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Remembering Cardinal Capovilla: secretary to Pope John XXIII

1 hour 52 min ago
(Vatican Radio) In a tribute to  Cardinal Loris Capovilla, personal secretary to  Saint John XXIII,who passed away on the 26th of May, we bring you a Vatican Radio archive interview in which he explains how this twentieth century Pope rather than arouse in us feelings of nostalgia should encourage us to look towards the future. Listen to a programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick: As ked  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. Cardinal Capovilla also shares the idea that he viewed the Pope as someone sent by God. " I never felt", he remarked in this interview,  " that I was collaborator or a secretary and still less an advisor, I would have perceived this as a scandalous assumption". What he did experience, he highlights, 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 it was difficult to grasp to the full what was in his soul: "... as I said he set the seed for the future".   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Mass and torchlight Eucharistic procession for Corpus Domini

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 15:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the steps of Rome’s cathedral basilica of St. John Lateran Thursday evening, to mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. In the homily he prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis focused on the Eucharist as the source of Christian strength. “From the outset,” he said, “it is the Eucharist which becomes the centre and pattern of the life of the Church: but we think also of all the saints – famous or anonymous – who have ‘broken’ themselves, their own life, in order to ‘give something to eat’ to their brothers and sisters.” The Holy Father went on to say, “How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well; how many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated;  where do they find the strength to do this?” he asked. “It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’.” Click below to hear our report The liturgy was followed by a torchlight Eucharistic procession from the Lateran Basilica to the nearby Basilica of St. Mary Major: an occasion for parish groups, sodalities and charitable and fraternal organisations of all kinds to give public witness to the central mystery of the faith: that Jesus Christ is really, truly, substantially present: body, blood, soul and divinity, under the species of bread and wine. Ordinary citizens participated too, whether watching from the windows and balconies of the buildings that line the route from the Lateran basilica along the via Merulana to the Basilica of St Mary Major, or joining on foot in the procession itself. All told, the Mass and procession rad roughly two and a half hours, and ended as the fullness of night fell on the city in late spring, with the Pope leading the faithful in Eucharistic adoration and offering solemn benediction. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Corpus Domini homily

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 13:41
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass being celebrated on the steps of Rome's cathedral Basilica of St. John Lateran on Thursday, to mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's prepared remarks, in their official English translation. ******************************** « Do this in remembrance of me » ( 1 Cor 11 :24-25). Twice the Apostle Paul, writing to the community in Corinth, recalls this command of Jesus in his account of the institution of the Eucharist.  It is the oldest testimony we have to the words of Christ at the Last Supper.  “Do this”.  That is, take bread, give thanks and break it; take the chalice, give thanks, and share it.  Jesus gives the command to repeat this action by which he instituted the memorial of his own Pasch, and in so doing gives us his Body and his Blood.  This action reaches us today: it is the “doing” of the Eucharist which always has Jesus as its subject, but which is made real through our poor hands anointed by the Holy Spirit.  “Do this”.  Jesus on a previous occasion asked his disciples to “do” what was so clear to him, in obedience to the will of the Father.  In the Gospel passage that we have just heard, Jesus says to the disciples in front of the tired and hungry crowds: “Give them something to eat yourselves” ( Lk 9:13).  Indeed, it is Jesus who blesses and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd, but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish.  Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had.  And there is another gesture: the pieces of bread, broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of the disciples, who distribute these to the people.  This too is the disciples “doing” with Jesus; with him they are able to “give them something to eat”.  Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood (cf. Jn 6:48-58).  And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all. Breaking : this is the other word explaining the meaning of those words: “Do this in remembrance of me”.  Jesus was broken; he is broken for us.  And he asks us to give ourselves, to break ourselves, as it were, for others.  This “breaking bread” became the icon, the sign for recognizing Christ and Christians.  We think of Emmaus:  they knew him “in the breaking of the bread” ( Lk 24:35).  We recall the first community of Jerusalem:  “They held steadfastly… to the breaking of the bread” ( Acts 2:42).  From the outset it is the Eucharist which becomes the centre and pattern of the life of the Church.  But we think also of all the saints – famous or anonymous – who have “broken” themselves, their own life, in order to “give something to eat” to their brothers and sisters.  How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well!  How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated!  Where do they find the strength to do this?  It is in the Eucharist:  in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: “Do this in remembrance of me”.  May this action of the Eucharistic procession, which we will carry out shortly, respond to Jesus’ command.  An action to commemorate him; an action to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our lives as a sign of Christ’s love for this city and for the whole world.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Arinze: the joy of faith on Solemnity of Corpus Domini

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:03
(Vatican Radio) The Prefect-emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Francis Arinze, shared a reflection with Vatican Radio for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The central focus of Cardinal Arinze’s extended meditation was the abiding Eucharistic faith of the Church, and the great joy of Christians in giving witness to that faith – especially in the Eucharistic processions that mark the Feast of Corpus Christi here at Rome and in countless towns and cities around the world. “Everybody is there,” he exclaimed. “Flowers, singing – the excellent Eucharistic hymns that incorporate very much the faith of the Church in the Holy Eucharist – listen to them, sing them, read them,” he said. “It is just a wonderful feast.” Click below to listen to Cardinal Arinze’s extended meditation (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends video message to Germany's 'Catholic Day'

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 11:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a video message on Wednesday to participants in the 100th Katholikentag , or Catholic Day, taking place in Leipzig, Germany, from May 25th to 29th. First organised in 1848, this popular festival brings together Catholics, as well as people of other religious traditions, in dialogue with political, cultural and business leaders. Philippa Hitchen reports:  Speaking in German, a language he learnt during his student days, Pope Francis greeted participants and praised the good relations between Christians of different denominations in Germany. Noting the title of this 100th Katholikentag, ‘ Ecce homo ’, or ‘Behold, the man’, the Pope said this theme shows us that it’s not exterior success that counts in life, but rather the ability to stop, to look and to be attentive to the needs of others. Peace with Creation Every person, the Pope said, wishes to live in peace with others, but this will only happen if we foster peace in our own hearts. These days, he said, so many people are in a constant hurry and tend to trample on everything around them, including our own environment. Instead, he said, we must take time to restore harmony with the world, with creation and also with our Creator. A voice for the oppressed Through contemplation and prayer, the Pope said, we can draw closer to God and see that as he shows love and mercy to us, so we are called to be merciful to each other. So often, he noted, we see people ill-treated and deprived of their dignity – the elderly, the sick, the unemployed and the refugees. Pope Francis concluded his message with a blessing for participants, urging them to find more time in their lives to give a voice to the poor and the oppressed. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Perseverance in prayer needed, but not "magic wand"

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 08:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday said “prayer is not a magic wand.” He was speaking during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope was discussing the Parable of the Unjust Judge – also known as the Parable of the Persistent Widow – from the Gospel of Luke. In the parable, the persistence of a widow forces the unjust judge to grant her request for justice, “so that she will not eventually wear [him] out.” ( Lk 18: 1-8 ). “Widows, together with orphans and foreigners, were the most vulnerable groups of society” – Pope Francis said – “The rights secured to them by the Law could be easily trampled upon because, being alone and helpless, it was difficult from them to avail themselves: A poor widow, there, alone, no one to defend her, she could be ignored, even denied justice; thus also with the orphan, the foreigner, the migrant…at that time this was a very great problem.” The Holy Father said the widow in the parable used the only weapon she had: Her persistence is presenting her request for justice, “and this persistence achieved its goal.” Pope Francis said if the widow can bend the will of the Unjust Judge, then God, who is “a good and just Father,” will “do justice to those who cry out to him day and night.” “All of us experience moments of fatigue and discouragement, especially when our prayers seem ineffective,” Pope Francis said. “But Jesus assures us: unlike the unjust judge, God promptly answers promptly his children, although this does not mean he does it in the time and manner that we would like. Prayer is not a magic wand!” – continued the Pope – “It helps to preserve our faith in God, and to trust in Him even when we do not comprehend His will. In this, Jesus himself - who prayed so much! – is the example.” Pope Francis gives the example of Our Lord’s prayer at Gethsemane, where he prayed for the Father to “deliver him from the bitter cup of the passion.” “But his prayer is permeated by faith in the Father, and trusts without restraint in His will: But – says Jesus – not as I will, but as you will,” Pope Francis explained. “The goal of the prayer is of secondary importance; what matters above all is the relationship with the Father,” – the Pope continued – “This is what makes the prayer transform the desire and shape it according to the will of God, whatever it may be, because the person who prays first of all aspires to union with God, who is Merciful Love.” Pope Francis concluded his catechesis by mentioning the parable ends with a question: When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? “And with this question we are all warned: we must not desist from prayer, even if it is not answered,” the Pope said. “And it is the prayer which keeps the faith, without this, the faith wavers” “We ask the Lord for a faith which becomes unceasing prayer, persevering, like that of the widow in the parable, a faith that is nourished by the desire of his arrival. And in this prayer we experience the compassion of God, like a Father who comes to meet his children full of merciful love.” After his catechesis, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of terrorist attacks that took place in Syria on Monday, and also made an appeal for International Missing Children’s Day. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends message to Conference on Perinatal Care

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 07:05
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to participants at a conference on pre- and perinatal care taking place at Rome’s Agostino Gemelli Teaching hospital. The Conference, entitled “Guarding Life: the perinatal hospice, a scientific, ethical and human response to prenatal diagnoses,” is presenting the initial results of therapeutic approaches to care for newborns, including those with grave pathological conditions, developed by the new “Perinatal Hospice” established at the Gemelli Hospital. The Hospice has been established in the context of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. In the Message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy Father expressed his hope for the continued success of the project “in the service of the person and in the progress of medical science, in constant reference to perennial human and Christian values.” He noted their efforts in “seeking to respond in the best possible way to the poverty which is the situation of the child with grave pathologies, with the greatest possible love, spreading a concept of science that that is directed to service, not selection.” Pope Francis also praised accomplishments already achieved, and called for “a daily commitment to the actualization of the project of God with concerning life and protecting it with courage and love, with the ‘style’ of nearness and proximity, distancing oneself from the throwaway culture that proposes only an itinerary of death, thinking to eliminate suffering by eliminating those who suffer.” At the conclusion of the Message, Pope Francis extended his Apostolic Blessing to all those taking part in the Conference. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis uses sign language at General Audience

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 05:49
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday by greeting people in sign language. The message of greeting – which involves raising one’s arms, and then turning your hand with the palms out – was for a pilgrimage group from the National Board for the Deaf, which is based in Florence. There was also a group of pilgrims from the Italian Union of the Blind, based in Latina. When greeting the sick and infirm at the end of the Audience, Pope Francis invoked Pope St. Gregory VII – whose feast day was being celebrated on Wednesday. “May he encourage you, dear sick people, to confront your moments of suffering with faith,” Pope Francis said. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: Everyone has a duty to protect children

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 04:54
(Vatican Radio) “It is a duty of everyone to protect children, especially those exposed to elevated risk of exploitation, trafficking, and deviant conduct.” That was the message of Pope Francis for International Missing Children’s Day at his General Audience on Wednesday. Missing Children’s Day was established in the United States by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, four years after the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz in New York City. The date of his disappearance, May 25, was chosen for the annual commemoration. Since 1998 Missing Children’s Day has been commemorated internationally. In his appeal at the conclusion of the weekly Audience, Pope Francis expressed his hope that “civil and religious authorities might stir consciences and raise awareness, in order to avoid indifference in the face of children on their own, exploited children, and children far from their families and their social context, children who cannot grow-up peacefully or look with hope to the future.” He invited everyone “to prayer that each of them might be restored to the affection of their loved ones.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope prays for victims of terrorist attacks in Syria

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 04:54
(Vatican Radio) At the conclusion of his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of terrorist attacks that took place in Syria on Monday. “I exhort everyone to pray to the merciful Father, to pray to the Madonna, that [God] might give eternal rest to the victims, and consolation to their families,” the Pope said, “and might convert the hearts of those who sow death and destruction.” He then led the crowd in the Hail Mary  More than 160 people were killed in the coordinated attacks on cities of Jableh and Tartus, government strongholds which had remained relatively untouched throughout the civil war, now in its sixth year. Funerals for the victims began on Tuesday in Syria.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Wednesday audience: Persevere in prayer

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 04:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis centered the catechesis of this week’s Wednesday general audience on the importance of persevering in prayer. Below, please find the official English-language summary of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now turn to the parable of the unjust judge and the widow ( Lk 18:1-8).  In telling us that even an unscrupulous judge will finally render justice to a poor woman because of her persistence, Jesus encourages us to persevere in prayer to our heavenly Father, who is infinitely just and loving.  He also assures us that God will not only hear our prayers, but will not delay in answering them (vv. 7-8).  The Gospels tell us that Jesus himself prayed constantly.  His own intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a model for our own: it teaches us to present our petitions with complete trust in Father’s gracious will.  The parable of the unjust judge and the widow ends with a pointed question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth”? (v. 8).  Perseverance in prayer keeps our faith alive and strong.  For in that prayer, we experience the compassion of God who, like a Father filled with love and mercy, is ever ready to come to the aid of his children. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: holiness is courage, hope, daily conversion

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 06:16
(Vatican Radio)  "Walk in the presence of God without reproach." That’s how Pope Francis says we can journey towards holiness.  During the Homily at Mass at Santa Marta Tuesday, the Pope said that for this commitment to succeed, Christians must be able to hope with courage, open themselves up to discussion, and freely welcome God's grace. Listen to our report: Holiness cannot be bought. Neither can it be earned by human strength. No, "the simple holiness of all Christians," "ours – the kind  we are called to every day," says the Pope, can only be attained with the help of four essential elements: courage, hope, grace, and conversion. The path of courage Taking the liturgical excerpt from the First Letter of St. Peter, which he called a "small treatise on holiness," Pope Francis said holiness means “to walk in the presence of God without reproach:" "Holiness is a journey; holiness cannot be bought.  It can’t be sold. It cannot be given away. Holiness is a journey to God's presence that I must make: no one else can do it in my name. I can pray for someone to be holy, but he’s the one who has to work towards [holiness], not me. Walk in God's presence, in an impeccable way.” Everyday holiness, the Pope continued, can also be “anonymous.” And the first element needed to achieve it is courage:  “The path to holiness takes courage." Hope and grace "Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven," the Pope stressed, is for "those who have the courage to go forward" and courage, he observed, is generated by "hope," the second element of the journey that leads to holiness. The kind of courage that hopes "in an encounter with Jesus." The third element of this journey towards holiness, the Pope observed, appears in Peter’s words: "Put all your hope in that grace:” "We cannot achieve holiness on our own,” affirmed Pope Francis.  “No, it is a grace. Being good, being saintly, going every day a little 'a step forward in the Christian life is a grace of God and we have to ask for it. Courage, a journey. A journey one must take with courage, with hope and with the willingness to receive this grace. And hope: the hope of the journey. Here, the Pope urged the faithful to read the “beautiful” chapter XI of the Letter to the Hebrews, which recounts the journey of “our forefathers, the first to be called by God.” “Of our father Abraham, it said: 'But, he went out without knowing where he was going.' But with hope." Convert every day In Peter’s letter, the Pope continued, we also see the importance of a fourth element: conversion as a continuous effort towards cleansing the heart. "Conversion, every day,” recalled Pope Francis, does not mean one must beat oneself as penance for committing a wrong:   “No, no, no: small conversions... if you're able to not speak ill of another, you're on the right path to becoming saintly. It 'so easy! I know that you never speak ill of others, no? Little things ... 'I want to criticize a neighbor, a workmate': bite your tongue a bit. The tongue will swell a bit, but your spirit will be holier on this journey. Nothing grand, mortification: no, it's simple. The path to holiness is simple. Do not go back, but always moving forward, right? And with fortitude."  (from Vatican Radio)...

The Pope expresses his wish that the summit in Istanbul be a sign of change for the millions of people in need of protection- Let us hear the cry of the victims

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 01:00
“Let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering. Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity”. Pope Francis addressed this challenge in a message to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, on the occasion of the first world humanitarian summit held on 23-24 May in Istanbul. In the text – which was read aloud on the first day of the summit by Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who led the Holy See delegation – the Pontiff made several pointed suggestions. “There must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity, no wounded person without care, no child without a childhood, no young man or woman without a future, no elderly person without a dignified old age”, he stated. The Pope's message...

Pope sends Message to World Humanitarian Summit

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 09:49
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the World Humanitarian Summit taking place 23-24 May in Istanbul. The Summit was convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In his message, addressed to Secretary General Ban, Pope Francis said, “I hope that your efforts may contribute in a real way to alleviating the sufferings of these millions of people” who need “protection, care and assistance, and who seek a dignified future.” He also noted some of the difficulties in finding solutions to humanitarian crises, such as competing interests and “military, economic and geo-political strategies” that displace persons and “impose the god of money, the god of power.” And he warned about humanitarian efforts “conditioned by commercial and ideological constraints. “For this reason,” he said, “what is needed today is a renewed commitment to protect each person in their daily life and to protect their dignity and human rights, their security and their comprehensive needs.” At the same time, he continued, “it is necessary to preserve freedom and the social and cultural identity of peoples.” Aid for those in need must begin on a personal level, he said, but must also involve working together. Pope Francis also said he hoped the Summit would be the occasion for recognizing the important work of many who “serve their neighbor and contribute to consoling” those who suffer. He emphasized that love is not directed to ideas, but to persons. Finally, Pope Francis offered a challenge to those taking part in the Summit: “let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering.  Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity.  Let us change our ways of life, politics, economic choices, behaviours and attitudes of cultural superiority. Learning from victims and those who suffer, we will be able to build a more humane world.” Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ Message to the World Humanitarian Summit: To His Excellency Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General of the United Nations I wish to greet all those taking part in this first World Humanitarian Summit, the President of Turkey together with the organizers of this meeting, and you, Mr. Secretary-General, who have called for this occasion to be a turning point for the lives of millions of people who need protection, care and assistance, and who seek a dignified future. I hope that your efforts may contribute in a real way to alleviating the sufferings of these millions of people, so that the fruits of the Summit may be demonstrated through a sincere solidarity and a true and profound respect for the rights and dignity of those suffering due to conflicts, violence, persecution and natural disasters.  In this context, the victims are those who are most vulnerable, those who live in conditions of misery and exploitation. We cannot deny that many interests today prevent solutions to conflicts, and that military, economic and geopolitical strategies displace persons and peoples and impose the god of money, the god of power.  At the same time, humanitarian efforts are frequently conditioned by commercial and ideological constraints.  For this reason, what is needed today is a renewed commitment to protect each person in their daily life and to protect their dignity and human rights, their security and their comprehensive needs.  At the same time, it is necessary to preserve freedom and the social and cultural identity of peoples; without this leading to instances of isolation, it should also favour cooperation, dialogue, and especially peace.  “Leaving no one behind” and “doing one’s very best” demands that we do not give up and that we take responsibility for our decisions and actions regarding the victims themselves.  First of all, we must do this in a personal way, and then together, coordinating our strengths and initiatives, with mutual respect for our various skills and areas of expertise, not discriminating but rather welcoming.  In other words: there must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity, no wounded person without care, no child without a childhood, no young man or woman without a future, no elderly person without a dignified old age.  May this also be the occasion to recognize the work of those who serve their neighbour and contribute to consoling the sufferings of the victims of war and calamity, of the displaced and refugees, and who care for society, particularly through courageous choices in favour of peace, respect, healing and forgiveness.  This is the way in which human lives are saved. No one loves a concept, no one loves an idea; we love persons.  Self-sacrifice, true self-giving, flows from love towards men and women, the children and elderly, peoples and communities… faces, those faces and names which fill our hearts.  Today I offer a challenge to this Summit: let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering.  Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity.  Let us change our ways of life, politics, economic choices, behaviours and attitudes of cultural superiority. Learning from victims and those who suffer, we will be able to build a more humane world.            I assure you my prayers, and I invoke upon all present the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.                                                                                     Franciscus PP. From the Vatican, 21 May 2016   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis receives Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in audience

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 09:28
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis received in audience in the Vatican on Monday the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al-Tayyib.   In a note, the Director of the Vatican Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi sj. said the approximately 30 minute meeting was “very cordial” and that the Grand Imam of Egypt “was accompanied by an important delegation, which included: Dr. Abbas Shouman, Undersecretary of Al-Azhar; Dr. Mahmaoud Hamdi Zakzouk, member of the Council of Senior Scholars of Al-Azhar University and Director of the Center for Dialogue of Al-Azhar; Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, Advisor to the Great Imam; Dr. Mohie Afifi Afifi Ahmed, secretary-general of the Islamic Research Academy; Ambassador Mahmoud Abdel Gawad, Diplomatic Advisor to the Grand Imam; Mr. Tamer Tawfik, Advisor; and Mr Ahmad Alshourbagy, Second Secretary. The delegation was accompanied by the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Holy See, Mr. Hatem Seif Elnasr. Upon his arrival in the Vatican, the Grand Imam was welcomed, and then accompanied to his audience with the Pope, by the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Card. Jean-Louis Tauran, and by the Secretary of the same dicastery, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot.  Fr. Lombardi further states that the Pope and Grand Imam noted “the great significance of this new meeting in the framework of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam.” The two then mainly “discussed the common commitment of the authorities and the faithful of the great religions for peace in the world, the rejection of violence and terrorism, the situation of Christians in the context of conflicts and tensions in the Middle East and their protection.” During the meeting, Pope Francis gave the Grand Imam the Medallion of the olive tree of peace and a copy of his Encyclical Letter Laudato si'. Following his audience with the Holy Father, the Grand Imam and his delegation met briefly with Cardinal Tauran and Bishop Guixot Ayuso in another audience hall in the Apostolic Palace.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Christians live God’s love with joy, astonishment

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 07:27
(Vatican Radio)  No Christian can exist without joy: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse.  The Pope stressed that even through life’s difficulties, the Christian knows he can trust in Jesus and find hope.  The Pope also reminded the faithful they should not allow riches to dominate their lives because they ultimately lead to sadness.  Listen to our report: Christians live in joy and amazement because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Commenting on the First Letter of St. Peter the Apostle, Francis pointed out that, even if we are plagued by trials, we can never lose the joy of knowing that God “regenerated us in Christ and gave us hope". The identity card of the Christian is the joy of the Gospel He noted that we can go towards that “hope” which "the early Christians depicted as an anchor in heaven."  We too, can “ take the rope and go up there," to "that hope" that brings joy: "A Christian is a man, or a woman, of joy: a man and a woman with joy in their heart. There is no Christian without joy!”  You may be told that there are many such Christians, the Pope warned, but  “they are not Christians! They say they are, but they are not! They are missing something.” “The Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that - even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life - is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us. " "The Christian,” he added,   “grows in joy through trusting in God. God always remembers his covenant." And in turn, "the Christian knows that God remembers him, that God loves him , that God accompanies him, that God is waiting for him. And this is joy." Slavery to riches is an evil which leads to sadness Turning to the day’s Gospel story regarding Jesus’s encounter with the wealthy man, the Pope observed the young man “was not able to open his heart to joy [and] chose sadness," "for he had many possessions." "He was shackled  to his belongings! Jesus told us that one cannot serve two masters: either one must serve God or serve riches. Riches are not bad in themselves, but slavery to wealth – this, is wickedness. The poor young man went away sad ... 'He frowned and he went away sorrowful'. When in our parishes, in our communities, in our institutions we find people who say they are Christians and want to be Christian but are sad, something is wrong there. And we must help them to find Jesus, to take away that sadness, so that they may rejoice in the gospel, can have this joy which is truly of the Gospel. " "Joy and amazement:" that’s what the Christian feels when faced with God’s revelation and love, and “the emotions stirred by the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis added.   And here, the Pope recalled Jesus’s disappointment  when he told the Apostles that the young man could not follow him, because he was too attached to his riches.  And when the Apostles asked the Lord, ‘who then, can be saved?’  The Lord answered, "Impossible for men," "but not for God." Christian joy, then, and the ability to “be saved from worldly attachments” can “only come through the power of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit." Concluding, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord “graces us with amazement in his presence, in the presence of the many spiritual treasures he has given us; and with this amazement, may he give us joy, the joy of our lives - and of having our hearts at peace even when faced with many difficulties.  And may he protect us from seeking happiness in so many things that ultimately sadden us:  they promise much, but they will not give us anything! Remember well: a Christian is a man, and  a woman, of joy, joy in the Lord; a man and a woman of wonder ." (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: The Holy Trinity, where there is love there is God

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 07:28
(Vatican Radio) “The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to engage in the daily events to be the leaven of communion, of consolation and of mercy.” Those were Pope Francis' words during his Angelus address on a sunny Trinity Sunday from his studio above St Peter’s Square. Drawing inspiration from the  Gospel of St. John, the Pope said that Jesus knew how to be close to the realization of the Father's plan, which will be fulfilled by his death and resurrection; “for this, Pope Francis continued, he wants to ensure his followers that he will not abandon them because his mission will be prolonged by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Father explained that the Holy Spirit “guides us into new life situations with an eye to Jesus and, at the same time, open to events and to the future.” “He takes care of the wounded flesh of humanity from injustice, the oppression, hatred and greed.” Then the Pope described how the Trinity is a family of three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit which is not closed in on itself, but it is open, The Trinitarian horizon of communion, said Pope Francis, “embraces us all, and encourages us to live in love and fraternal sharing, assured that where there is love, there is God.” The Holy Father went on to say that, our being created in the image and likeness of God calls us to understand ourselves as beings living interpersonal relations in solidarity and love for one another. Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, the Pope recalled that May 23 rd sees the start of the First World Humanitarian Summit, due to take place in Istanbul, Turkey. The Holy Father prayed that the participants would fully commit themselves to the main humanitarian goal, that is, “to save the life of every human being, without exception, especially the innocent and the defenseless.” Pope Francis also noted that on Tuesday, May 24, the Catholic faithful in China, would be celebrating their particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary "Help of Christians", venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. Let us ask Mary, he said, “ to give his children in China the ability to discern at all times the signs of the loving presence of God, who always welcomes and forgives.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends top level delegation to World Humanitarian Summit

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 13:08
(Vatican Radio) A top level Holy See delegation will be present in Istanbul for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit that takes place on 23 and 24 May. Convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the world witnesses the highest level of human suffering since World War 2, the summit brings together governments, humanitarian organizations, people affected by humanitarian crises and new partners - including the private sector. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : At the heart of the summit is the call for us all to invest in humanity – that is in people’s safety, dignity and the right to thrive – to  place that belief at the core of global decision-making. To do this, the summit is asking participants to propose solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges and to set an agenda for effective humanitarian action. What with over 4.3 million Syrians displaced by the conflict in their nation and estimates there will be at least 4.7 million by the end of the year, refugee issues will take center stage in Istanbul as leaders and policy-makers have to acknowledge that more  than half of those suffering are children under the age of 18 who have lost everything: family, friends, education and hope for a future of normality. So, while the Summit is above all a call to action to change the effects of the crisis on a global, regional and local level  by trying to rethink and reshape the aid given to refugees today, the  refugee crisis is not the only topic.  All participants will be committed to a unified agenda focusing on climate change, urbanization, population growth and how new technology can be used for the benefit of everyone. Round table events will provide the space for further creative brainstorming and on how to share and invest in new ideas. So important are the issues at stake that the Holy See  has sent three top representatives to the meeting including Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, Permanent Observer to the UN, Archbishop Bernard Auza and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who until a few months ago was the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. The role and specific value of religious organizations and faith-based groups involved in peace-making, humanitarian assistance and long term reconstruction is recognized and highlighted as the strengthening of the synergies between all humanitarian stakeholders is one of the priorities in Istanbul. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets with President of Belarus

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 07:48
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday morning met with the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who subsequently met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States. A statement from the Holy See Press Office called the discussions “cordial”, and said “satisfaction was expressed for the good state of bilateral relations and various themes of mutual interest were considered, with particular reference to the life of  the Church in Belarus and the peaceful co-existence between Catholic and Orthodox communities, and  with other religious confessions, in the country.” The statement also said  the role played by the capital of the country, the city of Minsk, which hosted recent discussions with the aim of seeking solutions for peace in the Region, “was underlined.” President Lukashenko presented several gifts to Pope Francis: A cross, an icon, and a model of a carriage made from homemade pasta. Pope Francis gave the President copies of the three most significant documents of his papacy: The Encyclical Laudato si' , and the Apostolic Exhortations Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia . Ahead of this visit, the Vatican Museums hosted an exhibit of sacred art from Belarus, consisting of 31 icons and 2 icon covers dating as far back as the 17th century. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope emeritus: Third Secret of Fatima was released in full

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 07:33
(Vatican Radio) Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has said he never told anyone the publication of the “Third Secret of Fatima” in the year 2000 was incomplete, and confirmed the document was published in its totality. A Communiqué was published Saturday by the Holy See Press Office on various articles regarding the “Third Secret of Fatima.” “ Several articles have appeared recently, including declarations attributed to Professor Ingo Dollinger according to which Cardinal Ratzinger, after the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima (which took place in June 2000), had confided to him that the publication was not complete,” – the Communiqué reads – “In this regard, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI declares ‘never to have spoken with Professor Dollinger about Fatima’, clearly affirming that the remarks attributed to Professor Dollinger on the matter ‘are pure inventions, absolutely untrue’, and he confirms decisively that ‘the publication of the  Third Secret of Fatima is complete’.” Three children in Portugal saw apparition of the Virgin Mary six times between May and October 1917 According to one of the visionaries – Sr. Lúcia de Jesus Rosa Santos – on July 13, 1917, Our Lady entrusted the children with three secrets, which she later wrote down and delivered to the Pope. The third secret was not revealed with the others, but Pope John Paul II decided to release it in the Jubilee Year of 2000. (from Vatican Radio)...

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