Vatican News

Vatican releases logos for Pope Francis' visit to Bangladesh, Myanmar

Vatican News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 07:43
(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican on Monday released the official logos for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh . The Pope travels to Myanmar (also known as Burma) on 27-30 November and to Bangladesh on 30 November-2 December 2017. Myanmar logo The logo for his visit to Myanmar depicts Pope Francis releasing a white dove from within a heart drawn in the colors of Myanmar’s flag: yellow, green, and red. An outline of Myanmar’s landmass sits beside the Pope within the heart, while the motto for his journey is shown above: “Love & Peace”. Bangladesh logo The logo for Pope Francis’ visit to Bangladesh has colored streamers in the shape of a dove, with a cross raised over a water lily (Bangladesh’s national flower) within it. Above, the official motto for the Apostolic Journey, “Harmony and Peace”, is written in red. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh in November

Vatican News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 06:23
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Myanmar from 27 to 30 November 2017 and to Bangladesh from 30 November to 2 December 2017. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, made the official announcement in a statement on Monday, also revealing the logos for the trip .  He said the Pope had welcomed "the invitation of the respective heads of state and bishops". Whilst in Myanmar (also known as Burma), Pope Francis will visit the cities of Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw. In Bangladesh the Pope will visit Dhaka. The programme for the Pope's Apostolic Journey will be published shortly. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope to Catholic lawmakers: heed Church's moral, social teaching

Vatican News - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 11:33
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received a group of lawmakers on Sunday, who are in Rome for a meeting of the International Catholic Legislators Network . ICLN origins Founded in 2010 by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and British parliamentarian Lord David Alton , the ICLN brings together Catholic legislators to discuss issues of common concern and share ideas about how best to bring their common faith to bear on their work in favor of the common good. Pope Francis to ICLN: be guided by Church’s moral and social doctrine In his remarks to the legislators, Pope Francis noted the broad spectrum of political opinion represented by the legislators taking part, as well as their increased number with respect to previous years. “As long as the contribution of the Church to the great questions of society in our time can be put into discussion,” said Pope Francis , “it is vital that your commitment be constantly pervaded by her moral and social teachings , in order to build a more humane and just society .” Click below to hear our report The Holy Father went on to say, “The laws that you promulgate and apply ought to build bridges between different political perspectives: even when they respond to precise ends ordered to the promotion of greater care for the defenseless and the marginalized, especially the many who are constrained to leave their countries; and when they are in order to favor a correct human and natural ecology.” Participants encouraged by experience “We have an opportunity to meet here with other Catholic legislators and elected officials from other parts of the world, and to discuss common concerns – problems, opportunities – for our faith, and how to work together and support each other,” Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) of the United States Congress , who is one of the participants in this year’s meeting of the ICLN , told Vatican Media in an exclusive interview ahead of the meeting with Pope Francis. Mooney went on to say that the ICLN gathering has been for him a heartening experience. “It’s very inspiration to see how people are fighting for family values,” he said, “it’s just more encouraging to see faithful Catholics from every country promoting the values of the Church.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis at Angelus: all have role in building Church

Vatican News - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 09:17
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. Gospel episode Ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father reflected on the day’s reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, in which the Lord asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said to Peter in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Pope: Christ build Church on firm foundations Pope Francis said the Lord continues to build His Church in our present day. “Even with us today,” he said, “Christ desires to build His Church, this house solid foundations, which nevertheless does not want for cracks, and which always needs to be reformed, repaired, as in the time of St. Francis of Assisi.” No “stone” is useless Pope Francis likened people who have received the Gospel, and those for whom the Gospel in intended, to the little stones that often cause us the most trouble when we feel them underfoot, or that appear ill-suited to use in the edification of grand structures, saying that no one is without some part to play, some role to fill as building material. “No stone is useless,” he said. Click below to hear our report “Rather,” the Pope went on to say, “in the hands of Jesus [the littlest stone] becomes precious, because he picks it up, looks at it with tenderness, works it with his Spirit and puts it in the right place, where He had ever a mind to put it, and where it can be most useful to the whole building.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: prayers for flood victims in Bangladesh, India, Nepal

Vatican News - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 08:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered prayers on Sunday for the victims of massive flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal, and northern India over the past several days. “I express my closeness to all the [affected] populations, and pray for the victims and for all who suffer because of this calamity,” Pope Francis said. The Holy Father was speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer. Click below to hear our report Annual monsoon rains have caused the flooding, which has claimed the lives of more than 1200 people, and disrupted the lives of some 24 million others. Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing, with international aid agencies reporting thousands of villages cut off. People in remote and isolated areas have been without food and clean water for many days. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: appeal for end to violence against Rohingya

Vatican News - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 08:27
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for an end to the violent persecution of the minority Rohingya population in Burma . Speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square following the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father said, “Sad news has reached us of the persecution of our Rohingya brothers and sisters, a religious minority. I would like to express my full closeness to them – and let all of us ask the Lord to save them, and to raise up men and women of good will to help them, who shall give them their full rights.” Click below to hear our report Pope Francis went on to say, “Let us pray for our Rohingya brethren.” Who are the Rohingya? The Rohingya are an ethnic minority who live mostly in Rakhine State – sometimes styled Arakan – on the western coast of Burma, and practice Islam . The government of Burma – also known as Myanmar – does not recognize the citizenship or the ethnic minority status of the Rohingya. After several years of fighting with the majority Buddhist population in the state, Rohingya began fleeing their native land en masse , precipitating a refugee crisis. Organized violence against the Rohingya, with the participation of government forces, has been underway since at least 2015 , with spikes of intensity in 2016 and 2017 . Rohingya flee to Bangladesh  Nearly 100 thousand Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the past year, though the Bangladeshi government has yet to recognize the refugee status of the displaced minority. Most recent violence Pope Francis’ appeal Sunday follows fighting between the Rohingya and the regular Burmese army on Friday in the city of Maungdaw , which is reported to be the worst since October of last year , and has prompted evacuations from the area of government personnel and of non-Muslims. Nearly 100 people are officially reported dead in the ongoing clashes, including 80 Rohingya insurgents and 12 members of the Burmese security forces deployed in the theatre. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: video message to Jasna Gora pilgrims

Vatican News - Sat, 08/26/2017 - 07:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a video message to pilgrims participating in celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa on Saturday at her shrine in the central Polish city. 300 th  anniversary celebrations This year marks the 300 th anniversary of the coronation of the Black Madonna , as the icon of our lady housed in the shrine in the monastery of Jasna Gora is also known. Mary our tender Mother In his remarks, the Holy Father says, “The sacred image, in fact, shows us that Mary is not a distant Queen , who sits on a throne, but the Mother who embraces the Son , and with Him, all of us, her children.” The Holy Father also says, “She is a true Mother , with her visage signed, a Mother who suffers because she truly takes to heart the problems of our lives. She is a Mother who is close by, who never lets us out of her sight – a tender Mother, who holds us by the hand on our daily journey.” No one an orphan Pope Francis goes on to say, “Let this be the propitious time, in which to feel that no one of us is an orphan.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope and WCC leaders discuss ecumenism, ecology, economic justice

Vatican News - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 11:30
(Vatican Radio) Leaders of the World Council of Churches have expressed gratitude for a “very constructive and fruitful meeting with Pope Francis” in the Vatican. The informal encounter took place on Thursday, during the second day of a visit to Rome by the WCC general secretary , Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and Central Committee moderator, Dr Agnes Abuom from Kenya. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:  The two WCC leaders met privately with the pope and the head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity , Cardinal Kurt Koch, focusing on how to deepen relations within the ecumenical movement. They also discussed the challenges of climate change and economic justice , as well as the important role of faith leaders in seeking solutions to conflicts in different parts of the world. United witness, common service Speaking after the encounter, Rev. Tveit said, “We are living in a time when the purpose and the objectives of the ecumenical movement are highly relevant. He said: “There is a willingness in the WCC constituencies and beyond, in the Roman Catholic Church, to seek a united witness and a common service” in order to  be a more effective voice in our “divided and fragile world.” The meeting with Pope Francis included prayers for unity, peace and reconciliation. Both sides also expressed the wish to explore opportunities to meet again in 2018. Climate justice, COP23 The WCC delegation also held talks with Flaminia Giovanelli, under-secretary at the former Pontifical Justice and Peace Council, discussing climate justice and the upcoming COP 23 conference in Bonn, as well as peacebuilding initiatives and a meeting on migration and xenophobia scheduled for December. Sant'Egidio community On Wednesday the WCC leaders visited the headquarters of the Sant’Egidio community , meeting with two Christian and two Muslim refugees who survived the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to find jobs in Italy. Rev Fykse Tveit said that many in Europe today see people like them as four problems, or even risks, but instead they are four human beings now contributing to doing work that is needed here in Europe. The Geneva based World Council of Churches brings together 348 member churches in countries across the globe, with the goal of promoting full unity among all Christians . It includes most of the world's Orthodox churches, as well as Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, United and Independent churches.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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EXCLUSIVE: Pope Francis ‘pleased’ with Card Parolin’s ‘constructive’ visit to Russia

Vatican News - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 09:38
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, is just returned from a 4-day state visit to Russia, with which he says Pope Francis is “pleased”. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: In an exclusive interview with Vatican media on Friday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin reviewed his state visit to Russia this week, pointing out its highlights and the issues as yet unresolved between the Holy See and the Russian Federation. Pope Francis ‘pleased’ with Parolin’s visit Cardinal Parolin said he briefed Pope Francis immediately upon his return to the Vatican on Thursday. He said the Pope “was pleased with the impressions and positive results which I shared with him.” “The Pope as we know – and as he repeated also in this instance – is very, very attentive to all possible occasions for dialogue. He is very attentive to evaluating all existing occasions for dialogue, and he is very happy when steps forward are made in this direction,” he said. Cardinal Parolin said he relayed the many greetings he was asked to give the Pope “from all the people I met, including the warmth and closeness of the Catholic community… and the fraternal greetings of Patriarch Kirill.” ‘Constructive, positive visit’ The Vatican Secretary of State said he thought the outcome of the trip was “substantially positive”. Cardinal Parolin met with civil authorities, including President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov, as well as with Russian Orthodox leaders Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion. These meetings, he said, “were truly characterized by a cordial, listening, and respectful climate. I would define them as important and constructive encounters.” During his meeting with Mr. Lavrov , Cardinal Parolin brought up the needs of the local Catholic Church, especially the need for several churches confiscated by the Communist regime to be returned. He said the local Catholic community needs these churches in order to provide “adequate places of worship”. Relations with Russian Orthodox Church Cardinal Parolin told Vatican media his meeting with Patriarch Kirill took place in “the new climate established in recent years”, beginning with the 2016 meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba. “We spoke a little about this new climate or atmosphere, which permeates the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” he said. Cardinal Parolin said his Orthodox interlocutors were “touched by the faith and religiosity of the people” on display as the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra visited Moscow and St. Petersburg . Some 2.5 million people visited the relics before they were returned to Bari in Italy. “It was underlined how even many Russians, who belong to the Orthodox tradition but do not practice, in this occasion have moved closer to the Church.” Other topics discussed, he said, were ways of taking advantage of this new climate to further improve relations and collaborate on cultural, academic, and humanitarian issues. He said both parties greatly insisted on the need for the two Churches to carry out “incisive and efficacious humanitarian works” in the many situations of conflict around the world. “Slightly thorny issues were also touched, respectfully and at the same time frankly, regarding relations between the two Churches. But, we tried to give them – at least in my opinion, what I was able to glean – a positive sense, that is, to explore common paths for dealing with and for seeking to give birth to a solution to these problems.” Situation in Ukraine Turning to the situation in Ukraine, Cardinal Parolin said that, “for now, there is no news; perhaps, it is premature”. “If there are seeds of good, which we have sought to sow,” he said, “we hope the Lord will make them sprout and bring them to fruition.” He said the “Ukrainian question” is of “great concern for the Holy See”. “The Pope has pronounced on this theme several times. It’s obvious that it could not be ignored, this theme; it couldn’t be forgotten in that circumstance. Above all, I would [speak] of the need to try to see and to evaluate if there were some concrete steps that could be made towards a durable and just solution to the conflict, within the instruments currently available, which are practically the Agreement between the two Parties. It has been noted that the Holy See has insisted above all on the humanitarian aspects, beginning with the important initiative of the Pope for Ukraine. In this sense, for example, one theme is that of the liberation of prisoners. This is one humanitarian theme that could be truly important to giving a little impetus to the whole process, even the political one, in order to get out of this situation of stasis and to advance – for example –the theme of a truce or ceasefire, the theme of security conditions in the territory, and the theme of the political conditions necessary to make progress on a global solution.” Meeting with President Putin Cardinal Parolin said his meeting with President Putin in Sochi on Wednesday was “a cordial encounter”. He said the two men discussed the conflicts in the Middle East, especially in Syria, and the presence of Christians there. Both Russia and the Holy See, he said, are particularly interested in the theme of persecution of Christians and other minorities. They also discussed the situations in Ukraine and Venezuela, both of which Cardinal Parolin also discussed with Foreign Minister Lavrov on Tuesday. Cardinal Parolin said he presented the Russian president with “several situations of some difficulty for the Catholic community.” His main point, he said, was the desire to transmit the important role Russia has to play in promoting peace. “Russia, for its geographical position, its history, its culture, and its past, present, and future, has an important role to play in the international community and in the world. Therefore, it has a particular responsibility regarding peace: both the country and its leaders have a great responsibility to build peace, and they must truly strive to put the higher interests of peace above all other interests.” Highlights of visit Finally, Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin highlighted three moments, which he found especially touching. The first, he said, “was the beautiful moment of the Mass celebrated with the Catholic community. The Cathedral was packed full of people, and that was somewhat of a surprise since it was a weekday”. He also said he was touched “by the faith and devotion” of the people and by their “attachment to the Pope”. Second was his brief visit to the sisters of Mother Teresa in Moscow. “We were able to meet and greet all the people they assist, and even there the warmth they have the for the Pope was evident.” Lastly, he mentioned his visit to the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow one evening. “The cathedral had been blown up during the Communist regime. So it was also a moment to recall this painful history, during which some people wanted completely to uproot the faith from the heart of the people and eliminate any sign of the presence of God and the Church in that land.” This attempt, he said, “did not succeed, because God is greater than the projects of men.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: video message to Ezeiza student-inmates

Vatican News - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 13:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday sent a video message to the student-inmates of the Centro de estudiantes universitarios de Ezeiza , a higher education initiative attached to the Ezeiza prison complex. The university centre, which began in 1994 in connection with a project of the University of Buenos Aires , teaches primarily sociology and applied sciences, including computer science and information technology. Pope Francis has made regular phone calls to the inmates who study in the centre, which is beginning a new music programme . Remarks to student-inmates In his message, Pope Francis says, “The inmates are serving a penal sentence – a sentence for errors they have committed. Let us not forget, however, that, for punishment to be fruitful, it must have a horizon of hope, otherwise it remains locked in itself and is only an instrument of torture, it is not fruitful.” The Holy Father goes on to say that what is needed is specifically the hope for social reintegration, for which social formation is a necessary ingredient. Click below to hear our report “That,” he says, addressing himself directly to the student-inmates, “is what you are doing,” i.e. looking to the future with hope. “With this new music course you are looking toward social reintegration, [and] you are already reintegrating yourselves through your studies with the University of Buenos Aires.” Punishment with a horizon of hope “This,” he continues, “is a punishment with hope, a punishment with a horizon. Let me say once again: problems are there and will be there, but the horizon is bigger than the problems. Hope goes beyond all problems.” The Holy Father also thanked the founders, directors, faculty and staff of the Ezeiza university centre, and asked the students to remember him in their prayers. Below, the full video in the original Spanish   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: Liturgical reform is irreversible

Vatican News - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 09:40
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis gave an important address on the liturgical reform on Thursday, speaking to participants of the 68 th Italian National Liturgical Week . The liturgical reform, he said, did not “flourish suddenly,” but was the result of a long preparation. It was brought to maturity by the Second Vatican Council with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium , “whose lines of general reform respond to real needs and to the concrete hope of a renewal; it desired a living liturgy for a Church completely vivified by the mysteries celebrated.” The direction marked out by the Council, the Pope continued, found expression in the revised liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI . But “it is not enough to reform the liturgical books; the mentality of the people must be reformed as well.” The reformation of the liturgical books was the first step in a process, he said, “that requires time, faithful reception, practical obedience, wise implementation” on the part first of the ordained ministers, but also of the other ministers, and indeed, of all who take part in the liturgy. Today, Pope Francis said, “there is still work to do in this direction, in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it.” He said that this is not a question “of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons [for it]… [and] of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it.” The Supreme Pontiff insisted, “After this magisterial, and after this long journey, we can assert with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.” Reflecting on the theme of this year’s Liturgy Week – “A living Liturgy for a living Church” – Pope Francis dwelt on three points: 1)The liturgy is “living” in virtue of the living presence of Christ; Christ is at the heart of the liturgical action. 2)The liturgy is life through the whole people of God. By its nature, the liturgy is “popular” rather than clerical; it is an action for the people, but also by the people. 3) The liturgy is life, and not an idea to be understood. It brings us to live an initiatory experience, a transformative experience that changes how we think and act; it is not simply a means of enriching our own set of ideas about God. The Church, Pope Francis said, “is truly living if, forming one single living being with Christ, it is a bearer of life, it is maternal, it is missionary, going out to encounter the neighbour, careful to serve without pursuing worldly powers that render it sterile.” The Holy Father concluded his reflection by noting that the Church in prayer, insofar as it is catholic, “goes beyond the Roman Rite” which, although it is the largest, is by no means the only Rite within the Church. “The harmony of the ritual traditions, of the East and of the West,” by means of the same Spirit, gives voice to the one only Church  praying through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, to the glory of the Father, and for the salvation of the world.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Card Parolin meets with Russian President Putin

Vatican News - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 03:00
(Vatican Radio) Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin yesterday met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the presidential residence in Sochi. According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office the meeting lasted for about an hour and was held in a positive, friendly, and respectful atmosphere with an open exchange of views on various themes including international and bilateral relations. At the end of the talks, the Secretary of State gave President Putin a bronze representation of an olive branch, a symbol of peace. The Russian President returned the gesture with the gift of a collection of coins dedicated to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Cardinal Parolin was expected to celebrate a private Mass this morning at the Nunciature in Moscow before returning to Rome.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis prays for Ischia quake victims

Vatican News - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 08:06
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis during his General Audience on Wednesday expressed his closeness to those affected by a magnitude 4.0 earthquake that hit the IItalian island of Ischia on Monday night. At least two people were killed and three young children, including a 7 month old baby were pulled from the rubble by firefighters. One of the victims was an elderly woman who was in a church that crumbled in the disaster. Dozens of people were injured when the quake struck and around 2,600 people were left homeless. The Holy Father prayed for the dead, and injured. He also prayed for their families, and all those who lost their homes. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Audience: Christian hope is God's heavenly welcome

Vatican News - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 08:03
(Vatican Radio) During his General Audience on Wednesday the Pope continued his catechesis on Christian hope reflecting on the hope contained in our ultimate destination, the heavenly Kingdom of God. Listen to our report: Pope Francis explained that on life’s pilgrimage “we encounter the God of surprises who treats us with infinite tenderness, like a father welcoming his children home after a long and difficult journey. “ He went on to say that, even if many experience life as a prolonged period of suffering, such as people haunted by violence and war, there is still “a Father who weeps with infinite compassion for his children, and who waits to console them with a very different future.” He noted in particular the recent attacks in Barcelona, and sad news coming out of the Democratic Republic of Congo that made headline news. Among those present in the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday were many English speaking pilgrims. The Holy Father had a special greeting pilgrims from the Cardjin Community International on the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis General Audience: English summary

Vatican News - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 05:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall. Please find below the official English-language summary: Dear Brothers and Sisters: As we continue to explore the virtue of Christian hope, we discover in the final pages of the Bible that the ultimate destination of our Christian pilgrimage will be the heavenly Jerusalem.  And on this pilgrimage we encounter the God of surprises who treats us with infinite tenderness, like a father welcoming his children home after a long and difficult journey.  Even if many experience life as a prolonged period of suffering – think of the fearful faces of those haunted by violence and war – still there is a Father who weeps with infinite compassion for his children, and who waits to console them with a very different future.  We believe that neither death nor hatred have the last word, for we Christians see, with great hope, a larger horizon: the Kingdom of God, where all evil is banished forever.  It is Jesus himself who is the light of this new future, and who even now accompanies us on our way.  Creation did not stop on the sixth day of Genesis, because God is continually looking after us, always ready to pronounce his blessing: “Behold, I make all things new! (Rev 21:5)”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican, Russia agree visa-free diplomatic travel, need for dialogue in Venezuela

Vatican News - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:09
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov for talks on Tuesday, during which they discussed issues of international concern and agreed to visa-free diplomatic travel. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: During the press conference following their talks, the Holy See and the Russian Federation signed an Agreement waiving visa requirements for holders of diplomatic passports. Cardinal Parolin and Foreign Minister Lavrov called this a sign of the two countries’ desire to continue to work together on bilateral relations and issues of international concern. Cardinal Parolin said he raised questions regarding the Catholic Church’s life and activity in Russia with his counterpart. He said difficulties remaining between the Vatican and Russia include “working residency permits for non-Russian personnel and the restitution of several churches necessary for the pastoral care of Catholics in the country.” Christians in Middle East Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov evoked the need for solutions for Christians living in the Middle East. “We need to find similar solutions that would provide proper balance between different ethnic and religious groups in Yemen, Libya, and Iraq, where state building processes are underway,” Mr. Lavrov said. Cardinal Parolin said he recognized the difference in approach between Russia and the Holy See on these issues. But he said the two share a “strong concern for the situation of Christians in several countries of the Middle East and the African continent”. “The Holy See nourishes constant concern that religious liberty be preserved in all States and in all political situations,” Cardinal Parolin said. Dialogue in Venezuela Responding to a question about the situation in Venezuela, Cardinal Parolin said he believes Russia can help to overcome this very difficult moment.” He said Russia can promote the Vatican’s efforts to create dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the opposition. “This is the only solution the Holy See sees for an exit to this situation.” Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Parolin describes meeting with Hilarion as 'very constructive'

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 14:33
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State on Monday described the tone of his two-hour meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion , chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow,  as “very constructive”. Cardinal Pietro Parolin is on a four-day visit to Russia during which he is scheduled to meet the Russian Patriarch Kirill and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday before holding talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday. The website of the Moscow Patriarchate showed a picture of Parolin clasping hands with Hilarion and holding talks in a room decorated with Orthodox icons. It said the two men discussed "key topics of bilateral relations... in the context of the current international situation." Answering journalists’ questions after the Monday meeting, the Vatican Secretary of State said that a good part of the conversation touched on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine as well as on the Holy See's concern for the situation in Venezuela. The Russian news agency Tass highlighted the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See reportedly share the same position regarding “the need for a peaceful solution for the middle-eastern region and in particular for Syria” and that a return to normality in that country will be possible only after the total expulsion of IS militants from the occupied territories.” Cardinal Parolin reportedly noted that Christians are beginning to return to the areas that have been taken back from the so-called Islamic State, but said that notwithstanding some positive developments, the general situation remains very difficult, especially from a humanitarian point of view.     (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope encourages Methodists and Waldensians to walk path to full Christian unity

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 08:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged Methodist and Waldensian Churches to continue to walk together with the Catholic Church on the path towards full Christian unity pointing out that in a world lacerated by violence and fear it is all the more important to live and to convey the Christian message of welcome and fraternity.   The Pope’s words of friendship and closeness came in a message on Monday to the annual Synod of the Italian Methodist and Waldensian Churches taking place in Torre Pellice - near Turin - from 20 to 25 August. Recalling recent encounters between the Churches and a shared celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the Pope said “May Jesus’ gaze brighten our relationship so that it is never just formal or proper, but fraternal and lively.” “The Good Shepherd – he continued – wants us to walk together and his gaze embraces all of his disciples whom He wants to see fully united”. Francis also said that to walk towards full unity with the hope that derives from the knowledge that God’s presence is stronger than evil, is all the more important today, “in a world scarred by violence and fear, by wounds and indifference, in which the egoism of self-affirmation to the detriment of others overshadows the simple beauty of welcome, sharing and loving”. “Our Christian witness, he said, must not yield to the logic of the world: let’s help each other to choose and live the logic of Christ.” At the Synod some 180 representatives of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches – both pastors and lay people in equal number – will be deciding on Church programmes for the coming year, and will be electing their executive and administrative bodies. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Cardinal Pietro Parolin on goals of 4-day Russia visit

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:35
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who is on a 4-day visit to Russia, gave a wide-ranging interview with the Russian state news agency TASS, ahead of his arrival on Monday. Cardinal Parolin speaks at length about the aims of his visit to Moscow and gives his views on various international issues.  Please find below a full transcript in English of the interview with Cardinal Parolin: Q: Your Eminence, this is the first time you come to Russia as the Cardinal Secretary of State. What is on the agenda of your visit? Are you going to meet with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and President Vladimir Putin? You act simultaneously in two capacities – as a high-ranking representative of the Roman Catholic Church and as the head of the Holy See’s government. How would you describe the contacts between Catholics and Orthodox believers, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as relations between Vatican and Russia? R: We have been working on the idea of the visit to Russia for a long time, and it will take place from August 20 to 24. The meeting with President Putin is scheduled for August 23. A day earlier, I will have a conversation with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. On August 21, I will meet with Catholic bishops of Russia and on the same evening I will serve a liturgy for the Catholic community of Moscow at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary. I will also meet with Patriarch Kirill and have a conversation with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. As you correctly noted, the Holy See simultaneously performs both a spiritual and a diplomatic role. That is why the Vatican diplomacy is of special nature. It does not rely on any other force, except for taking care of every person and every nation through dialogue. Taking into account these very aspects, I will discuss with my Russian dialogue partners the issues which are of mutual interest for us, as well as crises in different parts of the world, which are both distant and very near. The conversation with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church proves the openness that emerged in recent years and was marked by the historic meeting in Havana last year. Then Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill spoke of rapprochement as a shared path. When we walk this path together and conduct fraternal dialogue, we can feel the moments of unity. This path requires the search for truth, as well as love, patience, persistence and determination. Q: Did the historic meeting in Havana of Pope Francis and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill give an impetus to a better understanding? What are the future steps to develop the ecumenical dialogue and the prospects for an even closer rapprochement between the two (Christian) Churches? R: That meeting was the first step that had been expected for a long time. Not only it strengthened the contacts of the representatives of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, which became more frequent and filled with concrete content, but also prompted the two churches to look at the discrepancies we had in the past and their causes in a new way. Although the negative effect of those differences can still be felt now, the meeting also helped us see the unity we are striving for, the unity which is required by the Gospels we profess. It is very important that we have this renewed mutual positive view that every servant of the God, priest and believer will share. This is the condition, in my opinion, for the fulfillment of new and, I would say, unprecedented steps in the development of the ecumenical dialogue and the rapprochement of our Churches, the steps that the Holy Spirit will hint to those who listen carefully to his voice. Q: Millions of believers in Russia had an opportunity to venerate relics of St. Nicholas, which had been brought for the purpose from the city of Bari to Moscow and St. Petersburg. This was one of the practical results of that landmark meeting. What is the significance of bringing such a revered Christian relic to Russia? R: I know that the relics of St. Nicholas were received in Russia with a special spiritual uplift, and that for more than two months an impressive number of clergymen and believers in Moscow and St. Petersburg venerated the relics. There is no doubt that this event and other similar initiatives, which can be called the "ecumenism of the saints", give an opportunity to fully feel what already unites Christians. This was not only an important event in the spiritual life of believers, but also an example for other initiatives that strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation in various fields. At the same time, a new impetus was given to dialogue on more complex issues in church relations, as well as to dialogue between churches and society on spiritual, cultural and political issues of our time. Q: Both our churches, Catholic and Orthodox, now face the danger of losing traditional Christian values. What can be done to preserve them? Russia in this sense is widely regarded as the last stronghold of those values, for example, such as traditional family values. On the other hand, it's no secret that our country is often criticized in Europe for the lack of liberalism and rejection of relations between people of nonstandard sexual orientation. Is it possible today to ensure that traditional values ​​are not in conflict with modern vision of democracy? R: Today, there is no shortage of challenges that the modern world produces. It is not only about preserving values but the very concept of human personality and human dignity. Showing respect to a human being and his work, social justice, interpersonal relations and interaction between different states – these are all challenges of a peaceful existence. As we face these challenges, our task remains the same as St. Peter defined it in his First Epistle General: “But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to articulate a defense to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But respond with genetleness and respect.” (Peter 3:15) When the churches insist on following the evangelical message and respecting the values ​​established in the Holy Scripture, they do so not to humiliate a modern person or to put unnecessary pressure on him but to show the path to salvation and fulfillment. When performing this mission, which never ends, it is extremely important to establish effective cooperation between different religious denominations. It is also important because, as you noted, the challenges Christians are facing in the West and in Eastern Europe are seen from different angles. Greater mutual understanding between the Churches, exchange of experience in different regions, may become an important contribution to understanding of these problems. It is always useful to learn a different vision, so to speak, a look from beyond, in order to have the most complete picture of reality, less prone to the trends that gradually become very common. Q: Another serious threat of the present day is the Islamic terrorism, which makes no difference between peoples and religions. How can this phenomenon be defeated and how does the Holy See views Russia’s counter-terrorism efforts? R: I can see at least two aspects in this matter. On the one hand, there are steps made by this or that government, which are often dictated by concrete situations. When one faces a situation of this kind, one has to make a certain choice based on the politicians’ assessments. No doubt, the need to tackle terrorism is evident for the Church, but all actions must be weighted in order to prevent a situation in which the use of force would trigger spiraling violence or lead to violations of human rights, including the freedom of religion. On the other hand, the Church is always guided by the long-term perspective. First of all, it is the encouragement and assistance in personal development, especially among the young generations, as well as solid dialogue between religions. During the past decades, the Holy See has been making all possible efforts to establish, strengthen or restore dialogue on the cultural and religious levels and in the social and humanitarian sphere. I’m absolutely convinced that life under the guidance of the Gospel would in itself make an important contribution into forming the society and culture, which simultaneously assists personal development and encourages an intense and constructive dialogue with other authentic cultures and religions. Q: At the moment, the whole world has its eyes set on US President Donald Trump, who has been making rather controversial decisions during his first months of office, starting from his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change. It turned out that even a meeting with Pope Francis, who pays great attention to the climate change problem, could not change his mind. Of course, you have plenty of information about the United States, a country that plays a very important role in the modern world. What can be expected and what does Vatican expect from the current US president? R: The meeting between the Pope and President Trump (in late May - TASS) was held in the atmosphere of mutual respect and I would say, with mutual sincerity. Both the Pontiff and the US leader were able to share their visions on numerous issues, including the climate change problem. I hope that despite the determination to fulfill the electoral promises and despite Washington’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Accord, pragmatic approaches will prevail, in continuation to the US administration’s decision to keep the climate change discussion running. We, in our turn, can only wish that President Trump, just like other members of the international community, does not neglect the extremely difficult task of tackling the global warming and its negative consequences that affect the global population, in particular spurring the growth of inequality and poverty. In my opinion, modern international relations are becoming increasingly dominated by the understanding that policies and strategies based on open clashes and confrontations, with I would describe as a dialogue of the deaf, or, worse, (policies that) fuel fears and are based on intimidation with nuclear or chemical weapons, do not lead to correct solutions and fail to ease tensions between states. It has to be noted, as Pope Francis often says, that building peace is a path, which is a lot thornier than war and conflict. Building peace requires a patient and constructive dialogue with mutual respect instead of focusing all attention to own national interests. This is all that is expected from the leaders of global powers. Q: Before Pope Francis appointed you to your current post, you have spent several years of diplomatic service as the Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) in Venezuela. What is Vatican’s opinion of the situation in this Latin American country? A.: I’m seriously concerned by the situation in Venezuela, a country which is dear to my heart and where I have many friends. As I have already said on numerous occasions, the Holy See has closely followed the development of the Venezuelan crisis from its very outset and made numerous attempts aimed at searching for a peaceful and democratic solution, despite lots of differences that still remain. As far as prospects for reconciliation are concerned, I think that there is always only one way: it is necessary to negotiate, to create the atmosphere of trust and at the same time avoid steps that may aggravate tensions and incite new clashes. One should treat opponents with respect, conduct a serious dialogue, observe the principles of democracy and respect justice. One also needs to stay focused and determined in fulfilling the reached agreements, viewing the well-being of the people, who have many needs, as an utmost priority. The country is hit by a serious humanitarian crisis, and people are dying due to lack of food and medicine, and this should not be forgotten or treated as a secondary problem. I would also like to add that the international community, including nations that have friendly ties with Venezuela, have great responsibilities and should offer selfless assistance aimed at facilitating a positive solution for the current situation. Interviewed by Vera Shcherbakova (Vatican). (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis calls for a shared response to challenge of contemporary migration

Vatican News - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees was released on Monday under the title, “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees. In the message the Pope calls for a shared response to the challenges of contemporary migration, adding that "in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable." Listen to our report:   Shared response In the message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees the Pope says that “The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future. This solidarity, he adds, “must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.”   Pope Francis goes on to say that this is a great responsibility, which “the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities. Pope Francis sums up that shared response in four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”. Welcoming, explains the Holy Father means, “above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.  This, he says, calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.”  The Pope also emphasises the importance of “offering migrants and refugees adequate and dignified initial accommodation.” Protecting migrants The second verb, protecting Pope Francis continues “may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status. When duly recognised and valued, the Pope says, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them.” Speaking about the third verb Promoting, the Holy Father notes that “many migrants and refugees have abilities, such as their ability to work. He goes on to encourage a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship. With regard to integration, the Pope comments that integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, he adds, “contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.” Global  Contribution  Concluding the message the Holy Father underlines that the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed. Yet, he stresses, “in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities. Pope Francis also invites the faithful to play their part in the process leading to the approval of the two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants. (from Vatican Radio)...
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