope is small and  humble like a servant but where there is hope, there is the Holy Ghost, who carries forward the Kingdom of God, the Pope added.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: a good shepherd is always close to his people

Vatican News - Mon, 10/30/2017 - 08:08
(Vatican Radio) A good shepherd is always close to his people, while a bad priest is only interested in power and money. That was Pope Francis’ message at the Santa Marta Mass on Monday, as he reflected on the Gospel reading for the day. Listen to our report: In the reading from St Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is in the synagogue where he meets a woman who has been crippled for years and is unable to stand up straight. The pope notes how Luke uses five verbs to describe Jesus’ actions as the good shepherd who is always close to his people. Jesus saw, he called her, he spoke to her, he laid his hands on her and he cured her. Bad priests interested in power and money But the doctors of the Law, the Pharisees and Sadducees, those who are very distant from their people, rebuke him continuously. These were not good shepherds, the pope explained, as they were closed within their own world and not interested in their people. Or perhaps, he added, they were only interested in them when the service was over and they wanted to see how much money had been collected. Jesus feels compassion for marginalised Jesus, on the other hand, is close to the woman and this closeness comes from the compassion he feels in his heart. Pope Francis said Jesus was always there with the most marginalized people, those who had been rejected by the clerical crowd, the poor and the sick, the sinners and the lepers. The good shepherd comes close and feels compassion, he said, adding that he is not ashamed to touch the wounded flesh of those marginalized people, just as Jesus did. God teaches us to be close to others A good shepherd, the pope insisted, doesn’t say, “Yes, yes, I’m with you in spirit,” and keep his distance, but rather he does what God did in sending his Son: he taught us to show mercy and compassion by lowering himself, emptying himself and making himself a servant to others. Hypocrites are offended by Jesus' words The clerical crowd, Pope Francis continued, are only close to power and money, making friends with influential people and worrying about their own pockets. They are the hypocrites who are not interested in their people but become offended when Jesus accuses them, saying that they always follow the Law. We will be judged by closeness to others Luke tells us that the whole crowd rejoiced when Jesus’ adversaries were humiliated – while that is a sin, the pope said, the people were glad because they had suffered so much. But the good shepherd, he concluded, is the one who sees, calls, speaks, touches and heals. Just as God came close to us through Jesus Christ, he said, all of us will be judged by how we try to be close to those who are hungry, sick,  in prison or in any kind of need.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Angelus: Love is God's dream for man

Vatican News - Sun, 10/29/2017 - 07:08
(Vatican Radio) Thousands of people joined Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, for the weekly recitation of the Angelus . With the sun peeking out through slightly overcast skies, the Holy Father spoke on the Gospel reading for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time . In the day’s Gospel, Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Pope Francis noted that the question was “insidious,” because there were more than six hundred precepts in the Old Testament. But, he said, “Jesus answers without hesitation: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’; and He adds, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.” This response, the Pope continued, is not obvious, because in some ways, the Ten Commandments, given directly by God to Moses, were the most important, because they were conditions of the covenant between God and His people. But, the Pope said, Jesus wants to make us understand that without love of God and of our neighbour, there can be no true fidelity to the covenant. In answering the Pharisees who had posed the question, Jesus sought to help them put their religious devotion in the right order; to help them understand “what truly matters, and what is less important.” In fact, Pope Francis said, Jesus’ own life was an example; His words and actions showed what was truly essential: love. Love, the Pope said, “gives impetus and fruitfulness to life and to the journey of faith: without love, both life and faith remain sterile.” The ideal proposed by Jesus corresponds “to the most authentic desires of our heart,” the Pope continued. “In fact, we were created precisely in order to love and to be loved. God, Who is Love, has created us in order to make us partakers of His life, to be loved by Him and to love Him, and to love with Him all other persons.” This, Pope Francis said, “is God’s dream for man.” But we can realize this dream only by being open to God’s grace. It is only through His grace that we are able to receive within ourselves the capacity to love. And it is precisely for this reason that Jesus offers Himself to us in Holy Communion. In the Eucharist, the Pope said, “we receive His Body and His Blood; that is, we receive Jesus in the greatest expression of His Love, when He has offered Himself to the Father for our salvation.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks with the prayer that “the Holy Virgin might help us to welcome in our lives the ‘ great commandment ’ of love of God and of our neighbour.” Listen to our report:  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope on Christians' contribution to the future of Europe

Vatican News - Sat, 10/28/2017 - 13:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday addressed the participants of a conference, sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) , on the theme of " (Re)Thinking Europe — A Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project ." “It is significant,” the Pope said, “that this meeting was intended above all as a dialogue , pursued in a spirit of openness and freedom, for the sake of mutual enrichment.” Speaking of a “Christian contribution” to the future of the continent, he said, means “to consider our task, as Christians today, in these lands which have been so richly shaped by the faith down the centuries.” Beginning with the figure of St Benedict , the patron of Europe, the Holy Father focused especially on two main contributions that Christians have made to Europe, and can make for the future. The first, “and perhaps the greatest” contribution Christians can make to Europe is " to remind her that she is not a mass of statistics or institutions, but is made up of people .” The second contribution is related to the first: “To acknowledge that others are persons means to value what unites us to them. To be a person connects us with others; it makes us a community.” The second contribution, then, is " to help recover the sense of belonging to a community. ” It is within the family , “the primordial community,” that we are first able to come to an understanding of unity in diversity. The family, the Pope said, “is the harmonious union of the differences between man and woman, which becomes stronger and more authentic to the extent that it is fruitful, capable of opening itself to life and to others.” The wider civic community is similar, in that it is able to flourish when it is open to the “differences and gifts” of every person within the community. “Person and community are thus the foundations of the Europe that we, as Christians, want and can contribute to building,” the Pope said. And “the bricks of this structure are dialogue, inclusion, solidarity, development and peace. ” Pope Francis concluded his address with a quote from the Letter to Diognetus, a writing from the earliest ages of Christianity, which says, “ what the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world. ” “In our day,” the Pope said, “Christians are called to revitalize Europe and to revive its conscience, not by occupying spaces, but by generating processes capable of awakening new energies in society.” Once again calling to mind St Benedict, Pope Francis said, “He was not concerned to occupy spaces in a wayward and confused world.   Sustained by faith, Benedict looked ahead, and from a tiny cave in Subiaco he gave birth to an exciting and irresistible movement that changed the face of Europe.” The Pope prayed, “May Saint Benedict, ‘messenger of peace, promoter of union, master of civilization’ make clear to us, the Christians of our own time, how a joyful hope, flowing from faith, is able to change the world.” Listen to our report:  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope's at "(Re)Thinking Europe Conference": Full text

Vatican News - Sat, 10/28/2017 - 13:09
(Vatican Radio) Here is the full text of Pope Francis' remarks at the conference on  (Re)Thinking Europe: a Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project , sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE):  Address of His Holiness Pope Francis  to the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community Saturday, 28 October 2017 Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Authorities, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to join you at the conclusion of your Dialogue on the theme ( Re)Thinking Europe – a Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project , sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).  In a particular way I greet the President of the Commission, His Eminence Cardinal Reinhard Marx, and the Honourable Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, and I thank them for their kind words.  To each of you I express my deep appreciation for your active contribution to this important discussion. In these days, your Dialogue has allowed for wide-ranging reflection on the future of Europe from a variety of viewpoints, thanks to the presence of leading figures from the ecclesial, political and academic sectors, and from civil society as a whole.  The young have been able to present their expectations and hopes, and to share them with their elders, while these in turn have drawn on their own reflections and experiences.  It is significant that this meeting was intended above all to be a dialogue , pursued in a spirit of openness and freedom, for the sake of mutual enrichment.  It has sought to shed light on the future path of Europe, the road that all of us are called to travel in surmounting present crises and facing challenges yet to come. To speak of a Christian contribution to the future of the continent means, before all else, to consider our task, as Christians today, in these lands which have been so richly shaped by the faith down the centuries.  What is our responsibility at a time when the face of Europe is increasingly distinguished by a plurality of cultures and religions, while for many people Christianity is regarded as a thing of the past, both alien and irrelevant? Person and community           In the twilight of the ancient world, as the glories of Rome fell into the ruins that still amaze us, and new peoples flooded across the borders of the Empire, one young man echoed anew the words of the Psalmist: “Who is the man that longs for life and desires to see good days?” [1]   By asking this question in the Prologue of his Rule , Saint Benedict pointed the people of his time, and ours as well, to a view of man radically different from that of classical Greco-Roman culture, and even more from the violent outlook typical of the invading barbarians.  Man is no longer simply a civis , a citizen endowed with privileges to be enjoyed at leisure; no longer a miles , a soldier serving the powers of the time; and above all, no longer a servus , a commodity bereft of freedom and destined solely for hard labour.            Saint Benedict was not concerned about social status, riches or power.  He appealed to the nature common to every human being, who, whatever his or her condition, longs for life and desires to see good days.  For Benedict, the important thing was not functions but persons.  This was one of the foundational values brought by Christianity: the sense of the person created in the image of God.  This principle led to the building of the monasteries, which in time would become the cradle of the human, cultural, religious and economic rebirth of the continent.           The first and perhaps the greatest contribution that Christians can make to today’s Europe is to remind her that she is not a mass of statistics or institutions, but is made up of people.  Sadly, we see how frequently issues get reduced to discussions about numbers. There are no citizens, only votes.  There are no migrants, only quotas.  There are no workers, only economic markers.  There are no poor, only thresholds of poverty.  The concrete reality of the human person is thus reduced to an abstract – and thus more comfortable and reassuring – principle.  The reason for this is clear: people have faces; they force us to assume a responsibility that is real, personal and effective.  Statistics, however useful and important, are about arguments; they are soulless.  They offer an alibi for not getting involved, because they never touch us in the flesh.           To acknowledge that others are persons means to value what unites us to them.  To be a person connects us with others; it makes us a community .  The second contribution that Christians can make to the future of Europe, then, is to help recover the sense of belonging to a community.  It is not by chance that the founders of the European project chose that very word to identify the new political subject coming into being.  Community is the greatest antidote to the forms of individualism typical of our times, to that widespread tendency in the West to see oneself and one’s life in isolation from others.  The concept of freedom is misunderstood and seen as if it were a right to be left alone , free from all bonds.  As a result, a deracinated society has grown up, lacking a sense of belonging and of its own past.             Christians recognize that their identity is primarily relational.  They are joined to one another as members of one body, the Church (cf. 1 Cor 12:12), and each, with his or her unique identity and gifts, freely shares in the common work of building up that body.  Analogously, this relationship is also found in the areas of interpersonal relationships and civil society.  By interacting with others, each one discovers his or her own qualities and defects, strengths and weaknesses.  In other words, they come to know who they are, their specific identity.           The family, as the primordial community, remains the most fundamental place for this process of discovery.  There, diversity is valued and at the same time brought into unity.  The family is the harmonious union of the differences between man and woman, which becomes stronger and more authentic to the extent that it is fruitful, capable of opening itself to life and to others.  Secular communities, likewise, are alive when they are capable of openness, embracing the differences and gifts of each person while at the same time generating new life, development, labour, innovation and culture.           Person and community are thus the foundations of the Europe that we, as Christians, want and can contribute to building.  The bricks of this structure are dialogue, inclusion, solidarity, development and peace.   A place of dialogue             Today the whole of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the North Pole to the Mediterranean, cannot miss the chance to be first and foremost a place of candid and constructive dialogue, in which all participants share equal dignity.  We are called to build a Europe in which we can meet and engage at every level, much as in the ancient agorá , the main square of the polis .  The latter was not just a marketplace but also the nerve centre of political life, where laws were passed for the common good.  The presence of a temple dominating the square was a reminder that the horizontal dimension of daily life ought never to overlook the transcendent, which invites us to see beyond the ephemeral, the transitory and the provisional.           This leads us to reflect on the positive and constructive role that religion in general plays in the building up of society.  I think, for example, of the contribution made by interreligious dialogue to greater mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims in Europe.  Regrettably, a certain secularist prejudice, still in vogue, is incapable of seeing the positive value of religion’s public and objective role in society, preferring to relegate it to the realm of the merely private and sentimental.  The result is the predominance of a certain groupthink , [2] quite apparent in international meetings, which sees the affirmation of religious identity as a threat to itself and its dominance, and ends up promoting an ersatz conflict between the right to religious freedom and other fundamental rights.           Favouring dialogue, in any form whatsoever, is a fundamental responsibility of politics.  Sadly, all too often we see how politics is becoming instead a forum for clashes between opposing forces.  The voice of dialogue is replaced by shouted claims and demands.  One often has the feeling that the primary goal is no longer the common good, and this perception is shared by more and more citizens.  Extremist and populist groups are finding fertile ground in many countries; they make protest the heart of their political message, without offering the alternative of a constructive political project.  Dialogue is replaced either by a futile antagonism that can even threaten civil coexistence, or by the domination of a single political power that constrains and obstructs a true experience of democracy.  In the one, bridges are burned; in the other, walls are erected.           Christians are called to promote political dialogue, especially where it is threatened and where conflict seems to prevail.  Christians are called to restore dignity to politics and to view politics as a lofty service to the common good, not a platform for power.  This demands a suitable formation, since politics is not the “art of improvising”.  Instead, it is a noble expression of self-sacrifice and personal dedication for the benefit of the community.  To be a leader demands thoughtfulness, training and experience.   An inclusive milieu           Leaders together share responsibility for promoting a Europe that is an inclusive community, free of one fundamental misunderstanding: namely that inclusion does not mean downplaying differences.  On the contrary, a community is truly inclusive when differences are valued and viewed as a shared source of enrichment.  Seen in this way, migrants are more a resource than a burden.  Christians are called to meditate seriously on Jesus’ words: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” ( Mt 25:35).  Especially when faced with the tragedy of displaced persons and refugees, we must not forget that we are dealing with persons, who cannot be welcomed or rejected at our own pleasure, or in accordance with political, economic or even religious ideas.           Nor is this opposed to the duty of all government authorities to address the migration issue “with the virtue proper to governance, which is prudence”. [3]   Authorities should keep in mind the need for an open heart, but also their ability to provide for the full integration, on the social, economic and political level, of those entering their countries.  We cannot regard the phenomenon of migration as an indiscriminate and unregulated process, but neither can we erect walls of indifference and fear.  For their part, migrants must not neglect their own grave responsibility to learn, respect and assimilate the culture and traditions of the nations that welcome them.   Room for solidarity           Striving for an inclusive community means making room for solidarity .  To be a community in fact entails supporting one another; bearing burdens and making extraordinary sacrifices do not fall to some few, while the rest remain entrenched in defence of their privileged positions.  A European Union that, in facing its crises, fails to recover a sense of being a single community that sustains and assists its members – and not just a collection of small interest groups – would miss out not only on one of the greatest challenges of its history, but also on one of the greatest opportunities for its own future.           Solidarity, which from a Christian perspective finds its raison d’être in the precept of love (cf. Mt 22:37-40), has to be the lifeblood of a mature community.  Together with the other cardinal principle of subsidiarity, it is not limited to relations between the states and regions of Europe.  To be a solidary community means to be concerned for the most vulnerable of society, the poor and those discarded by social and economic systems, beginning with the elderly and the unemployed.  At the same time, solidarity calls for a recovery of cooperation and mutual support between the generations.           An unprecedented generational conflict has been taking place since the 1960’s.  In passing on to new generations the ideals that made Europe great, one could say, with a touch of hyperbole, that betrayal was preferred to tradition.  The rejection of what had been passed down from earlier generations was followed by a period of dramatic sterility.  Not only because Europe has fewer children, and all too many were denied the right to be born, but also because there has been a failure to pass on the material and cultural tools that young people need to face the future.  Europe has a kind of memory deficit .  To become once more a solidary community means rediscovering the value of our own past, in order to enrich the present and to pass on a future of hope to future generations.            Instead, many young people are lost, without roots or prospects, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” ( Eph 4:14).  At times they are even “held captive” by possessive adults who struggle to carry out their own responsibilities.  It is a grave responsibility to provide an education, not only by offering technical and scientific knowledge, but above all by working “to promote the complete perfection of the human person, the good of earthly society and the building of a world that is more human”. [4]   This demands the involvement of society as a whole.  Education is a shared duty that requires the active and combined participation of parents, schools and universities, religious and civil institutions.  Without education, culture does not develop and the life of the community dries up.   A source of development           A Europe that rediscovers itself as a community will surely be a source of development for herself and for the whole world.  Development must be understood in the terms laid down by Blessed Paul VI: “To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man.  As an eminent specialist on this question has rightly said: ‘We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man – each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole’”. [5] Work certainly contributes to human development; it is an essential factor in the dignity and growth of the person.  Employment and suitable working conditions are needed.  The last century provided many eloquent examples of Christian entrepreneurs who understood that the success of their ventures depended above all on the ability to provide employment opportunities and dignified working conditions.  There is a need to recover the spirit of those ventures, for they are also the best antidote to the imbalances caused by a soulless globalization which, more attentive to profits than people, has created significant pockets of poverty, unemployment, exploitation and social unease. It would also be helpful to recover a sense of the need to provide concrete opportunities for employment, especially to the young.  Today, many people tend to shy away from certain jobs because they seem physically demanding and unprofitable, forgetting how indispensable they are for human development.  Where would we be without the efforts of those whose work contributes daily to putting food on our tables?  Where would we be without the patient and creative labour of those who produce the clothes we wear or build the houses in which we live?  Many essential professions are now looked down upon.  Yet they are essential both for society and, above all, for the satisfaction that they give to those who realize that they are being useful in themselves and for others, thanks to their daily work.  Governments also have the duty to create economic conditions that promote a healthy entrepreneurship and appropriate levels of employment.  Politicians are especially responsible for restoring a virtuous circle that, starting from investments that favour the family and education, enable the harmonious and peaceful development of the entire civil community.   A promise of peace Finally, the commitment of Christians in Europe must represent a promise of peace .  This was the central concern that inspired the signatories of the Treaties of Rome.  After two World Wars and atrocious acts of violence perpetrated by peoples against peoples, the time had come to affirm the right to peace. [6]   Yet today we continue to see how fragile is that peace, and how particular and national agendas risk thwarting the courageous dreams of the founders of Europe. [7] Being peacemakers (cf. Mt 5:9), however, does not mean simply striving to avoid internal tensions, working to end the bloodshed and conflicts throughout our world, or relieving those who suffer.  To be workers for peace entails promoting a culture of peace .  This requires love for the truth, without which authentic human relationships cannot exist; it also requires the pursuit of justice, without which oppression becomes the rule in any community. Peace also requires creativity.  The European Union will remain faithful to its commitment to peace only to the extent that it does not lose hope and can renew itself in order to respond to the needs and expectations of its citizens.  A hundred years ago, in these very days, the battle of Caporetto was fought, one of the most dramatic of the First World War.  It was the culmination of that war of attrition, which set a sinister record in reaping countless casualties for the sake of risible gains.  From that event we learn that entrenchment in one’s own positions only leads to failure.  Now is not the time, then, to dig trenches, but instead to work courageously to realize the founding fathers’ dream of a united and harmonious Europe, a community of peoples desirous of sharing a future of development and peace.   To be the soul of Europe Your Eminence, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, The author of the Letter to Diognetus states that “what the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world”. [8]   In our day, Christians are called to revitalize Europe and to revive its conscience, not by occupying spaces, but by generating processes [9] capable of awakening new energies in society.  This is exactly what Saint Benedict did.  It was not by chance that Paul VI proclaimed him the Patron of Europe.  He was not concerned to occupy spaces in a wayward and confused world.   Sustained by faith, Benedict looked ahead, and from a tiny cave in Subiaco he gave birth to an exciting and irresistible movement that changed the face of Europe.  May Saint Benedict, “messenger of peace, promoter of union, master of civilization” [10] make clear to us, the Christians of our own time, how a joyful hope, flowing from faith, is able to change the world.  Thank you.   [1]  SAINT BENEDICT, Rule , Prologue, 14; cf. Ps 34:12. [2] La dittatura del pensiero unico , Morning Reflection in the Domus Sanctae Marthae Chapel, 10 April 2014. [3] Cf. Press Conference on the Return Flight from Colombia , 10 September 2017. [4] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Declaration Gravissimum Educationis (28 October 1963), 3. [5] PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio (26 March 1967), 14. [6] Cf. Address to Students and Academic Authorities , Bologna, 1 October 2017, 3. [7] Cf. ibid. [8] Op. cit., VI. [9] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium , 223. [10] PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Pacis Nuntius , 24 October 1964.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope urges members of secular institutes to act and be God's Word

Vatican News - Sat, 10/28/2017 - 11:40
Pope Francis on Saturday reminded members of Secular Institutes about their ‎prophetic presence in the world, especially by being and acting the Word of God they hear.  ‎The Holy Father’s exhortation came in message he sent to the Italian Conference of ‎Secular Institutes (CIIS) that is holding a conference in Rome, Oct. 28-29, on the theme, “Beyond and ‎in the Midst: Secular Institutes: Stories of passion and prophecy for God and the world.”  A secular ‎institute is an organization of consecrated persons who live in the world, unlike members of a religious ‎institute or congregation who are required to live in a community.  ‎ Acting, not talking Pope Francis told the confernece participants that their laicity consists in knowing what God has to say to the ‎world, where “saying” means acting and not talking.  This, he said is very much needed in our times ‎where difficulties could tempt one to isolate herself or himself into a comfortable and secure situation ‎and withdraw from the world .  But the Pope said, “your place is to “stay in” with the transforming ‎presence of the Gospel.”   He admitted it is a difficult path, but assured them the Lord wants to walk ‎with them.‎ Pope Francis said that their vocation and mission is to be aware not only of their surroundings, without ‎stopping at appearance but going deeper, but also discovering where God manifests Himself.  In other ‎words -  aware of the world but with hearts immersed in God .    ‎ Five spiritual attitudes In this regard, Pope Francis suggested five spiritual attitudes.  One needs to pray to be united to God and to listen to Him.  One needs discernment to distinguish between essentials and unimportant things.  Like Jesus, one needs to share the lot of ‎men and women even in tragic and dark times.  One should never to lose confidence and courage , knowing how to find ‎good in everything. And lastly, one should be animated by Christ's sympathy for the world and the people, to be free and passionate like salt and ‎yeast in the world.‎ (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope insists on moral duty to protect human dignity, especially in conflicts ‎

Vatican News - Sat, 10/28/2017 - 08:11
Pope Francis on Saturday insisted on the moral duty of protecting human dignity in every circumstance, especially in armed conflict, saying at the end of life we will be judged on our mercy and solidarity for the victims of war.  He was speaking to some 250 participants in the 3rd Conference on International Humanitarian Law sponsored by the European Society of International Law. The Oct. 27-28 meeting in Rome discussed “The protection of civilian population in warfare - The role of Humanitarian Organizations and Civil Society.” Atrocities and outrage during conflicts The Pope noted that the Holy See, convinced of the essentially negative nature of war and man's most dignified aspiration to abolish it, ratified the 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, in order to encourage the “humanization of the effect of armed conflict.”   He drew attention to the atrocities and outrage perpetrated on civil populations and persons during conflicts, with mutilated and headless bodies and “our brothers and sisters tortured, crucified and burnt alive,” in total disregard for their human dignity .  The destruction or damaging of cultural treasures, hospitals, schools and places of worship deprive entire generations of their right to life, health, education and religion .  Indifference The Pope warned that such news could lead to a sort of “saturation” that anesthetizes and relativizes the gravity of the problem, making it more difficult for one to be moved to compassion and solidarity.   The Holy Father called for a change of heart, an openness to God and neighbor, that urges persons to overcome indifference and live solidarity as a moral virtue and social attitude .  He expressed satisfaction over numerous manifestations of solidarity and charity in times of war by persons, charities and NGOs, in the Church and outside, who despite dangers and hardships, reach out to the wounded, the sick, the hungry, prisoners and the dead.  “Indeed,” he stressed, “aid to victims of conflict calls for various works of mercy on which we will be judged at the end of life.” Moral duty to respect, protect human dignity The Holy Father wished that fighters as well as humanitarian organizations and workers be able to put into practice the fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and ‎independence, that are the heart of humanitarian law.  But where humanitarian law is met with hesitation and omission, he said, “individual conscience must recognize the moral duty to respect and protect the dignity of the human person in every circumstance, especially in situations where it is most threatened.”   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope and Anglican leader appeal for peace in South Sudan

Vatican News - Fri, 10/27/2017 - 13:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby , together with the new director of Rome’s Anglican Centre, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi. Following their half hour encounter in the Apostolic Palace, the two Anglican archbishops and their wives joined the pope for lunch in his Santa Marta residence to continue the conversation. On Thursday, the Anglican leader presided at Vespers at Rome’s Caravita church for the installation of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi as his official representative to the Holy See. The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who previously served as nuncio in Burundi, preached the homily, stressing that ecumenical engagement is a moral imperative for all Christians. Philippa Hitchen caught up with Archbishop Welby at the end of his brief visit to Rome to find out more about his meeting with the pope and their plans for a joint visit to war-torn South Sudan … Listen: The Anglican archbishop says his meetings with the pope were “full of meaning, but also full of joy, a good deal of laughter, very relaxed but very thoughtful”. In particularly, he says, they talked about mutual concerns on conflict, human trafficking, and the need for Church unity in a fractured world. Progress in Anglican-Catholic dialogue He notes that, like his predecessors during their visits to Rome, he wears the episcopal ring that Pope Paul VI gave to Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966. He says there has been enormous progress towards unity since then and both ARCIC and IARCCUM “continue the theological and missional dialogues very, very effectively”. Alongside that, there is ecumenism of action, and of prayer, something which has grown out of the theological work, he says, but is also pushing it forward. Separation in the Eucharist Speaking about the lack of unity in the Eucharist, Archbishop Welby says he is reminded of that each day in Lambeth Palace, celebrating with Catholic and non-Catholic members of the youth community of St Anselm.  It is painful, he says, but in another sense, it is “a healthy pain that compels us to work harder” for unity. Appeal to South Sudan's leaders Asked about a joint visit to South Sudan, the Anglican leader says “a visit like that has to be done at a moment when it can make an enormous difference” and “tip the balance towards peace”. He says that he and the Holy Father call on the political leaders “to turn away from violence and think of the people in South Sudan”. He recalls a recent visit to refugee settlements in northern Uganda housing 260.000 people, a small fraction of those who’ve fled the violence. We are “waiting and praying” for a change of heart from the political leaders, he says. Don't be paralised by disagreements Asked about divisions within the Anglican world, in particular over homosexuality, Archbishop Welby says “you can’t be paralised by disagreements”, which all Churches are currently facing. In a communion as diverse as the Anglican world, he adds, there are bound to be disagreements “but we have to see the call of Christ to be united in the service of the poor…..and not let anything distract us from the proclamation of the Good News”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican weekend for October 29th, 2017

Vatican News - Fri, 10/27/2017 - 07:35
Vatican Weekend for October 29th, 2017 features our weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading, “There’s more in the Sunday Gospel than Meets the Eye,” plus our resident Vatican watcher Joan Lewis reviews the past week’s events in the Vatican. Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges: (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope sends message for Social Week on the dignity of work

Vatican News - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 10:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday sent a video message to participants in the 48th Social Week for Italian Catholics gathered in the Sardinian city of Cagliari. In the lengthy message, the pope focuses on the dignity of work and the importance of putting people, not profits, at the heart of all economic systems. Listen to our report: Recalling that in the Bible, there are many people defined by the type of work they do – from farmers and fishermen, to carpenters or administrators – Pope Francis says God calls us through our jobs to put our skills and talents at the service of the common good. He talks about the different kinds of work, including that which degrades, humiliates or exploits people through slavery, the arms trade, the black market, or jobs which offer no security from one month to the next. The pope speaks of his own conversations with so many people living in fear of losing their jobs. Such precariousness is “immoral”, he says, as it “kills” people’s dignity, damaging their health, their families and the whole of society. He mentions also those who work in dangerous or unhealthy conditions, leading to the deaths and injuries of hundreds of people here in Italy. He expresses his solidarity with all those who are unemployed or underemployed and are losing hope of ever finding a decently paid job. The global economic system, the pope says, is focused on consumerism and not on human dignity or protection of the environment. But this is as dangerous as trying to cycle on a bicycle with flat tyres, he exclaims! Finally the pope points to signs of hope, embodied by those who seek to create better working conditions and more trusting, respectful relationships in the workplace. Technological innovations must be put to the service of people and not be seen as an economic idol in the hands of the powerful. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis speaks with ISS commander and crew

Vatican News - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 09:37
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis spoke via satellite link with the crew of the International Space Station on Thursday. Astronaut Randolph Bresnik of the US commands the current, 53rd ISS expedition, which has a complement of 5 mission specialists: Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli; Russian astronauts Sergey Ryanzansky and Alexander Misurkin; and US astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei. Click below to hear our report The video link-up lasted about 20 minutes, with the Holy Father speaking to the astronauts from the "auletta" of the Paul VI Hall, in the presence of the President of the Italian Space Agency (ASA), Roberto Battiston, and the Director of Earth Observation Programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher. During the course of the virtual visit, Pope Francis asked questions of the astronauts, on topics ranging from the place of humanity in the universe, to the difference in perspective that living on the ISS brings, to the role of the "That Love which moves the sun and the other stars," in their work of understanding, to their reasons for desiring to explore space. Watch the full video below... (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at daily Mass: Easy-going Christians don't exist

Vatican News - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 06:58
(Vatican Radio) “Jesus calls us to change our lives, to change paths, calls us to conversion .” And this means fighting against evil, even in our own hearts, “a struggle that does not give you ease, but gives you peace.” That was the message of Pope Francis in his reflection during the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta . Inspired by the day’s Gospel , Pope Francis explained that this is the “fire” that Jesus sets on earth – a fire, he said, that calls for change: “Changing our way of thinking, changing our way of feeling. Your heart, which was worldly, pagan, now becomes Christian with the strength of Christ: to change, this is conversion. And changing your manner of acting: your works must change.” It is, he continued, a conversion that “involves everything, body and soul, everything.” Pope Francis emphasized: “It is a change, but it is not a change that is made with make-up. It is a change that the Holy Spirit makes, within. And I have to make it mine so that the Holy Spirit can act. And this means a battle, fighting!” “Easy-going Christians, who don’t fight, don’t exist,” the Pope added. “Those are not Christians, they are lukewarm .” The tranquility necessary for sleep can be found “even with a pill,” he said, “but there are no pills” for inner peace. “Only the Holy Spirit,” can give “that peace of the soul that gives strength to Christians.” And, he said, “we must help the Holy Spirit,” by “making space in our hearts.” A daily examination of conscience “can help us in this,” the Pope said. It can help us “to fight against the maladies the enemy sows,” which he called “maladies of worldliness .” “The fight Jesus wages against the devil, against evil, is not something old, it is a modern thing, a thing of today, of all days,” Pope Francis said, because “the fire that Jesus has come to bring us is in our hearts.” And so we must allow Him to enter, and must “ask ourselves, each day: how have I passed from worldliness, from sin, to grace? Have I made room for the Holy Spirit, so that He could act?” “The difficulties in our lives are not resolved by watering down the truth. The truth is this: Jesus has brought fire, and struggle. What am I going to do?” For conversion, Pope Francis concluded, “a generous and faithful heart” is needed: “generosity that always comes from love,” and “is faithful, faithful to the Word of God.” Listen:  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis receives Church of Scotland delegation

Vatican News - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 06:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday addressed representatives from the Church of Scotland telling them that the mutual purification of memory is one of the most significant fruits of our common ecumenical journey. Listen to our report:  In his remarks to representatives of the Church of Scotland on Thursday, Pope Francis recalled that their meeting was taking place during the fifth centenary of the Reformation, which the Holy Father himself joined in commemorating last year in Lund, Sweden. Fraternity The Pope then gave thanks to the Lord for was he called “the great gift of being able to live this year in true fraternity, no longer as adversaries, after long centuries of estrangement and conflict.” He went on to say that,  “this has been possible, with God’s grace, by the ecumenical journey that has enabled us to grow in mutual understanding, trust and cooperation.  “ The mutual purification of memory is one of the most significant fruits of this common journey , the Holy Father said, adding, the past cannot be changed, yet today we at last see one another as God sees us.” Addressing those gathered, Pope Francis underlined that “in the spirit of the Gospel, we are now pursuing the path of humble charity that leads to overcoming division and healing wounds.  He continued, we have begun a dialogue of communion, employing language befitting those who belong to God.  Such language is essential to evangelization , for how can we proclaim the God of love if we do not love one another?” Persecuted Christians During his discourse, the Pope turned his attention in particular to  those Christians who today face grave trials and sufferings, enduring persecution for the name of Jesus.  The Holy Father said, “so many of them bear a heavy cross as they profess their faith, many to the point of martyrdom.  He also emphasized that the dialogue directed to full unity, “our witness and our shared service, our commitment to pray for one another and to overcome the wounds of the past were also a response that is owed to them.” Concluding his remarks Pope Francis expressed the hope that the journey to visible unity would continue daily and “bear rich fruits for the future, as it has in the recent past.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at General Audience: ‘he who knows Jesus will never despair’

Vatican News - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 06:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has told the faithful never to despair, as the Lord’s grace is always present to those who put their trust in him. The Pope’s was speaking to the faithful at the Wednesday General Audience , during which he continued his catechesis on Christian hope. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Pope Francis greeted the crowds in St. Peter’s square telling them that this is the last catechesis on the subject of Christian hope, which has accompanied us since the beginning of the liturgical year.  And so, he said: “I will end by talking about heaven, as the goal of our hope”. Paradise "Paradise" the Pope said is one of the last words spoken by Jesus on the cross when he addresses the good thief.  Reflecting on that scene from the Gospel, the Pope said “Jesus is not alone. Next to him, right and left, there are two offenders”. Perhaps, he said, passing in front of those three crosses hoisted on Golgotha, someone may even have breathed a sigh of relief thinking that justice was finally done. In fact, Francis said “On Calvary, on that tragic and Holy Friday, for Jesus it was the extreme moment of solidarity with sinners. As the prophet Isaiah said: “He was counted among the ungodly.” Pope Francis remarked that it is interesting to note that this is the only instance in which the word “Paradise” appears in the gospels. The good thief He recalled the “poor devil” who, on the cross, had the courage to express the most humble of wishes: “Remember me when you enter into your kingdom.” “He did not have good deeds to assert, he had nothing, but he put his trust into Jesus, and his humble words of repentance were enough to touch the heart of Jesus” he said. This tells us, he said, that the Lord’s solidarity with us sinners culminated on the cross where, in one of his final acts, he opened the gates of heaven to a repentant criminal. Trust in God's mercy Thus, at the heart of the Pope’s catechesis was the message that we can only trust in God’s mercy, and, at every hour of our life, turn to him with hope in his promises.  This miracle, he said, is repeated countless times in hospitals and prison cells: “there is no person, no matter how bad, to whom grace is denied” God, he said, desires that nothing be lost of what he has redeemed.   No one must despair  “No one, he explained, should despair, for his grace is always present to those who put their trust in him”. Paradise, Francis continued, is not a fairy tale, nor is it an enchanted garden. Paradise is an embrace with God, it is infinite Love, it is a place we enter thanks to Jesus, who died on the cross for us. “Where there is Jesus, there is mercy and happiness; without Him there is the cold and darkness” he said. Love and charity never end If we believe this, the Pope said, we stop being afraid of death and we can hope to leave this world in a serene and trusting way. “At the hour of death, a Christian must say to Jesus: ‘Remember me’ and even if there is no one who remembers us, Jesus is there, beside us” he said.  At that moment, the Pope concluded, we will no longer need anything, we will not see in a confused way, we will not weep unnecessarily, because everything will be gone except for love that remains because: “charity never ends”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis tells Canadian youth in video message to ‘build bridges’

Vatican News - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:00
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a video message to the young people of Canada gathered in preparation for the Synod of Bishops 2018. The Holy Father invited them to build bridges through social communications, without letting their youthful enthusiasm for the Gospel be snuffed out. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: In his video message to the young people of Canada, Pope Francis reflected on the “marvels of technology” which now allow “encounters and exchanges that were unthinkable until a short while ago.” He invited them to use new channels of communication positively and “not to let them be ruined by those bent only on exploiting and destroying them”. Spread youthful joy of Gospel Rather, the Pope told them to flood the places they live “with the joy and enthusiasm” typical of their age and “to water the world and history with the joy of the Gospel”. He said this is possible only through an encounter with Jesus, “who has intrigued you and drawn you to be with him”, he said. “Don’t let your youth be stolen from you,” Pope Francis told the young people of Canada. “Don’t build walls of division. Build bridges, like this one which you are crossing and which allows you to communicate from the shores of two oceans.” Ever-present call to discipleship Pope Francis went on to remind them that Jesus’ call to discipleship can never be drowned out by the noise of modern communications. “Jesus turns his gaze to you and invites you to come to him… Have you heard his voice?... I’m sure that, even though din and daze seem to reign in the world, this call continues to sound in your being, calling you to open up to the fullness of joy.” This, he said, is possible only when they have sought out expert spiritual guides “to discover God’s project” for their life. Courageous young people Pope Francis also told the young people that the Church needs courageous young people. “The world and the Church need courageous young people, who are not afraid of adversity, who confront any difficulty, keeping their eyes and heart open to reality, so that no one may be rejected, fall victim to injustice or violence, or be deprived of their dignity as a human person.” The Holy Father said he had no doubt their “young hearts” would remain open to the cry for help of their age mates, “who seek freedom, work, studies, and the possibility to give meaning to their lives.” Open to Christ Finally, Pope Francis invited them to open themselves to Christ. “Let him speak to you, embrace you, console you, heal your wounds, and dissolve your doubts and fears. Thus you will be ready for the fascinating adventure of life.” Jesus, he said, “is with you and awaits from you a resounding ‘Here I am’.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Mass: Enter into the mystery of Jesus

Vatican News - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 06:44
(Vatican Radio) The centre of the mystery of Jesus Christ is that he "loved me" and "gave himself" up to death, for me. Those were the Pope’s words at Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning, which he said was a meditation on the Passion of the Lord, the Via Crucis. It is good to go to Mass, pray, to be good Christians, continued Pope Francis, but the central question is whether you have entered the mystery of Jesus Christ. Listen to this report: His homily began with the First Reading from the Letter to the Romans, in which Saint Paul uses  sin, disobedience, grace, forgiveness, to try to "bring us to understand something." Behind all this, there is the story of salvation. Therefore, since there are not enough words to explain Christ, Paul "drives us", because we fall in the midst of the mystery of Christ, "explained the Pope. These contrasts, therefore, are merely steps in the journey to fall into the mystery of Christ, which is not easy to understand. To understand "who is Jesus Christ for you," "for me," "for us," the Pope commented, is to fall into this mystery. In another passage, Saint Paul, looking to Jesus, says, "He loved me and gave himself for me." He also notes, “there is someone willing to die for a just person, but only Jesus Christ wants to give life "for a sinner like me." With these words, said the Holy Father, Saint Paul tries to get us into the mystery of Christ. It's not easy, "it's a grace." Not only the canonized Saints have understood this, but also so many saints "hidden in daily life," humble people who only put their hope in the Lord: they entered the mystery of the crucified Jesus Christ, "which is a madness," says Paul noting that if he were to boast of something, only he could boast of "his sins and of the crucified Jesus Christ," not of the study with Gamaliel in the synagogue, or of any other. "Another contradiction," is this, which leads us to the mystery of Jesus, crucified, "in dialogue with my sins." Pope Francis emphasized that when we go to Mass, we know that he is in the Word, that Jesus comes, but this, the Pope warned, is not enough to enter the mystery: "Entering into the mystery of Jesus Christ is more, it is to let go into that abyss of mercy where there are no words: only the embrace of love. The love that led him to death for us. When we go to confess because we have sins, we say yes, I must have my sins taken away, let's say; or 'God forgive me for my sins, tell your sins to the confessor, and we will be calm and happy. If we do so, we have not entered into the mystery of Jesus Christ. If I go, I go to meet Jesus Christ, to enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ, to enter into that hug of forgiveness of which Paul speaks; of that gift of forgiveness. " When asked about who is "Jesus for you", you may answer "the Son of God", you could say all the Creed, all the catechism, and it is true but we would come to a point where we would not have been able to say that at the centre of the mystery of Jesus Christ, is that he "loved me" and "gave himself up for me". "Understanding the mystery of Jesus Christ is not a matter of study," the Pope notes, because "Jesus Christ is understood only by pure grace." Thus, a pious exercise helps us: the Way of the Cross, which consists in walking with Jesus when he gives us the "embrace of forgiveness and peace." "It's nice to do the Via Crucis. Do it at home, thinking of moments in the Passion of the Lord. Even the great Saints always advised that we begin the spiritual life with this encounter with the mystery of Jesus Crucified. Saint Teresa advised her nuns: to get to the prayer of contemplation, the high prayer she began with the meditation of the Passion of the Lord. The Cross with Christ. Christ in the Cross. Start and think. And so, trying to understand with the heart that he loved me and gave himself for me, "he gave himself up to death for me." Pope Francis reiterated that in the First Reading, Saint Paul wants to bring us to the abyss of the mystery of Christ. "I am a good Christian, I go to Mass on Sunday, I do works of mercy, I pray, I educate my children well: this is very good. But the question I ask, 'You do all this, but have you entered the mystery of Jesus Christ?' Finally, the Pope’s call was to  look at the Crucifix, "icon of the greatest mystery of creation, of all": "Christ crucified, the centre of history, the centre of my life." (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis meets group from Tel Aviv University

Vatican News - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 09:46
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday with a delegation from Tel Aviv University, stressing the need to develop a culture of wisdom that can form future leaders who are sensitive to the profound ethical issues facing our societies. Please find below the full text of the Pope’s greeting to the delegation from Tel Aviv University Dear Friends, I offer you a warm welcome, and I thank Professor Joseph Klafter, Rector of Tel Aviv University, for his kind words. To all of you I express my appreciation for your commitment to the education of the young, who represent the present and the future of society.  The work of education, demanding yet essential, calls for great insight and tact, for it seeks to form the whole person.  Carrying out this vital service certainly requires professional and technical knowledge and expertise, but also empathy and sensitivity, in order to foster dialogue with students and to promote their formation both as individuals and as future professionals in their areas of study. In a word, knowledge and wisdom must advance together.  Wisdom, in its biblical sense, urges us to go beyond empirical realities in order to discover their ultimate meaning.  Universities are challenged to foster a culture of wisdom, one capable of harmonizing technical and scientific research with a humanistic approach, in the conviction that the pursuit of the true and the good is ultimately one.  So Solomon, son of David, upon ascending the throne, withdrew in prayer to the temple of Gibeon, and begged the Lord for wisdom in these words: “Give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (1 Kg 3:9). Our world urgently needs to develop a culture of wisdom.  We need to find ways of forming leaders capable of striking out on new paths in the effort to meet today’s needs without prejudice to future generations (cf. Laudato Si’, 53).  Meeting this challenge in an effective way is all the more important in the light of our rapidly evolving global society, marked by social and economic crises and intergenerational conflicts.  I am confident that your University will strive to produce future leaders sensitive to the profound ethical issues facing our societies and the need to protect and care for the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  For only by serving an integral human development can science and the arts display their full dignity. I thank you for your visit, and I pray that you will always thirst for that wisdom which is a divine gift enabling us to lead good and productive lives.  May the Lord bless you, your families and your important work. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: letter to Card. Filoni on World Mission Sunday

Vatican News - Sun, 10/22/2017 - 10:26
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, on occasion of the 2017 iteration of World Mission Sunday. In the letter, the Holy Father reflects on the upcoming centenary of the great missionary charter of the 20th century, the Apostolic Letter Maximum illud  of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, promulgated on November 30th, 1919. Below, please find the full text of the letter in its official English translation ******************************************************** To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Fernando Filoni Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples On 30 November 2019, we will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud , with which Pope Benedict XV sought to give new impetus to the missionary task of proclaiming the Gospel.  In 1919, in the wake of a tragic global conflict that he himself called a “useless slaughter,” [1] the Pope recognized the need for a more evangelical approach to missionary work in the world, so that it would be purified of any colonial overtones and kept far away from the nationalistic and expansionistic aims that had proved so disastrous.  “The Church of God is universal; she is not alien to any people,” [2] he wrote, firmly calling for the rejection of any form of particular interest, inasmuch as the proclamation and the love of the Lord Jesus, spread by holiness of one’s life and good works, are the sole purpose of missionary activity.  Benedict XV thus laid special emphasis on the missio ad gentes , employing the concepts and language of the time, in an effort to revive, particularly among the clergy, a sense of duty towards the missions. That duty is a response to Jesus’ perennial command to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” ( Mk 16:15).  Obeying this mandate of the Lord is not an option for the Church: in the words of the Second Vatican Council, it is her “essential task,” [3] for the Church is “missionary by nature.” [4]  “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity; she exists in order to evangelize.” [5]  The Council went on to say that, if the Church is to remain faithful to herself and to preach Jesus crucified and risen for all, the living and merciful Saviour, then “prompted by the Holy Spirit, she must walk the same path Christ walked: a path of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice.” [6]  In this way, she will effectively proclaim the Lord, “model of that redeemed humanity, imbued with brotherly love, sincerity and a peaceful spirit, to which all aspire.” [7]  What Pope Benedict XV so greatly desired almost a century ago, and the Council reiterated some fifty years ago, remains timely.  Even now, as in the past, “the Church, sent by Christ to reveal and to communicate the love of God to all men and nations, is aware that there still remains an enormous missionary task for her to accomplish.” [8]  In this regard, Saint John Paul II noted that “the mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion,” and indeed, “an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service.” [9]   As a result, in words that I would now draw once more to everyone’s attention, Saint John Paul exhorted the Church to undertake a “renewed missionary commitment” , in the conviction that missionary activity “renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive.   Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!  It is in commitment to the Church’s universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support.” [10] In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium , drawing from the proceedings of the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which met to reflect on the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith , I once more set this urgent summons before the whole Church.  There I wrote, “John Paul II asked us to recognize that ‘there must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel’ to those who are far from Christ, ‘because this is the first task of the Church.’  Indeed, ‘today missionary activity still represents the greatest challenge for the Church’ and ‘the missionary task must remain foremost.’ What would happen if we were to take these words seriously?  We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity .” [11]   I am convinced that this challenge remains as urgent as ever. “[It] has a programmatic significance and important consequences.  I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion that cannot leave things as they presently are.  ‘Mere administration’ can no longer be enough.  Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission.’” [12]  Let us not fear to undertake, with trust in God and great courage, “a missionary option capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.  The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself.  As John Paul II told the Bishops of Oceania, ‘All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion.’” [13] The Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud called for transcending national boundaries and bearing witness, with prophetic spirit and evangelical boldness, to God’s saving will through the Church’s universal mission.  May the approaching centenary of that Letter serve as an incentive to combat the recurring temptation lurking beneath every form of ecclesial introversion, self-referential retreat into comfort zones, pastoral pessimism and sterile nostalgia for the past.  Instead, may we be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel.  In these, our troubled times, rent by the tragedies of war and menaced by the baneful tendency to accentuate differences and to incite conflict, may the Good News that in Jesus forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear, be proclaimed to the world with renewed fervour, and instil trust and hope in everyone. In the light of this, accepting the proposal of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I hereby call for an Extraordinary Missionary Month to be celebrated in October 2019, with the aim of fostering an increased awareness of the missio ad gentes and taking up again with renewed fervour the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity.  The Missionary Month of October 2018 can serve as a good preparation for this celebration by enabling all the faithful to take to heart the proclamation of the Gospel and to help their communities grow in missionary and evangelizing zeal.  May the love for the Church’s mission, which is “a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people,” [14] grow ever stronger! I entrust you, venerable Brother, the Congregation which you head, and the Pontifical Missionary Societies with the work of preparing for this event, especially by raising awareness among the particular Churches, the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and among associations, movements, communities and other ecclesial bodies.  May the Extraordinary Missionary Month prove an intense and fruitful occasion of grace, and promote initiatives and above all prayer, the soul of all missionary activity.  May it likewise advance the preaching of the Gospel, biblical and theological reflection on the Church’s mission, works of Christian charity, and practical works of cooperation and solidarity between Churches, so that missionary zeal may revive and never be wanting among us. [15] From the Vatican, 22 October 2017 XXIX Sunday of Ordinary Time Memorial of Saint John Paul II World Mission Sunday [1] Letter to the Leaders of the Warring Peoples , 1 August 1917: AAS IX (1917), 421-423. [2] Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud , 30 November 1919: AAS 11 (1919), 445. [3] Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad Gentes , 7 December 1965, 7: AAS 58 (1966), 955. [4] Ibid. , 2: AAS 58 (1966), 948. [5] Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi , 8 December 1975, 14: AAS 68 (1976), 13. [6] Decree Ad Gentes , 5: AAS 58 (1966), 952. [7] Ibid. , 8: AAS 58 (1966), 956-957. [8] Ibid. , 10: AAS 58 (1966), 959. [9] Encyclical Letter  Redemptoris Missio, 7 December 1990, 1:  AAS  83 (1991), 249. [10] Ibid. , 2: AAS  83 (1991), 250-251. [11] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium 15: AAS 105 (2013), 1026. [12] Ibid. , 25: AAS 105 (2013), 1030. [13] Ibid ., 27: AAS 105 (2013), 1031. [14] Ibid ., 268: AAS 105 (2013), 1128. [15] Ibid. , 80: AAS 105 (2013), 1053. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis at Angelus: on being Christian in the world

Vatican News - Sun, 10/22/2017 - 09:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. Addressing them ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis shared a reflection on the Reading from the Sunday Gospel , which this week came from St. Matthew and contains the maxim, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar ’s, and render unto God what is God ’s.” Pope Francis explained that the episode teaches us both the legitimacy of earthly authority and the primacy of God in human affairs and over all the universe. “The Christian is called to be concretely committed in human and social realities,” said Pope Francis , “without putting God and ‘Caesar’ in contraposition.” He said that counterposing God and Caesar would be, “a fundamentalist attitude.” “The Christian ,” Pope Francis continued, “is called upon to engage concretely in earthly realities, but enlightening them with the light that comes from God . Entrusting oneself to God in the first, and placing one’s hope in Him, do not require us to escape from reality, but rather to work diligently to render unto Him, all that it His. That is why the believer looks to future reality, to that of God : that he might live his earthly life in fullness, and respond with courage to its challenges.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis at Angelus: Church's mission entrusted to Pope St. John Paul II

Vatican News - Sun, 10/22/2017 - 08:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has proclaimed October, 2019 an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” to be marked and celebrated in the whole Church throughout the world, and entrusted the mission of the Church in the world especially to Pope St. John Paul II . The Holy Father recalled his intention to celebrate the Extraordinary Missionary Month on Sunday – World Mission Sunday – during the course of remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, to pray the traditional Angelus with him at noon. “Today,” said Pope Francis , “ World Mission Day is celebrated, on the theme: Mission at the heart of the Christian faith . I urge everyone to live the joy of mission by witnessing the Gospel in the environs where each one lives and works.” The Holy Father went on to say, “At the same time, we are called upon to support with affection, concrete help, and prayer, the missionaries who have gone out to proclaim Christ to those who still do not know Him.” “I also recall,” he continued, “that I intend to promote an Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019 , in order to nourish the ardor of the evangelizing activity of the Church ad gentes . On the day of the liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II , missionary Pope, we entrust to his intercession the mission of the Church in the world.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

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