Vatican News

Updated: 17 hours 51 min ago

Pope urges CELAM to empower youth, laity and women

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 19:27
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis ’ eagerly awaited discourse to the leaders of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference (CELAM) provided a rich and colourful canvas of ideas and proposals for an integral response to the many challenges of the continent in this time of change. Francis has deep-rooted ties to CELAM, an institution founded in the 1950s and that has produced a series of key documents for the Church in the continent including the pivotal “Aparecida” document authored by the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio. That Aparecida document, based on the belief that the Church needs to “rid itself from all expired structures that do not favour the transmission of the faith” is widely seen as a sort of a manifesto for Pope Francis’ pontificate, and surfaces again and again in his vision of the role of the Church today. His speech to CELAM leaders, on this special Thursday in Bogotá, confirmed Bergoglio’s firm conviction that the only way for them to take forward their continental mission is by empowering young people, women and lay people, expanding their role and trusting them to help the Church rise to the many challenges it faces. The Pope reaffirmed his trust in CELAM and reminded those present that its mission is to place Jesus’ message of salvation at the very heart of the Church “making it the criterion for measuring the effectiveness of its structures, the results of its labours, the fruitfulness of its ministers, and the joy they awaken.” And echoing words he has already pronounced in more than one occasion since his arrival in Colombia, “Without joy, he said, we attract no one.” He spoke of the need for closeness and encounter which, he said, are the means used by God “who in Christ always draws near to meet us” and said that “If we do not set out with him on our mission, we quickly become lost and risk confusing our vain needs with his cause.” He underlined the fact that “mission with Jesus in Latin America today” means being concrete and warned his brother bishops against being paralyzed in “air-conditioned offices” urging them to “speak to men and women in their concrete situations” in “one-on-one contact”. Francis also addressed CELAM’s role in encouraging intra-continental unity both in the Church and wider society and praised its work to build bridges, tear down walls, integrate diversity and promote encounter and dialogue. “No lasting construction in Latin America can do without this essential foundation” he said. Francis’ long and complex discourse ended with a call to the Church in Latin America to put trust and hope in three elements: its young people, women, and laity. He urged CELAM to invest time and resources in training young people and in empowering lay Catholics whom he described as protagonists in the Church. And he had strong words for the role of women without whom – he said - the Church will lose its power “to be continually reborn,” and that “if we hope for a new and living chapter of faith in this continent, we will not get it without women.” And with yet another reference to Aparecida’s core message, he concluded saying that Latin America’s deepest problems will not be resolved by “textbook answers” and “talk show platitudes” but through “that Christian simplicity hidden to the powerful, yet revealed to the lowly.”     (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis addresses the Conference of Latin American Bishops

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:29
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis appreciated the efforts of the Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) of making their conference a home at the service of communion and the mission of the Church in Latin America. The Pope’s words came on Thursday, when he met the Executive Committee of CELAM in the Apostolic Nunciature after his meeting with the Bishops of Bogota. He recalled his last meeting with them four years ago, in Rio de Janeiro and the mention he made then of the  pastoral legacy of Aparecida which he said is  a treasure yet to be fully exploited. The renewed awareness born of an encounter with the living Christ he said, requires that his disciples foster their relationship with him; otherwise, the face of the Lord is obscured, the mission is weakened, pastoral conversion falters. He called them to carry out their mission by one to one contact and to make a Church able to be a sacrament of unity and hope. He entrusted his brother bishops of CELAM, the local Churches that they represent, and all the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, to the protection of Our Lady under the titles of Guadalupe and Aparecida. Please find below the full text of the official English translation of the Pope's prepared speech:  Meeting with the Executive Committee of CELAM Bogotá Thursday, 7 September 2017 Dear Brothers,           I thank you for our meeting and for the warm words of welcome by the President of the Latin American Episcopal Council.  Were it not for the demands of my schedule, I would have liked to visit you at the CELAM offices.  I thank you for your thoughtfulness in meeting me here.           I appreciate your efforts to make this continental Episcopal Conference a home at the service of communion and the mission of the Church in Latin America, as well as a centre for fostering a sense of discipleship and missionary spirit.  Over these decades of service to communion, CELAM has also become a vital point of reference for the development of a deeper understanding of Latin American Catholicism .  I take this occasion to encourage your recent efforts to express this collegial concern through the Solidarity Fund of the Latin American Church .           Four years ago, in Rio de Janeiro, I spoke to you about the pastoral legacy of Aparecida, the last synodal event of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean.  I stressed the continuing need to learn from its method, marked in essence by the participation of the local Churches and attuned to God’s pilgrim people as they seek his humble face revealed in the Virgin fished from the waters .  That method is also reflected in the continental mission , which is not meant to be a collection of programmes that fill agendas and waste precious energies.  Instead, it is meant to place the mission of Jesus at the heart of the Church, making it the criterion for measuring the effectiveness of her structures, the results of her labours, the fruitfulness of her ministers and the joy they awaken.  For without joy, we attract no one.           I went on to mention the ever-present temptations of making the Gospel an ideology, ecclesial functionalism and clericalism.  At stake is the salvation that Christ brings us, which has to touch the hearts of men and women by its power and appealing to their freedom, inviting them to a permanent exodus from themselves and their self-absorption, towards fellowship with God and with our brothers and sisters.           When God speaks to us in Jesus, he does not nod vaguely to us as if we were strangers, or deliver an impersonal summons like a solicitor, or lay down rules to be followed like certain functionaries of the sacred.  God speaks with the unmistakable voice of the Father to his children; he respects the mystery of man because he formed us with his own hands and gave us a meaningful purpose.  Our great challenge as a Church is to speak to men and women about this closeness of God, who considers us his sons and daughters, even when we reject his fatherhood.  For him, we are always children to be encountered anew.           The Gospel, then, cannot be reduced to a programme at the service of a trendy gnosticism, a project of social improvement or the Church conceived as a comfortable bureaucracy, any more than she can be reduced to an organization run according to modern business models by a clerical caste.           The Church is the community of Jesus’ disciples.  The Church is a Mystery (cf. Lumen Gentium , 5) and a People (cf. ibid., 9).  Better yet, in the Church the Mystery becomes present through God’s People.           Hence my insistence that missionary discipleship is a call from God for today’s busy and complicated world, a constant setting out with Jesus, in order to know how and where the Master lives.  When we set out with him, we come to know the will of the Father who is always waiting for us.  Only a Church which is Bride, Mother and Servant, one that has renounced the claim to control what is not her own work but God’s, can remain with Jesus, even when the only place he can lay his head is the cross.           Closeness and encounter are the means used by God, who in Christ always draws near to meet us.  The mystery of the Church is to be the sacrament of this divine intimacy and the perennial place of this encounter.  Hence, the need for the bishop to be close to God, for in God he finds the source of his freedom, his steadfastness as a pastor and his closeness to the holy people entrusted to his care.  In this closeness, the soul of the apostle learns how to make tangible God's passion for his children.           Aparecida is a treasure yet to be fully exploited.  I am certain that each of you has seen how its richness has taken root in the Churches you hold in your hearts.  Like the first disciples sent forth by Jesus on mission, we too can recount with enthusiasm all that we have accomplished (cf. Mk 6:30).           Nonetheless, we have to be attentive.  The essential things in life and in the Church are never written in stone, but remain a living legacy.  It is all too easy to turn them into memories and anniversaries to be celebrated: fifty years since Medellín, twenty since Ecclesia in America , ten since Aparecida!  Something more is required: by cherishing the richness of this patrimony ( pater/munus ) and allowing it to flourish, we exercise the munus of our episcopal paternity towards the Church in our continent.           As you well know, the renewed awareness born of an encounter with the living Christ requires that his disciples foster their relationship with him; otherwise, the face of the Lord is obscured, the mission is weakened, pastoral conversion falters.  To pray and to foster our relationship with him: these are the most essential and urgent activities to be carried out in our pastoral mission.           When the disciples returned excited by the mission they had carried out, Jesus said to them: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place” ( Mk 6:31).  How greatly we need to be alone with the Lord in order to encounter anew the heart of the Church’s mission in Latin America at the present time.  How greatly we need to be recollected, within and without!  Our crowded schedules, the fragmentation of reality, the rapid pace of our lives: all these things might make us lose our focus and end up in a vacuum.  Recovering unity is imperative.           Where do we find unity?  Always in Jesus.  What makes the mission last is not the generosity and enthusiasm that burn in the heart of the missionary, even though these are always necessary.  It is rather the companionship of Jesus in his Spirit.  If we do not we set out with him on our mission, we quickly become lost and risk confusing our vain needs with his cause.  If our reason for setting out is not Jesus, it becomes easy to grow discouraged by the fatigue of the journey, or the resistance we meet, by constantly changing scenarios or by the weariness brought on by subtle but persistent ploys of the enemy .           It is not part of the mission to yield to discouragement, once our initial enthusiasm has faded and the time comes when touching the flesh of Christ becomes very hard .  In situations like this, Jesus does not feed our fears.  We know very well that to him alone can we go, for he alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68).  So we need to understand and appreciate more deeply the fact that he has chosen us.           Concretely, what does it mean to set out on mission with Jesus today, here in Latin America?  The word “concretely” is not a mere figure of speech: it goes to the very heart of the matter.  The Gospel is always concrete, and never an exercise in fruitless speculation.  We are well aware of the recurring temptation to get lost in the cavils of the doctors of the law , to wonder how far we can go without losing control over our own bailiwick or our petty portion of power.           We often hear it said that the Church is in a permanent state of mission .  Setting out with Jesus is the condition for this.  The Gospel speaks of Jesus who, proceeding from the Father, journeys with his disciples through the fields and the towns of Galilee.  His journeying is not meaningless.  As Jesus walks, he encounters people.  When he meets people, he draws near to them.  When he draws near to them, he talks to them.  When he talks to them, he touches them with his power.  When he touches them, he brings them healing and salvation.  His aim in constantly setting out is to lead the people he meets to the Father.  We must never stop reflecting on this.  The Church has to re-appropriate the verbs that the Word of God conjugates as he carries out his divine mission.  To go forth to meet without keeping a safe distance; to take rest without being idle; to touch others without fear.  It is a matter of working by day in the fields , where God’s people, entrusted to your care, live their lives.  We cannot let ourselves be paralyzed by our air-conditioned offices, our statistics and our strategies.  We have to speak to men and women in their concrete situations; we cannot avert our gaze from them.  The mission is carried out by one to one contact. A Church able to be a sacrament of unity           What lack of focus we see all around us!  I am referring not only to the squandering of our continent’s rich diversity, but also to a constant process of disintegration.  We need to be attentive lest we let ourselves fall into these traps.  The Church is not present in Latin America with her suitcases in hand, ready, like so many others over time, to abandon it after having plundered it.  Such people look with a sense of superiority and scorn on its mestizo face; they want to colonize its soul with the same failed and recycled visions of man and life; they repeat the same old recipes that kill the patient while lining the pockets of the doctors .  They ignore the deepest concerns present in the heart of its people, the visions and the myths that give strength in spite of frequent disappointments and failures.  They manipulate politics and betray hopes, leaving behind scorched land and a terrain ready for more of the same, albeit under a new guise.  Powerful figures and utopian dreams have promised magic solutions, instant answers, immediate effects.  The Church, without human pretensions, respects the varied face of the continent, which she sees not as an impediment but rather a perennial source of wealth.  She must continue working quietly to serve the true good of the men and women of Latin America.  She must work tirelessly to build bridges, to tear down walls, to integrate diversity, to promote the culture of encounter and dialogue, to teach forgiveness and reconciliation, the sense of justice, the rejection of violence.  No lasting construction in Latin America can do without this unseen yet essential foundation.           The Church appreciates like few others the deep-rooted shared wisdom that is the basis of every reality in Latin America.  She lives daily with that reserve of moral values on which the life of the continent rests.  I am sure that, even as I say this, you can put a name on this reality.  We must constantly be in dialogue with it. We cannot lose contact with this moral substratum, with this rich soil present in the heart of our people, wherein we see the subtle yet eloquent elements that make up its mestizo face – not merely indigenous, Hispanic, Portuguese or African, but mestizo : Latin American!           Guadalupe and Aparecida are programmatic signs of the divine creativity that has bought this about and that underlies the popular piety of our people, which is part of its anthropological uniqueness and a gift by which God wants our people to come to know him.  The most luminous pages of our Church’s history were written precisely when she knew how to be nourished by this richness and to speak to this hidden heart.  For it guards, like a spark beneath a coat of ashes, the sense of God and of his transcendence, a recognition of the sacredness of life, respect for creation, bonds of human solidarity, the sheer joy of living, the ability to find happiness without conditions.           To speak to this deepest soul, to speak to the most profound reality of Latin America, the Church must continually learn from Jesus.  The Gospel tells us that Jesus spoke only in parables (cf. Mk 4:34).  He used images that engaged those who heard his word and made them characters in his divine stories.  God’s holy and faithful people in Latin America understand no other way of speaking about him.  We are called to set out on mission not with cold and abstract concepts, but with images that keep multiplying and unfolding their power in human hearts, making them grain sown on good ground, yeast that makes the bread rise from the dough, and seed with the power to become a fruitful tree. A Church able to be a sacrament of hope           Many people decry a certain deficit of hope in today’s Latin America.  We cannot take part in their “moaning”, because we possess a hope from on high.  We know all too well that the Latin American heart has been taught by hope. As a Brazilian songwriter has said, “hope dances on the tightrope with an umbrella” (João Bosco, O Bêbado e a Equilibrista ).  Once you think hope is gone, it returns where you least expect it.  Our people have learned that no disappointment can crush it.  It follows Christ in his meekness, even under the scourge.  It knows how to rest and wait for the dawn, trusting in victory, because – deep down – it knows that it does not belong completely to this world.           The Church in these lands is, without a doubt and in a special way, a sacrament of hope.  Still, there is a need to watch over how that hope takes concrete shape.  The loftier it is, the more it needs to be seen on the faces of those who possess it.  In asking you to keep watch over the expression of hope, I would now like to speak of some of its traits that are already visible in the Latin American Church. In Latin America, hope has a young face           We often speak of young people and we often hear statistics about ours being the continent of the future.  Some point to supposed shortcomings and a lack of motivation on the part of the young, while others eye their value as potential consumers.  Others would enlist them in trafficking and violence.  Pay no attention to these caricatures of young people.  Look them in the eye and seek in them the courage of hope.  It is not true that they want to return to the past.  Make real room for them in your local Churches, invest time and resources in training them.  Offer them incisive and practical educational programmes, and demand of them, as fathers demand of their children, that they use their gifts well.  Teach them the joy born of living life to the full, and not superficially.  Do not be content with the palaver and the proposals found in pastoral plans that never get put into practice.           I purposely chose Panama, the isthmus of this continent, as the site of the 2019 World Youth Day, which will propose the example of the Virgin Mary, who speaks of herself as a servant and is completely open to all that is asked of her (cf. Lk 1:38).  I am certain that in all young people there is hidden an “isthmus”, that in the heart of every young person there is a small strip of land which can serve as a path leading them to a future that God alone knows and holds for them.  It is our task us to present the young with lofty ideals and to encourage them to stake their lives on God, in imitation of the openness shown by Our Lady. In Latin America, hope has a woman’s face           I need not dwell on the role of women on our continent and in our Church.  From their lips we learned the faith, and with their milk we took on the features of our mestizo soul and our immunity to despair.  I think of indigenous or black mothers, I think of mothers in our cities working three jobs, I think of elderly women who serve as catechists, and I think of consecrated woman and those who quietly go about doing so much good.  Without women, the Church of this continent would lose its power to be continually reborn.  It is women who keep patiently kindling the flame of faith.  We have a grave obligation to understand, respect, appreciate and promote the ecclesial and social impact of all that they do.  They accompanied Jesus on his mission; they did not abandon him at the foot of the cross; they alone awaited for the night of death to give back the Lord of life; they flooded the world with his risen presence.  If we hope for a new and living chapter of faith in this continent, we will not get it without women.  Please, do not let them be reduced to servants of our ingrained clericalism.  For they are on the front lines of the Latin American Church, in their setting out with Jesus, in their persevering amid the sufferings of their people, in their clinging to the hope that conquers death, and in their joyful way of proclaiming to the world that Christ is alive and risen. In Latin America, hope passes through the hearts, the minds and the arms of the laity           I would like to repeat something I recently said to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.  It is imperative to overcome the clericalism that treats the Christifideles laici as children and impoverishes the identity of ordained ministers.           Though much effort has been invested and some steps have been taken, the great challenges of the continent are still on the table.  They still await the quiet, responsible, competent, visionary, articulated and conscious growth of a Christian laity.  Men and women believers, who are prepared to contribute to the spread of an authentic human development, the strengthening of political and social democracy, the overturning of structures of endemic poverty and the creation of an inclusive prosperity based on lasting reforms capable of preserving the common good.  So too, the overcoming of inequality and the preservation of stability, the shaping of models of sustainable economic development that respect nature and the genuine future of mankind, which unfettered consumerism cannot ensure, and the rejection of violence and the defence of peace.           One more thing: in this sense, hope must always look at the world with the eyes of the poor and from the situation of the poor.  Hope is poor, like the grain of wheat that dies (cf. Jn 12:24), yet has the power to make God’s plans take root and spread.           Wealth, and the sense of self-sufficiency it brings, frequently blind us to both the reality of the desert and the oases hidden therein.  It offers textbook answers and repeats platitudes; it babbles about its own empty ideas and concerns, without even coming close to reality.  I am certain that in this difficult and confused, yet provisional moment that we are experiencing, we will find the solutions to the complex problems we face in that Christian simplicity hidden to the powerful yet revealed to the lowly.  The simplicity of straightforward faith in the risen Lord, the warmth of communion with him, fraternity, generosity, and the concrete solidarity that likewise wells up from our friendship with him.           I would like to sum up all of this in a phrase that I leave to you as a synthesis and reminder of this meeting.  If we want to serve   this Latin America of ours from CELAM, we have to do so with passion , a passion that nowadays is often lacking.  We need to put our heart into everything we do.  We need to have the passion of young lovers and of wise elders, a passion that turns ideas into viable utopias, a passion for the work of our hands, a passion that makes us constant pilgrims in our Churches.   May I say that we need to be like Saint Toribius of Mogrovejo, who was never really installed in his see: of the twenty-four years of his episcopacy, eighteen were passed visiting the towns of his diocese.  My brothers, please, I ask you for passion, the passion of evangelization.           I commend you, my brother bishops of CELAM, the local Churches that you represent, and all the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, to the protection of Our Lady under the titles of Guadalupe and Aparecida.  I do so, in the serene certainty that God who spoke to this continent with the mestizo and black features of his Mother, will surely make his kindly light shine in the lives of all. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope in Colombia tells young people to dare to dream big

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 16:12
(Vatican Radio) Calling himself a pilgrim of peace and hope Pope Francis urged some 22,000 young people  gathered in Bogotá’s Bolivar Square not be afraid of the future: “Dare to dream big, he said, I want to invite you to that great dream today”. And of course Pope Francis was asking them to make that dream of a peaceful future for Colombia come true. He’s been very clear that his presence here at this crucial moment in which all Colombians are called to overcome fear and division is a concrete sign of encouragement and support. Just minutes earlier he had told the Bishops to give their flock the courage “to take the first step towards definitive peace and reconciliation, towards abdicating the method of violence and overcoming the inequalities at the root of so much suffering”. As the government tries to push forward its programme for reconciliation and reconstruction, it has become increasingly clear that one of the major obstacles lies in the deep divisions that wound Colombian society. That’s why young people are so important in the process as they represent the future and are those who have the most to lose or to gain. “Do not let anyone rob you of joy”, the Pope said to them, “look after that joy which unites everyone” in the knowledge that the flame of Jesus’s love is sufficient to set the whole world ablaze.  “How could you not be capable of changing this society?” The Pope did not shy away from highlighting the fact that young Colombians have “endured difficult and dark moments and how contexts of death, pain and division can impact one so deeply “that they have left you half-dazed”. But he also lingered over the fact that for young people it is so easy to encounter one another: all you need is a good coffee, a good drink, a football game – he said – and you teach us that the culture of encounter is not in thinking, living or reacting to everyone in the same way, but in “knowing that beyond our differences we are all part of something greater that unites and transcends us; we are part of this wonderful country”.  And touching on another fundamental and thorny issue of the Colombian peace process, Francis said that youthfulness makes one capable of forgiving and leaving behind what has hurt us to look to the future without the burden of hatred. “Colombia – he said to the young people – needs you!" With Pope Francis in Bogotà, I'm Linda Bordoni     (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis in Colombia: Key points from speech to bishops

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 15:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ met on Thursday with Colombia’s bishops, encouraging them to provide practical guidance and spiritual leadership at this crucial moment of their nation’s history. Below are the key points from that speech, which you can read here : Gabriel Garcia Marquez , Colombia’s Nobel prize winning novelist, and, of course, the Bible, provided inspiration for the pope, as he explored the “complex reality of the Colombian Church” and urged the bishops to accompany people on the path of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. Pope quotes ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Like the pope, Garcia Marquez, who died three years ago, was strongly influenced by his grandmother. She told him stories that inspired him to write his iconic novel ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, described in a New York Times review as “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race." Pope urges bishops to combat fear Quoting from that book, Pope Francis talked about the distinct kind of moral courage that peace requires, unlike war, which follows “the basest instincts of our hearts”. He spoke of fear as “a poisoned root, a bitter fruit and a painful legacy of every conflict”. Pope: “Sacrament of the first step” To combat fear, he urged the Church leaders to be “guardians and sacrament of the first step”, reflecting the theme of this intense four day visit. He spoke of key Old Testament texts where we see God taking “the first step” towards us – in creation, in the Garden of Eden, in making Abraham the father of many nations, before finally sending his Son Jesus, as the definitive, irreversible step. Pope: Listen to diverse voices of Colombian Church As he’d challenged Colombia’s president to be more inclusive, so he challenged the country’s bishops to include the many different experiences and expressions of Church, especially its African roots and its Amazonian, indigenous wisdom and spirituality. Pope: Unique role of Church in reconciliation Recalling the visits of two of his predecessors, Pope Paul in 1968 and John Paul II in 1986, Pope Francis said he hadn’t come with a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather he reminded the bishops that they do have a unique role to play in preaching peace and reconciliation.   Pope: Preach the word of God in people’s hearts Just as Garcia Marquez spoke of “the tenacious advantage of life over death” which helped his characters survive all kinds of odds, so the pope urged Colombia’s bishops to place their trust in God’s love, finding the freedom and credibility to help people write a new chapter in their nation’s history. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis greets and blesses the faithful of Bogota

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 13:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis encouraged the faithful of Bogota to entrust themselves to the Lord, who is the only one who sustains us and inspires us to contribute to reconciliation and peace. On the first day of his pastoral visit to Colombia, Pope Francis greeted the faithful from the balcony of the Cardinal’s Palace in Bogota after meeting the Country’s authorities.  To the people who are trying to overcome the internal conflict of more than five decades and want to achieve reconciliation the Pope said, “I enter this house of Colombia, saying to you: Peace be with you!”  Pope Francis’ particular focus was on the many young people present there and he called on them to keep joy alive which he said is a sign of a young heart, of a heart that has  encountered the Lord. Please find below the official English translation of the Pope's prepared greeting:    Greeting to the Colombian People Bogotá Thursday, 7 September 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters: I greet you with great joy and I thank you for your warm welcome.  “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” ( Lk 10:5-6). Today I enter this house of Colombia, saying to you: Peace be with you!  This was the way of greeting of every Jew, and of Jesus too.  I offer this greeting because I wanted to come here as a pilgrim of peace and hope, and I desire to experience these moments of encounter with joy, giving thanks to God for all the good he has done in this nation, in every one of your lives.  I have also come here to learn; yes, to learn from you, to learn from your faith, your strength in the face of adversity.  You have endured difficult and dark moments, but the Lord is near you, in the heart of every son and daughter of this country.  He is not selective, he does not exclude anyone but embraces all; and we are all important and essential to him.  During these days I would like to share with you the most important truth: that God loves you with the love of a Father who encourages you to continue looking for and desiring peace, that peace which is authentic and abiding. I see many young people here, who have come from all over the country: from cachacos , costeños , paisas , vallunos , llaneros .  For me it is always a pleasure to meet young people.  Today I say to you: keep joy alive; it is a sign of a young heart, of a heart that has encountered the Lord.  No one can snatch this away from you (cf. Jn 16:22).  Do not let anyone rob you of joy; look after that joy which unites everyone in the knowledge of being loved by the Lord.  The flame of the Lord Jesus’ love makes this joy burst forth, and is sufficient to set the whole world ablaze.  How could you not be capable of changing this society and accomplishing all you decide to do!  Do not be afraid of the future!  Dare to dream big!  I want to invite you to that great dream today. You, dear young people, have a particular ability of recognizing the suffering of others; volunteer workers around the world depend on thousands of you who give up your own time, your own comforts and plans, and allow yourselves to be moved by the needs of the most vulnerable, to whom you dedicate yourselves.  But this can also emerge in contexts where death, pain and division have impacted you so deeply that they have left you half-dazed, as if numb.  Allow the suffering of your Colombian brothers and sisters to strike you and mobilize you!  Help us, your elders, not to grow accustomed to pain and neglect. You, also, young men and women who live in complex environments, with varying realities, and who come from a wide range of family situations, have grown used to seeing that not everything is black and white; you have seen that daily life is made up of a broad scale of grey tones, and that this can expose you to the risk of falling into a climate of relativism, thus discarding that potentiality which young people have, of perceiving the pain of those who suffered.  You have the capacity not only to judge, to point out mistakes, but also that other beautiful, constructive ability: that of understanding .  An understanding that even behind a wrong – for wrong is [always] wrong and cannot be just smoothed over – lies an endless number of causes, of mitigating factors.  Colombia needs you so much to put yourselves in the shoes of those who, many generations earlier, could not or did not know how to do so, or did not come up with the right way to reach understanding! For you, young people, it is so easy to encounter one another .  All you need is a good coffee, a good drink or any other excuse to meet.  The young agree on music, on art… Even a final between Atlético Nacional and América de Cali is an opportunity to be together!  You teach us that the culture of meeting is not in thinking, living or reacting to everyone in the same way; it is rather in knowing that beyond our differences we are all part of something greater that unites and transcends us; we are part of this wonderful country.  Your youthfulness also makes you capable of something very difficult in life: forgiving. Forgiving those who have hurt us; it is remarkable to see how you do not get entangled in old stories, how you watch with surprise when we adults repeat events that divide us simply by being tied to resentments.  You help us in the desire to leave behind what has hurt us, to look to the future without the burden of hatred; because you make us see the wider world which stands before us, the whole of Colombia that wishes to grow and continue its development; that Colombia which needs all of us, and which we older people owe to you.    And precisely for this reason you are facing the enormous challenge of helping us to heal our hearts; of passing on to us the youthful hope which is always ready to give others a second chance.  An atmosphere of anxiety sickens the soul; it sees no way out of problems, and ostracizes those who try; it is an atmosphere that harms the hope every community needs in order to move forwards.  May your dreams and plans give fresh life to Colombia, and fill the country with wholesome goals. Only in this way will people be motivated to discover the country hidden behind the mountains, the one that goes beyond newspaper headlines and which does not seem to be a daily concern since it is so far away.  That country which people do not see, that part of the social context which needs us: the discovery of the depths of Colombia.  Young people’s hearts are spurred into action when faced with great challenges: how much natural beauty there is to contemplate, without needing to exploit it!  How many young people, like yourselves, need your outstretched hand, need your shoulder so as to discern a better future! Today I wanted to spend this moment with you; I am certain that you have the potential needed to build the nation we have always dreamed of.  Young people are the hope of Colombia and of the Church; in your walking and in your steps we can glimpse the steps of the Messenger of Peace, the One who brings us Good News. Dear brothers and sisters of this beloved country, I now direct some words to all of you: children, young people, adults and the elderly, as someone bringing hope to you.  Do not let difficulties weigh you down; may violence not break you; may evil not overwhelm you.  We believe that Jesus, with his love and mercy that remain forever, has conquered evil, sin and death.  All we need to do is go out to meet him.  I invite you not to be just dutiful but to be committed to renewing society, so that it will be just, stable and fruitful.  From this place, I encourage you to entrust yourselves to the Lord, who is the only one who sustains us and inspires us to contribute to reconciliation and peace. I embrace every one of you, the sick, the poor, the marginalized, those in need, the elderly, those who are housebound… all of you; you are all in my heart.  And I ask God to bless you.  And, please, do not forget to pray for me. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis sends telegrams to countries flown over on flight to Colombia

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 15:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent telegrams to the countries over which he flew on his flight to Colombia for his Apostolic Journey to the country. Those countries include: France, Spain, Portugal, United States, The Netherlands, and Venezuela. Please find below the telegrams: France HIS EXCELLENCY EMMANUEL MACRON PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC PARIS AS MY APOSTOLIC VOYAGE TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME OVER FRANCE, I SEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS, WITH THE ASSURANCE OF MY PRAYERS THAT ALL IN THE NATION MAY BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED BY ALMIGHTY GOD. FRANCISCUS PP. Spain HIS MAJESTY KING FELIPE VI KING OF SPAIN MADRID I EXTEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOUR MAJESTY, THE MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY, AND ALL THE SPANISH PEOPLE AS MY JOURNEY TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME OVER SPAIN.  ENTRUSTING THE NATION TO THE PROVIDENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD, I WILLINGLY INVOKE UPON ALL OF YOU GOD’S BLESSINGS OF CONCORD AND PEACE. FRANCISCUS PP. Portugal HIS EXCELLENCY MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA PRESIDENT OF THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC LISBON AS MY JOURNEY TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME THROUGH PORTUGUESE AIRSPACE,  I SEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS.  ASSURING YOU OF MY PRAYERS THAT ALL MAY ENJOY PEACE AND PROSPERITY, I WILLINGLY INVOKE UPON THE NATION GOD’S ABUNDANT BLESSINGS. FRANCISCUS PP. United States (Ocean and Puerto Rico) THE HONORABLE DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WASHINGTON AS I TRAVEL THROUGH UNITED STATES AIRSPACE ON MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I EXTEND WARM GREETINGS TO YOU AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS, INVOKING UPON ALL OF YOU ALMIGHTY GOD’S ABUNDANT BLESSINGS. FRANCISCUS PP. The Netherlands Sorvolo  Antille Olandesi –  6 settembre 2017 HIS MAJESTY WILLEM-ALEXANDER KING OF NETHERLANDS AS I FLY THROUGH YOUR AIRSPACE ON MY VISIT TO COLOMBIA, I EXTEND WARM GREETINGS TO ALL THE CITIZENS OF THE CARIBBEAN PARTS OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS, PRAYING THAT ALMIGHTY GOD MAY BLESS YOU ALL. FRANCISCUS PP. Venezuela HIS EXCELLENCY NICOLÁS MADURO PRESIDENT OF THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA CARACAS AS MY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO COLOMBIA TAKES ME OVER VENEZUELA, I SEND CORDIAL GREETINGS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AND ALL THE PEOPLE OF VENEZUELA.  PRAYING THAT ALL IN THE NATION MAY PROMOTE PATHS OF SOLIDARITY, JUSTICE AND CONCORD, I WILLINGLY INVOKE UPON ALL OF YOU GOD’S BLESSINGS OF PEACE. FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Colombian Cardinal Salazar on hopes for Pope Francis' visit

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 12:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrives in Bogotà, the Colombian capital, on Wednesday at the start of his five day pastoral visit to the South American nation. The Holy Father will be welcomed by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, together with other political and religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Bogotà, Cardinal Ruben Salazar . The theme of the visit is ‘taking the first step ’ towards peace and reconciliation in the country which has endured half a century of civil war between the government and leftwing guerilla groups. While a peace accord was signed in Cuba last year, violence continues in rural areas and the nation remains deeply divided. Ahead of the pope’s arrival, Cardinal Salazar spoke about his expectations with our correspondent in Bogotà, Linda Bordoni: Listen to Linda’s conversation with Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar : The cardinal says this visit is “really very important” as the nation is living through a “very decisive moment in our history”. At this moment, he says, “we are leaving behind years of conflict, of war” and hoping “we can go towards peace, fraternity and solidarity”. In this sense, he adds, Pope Francis will have “very important” words for the Colombian people. Pope's concern for "voiceless" victims Asked about the many victims of Colombia’s civil war, the cardinal notes that in the city of Villavicencio on Friday, the pope will meet with some of those victims, as well as representatives of local indigenous communities. On Sunday, in Cartgena, the pope will meet members of the Afro-Colombian community and these meetings, the cardinal says, show that the Holy Father is “very concerned about the voiceless in Colombia”. Minorities are key for peace These minorities, Cardinal Salazar says, are now “the key for real peace” and in this sense, he insists, these meetings are “a moment of hope for all of us”. Stewardship of creation Finally the cardinal speaks about the important issue of ecology and the stewardship of creation, saying that the country has “important national resources” but it is vital to learn to use them without damaging the environment. At the moment, he says, “we are not so able to do that”.  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis departs on an Apostolic visit to Colombia

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 06:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has departed on an Apostolic visit to Colombia. The Holy Father took off from Rome’s Fiumicino airport shortly after 11 am Rome time this morning. He is expected to land in Bogota at 23.30 Rome time tonight. During his visit he will also visit the cities of Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena before returning to Rome on the morning of 11th September. As has become tradition, Pope Francis on Tuesday afternoon visited the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to pray before the icon of the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani. In a tweet before his departure the Pope said, “Dear Friends, please pray for me and all of Colombia, where I will be travelling for a journey dedicated to reconciliation and peace.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Colombia visit

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 14:03
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday sent a video message to the people of Colombia ahead of his Apostolic Journey to the country on 6-11 September, inviting them to “take the first step” towards peace. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: With just a handful of days to go before his Apostolic Journey, Pope Francis invited all Colombians to “take the first step” in reaching out to their neighbor in a sign of peace. He thanked those “who welcome me to your land and into your heart” for their many efforts to prepare his visit. “Let us take the first step” is the theme of his Apostolic Journey to Colombia , and the Holy Father said it “urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity.” He said Colombia has long yearned and worked for peace, which, he said, should be “a stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies.” “Peace,” he said, “reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us.” Pope Francis went on to say he is “honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith.” He called Colombia a land “of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend.” Finally, the Holy Father said the Church is called “to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting.” Please find below a Vatican Radio English-language translation of the video: Dear people of Colombia, in just a few days I will visit your country. I come as a pilgrim of hope and peace to celebrate with you the faith in our Lord and also to learn from your charity and perseverance in search of peace and harmony. I cordially greet and thank the President of the Republic and the bishops of the Episcopal Conference for the invitation to visit Colombia. I also thank each of you, who welcome me to your land and into your heart. I know that you have worked so very hard to prepare this encounter. My appreciation goes to all who have collaborated – and continue to – so that it may become a reality. “Let us take the first step” is the theme of this Journey. It reminds us that a first step is always required for any activity or project. It also urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity. Taking the first step encourages us to reach out to our neighbor, to extend a helping-hand, and to offer a sign of peace. Peace is what Colombia has sought after for a long time, and she is working to achieve it: A stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies. Peace reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us. I am honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith. [It is a land] of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend. Today’s world needs specialists in peace and dialogue. The Church also is called to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting. My dear Colombian brothers and sisters, I yearn to live these days with you with a joyous spirit and with gratitude to the Lord. I warmly embrace you and ask the Lord to bless you, to protect your country, and to give you peace. And I ask our Mother, the Holy Virgin, to watch over you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you and see you soon.   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope meets with members of the Shalom community

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 11:44
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Monday with a cheering crowd of young people and families belonging to the Shalom community . Speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish, the Pope replied to questions from three young members of the community about how to witness to their faith in a world often marked by indifference and hopelessness. The Shalom Catholic community was founded back in the early 1980s in the city of Fortaleza in north-eastern Brazil. Today it counts some 3.800 members spread across the different continents, and is focused on contemplation, unity and evangelization. Go out to share the good news In his reply to a young man named Juan from Chile, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of “going out of oneself” to share the good news of God’s mercy with others. God is always with us, he insisted, waiting for us even in the most difficult moments of our lives, just as the father of the prodigal son runs out to embrace his child, despite all the sinful things he has done. Avoid being self-centred Replying to a young French woman about the role of youth in the life and mission of the Church, the Pope spoke of their joy which is opposed to the sadness that comes from always being self-centred or “self-referential”. Narcissism, he said, is a disease which causes sadness by making us worry every day about how to appear better than we are. Calling it “the disease of the mirror”, he urged young people to “break the mirror” and look at others, as a way of escaping from today’s consumer culture. Share freely with others Pope Francis then responded to a young Brazilian man who spent many years as a drug addict before discovering the Shalom community. The Pope said drugs dominate people’s lives by destroying our roots and all that we hold close to our hearts. He urged young people to become aware of those roots and to share freely with others all the blessings that they themselves have received. Learn from your elders Finally, the Pope encouraged his listeners to learn from the wisdom of older members of the community, especially their grandparents. Engaging in this inter-generational dialogue, he said, is one of the major challenges facing our societies today.   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Vatican calls for new efforts to combat trafficking of migrants

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 10:03
(Vatican Radio) Politicians, business leaders, civil society and faith communities must step up efforts to combat the alarming increase in human trafficking. That message was at the heart of a statement given at a meeting in Vienna on Monday by the Holy See’s representative to the fifth thematic session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration . The Vatican delegation to the two day meeting was headed by Jesuit Father Michael Czerny , undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees section of the office for Integral Human Development. Listen to our report:  In his statement, he stressed that: “Irregular migration is not freely chosen, but rather forced on people because legal and secure channels are simply not available”. The migration process, he said, usually begins with “high hopes and expectations for greater security and better opportunities”. Since safe and affordable routes are general unavailable, he said, many migrants employ smugglers, but end up with an irregular or undocumented status that leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Legal frameworks, reliable pathways Therefore, he said, the Holy See stresses the importance of ensuring adequate legal frameworks and reliable pathways to prevent migrants becoming victims of trafficking and enslavement. Factors such as poverty, unemployment, statelessness, lack of education and gender discrimination do not necessarily lead to trafficking. Rather, Fr Czerny said, it is the interplay of factors that increases vulnerability. Societies must combat demand Each society, he added, must recognize the forces of demand – such as prostitution and work paid below minimum national standards – that make human trafficking such a profitable, multi-billion dollar business. Please find below the full statement by Father Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Holy See: Fifth Thematic Session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, on the topic: “Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims” Vienna, 4-5 September 2017 My Delegation wishes to welcome the two Co-facilitators and the Special Representative for International Migration and to thank the panelists for their thoughtful presentations. In the preparation of the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the Holy See very much welcomes the deep consideration of issues like trafficking and contemporary slavery which cause so much suffering for an ever increasing number of hapless victims in every part of the world. Today’s complex migration scenario is sadly characterized by “new forms of slavery imposed by criminal organizations, which buy and sell men, women and children.” [1] Despite the great achievements of international agreements, asylum seekers and migrants, who risk their lives in search of safety and a new home, are still and ever more vulnerable, especially to criminal organizations. The migration process usually begins with high hopes and expectations for greater security and better opportunities. Since safe, regular and affordable routes are generally not available, many migrants employ smugglers. Elements of human trafficking are present in much of contemporary human smuggling, and this is one reason why the migration project can go disastrously wrong. Traffickers can easily take advantage of the desperation of migrants and asylum seekers. Ending up in an irregular or undocumented status, they are at a very high risk of abuse and exploitation, including trafficking and enslavement. Therefore, the Holy See stresses the importance of ensuring adequate legal frameworks and reliable pathways to prevent migrants from becoming victims of human trafficking. Factors contributing to vulnerability, like poverty, statelessness, joblessness, lack of education, discrimination of women and girls, do not in and of themselves necessarily lead to trafficking. Rather, it is the interplay of factors, mutually reinforcing each other, that increases vulnerability. At the same time, each society needs to recognize the forces of demand -- for example, for prostitution, or for labour below the minimum national standards -- that are at work domestically to make human trafficking very profitable. The numbers of smuggled and trafficked migrants keeps on increasing alarmingly. [2] According to the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 51 percent of the victims are women, 21 percent are men, 20 percent girls and 8 percent boys. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, among the world’s largest, with an estimated 21 to 46 million people, victims of forced labour, debt-bondage, sex and other forms of trafficking. Slavery must not be an unavoidable aspect of economies. Instead, business should be in the vanguard in combating and preventing this travesty. [3] Investigations have to be coordinated at national, regional and international levels. Data and key information sharing must be assured as well as legal protection for victims, while perpetrators are prosecuted and brought to justice. To protect human dignity, the training of public officers, and establishing national policies to guarantee foreigners access to justice, are very important. Assistance to victims must be guaranteed in receiving countries, and the principle of “non-refoulement” has to be applied to victims of trafficking, assuring them psychological counselling and other support and rehabilitation. Victims should be allowed to stay regularly in the country as long as they need healing therapy and eventually have their stay extended with the opportunity to work. “We ought to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.” [4] Therefore the contributions of political bodies, business, academia, civil society and communities of faith are all indispensable, each according to their own capacities and responsibilities. A measure of the GCM’s success will be if tomorrow’s migratory movements are no longer inevitably marked by human smuggling as today’s clearly are. For irregular migration is not freely chosen but rather forced on people because legal and secure channels are simply not accessible. The Holy See looks forward to participating in the high-level meeting to review the progress made on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, 27-28 September in New York, where it will reiterate its strong commitments. Thank you. 1 Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016, 12 September 2015. 2 E.g., UNODC, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2016. “Measuring the total volume of trafficking in persons is not an easy task as any assessment of this crime needs to account for the coexistence of its three defining elements, the act, the means and the purpose” (p. 30). “A total of more than 570 different trafficking flows could be discerned from this data. This is a marked increase from previous editions of the Global Report, where 460 flows were detected for the period 2007-2010, and 510 for the period 2010-2012” (pp. 39-40). 3 The literature reveals that the current de facto response of most businesses focuses on monitoring supply chains for forced labour. While material, these measures do not address sufficiently the wider socio-economic and cultural factors that engender trafficking. They fall short of the promise of business to engage as a strong and positive influence on society as posited by the SDGs. 4 Pope Francis, Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2015. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope visits Colombia 'to support peace and promote reconciliation'

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 06:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is set to travel to Colombia from 6 to 11 September. He will be the third Pope to visit the Latin American nation in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI in 1964 and Pope Saint John Paul II in 1986. Francis begins his trip in the capital Bogota and also will visit the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena.  It is a crucial moment for Colombia, which is in the throes of implementing a peace agreement with FARC rebels after a 52-year internal conflict that has left over 260,000 people dead, 60,000 unaccounted for and over 7 million displaced. The former British Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker , who currently heads  the South America Department at the Foreign Office in London,  told Linda Bordoni that Pope Francis’ visit there is an extremely important sign of encouragement for the nation’s peace process and will help promote reconciliation: Listen to the full interview:   Baker described the papal visit to Colombia as “extremely important” because it comes in the wake of the extraordinary progress and journey that the nation has made towards peace by signing a deal with the main guerrilla group, the FARC, which many thought would have been impossible.   “The extraordinary progress that has been made needs to be acknowledged,” Baker said. Another key theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia is to encourage the process of reconciliation after such a long and bitter civil war.  In this context, Baker said it was “incredibly important” that the Pope is meeting victims of the conflict and leading prayers for national reconciliation during his visit. Staying on the theme of encouragement, Baker said the people of Colombia need “to turn the page from the difficult past” and recognize the huge possibilities and “bright future” that peace can bring to their nation. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Angelus: The temptation to follow a Christ without a Cross

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 09:07
(Vatican Radio) Before the recitation of the Angelus Prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis delved into the meaning of this Sunday’s Gospel reading, telling pilgrims in St Peter’s Square that, “there is always the temptation to follow a Christ without a Cross, rather, to teach God the right path,". He was referring to the passage where Jesus, "reveals to the disciples that he will suffer, be killed and rise again in Jerusalem and he is reproached by Peter because he cannot accept that all this will happen to the Messiah.” Jesus, said the Pope, “responds with a reproach in turn: "Get behind me, Satan! You are scandalized, because you do not think according to God, but according to men! " The Holy Father went on to say, "at that point, the Master addresses all those who followed him, clearly presenting the way to go:" The Lord says, “if anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his Cross, and follow me ". Again, even today, noted the Pope, “the temptation is to follow a Christ without a Cross, rather, to teach God the right path.” But, Pope Francis underlined,  “Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love, and there is no true love without self-sacrifice.” Jesus, commented the Pope, exhorts that "whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my cause will find it". The Holy Father explained that, “in this paradox there is the golden rule that God has inscribed into human nature created in Christ: the rule that only love gives meaning and happiness to life.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Angelus: renewed prayers for those hit by US and South Asia floods

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 07:50
(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis renewed his spiritual closeness to the populations of South Asia, which are still suffering the consequences of devastating floods. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report: This summer over 1,000 people died in floods across South Asia and the United Nations says at least 41 million people in Nepal, India and Bangladesh have been affected by landslides and exceptional rainfall. The Holy Father also had words of comfort for the residents of Texas and Louisiana in the US suffering as a result of Hurricane Harvey which has caused material damage and displaced thousands of people. The Pope asked Mary the Most Holy, consoler of the afflicted, to obtain "from the Lord the grace of comfort for the whole Texan community in these painful circumstances." The Holy Father will travel to Columbia on Wednesday on a 5 day Apostolic journey and taking his leave on Sunday, he thanked all those for their good wishes ahead of the visit. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis addresses Korean Council of Religious Leaders

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 07:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday met with the Korean Council of Religious Leaders in the Vatican stressing the importance of interreligious dialogue directed towards a future of peace and hope. Listen to our report: In his prepared remarks to the Korean Council of Religious Leaders, the Pope highlighted the importance and often, as he put it, challenging path of interreligious dialogue. This dialogue between religions, noted the Pope, “consists of contacts, encounters and cooperation, a challenge directed towards the common good and peace.” He went on to say that, “such dialogue must always be both open and respectful if it is to be fruitful.”  Pope Francis told those present, “the world is looking to us; it asks us to work together and with all men and women of good will.” The world, continued the Pope, "looks to us for answers and a shared commitment" on a range of issues, such as, the sacred dignity of the human person, the hunger and poverty which still afflict too many peoples, the rejection of violence, and, not least of all, the crisis of hope. "We have, therefore, a long journey ahead of us, observed the Holy Father, one he said, that must be undertaken with humility and perseverance, not just by raising our voices but by rolling up our sleeves, to sow a future of hope." Below please find the English translation of the Pope's address to the Korean Council of Religious Leaders   Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Korean Council of Religious Leaders 2 September 2017   Dear friends from the Korean Council of Religious Leaders, I am pleased to welcome you for this meeting.  You have travelled a long way to come to Rome on your interreligious pilgrimage, and I thank you for your presence here.  I am grateful to Archbishop Kim Hee-jong for proposing this visit and for his kind words.  As I said in Seoul: “Life is a journey, a long journey, but a journey which we cannot make by ourselves. We need to walk together with our brothers and sisters in the presence of God” (Meeting with Religious Leaders, 18 August 2014).  Here we are today taking another step on this journey together! As you know, particularly since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has tirelessly embarked upon the often challenging path of dialogue.  The Church, in a special way, has encouraged dialogue with followers of other religions.  Today too she “urges her sons and daughters… with prudence and charity… to acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral values found among them, together with their social life and culture” (Nostra Aetate, 2).  Because interreligious dialogue consists of contacts, encounters and cooperation, it is an endeavour that is precious and pleasing to God, a challenge directed towards the common good and peace. Such dialogue must always be both open and respectful if it is to be fruitful.  Open, that is to say warm and sincere, carried forward by persons willing to walk together with esteem and honesty.  Respectful, because mutual respect is at once the condition and the goal of interreligious dialogue: indeed it is in respecting the right to life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms, such as those of conscience, religion, thought and expression, that the foundations are laid for building peace, for which each of us is called to pray and work.  The world is looking to us; it asks us to work together and with all men and women of good will.  It looks to us for answers and a shared commitment to various issues: the sacred dignity of the human person, the hunger and poverty which still afflict too many peoples, the rejection of violence, in particular that violence which profanes the name of God and desecrates religion, the corruption that gives rise to injustice, moral decay, and the crisis of the family, of the economy and, not least of all, the crisis of hope. We have, therefore, a long journey ahead of us, which must be undertaken with humility and perseverance, not just by raising our voices but by rolling up our sleeves, to sow the hope of a future in which humanity becomes more human, a future which heeds the cry of so many who reject war and implore greater harmony between individuals and communities, between peoples and states.  Religious leaders are thus called upon to initiate, promote and accompany processes for the welfare and reconciliation of all people: we are called to be heralds of peace, proclaiming and embodying a nonviolent style, a style of peace, with words clearly different from the narrative of fear, and with gestures opposed to the rhetoric of hatred. Dear friends, may this meeting strengthen us on our journey.  Seeing you here as pilgrims reminds me of my pilgrimage to the beautiful land of Korea, for which I remain grateful to God and to the beloved Korean people.  I constantly pray that God will bestow upon them the gifts of peace and fraternal reconciliation.  May our mindfulness of the friendship and the good things we have received from one another grant us the strength to move forward together, with the help of God.  Thank you. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope sends condolences on the death of Card Murphy O'Connor

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 06:46
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolence to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols on the passing of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster. The Holy Father said he was deeply saddened to learn of his death. In the telegramme the Pope recalled “with immense gratitude the late Cardinal’s distinguished service to the Church in England and Wales, his unwavering devotion to the preaching of the Gospel and the care of the poor. He also remembered his far-sighted commitment to the advancement of ecumenical and interreligious understanding.   Below find Pope Francis' telegramme to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster:   Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, I hasten to offer my heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese.  Recalling with immense gratitude the late Cardinal’s distinguished service to the Church in England and Wales, his unwavering devotion to the preaching of the Gospel and the care of the poor, and his far-sighted commitment to the advancement of ecumenical and interreligious understanding, I willingly join you in commending his noble soul to the infinite mercies of God our heavenly Father.  To all who mourn his passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord.                                                              FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope sends message to Astana Expo exhibit

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 06:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to mark the National Day of the Holy See at Expo 2017 which is taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan and is devoted to the theme “Future Energy”.  Listen to our report:   The Holy See has designed its pavilion at the Astana Expo on the theme: “Energy for the Common Good: Caring for our Common Home” and in his message to mark the National Day of the Holy See at this event the Holy Father stresses that “serious and responsible reflection is demanded on how mankind can, in coming years, draw on innovative technologies to make wise use of the energy resources that are our common legacy.” He adds, that action must be taken now “to ensure that energy is used to improve our lives and to cause our human family to flourish, for by nature we are called to fruitful interaction, solidarity and love.” Proper use of Energy resources In the message the Pope underlines that energy resources must not be allowed to fall prey to unscrupulous financial speculation or to become a source of conflict and encourages a cooperation between religions and broad-ranging and frank dialogue on all levels and among different sectors of society. In conclusion, the Holy Father says that “the way we use energy resources is a sign of how well “we are carrying out the task that, according to many religious traditions, has been entrusted to us by God, namely to care for the world around us and for our fellow human beings…”.  “If our generation and use of energy are sustainable and grounded in solidarity, continues the Pope, we are doing our job well.  Otherwise, we are not.  At stake is our very dignity; at stake too are justice and peace.”   The National Day of the Holy See at Expo 2017 is being celebrated on September 2nd.   Below find the English translation of the Pope's Message   Your Eminence, My Brother Bishops, Esteemed Authorities, Dear Brothers and Sisters,               I offer a warm greeting to all those taking part in the National Day of the Holy See at Expo 2017 in Astana.  My greeting also goes to all who have helped in various ways with the planning and realization of this event, and to the many visitors in attendance.             I am pleased that Kazakhstan is hosting this International Exhibition devoted to the theme: “Future Energy”.  Serious and responsible reflection is demanded on how mankind can, in coming years, draw on innovative technologies to make wise use of the energy resources that are our common legacy.  We are all conscious of the fact that our use of those resources is critical for the health of our world and the welfare of our societies, a welfare that needs to be viewed in integral terms, and not simply as economic prosperity or greater capacity for consumption.  We must act now to ensure that energy is used to improve our lives and to cause our human family to flourish, for by nature we are called to fruitful interaction, solidarity and love.             For this reason, energy resources must not be allowed to fall prey to unscrupulous financial speculation or to become a source of conflict.  This calls for broad-ranging and frank dialogue on all levels and among different sectors of our societies.  “Future energy” does not have to do with researchers, technicians and investors alone; it also represents a challenge to the worlds of culture, politics, education and religion.  I gladly recall the growth of dialogue and cooperation between religions that has taken place in Kazakhstan, a land characterized by rich ethnic, cultural and spiritual traditions.  It is my hope that the different religions will take part in this dialogue, for their writings contain insights that “prove meaningful in every age; they have an enduring power to open new horizons…  The ethical principles capable of being apprehended by reason can always reappear in different guise and find expression in a variety of languages, including religious language” (Laudato Si’, 199).  It is important for all of us to discover in our own religious traditions the inspiration and criteria that foster a courageous commitment to perseverance in bettering our relations and in living together as brothers and sisters.             The way we use energy resources is a sign of how well we are carrying out the task that, according to many religious traditions, has been entrusted to us by God, namely to care for the world around us and for our fellow human beings of every time and place.  If our generation and use of energy are sustainable and grounded in solidarity, we are doing our job well.  Otherwise, we are not.  At stake is our very dignity; at stake too are justice and peace.  It is to promote an awareness of this that the Holy See has designed its pavilion at the Astana Expo on the theme: “Energy for the Common Good: Caring for our Common Home”.             May Almighty God, the Creator, grant that Expo 2017 provide timely lessons and lasting inspiration, and may he bless our common efforts to bring them to fruition.   From the Vatican, 2 September 2017                                         FRANCIS (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Programme for Pope's visit to Colombia presented to the press

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:40
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Colombia was presented to the press on Friday at the Holy See Press Office. Starting on 6th and ending on 11th September, in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI and Pope Saint John Paul II who travelled to Colombia in 1964 and in 1986 respectively, this will be Francis’ 20th journey abroad  It will not be the first time Jorge Bergoglio visits Colombia as he was there as a priest in the 1970s and twice as a Bishop and member of the Latin American Episcopal Conference - CELAM. As was noted at the press conference, it is inevitable that the eyes of the world view this visit through a political perspective as the Colombian people commit to push forward a peace process. The government, in  fact, signed an agreement with the FARC rebel group in November last year following 52 years of conflict which has left 260,000 people dead, 60,000 unaccounted for, and over 7 million displaced. Thus, the papal visit comes at a key moment in the peace process which has been strongly supported by the Catholic Church and by the Pope himself.  But Holy See Press Office Director, Greg Burke , stressed that as always, the Pope’s visit is of a purely pastoral nature, and that he is travelling to the overwhelmingly Catholic country to bring the message of the Gospel to his flock and to encourage Colombians on their journey of faith and reconciliation. Listen :  During the five-day visit Pope Francis will visit four cities making day trips from the capital Bogotà where he will be based, to Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena. As always he will be meeting with political and with Church leaders, but also with groups of victims, with families, with disabled people, with poor people, with former guerrillas, with his brother bishops, with  CELAM as well as with priests, nuns, religious and laypeople. In Villavicencio he will beatify two Catholic priests killed during the conflict and in Cartagena he will pray at the Church of St. Peter Claver. Francis will preside over Mass in all four cities and his discourses and homilies are expected to touch on issues that are particularly poignant to Colombians such as the care for creation, the power of reconciliation, the defense of life and the upholding of human dignity and rights.   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew: praying for creation

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:40
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued a Joint Message with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I , to mark the Sept. 1 st World Day of Prayer for Creation . Released on Friday morning, the Message invites all the faithful and every person of good will to  reflect prayerfully on how to live in a simply and use the goods of the created order responsibly. Focus on prayerful solidarity “On this occasion,” the Joint Message from Francis and Bartholomew reads, “we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations.” Click below to hear our report The Message goes on to say, “We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation.” History The Orthodox Church has commemorated this Day since 1989 , when Patriarch Bartholomew instituted the annual recurrence.  Pope Francis made the World Day of Prayer for Creation a Catholic celebration in 2015 . (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis' prayer intention for September: 'For parishes at service of mission'

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 09:08
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released a video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for September. This month’s intention is for parishes at the service of the mission: "That they not be simple offices, but that animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen." The text of the video message reads: Parishes must be in contact with homes, with people’s lives, with the life of society. They have to be houses where the door is always open so as to go forth toward others. And it is important that this going-forth follows a clear proposal of faith. The doors must be opened so that Jesus can go out with all of the joy of his message. Let us pray for our parishes, that they not be simple offices, but that animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen. The Pope's  Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer  developed the "Pope Video" initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

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