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Pope Francis: There are “bat-like Christians” who prefer the shadows to the light of the Lord

1 hour 46 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said there are Christians who are afraid of the joy of Christ’s resurrection and who instead prefer sadness and staying in the shadows just like bats. The importance of Christians being joyful, rather than sad or fearful, was the focus of the Pope's reflections during his homily at Thursday's Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta residence. Taking his cue from the gospel reading of the risen Christ appearing before his disciples, Pope Francis began by noting how instead of rejoicing over his resurrection, the disciples were struck by fear instead of joy. “This is a Christian’s disease. We’re afraid of joy. It’s better to think: Yes, yes, God exists, but He is there. Jesus has risen and He is there. Somewhat distant. We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy. And this is why there are so many ‘funeral’ (mournful) Christians, isn’t it? Those whose lives seem to be a perpetual funeral. They prefer sadness to joy. They move about better in the shadows, not in the light of joy, like those animals who only come out at night, not in the light of day, who can’t see anything. Like bats. And with a little sense of humour we can say that there are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.” But, the Pope continued, Jesus through his resurrection, gives us joy, the joy of being Christians and following him closely, the joy of travelling on the path of the Beatitudes. “So often, we are either upset by this joy or fearful or we think we have seen a ghost or believe that Jesus is just a way of behaving. ‘We are Christians and so we must behave like this.’ But where is Jesus? ‘No, Jesus is in Heaven.’ Do you talk with Jesus? Do you say to Jesus: ‘I believe that You are alive, that You are risen, that You’re near me. That You will never abandon me’? A Christian life should be this: a dialogue with Jesus, because – this is true – Jesus is always with us, always there alongside us with our problems and our difficulties, with our good works.” Pope Francis concluded by noting how many times we Christians are not joyful because we are afraid! We’re Christians who have been defeated by the Cross. “In my country there is a saying that goes like this: ‘When you get burnt by boiling milk, later when you see a cow you start crying.’ These people were burnt by the drama of the Cross and said, ‘No, let’s stop here. He’s in Heaven: that’s all well and good. He is Risen but it’s better that he doesn’t come again because we couldn’t handle it.’ We ask the Lord to do for all of us what he did for the disciples who were afraid of joy: to open our minds: ‘He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures;’ Let him open our minds and help us understand that He is a living reality, that He has a body, that He is with us,that he accompanies us and that He has won. We ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid of joy.” Listen to this report by Susy Hodges: ...

The Pope receives the Prime Ministrer of Albania

2 hours 53 min ago
Vatican City, 24 April 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the prime minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial discussions, the Parties remarked upon the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Albania, and focused on themes of common interest regarding the relations between the ecclesial and civil communities, including interreligious dialogue and the contribution of the Church to the common good of Albanian society. Attention then turned to the principal regional issues and Albania’s progress towards full integration within the European Union....

Pope to celebrate thanksgiving Mass for new Jesuit Saint

3 hours 3 min ago
( Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will this evening celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonization of Jesuit priest Josè de Anchieta at the Church of St Ignatius of Loyola here in Rome. He was proclaimed a Saint by the Holy Father on the 3 rd of April. Fr Anchieta, who is commonly known as the “Apostle of Brazil” was a priest in the 16 th century and is Brazil's third saint. He has also been declared patron of Catechists. Saint Josè was born on the Canary Islands, and came to Brazil in 1553 as a missionary priest. He is a highly influential figure in Brazil’s history and was one of the founders of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. He was also active in the religious instruction and converting Indians to Catholicism. Josè de Anchieta was canonized in process called equivalent canonization. It is a procedure where the Pope waives the usual judicial process and declares that a blessed’s liturgical cult is extended to the universal Church. Lydia O’Kane spoke to Brazilian Rafael Bellincanta from Vatican Radio about this new Saint. Listen ...

Fr Lombardi responds to reports of Pope's call to Argentinian woman

3 hours 56 min ago
(Vatican Radio) The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, has responded to widespread media reports about an Argentinian woman who says that Pope Francis called to tell her she could take Communion, even though her husband is divorced and they have not been married in church. News stories earlier this week ran conflicting reports about the woman, Jacquelina Lisbona, who had written to the Pope several months ago after being denied Communion by her parish priest. According to the reports, Fr Bergoglio, as he called himself, picked up the phone to respond to her letter on Monday and told her the Church was in the process of dealing with the issue of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. In his brief remarks on Thursday, Fr Lombardi said such conversations should be seen in the context of the Pope’s “personal pastoral relationships” and not as an event that carries “consequences relating to the teaching of the Church”. Below please find the English language translation of Fr Lombardi’s remarks: Several telephone calls have taken place in the context of Pope Francis’ personal pastoral relationships. Since they do not in any way form part of the Pope's public activities, no information or comments are to be expected from the Holy See Press Office. That which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion. Therefore, consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences....

Logistical facts and figures released ahead of weekend canonisation

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:00
(Vatican Radio) No one is quite sure just how many pilgrims will be arriving in Rome for this weekend’s canonisation of the two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II. But at a briefing on Wednesday morning, officials from the Diocese of Rome, the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi and Rome's City Council provided some logistical facts and figures on how the Eternal City is gearing up to host the huge numbers expected to arrive for the Saturday evening prayer vigil and the Sunday morning Mass, beginning at 10am and presided over by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square. Philippa Hitchen reports: Over two and a half thousand volunteers will be working throughout the weekend to distribute four million free water bottles and hand out 150.000 free liturgical booklets. They’ll also be providing information about free access to the Mass, which will be from the river end of Via della Conciliazione, and disability assistance points, which will be located in three areas close to St Peter’s Square. The entire zone around the Vatican will be closed to traffic but extra bus lines will be laid on from coach parking facilities and both the main Metro lines will be running non-stop from early on Saturday morning until after midnight on Sunday. Up to a thousand extra portable toilets are being set up close to St Peter’s and surrounding areas, while 17 giant video screens will be broadcasting the Mass live around the city, including one at the Terminal 3 departure lounge of Rome’s Fiumicino airport. There will be a prayer vigil starting at 5pm in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and an exhibition of items pertaining to Pope John XXIII and the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Other prayer vigils, with the opportunity for Confession in different languages, will take place throughout the night in churches around the city centre, including the church of St Mark beside the Campidoglio for English speaking pilgrims and visitors. For lots more details, maps and live video streaming, plus liturgical and inspirational material, you can visit the new ‘2popesaints.org’ website in five languages, download the free app ‘Santo Subito’ from the Apple Store and Google Player or stay tuned, right here to Vatican Radio for live commentary and full coverage of this historic weekend....

When Blessed John Paul II beatified John XXIII, the pope with prophetic insight

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 11:20
(Vatican Radio) Curiously when Pope Francis beatifies Blessed John Paul II on Sunday he'll also be canonising a man who was beatified by this very pope, John XXIII ! Veronica Scarisbrick brings you the words of Blessed John Paul II on the occasion of that beatification which took place on September 3, 2000: Listen: "Today we contemplate in the Glory of the Lord another Pontiff, John XXIII, the Pope who impressed the world with the friendliness of his manner which radiated the remarkable goodness of his soul. Everyone remembers the image of Pope John's smiling face and his outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history: Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity. In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: "What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness". We too wish to receive this testament, as we glorify God for having given him to us as a Pastor. ...

Celebrating the Pope's feast day

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 09:40
(Vatican Radio) For the second year in a row here in the Vatican we're marking Saint George’s Day in a special way. For while Cardinal Bergoglio may have taken the name Francis as Pope, his Christian name is really Jorge , George to you and me. That’s why we've chosen to bring you a timely reflection for his Feast day on April 23. Listen: Especially as in England our patron Saint is Saint George. One who's most often depicted as a soldier fighting a dragon to save someone else's life. Monsignor Peter Fleetwood of the Liverpool archdiocese in England reflects for us on the meaning of this symbolism explaining how dragons may be mythical animals, but myths contains symbols and symbols sum up some aspect of life that is very important or powerfu a she remarksl: " I suspect the dragon represents evil in any form. Some people may not like to hear this , but the dragon may represent evil people". Veronica Scarisbrick adds that we might have to apologise to the Chinese in this respect for according to one of their ancient traditions dragons are symbols of good, so exactly the opposite. But this is no Chinese story for as Father Peter Fleetwood tells us here in the West : "The dragon is a symbol of the power evil people can wield in this world. They can force good people into submission and either damage them or humiliate them or lead them astray. This is a frightening reality, and it is a reminder that sometimes goodness and holiness mean bravery in the face of wickedness. At a baptism, the new Christian is exorcised, not because she or he is possessed , but because the Christian Church recognises where human power runs out and we simply have to rely on God. Saint George is a reminder that we need help to survive when evil is about. It may be a naive symbolism, but the pictures and statues of Saint George are all about the battle between good and evil. They also heark back to what Jesus said about his sheep. He was there to protect them , because they needed protection. Saint George is a reminder that sometimes good people are called upon to bother to be brave and offer that protection in place of Jesus". A programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick for the series "Why Bother? Staying Catholic despite it all.." ...

Pope audience: Why do you seek the living among the dead

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 05:09
(Vatican Radio) Pilgrims thronged St. Peter’s Square, the long boulevard of Via della Conciliazione, spilling all the way down to the banks of the Tiber this Wednesday for Pope Francis' weekly general audience, the first of the Easter season. The crowd was such, that the Holy Father’s open topped jeep took even longer than usual to tour through the square, filled with flags and banners from the parishes of the world. Many of them bore images of two of his predecessors, Blessed John Paul II and Blesses John XXIII, who this weekend – Divine Mercy Sunday - Pope Francis will raise to the altars of the saints. A light rain fell as Pope Francis reached the raised dais set up before the basilica, from where he delivered his catechesis in Italian on the angels’ admonition of Mary Magdalene and the disciples the morning of Christ’s Resurrection: “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” Below a Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father's catechesis Dear Brothers and Sisters Good day! this week is the week of joy, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a true, profound joy, based on the certainty that Christ is now risen, He is dead no more, but is alive and active in the Church and in the world . This certainty dwells in the hearts of believers from that Easter morning, when the women went to the tomb of Jesus and the angels said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead" (Lk 24,5) …”Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”. These words are a milestone in history; but also a "stumbling block" if we do not open ourselves to the Good News , if we believe that a dead Jesus is less of a nuisance than a living Jesus! Instead, in our daily journey, we often need to hear : Why do you seek the living one among the dead? . How often do we look for life among dead things, things that cannot give life, that are here today and gone tomorrow, Why do you seek the living one among the dead? We need [these words] when we close ourselves within many forms of selfishness or self- complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by the earthly powers and the things of this world, forgetting God and neighbor; when we place our trust in worldly vanities, in money, in success. Then the Word of God tells us: "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”'. Why are you looking there, it can’t give you life it will give you joy for a day a week a month a year and then? Why do you seek the living one among the dead ? This sentence needs to enter into our heart….. Why do you seek the living one among the dead? Out loud! Why do you seek the living one among the dead ? And today when you go home say it in your heart, in silence ask why do I look in life among dead things for life? It will do us good! But it is not easy, it is not obvious to accept the life of the Risen Christ and His presence among us. The Gospel shows us the reactions of the Apostle Thomas, Mary Magdalene and the two disciples of Emmaus: it does us good to confront them. Thomas puts a condition on his faith, he asks to touch the evidence, the wounds ; Mary Magdalene weeps, she sees him but does not recognize him, she only realizes that it is Jesus when He calls her by name; the disciples of Emmaus, depressed and feeling defeated, encounter Jesus by allowing themselves to be accompanied by the mysterious traveler. Each by different paths ! They were looking among the dead for One who is alive, and it was the same Lord to correct their course. And what do I do ? Which route to do I follow to meet the risen and living Christ? He will always be close to us to correct our course if we have gone wrong. "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?" (Lk 24,5 ) . This question helps us resist the temptation to look back, to what was yesterday, and pushes us forward into the future. Jesus is not in the tomb, he is the Risen Lord, the Living, the One who always renews his body which is the Church and helps her walk, pulling her towards him. "Yesterday " is the tomb of Jesus and the Church, the tomb of truth and justice. "Today " is the perennial resurrection to which the Holy Spirit impels us, gifting us full freedom. Today this question is also addressed to us. You, why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? you who close in on yourself after a failure or you who no longer have the strength to pray? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive, you who feel alone, abandoned by friends, and perhaps even by God? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive you who have lost hope or you who feel imprisoned by your sins? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive you who aspire to beauty, spiritual perfection , justice, peace? We need to hear ourselves repeat and remind each other of the angel’s admonition! This admonition, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead" helps us emerge from our spaces of sadness and opens up for us horizons of joy and hope. That hope that removes stones from graves and encourages us to proclaim the Good News , capable of generating new life for others. Let us repeat the Angels question to have it in our heart and mind and let each of us answer in silence Why do you seek the living one among the dead? Look dear brother s and sisters let’s not look among those many tombs that promise everything and give nothing let’s look for Him, Jesus isn't in the tomb. He is risen! He is alive and gifts life! Below the English language summary of the Holy Father’s catechesis Dear Brothers and Sisters: The joy of Easter is born of our faith in Christ’s resurrection and his continuing presence in the Church and in our world. With the resurrection, all has been made new and fresh hope has been poured out upon our world. The question which the angel asked the women on the morning of the resurrection is directed to us as well: “Why do you seek the living among the dead”? (Lk 24:5). The Gospel shows us three examples of a life-changing encounter with the Risen Lord and invites us to a similar encounter. Like Thomas, we need to grasp the reality of Christ’s rising to new life. Like Mary Magdalene, we need to hear Jesus’ voice calling our name. And like the travellers on the road to Emmaus, we need to find renewed joy and hope by recognizing that the Lord is ever at our side. These disciples sought the living among the dead, yet Jesus led them, by different paths, to faith in him and the power of his resurrection. Today he challenges each of us to seek him, the Living One, and to leave behind everything that holds us back from encountering him and sharing in the rebirth, the freedom and the hope which he alone can give. I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Scotland, Sweden, Finland and the United States. I offer a special greeting to the newly-ordained deacons from the Pontifical Irish College, as well as their families and friends. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord. God bless you all!...

'Santa Marta' homilies available in Italian volume

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:28
(Vatican Radio) It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated items for listeners tuning in to our Vatican Radio news broadcasts. It’s one of the most clicked-on stories for those browsing the different language pages of our Vatican Radio website. And it’s one of the most popular pieces picked up by the many other agencies, sites and social networks that share our daily output of news from here at the heart of the Holy See. It is, of course, the homily that Pope Francis gives at his regular morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he’s been living since his election on March 13 th last year. Now these reflections – 186 of them to be precise – have been gathered together in one Italian language volume which will go on sale from next Thursday April 24 th with the title “The Truth is an Encounter. Homilies from Santa Marta”. Produced by Rizzoli publishers, the volume contains an introduction by Jesuit Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor of the twice monthly publication Civiltà Cattolica, and a preface by Vatican Radio director general, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi. For the past 83 years, Fr Lombardi notes, since the Radio was founded by Guglielmo Marconi, it has been carrying out its mission “to spread the word(s) of the Pope” to the very ends of the earth. Its technicians, secretaries and journalists, he says, have now committed themselves “with dedication and joy” to this new task of sharing the very personal reflections on the daily readings that Pope Francis gives to those members of the congregation lucky enough to be present at his weekday morning Mass. From May 7 th , bookshops will also be selling the new volume together with a CD of all the homilies, recapturing the very distinctive voice of the Argentinian Pope, with his memorable expressions and colourful turns of phrase that have been captivating listeners around the world for the past 13 months. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: ...

Canonization Vatican Briefing: The postulators talk about the two Popes

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:18
(Vatican Radio) Why are Popes John XXIII and John Paul II saints? That was the key question being asked at a briefing in the Vatican’s Press Hall on Tuesday that was attended by the postulators for the two Popes’ sainthood causes. The briefing kicked off a week of events in the Vatican leading up to Sunday’s canonization of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. Listen to this report by Susy Hodges: Father Giovangiuseppe Califano, the postulator for John XXIII, said as a 15 year old seminarian Angelo Roncalli was already making resolutions that were intended to help him become a saint for real. He said Pope John’s sainthood was characterized by a deep humility and he was both a shepherd and a father. Up sound…. Roncalli, he continued, opened new horizons to the Church by convening the Second Vatican Council and was a capable communicator who by using simple every-day expressions succeeded in entering immediately into the hearts of people. Father Califano went on to explain how the words “obedience and peace” were not just Roncalli’s episcopal motto but were at the root of his sainthood as they characterized his life at the service of the Church. The postulator for Pope John Paul II’s cause, Monsignor Slavomir Oder, spoke at the briefing of how the friends of Karol Woytyla at university described him as a “future saint” because they were so struck by his prayer habits and his reflections on the value of life. He said John Paul’s profound mysticism encouraged him to personally live out the mystery of God in his own life. Up sound of Oder… Man of God, Monsignor Oder said, is the word that truly characterizes a saint and this applies to Woytyla. He was a man who found the source of his life in God . Prayer for Karol Woytyla was his air, his water and his daily bread. I’m Susy Hodges ...

Pope John Paul II's love for Holy Land in Jubilee Year pilgrimage

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:04
(Vatican Radio) Peace in the Holy Land was always an aspiration very dear to Pope John Paul II who was particularly concerned about the continuous drain of the indigenous Christian community from the land of Christ’s birth. Violence and economic difficulties have forced tens of thousands of them to flee abroad. Arab Christians now account for less than 2% of the population – where once they were a significant minority. In the Jubilee year 2000, Pope John Paul’s finally fulfilled one of his greatest dreams: to walk the path of Jesus in the Holy Land. His apostolic pilgrimage to Bethlehem and Jerusalem was covered by the international media and seen by millions the world over, bringing a powerful message of solidarity with the local Christian community, but also one of dialogue and reconciliation between Christians, Muslims and Jews. In this program by Tracey McClure, we hear excerpts from Pope John Paul’s discourses and comments from those like the Latin Patriarch of the time who accompanied him on that historic Holy Land pilgrimage: ...

Blessed John XXIII: Cardinal Loris Capovilla and the canonisation

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:57
(Vatican Radio) - Cardinal Loris Capovilla was for many years the personal secretary of John XXIII and recently wrote how this twentieth century Pope rather than arouse in us feelings of nostalgia should encourage us to look towards the future.. Fabio Colagrande asked him what he meant by that comment. The cardinal replied that as Pope John once said we are not called to be custodians of a shrine, a reliquary or a museum but rather to be custodians of a garden where is sown the seed of the Word , of the Word Incarnate. In fact he went on to say, we are called to cultivate our garden, to foster the advent of a new Pentecost, a new Easter, a new Spring, not just for our personal joy but for the joy of all of humanity. The encyclical of Pope Francis, 'Evangelii Gaudium’ is good news but what is this good news? It is that I am a son of God and God does not abandon me. How wonderful it is to hear our present pope say every day or almost every day : ‘Jesus rejects nobody, he waits for every one of us to come to Him”. Fabio Colagrande also asked the Cardinal to share with us his memories of working with John XXIII. Surprisingly he replied that he never considered himself as a collaborator but as a little servant among many others who saw in the Pope someone sent by God. " I never felt", he reiterated, " that I was collaborator or a secretary and still less an advisor, I would have perceived this as a scandalous assumption". What I did experience however was the joy that came with being close to a man who was certainly guided by God and who set the seed for the future of the Church although I could not grasp to the full what was in his soul: as I said he set the seed for the future. Finally asked what the day of the canonisation represents for him who shared so much with John XXIII, Cardinal Capovilla rather surprisingly replied that for him it would be a day like any other in the calendar. Because for Christians all the days in the calendar are festive and represent a reason to celebrate. For he who believes he insisted, it’s always Easter, always the Resurrection. Just to look to the heavens, or to beat one’s breast after having received the Eucharist is a great gift, a precious treasure, a great mystery of grace and light. For us it’s always time to celebrate… A programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick: ...

Blessed John Paul II's Polish roots : courage and moral strength

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:45
(Vatican Radio ) I'm sure you remember John Paul II's invitation to us not to be afraid . Certainly he himself was not afraid to stand up to the trials of life in defense of others, neither as Pope nor as priest back in Poland. As you'll discover in a programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick no one ever doubted the courage of Pope John Paul, certainly not his closest advisors. Among them Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze who specifies how .."Pope John Paul II put the Church on the map of the world and in the corridors of those who make policies as perhaps no other pope in our time...you know where he stands on major problems touching church and society...he is not afraid." And certainly not some of those who personally knew him before he was elected Pope back in Poland. Among them a fellow school chum, a student of the future pope's at University, a personal friend and a Polish countess. All of whom recall the courage and moral strength of Karol Wojtyla both as a private and public figure. In a special way when he stood up to the repressive communist regime offering solidarity to those around him. An impression of courage and moral strength reinforced by the Pope's own words which you can hear in this programme, such as when he denounced the injustice of poverty: "...the poor people ..poor in different ways, not only lacking food but also deprived of freedom and other human rights.. ", condemning those: " ...who take these goods away from them amassing to themselves the imperialistic monopoly of economic and political supremacy at the expense of others ..".Or again when he spoke of the importance of solidarity: .." for the disciple of Christ solidarity is a moral duty stemming from the spiritual union of all human beings who share a common origin, a common dignity and a common destiny ..". Listen to this programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick: Listen: ...

Pope Francis: Let the joy of the Risen Lord be imprinted in our hearts and lives

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 06:40
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began his Regina Coeli address on Monday by saying Happy Easter !Christ is risen! He is truly risen ." The Holy Father told the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square that the dominant feeling that shines in the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection is one of joy and wonder, and he went on to say that in the liturgy we relive the mood of the disciples with the news that the women had brought, Jesus is risen! The Pope said, “Let this experience imprinted in the Gospel, be imprinted in our hearts and in our lives. Let the joyous wonder of Easter Sunday radiate through our thoughts , looks, attitudes , gestures and words ... But, he stressed, let this come from within us. When it comes from within, Pope Francis added , from a heart immersed in the source of this joy, it is like that of Mary Magdalene, who wept for the loss of her Lord and could not believe her eyes seeing him risen. The person who does this, said the Pope becomes a witness to the resurrection and is then able to bring the "ray " of light of the Risen Lord to various human situations such as spreading happiness , helping those in pain ,and bringing serenity and hope. Focusing on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s resurrection Pope Francis urged the faithful to read these particular chapters stressing it does us good to do this. Recalling the Mother of Jesus, the Holy Father said, we would do well this week to think about Mary, as her pain was strong enough to pierce her soul. In going through the experience of the death and resurrection of her Son, her heart became a source of peace, comfort , hope , and mercy. Mary, underlined the Pope is the Mother full of hope, the Mother of all the disciples , the Mother of the Church. After the recitation of the Regina Coeli Pope Francis all the faithful in St Peter’s Square wishing them a very Happy and Holy Easter. ...

Papal Easter Mass and blessing draw 150,000 faithful

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 11:36
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Sunday liturgy in St. Peter’s Square. In his Easter message, the Pope called for peace and stability in the world’s most conflict-ridden countries, and then bestowed his blessing Urbi et Orbi . An estimated 150,000 people were in attendance. Beginning with the words of the angels to the myrrh-bearing women—“Do not be afraid! ... for he has been raised”—Pope Francis said the culmination of the Gospel in the resurrection of Jesus is “the Good News par excellence”. Without the fact of the resurrection, he told the 150,000 people gathered to hear his Easter message, “Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew.” Speaking after the papal Easter liturgy from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope said: “The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.” This is why Christians tell everyone, he continued, to “come and see” that “love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.” The Pope then turned his message to prayers for peace and for an end to injustice, underlining current situations of distress in the world. He prayed for the hungry and the vulnerable, especially children, women, and the elderly. He prayed for migrants and for the sick, in particular for the victims of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. He asked that the Lord comfort all the kidnapped—priests religious, and lay people—who cannot spend Easter with their families. Turning his prayer to more conflict-ridden areas of the world, he prayed for peace in “beloved Syria”, Iraq and Venezuela, and for God to continue to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of talks between Israelis and Palestinians. He begged for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, and to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria. Noting that this Easter is celebrated on the same day as Eastern Christians, he prayed for peace initiatives in Ukraine, so that all people as brothers can proclaim “Christ is risen”. RESSUREXIT ICON AND PASCHAL STICHERA The 90-minute papal liturgy, which took place under a blue and sunny sky in St. Peter’s Square, began shortly after 10 a.m., with the very symbolic rite of Peter, Witness of the Resurrection, traditionally referred to as the rite of the Icon of the Ressurexit, Christ the Redeemer. This ancient Easter tradition, which fell out of use in the 16 th century, but which was brought back into Church practice during the Jubilee Year 2000 by Pope John Paul II, is inspired by the Gospel accounts of Peter’s amazement in seeing the empty tomb and of his encounter with the resurrected Christ. When the icon is presented at the beginning of the Liturgy, the Pope, as Successor of Peter, also encounters the Risen Christ in the icon and becomes the “first witness”, before the whole Church, of the Lord’s Resurrection. In a gesture bridging both Eastern and Western Catholics, the Gospels were chanted in both Latin and Greek, after which the choir from the Pontifical Russian College sang the Paschal stichera, as is custom at the papal Easter liturgy when Easter falls on the same day for both Western and Eastern Christians. The stichera are a series of hymns from the Byzantine rite, which summarize a paschal homily of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, As well, rather than the Angelus, which reflects on Jesus’ Incarnation, the Mass closed with the Regina Ceoli, the Marian Antiphon prayed throughout the Easter season, which meditates on Jesus’ Resurrection. Following the Easter message, the Pope imparted his blessing Urbi et Orbi, that is, to the city and to the world, which is accompanied by a plenary indulgence for all the faithful taking part in the celebration, either in person or through the various communications media, under the four usual conditions. The Pope concluded thanking the 30 Dutch florists who donated more than 35,000 flowers to decorate St. Peter’s Square and the area around the altar. Part of a 29-year tradition, this year’s display included 12,000 tulips, 6,000 daffodils, 2,500 hyacinths, 15,000 narcissus, and 2,500 white roses, added to the festive Easter morning. EASTER VIGIL At the Great Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, the Pope told the faithful in his homily to draw from the hope of the Resurrection. Jesus’ instruction to his Apostles, after his Resurrection, to “return to Galilee”, is in fact a call to re-read everything in the life of Christ “on the basis of the cross and its victory.. from this supreme act of love,” said the Pope. The call to “return to Galilee” is also a call to every Christian to rediscover their baptism “as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy” from the sources of faith and Christian experience, he said. “To return to Galilee,” he said, “means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey." The Pope added that it also means renewing “the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ” who call each disciple to follow him and to share in his mission. “It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me,” the Pope said. During the Easter Vigil liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope also baptised 10 catechumens—the youngest is a seven-year-old Italian and the eldest is a 58-year-old from Vietnam. The other catechumens came from France, Belarus, Lebanon and Senegal. Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci : ...

Easter 'Urbi et Orbi' Message of Pope Francis - full text

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 05:26
Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter! The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” ( Mt 28:5-6). This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death. That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love : it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!” : Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness. With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord! Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you. Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible. Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned. Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty. Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped. Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith. We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent. We pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue! Jesus, Lord of glory, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan. We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela. By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future. On this day, may they be able to proclaim, as brothers and sisters, that Christ is risen, Khrystos voskres ! Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace! Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter! ...

Pope at Easter Vigil: 'Return to Galilee' and rediscover God's grace

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 02:28
(Vatican Radio) Jesus’ call to his Apostles, after his Resurrection, to “return to Galilee”, is the call to re-read everything in the life of Christ “on the basis of the cross and its victory.. from this supreme act of love,” said Pope Francis in his homily during the Easter Vigil celebration on Saturday evening. It is also a call to every Christian to rediscover their baptism “as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience,” he said. “To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey." To “return to Galilee” also means renewing “the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. … It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me,” he added. During the celebration at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pope also baptised 10 catechumens, the youngest of whom is a seven-year-old Italian and the eldest is a 58-year-old from Vietnam. These 10 newly baptized Christians come from different countries, including France, Belarus, Lebanon and Senegal. Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ Easter Vigil homily : The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath. They go to the tomb to honour the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty. A mighty angel says to them: “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5) and orders them to go and tell the disciples: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee” (v. 7). The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: “Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (v. 10). After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died. But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness. The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said. And then there was his command to go to Galilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: “Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me”. Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22). To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory. To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love. For each of us, too, there is a “Galilee” at the origin of our journey with Jesus. “To go to Galilee” means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy. In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also a more existential “Galilee”: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me. Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy. The Gospel of Easter is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia. It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth. “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:15; Is 8:23)! Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter… Let us be on our way!...

Pope Francis set to preside over Easter Vigil in Saint Peter's Basilica

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 13:06
(Vatican Radio) On the evening of April 19, Pope Francis is scheduled to preside over the Easter Vigil celebration in Saint Peter's Basilica. During this celebration the Pope will baptise ten catechumens, the youngest of whom is a seven year old Italian and the eldest a fifty- eight year old from Vietnam. The catechumens come from a number of different countries including France, Bielorussia, Lebanon and Senegal. On Easter Sunday morning Pope Francis will preside over Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Square at 10.15 a.m. and will then impart his traditional ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing, to the city and to the world from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The mass will take place in a colourful floral setting, a yearly gift from the florists of the Netherlands and the liturgical rite will be accompanied by music from both the Eastern and Western Christian traditions....

Pope Francis urges prayers for victims of S. Korean ferry disaster

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 05:06
(Vatican Radio) This Holy Saturday, Pope Francis has asked people worldwide to join him in prayer for the victims of the tragic ferry disaster in South Korea. Using the global twitter network, the Holy Father tweeted: “Please join me in praying for the victims of the ferry disaster in Korea and their families”. South Korea has been plunged into mourning following the sinking of a shuttle ferry the Sewol earlier this week carrying 476 passengers on board. Many of them – over 300 - were high school students on a school trip to the holiday island of Jeju. Early reports said that the ferry turned sharply and listed, perhaps due to a shift in the cargo it was carrying and crew members said the captain, who was not initially on the bridge, had tried to right the ship but failed. Some 500 relatives of the 272 people still missing have been camped out in a nearby gymnasium in the port city of Jindo day and night since Wednesday. The official number of those missing was revised up from an earlier estimate of 269. Pope Francis is due to visit South Korea this August for Asian Youth Day, August 14-18, and the beatification of the 124 new Korean Martyrs. ...

Pope Francis: In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man and greatness of God's mercy

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 03:18
(Vatican Radio) “In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God's mercy who does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy”. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ brief unscripted address Friday evening as he presided at the traditional "Via Crucis", or Way of the Cross, service at Rome’s ancient Colosseum. Emer McCarthy has this report. Listen: Immigrants, the unemployed, the sick, the elderly and prisoners: these were the focus of thousands of pilgrims prayers Friday evening as they gathered in the darkness around the ancient amphitheater, behind a simple wooden Cross. "God - Pope Francis said – placed all the weight of our sins on the Cross of Jesus, all the injustices perpetrated by every Cain against his brother, all the bitterness of the betrayal of Judas and Peter, all the vanity of tyrants, all the arrogance of false friends. It was a heavy Cross, like the night of abandoned people, as heavy as the death of loved ones, heavy because it carried all the ugliness of evil". The Cross emerged from the ruins marking the 14 stations of Christ’s final journey here on earth, borne between two burning candles by immigrants, prisoners, homeless, elderly, women, disabled, and former drug addicts. From the Palatine Hill opposite the Colosseum, Pope Francis knelt in prayer as the meditations by Italian Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini were read. The Archbishop from the southern region of Campobasso, has been at the forefront in the fight against organised crime in southern Italy. His reflections spoke of "all of those wrongs that have created the economic crisis and its grave social consequences: job insecurity, unemployment, an economy that rules rather than serves, financial speculation, suicide among business owners, corruption and usury”. The meditations also denounced the abuse of women and children, the loneliness of old people, of prisoners who endure torture, victims of organized crime and loansharks. The Archbishop wrote: "Today, many of our brothers and sisters, like Jesus, are nailed to a bed of pain, at hospital, in homes for the elderly, in our families. It is a time of hardship, with bitter days of solitude and even despair”. As the Cross came to a standstill before the Holy Father four the 14 th station, the Pope spoke briefly in unscripted remarks to the thousands of pilgrims gathered below in flickering candle light. He spoke of the “monstrosities” that mankind is capable of when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil. But he concluded “it is also a glorious Cross, as [glorious] as the dawn after a long night, because it represents the totality of the love of God, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals". "However - he continued – it is also a glorious Cross, as [glorious] as the dawn after a long night, because it represents the totality of the love of God, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals. In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God's mercy who does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy. Before the Cross of Christ, we see, we can almost touch with our hands how much we are eternally loved; Before the Cross, we feel like 'children' and not 'things ' or objects". "Oh, our Jesus - the Pope concluded - lead us from the Cross to the Resurrection and teach us that evil will not have the last word, but love , mercy and forgiveness. O Christ, help us to once again cry : 'Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him, today I live with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him, today raised with Him '. Finally, let us all together remember the sick, remember all the abandoned people under the weight of the Cross, that in the trial of the Cross they may find the strength of Hope, the Hope of the Resurrection and the Love of God"....

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