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Angelus Address: On the Life of the Missionary Disciple

5 hours 23 min ago

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today’s Gospel (Cf. Matthew 10:26-33), the Lord Jesus, after calling and sending His disciples on mission, He instructed and prepared them to face the trials and persecutions they would encounter. To go on mission is not to engage in tourism, and Jesus admonishes His disciples: “You will encounter persecutions.” Thus He exhorts them: “Have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed [. . .] What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light [. . .] And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (vv. 26-28). They can only kill the body, but they do not have power to kill the soul: have no fear of them. Jesus’ sending the disciples on mission does not guarantee them success, as it does not shelter them from failures and sufferings. They must take into account be it the possibility of rejection be it that of persecution. This is somewhat frightening, but it is the truth.

The disciple is called to conform himself to Christ’s own life, who was persecuted by men, knew rejection, abandonment and death on the cross. Christian mission dominated by tranquillity does to exist. Difficulties and tribulations are part of the work of evangelization, and we are called to find in them the occasion to verify the authenticity of our faith and of our relationship with Jesus. We must regard these difficulties as the possibility to be even more missionaries and to grow in that trust of God, our Father, who does not abandon His children in the hour of the storm. In the difficulties of Christian witness in the world, we are never forgotten, but always helped by the Father’s loving concern. Therefore, in today’s Gospel, for a good three times Jesus reassures the disciples saying: “Have no fear!”

In our days also, brothers and sisters, persecution against Christians is present. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and we praise God because, despite this, they continue to witness their faith with courage and fidelity. May their example help us to not hesitate in taking a position in favor of Christ, witnessing Him courageously in everyday situations, even in apparently tranquil contexts. In fact, a form of test could also be the absence of hostilities and tribulations. In addition to being “sheep in the midst of wolves,” in our time also the Lord sends us as watchmen in the midst of people who do not want to be awakened from worldly torpor, who ignore the words of Truth of the Gospel, constructing their own ephemeral truths. And if we move and live in these contexts and say the Words of the Gospel, this annoys and we will not be looked at well.

However, in all of this the Lord continues to say to us, as He said to the disciples of His time: “Have no fear!” Let us not forget this word: When we have some tribulation, some persecution, something that makes us suffer, we must always listen to Jesus’ voice in our heart: “Have no fear! Have no fear; go on! I am with you!”  Have no fear of one who derides you and mistreats you; and have no fear of one who ignores or honors you “before” others but “behind” you combats the Gospel. There are so many that smile before us but behind us they combat the Gospel. We all know them. Jesus does not leave us alone: each one is precious for Jesus, and He accompanies us.

May the Virgin Mary, model of humble and courageous adherence to the Word of God, help us to understand that, in witnessing the faith, successes do not count but fidelity, fidelity to Christ, recognizing in any circumstances, even the most problematic, the inestimable gift of being His missionary disciples.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

*

After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I express my closeness to the population of the Chinese village of Xinmo, affected yesterday morning by a landslide caused by heavy rains. I pray for the deceased and the wounded and for all those that lost their home. May God comfort the families and support the rescuers. I am very close to them!

Proclaimed Blessed today at Vilnius (Lithuania) was Bishop Theophilus Matulionis, killed out of hatred for the faith in 1962, when he was already almost 90 years old. We praise God for the witness of this strenuous defender of the Church and of man’s dignity. We greet him with applause and all the Lithuanian people!

My greeting goes to you all, Romans and pilgrims! In particular, I greet the Archbishop Major, the Bishops, the priests and the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, as well as the pilgrims of Byelorussia, who are observing the 159th anniversary of the Canonization of Saint Josaphat. I unite myself spiritually to the Divine Liturgy that you will celebrate shortly in St. Peter’s Basilica, invoking the Lord for each one the courage of Christian witness and the gift of peace for the beloved Ukrainian land.

I greet the Ministers of Komorow (Poland) and the other Polish faithful, with a thought also for the pilgrims to the Shrine of the Mother of God of Gietrzwald. I greet the Chilean faithful of Santiago de Chile, Rancagua and Copiapo, as well as those of Montpellier and Corsica. I greet the Confirmation candidates of Tombolo and the pilgrimage of the Order of Minims of Saint Francis of Paula.

I wish you all a good Sunday and, please, do no forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and good-bye!

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Witnesses of Providence

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 4:09 PM

Roman Rite

Jer 20: 10-13; Ps 69; Rm 5.12-15; Mt 10: 26-33

Ambrosian Rite

Gen 2,4 b-17; Ps 103; Rm 5: 12-17;Jn. 3: 16-21

III Sunday after Pentecost

1) Evangelism and compassion.

Faith tells us that our life is guarded by the love of God, who is Father and, therefore, providence.

Today’s Gospel confirms this faith, and Christ reminds us that if God cares even for sparrows and weak things like our hair, he certainly takes care of us every day.

God is never absent, he is with us in every moment of our life and will be until the end of world. We know that we are in the hands of God, who made his own the human drama becoming flesh to save us. He is always present, is moved and cries, takes part, leans on ours wounds, wipes our tears, and bends over each one of us.

Yet, we often live in fear. In fact, the comforting truth that God, with serene look and secure hand guides our story, paradoxically finds in our heart a double contrasting sentiment. On the one hand, we are led to welcome and trust this providential God, as the Psalmist states: “I am calm and serene. Like a baby in the arm of his mother is quiet my heart within me “(Ps 130, 2). On the other hand, however, we have fear and hesitate to abandon ourselves to God, Lord and Savior of our lives, because, obscured by things, we forget about the provident God, or because, wounded by the various sufferings and difficulties of life, we doubt him as Father. In both cases the Providence of God is called into question by our fragile humanity.

On this slender ridge between hope and despair lies God’s word, so splendid to be humanly almost incredible, so true to immensely enhance the reasons for hope. The word of God never assumes such greatness and charm as when It confronts with the utmost questions of man, of each one of us, who asks: “What is and where is my destiny? “. The Gospel tells us that God is here, he is Emmanuel, God-with-us (Is 7, 14), and in Jesus of Nazareth, dead and resurrected, good Face of Destiny, Son of God and our Brother, God shows that he has “planted his tent among us” (Jn 1:14).

If we accept the answer that it is Christ, who dwells in us and we in Him, we are not afraid anymore because fear is won by our being rooted in Love.

If, today, we welcome the invitation of Christ, who three times tells us not to be afraid, not only we will live in peace because our heart is consoled, but we will be witnesses of his Gospel of compassion, bringing in the squares of our cities and the intimacy of our homes the happy announce that God is among us and tells us: “Do not look after you, let your Lord take care of you.”

Mission is born from the compassion received by God and shared among us. This compassion is not just saying that we pity someone. The word “compassion” comes from two words (Greek and Hebrew) that refer to the bowels, to the mother’s womb. To feel compassion is something that takes us inside, something visceral, and this seems to me to be the only condition to be able to grasp the invitation of Jesus not to fear but to trust God. Mission, preaching from the terraces, as the today’s gospel says, is possible only to the extent that it does not become a matter of organization, but of compassion.

Therefore, it is right (or at least I hope so) to affirm that the first invitation that the Liturgy of the Word of this Sunday sends to us is to trust God. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah states “The Lord is with me … the Lord has freed the life of the poor”, but so also does the text of the Gospel, which – through pictures – tells us of a life, ours, guarded by the love of God. We read of Jeremiah, besieged by friends and enemies hangry at him. Why? Just because he announced the face of God and has exhorted the people who listened to him to confide only in God. For this, Jeremiah is captured, bound, and lashed in the temple. For this reason, Christ has been crucified.

The life of Jeremiah and that of Christ show that it is worth trusting in God. It is reasonable to live this total abandonment and this loving confidence. When we do it, we experience a deep peace and joy. In moments of discouragement let’s look up to Christ and to the long series of saints who have followed him. As an example, I’d like to quote Nicodemus who, for fear, goes to Jesus at night. Night is the ideal time for those who do not want to be seen or do not want to be seen talking to someone. Those who are ashamed to show themselves, find the ideal time at night. The night of Nicodemus perhaps indicates the fear of being oneself. It indicates the fear of being true. The night of Nicodemus indicates his inability and his fear of being free. Beautiful then is that then, at the most difficult time, Nicodemus asks for the body of Jesus in the deep of the day, as if asking for it screaming from a roof.

 

2) Martyrs: Exemplary witnesses of Providence and trusting God until death.

I very much like the fact that in today’s Gospel there is also written that nothing will remain hidden or unknown to God, not even the smallest suffering. For us, “child of God” is a guarantee that also discomfort, suffering or, to the limit, martyrdom enter the design of God the Father. The statement “A sparrow does not fall without God knowing and wanting it”, does not mean that it will never happen that we fall, but that everything is part of the almighty design of the omnipotent and provisional Father. It means: if it happens to fall, God knows. God is within our suffering and we are not abandoned. His presence is a presence of salvation, although if obviously it is not perceived, and even if at a psychological level does not make a great impact and we do not feel great consolation. However, within a dimension of faith there is the possibility of living this dimension of the presence of the Emmanuel’s love, God always with us.

St. Paul compares human and cosmic suffering to the pains of “childbirth” of the whole creation, emphasizing the “weeping” of those who possess the “first fruits” of the Spirit and await the fullness of adoption, that is, “the redemption of our body.” But he adds “We know that everything is good for those who love God. . . “And beyond:” What then will separate us from the love of Christ? Perhaps tribulation, anguish, persecution, hunger, nudity, danger, or sword? ” to the conclusion” I am persuaded that neither death nor life…nor any other creature can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Rm 8, 22-39). Alongside the paternity of God, manifested by Divine Providence, the pedagogy of God appears “It is for your correction (” paideia “, that is, education) that you suffer! God treats you like children; and which child is not corrected (educated) by the father? . . . God does it for our own good in order to make us partakers of his holiness ” (cf. Eph 12: 7-10) (St. John Paul II). Therefore, with the eyes of faith, suffering, though it may still look like the darkest aspect of the destiny of man on earth, reveals the mystery of the divine Providence, contained in the revelation of Christ, and in particular in his cross and resurrection.

The important thing is to discover, through faith, the power and the “wisdom” of the Father God who with Christ leads us to the saving ways of divine Providence. The meaning of the words of the psalmist is confirmed: “The Lord is my shepherd. . . If I walk in a dark valley, I fear no evil for you are with me “(Ps 23: 1-4).

We must Christianly call Providence any experience that is brought from what we “humanly” call destiny, with confidence we must overcome our ignorance and with love collaborate in the redemptive work of God the Son. May his Holy Spirit testify in our heart that we are truly the children of God, and that it is reasonable to accept all the events of the “hand” of God.

The testament written by the Abate of Tibhirine a few months before being martyred, is a sublime example: ” If it should happen one day — and it could be today — that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was GIVEN to God and to this country.

I ask them to accept the fact that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I would ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering? I ask them to associate this death with so many other equally violent ones which are forgotten through indifference or anonymity.

My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood. I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which might blindly strike me down.

I should like, when the time comes, to have a moment of spiritual clarity which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow human beings, and at the same time forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down”. (See the full text that is proposed instead of the patristic reading)

At this point, we only have to pray that in the certainty of God’s love for us we find the answer to those questions that no human wisdom can answer. Let’s pray: “That you love me is the answer to every question – let me hear it when the time of trial comes” (Romano Guardini)

3) The consecrated virgins: witnesses of Providence.

In the preceding two paragraphs I have tried to explain that Divine Providence reveals itself like the walking of God beside man.

Bearing in mind the Old Testament, I tried to show that the words of Christ reach a fullness of meaning even greater. They are said by the Son who, “scrutinizing” all that has been said on the subject of Providence, is a perfect witness of the mystery of his Father: mystery of Providence and paternal care embracing every creature, even the most insignificant, such as field grass or sparrows. Therefore, even more man.

However, it is important to note that each of us should not only be grateful for the provisional action of the Creator towards us, but that we also have the duty to cooperate with the gift received by Providence. Therefore, we cannot content ourselves with the values ​​of the meaning, of the matter and utility. We must look first of all for “the kingdom of God and his justice” because “all these things (the earthly things) will be added “(cf. Mt 6:33).

An example of this co – operation in the design of God’s providential love is the consecration of the virgins, who with the total gift of themselves to God become the reflection of the thought and love of God in things and in history. They let themselves to be impregnated by the wise charity of God and share it with their brothers and sisters in humanity.

That is why the Bishop who presides the Rite of Consecration prays: ” Loving Father, chaste bodies are your temple; you delight in sinless hearts… look with favor on your handmaids. They place in your hands their resolve to live in chastity,… protect those who seek your help…They desire to be strengthened by your blessing and consecration… Through the gift of your Spirit, Lord, give them modesty with right judgment, kindness with true wisdom, gentleness with strength of character, freedom with the grace of chastity. Give them the warmth of love, to love you above all others. Make their lives deserve our praise, without seeking to be praised. May they give you glory by holiness of action and purity of heart. May they love you and fear you; may they love you and serve you… hey have chosen you above all things; may they find all things in possessing you“( Rite of the CONSECRATION TO A LIFE OF VIRGINITY FOR WOMEN LIVING IN THE WORLD).

Testament of Dom Christian de Chergé.(opened on Pentecost Sunday, May 26, 1996)

Facing a GOODBYE …

If it should happen one day — and it could be today — that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was GIVEN to God and to this country.

I ask them to accept the fact that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure.

I would ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering?

I ask them to associate this death with so many other equally violent ones which are forgotten through indifference or anonymity.

My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood.

I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which might blindly strike me down.

I should like, when the time comes, to have a moment of spiritual clarity which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow human beings, and at the same time forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down.

I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this.

I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if the people I love were indiscriminately accused of my murder.

It would be too high a price to pay for what will perhaps be called, the “grace of martyrdom” to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he might be, especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam.

I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians indiscriminately.

I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism fosters.

It is too easy to soothe one’s conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists.

For me, Algeria and Islam are something different: it is a body and a soul.

I have proclaimed this often enough, I think, in the light of what I have received from it.

I so often find there that true strand of the Gospel which I learned at my mother’s knee, my very first Church, precisely in Algeria, and already inspired with respect for Muslim believers.

Obviously, my death will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naive or idealistic:
“Let him tell us now what he thinks of his ideals!”

But these persons should know that finally my most avid curiosity will be set free.

This is what I shall be able to do, God willing: immerse my gaze in that of the Father to contemplate with him His children of Islam just as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and restore the likeness, playing with the differences.

For this life lost, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God, who seems to have willed it entirely for the sake of that JOY in everything and in spite of everything.

In this THANK YOU, which is said for everything in my life from now on, I certainly include you, friends of yesterday and today, and you, my friends of this place, along with my mother and father, my sisters and brothers and their families — you are the hundredfold granted as was promised!

And also you, my last-minute friend, who will not have known what you were doing:

Yes, I want this THANK YOU and this GOODBYE to be a “GOD BLESS” for you, too, because in God’s face I see yours.

May we meet again as happy thieves in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both.

AMEN! INCHALLAH!

Algiers, 1st December 1993
Tibhirine, 1st January 1994

***

With the wish to understand that the providence of God is His mercy in action in our daily life.

don Franco

@DonFrancoFollo

‘The Sacred Heart Isn’t a ‘Holy Card’ for Devout, But the Heart of Our Faith,’ Says Pope

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 2:16 PM

The Sacred Heart of Christ is not a ‘holy card’ for the devout, but is “the heart of revelation, the heart of our faith, because He made Himself small,” choosing this way “of humbling Himself, of emptying Himself even to death on the Cross.”

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Drawing inspiration from today’s first Reading, from the book of Deuteronomy, where Moses says that God has chosen us “from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly His own.”

For this, God is praised, Pope Francis explained. because “in the Heart of Jesus, He gave us the grace to celebrate with joy the great mystery of our salvation, of His love for us,” that is to say, in celebrating our faith.

The Holy Father dwelled on two words in the reading: “choosing,” and “smallness.”

Choosing

On choosing, the Holy Father said, it is not that we have chosen God, but rather, that God has made Himself “our prisoner.”

“He has attached Himself to our life; He cannot detach Himself. He is strongly yoked! And He remains faithful in this attitude. We were chosen for love and this is our identity.”

“‘I have chosen this religion, I have chosen…’ [we might say]. No,” Francis stressed, “you have not chosen. It is He Who has chosen you, has called you, and has joined Himself to you. And this is our faith. If we do not believe this, we don’t understand the message of Christ, we don’t understand the Gospel.”

Smallness

Turning to ‘smallness,’ the Jesuit Pope recalled that the Lord, Moses did say, chose the people of Israel because it was “the smallest of all nations.”

“He was enamored of our smallness, and for this reason He has chosen us. And He chooses the small: not the great, the small. And He is revealed to the small: ‘you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.’

“And He not only chooses and reveals Himself to the little ones; He calls the little ones: ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.’”

“But the great, does He not call them?” Francis asked.

“His heart is open, but the great do not recognize His voice because they are not able to hear it because they are full of themselves. To hear the voice of the Lord, you must make yourself little.

The mystery of the Heart of Christ

Coming to the mystery of the Heart of Christ, the Pope said, it is not a “holy card” for the devout.

Rather, the transfixed Heart of Christ is “the heart of revelation, the heart of our faith, because He made Himself small, He has chosen this way”: that of humbling Himself, of emptying Himself “even to death on the Cross.”

It is, the Pope said, “a choice for smallness, so that the glory of God might be manifest.”

Today’s celebration, he reminded, is “of a Heart that loves, that chooses, that is faithful,” and that “is joined to us, is revealed to the little ones, calls the little ones, makes itself little.”

“We believe in God, yes; yes in Jesus too, yes… ‘Is Jesus God?’ [someone asks.] ‘Yes,’ [we respond]. This is the manifestation, this is the glory of God. Fidelity in choosing, in joining Himself and making Himself little, even for Himself: to become small, to empty Himself.”

“The problem of the faith is the core of our life: we can be so much, so virtuous, but with little or no faith; we must start from here, from the mystery of Jesus Christ, Who has saved us with His faithfulness.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with the prayer that the Lord might grant us the grace to celebrate “the great acts and works of salvation and redemption”  in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Pope: We Must Have Courage, Even If We Stumble and Sometimes Fail

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:54 AM

‘It is better to go forward limping, and even at times to fall, while always trusting in the mercy of God, than to be “museum Christians” who are afraid of change.’

Pope Francis stressed this to participants of the 75th Congress of ‘Serra International’ today, Friday, June 23, 2017 in the Vatican. The June 22-25 congress in Rome has as its theme: “Siempre adelante. The Courage of Vocation.

The Jesuit Pontiff recalled that they were gathered to discover anew the meaning of every Christian vocation: to offer our lives as a gift, and that this made him wish to reflect on something “which is central” to the experience of faith: to be friends.

“Today, the word ‘friend’ has become a bit overused,” the Pontiff said. “In our daily lives, we run into various people whom we call “friends”, but that is just a word we say,” he noted, especially in virtual communications.

“When Jesus speaks of his “friends,” Francis highlighted, “he points to a hard truth: true friendship involves an encounter that draws me so near to the other person that I give something of my very self.”

“We become friends, then, only if our encounter is more than something outward or formal, and becomes instead a way of sharing in the life of another person, an experience of compassion, a relationship that involves giving ourselves for others.”

It is good, the Pontiff noted, for us to reflect on what friends do.

“They stand at our side, gently and tenderly, along our journey; they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words; they are merciful when faced with our faults; they are non-judgmental. They are able to walk with us, helping us to feel joy in knowing that we are not alone. They do not always indulge us but, precisely because they love us, they honestly tell us when they disagree. They are there to pick us up whenever we fall.”

He also noted there is a kind of friendship that you seek to offer to priests.

“The Serra Club helps foster this beautiful vocation of being laity who are friends to priests. Friends who know how to accompany and sustain them in faith, in fidelity to prayer and apostolic commitment. Friends who share the wonder of a vocation, the courage of a definitive decision, the joy and fatigue of ministry.

In this way, the way in which Serra often possesses sincere friendship with priests, he noted, is similar to the home of Bethany, where Jesus entrusted his weariness to Martha and Mary, and, thanks to their care, was able to find rest and refreshment.

The Holy Father noted there is another phrase that describes you, namely that  which they chose for the theme of their convention: “Siempre adelante! Keep moving forward!”

Like them, the Pontiff noted, I believe that this is a synonym for the Christian vocation.

“For the life of every missionary disciple bears the impress of his or her vocation. Vocation is an invitation to go forth from ourselves, to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord, and to journey along the ways that he opens up before us.”

Of course, he said, we cannot make progress unless we take a risk.

“We do not advance toward the goal if, as the Gospel says, we are afraid to lose our lives (cf. Mt 16:25-26). No ship would ever set out into the deep if it feared leaving the safety of the harbor. So too, Christians cannot enter into the transforming experience of God’s love unless they are open to new possibilities, and not tied to their own plans and cherished ways of doing things.”

On the other hand, he pointed out, when Christians go about their daily lives without fear, they can discover God’s constant surprises.

“A vocation is a calling received from another. It entails letting go of ourselves, setting out and placing ourselves at the service of a greater cause.”

Pope Francis concluded, saying, “with courage, creativity and boldness, do not be afraid to renew your structures. Do not rest on your laurels, but be ever ready to try new things.”

***

On Zenit’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-serra-international/

 

Pope’s Words on Friendship to ‘Serra International’

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:54 AM

Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis’ address to participants of the 75th Congress of ‘Serra International’ on Friday, June 23, 2017 in the Vatican. The June 22-25 congress in Rome has as its theme: “Siempre adelante. The Courage of Vocation:

** *

Your Eminence, Your Excellency,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to greet all of you. From throughout the world you have gathered for this International Convention, which has as its theme: Siempre Adelante. The Courage of Vocation. In the joy of the Gospel, and with that boldness typical of the Christian mission, you have gathered here to discover anew, at the school of the Master, the meaning of every Christian vocation: to offer our lives as a gift, “anointing” our brothers and sisters with the tenderness and mercy of God. I thank Mr Dante Vannini, the President of Serra International, for his kind words. I would like to reflect on something he said which, I believe, is central to the experience of faith: to be friends.

To be friends to priests, sustaining their vocation and accompanying them in their ministry: with this great gift you enrich the Church! This is, above all else, what a Serran is – a “special friend” whom the Lord has brought into the lives of seminarians and priests.

Today the word “friend” has become a bit overused. In our daily lives, we run into various people whom we call “friends”, but that is just a word we say. Within virtual communications, “friend” is one of the most frequently found words. Yet we know that superficial knowledge has little to do with that experience of encounter or closeness evoked by the word “friend”.

When Jesus speaks of his “friends”, he points to a hard truth: true friendship involves an encounter that draws me so near to the other person that I give something of my very self. Jesus says to his disciples: “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15). He thus establishes a new relationship between man and God, one that transcends the law and is grounded in trust and love. At the same time, Jesus frees friendship from sentimentalism and presents it to us as a responsibility that embraces our entire life: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

We become friends, then, only if our encounter is more than something outward or formal, and becomes instead a way of sharing in the life of another person, an experience of compassion, a relationship that involves giving ourselves for others.

It is good for us to reflect on what friends do. They stand at our side, gently and tenderly, along our journey; they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words; they are merciful when faced with our faults; they are non-judgmental. They are able to walk with us, helping us to feel joy in knowing that we are not alone. They do not always indulge us but, precisely because they love us, they honestly tell us when they disagree. They are there to pick us up whenever we fall.

This is also the kind of friendship that you seek to offer to priests. The Serra Club helps foster this beautiful vocation of being laity who are friends to priests. Friends who know how to accompany and sustain them in faith, in fidelity to prayer and apostolic commitment. Friends who share the wonder of a vocation, the courage of a definitive decision, the joy and fatigue of ministry. Friends who can offer priests support and regard their generous efforts and human failings with understanding and tender love. In this way, you are to priests like the home of Bethany, where Jesus entrusted his weariness to Martha and Mary, and, thanks to their care, was able to find rest and refreshment.

There is another phrase that describes you. You chose it for the theme of this convention: Siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! Like you, I believe that this is a synonym for the Christian vocation. For the life of every missionary disciple bears the impress of his or her vocation. The voice of the Lord invites his disciples to leave the safety of their homeland and to begin the “holy journey” towards the promised land of encounter with him and with our brothers and sisters. Vocation is an invitation to go forth from ourselves, to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord, and to journey along the ways that he opens up before us.

Of course, we cannot make progress unless we take a risk. We do not advance toward the goal if, as the Gospel says, we are afraid to lose our lives (cf. Mt 16:25-26). No ship would ever set out into the deep if it feared leaving the safety of the harbour. So too, Christians cannot enter into the transforming experience of God’s love unless they are open to new possibilities, and not tied to their own plans and cherished ways of doing things. Pastoral structures can fall into this same temptation, being concerned more with self-preservation than with adapting themselves to the service of the Gospel.

On the other hand, when Christians go about their daily lives without fear, they can discover God’s constant surprises. They need but have the courage to dare, not to let fear stifle their creativity, not to be suspicious of new things, but instead to embrace the challenges which the Spirit sets before them, even when this means changing plans and charting a different course.

We can take as our inspiration Saint Junípero, as he made his way, limping, towards San Diego to plant the cross there! I fear those Christians who do not keep walking, but remain enclosed in their own little niche. It is better to go forward limping, and even at times to fall, while always trusting in the mercy of God, than to be “museum Christians” who are afraid of change. Even though they received a charism or vocation, instead of serving the eternal newness of the Gospel, they are caught up in defending themselves and their own roles.

A vocation is a calling received from an Other. It entails letting go of ourselves, setting out and placing ourselves at the service of a greater cause. In humility, we become co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard, renouncing every spirit of possession and vainglory. How sad it is to see that at times we, men and women of the Church, do not know how to cede our place. We do not let go of our responsibilities serenely, but find it hard to hand over to others the works that the Lord had entrusted to us!

So you too, siempre adelante! With courage, creativity and boldness. Do not be afraid to renew your structures. Do not rest on your laurels, but be ever ready to try new things. As in the Olympic Games, may you always be ready to “pass the torch”, above all to future generations, knowing that the flame is lit from on high, precedes our response and exceeds our efforts. Such is the Christian mission: “One sows and another reaps” (Jn 4:37).

Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be true friends to seminarians and priests, showing your love for them by promoting vocations and through prayer and pastoral cooperation. Please, keep pressing forward! Forward in hope, forward with your mission, ever looking beyond, opening new horizons, making room for the young and preparing the future. The Church and priestly vocations need you. May Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests, be with you every step of the way. And I ask you, please, to pray for me!

[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided English translation]

Academy of Sciences: A President Expert in Food Security

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:41 AM

On June 21, 2017 Pope Francis appointed German Joachim von Braun, 66, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Expert in food security, he is Professor of Economics and Technological Innovation and Director of the Research Center for Development, of the University of Bonn, Germany.

According to the biography published by the Vatican, von Braun holds a Research Doctorate in Agronomy. He is the author of numerous publications on international economic development, the economy of natural resources, poverty, agricultural policy, scientific and technological innovation policies and international commerce.

Considered one of the principal experts on the problems of hunger and malnutrition, he has received several awards, notably for research on food security.

In the course of his career, von Braun was Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) whose headquarters are in Washington (U.S.) from 2002 to 2009. Since 2009, he is Director of the Research Center for Economic and Social Development (ZEF) of the University of Bonn and President of a number of international and European Consultative Councils.

He was also rapporteur at the World Economic Forum of Davos and took part in several events promoted by the United Nations. He is a member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering, of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of the Rhenanie of the North-Westphalia region and of the American Association for the Development of the Sciences.

Founded in 1603, the mission of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is to promote research and the progress of science. It is made up of a President, a Council of 80 members — “academicians” of all nations and all religions appointed for life by the Pope.

On the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul: Five New Cardinals by the Pope’s Side

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:29 AM

On Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 4:00 p.m., Pope Francis will preside over a Consistory in the Vatican Basilica, to create five Cardinals.

The five Cardinals designated by the Pontiff last May 21 are Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako (Mali); Archbishop Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona (Spain); Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm (Sweden); Monsignor Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Pakse (Laos); and Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador (El Salvador).

The new Cardinals, the College of Cardinals, as well as the Metropolitan Archbishops, appointed during the year, will concelebrate with the Holy Father during the Mass for the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday, June 29 at 9:30 am.

On that occasion, in keeping with tradition, the Pope will bless the palliums for the new Metropolitan Archbishops. They will not be “imposed” on them, but will be sent ultimately to the Apostolic Nuncios of the different countries to foster the participation of the faithful of the dioceses. It is a reform introduced by Pope Francis in January of 2015.

Henceforth the delivery of the palliums will take place from the Pope’s hands, but in private, after a blessing on June 29 at Saint Peter’s. And then, what is called “the imposition” on the shoulders of a Metropolitan Archbishop will take place in his country, surrounded by the other Bishops of his Ecclesiastical Province.

INTERVIEW: 2018 Synod: All Young People Are Invited to Be Involved, says Sister Nathalie Becquart

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:23 AM

All young people should be concerned and feel included in the preparation of the October 2018 Synod of Bishops, said Sister Nathalie Becquart, Directress of the National Service for the Evangelization of Young People and for Vocations (SNEJV) of the French Episcopal Conference (CEF) and, in this interview, she points out how they can take part, sensitizing leaders of young people and encouraging their active participation and speaking.

***

ZENIT: Sister Nathalie Becquart, you are the CEF’s Directress of the National Service for Young People and, in that capacity, you are involved in the preparation of the 2018 Synod on Young People. What stages have been fulfilled in this preparation?

Sister Nathalie Becquart: Last October, Pope Francis announced that the theme of the next Synod of Bishops, in October 2018, would be “Young People, Faith and the Discernment of Vocations” in order to help young people “to recognize and accept the call to love and to life in fullness.” Through this Synodal course, the Church has focused on young people and marked her concern towards them. And this perspective has sparked much joy and enthusiasm in France, especially among agents of the pastoral care of young people and of Vocations. In January the Synod’s General Secretariat published the Preparatory Document, which launched the consultation phase in which we are at present. This document, called Lineamenta [Guidelines] has three parts. The first with a more sociological approach, attempts to assess young people’s present places of culture, the world in which they grow up and are moulded, stressing some important characteristics of contemporary youth. The second part, more spiritual and theological, describes the very pedagogic manner of the process of discernment and accompaniment of young people on the journey of faith and the discovery of their vocation. The third part, more pastoral, gives concrete benchmarks and ways for the pastoral care of young people and vocations in today’s world. This document is truly interesting and stimulating; it can help all Christians, particularly those that have pastoral responsibilities with young people, to revisit their practices, to question themselves on their view of young people and of vocations.  There is a challenge to make the Document known and, in the main, to have it read. It can be found with numerous complementary documents at: http://www.jeunes-vocations.catholique.fr/ressources/dossiers/dossier-synode-2018.html

ZENIT: Of whom does the Synod speak: all young people, believers, Catholics?

Sister Nathalie Becquart: No. Youth should feel excluded from the preparation of the Synod,” “Have your cry heard,” “the Church herself desires to listen to your voice, your sensibility, your faith; hear your doubts and your criticisms.” These strong words of Pope Francis to young people, in connection with the Synod, reflect the Pontiff’s great concern and that of all Pastors. Through this journey together, to listen to the Holy Spirit with and through young people, the ecclesial leadership hopes to truly listen to and involve all young people. The way of seeing young people as described in the Preparatory Document to the Synod stresses a lot the challenge of young people’s “leadership,” that is the challenge for the Church not to consider them as passive subjects but to see them as active subjects, the first actors of the transformations of the world and of the evangelization of young people. Through this Synod, the Church hopes truly to accompany young people in their human and spiritual growth so that they will be increasingly involved in rendering the world better. And this concerns all young people, regardless of their religion and their relation to the faith. The issuing of a global questionnaire published on line (accessible in five languages) by the Synod’s General Secretariat, destined directly to young people, is geared to associating the greatest number of young people in the Synodal consultation.

ZENIT: Do you have the impression that young people are involved and interested or not?

Sister Nathalie Becquart: Young people involved in the Church, who learned of the existence of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocations,” received this prospect with great joy, enthusiasm and interest. They see this Synod on young people as a gift of the Pope; it energizes them and they are particularly keen to be involved and to express themselves. Many young people who took the time to read the Preparatory Document told me how this text interested them and clarified matters for them. And immediately they wished to take part in the consultation underway. However, it is certain that the majority of young people don’t know what a Synod is and are not interested out of hand. Hence the responsibility of pastoral agents to undertake a whole endeavor of pedagogy and animation around the preparation for the Synod to explain this initiative, its challenges and objectives … in order to put forth propositions adapted to the different groups of young people, to interest them and involve them in this Synodal endeavor. However, in general, when one explains to young people that Pope Francis and the whole Church are interested in them and want to ask them questions, they are motivated!

ZENIT: Up to when and how can young people take part in the preparation?

Sister Nathalie Becquart: Young people can take part in the preparation in two ways. First of all, by responding directly to the global questionnaires on line at: http://youth.synod2018.va/ from now until November 2017, and in diffusing it to other young people. In a parallel way, they can also take part in all the initiatives of preparation and consultation deployed in their parish, diocese, Movement or Community in view of answering the questions suggested at the end of the Preparatory Document. In general, several propositions are made to young people for the preparation of the Synod: the on line questionnaire, working groups, preparation meetings, exchanges with the Bishop . . . In France, for instance, all the dioceses or groups that want to contribute to the elaboration of the response/national synthesis that will be sent to Rome by the Conference of Bishops of France have until July 14 to send us their reflection to the address synode2018@cef.fr

ZENIT: There is the word “Discernment” in the title of the Synod’s theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Why this emphasis?

Sister Nathalie Becquart: In today’s world, with globalization and digital development, young people are faced with a multiplicity of possible models and choices. In the main they live in very plural, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. They have access through the Internet to a plurality of views and propositions. This facilitates zapping, mobility not only geographic but also mental and affective. Sociologists speak of the “liquid society” in which young people grow up. And the Preparatory Documents evokes a “context of fluidity and uncertainty never reached before.” In this reality, to root oneself, to make choices, to be engaged long-term is not simple. Many young people wonder: “How can we choose without making a mistake?  What direction <should I give> my life?” Hence their need of landmarks and guides to learn to discern and make good decisions. The two key words of Pope Francis for the Church today are discernment and accompaniment. They were already very present in the two Synods on the Family and the Apostolic Exhortation Amores Laetitia. One sees well this line, which is being drawn up to answer the spiritual thirst of our contemporaries, their way of living their faith in a post-modern digital culture that puts the accent increasingly on the subjective individual,who builds his identity  by experimentation more than by reproduction. It is by accepting each one as he is, there where he is, with kindness and without judgment, to accompany him on his journey of life and faith in the manner of Christ, where the Church, as “a field hospital” can deploy the joy of the Gospel. And aid each one to discern his vocation, namely, what is going to make him happy by making others happy or also by finding his place in society and in the Church by responding to Christ’s singular call to him.

ZENIT: While you are actively preparing for the deadline in France, what is happening at Rome?  

Sister Nathalie Becquart: Last month, Rome published Pope Francis’ official prayer for the 2018 Synod, which invites young people to walk with the Apostle John, the beloved disciple and exemplary figure of a youth who chose to follow Jesus. This prayer, already available on line, is called to be largely diffused everywhere in France under the form of an image-prayer: http://www.jeunes- vocations.catholicque.fr/actualites/synode-2018-la-priere-du-pape-francois-pour-les-jeunes.html.

Moreover, several international meetings mark the path of preparation of the Synod. Since Vatican II, which established the Synod of Bishops in 1965 as a permanent institution, there is the General Secretariat for the Synod, a team at present under the responsibility of Cardinal Baldisseri. Last April, they organized an international meeting of preparation of the Synod, which for two days gathered representatives of a number of countries and some fifty international movements. Each Episcopal Conference had to send two delegates: the national director of the pastoral care of young people and a youth between 18 and 28 years old. Thus I had the chance to take part in it with Charles Callens, a youth who works with me at SNEJV. We worked and exchanged <ideas> on the Preparatory Document, which enabled the whole team of the Secretariat for the Synod to hear the reactions of all the continents. They truly hope to irrigate their reflection and their work with the word in the field. Thus, by way of follow-up, they have organized for next September a seminar of studies to listen to the conditions of the life of young people; it will include a certain number of experts and youths in view of aiding the preparation of the Synod. Then, beginning in October, when they will have received all the national answers to the consultation launched by the Preparatory Document, they will have an important job to write, from all this feedback, another text, called the Instrumentum Laboris, which should appear in the Spring of 2018. This Working Instrument for the Synodal Fathers (Bishops Delegates of the Episcopal Conferences), will serve as the basis for discussions that will take place for three weeks during the Synod that will unfold at Rome in October 2018.

ZENIT: What do you perceive of the Pope’s relation with young people?

Sister Nathalie Becquart: One feels that young people love Pope Francis very much; he speaks to them and touches them particularly. By his way of being and doing, this Pope, with his very colorful and accessible language, his simplicity, his authenticity and his evangelical witness is very close to young people. His way of communicating, of receiving each one and of entering into dialogue with all is very much in line with the present culture of young people. He is able to answer their questions, their concerns and their aspirations. As a Jesuit moulded by Ignatian spirituality, he is an educator that has a long experience with young people. I also hear very much from young people that the appeal to go to the peripheries resonates particularly with them and challenges them to engage themselves. Many young people are also very sensitive to the care brought by Pope Francis – through his Encyclical Laudato Si’ – to the dimension of integral ecology. And then many Catholic young people find themselves again in Pope Francis’ missionary elan and his desire to make the Church move. Pope Francis truly has confidence in young people, he counts on them, and the Church is without a doubt one of society’s institutions that gives most responsibility to young people.

 

‘While Christ Is the Cornerstone, We Are Living Stones Close to Him,’ Says Pope

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 5:17 PM

“Let us feel ourselves always living stones close to Christ, Who is the cornerstone!”

Pope Francis’ stressed this to members of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO) on Thursday, June 22, 2017 in the Vatican, who have been holding their 90th plenary assembly in Rome this week.

Church leaders from across the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Asia are participating together with donor organizations which raise funds for Christians in the Eastern-rite Churches, reported Vatican Radio.

After thanking them for their constant effort of charity and solidarity, Pope Francis recalled the decades that witnessed a succession of dramatic events, particularly the Oriental Churches, which were “often assailed by terrible waves of persecutions and travails, be it in Eastern Europe as well as in the Middle East.”

He lamented that strong emigrations weakened their presence in territories where they had flourished for centuries.

“Now, thank God,” he said, “some of them have returned to freedom after the painful period of totalitarian regimes, but others, especially in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, see their children suffer because of the continuance of war and the senseless violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.”

“All these events,” he noted, “have made you go through the experience of Jesus’ Cross: it is the cause of disturbance and suffering but, at the same time, it is source of salvation.”

The Pope recalled that in his homily after being elected Bishop of Rome, he said: “If we walk without the Cross, if we build without the Cross and if we confess a Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord.”

The Oriental Churches, the Pontiff said, hold so many venerable memories, churches, monasteries, places of men and women saints. “They are kept and preserved thanks also to your aid, thus favoring the pilgrimage to the roots of the faith,” he said.

Nowadays, the Pope observed, Christians–“it does not matter if they are Catholics, Orthodox or Protestants –shed their blood as seal of their witness.”

“May the Oriental faithful, if constrained to emigrate, be able to be welcomed in places where they arrive, and be able to continue to live according to the ecclesial tradition proper to them. In this way, your work,” he told those present, “will be a bridge between the West and the East, be it in the countries of origin, be it in those from which you yourselves come.”

Pope Francis concluded, blessing them ‘from the heart,’ and reminding them to pray for him.

***

On Zenit’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-meeting-to-reunion-of-aid-agencies-for-the-oriental-churches-roaco/

Pope’s Morning Homily: A Good Shepherd Gives His Life for His Sheep

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 2:50 PM

A Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis reiterated this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, June 22, 2017.

Drawing inspiration from today’s readings, the Holy Father focused on the figure of the Apostle St. Paul and then turned his attention to the example offered by Don Lorenzo Milani. On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, Pope Francis took a day trip to pray at the tombs of Don Lorenzo Milani, in Barbiana, and Don Primo Mazzolari, in Bozzolo.

Like Fr. Milani, the parish priest of Barbiana, the Pope recalled today, one should take care of one’s neighbour.

Reiterating that “the Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep,” the Jesuit Pope drew on today’s readings to speak on the three characteristics a Good Shepherd should possess.

The Shepherd’s first characteristic, he said, “is to be passionate, zealous.”

“He cannot be a true shepherd without this fire,” Francis said.

The second feature, he continued, is, “someone who knows how to discern: to discern where the dangers are, where the graces are… where the real road is.”

In practice, this means, the Pope said, the Shepherd always, in the good and bad moments, accompanies and patiently “brings them to the fold.” The true shepherd, he added, knows how to discern, on guard against at the seduction of evil.

The third feature, he noted, is “the ability to denounce,” meaning knowing how to report evil and to not be naïve.

“An apostle cannot be naive: ‘Ah, it’s all right, let’s go ahead, eh? It’s all right … Let’s party, everyone … everything is possible …’. because there is the fidelity to the only groom, to Jesus Christ, to be defended. And he knows how to condemn it: that concreteness, to say ‘ no,’ like the parents say to the baby when he starts to clap and goes to the electric socket to put his fingers in : ‘No, no! It’s dangerous!'”

Pope Francis concluded, praying for all the shepherds of the Church to serve the Lord well.

 

Condemning Tragic Situation in Congo, Holy See Offers 5-Point Action Plan

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 1:32 PM

Condemning the tragic situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Holy See has offered a 5-point action plan.

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, gave the following discourse at the 35th Session of the Human Rights Council, on ‘Item 10: Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Geneva,’ on June 21, 2017.

In his address, the Vatican official stressed: “the Holy See expresses its deep concern for the grave, widespread and apparently planned attacks against the civilian population, religious institutions and faith based organizations, particularly in the Kasai region.”

Below is the Vatican-provided text of his statement:

***

Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer  of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations  in Geneva at the 35th Session of the Human Rights Council 

Item 10: Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Geneva, 21 June 2017 

Mr. President,

Given the dramatic and continuous deterioration of the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Holy See expresses its deep concern for the grave, widespread and apparently planned attacks against the civilian population, religious institutions and faith based organizations, particularly in the Kasai region. These are the tragic consequences of tensions which have never been adequately addressed, despite subsequent recovery and reconciliation initiatives.

Mr. President,

The Holy See Delegation sincerely hopes that the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in close consultation and collaboration with this Council and other inter-governmental bodies, will take immediate action to:  1. put in place a ceasefire that guarantees an end to wanton violence and prevent arms trafficking;  2. uphold its duty to protect and respect civilians and humanitarian relief personnel; 3. promote effective, objective, open and transparent efforts at reconciliation, dialogue and peace-building; 4. assure unbiased mediation of the conflict and establish monitored democratic processes that include all sectors of the population; 5. Build conditions that will allow the safe and voluntary return of refugees to Kasai.

Above all, let us keep our deliberations aimed at preserving and defending the human rights of the people of the DRC and its “many children torn from their families and schools to be used as soldiers.” A tragedy that, in the words of Pope Francis, is a call to” the conscience and to the responsibility of the national authorities and the international community, to take appropriate and timely decisions to rescue these brothers and sisters.”

Thank you, Mr. President.

[Vatican-provided text]

Pope’s Address to Meeting to Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO)

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 1:17 PM

Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis’ address to members of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO) on Thursday, June 22, 2017 in the Vatican, who have been holding their 90th plenary assembly in Rome this week.

* * *

Dear friends, I receive you warmly and thank Cardinal Sandri for his greeting in the name of all of you, gathered in Rome for ROACO’s 90th Plenary Session. I renew my gratitude for the work and constant effort of charity and solidarity, that since 1968 you guaranty to the Churches — Oriental and Latin — of the territories entrusted to the competency of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: you support the pastoral, educational and welfare activities and come to the aid of their urgent needs, thanks also to the work of the Papal Representatives, whom I also have the pleasure of greeting. Through the Father Custos I greet and bless the Franciscan Friars of the Custody, who have begun to celebrate the eighth centenary of their presence in the Holy Land.

The Congregation for the Oriental Churches is celebrating its centenary, a long time during which it has assisted the Supreme Pontiffs – who were its Prefects until 1967 – in their solicitude for all the Churches. They were decades that witnessed a succession of dramatic events: the Oriental Churches were often assailed by terrible waves of persecutions and travails, be it in Eastern Europe as well as in the Middle East. Strong emigrations weakened their presence in territories where they had flourished for centuries. Now, thank God, some of them have returned to freedom after the painful period of totalitarian regimes, but others, especially in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, see their children suffer because of the continuance of war and the senseless violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.

All these events have made you go through the experience of Jesus’ Cross: it is the cause of disturbance and suffering but, at the same time, it is source of salvation. As I had the occasion to say the day after my election as Bishop of Rome, “if we walk without the Cross, if we build without the Cross and if we confess a Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord” (Homily during the Holy Mass celebrated with the Cardinal Electors: Insegnamenti I, 1 [2013], 3).

Therefore, I am happy that you were able to reflect, together with some representatives of the Churches, on the important reality of the initial formation of seminarians and the permanent <formation> of priests. In fact, we are aware of the choice of radicalism expressed by many of them and the heroism of the witness of dedication alongside their communities often very tested. But we are also conscious of the temptations that can be encountered, such as the search for a recognized social status of the consecrated in some geographic areas, or a way of exercising the role of guide according to criteria of human affirmation or according to schemes of the culture and of the environment.

The effort that the Congregation and the Agencies must continue to make is that of supporting the projects and the initiatives that genuinely build the Church. It is essential to nourish always the style of evangelical proximity: in Bishops, so that they live it in their relations with their presbyters, so that the latter feel the Lord’s caress to the faithful entrusted to them. But all guarding the grace of remaining the Lord’s disciples, beginning from the first that learn to make themselves last with the last. Thus the seminarian and the young priest will feel the joy of being collaborators of the salvation offered by the Lord, who bends down as the Good Samaritan to pour on the wounds of hearts and of human stories the oil of consolation and the wine of evangelical hope.

Let us feel ourselves always living stones close to Christ, who is the cornerstone! The Oriental Churches keep so many venerable memories, churches, monasteries, places of men and women Saints: they are kept and preserved thanks also to your aid, thus favouring the pilgrimage to the roots of the faith. However, when it is not possible to repair or maintain the structures, we must continue to be a living temple of the Lord, remembering that the “clay” of our believing existence was moulded by the hands of the “potter,” the Lord, who infused in it His vivifying Spirit. And we do not forget that in the Orient, also in our days, Christians – it does not matter if they are Catholics, Orthodox or Protestants –shed their blood as seal of their witness. May the Oriental faithful, if constrained to emigrate, be able to be welcomed in places where they arrive, and be able to continue to live according to the ecclesial tradition proper to them. In this way your work, dear representatives of the agencies, will be a bridge between the West and the East, be it in the countries of origin, be it in those from which you yourselves come.

I entrust you to the intercession of the All Holy Mother of God, and I assure that I accompany you with my prayer. From my heart I bless you, your communities and your service. And I ask you, please, to continue to pray for me. Thank you!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Netherlands’ Royalty Visit Pope Francis

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 1:08 PM

On Thursday, June 22, 2017, Pope Francis received in audience His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, accompanied by his wife, Her Majesty, the Queen, Máxima.

According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the discussions were cordial and enabled an exchange of appraisals of certain issues of shared interest, “such as the protection of the environment and the fight against poverty, as well as on the specific contribution of the Holy See and the Catholic Church in these fields.”

“Particular attention was paid to the phenomenon of migration, underlining the importance of peaceful co-existence between different cultures, and joint commitment to promoting peace and global security, with special reference to various areas of conflict.”

Finally, it noted, there was a shared reflection on the prospects of the European project.

After meeting with the Pope, the Sovereigns subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

 

Pope’s Words When Opening Annual Congress of the Diocese of Rome.

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 12:21 PM

Pope Francis arrived the afternoon of Monday, June 19, 2017, in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, where he opened the annual Congress of the Diocese of Rome.

Shortly before entering Rome’s cathedral, he went to the living room of the building adjacent to the church, where he met with some 30 immigrants housed by the parishes of religious institutes of his diocese.

The Pontiff spoke with some of the children, who had made some posters, and with their parents.

Here is a ZENIT working translation of the Holy Father’s address to those present:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Address 

As that priest said: “Before speaking, I’ll say two words.”

I wish to thank Cardinal Vallini for his words and I would like to say something that he could not say, because it is under secret, but the Pope can say it. When, after the election, I was told that I had to go first to the Pauline Chapel and then on the balcony to greet the people, there came to mind immediately the name of the Cardinal Vicar: “I am Bishop, there is a Vicar General . . .: Immediately. I also heard it with sympathy and I called him. And from the other side, was Cardinal Hummes, who was next to me during the voting and said things to me that helped me. These two accompanied me, and from that moment I said: “On the balcony with my Vicar.” There, on the balcony, he accompanied me from that moment and I wish to thank him. He has so many virtues and also a sense of objectivity that has helped me so many times, because sometimes I “fly” and he has made me “land” with much charity . . . I thank you, Eminence, for the company. However, Cardinal Vallini is not retiring, because he belongs to six Congregations and he will continue to work, and it’s better this way, because a Neapolitan without work would be a calamity in the diocese . . .[He laughs, they laugh, applause] I want to thank him in public for his help. Thank you!

And good evening to you!

I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to open this diocesan Congress, in which you will treat an important subject for the life of our families: to accompany parents in the education of adolescent children.

During these days you will reflect on some key arguments that correspond in some way to places in which our being family is at stake: the home, the school, social networks, the inter-generational relationship, the precariousness of life and family isolation. There are workshops on these topics.

I would like to share some “assumptions” with you, which can help you in this reflection. We often don’t realize it, but the spirit with which we reflect is as important as the contents (a good sportsman knows that the warm up counts as much as the subsequent performance). Therefore, this conversation hopes to help you in this sense: a “warm up,” and then it will be up to you to “stake all on the field.” I will do the exposition in small chapters.

  1. In Roman dialect!

I wished to call the first key to enter this topic “in Roman dialect”: the dialect precisely of Romans. Not rarely we fall into the temptation of thinking or reflecting on things “in general,” “in the abstract.” To think of problems, of situations of adolescents . . . And thus, without realizing it, we fall fully into nominalism. We want to embrace everything but we don’t attain anything. Today I invite you to think of this topic “in dialect.” And to do so, it is necessary to make a notable effort, because you are asked to think of our families in the context of a great city like Rome, with all its richness, opportunities, variety and, at the same time, with all its challenges. Not to shut oneself in and ignore the rest (we are always Italians), but to address the reflection and even in moments of prayer, with a healthy and stimulating realism — no abstractions, no generalizations, no nominalism.

The life of families and the education of adolescents in a large metropolis, such as this one, demands at the base particular attention and we cannot take it lightly, because it’s not the same thing to educate or be a family in a small country as it is in a metropolis. I don’t say that it is better or worse, it is simply different. The complexity of the capital does not admit reductive synthesis, rather, it stimulates to a polyhedric way of thinking, by which every district and zone finds an echo in the diocese and thus the diocese can make itself visible, tangible in every ecclesial community, with its own way of being. Uniformity is a great enemy.

You live the tensions of this great city. In many of the pastoral visits I have undertaken I was presented with some of your daily, concrete experiences: the distances between house and work (in some cases up to two hours to arrive); the lack of close family bonds, because of the fact of having to move to find work or to be able to pay the rent, always living “to the last cent” to reach the end of the month, because the rhythm of life is per se more costly (in the countryside it is better); the often insufficient time to know the neighbours where we live; in very many cases, having to leave children alone And so we could go on listing a great number of situations that touch the life of our families. Therefore, do the reflection, the prayer “in the Roman dialect,” concretely, with all these concrete things, which every concrete family faces and thinking how you can help one another to form your children within this reality. The Holy Spirit is the great initiator and generator of processes in our societies and situations. He is the great guide of transforming and saving dynamics. With Him you will not be afraid to “walk” in your neighbourhoods, and to think how to give impetus to an accompaniment for parents and adolescents, that is, concrete.

  1. Together with the preceding, I pause on another important aspect. Little by little the present situation is making grow in all of our lives, and especially in our families, the experience of feeling “uprooted.” There is talk of the “liquid society” – and it is so – but, in this context, today I would like to present to you the growing phenomenon of the uprooted society. That is to say, persons and families that little by little go losing their bonds, that very important vital fabric to feel part of one another, participants with others in a common project. It is the experience of knowing that we “belong” to others (in the most noble sense of the term). It is important to keep in mind this atmosphere of uprootedness, because little by little it passes through our eyes and especially in the life of our children. An uprooted culture, an uprooted family is a family without history, without memory, without roots, in fact. And when there are no roots, any wind ends up dragging one. Therefore, one of the things we must think about as parents, as families, as Pastors are the scenes where to root ourselves, where to generate bonds, find roots, where we make that vital network grow which enables us to feel “at home.” Today the social networks seem to offer us this “network” space, of connection with others, and they even make our children feel part of a group. However, the problem they entail, because of their virtual nature itself, is that they leave us “in the air” – I said “liquid society”; we can say “gaseous society” — and, therefore, very “volatile”; a “volatile society.” There is no worse alienation for a person than to feel he/she has no roots; that he/she does not belong to anyone. This principle is very important to accompany adolescents.

So often we exact from our children an excessive formation in some fields that we consider important for their future. We make them study a quantity of things so that they give the “maximum.” However, we do not give as much importance to the fact that they should know their land, their roots. We deprive them of the knowledge of genes and of the Saints they generated. I know that you have a laboratory dedicated to the inter-generational dialogue, to the area of grandparents. I know that it can seem repetitive but I feel it as something that the Holy Spirit presses in my heart, so that our young people have visions, are “dreamers,” can address future times with daring and courage, it is necessary that they listen to the prophetic dreams of their fathers (Cf. Joel 3:2). If we want our children to be formed and prepared for tomorrow, it is not only by learning languages (to give an example) that they will succeed. It is necessary that they connect, that they know their roots. Only thus will they be able to fly high, otherwise they will be taken by the “visions” of others. And I come back to this; I am obsessed, perhaps, but . . . Parents must make room for their children to talk with their grandparents. So often a grandfather or grandmother is in a Rest Home and they do not go to see them . . . They must talk, even override their parents, but take the roots of the grandparents. Grandparents have this quality of the transmission of history, of faith, of belonging. And they do so with wisdom as one who is on the threshold, soon to depart. I return, I said, sometimes, to the passage of Joel 3:2: “Your elders will dream and your children will prophesy.” And you are the bridge. Today we do not let grandparents dream; we reject them. This culture rejects grandparents because grandparents do not produce: this is “the disposable culture.” But grandparents can dream only when they meet with new life, then they dream, talk . . . But think of Simeon, think of that holy gossiper Anna, who went from one side to the other saying” It is He! It is He!” And this is beautiful; this is beautiful.

It is grandparents that dream and give children <the sense of> belonging of which they are in need. I would like you to do, in this inter-generational laboratory, an examination of conscience on this, to find the concrete history in grandparents and not leave them to one side. I don’t know if I said this once, but there comes to my memory a story that one of my two grandmothers taught me as a child. There was once in a family a widowed grandfather: he lived with the family but had grown old and when they ate his soup or saliva would drip and he soiled himself a bit. And the father decided to have him eat alone in the kitchen,” “so we can invite friends . . .” It was like that. A few days later, he came home from work and found his son playing with a hammer, nails and wood . . . “But what are you making?” — “A table” – “A table, why”?” “A table to eat” – “But why?” “So that when you grow old, you can eat there, alone.” This child had intuitively understood where the roots were.

  1. In movement 

Educate adolescents in movement. Adolescence is a passing phase in life not only of your children but of the whole family – it is the whole family that is in a passing phase –, you know it well and you live it and, as such, we must face it in its global nature. It is a phase-bridge, and for this reason adolescents <do not belong> here or there, they are on the way, in transit. They are not children (and they do not want to be treated as such) and they are not adults (but they want to be treated as such, especially at the level of privileges). In fact they live this tension, first of all in themselves and then with those that surround them.[1] Sometimes they seek confrontation, they ask, discuss everything, seek answers, and sometimes they do not listen to the answers and ask another question before the parents give the answer .. . . They pass through various states of mind, and the families with them. However, allow me to say to you that it is a precious time in the life of your children. A difficult time, yes, a time of changes and of instability, yes, a phase that presents great risks, without a doubt. However, above all, it is a time of growth for them and for the whole family. Adolescence is not a pathology and we cannot address it as if it is. A son that lives his adolescence (no matter how difficult it is for his parents) is a son with a future and hope. I am often worried by the present tendency to “medicalize” our youngsters precociously. It seems that everything is resolved by medicating or controlling everything with the slogan “exploit time to the maximum,” and thus it turns out that youngsters’ agenda is worse than that of a senior leader.

Therefore, I insist: adolescence is not a pathology that we must combat. It is part of normal growth, natural to the life of our youngsters. Where there is life there is movement; where there is movement there are changes, seeking, uncertainties; there is hope, joy and also anguish and desolation. Let us frame well our discernments within the foreseeable vital processes. There are margins that it is necessary to know not to be alarmed, not to be negligent either, but to be able to accompany and help to grow. Not everything is indifferent, nor does everything have the same importance. Therefore it is necessary to discern which battles must be fought and which ones not. Of much use in this is to listen to couples with experience, which although they will never give us a recipe, they will help us with their testimony to know this or that margin or gamut of behaviour.

Our boys and girls seek to be and want to feel themselves – logically – protagonists. They do not like at all to feel commanded or to respond to “orders” that come from the adult world (they follow the rules of play of their “accomplices”). They seek that accomplice’s autonomy that makes them feel that they “alone command themselves.” And here we must be pay attention to uncles, especially those uncles that do not have children or who are no married. I learned the first bad words from a ”bachelor” uncle [they laugh]. To earn the liking of nephews, uncles often do not do good. There was an uncle who secretly gave us cigarettes … Things of that time. And now . . . I do not say that they are evil, but it is necessary to be careful. In this search for autonomy that boys and girls want, we find a good opportunity, especially for schools, parishes and Ecclesial Movements, to stimulate activities that put them to the test, which make them feel protagonists. They need this, let us help them! They seek in many ways the vertigo that makes them feel alive. Therefore, let us give it to them! Let us stimulate all that helps them to transforms their dreams into projects, and to discover that all the potential they have is a bridge, a passage to a vocation (in the widest and best sense of the word). Let us suggest to them broad goals, great challenges and let us help them realize them, and reach their goals. Let us not leave them alone. Therefore, let us trust them more than they trust us. Let us not let them get “vertigo” from others, who do no more than put their life at risk: let us give it to them. However, the right vertigo that satisfies this desire to move, to go forward. We see that in many parishes, that have this capacity to “take up” adolescents . . .: “On these three days of vacation, let’s go to the mountains, do something . . .; or we go to whitewash that school of a poor district that is in need . . .” Make them protagonists of something.

This requires finding educators capable of committing themselves in youngsters’ growth. It requires educators driven by love and by the passion to have the life of Jesus’ Spirit grow in them, to have them see that to be Christians calls for courage and is a beautiful thing. To educate today’s adolescents we cannot continue to use a merely scholastic model of instruction, of ideas alone. No. It is necessary to follow the rhythm of their growth. It is important to help them to acquire self-esteem, to believe that they can really succeed in what they propose to themselves – always in movement.

  1. An integrated education

 This process calls for development in a simultaneous and integrated way of the different languages that constitutes them as persons. That is to say to teach our youngsters to integrate all that they are and do. We can call it a socio-integrated literacy, namely, an education based on the intellect (the head), the affections (the heart) and action (the hands). This will give our youngsters the possibility of a harmonious growth not only at the personal but at the same time at the social level. It is urgent to create places where social fragmentation is not the dominant scheme. To this end, it is necessary to teach them to think about what they feel and do, to feel what they think and do, to do what they think and feels namely, to integrate the three languages. =– a dynamism of capacity put at the service of the person and of society. This will help to make our youngsters feel active and protagonists in the growth processes and will lead them also to feel called to take part in the building of the community.

They want to be protagonists: let us give them the space, so that they can be protagonists, orienting them – obviously – and giving them the instruments to develop all this growth. Therefore, I believe that the harmonious integration of different knowledges – of the mind, of the heart and of the hands – will help them to build their personality. We often think that education is to impart knowledge and along the way we leave emotional illiterates and youngsters with so many unfulfilled projects because they have not found someone to teach them to “do.” We have concentrated education on the brain neglecting the heart and the hands. And this is also a form of social fragmentation.

When the guards take their leave in the Vatican, I receive those that are taking their leave one by one. Day before yesterday I received six, one by one. “What do you do, what will you do . . .” I thank you for your service. And one of them said this to me: “I will go to be a carpenter, because my father taught me so many things abut this, and also my grandfather.” The desire to “do”: this boy was well educated with he language of doing; and he also had a good heart, because he thought of his father and his grandfather: a good affective heart. To learn “how something is done” . . . This struck me.

  1. Yes to adolescence, no to competition 

As a last element, it is important that we reflect on an environmental dynamic that challenges us all. It is interesting to observe how boys and girls want to be “grownups” and “grownups” want to be or have become adolescents.

We cannot ignore this culture, from the moment that it is an air that we all breathe. Today there is a sort of competition between parents and children, different from that of other times, in which verified normally was the confrontation between one another. Today we have passed from confrontation to competition, which are two different things. They are two different dynamics of the spirit. Today our youngsters find much competition and few persons whom they can confront. The adult world has received “eternal youth” as paradigm and model of success. It seems that to grow, to get old, to “mature” is an evil. It is synonym of a frustrated or exhausted life. Today it seems that everything is masked or dissimulated. As if the very fact of living has no meaning. Appearance, not growing old, wearing makeup . . . I am sad when I see those who dye their hair.

How sad it is that some want to engage in “lifting” the heart! And today they word ‘lifting” is used more than the word “heart”! How painful it is that some want to do away with the “wrinkles” of many encounters, of many joys and sorrows! There comes to mind when the great Anna Magnani was advised to have a <face lift>, she said: “No, these wrinkles cost me my whole life: they are precious!”

In a certain sense, this is one of the most dangerous “unconscious” threats in the education of our adolescents: to exclude them from the growth processes because the adults occupy their place. And we find so many adolescent parents, so many adults who do not want to be adults and want to play at being adolescent forever. This “marginalization” can increase a natural tendency that youngsters have to isolate themselves or to halt their growth processes because of a lack of confrontation. There is competition, but not confrontation.

  1. Spiritual “gluttony”

I do no want to end without this aspect, which could be a key-argument that goes through all the laboratories you will have: it is transversal. It is the subject of austerity. We live in a very strong context of consumerism . . . And doing a connection between consumerism and what I have just said: after food, medicines and clothes, which are essential for life, the highest expenses are beauty products, cosmetics. These are the statistics! Cosmetics. It is awful to say this. And cosmetics, which were something more of women, now are the same for both sexes. After the basic expenses, the first is cosmetics and then, mascots [animals for company]: food, veterinary . . . these are the statistics. But this <issue> of mascots is another argument, which I will not touch upon now: we will think of this further on. But we return to the topic of austerity. We live, I said, in a very strong context of consumerism; it seems that we are driven to consummate consumption, in the sense that, what is important is to consume always. <There was> a time when it was said that persons who had this problem had a dependence on spending. Today it is no longer said: we are all in this rhythm of consumerism. Therefore, it is urgent to recover that spiritual principle which is so important and devalued: austerity. We have entered a chasm of consumption and we are induced to believe that we are worth for what we are capable of producing and consuming; for as much as we are capable of having. To educate to austerity is an incomparable richness. It reawakens ingenuity and creativity, it generates possibilities for the imagination and it opens especially to teamwork, in solidarity. It opens to others. There is a sort of “spiritual gluttony,” that attitude of gluttons that, instead of eating, devour everything that is around them (they seem to cram themselves eating).

I believe that it does us good to be educated better, as a family, in this “gluttony” and to make room for austerity as the way of encountering one another, of throwing bridges, opening spaces, growing with others and for others. Only one who is able to be austere can do this, otherwise he is simply a “glutton.”

In Amoris Laetitia, I said: “The history of a family is dotted by crises of all sorts, which are also part of their dramatic beauty. It is necessary to help discover that a surmounted crisis does not lead to a less intense relationship, but to improve, to settle and to mature the wine of union. One does not live together to be always less happy, but to learn to be happy in a new way, stemming from the possibilities opened by a new stage” (n. 232). It seems to me that it is important to live the education of children from this perspective: as a call that the Lord makes to us, as family, to make of this passage a passage of growth, to learn to savour better the life He gives us.

This is what it seemed to me I should say to you on this topic.

(Cardinal Vallini’s words of gratitude)

 [Blessing]

Thank you so much! Work well. I wish you the best. And onwards!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

[1] “For young people the future is long and the past brief; in fact, at the start of the morning,, there is nothing of the day that can be remembered, while everything can be hoped for. They can easily let themselves be deceived, for the reason we said, namely, because they hope easily. And they are more courageous, because they are impetuous and easy in hoping, and of these two qualities the first impedes their being afraid, and the second makes them confident; in fact no one fears when one is angry, and to hope for some good gives confidence. And they are <prone to anger>” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, II, 12, 2).

‘The Pope for South Sudan’ Initiative

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 5:03 PM

The ‘Pope for South Sudan’ is the Vatican-backed initiative which will donate about half a million dollars to help those suffering in war-torn South Sudan.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development presented the initiative “The Pope for South Sudan” at 11.30 today, June 21, 2017, at a press conference on the project in the Holy See Press Office.

Speaking with him were Dr. Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis; Sr. Laura Gemignani, Nzara General Hospital, South Sudan; Sr. Yudith Pereira-Rico, associate executive director of Solidarity with South Sudan.

In his remarks, Cardinal Turkson discussed the intervention supported by the Holy Father in favour of the population of South Sudan, called “The Pope for South Sudan”.

The war in South Sudan, the African cardinal explained, continues to claim victims. In 2013, the conflict began and caused a very grave humanitarian crisis that sees more than half the population, around 7.3 million people, suffer from hunger on a daily basis. The life of thousands of people has been put at risk by an unprecedented cholera epidemic; a million and a half inhabitants have been forced to flee their villages and cities as a result of the war; in this country massacres and atrocities take place, systematic and generalized, perpetrated against civilians for ethnic reasons; and women and children are victims of violence and abuse every day.”

Universal Pastor Showing Solidarity

As a universal Pastor, Cardinal Turkson stressed, Pope Francis is a universal pastor who overcomes boundaries.

“He feels the pressing need to raise awareness among the international community of this silent drama, calling for greater and renewed efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict,” he said.

“The Pope wanted to make tangible”–the Ghanaian prelate stressed–“the Church’s presence and closeness to the afflicted people through this initiative, that aims to foster, support and encourage the work of the various religious congregations and international aid organizations present in the territory and which work tirelessly to help the population and to promote the process of development and peace.”

Concrete Initiatives in 3 Realms

Through this Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Pope is launching initiatives in three main areas:

Health: “Two projects are in the field of health. These are two hospitals run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters operating in South Sudan: the Wau Hospital, and the Nzara Hospital.”

Education: “One project concerns the field of education: through the association “Solidarity with South Sudan”, it is intended to provide two-year scholarships for students to enable them to obtain a Master’s degree primary school teaching at the Solidarity Teacher Training Centre in Yambio.”

Agriculture: “In the field of agriculture, a project run by Caritas Internationalis that involves around 2,500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Tombura-Yambio and Torit, through tools to encourage farming and livestock breeding, aiming to increase the capacity of local communities to sustain themselves.”

Does Not Forget, Will Visit

“The Holy Father,” Cardinal Turkson stressed, “does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhuman conflict, and he does not forget all those people who are forced to flee their native country as a result of abuse, injustice and war – he remembers them all in his prayers and in his heart.”

Pope Francis, the cardinal also reiterated, “firmly hopes to be able to make an official visit to the country as soon as possible.”

“The Church does not give up hope in such a troubled territory; but instead urges bold choices and belief that Divine Providence is capable of achieving what in the eyes of the world seems unreal or impossible.”

Lamenting that while attempts to bring some peace must be achieved, in order to plan a trip, he stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan.

If this can be done, a visit by the Pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will take place.

Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, in recent months had noted that the conditions in the African nation did not permit for an October 2017 visit as hoped, and therefore, the visit is not expected to take place until at least 2018.

Pope’s Address About Don Lorenzo Milani in Barbiana

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 3:24 PM

Pope Francis wished to pray before the tombs of Don Primo Mazzolari in Bozzolo and Don Lorenzo Milani in Barbiana, and he did so yesterday, June 20, 2017.

Upon arrival, around 9 a.m., in the Bozzolo sports field, the Pope was welcomed by Bishop of Cremona, Antonio Napolioni, and Mayor Giuseppe Torchio. He then transferred by car to the parish of San Pietro, where he was received by the parish priest, Don Gianni Maccalli, and the parish vicar, Don Gabriele Barbieri.

The Holy Father prayed at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari. Then, following the greeting from the bishop, he gave a commemorative address.

At the end, in the sacristy, the Pope was shown some memorials to and works by Don Primo, by the President of the Mazzolari Foundation, Don Bruno Bignami, and the president of the Scientific Committee of the Mazzolari Foundation, Professor Giorgio Vecchio.

Then, after greeting some of the faithful, Pope Francis transferred by car to the Bozzolo sports field where, at around 10:30 a.m., he departed for Barbiana, for his pilgrimage to the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani.

Upon his arrival, the Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, and the Mayor of Vicchio, Roberto Izzo welcomed the Pope. Then he went immediately to the cemetery for a private visit and to pray at the tomb of Father Milani. The Holy Father then went by car to the church and, on his arrival in the Square and inside the church he greeted some disciples and former students of the Florentine priest.

After a moment of personal prayer in the church, Pope Francis visited the premises of the Rectory and of the school. Then, on the adjacent lawn and introduced by the greeting of Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, the Holy Father gave an address. The following, courtesy of the Vatican Press Office, is an English translation of the Holy Father’s address in remembrance of Don Lorenzo Milani:

***

Dear brothers and sisters, I have come to Barbiana to pay homage to the memory of a priest who witnessed how in the gift of self to Christ one finds brothers in need and serves them there, so that their dignity as persons is defended and promoted, with the same gift of self that Jesus showed us to the cross.

  1. I rejoice to meet with those who were at the time pupils of Father Lorenzo Milani, some in the popular school of Saint Donato at Calenzano, others here in the school of Barbiana. You are witnesses of how a priest lived his mission, in places where the Church called him, with full fidelity to the Gospel and, precisely because of this, in full fidelity to each one of you, whom the Lord had entrusted to him. And you are witnesses of his educational passion, of his attempt to reawaken the human <dimension> in persons to open them to the divine.

Hence his complete dedication to the school, with an option that he would carry out here in Barbiana in an even more radical way. For Father Lorenzo, the school was not something different from his priest’s mission, but the concrete way in which to carry out that mission, giving it a solid foundation and capable of raising to Heaven. And when the Bishop’s decision led him from Calenzano to here, among the youngsters of Barbiana, he understood immediately that the Lord had permitted him that detachment to give him new children to help grow and to love. To give back the word to the poor, because without the word there is no dignity and therefore neither freedom nor justice: Father Milani taught this. And it is the word that is able to open the way to full citizenship in the society, through work, and to full membership in the Church, with a conscious faith. This is also true in its own way for our times, in which only by possessing the word is one able to discern among the many and often confusing messages that rain on us, and to give expression to the profound yearnings of one’s heart, as well as to the expectations of justice of so many brothers and sisters that expect justice. Also forming part of that humanization that we claim for every person on this earth, next to bread, house, work <and> family, is the possession of the word as instrument of freedom and fraternity.

  1. Here also are are some youngsters and young people, who represent for us the many youngsters and young people who today are in need of someone to accompany them in the course of their growth. I know that you, as so many others in the world, live in situations of marginalization, and that someone is beside you to not leave you alone and to point out a possible way of rescue, a future that opens on more positive horizons. From here I would like to thank all the educators, all those who put themselves at the service of the growth of the new generations, in particular of those who find themselves in situations of hardship. Yours is a mission full of obstacles but also joys. But it is, above all, a mission. A mission of love, because one cannot teach without loving and without the awareness that what is given is only a right that is recognized, that of learning. And there are so many things to be taught, but the essential is the growth of a free conscience, capable of confronting the reality and being oriented in it by love, by the will to commit oneself with others, by taking charge of their toils and wounds, by fleeing from every egoism to serve the common good. We find written in a Letter to a Professor: “I have learned that others’ problem is the same as mine. It is for politics to sort them all together. To sort them on one’s own is avarice.” This is an appeal to responsibility. An appeal that concerns you, dear young people, but first of all us, adults, called to live freedom of conscience in an authentic way, as the seeking of the true, the beautiful and the good, ready to pay the price that it entails. — and this without compromises.
  2. Finally, but not least, I turn to you priests whom I wanted beside me here at Barbiana. I see among you elderly priests, who have shared with Father Lorenzo Milani the seminary years or the ministry in nearby places; and also young priests, who represent the future of the Florentine and Italian clergy. Some of you, therefore, are witnesses of the human and priestly adventure of Father Lorenzo, other are heirs. I wish to remind you all that Father Lorenzo Milani’s priestly dimension is at the root of all that has been recalled up to now about him. The priestly dimension is at the root of all that he did. Everything was born from his being a priest. But, in turn, his being priest had an even more profound root: his faith. It was a totalizing faith, which became complete self-giving to the Lord and that found in the priestly ministry its full and completed form for the converted youth. Noted are the words of his spiritual guide, Father Raffaele Bensi, who attracted in those years the highest figures of Florentine Catholicism, so he was alive around the middle of the last century, under the paternal ministry of the Venerable Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa. Father Bensi said so: “Come to me to save your soul. From that August day until the autumn, he literally gorged himself with the Gospel and with Christ. That youngster left immediately for the absolute, without middle ways. He wanted to be saved and to saveat any cost. Transparent and hard as a diamond, he would soon be wounded and wound” (Nazzareno Fabbretti, “Interview with Monsignor Raffaele Bensi,” Domenica del Corriere, June 27, 1971). To be a priest as the way in which to live the Absolute. His mother Alice said: “My son was in search of the Absolute. He found it in religion and in the priestly vocation.” Without this thirst for the Absolute we can be good functionaries of the sacred, but we cannot be priests, true priests, capable of becoming servants of Christ in brothers. Dear priests, with God’s grace, let us seek to be men of faith, a forthright faith, not wishy washy, and men of charity, pastoral charity to all those that the Lord entrusts to us as brothers and children. Father Lorenzo teaches us also to love the Church, as he loved her, with the forthrightness and truth that can also create tensions, but never fractures, abandonments. Let us love the Church, dear fellow priests, and make her loved, showing her as solicitous Mother of all, especially the poorest and most frail, be it in their social life be it in their personal and religious life. The Church that Father Milani showed the world has this maternal and solicitous face, inclined to give all the possibility of encountering God and therefore of giving consistency to their own person in all its dignity.
  3. Before concluding, I cannot be silent about the gesture I carried out today, which is intended to be an answer to that request made many times by Father Lorenzo to his Bishop, and what was recognized and understood in his fidelity to the Gospel and in the rectitude of his pastoral action. In a letter to the Bishop, he wrote: “If you do not honor me today with a solemn act, all my apostolate will appear as a private event . . .” From Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli, of dear memory, and then the Archbishops of Florence have given this recognition to Father Lorenzo on different occasions. Today the Bishop of Rome does so. This does not cancel the bitterness that accompanied Father Milani’s life – it is not about cancelling or denying history but, rather of understanding the circumstances and humanity in play –, however, it says that the Church recognizes in that life an exemplary way of serving the Gospel, the poor and the Church herself. With my presence at Barbiana, with the prayer at the tomb of Father Lorenzo Milani I believe that I have an answer to all that his mother hoped for: I would like above all that the priest be known, that the truth be known, that honor be rendered to the Church also for what he was in the Church and that the Church render honor to him . . . that Church, which made him suffer so much but which gave him the priesthood, and the strength of that faith that remains, for me, the most profound mystery of my son . . . If it is not really understood the <kind of> priest that Father Lorenzo was, it will be difficult to understand all the rest about him. For instance, his profound balance between hardness and charity” (Nazareno Fabbretti, “Meeting with the Mother of the Parish Priest of Barbiana Three Years after His Death,” Il Resto del Carlino, Bologna, July 8, 1970. The priest “transparent and hard as a diamond” continues to transmit God’s light on the path of the Church. Take the torch and carry it forward! Thank you.
[Hail Mary] [Blessing]

Thank you so much again! Pray for me, don’t forget. That I may also follow the example of this good priest! Thank you for your presence. May the Lord bless you. And you priests, all <of you> — because their is no retirement in the priesthood! – all <of you> go on–forward and with courage! Thank you.

At the end the Pope reached the esplanade below the church and at 12:30 pm he took off from Barbiana to return to Rome.

The landing in the Vatican heliport took place at 1:16 pm.

 

Archbishop Auza Calls for Solution to Crisis in Venezuela, Including Urgent Measures

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 2:31 PM

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered a statement on the “Situation in Venezuela,” at the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, held in Cancun, Mexico, on June 20, 2017.

In his remarks, the Vatican official stressed three main items: that the Holy See favors mediation of groups of countries or regions; the four points stressed by the Holy See in a December letter following the two meetings of the National Dialogue Table between the Government and the Opposition in Venezuela, held on October 23 and on November 11-12, 2016, in Caracas; and the interventions of the Pope for the common good, and for the voice of the people to be heard.

Archbishop Auza also calls for a peaceful, lasting, and viable solution to the crisis in Venezuela, including urgent measures to alleviate the food and medicine shortage the people of Venezuela are suffering, to ensure Catholic institutions are able to assist and provide aid, for parties to agree upon an election date, and to accelerate the process of releasing detainees.

A Zenit working-translation of Archbishop Auza’s statement, delivered in Spanish, follows:

* * *

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza,

Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See

To the Organization of American States,

About the Situation in Venezuela

June 19-21, 2017, Cancun, Mexico

Mister President,

The Delegation of the Holy See is grateful for the opportunity given to it to be able to share its concern over the present situation of Venezuela, as well as its hope that this meeting, in the framework of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, can help to solve the grave crisis the country is living.

As is well known, in several interventions from the beginning of the crisis, both the Holy Father, as well as the State Secretariat and the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, have called the public and political powers, to surmount partisan interests and ideologies, to listen to the voice of the people, to defend the common good, to create an atmosphere of serenity and social peace, to respect institutionality in favor of national coexistence and foster the social action of national and international institutions to address the undeniable crisis Venezuela is suffering and which strongly affects its population. Therefore, the Holy See has always maintained a clear position, calling all the political leaders to end the violence and exhorting them to respect truth and justice.

Mister President,

Without failing to exhort to negotiation, or to warn about the dangers of bellicose and aggressive speeches, the Holy See has shown at all times, its willingness to collaborate in the search for a peaceful, lasting and viable solution to the Venezuelan crisis, with the condition that both the Government as well as the Opposition request it, as in fact occurred.

As is known, in October and November of 2016, meetings were held of the Table of National Dialogue in Caracas and, taking into account that the agreements reached there were not implemented, the Cardinal Secretary of State, in the name and by disposition of Pope Francis, sent a letter on December 1 to the parties and to the remaining accompaniers. In it, in fulfilment of its role of accompaniment to which the Holy See had been called, it requested:

  • That the necessary providence be taken for the urgent implementation of measures geared to alleviating the grave crisis of the supply of food and medicines that the people were suffering, while assuring the full willingness of the institutions of the Catholic Church, among them Caritas, to give all possible help, with the means at their disposition, to come out of this situation of social emergency;
  • That the parties agree on the electoral calendar, which would enable Venezuelans to decide their future without delays;
  • That the necessary measures be taken to restore as soon as possible to the National Assembly the role established in the Constitution;
  • That a way be found to accelerate the process of release of detainees.

Mister President,

On the occasion of the 36th Ordinary Assembly of the Latin American Episcopal Council, held recently in San Salvador, the Bishops of the Continent pointed out that, in Venezuela, “the lack of food, the lack of medicines and the lack of liberties is becoming unbearable.”

The Holy See sees with concern how, despite the efforts made, which are known by all, the situation has acquired dramatic hues in the last months. On April 30, after the recitation of the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father appealed to the Government and to all the components of Venezuelan society to avoid any further form of violence, to respect human rights and to find negotiated solutions to the grave humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is affecting the population.

In this regard, my delegation wishes to point out that the present atmosphere of confrontation has also affected the Catholic Church in Venezuela. Episodes have been verified of threats to priests, violent eruptions during liturgical celebrations, unjustified accusations against ecclesiastical institutions and public defamatory attacks against some Bishops.

Despite this, the Holy See, stemming from the conviction that it must be the citizens themselves that set the basis to solve the internal problems, considers that no efforts must be spared to help the country come out of its grave crisis, because, as Pope Francis said last April 29, “all that can be done for Venezuela must be done, with the necessary guarantees.”

Mister President

With the sole end to promote the good of each and all Venezuelans and to foster a peaceful and democratic solution to the present situation, the Holy See reiterates its position, already known, that a serious and sincere negotiation be held between the parties, based on the clear conditions indicated in the mentioned letter of December 1, 2016, beginning with the holding of the direct, free and transparent elections foreseen for the years 2016 and 2017, as the only way out of the grave crisis in which the country is immersed. To this end, the recent governmental decision to convoke a National Constitutional Assembly, instead of helping to solve the problems, presents the risk of complicating them further and endangers the democratic future of the country.

On the other hand, the possibility is positively valued that a group of countries of the region or, eventually, of other continents, chosen by the government as well as the opposition, accompany the negotiations by acting as guarantors.

Thank you very much, Mister President.

[Original Text: Spanish] [Translation by Zenit, Virginia M. Forrester]

 

‘Don’t Have Fear to Go Against the Currents,’ Pope Tells Middle East Pilgrims

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 1:31 PM

“I give a warm welcome to the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, particularly those from the Middle East!”, said Pope Francis during his General Audience of June 21, 2017.

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:10 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

The Pope spoke in Italian, translated immediately into Arabic by one of his collaborators in the Roman Curia: “Dear brothers and sisters, the saints are people who before reaching the glory of heaven had lived normal lives, with joy and pain, hardships and hopes; but when they knew the love of God, they followed Him with all their their heart, giving us a message, which says: ‘Trust the Lord, because the Lord never disappoints! He is a good friend, always at your side,’ and with their witness, he encourages us to not have fear to go against the ‘currents.”

“May the Lord bless you all!” he said.

 

POPE’S GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Saints, Witnesses and Companions of Hope

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 12:00 PM

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:10 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

In his address in Italian the Pope reflected on the theme: “The Saints, Witnesses and Companions of Hope” (Cf. Heb. 11:40-12,2a).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On the day of our Baptism, the invocation of the Saints resounded for us. At that moment many of us were children, carried in our parents’ arms. Shortly before carrying out the anointing with the oil of the catechumens, symbol of God’s strength in the fight against evil, the priest invited the whole assembly to pray for those who were about to receive Baptism, invoking the intercession of the Saints. That was the first time, in the course of our life, in which we were gifted with this company of “older” brothers and sisters — the Saints — who passed by our same way, who knew our toils and live for ever in God’s embrace. The Letter to the Hebrews describes this company that surrounds us with the expression “multitude of witnesses” (12,[1]). The Saints are thus: a multitude of witnesses.

In the fight against evil, we Christians do not despair. Christianity cultivates an incurable confidence; it does not believe that the negative and disintegrating forces can prevail. The last word on the history of man is not hatred, it is not death, it is not war. In every moment of life we are helped by God’s hand and also by the discreet presence of all believers that “have preceded us with the sign of faith” (Roman Canon). Their existence tells us first of all that the Christian life is not an unattainable ideal. And, at the same time, it comforts us: we are not alone, the Church is made up of innumerable brethren, often anonymous, that have preceded us and that, by the action of the Holy Spirit, are involved in the affairs of those that are still down here.

The invocation of the Saints at Baptism is not the only one that marks the way of the Christian life. When an engaged couple consecrate their love in the Sacrament of Marriage, invoked again for them — this time as a couple – is the intercession of the Saints. And this invocation is source of confidence for the two young people who begin the “journey” of conjugal life. One who truly loves has the desire and the courage to say “for ever,” – “for ever” — but knows that he/she has need of Christ’s grace and the help of the Saints, to be able to live marital life forever. Not as some say: “while love lasts.” No: for ever! Otherwise, it is better if they do not get married. – either for ever or not at all. Therefore, in the nuptial liturgy the presence of the Saints is invoked. And in difficult moments it is necessary to have the courage to raise one’s eyes to Heaven, thinking of the many Christians who went through tribulation and kept their Baptismal garments white, washing them in the Blood of the Lamb (Cf. Revelation 7:14): thus says the Book of Revelation. God never abandons us: every time we are in need one of His Angels will come to help us rise again and to infuse consolation in us — “Angels” sometimes with a human face and heart, because God’s Saints are always here, hidden in our midst. This is difficult to understand and also to imagine, but the Saints are present in our life. And when someone invokes a Saint it is precisely because he/she is close to us.

Priests also keep the memory of an invocation of Saints pronounced over them. It is one of the most touching moments of the liturgy of Ordination. The candidates lie on the ground with their face on the floor. And the whole assembly, led by the Bishop, invokes the intercession of the Saints. A man would remain crushed under the weight of the mission entrusted to him, but hearing that the whole of Paradise is behind him, that God’s grace will never be lacking because Jesus is always faithful, then one can leave serene and heartened. We are not alone.

And what are we? We are dust that aspires to Heaven. Our strength is weak, but powerful is the mystery of the grace that is present in the life of Christians. We are faithful to this earth, which Jesus loved in every instant of His life, but we know and want to hope in the transfiguration of the world, in its definitive fulfilment where, finally, there will be no more tears, evil or suffering.

May the Lord give to all of us the hope of being Saints. However, one of you might ask me: “Father, can one be a Saint in everyday life?” Yes, one can. “But does this mean that we have to pray the whole day?” No, it means that one must do one’s duty the whole day: pray, go to work, look after the children. However, everything must be done with the heart open to God, so that work – also in sickness and in suffering, also in difficulties – is open to God, and thus we can become Saints. May the Lord give us the hope of being Saints. We must not think it is something difficult, that it is easier to be delinquent than Saints! No. We can be Saints because the Lord helps us; It is He who helps us.

It is the great gift that each one of us can give the world. May the Lord give us the grace to believe so profoundly in Him that we become images of Christ for this world. Our history is in need of “mystics”: of persons that reject all domination , that aspire to charity and fraternity; men and women who live accepting also a portion of suffering, because they take charge of others’ toil. However, without these men and women the world would not have hope. Therefore, I wish you – and I wish also for myself – that the Lord give us the hope of being Saints.

Thank you!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian 

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the Deacons of the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide; the Claretian Franciscan Missionaries of the Most Holy Sacrament and the missionaries of Scheut, on the occasion of their respective General Chapters: I exhort each one to live the mission with eyes attentive to the human and existential peripheries. I greet the group of Mayors and Administrators of Logudoro, accompanied by the Bishop of Ozieri, Monsignor Corrado Melis, and those of the City Association of the Most Holy Crucifix, hoping that they will carry out a generous service to the common good. I greet the Command for the Protection of Forests and the Environment of the <Police> Corps, as well as the Love and Freedom Community, which I encourage to support with their efforts the education of young people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, which the international community celebrated yesterday, last Monday I met with a representation of refugees who are guests of Roman parishes and Religious Institutes. I would like to take this occasion of yesterday’s Day to express my sincere appreciation for the campaign for the new migratory law: “I was a Stranger – Humanity that Does Good”, which enjoys the official support of Italian Caritas, the Migrants Foundation and other Catholic organizations.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Next Friday is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, day in which the Church supports all priests with prayer and affection. Dear young people, draw from Jesus’ Heart the nourishment of your spiritual life and source of your hope; dear sick, offer your suffering to the Lord, so that He will pour his love in men’s heart; and you, dear newlyweds, take part in the Eucharist so that, nourished by Christ, you are Christian families touched by the love of that Divine Heart.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

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Pope Reminds NFL Players Values Are Needed on Field and in Lives

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 11:49 AM

Values are to be embodied on the field, but also in all aspects of one’s life.

Pope Francis gave this reminder to members of the National Football League when meeting them before his weekly General Audience today, June 21, 2017, in the Vatican.

Welcoming members and directors of the American Pro Football Hall of Fame to the Vatican, the Argentine Pontiff joked: “As many of you know, I am an avid follower of “football”, but where I come from, the game is played very differently!”

Traditional values of sportsmanship, the Holy Father underscored, are to be embodied, both on the field and in one’s own lives, within families and communities.

© PHOTO.VA – OSSERVATORE ROMANO

“Our world, and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.”

Noting that teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence, are values, or in a religious sense, ‘virtues,’ that have guided them on the field, Francis stressed, these same values are “urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.”

“They are the values,” he explained, “that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family.”

“How greatly our world needs this culture of encounter!”

Pope Francis concluded, wishing them a fruitful visit in the Eternal City, and invoking upon them God’s blessings of joy and peace.

* * *

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-national-football-league/