Vatican News

Pope meets Sisters of Congregation founded by Mother Cabrini

Vatican News - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 09:37
By Seàn-Patrick Lovett Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini is an Italian-born saint who dedicated her life to helping thousands of Italian immigrants living in the United States during the late 19 th century. She died in Chicago exactly one hundred years ago. On Saturday morning in the Vatican, Pope Francis met members of the religious congregation she founded, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The congregation is present today on 6 continents and in 15 countries around the world. Click below to hear the report by Seàn-Patrick Lovett During his discourse in Italian, the Pope recalled the holiness of their Foundress and praised her tireless work with migrants and the poor. He held her up as an example for today, adding that the reality of migrants has evolved and is now “more current than ever”. Migrants, said the Pope, “need good laws, programs of development and organization but, above all, they always need love, friendship, human closeness; they need to be heard, looked in the eye, accompanied”. They need God, he said, “encountered in love that is freely given”. We must do as Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini does, concluded Pope Francis: “be capable of responding to the signs of our time, reading them in the light of the Word of God and living them in such a way as to provide an answer that can reach the heart of every person”.   Here is our English translation of the Pope’s address It is with great pleasure that I welcome all of you, representatives of the Cabrini Family, who wish in this way to conclude the celebrations for the centenary of the birth of St Frances Xavier Cabrini . On December 17, 1917, this holy woman, who had crossed the ocean twenty-four times to assist migrants in the Americas, and who, untiringly, had gone as far as the Andes and Argentina, died suddenly in Chicago, and departed on her final journey. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini the Missionary St Cabrini was a true missionary. She had grown up keeping before her the example of St. Francis Xavier, the pioneer of evangelization in the East. In his heart he had China and in that distant land he hoped to bring the proclamation of the Gospel. He did not think of the thousands and thousands of emigrants who, because of hunger, lack of work and the absence of a future, embarked with their scant belongings to reach America, driven by the dream of a better life. As we know - and as she said - it was the vision of Pope Leo XIII who, jokingly, made her change course: "Not to the east, Cabrini, but to the West!". The young Mother Cabrini, who had just founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, needed to see where God was sending her on mission. Not to where she wanted to go, but to where He had prepared the way for her, the path of service and holiness. Here is the example of a true vocation: to forget oneself in order to surrender oneself fully to the love of God. Migrants then and now After so many years, the reality of migrants, to whom St Frances Xavier Cabrini dedicated her entire life, has evolved and is more current than ever. New faces of men, women and children, marked by so many forms of poverty and violence, appear before our eyes, hoping to find outstretched hands and welcoming hearts, like those of Mother Cabrini, along their way. In particular, you are offered the responsibility of being faithful to the mission of your Holy Foundress. Her charisma is of extraordinary actuality, because migrants certainly need good laws, programs of development and organization but, above all, they always need love, friendship, human closeness; they need to be heard, looked in the eye, accompanied; they need God, encountered in the freely given love of a woman who, with her consecrated heart, is your sister and mother. “I can do all things in Him who gives me strength” May the Lord renew always in you the attentive and merciful gaze towards the poor who live in our cities and our countries. Mother Cabrini had the courage to look into the eyes of the orphaned children entrusted to her, the unemployed youth who were tempted to commit crimes, the men and women exploited for the humblest jobs; and therefore today we are here to thank God for her holiness. In each of those brothers and sisters, she recognized the face of Christ and was able to put to good use the talents that the Lord had entrusted to her. She had a strong sense of apostolic action; and if she had such great energy to accomplish extraordinary work in a few years, it was only because of her union with Christ, following the model of St. Paul, from whom she took her motto: "I can do all things in Him who gives me strength". Grasping the moment of grace Mother Cabrini lived the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Step by step, hers was an existence wholly intended to console and make the Sacred Heart known and loved. And this made her able to look at the hearts of those who approached her and to assist them in a coherent way. This important anniversary is a powerful reminder to us all of the need for a faith that knows how to grasp the moment of grace that is lived. As difficult as it may seem, she tells us that we must do as she does: be capable of responding to the signs of our time, reading them in the light of the Word of God and living them in such a way as to provide an answer that can reach the heart of every person. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Vatican News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis left the Vatican on Friday afternoon, headed for Rome’s central Piazza di Spagna in order to pay homage to the statue of the Immaculate Conception there. Listen to Seán-Patrick Lovett's report: Surrounded by crowds of pilgrims, tourists and local Roman residents, the Pope recited a specially-composed  Prayer to Our Lady  in which he asked her, among other things, to help us “rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance and to recognize ourselves for what we really are: small and poor sinners” – but always Mary’s children. The Pope’s visit to the memorial column dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, included the traditional blessing of a garland of flowers which Roman firemen placed on the statue of Our Lady which dominates the summit of the ancient marble column. Visit to Basilica of Mary Major On his way to Piazza di Spagna this year, Pope Francis also stopped to visit the Basilica of St Mary Major where he laid a floral wreath below the icon of Salus Populi Romani, depicting Our Lady and the Christ Child. This is the same image the Pope always prays at both before and after his apostolic journeys abroad. Alphonse Ratisbonne Before returning to the Vatican later in the afternoon, Pope Francis paid a private visit to the Rome Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte. It was here, 175 years ago, that a French Jew by the name of Alphonse Ratisbonne, experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary. At that moment, in the words of the Pope, “from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, he became a Christian”. Even more so, following his conversion, Alphonse became a Jesuit priest and missionary and ended up cofounding his own religious Congregation dedicated to Our Lady of Sion. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis' prayer to Mary on the Immaculate Conception

Vatican News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made his annual visit to Rome's Spanish Square on Friday to pray at the foot of the column and statue of the Immaculate Conception. A litany of present-day viruses and their corresponding antibodies: this was at the heart of Pope Francis’ prayer, offered to Our Lady on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when he visited Rome’s Piazza di Spagna on Friday afternoon. Dogma of the Immaculate Conception The Pope recited the prayer before the column and statue of Mary, dedicated in 1857 to mark the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which had been defined by Pope Pius IX three years earlier. The dogma teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the moment of her conception, by a special grace of God, was preserved from all stain of original sin. Mary accompanies us on our journey The text of the prayer begins by thanking Our Lady for accompanying different categories of humanity of their respective journeys: families, religious, workers, the sick, the elderly, the poor, and those who have immigrated to Rome “from places where there is war and hunger”. Viruses of our time The Pope then goes on to identify a series of what he calls “viruses of our times”, which range from indifference to fear of the foreigner, from hypocrisy to the exploitation of others. These must be combatted, said Pope Francis, with the “antibodies that come from the Gospel”. Here is the full translated text of the prayer: Immaculate Mother, For the fifth time I come to your feet as Bishop of Rome, to pay you homage on behalf of all the inhabitants of this city. We want to thank you for the constant care with which you accompany us on our journey, the journey of families, parishes, religious communities; the journey of those who daily, and sometimes with difficulty, pass through Rome on their way to work; the journey of the sick, the elderly, the poor, the journey of so many people who immigrated here from places where there is war and hunger. Thank you, because as soon as we turn our thoughts, or a fleeting glance, towards you, or recite a quick Hail Mary, we feel your maternal presence, tender and strong. O Mother, help this city develop the "antibodies" it needs to combat some of the viruses of our times: the indifference that says: "It’s not my business"; the unsociable behavior that despises the common good; the fear of the foreigner and those who are different from us; the conformism that disguises itself as transgression; the hypocrisy that accuses others while doing the same things; the resignation to environmental and ethical degradation; the exploitation of so many men and women. Help us to reject these and other viruses with the antibodies that come from the Gospel. Let us make it a good habit to read a passage from the Gospel every day and, following your example, to keep the Word of God in our hearts, so that, like a good seed, it may fruit in our lives. Immaculate Virgin, 175 years ago, not far from here, in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, you touched the heart of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who at that moment, from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, became a Christian. You revealed yourself to him as a Mother of grace and mercy. Grant that we too, especially in times of trial and temptation, may fix our gaze on your open hands, hands that allow the Lord's graces to fall upon the earth. Help us to rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance, and to recognize ourselves for what we really are: small and poor sinners, but always your children. So, let us place our hand in yours And allow ourselves to be led back to Jesus, our Brother and Savior, and to our Heavenly Father, who never tires of waiting for us and forgiving us when we return to Him. Thank you, Mother, for always listening to us! Bless the Church that is in Rome. Bless this City and the whole world. Amen. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Angelus: ‘Mary is ever-green oasis of humanity’

Vatican News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 07:32
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis reflected on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception at his Angelus address on Friday, December 8th, as the Church celebrates the Marian Solemnity. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: Ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis said the words of the angel Gabriel in the Gospel of Luke contain the key to understanding the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Pope said Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace”, even before pronouncing her name. In this way, he said, God “reveals the new name, which God has given her and which befits her more than the one given by her parents.” The Holy Father said “full of grace” means that “Mary is full of the presence of God”. “And if she is entirely pervaded by God, there is no place in her for sin. This is extraordinary,” he said, “because unfortunately the whole world is contaminated by evil.” Mary alone, he continued, is the “ever-green oasis” of humanity. She is “the only uncontaminated person, immaculately created to welcome fully – with her ‘yes’ – God who came into the world”. Pope Francis went on to say that, when we call Mary “full of grace”, we are paying her “the greatest compliment, which is the same offered her by God.” Because Mary is without sin, he said, she is immune to ageing, since “sin makes one old, not age”, and worthy of the name tota pulchra, or “all fair” or “completely beautiful”. “Since her youth depends not on age, her beauty consists not on external appearances. Mary, as the day’s Gospel shows, does not excel in appearance. She is from a simple family; she lived humbly in Nazareth, an almost unknown place.” Finally, Pope Francis reflected on the secret of the “beautiful life” lived by Mary, “full of grace”. “In many paintings [of the Annunciation] Mary is depicted as seated before an angel with a little book. This book is the Scriptures. So Mary often listened to God and reflected with Him. The Word of God was her secret: close to her heart, He took on flesh in her womb.” The Holy Father invited all to ask for the grace “to remain young by saying ‘no’ to sin and to live a beautiful life by saying ‘yes’ to God. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope thanks donors of St. Peter’s Square Christmas Crib and tree

Vatican News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 08:29
“The Nativity Scene is the suggestive place where we contemplate Jesus , who having assumed our wretchedness , invites us to do likewise through our acts of mercy .”  Pope Francis made the reflection on Thursday while thanking all those who donated this year’s Nativity Scene on the theme of works of mercy and the 28 meter tall ‎Christmas tree set up in the centre of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Pope wished that the birth of the Lord be an occasion for all to be attentive to the needs of the poor and all those who like Jesus don't’ find anyone to welcome them.  Listen to our report: The Pope met some 4000 people of various donor delegations at the Vatican’s audience hall.  They represented the southern Italian Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine that donated the Nativity Scene, Poland’s Warmia Archdiocese and Elk Diocese that donated the red fir tree and children undergoing cancer treatment in various Italian hospitals who made the various decorations. Commenting on the Christmas tree, the Pope said it is a sign of the faith of the Polish people  and the expression of their fidelity to the see of Peter.  Thanking the children he said they have conveyed to Jesus their dreams and desires through their decorations which, he said, will be admired by pilgrims from all over the world.   Message of Crib, Christmas tree The Pope said that each year the Christmas Crib and the Christmas tree become a symbol of the compassion of the heavenly Father , and his participation and closeness with humanity that feels it is not abandoned in the night of the times but is visited and accompanied amidst its difficulties.  The tree pointing up, he said, urges us to stretch out "towards the highest gifts", and rise above the mist that clouds, to feel how beautiful and joyous it is to be immersed in the light of Christ . In the simplicity of the crib we meet and contemplate the tenderness of God , manifested in that of the Child Jesus. St. Peter's Christmas Crib and Christmas tree were to be inaugurated later on Thursday.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis meets new president of Lutheran World Federation

Vatican News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 08:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with the new president of the Lutheran World Federation , Nigerian Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus, focusing on common prayer as the key to Christian unity . Recalling his own visit to the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo last year for the shared commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation , the pope said praying together purifies, strengthens and lights our way forward. Prayer, he insisted, is the fuel for our ecumenical journey. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: Through prayer, the pope continued, we are able to see the painful divisions of past ceneturies in a new light, abandoning our prejudices, purifying our memories and looking to the future with confidence. Through prayer, he said, we are called to recognize the gifts of our different traditions and receive them as our shared Christian heritage. Reformation anniversary 'a turning point' In his words to Pope Francis, Archbishop Musa also gave thanks for the past 50 years of progress ‘from conflict to communion’, acknowledging in a special way the importance of praying together to commemorate the Reformation anniversary. “ Your presence and participation in the Joint Commemoration of the Reformation in Lund was a precious gift for us. It marked the significant turning point at which Catholics and Lutherans are today ”. Concrete steps to unity Before praying the Our Father together, Pope Francis urged the Lutheran delegation, including the seven regional vice-presidents, to continue on the road to full unity, never giving in to the temptations to become tired, lazy or fearful. Good ideas are not enough, he said, but instead we must take concrete steps and hold out hour hands, working together to support the poorest and most needy as we witness together to the presence of God in our world. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope encourages Taiwan's Christian leaders to pursue unity

Vatican News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 05:35
(Vatican Radio) Pope Franci s has urged members of the National Council of Churches of Taiwan to continue in their work to educate young generations “in the art of dialogue, so that they can become protagonists of a much-needed culture of harmony and reconciliation”. The Pope was addressing a Delegation of the Council whom he received in audience in the Vatican. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : The Council The ecumenical Council, founded in 1991, aims to achieve full Christian unity by strengthening the relationship of churches, promoting cooperation, charitable works and education as well as proclaiming the Christian message, and participating in the common mission of the church to the world. Recent visit to Asia To the Delegation gathered in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall Pope Francis spoke of his recent visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh where, he said, he experienced both the vitality and enterprise of the people, but also the suffering face of a humanity all too often deprived of material prosperity and social well-being. He highlighted the good works of the Council and expressed his deep belief that as Christians we are called to work together to promote the dignity of each human being. Commitment to promote Christian unity He thanked those present for their commitment to promote greater unity between believers in the Lord and said that the strengthening of relations between the Christian confessions, and the shared proclamation of Jesus, also through works of charity and educational projects aimed at the young, will prove beneficial to society as a whole.   Educating the young generations “Building a better future for all, Francis said, requires, in a particular way, educating the younger generations in the art of dialogue, so that they can become protagonists of a much-needed culture of harmony and reconciliation.  This will encourage them to pursue, with God’s help, the path that leads from conflict to communion, a path that has shown itself so fruitful in the ecumenical journey”. The Pope concluded his discourse encouraging all to continue to journey together in the primacy of charity towards full Christian unity. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Mass: being humble means accepting humiliation like Christ

Vatican News - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 08:00
In the life of a Christian, humility is an indispensable quality that is needed in order to allow the gifts of the Holy Spiri t to grow.  This was the reflection of Pope Francis in his homily at Mass, Tuesday morning, in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.  Drawing inspiration from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pope said that every Christian is like "a small shoot on which the Spirit of the Lord rests, the spirit of wisdom and intelligence, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord ". "These,” the Pope said, “are the gifts of the Holy Spirit which grow from the smallness of the bud to the fullness of the Spirit. This is the promise, this is the Kingdom of God” and "the life of the Christian," he stressed. Listen to our report: Humility The Pope said that the task of a Christian is to be aware that each of us is a “sprout of that root which must grow with the power of the Holy Spirit, to the fullness of the Holy Spirit in us.” And our task, he said is to safeguard this sprout, this growth which is the Spirit."  The Holy Father said this is done by adopting a lifestyle of a Christian that resembles Christ , which is the path of humility.   The Holy Father said it takes faith and humility to believe that this bud, this small gift will grow to the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  He said, it takes humility to believe that the Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, as the day’s Gospel says, has hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the little ones.  Humility means to be small, like the sprout that grows little by little to the fullness of life through the power of Holy Spirit. Humiliation The Pope further explained that being humble does not mean being polite, courteous or closing one’s eyes in prayer.  Being humble means being able to accept humiliations.  “ Humility without humiliation,” he stressed, “ is not humility. ”  A humble man or a woman is one who is able to endure humiliations like Jesus whom the Pope described as “the great humiliated.”  Pope Francis recalled the example of many saints "who not only accepted humiliations but asked for them" in order to resemble Jesus.  The Pope concluded his homily urging that the Lord “grant us this grace to safeguard this smallness towards the fullness of the Spirit without forgetting the root and by accepting humiliation. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: Pray for elderly during December

Vatican News - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 05:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has revealed his prayer intention for the month of December, which is “for the elderly”. In a video message explaining the prayer petition, the Pope said “a people that does not take care of grandparents, that does not treat them well, has no future.” He added that the “elderly have wisdom, they are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people.” The Pope prayed: “Let us keep in mind our elders so that sustained by families and institutions, they may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.” Care and respect for the elderly has been a prominent issue addressed by Pope Francis throughout his pontificate. Last year he hosted a meeting marking National Grandparents’ Day in Italy and in 2015 he gave two Wednesday audience catechises on the elderly, pointing out that old age has a grace and a mission” and is “a true vocation from the Lord.” The monthly videos detailing the Pontiff’s prayer intentions are promoted by the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network,” an organisation dedicated to assisting the mission of the Church and addressing the challenges facing humanity. The group encourages Catholics from around the world to submit ideas for prayer petitions and presents a selection of them for the Pope to choose for each month. (Richard Paul Marsden) Click below to watch the video message: (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis releases message for 2018 World Day of Vocations

Vatican News - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 09:10
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday released his message for the 2018 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, reflecting on the three aspects of every vocation: listening, discerning, and living. The 55th recurrence of the Day for Vocations is to be commemorated next year on 22 April. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: Listening, discerning, and living: these lie at the heart of Pope Francis’ message for next year’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The Holy Father said 2018 is a special year for vocations, because the Synod of Bishops will reflect on young people, especially “the relationship between young people, faith, and vocation”. Pope Francis reminded Christians that God never ceases to call men and women to follow Him. “We are not victims of chance or swept up in a series of unconnected events; on the contrary, our life and our presence in this world are the fruit of a divine vocation,” he said. He said the mystery of the Incarnation shows that God constantly “comes to encounter us”, even in troubled times. “In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us from on high and, while enabling us to develop our talents, makes us instruments of salvation in the world and guides us to full happiness.” A listening heart Pope Francis made it clear that “God comes silently” and that, without a listening heart, His voice can be “drowned out” by the distractions of daily life. “Nowadays listening is becoming more and more difficult, immersed as we are in a society full of noise, overstimulated and bombarded by information… This prevents us from pausing and enjoying the taste of contemplation, reflecting serenely on the events of our lives, going about our work with confidence in God’s loving plan, and making a fruitful discernment.” He said Christians need “to listen carefully to his word and the story of his life, but also to be attentive to the details of our own daily lives”. Discernment Turning to spiritual discernment, Pope Francis said this is “a process by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one’s state in life”. He said the Christian vocation always has a prophetic dimension, since current events in a person’s life and in the world must be examined “in the light of God’s promise”. “Every Christian ought to grow in the ability to “read within” his or her life, and to understand where and to what he or she is being called by the Lord, in order to carry on his mission,” he said. Living one’s vocation Pope Francis then added a note of urgency. “Vocation is today! The Christian mission is now,” he said. “Each one of us is called – whether to the lay life in marriage, to the priestly life in the ordained ministry, or to a life of special consecration – in order to become a witness of the Lord, here and now.” Everyone is called to live their vocation, the Pope said, and there is no reason to fear God’s call, even to a life consecrated to God’s kingdom. “It is beautiful – and a great grace – to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters.” Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s message: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the 2018 World Day of Vocations Dear Brothers and Sisters. Next October, the Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will meet to discuss the theme of young people and in particular the relationship between young people, faith and vocation.  There we will have a chance to consider more deeply how, at the centre of our life, is the call to joy that God addresses to us and how this is “God’s plan for men and women in every age” (SYNOD OF BISHOPS, XV ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Young People, The Faith and Vocational Discernment, Introduction). The Fifty-fifth World Day of Prayer for Vocations once again proclaims this good news to us, and in a decisive manner.  We are not victims of chance or swept up in a series of unconnected events; on the contrary, our life and our presence in this world are the fruit of a divine vocation! Even amid these troubled times, the mystery of the Incarnation reminds us that God continually comes to encounter us.  He is God-with-us, who walks along the often dusty paths of our lives.  He knows our anxious longing for love and he calls us to joy.  In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us from on high and, while enabling us to develop our talents, makes us instruments of salvation in the world and guides us to full happiness. These three aspects – listening, discerning and living – were also present at beginning of Jesus’ own mission, when, after his time of prayer and struggle in the desert, he visited his synagogue of Nazareth.  There, he listened to the word, discerned the content of the mission entrusted to him by the Father, and proclaimed that he came to accomplish it “today” (Lk 4:16-21). Listening The Lord’s call – let it be said at the outset – is not as clear-cut as any of those things we can hear, see or touch in our daily experience.  God comes silently and discreetly, without imposing on our freedom.  Thus it can happen that his voice is drowned out by the many worries and concerns that fill our minds and hearts. We need, then, to learn how to listen carefully to his word and the story of his life, but also to be attentive to the details of our own daily lives, in order to learn how to view things with the eyes of faith, and to keep ourselves open to the surprises of the Spirit. We will never discover the special, personal calling that God has in mind for us if we remain enclosed in ourselves, in our usual way of doing things, in the apathy of those who fritter away their lives in their own little world.  We would lose the chance to dream big and to play our part in the unique and original story that God wants to write with us. Jesus too, was called and sent.  That is why he needed to recollect himself in silence.  He listened to and read the word in the synagogue, and with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit he revealed its full meaning, with reference to his own person and the history of the people of Israel. Nowadays listening is becoming more and more difficult, immersed as we are in a society full of noise, overstimulated and bombarded by information.  The outer noise that sometimes prevails in our cities and our neighbourhoods is often accompanied by our interior dispersion and confusion.  This prevents us from pausing and enjoying the taste of contemplation, reflecting serenely on the events of our lives, going about our work with confidence in God’s loving plan, and making a fruitful discernment. Yet, as we know, the kingdom of God comes quietly and unobtrusively (cf. Lk 17:21), and we can only gather its seeds when, like the prophet Elijah, we enter into the depths of our soul and are open to the imperceptible whisper of the divine breeze (cf. 1 Kg 19:11-13). Discerning When Jesus, in the synagogue of Nazareth, reads the passage of the prophet Isaiah, he discerns the content of the mission for which he was sent, and presents it to those who awaited the Messiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Lk 4:18-19). In the same way, each of us can discover his or her own vocation only through spiritual discernment.  This is “a process by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one’s state in life” (SYNOD OF BISHOPS, XV ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment, II, 2). Thus we come to discover that Christian vocation always has a prophetic dimension.  The Scriptures tell us that the prophets were sent to the people in situations of great material insecurity and of spiritual and moral crisis, in order to address in God’s name a message of conversion, hope and consolation.  Like a whirlwind, the prophet unsettles the false tranquility of consciences that have forgotten the word of the Lord.  He discerns events in the light of God’s promise and enables people to glimpse the signs of dawn amid the dark shadows of history. Today too, we have great need of discernment and of prophecy.  We have to resist the temptations of ideology and negativity, and to discover, in our relationship with the Lord, the places, the means and situations through which he calls us.  Every Christian ought to grow in the ability to “read within” his or her life, and to understand where and to what he or she is being called by the Lord, in order to carry on his mission. Living Lastly, Jesus announces the newness of the present hour, which will enthuse many and harden the heart of others.  The fullness of time has come, and he is the Messiah proclaimed by Isaiah and anointed to liberate prisoners, to restore sight to the blind and to proclaim the merciful love of God to every creature.  Indeed, Jesus says that “today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). The joy of the Gospel, which makes us open to encountering God and our brothers and sisters, does not abide our slowness and our sloth.  It will not fill our hearts if we keep standing by the window with the excuse of waiting for the right time, without accepting this very day the risk of making a decision.  Vocation is today!  The Christian mission is now!  Each one of us is called – whether to the lay life in marriage, to the priestly life in the ordained ministry, or to a life of special consecration – in order to become a witness of the Lord, here and now. This “today” that Jesus proclaimed assures us that God continues to “come down” to save our human family and to make us sharers in his mission.  The Lord continues to call others to live with him and to follow him in a relationship of particular closeness.  He continues to call others to serve him directly.  If he lets us realize that he is calling us to consecrate ourselves totally to his kingdom, then we should have no fear!  It is beautiful – and a great grace – to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters. Today the Lord continues to call others to follow him.  We should not wait to be perfect in order to respond with our generous “yes”, nor be fearful of our limitations and sins, but instead open our hearts to the voice of the Lord.  To listen to that voice, to discern our personal mission in the Church and the world, and at last to live it in the today that God gives us. May Mary Most Holy, who as a young woman living in obscurity heard, accepted and experienced the Word of God made flesh, protect us and accompany us always on our journey. From the Vatican, 3 December 2017 First Sunday of Advent      (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis in flight press conference: full text

Vatican News - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 08:24
Pope Francis on Saturday en route to Rome following his visit to Myanmar Bangladesh held his traditional in flight press conference. Among the topics of discussion were the Rohingya people, nuclear arms, globalization and future travel plans. Please find the full text below: Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father. First of all, thanks. You have chosen two interesting countries to visit. Two very different countries but with something in common, that is, in each of these countries is a small but very active Church, full of joy, full of young people and full of the spirit of service for all of society. We certainly have seen a lot, we have learned a lot, but we’re interested also in what you have seen and what you have learned. Pope Francis: Good evening, if we think of here, or good afternoon if we think of Rome, and thank you so much for your work… as Greg said, two very interesting countries, with very traditional, deep, rich cultures. For this, I think that your work has been very intense. Thank you so much. Greg Burke: The first question is from Sagrario Ruiz de Apodarca, from Spanish National Radio. Sagrario Ruiz (Radio Nacional Espanola): Good evening, Holy Father. Thank you. I’m asking the question in Spanish with the permission of my Italian colleagues because I don’t yet trust my Italian, but if you would answer in Italian, that would be perfect. The crisis of the Rohingya has tempered a large part of this trip. Yesterday, they were called by name finally in Bangladesh. Do you wish you would have done the same in Burma, named them with this word, Rohingya? And, what did you feel yesterday when you asked forgiveness? Pope Francis: It’s not the first time. I had said it publicly already in St. Peter’s Square, in an Angelus, in an Audience… and it was already known what I thought about this thing and what I had said. Your question is interesting because it brings me to reflect on how I seek to communicate. For me, the most important thing is that the message arrives and for this I seek to say the things, step by step, and listen to the answers so that the message may arrive. An example in daily life: a boy, a girl in the crisis of adolescence can say what they think but throwing the door in the face of the other… and the message doesn’t arrive. It closes. I was interested that this message would arrive, for this I saw that if in the official speech I would have said that word, I would have thrown the door in a face. But I described it, the situations, the rights, no one excluded, the citizenship, to allow myself in the private conversations to go beyond. I was very, very satisfied with the talks that I was able to have, because it is true that I haven’t, let’s say it this way, had the pleasure throwing the door in a face, publicly, a denouncement, but I did have the satisfaction of dialoguing and letting the other speak and to say my part and in that way the message arrived and to such a point did it arrive that it continued and continued and finished yesterday with that, no? And this is very important in communicating, the concern is that the message arrives. Often, denouncements, also in the media, but I don’t want to offend, with some aggressive (tactics) close the dialogue, close the door and the message doesn’t arrive. And you who are specialists in making messages arrive, also to me, understand this well. Then, something I heard yesterday… This wasn’t planned like this. I knew that I would meet the Rohingya. I didn’t know where or how, but this was the condition of the trip and they were preparing the ways, and after so much management also from the government, with Caritas… the government allowed this trip, of these who came yesterday. Because the problem for the government who protects them and gives them hospitality - and this is big. What Bangladesh does for them is big, an example of welcoming. A small, poor country that has received 700,000. I think of the countries that close the doors. We must be grateful for the example that they’ve given us - The government must move through the international relations with Burma, with permits, dialogue, because they are in a refugee camp with a special status. But in the end they come scared, they didn’t know. Someone there had told them, “You greet the Pope, don’t say anything,” someone who wasn’t from the government of Bangladesh, people who were working on it. At a certain point after the inter-religious dialogue, the inter-religious prayer, this prepared the hearts of us all. We were very open religiously. I at least felt that way. The moment arrived that they were coming to greet me, in a straight line, and I didn’t like that. One, the other... but then they immediately wanted to send them away from the scene and there I got mad and a chewed them out a bit. I’m a sinner. I told them so many times the word “respect, respect. Stay here.” And they stayed there. Then, having heard them one by one with an interpreter who spoke their language, I began to feel things inside, but (I said to myself) “I cannot let them go without saying a word.” I asked for the microphone. And I began to speak. I don’t remember what I said. I know that at a certain point I asked forgiveness, twice. I don’t remember. Your question is what did I feel. In that moment I cried. I tried not to let it be seen. They cried, too. And then I thought the we were in an inter-religious meeting and the leaders of the other religious traditions were there. “Why don’t you come too?” These were all of our Rohingya. They greeted the Rohingya and I didn’t know what more to say. I watched them. I greeted them. And I thought, all of us have spoken, the religious leaders, but one of you must make a prayer and one who I believe was an Imam or let’s say a “cleric” of their religion, made that prayer. They also prayed there with us, and seeing all that happened and the whole path, I felt that the message had arrived. I don’t know if I satisfied your question but part was planned, but the majority came out spontaneously. Then, I was told that today a program was made by one of you, I don’t know if they’re here or… from the TG1, a really long program, who did it… Greg Burke: TG1 is still there in Bangladesh. Pope Francis: Because it was replayed by TG4 and - I don’t know. I haven’t seen it, but some who are here have seen it - it’s a reflection that the message had arrived not only here. You have seen the front pages of the newspapers today. All have received the message and I haven’t heard any criticism. Maybe they are there but I haven’t heard them.   Ruiz: Thank you. Greg Burke: The next question is from George Kallivayalil, an Indian who has made the trip for the Deepika Daily. George Kallivayalil (Deepika Daily): Holy Father, your trip to South Asia was huge success, we know that you wish to go to India, too, in this trip. What exactly was the reason not to visit India in this trip? Indians in India, millions of the faithful still hope that Holy Father visit India next year. Can we expect you to be in India in 2018? Pope Francis: The first plan was to go to India and Bangladesh, but then the process to go to India was delayed and the time was pushing so I chose these two countries: Bangladesh and next door Myanmar. And it was providential because to visit India, you need one single trip, because you’ve got to go to the south, the center, the east, the northeast, to the north for the different cultures of India. I hope to do it in 2018 if I’m alive! But the idea was India and Bangladesh, then the time forced us to make this choice. Thanks. Greg Burke: And now from the French group, Etienne Loraillere of KTO, the French Catholic Television. Etienne Loraillere (KTO): Holiness, there is a question from the group of journalists from France. Some are opposed to inter-religious dialogue and evangelization. During this trip you have spoken of dialogue for building peace. But, what is the priority? Evangelizing or dialoguing for peace? Because to evangelize means bringing about conversions that provoke tension and sometimes provoke conflicts between believers. So, what is the priority, evangelizing or dialoguing? Thanks. Pope Francis: First distinction: evangelizing is not making proselytism. The Church grows not for proselytism but for attraction, that is for testimony, this was said by Pope Benedict XVI. What is evangelization like? Living the Gospel and bearing witness to how one lives the Gospel, witnessing to the Beatitudes, giving testimony to Matthew 25, the Good Samaritan, forgiving 70 times 7 and in this witness the Holy Spirit works and there are conversions, but we are not very enthusiastic to make conversions immediately. If they come, they wait, you speak, your tradition… seeking that a conversion be the answer to something that the Holy Spirit has moved in my heart before the witness of the Christians. During the lunch I had with the young people at World Youth Day in Krakow, 15 or so young people from the entire world, one of them asked me this question: what do I Have to say to a classmate at the university, a friend, good, but he is atheist… what do I have to say to change him, to convert him? The answer was this: the last thing you have to do is say something. You live your Gospel and if he asks you why you do this, you can explain why you do it. And let the Holy Spirit activate him. This is the strength and the meekness of the Holy Spirit in the conversion. It is not a mental convincing, with apologetics, with reasons, it is the Spirit that makes the vocation. We are witnesses, witnesses of the Gospel. 'Testimony' is a Greek word that means martyr. Every day martyrdom, martyrdom also of blood, when it arrives. And your question: what is the priority, peace or conversion? But when you live with testimony and respect, you make peace. Peace starts to break down in this field when proselytism begins and there are so many ways of proselytism and this is not the Gospel. I don’t know if I answered. Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. And now the Anglophone group. Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter. Joshua McElwee (National Catholic Reporter) : Thanks so much, Holiness. A change of theme. During the Cold War, Pope Saint John Paul II said that the world policy of nuclear deterrence was judged as morally acceptable. Last month, you said to a conference on disarmament that the very possession of nuclear arms was to be condemned. What has changed in the world that led you to make this change? What role have the episodes and the threats between President Trump and Kim Jong Un had on your decision? What would you say to politicians that do not want to renounce their nuclear arsenals nor decrease them? Pope Francis: I would prefer if the questions on the trip were done first, I say this to everyone, but I'll make an exception because you asked a question. Now we'll do the questions on the trip, then I'll say something about the trip, and then the other questions will come. What has changed? Irrationality has changed (has increased). The encyclical Laudato Si comes to mind, the care of the created, of creation, from the time of John Paul II to all this many years have passed. How many? Do you have the date? (82)  82, 92, 2002, 2012...34 years. In the nuclear field, in 34 years it has gone beyond, beyond, beyond, beyond, and today we are at the limit. This can be a matter for discussion, it's my opinion, but I am convinced of my opinion: we are at the limit of liceity to have and use nuclear arms. Because today, with the nuclear arsenal so sophisticated, we risk the destruction of humanity or at least a great part (of it). This with Laudato Si. What has changed? This: the growth in nuclear armament, it has also changed in that they are sophisticated and even cruel, they are also capable of destroying people, leaving...without touching structures, but we are at the limit, and because we are at the limit I ask myself this question: and this not as a pontifical magisterium, but it is the question a Pope makes. Today is it licit to maintain the arsenal of nuclear weapons as they are, or today, to save creation, to save humanity, is it not necessary to go backward? I go back to something I had said from Guarini, it's not mine, (but) there are two forms of culture: First, the inculturation that God has given us, to create the culture through work, through investigation. We think of medical science, so much progress, so much culture, so many mechanical things. And man has the mission to create the culture received by the inculturation, but we arrive at a point where man has in hand with this culture the capacity to make another "inculturation," we think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This 60/70 years ago, the destruction and also this happened when also atomic energy can not have all the control. Think of the incidents in Ukraine. For this returning to arms, that are to conquer and destroy, I say we are at the limit of liceity. Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. Now they have given me the signal that the questions that we have about the trip are others. So, if you’d like to say something about the trip… Pope Francis: I would like some more about the trip, because (otherwise) it would seem that the trip wasn’t that interesting. Greg Burke: (Come, come) We’ve found another about the trip. Come now, Delia Gallagher of CNN. Delia Gallagher (CNN): Holiness, I don’t know how much you’d like to respond, but I’m very curious about your meeting with General Haling because I’ve learned a lot about this situation being here and I’ve understood that, well, apart from Aung San Suu Kyi, there is also this military man that is very important in the crisis and you have met him in person. What type of meeting was it? How are you able to speak with him? Thanks. Pope Francis: Clever the question… eh.. good, good. But I would distinguish between the two meetings, two types of meetings. Those meetings during which I went to meet people and those in which I received people. This general asked me to speak. And I received him. I never close the door. You ask to speak and enter. Speaking you never lose anything, you always win. It was a beautiful conversation. I couldn’t say because it was private, but I didn’t negotiate the truth. But I did it in a way that he understood a bit that the path as it was during the nasty times renewed again today isn’t viable. It was a good meeting, civilized and also there the message arrived. Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. I think that Gerard O’Connell. Gerard O’Connell (America Magazine): Mine is a bit of a development of the questions from Delia. You met Aung San Suu Kyi, the president, the military, the monk who makes a bit of difficulty and then in Bangladesh you met the prime minister, the president, the Islamic leaders there and the Buddhist leaders in Myanmar. My question: what do you take away from all of these meetings? What prospects are there for the future of a better development in these two countries, in the situation also of the Rohingya? Pope Francis: It won’t be easy to move ahead in a constructive development and it will not be easy for someone who wishes to go back. We are at a point where they have to study things. Someone - I don’t know if this is true - has said that the Rakhine state is one of the richest in precious stones and that possibly there are interests, being a land a little without people to work… but I don’t know if it’s true. These are just hypotheses that are said, also about Africa they say so many… but I believe that we are at a point where it won’t be easy to go ahead in the positive sense and it won’t be easy to go back, because of the awareness of humanity today… the fact of the return of the Rohingya, which the United Nations have said that the Rohingya are the most persecuted religious and ethnic minority in the world today. Well, this is a point that whomever has to go back must do so quickly. We are at a point there… that that dialogue… beginning with a step, another step, maybe a half step back and two ahead, but as human things are done, with benevolence, dialogue, never with violation, never with war. It isn’t easy. But is a turning-point. Is this turning-point being done for the good? Or is this a turning-point to go back? But yes, I don’t lose hope! But why? Sincerely, if the Lord has allowed this that we’ve seen yesterday, that we’ve experienced in a very reserved way, except for two speeches… the Lord promises something to promise another. I have Christian hope. And it’s known…. Greg Burke: Something yet about the trip? Valentina. Valentina Alazraki (Televisa): On the trip, a question that we wished to asked before and then it didn’t go. We would like to know: a Pope that speaks about asylum seekers, refugees, immigrants every day… did you want to go to a Rohingya refugee camp? And why didn’t you go? Pope Francis: I would have liked to go. I would have liked to go, but it wasn’t possible. The things are studied and it wasn’t possible for various factors, also the timing and the distance… but other factors as well. The refugee camp came with a representation, but I would have liked to, that is true. But it wasn’t possible. Greg Burke: Enzo? Enzo Romeo (TG2) : Holiness, thank you. I would like to ask you two things quickly. One is on globalization: we’ve seen especially in Bangladesh, and it is a reason for the question tied to the trip, that the nation is trying to get out of poverty but with systems that seem for us quite tough. We saw the Rana Square, the place where the building that was used for industrial textiles fell. 1100 people dead. 5,000 wounded. For 60 Euros per day they worked and in our restaurant to eat a plat of pasta and a pizza cost 50 Euro. No this seems incredible, right? In your opinion, from what you have seen and what you have heard, is it possible to get out of this mechanism? And then another thing is this that we’ve all thought: on the issue of the Rohingya, it seemed that there was also the will to intervene by jihadist groups (Al Qaida, ISIS) who right away, it appears, tried to make themselves the tutors of this people, of the freedom of this people. It’s interesting that the head of Christendom has shown himself more a friend in some way than these extremist groups. Is this sensation right? Pope Francis: I’ll go from the second. There were groups of terrorists there who sought to take advantage of the situation of the Rohingya, who are a people of peace. This is like all the ethnicities, in all the religions there is always a fundamentalist group. We Catholics also have them. The military justify their intervention because of these groups. I try not to speak with these people. I try to speak with the victims, because the victims were the Rohingya people who on the one hand suffered that discrimination and on the other were defended by terrorists - and the government of Bangladesh has a very strong campaign, this is what I was told by ministers, of zero tolerance for terrorism not only for this, but to avoid other points - But these who are enrolled in ISIS are not Rohingya, but a fundamentalist, extremist, little group. But these make the ministers justify the intervention that has destroyed the good and the bad. Greg Burke: Globalization, the first question… Enzo Romeo: Bangladesh is seeking to go out from globalization, but at a very high price with the people exploited for little money. Pope Francis: It’s one of the most serious problems. I’ve spoken about this in the private meetings. They are conscious of this. They are also conscious that liberty up until a certain point is conditioned, not only by the military, but also by the big international trusts and they have put focus on education and I believe that it has been a wise choice. And there are plans for education. They’ve shown me the percentages for the last years of how illiteracy has decreased. Quite a bit. And this is their choice, and I hope it goes well. The believe that with education the nation will go ahead. Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. Jean Marie Guenois from Le Figaro. Jean Marie Guenois (Le Figaro): So, today Burma is the nation from which you come… before this you went to Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka. It gives the impression that you are going around China. So, two questions on China: is a trip to China being prepared? And, second question, what have you learned from this trip of the Asian mentality and also in light of this project from China? What is the Asian lesson for you? Pope Francis: Today, the lady chancellor of the State of Burma has gone to Beijing. It can be seen that they are in dialogue there. Beijing has a great influence on the region, it is natural. I don’t know how many kilometers of border Burma has with (China)... also at the Masses there were Chinese who had come and I believe that these countries that surround it, China, also Laos, Cambodia, have a need for good relations. They are close and I see as wise, politically constructive, it can move ahead. It is true that China today is a world power. If we see it from this side it can change the picture, but it will be the political experts to explain it. I can’t and I don’t know. It seems natural that they would have good relations. The trip to China is not being prepared. Be calm. For the moment, it is not being prepared. But, returning from Korea, when they told me that we were flying over Chinese territory, I wanted to say something: I would so much like to visit China. I would like to. It is not a hidden thing. The negotiations with China are at a high level, cultural. Today, for example, in these days there’s an exhibition of the Vatican Museums there. Then, there will be one or there has been one, I don’t know, of the Chinese museums in the Vatican. There are cultural, scientific relations, professors, priests who teach in Chinese state universities. Then, it’s mostly political dialogue for the Chinese Church, with that issue of the Patriotic Church, the underground church, which must go step by step delicately, as it is doing, slowly… I believe that in these days, today, tomorrow a sitting will start in Beijing of the mixed commission. Patience is needed. But the doors of the heart are open. And I believe that a trip to China will do well. I would like to do it. Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. Now a question more or less about the trip, if we remain on the trip. ABC News. James Longman (ABC): My apologies, I don’t speak any Italian. Thank you very much for having me on your--  I just want to ask if you have seen how much criticism Aung San Suu Kyi, and if you think that she received not having spoken enough about the Rohingya is fair. Pope Francis: I heard all that, I heard the critics, also I heard the criticism of not being brought to the province of Rakhine, then you went a half day, more or less. But in Myanmar it is difficult to evaluate a criticism without asking, was it possible to do this? Or how will be possible to do this? In this I don’t want to say that it was a mistake to go or not to go. But in Myanmar the political situation… is a growing nation, politically in growth, and a nation in transition, (made up) of so many cultural values, in history, but politically it is in transition and because of this the possibilities should be evaluated also from this view. In this moment of transition would it have been possible or not to do this or that other (thing)? And to see if it was a mistake or it was not possible? Not only for the State’s Chancellor, but also for the president, for the deputies, the parliament. In Myanmar, you always have to have the construction of the country in front (of you), and from there you take, as I said at the beginning, two steps forward, one back, two forward, two back…History teaches us this. I do not know how to respond in another way, (this is) the little knowledge that I have on this place and I would not want to fall into what that Argentinian philosopher did who was invited to give conferences to countries in Asia one week and when he returned he wrote a book on the reality of that country. This is presumptuous. Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness! On the trip, Pullella. Phil Pullella (Reuters): Yes, I would like to return to the trip if it’s possible. The meeting with the general was originally scheduled for Thursday morning. Instead you had to first meet Aung San Suu Kyi. When the general asked to see you first, the day of your arrival, it was a way of saying: I am in charge here, you have to see me first...in that moment did you feel that he or they wanted to manipulate you? Pope Francis: The request was because he had to travel to China. If these things happen in every case, if I can move an appointment I do it...I don’t know the intentions, but I was interested in dialogue. A dialogue asked for by them and which they came to, it wasn’t scheduled in my visit. And I think that the most important thing...it’s clear that the suspicion is exactly what you said: we are in charge here, we are the first. Pullella: Can I ask if -- you said that you cannot tell what is said in private encounters, but can I ask you if during that encounter you used the word Rohingya, with the general? Pope Francis: I used the words to get to the message and when I saw that the message was accepted, I dared to say everything I wanted to say. ‘Intelligenti pauca’ (Editors note: this refers to a Latin phrase meaning “few words are enough for the one who understands”). Greg Burke: Thank you, Your Holiness. Pope Francis: The lady asked me first. It’s the last. Alicia Romay (Gestiona Radio): Good evening Holiness! For my part I have a question because yesterday when we were with the priests who were ordained, I thought about whether they are afraid to be Catholic priests at this time because of the Catholic life in the country, and whether they had asked you, Your Holiness, what can they do when fear arrives and they don’t know what to do? Pope Francis: It’s your first trip, eh, you are the friend of Valentina. I always have the habit that five minutes before the ordination, I speak with them in private. And to me they seemed calm, serene, aware. They were aware of their mission. Normal, normal. A question that I asked them: do you play soccer? Yes, all of them. It’s important. A theological question. But I didn’t perceive that fear. They know that they must be close, close to their people, that yes, they feel attached to the people and I liked this. Then I spoke with the formators. Some bishops told me, before entering the seminary, that they make the presbytery so that they learn many things, and they also learn perfect English, to say something practical. They know English and they start seminary. I learned that ordination doesn’t happen at 23-24, but at 28-29...they seem like children, because they all seem so young, all of them, even the older ones...but I saw them secure. What they had...close to their people. And they care a lot. Because each one of them comes from an ethnicity and this... I thank you, because they tell me that it’s past time. I thank you for the questions and for all that you have done. And what does the Pope think about the trip: to me the trip does me well when I am able to meet the people of the country, the People of God, when I am able to speak, to meet with them and greet them, the encounters with the people. We have spoken about the encounters with the politicians. Yes, it’s true, it must be done, with the priests, with the bishops...but with the people, this...the people, the people who are truly the depth of a country. When I find this, when I am able to find it I am happy. I thank you for your help. And thanks also for the questions and the things that I learned from your questions. Thanks, and have a good dinner. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Angelus: Pope marks Advent and recalls Papal journey

Vatican News - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 07:11
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis was back in St Peter’s Square for the traditional recitation of the Angelus on Sunday following his return from a journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh . From the window of his studio the Holy Father thanked all those who accompanied him there in prayer. Listen to the report: He told all those gathered in the square that he was impressed by the many noble and smiling faces he witnessed despite their hardships and he expressed his closeness to them. The Pope also remembered in his prayers the nation of Honduras which has witnessed violent protests as a result of a disputed Presidential election. Pope Francis said, “I remember especially the people of Honduras, and pray they can overcome the current moment of difficulty in a peaceful way.” Advent Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer the Holy Father focused his attention on this first Sunday of Advent saying, it is the time “that is given to us to welcome the Lord who comes to meet us, to verify our desire for God, and  to look ahead and prepare for the return of Christ. “ Referring to the Gospel readings of the day, the Pope explained, “Jesus exhorts us to pay attention and to watch, to be ready to welcome him at the moment of his return.” The person who pays attention, he continued,  is the one who, “in the noise of the world, does not let him or herself be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way, with a concern directed above all to others.” With this attitude, Pope Francis noted, “we become aware of the tears and needs of others”… The attentive person, he added, tries to counter the indifference and cruelty in the world and rejoices in the treasures of beauty that also exist in it. The Holy Father underlined that the vigilant person is the one that welcomes the invitation to watch, and is not overwhelmed by the weariness of discouragement, a lack of hope or disappointment; Being alert and vigilant , Pope Francis concluded are the preconditions that help us to stop "wandering away from the ways of the Lord", lost in our sins and in our infidelities; “these are the conditions that allow God to break into our existence, in order to restore meaning and value to it full of goodness and tenderness.”  (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope pays homage to Mary after papal journey

Vatican News - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 04:49
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday morning went to the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major to pay homage at the icon of the Virgin Mary, Salus populi Romani, after his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Pope, who laid white flowers at the image, returned to the Vatican Saturday night, after having landed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 9:40 pm. In a tweet before leaving Bangladesh, the Holy Father said, "Dear friends of Myanmar and Bangladesh thank you for your welcome! I invoke upon you the divine blessings of harmony and peace ". (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope urges Myanmar Bishops to continue to provide prophetic voice

Vatican News - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 06:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met with the 22 Catholic Bishops of Myanmar and reflected with them on the joys and challenges of their ministry in the nation. The meeting took place in Yangon’s Cathedral Complex. After addressing those present he was introduced personally to each Bishop and symbolically blessed the corner stones of 16 Churches, of the Major Seminary and of the Apostolic Nunciature. The Catholic Church in Myanmar includes 3 Archdioceses and 13 Dioceses. The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar is Archbishop Felix Lian Khen Thang. The Pope focussed his discourse to the Bishops on the concepts of healing, accompaniment and prophecy . He spoke of the need for healing and reconciliation in a country that is working to overcome deeply-rooted divisions and build national unity and he highlighted the precious value provided by cultural and religious diversity and the bishops’ responsibility to help foster healing and communion at every level. Regarding his focus on ‘accompaniment’, Pope Francis reminded the bishops that a good shepherd must constantly be present to his flock. He said that the Church is called to ‘go forth’ bringing the light of the Gospel to every periphery and he urged them to make a special effort to accompany the young and to be “concerned for their formation in the sound moral principles that will guide them in confronting the challenges of a rapidly changing world.” Finally, the Pope spoke of the prophetic voice of the Church that “witnesses daily to the Gospel through its works of education and charity, its defence of human rights, its support for democratic rule”. He encouraged the bishops – and Catholic communities - to continue to play a constructive part in the life of society and to stand by the poorest and the most vulnerable as well as helping to protect the environment. Please find below the Pope’s prepared speech to Myanmar Bishops: Your Eminence, My Brother Bishops,             For all of us, this has been a busy day, but also a day of great joy!  This morning we celebrated the Eucharist together with the faithful from throughout Myanmar, while this afternoon we met with leaders of the majority Buddhist community.  I would like our encounter this evening to be a moment of quiet gratitude for these blessings and for peaceful reflection on the joys and challenges of your ministry as shepherds of Christ’s flock in this country.  I thank Bishop Felix [Lian Khen Thang] for his words of greeting in your name and I embrace all of you with great affection in the Lord.             I would like to group my own thoughts around three words: healing, accompaniment and prophecy.             First, healing.  The Gospel we preach is above all a message of healing, reconciliation and peace.  Through the blood of Christ’s cross, God has reconciled the world to himself, and has sent us to be messengers of that healing grace.  Here in Myanmar, that message has a particular resonance, as this country works to overcome deeply-rooted divisions and to build national unity.  For you, whose flocks bear the scars of this conflict and have borne valiant witness to their faith and their ancient traditions, the preaching of the Gospel must not only be a source of consolation and strength, but also a summons to foster unity, charity and healing in the life of this nation.  For the unity we share and celebrate is born of diversity.  It values people’s differences as a source of mutual enrichment and growth.  It invites people to come together in a culture of encounter and solidarity.              In your episcopal ministry, may you constantly experience the Lord’s guidance and help in your efforts to foster healing and communion at every level of the Church’s life, so that by their example of forgiveness and reconciling love, God’s holy people can be salt and light for hearts longing for that peace the world cannot give.  The Catholic community in Myanmar can be proud of its prophetic witness to love of God and neighbour, as expressed in its outreach to the poor, the disenfranchised, and above all in these days, to the many displaced persons who lie wounded, as it were, by the roadside.  I ask you to offer my thanks to all who, like the Good Samaritan, work so generously to bring the balm of healing to these, their neighbours in need, without regard for religion or ethnicity.             Your ministry of healing finds particular expression in your commitment to ecumenical dialogue and interreligious cooperation.  I pray that your continuing efforts to build bridges of dialogue and to join with the followers of other religions in weaving peaceful relations will bear rich fruit for reconciliation in the life of the nation.  The interfaith peace conference held in Yangon last spring was a powerful testimony before the world of the determination of the religions to live in peace and to reject every act of violence and hatred perpetrated in the name of religion.             My second word to you this evening is accompaniment.  A good shepherd is constantly present to his flock, guiding them as he walks at their side.  As I like to say, the shepherd should bear the smell of the sheep.  In our time, we are called to be “a Church which goes forth” to bring the light of Christ to every periphery (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 20).  As bishops, your lives and ministry are called to model this spirit of missionary outreach, above all through your regular pastoral visitation of the parishes and communities that make up your local Churches.  This is a privileged means for you, as loving fathers, to accompany your priests in their daily efforts to build up the flock in holiness, fidelity and a spirit of service.              By God’s grace, the Church in Myanmar has inherited a solid faith and a fervent missionary spirit from the labours of those who brought the Gospel to this land.  On this firm foundation, and in a spirit of communion with your priests and religious, continue to imbue the laity with a spirit of true missionary discipleship and seek a wise inculturation of the Gospel message in the daily life and traditions of your local communities.  The contribution of catechists is essential in this regard; their formation and enrichment must remain among your chief priorities.             Above all, I would ask you to make a special effort to accompany the young.  Be concerned for their formation in the sound moral principles that will guide them in confronting the challenges of a rapidly changing world.  The next Synod of Bishops will not only address these issues but also directly engage young people, listening to their stories and enlisting them in our common discernment on how best to proclaim the Gospel in the years to come.  One of the great blessings of the Church in Myanmar is its young people and, in particular, the number of seminarians and young religious.  In the spirit of the Synod, please engage them and support them in their journey of faith, for by their idealism and enthusiasm they are called to be joyful and convincing evangelizers of their contemporaries.              My third word to you is prophecy.  The Church in Myanmar witnesses daily to the Gospel through its works of education and charity, its defence of human rights, its support for democratic rule.  May you enable the Catholic community to continue to play a constructive part in the life of society by making your voices heard on issues of national interest, particularly by insisting on respect for the dignity and rights of all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.  I am confident that the five-year pastoral strategy that the Church has developed within the larger context of nationbuilding will bear rich fruit for the future not only of your local communities but also of the country as a whole.  Here I think in a special way of the need to protect the environment and to ensure a just use of the nation’s rich natural resources for the benefit of future generations.  The protection of God’s gift of creation cannot be separated from a sound human and social ecology.  Indeed, “genuine care for our relationship with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and keeping faith with others” (Laudato Si’, 70).             Dear brother bishops, I thank God for this moment of communion and I pray that our presence together will strengthen us in our commitment to be faithful shepherds and servants of the flock that Christ has entrusted to our care.  I know that your ministry is demanding and that, together with your priests, you often labour under the heat and the burden of the day (cf. Mt 20:12).  I urge you to maintain a balance between your spiritual and physical health, and to show paternal concern for the health of your priests.  Above all, I encourage you to grow daily in prayer and in the experience of God’s reconciling love, for that is the basis of your priestly identity, the guarantee of the soundness of your preaching, and the source of the pastoral charity by which you guide God’s people on the path of holiness and truth.  With great affection I invoke the Lord’s grace upon you, the clergy and religious, and all the lay faithful of your local Churches.  And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis on need to respect all Myanmar's ethnic groups

Vatican News - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began his first full day in Myanmar on Tuesday with an unscheduled encounter at the Archbishop’s House, meeting with a group of 17  leaders from the different religious traditions present in the country. Following that encounter, he travelled by plane up to the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, where he met President Htin Kyaw and Burmese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, before addressing diplomats and government leaders gathered at an international convention centre. Philippa Hitchen is in Myanmar following this papal visit and takes a closer look at the pope’s words to the nation’s leaders... Listen to her report: Inside the convention centre sat a colourful mix of military men in green uniforms, cardinals and bishops, diplomats and politicians in traditional coloured sarongs and flip flops. A row of children in ethnic costumes flanked the pope and ‘The Lady’ as they took their place on stage. Unsurprisingly, in a country still struggling to emerge from half a century of military dictatorship, the pope’s words were firmly focused on dialogue, reconciliation and respect for human rights . Respect all ethnic identities He spoke plainly about the suffering people have endured, “and continue to suffer, from civil conflict and hostilities”, without mentioning by name the different states where government troops are fighting against armed independence groups. He reiterated the need to respect the identity of each ethnic group, adding “none excluded”, and he insisted that conflicts must be resolved “through dialogue, not the use of force”. Aung San Suu Kyi on Rakhine conflict In her words to the pope, Aung San Suu Kyi talked directly of the challenges in Rakhine state, which has been the focus of such intense criticism from the international community. She said the government is seeking to address the many social, economic and political problems there, highlighting the need to rebuilt trust and cooperation. Among the Muslim leaders, whom the pope met at the earlier interreligious encounter in Yangon, was a member of the advisory commission for the Rakhine, chaired by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. Many internally displaced people But it’s not just the Muslins fleeing across the northern border into Bangladesh, who have suffered from violent repression. During a visit to the predominantly Christian Kachin state, ahead of the pope’s arrival, I met Catholic families in one of the many camps for internally displaced people, whose villages were destroyed and who survive on aid from international organisations. The Church runs education and health programmes, trying to improve the desperate living conditions, but all agree there can be no real development without peace between the warring parties. Healing of wounds a paramount priority The healing of the wounds of war, Pope Francis insisted in his first speech here, “must be a paramount political and spiritual priority”, adding that the country’s religious communities “have a privileged role to play” in this difficult task. Of the 16 Catholic dioceses in Myanmar, 15 primarily serve the many ethnic minorities. Church leaders will be hoping the politicians take his words to heart, increasing efforts towards real democracy and equal rights for all. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis addresses Myanmar's leaders: Full text

Vatican News - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 06:26
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday addressed Myanmar's government authorities, civil societies, and the diplomatic corps in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, while on his Apostolic Visit to Myanmar. Please find below the official English translation of the Pope's speech: Address to Government Authorities, Civil Societies  and the Diplomatic Corps Naw Pyi Taw, Convention Center Tuesday, 28 November 2017 Madam State Counsellor, Honourable Government and Civil Authorities, Your Eminence, My Brother Bishops, Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am grateful for the kind invitation to visit Myanmar and I thank you, Madam State Counsellor, for your kind words.  I am very grateful to all who have worked so hard to make this visit possible.  I have come, above all, to pray with the nation’s small but fervent Catholic community, to confirm them in their faith, and to encourage them in their efforts to contribute to the good of the nation.  I am most grateful that my visit comes soon after the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Myanmar and the Holy See.  I would like to see this decision as a sign of the nation’s commitment to pursuing dialogue and constructive cooperation within the greater international community, even as it strives to renew the fabric of civil society. I would also like my visit to embrace the entire population of Myanmar and to offer a word of encouragement to all those who are working to build a just, reconciled and inclusive social order.  Myanmar has been blessed with great natural beauty and resources, yet its greatest treasure is its people, who have suffered greatly, and continue to suffer, from civil conflict and hostilities that have lasted all too long and created deep divisions.  As the nation now works to restore peace, the healing of those wounds must be a paramount political and spiritual priority.  I can only express appreciation for the efforts of the Government to take up this challenge, especially through the Panglong Peace Conference, which brings together representatives of the various groups in an attempt to end violence, to build trust and to ensure respect for the rights of all who call this land their home.  Indeed, the arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation can only advance through a commitment to justice and respect for human rights.  The wisdom of the ancients defined justice precisely as a steadfast will to give each person his due, while the prophets of old saw justice as the basis of all true and lasting peace.  These insights, confirmed by the tragic experience of two world wars, led to the establishment of the United Nations and the universal declaration of human rights as the basis for the international community’s efforts to promote justice, peace and human development worldwide, and to resolve conflicts through dialogue, not the use of force.  In this sense, the presence of the diplomatic corps in our midst testifies not only to Myanmar’s place in the concert of nations, but also to the country’s commitment to uphold and pursue those foundational principles.  The future of Myanmar must be peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity, respect for the rule of law, and respect for a democratic order that enables each individual and every group – none excluded – to offer its legitimate contribution to the common good. In the great work of national reconciliation and integration, Myanmar’s religious communities have a privileged role to play.  Religious differences need not be a source of division and distrust, but rather a force for unity, forgiveness, tolerance and wise nationbuilding.  The religions can play a significant role in repairing the emotional, spiritual and psychological wounds of those who have suffered in the years of conflict.  Drawing on deeply-held values, they can help to uproot the causes of conflict, build bridges of dialogue, seek justice and be a prophetic voice for all who suffer.  It is a great sign of hope that leaders of the various religious traditions in this country are making efforts to work together, in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect, for peace, for helping the poor and for educating in authentic religious and human values.  In seeking to build a culture of encounter and solidarity, they contribute to the common good and to laying the indispensable moral foundations for a future of hope and prosperity for coming generations. That future is even now in the hands of the nation’s young people.  The young are a gift to be cherished and encouraged, an investment that will yield a rich return if only they are given real opportunities for employment and quality education.  This is an urgent requirement of intergenerational justice.  The future of Myanmar in a rapidly changing and interconnected world will depend on the training of its young, not only in technical fields, but above all in the ethical values of honesty, integrity and human solidarity that can ensure the consolidation of democracy and the growth of unity and peace at every level of society.  Intergenerational justice likewise demands that future generations inherit a natural environment unspoilt by human greed and depredation.  It is essential that our young not be robbed of hope and of the chance to employ their idealism and talents in shaping the future of their country and, indeed, our entire human family. Madam State Counsellor, dear friends: In these days, I wish to encourage my Catholic brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith and to continue to express its message of reconciliation and brotherhood through charitable and humanitarian works that benefit society as a whole.  It is my hope that, in respectful cooperation with the followers of other religions, and all men and women of good will, they will help to open a new era of concord and progress for the people of this beloved nation.  “Long live Myanmar!”   I thank you for your attention, and with prayerful good wishes for your service to the common good, I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope urges Myanmar’s religions to build peace and unity amidst differences ‎

Vatican News - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 05:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with  17 leaders of Myanmar’s religious communities Tuesday morning, exhorting them that peace consists in unity in diversity, not in uniformity.  The Pope met leaders of Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic and other Christian communities at the Archbishop’s House in Yangon, at the start of his first full day of his Nov. 27-30 apostolic visit to Myanmar. The Holy See’s spokesman, Greg Burke said that the during his 40-minute meeting with them, the Pope urged them to work together to rebuild the country and that if they argue, they should argue like brothers, who reconcile afterwards.   Unity is not uniformity After various leaders spoke, Pope Francis spoke off-hand in Spanish helped by an interpreter.  Alluding to the Psalms, he said, “ How beautiful it is to see brothers united!”   He explained that being united does not mean being equal.  “Unity is not uniformity, even within a religious community.  Each one has his values, his riches as also shortcomings,” the Pope said, adding, “we are all different.”  Each confession has its riches and traditions to give and share .  And this can happen only if all live in peace.  “ Peace ,” the Pope stressed, “consists in a chorus of differences .”  “Unity comes about in differences.” Uniformity kills “Peace is harmony,” the Pope said, noting that there is a trend in the world towards uniformity to make everybody equal.  But he denounced this as a “cultural colonization” that “kills humanity.”    He said religious leaders should understand the richness of our differences - ethnic, religious or popular - and what results from these differences is dialogue.  “As brothers, we can learn from these differences,” the Pope stressed, exhorting the religious leaders to “build the country, which is so rich and diverse even geographically.”  Nature in Myanmar is very rich in differences, the Pope said, urging them not be afraid of differences. “Since we have one Father and we are all brothers , let us be brothers,” the Pope urged.  And if they have to debate among themselves, let it be as brothers, which will soon bring about reconciliation and peace.   “Build peace without allowing yourselves be made uniform by the colonization of cultures,” the Pope appealed.  “One builds true divine harmony through differences.  Differences are a richness for peace ,” the Pope added.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Angelus: We will be judged on love

Vatican News - Sun, 11/26/2017 - 06:27
(Vatican Radio) In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the last judgement , the subject of the day’s Gospel reading. He noted that this is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the day on which the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe . Christ’s kingship, he said, is one “of guidance and service, but it is also a kingship that at the end of time will be asserted in judgement.” The vision of the second coming of Christ, presented in the Gospel, introduces the final judgment, when all of humanity will appear before Him, and Jesus, exercising His authority, will separate one from another, “as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Pope Francis recalled the criteria that Jesus says will be the foundation of His judgment: “What you did for the least of my brothers, that you did on to me.” This sentence, the Pope said, “never fails to strike us, because it reveals to us” the end to which God is willing to go on account of His love for us. God goes so far as to identify Himself with us, not when we are “happy and healthy, but when we are in need.” Thus, the Pope said, “Jesus reveals the decisive criteria of His judgment, that is, the concrete love for our neighbour in difficulty.” Likewise, those who cursed, in the Gospel account, are judged for failing to aid their brothers and sisters in their need. Pope Francis repeated, “At the end of our life we will be judged on love, that is, on our concrete commitment to love and to serve Jesus in our smallest and most needy brothers.” The Holy Father reminds us that Jesus will come at the end of time to judge all nations ; but He also “ comes to us every day , in so many ways, and asks us to welcome Him.” The Pope concluded his reflection with the prayer that “the Virgin Mary might help us to encounter Him and to receive Him in His Word and in the Eucharist , and at the same time in our brothers and in our sisters who suffer hunger, illness, oppression, injustice. May our hearts be able to welcome Him in the ‘today’ of our life, so that we might be welcomed by Him into the eternity of His Kingdom of light and of peace.” Listen:  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Pastoral Consolation, the goal of new matrimonial norms

Vatican News - Sat, 11/25/2017 - 07:11
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday addressed the participants of a training course for clerics and laity held by the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota. In his prepared remarks, Pope Francis focused on new matrimonial norms and Super Rato procedures . In particular the Pope said, “it is necessary to give greater attention and proper analysis to the two recent motu proprios: Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et misericors Iesus , in order to apply the new procedures that have been established.” Spirit of the Synod These two measures, he said arose “from a synodal context, and are the expression of a synodal path.” The Pope explained that the Synod had the purpose of promoting and defending marriage and the Christian family. Listen to the report:  Pope Francis also urged those gathered to strive to be missionaries and witnesses of the spirit of the Synod when they return to their communities. He stressed the importance of “pastoral consolation ,” which is the goal of the new matrimonial norms. “Let that synodal spirit,” he said, “become the basis of your action in the Church, especially in such a delicate field as marriage and the family.” The Pope told the participants, that they were called “ to be close to the loneliness and suffering of the faithful waiting for ecclesial justice and to provide the help needed to regain the peace of their consciences and the will of God on readmission to the Eucharist.” Role of Diocesan Bishop During his discourse Pope Francis said he had decided to definitively clarify some of the fundamental aspects of the two recent motu proprios, in particular the role of the diocesan bishop. In a series of points the Holy Father said the diocesan bishop was the natural judge in the new “shorter process.” He added that the shorter process was not simply another option that the Bishop may choose; rather, it is an obligation that comes from his consecration and the mission that has been entrusted to him. The Pope also underlined several fundamental criteria for the shorter process: mercy, in the first place, and closeness and gratuity , which the Holy Father said “are the two pearls the poor need, and which the Church must love above all else.” (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope sends telegramme of condolence following terror attacks in Egypt

Vatican News - Sat, 11/25/2017 - 02:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolence for Friday's attack on a mosque in Egypt, saying he was "profoundly grieved to learn of the great loss of life caused by the terrorist attacks on Rawda mosque in North Sinai". ​ At least 235 people were killed as they gathered for Friday prayers at the al-Rawda mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed.​ ​Witnesses said dozens of gunmen arrived in off-road vehicles and bombed the mosque before opening fire on people as they attempted to flee. Signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the telegramme says, "In expressing his solidarity with the Egyptian people at this hour of national mourning, [Pope Francis] commends the victims to the mercy of the Most High God and invokes divine blessings of consolation and peace upon their families." The Pope ​also ​ renewed "his firm condemnation of this wanton act of brutality directed at innocent civilians gathered in prayer". Finally, Pope Francis said he joins "all people of good will in imploring that hearts hardened by hatred will learn to renounce the way of violence that leads to such great suffering, and embrace the way of peace."     (from Vatican Radio)...
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