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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pope Francis: Rigidity is a sign of a weak heart

Pope Francis: Rigidity is a sign of a weak heart

2014-12-15 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The day's Gospel reading, which relates how the chief priests asked Jesus by what authority He did His works, was the focus of the Pope's homily on Monday. It is a demand, the Pope explained, that demonstrates the "hypocritical heart" of those people – people who were not interested in the truth, who sought only their own interests, and went where the wind blew: you should go this way, you should go that way…" They were weathervanes, all of them! All of them! Without consistency. A heart without consistency. And so they negotiated everything: they negotiated interior freedom, they negotiated the faith, they negotiated their county, everything except appearances." To such people, getting the best out of every situation was the important thing. They were opportunists: "They profited from the situations."

"And yet," the Pope continued, "some of you might ask me: 'But Father, these people were observers of the law: on Saturday they didn't travel more than a hundred metres – or however many they were able to go – they never, never sat down to eat without washing their hands and making their ablutions; they were a very observant people, very secure in their habits.' Yes, it's true – but only in appearance. They were strong, but on the outside. They were in a cast. The heart was very week, they didn't know what they believed. And because of this their life, the outer part of their life, was completely regulated, but the heart was otherwise: a weak heart, and a skin that was plastered over, strong, harsh. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us that the Christian should have a strong heart, a firm heart, a heart built on the rock, that is Christ; and then, in the way it goes out, it goes out with prudence: 'In this case, I do this, but…' It is the way of going out, but the heart is not negotiable, the rock is not negotiable. The rock is Christ, it is not negotiable":

"This is the drama of the hypocrisy of this people. And Jesus never negotiates His heart of the Son of the Father, but He was so open to the people, seeking paths to help them. 'But this can't be done; our discipline, our doctrine say this can't be done!' they say. 'Why do your disciples eat grain in the fields, when they travel, on the day of the Sabbath? It can't be done!' They were so rigid in their discipline: 'No, the discipline can't be touched, it's sacred.'"

Pope Francis recalled how "Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast":

"But some of you might remember. You couldn't even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn't swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It's true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: 'Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.' So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. 'But the poor people, with such warmth.' These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o'clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] 'our discipline' – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, 'rotting in the heart,' weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart."

"This is the drama of these people," and Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism:

"Even our life can become like that, even our life. And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: 'But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Saviour. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing."

"But the simple people," the Pope said, "do not err," despite the words of these doctors of the law, "because the people know, they have a certain 'flair' for the faith."

The Pope concluded his homily with this prayer: "I ask the Lord for the grace that our hearts might be simple, luminous with the truth that He gives us, and thus we might be able to be lovable, forgiving, understanding of others, [to have] a large heart with the people, to be merciful. Never to condemn, never to condemn. If you have wanted to condemn, you condemn yourself, who has some reason, eh?" He continued, "Let us ask the Lord for the grace that He might give us this interior light, that convinces us that the rock is Him alone, and not so many stories we make as if they were important things; and that He might tell us – that He might tell us! – the path, that He might accompany us on the path, that He might enlarge our hearts, so that they can enter into the problems of so many people, and that He might give us the grace that these people did not have: the grace to feel that we are sinners."

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe: Pope Francis

Pope Francis: Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe

2014-12-13 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in St Peter's Basilica on Friday evening, to mark the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Below, please find Vatican Radio's working translation of the Holy Father's prepared remarks.


"All the people praise you, Lord, all the people. Have mercy on us and give us your blessing; Lord, turn your eyes toward us. The earth knows your goodness and the people your salvific works. The nations sing of you with jubilation, because you judge the world with justice." (Psalm 66).

The prayer of the psalmist, pleads for forgiveness and blessing for the peoples and nations and, at the same time, expresses with joyful praise the spiritual sense of this Eucharistic celebration. Today, with gratitude and joy, the peoples and nations of our great Latin American homeland commemorate the feast of their "patron", Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose devotion extends from Alaska to Patagonia. With the Archangel Gabriel and Saint Isabella, we begin our filial prayer: "Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you." (Luke 1:28).

On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we gratefully remember her visitation to us and her maternal closeness. We sing with her the "Magnificat", we entrust to her the lives of our people and the continental mission of the Church.

When she appeared to Saint Juan Diego in Tepeyac, she introduced herself as the "ever perfect Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God" (Nican Mopohua), leading to a new visitation. She tenderly hastened to embrace the new people of the Americas at the  dramatic moment they came into being: "A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet" (Rev 12:1). She assumed within herself the cultural and religious symbolism of the native people, announcing her Son and giving Him to the new and suffering people of mixed race. Many leapt for joy and hope before her visitation and before the gift of her Son, and the most perfect disciple of the Lord became the "great missionary who brings the Gospel to our America" (Aparecida, 269). The Son of Mary most Holy, his Immaculate Mother, reveals himself from the origins of this new peoples' history, as the "true God who gives us Life," as the good news of filial dignity of all the inhabitants of America.

No longer is anyone a servant, but we are all children of the same Father, brothers and sisters together. The Holy Mother of God not only visited these people, but she chose to remain with them. She left her sacred image mysteriously imprinted on the "tilma" (or cloak) of her messenger in order that we might keep in mind the symbol of Mary's covenant with these people, conferring her spirit and tenderness.

Through her intercession, the Christian faithful began to become the richest treasure of the soul of the American people, whose precious pearl is Jesus Christ. It is a patrimony which is transmitted and manifest today in the many baptism of multitudes of people, in the faith, hope and charity of many; in precious popular piety; and in that popular ethos that reveals itself in an awareness of human dignity, in the passion for justice, in solidarity with the poorest and suffering, in hope that is sometimes against every hope.

That's why we here today can continue to praise God for the wonders he has done in the lives of the Latin American people. God "has hidden these things from the wise and the learned, [and has] revealed them to the childlike." (Mt 11:25) In the wonders which the Lord has achieved in Mary, she recognizes her Son's style and way of acting in the story of Salvation. Sweeping away worldly judgments, destroying idols of power, riches, success at any cost, denouncing self-sufficiency, pride and a secularized Messiah complex which distances from God, the Mary's Magnificat professes that God delights in subverting ideologies and worldly hierarchies.

He lifts up the lowly, comes to the aid of the poor and the little, he fills with goodness, blessings and hope those who trust in his mercy from generation to generation, while he casts down the rich, the powerful, and rulers from their thrones.

The "Magnificat" introduces us to the Beatitudes, the earliest synthesis of the Gospel. In the light of the Beatitudes we feel compelled to ask that the future of Latin America be forged for the poor and those who suffer, for the humble, those who hunger and thirst for justice, for the compassionate, the pure of heart, those who work for peace, and for those who are persecuted because of Christ's name, "for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." (Mt 5: 1-11).

And we make this request because Latin America is the "continent of hope"! Because she hopes in new ways of development which combine traditional Christianity and civil progress, justice and equity with reconciliation, scientific development and technology with human wisdom. Fruitful suffering with joyful hope. We can protect this hope only with great amounts of truth and mercy, the basis for all realities and revolutionary engines of an authentically new life.

We place these realities and these desires on the altar as a gift pleasing to God. Imploring his forgiveness and trusting in his Mercy, we celebrate the sacrifice and the paschal victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only Lord, the "liberator" of all of our slavery and misery derived from sin. He calls us to live the true life, a more human life, to live together as children and brothers, now that the doors to "the new heaven and the new earth" are open (Rev 21:1). We implore the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the name "Our Lady of Guadalupe" – the Mother of God, our Queen, our Lady, the young woman, our Little One (as called Saint Juan Diego called her), and with all the loving names which popular piety has given her – that she may continue to accompany, help and protect our people.

May she lead by the hand all pilgrim children in these lands to the encounter with her Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, present in the Church, in its holiness, especially in the Eucharist, present in the treasure of his Word and teachings, present in the faithful and holy people of God, in those who suffer and in the humble of heart. So be it. Amen!

(from Vatican Radio)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Prayers to Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception: Pope Francis

Prayers to Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception

2014-12-09 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Monday prayed to Our Lady at Piazza di Spagna in Rome, asking her to invoke her maternal protection "for us, our families, this city and the whole world." He also prayed that humanity would be free from every form of spiritual and material slavery.

Please find below a full Vatican Radio translation of Pope Francis' prayer on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Mary our Mother, today the People of God celebrate you and venerate you as Immaculate, preserved forever from the stain of sin.

Accept the homage I offer you in the name of the Church in Rome and throughout the world.

Knowing that you, who are our Mother, are totally free from sin, is of great comfort to us.

Knowing that evil has no power over you, fills us with hope and strength in the daily struggle we have to face against the threats of the evil one.

But we are not alone in this struggle, we are not orphans because Jesus, before dying on the Cross, gave you to us as our Mother.

Even though we are sinners, we are still your children, children of the Immaculate, called to that holiness that shines in you by the grace of God since the beginning.

Inspired by this hope, today we invoke your maternal protection for us, our families, this city and the whole world.

Through your intercession, may the power of God's love that preserved you from original sin, free humanity from every form of spiritual and material slavery and make God's plan of salvation be victorious in both hearts and in history.

May grace prevail over pride in us too, your children.

May we become merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.

During this time leading to the celebration of Jesus' birth, teach us to go against the flow: to strip ourselves, to be humble and giving, to listen and be silent, to go out of ourselves, giving space to the beauty of God, source of true joy.

Pray for us, our Immaculate Mother!


(from Vatican Radio)

Monday, December 8, 2014


Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Clementine Hall
Monday, 12 February 2007


Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, 
Esteemed Professors, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with particular pleasure that I welcome you at the beginning of the Congress' work in which you will be engaged in the following days on a theme of considerable importance for the present historical moment, namely, the natural moral law.

I thank Bishop Rino Fisichella, Rector Magnificent of the Pontifical Lateran University, for the sentiments expressed in the address with which he has introduced this meeting.

There is no doubt that we are living in a moment of extraordinary development in the human capacity to decipher the rules and structures of matter, and in the consequent dominion of man over nature.

We all see the great advantages of this progress and we see more and more clearly the threat of destruction of nature by what we do.

There is another less visible danger, but no less disturbing:  the method that permits us to know ever more deeply the rational structures of matter makes us ever less capable of perceiving the source of this rationality, creative Reason. The capacity to see the laws of material being makes us incapable of seeing the ethical message contained in being, a message that tradition calls lex naturalis, natural moral law.

This word for many today is almost incomprehensible due to a concept of nature that is no longer metaphysical, but only empirical. The fact that nature, being itself, is no longer a transparent moral message creates a sense of disorientation that renders the choices of daily life precarious and uncertain.

Naturally, the disorientation strikes the younger generations in a particular way, who must in this context find the fundamental choices for their life.

It is precisely in the light of this contestation that all the urgency of the necessity to reflect upon the theme of natural law and to rediscover its truth common to all men appears. The said law, to which the Apostle Paul refers (cf. Rom 2: 14-15), is written on the heart of man and is consequently, even today, accessible.

This law has as its first and general principle, "to do good and to avoid evil". This is a truth which by its very evidence immediately imposes itself on everyone. From it flows the other more particular principles that regulate ethical justice on the rights and duties of everyone.

So does the principle of respect for human life from its conception to its natural end, because this good of life is not man's property but the free gift of God. Besides this is the duty to seek the truth as the necessary presupposition of every authentic personal maturation.

Another fundamental application of the subject is freedom. Yet taking into account the fact that human freedom is always a freedom shared with others, it is clear that the harmony of freedom can be found only in what is common to all:  the truth of the human being, the fundamental message of being itself, exactly the lex naturalis.

And how can we not mention, on one hand, the demand of justice that manifests itself in giving unicuique suum and, on the other, the expectation of solidarity that nourishes in everyone, especially if they are poor, the hope of the help of the more fortunate?

In these values are expressed unbreakable and contingent norms that do not depend on the will of the legislator and not even on the consensus that the State can and must give. They are, in fact, norms that precede any human law: as such, they are not subject to modification by anyone. 
The natural law, together with fundamental rights, is the source from which ethical imperatives also flow, which it is only right to honour.

In today's ethics and philosophy of Law, petitions of juridical positivism are widespread. As a result, legislation often becomes only a compromise between different interests:  seeking to transform private interests or wishes into law that conflict with the duties deriving from social responsibility.

In this situation it is opportune to recall that every juridical methodology, be it on the local or international level, ultimately draws its legitimacy from its rooting in the natural law, in the ethical message inscribed in the actual human being.

Natural law is, definitively, the only valid bulwark against the arbitrary power or the deception of ideological manipulation. The knowledge of this law inscribed on the heart of man increases with the progress of the moral conscience.

The first duty for all, and particularly for those with public responsibility, must therefore be to promote the maturation of the moral conscience. This is the fundamental progress without which all other progress proves non-authentic.

The law inscribed in our nature is the true guarantee offered to everyone in order to be able to live in freedom and to be respected in their own dignity.

What has been said up to this point has very concrete applications if one refers to the family, that is, to "the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state... established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws" (Gaudium et Spes,n. 48).

Concerning this, the Second Vatican Council has opportunely recalled that the institution of marriage has been "confirmed by the divine law", and therefore "this sacred bond... for the good of the partner, of the children and of society no longer depends on human decision alone" (ibid.).

Therefore, no law made by man can override the norm written by the Creator without society becoming dramatically wounded in what constitutes its basic foundation. To forget this would mean to weaken the family, penalizing the children and rendering the future of society precarious.

Lastly, I feel the duty to affirm yet again that not all that is scientifically possible is also ethically licit. 
Technology, when it reduces the human being to an object of experimentation, results in abandoning the weak subject to the arbitration of the stronger. To blindly entrust oneself to technology as the only guarantee of progress, without offering at the same time an ethical code that penetrates its roots in that same reality under study and development, would be equal to doing violence to human nature with devastating consequences for all.

The contribution of scientists is of primary importance. Together with the progress of our capacity to dominate nature, scientists must also contribute to help understand the depth of our responsibility for man and for nature entrusted to him.

On this basis it is possible to develop a fruitful dialogue between believers and non-believers; between theologians, philosophers, jurists and scientists, which can offer to legislation as well precious material for personal and social life.

Therefore, I hope these days of study will bring not only a greater sensitivity of the learned with regard to the natural moral law, but will also serve to create conditions so that this theme may reach an ever fuller awareness of the inalienable value that the lex naturalispossesses for a real and coherent progress of private life and the social order.

With this wish, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for you and for your academic commitment to research and reflection, while I impart to all with affection the Apostolic Blessing.


© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pope Francis visits Armenian Patriarch: TURKEY

Pope Francis visits Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul hospital

2014-12-01 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Before leaving for the airport to board his flight back to Rome at the end of his visit to Turkey, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Armenian Patriarch of Constaninople, Mesrob Mutafian, who is seriously ill at the San Salvatore Armenian hospital in Istanbul.  



(from Vatican Radio)

Bombing of Mosque: “extremely grave sin against God.” - Pope Francis

Pope Francis: The bombing on Kano Mosque: "extremely grave sin against God."

2014-11-30 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) On the last day of his visit to Turkey, Pope Francis has condemned the Friday 28 November, bomb attack on a busy Mosque in Kano, northern Nigeria.

Pope Francis was speaking at the end of a joint Liturgical prayer service which he held with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I. The Istanbul-based Bartholomew I is the leader of many of the world's Orthodox Christians. The Liturgical service (Divina Liturgia) for thanksgiving and peace was held at the Orthodox Church of St. George in Istanbul, Turkey.

At the end of the Liturgy, Pope Francis told the world to rid itself of indifference towards the poor; hungry; disillusioned youth without jobs and many of the world's victims of conflict. In light of the message of the Gospel, he spoke of the need to overcome structures of poverty that continue to make create so much suffering in the world. Speaking in Italian, Pope Francis said, the world is called to defeat the "the globalisation of indifference." Then he went on to describe the bombing and attack on the Mosque in Kano as an "extremely grave sin against God."

On Friday, a bomb exploded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up and three gunmen then opened fire on worshippers during weekly prayers at the Grand Mosque of Kano. Several reports say at least 120 people were killed and 270 others were wounded in the attack blamed on Boko Haram Islamic insurgents.

Boko Haram has no regard for traditional Islamic leaders of Nigeria. The Mosque that was attacked is near the palace of the influential Moslem leader, the emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. At the time of the attack, the emir was said to out of the country. Only recently he had called upon Northerners to arm and defend themselves against Boko Haram and not wait for the security forces.

Pope Francis returns to Rome this evening after a three day visit to Turkey. Among the most memorable gestures of this visit will be that of Pope Francis bowing, in a sign of great humility, to Bartholomew I and asking for a blessing from the Ecumenical Patriarch -blessing said Pope Francis, "for me and the Church of Rome."

(Fr. Paul Samasumo)


(from Vatican Radio)