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Sunday, November 30, 2014

MISSION: Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey

Revisiting the highlights of Pope Francis' visit to Turkey

2014-11-30 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has just concluded a three-day pastoral visit to Turkey which took him to the cities of Ankara and Istanbul.  It was a journey that had a strong emphasis on ecumenical relations and interfaith dialogue and saw the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I sign a joint declaration pledging to intensify their search for Christian unity and calling for a constructive dialogue with Islam. Our correspondent travelling with the Pope to Turkey was Philippa Hitchen and in an interview with Linda Bordoni, she revisited some of the highlights of this papal trip.  

Listen to the full interview with Vatican Radio's correspondent Philippa Hitchen: 

Pope Francis' final engagement before he left Istanbul on Sunday was a meeting with a group of young people including many refugees from conflict zones of the Middle East and Africa. Philippa described the event as a "very poignant" visit and "personal encounter" between the refugees and the Pope that also helps to remind the international community of the huge number of refugees who have flocked to Turkey from neighbouring countries, especially Syria.  

Turning to the Pope's many other engagements during this "very busy" visit, Philippa said there were many moving and significant moments.  One particularly striking moment for her was the Pope's gesture of bowing his head and asking for the blessing of the Orthodox Patriarch during a Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul and she said this spoke volumes about the friendship between the two leaders and the ecumenical dialogue between their Churches.  

"How could you not be moved by the moment that Pope Francis bowed his head and asked the Orthodox Patriarch to bless him and the patriarch planted a kiss on his head….. a real symbol of the friendship between these two people and also a real symbol of the direction that their Churches are taking..…a slow but steady progress towards reconciliation and Christian unity between East and West." 

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Guardian view on the pope’s speech to the European parliament: rediscover your core values
Europe is far from over. It’s a continent of many blessings


The Guardian, Thursday 27 November 2014
Jump to comments (67)
Pope Francis leaves the European parliament in Strasbourg. 'Far from seeking to fuel further disenchantment with the EU, this was a strong-minded plea for a better Europe.' Photograph: Reuters

Few speeches about Europe these days arouse much enthusiasm. The subject is more likely to be greeted with boredom or acrimony, the debate conducted in instant and shallow slogans. So the pope’s message to the European parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, calling for a break from the current angst and “a return to the conviction of the founders of the European Union” came as something of a shock.

It did not play down the woes and inadequacies of the current state of European affairs. On the contrary, the speech included descriptions of the “distrust of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaging in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual people”. But those – step forward, Nigel Farage – who thrive on channelling populist sentiment against the very essence of the European project would be fools or, more likely, cynics to claim that Pope Francis has vindicated them in any way.

Indeed, far from seeking to fuel further disenchantment with the EU, this was a strong-minded plea for a better Europe, one in tune with its founding values of “human dignity” and fundamental rights. It was no Faragiste demand to dismantle or diminish the enterprise. It was instead a call for the “confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe”.

No less important, it was a speech urging all Europeans to look at themselves not through the prism of narrow domestic or intra-EU disputes, but as a continent of many blessings, despite the current anxiety, not least in the eurozone. Yes, it must redefine its role and ambitions in a globalised, interconnected and more complex world. But Europe is far from over: it accounts for only 7% of the world’s population, but 25% of its GDP and 50% of its public spending.

As Francis pointed out, this globalised world has become “less and less Eurocentric”. The Argentinian pope has great credibility to make this point, as well as to remind Europe that it needs to reach out to those who endure great ordeals to reach its shores. For years Jorge Mario Bergoglio built his image and his pastoral activities in Buenos Aires as the archbishop of the poor, the favelas and the downtrodden. He is the first non-European pontiff in over a thousand years, well aware that today’s Catholic church has its greatest constituencies in the global south, parts of the world where Europe is regarded with “aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion”. In 2013, his first trip outside Rome after becoming pope was to the island of Lampedusa, scene of too many migrants’ tragedies.

By castigating a Europe that produces a “general impression of weariness and ageing”, a Europe which is now a “grandmother ... no longer fertile and vibrant”, the pope intended to issue a wake-up call. He aimed his criticism at the plight of the unemployed in the age of austerity and on how contemporary society pushes individuals towards an “uncontrolled consumerism”. The pope wants Europe to “rediscover the best of itself”. Some may see that as a call for miracles. Others will cringe at the reference to lack of fertility. But the overall message must be welcomed for the right reasons, which are about strengthening the EU, not undermining it. The time is long overdue for more voices to speak out, for Europe’s politicians, not least in the UK, to present their vision of the “better” EU they want – and are ready to defend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pope Francis: Address to European Parliament

Pope Francis: Address to European Parliament
A statue of the Virgin Mary is displayed by faithful in front of the European Parliament - REUTERS

25/11/2014 09:48

(Vatican Radio) The full text of the address delivered by Pope Francis to members of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday November 25, 2014.

Mr President and Vice Presidents,

Members of the European Parliament,

All associated with the work of this Institution,

Dear Friends,

I thank you for inviting me to address this institution which is fundamental to the life of the European Union, and for giving me this opportunity to speak, through you, to the more than five-hundred million citizens whom you represent in the twenty-eight Member States. I am especially grateful to you, Mr President, for your warm words of welcome in the name of the entire assembly.

My visit comes more than a quarter of a century after that of Pope John Paul II. Since then, much has changed throughout Europe and the world as a whole. The opposing blocs which then divided the continent in two no longer exist, and gradually the hope is being realized that "Europe, endowed with sovereign and free institutions, will one day reach the full dimensions that geography, and even more, history have given it".[1]

As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less "Eurocentric". Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.

In addressing you today, I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe.

It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe - together with the entire world - is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life.

It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed withtranscendent dignity.

I feel bound to stress the close bond between these two words: "dignity" and "transcendent".

"Dignity" was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War. Our recent past has been marked by the concern to protect human dignity, in constrast to the manifold instances of violence and discrimination which, even in Europe, took place in the course of the centuries. Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterized as it is by an enriching encounter whose "distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them",[2] thus forging the very concept of the "person".

Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment, since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age.

In the end, what kind of dignity is there without the possibility of freely expressing one's thought or professing one's religious faith? What dignity can there be without a clear juridical framework which limits the rule of force and enables the rule of law to prevail over the power of tyranny? What dignity can men and women ever enjoy if they are subjected to all types of discrimination? What dignity can a person ever hope to find when he or she lacks food and the bare essentials for survival and, worse yet, when they lack the work which confers dignity?

Promoting the dignity of the person means recognizing that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests.

At the same time, however, care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts, as if the person were a "monad" (μονάς), increasingly unconcerned with other surrounding "monads". The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself.

I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the "all of us" made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.[3] In fact, unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence.

To speak of transcendent human dignity thus means appealing to human nature, to our innate capacity to distinguish good from evil, to that "compass" deep within our hearts, which God has impressed upon all creation.[4] Above all, it means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but asbeings in relation. In my view, one of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others. This is especially true of the elderly, who are often abandoned to their fate, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future. It is also seen in the many poor who dwell in our cities and in the disorientation of immigrants who came here seeking a better future.

This loneliness has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful. In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a "grandmother", no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.

Together with this, we encounter certain rather selfish lifestyles, marked by an opulence which is no longer sustainable and frequently indifferent to the world around us, and especially to the poorest of the poor. To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings.[5] Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that - as is so tragically apparent - whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.

This is the great mistake made "when technology is allowed to take over";[6] the result is a confusion between ends and means".[7] It is the inevitable consequence of a "throwaway culture" and an uncontrolled consumerism. Upholding the dignity of the person means instead acknowledging the value of human life, which is freely given us and hence cannot be an object of trade or commerce. As members of this Parliament, you are called to a great mission which may at times seem an impossible one: to tend to the needs of individuals and peoples. To tend to those in need takes strength and tenderness, effort and generosity in the midst of a functionalistic and privatized mindset which inexorably leads to a "throwaway culture". To care for individuals and peoples in need means protecting memory and hope; it means taking responsibility for the present with its situations of utter marginalization and anguish, and being capable of bestowing dignity upon it.[8]

How, then, can hope in the future be restored, so that, beginning with the younger generation, there can be a rediscovery of that confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe, a Europe which is creative and resourceful, respectful of rights and conscious of its duties?

To answer this question, allow me to use an image. One of the most celebrated frescoes of Raphael is found in the Vatican and depicts the so-called "School of Athens". Plato and Aristotle are in the centre. Plato's finger is pointed upward, to the world of ideas, to the sky, to heaven as we might say. Aristotle holds his hand out before him, towards the viewer, towards the world, concrete reality. This strikes me as a very apt image of Europe and her history, made up of the constant interplay between heaven and earth, where the sky suggests that openness to the transcendent - to God - which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe, while the earth represents Europe's practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems.

The future of Europe depends on the recovery of the vital connection between these two elements. A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that "humanistic spirit" which it still loves and defends.

Taking as a starting point this opening to the transcendent, I would like to reaffirm the centrality of the human person, which otherwise is at the mercy of the whims and the powers of the moment. I consider to be fundamental not only the legacy that Christianity has offered in the past to the social and cultural formation of the continent, but above all the contribution which it desires to offer today, and in the future, to Europe's growth. This contribution does not represent a threat to the secularity of states or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union, but rather an enrichment. This is clear from the ideals which shaped Europe from the beginning, such as peace, subsidiarity and reciprocal solidarity, and a humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person.

I wish, then, to reiterate the readiness of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe (COMECE), to engage in meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union. I am likewise convinced that a Europe which is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential, will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West, since "it is precisely man's forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence".[9]

Here I cannot fail to recall the many instances of injustice and persecution which daily afflict religious minorities, and Christians in particular, in various parts of our world. Communities and individuals today find themselves subjected to barbaric acts of violence: they are evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many.

The motto of the European Union is United in Diversity. Unity, however, does not mean uniformity of political, economic and cultural life, or ways of thinking. Indeed, all authentic unity draws from the rich diversities which make it up: in this sense it is like a family, which is all the more united when each of its members is free to be fully himself or herself. I consider Europe as a family of peoples who will sense the closeness of the institutions of the Union when these latter are able wisely to combine the desired ideal of unity with the diversity proper to each people, cherishing particular traditions, acknowledging its past history and its roots, liberated from so many manipulations and phobias. Affirming the centrality of the human person means, above all, allowing all to express freely their individuality and their creativity, both as individuals and as peoples.

At the same time, the specific features of each one represent an authentic richness to the degree that they are placed at the service of all. The proper configuration of the European Union must always be respected, based as it is on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, so that mutual assistance can prevail and progress can be made on the basis of mutual trust.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament, within this dynamic of unity and particularity, yours is the responsibility of keeping democracy alive for the peoples of Europe. It is no secret that a conception of unity seen as uniformity strikes at the vitality of the democratic system, weakening the rich, fruitful and constructive interplay of organizations and political parties. This leads to the risk of living in a world of ideas, of mere words, of images, of sophistry. and to end up confusing the reality of democracy with a new political nominalism. Keeping democracy alive in Europe requires avoiding the many globalizing tendencies to dilute reality: namely, angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems lacking kindness, and intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom[10].

Keeping democracies alive is a challenge in the present historic moment. The true strength of our democracies - understood as expressions of the political will of the people - must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal, which weaken them and turn them into uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires. This is one of the challenges which history sets before you today.

To give Europe hope means more than simply acknowledging the centrality of the human person; it also implies nurturing the gifts of each man and woman. It means investing in individuals and in those settings in which their talents are shaped and flourish. The first area surely is that of education, beginning with the family, the fundamental cell and most precious element of any society. The family, united, fruitful and indissoluble, possesses the elements fundamental for fostering hope in the future. Without this solid basis, the future ends up being built on sand, with dire social consequences. Then too, stressing the importance of the family not only helps to give direction and hope to new generations, but also to many of our elderly, who are often forced to live alone and are effectively abandoned because there is no longer the warmth of a family hearth able to accompany and support them.

Alongside the family, there are the various educational institutes: schools and universities. Education cannot be limited to providing technical expertise alone. Rather, it should encourage the more complex process of assisting the human person to grow in his or her totality. Young people today are asking for a suitable and complete education which can enable them to look to the future with hope instead of disenchantment. There is so much creative potential in Europe in the various fields of scientific research, some of which have yet to be fully explored. We need only think, for example, of alternative sources of energy, the development of which will assist in the protection of the environment.

Europe has always been in the vanguard of efforts to promote ecology. Our earth needs constant concern and attention. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us. This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters. We need to love and respect nature, but "instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating, exploiting; we do not 'preserve' the earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely-given gift to look after".[11] Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes. I am thinking above all of the agricultural sector, which provides sustenance and nourishment to our human family. It is intolerable that millions of people around the world are dying of hunger while tons of food are discarded each day from our tables. Respect for nature also calls for recognizing that man himself is a fundamental part of it. Along with an environmental ecology, there is also need of that human ecology which consists in respect for the person, which I have wanted to emphasize in addressing you today.

The second area in which people's talents flourish is labour. The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all there is a need to restore dignity to labour by ensuring proper working conditions. This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development. It also implies favouring a suitable social context geared not to the exploitation of persons, but to ensuring, precisely through labour, their ability to create a family and educate their children.

Likewise, there needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging particularistic solutions to the problem, solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labour and continuing social tensions. Europe will be able to confront the problems associated with immigration only if it is capable of clearly asserting its own cultural identity and enacting adequate legislation to protect the rights of European citizens and to ensure the acceptance of immigrants. Only if it is capable of adopting fair, courageous and realistic policies which can assist the countries of origin in their own social and political development and in their efforts to resolve internal conflicts - the principal cause of this phenomenon - rather than adopting policies motivated by self-interest, which increase and feed such conflicts. We need to take action against the causes and not only the effects.

Mr President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Awareness of one's own identity is also necessary for entering into a positive dialogue with the States which have asked to become part of the Union in the future. I am thinking especially of those in the Balkans, for which membership in the European Union could be a response to the desire for peace in a region which has suffered greatly from past conflicts. Awareness of one's own identity is also indispensable for relations with other neighbouring countries, particularly with those bordering the Mediterranean, many of which suffer from internal conflicts, the pressure of religious fundamentalism and the reality of global terrorism.

Upon you, as legislators, it is incumbent to protect and nurture Europe's identity, so that its citizens can experience renewed confidence in the institutions of the Union and in its underlying project of peace and friendship. Knowing that "the more the power of men and women increases, the greater is individual and collective responsibility",[12] I encourage you to work to make Europe rediscover the best of itself.

An anonymous second-century author wrote that "Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body".[13] The function of the soul is to support the body, to be its conscience and its historical memory. A two-thousand-year-old history links Europe and Christianity. It is a history not free of conflicts and errors, but one constantly driven by the desire to work for the good of all. We see this in the beauty of our cities, and even more in the beauty of the many works of charity and constructive cooperation throughout this continent. This history, in large part, must still be written. It is our present and our future. It is our identity. Europe urgently needs to recover its true features in order to grow, as its founders intended, in peace and harmony, since it is not yet free of conflicts.

Dear Members of the European Parliament, the time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. In building a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present. The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends and protects man, every man and woman. A Europe which bestrides the earth surely and securely, a precious point of reference for all humanity!

Thank you!

[1] JOHN PAUL II, Address to the European Parliament (11 October 1988), 5.

[2] JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (8 October 1988), 3.

[3] Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 7; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 26.

[4] Cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 37.

[5] Cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55.

[6] BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 71.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 209.

[9] BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps, 7 January 2013.

[10] Evangelii Gaudium, 231.

[11] FRANCIS, General Audience, 5 June 2013.

[12] Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Gaudium et Spes, 34.

[13] Cf. Letter to Diognetus, 6.
(Emer McCarthy)

Monday, November 24, 2014

All Christians called to be missionaries, 'not just the few'

Pope: all Christians called to be missionaries, 'not just the few'

2014-11-23 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) All Christians and "not just the few" are called to intensify their missionary spirit and go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, said Pope Francis.He issued the call on Saturday in speaking at the Vatican to a group of more than 700 participants in Italy's National Missionary Congress, which was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Missio Foundation.

Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci:


Below are excerpts from the Pope's message, translated by Vatican Radio:

Dear brothers and sisters,

 … The program for your conference takes inspiration from when the Lord said to the prophet Jonah: "Go to the great city of Nineveh." Jonah, however, initially runs away. … But then he goes, and in Nineveh, everything changes: God shows his mercy and the city is converted. Mercy changes the story of individuals and even of peoples. … The invitation extended to Jonah is today extended to you. And this is important. Every generation is called to be missionary.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I spoke of an outbound Church. A missionary Church cannot but be outbound, unafraid of encountering, of discovering newness, of speaking of the joy of the Gospel. To all, without distinction. The diverse realities that you represent in the Church in Italy indicate that the spirit missio ad gentes must become the mission of the Church in the world: going out, listening to the cry of the poor and of those further afield, encountering all and proclaiming the joy of the Gospel.

I thank you for what you do in your various roles: as part of the offices of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as directors of diocesan offices, consecrated and lay people together. I ask you to commit yourselves with passion to keep this spirit alive. I see with joy many lay people together with bishops and priests. The mission is accomplished by all Christians, not just the few. Our Christian vocation asks us to be carriers of this missionary spirit so as to bring about a true "missionary conversion" of the whole Church, as I hoped for in Evangelii Gaudium.

The Church in Italy has given numerous priests and lay people fidei donum, who chose to spend their lives building the Church in the peripheries of the world, among the poor and the distant. This is a gift for the universal Church and for all peoples. I exhort you not to let yourselves be robbed of the hope and the dream of changing the world with the Gospel, starting with the human and existential peripheries. To go out means to overcome the temptation to speak among ourselves, forgetting the many who wait for a word of mercy from us, a word of comfort, of hope. The Gospel of Jesus is realized in history. Jesus himself was a man in the periphery, from Galilee, far from the centres of power of the Roman Empire and from Jerusalem. He met the poor, the sick, the possessed, sinners, prostitutes, gathering around him a small number of disciples and some women who listened to him and served him. And yet, his word was the beginning of a turning point in history, the beginning of a spiritual and human revolution, the Good News of a Lord, who died and rose for us.

Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to intensify the missionary spirit and enthusiasm for the mission and to hold high your commitment—in the dioceses, missionary institutes, communities, movements and associations—the spirit of Evangelii Gaudium, without being discouraged by the difficulties, which are never lacking. Sometimes, even in the Church, we get caught by pessimism, which risks depriving many men and women of the proclamation of the Gospel. Let us go forward with hope! The many missionary martyrs of the faith and of charity show us that victory is only in love and in a life spent for the Lord and for neighbour, starting with the poor. The poor are the travel companions of an outbound Church because they are the first that we encounter. The poor are also your evangelizers because they indicate to you the peripheries where the Gospel is yet to be proclaimed and lived. To go out and not to remain indifferent to extreme poverty, war, violence in our cities, the abandonment of the elderly, the anonymity of so many people in need and the distance we keep from the least among us. To go out and to be workers for peace, that "peace" which the Lord gives us each day and of which the world is very much in need. Missionaries never renounce the dream of peace, even when they live difficulties and persecution, which today has returned to make itself felt strongly.

May the Lord make the passion for the mission grow within you and render you wherever witnesses of his love and mercy. And may the Holy Virgin, the Star of the New Evangelization, protect you and render you strong in the task that has been entrusted to you. I ask you to pray for me and I bless you from the heart. 



(from Vatican Radio)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pope at Santa Marta: Keeping God’s Temple clean

Pope at Santa Marta: Keeping God's Temple cleant

2014-11-21 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) People will forgive a weak priest or pastoral minister, but they will not forgive a greedy one or one who mistreats people, said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning as he marked the feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a prayer that she help us keep the Lord's Temple clean.

Basing his homily on the Gospel of the Day in which Jesus drives the merchants from the Temple because they had turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves, Pope Francis said in doing so Jesus was purifying the Temple of God because it had been profaned and with it the People of God.  The Temple had been defiled with the gravest of sins: scandal.

"People are good – continued Pope Francis- people went to the Temple and did not look at these things, they sought God and prayed ... but they had to change their money into coins to make offers". The people of God did not go to the Temple for these people, for those who were selling things, they went because it was the Temple of God" and "there was corruption that scandalized the people".  Pope Francis recalled the biblical story of Anna, a humble woman, mother of Samuel, who goes to the temple to ask for the grace of a child: "she whispered her prayers silently" while the priest and his two sons were corrupt, they exploited the pilgrims, they scandalized the people. "I think of how our attitude can scandalize people - said Pope Francis – with unpriestly habits in the Temple: the scandal of doing business, the scandal of worldliness ... How often when we enter a church do we see  – even today – do we see a price list hanging there "for baptism, blessings, Mass intentions". And people are scandalized".

"Once, as a newly ordained priest, I was with a group of college students and one couple wanted to get married. They went to a parish, but they wanted a wedding ceremony with the Mass. And, the parish secretary there said: 'No, no, you cannot' - 'Why can't we have a Mass? If the Council always recommends people to have a ceremony with the Mass ... '-' No, you cannot, because it can't last more than 20 minutes'-' But why? '-'Because there are other slots [in the timetable for ceremonies]'-'But, we want the Mass! '-' So you will have to pay for two slots! '. So in order to have a wedding ceremony with the Mass had to pay two slots. This is the sin of scandal".

The Pope added: "We know what Jesus says to those who are the cause of scandal: 'Better to be thrown into the sea'".

"When those who are in the Temple – be they priests, lay people, secretaries, but who manage the Temple, who ministry of the Temple - become businessmen, people are scandalized. And we are responsible for this. The laity too! Everyone. Because if I see this in my parish, I have to have the courage to say these things to the parish priest. And the people are scandalized. It is interesting: the people of God can forgive their priests, when they are weak; when they slip on a sin ... the people know how to forgive them. But there are two things that the people of God cannot forgive: a priest attached to money and a priest who mistreats people. This they cannot forgive! It is scandalous when the Temple, the House of God, becomes a place of business, as in the case of that wedding: the church was being rented out".

Jesus "is not angry" - said the Pope - "it is the Wrath of God, zeal for the House of God" because you cannot serve two masters, "either you worship the living God, or your worship money".

"Why does Jesus have an issue with money? Because redemption is free; it is God's free gift, He comes to brings us the all-encompassing gratuity of God's love. So when the Church or churches start doing business, then it is said that ….salvation is not so free…This is why Jesus takes the whip to hand to carry out this act of the purification of the Temple. Today the Liturgy celebrates the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the Temple: as a young girl ... A simple woman, like Anna,   and in that moment the Blessed Virgin Mary enters. May she teach all of us, pastors and those who have pastoral responsibility, to keep the Temple clean, to receive with love those who come, as if each one were the Blessed Virgin".

(from Vatican Radio)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pope Francis commissions showers for homeless by St. Peter’s Square

Pope Francis commissions showers for homeless by St. Peter's Square

2014-11-14 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has commissioned three showers to be built for use by the homeless in the area under St. Peter's colonnades. The showers will be installed in an existing lavatory block used by pilgrims and tourists and the building works are set to begin on November 17th.  The initiative was inspired by the experience of the Pope's almoner (almsgiver) Archbishop Konrad Krajewski and received the immediate blessing of the Pope.

Archbishop Krajewski recently meet a 50 year old homeless man from Sardinia named Franco on the streets of Rome and offered to buy him dinner because it was his birthday. The man declined his invitation explaining that he couldn't go to the restaurant with him because he stank. Not deterred, Archbishop Krajewski took the homeless man out for a meal anyway at a Chinese restaurant. During dinner the man explained to the archbishop that homeless people in Rome could always find some food but what they really lacked was a place to wash.  

In addition to the 3 showers that will be built by St. Peter's Square, Archbishop Krajewski has already asked ten parishes in Rome to build showers for use by the homeless, with money donated by the Pope's charity.

The archbishop says the aim of this project is to restore dignity to Rome's homeless people.  According to the Catholic charity Sant'Egidio there are an estimated 8,000 people living rough on the streets of the Italian capital.

Listen to this report by Susy Hodges: 

(from Vatican Radio)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blessed Rupert Mayer, SJ

Prayer of Rupert Mayer

The following text come from the song produced by Bukas Palad Music Ministry:

Lord, what You will let it be so
Where You will there we will go
What is Your will help us to know

Lord, when You will the time is right
In You there's joy in strife
For Your will I'll give my life

To ease Your burden brings no pain
To forego all for You is gain
As long as I in You remain

Because You will it, it is best
Because You will it, we are blest
Till in Your hands our hearts find rest
Till in Your hands our hearts find rest


Friday, November 7, 2014

Pope Francis: Vatican conference on traditional marriage

Pope Francis to open Vatican conference on traditional marriage

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A month after closing a Synod of Bishops on the family stirred by controversy over divorce, same-sex unions and other nonmarital relationships, Pope Francis will open an interreligious conference dedicated to traditional marriage.

The Vatican-sponsored gathering, on the "Complementarity of Man and Woman," will take place Nov. 17-19 and feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries and various Christian churches, as well as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism.

Married couples gather for a dinner-dance at St. Timothy's Church in Mesa, Ariz. The Rev. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in California, will be among participants in an interreligious conference dedicated to traditional marriage later this month at the Vatican. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

The conference will aim to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society," according to organizers.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and the Rev. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in California, will be among the participants.

Other Americans at the conference will include Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Mercy Sister Prudence Allen, former chair of the philosophy department at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, whom Pope Francis named to the International Theological Commission in September.

Other notable speakers will include Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Great Britain, and Anglican Bishops N.T. Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali.

Pope Francis will address the conference and preside over its first morning session Nov. 17, following remarks by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The conference was an initiative of Cardinal Muller, who proposed it to Pope Francis in November 2013, according to Helen Alvare, a professor at George Mason University School of Law in Virginia, who is handling press relations for the event.

The conference is officially sponsored by the doctrinal congregation, and co-sponsored by the pontifical councils for Promoting Christian Unity, for Interreligious Dialogue and for the Family. The heads of all four curia offices are scheduled to address the assembly.

Topics of lectures and videos will include "The Cradle of Life and Love: A Mother and Father for the World's Children" and "The Sacramentality of Human Love According to St. John Paul II."

Given its timing and subject matter, the conference is likely to invite comparisons with the Oct. 5-19 synod on the family. Several conference participants have already commented publicly on the earlier event.

One of the synod's most discussed topics was a proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Cardinal Muller was a leading opponent of that proposal.

Archbishop Chaput told an audience in New York Oct. 20 that he had been "very disturbed" by press reports of last month's synod, saying, "I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was of confusion," though he added: "I don't think that was the real thing there." The archbishop will play host to the September 2015 World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis is widely expected to attend.

Rev. Warren was one of 48 Christian ministers and scholars who signed an open letter to Pope Francis and the synod fathers in September, urging the assembly to defend traditional marriage, among other ways, by supporting efforts to "restore legal provisions that protect marriage as a conjugal union of one man and one woman."

Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote a blog post in response to the synod's controversial midterm report, which used remarkably conciliatory language toward people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including those in same-sex unions and other non-marital relationships.

Moore praised the document for suggesting that "we should not drive sinners away, but that we should receive them and nurture them toward Christ," but said that the "church is not itself, though, to be made up of unrepentant people."