Vatican News

Official logo for Pope Francis' visit to Egypt

Vatican News - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 10:35
(Vatican Radio)  The logo for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Egypt, which takes place 28-29 April, has been released by the Egyptian Catholic Church. The three main elements present in the logo are Egypt, Pope Francis, and Peace. “Pope of Peace in Egypt of Peace” are the words in Arabic and English at the base of the logo. Egypt is represented by the Nile River – a symbol of life – as well as by the pyramids and the Sphinx, which highlight the long history of civilization in this African country. The Cross and Crescent Moon at the center of the logo represent the coexistence between the various components of the Egyptian people. A white dove signifies peace, which is both the highest gift to which every human being can aspire and the greeting of monotheistic religions. Finally, the dove precedes Pope Francis to announce his arrival as the Pope of Peace in a country of peace. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Fourth Lenten Sermon of Fr. Cantalamessa to papal household: Full text

Vatican News - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 09:56
(Vatican Radio)  The Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., gave his fourth Lenten Sermon to Pope Francis on Friday morning in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The theme of the Lenten meditations is: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). This fourth iteration carried the title: 'The Holy Spirit introduces us to the Mystery of the Resurrection of Christ'. The fifth and last Sermon of Lent will take place on Friday, 7 April. Below please find the official English version translated from the Italian original by Marsha Daigle Williamson: THE HOLY SPIRIT INTRODUCES US TO THE MYSTERY OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST In the first two Lenten meditations we reflected on the Holy Spirit who leads us into all the truth about the person of Christ, causing him to be proclaimed as “Lord” and “true God.” In the last meditation we moved on from the being of Christ to the work of Christ, from his person to his action, and in particular the mystery of his redemptive death. Today I propose that we meditate on the mystery of his resurrection and of our resurrection. St. Paul expressly attributes the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to the work of the Holy Spirit. He says that Christ was “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4). In Christ is the fulfillment of the great prophecy by Ezekiel about the Spirit who enters into the dry bones, raises them from their graves, and makes of this slain multitude “an exceedingly great host” of people resurrected to life and hope (see Ezek 37:1-14). But this is not the line I want to pursue in this meditation. Making the Holy Spirit the main inspirer of all theology (which is the intent of what is called “Theology of Third Article!”) does not mean forcing the Holy Spirit into every assertion, mentioning him at every turn. This would not be in the nature of the Paraclete who, like light, illuminates everything while remaining, so to speak, in the background himself as though behind the scenes. More than speaking “about” the Holy Spirit, the Theology of the Third Article involves speaking “in” the Holy Spirit, with all that this simple change of preposition entails. 1. The Resurrection of Christ: The Historical Approach Let us first of all say something about the resurrection of Christ as a “historical” fact. Can we define the resurrection as an historical event in the normal sense of this word—something that really happened—insofar as history is in contrast to myth and legend? To express it in the words of the recent debate: Is Jesus risen only in the kerygma, that is, in the proclamation of the Church (as someone has affirmed in the wake of Rudolf Bultmann), or did he also rise in reality and in history? In other words, is he, the person of Jesus, truly risen, or is it only his cause that has risen—in the metaphoric sense in which “rising again” means the survival or the victorious reemergence of an idea after the death of the one who proposed it? Let us see, then, in what sense there can be an historical approach to the resurrection of Christ. Not because some of us here need to be persuaded about that, but, as Luke says at the beginning of his Gospel, “that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed” (Lk 1:4) and concerning what we transmit to others. The faith of the disciples, with a few exceptions (John and the devout women), does not hold up under the test of Jesus’ tragic end. After his passion and death, a pall is cast over everything. The disciples’ inner state is revealed through the words of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus: “We had hoped that he was the one . . . . It is now the third day since this happened” (Lk 24:21). Faith is at a stalemate. The case of Jesus is considered closed. Now—still from the historians’ point of view—let us move ahead to a year, or even to a few weeks later. What do we find? A group of men, the same ones who were with Jesus, who are now repeating loudly that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Lord, the Son of God, that he is alive and will come to judge the world. The case of Jesus is not only reopened, but in a brief amount of time it has also shifted to an absolute and universal dimension. This man is of interest now not only to the people of Israel but to all human beings of all times. “The very stone which the builders rejected,” says St. Peter, “has become the head of the corner” (1 Pet 2:7), that is, the beginning of a new humanity. From now on, whether people know it or not, there is no other name under heaven given to human beings by which they can be saved except the name of Jesus of Nazareth (see Acts 4:12). What caused such a change in these same men who had earlier denied Jesus or run away but who now declare these things publicly, who establish churches, and who even allow themselves to be imprisoned, whipped, and killed for him? They all answer in unision: “He is risen! We have seen him!” The final act the historian can perform, before yielding the floor to faith, is to verify this response. The resurrection is an historical event in a very particular sense. It is at the border of history, like the line that divides the sea from the land. It is inside and outside of history at the same time. With it, history opens itself up to what is beyond history, to eschatology. It therefore represents, in a certain sense, a break with history and a move beyond it, just like the creation did at its beginning. This makes the resurrection an event that cannot be attested to and accessed in itself by our mental categories that are wholly tied to our experience of time and space. No one was actually present at the moment Jesus was resurrected. No one can say they saw Jesus being resurrected but only that they saw him once he was risen. But they saw his empty tomb. The resurrection, therefore, is known a posteriori, after the fact. It is like the physical presence of the Word in Mary afterward that demonstrates his Incarnation; likewise it is the spiritual presence of Christ in the community afterward, attested by his appearances, that demonstrates he has risen. This explains why no secular historian says a word about his resurrection. Tacitus, who does record the death of a certain “Christus” at the time of Pontius Pilate,[1] is silent about the resurrection. That event had no relevance or meaning except for people who experienced its aftermath within the community. In what sense, then, do we speak of an historical approach to the resurrection? Two facts are offered for consideration to historians that allow them to speak about the resurrection: first, the sudden and inexplicable faith of the disciples, a faith so tenacious that it withstands even the test of martyrdom; second, the explanation of such a faith left to us by those involved. An eminent exegete has written, “In the hour of crisis [after Jesus was crucified] the disciples held no . . . assurance [of a resurrection]. They fled (Mark 14:50), and gave up Jesus’ cause for lost (Luke 24:19-21). Something must have happened in between, which in a short time not only produced a complete reversal of their attitude but also enabled them to engage in renewed activity and to found the primitive Christian community. This ‘something’ is the historical kernel of the Easter faith.”[2] It has been correctly observed that if the historical and objective character of the resurrection is denied, the birth of faith and of the Church would be a mystery that is even more inexplicable than the resurrection itself: “The assumption that the whole great course of Christian history is a massive pyramid balanced upon the apex of some trivial occurrence is surely a less probable one than that the whole event, the occurrence plus the meaning inherent in it, did actually occupy a place in history at least comparable with that which the New Testament assigns to it.”[3] What then is the ultimate point that historical research can reach concerning the resurrection? We can find it in the words of the disciples at Emmaus. Some disciples on the morning of Easter went to Jesus’ tomb and found that things were just as the women had reported when they were there earlier, “but him they did not see” (Lk 24:24). History also goes to Jesus’ tomb and must ascertain that things were as the witnesses had said. But him, the Risen One, history does not see. It is not enough to ascertain the facts historically; there is also a need to see the Risen One, and history cannot offer that; only faith can.[4] A man running from the mainland who reaches the shore of the sea has to stop abruptly; he can continue to push forward with his gaze, but not with his feet. 2. The Apologetic Significance of the Resurrection As we move from history to faith, the manner of speaking about the resurrection also changes. The language of the New Testament and the liturgy of the Church is assertive, authoritative, and does not base itself on dialectical demonstrations. “In fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Cor 15:20), Paul says. Period. We are now on the level of faith and no longer on the level of historical argument. It is what we call the kerygma. “Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere,” says the Liturgy on the day of Easter: “We know that Christ is truly risen from the dead.” Not only do we believe it, but having believed it, we also know it to be true, and we are certain of it. The surest proof of the resurrection comes after we have believed, not before, because it is at that point that we experience that Jesus is alive. But what exactly is the resurrection from the point of view of faith? It is the testimony of God about Jesus Christ. God the Father, who had already attested to Jesus of Nazareth during his life through signs and wonders, has now set a definitive seal to his endorsement of him by raising him from the dead. St. Paul, in his discourse in Athens, formulates it this way: “By raising him from the dead, God has given assurance about him to all men” (see Acts 17:31). The resurrection is God’s powerful “yes,” his “Amen” to the life of his Son Jesus. The death of Christ was not in itself sufficient to testify to the truth of his cause. Many people—and we have tragic proof of that these days—die for mistaken causes, and even for evil causes. Their deaths have not made their cause true; their deaths only prove that they believed in its truth. The death of Christ is not a guarantee of his truth but of his love, since “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Only the resurrection, therefore, constitutes the seal of Christ’s authentic divinity. This is why Jesus responds one day to those who asked for a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (see Jn 2:18ff), and in another place he says, “No sign shall be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah,” who, after three days in the belly of the whale, saw daylight again (see Matt 16:4). Paul is right to build the whole edifice of faith on the resurrection as its foundation: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God. . . . We are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15, 14-15, 19). We understand why St. Augustine can say that “the faith of Christians is in the resurrection of Christ”; everyone, even pagans, believes that Christ died, but only Christians believe that he is risen, and there is no Christian who does not believe that.[5] 3. The “mystic” significance of the Resurrection of Christ Up to now the apologetic significance of Christ’s resurrection aimed at establishing the authenticity of Christ’s mission and the legitimacy of his claim to divinity. We need to add to this a wholly new significance that we could call the mystic or salvific aspect in what concerns us believers. The resurrection of Christ concerns us and is a mystery “for us” because it is the basis of hope for our own resurrection from the dead: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. (Rom 8:11) Faith in a life in the otherworld appears in a clear and explicit way only toward the end of the Old Testament. The Second Book of Maccabees constitutes its most developed testimony: one of the seven brothers killed under Antiochus exclaims that after they die, “the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life” (2 Mac 7:9; see 2:1-14). But this faith does not come suddenly of nowhere; it is vitally rooted in previous biblical revelation and represents its natural conclusion and its more mature fruit, so to speak. Two certainties in particular led the people of Israel to this conclusion: certainty about the omnipotence of God and certainty about the insufficiency and injustice of earthly recompense. It appeared more and more evident—especially after the experience of the exile—that the fate of good people in this world is such that, without the hope of a different reward for the righteous after death, it would be impossible not to fall into despair. In this life, in fact, the same things happen to the righteous and the wicked, whether it be happiness or misfortune. Ecclesiastes represents the clearest expression of this bitter conclusion (see Eccles 7:15). Jesus’ thinking on this issue is expressed in his discussion with the Sadducees on the fate of a woman who had had seven husbands (see Lk 20:27-38). In keeping with the most ancient biblical revelation, the Mosaic revelation, the Sadducees had not accepted the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and considered it an undue innovation. Referring to the Mosaic law concerning Levirate marriage (see Deut 25, where a widowed woman without sons is to marry her brother-in-law), they speculate about the hypothetical case of a woman who married seven husbands consecutively based on that law. At the end, confident of having demonstrated the absurdity of resurrection, they ask, “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be?” (Lk 20:33). Without shifting away from the Mosaic law, the ground chosen by his adversaries, Jesus reveals in a few words first the error of the Sadducees and then corrects it; next, he gives the most profound and most convincing foundation for faith in the resurrection. Jesus gives his opinion about two things: the manner and the fact of resurrection. As for the fact that there will be a resurrection of the dead, Jesus recalls the episode of the burning bush when God identifies himself as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” If God identifies himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” when these three men have been dead for generations and if, in addition, “God is the God of the living and not of the dead,” then it means that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive somewhere! However, more than on his response to the Sadducees, faith in the resurrection is based on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. “If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,” Paul exclaims, “how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised!” (1 Cor 15:12-13). It is absurd to think of a body whose head reigns gloriously in heaven and whose body decays forever on earth or ends in nothingness. Furthermore, Christian faith in the resurrection of the dead responds to the most instinctive desire of the human heart. St. Paul says that we do not want to be “unclothed” of our bodies but to be “further clothed,” that is, we do not want only one part of our being—our soul—to go on living but all of who we are, soul and body. Therefore, we do not want our mortal bodies to be destroyed but to be “swallowed up by life,” and to “put on immortality” (see 2 Cor 5:1-5; 15:51-53). In this life we have not only a promise of eternal life, we also have the “first fruits” and the “first installment.”  We should never translate the Greek word arrabon used by St. Paul about the Spirit (see 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Ephes 1:14) as “pledge” (pignus) but only as “first installment” or “deposit” (arra). St. Augustine explains the difference clearly. A pledge, he says, is not the beginning of the payment but is money given to certify future payment. Once the payment is made, the pledge is returned. That is not the case with a deposit. A deposit is not returned when the payment is completed because it is already part of the payment. If God by his Spirit has given us love as a first installment, when he brings the fullness of what he has promised, will he take back the first installment he has given us? Of course not; instead he will bring the fullness of what has already been given.[6] Just as the “first fruits” announce a full harvest and are part of it, so too the first installment is part of the full possession of the Spirit. It is “the Spirit who dwells in us” (see Rom 8:11)—more so than the immortality of the soul—that, as we see, assures the continuity between our present life and our future life. Concerning the manner of resurrection, on this same occasion with the Sadducees Jesus describes the spiritual situation of the resurrected: “Those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Lk 20:35-36). One can attempt to illustrate the transition from the earthly state to the resurrected state with examples drawn from nature: the seed from which the tree springs up, lifeless nature in winter that is revived in spring, the caterpillar that is transformed into the butterfly. Paul simply says, “What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:42-44). The truth is that everything regarding our condition in the afterlife remains an impenetrable mystery. It is not because God wants to keep it hidden from us but because—as limited as we are in having to think of everything within the categories of time and space—we lack the tools to portray it to ourselves. Eternity is not an entity that exists separately and that can be defined in itself, almost as if it were a period time that stretches out eternally. It is the mode of God’s being. Eternity is God! To enter into eternal life simply means to be admitted, by grace, to share God’s mode of being. None of this would have been possible if eternity had not first entered into time. It is in the risen Christ, and thanks to him, that we can be clothed with God’s mode of being. St. Paul describes what awaits him after death as “departing and being with Christ” (see Phil 1:23). The same thing can be deduced from Jesus’ words to the good thief: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43). Paradise is being “with Christ,” as his “co-heirs.” Eternal life is a reuniting of the members to the head to form one “entity” with him in glory, after having been united to him in suffering (see Rom 8:17). A deightful story narrated by a modern German writer helps us have a better idea of eternal life than any attempts at rational speculation. In a medieval monastery there were two monks who had a deep spiritual friendship. One was called Rufus and the other Rufinus. They spent all their free time trying to imagine and describe what eternal life would be like in the heavenly Jerusalem. Rufus was a builder, so he imagined it as a city with doors of gold studded with precious stones. Rufinus was an organist, so he imagined it as full of heavenly music. In the end they made a pact that whichever one of them died first would return the following night to reassure his friend that things were in fact as they had imagined. One word would be enough. If things were as they had imagined, he would simply say, “Taliter!” “Exactly!” But if things were different—and this seemed completely impossible—he would say, “Aliter!” “Different!” While playing the organ one night, Rufinus died of a heart attack. His friend Rufus stayed awake all night anxiously, but nothing. He kept vigils and fasted for weeks and months, but nothing. Finally on the anniversary of his death, Rufinus entered his friend’s cell at night surrounded by a circle of light. Seeing that Rufinus was silent, Rufus, sure of an affirmative answer, asked his friend, “Taliter? Isn’t that right?” But his friend shook his head no. Rufus desperately cried out, “Aliter? It’s different?” And again his friend shook his head no. Finally two words suddenly came forth from his silent friend: “Totaliter aliter” “Completely different!” Rufus understood instantly that heaven was infinitely more than what they had imagined and could not be described. He also died shortly after because of his desire to be there.[7] The story is of course a legend, but its content is very biblical. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). St. Symeon the New Theologian, one of the most beloved saints in the Orthodox Church, had a vision one day. He was certain he had gazed on God himself and, certain that nothing could ever be greater or more glorious than what he had seen, he said, “It is enough for me to be in this state even after death!” The Lord answered him, “You are indeed too fainthearted to be contented with this. Compared with the blessings to come, this is like a description of heaven on paper . . . [and is] inferior to the reality, the glory that will be revealed.” [8] When people want to cross a stretch of sea, said St. Augustine, the most important thing is not to stay on the shore and squint to see what is on the opposite shore but to get in a boat that takes them to that shore.[9] For us as well, the most important thing is not to speculate about what eternal life will be like for us but to do the things we know will get us there. May our day today be a small step in that direction. _________________________________ Translated from Italian by Marsha Daigle Williamson [1] Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, 15, trans. Michael Grant, rev. ed.  (New York: Penguin, 1996), p. 365. [2] Martin Dibelius, Jesus, trans. Charles B. Hedrick and Frederick C. Grant (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1949),   p. 141. [3] Charles H. Dodd, History and the Gospel (London: Nisbet, 1952), p. 109. [4] See Søren Kierkegaard, Diary, X, 1, A, 481, trans. Peter P. Rohde (New York: Carol Publishing, 1993), pp. 163-165. [5] St. Augustine, “Psalm 120,” 6, Expositions of the Psalms 99-120, trans. Maria Boulding, part 3, vol. 19, ed. John E. Rotelle (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), p. 15; see  CCL, 40, p. 1791. [6] See St. Augustine, “Sermon 23,” 9, Sermons II (20-50) on the Old Testament, trans. Edmund Hill, Part 3, vol. 2, The Works of Saint Augustine, ed. John E. Rotelle (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 60. [7] Hans Franck, Der Regenbogen: Siebenmalsieben Geschichten (Leipzig: H. Haessel, 1927). [8] St. Symeon the New Theologian, “Thanksgiving at the Threshold of Total Illumination,” The Discourses, trans. C. J. deCatanzaro (New York:  Paulist Press, 1980), p. 375. [9] St. Augustine, On the Trinity, 4, 15, 20, p. 172; see also Confessions 7, 21, trans. John K. Ryan (New York: Image books, 1963), pp.179-180.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope ‘grateful to God’ for Vatican conference on Martin Luther

Vatican News - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 09:40
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday greeted participants in a conference promoted by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, entitled “ Luther: 500 Years Later: A rereading of the Lutheran Reformation in its historic ecclesial context ", which took place in Rome from 29 to 31 March 2017. The Pope expressed his gratitude to God for the event, calling it a “working of the Holy Spirit”. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Gratitude to God and surprise, Pope Francis said, were his first responses upon hearing of the conference on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther presenting his 95 theses. He called the initiative promoted by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences “praiseworthy” and said, “not long ago a meeting like this would have been unthinkable.” “Truly we are experiencing the results of the working of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said, “who overcomes every obstacle and turns conflicts into occasions for growth in communion.” He notes that the title of the joint document commemorating the fifth centenary of Luther’s reform is “From Conflict to Communion”. Pope Francis went on to say he is “happy” such an historical event has given scholars an opportunity to “study those events together”. “Serious research into the figure of Luther and his critique of the Church of his time and the papacy certainly contributes to overcoming the atmosphere of mutual distrust and rivalry that for all too long marked relations between Catholics and Protestants,” he said. The Holy Father said “an attentive and rigorous study, free of prejudice and polemics” is the correct way to find “all that was positive and legitimate in the Reformation, while distancing themselves from errors, extremes and failures, and acknowledging the sins that led to the division.” He said “the past cannot be changed”, but “it is possible to engage in a purification of memory”, that is, to “tell that history differently”. In conclusion, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the successful outcome of the conference, inviting all to “offer one another forgiveness for the sin committed by those who have gone before us and together to implore from God the gift of reconciliation and unity.” Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s remarks: Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the Meeting promoted by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences: “Luther: 500 Years Later” Clementine Hall, 31 March 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters, Ladies and Gentleman, I am pleased to greet all of you and to offer you a warm welcome.  I thank Father Bernard Ardura for his introduction, which summarizes the purpose of your meeting on Luther and his reform.  I confess that my first response to this praiseworthy initiative of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences was one of gratitude to God, together with a certain surprise, since not long ago a meeting like this would have been unthinkable.  Catholics and Lutherans together, discussing Luther, at a meeting organized by an Office of the Holy See: truly we are experiencing the results of the working of the Holy Spirit, who overcomes every obstacle and turns conflicts into occasions for growth in communion.  From Conflict to Communion is precisely the title of the document of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission prepared for our joint commemoration of the fifth centenary of the beginning of Luther’s reform. I am particularly happy to know that this commemoration has offered scholars from various institutions an occasion to study those events together.  Serious research into the figure of Luther and his critique of the Church of his time and the papacy certainly contributes to overcoming the atmosphere of mutual distrust and rivalry that for all too long marked relations between Catholics and Protestants.  An attentive and rigorous study, free of prejudice and polemics, enables the churches, now in dialogue, to discern and receive all that was positive and legitimate in the Reformation, while distancing themselves from errors, extremes and failures, and acknowledging the sins that led to the division. All of us are well aware that the past cannot be changed.  Yet today, after fifty years of ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants, it is possible to engage in a purification of memory.  This is not to undertake an impracticable correction of all that happened five hundred years ago, but rather “to tell that history differently” (LUTHERAN-ROMAN CATHOLIC COMMISSION ON UNITY, From Conflict to Communion, 17 June 2013, 16), free of any lingering trace of the resentment over past injuries that has distorted our view of one another.  Today, as Christians, all of us are called to put behind us all prejudice towards the faith that others profess with a different emphasis or language, to offer one another forgiveness for the sin committed by those who have gone before us, and together to implore from God the gift of reconciliation and unity. I assure you of my prayers for your important historical research and I invoke upon all of you the blessing of God, who is almighty and rich in mercy.  And I ask you, please, to pray for me.  Thank you.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Ratzinger Prize-winner to author via crucis meditations

Vatican News - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 09:35
(Vatican Radio) Ratzinger Prize-winning theologian Anne-Marie Pelletier is authoring the meditations for this year’s Good Friday Via crucis at the Colosseum here in Rome. Pelletier is a laywoman, born in 1946, who is married and has three children. She has spent her entire life in academia, compiling an impressive array of accolades, including the 2014 Ratzinger Prize in Theology – the first woman to receive the award. Click below to hear our report An expert in hermeneutics and biblical exegesis, Pelletier has dedicated most of her research to the theme of women in Christianity. Motivating the choice of Pelletier as one of two persons to receive the Prize in 2014, the Cardinal-vicar-emeritus of Rome and then-President of the Scientific Committee of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, Camillo Ruini described her as, “a distinguished figure in contemporary French Catholicism,” one, “with deserved scientific prestige, a great and versatile cultural liveliness and an authentic dedication to causes of the highest importance for Christian witness in society.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope's charity goes social

Vatican News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 08:26
(Vatican Radio) People around the world can now connect directly with the Peter’s Pence Office on Twitter ( @Obolus_EN ) and Instagram. The Office collects donations offered by the faithful as signs of their sharing in the Pope's concerns for the many different needs of the Universal Church. Following the successful launch of a website in November 2016, the charitable Office’s goal of communicating directly, accurately and transparently with Catholics around the world and with all people who want to help the most needy has led to the launch of new accounts in English, Italian and Spanish. Pope Francis’ messages, which can already be found on the Peter’s Pence website, are being posted on Twitter and Instagram on a daily basis, along with photos, reflections and more information about the charitable works of the Holy See. The Office has committed to sustaining projects of all sizes around the world, including the creation of a paediatric hospital in Bangui in the Central African Republic and supporting the first Catholic university in Jordan. Follow Peter's Pence on Instagram account. Click here to visit the Twitter accounts in Italian and in Spanish. Interact with the Office by using the hashtag: #movingMercy . Please find below the full communique:   Peter’s Pence is now on social network sites Twitter and Instagram The aim is to go out to those who want to help the most needy and to make them aware of the charitable works being carried out through the solidarity of the faithful across the world, including men and women religious, lay faithful, societies, institutions and foundations, together with the offices closely assisting the Holy Father in the exercise of his mission. After the launch last November of the new website www.obolodisanpietro.va , the  longstanding charitable Office will now be on social networks. The Twitter and Instagram accounts of Peter’s Pence have been active since 1 March last, with the goal of communicating directly, accurately and transparently with Catholics throughout the world and with all people who want to help those most in need. Peter’s Pence can be found on Twitter in Italian, English and Spanish, whereas there is one Instagram account. The Messages of Pope Francis found on the Peter’s Pence website are being published daily on Twitter and Instagram, together with photos, reflections and further information on the charitable works of the Holy See carried out through this historic initiative of Christian charity.  As was tweeted in one of the inaugural tweets: “Mercy is about moving together, it is about meeting the needs of the needy”. It is in this spirit that Peter’s Pence has committed itself to sustain small and large projects throughout the world, such as the creation of a pediatric hospital in Bangui in the Central African Republic, the collection taken up to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and support for the first Catholic University on Jordanian soil. An initiative of the Holy See and the result of close collaboration between the Secretariat of State, the Secretariat for Communication and the Governorate of Vatican City, the three Twitter accounts – “Obolo di San Pietro: @obolus_it ”; “Obolo de San Pedro: @obolus_es ”; “Peter’s Pence: @obolus_en ” – and the Instagram account “Obolus: obolus_va ” can now be followed by Catholics throughout the world who are inspired by a common path of mercy: #movingMercy .   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope tells Somascan Fathers to continue to serve abandoned youth

Vatican News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 08:06
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged Somascan Fathers to continue and further develop their mission to serve the poor and take care of orphans and abandoned youth. Receiving a group of Somascan Fathers who are holding their General Chapter , the Pope expressed appreciation for the theme chosen for the Chapter: “Let's cross to the other side with our brothers with whom we live and die” and he highlighted their missionary openness. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Pope Francis recalled the shining example provided by the Somascan Fathers’ founder, St. Girolamo Emiliani, and quoted the words of Pope Benedict XVI in a message to the Order asking them  “to take to heart every kind of poverty experienced by our youth: moral, physical, existential poverty; and above all the poverty of love, the root of every serious human problem”. He pointed out that the ideal at the root of St. Girolamo Emiliani’s mission was to reform the Church through works of charity.  His first project, he said, was to renew his own commitment to faith and the Gospel and then to reach out to the Christian community and to civil society highlighting the plight of the poor and the marginalized and promoting integral human development. “I encourage you to remain faithful to the original inspiration of your Order and to go out into the world assisting humanity that is wounded and discarded, with evangelically effective choices that arise from the ability to look at the world and humanity through the eyes of Christ” he said. Underscoring the fact that the care for youth and their human and Christian education is the mark of the charism of Somascans, the Pope lauded their method of education which is centered on the person, on his or her dignity, on the development of intellectual and manual skills.    Pope Francis noted that in the effort to make their service more effective, the Somascan Fathers and Brothers are working on new ways to accomplish their mission.  He encouraged them to be attentive to new and different forms of marginalization in geographical and existential peripheries.  And, he said: “Do not be afraid to ‘leave the old wineskins’ and address the transformation of structures where this would be useful for a more evangelical and consistent service. Structures, he said, in some cases can give false security and hinder the dynamism of charity”. But he pointed out that at the basis of these processes there must always be the joyful encounter with Christ. The Pope invited those present to engage with laypeople of the Somascan community in the effort to protect human rights, enforce child protection and the rights of children and adolescents, oppose child labor, prevent exploitation and fight trafficking.  “These are issues that must be addressed through the liberating power of the Gospel and, at the same time, through adequate operational tools and professional skills” he said. Pope Francis recalled that St. Girolamo Emiliani was a contemporary of Luther and suffered for the tear in the fabric of Christian unity. He urged the Somascan Fathers to continue to teach catechism and to provide formation to catechists in fidelity to the Sacraments and within the love for the Virgin Mary, but he also encouraged them to support ecumenical dialogue and urged them to continue their collaboration with other ecclesial communities, in particular in Africa and in Asia. “Dear Brothers, you have the task to go forward with the work inspired by St. Girolamo Emiliani, who was declared patron of orphans and abandoned youth by Pope Pius XI” he said. “I encourage you, Pope Francis concluded, to carry on your journey following your apostolic zeal, always open to new expressions according to the most urgent needs of the Church and society in different times and places”.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope at Mass: ‘God weeps when we go astray from His love’

Vatican News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 08:00
(Vatican Radio)  Beware of following fantasies and false idols, for only God loves us and waits for us like a father.  That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Thursday morning in the Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the First Letter from the Book of Exodus, the Holy Father focused on God’s love for His people, despite their infidelity. Even today, he said, it is good for us to ask whether we distance ourselves from the Lord to follow after idols and worldliness. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Pope Francis took inspiration from the Book of Exodus to reflect on the “dreams and disappointments of God”. The people, he said, is “God’s dream. He dreamed of them because he loved them.” But the people betrayed the Father’s dreams and so God “began to be disappointed,” asking Moses to come down from the mountain where he had gone to receive the Law. The people “did not have the patience to wait for God” for even 40 days. They had made themselves a golden calf and “they forgot God who had saved them”. Temptation to infidelity towards God The prophet Baruc, Pope Francis said, “had a good expression for this people: ‘You have forgotten the One who reared you’”. “To forget God who made us, who raised us, and who accompanies us in our lives: this is the disappointment of God. And many times in the Gospel Jesus speaks in parables about that man who builds a vineyard, which then fails, because the workers want to take it for themselves. In the human heart there is always this restlessness! It is not satisfied with God, with faithful love. The human heart always tends towards infidelity. This is a temptation.” God is “disappointed” by the infidelity of His people who go after idols God, therefore, “through the prophet rebukes this people”, which “is inconstant and does not know how to wait”. They go astray from God to seek another god. “The disappointment of God is the infidelity of the people… And we are God’s people. We know well how [the dispositions] of our heart, and every day we must take up again the path so as not to slide slowly towards idols, fantasies, worldliness, and infidelity. I think it would do us good today to reflect on the disappointed Lord: ‘Tell me, Lord, are you disappointed in me?’ In something, yes, surely. But reflect, and ask yourself this question.” Reflect in Lent whether we have distanced ourselves from God God, Pope Francis affirmed, “has a tender heart, the heart of a father”. He recalled that Jesus wept “over Jerusalem”. Let us ask ourselves, he said, if “God weeps for me”, if “He is disappointed in me”, and if “I have distanced myself from the Lord”. He asked aloud, “How many idols do I have, which I am unable to remove, which make me a slave? The idolatry that we have within us… And God weeps for me.” “Let us reflect today on this disappointment of God, who created us for love, whilst we go in search of love, of wellbeing elsewhere and not in His love. We distance ourselves from this God who raised us. This is a thought for Lent. It will do us good. Do this small examination of conscience daily: ‘Lord, you who have so many dreams for me, I know that I have gone away from you, but tell me where and how to return…’ The surprise will be that He ever awaits us, like the father of the prodigal son who saw him from afar, because he was waiting for him.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope's letter for Dublin World Meeting of Families presented

Vatican News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 07:46
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter to the organisers of next year’s World Meeting of Families , who presented the event at the Vatican press office on Thursday morning. The Meeting is scheduled to take place in Dublin, Ireland from August 21st to 26th 2018 on the theme ‘ The Gospel of the Family: joy to the world ”. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: In the letter addressed to Cardinal Kevin Farrell , head of the new Vatican office for Laity, Family and Life, the Pope says he hopes the Meeting will be a way for families to deepen their reflection on the document ‘ Amoris Laetitia ’ which he wrote at the conclusion of the two recent synods on the family. At the press conference, the cardinal stressed the importance of preparations that will take place in parishes and dioceses ahead of the event. This catechesis must involve lay people as well as clergy, he said, reaching out especially to individuals and families who have grown away from the Church. "As Pope Francis said we need to be a Church that goes out to the peripheries of society to those people who don't listen to us at the present moment, to those families who have lost their way or who do not go to church any more". Also present at the press conference was the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin who highlighted the complex combination of faith and secularization which characterizes his country today. He said the meeting will be a challenge for the archdiocese but also an opportunity to underline the importance of family life for Irish society as a whole. Archbishop Martin said the Church must learn to accompany families and address the real day-to-day difficulties which he hears about from those in his own archdiocese: " They’d be talking about work, leisure, homelessness, how to make ends meet, how government subsidies are being cut back, how they’d have sleepless nights worrying about their teenage children - these are the challenges they have to be supported in so that they can carry out this essential role in society and that people really give them the support and confidence to do that ". Both leaders hope the meeting will not be a one-off event, but rather a chance for the whole Church to deepen its reflection on the Pope’s words in ' Amoris Laetitia ', seeing the family as a vital resource for sharing the message of God’s love with the world. Neither of them would confirm the Pope’s presence at the Meeting next year, but they did share their hopes that he’ll be attending the event – a hope also expressed in the promotional video for the World Meeting of Families . Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ letter for the World Meeting of Families To the Venerable Brother Cardinal KEVIN FARRELL, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life             At the end of the Eighth World Meeting of Families, held in Philadelphia in September 2015, I announced that the subsequent meeting with Catholic families of the world would take place in Dublin. I now wish to initiate preparations, and am pleased to confirm that it will be held from 21 to 26 August 2018, on the theme “The Gospel of the Family: joy for the world”. Indeed, it is my wish for families to have a way of deepening their reflection and their sharing of the content of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.             One might ask: does the Gospel continue to be a joy for the world? And also: does the family continue to be good news for today’s world?             I am sure the answer is yes! And this “yes” is firmly based on God’s plan. The love of God is His “yes” to all creation and at the heart of this latter is man. It is God’s “yes” to the union between man and woman, in openness and service to life in all its phases; it is God’s “yes” and His commitment to a humanity that is often wounded, mistreated and dominated by a lack of love. The family, therefore, is the “yes” of God as Love. Only starting from love can the family manifest, spread and regenerate God’s love in the world. Without love, we cannot live as children of God, as couples, parents and brothers.             I wish to underline how important it is for families to ask themselves often if they live based on love, for love and in love. In practice, this means giving oneself, forgiving, not losing patience, anticipating the other, respecting. How much better family life would be if every day we lived according to the words, “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry”. Every day we have the experience of fragility and weakness, and therefore we all, families and pastors, are in need of renewed humility that forms the desire to form ourselves, to educate and be educated, to help and be helped, to accompany, discern and integrate all men of good will. I dream of an outbound Church, not a self-referential one, a Church that does not pass by far from man’s wounds, a merciful Church that proclaims the heart of the revelation of God as Love, which is Mercy. It is this very mercy that makes us new in love; and we know how much Christian families are a place of mercy and witnesses of mercy, and even more so after the extraordinary Jubilee. The Dublin meeting will be able to offer concrete signs of this.             I therefore invite all the Church to keep these indications in mind in the pastoral preparation for the next World Meeting.             You, dear Brother, along with your collaborators, have the task of translating in a special way the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, with which the Church wishes families always to be in step, in that inner pilgrimage that is the manifestation of authentic life.             My thoughts go in a special way to the archdiocese of Dublin and to all the dear Irish nation for the generous welcome and commitment involved in hosting such an important event. May the Lord recompense you as of now, granting you abundant heavenly favours.             May the Holy Family of Nazareth guide, accompany and bless your service, and all the families involved in the preparation of the great World Meeting in Dublin.             From the Vatican, 25 March 2017 FRANCIS (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope to interreligious Iraqi group: ‘Abraham our common father’

Vatican News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 09:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday greeted the members of a delegation from the Iraqi Supervisory Boards and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: “Your visit is a true, fraternal richness, and is, therefore, a path towards peace among all, peace in the heart, in the family, in your country, and in the world,” the Pope told the group in a private audience ahead of his weekly General Audience. The Iraqi Supervisory Boards are made up of Shiites and Sunnis, as well as Christians, Yazidis, and Sabeans/Mandaeans, and are part of a Permanent Committee for interreligious dialogue. Pope Francis said this expression of dialogue and solidarity is most welcome. “We are all brothers, and where there is brotherhood, there is peace. We are all sons of God.” The Holy Father went on to repeat Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran’s words of greeting to the group. “We have a common father on Earth: Abraham,” the Pope said. “And out of that first ‘going forth’ of Abraham, we all come together, up until today.” “We are brothers, and as brothers, we are all different and all the same, like fingers on a hand: there are five fingers; all are fingers but all are different. I thank God, the Lord, who helped us all meet here.” In conclusion, the Holy Father invoked a blessing upon those present: “I ask Almighty God to bless you all, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope appeals for protection for Iraqi civilians trapped in war

Vatican News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 07:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for a concerted effort to protect Iraqi civilians who are victims of the ongoing bloody war in their nation and he prayed in particular for those who are trapped in the embattled city of Mosul. Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition air strikes are fighting to clear Islamic State militants from Iraq's second city where the coalition allegedly had a role in a March bombing which killed over 200 people.. The Pope’s appeal came at the end of his catechesis during the General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Expressing deep pain for the victims of the bloody conflict in Iraq, Pope Francis appealed to all to  make every possible effort to protect civilians, which he said is an  “imperative and urgent” obbligation.  Encouraging the Iraqi people to pursue a path of unity within respect for diversity, the Pope also asked for prayers for reconciliation and harmony between the different ethnic groups that make up the population.       In his catechesis the Pope encouraged Christians to always put their trust in God’s word, even at those times when hope seems humanly impossible. Reflecting on St. Paul’s Letter to Romans in which he presents Abraham not only as our father in faith, but also as our father in hope, Francis said the reading helps us put the strong tie that exists between faith and hope into focus. He said that hoping against hope, Abraham trusted in God’s promise that, despite his old age and that of Sarah his wife, he would become the father of many nations.   “Great hope, he said, is rooted in faith”, that’s why it is able to go beyond all human expectations. “We must all pray to God, open our hearts and He will teach us what hope is” he said.  Reminding those present that  God promises to set us  free from sin and death by the power of Christ’s resurrection, Pope Francis urged the faithful to place their certainties not so much in their own capacities, but in the hope that derives from God’s promise of life.   Faith, he said, teaches us, to hope against hope by putting our own trust in God’s word even at those times when hope seems humanly impossible.   The Pope concluded urging believers to be confirmed in faith and hope during this Lenten journey to Easter, and to accept the promise of new life given us in the Lord’s resurrection. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope sends message to young people at Barcelona symposium

Vatican News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 06:55
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a message to participants in the European Symposium on Young People, encouraging them to reflect “on the challenges of evangelization”. The event, entitled “ He walked by their side (Lk 24:15) - Accompanying young people to freely respond to Christ's call ”, is taking place in Barcelona, Spain on 28-31 March. In the message signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis encouraged young people to “conduct a reflection on the challenges of evangelization and on the accompaniment of young people, so that – through dialogue and encounter and as living members of the family of Christ – young people may be enthusiastic bearers of the joy of the Gospel in all areas.” The Holy Father invoked the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary upon the Symposium’s participants and imparted his Apostolic Blessing. The Barcelona Symposium is promoted by the Council of European Catholic Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) in collaboration with the Spanish Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Archdiocese of Barcelona. Among Church leaders taking part are Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Juan José Omella of Barcelona, and Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski of Krakow. Young people will also have the opportunity to listen to the reflections and testimonies of several national directors along with those of other young people. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

General Audience: English Summary

Vatican News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 05:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday encouraged Christians to always put their trust in God’s word, even at those times when hope seems humanly impossible. The Pope was addressing pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience . Please find below the English synopsis on the Pope’s catechesis : Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In the chapter from the Letter to Romans that opened today’s Audience, Saint Paul presents Abraham not only as our father in faith, but also as our father in hope.  Paul tells us that Abraham put his faith in the God who gives life to the dead, who calls all things into being.  Hoping against hope, he trusted in God’s promise that, despite his old age and that of Sarah his wife, he would become the father of many nations.  In Abraham, we see the close bond existing between faith and hope.  Abraham’s hope in God’s promises was fulfilled in the birth of his son Isaac, and, in the fullness of time, in the “many nations” gathered into a new humanity set free from sin and death by the power of Christ’s resurrection.  Faith teaches us, in fact, to hope against hope by putting our own trust in God’s word even at those times when hope seems humanly impossible.  In our Lenten journey to Easter, may we be confirmed in faith and hope, and show ourselves children of Abraham by accepting the promise of new life given us in the Lord’s resurrection. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: 'to have faith is to live our lives with joy'

Vatican News - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 07:35
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday encouraged Christians to get on with things, living life with joy. Speaking during the homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta , he urged them to avoid complaining and not to let themselves be paralyzed by the ugly sin of sloth . Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : The Gospel story at the heart of Pope Francis’ reflection tells of a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. He was lying at the side of a pool called Bethesda with a large number of ill, blind, lame and crippled who believed that when an angel came down and stirred up the waters the first to bathe in the pool would be healed. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him: “Do you want to be well?” “It’s what Jesus repeatedly says to us as well” the Pope said: “do you want to be well? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to improve your life? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?” When Jesus, the Pope pointed out, asked that strange man if he wanted to be well, instead of saying “yes” he complained there was on one to put him in the pool while the water is stirred up and that someone else always got there  before him. His answer, Francis said, was a complaint, he was  implying that life had been unjust with him.  “This man, the Pope noted,  was like the tree planted along the bank of the rivers, mentioned in the first Reading, but it had arid roots, roots that did not reach the water, could not take nourishment from the water”. The Pope said this is clear from his attitude of always complaining and trying to blame the other.  “This is an ugly sin: the sin of sloth” he said. Pope Francis said this man’s disease was not so much his paralysis but sloth, which is worse than having a lukewarm heart. It causes one to live without the desire to move forward, to do something in life, it causes one to lose the memory of joy, he explained, saying the man had lost all of this. Jesus, the Pope continued, did not rebuke him but said: “Take up your mat, and walk”. The man was healed but since it was a Sabbath, the doctors of the law said it was not lawful to carry a mat on that day and they asked him who was the man who told him to do so. The sick man, the Pope noted, had not even thanked Jesus or asked for his name: “he rose and walked with that slothful attitude “living his life because oxygen is free”, always looking to others “who are happier” and forgetting joy. "Sloth, he said, is a sin that paralyzes us, stops us from walking”. Even today, the Pope said, the Lord looks to each of us sinners - we are all sinners - and says “Rise”. The Lord tells each of us, Pope Francis concluded, to take hold of our life, be it beautiful or difficult and move on: “Do not be afraid, go ahead carrying your mat” and remember to come to the waters and quench your thirst with joy and ask the Lord to help you get up and know the joy of salvation.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope sends message to UN conference on nuclear weapons

Vatican News - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 07:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination,” the first part of which is taking place in New York from 27-31 March. The message was read by Msgr Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States, and Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the meeting. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ Message:   To Her Excellency Elayne Whyte Gómez President of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination I extend cordial greetings to you, Madam President, and to all the representatives of the various nations and international organizations, and of civil society participating in this Conference.  I wish to encourage you to work with determination in order to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons. On 25 September 2015, before the General Assembly of the United Nations, I emphasized what the Preamble and first Article of the United Nations Charter indicate as the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between nations.  An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are contradictory to the very spirit of the United Nations.  We must therefore commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons, by fully implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both in letter and spirit (cf. Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations , 25 September 2015). But why give ourselves this demanding and forward-looking goal in the present international context characterized by an unstable climate of conflict, which is both cause and indication of the difficulties encountered in advancing and strengthening the process of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation?  If we take into consideration the principal threats to peace and security with their many dimensions in this multipolar world of the twenty-first century as, for example, terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, poverty, not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response to such challenges.  These concerns are even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space.  Similar cause for concern arises when examining the waste of resources spent on nuclear issues for military purposes, which could instead be used for worthy priorities like the promotion of peace and integral human development, as well as the fight against poverty, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We need also to ask ourselves how sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples.            International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.  Peace must be built on justice, on integral human development, on respect for fundamental human rights, on the protection of creation, on the participation of all in public life, on trust between peoples, on the support of peaceful institutions, on access to education and health, on dialogue and solidarity.  From this perspective, we need to go beyond nuclear deterrence: the international community is called upon to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security. In this context, the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative.  A concrete approach should promote a reflection on an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond the fear and isolationism that prevail in many debates today.  Achieving a world without nuclear weapons involves a long-term process, based on the awareness that “everything is connected” within the perspective of an integral ecology (cf. Laudato Si’ , 117, 138).  The common destiny of mankind demands the pragmatic strengthening of dialogue and the building and consolidating of mechanisms of trust and cooperation, capable of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons. Growing interdependence and globalization mean that any response to the threat of nuclear weapons should be collective and concerted, based on mutual trust.  This trust can be built only through dialogue that is truly directed to the common good and not to the protection of veiled or particular interests; such dialogue, as far as possible, should include all: nuclear states, countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, the military and private sectors, religious communities, civil societies, and international organizations.  And in this endeavour we must avoid those forms of mutual recrimination and polarization which hinder dialogue rather than encourage it.  Humanity has the ability to work together in building up our common home; we have the freedom, intelligence and capacity to lead and direct technology, to place limits on our power, and to put all this at the service of another type of progress: one that is more human, social and integral (cf. ibid., 13, 78, 112; Message for the 22nd Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (COP22) , 10 November 2016). This Conference intends to negotiate a Treaty inspired by ethical and moral arguments.  It is an exercise in hope and it is my wish that it may also constitute a decisive step along the road towards a world without nuclear weapons.  Although this is a significantly complex and long-term goal, it is not beyond our reach. Madam President, I sincerely wish that the efforts of this Conference may be fruitful and provide an effective contribution to advancing an ethic of peace and of multilateral and cooperative security, which humanity very much needs today.  Upon all those gathered at this important meeting, and upon the citizens of the countries you represent, I invoke the blessings of the Almighty.                                                                                                             FRANCIS From the Vatican, 23 March 2017   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

PCPM meets for Plenary Assembly

Vatican News - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 04:30
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] met for its eighth Plenary Assembly from March 24-26, 2017. The resignation of founding member Marie Collins was a key topic on the agenda. The Commission expressed its gratitude to her and supported her continuing work to promote healing for victims of abuse and the prevention of all abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. During the Plenary the Commision also discussed  the importance of responding directly and compassionately to victims/survivors when they write to offices of the Holy See. The Plenary Assembly followed the Education Day on March 23, at the Gregorian University, co-sponsored in partnership with the Centre for Child Protection and the Congregation for Catholic Education.   Please find below the Concluding Statement  The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] met for its eighth Plenary Assembly from March 24-26, 2017.  A central topic in this Plenary Assembly was the resignation of founding member Marie Collins. The Commission members expressed strong support for her and her continuing work to promote healing for victims of abuse and the prevention of all abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.  They also expressed their particular gratitude that Marie Collins has agreed to continue working with the Commission’s educational programs for new bishops and the offices of the Roman Curia. Commission members have unanimously agreed to find new ways to ensure its work is shaped and informed with and by victims/survivors. Several ideas that have been successfully implemented elsewhere are being carefully considered for recommendation to the Holy Father. The Commission discussed the importance of responding directly and compassionately to victims/survivors when they write to offices of the Holy See.  Members agreed that acknowledging correspondence and giving a timely and personal response is one part of furthering transparency and healing.  They acknowledged that this is a significant task due to the volume and nature of the correspondence and requires clear and specific resources and procedures. They have agreed to send further recommendations to Pope Francis for consideration. This Plenary Assembly followed the Education Day on March 23, at the Gregorian University, co-sponsored in partnership with the Centre for Child Protection and the Congregation for Catholic Education.  Titled “Safeguarding in schools and homes: learning from experience worldwide”, it had a particular focus on Latin American countries that have large Catholic school systems, and presentations concerning efforts in Australia and Italy.  The academic seminar was attended by more than 150 people.  These included prefects and representatives from Vatican dicasteries including the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin, seminary rectors, educators, formators and authorities from Italian State Police and the Vatican gendarme who are all seen as key collaborators in the PCPM’s educational efforts.  The Commissioners reiterated their sincere gratitude to the invited guests and speakers:  Fr Friedrich Bechina, FSO, Undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Mónica Yerena Suárez - Provincia Marista de México Central; Fr Wilfredo Grajales Rosas, SDB – Director del Instituto Distrital para la Protección de Niños, Niñas, Adolescentes y Jóvenes, Bogotá, Colombia; Juan Ignacio Fuentes, CONSUDEC Argentina; Francis Sullivan, CEO, Truth Justice and Healing Commission, Australia and Dott. Giovanni Ippolito, Direttore Tecnico Capo Psicologo, Questura di Foggia.  The speakers were also invited to address the opening session of the PCPM Plenary Assembly.   The Commission members continue the work entrusted by Pope Francis to assist local Churches with their responsibility for the protection of all minors and vulnerable adults (Statutes, art. 1).  As our Holy Father wrote to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, “I now ask for your close and complete cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of Minors. The work I have entrusted to them includes providing assistance to you and your Conferences through an exchange of best practices and through programmes of education, training, and developing adequate responses to sexual abuse” (2 February 2015).  The Commission is also receiving representatives of bishop’s conferences around the world who are in Rome for their Ad Limina visits. Commissioners continue to visit episcopal conferences and local churches throughout the world to assist in policy development and implementation of best practices to create a safer environment. So far this year, these include workshops with the Church leadership, formators, catechists and child protection officers in Zambia and Colombia. Members are currently preparing to present to the first European Conference on Formation and Prevention in Seminaries co-organized by the Archdiocese of Florence and the Centre for Child Protection of the Gregorian University, and the upcoming meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Bangkok, Thailand this Spring, and the May meeting of the Directors of CELAM and the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean Islands. An essential element of these presentations is the PCPM Guidelines template. The Holy Father wrote, “every effort must also be made to ensure that the provisions of the Circular Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated 3 May 2011 are fully implemented” (2 February 2015).  Thus, at the plenary meeting, the members spoke again of their willingness to work together with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith communicating a “Guidelines Template” to episcopal conferences and religious congregations, both directly and through the CommissionWebsite (www.protectionofminors.va). (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Angelus: look to the light of Christ

Vatican News - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 08:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday during the Angelus in a sunny St Peter’s Square took inspiration from the Gospel reading in which Jesus restores the sight of the blind man. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report: With this miracle the Holy Father explained, “Jesus reveals himself as light of the world”. Each of us, the Pope said, is blind from birth, in that, “we were created to know God, but because of sin we are like the blind, we need a new light, that of faith, that Jesus has given us.” In fact, Pope Francis went on to say, “the blind man of the Gospel regaining his vision is opened up to the mystery of Christ.” This man represents us when we do not realize that Jesus is "the light of the world" and when we look elsewhere when we prefer to rely on small lights when fumbling in the dark,” the Pope said. We too, he continued, have been "enlightened" to Christ in baptism, and then we are called to behave as children of light.” Posing the question, “What does it mean to have true light and to walk in the light?, the Holy Father answered by saying, “it means first of all to abandon false lights.” Another false light, Pope Francis noted, is self-interest: “if we evaluate people and things based on the criterion of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we are not being truthful in relationships and situations.” Following the recitation of the Marian prayer the Pope remembered José Álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre, and one hundred and fourteen companion martyrs who were beatified on Saturday in Spain. He said, “these priests, religious and lay people have been heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of peace and fraternal reconciliation. Their example and their intercession sustain the Church's involvement in building a civilization of love.” Pope Francis also recalled his one day pastoral visit to Milan on Saturday expressing his thanks to the organisers and those who took part, both believers and non-believers, adding, it felt home.       (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope wraps up day in Milan meeting newly confirmed youngsters

Vatican News - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 15:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis wrapped up his one-day pastoral journey to the northern Italian city of Milan with an encounter with newly confirmed youngsters. At the end of his busy day in the city, the Pope travelled to the football stadium of San Siro where he was welcomed by almost 80,000 people, including parents, god-parents, catechists, teachers and volunteers. The Pope took questions from some of those present and in his off-cuff answers he focused on the importance of education and formation. A good teacher he said knows how to enhance and promote the qualities of his pupils without neglecting the person as a whole. “Education is “head-hands-heart” he said. He reminded teachers and trainers that “children also need to play, to have fun, to rest.” The Pope concluded the encounter with a strong appeal to defeat ‘bullying’: “Please be careful, be on the look-out for the phenomenon of bullying” he said and invited the tens of thousands of boys and girls to reflect in silence and ask themselves whether there is someone in their school or in their community that teases them for whatever reason or whether they themselves are mean and even aggressive towards others. “This is bullying” he said and asked them to promise the Lord never to be bullies or to allow others to be victims of bullies.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope’s Mass in Monza: ‘A people at the peripheries’

Vatican News - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 11:27
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in Monza Park for the people of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy on Saturday during a pastoral visit, reflecting on the annunciation of Jesus as a message of joy at the peripheries of society. The Holy Father invited them to be joyful members of God’s people and to avoid “speculating” on the future of others. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:   Two were the questions Pope Francis put to the people gathered for Mass in Monza Park: “How can we live the joy of the Gospel today within our cities? Is Christian hope possible in this situation, here and now?” The Holy Father said these two questions “touch our identities” and “require of us a new way of seeing our place in history”. He was reflecting on the difference between the two annunciation stories in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel: that of John the Baptist (Lc 1,26-38), which took place in the inner sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem, and that of Jesus (Lc 1,5-10). He said the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary by the Angel Gabriel took place in Galilee: “a peripheral city with a less-than-excellent reputation (Jn 1,46)”. The Pope said the contrast indicates that “God’s new encounter with His people will take place in places we would not normally expect: on the margins and peripheries”. He said, “It is God Himself who takes the initiative and chooses to enter – as Mary did – in our houses and daily struggles, full of anxiety and desires.” Pope Francis said finding joy in our daily lives can be a challenge due to the speculation or taking advantage of others. “Some people speculate on life, on work, and on the family. They speculate on the poor and migrants, on young people and their future. Everything seems to be reduced to numbers, on the other hand leaving the daily life of families to be discolored by precariousness and insecurity.” The keys to finding joy in our mission, the Pope said, are “memory, belonging, and seeing the possible in the impossible”. “The first thing the Angel [Gabriel] does is evoke her memory, in this way opening Mary’s present to the whole of Salvation History. He evokes the promises made to David as a fruit of the Covenant with Jacob. Mary is a daughter of the Covenant.” This memory, the Holy Father said, allows Mary to recognize her belonging to the People of God. He said the Archdiocese of Milan is inhabited by “a people called to welcome differences and integrate them with respect and creativity, celebrating the newness offered by others. It is a people unafraid of embracing borders.” Third, Pope Francis reminded Milan’s pilgrims that “Nothing is impossible for God” (Lc 1,37). “When we open to allowing ourselves to be helped or counseled and when we open ourselves to grace, it seems that the impossible begins to become reality.” In conclusion, the Pope said, “As before, God continues to seek allies and men and women capable of believing and capable of remembering, recognizing themselves as belonging to His people in order to cooperate with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis spends time with prison inmates in Milan

Vatican News - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 08:57
(Vatican Radio) One of the highlights of Pope Francis ’ 1-day pastoral journey to the Italian city of Milan is his visit to the city’s main detention center, the San Vittore Prison . Shortly after midday and the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope travelled to the prison where he was welcomed by the director,Gloria Manzelli, and by the prison chaplain, don Marco Recalcati. San Vittore currently hosts over 900 inmates – both men and women – as well as a number of infants who live with their detained mothers in a special unit. The Pope met briefly with them before exchanging greetings with a large group of the San Vittore staff and volunteers. The building, designed by the engineer Francesco Lucca, takes inspiration from the 18th century Panopticon with 6 wings with three floors each. Moving through these wings, the Pope was given the opportunity to shake hands with some 80 people representing all the different categories of inmates, before going on to meet those who are detained in a “protected” environment. In the third wing, Pope Francis sat down for lunch with some 100 prisoners and treated to a typically Milanese cuisine, including rice with saffron and steaks “alla Milanese” prepared by some of  the inmates themselves. The visit concluded with an exchange of gifts and the blessing of cards with the prisoners’ names on them to be taken away by the Pope. Throughout his pontificate Pope Francis has highlighted the predicament of prisoners and urged political leaders across the world to respect the dignity of inmates and offer them amnesty whenever possible. In many occasions he has called for a criminal justice system that is not exclusively punitive, but is open to the hope and the possibility of re-inserting the offender into society. Pope Francis has also called for a world-wide abolition of the death penalty and said he opposes life in prison without parole. Underlining his deep concern for prisoners the Pope concluded the Holy Year of Mercy with a special Jubilee Mass for some 1,000 prisoners from 12 countries and their families, as well as prison chaplains and volunteers in St. Peter's Basilica.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope speaks to Milan's religious, prays Angelus at Duomo

Vatican News - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 07:37
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday is making a one day pastoral visit to Milan. This morning he paid a call on Milan’s Duomo and traveled to the peripheries of the city to meet with immigrant families. Listen to our report:   For the curious pilgrim or tourist a trip to Milan is not complete without a visit the “Duomo” or Cathedral Church. And it was here in front of this iconic building that Pope Francis recited the Angelus on Saturday greeted by thousands of well- wishers. A short time earlier inside this magnificent building, the Pope met with priests and consecrated persons, listening to their questions and offering words of advice. During the question and answer session the Holy Father said that in a world that is multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic,  the Church, over its entire history, has had much to teach us and to help us towards a culture of diversity. The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis noted “is the master of diversity.” The Pope also underlined the importance of prayer and of service in the church; service by priests, religious and consecrated to the poor and to the Word of God. Responding to a question from a religious mother who asked how it was possible to continue to be a significant presence today despite being fewer and older, the Pope said, that it was most important not to become resigned to one’s fate. He said that realities today were a challenge, but religious orders who were in the minority were being invited to rise again like yeast with the help of the Holy Spirit, who also inspired the hearts of their founders. This one day pastoral visit began on Saturday morning with the Holy Father’s going out to Milan’s peripheries to meet with Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of the city. Greeting the crowds of people that had gathered to see him, he told them that the Church “always needs to be restored” because he added, it is made by us, who are sinners.” Let us be restored, he said by God’s mercy. (from Vatican Radio)...
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