Vatican News

Pope Receives Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Vatican News - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 07:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Enda Kenny, on Monday. A communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See reports that the Pope and Taoiseach held cordial discussions, in which they evoked the historical ties between the Holy See and Ireland, and underlined the continued contribution ensured by the Catholic Church in the fields of education and social service. The Communiqué goes on to say the men also spoke of the importance of the role of Christians in the public sphere, especially in promoting respect for the dignity of every person, beginning with the weakest and most defenseless. The conversation then continued with an exchange of views on Europe, with particular reference to migration, youth employment and the main challenges that the continent has to deal with, from the political point of view and institutional. Kenny also met with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope offers condolences on death of Father Kolvenbach

Vatican News - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 06:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the Superior General of the Jesuit Order, Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, expressing his “heartfelt condolences” on the death of Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the former head of the Society of Jesus. Father Kolvenbach died in Beirut on Saturday, just a few days short of his 88th birthday. In the telegram, sent in his own name, Pope Francis recalled Father Kolvenbach’s “integral fidelity to Christ and His Gospel,” which was joined to “a generous commitment in exercising his office with a spirit of service for the good of the Church.” In the telegram, the Pope assured Father Sosa of his “prayers of suffrage, invoking, through the divine mercy, eternal peace” for Father Kolvenbach. Here is the full text of the telegram for the death of Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.: Hearing the news of the pious death of the Reverend Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., the former Superior General of the Company of Jesus, I desire to express to you and to the whole Jesuit family my heartfelt condolences. Recalling the integral fidelity of Father Kolvenbach to Christ and His Gospel, joined to a generous commitment in exercising his office with a spirit of service for the good of the Church, I lift up my prayers of suffrage, invoking, from the divine mercy, eternal peace for his soul. Spiritually present at the funeral rites, I cordially impart to you, to your brothers, and to those who share the sorrow for this loss, the Apostolic Blessing. Francis, PP. Vatican City, 27 November 2016 (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: To meet Jesus, we must go on the journey

Vatican News - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 06:24
(Vatican Radio) The Christian faith is not a theory or a philosophy – it is the encounter with Jesus. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta at the beginning of Advent. The Pope emphasized that in order to truly encounter Jesus we undertake the journey with three attitudes: vigilant in prayer, industrious in charity, exultant in praise. Listen:  Encountering Jesus: this is “the grace that we desire in Advent.” Pope Francis centred the homily for the Holy Mass on the theme of the encounter with the Lord. He noted first that in this period of the year, the Liturgy shows us many encounters with Jesus: with His Mother in the womb, with Saint John the Baptist, with the Shepherds, with the Magi. All this, he said, shows us that Advent is “a time for journeying and going forth to meet the Lord, that is, a time to not stand still." Prayer, charity, and praise: how we encounter the Lord And so we must ask ourselves how we can go forth to meet Jesus. “What are the attitudes that I must have in order to encounter the Lord?” How, the Pope asks, “must I prepare my heart for the encounter with the Lord?” In the prayer at the beginning of the Mass, the Liturgy points out three attitudes: vigilance in prayer, industriousness in charity, and exultant in praise. That is, I must pray, with vigilance. I must be hardworking in charity – fraternal charity, not only giving alms, no; but being tolerant of the people who annoy me, being tolerant at home of the children when they make too much noise; or of the husband or wife when they are difficult; or the mother-in-law… I don’t know… but tolerant: tolerant… charity, always, but hard-working. And also the joy of praising the Lord: ‘Exulting in joy.’ That is how we must live this journey, this desire to encounter the Lord. To encounter Him in a good way. Not standing still. And we will encounter the Lord. However, the Pope added, “there will be a surprise, because He is the Lord of surprises.” The Lord, too, “does not stand still.” “I am on a journey to encounter Him, and He is on a journey to encounter me, and when we meet one another we see that the great surprise is that He was seeking me before I began to seek Him.” The Lord always goes before us in the encounter Pope Francis said that this “is the great surprise of the encounter with the Lord: He sought us first. He is always first. He makes His journey in order to find us.” That is what happened with the Centurion: The Lord always goes beyond, goes first. We take one step and He takes ten. Always. The abundance of grace, of His love, of His tenderness that never tires of seeking us. Even, at times, with small things: We think that encountering the Lord would be something magnificent, like that man of Syria, Naaman, who was a leper [did]. And it’s not simple… And he too had a great surprise at God’s way of acting. And our God is the God of surprises, the God that is seeking us, is awaiting us, and asks of us only the little step of good will. We must have the “desire to encounter Him,” the Pope continued. And then He “helps us.” The Lord, he said, “will accompany us during our life. Although many times, perhaps, we seem to be far from Him, “He waits for us like the father of the prodigal son.” Faith does not consist in knowing dogmas, but in encountering Jesus “Often times,” he added, “He sees that we want to draw close, and He comes out to meet us. It is the encounter with the Lord: This is the important thing! The encounter.” Pope Francis said he was always struck by something Pope Benedict had said, “that the faith is not a theory, a philosophy, an idea; it is an encounter. An encounter with Jesus.” If, on the other hand, “one has not encountered His mercy,” it would be possible even “recite the Creed from memory” without necessarily having faith”: The doctors of the Law knew everything, all the dogmas of that time, all the morals of that time, everything. They did not have faith, because their hearts were far from God. Drawing away or having the will to go forward to encounter. And this is the grace that we ask for today: ‘O God, our Father, raise up in us the desire to meet your Christ,’ with good works. To meet Jesus. And for this we remember the grace that we have asked in prayer, with vigilance in prayer, industriousness in charity, and exulting in praise. And so we will encounter the Lord and we will have a very beautiful surprise.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope thanks all involved in organising the year of mercy

Vatican News - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 06:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday with religious and civil authorities who organised the recently concluded jubilee year of mercy. They included members of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, headed by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, but also police chiefs and Italian officials in charge of local and regional security. Philippa Hitchen reports:  Pope Francis spoke of the origin of his idea for a year of mercy, describing it as “a simple intuition” which the Lord transformed into a celebration of faith and joy for Christian communities throughout the world. The opening of doors of mercy in so many cathedrals and shrines, he went on, enabled people to freely experience the love of God in their lives. The fruits of this extraordinary event must now become part of our daily living, he said, so that mercy truly becomes a permanent lifestyle for all Christians. The Pope went on to thank all those individuals and organisations who worked hard to guarantee the safety and smooth running of the jubilee, which officially concluded on November 20th, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. In particular he mentioned Italy’s Home Affairs minister, the regional Lazio authorities and local chiefs of police who worked together with the Swiss Guards,  Vatican police and other offices of the Holy See to ensure a positive experience for the millions of pilgrims who travelled to Rome over the past year. Last, but not least, he thanked members of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation and all the volunteers from different parts of the world who worked so hard to transform this event into a real moment of grace. May your efforts, he concluded, be rewarded by the experience of mercy which the Lord will not fail to grant you. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis to scientists: commitment to sustainability

Vatican News - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 05:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. the gathering is bringing together leading scientists from a broad spectrum of  fields to explore how already available or expected scientific advances affect – for good and for ill – the sustainable development of human societies and their environments. The working understanding of sustainability out of which Academy members were invited to work is one in which development should contribute to life on Earth at the very long term, to maintain a relatively stable equilibrium of human civilization within the broader and constantly evolving planetary ecology. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered to  the Academicians Monday morning, Pope Francis said, “[I]t falls to scientists, who work free of political, economic or ideological interests, to develop a cultural model which can face the crisis of climatic change and its social consequences, so that the vast potential of productivity will not be reserved only for the few.” Click below to hear our report The Holy Father also called on political leaders informed by the best efforts of the scientific community to craft laws and a binding international structure of norms to safeguard the created order and the human ecology at the center of it. “It has now become essential to create, with your cooperation, a normative system that includes inviolable limits and ensures the protection of ecosystems,” said Pope Francis, “before the new forms of power deriving from the techno-economic model causes irreversible harm not only to the environment, but also to our societies, to democracy, to justice and freedom.”   The Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of sciences opened on November  25 th , and closes on November 29 th . (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: Advent calls us to enlarge our horizons

Vatican News - Sun, 11/27/2016 - 06:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the beginning of the new liturgical year at the Angelus for the First Sunday of Advent. On this Sunday, he said, the Gospel introduces us to one of the most “evocative” themes of the Advent season: the visit of the Lord to humanity. Pope Francis pointed out three visits of the Lord: the first, in the past, with the Incarnation, and Birth of Jesus at Christmas; the second, in the present, as Jesus visits us continually, every day; and the final visit, in the future, when Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Advent encourages us to reflect on the contrast between our daily routine and the unexpected coming of the Lord. The Gospel, the Pope said, is not trying to frighten us, but “to open our horizons” to further dimensions, giving meaning even to everyday occurrences. This perspective, he continued, is also an invitation to “sobriety, to not be dominated by the things of this world” but rather to keep them in their proper place. If, on the other hand, we allow ourselves to be overpowered by a concern for material things, we will not be able to perceive what is much more important: our final encounter with the Lord. And so, the Pope said, Advent is “an invitation to vigilance, because, not knowing when He will come, we must always be ready to depart.” During Advent, Pope Francis concluded, “we are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to be surprised by the life that is presented each day with its newness. In order to do this we need to learn to not depend on our own securities, our own established plans, because the Lord comes in the hour which we don’t imagine.” Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope prays for communities struck by natural disasters

Vatican News - Sun, 11/27/2016 - 06:12
(Vatican Radio) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for the people of Central America, especially those of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which have been hit by hurricane Otto. In recent days, Nicaragua has also felt the effects of a strong earthquake. Pope Francis also offered prayers for the northern Italy, where heavy rains have led to flooding in a number of communities.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Telegram for the death of Fidel Castro

Vatican News - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 08:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the death of the former President of the State Council and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro.  In a telegram sent to the current president, Raul Castro, the Holy Father also offered his prayers for the former leader, and entrusted the Cuban people to the intercession of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, the patroness of Cuba.  Here is the full text of the telegram from Pope Francis:  On receiving the sad news of the death of your dear brother, His Excellency Mister Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, former president of the State Council and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, I express my sentiments of sorrow to Your Excellency and other family members of the deceased dignitary, as well as to the people of this beloved nation. At the same time, I offer prayers to the Lord for his rest and I entrust the whole Cuban people to the maternal intercession of our Lady of the Charity of El Cobre, patroness of that country. Francisco, PP.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope addresses 2016 Ratzinger Prize winners

Vatican News - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 07:35
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday morning addressed the winners of the 2016 Ratzinger Prize , Msgr Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles, in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall. Listen to Ann Schneible’s report: Awarded by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, the Ratzinger Prize is given as a sign of the Church’s gratitude to scholars and professors who have stood out for their scientific research in the theological field.  Msgr Biffi, a professor, and internationally renowned theologian and liturgist, was awarded the prize for his Opera Omnia, a collection of his writings, most of which are on theology and medieval philosophy. The other winner, Prof Kourempeles is a member of the Orthodox Church, is associate professor in the Department of Theology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. In his address to the winners, Pope Francis began by expressing “great affection” and “gratitude” for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as he “continues to accompany us even now in his prayer.” “The depth of Joseph Ratzinger’s thought, firmly founded upon Scripture and the [Church] Fathers, and always nourished by faith and prayer, helps us to remain open to the horizons of eternity, thus giving meaning even to our hopes and our human responsibilities,” the Holy Father said. The Pope spoke of Benedict XVI’s richness in “thought and magisterium,  which knew how to center on the essential reference points of our Christian life, the person of Jesus Christ, charity, hope, faith.  And the whole Church will be forever grateful.” Pope Francis went on to congratulate the winners of the 2016 Ratzinger Prize; Msgr Biffi who received the award in recognition of his career as a “great theologian”, and Prof Kourempeles for his work in exploring the “richness of the encounter between Ratzinger’s thought and Orthodox theology”. He concluded by praying that the Lord might always bless them and their “service to his kingdom.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican commission on female diaconate holds first meeting

Vatican News - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 11:03
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican announced on Friday that the newly established commission for the study of the female diaconate was holding its first meeting at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The two day meeting brings together the 12 members of the commission, under the presidency of Jesuit Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, who also serves as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During the morning and afternoon sessions, members will study the situation of women deacons in the early centuries of Church history. Pope Francis announced the setting up of the new commission on August 2nd this year, following a May 12th meeting with participants at a plenary assembly of female religious superiors, who asked him about the possibility of restoring the permanent diaconate for women. The commission includes six men and six women from eight different countries, with a wide variety of theological perspectives. Five of the members teach at pontifical universities in Rome, while four are members of the International Theological Commission. The full list of commission members includes: Sr. Nuria Calduch-Benages, M.H.S.F.N., Member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission; Prof. Francesca Cocchini, Professor at the University "La Sapienza" and at the Patristic Institute "Augustinianum," Rome; Rev.do Msgr. Piero Coda, Dean of the University Institute "Sophia," Loppiano, and Member of the International Theological Commission; Rev.do P. Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., Dean Patristic Institute "Augustinianum," Rome Rev.do P. Santiago Madrigal Terrazas, S.J., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical University "Comillas," Madrid; Sr. Mary Melone, S.F.A., rector of the Pontifical University "Antonianum," Rome; Rev.do Karl-Heinz Menke, Emeritus Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Bonn and member of the International Theological Commission; Rev.do Aimable Musoni, S.D.B., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome; Rev.do P. Bernard Pottier, S.J., Professor at the ''Institut d'Etudes théologiques," Brussels, and member of the International Theological Commission; Prof. Marianne Schlosser, Professor of Spiritual Theology at the University of Vienna and a member of the International Theological Commission; Prof. Michelina Tenace, Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. Prof. Phyllis Zagano, Professor at Hofstra University, New York. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Eternal damnation is not a torture chamber but distance from God

Vatican News - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 06:35
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said eternal damnation is not a torture chamber but distance from God and warned Christians never to converse with the devil, calling him a seducer who ruins lives. His words came during his Mass celebrated on Friday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence. Listen to this report by Susy Hodges (with clips of the Pope's voice):   Continuing his reflections on the end of the world, the Pope’s homily focused on the day’s reading from the Book of Revelation that describes how the angel seizes the serpent, chains it up and throws it into the abyss which is then locked and sealed. He said the serpent or devil is thrown into the abyss “so that it would no longer lead the nations astray” because it is the seducer. “He is a liar and what’s more is the father of lies, he generates lies and is a trickster. He makes you believe that if you eat this apple you will be like a God. He sells it to you like this and you buy it and in the end he tricks you, deceives you and ruins your life. ‘But father, what can we do to avoid being deceived by the devil?’ Jesus teaches us: never converse with the devil. One does not converse with him. What did Jesus do with the devil?  He chased him away, he asked his name but did not hold a dialogue with him.” Pope Francis went on to explain how when Jesus was in the wilderness he defended himself when replying to the devil by using the Word of God and the Word of the Bible. Therefore, he said, we must never converse with this liar and trickster who seeks our ruin and who for this reason will be thrown into the abyss. The Pope noted that the reading from Revelation describes how the Lord will judge the great and the lowly “according to their deeds” with the damned being thrown into the pool of fire and he said this is the “second death.” “Eternal damnation is not a torture chamber. That’s a description of this second death: it is a death. And those who will not be received in the Kingdom of God, it's because they have not drawn close to the Lord. These are the people who journeyed along their own path, distancing themselves from the Lord and passing in front of the Lord but then choosing to walk away from Him. Eternal damnation is continually distancing oneself from God. It is the worst pain, an unsatisfied heart, a heart that was created to find God but which, out of arrogance and self-confidence, distances itself from God.” Pope Francis said distancing oneself from God who gives happiness and who loves us so much is the “fire” and the road to eternal damnation. Noting how the final image in the reading from Revelation ends with a vision of hope the Pope concluded his homily by saying if we open up our hearts with humility we too will have joy and salvation and will be forgiven by Jesus. “Hope is what opens our hearts to the encounter with Jesus. This is what awaits us: the encounter with Jesus. It’s beautiful, very beautiful. And He asks us only to be humble and say ‘Lord.’ It’s enough to say that word and He will do the rest.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope sends letter to indigenous Australians

Vatican News - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 05:34
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of St John Paul II’s words to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Alice Springs, Australia on 29 November 1986. The letter was sent to the Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), John Lochowiak, by the Apostolic Nuncio to Canberra Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana. The Holy Father writes that, “this anniversary affords me the happy opportunity to express my deep esteem for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for your ancient cultural heritage”. He also draws from the words of Pope John II which stress, "your culture, which shows the lasting genius and dignity of your race, must not be allowed to disappear. Do not think that your gifts are worth so little that you should no longer bother to maintain them. Share them with each other and teach them to your children. Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, must never be lost." In July the Pope’s prayer intention was for Respect for Indigenous Peoples. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: Drug addiction ‘new form of slavery’

Vatican News - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 06:39
(Vatican Radio) Drug addiction is a ‘new form of slavery’ and a ‘wound in our society’ which should be combatted with education and rehabilitation. That was Pope Francis’ message to a Vatican conference called ‘Narcotics: Problems and Solutions of this Global Issue’, which was hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on 23-24 November. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Pope Francis told the two-day conference on Narcotics that those who fall into the snares of drugs are victims who have “lost their freedom” in return for “a new form of slavery”. Reflecting on the causes of drug addiction, the Holy Father said it results from a variety of factors: “the absence of a family, social pressure, propaganda from traffickers, the desire to live new experiences”. However, he said, “every addicted person brings with them a distinct personal history, which should be listened to, understood, loved, and, where possible, cured and purified. We cannot fall into the injustice of classifying them as if they were objects or broken junk; rather, every person should be valued and appreciated in their dignity in order to be cured. They continue to have, more than ever, dignity as persons and children of God.” He said it is no surprise that so many people fall into drug addiction since “mundanity offers us a wide spectrum of possibilities to find a fleeting happiness”. The Pope went on to approach the problem of narcotics from both the supply and demands sides of the equation. The supply of drugs, he said, is an “important part of organized crime”, and its supply chain must be rooted out and destroyed. Demand for narcotics, he said, needs to be halted through education, social programmes, and family support. He said, “Integral human formation is the priority. It gives people the possibility to possess the instruments of discernment, with which they are able to discern various options and help others. This formation is principally oriented to the most vulnerable of a society, such as children and young people, but which is also usefully extended to families and those who suffer any type of marginalization.” Prevention and rehabilitation, he repeated, are both important aspects of the problem of drug addiction. In conclusion, Pope Francis said, “The most needy of our brothers and sisters, who seemingly have nothing to give, offer us a treasure – the face of God, which speaks to us and challenges us.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Corruption is blasphemy which leads to worship of money

Vatican News - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 06:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Thursday that corruption is a form of blasphemy which leads to the worship of money and the exploitation of others. His words came during the homily at his regular Santa Marta Mass for this last week of the Church’s liturgical year. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  Reflecting on the readings for the day which speak of the end of the world, of judgement and redemption for God’s faithful people, Pope Francis talked about corruption which led to the downfall of the great city of Babylon. Corruption is a blasphemous way of living, the Pope warned, it’s the language of Babylon and worldly living. Corruption is a form of blasphemy where there is no God, he went on, but only the gods of money and wellbeing through the exploitation of others. Yet this worldliness which seduces the powerful will be torn down, the Pope said, just as we hear the victory cry of the angel, in the reading from Revelation, announcing the fall of Babylon with its empire of vanity, pride and evil. In contrast to the victory cry of the angel proclaiming the fall of this corrupt civilisation, Pope Francis said, there is another powerful voice of the great multitude praising God and saying: “Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God”. This is the voice of the people of God who will be saved because they are sinners but not corrupt, he stressed. A sinner who knows how to ask for forgiveness and seeks salvation in Jesus Christ learns how to adore God, though this is not an easy task for Christians. We are good at praying when we’re asking for something, he said, but we must also learn how to praise God. Better to learn now, he added, than have to learn in a hurry when the end times come. The Pope insisted on the beauty of praying in front of the tabernacle, saying simply: “You are God, I am a poor child loved by You”. Finally the Pope noted that in the reading there is a third voice, the whispering voice of the angel who tells the author to write: “Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” The Lord’s invitation is not a cry, but rather a gentle voice that speaks to the heart, the Pope said, just like the voice of God speaking to Elijah. When God speaks to our hearts in this way, he said, it is like a breath of silent sound. This invitation to the wedding feast, according to the parable of Jesus, will be our salvation. Those invited include the bad and the good, the blind, the deaf and the lame, all of us sinners who have enough humility in our hearts to say: “I am a sinner and God will save me”. The Gospel passage concludes by reminding us that “when these signs begin to happen” – that is the destruction of pride and vanity – “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand”. May the Lord give us grace, the Pope said, to prepare ourselves and to listen to that voice saying “Come, come, come faithful servant – sinner but faithful – come to the wedding feast of your Lord”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis to celebrate Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Vatican News - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 05:16
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will say Mass to mark the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th in St. Peter's Basilica. A press release from the Pontifical Commission for Latin America explains that the Mass will begin at 6PM Rome Time. A Rosary will precede the Mass, beginning at 5:15 PM. Please find the full text of the press release, below *********************************************************** Holy Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated by Pope Francis Saint Peter's Basilica, December 12, 2016 PRESS RELEASE For the third consecutive year, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on December 12 in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pope Francis, through the President of the Pontifical Commission on Latin America, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, communicated his desire to once again preside at this celebration on the day when millions of Catholics around the world give honor to the Patroness of America and of the Philippines. The Eucharist will be celebrated at 6:00 PM, preceded by the recitation of the Rosary at 5:15 PM and the traditional march of the flags representing the different countries devoted to the Virgin Mary. A large participation of the faithful is expected, especially from the Latin American and Filipino communities in Rome, as well as numerous Cardinals, Bishops, priests, religious, members of the Roman Curia and of the Diplomatic Corps. We recall that on December 12, 2011, in the context of the commemoration of the Independence of Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated this Feast in St. Peter's Basilica for the first time. On that occasion, the Holy Mass was accompanied by the singing of the “Misa Criolla” by the Argentinean composer Ariel Ramirez and sung  by the young people of “Coro Musica Nova". Three years later, in 2014, the present Pope expressed a desire to once again celebrate the Eucharist in honor of the "Morenita". Through the kindness of the Argentinian Presidency, the Misa Criolla was presented by a group of musicians from Argentina, along with the youth choir "Musica Nova", directed by the son of the composer Ariel Ramirez, who came expressly for the occasion, 50 years from the first “Criolla Mass” offered at the Vatican, in the presence of Pope Paul VI. The Holy Father Francis, who professes a deep devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe, in 2015 announced that he would once again presided over the celebration, and had asked the Pontifical Commission for Latin America to collaborate with the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff to organize it. On that occasion, during the homily, the Pope announced his Apostolic Journey to Mexico, from February 12 to 18, 2016, a visit during which he made a historic pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was followed by millions of Catholics worldwide. This year, while the image of Pope Francis in prayer before the "tilma" of the "Guadalupana" in his pilgrimage to the Shrine is still fresh in our memories, the announcement that once again this Feast will be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica this December 12, kindles a great joy; joy that is in addition to that from the recent canonization of two new Latin American Saints: Argentine priest José Gabriel del Rosario, the "Cura Brochero," and the young Mexican martyr José Sánchez del Río. Holy Mass will be accompanied by some ancient liturgical hymns, composed in indigenous languages. Among them will be a beautiful hymn dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe composed in the “Nahuatl" language, the language of the "Nican Mopohua", the story of the apparitions of Our Lady to the Indian Saint Juan Diego and other ancient songs in the Quechua, Mapuche and Guarani languages. The official Sistine Chapel Choir, which is always present during Papal celebrations at the Basilica, will join the Latin American Choir under the direction of Conductor Eduardo Notrica. As in previous years, before the Holy Mass, the Holy Rosary will be recited in Spanish and offered for the intentions of the Catholic Church throughout the world, in particular for the Church of the American nations and of the Philippines. The invitation to participate in the Holy Mass is extended to all the faithful and to all pilgrims who may wish to take part in this Eucharistic Celebration.  Tickets may be requested directly from the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household. Priests who wish to concelebrate should contact the Pontifical Commission for Latin America in order to receive the necessary tickets. Vatican City, November 21, 2016 Pontifical Commission for Latin America Phone: (39) 06 69 88 31 31       Fax: (39) 06 69 88 42 60 e-mail : pcal@americalatina.va www.americalatina.va (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis gives Patriarch Kirill birthday gift of relic

Vatican News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 09:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has given Patriarch Kirill of Moscow a relic of St. Francis of Assisi, to mark the Russian Orthodox leader’s 70 th birthday. The President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity , Cardinal Kurt Koch, conveyed the present to Patriarch Kirill at an audience granted him at the Patriarchal residence on Tuesday. A statement from the Moscow Patriarchate on the meeting is below ************************************ On 22 November 2016, at the Patriarchal residence in St Daniel’s Monastery, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Kurt Cardinal Koch. The Russian Orthodox Church was also represented by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations; Archbishop Amvrosy of Peterhof, rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy; Archimandrite Philaret (Bulekov), DECR vice-chairman; and Rev. Alexy Dikarev, a staff member of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Christian Relations. Cardinal Koch was accompanied by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation, and Rev. Hyacinthe Destivelle, a staff member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill greeted the high guests and thanked them for attending the celebrations marking his 70 th  birthday. “I regard it as a good gesture of the Roman Catholic Church and as yet another opportunity to exchange opinions on our current agenda,” the Primate of the Russian Church said. Patriarch Kirill mentioned his meeting with Pope Francis in Havana, saying in particular, “I think, that meeting, held in the atmosphere of sincerity and fraternity, was very meaningful. It is highly important that our common concern over the sufferings of Christians in today’s world, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, was at the core of our meeting.” As His Holiness noted, the common concern and support to the suffering Christians expressed during that meeting had found a positive response in the world community. “It was after our meeting that the problem of the genocide of Christians in the Middle East was raised at high levels in various countries, and this issue became a major item on the political agenda,” Patriarch Kirill said, “Soon after our meeting, an agreement was reached in Munich, stipulating a ceasefire between the government forces and the opposition in Syria. It also evoked a positive response among those who have a sincere compassion for the suffering and dying people in the Middle East.” The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted with regret the aggravation of the situation in Syria and Iraq, caused “not only by the hostilities in Aleppo and Mosul, but also by the ongoing sufferings of people.” As His Holiness said, “The actions of the existing coalitions still lack proper coordination, necessary for combating terrorism successfully. I am convinced that only joint coordinated actions aimed at achieving specific goals can really help defeat terrorism.” “After that meeting in Havana, our joint Orthodox-Catholic groups made the right steps both in Syria and Lebanon,” His Holiness continued, “It was an important visit that helped representatives of our two Churches form a clear view of the situation in Syria and Lebanon and lay the foundation for our future collaborative work aimed, among other things, at providing aid to people.” Patriarch Kirill noted that, as a result of the joint visit of the Orthodox-Catholic delegation from Russia on 7 April 2016, its members had begun to draw up a list of churches and other religious buildings destroyed during the hostilities. “We hope that the war will end and that people will live in peace again,” His Holiness added, “An issue will be raised of restoring Syria. For us, Christians, it will also be important that churches should be restored and people could return to their normal religious life. We are willing to continue our joint work with the Roman Catholic Church, with its representatives, and to do all within our power to cease sufferings and help people live in peace again.” The Declaration singed in Havana also revealed the common approach to the Ukrainian issue, the Primate of the Russian Church emphasized. “Not long ago, on the occasion of the 25 th  anniversary of independence of the Ukrainian state, the Pope of Rome and I sent our respective messages,” His Holiness said and noted the closeness of the two Churches’ positions on this issue. “Both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church are committed to the peacebuilding mission. The Churches must be peacemakers, not the players in a most serious civil conflict,” Patriarch Kirill emphasized. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill also noted the progress in cultural cooperation between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, saying in particular, “The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity that you head held the 2 nd  meeting of the joint working group for cultural cooperation between our Churches, and the both sides have continued to carry out various cultural projects. We hope that on December 11, a joint concert of the Sretensky Monastery Choir, the Synodal Choir of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Choir of the Sistine Chapel will take place at the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs. On November 25, a remarkable exhibition of the Vatican’s masterpieces will open at the Tretyakov Gallery with the participation of Mr. Giuseppe Bertello, Governor of Vatican City. It is a significant cultural event and, at the same time, an important factor for the development of our bilateral relations.” Speaking on the inter-Christian contacts in the sphere of theological education, the Primate of the Russian Church rated highly the work of the Summer Institute for Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, organized by Ss Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Postgraduate Studies. “It is my conviction that the development of our good relations in various spheres will also help promote the relationships between our peoples and overcome conflicts, as well as coordinate our activities aimed at defending people, their right to life and dignity,” His Holiness said in conclusion. Cardinal Kurt Koch thanked the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church for the warm welcome and read out a message of greetings from Pope Francis on Patriarch Kirill’s 70 th  birthday. The letter reads, in particular, “I wish to convey to Your Holiness, my beloved brother in Christ, the assurance of my personal best wishes and fervent prayers on the occasion of your seventieth birthday. I thank the Lord for the abundant blessings that he has bestowed upon you in your life and in your ministry as Pastor of the Russian Orthodox Church. I am especially grateful for your personal contribution to the rapprochement between our Churches and I recall with great emotion our historic meeting in Havana.” DECR Communication Service Photo by the Patriarchal Press Service (from Vatican Radio)...
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Synod 2018 organisers meet in Rome

Vatican News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 08:18
(Vatican Radio) The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops held a two-day meeting in Rome on Monday and Tuesday of this week, to continue preparations for the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is scheduled to take place in October, 2018. Participants will gather at the Vatican for three weeks to debate Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment , in order to “accompany young people on their way of life towards maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life project and realize it with joy, opening the encounter with God and with men, and actively participating in the building up of the Church and society.” A communiqué from the Synod Council explains that the two major areas of focus during the two-day meeting were a report on the progress of the preparatory document – including the questionnaire that will be distributed to bishops’ conferences, Eastern synods, and other competent leadership bodies – and further examination of the Synod’s organisational and procedural by-laws, called the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum . (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope continues catechesis on works of mercy

Vatican News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 07:02
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis focused on two more of the Spiritual Works of Mercy at his General Audience on Wednesday: “Counseling the Doubtful” and “Instructing the Ignorant”. Both of these Works can be lived out both individually and in a more organized manner, the Pope said. Instructing the ignorant especially can be the focus of more institutional efforts, as seen by the work of so many sainted men and women throughout the ages. “These ‘pioneers of instruction’,” Pope Francis continued, “fully understood this work of mercy, and found a way of life that was able to transform society itself.” Pope Francis also noted the importance of vocational schools that focus on professional training, without neglecting the importance of teaching students human and Christian values. Counseling the doubtful, on the other hand, is not so much a question of imparting knowledge, but of “soothing the pain and suffering that comes from the fear and anguish that are the consequences of doubt.” The Pope explained that this work of mercy is “an act of love” that aims at supporting people who are suffering from uncertainty. At times, the Pope said, everyone has doubts. These can be positive if they lead us to deepening our faith, and coming to understand the mystery of God’s love. But doubts must be overcome. This can be done both by catechesis, when the proclamation of the faith meets us in our daily lives; and by living out the faith fully. “We do not make of the faith an abstract theory where doubts are multiplied,” Pope Francis said. “Rather, we make the faith our very life. We seek to practice it in the service of the brethren, especially the most needy.” Then, he continued, “so many doubts vanish, because we feel the presence of God and the truth of the Gospel in the love which, without merit of our own, dwells within us, and which we share with others. We see, then, that these two works of mercy can be a part of our daily lives. “Each one of us can commit ourselves to living them,” he said, “in order to put into practice the word of the Lord when He says that the mystery of the love of God has not been revealed to the wise and the understanding, but to the little ones.” And so, Pope Francis concluded, “the most profound teaching we are called to transmit; and the most secure certainty we can offer, to free us from our doubts, is the love of God with which we are loved.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope meets with Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations group

Vatican News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 05:30
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Wednesday with participants at a Colloquium organised by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation from Teheran. In brief words of greeting to the group, the Pope said he greatly appreciated the presence of those who had travelled from Iran to attend the meeting. He recalled with joy his meeting last January with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as well as an encounter he had with the country’s vice president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, who visited the Vatican with a group of female professors in February 2015. That visit, he said left him with a very positive impression of Iranian culture. LIsten to our report:  The Pope also underlined the importance of this 10th round of interfaith dialogue and fraternal encounter. He asked his guests to remember to pray for him and asked God to bless all members of the group. During the two-day meeting, which concludes on Wednesday, the Muslim and Christian scholars have been sharing perspectives on "Extremism and violence in the name of religion: the reasons of the supporters and perpetrators”, "Rational approach to religion: the sign of hope for wounded humanity", and "Humanity and its common home; the contribution of religion for having a better world". The 9th round of this dialogue between the Pontifical Council and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation was held in December 2014 in Tehran on the theme "Constructive Dialogue between Muslims and Christians for the Good of Society"   (from Vatican Radio)...
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General Audience: English summary

Vatican News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 04:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday held his weekly General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, where he spoke on two more of the Spiritual Works of Mercy: “Counseling the Doubtful” and “Instructing the Ignorant.” Here is the English language summary of the Pope’s address: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Among the spiritual works of mercy, we now consider those of counselling the doubtful and instructing the ignorant.  These two works are related and both can be practised daily in our families and communities.  The Church’s mission of evangelization has always been accompanied by teaching and the founding of schools, since education promotes the dignity of the person and provides for the full development of his or her God-given gifts.  Illiteracy and lack of access to education are in fact a form of poverty and injustice.  Education develops our ability to think critically about ourselves and the world around us.  By raising questions it also helps us to find satisfying answers.  It is a true work of mercy to counsel those troubled by doubts about the meaning of life or shaken in their faith.  Let us be grateful to all who devote themselves to this work through catechesis and religious education.  All of us are called to support one another by our witness of living faith and generous concern, for these are eloquent signs of the love of God which gives meaning and direction to our lives.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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