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Pope Francis to Albania: Full schedule

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:01
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has announced the schedule for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage to Albania, set for 21 September 2014. It will be the second visit of a Pope to Albania, after Pope St John Paul II’s visit to the country in 1993. Pope Francis trip will begin with a welcoming ceremony at Tirana’s “Mother Teresa” international airport, where he will be greeted by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. From the airport the Pope will travel to the Presidential Palace where he will pay a courtesy visit to the President, Bujar Nishani. Afterwards he will address representatives of the civil authorities. The high point of the Voyage will be the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Mother Teresa Square, followed by the recitation of the Angelus. After Mass, the Holy Father will meet with the Bishops of Albania for lunch at the Apostolic Nunciature. In the afternoon, Pope Francis will meet with leaders of other religions and other Christian denominations at the Catholic University “Our Lady of Good Counsel.” The Holy Father will travel to the Cathedral of St Paul in the evening to celebrate Vespers with priests, religious sisters and brothers, seminarians, and members of various lay movements. The final event on a busy schedule will be a meeting with children of the “Centro Betania,” along with representatives from other charitable institutions of Albania. Although Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage will be only the second visit by a reigning Pope, four other Roman Pontiffs have ties to the country: Pope St Eleutherius, Pope St Caius, and Pope John IV were all born in what is now Albania, while the ancestors of Pope Clement XI also hailed from the country.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Card. Tagle: Asia awaits Pope Francis

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:01
Vatican Radio) “The Holy Father has captured the imaginations not only of Catholics and Christians in Asia but even of the non-Christians” says Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, the Philippines. In less than two weeks’ time Pope Francis will embark on his first Apostolic Journey to Asia when he flies to Korea August 14 th .   Moreover his first foreign trip of 2015 – confirmed this week by the Vatican – will be a return journey to the continent, this time to Sri Lanka and the Cardinal’s homeland, the Philippines. In a lengthy interview with Emer McCarthy, Cardinal Tagle says that from the outset of his pontificate, Pope Francis expressed his deep desire to visit the churches of Asia; he speaks of how the Pope has ‘ignited a flame’ in Asian minds; of the importance of Asian Youth Days in faith formation;  of how the Philippines is preparing for the Papal visit in January 2015 and of how the upcoming Synod on the Family is not just about divorced and re-married Catholics. Listen to the interview: This is the Pope’s first visit to Asia, has it sparked any interest in wider society is there an awareness that he is coming? “The Holy Father has captured the imaginations not only of Catholics and Christians in Asia but even of the non-Christians. They see his sincerity, how he embodies the Gospel truth in a way that is noble, down to earth, so near and yet quite transcendent. In Asia people love that.  While we are very respectful of authority, in our hearts we want to see that transcendent authority in the flesh, coming to us and so we are just fascinated by this and the Holy Father has ignited a flame in the hearts and minds of many Asian people”. The Pope will attend celebrations for the Asian Youth Day which is in it’s 6 th edition, is this the Asian version of the World Youth Day? “The Asian Youth Day celebration happens in between two World Youth Days (WYD), to bring to the youth here in Asia the fruits of the WYD and also to prepare for the coming WYD.  My former diocese in Emus was the host diocese for the last Asian Youth Day so I was part of the team that welcomed the youth of Asia. So I remember clearly when the youth delegates and I presented the Cross to the next host diocese from Korea. The Asian Youth Day is not as big as the WYD. In fact the organizers want to keep the official delegates to around two thousand, so that the delegates can experience intense formation, intense moments of prayer, intense community building. But because the Pope will be coming I am sure more young people will be invited and I know that the young and not so young from the Philippines are planning to go to Korea to see the Pope”.   What has the reaction been to the announcement of the 2015 Philippines visit how are you preparing for it? “The Filipino people are just ecstatic!  And what a coincidence! 20 years ago in January, Pope John Paul II came to Manila for the World Youth Day, 1995…that was a pure coincidence but how God works! The historic visit of Pope John Paul encountering the people of the world. Now Pope Francis is following in his footsteps.   But he is not just encountering young people.  He is coming especially to meet with the people who suffered on account of the typhoons and earthquakes that hit the country last year. Immediately after the Conclave in one of our conversations I invited the Holy Father to Asia, especially the Philippines where you have almost half of the Christian population of all of Asia.  He told me that he would love to go to Asia, especially because due to his age and health reasons Pope Benedict was not able to do a pastoral visit in Asia.  He repeated this to me last June – and this was before the Typhoon – I want to go to Asia.  So he even asked us to start thinking of a program. And since in the Philippines 2014 was dedicated to the laity we thought we could have this as a theme for the Holy Father. Then the Typhoon came. The visit now acquired a new configuration. It’s not just a general or generic visit, but especially to show the Holy Father’s solidarity with the victims and survivors and to pray with these people. And I also hope that he will be inspired by the resilience tenacity and deep faith of the people who have gone through horrible times”. These next few months will be intensely busy for you.  Not only are you preparing for this papal visit, but you are also one of the three Presidents appointed by the Pope to preside over the October Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.  “In terms of preparation, this extraordinary synod is linked to the ordinary synod of bishops that will happen next year – so this is quite unique- two consecutive assemblies linked in process and in theme.  This first gathering will set the status quaestionis with the help of episcopal conferences,  experts and observers worldwide we want to see the situation of the family all over the globe.  Here in the Philippines there was an extensive response to the questionnaire.  Many dioceses really took the survey issued by the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops seriously. So we have a sizable collection of data that will be the core of the contribution of the Philippine Church to the Synod.  I myself saw the need for the evangelization of the family here in the Philippines which is a predominantly Christian, Catholic country”.  “Attending the preparatory meetings I also realized that part of the richness of the Synod is the diversity of situations, challenges and it is exciting to see how the one Gospel, the one Truth we hold on to could be expressed pastorally in diverse ways”.   Here in the west the main preoccupation ahead of the Synod seems to be with the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics, but there are other issues that perhaps we in the West overlook… “While not minimizing the importance of that question, for example in most Asian countries – even the not predominantly Christians countries – we do not have divorce. But there is a type of separation that is happening.  Not because couples are fed up with one another or don’t want to see each other anymore or want to abandon the family.  There is a separation of married people due to poverty, due to wars.  This is a painful type of separation.  For example here in the  Philippines we have couples finding employment outside of the country and they bear the pain of being separated from their spouses and families.  But they are willing to be separated out of love.  So poverty, poverty is one big area.  This also leads to the question of forced migration, because poverty  forces people to separate. Here in Asia you still have a lot of refugees and stateless people who are not cared for, imagine the impact on the family.  This is just one of the burning issues in Asia. I can mention another area, the families in Asia are becoming the locus for inter-religious dialogue.  Inter-religious dialogue and you think right away of theologians schools of philosophy etc…but now it is happening in the family and how are we equipping the Catholic partner to engage in a serious interreligious dialogue with their spouses and how can a family be family in an inter-religious setting.  And we say if the families could discover the secret than maybe they can led it to wider society, so diversity in religious affiliations would not be a deterrent to peace and unity”. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Vatican hosts conference marking World Day against Trafficking

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 11:29
(Vatican Radio) The first World Day against Trafficking in Persons is being marked on Wednesday July 30th, with a call to action to step up the fight and support the survivors. Whether it’s child labour in Southeast Asia, organ trading in Central America, sex trafficking in the Middle East or Eastern Europe, child soldiers in Africa, or exploitation in the United States, it’s a problem which touches virtually every part of our global community.  In a statement the UN leader Bank Ki-Moon spoke about the need to cut off funding for the traffickers, while at the same time tackle the root causes of human trafficking such as poverty, inequality and ignorance. Philippa Hitchen reports:  Here in the Vatican on Tuesday the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, together with the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and the ecumenical Global Freedom Network, hosted a video conference with America’s top official on monitoring human trafficking, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca. Speaking from his Washington office, he talked about the recently released U.S. Report on Trafficking in Persons, highlighting the journey that trafficked people make from victim to survivor. Tracking progress being made in 188 countries around the world, the report focuses on a triple paradigm of ‘prevention, protection and prosecution’.  It’s filled with personal stories about men, women and children who’ve escaped from slavery and are now helping in the fight against the traffickers. Talking to journalists about the millions of people still falling victim to this crime,  Ambassador CdeBaca said there has been an important shift in the way trafficking is being defined: “Trafficking was defined as moving people across international borders…..so that defined out hereditary slavery in Mauritania, Mali and other parts of West Africa ….” But does that mean we’re making progress against the trafficking gangs? Certainly the Ambassador listed numerous countries – from the UK to Chile, Sudan to Haiti – that have introduced new anti-trafficking laws but he said there is still not enough political will to tackle the more hidden forms of this widespread phenomenon  “What we’ve seen around the world is that governments will always try to reclassify things so they are not defined as human trafficking to protect their fishing industry, to protect their palm oil industry, to protect their charcoal industry, to protect their ability to bring in nannies or people to come and build their stadiums for upcoming sporting events..…” Ambassador CdeBaca stressed the important role the Church has played in defining trafficking as a crime against humanity, pushing it higher up the public agenda. But he said it’s vital to work closer together with all those dealing with the problem to find effective prevention strategies “My biggest concern is that as a global community we tend to chase the last tragedy….so last year we were suddenly all concerned about fire safety in Bangladeshi garment factories…..so instead of dealing with the labour recruiters that are feeding people into these factories, or the retailers, asking why they let this slavery happen…we’re concerned about getting fire extinguishers in the factories… so a little bit of change happens but not enough systemic change to bring us closer to our goal.” (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Holy See issues a plea for peace to embassies

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 04:04
(Vatican Radio) In an effort to promote peace, The Vatican Secretary of State issued a “nota verbale” to all the embassies accredited to the Holy See. This statement included the texts of Pope Francis’ most recent addresses that called for peace, particularly in the Middle East. Mgr Dominique Mamberti explained to Vatican Radio how the Holy See on various levels have expressed its closeness to the current situation in the Middle East. The Holy Father has demonstrated his concern for the families in Mosul, inviting the world to pray for them. He has also contacted personally the Chaldean and Syrian Patriarchs, encouraging their pastors and flock to be strong in hope. Concretely, the Holy Father has sent financial help to families through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Mgr Mamberti, in explaining the “nota verbale” initiative of the Holy See, stressed how much the situation in the Middle East touches on the violation of human rights. With this gesture, the Holy See asks the international community to take the question of peace to heart.  Listen to the report by Andrew Summerson:   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Dates confirmed for Pope Francis' trip to Sri Lanka, Philippines

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 07:26
(Vatican Radio)  The  Holy See Press Office issued a comunique Tuesday confirming the dates of the Apostolic Trip of the Holy Father in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Accepting the invitation from the civil authorities and the Episcopate, His Holiness Francis will make an Apostolic Trip to Sri Lanka from 12 to 15 January and in the Philippines from 15 to 19 January 2015. The program for the trip will be published shortly. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Fifty thousand ministrants in pilgrimage to Rome

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 05:55
Vatican City, 29 July 2014 (VIS) – From 4 to 8 August, more than fifty thousand ministrants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland will make a pilgrimage to Rome, a trip organised every August by German dioceses. This event is intended to strengthen the spiritual potential of an group that is important to German pastoral ministry, consisting of more than 430,00 children, adolescents and young adults who carry out altar service. The week's program includes diocesan religious functions, guided tours on themes related to history, culture and spirituality, and cultural and religious excursions including a trip to Assisi. However, the key moment of the pilgrimage, eagerly awaited by all the participants, will be the audience with Pope Francis, who will receive them in the Vatican on Tuesday, 5 August....

2013 saw largest crackdown on religions in recent memory

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 04:37
(Vatican Radio) The annual International Religious Freedom Report has been released in the US, chronicling 2013 as one of the worst years for religious freedom. The report mandated by the US Congress details where and when the universal right to religious freedom was neglected and protected, upheld and abused.  In its introduction it states that in 2013, “the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory”. In Syria , as in much of the Middle East, “the Christian presence is becoming a shadow of its former self. After three years of civil war, hundreds of thousands fled the country desperate to escape the ongoing violence perpetrated by the government and extremist groups alike. In the city of Homs the number of Christians dwindled to as few as 1,000 from approximately 160,000 prior to the conflict”. Elsewhere, in the Central African Republic , “widespread lawlessness and an upsurge in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims reportedly resulted in at least 700 deaths in Bangui in December alone and the displacement of more than one million people throughout the country during the year”. Anti-Muslim violence in “Meikhtila, Burma , led to up to 100 deaths and an estimated 12,000 displaced residents from the area in early 2013. This event showed that mob violence against Muslims was no longer confined to western Rakhine State, where over 140,000 persons have also been displaced since 2012”. Militants in Pakistan “killed more than 400 Shia Muslims in sectarian attacks throughout the year and more than 80 Christians in a single church bombing; the government arrested and jailed a number of those responsible for sectarian attacks, but it generally failed to prevent attacks”. Both Shia Muslims and Christians “faced violent and deadly attacks in Egypt , and Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia continued to face discrimination and prejudice, as were others who did not adhere to the government’s interpretation of Islam. In Iran , officials threatened, detained and harassed members of almost all non-Shia religious groups”. Hindus and other ethnic and religious minorities in Bangladesh faced increased harassment and physical attacks amidst political turmoil while in Sri Lanka violent Buddhist nationalist groups destroyed mosques and churches while security forces simply stood by. China prosecuted family members of self-immolators, imprisoned and tortured Falun Gong practitioners, continued its harassment of members of house churches and unregistered Catholic bishops and priests, and sought the forcible return of ethnic Uighurs who were seeking asylum overseas. Throughout Europe, “the historical stain of anti-Semitism continued to be a fact of life on Internet fora, in soccer stadiums, and through Nazi-like salutes, leading many individuals who are Jewish to conceal their religious identity”. And yet, amidst the darkness of religious strife lay inspiring and unheralded acts of interfaith solidarity. “Following the deadly Peshawar church bombing in Pakistan resilient Muslim community members formed human chains around churches during services in a show of solidarity and to stand up against senseless violence. In Egypt , Muslim men stood in front of a Catholic church to protect the congregation from attacks”. “And after an increase of mosque attacks in the United Kingdom , a local orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch team began assisting Muslim leaders to ensure safe access to mosques and alert them to possible attacks”.   The full report is available here. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope’s August prayers to focus on refugees fleeing violence.

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 04:07
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis’ universal prayer intention for the month of August was released on Tuesday and focuses on “refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes” that they may “find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights”. Ahead of the papal appeal the French government announced that it is ready to help facilitate asylum in its territory for Christians and other minorities fleeing an Islamist onslaught in Northern Iraq. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a joint statement on Monday that they are taking steps to ease the suffering of Christians now fleeing northern Iraq en masse. Support growing in France for the religious minority being run out of their homeland in northern Iraq by ISIS jihadists, with thousands taking part in demonstrations of support this weekend in various cities across France. Meanwhile a French Church delegation led by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, has travelled to Iraq in a sign of solidarity with the Christian community there. The group includes Bishop Michel Dubost, of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes , who told Vatican Radio there is some concern that the situation in Gaza is overshadowing the plight of  Eastern Christians and what is happening to them: “The images on our television speak clearly: what we see is Gaza. But we have no images of what is happening in Syria and Iraq. Yet the Christians here are really suffering! There is little or no mention of this so we are trying our best to bring this suffering to public attention”. Bishop Dubost also denounces the  failure of the international community to intervene to find a solution.  He says the US led invasion of 2003 opened a “Pandora's box, which has done more harm than good” and warns that the so-called "Caliphate" appears to be very well financed with an alarming access to resources and media.  This, he adds, should be of global concern. The French bishop says that their mission is to first of all a show of solidarity for the Iraqi people.  The French delegation wants to meet the people who are suffering, tell them face to face that they are spiritually present beside them and hear their stories. “Sure, it's a small consolation”, he concludes “but when someone is suffering it is important to listen to them and be close. We ask the Lord to change hearts. There are no other solutions! We go to Iraq as poor people, but the poor can change the world!” (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope has casual Q&A with priests of Caserta

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 12:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the priests of the Diocese of Caserta on his visit there on Saturday afternoon. The Pope engaged in a question-and-answer period with the priests in the Palatina della Reggia di Caserta Chapel. The Vatican Radio translation of this exchange is offered below. Pope Francis : I prepared a speech but I will give it to the bishop. Thank you very much for the welcome. Thank you. I am happy and I feel a little guilty for having caused many problems on the day of the patronal feast. But I did not know. And when I called the bishop to tell him that I wanted to come and make a private visit here with a friend, Pastor Traettino, he said to me: “Ah, right on the patronal feast day!” And I thought immediately: “In the newspapers the next day it will read: on the patronal feast of Caserta, the Pope visited the Protestants!” Nice headline, eh? And, in this way, we organized the visit, a little rushed, but the bishop helped me out a lot as did the people at the Secretariat of State. I told the substitute when I called him: “Please cut the cord from around my neck.” He did well. Thank you for the questions you will ask. We can begin. Ask the questions and I will see if we can combine two or three, otherwise, I will respond to each one. Q .: Your Holiness, thank you. I am the vicar general of Caserta, Fr Pasquariello. A big thank-you for your visit to Caserta. I would like to ask a question: the good that you are bringing in the Catholic Church, with your daily homilies, official documents, especially Evangelii Gaudium, focus mainly on spiritual conversion, intimate, personal. It is a reform that engages, in my humble opinion, only the sphere of theology, biblical exegesis and philosophy. Alongside this personal conversion, which is essential for eternal salvation, I would see some useful intervention on the part of Your Holiness in order to involve more the people of God, just as people. I’ll explain. Our diocese, for 900 years, has absurd boundaries: some municipalities are divided in half with the dioceses of Capua and Acerra. In fact, the station of the city of Caserta, less than one kilometer away from City Hall, belongs to Capua. For this reason, Blessed Father, I ask for a resolute intervention so that our communities no longer have to suffer unnecessary travel and so that the pastoral unity of our faithful is no longer sacrificed. It is clear, Your Holiness, that in Article 10 of Evangelii Gaudium, you say that these things belong to the episcopate. But I remember that as a young priest –47 years ago—we went with Msgr Robert—he had come from the Secretariat of State—and we had brought a few problems even there; they said, after having explained things: “Come to an agreement with the bishops and we will sign.” And this is a beautiful thing. But when will the bishops come to an agreement? Pope Francis : Some historians of the Church say that in some of the first Councils, the bishops got to the point of punches but then they came to an agreement. And this is an ugly sign. It is ugly when bishops speak against each other or are roped in. I don’t mean unity of thought or unity of spirituality, because this is good, I say roped in in the negative sense. This is ugly because it breaks unity with the Church. This is not of God. And we,  bishops, need to give the example of unity that Jesus asks the Father for the Church. But we cannot go about speaking against one another: “And he does it this way and he does it that way.” Go on, say it to other person’s face! Our ancestors at the first Councils got to the point of punches and I prefer that they yell a few strong words to each other and then embrace, rather than speak against each other in hiding. This, as a general principle, namely: in the unity of the Church, unity among bishops is important. You underlined the path that the Lord wanted for his Church. And this unity between bishops is that which favours coming to an agreement on this or the other issue. In a country—not in Italy, another place—there is a diocese whose boundaries were reconfigured but motivated by the location of the treasure of the cathedral, they have been in court for more than 40 years. For money: this is not understandable! This is where the devil celebrates! It is he who profits. It is nice then that you say the bishops must always be in agreement: but in agreement in unity, not in uniformity. Each person has his charism; each person has his way of thinking, of seeing things: this variety sometimes is the fruit of mistakes, but many times it is the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit wanted that this variety of charisms exists in the Church. The same Spirit that creates diversity then succeeds to create unity; unity in the diversity of each one, without each one losing his own personality. But, I wish that what you said will move ahead. And then, we are all good, because we all have the water of baptism, we have the Holy Spirit within, who helps us to move ahead. Q : I am Fr Angelo Piscopo, pastor of San Pietro Apostolo and San Pietro in Cattedra. My question is this: Your Holiness, in the Apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, you invited us to encourage and to reinforce popular piety, that precious treasure of the Catholic Church. At the same time, however, you showed the risk—unfortunately, always more real—of the diffusion of an individualistic and sentimental Christianity, more attentive to traditional forms and to revelation, deprived fundamental aspects of the faith and irrelevant to social life. What suggestion can you give us for a ministry that, without devaluing popular piety, can re-launch the primacy of the Gospel? Thank you, Your Holiness. Pope Francis : We hear that this is a time where religiosity has declined, but I do not believe that much. Because there are these currents, these schools of intimist religiosity, like the Gnostics, who have an approach similar to pre-Christian prayer, pre-biblical prayer, gnostic prayer, and Gnosticism entered into the Church in these groups of intimist piety: I call this “intimism”. “Intimism” is not good. It is something for me; I am calm; I feel full of God. It is a bit—it is not the same—but it is sort of like New Age. There is religiosity, yes, but a pagan religiosity, even heretical. We must not be afraid to say this word because Gnosticism is a heresy. It was the first heresy of the Church. When I speak of religiosity, I speak of that treasure of piety, with many values, which the great Paul VI describes in Evangelii Nuntiandi. Think of this: the Aparecida document, which was the document of the fifth conference of the Latin American episcopate, to summarize, at the end of the document in the second-to-last paragraph—because the last two were thank-yous and prayers—had to go back 40 years and extract a piece from Evangelii Nuntiandi, which is the post-Conciliar pastoral document that has yet to be surpassed. It is of great currency. In that document, Paul VI describes popular piety, affirming that sometimes it needs to be evangelized. Yes, because like every piety, it risks going a little this way and a little that way or not having an expression of strong faith. But the piety that people have, the piety that enters into the heart with baptism is an enormous strength, to the point that the people of God who have this piety, on the whole, can do no wrong. It is infallible in credendo: that is was Lumen Gentium, number 12, says. True popular piety  is born from that sensus fidei of which this conciliar document speaks and it guides in the devotion of the saints, of Our Lady, even with folk expressions in the good sense of the word. For this, popular piety is fundamentally enculturated. It cannot be a popular piety created in a laboratory, ascetic, but born always from our lives. Small mistakes can be made—therefore we must be vigilant—however, popular religiosity is a tool of evangelization. We think of young people today. Young people—at least the experience I had in the other diocese—young people, youth movements in Buenos Aires did not work. Why? They would say: we organize a meeting to talk… and in the end the young people get bored. But when pastors found a way to involve young people in small missions, to do a mission during vacation time, to give catechesis to people who needed it, in the small villages where there are no priests, then they adhered. Young people truly want this missionary role and they learn from it to live a form of piety that we can even say is popular piety: the missionary apostolate of young people has something of popular piety in it. Popular piety is active, it is a sense of faith—says Paul VI—deep, which only the simple and the humble are able to have. And this is great! In sanctuaries, for example, we see miracles! Every July 27, I would go to the Saint Pantaleo Sanctuary in Buenos Aires and I would listen to confessions in the morning. I would return renewed from that experience, I would return shamed by the holiness I would find in simple people, sinners but holy, because they would tell of their sins and recount how they lived, the problem of their son or their daughter or of this or the other, and how they would visit the sick. A sense of the Gospel shone through. In sanctuaries, you find these things. The confessionals of sanctuaries are a place of renewal for us priests and bishops; they are a course in spiritual renewal because of this contact with popular piety. And the faithful, when they come to confess, they tell you their miseries. But you see behind those miseries the grace of God that guides them to this moment. This contact with the people of God who pray, a pilgrim people, who manifest their faith in this form of piety, helps us a lot in our priestly life. Q : Allow me to call you Fr Francis because authentic paternity inevitably implies holiness. As a pupil of the Jesuits, to whom I owe my cultural and priestly formation, I will first share my impression and then ask a question that I will put to you in a special way. The identikit of the priest of the third millennium: human and spiritual balance; missionary consciousness; openness to dialogue with other faiths, religious and otherwise. Why is this? You certainly have brought about a Copernican revolution in terms of language, lifestyle, behaviour and witness on the most considerable issues at the global level, even with atheists and with those who are far from the Christian Catholic Church. The question I ask you: how is it possible in this society, with a Church that hopes for growth and development, in this society in an evolution that is dynamic and conflictual and very often distant from the values ​​of the Gospel of Christ, that we are a Church very often behind? Your linguistic, semantic, cultural revolution, your evangelical witness is stirring an existential crisis for us priests. What imaginative and creative ways do you suggest for us to overcome or at least to mitigate this crisis that we perceive? Thank you. Pope Francis : Here you are. How is it possible, with the Church growing and developing, to move forward? You said a few things: balance, openness to dialogue ... But, how can you go forward? You said a word that I really like. It is a divine word. If it is human it is because it is a gift of God: creativity. And the commandment God gave to Adam, "Go and multiply. Be creative. "It is also the commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples, through the Holy Spirit, for example, the creativity of the early Church in its relations with Judaism: Paul was creative; Peter, that day when he went to Cornelius, was afraid of them, because he was doing something new, something creative. But he went there. Creativity is the word. And how can you find this creativity? First of all - and this is the condition if we want to be creative in the Spirit, that is in the Spirit of the Lord Jesus - there's no other way than prayer. A bishop who does not pray, a priest who does not pray has closed the door, closed the way of creativity. It is exactly in prayer, when the Spirit makes you feel something, the devil comes and makes you feel another; but prayer is the condition for moving forward. Even if prayer many times can seem boring. Prayer is so important. Not only the prayer of the Divine Office, but the liturgy of the Mass, quiet, celebrated well with devotion, personal prayer with the Lord. If we do not pray, perhaps we will be good pastoral and spiritual entrepreneurs, but the Church without prayer becomes an NGO, it does not have that unctio Sancti Spiritu. Prayer is the first step, because it is opening oneself to the Lord to be able to open up to others. It is the Lord that says, “Go here, go there, do this ...”, you will be inspired by the creativity that cost many saints a lot. Think of Blessed Antonio Rosmini, who wrote The Five Wounds of the Church, he was a creative critic because he prayed. He wrote that which the Spirit made ​​him feel. For this, he entered into a spiritual prison, that is in his house: he could not speak, he could not teach, he could not write…. Today, he is Blessed! Many times creativity takes you to the cross. But when it comes from prayer, it bears fruit. Not creativity that is a little sans façon and revolutionary, because today it is fashionable to be a revolutionary; no, this is not of the Spirit. But when creativity comes from the Spirit and is born in prayer. It can bring you problems. The creativity that comes from prayer has an anthropological dimension of transcendence, because through prayer you open yourself to the transcendent, to God. But there is also another transcendence: opening oneself up to others, to one’s neighbour. We must not be a Church closed in on itself, which looks at its navel, a self-referential Church, who looks at itself and is not able to transcend. Twofold transcendence is important: toward God and toward one’s neighbour. Coming out of oneself is not an adventure; it is a journey, it is the path that God has indicated to men, to the people from the first moment when he said to Abraham, “Go from your country.” He had to go out of himself. And when I come out of myself, I meet God and I meet others. How do you meet others? From a distance or up close? You must meet them up close, closeness. Creativity, transcendence and closeness. Closeness is a key word: be near. Do not be afraid of anything. Being close. The man of God is not afraid. Paul himself, when he saw many idols in Athens, was not scared. He said to the people: "You are religious, many idols ... but, I'll speak to you about another." He did not get scared and he got close to them. He also cited poets: "As your poets say..." It’s about closeness to a culture, closeness to people, to their way of thinking, their sorrows, their resentments. Many times this closeness is just a penance, because we need to listen to boring things, to offensive things. Two years ago, a priest went to Argentina as a missionary. He was from the Diocese of Buenos Aires and he went to a diocese in the south, to an area where for years they had no priest, and evangelicals had arrived. He told me that he went to a woman who had been the teacher of the people and then the principle of the village school. This lady sat him down and began to insult him, not with bad words, but to insult him forcefully: “You abandoned us, we left us alone, and I, who  need of God's Word, had to go to Protestant worship and I became Protestant”. This young priest, who is meek, who is one who prays, when the woman finished her discourse, said: "Madam, just one word: forgiveness. Forgive us, forgive us. We abandoned the flock." And the tone of the woman changed. However, she remained Protestant and the priest did not go into the argument of which was the true religion. In that moment, you could not do this. In the end, the lady began to smile and said: “Father, would you like some coffee?” – “Yes, let’s have a coffee.” And when the priest was about to leave, she said: “Stop here, Father. Come.” And she led him into the bedroom, opened the closet and there was the image of Our Lady: “You should know that I never abandoned her. I hid her because of the pastor, but she’s in the home.” It is a story which teaches how proximity, meekness brought about this woman’s reconciliation with the Church, because she felt abandoned by the Church. And I asked a question that you should never ask: “And then, how things turn out? How did things finish?”. But the priest corrected me: “Oh, no, I did not ask anything: she continues to go to Protestant worship, but you can see that she is a woman who prays. She faces the Lord Jesus.” And it did not go beyond that. He did not invite her to return to the Catholic Church. … But, closeness also means dialogue; you must read in Ecclesiam Suam, the doctrine on dialogue, then repeated by other Popes. Dialogue is so important, but to dialogue two things are necessary: one's identity as a starting point and empathy toward others. If I am not sure of my identity and I go to dialogue, I end up swapping my faith. You cannot dialogue without starting from your own identity, and empathy, that is not condemning a priori. Every man, every woman has something of their own to give us; every man, every woman has their own story, their own situation and we have to listen to it. Then the prudence of the Holy Spirit will tell us how to respond. Starting from one’s own identity for dialogue, but dialogue is not to do apologetics, although sometimes you have to do it, when we are asked questions that require explanation. Dialogue is a human thing. It is hearts and souls that dialogue, and this is so important! Do not be afraid to dialogue with anyone. It was said of a saint, joking somewhat – I do not remember, I think it was St. Philip Neri, but I'm not sure – that he was also able to dialogue even with the devil. Why? Because he had the freedom to listen all people, but starting from his own identity. He was so sure, but to be sure of one’s identity does not mean proselytizing. Proselytism is a trap, which even Jesus condemns a bit, en passant, when he speaks to the Pharisees and the Sadducees: “You who go around the world to find a proselyte and then you remember that ...” But, it's a trap. And Pope Benedict has a beautiful expression. He said it in Aparecida but I believe he repeated elsewhere: “The Church grows not by proselytism, but by attraction.” And what's the attraction? It is this human empathy, which is then guided by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, what will be the profile of the priest of this century, which is so secularized? A man of creativity, who follows the commandment of God – “create things”; a man of transcendence, both with God in prayer and with the others always; a man who is approachable and who is close to people. To distance people is not priestly and people are fed up of this attitude, and yet it happens all the same. But he who welcomes people and is close to them and dialogues with them does so because he feels certain of his identity, which leads him to have an heart open to empathy. This is what comes to me to say to you in response to your question. Q .: Dear Father, my question is about the place where we live: the diocese, with our bishops, our relationships with our brothers and sisters. And I ask you: this historic time in which we are living has expectations of us as priests, that is of a witness that is clear, open, joyful – as you are inviting us to be – in the newness of the Holy Spirit. I ask you: what would be, according to you, the very specific foundation of a spirituality of the diocesan priest? I think I read somewhere that you say: “The priest is not a contemplative.” But it was not like that before. Here, then, if you can give us an icon that we can take into account for the rebirth, the communal growth of our diocese. And above all, I'm interested in how we can be faithful today to man, not so much to God. Pope Francis : Here, you said "the newness of the Holy Spirit." It’s true. But God is a God of surprises. He always surprises us, always, always. We read the Gospel and we find one surprise after another. Jesus surprises us because he arrives before us: He waits for us first, he loves us first, when we seek Him out, he is already looking for us. As the prophet Isaiah or Jeremiah says, I do not remember well: God is like the flower of the almond tree, it blooms first in spring. He is first, always first, always waiting for us. And this is the surprise. So many times we seek God here and He waits for us there. And then we come to the spirituality of the diocesan clergy. A contemplative priest, but not like one who is in the Carthusian monastery, I do not mean this contemplativeness. The priest must have contemplativeness, an ability to contemplate both God and people. He is a man who looks, who fills his eyes and his heart of this contemplation with the Gospel before God, and with human problems before men. In this sense, it must be a contemplative. One should not get confused: the monk is another thing. But where is the center of the spirituality of the diocesan priest? I would say it is in the diocesan life. It is having the ability to open oneself up to the diocesan life. The spirituality of a religious, for example, is the ability to open up to God and to others in the community: be it the smallest or the largest congregation. Instead, the spirituality of the diocesan priest is to be open to the diocesan life. And you religious who work in the parish need to do both things, which is why the dicastery for bishops and the dicastery for consecrated life are working on a new version of Mutuae relationes, because the religious has the two affiliations. But back to the “diocesan life”: what does it mean? It means having a relationship with the bishop and a relationship with the other priests. The relationship with the bishop is important, it is necessary. A diocesan priest cannot be detached from the bishop. “But the bishop does not love me, the bishop here, the bishop there ...": The bishop may perhaps be a man with a bad temper, but he’s your bishop. And you have to find, even with that not-positive attitude, a way to keep the relationship with him. This, however, is the exception. I am a diocesan priest because I have a relationship with the bishop, a necessary relationship. It is very significant when, during the rite of ordination, one makes the vow of obedience to the bishop. “I pledge obedience to you and your successors.” Diocesan life means a relationship with the bishop, which must be realized and must grow continuously. In the majority of cases it is not a catastrophic problem, but a normal reality. Secondly, the diocesan life involves a relationship with the other priests, with all the presbytery. There is no spirituality of the diocesan priest without these two relationships: with the bishop and with the presbytery. And they are needed. “I, yes, get along well with the bishop, but I do not attend the clergy meetings they say stupid things.” With this attitude, you will miss out on something: you do not have that true spirituality of the diocesan priest. It's all here: it is simple, but at the same time it is not easy. It is not easy because coming to agreement with the bishop is not always easy, because one thinks in one way the other thinks in another way. You but can discuss... and it’s discussed! And can you do it in a loud voice? Let it be done! How many times does a son argue with his father and, in the end, they always remain father and son. However, when in these two relationships, both with the bishop and with the presbytery, diplomacy enters in, the Spirit of the Lord is not there, because the spirit of freedom is lacking. We must have the courage to say, “I do not think the same; I think of it differently", and also the humility to accept a correction. It's very important. And what is the greatest enemy of these two relationships? Gossip. Many times I think - because I too have this urge to gossip, we have it inside, the devil knows that this seed that bears fruit and he seeds it well - I think it is a consequence of a celibate life lived as sterility, not as fecundity. A lonely man just ends up bitter, he is not fruitful and gossips about others. This is … not good, it is just what prevents a relationship with the bishop and the presbytery that is evangelical and spiritual and fruitful. Gossip is the strongest enemy of the diocesan life, that is of spirituality. But you are a man. Therefore, if you have something against the bishop go and tell him. But then there will be bad consequences. You will carry the cross, but be a man! If you are a mature man and you see something in your brother priest that you do not like or that you believe to be wrong, go and tell him to his face. Or if you see that he does not tolerate being corrected, go tell the bishop or that priest’s closest friend, so that he help him correct himself. But do not tell the others, because that’s getting each other dirty. And the devil is happy with that "banquet" because that way he attacks the very center of the spirituality of the diocesan clergy. For me, gossip does so much damage. And I am not some post-conciliar novelty.... St. Paul already had to deal with this. Remember the phrase: “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos ......” Gossip is a reality already at the beginning of the Church, because the devil does not want the Church to be a fertile mother, united , joyful. What instead is the sign that these  two relationships, between priest and bishop and between priest and the other priests, are going well? It is joy. Just as bitterness is the sign that there is no real diocesan spirituality, because a good relationship with the bishop or the presbytery is lacking, joy is a sign that things are working. You can discuss, you can get angry, but there is joy above all, and it is important that it remains always in these two relationships that are essential to the spirituality of the diocesan priest. I would like to return to another sign, the sign of bitterness. Once a priest told me, here in Rome: “But, I see many times we are a Church of angry people, always angry with each other; we always have something to be angry about.” This leads to sadness and bitterness: there is no joy. When we find a priest in a diocese who lives with anger and tension, we think: but this man has vinegar for breakfast. Then, at lunch, pickled vegetables, and then in the evening some beautiful lemon juice. His life is not working, because it is the image of a Church of angry people. Instead, joy is a sign that things are going well. You can be angry: it is even healthy to get angry once. But the state of ire is not of the Lord and it leads to sadness and disunity. And in the end, you said “fidelity to God and man.” It 'the same as we said before. It is twofold faithfulness and twofold transcendence: to be faithful to God is to seek him, to open oneself up to Him in prayer, remembering that He is faithful one. He cannot deny Himself; he is always faithful. And then opening oneself to others; it is that empathy, that respect, that listening, and saying the right word with patience. We have to stop for love of the faithful who are waiting ... But I thank you, really, and I ask you to pray for me, because even I have the difficulties of every bishop and I have to resume the path of conversion every day. Prayer for each other will do us good to keep moving forward. Thank you for your patience.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis gives interview to Argentinian newspaper

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 10:47
(Vatican Radio) To mark the first 500 days of the pontificate of Pope Francis, the Argentinian weekly “Viva” (a supplement of the newspaper El Clarín) on Sunday published the first excerpts of an interview with Pope Francis conducted earlier this month. Pope Francis reflected on many things - including his memories of his youth, social issues such as immigration, and even the secret of happiness. “The Romans have a saying, which can be taken as a point of reference, they say: ‘Campa e lascia campà’ …live and let live,” said Pope Francis. “That’s the first step to peace and happiness.” He mentioned the Argentine novel "Don Segundo Sombra," written by Ricardo Güiraldes. "In 'Don Segundo Sombra' there is a very beautiful thing, a man who looks back on his life. He says that in youth he was a rocky stream that carried everything ahead;  As an adult, he was a running river, and that in old age, he felt movement, but it was ‘”remansado” [dammed; ie slowed, quiet]. I would use this image of the poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes, the last adjective “remansado”. The ability to move with kindness and humility, calmness of life," said the Pope. He also mentioned the importance of leisure: reading, art, playing with children. Pope Francis said when he was in Buenos Aires, he would often ask young mothers how often they play with their children. “It was an unexpected question,” he said.  “It is hard. The parents go to work and come back when the children are asleep.” Pope Francis also said Sundays should be shared with the family, noting that when he visited Campobasso, the workers did not want to work on Sundays. Speaking about young people, the Holy Father said ways needed to be found to help them find work, noting lack of opportunities can lead to people falling into drug use, or even lead to suicide. “I read the other day, but I do not telegraph it as a scientific fact, that there were 75 million young people under the age of 25 unemployed,” he said.  The Pope suggested the youth could be taught skilled work, which would allow them the “dignity of bringing home the bacon.” He also spoke to the newspaper about the international situation, including the increasing number of conflicts and wars across the globe. “War destroys,” said Pope Francis.  “And we must shout out for peace. Peace sometimes gives the idea of quietness, but it is not quiet, it is always an active peace.” The Holy Father also spoke about those fleeing the horrors of war and other calamities, and how many countries are not generous in helping refugees.  He said Europe fears speaking about immigration, but he praised Sweden for its policies, noting that despite their small population, they have allowed in hundreds of thousands of immigrants. The Pope also spoke about environmental issues, and how mankind continues to waste the bounty given by God. "When, for example, you want to make use of a mining method that extracts more than other methods, but it contaminates the water, it doesn’t matter,” he said.  “And so they go on contaminating nature. I think it's a question that we do not face: humanity, in the indiscriminate use and tyranny over nature, is it committing suicide?" In the interview, the Pope also reiterated the Church grows by attraction, not proselytizing. “The worst thing you can do is religious proselytizing, which paralyzes,” he said. When asked by the interviewer about the possibility of winning a Nobel Prize, Pope Francis said he had not considered it, but added the pursuit of awards and doctorates were not part of his agenda. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope in Caserta asks pardon for persecution of Pentecostals

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 09:05
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis returned to the southern Italian city of Caserta on Monday for a private visit to the Pentecostal community known as the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation. The Pope first met the founder of the community, Pastor Giovanni Traettino, during his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires and over the past year he has met and received groups of Pentecostals at his Santa Marta residence here in the Vatican. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report :   After greeting the pastor and his family, Pope Francis was welcomed by over 200 Evangelicals who had travelled to Caserta from around Italy, as well as from the U.S. and South America. "Carissimo Papa Francesco, amato fratello mio, la nostra gioia é grande……" Calling the Pope, my beloved brother, Rev Traettino said the Evangelical community was deeply grateful for the visit which would have been unthinkable until very recently. Many Evangelicals, he said, pray daily for the Pope and see his election as the work of the Holy Spirit. "….la Sua elezione al vescovo di Roma sia stato opera dello Spirito Santo…." Pardon and reconciliation were the themes at the heart of the Pope’s words as, to loud applause he asked forgiveness for the words and actions of Catholics who have persecuted Pentecostals in the past. "…..Chiedo perdono per quelli Cattolici che non hanno capito…." All of us are sinners, the Pope stressed, but all of us must continue to walk boldly in the presence of Our Lord. Quoting from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Pope Francis spoke of the diversity of the Body of Christ but he stressed that diversity is reconciled to unity through the action of the Holy Spirit. "…….così la Chiesa é una nella diversità….." Following the encounter, Pope Francis then had lunch with members of the Pentecostal community in Caserta and is due to return by helicopter to the Vatican later this afternoon  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Sandri: No religion can kill in the name of God

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 06:57
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri on Sunday said “no religion can accept to kill God’s children in the Name of the same God.”  He was speaking during a homily at the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Peter in San Diego, California. Cardinal Sandri, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, is this month visiting Eastern-Rite Catholic communities in California. Most of the members of the Chaldean Church come from Iraq, and Cardinal Sandri spoke about the current persecution of Christians in the country, especially at the hands of the Islamist ISIS group which has driven the once-large Catholic community out of the city of Mosul. “I recall with you the psalm: by the rivers of Babylon we sat in tears (137,1) …without songs of joy.. And today, two thousands years later, we wonder in pain: will there be no more joyful songs of the Christian liturgy in Mosul?” asked Cardinal Sandri.  “Should our harps, hung on the trees of that beautiful land, wait too long before they resound again?” The Cardinal insisted Christians have a vital role to play in the Middle East. “But also the future of Mankind is foreseen as a nuptial feast, at which all human beings must take part,” he said. “As we gaze at such a beautiful future of humanity, we wonder whether there will be a place for Christians of Iraq, Syria and Palestine to celebrate their wedding feasts. Accordingly, there will be no future, no wedding, and no feast in the Middle East without the presence and the contribution of Christians.”   The full text of the homily of Cardinal Sandri is below:   Cardinal Leonardo Sandri’s homily at the Chaldean Cathedral in san Diego (CA) - USA on Sunday, July 27, 2014 (readings: 2 Cor 1,8-14: Luke 14, 1-14)   Dear Brothers and Sisters, I felt compelled to be here today, joining this Christian Diaspora to pray in union with Pope Francis, for the Oriental Churches in these difficult days. His Holiness contacted by phone both the Chaldean and Syriac Patriarchs encouraging all Christians of Iraq and Syria to persevere strong in faith and hope. And so, we are gathered with Mar Sarhad Jammo, Bishop of this Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle in San Diego, Mar Bawai Soro, titular Bishop of Foraziana his Protosyncellus, Mar Elias Zaidan, Maronite Bishop of Los Angeles, and all the faithful, especially Chaldean and Syriac of California, to proclaim that the Crucified Lord has risen, and He is always with us, despite all tribulations of history. With the same hope our hearts go to Palestinian, Egyptian and Ukrainian Christians who are also enduring violent conflicts.  The readings of the Chaldean Liturgy of this Sunday sound as if they were written for those suffering communities: “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened, that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again” (2 Cor 1,9-10). These words, filled with hope, bestow on us a heavenly consolation, which we pray it reaches the souls of those in a so cruel distress. I recall with you the psalm: “by the rivers of Babylon we sat in tears” (137,1) …without songs of joy.. And today, two thousands years later, we wonder in pain: will there be no more joyful songs of the Christian liturgy in Mosul? Should our harps, hung on the trees of that beautiful land, wait too long before they resound again? But, we believe that the harp of the Holy Spirit resounds the praise of a resurrected Lord while the powers of death pretend to have the final word on history!  Today’s gospel compares the salvation of mankind to a wedding feast, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We are confident that, despite our sinfulness, the Divine Bridegroom, in his mercy, will welcome and wait on us in the Eternal Jerusalem, his Bride. But also the future of Mankind is foreseen as a nuptial feast, at which all human beings must take part. As we gaze at such a beautiful future of humanity, we wonder whether there will be a place for Christians of Iraq, Syria and Palestine to celebrate their wedding feasts. Accordingly, there will be no future, no wedding, and no feast in the Middle East without the presence and the contribution of Christians. In fact, Patriarch Louis Sako said that "for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians…but the blood of Christians has been mixed with that of Muslims, as it was shed in the defense of their rights and lands. Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing… It is obvious that this would have disastrous consequences on the coexistence between the majority and the minorities, even among Muslims themselves, in the near and long term. Hence, Iraq is heading to a humanitarian, cultural, and historical disaster”. As an echo of this claim, a civil personality adds speaking about Christian and Muslims in Iraq: “We will all either die together or we will live together with dignity". Also, the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai has called for dialogue telling those who are persecuting Christians: “Humanity is the only thing we share with you. Come let’s talk and reach an understanding on this basis” And he asked: “What have the Christians in Mosul and Iraq done in order for them to be treated with such hatred and abuse? You rely on the language of arms, terrorism, violence and influence, but we rely on the language of dialogue, understanding and respect for others”. Those Christians are seen as the blind, the crippled, the lame, and the poor who had no place at the wedding banquet of History. But Christ addresses his invitation to these specific categories of people, with whom he intends to build the future of humanity. We, Christians of the world, must be their voice and strongly defend their rights. No religion can accept to kill God’s children in the Name of the same God. Now we offer for the Oriental Christians the silence of our prayer, that is not similar to that of the indifference, because it takes vigor from the silence of Christ on the cross that was full of eternal love. And nothing shall separate us from that love, nor life nor death! (cf Rom 8,38-39). Although they may not be capable of repaying us, we will be repaid by the Lord Himself for our prayers, solidarity and charity at the resurrection of the righteous. In that day we could understand the promise of Christ: “…all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lc 14,11) which is so true for the persecuted Christians. May the Most Blessed Mother of God, the Apostles and all the Martyrs of the Oriental Churches of the past and of the present intercede to God on behalf of those brothers and sisters. Amen. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope appeals for peace in Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine

Sun, 07/27/2014 - 08:20
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday made another urgent appeal for an end to the conflicts in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Ukraine. Speaking after his regular Angleus address to thousands of people gathered in a hot and sunny St Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke of the victims of war, in particular the children who die or are injured and orphaned by the violence… “….bambini morti, bambini feriti, bambini mutilate….” I think especially, the Pope said, of the children whose hopes for a dignified future are taken from them, dead children, injured and mutilated children, orphans and children who have bits of weapons as toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Please stop, the Pope pleaded, I ask you with all my heart….. “…..Ve lo chiedo con tutto il cuore….Fermatevi, per favore!” Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report :  Pope Francis urged all those listening to his words to continue joining him in prayer that God might grant to the peoples and leaders in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Ukraine the wisdom and strength to pursue the path of peace with determination and to face each dispute with the force of dialogue and reconciliation. Every decision, he said, must not be based on particular interests but on the common good and on respect for each person. Remember, the Pope said, that all is lost with war and nothing is lost with peace.  Pope Francis also noted that Monday marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First Word War which caused millions of victims and vast destruction. This conflict, he said, which the Pope of that time, Benedict XV, called a "senseless slaughter", resulted, after four long years, in a very fragile peace. Tomorrow, the Pope said, as we remember this tragic event, I hope that the mistakes of the past won’t be repeated, but that the lessons of history will be taken into account, so that peace always prevails through patient and courageous dialogue. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis in Caserta: "Say No to corruption and lawlessness"

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 12:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday evening called the people of Caserta to have the courage “to say no to corruption and lawlessness” during an afternoon visit to the city, located in the Campania region of southern Italy. He celebrated Mass the Square in front of the Royal Palace of Caserta, which used to a residence of the King of Naples. In his homily, Pope Francis said to inherit the Kingdom of God, Christians must put God first in their lives. He said the presence of Jesus  "transforms our lives and makes us sensitive to the needs of  our brothers; a presence that invites us to accept every other presence, including that of foreigners and immigrants.” “Giving primacy to God means having the courage to say no to evil, violence, oppression; to live a life of service to others and in favor of lawfulness and the common good,” said Pope Francis. The Holy Father said when someone finds God – “the true treasure” – he leaves behind selfishness and seeks to share the love of God with others. “He who becomes a friend of God, loves his brothers, is committed to safeguarding their lives and well-being, and also respects the environment and nature,” said Pope Francis, noting this was particularly important in the beautiful area of Campania, which he said needs to be “protected and preserved”. The Pope said this requires everyone to be “servants of the truth” and live a life inspired by the Gospel, which “is manifested in the gift of self and with attention to the poor and excluded.” (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Archbishop talks about Church's "Day for Life" celebration in Britain

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 09:05
(Vatican Radio)  Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark in London says the annual “Day for Life” celebration being marked in Britain on Sunday July the 27th is extremely important as “we’ve got to be a voice for the voiceless.”   Archbishop Smith who is the Chair of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship spoke to Susy Hodges about this annual celebration and discussed the challenges of getting the pro-life message across in today’s society.  In a message marking this annual “Day for Life” Pope Francis urged Catholics across Britain to work “to ensure adequate legal protection for the fundamental human right to life.”  He also asked them to bring Christ’s merciful love “as a life-giving balm to those troubling new forms of poverty and vulnerability” increasingly evident in contemporary society.  Archbishop Smith who is the spokesperson for the Catholic Church on pro-life issues said this annual “Day for Life” is “extremely important” especially as recently in Britain there have been “many attacks” on the sacredness of human life.  Among these attacks, he pointed to the current attempt in the House of Lords to push through a bill that would make “euthanasia lawful” which he said is "euphemistically called the assisted-dying” bill.  Archbishop Smith noted that Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and the leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury wrote a joint letter to members of the House of Lords in which they warned that, if passed, this bill “would be a disaster for our society.” Asked about the difficulties of preaching the Church’s pro-life message in today’s secularized society, Archbishop Smith acknowledged that they are “swimming against the tide” but noted that this was precisely the type of difficulties that Jesus faced in his ministry and so they must never give up. “We mustn’t be disheartened by it but we’ve got to be a voice for the voiceless and we must never stop proclaiming the gospel, however dispiriting, sometimes, the lack of response is.”   Listen to the full interview with Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark:   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Caritas launches appeal for Gaza

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 06:41
(Vatican Radio) Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s international aid organization, has launched an emergency appeal to help the people of Gaza. According to Caritas, most of the victims are children, women and the elderly. In a press release, Caritas said “the Church of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent” in the face of the increasing needs of the Gazans. The first phase of the 1.1 million-euro emergency program, Caritas will provide medical supplies and medicine to four hospitals, and fuel for generators; 2,000 families will receive food parcels. The second phase, to be launched in three months, will provide 2,000 families with funding and 3,000 families with hygiene kits, as well as psychological support to children and general medical checks to displaced Gazans.  Listen :   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope visits Caserta

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 02:56
(Vatican Radio) “From the pope we expect a push”, Bishop of Caserta Giovanni D’Alise, told Vatican Radio describing the people of Caserta as they eagerly await the arrival of Pope Francis who will be making a short pastoral visit to the region this afternoon.  The Holy Father is scheduled to depart from the Vatican at 3 pm. He will arrive by helicopter where he will be greeted by both the Bishop and civil representatives of Caserta. From there, he will travel to meet the priests of the diocese. At the end of his time with the priests, he is scheduled to greet the faithful gathered in the Piazza in front of the palace of Caserta.  The Pope will conclude his visit with the celebration the Holy Mass held in the Piazza. At the end of the Mass, the pope will then return to the helicopter and depart for the Vatican. The pope will return to Caserta on Monday a strictly private visit with his personal friend, evangelical pastor Giovanni Traettino. Listen to the report by Andrew Summerson:  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis make surprise visit to Vatican Canteen and queues up for his lunch

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 08:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made a surprise visit on Friday to the Vatican’s canteen for its employees.  He turned up there unexpected shortly after noon much to everybody’s astonishment and after taking a tray and cutlery joined the line with all the employees to be served his lunch.  Staff at the canteen said he ate pasta without sauce and cod served with grilled tomatoes.  He ate his lunch at a long table alongside a group of various employees.  Describing the papal visit as "like a thunderbolt out of the blue," the canteen’s chef Franco Pai'ni said the Pope was introduced to the staff and others there and asked them questions about themselves and their work. Afterwards, he paid them compliments on the quality of the food,  gave his blessing and took part in a group photo before leaving.    (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis prays for success of Ordinariate’s Exploration Day

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 02:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham's forthcoming "Called To Be One" exploration day, which it has planned with the aim of increasing understanding of the Ordinariate's purpose and reaching out to those who may feel called to join it. The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate. The full text of Archbishop Mennini's letter reads as follows: "At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled " Called to be One" , organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain". The Ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict in 2011 to make it possible for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church to do so, bringing with them much of the heritage and traditions of Anglicanism. Pope Benedict described these as "treasures to be shared". On the exploration day, each of the 50 or so Ordinariate groups across the country will host a different event, with the common theme of the vision for Christian unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

A coin to commemorate Pope’s first Asian trip

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 02:04
(Vatican Radio) South Korea's central bank said Thursday it will release a set of commemorative coins to celebrate Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the country next month. The Pope is scheduled to visit South Korea on Aug. 14-18, during which he will conduct four Masses, including one for the beatification of 124 Korean Catholic martyrs and another for a gathering of Catholic youths in Asia. It is his first visit to Asia. The Bank of Korea said it will issue 90,000 silver and brass coins to "spread the message of reconciliation and peace, the key purpose of the pope's visit." The two coin designs have incorporated both Catholic symbols of peace and Korea's traditional symbols, it said. The 30,000 silver coins, with a denomination of 50,000 won (US$48), will carry the "taegeuk" symbol, a hallmark of South Korea's national flag, with crosses and a dove bearing an olive branch. A cross adorned with symbols like lily, olive branch, dove and rose of Sharon, the country's national flower, will be engraved on the 60,000 brass coins, with a denomination of 10,000 won. A total of 81,000 coins will be available for sale in Korea via reservations at Woori and Nonghyup banks. The remaining volume will be sold to overseas collectors, according to the central bank.  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

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