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Pope on Korea trip: memory, hope, witness

12 hours 8 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Memory, hope, witness: these are the three key terms in which Pope Francis placed his recent visit to Korea, when he reflected on the trip with pilgrims and tourists gathered in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on Wednesday for the weekly General Audience. After renewing his sentiments of gratitude and esteem for the bishops of Korea and for the civil authorities who hosted him, the Holy Father began to focus on the Church he discovered during his voyage. “The Republic of Korea,” said Pope Francis, “is a country that has had a remarkable and rapid economic development,” which he attributed in large part to the industry and discipline of the Korean people. “In this situation,” he continued, “the Church is the custodian of memory and hope: a spiritual family in which adults pass the torch of faith that they themselves have received from the elderly on to the young people,” of the new generation, so that, “the memory of the witnesses of the past becomes new testimony in the present and hope for the future.” The Holy Father went on to say that the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs and the celebration of the sixth Asian Youth Day were concrete signs of this dynamic at work in Korea and all throughout Asia. “Dear brothers,” he said, “in the history of the faith in Korea we see that Christ does not erase cultures, does not suppress the pilgrimage of peoples, who, through the centuries and millennia, seek truth and practice love for God and neighbor. Christ does not abolish what is good, but brings it to fulfillment.” The Pope also addressed the particular role of lay people in bringing the Gospel to Korean shores and fostering the growth of the Church in the country. “The Church took root in Korea and grew largely because of lay people, who saw the attractiveness of the Gospel and sought to live like the first Christians, in equal dignity and solidarity with the poor,” said Pope Francis in the English-language remarks read following his principal Italian-language address. The Holy Father concluded with a prayer: that the Korean people might continue to grow in faith and love, overcome every division and look forward to a future of reconciliation and hope. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Echoes of the pontificate of S. Pius X

13 hours 12 min ago
(Vatican Radio) To mark the centenary of the death of Saint Pius X, born Giuseppe Sarto in 1903, Veronica Scarisbrick brings you echoes of the  pontificate of this first pope to be elected in the twentieth century. In this programme you can listen to the  witness of three  American sisters who were received in audience by him a at a time when you still went to the Vatican in horse drawn carriages: "You had to order a landau at a livery stable.You notified them that you were expecting an audience, so then they'd keep one of these carriages ready with two horses, a coachman and a footman.'...Other guests include descendants of the papal court of the time.  This 257th  Pope of the Catholic Church was beatified on June 3, 1951 and canonised on May 29, 1954.  Listen to this programme for the series "Echoes of an era, the popes of the twentieth century remembered by those who knew them", presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick:  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis profoundly saddened by death of three relatives in traffic accident

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 10:59
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has learnt of the tragic death of three of his relatives in a traffic accident in Argentina and is "profoundly saddened."  The Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope had received news of the tragic accident and asks that "all those who share in his grief join with him in prayer."  The victims were  the wife of the Pope’s nephew and her two young children aged 2 years and eight months.  His nephew, Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, was seriously injured in the accident.        (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends greetings to Hungary’s President for nation’s National Day

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 09:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent greetings to Hungary’s President Janos Ader to mark the nation’s St Stephen’s National Day  and says he prays that all Hungarians will continue to promote a society built on truth, justice and integrity. Please find below the full text of the Pope’s greetings: «His Excellency János Áder President of the Republic of Hungary Budapest I am pleased to send cordial greetings to Your Excellency and to all the beloved citizens of Hungary on this happy occasion of your National Day, under the patronage of Saint Stephen. Entrusting the Nation to the loving providence of Almighty God, I pray that all Hungarians will continue to promote a society built on truth, justice and integrity. Franciscus PP.» (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope holds press conference on flight back from Korea

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 13:39
(Vatican Radio) From the possibility of the unification of the Koreas to the idea of “just war", from the situation of persecuted minorities in Iraq to the Pope’s upcoming journey to Albania: on the flight back from Korea to Rome, Pope Francis answered questions put to him by journalists travelling with him aboard the papal plane. In what has become a traditional impromptu press conference aboard the papal plane, journalists spent more than an hour questioning the Pope about his recent visit to Korea for the 6 th Asian Youth Day, about issues raised during the journey, his take on the ongoing violence against Christians and other minorities in Iraq, and about plans for future foreign trips. The first question, put to him by a Korean journalist, concerned his closeness to family victims of the Se-Wol ferry disaster, in which more than 300 people lost their lives. There is much anger in Korea regarding the government’s response to that tragedy and Pope Francis was asked whether he was worried his attitude could be politically exploited. “When you find yourself face-to-face with pain and sorrow, you must do what your heart tells you to do,” the Pope said. He pointed out that he is a priest and he feels close to those who suffer. His closeness, he explained, brings consolation, not solutions; and he recalled that when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was there to bring comfort to the many victims of two terrible disasters (in a discotheque fire, which killed 193 young people, and in a train accident, which killed 120). In Korea, when someone pointed out he continued to wear the yellow ribbon of solidarity for the victims of the ferry disaster. he answered: “You cannot be neutral before the pain of your brothers and sisters”.    Answering questions regarding the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by fundamentalists of the Islamic State (IS), the Pope said that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor”. And he underlined the word “halt” pointing out that does not mean to “bomb”. He said the methods used to halt the aggressor are to be evaluated. The Pope also pointed out that in these cases we must not forget “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor (…) have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!” A single nation, he said, cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor, and he pointed to the United Nations as the right venue to discuss the issue. Pope Francis also pointed out that persecuted Christians are close to his heart but he underlined the fact that there are also other minorities suffering persecution, and they all have the same rights. Regarding his availability to travel to Kurdistan to be with the fleeing refugees, Pope Francis said he is ready to do so if it is deemed a good thing to do. At the moment, however, he pointed to the various initiatives undertaken by the Vatican, such as sending Cardinal Fernando Filoni, writing to the UN Secretary General, and writing a personal communiqué that was sent to all the nunciatures and governments in the area.       When asked about progress in dialogue with China, Pope Francis said he happened to be in the cockpit when the plane was about to enter Chinese airspace. He said he “prayed intensely for that noble and wise people”. He said his thoughts turned to the Jesuits and to Father Matteo Ricci and expressed his love for the Chinese people. He also referred to the letter written by Benedict XVI regarding relations with China and said this letter is still very up-to-date and it is good idea to read it again. “The Holy See," he said, "is always open to be in touch, because it has true esteem for the Chinese people”. Speaking about his upcoming visit to Albania, he pointed out that he is not going there, as some have surmised, because it is in his style to start with “the periphery”. He explained that he is going to Albania for two important reasons: first, because it has a government of national unity, which gathers Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics, thanks to an Inter-Religious Council that works and gives balance. And this, he said, is good: “The presence of the Pope is to tell all peoples that it is possible to work together!” The second reason he pointed to refers to the history of Albania, which was unique among the communist nations in that its Constitution foresaw practical atheism. “If you went to Mass, it was anti-constitutional” he said. And he recalled that 1820, churches were destroyed in Albania. So, today he feels the need to go there. Pope Francis also mentioned his desire to travel to Philadelphia next year for the World Meeting of Families and said he has received a “shower” of invitations from across the world including New York, Mexico and Spain. But, he said, nothing has been decided yet. Asked about his relationship with Benedict XVI, Francis said he visited him before his departure for Korea and they discussed theological questions. The Pope also said he considers Benedict’s resignation a noble, humble and courageous gesture. And he said that should conditions be such, he would pray but he would consider doing the same: “He opened a door which is 'institutional' not 'exceptional' ”. Asked if he were planning to visit Japan and pray for that country’s “hidden Christians”, who historically suffered similarly to Korea’s Christians, the Pope said that yes, he had been invited by the Japanese government and the Bishops and that such a trip would be "wonderful".  Speaking about the historic suffering of Korea and the divisions afflicting it today, the Pope said: “The Korean people have not lost their dignity. (The Korean people) have been invaded, humiliated, suffered wars, and (are) now divided with much suffering.”  Recalling his brief meeting at Monday’s Mass in Seoul with aged, so-called “comfort women” (women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II and who have been seeking an official apology), Pope Francis marveled that “they have not lost their dignity”.   “To think that in that invasion they were hauled away as girls to the barracks to be taken advantage of,” he said.  The suffering of these women, martyrdom and other kinds of suffering, the Pope said, are “fruits of war”  “Today,” he continued, “we are in a world at war – everywhere!” Pope Francis then remarked on a comment someone once made to him that we are witnessing the Third World War.  “It is a world at war where these cruelties are carried out,” he said. He then highlighted “cruelty” and “torture” as hallmarks of the kind of war we see today. “Today, children don’t count. Once, one spoke of conventional warfare. Today, this doesn’t count.  I am not saying conventional warfare is a good thing, no.  But today a bomb goes off and you have an innocent killed with the guilty one, the child, with the woman, with the mother… they kill everyone.”  “The level of mankind’s cruelty at this moment is a little frightening.” The Pope said “today, torture is one of the most – I’d say – ordinary methods of behavior of the intelligence services, of judicial process.  And torture is a sin against humanity; it is a crime against humanity. And to Catholics, I say: to torture a person is a mortal sin; it is a grave sin!” Asked if his schedule has been too tiring for him so that he has had to cancel some appointments,  Pope Francis said he has taken some vacation time at home where he read an interesting book about being “happy to be neurotic".   “I have some neuroses,” he quipped, “and you need to treat them well.”  One of his neuroses, the Pope admitted, is that “I am a bit too attached to life.”  The last time he had taken a vacation with the Jesuit community outside Buenos Aires, he added, was in 1975.  When he takes time off now from his busy schedule, he says, “I sleep more, read the things that I like, listen to music, pray more…In July and part of August I did this and it’s ok.” Remarking on his cancellation of several appointments, including a last-minute cancellation of a June visit to Rome’s Gemelli hospital, the Pope said those were “very busy days” and that he needed to be “more prudent.” Asked how he perceives his “intense popularity”, Pope Francis said he “thanks the Lord that His people are happy” and for “the generosity of the people.”  “Inside,” the Pope added, “I try to think of my sins and my mistakes so as to not believe that [….], “because I know that this will not last long, two or three years, and then, to the House of the Father.” Asked what he does every day apart from his working schedule while in the Vatican and the Santa Marta guesthouse, the Pope answered, “I think I’m free…There are the office, the work appointments… Sure, I’d like to be able to go out, but it’s not possible, not possible.”  Within Santa Marta, he said, “I have a normal life of work, rest, chatting.”  Pope Francis acknowledged that there are reasons for some of the constraints though “some walls have fallen.” Asked about an encyclical on the environment long-said to be in the works, the Pope confirmed it has been written with much collaboration from Cardinal Peter Turkson (President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace) and others, and it is still being revised. He revealed that it is “one-third longer than ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ and that it posed many difficult questions, because, he said, it is possible to discuss the stewardship of creation and ecology with clarity “only to a certain point, but then scientific hypotheses come into play, some feasible, and others perhaps not”. He pointed out that an encyclical that must adhere to the Magisterium must be based only on certainties. Speaking about the suffering caused by the division between North Korea and South Korea, Pope Francis said he is bringing back with him a crown of Christ’s thorns made with the barbed wire that marks the boundary. “A gift that speaks of the suffering caused by separation, the separation within a family.”  And he reiterated he is praying for the end of that suffering. To a question regarding the cause for the beatification of Bishop Oscar Romero, the Pope confirmed it had been put on hold “for reasons of prudence”, but is now going forward. And speaking about the Invocation for Peace in the Holy Land that recently took place in the Vatican in the presence of the leaders of Palestine and Israel, Pope Francis said “it was not a failure”. He said the event sprung from the political leaders themselves, who could not find the right place to do it. He revealed that initially they wanted to organize it when the Pope was in the Holy Land in May in a neutral venue like the Nunciature. But that would have posed problems as the president of the State of Palestine would have had to enter Israel and it was not easy. So they said to me: “Let’s do it in the Vatican!” the Pope said. They are both men of peace, he said. They are convinced that the only way forward is the way of negotiation and dialogue. “And today that door is still open, he said, were there to open the door of prayer. Peace, Francis said, is a gift and it was important to show humanity that the way of negotiation and dialogue is important, and it is not possible without prayer. Today, the Pope said, we cannot see that door through the smoke of the bombs, but it is open. Pope Francis concluded his chat with the journalists saying that upon his return to Rome he will be dropping in at the Basilica of St. Mary Major to thank Our Lady. The posy of flowers he will bring her as a gift, he said, were given to him by a little girl in Korea before his departure. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

President of Korean Bishops Conference weighs in on Papal visit

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 07:08
(Vatican Radio) The president of Korea’s Bishops Conference and Bishop of Cheju,  Peter Kang U-il has weighed in on Pope Francis’s trip to the Peninsula, saying it was clear that the Holy Father hopes to see peace in Asia and the world.  Bishop Kang U-il spoke to Vatican Radio’s Sean Patrick Lovett after Pope Francis left Seoul Monday bound for Rome. Listen to Sean Lovett’s interview with Bishop Kang U-il: “It’s my impression that the Pope really wishes to promote peace in this Peninsula and in the world,” the Bishop said.  “He wanted us to be a peacemaker in this divided country, divided by ideology, divided by such a terrible military power.  So I think he came to proclaim the value of peace in this east Asia where the tension between the countries: China, Japan and (South) Korea and North Korea – the tension is being accelerated recently.  I think he feels that at this moment we really need a brave action or a brave step forward for real peace.” Asked to elaborate on his assertion “Peace is not just the absence of war - it’s more a question of justice,” Bishop Kang U-il responded  that he sees questions of justice in South Korea today where “we have very many social problems, economically, socially and on several levels of society.  Even though it seems that South Korea has achieved a great level of economic success in the last 30 years or so, it is also true that the people who feel themselves belonging to the lower class, people who feel themselves deprived of human dignity, a dignified life, these people are increasing.  So I think  we should deeply ponder on how we achieved this economic development: how we should reorganize this wealth in the society.  If there’s a terrible tension and sorrow (among) …people in the country, we can’t make peace with other countries.” Bishop Kang U-il noted that one of the things that the Korean Church gleaned from Pope Francis’ five day visit was his  “model” form of leadership.  In particular, “His approach to all kinds of people who are especially ill and disabled and deprived of many human rights.  Many people are saying after his visit that the Pope showed a great model of leadership which Korean political leaders could not show for the last 30-40 years.  It seems to me that he really showed the authentic validity of the leadership which the Korean people are really aspiring (to).” Bishop Kang U-il said he was impressed by Pope Francis’ “openness towards any class or any people, without showing any kind of authoritarian attitude.  And he always wanted to become a small, little person, always ready to go down to the lowest position of the society.”  Chuckling that he does not do this himself “enough”, Bishop Kang U-il admitted, “that’s the point I should really learn after him.” Asked what image will remain in his heart of Pope Francis’ visit, Bishop Kang U-il said, “after I said the word of gratitude after the mass for Asian Youth Day, he came down from the top of the altar and (he has trouble) walking downward or climbing up the steps - but he so gladly came down and hugged me.”  Bishop Kang U-il admitted hugging is not a common practice in Korea but said it struck him as “a real fatherly gesture.  And I wouldn’t forget it.”         (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pray for peace, deepen your resolve to achieve it –Pope Francis

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 04:22
“And so ‘No’ to an economy of exclusion, ‘No’ to an economy of selfishness, without ethics, ‘No’ to the spirit of materialism. ‘No’, ‘No’, ‘No’. And a ‘yes’ to a personal encounter with Jesus whom we want to carry always with us. ‘Yes’ to the cry of the poor, the needy and the lonely and ‘yes’ to the world that eagerly waits for us”. With these words Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences seemed to summarise how well the Church in Asia had absorbed the words of Pope Francis during his visit to South Korea. It is as if Cardinal Gracias had gone round asking each of the 10 million youth, who participated in the five days Daejeon experience, for their impressions on the papal visit. Cardinal Gracias goes on, “we leave the place with memories of Daejeon and Korea. We are grateful to you Most Holy Father for having been a true, loving and gracious father to us”. The last few days of Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea have been remarkable. During the visit, he has said many wonderful things. Nevertheless, as Vatican Radio’s correspondent, Sean Lovett, who was among those who travelled with Pope Francis to Korea said in one of his reports to us, the word “peace”, was the one most often repeated in the local articles and media stories reporting on Pope Francis’ visit. This is in part, because the Pope himself used the word, “peace” most frequently in his speeches. It is also because for South Korea peace is at the heart of a nation still officially at war with its neighbour – North Korea. But come to think of it, the whole world and not Korea alone needs peace. The Guardian UK newspaper last week quoted Dominique Shorten who is the head of emergency fundraising at Save the Children. Shorten says, “we have four emergency appeals open at the moment – Syria, Gaza, South Sudan and (Central African Republic) CAR – which is unprecedented, particularly as they’re all focused on conflict”.To this list one could easily add the conflict ignited by the Islamic State in Iraq, conflicts in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Congo DR, Somalia and Libya. The list could actually still go on. One is then justified in asking as did the Guardian UK last week, “Gaza, Ebola, Iraq…are we approaching disaster overload?” The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because the more the world seems to hear of these disasters, the more the world’s sensibilities and empathy seem blunted. No, because as Pope Francis has reminded us again and again in Korea and elsewhere we simply cannot give up on peace. Surely, Pope Francis did not only have in mind Korean youth when he said, “I think it is especially important for us to reflect on the need to give our young people the gift of peace”. Speaking to diplomats and Government officials accredited to South Korea, Pope Francis said, “Korea’s quest for peace is a cause close to our hearts, for it affects the stability of the entire area and indeed of our whole war-weary world”. During this whole apostolic trip, Pope Francis seems to be keenly aware of the hurdles that lie in the way of peace. He told his audience, “the quest for peace also represents a challenge for each of us and in a particular way for those of you dedicated to the pursuit of the common good of the human family through the patient work of diplomacy. It is the perennial challenge of breaking down the walls of distrust and hatred by promoting a culture of reconciliation and solidarity. For diplomacy, as the art of the possible, is based on the firm and persevering conviction that peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms and displays of force”. Pope Francis continues by saying “peace is not simply the absence of war, but “the work of justice” and justice, as a virtue, calls for the discipline of forbearance; it demands that we not forget past injustices but overcome them through forgiveness, tolerance and cooperation. It demands the willingness to discern and attain mutually beneficial goals, building foundations of mutual respect, understanding and reconciliation. May all of us dedicate these days to peace, to praying for it and deepening our resolve to achieve it”. In the end that is what many took away from the visit of Pope Francis to South Korea -a message of peace. As aptly said by Cardinal Gracias to Pope Francis on the last day of the 6th Asian Youth Day, “we have been awakened from the soporific slumber that engulfed us. In this slumber our eyes were closed to the joy of the Gospel, our minds clouded from seeing the beautiful vision of the Kingdom of God and our hearts dulled to experience the warmth of Jesus’ love for us. But now after these five days in Daejeon we have rekindled our passion for the Gospel, revitalized our youthful spirit, and understood more deeply our baptismal consecration and the meaning of true discipleship”.  (Fr. Paul Samasumo)  e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope meets leaders of other Churches and faiths in Korea

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 00:10
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday morning with leaders of the different Christian Churches in Korea, together with the heads of the other main religious communities. The encounter was held in Seoul’s Catholic cathedral, just ahead of a concluding Mass which marked the final event on a packed, five day, papal programme. Our correspondent in Korea for this papal visit is Sean-Patrick Lovett  - he reports on this significant ecumenical and interfaith meeting. Listen:  Pope Francis had an opportunity to meet briefly this morning with Korea’s religious leaders, before going on to celebrate his last Mass in the country at Myeong-dong Cathedral. Standing in front of a painting representing the recurring leitmotif of this visit, the Korean martyrs, the Pope greeted, one by one, among others: the Anglican Bishop of Seoul, the President of the Lutheran Church and the head of the Presbyterian churches in the country. Korea’s Buddhist leaders and representatives of other Christian communities were also present, along with the Orthodox Archbishop, who presented the Holy Father with a byzantine cross. The Pope appeared to be particularly pleased with this gift, promising to use it to impart the final blessing at the Mass. And that’s exactly what he did. The Pope’s improvised remarks in Spanish at the end of the encounter were translated for him by Fr John Che-chon Chong SJ – the newly-appointed Jesuit Provincial for Korea (and now familiar friendly face) who has been seen at the Holy Father’s side ever since he left Rome.   “We must continue walking together”, Pope Francis told the ecumenical gathering, “walking with God and going forward together. Pray for me”. Religious observers in this country say that relations among the different confessions in Korea are cordial (at least on the surface) and rarely subject to many of the tensions experienced elsewhere in the world. What they won’t say is if this is the result of praiseworthy religious tolerance – or growing religious indifference. A recent survey on the subject revealed that nearly half the population in Korea professes no religious belief whatsoever. That’s why it is so easy to understand much of Pope Francis’ appeal to them: his is the new face in a faithless void. In Seoul, I’m Seàn-Patrick Lovett.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis leaves Korea with message of hope and healing

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 00:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has just left Seoul on a Korean Airlines flight headed for Rome at the conclusion of his five day visit to the Asian country. The plane is due to land at Ciampino airport just before 6pm, local time, on Monday evening. The Pope’s departure from the Korean capital came after a concluding Mass in Seoul’s Catholic cathedral, during which he challenged Christians to work and pray for peace and reconciliation on the divided peninsula. Our correspondent in Korea, Sean-Patrick Lovett, reports on the message the Pope left behind at the end of his first pastoral visit to an Asian nation. Listen:  Catholics call it a “Mass intention”. It refers to the special reason why a Mass is being celebrated – in order to pray for someone or something in particular. This morning’s particular Mass intention at Myeong-dong Cathedral was for “Peace and Reconciliation in Korea”. Experiencing the stunning economic growth and material prosperity from close-up here in Seoul, it’s easy to forget that South Korea is still technically at war with the North. For the past 60 years the peninsula has been divided in half by a 4-kilometer long no-man’s land known as the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ – miles of guard towers, armed soldiers, and barbed-wire fencing for as far as the eye can see. As a symbolic reminder of the pain and suffering caused by that division, a  crown of thorns, made from a piece of that barbed-wire fencing, was laid at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima inside the Cathedral, with the inscription in Latin: “Ut unum sint” – “That they may be one”.  The Cross, in fact, was the central image at the heart of the Pope’s homily: “What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant”, he said, “(Christ) makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his Cross”. In the presence of Korean President, Geun-hye Park, who attended the Mass, Pope Francis challenged his listeners “to reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people”. Finally, the Pope prayed for “the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences…and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people”. Before Mass, the Holy Father greeted a group of seven women of advanced age, seated in wheelchairs in front of the altar. This was the much anticipated encounter with the so-called “comfort women”, women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II and have been seeking an apology and compensation, without success, ever since. As always, Pope Francis listened to them intently while holding their aged hands. Clearly the peace and reconciliation they seek is of a different, if no less valid, kind. But as the Pope reminded all of us in his homily: “The power of God bridges every division…and heals every wound”.                                      In Seoul, I’m Seàn-Patrick Lovett.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Korean Cardinal thanks Pope for inspiring young Asian Catholics

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 22:03
(Vatican Radio) At the conclusion of Pope Francis’ five day visit to Korea, the leader of the Catholic Church in Seoul, Cardinal Andrew Yeum Soo-jung, thanked the Holy Father for accompanying and encouraging young people throughout the Asian continent. The Cardinal’s words came at the end of a Mass for peace and reconciliation in Myeong-dong cathedral during which the Pope prayed for the grace of healing and unity on the divided Korean peninsula. Recalling the divisions and conflict that has lasted for over sixty years there, Pope Francis urged all followers of Christ in Korea to reflect on their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society. Please find below the full text of Cardinal Andrew Yeum Soo-jung’s greeting to the Pope: Address by His Eminence Cardinal Andrew Yeum Soo-jung Mass for Peace and Reconciliation (18 August 2014) Holy Father, I wanted to thank you with all my heart for visiting our country, split into two, north and south and for praying for peace here by celebrating the Eucharist. Today is the last day of your visit to Korea. Immediately after the end of this Mass your will be returning to your home. I am very happy to have accompanied you during these five days. Since your arrival you have held a number of meetings and Eucharistic celebrations. On each of these occasions you have shown the best aspects of the Church. For young Asians, in particular, you have shown yourself to be a Good Shepherd who accompanies them and walks alongside them. In Seoul you beatified our earliest martyrs, Paul Yun Ji-Chung and his one hundred and twenty-three companions. In this way, the Korean Church now has a hundred and twenty-four new Blesseds, together with her one hundred and three saints. I therefore feel personally an even greater responsibility for evangelization. Holy Father, I ask you to pray for us, that we may be committed to achieving full peace in our country and throughout the world. As you love us and our country, so we love you. Thank you again and may you go in peace! Thank you! (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope ends Korean visit with call for peace and reconciliation

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 21:50
(Vatican Radio) On the final day of his visit to Korea, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for peace and reconciliation in Seoul’s Myeong-dong cathedral during which he prayed for the grace of healing and unity on the divided Korean peninsula. At the beginning of the Mass the Pope also had special words of support for a group of elderly ‘comfort women’ forced into prostitution for the Japanese military during the Second World War. In his homily Pope Francis recalled the divisions and conflict that has lasted for over sixty years since the Korean war in the 1950s and he urged all followers of Christ in Korea to reflect on their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society. The Pope said God’s promise to his people challenges us to examine our commitment to those less fortunate and less prosperous than ourselves. It also challenges Christians in Korea to firmly reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of their country. The infinite power of Christ’s cross, Pope Francis said, can bridge every division and heal every wound. Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ homily: Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis at the Mass For Peace And Reconciliation Seoul, Myeong-dong Cathedral, 18th August 2014 Dear Brothers and Sisters, As my stay in Korea draws to a close, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon this beloved country, and in a special way, upon the Church in Korea. Among those blessings I especially treasure the experience we have all had in these recent days of the presence of so many young pilgrims from throughout Asia. Their love of Jesus and their enthusiasm for the spread of his Kingdom have been an inspiration to us all. My visit now culminates in this celebration of Mass, in which we implore from God the grace of peace and reconciliation. This prayer has a particular resonance on the Korean peninsula. Today’s Mass is first and foremost a prayer for reconciliation in this Korean family. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us how powerful is our prayer when two or three of us join in asking for something (cf. Mt 18:19-20). How much more when an entire people raises its heartfelt plea to heaven! The first reading presents God’s promise to restore to unity and prosperity a people dispersed by disaster and division. For us, as for the people of Israel, this is a promise full of hope: it points to a future which God is even now preparing for us. Yet this promise is inseparably tied to a command: the command to return to God and wholeheartedly obey his law (cf. Dt 30:2-3). God’s gifts of reconciliation, unity and peace are inseparably linked to the grace of conversion, a change of heart which can alter the course of our lives and our history, as individuals and as a people. At this Mass, we naturally hear this promise in the context of the historical experience of the Korean people, an experience of division and conflict which has lasted for well over sixty years. But God’s urgent summons to conversion also challenges Christ’s followers in Korea to examine the quality of their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society. It challenges each of you to reflect on the extent to which you, as individuals and communities, show evangelical concern for the less fortunate, the marginalized, those without work and those who do not share in the prosperity of the many. And it challenges you, as Christians and Koreans, firmly to reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people. In today’s Gospel, Peter asks the Lord: “If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” To which the Lord replies: “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22). These words go to the very heart of Jesus’ message of reconciliation and peace. In obedience to his command, we ask our heavenly Father daily to forgive us our sins, “as we forgive those who sin against us”. Unless we are prepared to do this, how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation? Jesus asks us to believe that forgiveness is the door which leads to reconciliation. In telling us to forgive our brothers unreservedly, he is asking us to do something utterly radical, but he also gives us the grace to do it. What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant, he makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his cross. The cross of Christ reveals the power of God to bridge every division, to heal every wound, and to reestablish the original bonds of brotherly love. This, then, is the message which I leave you as I conclude my visit to Korea. Trust in the power of Christ’s cross! Welcome its reconciling grace into your own hearts and share that grace with others! I ask you to bear convincing witness to Christ’s message of forgiveness in your homes, in your communities and at every level of national life. I am confident that, in a spirit of friendship and cooperation with other Christians, with the followers of other religions, and with all men and women of good will concerned for the future of Korean society, you will be a leaven of the Kingdom of God in this land. Thus our prayers for peace and reconciliation will rise to God from ever more pure hearts and, by his gracious gift, obtain that precious good for which we all long. Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people. Before leaving Korea, I wish to thank the President of Republic, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and all those who in any way helped to make this visit possible. I especially wish to address a word of personal appreciation to the priests of Korea, who daily labor in the service of the Gospel and the building up of God’s people in faith, hope and love. I ask you, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of his reconciling love (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20), to continue to build bridges of respect, trust and harmonious cooperation in your parishes, among yourselves, and with your bishops. Your example of unreserved love for the Lord, your faithfulness and dedication to your ministry, and your charitable concern for those in need, contribute greatly to the work of reconciliation and peace in this country. Dear brothers and sisters, God calls us to return to him and to hearken to his voice, and he promises to establish us on the land in even greater peace and prosperity than our ancestors knew. May Christ’s followers in Korea prepare for the dawning of that new day, when this land of the morning calm will rejoice in God’s richest blessings of harmony and peace! Amen. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis : “Asian Youth! Wake up!”

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 06:40
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continues  his Apostolic journey to Korea which began August 13th and ends on August 18th. This marks his  first visit to Asia, a continent where 60% of the world’s  population lives. While on Saturday he presided over a beatification ceremony of 124 Korean martyrs in Seoul on Sunday he travelled by helicopter to Haemi, which lies 102 kilometers south west of this capital city, to preside over another solemn celebration: the concluding  Mass to mark the 6th Asian Youth Day. At the end of the Mass Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the Federation of the Asian Bishop's Conference, announced that Indonesia would be the venue for the  7th Asian Youth Day in 2017. The venue for Sunday's Holy Mass was the square in front of the Castle there, first built to defend the population from pirates back  in 1421, in 1490 it became a military stronghold with  barracks and prisons within its compound.  It was here that almost three thousand Christians were detained during the anti- Christian persecutions of  the XIX century. The walls of the castle are two kilometers long and the vast area within can hold up to 200.000 people. On this occasion young people from across Asia gathered  there to be part of Sunday’s congregation on this very special occasion as Sean Patrick Lovett reports. Listen to Sean- Patrick Lovett's report focusing on the homily of Pope Francis during the concluding Mass of the  6th  Asian Youth Day :     “Asian Youth! Wake up!” Here in Korea, everywhere you look, you see this slogan – in every shape, size and form: on banners fluttering from lampposts and draped across skyscrapers, on caps, t-shirts and coffee-cups. It flashes across TV screens and is emblazoned upon anything and everything associated with these Asian Youth Day celebrations. So no one was surprised when Pope Francis focussed on the individual words of this slogan during his homily at the Mass closing the 6th Asian Youth Day, using his familiar 3-point catechetical approach, and confirming some of his favourite inspirational themes. As “Asians”, he said, “you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies. Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life”. “As Christians”, he continued, “you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures. You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith…and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death”. As “Youth”, said Pope Francis, “you are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period in life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love”. “As Christians”, he went on, “you are not only a part of the future of the Church, you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present”. The Pope urged the young people of Asia to keep close to one another, to God, and their Bishops, in order to build “a holier, more missionary and humble Church” that seeks “to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalised”. As Asian Youth called to “Wake up!”, concluded the Pope, you have a responsibility and a duty “to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel”. No one can do anything if they are asleep, improvised Pope Francis in English, repeating again and again the challenge to “Wake up!”. In Seoul, I’m Seàn-Patrick Lovett.    (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope to Asian youth: You are the present and the future of the Church

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 04:14
(Vatican Radio) During his homily at the concluding Mass of the 6th Asian Youth Day, Pope Francis told the young people gathered  "to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy and compassion." He also said young people were the present and the future of the Church. Below is the Holy Father's Homily pronouced in English Dear Young Friends, The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!      These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all.  Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ.  He is the light of the world; he is the light of our lives!  The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant.  With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time.   The words which we have just reflected upon are a consolation.  The other part of this Day’s theme – Asian Youth! Wake up! – speaks to you of a duty, a responsibility.  Let us consider for a moment each of these words. First, the word “Asian”.  You have gathered here in Korea from all parts of Asia.  Each of you has a unique place and context where you are called to reflect God’s love.  The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).  As young people not only in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent, you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies.  Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life!  As Asians too, you see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions.  Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage.  Through the presence of the Holy Spirit given you in Baptism and sealed within you at Confirmation, and in union with your pastors, you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures.  You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in Baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death Returning to the theme of this Day, let us reflect on a second word: “Youth”.  You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life.  Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love!  This is the path you are called to take.  This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture.  In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world.  As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present!  Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church – a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized. In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the broken-hearted.  It is these people especially who repeat the cry of the woman of the Gospel: “Lord, help me!”.  The Canaanite woman’s plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ.  It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “Lord, help me!”  It is often a cry which rises from our own hearts as well:  “Lord, help me!”  Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in the way of our being close to the Lord.  No!  We are to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy and compassion. Finally, the third part of this Day’s theme – “Wake up!” – speaks of a responsibility which the Lord gives you.  It is the duty to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel.  Today’s responsorial psalm invites us constantly to “be glad and sing for joy”.  No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice.  Dear young people, “God, our God, has blessed us!” (Ps 67:6); from him we have “received mercy” (Rom 11:30).  Assured of God’s love, go out to the world so that, “by the mercy shown to you”, they – your friends, co-workers, neighbors, countrymen, everyone on this great continent – “may now receive the mercy of God” (cf. Rom 11:31).  It is by his mercy that we are saved. Dear young people of Asia, it is my hope that, in union with Christ and the Church, you will take up this path, which will surely bring you much joy.  Now, as we approach the table of the Eucharist, let us turn to our Mother Mary, who brought Jesus to the world.  Yes, Mother Mary, we long to have Jesus; in your maternal affection help us to bring him to others, to serve him faithfully, and to honor him in every time and place, in this country and throughout Asia.  Amen.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope baptizes father of victim of Korea's ferry disaster

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 01:04
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday baptized a father of one of the children who was killed in South Korea’s ferry disaster last April.   Holy See’s spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, who is accompanying the Pope in Korea,  said the Baptism of Lee Ho Jin took place at 7 am  at the Apostolic Nunciature in Seoul.  “He is the father of one of the young people who died in the ferry disaster of Sewol, and who during a meeting in Daejeon with survivors and families of victims of the tragedy had requested the Pope to baptize him,” Fr. Lombardi said in a statement.  Lee was accompanied by a son and a daughter and the priest who introduced him to the Pope at Daejeon.  Lee’s godfather is a lay employee of  the Nunciature.  Fr. Lombardi said the baptism was a simple ceremony and led by Korean Jesuit Fr. John Chong Che-chon who is acting as an interpreter to the Pope during this visit.   The Holy Father personally baptized Lee pouring water on him and also administered the sacrament of Confirmation. Lee chose Francis as his baptismal name.  “The Pope was happy to be able to participate in the ministry of the  administration of Baptism to an adult of the Korean Church,” Fr. Lombardi added.  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope urges Asian Church to preserve its Christian identity

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 01:04
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday exhorted Asian Catholics to engage in real and fruitful dialogue with others, reminding them they cannot do so unless they sure of their identity rooted in their living faith in Christ.  “It is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity; it is from this that our dialogue begins, and this that we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves,” the Pope told the bishops of Asia when he met them at Haemi shrine in Daejeon Diocese, South Korea.  The Pope arrived in South Korea Thursday morning on a 5-day visit to South Korea, and flies back to Rome on Monday.    The Pope met representatives of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC), headed by their president, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, who welcomed him on behalf of the bishops.   In his message, the Pope noted that the vast continent is home to a great variety of cultures, hence “the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all.”  However he acknowledged that expressing one’s Christian identity is not all easy because as sinners followers of Christ are tempted by the spirit of the world. In this regard, the Holy Father urged Catholics to watch out against three temptations: relativism, superficiality and apparent security.  By relativism, Pope Francis did not mean so much the system of thought or philosophy as the “everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our ‎sense of identity.”  In a world of rapid and disorienting change, the Pope noted, Christians are tempted to forget that “there is much that is ‎unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and ‎forever.” Another pitfall threatening the Christian identity, the Pope explained, is superficiality - a ‎tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that ‎really matter   This, he noted, can present a serious pastoral problem, especially for the ministers of the Church, who can be enchanted with pastoral programmes and theories, to the detriment of ‎direct, fruitful encounter with the faithful, especially the young who need solid catechesis and sound ‎spiritual guidance.  The third temptation, that of the apparent security, can be found in hiding behind ‎easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.  Faith by nature is not self-absorbed; it “goes out”.  ‎It seeks understanding; it gives rise to testimony; it generates mission.  In this sense, faith enables us to ‎be both fearless and unassuming in our witness of hope and love.    Below is the full text of the Pope’s discourse to Asia’s bishops : Dear Brother Bishops,             I offer you a warm and fraternal greeting in the Lord as we gather together at this holy site where so many Christians gave their lives in fidelity to Christ.  Their testimony of charity has brought blessings and graces not only to the Church in Korea but also beyond; may their prayers help us to be faithful shepherds of the souls entrusted to our care.  I thank Cardinal Gracias for his kind words of welcome and for the work of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in fostering solidarity and promoting effective pastoral outreach in your local Churches.             On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all.  Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).        But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and the fundamental point of reference which guides us to our destination?  Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians.  We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity.  Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak.  A clear sense of one’s own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue.  If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us.  And if our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures. The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways.  I would like to point to three of these.  One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth and, shaking the earth beneath our feet, pulls us toward the shifting sands of confusion and despair.  It is a temptation which nowadays also affects Christian communities, causing people to forget that in a world of rapid and disorienting change, “there is much that is unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Gaudium et Spes, 10; cf. Heb 13:8).  Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.             A second way in which the world threatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10).  In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem.  For the ministers of the Church, it can also make itself felt in an enchantment with pastoral programs and theories, to the detriment of direct, fruitful encounter with our faithful, especially the young who need solid catechesis and sound spiritual guidance.  Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree. Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.  Faith by nature is not self-absorbed; it “goes out”.  It seeks understanding; it gives rise to testimony; it generates mission.  In this sense, faith enables us to be both fearless and unassuming in our witness of hope and love.  Saint Peter tells us that we should be ever ready to respond to all who ask the reason for the hope within us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).  Our identity as Christians is ultimately seen in our quiet efforts to worship God alone, to love one another, to serve one another, and to show by our example not only what we believe, but also what we hope for, and the One in whom we put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:12).  Once again, it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity; it is from this that our dialogue begins, and this that we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves.  Because Christ is our life (cf. Phil 1:21), let us speak “from him and of him” readily and without hesitation or fear.  The simplicity of his word becomes evident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters. I would now touch on one further aspect of our Christian identity.  It is fruitful.  Because it is born of, and constantly nourished by, the grace of our dialogue with the Lord and the promptings of his Spirit, it bears a harvest of justice, goodness and peace.  Let me ask you, then, about the fruits which it is bearing in your own lives and in the lives of the communities entrusted to your care.  Does the Christian identity of your particular Churches shine forth in your programs of catechesis and youth ministry, in your service to the poor and those languishing on the margins of our prosperous societies, and in your efforts to nourish vocations to the priesthood and the religious life? Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy.  We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns.  Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to “hear”, in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate.  In this sense, dialogue demands of us a truly contemplative spirit of openness and receptivity to the other.  This capacity for empathy enables a true human dialogue in which words, ideas and questions arise from an experience of fraternity and shared humanity.  It leads to a genuine encounter in which heart speaks to heart.  We are enriched by the wisdom of the other and become open to travelling together the path to greater understanding, friendship and solidarity.  As Saint John Paul II rightly recognized, our commitment to dialogue is grounded in the very logic of the incarnation: in Jesus, God himself became one of us, shared in our life and spoke to us in our own language (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).  In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship, may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all. Dear brother bishops, I thank you for your warm and fraternal welcome.  When we look out at the great Asian continent, with its vast expanses of land, its ancient cultures and traditions, we are aware that, in God’s plan, your Christian communities are indeed a pusillus grex, a small flock which nonetheless is charged to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  May the Good Shepherd, who knows and loves each of his sheep, guide and strengthen your efforts to build up their unity with him and with all the members of his flock throughout the world.  I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Fr Lombardi on martyrs and meeting with disabled in Korea

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 11:06
(Vatican Radio) At the conclusion of Pope Francis’ third day in Korea, the head of the Holy See press office, Fr Federico Lombardi, gave a briefing for the journalists from around the world who are gathered at the press centre in Seoul. He also took time to speak to our correspondent in the Korean capital, Sean Patrick Lovett, about two of the highlights on the papal agenda on Monday – the beatification Mass in the city centre in the morning and a meeting with dozens of severely disabled patients being cared for at the ‘House of Hope’ community centre in Kkottongnae situated about 90 kilometres east of Seoul. Listen:  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis in Korea: the stories you haven't read

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 07:01
(Vatican Radio) What are the most important aspects of Pope Francis’ visit to Korea? While providing comprehensive coverage of the Korean voyage, Vatican Radio’s Seán Patrick Lovett is also able to share some of the stories you might not have read: Listen: Here I am with no less than eight Korean newspapers piled up on the table in front of me. Six of them are in Korean, two in English. Fortunately, we have a translator who patiently and laboriously interprets the contents of the six that are a mystery to us, and helps us decipher what’s important and what’s not. The trouble is we don’t always agree. For example, being Korean, he thinks we should be giving priority to press coverage of the Pope’s words and gestures regarding the Sewol tragedy. That’s perfectly understandable as it’s the biggest news story here right now and hopes are high that the Pope’s interest in the issue may somehow influence the Korean authorities to conduct a proper inquiry into the disaster. After all, as the banners and flags read, they only want the truth. Last night the nation’s number one television channel, KBS, featured several close-ups of the trademark yellow ribbon symbolizing Sewol which Pope Francis continues to wear very visibly on his cassock – and even his liturgical vestments during Mass. For us Vatican Radio journalists, on the other hand, everything the Pope says is important and we try be as comprehensive as possible in our coverage of what he says, where, when and to whom. Sometimes we even explain why. But by this time of day most of the above is already available on our website – so I thought I’d do you the favour of picking out some of the stories you may not have read (just promise you won’t tell our translator). For example, there’s the 22 year-old Korean girl who overcame anorexia and asked the Pope if she could come to lunch with him when she’s in Rome. He didn’t hesitate for a moment before saying yes. There’s the blessing he gave to the couple who can’t have children and, of course, the man who asked to be baptised. Pope Francis will perform the baptism himself in the chapel of the Nunciature tomorrow morning. And what about the menu at the lunch with the young people? Grilled beef, fried fish, zucchini soup and, naturally, kimchi – Korea’s national dish. Finally, I can’t not mention the surprise train trip he took to Daejeon. He’d “never been on a high-speed train before”, he said. And anyway, he added, it gave him the chance “to be with everyone else”.  You might think he’d have had enough of “everyone else” by now –  but then he wouldn’t be Pope Francis, would he? (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope meets members of lay apostolate

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 07:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with members of a lay apostolate at the Kkottongnae Spirituality Center on Saturday as part of his Apostolic Journey to Korea. During his address, the pope emphasized the importance of ensuring that everyone experiences the dignity of being able to provide for oneself. The full text of Pope Francis’ speech is below: Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am grateful to have this opportunity to meet you, who represent the many expressions of the flourishing apostolate of the laity in Korea: flourishing because it was always flourishing! It is a flower that never dies! I thank the President of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council, Mr Paul Kwon Kil-joong, for his kind words of welcome in your name.  The Church in Korea, as we all know, is heir to the faith of generations of lay persons who persevered in the love of Christ Jesus and the communion of the Church despite the scarcity of priests and the threat of severe persecution.  Blessed Paul Yun Ji-chung and the martyrs beatified today represent an impressive chapter of this history.  They bore witness to the faith not only by their sufferings and death, but by their lives of loving solidarity with one another in Christian communities marked by exemplary charity. This precious legacy lives on in your own works of faith, charity and service.  Today, as ever, the Church needs credible lay witnesses to the saving truth of the Gospel, its power to purify and transform human hearts, and its fruitfulness for building up the human family in unity, justice and peace.  We know there is but one mission of the Church of God, and that every baptized Christian has a vital part in this mission.  Your gifts as lay men and women are manifold and your apostolates varied, yet all that you do is meant to advance the Church’s mission by ensuring that the temporal order is permeated and perfected by Christ’s Spirit and ordered to the coming of his Kingdom. In a particular way, I wish to acknowledge the work of the many societies and associations directly engaged in outreach to the poor and those in need.  As the example of the first Korean Christians shows, the fruitfulness of faith is expressed in concrete solidarity with our brothers and sisters, without any attention to their culture or social status, for in Christ “there is no Greek or Jew” ( Gal 3:28).  I am deeply grateful to those of you who by your work and witness bring the Lord’s consoling presence to people living on the peripheries of our society.  This activity should not be limited to charitable assistance, but must also extend to a practical concern for human growth.  Not just assistance, but also the development of the person. To assist the poor is good and necessary, but it is not enough.  I encourage you to multiply your efforts in the area of human promotion, so that every man and every woman can know the joy which comes from the dignity of earning their daily bread and supporting their family. This dignity, at this moment, is in danger of being taken by this culture of money, which leaves many people without work . . . We can say: “Father, we feed them!” But that is not enough! He and she, who are without work, must experience in their hearts the dignity of providing the bread for their own home, of earning bread for themselves! I entrust this work to you. I wish also to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by Korean Catholic women to the life and mission of the Church in this country as mothers of families, as catechists and teachers, and in countless other ways.  Similarly, I can only stress the importance of the witness given by Christian families.  At a time of great crisis for family life – as we all know! – our Christian communities are called to support married couples and families in fulfilling their proper mission in the life of the Church and society.  The family remains the basic unit of society and the first school in which children learn the human, spiritual and moral values which enable them to be a beacon of goodness, integrity and justice in our communities.   Dear friends, whatever your particular contribution to the Church’s mission, I ask you to continue to promote in your communities a more complete formation of the lay faithful through ongoing catechesis and spiritual direction.  In all that you do, I ask you to work in complete harmony of mind and heart with your pastors, striving to place your own insights, talents and charisms at the service of the Church’s growth in unity and missionary outreach.  Your contribution is essential, for the future of the Church in Korea – as throughout Asia – will depend in large part on the development of an ecclesiological vision grounded in a spirituality of communion, participation and the sharing of gifts (cf. Ecclesia in Asia , 45). Once again I express my gratitude for all that you do for the building up of the Church in Korea in holiness and zeal.  May you draw constant inspiration and strength for your apostolates from the Eucharistic sacrifice, wherein “that love of God and of humanity which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished” ( Lumen Gentium , 33).  Upon you and your families, and all who take part in the corporal and spiritual works of your parishes, associations and movements, I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ and the loving protection of Mary, our Mother. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope calls on religious to live vocation as a gift

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 07:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Saturday afternoon with Communities of Religious at the “School of Love” in Kkottongnae. Approximately 5000 male and female religious were present for the event. In his address, Pope Francis spoke about the “great variety of charisms and apostolates” represented by the religious. The Holy Father reflected on the words of the Psalm: “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:26). “We all know that while joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty, ‘it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved’” (Evangelii Gaudium, 6). This conviction of being loved by God is at the centre of a religious vocation. It is only a joyful witness that will allow religious “to attract men and women to Christ.” This joy, the Pope said, “is rooted in the mystery of the Father’s mercy revealed in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.” Whether involved in contemplative or active vocations, all religious “are challenged to become ‘experts’ in divine mercy.” Moreover, this challenge is fulfilled precisely in religious community. Speaking from his own experience, Pope Francis acknowledged the difficulties of community life, but emphasized that it is in community life that religious are called to grow in “mercy, forbearance, and perfect charity.” Pope Francis than spoke about each of the evangelical counsels – obedience, chastity, and poverty – as essential aspects of religious life. “Mature and generous obedience,” he said, “requires that you cling in prayer to Christ who, taking the form of a servant, learned obedience through what he suffered (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 14).” Purity and chastity are inspired by an experience of God’s mercy, and expresses “your single-minded dedication to the love of God who is ‘the strength of our hearts’.” Finally, the Pope said, “through the evangelical counsel of poverty you are able to recognize God’s mercy not only as a source of strength, but also as a treasure.” He warned against the hypocrisy of religious who take vows of poverty but live as though they were rich, causing scandal amongst the faithful. Pope Francis concluded his address with a call to the religious men and women: “Dear brothers and sisters, with great humility, do all that you can to show that the consecrated life is a precious gift to the Church and to the world. Below, please find the complete text of the Pope’s address at his meeting with Religious Communities in Korea: Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I greet you all with affection in the Lord. It is good to be with you today and to share these moments of communion. The great variety of charisms and apostolates which you represent wondrously enriches the life of the Church in Korea and beyond. In this setting of the celebration of Vespers where we have sung the praise of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, I thank you, and all of your brothers and sisters, for your efforts to build up God’s Kingdom in this beloved country. I thank Father Hwang Seok-mo and Sister Scholastica Lee Kwang-ok, the Presidents of the Korean Conferences of Major Superiors of Men’s and Women’s Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, for their kind words of welcome. The words of the Psalm, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:26), invite us to think about our own lives. The Psalmist exudes joyful confidence in God. We all know that while joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty, “it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (Evangelii Gaudium, 6). The firm conviction of being loved by God is at the center of your vocation: to be for others a tangible sign of the presence of God’s Kingdom, a foretaste of the eternal joys of heaven. Only if our witness is joyful will we attract men and women to Christ. And this joy is a gift which is nourished by a life of prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of the sacraments and life in community. When these are lacking, weaknesses and difficulties will emerge to dampen the joy we knew so well at the beginning of our journey. For you, as men and women consecrated to God, this joy is rooted in the mystery of the Father’s mercy revealed in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Whether the charism of your Institute is directed more to contemplation or to the active life, you are challenged to become “experts” in divine mercy precisely through your life in community. From experience I know that community life is not always easy, but it is a providential training ground for the heart. It is unrealistic not to expect conflicts; misunderstandings will arise and they must be faced. Despite such difficulties, it is in community life that we are called to grow in mercy, forbearance and perfect charity. The experience of God’s mercy, nourished by prayer and community, must shape all that you are, all that you do. Your chastity, poverty and obedience will be a joyful witness to God’s love in the measure that you stand firmly on the rock of his mercy. This is certainly the case with religious obedience. Mature and generous obedience requires that you cling in prayer to Christ who, taking the form of a servant, learned obedience through what he suffered (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 14). There are no shortcuts: God desires our hearts completely and this means we have to “let go” and “go out” of ourselves more and more. A lively experience of the Lord’s steadfast mercy also sustains the desire to achieve that perfection of charity which is born of purity of heart. Chastity expresses your single-minded dedication to the love of God who is “the strength of our hearts”. We all know what a personal and demanding commitment this entails. Temptations in this area call for humble trust in God, vigilance and perseverance. Through the evangelical counsel of poverty you are able to recognize God’s mercy not only as a source of strength, but also as a treasure. Even when we are weary, we can offer him our hearts burdened by sin and weakness; at those times when we feel most helpless, we can reach out to Christ, “who made himself poor in order that we might become rich” (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). This fundamental need of ours to be forgiven and healed is itself a form of poverty which we must never lose sight of, no matter how many advances we make in virtue. It should also find concrete expression in your lifestyle, both as individuals and as communities. I think in particular of the need to avoid all those things which can distract you and cause bewilderment and scandal to others. In the consecrated life, poverty is both a “wall” and a “mother”. It is a “wall” because it protects the consecrated life, a “mother” because it helps it to grow and guides it along the right path. The hypocrisy of those consecrated men and women who profess vows of poverty, yet live like the rich, wounds the souls of the faithful and harms the Church. Think, too, of how dangerous a temptation it is to adopt a purely functional, worldly mentality which leads to placing our hope in human means alone and destroys the witness of poverty which our Lord Jesus Christ lived and taught us. Dear brothers and sisters, with great humility, do all that you can to show that the consecrated life is a precious gift to the Church and to the world. Do not keep it to yourselves; share it, bringing Christ to every corner of this beloved country. Let your joy continue to find expression in your efforts to attract and nurture vocations, and recognize that all of you have some part in forming the consecrated men and women of tomorrow. Whether you are given more to contemplation or to the apostolic life, be zealous in your love of the Church in Korea and your desire to contribute, through your own specific charism, to its mission of proclaiming the Gospel and building up God’s people in unity, holiness and love. Commending all of you, and in a special way the aged and infirm members of your communities, to the loving care of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my blessing as a pledge of enduring grace and peace in Jesus her Son. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Korean catholics inspired by the legacy of their martyrs

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 03:26
(Vatican Radio) After having visited and prayed at the Seo So-Mun Shrine of the martyrs in Seoul on Saturday, Pope Francis celebrated the Beatification Mass for 124 Korean martyrs before the symbolic Gwanghwamun Gate in the presence of some 500,000 faithful. Sean Patrick Lovett who is in Seoul reporting on the Pope's apostolic visit gives us his impressions of this intense day and reports on the Pope's message during Mass, which he says, was received with reverence and prayerful silence. Listen to Sean Patrick Lovett's report:  As I watched the pope-mobile making its way slowly through the crowds of people thronging the boulevard of Guanghuamun Gate before Saturday morning’s Beatification Mass, I kept getting the feeling something was missing. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Apparently, it was just like any other papal drive-about: the Holy Father waving, smiling, dispensing blessings to left and right, kissing the occasional infant…The faithful, euphoric in their paper sun-hats, smartphones and tablets held high, trying desperately to immortalise the fleeting moment… Then it hit me. No one was flinging anything at him. No caps, no scarves, no football jerseys. It was all very composed and controlled. I’m not saying people weren’t excited to see the Pope. On the contrary. Many of them had been waiting for hours, others had travelled for miles to be there. They smiled and cried and waved and prayed and bowed (which is how you greet and show respect for someone here in Korea) – but no one pushed or shoved, or tried to get in front of the person closest to the barrier to get a better view. It was the epitome of self-control. And that’s how it continued throughout the celebration. Even the sign of peace was the most elegant and devotional I’ve ever seen. Over eight hundred thousand people listened in attentive silence as Pope Francis reflected on the role of the laity and the martyrs in the history of their local Church. He spoke about how their example “teaches us the importance of charity in the life of faith”. “They have much to say to us”, he said, “who live in societies where, alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded…The legacy of the martyrs”, said Pope Francis, “can inspire all men and women of good will to work in harmony for a more just, free and reconciled society, thus contributing to peace and the protection of authentically human values in this country and in our world”. Keep in mind that the closest the vast majority of those present got to see the Pope was on giant screens lining the immense esplanade. Others stood or knelt with hands joined in prayer on nearby street corners, far away from the Mass site itself. Yet everyone seemed sincerely interested in listening to what Pope Francis had to say – and, more importantly putting his message into practice.    In Seoul, I’m Seàn-Patrick Lovett.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

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