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Holy See to UN Security Council: Protect women and girls in conflict zones

1 hour 57 min ago
(Vatican Radio) The  Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations on Friday told the UN Security Council spoke about the dangers posed to innocent civilians, especially women and girls, in armed conflicts. “In conflict settings women  and girls are more vulnerable as a result of inequality and are directly targeted as part of fear tactics and  deliberate assaults on their rights,” said the statement, read by the Chargé d'Affaires of the Mission, Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk. “My delegation remains concerned about the continued lack of attention and priority to the protection of  women and girls who are targeted and attacked  purely  because of the faith they profess,” the statement continued. “The lack of  focus and priority for protecting them is troubling  when Christians face extinction in some regions of  the world and in other regions Christian schools for girls are targeted and attacked.” The full statement of the Holy See Observer Mission is below: Intervention of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN at the Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Protection challenges and needs faced by women and girls in armed conflict and post-conflict settings New York, 30 January 2015 Mister President, My delegation wishes to congratulate Chile for its Presidency of the Security Council and for convening  this important debate  on protection, challenges and needs faced by women and girls in armed conflict  and post conflict settings.  Today’s discussion provides a much needed opportunity to focus on the impact  of violence on women and girls in conflict settings and to  identify the initiatives that must be undertaken  to eradicate this scourge, that continues to escalate. The Holy See firmly opposes recourse to armed conflict as a means of solving disputes and recognizes  that women and girls suffer disproportionately from the ravages of conflict. In conflict settings women  and girls are more vulnerable as a result of inequality and are directly targeted as part of fear tactics and  deliberate assaults on their rights. Although  a  focus  on  women’s  protection  and  inclusion  has  been  a  mainstay  of  the  Council’s  deliberations,  many  gaps  remain  and  must  be  addressed  by  this  august  body.  Through  a  series  of  resolutions, this Security Council has recognized that further steps must be taken to protect women and  girls in  conflict  and post-conflict situations  and to  examine the unique impact  of  armed  conflict  on  women and girls. However, reports of violence committed against women in the most brutal and horrific  forms, including sexual slavery, rape and trafficking are increasing. Mister President, The belief in the sanctity of human life and inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of  the principles of Catholic Social teaching. All persons, women and men, girls and boys, by virtue of  their human dignity are free and equal. Violence in all its forms is an affront to human dignity and, moreover, sexual violence against women tears at the very fabric of society. This was pointed out by His Holiness Pope Francis, when he emphasized that we must not “overlook  the fact that wars involve another horrendous crime, the crime of rape. This is a most grave offense  against the dignity of women, who are not only violated in body but also in spirit, resulting in a trauma  hard to erase and with effects on society as well. Sadly, even apart from situations of war, all too many  women even today are victims of violence.” Mister President, Armed conflict affects the security of the entire community and of the family in particular. It causes displacement, forcing families to flee and stable communities to  disintegrate. Ripped from their land  and rich history  families and entire communities are vulnerable and exploited as outsiders in foreign  lands. In addition, mainly men are called to fight in situations of armed conflict, leaving their family behind to  fend  for  itself.  Without  the  protection  of  their  husband  or  father,  women  and  girls  in  particular  are  vulnerable to exploitation and gross human rights violations with the possibility of becoming the prey  of terrorist networks. Mister President, My delegation remains concerned about the continued lack of attention and priority to the protection of  women and girls who are targeted and attacked  purely  because of the faith they profess. The lack of  focus and priority for protecting them is troubling  when Christians face extinction in some regions of  the world and in other regions Christian schools for girls are targeted and attacked. This is a shared  reality of members of all faiths and therefore requires the shared commitment of members of all faiths and governments strongly to condemn and confront such violence As Pope Francis noted, acts of violence continue to strike indiscriminately and there is an alarming  increase  in  kidnapping,  particularly  of  young  girls  who  are  made  objects  of  trafficking.   This  is  an  abominable trade that must come to an end. This scourge must be eradicated, since it strikes all of us,  from individual families to the entire international community. Mister President, The Catholic Church through her institutions and agencies around the world is providing assistance, care and  support  to  thousands  of  survivors  of  sexual  violence  in  situations  of  armed  conflict.   These  institutions and their courageous individuals sacrifice themselves on a daily basis and many of these  have paid dearly for their  endeavors. Because  of this permanent  local presence in  the world’s most  disaster prone areas, this network of Catholic institutions and agencies do respond rapidly and effectively  to address the consequence of violence in armed conflict. In conclusion, as Pope Francis recently noted in his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, we must reject the “culture of enslavement” which is incapable of doing good or pursuing  peace and accepts as inevitable the spread of war and violence. We must redouble our efforts to replace  this “culture” with a culture of life and peace in which governments and the international community  fulfill their fundamental responsibility to protect all people Thank you, Mister President. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican to offer haircuts, shaves as well as showers to Rome's homeless ‎

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 09:41
The Vatican will offer homeless people in Rome not only showers but also haircuts and shaves when new facilities open next month, the head of Pope Francis' charity office said.  The Vatican announced last year that it would provide shower facilities in St Peter's Square for homeless people.  Archbishop Konrad Krajewski the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire on Thursday that it would also offer haircuts and shaves when the services start on Feb. 16 in an area under the colonnade of the square.  Arch. Krajewski, whose official title is the pope's almsgiver, said barbers and hairdressers would volunteer their services on Mondays, the day their shops are traditionally closed in Italy.  They had already donated chairs, hair-cutting instruments, and mirrors, the newspaper's website said.  Arch. Krajewski came up with the idea of building showers in St. Peter's Square last year after a homeless person told him that while it was relatively easy to find places to eat at Rome charities, it was difficult to find places to wash.  He immediately received the pope's backing for the shower project and then expanded it to include haircuts and shaves.  (Source: Reuter) (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: spirit of fraternity with Oriental Orthodox

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 07:42
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received the participants in a meeting -this week - of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Oriental Orthodox Churches those Orthodox Eastern Christian churches which recognize only the first three ecumenical councils, and rejected the formulae of the Council of Chalcedon, at which certain central Christological doctrines were dogmatically defined, most especially the dual nature – fully divine and fully human, perfectly united though without mixing, blending or alteration – of Christ. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered during the noon audience in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Pope Francis praised the progress of the Commission in its dozen years of work, and called on all participants to continue their journey in a spirit of brotherhood. “I express my hope that this work will bear rich fruit for our common theological research and help us to experience ever more fully our fraternal friendship,” the Holy Father said. Pope Francis went on to note, with, “dismay and deep sadness,” the ongoing conflicts and crises in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. “I join you,” he said, “in praying for a negotiated solution and in imploring God’s goodness and mercy upon all those affected by this immense tragedy.” The Holy Father continued, saying, “All Christians are called to work together, in mutual acceptance and trust, in order to serve the cause of peace and justice.  May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints who have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks by thanking the participants for their visit, invoking the Lord’s blessings and the maternal protection of Mary on their ministry, and asking in turn for their continued prayers for him. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Christians' two parameters: memory and hope

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 06:17
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis warned that lukewarm Christians who’ve lost the memory and enthusiasm of their first encounter with Christ are in grave danger of letting the devil into their homes. Christians, he explained, must always retain that memory of their first meeting with Christ and their hope in Him to help them go forward with the courage of their faith. The Pope’s words came at his morning Mass on Friday (January 30th) celebrated at the Santa Marta residence. Taking the inspiration for his reflections from the Letter to the Hebrews, Pope Francis said somebody who no longer remembers his or her first meeting with Jesus is an empty and spiritually inert person, as only lukewarm people can be.  The day of that first encounter with Christ, he stressed, must never be forgotten.   Lukewarm Christians in grave danger “Our memory is so important for recalling the grace received because if we chase away that enthusiasm which comes from the memory of that first love, this enthusiasm coming from that first love, then a huge danger arrives for Christians: a lukewarm (faith).  Lukewarm Christians.  They’re there, immobile and yes, they’re Christians, but they’ve lost the memory of that first love.  And they’ve also lost their enthusiasm. In addition, they’ve lost their patience, to tolerate life’s problems with the spirit of Jesus’ love, to tolerate, and to bear on their shoulders the difficulties….   Lukewarm Christians, poor things, they’re in grave danger.” Pope Francis said when he thinks about lukewarm Christians he is struck by two distasteful images, the one described by Peter who talks of the dog that returns to its own vomit and the other described by Jesus of people who chase away the devil and decide to follow the gospel but when the devil later returns with reinforcements they open their doors of their house to him.  The Pope said this is like returning to the vomit of that evil that was earlier rejected and vice-versa.   “A Christian has these two parameters, memory and hope.  We must evoke our memory so as not to lose the beautiful experience of that first love which feeds our hope. Many times that hope is in darkness but (a Christian) still goes ahead.  He or she believes and goes forward because they know that hope never disappoints us, in finding Jesus.  These two parameters are the very frames within which we can safeguard the salvation of the good people which comes from the Lord.” Memory and hope equal faith The Pope said this salvation must be protected in order that the tiny mustard seed will grow and bear fruit. “It’s painful and heart-breaking to see so many Christians - so many  Christians! – half-way along the road, so many Christians who’ve failed along this road towards a meeting with Jesus, going away from this encounter with Jesus. This road where they’ve lost the memory of that first love and no longer have any hope.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Mexico: Pope Francis' prayers for maternity hospital

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:22
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called for prayers in the wake of a deadly gas explosion at a maternity hospital in the Cuajimalpa section of Mexico City. Appearing on the Holy Father’s Spanish-language twitter account shortly after news of the incident broke, the message says: “Let us pray for the victims of the explosion at the hospital in Cuajimalpa, Mexico, and for family members that the Lord might grant them peace and strength.” An investigation is underway into the cause of Thursday's explosion, which killed at least three people and injured scores of others, many of whom are infants. James Blears reports a leak in a pipe of a truck supplying gas to the hospital's kitchen,  transformed the vehicle into a gigantic bomb, with a resulting explosion, felt for many miles around.   Listen to the report by James Blears: The nursery, administration area and emergency ward of Cujimalpa hospital were flattened by a blast of enormous proportions.  Investigating experts say a supply pipe of a truck pumping gallon after gallon of gas into the hospital kitchen, either leaked or fractured,  causing the explosion. More than 40 of the 70 hurt are babies or young children. Twenty-two remain in serious condition. The heart-rending cases range from  blast wounds,  burns ..... and horrific wounds from glass shards fanning out in cutting showers, from shattered window panes.  Windows for miles around were blown to kingdom come from the shock waves.   Mexico City's Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera who's visited the scene of twisted metal, collapsed concrete and devastation, is blaming the gas company, which he says has been supplying hospitals throughout Mexico City since 2007.   In one form or other, gas explosions are not uncommon in Mexico.   In February 2013, 37 people died after a build-up of gas in the basement of the Mexico City Headquarters of State Petroleum Company PEMEX.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope modifies and enriches Pallium Investiture Ceremony

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 06:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has made changes to the public ceremony of investiture of the Pallium on Metropolitan Archbishops emphasizing that the investiture is an ecclesial event of the whole diocese, and not merely a juridical or ceremonial event.  Speaking to Vatican Radio, Monsignor Guido Marini, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, says that from now on – starting from the 29th June this year - the ceremony of investiture of the Pallium will take place in the Metropolitan Archbishops home dioceses and not in the Vatican. He said the ceremony will thus be celebrated in  two significant moments: the first during which  the pallium will be blessed during the Mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the Vatican; the second when it will be placed on the Metropolitan Archbishop in his own diocese, by his representative, the Apostolic Nuncio. It will be the responsibility of the Nuncio to determine with the Metropolitan Archbishops the most opportune date, circumstances and manner to publicly and officially invest him with the pallium by mandate of the Holy Father, and with the participation of the Suffragan Bishops of the Province. Marini says that in this way the ceremony will continue to symbolize communion between the See of Peter and the Successor of the Apostle and those who are chosen to carry out the episcopal ministry as Metropolitan Archbishop of an Ecclesiastical Province, and it will favor the participation of the local Church in an important moment of its life and history. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: No to ecclesial elites who privatize the faith

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 06:07
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis says ecclesial elites who form cliques and scorn others are privatizing the faith and not following the way of Jesus.  His words came during his homily at morning Mass on Thursday (29th January) celebrated in the Santa Marta residence.  The Pope’s homily was a reflection on the need for Christians to follow Jesus in the way that He wants and not to follow incorrect models such as privatizing our faith.  “It’s true, Jesus has saved us all, but not in a general fashion.  All of us, each one with their name and surname.  And this is our personal salvation.  I am truly saved, the Lord looked at me, gave his life for me, opened this door, this new life for me and each of us can say ‘For me.’  But there’s a danger of forgetting that He saved us individually but at the same time as part of his people or community.  His people.  The Lord always saves his people.  From the moment he calls Abraham and promises to make them his people.   And the Lord saves us as part of this community.  That’s why the writer of this Letter (to the Hebrews) tells us: ‘Let us be concerned for each other.’  There is no salvation solely for me.  If that’s the way I understand salvation, I’m mistaken and going along the wrong path.  The privatization of salvation is the wrong path.” Pope Francis explained that there are three criteria for not privatizing salvation: ‘faith in Jesus who purifies us,’  hope that ‘stirs us to look at his promises and go forward’ and charity: namely taking care of each other, to encourage us all to practice charity and good works.’ “And when I’m in a parish, in a community --  or whatever it is – I am there, I can privatize salvation and be there only on a small social level.  But in order not to privatize salvation, I need to ask myself if I speak and communicate the faith, speak and communicate hope, speak, practice and communicate charity.  If within a particular community there is no communication between people and no encouragement is given to everybody to practice these three virtues, the members of that community have privatized their faith.  Each of them is looking for his or her personal salvation, not the salvation of everybody, the salvation of their people.  And Jesus saved all of us but as part of his people, within a Church.” The Pope pointed out that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews gave some very important practical advice: ‘Do not absent yourself from your own assemblies, as some do.’  He said this happens when we’re at such assemblies, in the parish or community and we judge the others, when there’s this kind of scorn towards the others.  This, Pope Francis stressed, is not the new and living way of Jesus. “They scorn the others, they stay away from the community as a whole, they stay away from the people of God, they have privatized salvation: salvation is for me and my small group, but not for all the people of God.  And this is a very serious mistake.  It’s what we see and call: ‘the ecclesial elites.’  When these small groups are created within the community of God’s people, these people believe they are being good Christians and also are acting in good faith maybe, but they are small groups who have privatized salvation.” Reiterating that God saves us as part of a people, not as part of an elite group, Pope Francis concluded his homily by urging us to consider whether we have a tendency to privatize our faith in this way instead of being close to the people of God and practicing the three virtues of faith, hope and charity.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Cause for sainthood opened for Chiara Lubich

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 11:01
(Vatican Radio) The cause for the beatification of Chiara Lubich, founder of the international Focolare Movement, was opened on Tuesday. The official inauguration of the Diocesan Process of Inquiry into Lubich’s life, followed the praying of Vespers in the Cathedral of Frascati, near Rome. While Lubich was born in the northern Italian region of Trento, she established the International Centre for the Focolare Movement, whose charism is the promotion of peace and the unity of all people, in Frascati. In a written message for the gathering, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Pope Francis turns his thoughts to the occasion and “hopes” that Chiara Lubich’s “luminous example” will inspire “renewed faithfulness to Christ and generous service to the unity of the Church” among those who have taken up her “precious spiritual legacy.” Cardinal Parolin said the Pope exhorts that the life and works of Chiara Lubich be made known to the People of God. This consecrated laywoman, the Pope said, “ignited for the Church a new light on the path towards unity.” Linda Bordoni spoke with Ray Asprer, a member of the general council of the Focolari Movement in Rome. Listen to the interview:  Ray Asprer speaks of the  gift of Chiara Lubich to the Universal Church as “a sanctity that can be lived out in ordinary life:  in daily life where heroic virtues  are not limited to moments of heroism but rather where heroism characterizes one’s day and one’s routine”. “I think this is what she can offer today’s Church: the sanctity of the common person to be lived out in the midst of the world with many others in the footsteps of Jesus” he says.   Asper agrees that this vision is in line with what Pope Francis is asking us to do also by asking us to “look outwards, where there is discomfort, where we are called to go beyond our comfort zone”, reaching out towards the peripheries, “letting goodness flow”. He says Chiara’s spiritual legacy can help ease the current tensions and conflicts in the world today, many of which are caused by tensions between religious groups. It can do so – he says - by breaking down walls and divisions and by offering a path in which “the other is somebody whom I can be unity with” he says.  Asprer explains that Chiara Lubich’s legacy teaches us that precisely because “the other is different he is different, he can be a gift to me if I am open to him; and if I can be open to him and listen to him, I can offer to him that what I hold dearest in my heart”.  She offers – he says – “a kind of dialogue, a way of looking towards a horizon of unity in differences, not in uniformity: I think this is precisely what the world is asking for today.        (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope tells Dads to spend time with their children

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 09:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :  Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching us to call God our Father, Jesus gave new depth and richness to this relationship, so fundamental to the life of society.   Sadly – Francis said -  in our modern societies, we are experiencing a crisis of fatherhood. In the past it was common practice to perceive the  image of the father as authoritarian and at times even repressive, today – he said - we now sense uncertainty and confusion about the role of the father. Recalling his experience with the faithful when he was Bishop of Buenos Aires, Francis said that he was often struck by how caught up in their profession and self-realization so many contemporary fathers are. "Often" - he said - "I used to ask fathers whether they took the time to play with their children, whether they had the courage and the love to spend time with their children. And their answers were not good: I am too busy... I have too much work to do".   And speaking of  an “absence” of the father figure in society, the Pope said that “without father figures, young people often feel ‘orphaned’, left adrift at a critical moment in their growth and development.  Calling on fathers to be responsible, he said that fathers are necessary as examples and guides for our children in wisdom and virtue.    Society itself – he continued -  has a similar responsibility not to leave the young as orphans, without ideals, sound values, hopes and possibilities for work and for authentic spiritual fulfilment.   Just as Jesus promised that he would not leave us orphans – Pope Francis concluded - let us ask him to deepen and renew our appreciation of fatherhood and to raise up good fathers for the benefit of our families, our Church and our world. (from Vatican Radio)...

General Audience: Pope focuses on role of father in family life

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 04:46
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching us to call God our Father, Jesus gave new depth and richness to this relationship, so fundamental to the life of society.   Sadly – Francis said -  in our modern societies, we are experiencing a crisis of fatherhood. In the past it was common practice to perceive the  image of the father as authoritarian and at times even repressive, today – he said - we now sense uncertainty and confusion about the role of the father. And speaking of  an “absence” of the father figure in society, the Pope said that “without father figures, young people often feel ‘orphaned’, left adrift at a critical moment in their growth and development.  Calling on fathers to be responsible, he said that fathers are necessary as examples and guides for our children in wisdom and virtue.    Society itself – he continued -  has a similar responsibility not to leave the young as orphans, without ideals, sound values, hopes and possibilities for work and for authentic spiritual fulfilment.   Just as Jesus promised that he would not leave us orphans – Pope Francis concluded - let us ask him to deepen and renew our appreciation of fatherhood and to raise up good fathers for the benefit of our families, our Church and our world. (from Vatican Radio)...

Holy Father's calendar for February to April 2015

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 07:09
Vatican City, 27 January 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside from February to April: FEBRUARY Monday 2: Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 19th World Day of Consecrated Life. At 5.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass with the members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. Sunday 8: Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time. At 4 p.m., pastoral visit to the Roman parish of “St. Michael the Archangel in Pietralata”. Saturday 14: At 11 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new cardinals and for several causes of canonisation. Sunday 15: Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass with newly-created cardinals. Wednesday 18: Ash Wednesday. At 4.30 p.m., Basilica of St. Anselm, “Statio” and penitential procession. At 5 p.m. at the Basilica of St. Sabina, blessing and imposition of the ashes. Sunday 22, First Sunday of Lent. Ariccia, beginning of spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia. Friday 27: Conclusion of spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia. MARCH Sunday 8: Third Sunday of Lent. At 4 p.m., pastoral visit to the Roman parish of “Holy Mary Mother of the Redeemer”. Friday 13: At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, penitential liturgy. Saturday 21: pastoral visit to Naples-Pompeii. Sunday 29: Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of the palms, procession and Mass. APRIL Thursday 2: Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Chrism Mass. Friday 3: Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Passion of the Lord. Friday 3: Good Friday. At 9.15 p.m., at the Colosseum, Via Crucis. Saturday 4: Holy Saturday. At 8.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Easter Vigil. Sunday 5: Easter Sunday. At 12 p.m., central balcony of the Vatican Basilica, “Urbi et Orbi” blessing. Sunday 12: Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. At 10 a.m. at the Vatican Basilica, Mass for the faithful of Armenian rite....

Pope Francis: We must ask God for the desire to do His will

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 06:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says we need to pray to God every day for the grace to understand His will, to follow it and to carry it out fully.  This was the core message of his homily at the morning Mass on Tuesday at the Santa Marta residence. Taking his cue from the day’s readings, the Pope reflected on one of the cornerstones of our faith: obedience to God’s will. This, he explained, is the path to holiness for each Christian, namely that we carry out God’s will.  “The opposite began in Paradise with Adam’s failure to obey.  And that disobedience brought evil to the whole of humanity.  And sins too are acts of disobedience towards God, of not doing God’s will.  The Lord teaches us instead that this is the path, there is no other one.  And it begins with Jesus in Heaven, in his desire to obey the Father.  But here on earth it begins with Our Lady: what did she say to the Angel?  ‘Let it be done to me according to your word’, namely that God’s will is carried out.  And with that ‘Yes’ to the Lord, our Lord began his journey amongst us.” Many options on the tray Pope Francis, stressed, however, that following God’s will is not easy.  Even for Jesus it wasn’t easy when he faced temptations in the wilderness or in the Gardens of Olives.  And, continued the Pope, it wasn’t easy either for his disciples and neither is it easy for us, when each day we are faced with a tray of so many different options and that’s why we need the gift of God’s grace. “Do I pray that the Lord gives me the desire to do his will, or do I look for compromises because I’m afraid of God’s will?  Another thing: praying to know God’s will for me and my life, concerning a decision that I must take now… there are so many things.  The way in which we handle things…. Praying for the desire to do God’s will and praying to know God’s will.  And when I know God’s will, praying again for the third time, to follow it.  To carry out that will, which is not my own, it is His will.  And all this is not easy.” Desire to do God's will In conclusion,  Pope Francis said,  we need to pray to have the desire to follow God’s will, pray to know God’s will and once we know this, pray for the strength to go ahead and do His will. “The Lord grants His grace to all of us so that one day He can say about us  the same thing  that He said about that group, that crowd who followed Him, those who were seated around Him, just as we have heard in the Gospel: ‘Here is my mother and my brothers and sisters.  Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister and my mother.’ Doing God’s will makes us become part of Jesus’ family, it makes us his mother, father, sister, brother.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope warns of globalization of indifference in Lenten message

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 06:09
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis is inviting all believers to open their hearts to God and to overcome a “globalization of indifference” that is threatening to spread a feeling of distress and powerlessness and causing individuals and communities to withdraw into themselves, closing “the door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him”. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :   The Pope’s words of comfort and concern come in his message for Lent 2015 which was released on Tuesday in the Vatican. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which falls this year on 18 February 2015. Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message :   MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR LENT 2015 “Make your hearts firm” (James5:8) Dear Brothers and Sisters, Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure … Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront. When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference. Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded. God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts. 1. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26)– The Church The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realize that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have “a part” with him (Jn13:8) and thus can serve others. Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor12:26). The Church is the communio  sanctorumnot only because of her saints, but also because she is a communion in holy things: the love of God revealed to us in Christ and all his gifts. Among these gifts there is also the response of those who let themselves be touched by this love. In this communion of saints, in this sharing in holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others. And since we are united in God, we can do something for those who are far distant, those whom we could never reach on our own, because with them and for them, we ask God that all of us may be open to his plan of salvation. 2. “Where is your brother?” (Gen4:9)– Parishes and Communities All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors (Lk16:19-31)? In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways. In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter254, July 14, 1897). We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart. In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people. Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth (cf. Acts1:8). In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity. Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference! 3. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians As individuals too, we are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness? First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, which I hope will be observed on 13-14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer. Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family. Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves. As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus  Caritas  Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others. During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”: Make our hearts like yours(Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference. It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you. From the Vatican, 4 October 2014 Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: women first and foremost in transmitting faith

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 05:38
(Vatican Radio) The primary and indispensable role of women in transmitting the faith to new generations: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. On the day when the Church celebrates the memory of Saints Timothy and Titus – bishops and disciples of St Paul the Apostle, Pope Francis commented in particular on the second letter of Paul to Timothy. Mothers and Grandmothers transmit the faith Paul reminds Timothy of where his “sincere faith” comes from: his faith comes from the Holy Spirit,  “through his mother and grandmother.” Pope Francis went on to say, “Mothers and grandmothers are the ones who [ in primis ] transmit the faith.” The Holy Father went on to say: It is one thing to pass on the faith, and another to teach the matters of faith. Faith is a gift: it is not possible to study Faith. We study the things of faith, yes, to understand it better, but with study [alone] one never comes to Faith. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which surpasses all [“academic”] formation. Faith, moreover, is a gift that passes from generation to generation, through the “beautiful work of mothers and grandmothers, the fine work of the women who play those roles,” in a family, “whether they be maids or aunts,” who transmit the faith: It occurs to me: why is it mainly women, who to pass on the faith? Simply because the one who brought us Jesus is a woman. It is the path chosen by Jesus. He wanted to have a mother: the gift of faith comes to us through women, as Jesus came to us through Mary. Cherish the gift of faith because you waters down “We need,” said Pope Francis, “in our own day to consider whether women really are aware of the duty they have to transmit the faith.” Paul invites Timothy to guard the Faith, the deposit of Faith, avoiding “empty pagan chatter, empty chatter of the world.”  He went on to say, “We have – all of us – received the gift of faith: we have to keep it, at least in order that it not become watered down, so that it remains strong, with the power of the Holy Spirit who gave it to us.” We keep the faith by cherishing and nurturing it every day: If we do not have this care, every day, to revive this gift of God which is Faith, but rather let faith weaken, become diluted, Faith ends up being a culture: ‘Yes, but, yes, yes, I am a Christian, yes yes,’ – a mere culture – or a gnosis, [specialized kind of] knowledge: ‘Yes, I know well all the matters of Faith, I know the catechism’. But how do you live your faith? This, then, is the importance of reviving every day this gift: to bring it to life. Timidity and shame they do not increase the faith Saint Paul says that there are two things in particular, which contrast with a living Faith: “the spirits of timidity and of shame”: God has not given us a spirit of timidity. The spirit of timidity goes against the gift of faith: it does not let faith grow, advance, be great. Shame, in turn, is the following sin, [which says]: ‘Yes, I have Faith, but I cover it up, that it not be seen too much’. It’s a little bit here, a little bit there – it is, as our forebears called it, a “rosewater” Faith – because I am ashamed to live it powerfully. No: this is not the Faith: [Faith knows] neither timidity nor shame. What is it, then? It is a spirit of power and of love and of prudence: that is what Faith is This is the faith. " Faith is not negotiable Pope Francis explained that the spirit of prudence is knowing that we cannot do everything we want: it means looking for the ways, the path, the manners by which to carry the Faith forward, cautiously. “We ask the Lord’s grace,” he concluded, “that we might have a sincere Faith, a Faith that is not negotiable depending on the opportunities that come, a Faith that every day I try to revive or at least ask the Holy Spirit to revive it, and make it bear much fruit.”  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope on Christian unity encounter, accept, listen

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 01:58
(Vatican Radio) Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus in encountering, listening and working together with others to spread the message of the Gospel in the modern world. That was Pope Francis’ message to members of all the different Christian Churches gathered in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on Sunday evening to mark the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report The theme for the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was focused on the story of Jesus who asks the Samaritan woman for a drink of water from her well, engaging her in conversation despite the Samaritans being seen as heretics by the Jews. Addressing Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed and Evangelical Christians gathered with cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay Catholics in St Paul’s Basilica, Pope Francis reflected on the way Jesus encourages us all to encounter, accept and listen to one another. The Pope said Jesus also speaks to the woman about true worship which breaks down walls of division. So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome, he said, when we put aside all polemical approaches and seek to grasp more fully the unity we already share. Christian unity, he said, will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions. Just as the Samaritan woman becomes a missionary after her encounter with Jesus, Pope Francis said all Christians today are called share the good news of the Gospel with the weary and thirsty men and women of today’s world. In the call to be evangelisers, he said, we discover a privileged setting for closer cooperation among all the Churches and ecclesial communities. (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Filoni celebrates the 50th anniversary of the diocese of Xuan Loc, "may families and parishes become God’s families"

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 16:00
Xuan Loc - "Today I have the joy of celebrating with you the 50th anniversary of the creation of the diocese of Xuan Loc, which took place on October 14, 1965, by decision of the Blessed Pope Paul VI, who at the same time erected the Diocese Phu Cuong, to which also goes my greetings and my best wishes". This is what Card. Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said on 24 January, during the Mass he presided in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Xuan Loc, almost at the end of his pastoral visit in Vietnam . "I know that you, the faithful of Xuan Loc, have been preparing for this anniversary with a beautiful five-year program - the Cardinal recalled in his homily - which had 'The Family', at the center in reference to the Parish, to the mystery of the Church, to charity, to the proclamation of the Gospel, and in this year, to the mystery of the Eucharist". He had words of appreciation for the work carried out by the Bishops who succeeded at the head of the diocese, for the priests, men and women religious and lay people, encouraging them with words often repeated by Pope Francis: "Courage! Go ahead!". This year marks the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council and the missionary decree "Ad Gentes," with which the Conciliar Fathers asked that evangelization passes completely under the total competence of the local Churches, therefore we can say that "Xuan Loc is the result of the Council, and as local Church, in recent years, it has taken on the task of proclaiming the Gospel and making you the true family of God" highlighted Card. Filoni, citing the current pastoral theme:"To renew our faith so that our families and our parishes become God’s families". Referring to the Bible readings during Mass, Cardinal. Filoni recalled what the Prophet Isaiah says about the mission of Jesus: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free". He stressed: "Is there a mission more beautiful, more noble, bigger than this? This is your mission today! Not another, just this"! Then he recalled the words of St. Paul:" Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" and stressed:" But where? When? And the answer is: everywhere and always"! In Luke finally Jesus himself, in the synagogue of Nazareth, explains his mission: he was "consecrated to announce a message and a year of grace to the poor". The Cardinal concluded: "Dear brothers and sisters of Da Nang; dear brothers and sisters of Vietnam; I ask you to make yours this same mission, and with the same enthusiasm of the Apostles and the Missionaries that have brought you the faith, take it forward. How many people are waiting to know here and today, Christ. Good Apostolate"! Link correlati : The full text of the Cardinal’s homily, in Italian The full text of the Cardinal’s homily, in English The full text of the Cardinal’s homily, in French...

Pope Francis concludes Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 11:15
 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis this evening has gathered with the faithful of the diocese of Rome and with the representatives of the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities, in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls to mark the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Please find below a English language translation of the Pope's words during Vespers at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls On his way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus passes through Samaria.  He has no problem dealing with Samaritans, who were considered by the Jews to be heretics, schismatics, separated.  His attitude tells us that encounter with those who are different from ourselves can make us grow. Weary from his journey, Jesus does not hesitate to ask the Samaritan woman for something to drink.  His thirst, however, is much more than physical: it is also a thirst for encounter, a desire to enter into dialogue with that woman and to invite her to make a journey of interior conversion.  Jesus is patient, respectful of the person before him, and gradually reveals himself to her.  His example encourages us to seek a serene encounter with others.  To understand one another, and to grow in charity and truth, we need to pause, to accept and listen to one another.  In this way, we already begin to experience unity. The woman of Sychar asks Jesus about the place where God is truly worshiped.  Jesus does not side with the mountain or the temple, but goes to the heart of the matter, breaking down every wall of division.  He speaks instead of the meaning of true worship: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24).  So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome when we put aside all polemical or apologetic approaches, and seek instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father’s love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit.  Christian unity will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions.  We need to realize that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities and overcomes conflicts. Gradually the Samaritan woman comes to realize that the one who has asked her for a drink is able to slake her own thirst.  Jesus in effect tells her that he is the source of living water which can satisfy her thirst for ever (cf. Jn 4:13-14).  Our human existence is marked by boundless aspirations: we seek truth, we thirst for love, justice and freedom.  These desires can only be partially satisfied, for from the depths of our being we are prompted to seek “something more”, something capable of fully quenching our thirst.  The response to these aspirations is given by God in Jesus Christ, in his paschal mystery.  From the pierced side of Jesus there flowed blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34).  He is the brimming fount of the water of the Holy Spirit, “the love of God poured into our hearts (Rom 5:5) on the day of our baptism.  By the working of the Holy Spirit, we have become one in Christ, sons in the Son, true worshipers of the Father.  This mystery of love is the deepest ground of the unity which binds all Christians and is much greater than their historical divisions.  To the extent that we humbly advance towards the Lord, then, we also draw nearer to one another. Her encounter with Jesus made the Samaritan women a missionary.  Having received a greater and more important gift than mere water from a well, she leaves her jar behind (cf. Jn 4:28) and runs back to tell her townspeople that she has met the Christ (cf. Jn 4:29).  Her encounter with Jesus restored meaning and joy to her life, and she felt the desire to share this with others.  Today there are so many men and women around us who are weary and thirsting, and who ask us Christians to give them something to drink.  It is a request which we cannot evade.  In the call to be evangelizers, all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities discover a privileged setting for closer cooperation.  For this to be effective, we need to stop being self-enclosed, exclusive, and bent on imposing a uniformity based on merely human calculations (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 131).  Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms.  All of us are at the service of the one Gospel! In this joyful conviction, I offer a cordial and fraternal greeting to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communions gathered here to celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.  I am also pleased to greet the members of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, and I offer them my best wishes for the fruitfulness of the plenary session to be held in these coming days.  I also greet the students from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, and the young recipients of study grants from by the Committee for Cultural Collaboration with the Orthodox Churches, centred in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Also present today are men and women religious from various Churches and Ecclesial Communities who have taken part in an ecumenical meeting organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to mark the Year for Consecrated Life.  Religious life, as prophetic sign of the world to come, is called to offer in our time a witness to that communion in Christ which transcends all differences and finds expression in concrete gestures of acceptance and dialogue.  The pursuit of Christian unity cannot be the sole prerogative of individuals or religious communities particularly concerned with this issue.  A shared knowledge of the different traditions of consecrated life, and a fruitful exchange of experiences, can prove beneficial for the vitality of all forms of religious life in the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Dear brothers and sisters, today all of us who thirst for peace and fraternity trustingly implore from our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ the one Priest, and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostle Paul and all the saints, the gift of full communion between all Christians, so that “the sacred mystery of the unity of the Church” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 2) may shine forth as the sign and instrument of reconciliation for the whole world. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: Jesus wanted united Christians

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 07:19
(Vatican Radio) On Sunday and b efore the Angelus, the Pope recalled the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and its theme, "Give me a drink", the sentence uttered by Jesus to the Samaritan woman. He told the faithful gathered that the "desire for unity" of the disciples of Jesus is part of our "thirst not only material for water, but above all our thirst for a full life, free from the slavery of evil and death." He went on to say that "Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promises because it is he who gives to the Holy Spirit, the 'living water' that quenches our restless hearts, hungry for life, love, freedom, peace : thirsty for God. Pope Francis continued on the theme of unity by saying that, “It is a bad thing that Christians are divided, Jesus wants us united, one body. Our sins, history has divided us. For this we must pray that the Holy Spirit bring us together again".” Joining the Holy Father were a boy and a girl from the Catholic Action Rome movement who were part of a group of thousands in the square marking the annual January "Caravan of Peace". They, along with Pope Francis launched white doves from the window of his studio. Following the Angelus, the Pope also remembered the World Day for Sufferers of Leprosy, saying, “I express my closeness to all the people who suffer from this disease, as well as to those who care for them, and to those who struggle to remove the causes of the disease, that is, living conditions unworthy of man. Let us renew our commitment of solidarity to these brothers and sisters. " And finally bringing his Angelus address to a close, and in light of his recent visit to Asia, the Holy Father had greetings for the Filipino community in Rome, thanking them for their strong and joyful faith. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis appeals for Ukraine at Angelus

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 06:05
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a heartfelt appeal on Sunday for Ukraine saying, “ I am following with deep concern the escalation of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which continues to cause many casualties among the civilian population. As I assure you of my prayers for all who suffer, I renew a heartfelt appeal for a resumption  in dialogue and an end to all hostilities.” The Holy Father made the appeal following the recitation of the Marian prayer from his studio above St Peter’s Square. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope concluding Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 10:18
Pope Francis will bring the curtain down on the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a Vespers service, Sunday evening, in Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, formerly known as the Octave of Christian Unity, is ‎traditionally celebrated over eight days, from Jan 18th  ‎to 25th, around a common theme, and involves ‎Christian communities and Churches across the world, including the Catholic ‎Church.  The Week ends with the Jan. 25 feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.  Representatives of Orthodox and Anglican Churches will be present at Sunday's Vespers service at St. Paul Outside the Walls. Since 1968, the resource material for reflection, prayer and celebration on a ‎chosen theme for the Week of Prayer for Christain Unity is jointly issued by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting ‎Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches (WCC).  This year the theme was: “Jesus said to her: "Give me to drink", taken from the ‎episode of the Samaritan woman at the well, in John’s Gospel.  ‎ (from Vatican Radio)...

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