Vatican News

Pope Francis blesses altar for South Korean sanctuary

Vatican News - Wed, 06/07/2017 - 09:28
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Wednesday blessed an altar destined for a Marian sanctuary in South Korea during his General Audience. The “ Adoratio Domini in unitate et pace ” will be placed in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary in Namyang, South Korea. Pope Francis mentioned the altar in his greetings to Polish pilgrims. He said the request for his blessing of the altar was made by the Queen of Peace Community Association in Radom, Poland. The association is setting up 12 centers for Eucharistic Adoration and perpetual prayer for peace in “hotspots” around the world. The Pope said the group drew its inspiration for the Adoration centers from the “12 stars in the crown of Mary, Queen of Peace”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: God is a Father; we are never alone

Vatican News - Wed, 06/07/2017 - 09:15
(Vatican Radio) At the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke on “The Fatherhood of God: the Wellspring of our Hope.” He was continuing his series of catechetical instruction on “ Christian Hope .” Pope Francis’ catechesis focused on the Christian prayer par excellence, the Our Father. “The whole mystery of Christian prayer,” he said, “is summed up here, in having the courage to call God Father.” The ability to call God Father, the Pope said, is not insignificant. It would be normal for humans to invoke God using the highest titles, on account of His infinite greatness; instead, the use of the word “Father” puts us “in a relationship of trust with Him, as a child who turns to his dad, knowing he is loved and cared for by him.” The mystery of God’s transcendence always fascinates us, and makes us feel small, but, he said, we are no longer afraid, we do not feel crushed or anguished. God is a Father, the Pope continued, but he is not like human fathers; instead, Jesus offers the parable of the prodigal son, where the father welcomes his child with forgiveness and love. That, he says, is perhaps why St Paul, when referring to this mystery, prefers not to translate the term “abba,” which is more intimate than father, and might better be translated as “papa” or “daddy.” “Dear brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said, “we are never alone.” Even when we are distant or even hostile to God, even when we might claim to be “without God,” God the Father does not remain distant from us: “He will never be a God ‘without man.’” This providential plan of God is a great mystery. Whatever our needs, whatever our problems, the Pope reminded us that God is our Father, who is always watching over us with love, a Father who will never abandon us.” Pope Francis concluded the audience by asking those in St Peter’s Square to think about their necessities, their problems, and to turn to God in confidence and hope, before leading them in the recitation of the Our Father.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis appeals for ‘One Minute for Peace’ initiative

Vatican News - Wed, 06/07/2017 - 06:06
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has appealed for prayers and international participation in the “One Minute for Peace” initiative to be held Thursday, 8 June, at 1:00 PM Rome time. He said the initiative represents “a short moment of prayer on the recurrence of the meeting in the Vatican between me, the late Israeli President Peres, and the Palestinian President Abbas”. Their encounter took place in the Vatican Gardens on 8 June 2014, during which the three men prayed together for peace. The Holy Father said, “In our days, there is a great need to pray – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – for peace.” His appeal came at the conclusion of his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis holds General Audience: English Summary

Vatican News - Wed, 06/07/2017 - 05:25
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis held his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square, continuing his catechesis on Christian hope. He focused his remarks on Jesus' Our Father prayer as presented in the Gospel of Luke (11:1-4) and on "The Fatherhood of God, wellspring of our Hope". Please find below the official English-language summary: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now consider the source of that hope in the fatherhood of God.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them to call God Our Father.  Here we see the great religious revolution introduced by Christianity: taught by the Saviour’s command, we dare to speak to the transcendent and all-holy God as children speak, with complete trust, to a loving father.  In the parable of the merciful father, who welcomes his prodigal son with supreme forgiveness, Jesus speaks to us of the Father’s unconditional love.  In his Letters, Saint Paul twice repeats the original Aramaic word used by Jesus in his prayer: “Abba” (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).  As God’s adoptive sons and daughters in the Holy Spirit, we share in the intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father, and this is the basis of our sure hope in God’s saving help.  Each day, as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, may we be confirmed in the knowledge that, in his merciful love, our heavenly Father will watch over us, respond to our petitions, and never abandon us. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: hypocrisy destoys communities and hurts the Church

Vatican News - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 09:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday urged Christians to be truthful,  warning them against the temptations of hypocrisy and flattery. His words came during the homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Hypocrisy – Pope Francis said – is not the language of Jesus, nor is it the language of Christians, in fact, he said, “the hypocrite is capable of destroying a community”. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : The Pope explained that Jesus often uses the adjective “hypocrite” to describe the doctors of the law, because, as the etymology of the word illustrates, they claim to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case, they proffer their opinions and issue judgements but in reality they are false. And reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day, the Pope said "The hypocrite always uses language to flatter” just as some Pharisees and Herodians who tried to ensnare Jesus in his speech. “Hypocrites – Francis said – always begin with adulation, “exaggerating the truth, feeding into one’s vanity" and he recalled the case of a priest he met a long time ago whom, he said, “drank-up all the flattery; that, he said, was his weakness”. Jesus makes us see reality which is the opposite of hypocrisy and ideology Flattery, the Pope said, is triggered by “bad intentions” as in the case of the doctors of the law in today’s liturgical reading. They put Jesus to the test, flattering him first and then asking him a question with the intention of making him fall into the wrong: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”  "The hypocrite, Francis said,  is two-faced, but Jesus knew their hypocrisy and said: ‘Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.’  Jesus always responds to hypocrites and ideologists with reality: ‘this is the reality; everything else is either hypocrisy or ideology’. In this case he said: ‘bring me a coin’, and he answered with the wisdom of the Lord: ‘Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – the reality was that the coin carried the image of Caesar - and to God what belongs to God’.” The third aspect, the Pope continued “is that the language of hypocrisy is the language of deceit, it is the same language the serpent used with Eve.” It begins with flattery, he said, and ends up destroying people: “it tears to pieces the personality and the soul of a person. It destroys communities”.  Hypocrisy destroys communities and hurts the Church "Hypocrisy is so bad for the Church” the Pope said with a warning to all those Christians who fall into this sinful and destructful attitude. "The hypocrite is capable of destroying a community. While speaking gently, he ruinously judges a person. He is a killer” he said. Pope Francis concluded exhorting the faithful to remember that the only way to respond to flattery is with truth; the only way to respond to ideology is with reality.  “Let us ask the Lord to guard us from this vice, to help us be truthful, and if this is not possible to keep silent – but never to be a hypocrite” he said. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis to discuss Venezuela crisis with country’s bishops

Vatican News - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 07:36
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will receive the Presidential Council of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela in a private audience on Thursday. The meeting was announced on Tuesday in a statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke. The statement reads, “The encounter was requested by the Episcopal Conference itself, which desires to speak to the Pope about the situation in Venezuela.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope tells missionaries to be attentive to dialogue with Islam

Vatican News - Mon, 06/05/2017 - 09:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged missionaries to reserve special attention for dialogue with Islam, to promote the dignity of women and the values of the family, to be sensitive to issues of justice and peace The Pope was addressing Consolata Missionaries who have begun their 13th General Chapter in Rome. The Chapter will officially end on June 20th, the feast of Our Lady  Pope Francis expressed his joy at being able to welcome both the male and female branches of the Religious Family founded by Blessed Giuseppe Allamano and he highlighted his appreciation for their particular mission that takes them into challenging situations. In view of the effort to continue to produce abundant good fruits in the Consolata communities and in the missionary activity of the Church, the Pope told the religious that in light of new pastoral urgencies and new forms of poverty they are called to deepen their charism and renew their impetus for evangelization. “While I thank the Lord for the good that you are doing in the world, I urge you use great discernment and consideration of the situations in which the peoples you are working with find themselves in” he said. Encouraging them never to tire of bringing comfort to populations that are often marked by great poverty and acute suffering, as in so many parts of Africa and Latin America, he said: “Let yourself continually be provoked by the concrete realities with which you come in contact and try to offer the testimony of charity that the Spirit has poured into your hearts in a proper way.” Remarking on the fact that - just like that of any family - the history of the religious communities is marked by joys and sorrows, by lights and shadows, and recently, he said “it has been made fruitful thanks to the Cross of Christ”. “How can we not mention your brothers and sisters who loved the Gospel of charity more than themselves and who crowned their missionary service with the sacrifice of their lives? Their evangelical choice highlights your missionary commitment and encourages you to pursue your particular mission in the Church with renewed generosity” he said. The Pope said that to pursue this difficult mission it is necessary to live in communion with God with an enhanced awareness of the Lord’s love and mercy for us. “It is more important, he said, to be aware of God’s love for us, rather than of how much we love Him.” The Pope said that we all need to rediscover the love and mercy of the Lord in order to become more ‘familiar’ with God. Consecrated persons, he continued, need to rediscover that love and mercy in order to conform more closely to Christ, with freedom, spontaneity and a sense of awe for the wonders He performs. In this perspective, the Pope said, religious life can become a journey of rediscovery of divine mercy, “helping you in your attempts to imitate Christ’s virtues and His humanity as you carry out your pastoral ministry”.  He also encouraged them to joyfully be open to the many incentives for renewal and commitment that derive from true contact with the Lord Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit.  This, the Pope noted, will allow you to be actively present in  new arenas of evangelization with openness and attentiveness to situations of particular need that are emblematic of our time -  even should this imply some sacrifice. Pope Francis urged those present to always look to the example of their blessed Founder and not to tire of giving new impetus to missionary work. He remarked on their responsibility to support Christian communities that have been entrusted to them “especially those of a recent foundation” and called for sensitivity towards inculturation of the Gospel, respect for co-workers and the choice of being present in simplicity and poverty. The Pope invited them to reserve special attention for dialogue with Islam, to promote the dignity of women and the values of the family, to be sensitive to issues of justice and peace. He concluded encouraging the Consolata brothers and sisters to continue in their missionary journey with hope and expressed his trust that it may increasingly provide a vivid and sanctifying encounter with Jesus, source of consolation, peace and salvation for all men.     (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: works of mercy means sharing suffering of others

Vatican News - Mon, 06/05/2017 - 08:51
(Vatican Radio) Doing works of mercy doesn’t mean just giving coins to assuage our consciences. Rather, it means sharing in the suffering of others, even at personal cost to ourselves. That message was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily on Monday morning at his regular Santa Marta Mass. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: Reflecting on the first reading from the book of Tobit, or Tobias, the Pope noted how Tobit was saddened and wept at the murder of a Jewish kinsman, whose body he brought inside to bury after sunset. Pope Francis went on to speak about the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy, saying that to do them properly means not just sharing what we possess, but also sharing in the sufferings of others. We do not do works of mercy to assuage our consciences, to make us feel better, he said. Rather, the merciful person is the one who has pity on others and shares in their suffering. We must ask ourselves, am I generous? Do I know how to put myself in another person’s shoes? Do I suffer when I see another person in difficulty? The Pope continued by noting how the Jews in the bible reading had been deported to Assyria and were not allowed a proper burial. Therefore Tobit risked being killed too – just as we must also take risks as we carry out works of mercy. Recalling the Second World War years here in Rome, Pope Francis spoke of all those people, beginning with Pope Pius XII, who risked their own lives to save Jews from deportation and death. Those who carry out works of mercy must take risks, but they may also be mocked by others, just as Tobit was mocked by his neighbours. Doing works of mercy also means being willing to be inconvenienced, the Pope went on, just as Our Lord was inconvenienced – all the way to the Cross – to show mercy to us. We do works of mercy for others, Pope Francis said, because we know that we have been shown mercy by Our Lord first. We think about our mistakes, our sins, and how the Lord has forgiven us, so we do the same with our brothers and sisters. Works of mercy, the Pope concluded, keep us away from egoistic behavior and help us imitate Jesus more closely. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis pays final respects to Cardinal Husar

Vatican News - Mon, 06/05/2017 - 08:11
(Vatican Radio) In a heartfelt personal letter, Pope Francis has expressed his desire to “be among those praying to the heavenly Father” for the “chosen soul of our Brother” Cardinal Lubomyr Husar. The Holy Father noted the “extraordinary influx of people” paying their respects to the former head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This, he said, “is an eloquent sign of what he has been: one of the highest and most respected moral authorities of the Ukrainian people in recent decades.” Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop emeritus of Kyiv-Halyč, died on 31 May 2017, aged 84. In his letter, addressed to Husar’s successor, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Pope Francis spoke of the late Cardinal’s efforts to lead his people beyond “the legacy of the ‘catacombs’ into which it was forced by persecutions.” He did so not only by restoring ecclesiastical structures, but especially through “the joy of his own story, founded on faith” that endured “through and beyond suffering.” Pope Francis spoke of Cardinal Husar as “a master of wisdom,” who spoke to his people in simple, yet profound words. “His was the wisdom of the Gospel, the bread of the Word of God broken for the simple, for the suffering, for all those seeking dignity.” After his ministry as “father and head” of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Pope said, and with the onset of old age and illness, Cardinal Husar’s presence became “even more intense and rich.” He prayed for all, and when he spoke, “everyone felt that a Christian was speaking, a Ukrainian passionate about his identity, always full of hope, open to the future of God.” Pope Francis praised him for “the warmth of his great humanity and exquisite kindness,” and especially for his ability to welcome and communicate with the young. “It moves me to think that today all of Ukraine weeps for him,” the Pope said, “but also that many people are certain that he already rests in the embrace of the heavenly Father.” They are certain, he said, that after the example of his “credible and coherent life” they will “continue to benefit from his prayer, with which he will continue to protect his people who are still suffering, marked by violence and insecurity, and yet certain that the love of Christ does not disappoint.” Pope Francis concluded his letter with a note of gratitude for “this unique religious and social presence in Ukraine’s history,” encouraging the faithful to remain committed to Cardinal Husar’s “constant teaching and total abandonment to Providence.” He called on them to continue “to feel his smile and his caress.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis at Pentecost: new people, new hearts

Vatican News - Sun, 06/04/2017 - 11:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in St. Peter’s Square. Before a crowd of scores of thousands of faithful – many of them pilgrims – gathered beneath a bright and nearly cloudless June sky, the Holy Father preached a homily that turned on two actions of the Holy Spirit, discernible in the readings of the day: He makes a new people and He gives each member of that people a new heart. “[F]irst,” said Pope Francis, “[the Holy Spirit] he rests on each [of the disciples] and then brings all of them together in fellowship,” giving each a gift for the good of the new community He has created. “The same Spirit creates diversity and unity , and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church.” Click below to hear our report The Holy Father went on to indicate two recurrent temptations we must avoid if we are to be a new people and receive the gifts the Spirit disposes for us. “The first temptation seeks diversity without unity ,” he said. “The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity .” Pope Francis went on to say, “The prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive His unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves His Church, our Church.  It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion. It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.” The second new thing brought by the Spirit, a new heart, is given to the disciples and to us for the forgiveness of sins. “Jesus does not condemn [the disciples] for having denied and abandoned Him during His passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness. The Spirit is the first gift of the Risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said. “[F]orgiveness is gift to the highest degree: it is the greatest love of all. It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens. Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: Message for World Mission Sunday

Vatican News - Sun, 06/04/2017 - 09:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued his Message for World Mission Sunday, 2017, which is focused on  Mission at the Heart of the Christian Faith . World Mission Sunday is marked each year in October, and this year is on October 22nd.  Please find the full text of the Holy Father's Message, below... ********************************************************* Mission at the heart of the Christian faith Dear Brothers and Sisters, Once again this year, World Mission Day gathers us around the person of Jesus, “the very first and greatest evangelizer” (PAUL VI,  Evangelii Nuntiandi , 7), who continually sends us forth to proclaim the Gospel of the love of God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This Day invites us to reflect anew on the  mission at the heart of the Christian faith .  The Church is missionary by nature; otherwise, she would no longer be the Church of Christ, but one group among many others that soon end up serving their purpose and passing away.  So it is important to ask ourselves certain questions about our Christian identity and our responsibility as believers in a world marked by confusion, disappointment and frustration, and torn by numerous fratricidal wars that unjustly target the innocent.  What is the  basis  of our mission?  What is the  heart  of our mission?  What are the  essential approaches  we need to take in carrying out our mission? Mission and the transformative power of the Gospel of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life 1. The Church’s mission, directed to all men and women of good will, is based on the transformative power of the Gospel.  The Gospel is Good News filled with contagious joy, for it contains and offers new life: the life of the Risen Christ who, by bestowing his life-giving Spirit, becomes for us the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf.  Jn  14:6).  He is the  Way  who invites us to follow him with confidence and courage.  In following Jesus as our  Way , we experience  Truth  and receive his  Life , which is fullness of communion with God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  That life sets us free from every kind of selfishness, and is a source of creativity in love. 2. God the Father desires this existential transformation of his sons and daughters, a transformation that finds expression in worship in spirit and truth (cf.  Jn  4:23-24), through a life guided by the Holy Spirit in imitation of Jesus the Son to the glory of God the Father. “The glory of God is the living man” (IRENAEUS,  Adversus Haereses  IV, 20, 7).  The preaching of the Gospel thus becomes a vital and effective word that accomplishes what it proclaims (cf.  Is  55:10-11): Jesus Christ, who constantly takes flesh in every human situation (cf.  Jn  1:14). Mission and the  kairos  of Christ 3. The Church’s mission, then, is not to spread a religious ideology, much less to propose a lofty ethical teaching.  Many movements throughout the world inspire high ideals or ways to live a meaningful life.  Through the mission of the Church, Jesus Christ himself continues to evangelize and act; her mission thus makes present in history the  kairos , the favourable time of salvation.  Through the proclamation of the Gospel, the risen Jesus becomes our contemporary, so that those who welcome him with faith and love can experience the transforming power of his Spirit, who makes humanity and creation fruitful, even as the rain does with the earth.  “His resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up.  It is an irresistible force” ( Evangelii Gaudium , 276). 4. Let us never forget that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (BENEDICT XVI,  Deus Caritas Est , 1).  The Gospel is a Person who continually offers himself and constantly invites those who receive him with humble and religious faith to share his life by an effective participation in the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection.  Through  Baptism , the Gospel becomes a source of new life, freed of the dominion of sin, enlightened and transformed by the Holy Spirit.  Through  Confirmation , it becomes a fortifying anointing that, through the same Spirit, points out new ways and strategies for witness and accompaniment.  Through the  Eucharist , it becomes food for new life, a “medicine of immortality” (IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH,  Ad Ephesios , 20, 2). 5. The world vitally needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Through the Church, Christ continues his mission as the  Good Samaritan , caring for the bleeding wounds of humanity, and as  Good Shepherd , constantly seeking out those who wander along winding paths that lead nowhere.  Thank God, many significant experiences continue to testify to the transformative power of the Gospel.  I think of the gesture of the Dinka student who, at the cost of his own life, protected a student from the enemy Nuer tribe who was about to be killed.  I think of that Eucharistic celebration in Kitgum, in northern Uganda, where, after brutal massacres by a rebel group, a missionary made the people repeat the words of Jesus on the cross: “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” as an expression of the desperate cry of the brothers and sisters of the crucified Lord.   For the people, that celebration was an immense source of consolation and courage.  We can think too of countless testimonies to how the Gospel helps to overcome narrowness, conflict, racism, tribalism, and to promote everywhere, and among all, reconciliation, fraternity, and sharing. Mission inspires a spirituality of constant exodus, pilgrimage, and exile 6. The Church’s mission is enlivened by a spirituality of  constant exodus .  We are challenged “to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel” ( Evangelii Gaudium , 20).  The Church’s mission impels us to undertake a  constant pilgrimage  across the various deserts of life, through the different experiences of hunger and thirst for truth and justice.  The Church’s mission inspires a sense of  constant exile , to make us aware, in our thirst for the infinite, that we are exiles journeying towards our final home, poised between the “already” and “not yet” of the Kingdom of Heaven. 7.  Mission reminds the Church that she is not an end unto herself, but a humble instrument and mediation of the Kingdom.  A self-referential Church, one content with earthly success, is not the Church of Christ, his crucified and glorious Body.  That is why we should prefer “a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” ( ibid ., 49). Young people, the hope of mission 8. Young people are the hope of mission.  The person of Jesus Christ and the Good News he proclaimed continue to attract many young people.  They seek ways to put themselves with courage and enthusiasm at the service of humanity.  “There are many young people who offer their solidarity in the face of the evils of the world and engage in various forms of militancy and volunteering...  How beautiful it is to see that young people are ‘street preachers’, joyfully bringing Jesus to every street, every town square and every corner of the earth!” ( ibid ., 106).  The next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in 2018 on the theme  Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment , represents a providential opportunity to involve young people in the shared missionary responsibility that needs their rich imagination and creativity. The service of the Pontifical Mission Societies 9. The Pontifical Mission Societies are a precious means of awakening in every Christian community a desire to reach beyond its own confines and security in order to proclaim the Gospel to all.  In them, thanks to a profound missionary spirituality, nurtured daily, and a constant commitment to raising missionary awareness and enthusiasm, young people, adults, families, priests, bishops and men and women religious work to develop a missionary heart in everyone.  World Mission Day, promoted by the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, is a good opportunity for enabling the missionary heart of Christian communities to join in prayer, testimony of life and communion of goods, in responding to the vast and pressing needs of evangelization. Carrying out our mission with Mary, Mother of Evangelization 10. Dear brothers and sisters, in carrying out our mission, let us draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelization.  Moved by the Spirit, she welcomed the Word of life in the depths of her humble faith.  May the Virgin Mother help us to say our own “yes”, conscious of the urgent need to make the Good News of Jesus resound in our time.  May she obtain for us renewed zeal in bringing to everyone the Good News of the life that is victorious over death.  May she intercede for us so that we can acquire the holy audacity needed to discover new ways to bring the gift of salvation to every man and woman. From the Vatican, 4 June 2017 Solemnity of Pentecost (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: prayers for victims of London terror attacks

Vatican News - Sun, 06/04/2017 - 07:50
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of the Saturday evening terror attacks in London, as well as for the families of the victims. The prayers of the Holy Father came at the end of Mass on Pentecost Sunday, during the course of remarks to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, as they prepared to pray the Regina coeli with him. “May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world,” Pope Francis prayed, “may He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even this [Saturday] night, in London, struck innocent civilians: let us pray for the victims and their families.” Click below to hear our report Seven people are dead and 48 others are injured in London after a van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge, after which the occupants of the vehicle emerged and began stabbing people in Borough Market. Witness reports say the assailants cried, “This is for Allah,” as they stabbed their victims repeatedly. Armed police shot and killed the three attackers. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Children from earthquake-stricken central Italy visit Pope

Vatican News - Sat, 06/03/2017 - 11:10
(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, Pope Francis welcomed to the Vatican a number of young children from the towns Norcia, Cascia, Accumoli, Amatrice, Arquata del Tronto, and Acquasanta – communities that were devastated by a series of earthquakes that struck central Italy last year. The children had come to Rome aboard a special “Children’s Train” especially to meet with the Holy Father. In the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis conversed familiarly with the children. “They tell me I have to speak, but I like to listen!” he said, inviting them to tell him their stories. He called several of the children to himself so he could ask them questions and listen to their responses. The Pope asked them about the effects of the earthquake, and how the children were responding in the wake of the catastrophe. After speaking individually with more than a dozen boys and girls, Pope Francis offered a word of instruction. “What you’ve gone through is truly ugly,” he said, “because it’s a disaster, and disasters wound the soul.” But, he told them, “the Lord helps us to start again!”: “Do you trust in the Lord?” the Pope asked them. “Yes!” they replied. “Are you sure?” “Yes!” “And also in the Madonna?” “Yes!” “And now, if we have faith, let us thank the Madonna for the good things she has given us in this disaster: Hail Mary…” After leading the children in the Hail Mary, the Holy Father told the children, ‘One of the things that Jesus likes best, one of the words that the Lord likes best, is the word “thank you very much.’” He thanked them for their visit.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis greets Evangelical Leaders

Vatican News - Sat, 06/03/2017 - 10:25
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday morning met with Evangelical leaders who are in Rome for the Vigil of Pentecost. In a brief words of greeting, the Holy Father thanked them for their work for the unity of Christians, “which the Lord wants.” “Let us walk together,” he said, “let us help the poor together, let us perform acts of charity together, let us work for education together.” At the same time, he said, theologians can do their part and help in the effort for Christian unity. “But we are always on the journey, never stopping, never stopping… and together,” he said. Pope Francis concluded his remarks by asking all those present to pray together, “as brothers,” the Our Father, each in his own language.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope to Pont. Mission Societies: fidelity key to renewal

Vatican News - Sat, 06/03/2017 - 08:15
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in the Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies on Saturday. A main focus of the week-long Assembly has been the Extraordinary Missionary Month scheduled for October 2019 to commemorate the centenary of the promulgation of the encyclical Maximum illud , by which Pope Benedict XV sought to give a new élan to Catholic missionary endeavor in the wake of World War I’s devastation. The Missionary Month is also aimed at promoting the missionary commitment of the Church in line with Pope Francis’ own 2013 missionary Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium . In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered to the roughly 170 participants on Saturday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis focused on the need to cultivate personal habits of life conducive to holiness, and to practice an openness and docility toward the Holy Spirit, in order to discern new paths and channels by which the more efficaciously to communicate the Good News of our salvation in the One Divine Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. “Renewal requires conversion,” said Pope Francis, “it requires living the mission as a permanent opportunity to proclaim Christ, to bring people to meet Him through [personal] witness and bringing others to participate in our personal encounter with Him.” The Holy Father went on to express the hope that the spiritual and material assistance to the Churches that the Pontifical Mission Societies give will make those Churches ever more solidly founded on the Gospel and On the baptismal involvement of all the faithful – laymen and clergy alike – in the Church's one and only mission: “[T]o make God’s love close to every man, especially to those most in need of His mercy.” Pope Francis went on to pray that the Extraordinary Month of Prayer and Reflection on Mission as First Evangelization might serve this renewal of ecclesial faith, “that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only Savior, Lord and Spouse of his Church, be ever at work in His Church.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope answers childrens' questions about suffering and growing up

Vatican News - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 11:04
(Vatican Radio) Why does God let children suffer? How can kids change the world? And how can they overcome their fear of growing up? Those were the soul-searching questions that three children asked Pope Francis on Friday during a meeting with members of an organisation for middle school students called ‘I Cavalieri’ or The Knights. The colourful encounter included young knights from all over Italy, along with groups from Spain, Portugal, France and Switzerland, plus others linked up online from Latin America. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  After lots of lively singing and cheering, a young girl named Marta asked a first question about how to overcome her fear of moving to high school and saying goodbye to all her current friends. The Pope told her that life is a continual round of big and small ‘hellos and goodbyes’. We grow up, he said, by making new friends and letting go of old ones. Don't be frightened, he said, but try to see it as a challenge. Don’t worry about what’s behind the wall, but imagine instead a horizon you can see in the countryside and try to always move forward towards your new horizons . A second child, Giulio, asked the Pope how young people can help change the world for the better . Getting the kids to shout out answers, Pope Francis asked what happens if they have two sweets and a friend comes to call? And if they only have one sweet? Do you put it in your pocket and eat it later? Or do you share what you have with others? Show me your hands, he instructed the kids: are they closed and selfish, or open and generous? Our hands are a symbol for our hearts, he said, and only open, generous hearts can change the world . If you have a friend at school that you don’t like, the Pope went on, don’t go and gossip about that person with others, because that shows you have a closed heart. If someone insults you, don’t insult them back, but try and change the world with small, every day, acts of generosity and solidarity . Jesus taught us to pray for our friends and our enemies, for those who make us suffer, he said, just as Our Father in heaven makes the sun shine upon good and bad people. Finally a young Bulgarian boy, Tanio, told the Pope how he’d been abandoned in an orphanage and adopted by Italian parents at five years old. His new mum died a year later, leaving his dad and grandparents to look after him. Now his grandparents have died too, so he asked the Pope: How can we believe that God loves us when we lose people in this way? Pope Francis confessed that he too asks the same question when he visits sick children in hospital. How can we believe in God’s love when we see kids suffer from hunger in some parts of the world, while so much food is wasted in other places? There are simply no words to answer these questions , he told his young audience. The only explanation you may find is in the love of those who support and care for you. God doesn’t answer my questions either, he admitted, but when I look at the Cross and remember that God let his own Son suffer, I know that there must be a sense to it somewhere. I can’t explain it to you, he said, but you may find it on your own. Remember, he concluded, there are questions and situations in life which cannot be explained, yet the love of God is always there , and people around you can help you feel his presence in your life.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis' prayer intention for June: Eliminate arms trade

Vatican News - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 09:52
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released his video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for June. This month’s intention is for the elimination of the arms trade. The text of the video message reads: "It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade. Is this war or that war really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade and so that the merchants of death get rich? Let us put an end to this situation. Let us pray all together that national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade which victimizes so many innocent people." The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer  developed the "Pope Video" initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity. (from Vatican Radio)...
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All set for the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration

Vatican News - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 09:20
Last minutes preparations are in full swing for the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration due Saturday, 3 June at Namugongo Catholic Shrine. The Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Dr Kiiza Aliba, who is also the Executive Secretary of the Justice and Peace Department of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, said that preparations are at the final stage with 95 percent of the work complete. “We only need some additional touches on technical aspects which will be finalised today, 2 June. So far we have already received thousands of pilgrims from within and outside the country, and more are still registering. We expect the Shrine to be flooded with millions of pilgrims by Saturday morning,” Aliba said. The Uganda Martyrs Day celebration usually attracts millions of enthusiastic pilgrims from across the world. The majority of these pilgrims often come to the shrine on foot as a demonstration of their faith. Others, use various means of transport to reach Namugongo shrine. Last year, Tanzania had the largest contingent of registered pilgrims (4,961) from the East African Community member countries besides hosts Uganda. Kenya had at least 4,000 registered pilgrims while 800 came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 300 from Rwanda, 712 from Burundi, and 105 from South Sudan. Other international Pilgrims also came from the United States of America (7), Nigeria (117), Mexico (4), Malawi (100), Italy, Zambia, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada. The annual celebration commemorates the heroic faith of the 45 Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, who were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, then King of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. Twenty-two Catholic Martyrs were beatified on 6 June 1920, by Pope Benedict XV and on 18 October 1964, Pope Paul VI canonised them Saints. In addition to the Catholic Martyrs, there are two Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okello and Blessed Jildo Irwa who were killed in 1918 and were beatified by John Paul II on October 20, 2002. Meanwhile, the Catholic faithful across Uganda will on Friday conclude a novena to the Uganda Martyrs. The nine-days of prayer started on Thursday, 25 May. Hundreds of pilgrims have also participated in the second ‘Walk of Faith pilgrimage’ which took place on Saturday 27 May. The ‘Walk of Faith’ pilgrimage was introduced in 2016 as part of the Uganda Martyrs celebrations. The walk started from Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine to St. Matia Mulumba Parish in Old Kampala, where St. Matia Mulumba (one of the Catholic martyrs) was killed. Uganda’s Diocese of Hoima will animate the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration under the theme, “Stand Firm in Faith That We Have Been Taught” (Colossians 2:7). A total budget of US$ 166,064 (Ugandan Shillings 597million) has been allocated for the preparation of this year’s event. (Jacinta W. Odongo/ Media Officer, Uganda Episcopal Conference) Email: engafrica@vatiradio.va       (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis holds audience with president of Latvia

Vatican News - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 09:07
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday met with Raimonds Vējonis, President of the Republic of Latvia, and his wife, Iveta Vejone, in a private audience in the Vatican. A communique from the Holy See Press Office said, "During the cordial discussions, appreciation was expressed for the cordial bilateral relations and the positive contribution of the Catholic Church to Latvian society. Attention then turned to themes of common interest, such as the acceptance of migrants and the prospects for the future of the European project, focusing on the regional context." Mr. Vējonis then met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Mass: ‘Shepherd the people of God with humility’

Vatican News - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 07:47
(Vatican Radio)  Jesus entrusted his sheep to Peter, the most sinful of the remaining eleven apostles, and invited him to shepherd the People of God with humility and love, despite his mistakes and sins. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Friday morning in the Casa Santa Marta. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Pope Francis commented on the Gospel of the day (Jn 21:15-19), in which the Risen Jesus converses with Peter on the lake shore where he had first been called. The Pope said it was a calm, serene dialogue between friends and took place in the atmosphere of the Resurrection. In that event, Jesus entrusts his sheep to Peter, asking him three times if he loved him. “Jesus,” the Pope said, “chose the most sinful from among the apostles. The others escaped but Peter denied him: ‘I don’t know him.’ And Jesus asked him, ‘Do you love me more than these?’ Jesus chose the worst sinner.” Shepherd the People of God with humility, despite mistakes The Holy Father said Jesus’ choice to choose the most sinful of the remaining eleven apostles to shepherd the People of God with love “makes us think”. “Do not shepherd with your head held high,” he said, “like a conqueror. No, shepherd with humility, with love, as Jesus did. This is the mission which Jesus gives to Peter. Yes, with sins and mistakes. In affirmation of this, right after this dialogue Peter slips up, makes a mistake, and is tempted by curiosity to say to the Lord, ‘But this other disciple, where will he go, what will he do?’ But with love, in the midst of his mistakes and sins… with love: ‘Because these sheep are not your sheep but mine,’ says the Lord. ‘Love. If you are my friend, you must be a friend to these.’” Peter chooses to be crucified with his head down Pope Francis then recalled how Peter denied Jesus before the High Priest’s servant and how Jesus looked at him in that moment, he who had just denied his Lord. But, he said, the apostle who is “courageous in denying is capable also of bitter tears”. “After an entire life spent in service of the Lord,” the Pope said, “his life ended like his Lord’s: on the cross. But he does not boast: ‘I end as did my Lord!’ Rather he asks, ‘Please, put me on the cross with my head down, so that at the very least it is seen that I am not the Lord but a servant.’ This is what we can learn from this beautiful, serene, friendly, and modest dialogue: We hold our heads high for the dignity that God gives us, but we lower our head, knowing that we are sinners and that the only Lord is Jesus; we are servants.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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