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Pope encourages religious to be architects of a new society

12 hours 37 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed appreciation for the opening of the 20th Renovabis Congress taking place in Freising, Germany. The event, from  31 August to  2 September focusses on the theme “Witnessing to the Gospel – Shaping the World. The Role of Religious Orders in Central and Eastern Europe”. A message from the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, on behalf of Pope Francis highlights his profound belief that the Lord’s call to bring peace and mercy to mankind continues to be an urgent and significant one in today’s world. This – the message continues – is especially true for missionaries who leave the safety of their homelands to bring the light of the Gospel and the solidarity of the Church to the ends of the earth.   To respond to the Lord’s call in this way, the message says, is a constant witness of God’s love for each creature. The message of good wishes to the participants of the congress concludes with the wish that this kind of testimony may contribute to the building of a society based on dignity  and social responsibility, and that they may become the ‘architects of a new society’.       As explained on the website of the congress itself:  “The role and the activities of orders within today’s Central and Eastern European societies will be focal points during the congress. In addition to a short introduction concerning the development of the life of religious orders during the 20th century, especially related to the awakening or restart after the political-societal upheavals 25 years ago, the congress will also deal with the commitment of individual religious orders in the fields of school, caritas, pastoral aid and refugee relief. In addition to that, several workshops and a ‘Market of Possibilities’ will illustrate the variety of the religious life in the 21st century. Another important subject will be the perspectives of religious orders within the following decades”.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to cardiologists: work for authentic human good

14 hours 4 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the participants in a major international gathering of the European Society of Cardiology on Wednesday. The 5-day World Congress of the European Society of Cardiology has been meeting in Rome at the city's New Fairgrounds since August 27 th to explore the role of teamwork in researching, diagnosing and treating cardiovascular illness. Pope Francis spoke to the participants on the final day of their convention. In his remarks , the Holy Father reaffirmed the Church’s constant support for and recognition of the importance of scientific research and care for the scientists who carry it out. “Nature, in all its complexity, and the human mind, are created by God; their richness must be studied by skilled men and women, in the knowledge that the advancement of the philosophical and empirical sciences, as well as professional care in favour of the weakest and most infirm, is a service that is part of God’s plan,” he said. Click below to hear our report The Pope went on to say, “The sciences alone, however, whether natural or physical, are not sufficient to understand the mystery contained within each person: when man is viewed in his totality,” he continued, “we are able to have a profound understanding of the poorest, those most in need, and the marginalized.” Pope Francis stressed that such a vision needs to inform research and caregiving, if they are really to serve authentic human flourishing. “In this way,” he said, “the [poor, needy, and marginalized] will benefit from your care and the support and assistance offered by the public and private health sectors.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: dicourse to cardiology congress

16 hours 41 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday addressed the World Congress of the European Society of Cardiology, which has been meeting in Rome since August 27 th to explore the role of teamwork caring for patients with cardiovascular illness. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks **************************************** Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning!  I was pleased to accept the invitation of the Executive Committee of the European Society of Cardiology to meet with you on the occasion of this World Congress which brings together cardiologists from various countries.  I am particularly grateful to Professor Fausto Pinto for his kind words and, through him, I thank each of you for the scientific work in these days of study and discussion, but above all for your dedication to so many who are sick. You look after the heart.  How much symbolism is enshrined in this word!  How many hopes are contained in this human organ!  In your hands you hold the beating core of the human body, and as such your responsibility is very great!  I am sure that as you find yourselves before this book of life with its many pages yet to be discovered, you are filled with trepidation and awe. The Magisterium of the Church has always affirmed the importance of scientific research for human life and health.  The Church not only accompanies you along this demanding path, but also promotes your cause and wishes to support you.  The Church understands that efforts directed to the authentic good of the person are actions always inspired by God.  Nature, in all its complexity, and the human mind, are created by God; their richness must be studied by skilled men and women, in the knowledge that the advancement of the philosophical and empirical sciences, as well as professional care in favour of the weakest and most infirm, is a service that is part of God’s plan.  Openness to the grace of God, an openness which comes through faith, does not weaken human reason, but rather leads it towards knowledge of a truth which is wider and of greater benefit to humanity. At the same time, we know that the scientist, in his or her research, is never neutral, in as much as each one has their own history, their way of being and of thinking.  Every scientist requires, in a sense, a purification; through this process, the toxins which poison the mind’s pursuit of truth and certainty are removed, and this enables a more incisive understanding of the meaning of things.  We cannot deny that our knowledge, even our most precise and scientific knowledge, needs to progress by asking questions and finding answers concerning the origin, meaning and finality of reality; and this includes man.  The sciences alone, however, whether natural or physical, are not sufficient to understand the mystery contained within each person.  When man is viewed in his totality – allow me to emphasize this point – we are able to have a profound understanding of the poorest, those most in need, and the marginalized.  In this way, they will benefit from your care and the support and assistance offered by the public and private health sectors. By means of your invaluable work, you contribute to the healing of physical illness and are able to perceive that there are laws engraved within human nature that no one can tamper with, but rather must be “discovered, respected and cooperated with” so that life may correspond ever more to the designs of the Creator (cf. Gaudium et Spes , 36).  For this reason, it is important that men and women of science, as they examine themselves in the light of that great mystery of human existence, do not give in to the temptation to suppress the truth (cf. Rom 1:18). With these sentiments, I renew my appreciation for your work.  I ask the Lord to bless your research and medical care, so that everyone may receive relief from their suffering, a greater quality of life and an increasing sense of hope. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis pleased over finalization of peace talks in Colombia

17 hours 10 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is “pleased” that negotiations between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been finalized after four years of peace talks. A statement issued by the Secretariat of State said the Holy Father “reiterates his support for the goal of attaining the peace and reconciliation of the entire Colombian people, in light of human rights and Christian values, which are at the heart of Latin American culture.” The conflict between the government and the Marxist rebels has lasted over 50 years, and killed over 200,000 people. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday called a plebiscite for 2 October to ratify the agreement.   The full statement is below   Statement of the Secretariat of State   The Holy Father was pleased to learn that negotiations have been finalized between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, concluding an intense process that took place over the last several years.  He reiterates his support for the goal of attaining the peace and reconciliation of the entire Colombian people, in light of human rights and Christian values, which are at the heart of Latin American culture.                 On 12 August last, His Holiness received the invitation to appoint a representative to participate in the committee that selects the judges who will comprise the Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (Special Jurisdiction for Peace).  However, bearing in mind the universal vocation of the Church and the mission of the Successor of Peter as Pastor of the People of God, it would be more appropriate that the said task be entrusted to other parties.                Pope Francis commends the peace process in Colombia to the maternal protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, Queen of Peace, and he invokes the gift of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the hearts and minds of those who are called to promote the common good of the Colombian nation. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Audience: Christ offers salvation not rejection

17 hours 14 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis during his Wednesday Audience in St Peter’s Square spoke about how faith in Christ brings salvation. Listen to this report At the heart of the Pope’s catechesis during his Wednesday General Audience was the salvation of Christ to those who are rejected by men. The Holy Father was reflecting on the account in the Gospel of St Matthew in which Jesus cures the woman suffering from  hemorrhages. The Pope said, that this woman is considered impure according to the law, “but she trusts in Jesus’ mercy and saving power to free her from her illness and isolation.”  Pope Francis described the woman as a person of deep faith who reaches out and touches Jesus’ garment.  This gesture noted the Pope, was a form quiet prayer and a sign of hope and courage. Jesus’ response said the Holy Father, was one of tenderness which also acknowledged her dignity.  He treats her with love and heals her of her affliction.  The Pope emphasized that faith in Christ brings salvation; it offers healing, restores right relationships between people and affirms our inviolable dignity.  Speaking off the cuff Pope Francis said, “how many times have we ourselves felt inwardly rejected because of our sins,” But he added, the Lord says “have courage, come. To me you are not rejected, discarded.” This is a time of grace, of forgiveness and of Mercy, and Jesus , underlined the Pope, asks all of us to trust in his word and, having experienced his mercy, to be a leaven of that mercy in our world.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Migrants and refugees at the heart of Pope's new 'Motu Proprio'

17 hours 16 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has created a new Dicastery to better minister to the needs of the men and women the Church is called to serve. The new “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” was instituted in a Motu Proprio published on Wednesday in the Osservatore Romano .  It will come into effect as from 1 January 2017 and will be especially “competent in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”. On that same date, four Pontifical Councils dedicated to charity and to the promotion of human development will cease to exist and effectively be encompassed in the new institution. The Pope has appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson as Prefect of the new dicastery. Turkson is the current President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace – one of those destined to be suppressed.       As Pope Francis highlights in the Motu Proprio : ‘the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel’, thus the Successor of Peter must ‘continuously adapt the institutions which collaborate with him.’  One of the sections of the new dicastery is an expression of the Pope’s particular concern for refugees and migrants and of his deep belief that in today’s world integral human development cannot be promoted without special attention for the phenomenon of migration. For this reason, this particular section is placed ad tempus beneath the direct jurisdiction of the Pope. Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio :   Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio by the Supreme Pontiff Francis instituting the DICASTERY FOR PROMOTING INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT In all her being and actions, the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel.  This development takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation.  The Successor of the Apostle Peter, in his work of affirming these values, is continuously adapting the institutions which collaborate with him, so that they may better meet the needs of the men and women whom they are called to serve. So that the Holy See may be solicitous in these areas, as well as in those regarding health and charitable works, I institute the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.  This Dicastery will be competent particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture. In the new Dicastery, governed by the Statutes that today I approve ad experimentum, the competences of the following Pontifical Councils will be merged, as of 1 January 2017: the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.  On that date these four Dicasteries will cease exercising their functions and will be suppressed, and articles 142-153 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus will be abrogated.   I decree that what has been set out in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio have the force of law, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of special mention, and that it be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, therefore published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, entering into force on 1 January 2017. Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 17 August 2016, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Fourth Year of my Pontificate.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Turkson: Address to the Christian Social Congress

17 hours 16 min ago
(Vatican Radio)  The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson , on Wednesday said “human beings risk turning into robots, into mere cogs in a worldwide machine.”  He was addressing the Christian Social Congress taking place in taking place in Doorn, in the Netherlands. “Against this threat, Christians need to marshal and explain their reasons for their faith in humanity,” Cardinal Turkson said. “On the one hand, grounded in our religious vision of the world, our conception of freedom allows us to think independently about the world rather than constantly join the crowd,” – he continued – “On the other hand, this religious vision also makes sense of the movement of history due to its confident expectation that, eventually and actually, we will all be gathered together, reconciled in God through Christ.” Pope Francis also sent a message to the participants of the Congress.   The full text of Cardinal Turkson's address is below   Current challenges for the Christian Social Movement in the light of the Encyclical Laudato Si' of Pope Francis [1]   Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson Christian Social Congress, Doorn, 31 August 2016   Thank you for inviting me to speak to this important and inspiring conference. I say “inspiring” because I realize that your Christian Social Movement had its first conference 125 years ago, in Amsterdam. Our Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace will be a more modest 50 years old next January 6th, so you see why I am impressed. Of course, 1891 was also the year that Rerum novarum appeared: a truly revolutionary teaching, in its time and still today. It resolutely inserted the Church into some of the most pressing social issues of the day, such as the impacts of industrialization on individuals and families. By Divine Providence, we too are living such a kairos moment. For the astonishing encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si' , has resonated strongly all over the world, and still resonates 15 months later, because of a similar revolutionary force. We can read it as the Rerum Novarum of the 21 st century. It offers guidance and guidelines for a different way of relating to each other and to Creation. During these opening moments of your Conference, let the key question of globalization be raised with the inspiration of earlier prophets and of the epochal Council Vatican II . We can then consider changes and new forces, initially as threats but surely as challenging opportunities . And so we look forward to your deliberations , invoking God’s blessing . The question of globalization With the interconnectedness of today’s world, and with the quick distribution of information and images, anyone with the slightest interest will instantly realize that the challenges for humanity – the challenges to be fully human – occur at every scale, from the global to the most intimate. The summary label for this highly powerful and ambiguous phenomenon is globalization . There are several forces nowadays that converge to make globalization an unprecedented threat to human progress. I am speaking here of the economic, financial, political and technological forces that raise the ominous spectre of the progressive robotization of men, women and children, in their outlooks and behaviour. The haunting question is this: are we inescapably in the grip of these forces, powerless to control our destiny? Or can humanity shape and guide these forces? The Christian Social Movement affirms resoundingly that we can and must take charge. This is the perspective and spirit with which your conference raises its central concern: how to humanize globalization? Prophets before us Thank God we are not the first to face daunting questions. It is with deep satisfaction that I recall the history of Christian social engagement in the Netherlands. It reflects two sides of Christian participation in social life: it is both intellectual and practical. Your compatriots of past decades have provided some very important, diverse expressions of the vision of Christ in the actual social order. I am speaking of Mr. Jos Serrarens, Monsignor Wiel Nolens and Cardinal Bernard Affrink. As Secretary-General of the International Federation of Christian Trade Unions, Jos Serrarens brought together Catholic and Protestant workers at the conclusion of the First World War in order to engage Christians in consolidating peace through social justice. Monsignor Nolens as Head of the Catholic Party played a major role on both the national and international stage to insert your nation in the world-wide effort to construct peace; this was just one of his achievements. And in the years after the Second World War, Cardinal Bernard Affrink, then President of Pax Christi International, launched the first initiatives that made Christians aware of the changes, or even the upheavals, that the world had begun to experience in this epoch due to human mastery of the forces of nature. These outstanding names, along with many others, helped to define the past century through their ability to respond to the challenges of their time. Vocation Christians today are called to continue the witness of the eminent prophets we honour. We recall them because of their resolute insertion into the major challenges of their time, and they did so as a necessary expression and application of their religious faith. This is the path of faith and action united, as the Second Vatican Council taught with all its authority. The pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et spes, opens with a resounding embrace of the lived realities of humankind: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” (GS §1). And to truly follow Christ, we must accept our “earthly responsibilities”. The followers of Christ understand that their faith is incarnated in the world: “by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation.” Conversely, it is entirely erroneous for people to “imagine they can plunge themselves into earthly affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the religious life” (GS §43.1). The only true path is that which unites faith and action. First, the natural history of the world derives its meaning and direction from the super natural history that Christ initiated. Christ gives world history an end, a goal, a telos and an Omega . Christ is our peace; he it is who makes reconciliation possible. Second, it is the vocation of Christians in every era to translate Christ’s global vision into the hic et nunc , into the here-and-now. This is why we find such diversity in how Christians have engaged in society through the ages: the here and now in each situation differ from others, earlier or later, here or elsewhere. Thus it is that there is one consistent vision which finds expression in many different forms of social engagement. Threatening changes Let me highlight two of the upheavals that face us as we put our faith into action. First, the unipolar world has disappeared. The world today is multipolar. This is a radical change. Too much social science and the derivative social policy make the mistake of reducing this change to an excessively quantitative matter, whereas in truth it is qualitative, cultural, spiritual. Until the 1980s and early 1990s, the world was dominated by the Cold War and the East-West confrontation. But following the policies of détente of President Reagan and Chairman Gorbachev – policies that were supported by Christian leaders such as Blessed Pope Paul VI, Cardinals Agostino Casaroli and Barnard Affrink – the international equilibrium of power began to shift. New forces were let loose, and their priorities diverged from those of the West where spiritual strength was drained away by hedonism. Yet our present world is already so different from the heady days when the Berlin Wall came down and formerly repressed populations found a new freedom. Indeed, in some cases, that freedom allowed them to indulge in consumerism and hedonistic interests that had been unavailable or forbidden. But nowadays, with all-pervasive computer tools, worldwide communication and social media, people risk being lost amid noise and triviality. Pope Francis worries greatly about information overload and neglect of direct human relationship. “True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and gener­ous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventu­ally leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature” (LS §47). New technologies of communication bring me to the second upheaval. As I said earlier, human beings risk turning into robots, into mere cogs in a worldwide machine. Against this threat, Christians need to marshal and explain their reasons for their faith in humanity. How do we regard the world today and its various trends? On the one hand, grounded in our religious vision of the world, our conception of freedom allows us to think independently about the world rather than constantly join the crowd. On the other hand, this religious vision also makes sense of the movement of history due to its confident expectation that, eventually and actually, we will all be gathered together, reconciled in God through Christ. “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col 3:11). Christ, and his authentic disciples, exercise authority as service for others. “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28. Opportunities of dialogue As you pursue your studies and discussions here, I urge you to embrace dialogue: dialogue among yourselves here, and dialogue in the work you do in the world. Pope Francis puts his faith and hope in dialogue “as the only way to confront the problems of our world and to seek solutions that are truly effective”. [2] Authentic dialogue is “open and respectful”; it requires “patience, self-discipline and generosity” (LS §201). It insists on open negotiation based on the principles which the social teachings of the Church vigorously promote: solidarity, subsidiarity, working for the common good, universal destination of goods, and preferential option for the poor and for the earth. Pope Francis applies these principles, after briefly interpreting the story of Cain and Abel, to our real relationships. “Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbour, for whose care and custo­dy I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth” (LS §70). On the contrary, “The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures” (LS §240). This is the rich, integrated vision of the encyclical that you are about to study. Let me give an example of new technologies at the service of networking for politics and democracy in action. Avaaz is an online network founded almost ten years ago; today Avaaz counts about 44 million members. [3] Using online petitions, it organizes citizens of all nations to close the gap between what exists and the world most people everywhere want. Avaaz and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace collaborated on activities around Laudato si' , the Pope’s visit to USA last September, and the COP21 climate change meetings last December in Paris. Now just as Avaaz brings people of all backgrounds to discover shared concerns and undertake common action, so your Christian Social Movement has brought together people of good will of diverse backgrounds. The invitation, I suggest, is to open ourselves to the potential for good in the new tools that are available, even as we take a prudent or critical attitude towards excesses. Your deliberations As this Conference gets underway, it makes me happy to know that you intend to pose “slow questions in swampy ground”. [4] To do this patiently and properly “rooted and grounded”, you re-read the Imitatio Christi in a contemporary, social key. This lived spirituality of encounter, as Pope Francis would say, sustains dialogue or conversation with various partners about current social issues very much on our agenda. Allow me please to remind you of the five great questions which will surely serve to focus this Conference as well as subsequent policy and action: How can we give priority to responsive forms of the economy that are an answer to the needs of society instead of the wants of the individual (Chapter 4)? How can we make room for vulnerability, imperfection, and improvisational skills, thus countering the push to perfection and uniformity and strengthening the vitality and quality of life in society (See chapter 5)? How can we give priority to forms of inclusive politics which are, instead of just recurrent polling, a conversation, thus enhancing engagement by citizens in arranging their own life (Chapter 6)? How can we cultivate forms of growth in quality, thus reducing the emphasis on quantitative growth, numbers and procedures (Chapter 7)? How can we establish a culture of gratitude, reverence, and involvement, thus countering indifference, the throw-away culture, and cynicism (Chapter 8)? [5] Conclusion In conclusion, I wish to share an overall observation about Laudato si’. Pope Francis has brought together a huge canvas, an immense landscape of topics, in his text. He wants to help people of goodwill of all backgrounds to clearly acknowledge the world’s most pressing issues, and to embark on effective responses to them. People can do this if they embrace a transcendent understanding of the world’s movement towards reconciliation, and if they accept the humble, generous, loving parameters of dialogue for working together. He commits the Church to accompany every level of decision-making, every form of governance, that is willing to pursue the common good. Thus, with this new Rerum novarum , the Church is manifestly willing to go out into the whole social order and accompany humankind as we urgently take stock and make decisions and re-tool. You can count on the Church as you work for justice and peace in your immediate neighbourhood, your country, across Europe and throughout the planet! In a complementary way, the Church counts on you to live out her vocation in the modern world. May our Lord smile on your deliberations and guide you to continue the great work of Christian social movements: to redeem and build positive relationships among all peoples and with all of creation in a globalization of ever-increasing reconciliation and human fulfilment!         [1] In the preparation of this address, I would like gratefully to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Fr. Joseph Joblin S.J., Professor emeritus of Social Sciences, Pontifical Gregorian University, and of Mr. Robert Czerny, editor and translator, Ottawa. [2] Pope Francis, Address on Environmental Justice and Climate Change, 11.09.15. [3] https://www.avaaz.org/en/community.php [4] Piet Hazenbosch, De kracht van verbondenheid: Perspectieven in een netwerksamenleving: Naar een visie voor het Christelijk-Sociaal Congres 2016 , Stichting Christelijk-Sociaal Congres, 2016, p.185. [5] De kracht van verbondenheid, pp. 186-187. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Social systems should serve the needs of all people

17 hours 29 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday sent greetings to the Christian Social Congress taking place in Doorn, in the Netherlands. In a message sent through the Secretary of State, the Pope encouraged the participants “to promote a greater awareness of the particular dignity of human relationships, which inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others.” It continued by stating Pope Francis “prays that those gathered will give particular attention to the concerns of the poor and marginalized, so that every economic, political and social system may serve the needs and advancement of all peoples, and protect the created world which God has entrusted to humanity’s stewardship.” The President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, also addressed the Congress.   The full text of the message is below   His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn of the conference sponsored by the Dutch Christian Social Congress, to begin on 31 August 2016, and he sends cordial greetings to all gathered for this important event. As participants reflect on the primacy of the human person in a globalized world, His Holiness encourages them to promote a greater awareness of the particular dignity of human relationships, which “inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others” (Laudato Si’, 119). In this way, their discussion of the pressing societal issues of our day will be guided by a “humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision” (no. 141). In this regard, Pope Francis prays that those gathered will give particular attention to the concerns of the poor and marginalized, so that every economic, political and social system may serve the needs and advancement of all peoples, and protect the created world which God has entrusted to humanity’s stewardship. With the assurance of his prayerful good wishes, His Holiness invokes upon those gathered the abundant divine blessings of peace and strength. Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis tells Arab Christians to "keep flame of their faith"

18 hours 7 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis told Christians in the Arab-speaking world to “keep the flame of their faith,” despite the darkness of the trial.” The Holy Father was speaking during his General Audience to Arab-speaking pilgrims from Iraq, Jordan, and the Middle East. “The healing accomplished today by Jesus [of the woman with the hemorrhage Mt 9:20-22] assures us that when human hope disappears and everything seems impossible, the sun of Divine hope rises again for those who, despite the darkness of the trial, keep the flame of their faith!” – Pope Francis said – “The Lord bless you all and protect you from the evil one!” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Audience: English summary

18 hours 59 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday. In his catechesis, the Holy Father relflected on St Matthew's Gospel account of the cure of a woman suffering from haemorrhages. Below, please find the official English language summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis for the General Audience for 31 August 2016: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now consider Jesus’ cure of the woman suffering from haemorrhages (cf. Mt 9:20-22).  This unnamed woman, considered impure according to the Law (cf. Lev 15:29-30), trusted in Jesus’ mercy and saving power to free her from her illness and isolation.  Filled with deep faith, she reached out and touched his garment.  In Hebrew religious tradition, wearing such a garment was a symbol of being clothed with the divine Law, the source of blessing.  The woman’s gesture of touching his garment is thus a form of quiet prayer and a sign of hope.  Jesus responds by looking upon her with tenderness and acknowledges her dignity.  He treats her with love and heals her of her affliction.  Faith in Christ brings salvation; it offers healing, restores right relationships between people and affirms our inviolable dignity.  Jesus asks all of us to trust in his word and, having experienced his mercy, to be a leaven of that mercy in our world. I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Ireland, Malta, the Philippines, Vietnam, the US Virgin Islands and the United States of America.  May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord, and may he make you his missionaries of mercy, especially for all those who feel distant from God.  May God bless you all! (from Vatican Radio)...

Sister Prema: Mercy "second nature" to Mother Teresa

Tue, 08/30/2016 - 08:35
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is set to be canonized on Sunday, September 4th. Mother Teresa founded the religious order Missionaries of Charity, which is based in Calcutta, India. She dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor. She was beatified by John Paul II in 2003, just 6 years after her death at the age of 87. The current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity is Sister Mary Prema Pierick, who first met Mother Teresa in 1980. Listen to part 1 of the interview with Sister Prema:  She told Vatican Radio Mother Teresa’s holiness was so present in her life, the members of the congregation took it for granted. “We lived with Mother and we took it for granted that she is available and that she is always attentive to us,” she said. Listen to Part 2 of the interview with Sister Prema: “We enjoyed her presence and we wanted to know from her how she lived the day, and how she went about the work she was doing,” Sister Prema continued. “But deeply, I did not know how she was united with Jesus, and how deeply she lived the Gospel message of Jesus,” – Sister Prema said – “I can see that the works of mercy had become like a second nature to Mother, but that was Mother, and we took it for granted.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis receives Facebook CEO in private audience

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 07:12
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis met with Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, on Monday in a private audience in the Vatican. A statement released by the Holy See Press Office said: “They spoke about how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and help deliver a message of hope, especially to those people who are most disadvantaged.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends message to Catholic-Orthodox Symposium

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 07:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the XIV Inter-Christian Symposium taking place in Thessalonika from 28-30 August. Sponsored by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Department of Theology of the Orthodox Theological Faculty of the Aristoteles University of Thessalonika, the Symposium seeks to foster theological and cultural dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox. The theme of this year’s meeting is “The Need for a Re-evangelization of the Christian Communities in Europe.” “The presence in Europe of so many people who, although baptized, are not aware of the gift of faith they have received, have not experienced the consolation, and do not fully participate in the life of the Christian community represents a challenge for all the Churches present in the continent,” Pope Francis said in his message. “In a reality like that of Europe, in which where there are ever fewer bonds with its Christian roots, there is clearly the need for a new work of evangelization.” This “missionary duty,” he continued, “is sustained by the profound conviction that ‘with this newness, [Christ] is always able to renew our lives and our communities, and even if the Christian message has known periods of darkness and ecclesial weakness, it will never grow old.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Angelus catechesis on humility, generosity

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 09:05
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the final Sunday in the month of August and the twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. In remarks to the pilgrims and tourists gathered in the Square ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading of the day, taken from the Gospel according to St. Luke (14:1, 7-14), in which Jesus dines as the guest of a leading Pharisee, and teaches a hard truth about pride and the Kingdom of God and issues a challenge to all present to focus their thoughts and order their actions to the promise of the Resurrection. As often happens, Jesus taught the Gospel lesson through parables, the first of which regarded the behavior of guests at a banquet: When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, “Give your place to this man,” and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, “My friend, move up to a higher position.” Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. The Second, equally famous lesson regarded the attitude and behavior of the one, who gives the banquet: When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.   Remarking the lessons, Pope Francis offered words of praise for the many people who have heeded the call and offer their assistance at shelters and soup kitchens, feeding the hungry and performing many other works of mercy. “Let us ask the Virgin Mary – who was humble all her life – to lead us every day on the way of humility,” he said, “so that we are capable of making our own gestures of welcome toward and solidarity with the marginalized, seeking nothing in return, so that we might become worthy of the divine reward.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis heralds upcoming Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 07:35
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called attention on Sunday to the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be celebrated this coming Thursday, September 1 st .  A major global ecumenical stewardship initiative, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation began in 1989 under the leadership of the Orthodox Church. Pope Francis established the Day for the Catholic Church by a letter dated August 6 th , 2015, and addressed to Cardinals Peter Turkson and Kurt Koch, respectively the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Click below to hear our report In the letter, Pope Francis says, “The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” Speaking to the faithful following the traditional Angelus prayer on the final Sunday in August, Pope Francis looked forward to the event, saying, “This coming Thursday, September 1 st , we will mark the World Day of Prayer for the care of creation, together with our Orthodox brothers and with other Churches,” describing the event as, “an opportunity to strengthen the common commitment to safeguard life, respecting the environment and nature.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Angelus appeal for quake victims in central Italy

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 06:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered words of encouragement to the people of the quake-damaged border area in central Italy where the regions of Latium, Umbria and the Marches meet, renewing his appeal for prayerful and concrete solidarity, and expressing the desire to visit the stricken places as soon as possible. Addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square following the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Francis said, “Dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish to renew my spiritual closeness to the inhabitants of Latium, the Marches and Umbria, hard hit by the earthquake in these past days.” The Holy Father went on to make specific mention of the towns, which suffered the most grievous loss of life and the most extensive damage. “I think in particular the people of Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto, Norcia: again I say to those dear people that the Church shares their suffering and their worries.” “She prays for the dead and for the survivors,” Pope Francis continued. “The solicitude with which [civil] authorities, police, civil protection and volunteers are operating, shows how important solidarity is in order to overcome such painful trials,” he added. “Dear brothers and sisters,” the Pope concluded, “I hope to come to see you as soon as possible, to bring you in person the comfort of the Faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope.” Immediately following these words, the Holy Father led all the gathered faithful in praying a Hail Mary for the victims, their families, and for everyone affected by the deadly quake. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to Church in Americas: bring the balm of Christ's presence

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 10:16
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Video Message  to the Church in the Americas, to mark the Jubilee of the Americas, organized by the Bishops’ Conference of Latin America (CELAM) and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Scheduled to take place in Bogota, Colombia, from the 27 th to the 30 th of August, the theme of the continental Jubilee celebration is taken from Pope Francis’ homily at Mass on May 2 nd , 2015, at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he had gone to visit as part of preparations for the canonization of St. Junipero Serra: “May a powerful gust of holiness sweep through all the Americas during the coming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy!” Click below to hear our report For the full text of Pope Francis' Mesage, click here Along with the bishops, priests, religious men and women, and laity of the 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries, delegates from Canada and the United States and representatives of the Holy See are taking part in the Jubilee celebration, which seeks to turn the “Spirit of mercy” that animates this Jubilee Year into genuine and concrete help especially for all those who, in the words of Pope Francis, live on the “existential peripheries” of life. In his Message, Pope Francis says, “All of us are aware, all of us know that we live in a society that is hurting: no one doubts this.  We live in a society that is bleeding, and the price of its wounds normally ends up being paid by the most vulnerable. But it is precisely to this society, to this culture, that the Lord sends us. He sends us and urges us to bring the balm of His presence.” The schedule of events over the three-day celebration includes a penitential liturgy including time for personal confessions, a reflection on the legacy of holiness found in the American saints, a full day dedicated to Works of Mercy on the American continent, and a public conversation on mercy as the soul of a culture of encounter. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican Sec of State hopes for improved diplomatic relations with China

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 08:27
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, expressed his ‘hopes and expectations for new developments and a new season in relations between the Apostolic See and China’ in a speech on Saturday at the diocesan seminary in Pordenone, Italy. The speech – laden with the history of diplomatic relations between China and the Holy See – focused on the figure of Cardinal Celso Costantini as a bridge builder. Born in Castions di Zoppola in 1876 and an honorary citizen of Pordenone and Aquileia, Cardinal Costantini was named the first Apostolic Delegate to China in 1922 until 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Cardinal Parolin said “Celso Costantini successfully completed a mission of extraordinary importance: he created a ‘bridge’ between Holy See and China, to which Pope Francis pays the utmost attention and, I am sure, also the people and government of China”. A diary written by Cardinal Celso Costantini, entitled The Secrets of a Vatican Cardinal: Celso Costantini's Wartime Diaries, 1938-1947 , was kept secret before being published in 2010 and tells some of the story of his assignment in China. Below is a Vatican Radio English translation of the conclusion portion of Cardinal Parolin’s speech: In light of these brief reflections on the events surrounding Cardinal Celso Costantini in relation to the vast ‘continent’ that is China, one becomes aware of his singular capacity to ‘build bridges’, that is, his capacities of knowledge, of respect, of encounter, and of dialogue between worlds, very distant, at least in appearance. Today, as ever, many are the hopes and expectations for new developments and a new season of relations between the Apostolic See and China for the benefit not only of Catholics in the land of Confucius but for the entire country, which boasts of one of the greatest civilizations on Earth. I would dare to say [these relations] would be beneficial even for an ordered, peaceful, and fruitful cohabitation of peoples and nations in a world, like our own, torn by many tensions and conflicts. I consider it important to forcefully underline this idea:  New hopes and good relations with China – including diplomatic ties, if God so wishes! – are neither an end in themselves nor a desire to reach some kind of ‘worldly’ success. They are thought out and pursued – not without fear and trembling because it involves the Church which belongs to God – I repeat, they are pursued only in the measure in which they are ‘ordered’ toward the good of Chinese Catholics, to the good of the entire Chinese people, and to the harmony of the whole society, in favor of world peace. Pope Francis, as his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XIV before him, knows well the baggage of suffering, of misunderstandings, often of silent martyrdom which the Catholic community in China carries on its shoulders: it is the weight of history! But he also knows, along with external and internal difficulties, how alive is the yearning for full communion with the Successor of Peter, how many advances have been made, how many efforts are made to witness to the love of God and the love of neighbor, especially to the people weakest and most in need, which is the synthesis of all Christianity. [Pope Francis] also knows and encourages, especially in this Jubilee of Mercy, mutual forgiveness, reconciliation between brothers and sisters who have been divided, and the struggle to grow in understanding, collaboration, and love! We are all called to accompany with caring closeness, respect, humility, and above all prayer this path of the Church in China. It involves writing a new page of history, looking ahead with trust in Divine Providence and healthy realism to insure a future in which Chinese Catholics can feel profoundly Catholic – ever more visibly anchored on the solid rock, which, by the will of Jesus, is Peter – and fully Chinese, without having to deny or diminish all that is true, noble, pure, lovable, honorable (cf. Phil 4,8) of that which their history and their culture has produced and continues to produce. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that nothing is truly human if it does not find an echo in the heart of the disciples of Christ! (cf. GS n.1). It should be realistically accepted that there is no shortage of problems to be resolved between the Holy See and China and that they can generate, often by their complexity, differing positions and orientations. However, such problems are not completely unlike those positively dealt with 70 years ago. Cardinal Celso Costantini, therefore, remains a source of inspiration and a model of extreme actuality. In this sense, I thank you also because this conference, prepared for you, gave me the occasion to better study the figure and work [of Cardinal Costantini], just as others in this diocese have done and are doing. On the path which remains to be walked, we commend ourselves with immense trust to Our Lady, invoked under the title “Help of Christians, Auxilium christianorum ”. Cardinal Costantini in 1924 crowned her image in Sheshan, near Shanghai. On 22 May 2016, in light of the liturgical feast of Our Lady venerated in Sheshan, Pope Francis yearned for, in the current Year of Mercy, “an authentic culture of encounter and harmony of all of society, that harmony which the Chinese spirit loves so much” [1] . This spirit finds full consonance in the Bishops of Rome who have always demonstrated maximum consideration, enormous commitment, and unbounded love for the Chinese people. [1] All’Angelus il Papa ricorda che ogni uomo è un essere in relazione. Orizzonte trinitario. E invita a pregare per il vertice di Istanbul e per la Cina, in L’Osservatore Romano, 23-24 maggio 2016, 7.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope thanks Ventimiglia diocese for care of migrants, refugees

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 05:36
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the bishop of the northern Italian city of Ventimiglia, where scores of migrants and refugees have congregated in the hopes of crossing the nearby border into France. Listen to Ann Schneible's report: The Pope’s message, which was published on the diocesan website , comes in response to a letter from Bishop Antonio Suetta of Ventimiglia – San Remo, which recounted the situation on the ground. In the Holy Father’s letter, which was signed 17 August, he expressed his spiritual closeness with “affection and prayer” to the bishop, the entire diocese, and all those who “strive to meet the needs of these people who are escaping war and violence, in search of hope and a peaceful future.” “I wish so much to thank you for the efforts which this diocesan community is deploying with admirable evangelical charity, establishing human, logistical, and economic resources to support these, our brothers and sisters, who are living an immense tragedy.” Pope Francis encouraged the bishop, along with the priests, consecrated persons, pastoral workers, and other Church entities to continue with their “generous commitment to welcome and solidarity,” thereby becoming “ever more a ‘Church in exit,’ the joyful herald of the Gospel of mercy and a witness to hope.” The Pope concluded his message by reiterating his “sincere appreciation” for the fervor of the diocesan community, and assuring them of his prayers, while bestowing on them his apostolic blessing. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to Secular Institutes: Bring heaven to today’s people

Fri, 08/26/2016 - 10:59
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis urged members of Secular Institutes to work for a renewed charism that unites the lay and consecrated aspects of their lives and mission. His remarks came in a message sent on his behalf by the Secretary, of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to participants attending the World Conference of members of Secular Institutes held in Rome this week.  The Pope wrote that they are both lay and consecrated people and both aspects are on the same level and equally important.  He encouraged the members of the Secular Institutes to live an intense life of prayer, saying their greatest challenge is to be schools of sainthood here on earth, living normal lives but always at the service of others and bearing witness to the values of brotherhood and friendship.    (from Vatican Radio)...

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