Vatican News

Pope: Death is not to be feared if we’re faithful to God

Vatican News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 08:00
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said death is not to be feared if we are faithful to the Lord but warned against being trapped into basing our lives around superficial things that are not transcendent as though we never had to die. He was speaking at his Mass celebrated on Tuesday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence. Listen to this report by Susy Hodges including clips of the Pope's voice:   Taking his cue from the day’s reading from the book of Revelation, the Pope’s homily focused on the reality of how all of us will face Jesus on the day of judgement. He said a call from the Lord to think about the end of our lives, the end for each of us because all of us will die, comes as the Church heads into the final week of the Liturgical Year. Pope Francis acknowledged that we do not like to think of these things but said this is the reality facing all of us. He then disclosed that he keeps a diary where he writes down when a person dies and each day “I see that anniversary” and I see how time has passed. The Pope said this makes us think about what we’ll leave behind and what will be the trace of our lives and what will be the judgement for each one of us. “We’d do well to think: ‘But what will the day be like when I will be in front of Jesus? When He asks me about the talents that he gave me, what use I made of them, when He will ask me: how was my heart when the seed was dropped, like a path or like thorns: that Parable of the Kingdom of God. How did I receive His Word? With an open heart?  Did I make it germinate for the good of all or in secret?” Warning that each one of us will stand in front of Jesus on the day of judgement, Pope Francis quoted from the gospel reading that warns Christians not to be deceived. And the deception being spoken about, he explained, is ‘alienation,’ estrangement, the deception of superficial things that do not have transcendence, the deception of ‘living as though we never had to die.’ When the Lord comes, the Pope asked, “how will he find me?  Waiting for Him or in the midst of the many ‘alienations’ of life?” “I remember as a child, when we went to catechism we were taught four things: death, judgement, hell or glory.  After the judgement there is this possibility. ‘But Father, this is to frighten us…’ ‘No, this is the truth because if you do not take care of your heart, because the Lord is with you and (if) you always live estranged from the Lord, perhaps there is the danger, the danger of continuing to live estranged in this way from the Lord for eternity.’ And this is a terrible thing!” Pope Francis concluded his homily by urging his listeners to think about their day of judgement and how they will fare but not to fear that moment because quoting once again from the day’s reading, the Lord tells us, “remain faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” “Fidelity to the Lord does not disappoint. If each one of us is faithful to the Lord, when death comes, we will say like Francis (of Assisi) ‘come sister death…’ we won’t be afraid. And when the day of judgement comes, we will look at the Lord: ‘Lord I have many sins but I have tried to be faithful.’ And our Lord is good.  I give you this advice: ‘be faithful until death – said the Lord - and I will give you the crown of life.’ With this fidelity we won’t be afraid of death, when we die we won’t be afraid of the day of judgement.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican announces themes for upcoming World Youth Days

Vatican News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 06:02
(Vatican Radio) The Dicastery for Laity, the Family, and Life issued a communiqué on Tuesday listing the themes for the next three World Youth Days (WYD). The press release notes that the themes were chosen by Pope Francis “for the three-year World Youth Day journey that will culminate at the international celebration of the event to be held in Panama in 2019.”  World Youth Day is celebrated at the diocesan level each year on Palm Sunday, with an international gathering every two to three years. The most recent international Day was celebrated in August, 2016, in Krakow, Poland. The Blessed Virgin Mary is at the heart of the themes for the upcoming WYDs, which are taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke: 32 nd World Youth Day, 2017: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name” (Lk 1:49) 33 rd World Youth Day, 2018: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God” (Lk 1:30) 34 th World Youth Day, 2019: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) The themes are a continuation of the reflections begun by Pope Francis for the last three World Youth Days, which focused on the Beatitudes. The Dicastery’s press release recalled Pope Francis’ remarks at World Youth Day in Krakow, when he invited young people to have “memory of the past, courage for the present and to have/be hope for the future.” The themes “are intended to give a clear Marian tone to the spiritual journey of the next three WYDs” and at the same time “give a picture of young people on a journey between the past (2017), present (2018), and future (2019), inspired by the three theological virtues of faith, charity, and hope.” The Dicastery noted that the “path that is being proposed to young people can also be seen to be in harmony with the reflection that Pope Francis has entrusted to the next Synod of Bishops: Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment .”   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican unveils new website for Pope's collection: Peter's Pence

Vatican News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 05:28
(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican Secretariat of State has unveiled a new website dedicated to the Pope’s charitable collection known as “Peter’s Pence”. The site went online on 21 November at . Currently available in English, Italian, and Spanish, a press statement said it would soon be translated into other languages. Containing reflections from Pope Francis, the website offers the faithful another way to contribute to Peter’s Pence, which is an annual collection held throughout the Catholic world on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. The funds raised for Peter’s Pence go to the Holy Father, who distributes them for the necessities of the universal Church and as charity to those most in need. Faithful throughout the world will now have the opportunity to “reflect on the significance of their acts and offer, also online, their concrete support for the works of mercy, Christian charity, peace, and aid to the Holy See”, the press statement reads. “Created by desire of the Holy See, the site is the fruit of an important synergy between the Governorate of the Vatican City State, the Secretariat for Communications, and the Institute for the Works of Religion” (i.e. the Vatican Bank). (from Vatican Radio)...
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Now is a time of mercy: Pope issues new Apostolic Letter

Vatican News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 06:02
(Vatican Radio) Although the Extraordinary Jubilee Year has concluded, we are still living in a “time of mercy.” That was the message of Pope Francis in a lengthy Apostolic Letter, entitled Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”), issued on Monday following the close of the Year of Mercy. Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  The title refers to the encounter between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, from the eighth chapter of the Gospel of Saint John. In his commentary on the Gospel, St Augustine said of that encounter, “The two of them” – Jesus and the woman – “remained alone: mercy with misery.” The teaching of this Gospel, the Pope said, “serves not only to throw light on the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, but also to point out the path that we are called to follow in the future.” In light of the “great graces of mercy” we have received during the Jubilee, our first response is to give thanks to the Lord for His gifts. But in going forward, we must also continue to celebrate mercy, especially in the liturgical celebrations of the Church, including in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and in the other Sacraments, especially in Reconciliation and in Anointing of the Sick, the two “sacraments of healing.” Pope Francis proposed a number of ideas to continue the celebration of mercy, including an annual day dedicated to making the Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. He also called on the faithful to restore the Sacrament of Reconciliation to a “central place in Christian life.” The Holy Father also extended a number of initiatives already begun in the Holy Year, asking the Missionaries of Mercy to continue their ministry, and extending indefinitely the faculties of priests of the Society of St Pius X to hear confessions and grant absolution. Pope Francis also extended the faculties of all priests to absolve the sin of procured abortion. “I want to insist as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin,” the Pope said, “because it puts an end to an innocent life.” But, he continued, “I can and I must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father.” Though the Jubilee is closed, Pope Francis said, “the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain wide open.” He called on the faithful to continue to practice new works of mercy, and to find new ways to give expression to the traditional works. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy, he said, “continue in our own day to be proof of mercy’s immense positive influence as a social value.” In this vein, the Pope said the Church must continue to be vigilant and offer solidarity in the face of attacks on human dignity. “This is the time of mercy,” the Pope concluded. “It is the time of mercy because no sinner can ever tire of asking forgiveness, and all can feel the welcoming embrace of the Father. As a final initiative for the future, Pope Francis asked the whole Church to celebrate, on the second to last Sunday of the liturgical year, the World Day of the Poor. This Day, he said, “will also represent a genuine form of new evangelization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as she perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy.” Read the full text of Pope Francis' Apostolic Letter  Misericordia et misera .    (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope recalls 'Mercy Fridays', Jubilee in TV2000 interview

Vatican News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 00:32
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis granted an interview to TV2000 and Radio InBlu (both official media outlets of the Italian Bishops’ Conference), which aired on Sunday evening. During the interview, Pope Francis responds to various questions regarding the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which he officially brought to a close on Sunday morning with Mass in St. Peter’s Square. A few of the highlights from the broad-ranging conversation was a powerful reiteration of the Church’s constant teaching on abortion, calling the practice a “horrendous crime” and a “very grave sin”. The Pope also spoke of his own opposition to the death penalty, saying, “There can’t be a true punishment that comes without hope.” He also said, “If a penalty doesn’t have hope, it’s not a Christian penalty, it’s not human.” This shaded perceptibly into an expression of his unease with life imprisonment, which he called a “sort of hidden death penalty,” since it denies prisoners the hope of being someday restored to free participation in social life. Pope Francis’ remarks on abortion came in response to a question regarding his own most striking experiences during the Year of Mercy, which included a call on the neonatal ward at a Roman hospital and a visit with rescued victims of human trafficking, both of which were a part of his “Mercy Friday” outings – monthly visits to people on the existential margins of society and to some of the organisations that assist the weakest and most vulnerable among us. The Pope also renewed his call for “a poor Church” that is “for the poor” in keeping with the Gospel, and in this context, his repeated warnings against the temptation of riches. “[T]he greatest enemy of God is money,” he said. “The devil always enters through the pockets, always.” Pope Francis also expressed his discomfort with praise, saying he has “an allergy” to adulation – and that those who praise emptily are really attempting by their praise to practice on the person they are praising. “To adulate someone is also to use them for your own purposes – whether hidden or visible – but to obtain something for yourself,” said Pope Francis. Watch the full interview of Pope Francis (in Italian):    (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis at Angelus: cherish spiritual gifts of Jubilee

Vatican News - Sun, 11/20/2016 - 10:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, following a Mass to mark the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the official close of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. In remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered for the occasion, Pope Francis thanked the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and especially the Council’s President, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, for their organization of the year-long initiative. The Holy Father also had words of gratitude for the police and other forces dedicated to security and order, for volunteers, for everyone near and far who made a pilgrimage, for everyone who had come from far-away places to mark the closing of the year, and for all who prayed and made other spiritual contributions to the success of the venture, especially cloistered women religious, who on Monday are to mark Pro orantibus day – the World Day of Cloistered Life . “May the Virgin Mary help us to conserve the spiritual gifts of the Jubilee of Mercy in our hearts and help them grow and bear fruit.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Full text of homily for Solemnity of Christ the King

Vatican News - Sun, 11/20/2016 - 05:38
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 20 November 2016 The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is the crown of the liturgical year and this Holy Year of Mercy.  The Gospel in fact presents the kingship of Jesus as the culmination of his saving work, and it does so in a surprising way.  “The Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King” ( Lk 23:35,37) appears without power or glory: he is on the cross, where he seems more to be conquered than conqueror.  His kingship is paradoxical: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre, but a reed is put into his hand; he does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of his tunic; he wears no shiny rings on his fingers, but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus’ reign is truly not of this world (cf. Jn 18:36); but for this reason, Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading, we find redemption and forgiveness (cf. Col 1:13-14).  For the grandeur of his kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things.  Christ lowered himself to us out of this love, he lived our human misery, he suffered the lowest point of our human condition: injustice, betrayal, abandonment; he experienced death, the tomb, hell.  And so our King went to the ends of the universe in order to embrace and save every living being.  He did not condemn us, nor did he conquer us, and he never disregarded our freedom, but he paved the way with a humble love that forgives all things, hopes all things, sustains all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:7).  This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, death, fear.   Dear brothers and sisters, today we proclaim this singular victory, by which Jesus became the King of every age, the Lord of history: with the sole power of love, which is the nature of God, his very life, and which has no end (cf. 1 Cor 13:8).  We joyfully share the splendour of having Jesus as our King: his rule of love transforms sin into grace, death into resurrection, fear into trust. It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept his way of being King.  The people presented to us in today’s Gospel, however, help us.  In addition to Jesus, three figures appear: the people who are looking on, those near the cross, and the criminal crucified next to Jesus. First, the people: the Gospel says that “the people stood by, watching” ( Lk 23:35): no one says a word, no one draws any closer.  The people keep their distance, just to see what is happening.  They are the same people who were pressing in on Jesus when they needed something, and who now keep their distance.  Given the circumstances of our lives and our unfulfilled expectations, we too can be tempted to keep our distance from Jesus’ kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of his humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us.  We prefer to remain at the window, to stand apart, rather than draw near and be with him.  A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow his way of tangible love; they are called to ask themselves, each one each day: “What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go?  What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?” There is a second group, which includes various individuals: the leaders of the people, the soldiers and a criminal.  They all mock Jesus.  They provoke him in the same way: “Save yourself!” ( Lk 23:35,37,39).  This temptation is worse than that of the people.  They tempt Jesus, just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (cf. Lk 4:1-13), to give up reigning as God wills, and instead to reign according to the world’s ways: to come down from the cross and destroy his enemies!  If he is God, let him show his power and superiority!  This temptation is a direct attack on love: “save yourself ” (vv. 37,39); not others, but yourself.  Claim triumph for yourself with your power, with your glory, with your victory.  It is the most terrible temptation, the first and the last of the Gospel.  When confronted with this attack on his very way of being, Jesus does not speak, he does not react.  He does not defend himself, he does not try to convince them, he does not mount a defence of his kingship.  He continues rather to love; he forgives, he lives this moment of trial according to the Father’s will, certain that love will bear fruit. In order to receive the kingship of Jesus, we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him.  How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world.  How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross.  The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works.  This Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential.  This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission.  Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.  In the Gospel another person appears, closer to Jesus, the thief who begs him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42).  This person, simply looking at Jesus, believed in his kingdom.  He was not closed in on himself, but rather – with his errors, his sins and his troubles – he turned to Jesus.  He asked to be remembered, and he experienced God’s mercy: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43).  As soon as we give God the chance, he remembers us.  He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory – unlike our own – does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced.  God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children.  And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up. Let us also ask for the gift of this open and living memory.  Let us ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, but rather of knowing how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope.  As God believes in us, infinitely beyond any merits we have, so too we are called to instil hope and provide opportunities to others.  Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us.  From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.  So many pilgrims have crossed the threshold of the Holy Doors, and far away from the clamour of the daily news they have tasted the great goodness of the Lord.  We give thanks for this, as we recall how we have received mercy in order to be merciful, in order that we too may become instruments of mercy.  Let us go forward on this road together.  May our Blessed Lady accompany us, she who was also close to the Cross, she who gave birth to us there as the tender Mother of the Church, who desires to gather all under her mantle.  Beneath the Cross, she saw the good thief receive pardon, and she took Jesus’ disciple as her son.  She is Mother of Mercy, to whom we entrust ourselves: every situation we are in, every prayer we make, when lifted up to his merciful eyes, will find an answer.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Voices from an Extraordinary Year

Vatican News - Sat, 11/19/2016 - 07:21
(Vatican Radio) The Jubilee of Mercy has been a year that has been celebrated not just in Rome but around the world. As it draws to a close Vatican Radio's Lydia O'Kane looks back at the voices from this Extraordinary Year. Listen: (from Vatican Radio)...
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Full text of Pope Francis' homily for the Consistory

Vatican News - Sat, 11/19/2016 - 05:22
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis, in his homily at the Consistory which took place in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, reflected on the Lord’s “Sermon on the Plain,” found in the Gospel of St Luke. The Holy Father said that, by taking the Apostles down from the mountaintop and setting them in the midst of the people on the plain, our Lord “shows the Apostles, and ourselves, that the true heights are reached on the plain, while the plain reminds us that the heights are found in a gaze and above all in a call: ‘Be merciful as the Father is merciful’.” Speaking to the newly created Cardinals, Pope Francis said, “Today each of you, dear brothers, is asked to cherish in your own heart, and in the heart, this summons to be merciful like the Father.” Read the full text of the Pope’s homily, as prepared: Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals 19 November 2016   The Gospel passage we have just heard (cf. Lk 6:27-36) is often referred to as the “Sermon on the Plain”.  After choosing the Twelve, Jesus came down with his disciples to a great multitude of people who were waiting to hear him and to be healed.  The call of the Apostles is linked to this “setting out”, descending to the plain to encounter the multitudes who, as the Gospel says, were “troubled” (cf. v. 18).   Instead of keeping the Apostles at the top of the mountain, their being chosen leads them to the heart of the crowd; it sets them in the midst of those who are troubled, on the “plain” of their daily lives.  The Lord thus shows the Apostles, and ourselves, that the true heights are reached on the plain, while the plain reminds us that the heights are found in a gaze and above all in a call: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (v. 36).  This call is accompanied by four commands or exhortations, which the Lord gives as a way of moulding the Apostles’ vocation through real, everyday situations.  They are four actions that will shape, embody and make tangible the path of discipleship.  We could say that they represent four stages of a mystagogy of mercy: love , do good , bless and pray .  I think we can all agree on these, and see them as something reasonable.  They are four things we can easily do for our friends and for those more or less close to us, people we like, people whose tastes and habits are similar to our own. The problem comes when Jesus tells us for whom we have do these things.  Here he is very clear.  He minces no words, he uses no euphemisms.  He tells us: love your enemies ; do good to those who hate you ; bless those who curse you ; pray for those who mistreat you (cf. vv. 27-28). These are not things we spontaneously do in dealing with people we consider our opponents or enemies.  Our first instinctive reaction in such cases is to dismiss, discredit or curse them.  Often we try to “demonize” them, so as to have a “sacred” justification for dismissing them.  Jesus tells us to do exactly the opposite with our enemies, those who hate us, those who curse us or slander us.  We are to love them, to do good to them, to bless them and to pray for them. Here we find ourselves confronted with one of the very hallmarks of Jesus’ message, where its power and secret are concealed.  Here too is the source of our joy, the power of our mission and our preaching of the Good News.  My enemy is someone I must love.  In God’s heart there are no enemies.  God only has sons and daughters.  We are the ones who raise walls, build barriers and label people.  God has sons and daughters, precisely so that no one will be turned away.  God’s love has the flavour of fidelity towards everyone, for it is a visceral love, a parental love that never abandons us, even when we go astray.  Our Father does not wait for us to be good before he loves the world, he does not wait for us to be a little bit better or more perfect before he loves us; he loves us because he chose to love us, he loves us because he has made us his sons and daughters.  He loved us even when we were enemies (cf. Rom 5:10).  The Father’s unconditional love for all people was, and is, the true prerequisite for the conversion of our pitiful hearts that tend to judge, divide, oppose and condemn.  To know that God continues to love even those who reject him is a boundless source of confidence and an impetus for our mission.  No matter how sullied our hands may be, God cannot be stopped from placing in those hands the Life he wishes to bestow on us. Ours is an age of grave global problems and issues.  We live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts.  We see, for example, how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant, or a refugee, become a threat, take on the status of an enemy.  An enemy because they come from a distant country or have different customs.  An enemy because of the colour of their skin, their language or their social class.  An enemy because they think differently or even have a different faith.  An enemy because…  And, without our realizing it, this way of thinking becomes part of the way we live and act.  Everything and everyone then begins to savour of animosity.  Little by little, our differences turn into symptoms of hostility, threats and violence.  How many wounds grow deeper due to this epidemic of animosity and violence, which leaves its mark on the flesh of many of the defenceless, because their voice is weak and silenced by this pathology of indifference!  How many situations of uncertainty and suffering are sown by this growing animosity between peoples, between us!  Yes, between us, within our communities, our priests, our meetings.  The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting.  We are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the Church, which is tangibly evident in the College of Cardinals.  We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin colour, languages and social backgrounds; we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites.  None of this makes us enemies; instead, it is one of our greatest riches. Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus never stops “coming down from the mountain”.  He constantly desires to enter the crossroads of our history to proclaim the Gospel of Mercy.  Jesus continues to call us and to send us to the “plain” where our people dwell.  He continues to invite us to spend our lives sustaining our people in hope, so that they can be signs of reconciliation.  As the Church, we are constantly being asked to open our eyes to see the wounds of so many of our brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity, deprived in their dignity. My dear brothers, newly created Cardinals, the journey towards heaven begins in the plains, in a daily life broken and shared, spent and given.  In the quiet daily gift of all that we are.  Our mountaintop is this quality of love; our goal and aspiration is to strive, on life’s plain, together with the People of God, to become persons capable of forgiveness and reconciliation. Today each of you, dear brothers, is asked to cherish in your own heart, and in the heart of the Church, this summons to be merciful like the Father.  And to realize that “if something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life” ( Evangelii Gaudium , 49). (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope meets bishops studying new marriage laws

Vatican News - Sat, 11/19/2016 - 02:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with bishops from around the world who are attending a course at the Vatican tribunal of the Roman Rota to discuss recent developments regarding marriage annulments. In September 2015 Pope Francis issued two new documents introducing reforms to the legal structures of the Church, making marital nullity trials simpler, faster and less expensive. Listen to Ann Schneible’s report: In his words to participants at the three day Vatican training course, the Pope noted that bishops must be both “teachers of the faith” but also those who learn from the needs and questions of men and women today. Quoting from Scripture and from his predecessor Paul VI, Pope Francis said that the spiritual health of those entrusted to the bishops must be the goal of all pastoral activity. Pursuing this aim of the “salvation of souls”, he said, it is important to eliminate all financial and bureaucratic impediments which prevent the faithful from gaining access to Church tribunals. Following the example of Jesus, the Good Shephard, he said, the Church “incarnates” herself through the suffering of individuals, and must therefore care especially for those who feel excluded because of a marital breakdown. By virtue of their baptism, the Pope stressed, these people remain fully part of the Church and the bishops are called to minister to them with particular love and concern. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Presidency of CCCB concludes annual visit to Rome

Vatican News - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:45
(Vatican Radio)  Members of the Presidency of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), were in Rome in mid-November for their customary visit to the various Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Conference President Bishop Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., of Hamilton; Vice-president Bishop Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., of Sain-Jean-Longueuil; and Msgr Frank Leo, Jr., C.S.S., the CCCB’s General Secretary were received in an audience with Pope Francis at the beginning of their stay in Rome. Later, the prelates met with members of different Dicasteries. As their visit drew to a close, Bishop Crosby came to Vatican Radio to explain the annual visit. Listen to the full interview of Bishop Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., of Hamilton, President of the CCCB, with Christopher Wells: When the members of the Presidency meet with the various Dicasteries, Bishop Crosby said, they talk about “the state of the union,” “the state of the Church in Canada, and particularly relating to the Dicasteries were visiting.” Among other issues discussed, Bishop Crosby mentioned concerns about the recently enacted laws in Canada permitting euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Conference President also spoke of positive developments with regard to Dioceses in the northern part of Canada. Overall, Bishop Crosby said the encounters with members of the Curia are “always very interesting,” giving both the Bishops and Curial officials a chance to get to know one another. The CCCB Presidency’s annual visit to Rome concluded on Wednesday, just a few days before the solemn close of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Cardinal Ribat of PNG: putting the peripheries at the centre

Vatican News - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 07:33
(Vatican Radio) Papua New Guinea ’s first ever Cardinal , Sir John Ribat , is preparing to receive the red hat from Pope Francis with the humbleness and simplicity that befit truly special people.  The news of the Archbishop of Port Moresby’s appointment spread like wildfire through the Pacific region where Ribat serves as the President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops of Oceania. Visiting Vatican Radio just two days before the Consistory, Cardinal elect Ribat (who by the way was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II this year) said that although Papua New Guinea is geographically as far as you can get from the See of Peter, Pope Francis’ appointment makes him feel very close… Listen to the interview : “It gives me a great feeling of closeness, in the sense that when we have issues or things that need to be attended to we will have someone who will be our voice representing the Church in PNG, Solomon Islands and the neighbouring countries as well” Cardinal Ribat says.   Speaking with passion of the work he spearheads – as Chairman of the ecumenical movement in Papua New Guinea - to promote ecumenical dialogue in a region where a large percentage of the faithful belong to protestant denominations, the Cardinal said they too “share this feeling of closeness”.   Cardinal Ribat also talks about his personal, very deep, experience of dialogue and sharing with other communions as he comes from a family where many of his relatives are from the Methodist tradition. He speaks of the pain both Catholics and Protestants have to live with as they cannot share Holy Communion during Mass but says that for the moment this is what they all have to live with as they push towards full Christian Unity, a pathway that leads to lasting peace and friendship especially at this moment in history which is seeing so many divisions and conflicts. Cardinal Ribat concedes that perhaps his ecumenical commitment is one of the reasons Pope Francis chose him to be part of the College of Cardinals. “While we are saying that the Catholic Church is the mother church, then we have to be true to our name and embrace all” he says. Regarding other issues that he feels are particular challenges he is called to address, the Cardinal speaks of the relationship his Bishops’ Conference has with Muslims – who are a minority in his geographical area – but whom have been invited to share their concerns with representatives of other faiths in this very difficult time. “To go this way together means the building of peace, the building of unity, and that extends to all aspects of our life”, so this relationship, he says, is something I really value. Cardinal Ribat also speaks of the need to give the right kind of spiritual and moral guidance to the people of a small nation that are dealing with exploitation and human trafficking. He says that possibly in a moment in which the Pacific region is suffering first-hand the devastating effects of climate change, with rising sea levels that force island populations to abandon their homes in search of new environment to settle down, the Cardinal thinks that the experience of the Church in PNG can provide a precious contribution to Pope Francis’ call to “care for our common home”. He also links this issue to the current migration issue that is affecting the entire globe and calls on the United Nations to redefine refugees and consider those being deeply affected by climate change on a par with those fleeing persecution and conflict.  Commenting on the fact that Francis has “sort of broken the protocol” of the way Cardinals are appointed by reaching so far out to small countries across the globe (countries that are not seen as world players when it comes to taking significant decisions and making investments), Cardinal Ribat said this speaks not only of the Pope’s will to promote inclusion for all, but also shows how the Church today is shifting its focus from the center to the peripheries. And he says, developed nations have much to learn from smaller, underdeveloped nations regarding lifestyle and the protection of the environment. Asked what he is going to say to Pope Francis when he meets him for the first time, Cardinal Ribat said he brings the greetings and the invitation to visit Papua New Guinea not only from the Catholics of the nation, but of all of its inhabitants!   Sir Cardinal Ribat, is 59-years-old. He was ordained in the Congregation of the Sacred Heart Missionaries in 1985. He was appointed as the auxiliary Bishop of Bereina in PNG in 2000 and became the bishop there in 2002. He became Archbishop of Port Moresby in 2008.  Not only is he the first Cardinal from Papua New Guinea, his appointment marks a first for the religious order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.          (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope: people can’t forgive a priest attached to money

Vatican News - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 06:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for God to grant believers the courage to embrace Christian poverty, saying people cannot forgive a priest who is attached to money. His remarks came during his Mass celebrated on Friday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.  Taking his inspiration from the day’s Gospel reading where Jesus drove out the traders from the temple, accusing them of transforming it into a den of thieves, the Pope’s homily was a reflection on the power and allure of money. He said Jesus’s action helps us to understand where the seed of the antichrist is contained, the seed of the enemy that ruins his Kingdom: attachment to money. “Our Lord God, the house of our Lord God is a house of prayer. Our encounter with the Lord (is) with the God of love. And the money-lord that enters into the house of God, is constantly seeking to enter inside. And those people who were changing money or selling things, they were renting their places, right? – from the priests… the priests were renting out those places and then received money. This is the lord that can ruin our life and can lead us to end our life in a bad way, without happiness, without the joy of serving the true Lord who is the only one capable of giving us that true joy.” Noting it’s a personal choice, Pope Francis then asked his listeners: “How is your attachment to money?  Are you attached to money?” “The people of God have a great flair for accepting, for canonizing as well as condemning – because the people of God are capable of condemning – for forgiving so many weaknesses, so many sins by priests but they cannot forgive two of them: attachment to money, because when they see a priest attached to money, they do not forgive him, and mistreating people, because when a priest mistreats the faithful: the people of God can’t accept this and they do not forgive him. The other things, the other weaknesses, the other sins ….. yes ok, it’s not right but the poor man is alone, it’s this…. And they seek to justify (his sins).  But their condemnation is not as strong or as definitive: the people of God could understand this. Following the lord of money leads a priest to be the head of a firm or be a prince or we can go even higher…” The Pope went on to recall the teraphims, the idols that Jacob’s wife Rachel kept hidden, as an example of this attachment to material goods. “It’s sad to see a priest who’s at the end of his life, he’s in agony, he’s in a coma and his relatives are there like vultures, looking to see what they can take away. Let us grant this pleasure to the Lord, a true examination of our conscience. ‘Lord, are you my Lord or is it – like Rachel – these teraphims hidden in my heart, this idol of money?’ And be courageous: be courageous. Make a choice. Sufficient money like that of an honest worker, sufficient savings like those of an honest worker. But all these financial interests are not permissible, this is idolatry. May the Lord grant us all the grace of Christian poverty.” “May the Lord,” concluded the Pope, “give us the grace of the poverty of working people, those who work and earn a fair wage and who do not seek any more.”  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Highlights and legacy of the Year of Mercy

Vatican News - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 05:32
(Vatican Radio) The Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica will close this Sunday marking the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. Over the past year dioceses around the world have organised initiatives and here in Rome there have been various Jubilee events including, the Jubilee for Prisoners, the disabled and the homeless. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization was charged with organizing the Holy Year of Mercy and its English language official Fr Eugene Silva spoke to Lydia O’Kane about some of the highlights and its legacy. Listen:  Fr Sylva says that as a priest, one of the most inspiring things about this Extraordinary Year has been, “the number of people who’ve returned home to the Sacrament of God’s mercy, to the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.” Another inspiration of this year for him has been the numbers of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make the Jubilee a spiritual journey for pilgrims in Rome. The closing Jubilee events in these last weeks included the Jubilee for prisoners, and the homeless which saw Pope Francis invite prisoners and those sleeping rough into St Peter’s Basilica to take part in Holy Mass.  “Those last two events that we have had”, says Fr Eugene, "have resonated all around the world.” … He adds that, these people were able to serve at the Mass and the fullness of their dignity was so evident. The Year of Mercy maybe coming to a close but Fr Sylva says that , “if we place it in the context of the whole process and pastoral plan of the New Evangelization, I think that this is an important step that we need to continue on in the path of the New Evangelization.” Pope Francis, recalls Fr Eugene, called this Jubilee of Mercy because “of the world being riddled with such violence today, that in the face of such violence, we as Christians need to confront it with mercy and with love.” The Extraordinary Holy Year of  Mercy will close on Nov 20th, the Feast of Christ the King. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Tour the foundry where the 'Holy Door' of Saint Peter’s Basilica was cast

Vatican News - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 05:12
(Vatican Radio) On the 20th of November 2016 Pope Francis is set to close the 'Holy Door'  of Saint Peter’s Basilica with its 16 bronze panels depicting the story of Jesus in his mercy seeking his lost sheep. A symbolic gesture  to mark the end of the 'Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy' which began just under a year ago. One which represents the passage to salvation, the 'Gateway to God’s Mercy'. In this programme you can join Veronica Scarisbrick at the ‘Fonderia Artistica Marinelli’ where this ‘Holy Door’ was cast for the Jubilee Year of 1950. Listen to Ferdinando Marinelli giving Veronica Scarisbrick a tour of the ‘Fonderia Artistica Marinelli’:   It was 1949, when on the eve of the Jubilee Year of 1950, the Pope of the time Pius XII, entrusted the creation of the masterpiece to Italian artist, Vico Consorti, selecting this foundry owned by Ferdinando Marinelli. His grandson, by the same name, invited Veronica Scarisbrick to visit the family foundry. She met him in Florence at his window on the world, an enchanting gallery on the banks of the River Arno seething with a myriad of bronze statues from different eras. Among them the impressive 'Giambologna Neptune', who seems to greet you as you enter. And it was by this towering statue that Ferdinando Marinelli greeted her, ready to drive across the Tuscan countryside to his foundry which lies on the way to Siena, Vico Consorti’s city. She was eager to visit his foundry and aware it was not the one where the Holy Door was cast by his grandfather but another more recent one. She knew too that Ferdinando Marinelli was sure to treasure that age old rapport of his foundry with the Vatican despite the more modern outreach he now enjoys right across the world. No surprise as for centuries the Church and the world of art have enjoyed an extremely prolific love affair. Click here to catch a glimpse of Veronica Scarisbrick's tour at the foundry (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope prays for peace with leader of Assyrian Church of the East

Vatican News - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 09:41
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis spoke on Thursday of the suffering of innocent victims caught up in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, saying that nothing can justify such terrible violence. His words came as he met with the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Gewargis III, who was making his first visit to the Vatican since being elected as Catholicos-Patriarch in September last year. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  In his words to the new leader of this Church, which traces its roots back to the apostles Thomas and Bartholomew, the Pope appealed for an end to the conflicts in the Middle East which cause such great suffering to Christians and members of other religious or ethnic minorities. Every day, the Pope said, Christians in these places "walk the way of the Cross". They remind us that Jesus is always at the heart of our faith, even in our adversity, calling us to live out his message of love, reconciliation and forgiveness. Blood of martyrs is seed of unity Just as the blood of Christ, shed out of love, brought reconicilation and unity, the Pope said, so the blood of the martyrs is the seed of unity for all Christians. Theological dialogue and practical partnerships Pope Francis also spoke of the important progress in relations between Catholics and the Assyrian Church of the East, recalling especially the Common Christological Declaration signed by Pope John Paul II and by the previous Catholicos Mar Dinkha IV. He encouraged the work of the joint commission for theological dialogue between the two Churches, saying that partnering together though works of charity can also help to heal the wounds of the past. Shared Christian witness Unlike most other Churches that trace their origins to the first centuries of Christianity, the Assyrian Church of the East is not in communion with any other Christians of either the Eastern or Western traditions. Pope Francis concluded his remarks saying that the great evangelizers, saints and martyrs throughout history accompany us and urge us to open up new paths of communion and shared witness to the world.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope to Caritas: reject whatever humiliates and exploits humans

Vatican News - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 09:22
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met leading representatives of Caritas on Thursday and urged them to persevere in their fight against poverty and at the same time learn from the poor themselves. The participants at the audience in the Vatican included leading Caritas officials from across the world. The Pope did not read his prepared remarks, instead handing out the text of his address and speaking off the cuff, followed by a question and answer session with those present. In his prepared remarks the Pope noted that we are called to act against social exclusion of the weakest and strive for their integration. With our society dominated by the throw-away culture, we need to overcome that indifference and learn the art of solidarity.  Your mission, he went on, is to promote charity and justice in our world in the light of the gospel and the teaching of the Church by involving the poor as the true protagonists of their development. Stressing it is possible to change things, the Pope said poverty, hunger, illnesses and oppression are not an inevitable misfortune and cannot be considered as permanent situations. He urged the Caritas representatives to reject everything that humiliates humans and every form of exploitation that degrades people and expressed his joy over an upcoming campaign by Caritas on the subject of migration.   Turning to the issue of peace and reconciliation, Pope Francis urged the Caritas representatives to promote these issues and cooperate in their charitable work with other faith communities who put human dignity at the centre of their mission. In conclusion, he encouraged them both to fight against poverty and at the same time learn from the poor themselves, from their values and their sense of solidarity and sharing with each other. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis: God's love is faithful beyond reason

Vatican News - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 08:06
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Thursday morning – the liturgical memory of St. Elisabeth of Hungary, the devout queen who was a 3 rd Order Franciscan renowned for her solicitude to the needy. In remarks following the Readings of the Day, Pope Francis addressed words to the gathered faithful that focused on the episode proclaimed from the Gospel according to St. Mark, in which Our Lord wept for the sins of Jerusalem. The Holy Father spoke especially of the stark contrast of God’s steadfast and faithful love for His people, and His people’s faithlessness – which is our faithlessness: “That is what pains the heart of Jesus Christ, this story of infidelity, this story of not recognizing the caresses of God, the love of God, a God in love with you who is looking for you, and desirous of seeing you happy. Jesus saw in that moment [when, shortly before His passion, He wept over Jerusalem’s sinfulness] what awaited him as the Son – and He wept ... ‘because they did not recognize the time of their visitation.’. This drama has not only happened in history and ended with Jesus. It is the drama of every day. It is even my drama. Can any of us really say, ‘I know how to recognize the hour in which I have been visited? does God visit me?’” Click below to hear our report The Pope went on to highlight the way that the Liturgy of two days ago – Tuesday – offered occasions to reflect on three moments of God’s visitation: correction, entering into dialogue with us, and “inviting himself into our home.” Pope Francis then asked the faithful to make an examination of conscience, to ask whether each one of us listens to the words of Jesus when He knocks on our door and says, “Amend your life!” Everyone in fact runs a risk: “Each of us can fall into the same sin of the people of Israel, the same sin of Jerusalem, not recognizing the time in which we have been visited – and every day the Lord visits us, every day He is knocking at our door – but we must learn to recognize this, that we not end up in that so painful a situation: ‘The more I loved them, as I called them, the more they fled from me’. ‘But I am sure of  things. I go to Mass, I'm sure ...’. Do you make a daily examination of conscience on this? Did the Lord visit me today? Have I heard some call, some inspiration to follow Him more closely, to do a work of charity, to pray a little more? I do not know, so many things to which the Lord invites us every day to meet with us.” It is central therefore to recognize when we are “visited” by Jesus, and to open ourselves to His love: “Jesus wept not only for Jerusalem, but for all of us. He gives His life, that we might recognize his visitation. St. Augustine said a word, a very strong sentence: ‘I am afraid of God, of Jesus, when He passes!’ But why are you afraid? ‘I’m afraid I will not recognize it!’ If you’re not careful with your heart, you'll never know if Jesus is visiting you or not. May the Lord give all of us the grace to recognize the times we have been visited, we are visited and shall be visited, so that we open the door to Jesus and so ensure that our heart is more enlarged by love, and that we might therefore serve the Lord Jesus in love.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope to UNIAPAC business execs: ‘Money for service, not to govern’

Vatican News - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 07:09
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday addressed the participants in a Vatican conference promoting business leaders as agents in social and economic inclusion, reflecting with them on three challenges of business: the proper use of money, honesty, and solidarity. The conference carries the title: ‘ Business Leaders as Agents of Economic and Social Inclusion ’ and is hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and UNIAPAC on 17-18 November. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Addressing business executives participating in the Vatican conference in his native Spanish, Pope Francis called on them to be aware of what he said are three challenges of doing business, namely, “the good use of money, honesty, and solidarity”. Good use of money The Holy Father said money is “one of the most difficult topics of moral perception” and repeated his characteristic phrase with emphasis: “money is the dung of the devil”. He said the function of money is to serve and not govern. “Money does not have a neutral value; rather, it acquires value according to the end and circumstances for which it is used. When one affirms the neutrality of money, they fall into its power. Businesses should not exist to make money, even if money serves to mediate its functioning. Businesses exist to serve.” The Pope then denounced a “murky logic” of the market, in which “credit is more readily available and cheaper for those who possess more means and is more expensive and difficult to obtain for those who possess less, to the point of leaving the poorest fringes of a population in the hands of its creditors without scruples”. He said the same process occurs at the international level. Honesty Pope Francis then addressed the second challenge for business people: honesty. “Corruption”, he said, “is the worst social plague.” He decried it as “the law of the jungle stripped of any social reason” and “an idol”. The Holy Father went on to say “any attempt at corruption, active or passive, is to begin to adore the god of money”. Referring to the Paul VI Hall in which the audience took place, Pope Francis said, “This room, this building is where the circus of the Roman Emperor Nero once stood, where St. Peter and many of the first Christians were martyred, exactly for having refused to adore idols.” Solidarity The third challenge of business, the Pope said, was solidarity, of which an important part is an element of gratuity. “The just relationship between managers and workers,” he said, “should be respected and required by all parties. However, at the same time, a business is a community of work, in which all merit respect and fraternal appreciation from their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates.” A respect, he said, which should “extend also to the local community”. The Holy Father also tied the theme of immigration and refugees into solidarity in business, reminding those business leaders present that many of their ancestors were themselves immigrants who started businesses of their own. He invited them to collaborate “to create sources of dignified, stable, and abundant work, both in those places from which migrants originate and those in which they arrive… It is important to continue making immigration an important factor of development.” Pope Francis concluded with a mention of the vocation of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), the chief tax collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus pass by and was converted by his efforts. “May this conference by like the Sycamore of Jericho – a tree upon which all can climb – so that, through the scientific discussion of the aspects of business activities, they may encounter the sight of Jesus and from here they may obtain efficacious orientations to make their business activities always promote the common good.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis receives Chocolate version of Noah's Ark

Vatican News - Wed, 11/16/2016 - 09:37
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received an unusual presentation at the end of his General Audience on Wednesday: A representation of Noah’s Ark made out of over 140 kilograms of chocolate. It is a gift of “La banda degli Orsi” [The Band of Bears], which is a charitable organization in Genoa that supports the city’s Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital. The organization has over 200 volunteers who visit patients and their families every day. The chocolate ark took three days to build, and contains over 50 edible animals made by pastry chefs and chocolatiers from all over Italy. Several extra animals were made, and have been sold by “La banda degli Orsi” to raise funds for the Genoa hospital. The Chocolate Ark was also to be used to support patients of a children’s hospital, but in a more direct way:  At the end of the Audience, the Ark was donated as a special dessert for the young patients at the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital, located in Rome. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

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