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Pope Francis greets Bosnian youth

16 hours 7 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday gave a special greeting to a group of children from Bosnia and Herzegovina who have been participating in a special programme to foster inter-community harmony by allowing children from different backgrounds to live together in a neutral setting, which in this case is Sicily. Children from Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim backgrounds have been living with Sicilian host families from 19 December, and will return home on 21 January. The programme is sponsored by the Luciano Lama Association. “Dear children, spending time together as brothers and sisters with your host families, you have the opportunity to grow in an atmosphere of hope,” – Pope Francis told them during his weekly General Audience – “Only in this way can you young Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims rescue the hope to live in a world which is more fraternal, just and peaceful; more sincere and more humane.” He told them to always remain firm in faith and pray for the peace and unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the whole world. “I sincerely thank the host families for their example of love and Christian solidarity: Orphans should always be defended, protected and welcomed with love,” – The Pope concluded – “I assure you of my spiritual closeness and I cordially impart upon all of you my Apostolic Blessing.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Audience: We look with hope to unity not division

16 hours 24 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Christian Unity and reconciliation are possible. He was speaking during his weekly General Audience in the Paul the VI hall where he also continued his catechesis on Christian hope. Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report We look more 'to that' which unites us rather than that which 'divides us”. Those were Pope Francis’ words on Wednesday during his weekly General Audience as he recalled this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Inviting Christians to pray for this week and also recalling his visit to Lund in Sweden to Commemorate the Reformation, the Pope said “we continue the journey together to deepen our communion and to give it more and more a 'visible form.” In Europe, the Holy Father stressed, this common faith in Christ is like a green thread of hope” adding that, “communion, unity and reconciliation 'are possible.” As Christians, he said, “we are responsible for  'this message and we have to bear witness to it with our lives.” The Pope made the comments while greeting an Ecumenical delegation from Germany. Also during his audience and continuing his catechesis on Christian hope, Pope Francis reflected on the story of the prophet Jonah, who sought to flee from a difficult mission entrusted to him by the Lord.  He said that, “when the ship that Jonah had boarded was tossed by a storm, the pagan sailors asked him, as a man of God, to pray that they might escape sure death.  The Pope noted that, “the story reminds us of the link between hope and prayer.”  Anguish in the face of death, he added,  “often makes us recognize our human frailty and our need to pray for salvation.”  The Holy Father explained that Jonah prays on behalf of the sailors and as a result, “the sailors come to acknowledge the true God.” He also underlined that “as the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection makes clear, death itself can be, for each of us, an invitation to hope and an encounter in prayer with the God of our salvation.”  (from Vatican Radio)...

Funeral homily, Cardinal always followed the light

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 05:58
(Vatican Radio) The funeral Mass of Cardinal Gilberto Agustoni took place in St Peters Basilica at 10am, Tuesday 17 January. The Swiss Cardinal, who served as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 1992-1998, died on January 13, aged 94. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the former Vatican secretary of State and Dean of the College of Cardinals. Greeting all those present on behalf of Pope Francis, Cardinal Sodano often likened Christian faith to light during his homily. "In the first reading is Job, who already many centuries before Christ, professed his faith in the final resurrection saying, 'I know that my Redeemer lives, and my eyes will behold him.'" Touching on Saint Paul's faith that Jesus will bring with him to God all those who have died, Cardinal Sodano then quoted the Gospel of Luke:  "'Be ready, dressed for action with your lamps burning,' ready to open the door to the Lord, who comes to call us. This is the Christian vision of life and death, which we wish to profess, especially at the moment a loved one departs from this world. It was this faith which always guided our dear Cardinal Gilberto." He concluded with a further reflection on faith and light, comparing the "living flame of faith" in Dante's Divine Comedy, with Jesus' words "I came into the world as light, so that he who believes in me will not remain in darkness." Once again, he assured the congregation that this light had illuminated and guided the life of Cardinal Agustino. Gilberto Agustoni was born in Switzerland in 1922 and ordained a priest in 1946. He held a number of appointments in Rome, beginning in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, later becoming secretary of the Congregation for Clergy and finally Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Pope John Paul II made him a Cardinal in 1994. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: Christians are not 'parked' but rather courageous

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 05:53
(Vatican Radio) Be courageous Christians, anchored in hope and capable of enduring dark moments. This was the forceful invitation of Pope Francis at the morning Mass on Tuesday at the Casa Santa Marta. Lazy Christians, on the other hand, are stationary, the Pope said, and for them, the Church is a good parking spot. The life of a Christian is a “courageous life,” Pope Francis said in his homily, which he based on the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. The zeal spoken of in the reading, the courage to go forward, ought to be our attitude toward life, like the attitude of those who train for victory in the arena. But the Letter also speaks of the laziness that is the opposite of courage. “Living in the fridge,” the Pope summarized, “so that everything stays the same”: “Lazy Christians, Christians who do not have the will to go forward, Christians who don’t fight to make things change, new things, the things that would do good for everyone, if these things would change. They are lazy, “parked” Christians: they have found in the Church a good place to park. And when I say Christians, I’m talking about laity, priests, bishops… Everyone. But there are parked Christians! For them the Church is a parking place that protects life, and they go forward with all the insurance possible. But these stationary Christians, they make me think of something the grandparents told us as children: beware of still water, that which doesn’t flow, it is the first to go bad.” Be anchored in hope, and able to endure in difficult moments What makes Christians courageous is hope, while the “lazy Christians” don’t have hope, they are in retirement, the Pope said. It is beautiful to go into retirement after many years of work, but, he warned, “spending your whole life in retirement is ugly!” Hope, on the other hand, is the anchor that we cling to in order to keep fighting, even in difficult moments: “This is today’s message: hope, that hope that doesn’t disappoint, that goes beyond. And he [the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews] says: a hope that ‘is a sure and firm anchor for our life.’ Hope is the anchor: We threw it, and we are clinging to the cord, but there, but going there. This is our hope. There’s no thinking: ‘Yes, but, there is heaven, ah, how beautiful, I’m staying…’ No. Hope is struggling, holding onto the rope, in order to arrive there. In the struggle of everyday, hope is a virtue of horizons, not of closure! Perhaps it is the virtue that is least understood, but it is the strongest. Hope: living in hope, living on hope, always looking forward with courage. ‘Yes, Father – anyone of you might say to me – but there are ugly moments, where everything seems dark, what should I do?’ Hold onto the rope, and endure.” Parked Christians look only at themselves, they are selfish “Life does not come to any of us wrapped up like a gift,” Pope Francis noted; rather, we need courage to go forward and to endure.  Courageous Christians might make mistakes, “but we all make mistakes,” the Pope said. “Those who go forward make mistakes, while those who are stationary seem to not make mistakes.” And when “you can’t walk because everything is dark, everything is closed,” you need to endure, to persevere. Finally, Pope Francis invited us to ask ourselves if we are closed Christians, or Christians of the horizons; and if in ugly moments we are capable of enduring, with the knowledge that hope does not disappoint – “Because I know,” he said, “that God does not disappoint”: “Let us ask ourselves the question: How am I? How is my life of faith? Is it a life of horizons, of hope, of courage, of going forward; or a lukewarm life that doesn’t even know to endure ugly moments? And that the Lord might give us the grace, as we have requested in the Collect [Opening Prayer], to overcome our selfishness, because parked Christians, stationary Christians, are selfish. They look only at themselves, they don’t raise their heads to look at Him. May the Lord give us this grace.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis receives the President of Republic of Guinea

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 06:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday received in audience Prof. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea. The leader of the West African nation also met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and with the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Richard Gallagher. A Vatican press released described the colloquiums as cordial and said they highlighted the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the Republic of Guinea. It said they focused on questions of common interest such as integral human development, care of the environment, the fight against poverty and social injustice and the development of adequate policies in regards to the phenomenon of migration. The important role and the contribution of Catholic institutions that operate in the country, particularly in fields of education, healthcare and the promotion of inter-religious dialogue were also discussed and highlighted.   The Republic of Guinea’s concrete commitment to work for peace in the West African region was an also object of attention. Prof. Alpha Condé has been President of the Republic of Guinea since December 2010 after having spent decades in opposition to a succession of regimes. When he took office he became the first freely elected president in the country's history, and then he was reelected in 2015 with almost 58% of the vote.       (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: visit to Santa Maria a Setteville parish

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 12:25
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass at the Roman parish of Saint Mary in Setteville on Sunday afternoon. The Holy Father made a pastoral visit to the parish, leaving the Vatican at 3PM Rome Time, and spending the afternoon with parishioners, clergy and staff. The visit featured  moments with the sick of the parish, including a private meeting with one of the parish curates, don Giuseppe Berardino, who suffers from ALS – with the children and young people in the parish’s catechetical programmes – with the parents fo children baptized during the course of the past year – and with parishioners who contribute to Santa Maria’s pastoral outreach initiatives. The Holy Father spoke briefly, off the cuff, to each group, beginning with the sick and troubled of the parish. “Jesus,” said Pope Francis, “desired to be close to us also in His [own] pain, with his passion, with His [own] suffering, and Jesus is close to you.” “He himself said: ‘If you go to find a sick person, you go to find me.’ Jesus is here with the sick, with those who have problems,” continued Pope Francis. “I know that when we suffer, when there are problems, it is difficult to understand, but it is not a question of understanding: it is a question of feeling, of feeling the caresses of Jesus – that’s it – and this consoles – and in order that all of you should be able to feel these caresses of Jesus, I will give you my blessing.” To children and young people, Pope Francis spoke warmly, thanking the younger children for the drawings they gave him, and encouraging the older ones not to become “strangers” to parish life and to the life of faith. “The Lord has given you this grace [of Confirmation],” he said. “Do not make Confirmation the ‘See you later,’ Sacrament – until your wedding day.” Pope Francis went on to say, “That’s a lot of years to go without a community, and you have been chosen by the Lord to make a community.” In a question-and-answer session with a few of the young people, Pope Francis offered a glimpse into his own journey of faith, saying, “Sometimes, I think  of how in some moments, faith dropped so much that I could not find it and I lived as if I had no faith. Then, one finds faith again. The ups and downs of life also shock us at first, and that moves you and makes you lose some faith, but then as time goes by you find it again, see? There is a passage in the Gospel when Jesus says: ‘Everything is possible for the one who has faith.’ Everything – and the father of the sick child – the  father had taken the child to be healed by Jesus – what did he say to Jesus? ‘Lord, I believe – only  help my unbelief.’ Faith is not always so: there are dark days, days all [plunged in] darkness – even I have walked for days like that in my life as well. Only, be not afraid: pray and be patient, and then the Lord shows up, makes us grow in faith and makes you go forward.” To illustrate the point, the Holy Father said, “Some days you do not see the faith: it is dark – and when one sees disasters, and sees that – [Saturday], for example, when I baptized 13 children [born after the earthquakes in central Italy], there was the father of one of the children, who had lost his wife. ‘I lost my love,’ he said. One thinks, ‘But can this man have faith, after this tragedy?’ – and you know it is dark, there. [Should I say], ‘If you do not have faith...?’ [No.] Shut up. Accompany him. Respect the darkness of the soul. Then will the Lord awaken faith – you see, faith is a gift from God. Our job is only to preserve it.” Then Pope Francis spoke with the parents of children baptized during the course of the past year, offering two of his favorite pieces of advice: do not fight in front of the children, and do not go to sleep without making peace. “It’s normal,” he said, “arguing is part of life. But the advice that I give to you, is that your children never hear or see you fight: if you want to say things to each other, go in the [other] room, close the door and say everything – have it out. It is healthy, because even blowing off steam is healthy – only do not let them see it, because children suffer, they feel abandoned when parents argue.” Then, “Never end the day without making peace,” he said. “[T]he ‘cold war’ of the day after is very dangerous: do not end the day without making peace.” In remarks to all the faithful of the parish present for the Mass, following the readings of the day, Pope Francis spoke of the need to avoid gossip. “The Apostles,” he said, “were not gossipers: they did not speak ill of others, did not speak badly of each other. In this they were good. They didn’t talk behind each other’s’ backs.” “[T]he Apostles did bad things: they betrayed the Lord, but not this,” Pope Francis continued. “We are all sinners,” he said, “but a community where there are gossips and trash-talkers, is a community that is incapable of giving witness.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis at Angelus: Church called to proclaim Christ

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 07:42
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father focused on the witness borne by John the Baptist to Jesus Christ. “The Church,” said Pope Francis, “is in every age called to do that, which John the Baptist did: to show Jesus to the people, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis added, “There’s always trouble when the Church proclaims herself: she loses her way, and knows not where she goes.” Rather, “The Church proclaims Christ – she does not carry herself, she carries Christ, for He and He alone is the one who saves His people from sin: he frees them and leads them to the land of true liberty.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis baptises babies in Santa Marta chapel

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 07:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis baptized 13 newborns in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Saturday afternoon. Each of the babies was born to a family from the areas of central Italy that were hardest-hit by earthquakes late last year. The youngest of the newborns was only five days old.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis at Angelus: special care for migrant children

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 05:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for better treatment of child-migrants on Sunday. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with him, the Holy Father renewed his call for prayerful and concrete solidarity with minors forced to flee their homelands – especially for the children and adolescents forced to flee on their own, without the company of parents or older relatives. “It is necessary to take every possible measure to ensure protection and defense to migrant children,” Pope Francis said, “as well as their integration,” into host societies. “These, our brothers and sisters, especially if unaccompanied, are exposed to many dangers,” the Pope said – dangers that include being taken and sold into slavery – often sexual slavery. January 15 th is the 103 rd iteration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which this year is focused particularly on the plight of the youngest migrants under the theme: Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceles . Pope Francis offered special greetings in this regard to the representatives of the many different  ethnic communities present in the city and in St. Peter’s Square for the occasion, particularly those of Catholic Rome. “Dear friends, I hope that you are able to live peacefully in the places that welcome you,” the Holy Father said, “respecting their laws and traditions and, at the same time, maintaining the values of your cultures of origin.” The Pope went on to say, “The encounter of different cultures is always an enrichment for everyone.” Offering thanks to the Migrantes office of the Diocese of Rome and those who work with migrants to welcome them and accompany them in their difficulties, and encouraging everyone so committed to continue in their work, Pope Francis commended the example of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of migrants, who passed into eternal life 100 years ago this year. “This courageous sister dedicated her life to bringing the love of Christ to those who were far from home and family,” he said, “Her witness,” said Pope Francis, “helps us to take care of the brother from a far-off land, in whom Jesus is present, often suffering, rejected and humiliated.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 06:38
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Saturday morning with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican. Following the audience, the Holy See Press Office issued the following press release:  This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.  During the cordial discussions, the parties evoked the existing good relations between the Holy See and Palestine, sealed by the Global Agreement of 2015, which regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestinian society. In this context, mention was made of the important contribution of Catholics to favouring the promotion of human dignity and assistance for those most in need, especially in the fields of education, health and aid.  Attention then turned to the peace process in the Middle East, and hope was expressed that direct negotiations between the Parties may be resumed to bring an end to the violence that causes unacceptable suffering to civilian populations, and to find a just and lasting solution. To this end, it is hoped that, with the support of the international community, measures can be taken that favour mutual trust and contribute to creating a climate that permits courageous decisions to be made in favour of peace. Emphasis was placed on the importance of safeguarding the sanctity of the Holy Places for believers of all three of the Abrahamic religions. Finally, particular attention was dedicated to the other conflicts affecting the region. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: address to Global Foundation roundtable

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 05:16
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received participants in the Roman Roundtable of the Global Foundation on Saturday. Based in Melbourne, Australia, the Global Foundation is a worldwide network of concerned citizen-leaders in areas of commerce, industry, law, policy and intellectual endeavour, who seek to enable people from many walks of life to meet and work together in addressing the principal challenges of this moment in history. The “Rome Roundtable” brought 50 invited participants and a number of observers from the business and investment community, religious leaders, civic insstitutions, academia and civil society, to Rome for a two-day meeting January 13 th and 14 th , to measure progress and report on the concrete actions taken on global economic, social and environmental matters, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks to the participants, in their official English translation ****************************************** Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Round Table of The Global Foundation 14 January 2017 Dear Friends, I am pleased to join you for this new edition of the Roman Roundtable of The Global Foundation.  Inspired by the Foundation’s motto – “Together We Strive for the Global Common Good” – you have gathered to discern just ways of attaining a globalization that is “cooperative”, and thus positive, as opposed to the globalization of indifference.  You seek to ensure that the global community, shaped by the institutions, agencies and representatives of civil society, can effectively achieve international goals and obligations that have been solemnly declared and assumed, such as those of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. Before all else, I would restate my conviction that a world economic system that discards men, women and children because they are no longer considered useful or productive according to criteria drawn from the world of business or other organizations, is unacceptable, because it is inhumane.  This lack of concern for persons is a sign of regression and dehumanization in any political or economic system.  Those who cause or allow others to be discarded – whether refugees, children who are abused or enslaved, or the poor who die on our streets in cold weather – become themselves like soulless machines.  For they implicitly accept the principle that they too, sooner or later, will be discarded, when they no longer prove useful to a society that has made mammon, the god of money, the centre of its attention. In 1991, Saint John Paul II, responding to the fall of oppressive political systems and the progressive integration of markets that we have come to call globalization, warned of the risk that an ideology of capitalism would become widespread.  This would entail little or no interest for the realities of marginalization, exploitation and human alienation, a lack of concern for the great numbers of people still living in conditions of grave material and moral poverty, and a blind faith in the unbridled development of market forces alone.  My Predecessor asked if such an economic system would be the model to propose to those seeking the road to genuine economic and social progress, and offered a clearly negative response.  This is not the way (cf. Centesimus Annus , 42). Sadly, the dangers that troubled Saint John Paul II have largely come to pass.  At the same time, we have seen the spread of many concrete efforts on the part of individuals and institutions to reverse the ills produced by an irresponsible globalization.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom I had the joy of canonizing several months ago, and who is a symbol and icon of our time, in some way represents and recapitulates those efforts.  She bent down to comfort the poorest of the poor, left to die on the streets, recognizing in each of them their God-given dignity.  She was accepting of every human life, whether unborn or abandoned and discarded, and she made her voice heard by the powers of this world, calling them to acknowledge the crimes of poverty that they themselves were responsible for (cf. Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta , 4 September 2016). This is the first attitude leading to fraternal and cooperative globalization.  It is necessary above all for each of us, personally, to overcome our indifference to the needs of the poor.  We need to learn “com-passion” for those suffering from persecution, loneliness, forced displacement or separation from their families.  We need to learn to “suffer with” those who lack access to health care, or who endure hunger, cold or heat. This compassion will enable those with responsibilities in the worlds of finance and politics to use their intelligence and their resources not merely to control and monitor the effects of globalization, but also to help leaders at different political levels – regional, national and international – to correct its orientation whenever necessary.  For politics and the economy ought to include the exercise of the virtue of prudence. The Church remains ever hopeful, for she is conscious of the immense potential of the human mind whenever it lets itself be helped and guided by God, and of the good will present in so many people, small and great, poor and rich, businessmen and labourers alike.  For this reason, I encourage you to draw constant inspiration from the Church’s social teaching as you continue your efforts to promote a cooperative globalization, working with civil society, governments, international bodies, academic and scientific communities, and all other interested parties.  I offer you my cordial good wishes for every success in your endeavours. I thank all of you for your attention and I assure you of my prayers.  I also ask you to bring my personal greetings, together with my blessing, to your families and all your associates. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope greets Italian police who protect the Vatican

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 08:30
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted the members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican of the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) in a traditional new year meeting on Friday. Although Vatican City State has its own police force – the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps –  this force cooperates closely with its Italian counterparts, and the Italian police help patrol St. Peter’s Square. In his address, Francis expressed his gratitude to all of them for their generous service, not without difficulties and risks. “I know that you run risks”, he said. “You are, in a certain sense, the ‘guardian angels’ of St. Peter’s Square. Indeed, every day you keep watch over this peculiar centre of Christianity, and other relevant areas of the Vatican, with great care, professionalism and a sense of duty. And especially in these recent times, you have shown competence and courage in facing the many challenges and various dangers, working with generosity in the prevention of crimes. In this way you have ensured safe access for pilgrims to the Basilica and to meetings with Peter’s Successor. For all this I thank you. I thank you: they are not merely words, these, they come from the heart. Thank you! I know the hardships of your work and the sacrifices that you must make every day. Know that I appreciate you greatly and often think with sincere gratitude of you and your valuable work”. “The extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, an event of unique spiritual significance, has seen many pilgrims flock to Rome from all over the world in recent months. You too have been required to make greater efforts in your work, to ensure that the celebrations and events connected with the Jubilee were able to take place in safety and serenity. The external order over which you kept watch with great diligence, thoughtful care and constant willingness, thus contributed to fostering inner calm in pilgrims in search of peace in their encounter with the Lord’s mercy”. The Pope recalled that the Christmas celebrations came to an end just a short while ago, in which “we turned our gaze to Bethlehem, to that land and that family who became Jesus’ dwelling. Christmas urges us to measure ourselves, once again, with the lowering of the Son of God, Who wished to make Himself similar to us in everything other than sin, to make us understand the love with which He loved, and loves, us. This immeasurable love is a constant invitation to turn to acceptance, solidarity and forgiveness of our brothers. In this way we will be able to experience within ourselves that peace that the angels in Bethlehem proclaimed to men of good will”. The Holy Father concluded by asking the Lord to protect those present and commending them to the Virgin Mary, and reiterating his gratitude for the tenacity and fidelity with which they perform their work. “I ask you to pray for me, and impart my heartfelt apostolic blessing”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Get moving if you want to follow Jesus

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 05:57
(Vatican Radio)  During his homily on Friday morning in the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that authentic faith must be ready to take risks and that real hope is the reward. Listen to our report: Commenting on the Gospel account of the paralytic who is lowered from the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching, the Pope said people follow Jesus out of self interest or because they are looking for a comforting word. Even if no intention is totally pure or perfect, he said, the important thing is to follow Jesus. People were drawn to Him because of the “things He said and the way he said them. They understood Him. He healed them and many people followed Him to be healed”. There were times, said Pope Francis, when Jesus admonished people who were more interested in their own well-being than in the Word of God. Don’t be Christians to look at life from the balcony and judge others There were other times, continued the Pope, when people wanted to make Jesus King, thinking He was “the perfect politician!”. But they were wrong and Jesus “went away and hid”. Even so, the Lord let anyone follow Him because He knew that we are all sinners. The bigger problem, confirmed the Pope, “was not with those who followed Jesus”, but with those who stayed where they were.  “Those who didn’t move…and watched. They were sitting down…watching from the balcony. Their life was not a journey: their life was a balcony! From there they never took risks. They just judged. They were pure and wouldn’t get involved. But their judgements were severe. In their hearts they said: What ignorant people! What superstitious people! How often, when we see the piety of simple people, are we too subject to that clericalism that hurts the Church so much”. Reflecting on those who don’t move in their lives, Pope Francis referenced the man who “sat beside the pool for 38 years, without moving, embittered by life, without hope…someone else who failed to follow Jesus and had no hope”. Encountering Jesus means taking risks But those who did follow Jesus, continued the Pope, were ready to risk in order to meet Him, in order to “find what they wanted”. Going back to the day’s Gospel reading, Pope Francis said “the men who made a hole in the roof took a risk”. They risked the owner of the house suing them and taking them to court to pay for the damages. They were ready to risk because “they wanted to go to Jesus”. The woman who was sick took a risk when she furtively touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak: she risked being ridiculed. But she risked: because she wanted to be cured, “she wanted to reach Jesus. Remember the Canaanite woman: women risk more than men do! That’s true: they are better at it! We have to admit that”. Following Jesus, the Pope went on, “isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful! And it’s always a risk”. There are times, he said, when we risk “being ridiculous”. But we achieve what counts: “our sins are forgiven”. Beneath whatever request we are making, whether it be for good health or for a solution to a problem, “there’s the desire to be healed in spirit, to be forgiven”. All of us know we are sinners, said Pope Francis, “and that’s why we follow Jesus: to meet Him. So we take risks”. Beware of a soul that is static, closed and without hope Let’s ask ourselves, concluded Pope Francis: “Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company?” Because “that’s not the way to follow Jesus. That way you don’t move, like those who judge”. Do we follow Jesus because we need something, or do we follow Him because we are ready to risk? “This is faith: trusting in Jesus, having faith in Jesus. And with this faith in Him, these men cut a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher down in front of Jesus so he could cure the sick man”. “Do I put my faith in Jesus?”, asked the Pope. “Do I entrust my life to Jesus? Am I walking behind Jesus even if sometimes I seem ridiculous? Or am I sitting still, watching what others are doing?” Am I watching life with a soul that is static, “with a soul that is closed with bitterness and lack of hope? We should each be asking ourselves these questions today”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope writes to young people ahead of Synod on Vocational Discernment

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 04:14
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter to young people as the Church prepares for a Synod of Bishops on the theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”. The Pope’s letter was published on Friday ahead of a press conference at the Holy See Press Office to present the preparatory document for the Synod which will take place in October 2018. Please find below the text of the letter :   My Dear Young People,      I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.     I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God's voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.         When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?         But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).         I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher [...] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God's plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.         In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, [...], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).         A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).         Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).          With paternal affection, FRANCIS (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Audience: ‘Christian hope born of trust in God's word, not idols’

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 05:23
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his series of catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, in which he contrasted authentic hope, born of trust in God's word, with the temptation of false hope in idols. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Taking issue with the false idols offered by our modern world, Pope Francis at his Wednesday General Audience said that “hope is a primary need in man” but that we can get lost in our search for security by trusting in the false hopes offered by idols. He said the Scriptures teach us that side by side with authentic hope, born of trust in God’s word, we can be tempted by false hopes and worldly idols, like money, power or physical beauty. Idols, he said, “confuse the mind and heart, and, instead of favoring life, they lead to death. The Pope then told a story he had heard in Buenos Aires of a “very beautiful woman who bragged of her beauty”. The woman commented, he said, “as if it were natural: ‘Oh yes, I had to have an abortion because my figure is very important.’” He went on to say, “Faith is trusting in God, but there comes a moment in which [we], confronted with life’s difficulties, experience the fragility of that trust and feel the need for other certainties, more tangible and concrete.” The Scriptures, especially the prophets and wisdom writers, he said, reveal the fleeting nature of idols and the hope they offer. In Psalm 115, the Psalmist ironically presents these idols as silver and gold, made of human hands. “The message of the Psalm is very clear,” Pope Francis said, “one who places their hope in idols becomes like them: empty images with hands that don’t touch, feet that don’t walk, mouths that cannot speak. One has nothing else to say and becomes incapable of helping, of changing things, of smiling, giving of oneself, and of loving.” In contrast, God is always greater than we are, making us incapable of reduce God to our size, made in our own image and tailored to our desires. The Holy Father concluded, with Psalm 115, that the grandeur of God enables Christians to trust and hope in the Lord. “Trusting in the Lord, one becomes like Him; His blessing transforms us into His children, who share His life. Hope in God makes us enter, as it were, within the range of God’s action, of His memory which blesses and saves us.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: 'Christian hope from trust in God's word' - Audience Summary

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 03:16
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, in which he contrasted authentic hope, born of trust in God's word, with the temptation of false hope in idols, like money, power, or physical beauty. Please find below the official English summary of the Pope's Catechesis: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In these first days of the new year, following our celebration of the seasons of Advent and Christmas, with their message of the fulfilment of God’s promises in the coming of the Saviour, we now continue our catechesis on Christian hope.  The Scriptures teach us that side by side with authentic hope, born of trust in God’s word, we can be tempted by false hopes and worldly idols, like money, power or physical beauty.  Hope in God demands strength and perseverance, whereas these false gods promise an easy security, a future we can control.  The Psalmist denounces this kind of idolatry, stating that those who put their trust in images that are the work of human hands, will come to be like them: spiritually blind, deaf and insensible.  God is always greater than we are, and we, created in his image and likeness, cannot reduce him to our size or fabricate other gods, made in our own image and tailored to our desires.  By trusting in God’s word and hoping in his promises, we become more and more like him, sharing in his life and rejoicing in his provident care, revealed in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus his Son. (from Vatican Radio)...

Daily homily: Jesus had authority because He was a servant

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 05:43
(Vatican Radio) Jesus had authority because He served the people, He was close to persons and He was coherent, as opposed to the doctors of the law who considered themselves princes. These three characteristics of Jesus’ authority were highlighted by Pope Francis in his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father noted, on the other hand, that the doctors of the law taught with a clericalist authority: they were far distant from the people, and didn’t live what they preached. The respective authority of Jesus and that of the Pharisees were the two poles around which the Pope’s homily revolved. The one was a real authority, the other was merely formal. The day’s Gospel speaks of the amazement of the people because Jesus taught “as one who has authority” and not like the scribes: they were the authorities of the people, the Pope said, but what they taught didn’t enter into their hearts, while Jesus had a real authority: He was not a “seducer,” He taught the Law “down to the last point,” He taught the Truth, but with authority. Jesus served the people while the doctors of the law considered themselves princes The Pope then entered into details, focusing on the three characteristics that distinguished the authority of Jesus from that of the doctors of the law. While Jesus “taught with humility,” and said to His disciples, “the greatest should be as one who serves: he should make himself small,” the Pharisees considered themselves princes: Jesus served the people, He explained things because the people understood well: He was at the service of the people. He had an attitude of a servant, and this gave authority. On the other hand, these doctors of the law that the people… yes, they heard, they respected, but they didn’t feel that they had authority over them; these had a psychology of princes: ‘We are the masters, the princes, and we teach you. Not service: we command, you obey.’ And Jesus never passed Himself off like a prince: He was always the servant of all, and this is what gave Him authority. The second characteristic of the authority of Jesus is closeness It is being close to the people, in fact, that confers authority. Closeness, then, is the second characteristic that distinguishes the authority of Jesus from that of the Pharisees. “Jesus did not have an allergy to the people: touching the lepers, the sick, didn’t make Him shudder,” Pope Francis explained; while the Pharisees despised “the poor people, the ignorant,” they liked to walk about the piazzas, in nice clothing: They were detached from the people, they were not close [to them]; Jesus was very close to the people, and this gave authority. Those detached people, these doctors, had a clericalist psychology: they taught with a clericalist authority – that’s clericalism . It is very pleasing to me when I read about the closeness to the people the Blessed Paul VI had; in number 48 of Evangelii nuntiandi one sees the heart of a pastor who is close [to the people]: that’s where you find the authority of the Pope, closeness. First, a servant, of service, of humility: the head is the one who serves, who turns everything upside down, like an iceberg. The summit of the iceberg is seen; Jesus, on the other hand, turns it upside down and the people are on top and he that commands is below, and gives commands from below. Second, closeness. Jesus was coherent; the clericalist attitude is hypocritical But there is a third point that distinguishes the authority of the scribes from that of Jesus, namely ‘coherence.’ Jesus “lived what He preached.” “There was something like a unity, a harmony between what He thought, felt, did.” Meanwhile, one who considers himself a prince has a “clericalist attitude” – that is, hypocritical – says one thing and does another: On the other hand, this people was not coherent and their personality was divided on the point that Jesus counselled His disciples: ‘But, do what they tell you, but not what they do’: they said one thing and did another. Incoherence. They were incoherent. And the attitude Jesus uses of them so often is hypocritical . And it is understood that one who considers himself a prince, who has a clericalist attitude, who is a hypocrite, doesn’t have authority! He speaks the truth, but without authority. Jesus, on the other hand, who is humble, who is at the service of others, who is close, who does not despise the people, and who is coherent, has authority. And this is the authority that the people of God senses. The amazement of the innkeeper in the parable of the Good Samaritan In conclusion, the Pope, in order to make this better understood, recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan. Seeing the man left half-dead in the street by the robbers, the priest passed by, and kept on going, perhaps because there was blood and he thought that if he touched him, he would become impure. The Levite passed by and, the Pope said, “I believe that he thought” that if he got mixed up in the affair he would then have to go to court and give testimony, and he had many things to do. And so he, too, kept on going. Finally, the Samaritan came, and sinner, and he, instead, had mercy. But there was another person in the parable, Pope Francis noted: the innkeeper, who was amazed, not because of the assault of the robbers, because that was something that happened along that road; not because of the behaviour of the priest and the Levite, because he knew them; but because of the behaviour of the Samaritan. The amazement of the innkeeper at the Samaritan: “But this is crazy… He’s not Jew, he’s a sinner,” he could have thought. Pope Francis than connected this amazement to the amazement felt by the people in the day’s Gospel in the face of Jesus’ authority: “a humble authority, of service… an authority close to the people” and “coherent.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope’s January prayer intention: ‘Christians serving humanity’

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 09:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for January is for Christians serving the challenges facing humanity , in which he asks that full ecclesial communion be restored in order to serve the challenges facing humanity. The  Apostleship of Prayer  has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: In today’s world, many Christians from various churches work together to serve humanity in need, to defend human life and its dignity, to defend creation, and to combat injustice. [1] This desire to walk together, to collaborate in service and in solidarity with the weakest and with those who suffer, is a source of joy for us all. [2] Join your voice to mine in praying for all who contribute through prayer and fraternal charity to restoring full ecclesial communion in service of the challenges facing humanity. [3] _____________________ [1] Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity for the 50th anniversary of the decree " Unitatis Redintegratio ". [2] Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity for the 50th anniversary of the decree " Unitatis Redintegratio ". [3] Universal Prayer Intention of the Holy Father entrusted to the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). January 2017. (from Vatican Radio)...

Peace, security focal points of Pope's speech to Diplomats

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 08:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday called on people of every religious tradition to join in condemning the misuse of God’s name to justify acts of violence. Speaking in the Apostolic Palace to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See during the traditional exchange of New Year’s greetings with the diplomats, Pope Francis said, “[O]ne can never kill in God’s name,” adding that the world is, “dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power.” Pope Francis also said,  “Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty, and often is linked to significant social poverty.” Click below to hear our report “It can only be fully defeated with the joint contribution of religious and political leaders,” he continued. Security and peace were the twin focal points of the Holy Father’s broad-ranging address , which is often described as his "state of the world" address and this year was articulated in some thirty-four paragraphs and twenty footnotes.  “In today’s climate of general apprehension for the present, and uncertainty and anxious concern for the future, I feel it is important to speak a word of hope, which can also indicate a path on which to embark,” the Pope said. The Holy Father pointed out some of the areas where conflict is affecting people’s lives. “I think particularly of the fundamentalist-inspired terrorism that in the past year has also reaped numerous victims throughout the world: in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States of America, Tunisia and Turkey,” he said. “These are vile acts that use children to kill, as in Nigeria, or target people at prayer, as in the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo, or travelers or workers, as in Brussels, or passers-by in the streets of cities like Nice and Berlin, or simply people celebrating the arrival of the new year, as in Istanbul,” he continued. The Pope called on the international community to work for peace. “Peace,” Pope Francis said, is a gift, a challenge and a commitment,” that each of us and all together are called to receive, to answer, and embrace with care and dedication. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: Christians put Jesus at the center of their lives

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 07:37
(Vatican Radio) Christian life is simple; a Christian does not need to do strange or difficult things, but put Jesus at the center of his or her daily choices. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis ’ homily on Monday during morning Mass. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Resuming the daily Santa Marta Mass after the Christmas break, the Pope remarked on the fact that we have begun a new liturgical season in ordinary time, highlighting however that Jesus is always at the center of Christian life: "Jesus Christ manifested himself; we are invited to get to know him, to recognize him in our lives and in so many circumstances of life” he said. The Pope also explained that Saints and apparitions are important, but without Jesus, he said, they would not exist.    Hence, he said, we must ask ourselves the question: “is Jesus Christ at the center of my life? And what is my relationship with Jesus Christ? " Thus, the Pope continued, we have three tasks because "to be able to put Jesus at the center we must make sure that we know Him and that we are able to recognize Him.  “In His time many did not recognize him: the doctors of the law, the chief priests, the scribes, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Indeed, they persecuted Him and they killed Him. We too must ask ourselves: ‘Am I interested in getting to know Jesus? Or am I perhaps more interested in watching soap operas, in gossiping, in pursuing an ambition or talking about the lives of others?’” he said. To get to know Jesus, the Pope explained, there is prayer, there is the Holy Spirit, “there is also the Gospel, which we should carry with us and read a passage every day.  It’s the only way to get to know Jesus.  And then the Holy Spirit does the work afterwards. He who makes the seed sprout and grow is the Holy Spirit”. The second task, Francis continued, is to worship Jesus: “not just asking things of Him and thanking Him”, but praying silently in adoration, and removing from our hearts other things we adore and that capture our interest. “All the rest, he said, is of use only if I am capable of worshiping God alone”.  And the Pope invited the faithful to pray the ‘Glory Be’: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit”.  Pointing out that too often we recite it like parrots, he said: “this prayer is adoration!” It is a way of worshiping the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. A little prayer, in silence, before the greatness of God is a way to worship Jesus and say: 'You are the only one, you are the beginning and the end, and I want to stay with you throughout my life, throughout eternity. It is a way to chase away the things that prevent me from worshiping Jesus.” The third task, the Pope said, is to follow Jesus, as illustrated in today's Gospel in which the Lord calls his first disciples. It means putting Jesus at the center of our lives: “Christian life is simple, but we need the grace of the Holy Spirit to awaken the desire to know Jesus, to worship Jesus and to follow Him. That’s why, during the Collect we asked the Lord what we are called to do and we asked Him for the strength to do it” he said.  Christians, Pope Francis concluded, do not need to do strange, difficult or superfluous things, so let us ask the Lord for the grace to know Jesus, to worship Jesus and to follow Him. (from Vatican Radio)...

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