Vatican News

Pope Francis: In Advent, it is important to reflect on hope

Vatican News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 08:03
(Vatican Radio) At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis began a new series of catecheses on “Christian Hope”. In our times, which seem so dark, the Pope said we often feel “lost in the face of the wickedness and the violence that surround us.” We may even feel “discouraged, because we feel powerless, and it seems the darkness might never end.” Click below to hear our report But we should never give up hope, he continued, “because God, with His love, journeys with us, He does not leave us alone, and the Lord Jesus has overcome evil, and opened up the path of life.” It is important to reflect on hope during this season of Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. Pope Francis based his reflection primarily on a passage from Isaiah, in which God tells the prophet, first, to console his people, and then to “make straight the path of the Lord.” This prophetic message was addressed to the people of Israel when they were living the tragedy of the exile in Babylon, when they had been taken out of their own land and deprived of their freedom and dignity, and even their trust in God. But the call of the prophet, the Pope said, “opens their hearts anew to faith.” It is precisely in the desert that they hear his call, it is precisely there that a new journey “can be made in order to return not only to their homeland, but to God.” This passage, Pope Francis continued, was the starting point for the preaching of John the Baptist, “a voice crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord.” In Jesus time, the Israelites were once again living a kind of exile, living as strangers in their own land because of the oppression of the Romans. But it was not the powerful who made history, the Pope continued; rather, history is the story of what God has done together with his little ones, people like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary, and the shepherds, the simple, humble people who gathered around Jesus at his birth. “These are the little ones,” Pope Francis said, made great by their faith,” the little ones who know that they must keep hope alive. “Let us allow ourselves, then,” the Pope concluded, “to teach hope, to faithfully await the coming of the Lord, and whatever desert we might have in our life will become a flowering garden.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican Summit: World Mayors to discuss response for refugees

Vatican News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 07:04
(Vatican Radio) Some 80 Mayors from across the globe will gather in the Vatican this week to discuss solutions that aim to respond to the needs of the some 125 million displaced people in the world today and to propose sustainable measures host countries can adopt in welcoming them.   The Summit entitled “Europe: Refugees Are Our Brothers and Sisters” will take place on 9 and 10 December in the Casina Pio IV. Please find the informative note on the event below:  “Europe: Refugees Are Our Brothers and Sisters” Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, pleaded for a greater conversion of heart towards “the least of our brothers and sisters”, arguing that we need to do more to prevent humanitarian crises before they occur; and when they do occur, to ensure that our response is both adequate to the enormity of the challenge and timely according to the urgency of the need. Supplying tents and drinking water that arrive after everyone is dead of cold and dehydration is totally unacceptable. The Pope asks us in his encyclical specifically to prioritise whichever approaches result in discernable changes to those excluded and marginalised needing our help the most. This Summit has been called to bring immediate attention to the threat posed to global stability by the growing presence on our planet of over 125 million refugees. These are persons — in need of urgent humanitarian assistance — who have been displaced from their own homelands through war, famine, the great number of natural disasters – many caused by human activities based on fossil fuels – that have increased in both number and magnitude in recent years, as well as other causes. Three quarters of all humanitarian emergencies today result directly from war. Ending all war — and successfully preventing future ones — would do more to diminish the above mentioned humanitarian crises than any other single action we could possibly take, and at a single strike we would eliminate the major cause of all mass refugee exoduses. The causes of war are legion and not always just: national pride, greed for gain, anger, lust for power, laziness to do good, envy of neighbours. In summary, the root causes of war trace themselves to a human nature inclined to selfishness and egotism. It therefore stands to reason that the solutions to these causes of war find themselves in nourishing the corresponding virtues: a visible love towards one’s enemies, greater manifestations of humility and temperance. Justice specifically, leaning upon international law, can help defuse tension by focussing awareness on the duties owed to humankind. The remaining quarter of humanitarian emergencies stem from natural disasters, a large proportion of which derive from environmental crises such as famine, flooding, severe meteorological anomalies etc. Of these environmental crises, many have at their roots anthropic causes, such as the well-¬noted effects arising from mankind’s careless use of fossil fuels or the environmental consequences resulting from aggressive farming techniques or deforestation. Environmental disasters always strike hardest at the poor. This is because the poor are inevitably the least-¬equipped to deal with such blows. Clearly, the greatest duty of moral care for assisting such victims lies with those responsible for having originally generated the causes of environmental catastrophes in the first place. It is worth underlining therefore that while many people do find themselves displaced due to ‘natural causes’ the vast majority are merely the innocent victims of the actions and decisions taken by others, and therefore of circumstances entirely avoidable. With both the natural and the bellicose causes of humanitarian crises, one factor is sadly common to each: prevention is better than cure. It is for this reason that the COP21 Paris Agreement on climate change can rightly be heralded as a humanitarian triumph. Jesus Christ made a revolutionary promise: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” This is an injunction that has universal appeal. This Summit will seek new ways to make peace, ways appropriate to our own times with all the opportunities that are available to us to bring people together, ways that underline the human dignity of all refugees — in pitiable situations already exacerbated through social exclusion — and that assert them in their own identities. Modern man has created wealth like in no other period of time. We therefore have an extra moral responsibility placed on our shoulders to use this potential to stop war and avoid its human consequences. No effort should be spared from encouraging all people of goodwill to participate in this endeavour. This is not an optional priority that can be breezily delegated to our political leaders, NGOs or international philanthropists: each one of us must find a way to make his or her institutional and personal contribution, each according to his or her capabilities and abilities. As a Mexican MP, Ana María Jiménez, once said at the Casina Pio IV, no one is so poor that they have nothing to give or nothing to share; no one is totally deprived of the ability to exercise charity…everyone can be a protagonist in contributing towards the common good. It is with this insight in mind that we call on everyone to contribute what he or she can to totally eliminate the scourge of war, climate change and exploitation from the face of the earth, for all time, starting from today. There is nothing we could do that would do more to help those most in need of our help. It is what we would want others to do for us were we in that situation. Dwelling on this observation, no one can escape the Golden Rule to do unto others as would have them do unto us. So what exactly should be done, in concrete terms? The forthcoming Summit will suggest and evaluate a number of proposals, both to reduce the risks of catastrophic feedback loops in the short term — and to maximise and entrench the benefits of reform in the long term: First — stop the refugee surge at its source by ending the Syrian war immediately. Second — don’t punish Britain for Brexit, with its dynamic of concern over unmanageable influxes of refugees and joblessness. It means thinking instead in terms of a higher, more creative and fruitful union, and also of a “healthy dis-¬‐union”. It implies granting greater independence and freedom to the countries of the European Union in general and, more in particular, regarding the refugee issue, policing national and EU borders to provide shelter to needy economic migrants “as they come”. Priority must be given to saving lives. It is crucial to establish robust refugee care systems, allowing them to seek asylum, addressing their requests fairly, resettling the most vulnerable and meeting basic needs such as education and health care. Third, internationally recognised safe humanitarian corridors should also be established not only in the European Union member states, where present claims are already straining welfare state infrastructure beyond sustainability, but also in the less populous countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, USA and the Middle East. The principle of non refoulement of refugees must be respected and, in any case, the possibilities of accessing the job market in the host country must be examined. Four — offer an amnesty or other solution to the victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, in terms of forced labour, prostitution and the organ trade. Many undocumented persons, including minors, are tricked into being trafficked into the sex trade (especially women) or enslaved through false promises of a regularisation of legal status. Tragically, professional crime syndicates then either use the threat of expulsion to keep victims of prostitution and forced labour under control; or keep physical possession of the passport and/or other papers once it has been granted, trapping the victim in perpetual bondage. All countries should investigate and prosecute trafficking gangs who exploit refugees and migrants in any form, and consider above all the dignity and safety of those people. Five — restore a sense of fairness and opportunity for the disaffected working class, unemployed youth and those whose livelihoods have been undermined by financial crises and the outsourcing of jobs. This might involve projects pursuing ample social spending on health, education, training, apprenticeships, and family support, financed by closing tax havens (which are gutting public revenues and exacerbating economic injustice). It might also mean granting Greece debt relief, in the hope of ending the long-¬‐running Eurozone crisis. Six, last but not least, focus resources, including additional aid, on economic development rather than war, in low-¬‐income countries. Uncontrolled migration from today’s poor and conflict-¬‐ridden regions will eventually become overwhelming, regardless of migration policies, if climate change, extreme poverty, and lack of skills and education undermine the development potential of Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Central Asia. All of this underscores the need to shift from a strategy of defence and war to one of sustainable and integral development, especially led by the developed countries. Walls and fences won’t stop millions of migrants fleeing violence, extreme poverty, hunger, disease, droughts, floods, and other ills. Only global cooperation towards social justice can do that. Finally, as the authorities closest to the general public, Mayors must be provided with the ability to meet the needs, accommodate and regularize all types of migrants or refugees. Mayors must raise their voices to promote bridges and not walls and their authority must be placed at the service of sustainable and integral development, justice and peace.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope grants interview to Belgian Catholic newspaper

Vatican News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 06:54
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has granted an interview to Tertio , a Catholic weekly newspaper in Belgium, on themes ranging from the fruits of the Jubilee of Mercy to his hopes for a synodal Church. In the wide-ranging interview, Pope Francis reflected on the openness to transcendence inherent in the human person, the scourge of religious fundamentalism, the price of war, the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and his desire for a synodal Church. Healthy laicité vs. laicisme The desire to separate religion from public life, he said, “is an antiquated stance”, recalling the distinction between laicité and laicisme . The Pope said: “There is a healthy laicité , for example, the laicité of the state. In general, a state organized on the principle of laicité [ el estado laico ] is a good thing. It’s better than a confessional state, because confessional states end poorly.” However, he said, laicisme “closes the doors to transcendence, both transcendence towards others and, above all, transcendence towards God”.  Openness to transcendence, he said, “is a fundamental part of a human being”. Thus, when a political system does not respect this, it “prunes, cuts off the human person”. War and religious fundamentalism Moving to the theme of war and religious fundamentalism, Pope Francis said “no religion as such can foment war”. He said terrorism and war are not related to religion; rather, they “use religious deformations to justify their acts”. He said “all religions have fundamentalist groups; all; even our own… But those small religious groups deform, sicken their religion, and from there they quarrel, make war, or cause division within the community, which is form of war.” Third World War fought piecemeal Turning to Europe, the Holy Father said that 100 years after the First World War we are still in a state of world conflict, a “Third World War… fought piecemeal”. “We say ‘Never again war’ but at the same time we produce weapons and sell them to those who are at war with one another.” He said had read an economic theory which advances the idea that, when a state’s finances aren’t going well, it wages a war to balance the budget. “This is an easy way to grow rich, but the price is very steep: blood.” Jubilee of Mercy inspired by the Lord An important part of the interview was dedicated to the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis said the idea of a Year of Mercy did not come to him “in a flash”. He said it had been prepared by his predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II, as well as by St. Faustina and the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday. The Pope recalled that the idea for an Extraordinary Jubilee came out in a conversation with Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. “I felt that the Lord was asking this of me”, he said. “I don’t know how the idea formed in my heart… I believe the Lord inspired it. And evidentially it did much good.” Unity in diversity: a synodal Church The interview then turned to the issue of Vatican II in the world today and the synodality of the Church. “The Church,” he said, “is born from the base, from the community.” Thus, “there is either a pyramidal Church, in which what Peter says is done, or a synodal Church, in which Peter is Peter but he accompanies the Church and helps it grow – he listens. Further on, he learns from her and seeks to harmonize, discerning that which comes from the churches and returns it.” The Pope said the last two Synods on the family were the “best experience of this” because they express the “unity in diversity” of the Church. “Everyone [at the Synod] said what they thought without fear of being judged. And all actively listened, without condemning. Afterwards, we discussed like brothers in groups.” “A synodal Church means this movement from above to below, from below to above”, affirming that the Church “needs to advance in this synodality”. A word for priests Pope Francis' final reflection was for priests, whom he invited to always love the Virgin Mary, to allow themselves to be gazed upon by Jesus, and to “seek the suffering flesh of Jesus in their brothers; there you will find Jesus”. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: appeal for good governance, human rights

Vatican News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 06:40
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday drew attention during his General Audience to two commemorations being promoted by the United Nations in the coming days. The International Anti-Corruption Day is on 9 December and Human Rights Day is observed on 10 December. “These two realities are closely linked: Corruption is the negative aspect against which we must fight, starting with individual consciences and keeping a watchful eye on areas of civil life, especially on those most exposed to risk; Human rights are the positive aspect to staunchly and tirelessly promote, in order that no one be excluded from effective recognition of the fundamental rights of the human person,” – Pope Francis said – “May the Lord sustain us in this twofold commitment.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope begins new series of catecheses on Christian Hope

Vatican News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 04:45
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began a new series of catechesis at his General Audience on Wednesday, focusing on the theme of “Christian hope.” It is especially important to reflect on this theme, he said, during the season of Advent, “a time of expectation, in which we prepare to welcome once more the consoling mystery of the Incarnation and the light of Christmas.” Here is the full text of the English summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis for the General Audience of 7 December 2016: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Today we begin a new series of catecheses dealing with Christian hope.  In these times, when evil often seems to have the upper hand, hope comforts us with the assurance of Christ’s lordship, his victory over sin, and his constant presence in our midst.  In this Advent season, we hear once more the great message of consolation spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Comfort, comfort my people”.   The prophet tells us that God promises to bring his people home from their exile in a foreign land and that he desires that a way be prepared for him through the desert.  This summons to renewed faith and trust in God’s saving power is also addressed to us.  Saint John the Baptist, preaching in the desert of Judea, echoed these words as he prepared the way for the coming of Jesus.  The Scriptures show us how Christ’s birth was prepared for by men and women – like Mary, Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth – who never lost their trust in God’s promises.  May we imitate their hope, and await the coming of the Saviour, who turns the desert of our lives into a garden of delight.   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope to Academies: a human face for our cities

Vatican News - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 11:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the participants in the XXI Joint Meeting of the Pontifical Academies. The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, read the Message to participants gathered in the Apostolic Chancery on Tuesday afternoon to explore theme: sparks of beauty to give  a more human visage to our cities , chosen and directed by the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. “Taking care of people, starting with the smallest and weakest, and of their daily bonds," writes Pope Francis, “necessarily also means taking care of the environment in which they live. Small gestures, simple actions, small sparks of beauty and love can heal, 'mending' the often lacerated and divided human fabric [of society], as well as that of a city and of the environment, representing a concrete alternative to indifference and cynicism.” The Holy Father’s Message was addressed to Cardinal Ravasi, who also serves as President of the Coordinating Committee for the Pontifical Academies. Eleven in all, the Pontifical Academies exist to further research and to encourage dialogue within and among scientific, artistic, professional and cultural disciplines.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: "God's tenderness is our salvation"

Vatican News - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:33
(Vatican Radio)  He who does not know the tenderness of God does not know the Christian doctrine.  This was the concept at the core of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, a homily focused largely on the figure of Judas. Judas, an evangelical image of the lost sheep Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day which recounts the Parable of the lost sheep, Pope Francis spoke of how the Lord never stops looking for us. Describing the Lord as a kind of a judge, a judge who caresses and is full of tenderness, he said God does everything to save us. “He does not come to condemn, but to save” the Pope said, and he loves each and every one of us personally. He knows us by name and loves us for what we are. And speaking of the lost sheep Francis explained that it did not get lost because it didn’t have a compass but because it "had a sick heart" and was running away “to be distant from the Lord and was satiating an inner darkness”. And pointing out that the Lord knows these things and never neglects to go out and look for the lost sheep, the Pope said the Lord’s attitude towards Judas is so symbolic: “Judas is the most perfect lost sheep in the Gospel: a man with a bitter heart, someone who always had something to criticize in others, he was always ‘detached’.  He did not know the sweetness that comes of living without second ends with others. He was an unsatisfied man!” he said. The Pope said that because of the darkness in his heart Judas was separated from the herd. He said – more in general - that darkness can lead to living a double life: “a double life that, perhaps painfully, many Christians, even priests and bishops lead...”   Pointing out that Judas himself was one of the first bishops, the Pope recalled a beautiful sermon given by Father Mazzolari in which he described Judas as a lost sheep: “Brother Judas, he said, what was happening in your heart?”  Francis said we need to understand lost sheep: each and every one of us has something in us of the lost sheep. The Repentance of Judas The Pope went on to explain that is not so much a mistake but a disease of the heart that makes a sheep wander and he said it is something the devil exploits. Just as it was with Judas whose heart was ‘divided’. And finally when Judas saw what harm his double life had wreaked in the community, when he saw the evil he had sown because of the darkness in his heart that caused him to run away, looking for a light that was not the light of the Lord, but artificial lights like Christmas decorations, he was thrown into despair: The Pope said that the Bible tells us that “the Lord is good, he never stops looking for the lost sheep” and it tells us that when Judas hanged himself he had repented. “I believe that the Lord will take that word [repentance] and bring it with Him” he said. And it tells us that right until the end God’s love was working in that soul.  He said that this is the message, the good news that Christmas brings asking us to rejoice with a sincerity that brings with it a change of heart that leads us to take comfort in the Lord, and not in other ‘escapist’ consolations. God's power is in His tenderness When Jesus finds the lost sheep he does not insults it although it caused so much harm, the Pope said, and in the Garden of Olives He calls Judas with the appellative ‘friend’. These, he said, are God's caresses: "He who does not know the caresses of the Lord does not know Christian doctrine! He who does not allow himself to be caressed by the Lord is lost!” he said. Pope Francis concluded saying that the consolation that we seek is in God’s tenderness that saves us and brings us back to the fold of his Church. “May the Lord give us the grace to sincerely recognize our sins as we await Christmas, as we wait for the power of God who comes to console us with the tenderness” he said. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Vatican: Nuclear deterrence "must be replaced" by new global ethic

Vatican News - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 08:27
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday said the “logic of fear and mistrust that is epitomized by nuclear deterrence must be replaced with a new global ethic” during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “The promotion of nuclear security – preventing, detecting and responding to criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving, or directed at, nuclear material, other radioactive material, associated facilities or associated activities – is of significant importance to the Holy See, said Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Undersecretary for Relations with States. The IAEA is holding the “International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Actions” in Vienna this week. The full statement is below Intervention of Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Undersecretary for Relations with States Mr. President, I have the honour of conveying to you and to all the distinguished participants at this second International Conference on Nuclear Security of the International Atomic Energy Agency the best wishes and cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015, Pope Francis urged the international community “to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.” The Holy See is, therefore, most pleased to attend this Conference, thereby lending its support to advancing nuclear security. Mr. President, The promotion of nuclear security – preventing, detecting and responding to criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving, or directed at, nuclear material, other radioactive material, associated facilities or associated activities – is of significant importance to the Holy See. On the one hand, nuclear security advances peace and security by contributing towards strengthening the non-proliferation regime and making much-needed progress toward nuclear disarmament. On the other hand, nuclear security – so closely linked to nuclear safety and a broader “safety culture” – promotes social and scientific development by the peaceful application of nuclear technologies to promote sustainable development by improving agriculture, water management, nutrition and food safety, infectious disease control, and efforts to fight cancer. Considerable progress has been made in strengthening nuclear security and safety: UN Security Council Resolution 1540, the Nuclear Security Summits, the Nuclear Terrorism Convention, and the IAEA’s Codes of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and on Research Reactors are some of the important mechanisms already in place. The very existence and the professional activity of the International Atomic Energy Agency also constitute crucial aspects of the work towards nuclear safety, and the Holy See takes this opportunity to thank the Director General and the entire staff of the Agency for their labours in this regard. At the same time, we should not be complacent. The promotion of nuclear security faces significant challenges, including the limited, insufficient and often stalled efforts to prevent proliferation and move toward a world free of nuclear weapons. Therefore, to respond adequately to the challenges of nuclear security, the Holy See believes it to be essential that the international community embrace an ethic of responsibility, in order to foster a climate of trust, and to strengthen cooperative security through multilateral dialogue. The logic of fear and mistrust that is epitomized by nuclear deterrence must be replaced with a new global ethic. We need an ethic of responsibility, solidarity, and cooperative security adequate to the task of controlling the power of nuclear technology. Threats to nuclear security represent serious technical and diplomatic challenges. These must be tackled by addressing the wider security, political, economic and cultural dynamics that lead state and non-state actors to seek security, legitimacy, and power in nuclear weapons. Therefore, the critically important work of strengthening nuclear security must be done in the context of much broader efforts to promote socio-economic development, political participation, respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law, and cooperation and solidarity at the regional and international level. Among the particular fields where increased efforts are necessary, my Delegation would emphasise two: 1) The physical protection of nuclear material: ensuring that nuclear and other radioactive material is safely contained must remain central for the work of nuclear security, as failure to control nuclear material could have catastrophic consequences. 2) Counteracting insider threats as well as preventing cyber attacks on sensitive data and facilities: increasing attention has to be paid to the strengthening of information security and computer security as well as to ensuring the confidentiality of information which pertains to nuclear security. On both issues, it must be recalled that although the responsibility for maintaining effective nuclear security of all nuclear and radioactive material within a State rests primarily with that State, cooperation between States is essential as so many threats to nuclear security do not respect borders and are facilitated by the political instability and crises that sadly plague numerous parts of our world. The Holy See is, therefore, pleased that great efforts have been made by the IAEA and its member states to strengthen the security regime, to assign a high priority to it and to improve and complement the regulations and the legal framework for it. These efforts have to be continued. Mr. President, Much of the IAEA’s success in fulfilling its responsibilities depends on the commitment of Member States to live up to their legal and ethical obligations. Therefore, the responsibilities of the Member States must remain at the heart of our discussions. This burden of responsibility falls most heavily, of course, on those Member States that possess nuclear capacity, especially those with nuclear weapons. In conclusion, the Holy See would like to point out that it has no illusions about the challenges that lie before the international community. However, it is precisely because of these challenges related to nuclear security that the Holy See wishes to reiterate its support for the IAEA as it seeks to fulfil, in ever more effective ways, its indispensable role in ensuring nuclear security as part of a wider effort to strengthen cooperative security. As Pope Francis has said, “The security of our own future depends on guaranteeing the peaceful security of others, for if peace, security and stability are not established globally, they will not be enjoyed at all.” (Message of Pope Francis to the aforementioned Vienna Conference, 2014) Thank you, Mr President. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope: Jesus brings true change, renewing the heart

Vatican News - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 07:33
(Vatican Radio) Let us allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ; let us allow ourselves to be able to be re-created, freeing us from our sins. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, centred on the theme of the renewal that the Lord brings. The Pope put us on guard about painting over our sins without truly being ashamed in our hearts. Only by calling sins by their name, he said, will we be able to allow God to make us new women and men. The desert will bloom, the blind will see, the deaf will hear. The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, speaks to us about renewal, the Pope said. Everything will be changed, from ugly to beautiful, from wicked to good.” A change for the better: this, he said, is what the People of Israel were expecting from the Messiah. The change that Jesus brings is not simply make-up Turning then to the Gospel of the day, Pope Francis noted that Jesus went about healing people, helping them “to see a path of change” and this is why they followed Him. They didn’t follow Jesus because He was some sort of novelty; “they followed Him because the message of Jesus touched their hearts.” And “the people saw that Jesus healed, and they followed Him” for that reason as well: But what Jesus did was not only change things from ugly to beautiful, from wicked to good: Jesus made a transformation. It’s not a problem of making something beautiful, it’s not a problem of cosmetics, of make-up: He changed everything from the inside! He made a change that was a re-creation: God had created the world; man fell into sin; Jesus came to re-create the world. And this is the message, the message of the Gospel, that we can clearly see: before healing that man, He forgave his sins. Go that way, to a re-creation, He re-creates that man, [changing him] from a sinner to a just man: He re-creates him as a just man. He makes him new, totally new. And this gives scandal: this gives scandal! For this reason, the Pope said, the Doctors of the Law, “began to discuss, to murmur,” because they weren’t able to accept His authority. Jesus, he said, “is capable of making us – us sinners – new persons.” It is something, Pope Francis said, “that Mary Magdalen intuits.” She was healthy, “but she had a wound within: she was a sinner.” She had an intuition that Jesus was able to heal not only the body, “but the wounds of the soul. He could re-create it!” And for reason “great faith” is needed. Opening the heart before the Lord: calling sin by its name The Lord, the Pope said, “helps us to prepare ourselves for Christmas with great faith” because “for the healing of the soul, for the existential healing the re-creation that Jesus brings requires great faith in us.” Being transformed, he said “is the grace of salvation that Jesus brings.” We need to overcome the temptation to say “I can’t do it,” and to allow ourselves instead to be transformed, to be re-created by Jesus. “Courage” is the word of God: We are all sinners, but look to the root of your sin, and that the Lord goes there and re-creates it; and that bitter root will flourish, flourish with works of justice; and you will be a new man, a new woman. But if we [say]: ‘Yes, yes, I have some sins; I go, I confess myself… two little words, and then I go on as before,” I don’t allow myself to be re-created by the Lord. Only two coats of paint, and we believe that with this the story’s over. No! Naming my sins, with name and surname: I’ve done this, and this, and this, and I am ashamed at heart. And I open my heart: ‘Lord, the only thing I have. Re-create me! Re-create me! And so we have the courage of going with true faith – as we asked – towards Christmas.’ The Pope said we always “seek to hide the gravity of our sins.” For example when we diminish envy. This, on the other hand, said Pope Francis, “is a very ugly thing. It is like the venom of a serpent” that seeks “to destroy the other!” Let us allow the Lord to cancel our sins in order to make us truly new And so the Pope encourages us “to get to the bottom of our sins and then give them to the Lord, so that He will cancel them and help us go forward with faith.” And he emphasized this passage, telling the story of a Saint, a great Bible scholar, who had a very strong character, who was often moved to anger, and who sought forgiveness from the Lord, doing so many acts of renunciation and penance: The Saint, talking to the Lord said, ‘Are you content, O Lord’ – ‘No!’ – ‘But I have given you everything!’ – ‘No, there’s something missing…’ And this poor man did another penance, said another prayer, did another vigil: ‘I have done this for you, O Lord. Is everything ok? – ‘No! Something’s missing…’ – ‘But what is missing, Lord?’ – ‘Your sins are lacking! Give me your sins!’ This is what the Lord is asking of us today. ‘Courage! Give me your sins and I will make you a new man, a new woman.’ May the Lord give us faith, to believe this.  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Angelus: The Kingdom of heaven is the love and humility of God

Vatican News - Sun, 12/04/2016 - 06:52
(Vatican Radio) “The Kingdom of God is at hand and is indeed in the middle of us, this is the central message of all Christian mission.” Those were the words of Pope Francis during his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on the Second Sunday of Advent. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report He was referring to the Gospel reading of the day in which John the Baptist issues the invitation to "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". The Holy Father explained that with these same words Jesus will start his mission in Galilee and it is an announcement that will “bring the disciples on their first missionary experience.” The kingdom of heaven, said the Pope, is not just a place in the afterlife, but it is the good news that Jesus brings us. God, Pope Francis continued, “comes to establish his dominion in our history, in our everyday life;” and where it is accepted with faith and humility and love. But the “condition to become part of this kingdom”, the Holy Father stressed, “ is to make a change in our life, that is to repent.” The Pope said, “it is to leave the streets, convenient but misleading, the idols of this world: the success at all costs, the power at the expense of the weak, the thirst for wealth, pleasure at any price and instead to open the way for the Lord who comes”. He does not take away our freedom, Pope Francis underlined, “but gives us true happiness. With the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, it is God himself who has come to dwell among us, to free us from selfishness, from sin and corruption.” During his address the Holy Father invited the faithful to prepare spiritually for Christmas by examining their consciences and confessing their sins in the sacrament of Penance. Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis said, “see you Thursday for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. We pray together, asking her maternal intercession for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace." (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis meets with Fortune-Time Global Forum

Vatican News - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 06:31
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday greeted participants of the Fortune-Time Global Forum . The Forum brings together Fortune 500 and Time 100 leaders, who were discussing technology and jobs, global health, food and water, commitment to communities, energy and the environment, and financial inclusion—each representing critical elements related to poverty alleviation. “Our world today is marked by great unrest,” – Pope Francis told them – “Inequality between peoples continues to rise, and many communities are impacted directly by war and poverty, or the migration and displacement which flow from them.  People want to make their voices heard and express their concerns and fears.” The Holy Father thanked them for their work promoting “the centrality and dignity of the human person within our institutions and economic models, and to draw attention to the plight of the poor and refugees, who are so often forgotten by society.” “When we ignore the cries of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we not only deny them their God-given rights and worth, but we also reject their wisdom and prevent them from offering their talents, traditions and cultures to the world,” – he continued – “In so doing, the poor and marginalized are made to suffer even more, and we ourselves grow impoverished, not only materially, but morally and spiritually.”   Pope Francis challenged the business leaders to respond to global levels of injustice by promoting a local – “and even personal” – sense of responsibility so that no one is excluded from participating in society.  “Thus, the question before us is how best to encourage one another and our respective communities to respond to the suffering and needs we see, both from afar and in our midst,” – the Holy Father said – “The renewal, purification and strengthening of solid economic models depends on our own personal conversion and generosity to those in need.”   The full text of Pope Francis’ speech is below   Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants of the Fortune-Time Global Forum Saturday, 3 December 2016   Dear Friends, I am very pleased to welcome all of you who are participating in the Fortune-Time Global Forum, and I express my appreciation for your work these past two days.  I thank Mrs Nancy Gibbs and Mr Alan Murray for their kind words.  The theme you have chosen, “The 21st-Century Challenge: Forging a New Social Compact”, is very opportune and points to the urgent need for more inclusive and equitable economic models.  Your time together has allowed for a substantive exchange of ideas and sharing of information.  Important as this is, what is required now is not a new social compact in the abstract, but concrete ideas and decisive action which will benefit all people and which will begin to respond to the pressing issues of our day. I would like to offer a particular word of thanks for all that you are doing to promote the centrality and dignity of the human person within our institutions and economic models, and to draw attention to the plight of the poor and refugees, who are so often forgotten by society.  When we ignore the cries of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we not only deny them their God-given rights and worth, but we also reject their wisdom and prevent them from offering their talents, traditions and cultures to the world.  In so doing, the poor and marginalized are made to suffer even more, and we ourselves grow impoverished, not only materially, but morally and spiritually.   Our world today is marked by great unrest.  Inequality between peoples continues to rise, and many communities are impacted directly by war and poverty, or the migration and displacement which flow from them.  People want to make their voices heard and express their concerns and fears.  They want to make their rightful contribution to their local communities and broader society, and to benefit from the resources and development too often reserved for the few.  While this may create conflict and lay bare the many sorrows of our world, it also makes us realize that we are living in a moment of hope.  For when we finally recognize the evil in our midst, we can seek healing by applying the remedy.  Your very presence here today is a sign of such hope, because it shows that you recognize the issues before us and the imperative to act decisively.  This strategy of renewal and hope calls for institutional and personal conversion; a change of heart that attaches primacy to the deepest expressions of our common humanity, our cultures, our religious beliefs and our traditions.  This fundamental renewal does not have to do simply with market economics, figures to be balanced, the development of raw materials and improvements made to infrastructures.  No, what we are speaking about is the common good of humanity, of the right of each person to share in the resources of this world and to have the same opportunities to realize his or her potential, a potential that is ultimately based on the dignity of the children of God, created in his image and likeness.              Our great challenge is to respond to global levels of injustice by promoting a local and even personal sense of responsibility so that no one is excluded from participating in society.  Thus, the question before us is how best to encourage one another and our respective communities to respond to the suffering and needs we see, both from afar and in our midst.  The renewal, purification and strengthening of solid economic models depends on our own personal conversion and generosity to those in need. I encourage you to continue the work you have begun at this Forum, and to seek ever more creative ways to transform our institutions and economic structures so that they may be able to respond to the needs of our day and be in service of the human person, especially those marginalized and discarded.  I pray too that you may involve in your efforts those whom you seek to help; give them a voice, listen to their stories, learn from their experiences and understand their needs.  See in them a brother and a sister, a son and a daughter, a mother and a father.  Amid the challenges of our day, see the human face of those you earnestly seek to help.  I assure you of my prayer that your efforts will bear fruit, and of the Catholic Church’s commitment to be a voice for those who otherwise are silenced.  Upon you, your families and all your colleagues, I invoke the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace. Thank you. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis receives President of Uruguay

Vatican News - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 09:37
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas, in a private audience on Friday. A communiqué from the Holy See Press Office said the Pope and the President held cordial discussions, in which they evoked the historical ties between the Holy See and Uruguay, and their “common interests for the integral development of the human person, respect for human rights, and social peace”. In this context, the two men underlined the “role and positive contribution made by Catholic institutions to the society of Uruguay, especially in the areas of human promotion, formation, and aid to those most in need”. The press release goes on to say the Pope and the President spoke about the national and regional situation, with special emphasis on democratic institutions and the social and humanitarian situation on the continent. Vázquez subsequently met with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Papal preacher gives first Advent Sermon to Pope and Curia

Vatican News - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 09:02
(Vatican Radio) Papal preacher Father Raniero Cantalamessa on Friday offered his first Advent Sermon  to  Pope Francis, focusing on the Holy Spirit’s action in the Church. As preacher to the Papal Household, Capucin Father Cantalamessa gives a meditation to the Pope, Cardinals and members of the Roman Curia every Friday morning in Lent and Advent in the Apostolic Palace’s “Redemptoris Mater” Chapel.  Father Cantalamessa was named papal preacher by St. John Paul II in 1980, and was confirmed by both by Benedict XVI and by Pope Francis. Please find below the full text of the Reflection translated by Marsha Daigle Williamson: I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT 1. The Innovation after the Council With the celebration of the 50th year of the end of the Second Vatican Council, the first “post-conciliar” period comes to a close and a new one begins. If the first period was categorized by problems relating to the “reception” of the Council, this new period will be characterized, I believe, by the completion and integration of the Council—in other words, by re-reading the Council in the light of the fruit it produced while also highlighting what was lacking in it or only present in a seminal phase. The major innovation in theology and in the life of the Church after the Council has a specific name: the Holy Spirit. The Council had certainly not ignored the Holy Spirit’s action in the Church, but it had spoken of it almost always “in passing,” often mentioning him but without emphasizing his central role, not even in The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. In one conversation during the time that we were together on the International Theological Commission, I remember that Father Yves Congar used a striking image in this regard: he spoke of a Holy Spirit who is sprinkled here and there throughout the texts like sugar sprinkled on top of pastries without, however, being part of the recipe itself.  Nevertheless, the thaw had begun. We can say that the intuition of St. John XXIII about the Council as “a new Pentecost for the Church” found its actualization only later after the conclusion of the Council, as has so often happened in the history of the Councils. In the coming year, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church will occur. It is one of the many signs—the most noticeable because of the magnitude of the phenomenon—of an awakening to the Holy Spirit and charisms in the Church. The Council had paved the way for this reception, speaking in Lumen gentium of the charismatic dimension of the Church alongside the institutional and hierarchical dimension and insisting on the importance of charisms.  In his homily for the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday in 2012, Benedict XVI affirmed, Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. Contemporaneously the renewed experience of the Holy Spirit stimulated theological reflection.  Soon after the Council, treatises on the Holy Spirit multiplied: among Catholics, that of Yves Congar,  of Karl Rahner,  of Heribert Mühlen,  and of Hans Urs von Balthasar ; among Lutherans, that of Jürgen Moltmann,  of Michael Welker,  and many others. On the part of the magisterium there was the encyclical Dominum et vivificantem (On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World) by St. John Paul II. In 1982 on the occasion of Sixteenth Centenary of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, that same Supreme Pontiff sponsored the International Congress of Pneumatology at the Vatican, and its proceedings were published in two large volumes called Credo in Spiritum Sanctum.  In recent years we have witnessed a decisive step forward in this direction. Toward the end of his career Karl Barth made a provocative statement that was in part a self-criticism. He said that in the future a new theology would be developed, the “theology of the third article.”  By “third article” he of course meant the article in the creed about the Holy Spirit. His suggestion did not fall on deaf ears. It has given rise to the present theological current that is precisely named the “Theology of the Third Article.” I do not think that such a current aims to substitute itself for traditional theology (and it would be mistake if it did); rather it is meant to come alongside of it and reinvigorate it. It proposes to make the Holy Spirit not only the object of one treatise, pneumatology, but also the atmosphere, so to speak, in which the whole life of the Church and all theological research unfolds—for the Holy Spirit is the “light of dogmas,” as an ancient Church Father described him. The most complete treatment of this recent theological current is a volume by scholars that appeared in English this last September called Third Article Theology.  Beginning with the great tradition of the trinitarian doctrine, theologians from various Christian Churches offer their contributions to this book as an introduction to a systematic theology that is more open to the Spirit and more responsive to current needs. As a Catholic, I too was invited to contribute to the book with an essay on “Christology and Pneumatology in the Early Centuries of the Church.” 2. The Creed Read from Below The reasons that warrant this new theological orientation are not only dogmatic but also historical. In other words, we can understand what the theology of the third article is and what it aims for if we keep in mind how the actual Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol came about. That history clearly points to the usefulness of examining that symbol “in reverse” at some point, that is, starting from the end instead of from the beginning. Let me explain what I mean. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol reflects the Christian faith in its ultimate phase after all the council clarifications and definitions were completed in the 5th century. It reflects the order reached at the end of the process of formulating the dogma, but it does not, however, reflect the process itself, faith in the making. In other words, it does not correspond to the process by which the faith of the Church was actually formed historically, nor does it correspond to the process by which someone arrives at faith today, understood as a living faith in a living God. In today’s creed one begins with God the Father and Creator and moves on from him to the Son and his redemptive work, and finally to the Holy Spirit operating in the Church. In reality, the faith followed a reverse path. It was the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit that brought the Church to discover who Jesus was and what his teaching was. With Paul and above all with John we reach the point of ascending from Jesus to the Father. It is the Paraclete who, according to Jesus’ promise (see Jn 16:13), leads the disciples into “all the truth” about himself and the Father. Basil of Caesarea summarizes the development of revelation and of salvation history this way:  The way of the knowledge of God lies from One Spirit through the One Son to the One Father, and conversely the natural Goodness and the inherent Holiness and the royal Dignity extend from the Father through the Only-begotten to the Spirit.  In other words, on the level of creation and being, everything comes from the Father, goes through the Son, and reaches us through the Spirit. However, in the order of redemption and conscious awareness, everything begins with the Holy Spirit, goes through the Son Jesus Christ, and returns to the Father. We could say that St. Basil is the real initiator of Third Article Theology! In the Western tradition this is expressed concisely in the final stanza of the hymn “Veni creator.” Addressing the Holy Spirit, the Church prays, Per te sciamus da Patrem  noscamus atque Filium, Te utriusque Spiritum credamus omni tempore. Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow the Father and the Son to know; and Thee, through endless times confessed, of both the eternal Spirit blest. This does not in the least mean that the Church’s creed is imperfect or that it needs to be reformulated.  It cannot be other than what it is. However, what is sometimes useful is to change our approach to reading it so as to retrace the path by which it was formulated. There is the same contrast between the two ways of approaching the creed—as a finished product or in its process of formulation—as there is, on the one hand, between leaving St. Catherine’s Monastery early in the morning and personally climbing Mount Sinai and, on the other hand, reading the account of someone who climbed it before we did. 3. A Commentary on the “Third Article” With this in view, I would like to offer reflections on some aspects of the Holy Spirit’s action in the three meditations for Advent, beginning precisely with the third article of the creed that pertains to him.  The article includes three great affirmations. Let us start with the first one that says, a)    “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” The creed does not say that the Holy Spirit is “the” Lord (just above in the creed we proclaim, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ”!). “Lord” (in the original text, to kyrion, neuter!) indicates here the nature, not the person; it says what the Holy Spirit is but not who he is.  “Lord” means that the Holy Spirit shares in the lordship of God, that he is in the category of Creator, and not the category of a creature. In other words, he has a divine nature. The Church reached this certainty based not only on Scripture, but also on her own experience of salvation. The Spirit, wrote St. Athanasius, cannot be a creature because when we are touched by him (in the sacraments, in the word, in prayer), we experience entering into contact with God in person and not with his intermediary. If the Spirit divinizes us, it means that he is God himself.   Could we not say the same thing in the symbol of faith in a more explicit way, defining the Holy Spirit purely and simply as “God and consubstantial with the Father” as was done for the Son? Certainly, and this was the criticism of the definition quickly leveled by some bishops, including Gregory Nazianzus. However, for reasons of expediency and peace, saying the same the thing  with equivalent expressions was preferred, attributing to the Spirit, in addition to the title of “Lord,” the isotimia, that is, equality with the Father and the Son in being adored and glorified by the Church. The description of the Spirit as “the giver of life” is drawn from various passages in the New Testament: “It is the Spirit that gives life” (Jn 6:63); “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2); “the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45); “the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life” (1 Cor 3:6). Let us ask three questions here. First, what kind of life does the Holy Spirit give? The answer: divine life, the life of Christ. A supernatural life, not a natural super-life. He creates the new man, not Nietzsche’s superman with his “pride of life.” Second, where does he give us this life? The answer: in baptism, which is in fact represented as a “rebirth in the Spirit” (see Jn 3:5), in the sacraments, in the word of God, in prayer, in faith, and in suffering that is accepted in union with Christ. Third, how does the Spirit give us life? The answer: by making the works of the flesh die! He gives us that life through a death. “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live,” St. Paul says in Romans 8:13. b) . . . Who Proceeds from the Father (and the Son), Who with the Father and the Son Is Adored and Glorified” Let us now move on to the second great affirmation of the creed about the Holy Spirit. Up to this point the creed has told us about the nature of the Spirit but not yet about the person of the Spirit. It has spoken of what he is but not who he is. It has also spoken to us about what the Spirit and the Father and the Son have in common—the fact of being God and giving life. With this present affirmation, however, we move on to what distinguishes the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son. What distinguishes him from the Father is that he proceeds from him. (The one who proceeds is other than the one from whom he proceeds!) What distinguishes the Spirit from the Son is that he proceeds from the Father not by generation but by spiration, a breathing forth. To express this in symbolic terms, he is not like a concept (logos) that proceeds from the mind but like a breath that proceeds from the mouth. This is the pivotal part of the article in the creed because it is intended to define the position that the Paraclete occupies in the Trinity. This part of the creed is known primarily for the problem of the Filioque that for a millennium was the main point of disagreement between the East and the West. I will not spend time on this problem because it has been discussed more than enough and also because I spoke about it myself in this setting during Lent last year in treating the points of agreement on faith between the East and the West.   I will limit myself to highlighting what we can retain from this part of the symbol that enriches our common faith, setting aside theological disputes.  It tells us that the Holy Spirit is not simply a “poor relative,” so to speak, in the Trinity. He is not “a way that God acts,” an energy or a fluid that permeates the universe like the Stoics thought. He is a “subsistent relation” and therefore a person. He is not so much “a third person singular” as he is “a first person plural.” He is the “We” of the Father and Son.  To express this in a human way, when the Father and the Son speak of the Holy Spirit they do not say “he”; instead they say “we” because he is the unity between the Father and the Son. Here we can see the extraordinary fecundity of St. Augustine’s insight in which the Father is the one who loves, the Son is the one loved, and the Spirit is the love that unites them, the reciprocal gift.  The belief of the Western Church that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son” is based on this. The Holy Spirit, nevertheless, will always remain the hidden God, even if we can know him by his effects. He is like the wind: no one knows where it comes from and where it will blow, but we can see the effects of its passing. He is like the light that illuminates everything around it but remains invisible. This is why the Spirit is the least known and least beloved of the three Persons, despite the fact that he is Love in person. It is easier to think of the Father and Son as “persons,” but that is more difficult for us to do with the Spirit. There are no human categories that can help us understand this mystery. To speak of the Father, we have the assistance of philosophy that deals with the First Cause (the God of the philosophers); to speak about the Son, we have the human analogy of a father-son relationship, and we also have the history of the Word becoming flesh. However, to speak of the Holy Spirit we have nothing but revelation and experience. Scripture itself speaks of him almost always by using symbols from nature: light, fire, wind, water, perfume, the dove.  We will fully understand who the Holy Spirit is only in Paradise. There we will live a life that will have no end, in a deepened understanding of him that will give us immense joy. He will be like a very gentle fire that will inundate our souls and fill us with bliss, like when love fills a person’s heart and that person is happy. c) “. . . Who Has Spoken through the Prophets” We have now come to the third and last affirmation about the Holy Spirit. After we have professed our faith in the life-giving and sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit in the first part of the article (the Spirit is the Lord and the giver of life), now his charismatic action is also mentioned. Regarding this action, there is one charism that is mentioned, the one that Paul holds to be the most important, namely, prophecy (see 1 Cor 14). In regard to the prophetic charism, the article mentions only one of its manifestations by the Holy Spirit: he “has spoken through the prophets,” that is, in the Old Testament. This affirmation is based on various texts in Scripture but in particular 2 Peter 1:21: “no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  4. An Article to Complete The Letter to the Hebrews says, “God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb1:1). The Spirit has not, therefore, ceased speaking by means of the prophets; he did so through Jesus and still speaks today in the Church. This point and other gaps in the symbol were gradually filled in by the practice of the Church without the need to change the text of the creed because of it (as unfortunately happened in the Latin world with the addition of the Filioque). We have an example of this in the epiclesis of the Orthodox liturgy attributed to St. James that prays as follows: Send . . . your most Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who is seated with you, God and Father, and with your only-begotten Son; he rules with you consubstantially and coeternally. He spoke through the Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament; he descended in the form of a dove upon our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, resting upon him, and descended on his holy apostles . . . on the day of holy Pentecost.  Anyone who tries to find everything in the article about the Holy Spirit, is going to be disappointed. This fact demonstrates the nature and the limit of every dogmatic definition. Its purpose is not to say everything about a tenet of faith but to draw a perimeter within which every affirmation about that doctrine must be placed and that no affirmation can contradict. In this case, there are the additional factors that the article was formulated at a time when the reflection on the Paraclete was just beginning and, as I said above, contingent historical circumstances (the emperor’s desire for peace) led to a compromise between the parties.   We are not, however, left with only the words in the creed about the Paraclete. Theology, liturgy, and Christian piety, both in the East and the West, have clothed in “flesh and blood” the succinct affirmations of the symbol of faith. In the sequence of Pentecost of our Latin liturgy, the intimate personal relationship of the Holy Spirit with every individual soul, which is not mentioned in the symbol, is expressed by titles like “father of the poor,” “the light of the heart,” “sweet guest of the soul,” and “greatest comforter.” The same sequence addresses a series of prayers to the Holy Spirit that are particularly beautiful and responsive to our needs. Let us conclude by proclaiming them together, hopefully seeking to identify among them the one that we feel we need the most. Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium. Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium. Wash that which is sordid water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded. Make flexible that which is rigid, warm that which is cold, rule that which is deviant.   (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope to Piarists: evangelizing pedagogy

Vatican News - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 07:22
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to mark the Calasanctian Jubilee Year – a special Jubilee marking the 400 th anniversary of the founding of the Pious Schools, which provide free education to the sons of the poor, and the Religious Order that runs them, commonly known as the Piarists, by St. Joseph Calasanctius (Joseph of Calasanz), Sch.P. Click below to hear our report In his Message, Pope Francis says, “[The Piarist Fathers] have always exercised their ministry in school, but have been able to incarnate their charisma also in several other areas. And, at the same time, they have been able to respond to the requests of the Church, assuming pastoral services wherever necessary.” He goes on to say, “Today more than ever we need an evangelizing pedagogy capable of changing the heart and reality in harmony with the Kingdom of God, making people protagonists and participants in the process. Christian education, especially among the poorest and where the Good News has little place or touches life marginally, is a privileged means to achieve this goal.” The Calasanctian Jubilee Year opened on November 27 of 2016 in the church of San Pantaleo in Rome, with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Jubilee Year will end on November 25 of 2017, with a Eucharistic celebration in San Pantaleo, presided by the Father General of the Congregation of Piarists, Fr. Pedro Aguado, Sch.P. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope approves decrees for causes for canonization

Vatican News - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 07:16
(Vatican Radio) On 1 December, the Holy Father Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In the course of the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the Congregation to promulgate decrees regarding several causes for canonization. The martyrdom of Father Stanley Rother, an American priest killed in Guatemala our of "hatred for the faith," was officially recognized; as was the heroic virtue of Mother Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood, the foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, which was the first contemplative community founded in Canada.  Below, please find the full list of decrees whose promulgation was authorized by Pope Francis:  The miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Giovanni, Schiavo, professed Priest of the Congregation of San Giuseppe; born 8 July 1903 and died 27 January 1967; The martyrdom of the Servant of God Vicente Queralt Lloret, professed Priest of the Congregation of the Missions, and 20 Companions, amongst them six professed priests of the same Congregation, five diocesan Priests, two religious Daughters of Charity, and seven Lay members of the Association Sons of Mary of the Miraculous Medal, killed in hatred of the Faith during the civil war in Spain between 1936 and 1937; The martyrdom of the Servant of God Teofilius Matulionis, Archbishop-Bishop of Kaišiadorys (Lithuania), born 22 June 1873 and died in hatred of the Faith on 20 August 1962; The martyrdom of the Servant of God Stanley Francis Rother, diocesan Priest; born on 27 March 1935 and died in hatred of the Faith 28 July 1981; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Guglielmo Massaia, of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, born 8 June 1809, died 6 August 1889; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Nunzio Russo, diocesan Priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross; born 30 October 1841, died 22 November 1906; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God José Bau Burguet, diocesan Priest, Pastor in Masarrochos (Spain); born 20 April 1867, died 22 November 1932; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Mario Ciceri, diocesan Priest; born 8 September 1900, died 4 April 1945; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Mary Joseph Aubert (née Suzanne Aubert), Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion; born 19 June 1835, died 1 October 1926; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God, Luce Rodríguez-Casanova y García San Miguel, Foundress of the Congregation of the Apostolic Ladies of the Sacred Heart; born 28 August 1873, died 8 January 1949; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood (Aurelia Caouette), Foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Union of Saint-Hyacinthe; born 11 July 1833, died 6 July 1905; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God, Leonia Maria Nastał, professed Sister of the Congregation of the Little Servant Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate; born 8 November 1903, died 10 January 1940. (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope's letter read at girl's funeral

Vatican News - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:33
(Vatican Radio) On November 23, in the small Italian village of Massafra, a funeral Mass was offered for a young Italian girl, 10-year-old Paolina, who had died of a terrible illness. The Requiem Mass took place in the church of Saint Leopold Mandic,, with many parishioners present, including the local mayor. During the homily at the Mass, the pastor, Father Michele Quaranta read a letter sent to Paolina by Pope Francis. Paolina’s mother had written to the Holy Father to ask his blessing and his prayers for her daughter. Pope Francis had hoped to welcome to the young girl to the Vatican to meet her in person, but Paolina was already too sick to make the voyage. The full text of the Pope’s letter to Paolina can be read here: Dearest Paolina, Your photos are on my desk, because in your truly special gaze I see the light of goodness and of innocence. Thanks for sending them to me! Read this letter together with your and the kiss that I will give you now will be the kiss of the Pope. I join my hands to yours and to those of all those who are praying for you. And so we will make a long chain that, I’m sure, will reach to heaven. But remember that the first link in this chain is you, because you have Jesus in your heart! Remember that! So speak to Him, tell Him about yourself, but also talk about your mom and dad who have so much need of help and comfort in the face of the very difficult steps they are facing. You will certainly be a very good girl by suggesting to Jesus what to do for them! Remember, too, to tell Him what He should do for me, too, while I remember the things He ought to do for you. I give you a very, very big hug, and I bless you, together with your parents and your loved ones, with all my heart. Francis (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis’ December prayer intention: End to Child-Soldiers

Vatican News - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 09:05
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for December is for the End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.   The Apostleship of Prayer has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: In this world, which has developed the most sophisticated technologies, weapons are sold that end up in the hands of child soldiers.  We must do everything possible so that the dignity of children may be respected, and end this form of slavery. Whoever you are, if you are moved as I am, I ask you to join in this prayer intention: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over. ...
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Pope: "do not resist the grace of conversion"

Vatican News - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 08:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged the faithful to ask the Lord for help whenever they feel they may be resisting his grace. The Pope was speaking during his homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta . Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Finding inspiration in the opening prayer of the day “May Your grace conquer the obstacles caused by our sins”, Pope Francis said each of us have obstacles in our hearts which resist God’s grace. He warned in particular against various types of obstacles [it. resistenze]: The ones  he called  ‘open obstacles’  that are born of good faith – like in Saul’s case when he resisted grace but was ‘convinced he was doing God’s will' before he was converted by Jesus. “Open obstacles are healthy” - the Pope said – “in the sense that they are open to the grace of conversion”.  The most ‘dangerous’ obstacles according to Francis are the hidden ones because they do not show themselves. Each of us, he said, have our own way of resisting grace but we must recognize it and allow the Lord to purify us. It’s the type of obstacle that Stephen accused the Doctors of Law of concealing whilst they wanted to appear as though they were in search of the glory of God. An accusation – the Pope said – that cost Stephen his life:          "We all have hidden obstacles; we must ask ourselves what is their nature. They always surface to stop a process of conversion. Always!” But, the Pope said,  in these cases we must passively and silently allow the process of change to take place.  “Think of when there is a process of change in an institution or in a family. I hear you say: 'But, there are obstacles… (…) Those kinds of obstacles are put there by the devil, to stop the Lord from going ahead.” Francis then spoke of three types of hidden obstacles:  The obstacle of ‘empty words’ which he illustrated with the example provided by the Gospel reading of the day which reads “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven;” and by the Parable of the two sons sent by their father to work in the vineyard: the first says ‘no’ and then goes ahead and does the work, while the other says ‘yes’ and then doesn’t go:  “Saying yes, yes, diplomatically; but then it is 'no, no, no'. So many words” he said. Saying yes – the Pope continued – so as not change anything is the ‘resistance of empty words.’ And then, he said, there is the “obstacle of words that justify": that’s when a person constantly justifies himself – he always finds a reason to oppose.  Too many excuses the Pope said do not exude the good “aroma of God”, but the “bad stink of the devil”. He said a Christian has no need to justify himself: “He is justified by the Word of God". This kind of resistance he explained is a resistance of words which I use “to attempt to justify my position when I do not follow what the Lord is indicating”. And then, he said, there's the obstacle of "accusatory words": when we accuse others so as not to look to ourselves. In this case too we are ‘resisting’ conversion and grace as illustrated by the Parable of the Pharisee and the publican. So, Pope Francis concluded, there are not only the great historical actions of resistance as for example the Maginot Line or other such events, but those that "are inside our hearts every day.” He said the resistance to grace is a good sign "because it shows that the Lord is working in us" and he invited us to make the obstacles fall in order to allow grace in. Wherever the Lord is there is a cross, the Pope said, be it a small one or a large one, and it is resistance to the Cross, to the Lord, that ultimately brings redemption. So, when there are obstacles we must not be afraid but ask for the Lord’s help and acknowledge that we are all sinners.     (from Vatican Radio)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis meets delegation from Georgia

Vatican News - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 08:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday greeted a delegation of faithful from the Apostolic Administration of the Caucuses who were in Rome to thank the Holy Father for his recent Apostolic Visit to Georgia. Pope Francis told the delegation their visit brought him many memories of his trip. “I never thought I would find in Georgia what I saw: The culture, spirituality, a people that praises Jesus Christ as the Savior, because it is a Christian population,” – the Pope said – “It was for me a great joy.” He said he was also personally impressed by the person of Ilia II of Georgia, saying “I perceived there a man of God.” While acknowledging the problems faced by the small Catholic community, Pope Francis said he thought they would find a way “without forcing the issue, to slowly walk together.” The Pope concluded by remarking on the different faithful he met, calling the responsibility of the laypeople “a great thing,” and thanking the priests and religious for their work. “Go forward!” – Pope Francis said – “This work is like yeast, to make the thing grow. Thank you very much! And do not forget to pray for me.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope to students: ‘Overcome globalization of indifference with freshness of Gospel’

Vatican News - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 07:34
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis invited international students on Thursday to overcome the “globalization of indifference” with “the freshness, actuality, and daring of the Gospel.” He was speaking to participants of the IV World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: The theme of the World Congress takes Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium as its focus, examining its contribution to moral challenges in the intellectual world. The Holy Father invited the students to approach their studies as a springboard to contributing to a healthier society. He reminded them of the words of St. Paul to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” The Pope went on to contrast the search for intellectual self-realization with a model for the good of all. “To the modern concept of the intellectual,” he said, “working for the realization of self and in search of personal recognition, often without care for their neighbor, it is necessary to counter with a model built on solidarity, which works for the common good and for peace.” The Holy Father said the experience of studying abroad “increases self-confidence” by expanding a person’s ability to relate with others, allowing one to “open up without fear to the other”. Turning to teachers and pastoral workers, the Pope invited them to “instill in young people love for the Gospel, the desire to live it concretely and announce it to others”. He said, “In this way, young people are formed who thirst for truth and not power, ready to defend their values and live mercy and charity, which are the fundamental pillars for a healthier society.” The Holy Father went on to say the phenomenon of international students, though promoting an encounter between cultures, can bring to the fore some negative aspects, “like the emergence of certain closures, defense mechanisms before diversity, internal walls which do not allow a person to look their brother or sister in the eye and realize their real needs”. He said a sad reality is the rise of a “globalization of indifference” which makes a person “incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor” ( cf. Apos. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 54 ). In conclusion, Pope Francis said the experience of being an international student has the potential to “produce positive outcomes” on globalization, “with the freshness of the actuality and daring of the Gospel, in order to form new evangelizers ready to infect the world with the joy of Christ, even unto the ends of the earth.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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