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Kaunas: Pope’s Talk to Priests, Religious, Consecrated, Seminarians

Pope Francis spoke to a gathering of priests, religious, consecrated, and seminarians in the Cathedral of Kaunas on September 23, 2018, during his second full day in the country. Kaunas is Lithuania’s second largest city.

The visit to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia marks the Pope’s 25th Apostolic Visit abroad.

The Vatican-Provided Text of the Pope’s Talk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My entire visit to your country has been summed up in one expression: “Jesus Christ, our hope”. Now, as this day draws to its close, we have heard a text of the apostle Paul that invites us to hope with perseverance. Paul tells us this after having proclaimed to us God’s dream for every human being, and indeed for all creation: “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28). He “straightens” all things: that would be the literal translation.

Today I would like to share with you some aspects of this hope: aspects that we – as priests, seminarians, consecrated men and women – are asked to embody in our lives.

First, before his invitation to hope, Paul repeats three times the word “groan”: creation groans, men and women groan, the Spirit groans within us (cf. Rom 8:22-23.26). This groaning comes from an enslavement of corruption, from a yearning for fulfillment. Today we would do well to ask if we ourselves groan inwardly, or whether our hearts are still, no longer yearning for the living God. Ours should be the longing of the deer for springs of water as we seek God’s mystery, his truth, and his beauty. Perhaps our “prosperous society” keeps us sated, surrounded by services and material objects; we end up “stuffed” with everything and filled by nothing. Perhaps it keeps us distracted and entertained, but not fulfilled. As men and women of special consecration, we can never afford to lose that inward groaning, that restlessness of heart that finds its rest in the Lord alone (SAINT AUGUSTINE, Confessions, I,1.1). No instant news, no virtual communication can substitute for our need of concrete, prolonged and regular moments – calling for sustained effort – of daily dialogue with the Lord through prayer and adoration. We need to keep cultivating our desire for God. As Saint John of the Cross wrote: “Try to be continuous in prayer, and in the midst of bodily exercises, do not leave it. Whether you eat, drink, talk with others, or do anything, always go to God and attach your heart to him” (Counsels to a Religious on How to Attain Perfection, 9b).

This groaning can also come from our contemplation of the world around us, as a protest against the unsatisfied needs of our poorest brothers and sisters, before the absence of meaning in the lives of our young, the loneliness experienced by the elderly, the misuse of creation. It is a groaning that would mobilize efforts to shape events in our nation, in our cities, not by acting as a pressure group or in a bid for power, but in service to all. We too should be moved by the cry of our people, like Moses before the burning bush, when God spoke to him of the suffering of his people (cf. Ex 3:9). Listening to God’s voice in prayer makes us see, hear and feel the pain of others, in order to set them free. Yet we should also be concerned when our people stop groaning when they stop seeking water to quench their thirst. At those times, we need to discern what is silencing the voice of our people.

The cry that makes us turn to God in prayer and adoration is the same that makes us sensitive to the plea of our brothers and sisters. They put their “hope” in us, and they require us to discern carefully and then to organize, boldly and creatively, our apostolic outreach. May our presence not be haphazard but one that can genuinely respond to the needs of God’s people, and thus be leaven in the dough (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 33).

The apostle also speaks of perseverance: constancy in suffering and in the pursuit of goodness. This calls for our being centered in God, firmly rooted in him and faithful to his love

The older among you – and here how can I fail to mention Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevičius – know what it is to bear witness to this constancy in suffering, this “hoping against hope” (cf. Rom 4:18). The violence you endured for your defense of civil and religious freedom, the violence of slander, imprisonment, and deportation, could not prevail over your faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of history. You have much to tell us and teach us. Yet you also have much advice to give, without the need to pass judgment on the apparent limitations of the young. And you, the young, when you meet with little frustrations that can discourage you and make you want to turn in on yourselves, seeking activities and pastimes at odds with your consecration, go back to your roots and consider the path taken by your elders. It is tribulation that brings out what is distinctive about Christian hope. For when our hope is merely human, we can become frustrated and end in failure. That does not happen with Christian hope: it is renewed and purified when tested by tribulation.

It is true that we are living in different times and situations, but it is also true that this advice proves most helpful when those who experienced those hardships do not keep them to themselves but share them with others. Their stories are simply expressions of nostalgia for times past as if they were somehow better, or veiled criticisms of those who have a more fragile emotional makeup. A community of disciples can draw upon great resources of constancy if it can integrate – like the scribe in the Gospel – both new and old (cf. Mt 13:52) if it is conscious that historical experiences are the roots that enable the tree to grow and flourish.

Finally, looking to Jesus Christ as our hope means identifying ourselves with him, sharing as a community in his lot. For the apostle Paul, the salvation we await is not merely negative: freedom from some internal or external, historical or eschatological tribulation. Paul instead speaks of it as something supremely positive: our sharing in the glorious life of Christ (cf. 1 Thess 5:9-10), our sharing in his glorious kingdom (cf. 2 Tim 4:18), the redemption of our bodies (cf. Rom 8:23-24). Each of you should try to glimpse the mysterious and unique plan that God has for him or her. For no one can ever know us as profoundly as God does. He calls us to something apparently impossible; he gambles on us, trusting that we will reflect the image of his Son. He expects much of us, and we put our hope in him.

That “we” includes, but also exceeds, each of us as an individual. The Lord calls us, justifies us and glorifies us together, and with us, he includes all creation. Often we so stress personal responsibility that our responsibility as a community ends up in the background, no more than a backdrop. But the Holy Spirit gathers us, reconciles our differences and generates new energies to advance the Church’s mission (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 131, 235).

This Cathedral in which we are gathered is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Both those apostles were conscious of the treasure they had received; both, at different moments and in different ways, had been asked to “put out into the deep water” (Lk 5:4). All of us, are on the boat of the Church. We too want constantly to cry out to God, to persevere amid tribulation and to hold fast to Jesus Christ as the object of our hope. And this boat sees it as central to her mission to proclaim this eagerly-awaited glory that is God present in the midst of his people in the risen Christ, a glory that one day, to fulfill the yearning of all creation, will be revealed in the children of God. This is the challenge that impels us: the mandate to evangelize. This is the basis of our hope and our joy. Today, the “deep water” into which we must “put out” is “the changing scenarios and ever new challenges” of this Church on the move. Yet we need to ask once more: What is it that the Lord is asking of us? What are the peripheries, that most need our presence so that we can bring them the light of the Gospel (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 20)?

Otherwise, who will be able to believe that Jesus Christ is our hope? Only our example of life will show the reason for our hope in him.

[01436-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Pope Francis: Christian life always includes the cross

EWTN World Catholic News - 2 hours 21 min ago
Kaunas, Lithuania, Sep 23, 2018 / 07:14 am (EWTN News/CNA).- As can be seen throughout history, the life of a Christian cannot escape the sacrifices and sorrows of the cross, Pope Francis said Sunday at Mass in Lithuania.

FROM KAUNAS: ‘Jesus Christ Is Our One Hope,’ Pope Reminds During Last Mass in Lithuania

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 3 hours 33 min ago

Jesus Christ is our one hope.

Pope Francis stressed this to faithful during his homily in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city, today, Sept. 23, during his second full day in the country. The visit to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia marks the Pope’s 25th Apostolic Visit abroad.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on how Saint Mark devotes an entire section of his Gospel to the instruction of the Lord’s disciples. It would seem, he said, that Jesus, at the halfway point of his journey to Jerusalem, wanted them to renew their choice to follow him, knowing that it would entail moments of trial and grief.

“The Christian life always involves experiences of the cross,” Pope Francis said, reflecting: “at times they can seem interminable.”

“Earlier generations,” the Holy Father acknowledged, “still bear the scars of the period of the occupation, anguish at those who were deported, uncertainty about those who never returned, shame for those who were informers and traitors. The Book of Wisdom speaks to us of the just who are persecuted, who suffer insult and punishment solely for their goodness.”

The Pope asked: “How many of you can identify at first hand, or in the history of some family member, with that passage which we just read? How many of you have also felt your faith shaken because God did not appear to take your side? Because the fact of your remaining faithful was not enough for him to intervene in your history?”

Kaunas, the Pope said, knows about this, and Lithuania as a whole, can testify to it, “still shuddering at the mention of Siberia, or the ghettos of Vilnius and Kaunas, among others.”

The disciples did not want Jesus to speak to them of sorrows and the cross, the Successor of Peter said, noting “they wanted nothing to do with trials and hardships.”

Jesus, knowing what the disciples were discussing–the Jesuit Pope pointed out–provided them with an antidote to their struggles for power and their rejection of sacrifice. To make His teaching all the more solemn, he sat down, “as a teacher would, summoned them and set a child in their midst; the kind of child that would earn a penny for doing chores no one else would care to do.”

“Whom would Jesus place in our midst today, here, on this Sunday morning? Who will be the smallest, the poorest in our midst, whom we should welcome a hundred years after our independence? Who is it that has nothing to give us, to make our effort and our sacrifices worthwhile?”

Perhaps, he said, it is the ethnic minorities of our city, or the jobless who have to emigrate. Maybe it is the elderly and the lonely, or those young people who find no meaning in life because they have lost their roots.

“In their midst” means at the same distance from everybody, so that no one can claim not to notice, no one can argue that it is “somebody else’s responsibility” because “I didn’t see him”, or “I am further away”.

The Pope reminded “what it means to be a Church on the move,” namely being “unafraid to go out and get involved, even when it might seem that we pour ourselves out, lose ourselves, in going forth to the weak, the neglected, those dwelling at the margins of life.”

Yet also knowing that to go forth also means to halt at times, to set aside our worries and cares, and to notice, to listen to and to accompany those left on the roadside.

That is why we are here today, he said, noting: “We want to welcome Jesus, in his word, in the Eucharist, in his little ones.”

“For this reason, and because as a community we feel true and profound solidarity with all humanity – here in this city and throughout Lithuania – and its history , we wish to spend our lives in joyful service, and thus to make known to all that Jesus Christ is our one hope.”

Angelus

After the Mass, the Pope recited his Sunday Angelus address.

“Here in Lithuania,” he recalled, “you have a hill of crosses, where thousands of people, over the centuries, have planted the sign of the cross. I ask you, as we now pray the Angelus, to beg Mary to help us all to plant our own cross, the cross of our service and commitment to the needs of others, on that hill where the poor dwell, where care and concern are needed for the outcast and for minorities.”

“In this way,” he continued, “we can keep far from our lives and our cultures the possibility of destroying one another, of marginalizing, of continuing to discard whatever we find troublesome or uncomfortable.”

The Pope also recalled that 75 years ago, Lithuania witnessed the final destruction of the Vilnius Ghetto. Recalling that this was the climax of the killing of thousands of Jews that had started two years earlier, Francis reminded those before him that in the Book of Wisdom, the Jewish people suffered insults and cruel punishments.

“Let us think back on those times, and ask the Lord to give us the gift of discernment to detect in time any recrudescence of that pernicious attitude, any hint of it that can taint the heart of generations that did not experience those times and can sometimes be taken in by such siren songs.”

Saying he wished to dedicate a special thought in these days to the Jewish community, he noted that this afternoon, he will pray before the Monument to the Victims of the Ghetto in Vilnius, on the 75th anniversary of its destruction.

“May the Most High bless dialogue and the shared commitment for justice and peace,” he said.

Pope Francis also concluded thanking the president, authorities, bishops and organizers for all their work for bringing his visit together.

***

On Zenit’s Webpage:

Homily: https://zenit.org/articles/whom-would-jesus-place-in-our-midst-today-here-on-this-sunday-morning/

Angelus Address: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-angelus-address-in-kaunas-lithuania/

The post FROM KAUNAS: ‘Jesus Christ Is Our One Hope,’ Pope Reminds During Last Mass in Lithuania appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Passing opioid bill an important first step in addressing crisis, bishop says

EWTN Latest Catholic News - 4 hours 30 min ago
Washington D.C., Sep 23, 2018 / 05:05 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The head of the U.S. bishops' human development committee applauded the U.S. Senate for passing a bill responding to the nation's opioid crisis, and encouraged the House of Representatives to pass the legislation as well.

Pope’s Angelus Address in Kaunas, Lithuania

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 5 hours 31 min ago

Here is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Francis’ Angelus in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city, today, Sept. 23, during his second full day in the country, during his 25th Apostolic Visit to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s first reading, from the Book of Wisdom speaks of the persecution of the righteous, those whose “mere presence” annoys the ungodly. The ungodly are described as those who oppress the poor, who have no compassion for the widow and show no respect to the elderly (cf. 2:17-20). The ungodly claim to believe that “power is the norm of justice”. They dominate the weak, use their power to impose a way of thinking, an ideology, a prevailing mindset. They use violence or repression to subject those who simply by their honest, straightforward, hardworking and companionable everyday life show that a different kind of world, a different kind of society, is possible. The ungodly are not content with doing anything they like, giving into their every whim; they do not want others, by doing good, to show them up for who they are. In the ungodly, evil is always trying to destroy good.

Seventy-five years ago, this nation witnessed the final destruction of the Vilnius Ghetto; this was the climax of the killing of thousands of Jews that had started two years earlier. As we read in the Book of Wisdom, the Jewish people suffered insults and cruel punishments. Let us think back on those times, and ask the Lord to give us the gift of discernment to detect in time any recrudescence of that pernicious attitude, any whiff of it that can taint the heart of generations that did not experience those times and can sometimes be taken in by such siren songs.

Jesus in the Gospel tells us of a temptation of which we have to be very careful: the desire for primacy and domination over others, which can dwell in every human heart. How often has it happened that one people considers itself superior, with greater acquired rights, with more privileges needing to be preserved or gained. What is the antidote that Jesus proposes when this impulse appears in our heart or in the heart of any society or country? To be the last of all and the servant of all; to go to the place where no one else wants to go, where no one travels, the furthest peripheries; to serve and come to know the lowly and the rejected. If power had to do with this, if we could allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach the depths of our lives, then the “globalization of solidarity” would be a reality. “In our world, especially in some countries, different forms of war and conflict are re-emerging, yet we Christians remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2)” (Evangelii Gaudium, 67).

Here in Lithuania, you have a hill of crosses, where thousands of people, over the centuries, have planted the sign of the cross. I ask you, as we now pray the Angelus, to beg Mary to help us all to plant our own cross, the cross of our service and commitment to the needs of others, on that hill where the poor dwell, where care and concern are needed for the outcast and for minorities. In this way, we can keep far from our lives and our cultures the possibility of destroying one another, of marginalizing, of continuing to discard whatever we find troublesome or uncomfortable.

Jesus puts a little child in our midst, at the same distance from each of us, so that all of us can feel challenged to respond. As we remember the “yes” spoken by Mary, let us ask her to make our “yes” as generous and fruitful as hers.

[Angelus Domini…]

Happy Sunday! Enjoy your lunch! – Gražaus sekmadienioSkaniu pietu!

* * *

Post-Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

I wish to take this occasion to thank Her Excellency the President of the Republic and the other Lithuanian authorities, and also the Bishops and those who have assisted them in preparing for my visit; I extend my gratitude to all those who in various ways, and indeed by their prayers, have offered their contribution.

I would like to dedicate a special thought in these days to the Jewish community. This afternoon I will pray before the Monument to the Victims of the Ghetto in Vilnius, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of its destruction. May the Most High bless dialogue and the shared commitment for justice and peace.

[Original Text: Italian] [Vatican-provided text]

The post Pope’s Angelus Address in Kaunas, Lithuania appeared first on ZENIT - English.

‘Whom Would Jesus Place in Our Midst Today, Here, on This Sunday Morning?’

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 6 hours 12 min ago

Here is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Francis’ homily in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city, today, Sept. 23, during his second full day in the country, during his 25th Apostolic Visit to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia:

***

Dear brothers,

Saint Mark devotes an entire section of his Gospel to the instruction of the Lord’s disciples. It would seem that Jesus, at the halfway point of his journey to Jerusalem, wanted them to renew their choice to follow him, knowing that it would entail moments of trial and grief. The Evangelist describes this period of Jesus’ life by mentioning that on three occasions he announced his passion. All three times, the disciples expressed bewilderment and opposition, and on each of these occasions the Lord wished to leave them a teaching. We have just heard about the second of these three occasions (cf. Mk 9:30-37).

The Christian life always involves experiences of the cross; at times they can seem interminable. Earlier generations still bear the scars of the period of the occupation, anguish at those who were deported, uncertainty about those who never returned, shame for those who were informers and traitors. The Book of Wisdom speaks to us of the just who are persecuted, who suffer insult and punishment solely for their goodness (cf. Wis 2:10-12). How many of you can identify at first hand, or in the history of some family member, with that passage which we just read? How many of you have also felt your faith shaken because God did not appear to take your side? Because the fact of your remaining faithful was not enough for him to intervene in your history? Kaunas knows about this; Lithuania as a whole can testify to it, still shuddering at the mention of Siberia, or the ghettos of Vilnius and Kaunas, among others. You can repeat the words of condemnation uttered by the apostle James in the passage of his Letter that we heard: they covet, they murder, they engage in disputes and conflicts (cf. 4:2).

The disciples did not want Jesus to speak to them of sorrows and the cross; they wanted nothing to do with trials and hardships. Saint Mark tells us that they were interested in other things, that on the way home they discussed who was the greatest among them. Brothers and sisters: the thirst for power and glory is the sign of those who fail to heal the memories of the past and, perhaps for that very reason, to take an active part in the tasks of the present. They would rather discuss who was better, who acted with greater integrity in the past, who has more right to privileges than others. In this way, we deny our own history, “which is glorious precisely because it is a history of sacrifice, of hopes and daily struggles, of lives spent in service and fidelity to work, tiring as it may be” (Evangelii Gaudium, 96). It is a fruitless and vain attitude that refuses to get involved in building the present, since it has lost contact with the struggles of our faithful people. We cannot be like those spiritual “sages” who only judge from afar and chatter constantly about “what ought to be done” (cf. ibid.).

Jesus, knowing what the disciples were discussing, provided them with an antidote to their struggles for power and their rejection of sacrifice. And to make his teaching all the more solemn, he sat down, as a teacher would, summoned them and set a child in their midst; the kind of child that would earn a penny for doing chores no one else would care to do. Whom would Jesus place in our midst today, here, on this Sunday morning? Who will be the smallest, the poorest in our midst, whom we should welcome a hundred years after our independence? Who is it that has nothing to give us, to make our effort and our sacrifices worthwhile? Perhaps it is the ethnic minorities of our city. Or the jobless who have to emigrate. May be it is the elderly and the lonely, or those young people who find no meaning in life because they have lost their roots.

“In their midst” means at the same distance from everybody, so that no one can claim not to notice, no one can argue that it is “somebody else’s responsibility” because “I didn’t see him”, or “I am further away”. And without anyone drawing attention to oneself, wanting to be applauded or singled out for praise.

There, in the city of Vilnius, the river Vilnia brought its waters and lost its name to the Neris; here, the Neris itself loses its name bringing its waters to the Neman. This reminds us of what it means to be a Church on the move, unafraid to go out and get involved, even when it might seem that we pour ourselves out, lose ourselves, in going forth to the weak, the neglected, those dwelling at the margins of life. Yet also knowing that to go forth also means to halt at times, to set aside our worries and cares, and to notice, to listen to and to accompany those left on the roadside. At times, it will mean acting like the father of the prodigal son, who waited at the door for his return, to fling it open as soon as he arrived (cf. ibid, 46). At other times, like the disciples, we will need to learn that in welcoming a little child, we welcome Jesus himself.

That is why we are here today. We want to welcome Jesus, in his word, in the Eucharist, in his little ones. To welcome him so that he can heal our memory and accompany us in this present time that presents us with exciting challenges and signposts, so that we can follow him as his disciples. For there is nothing truly human that does not find an echo in the heart of Christ’s disciples. We feel as our own the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and the afflictions of the people of our time, particularly the poor and the suffering (cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Gaudium et Spes, 1). For this reason, and because as a community we feel true and profound solidarity with all humanity – here in this city and throughout Lithuania – and its history (cf. ibid.), we wish to spend our lives in joyful service, and thus to make known to all that Jesus Christ is our one hope.

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

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God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

Catholic Telegraph - 09/22/2018 - 4:46pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) — Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub drinking “a beer or a gira,” a slightly alcoholic beverage made from fermented rye bread.

Yet the stories two young adults shared with him Sept. 22 and his responses to their concerns were not casual.

Monika Midveryte spoke about growing up with an alcoholic father who beat her and eventually committed suicide. A young man, identified only as Jonas, spoke about being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and how serious illness made him and his young wife realize just how serious their wedding vows were.

Meeting the teens and young adults outside the city’s Cathedral of Sts. Stanislaus and Ladislaus, which has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, Pope Francis urged the two and all their peers to think about how God has been close to them, too, even amid tragedy.

Almost always, he said, it is through other people that God’s grace arrives to those in need. “It doesn’t drop from the sky. It doesn’t happen by magic, there’s no magic wand.”

“Don’t let the world make you believe that it is better to do everything on your own,” the pope told the young people. “Don’t yield to the temptation of getting caught up in yourself, ending up selfish or superficial in the face of sorry, difficulty or temporary success.”

Pope Francis told the young people, many of whom dream of emigrating for more opportunities, that their lives are not “a theater piece or a video game” with a final curtain or a lurking “game over.”

The important thing, he said, is to keep praying and keep moving forward, “seeking the right way without being afraid to retrace our steps if we make a mistake. The most dangerous thing is to confuse the path with a maze that keeps us wandering in circles without ever making real progress.”

“Jesus gives us plenty of time, lots of room for failure,” the pope said. But “he never jumps off the ship of our lives; he is always there at life’s crossroads. Even when our lives go up in flames, he is always there to rebuild them.”

Before joining the young people, Pope Francis stopped at the “Gate of Dawn,” one of nine gates that led into the ancient city of Vilnius. The pope mingled with dozens of orphaned children and the families that have adopted or fostered them. After praying silently for several minutes before the oversized icon of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy that marks the gate, the pope gave a brief talk and then prayed a decade of the rosary with thousands of people gathered in the street.

Noting how the icon and the gate were the only parts of the city’s fortified walls to remain after an invasion in 1799, Pope Francis said Mary teaches Christians that “we can defend without attacking, that we can keep safe without the unhealthy need to distrust others.”

“When we close our hearts for fear of others, when we build walls and barricades,” the pope said, “we end up depriving ourselves of the Good News of Jesus, who shares in the history and the lives of others” and is present in their suffering.

The wounds of others are the wounds of Jesus, he said. And “charity is the key that opens to us the door of heaven.”

Vilnius was the first stop on Pope Francis’ Sept. 22-25 to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The three Baltic nations are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their declarations of independence after World War I. While declared Soviet republics in 1940, the countries were occupied by the Nazis during World War II and then lived under Soviet rule from 1944 to 1990.

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Pope Francis Encourages Lithuanian Youth

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 2:06pm

Thousands of young Lithuanians gathers in the square in front of Vilnius Cathedral heard a message of hope and encouragement from Pope Francis on September 22, 2018. After hearing testimonies from two young people – Monica ad Jonas – the Holy Father had a clear and simple message for the crowd:

“Don’t ever be afraid to put your trust in Jesus, to embrace his cause, the cause of the Gospel.”

The Pope warned of the dangers of getting caught up in the things of the world and trying to do everyone on one’s own. But he reminded that even when things seem to be falling apart, God is there and there are those ready to rebuild.

“Like this Cathedral, you have times when you think you are falling apart, fires from which you think you can never rebuild,” Francis explained. “Think of all the times this Cathedral went up in flames and fell apart. Yet there were always people ready to start rebuilding; they refused to let themselves be overwhelmed by hardship: they never gave up. The freedom of your nation, too, was won by men and women who did not flinch before terror and misfortune.”

He continued by reminding the young people (and not so young in the crowd) that it is important to help others and they should not fear following Christ:

“Dear young people, following Christ is something worthwhile! Do not be afraid to take part in the revolution to which he invites us: the revolution of tenderness (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 88).”

The Holy Father’s Full Address

Thank you, Monica and Jonas, for your witness. I listened to it as a friend, as if we were sitting close to one another in some bar, telling one another about our lives as we drink a beer or a girá after going to the jaunimo teatras.

But your lives are not a piece of theatre; they are real and concrete, like those of everyone else gathered here today in this beautiful square situated between two rivers. Perhaps all this helps us to think back on your stories and to find in them the footprint of God… for God is always passing through our lives.

Like this Cathedral, you have times when you think you are falling apart, fires from which you think you can never rebuild. Think of all the times this Cathedral went up in flames and fell apart. Yet there were always people ready to start rebuilding; they refused to let themselves be overwhelmed by hardship: they never gave up. The freedom of your nation, too, was won by men and women who did not flinch before terror and misfortune. Monica, your father’s life, his condition, and his death, and your illness, Jonas, could have been devastating for you. Yet here you are, sharing your experience, seeing it with the eyes of faith, and helping us to see that God gave you the grace to be strong, to lift yourselves up and to keep moving forward in life.

How was it that God’s grace was poured out on you?

It was through persons whose paths crossed your lives, good people who nourished you by their experience of faith. For you, Monica, your grandmother and your mother, and the Franciscan parish were like the confluence of these two rivers; just as the Vilna flows into the Neris, you let yourself be carried along by that current of grace. Because the Lord saves us by making us part of a people. No one can say, “I am saved on my own”. We are all interconnected, “networked”. God wanted to enter into this web of relationships and he draws us to himself in community; he gives to our lives the deepest sense of identity and belonging (cf. Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Jonas, you too found in others, in your wife and in the promise that you made on your wedding day, the reason to keep going, to fight, to live.

So don’t let the world make you believe that it is better to do everything on your own. Don’t yield to the temptation of getting caught up in yourself, ending up selfish or superficial in the face of sorrow, difficulty or temporary success. Let us say once again, “Whatever happens to others happens to me”. Let us swim against the current of that individualism which isolates us, makes us egocentric and vain, concerned only for our image and our own well-being

Aim for holiness through your encounters and your fellowship with other people; be attentive to their needs (ibid., 146). Who we really are has to do with our being part of a people. Identity is not the product of a laboratory; it is not concocted in a test tube. Each one of us knows how beautiful it is to belong to a people, but also how demanding it is, and even, at times, painful. But that is the basis of our identity; we are not rootless.

The two of you also spoke about your experience in a choir, praying in the family, Mass, and catechism, and helping those in need. These are powerful weapons that the Lord gives us. Prayer and song keep us from getting caught up in this world alone: in your desire to know God you went out from yourselves and were able to see what was going on in your heart through God’s eyes (cf. ibid., 147). In embracing music, you became open to listening and the interior life; in this way, you developed sensitivity, and that always opens the way to discernment (cf. Instrumentum Laboris, Synod for Youth, 162). Prayer can certainly be an experience of “spiritual warfare”, but it is in prayer that we learn to listen to the Spirit, to discern the signs of the times and to find renewed strength for proclaiming the Gospel each day. How else could we fight the temptation to become discouraged by our frailties and our difficulties, and those of others, and by all the dreadful things that happen in our world? What would we do if prayer did not teach us to believe that everything depends on us, when we are alone and wrestling with adversity? As Saint Alberto Hurtado used to say, “Jesus and I are an absolute majority!” The encounter with Christ, with his word, with the Eucharist, reminds us that it makes no difference how strong the opponent is. It makes no difference whether Žalgiris Kaunas or Vilnius Rytas are in first place; what matters is not the result, but the fact that the Lord is at our side.

Both of you also found support in life through the experience of helping others. You realized that all around us there are people experiencing troubles even worse than our own. Monica, you told us about working with children with disabilities. Seeing the frailty of others gives us perspective; it helps us not to go through life licking own wounds. How many young people leave home for lack of opportunities, and how many are victims of depression, alcohol, and drugs! How many of the elderly are lonely, without anyone to share the present, and fearful that the past will return! You can respond to those challenges by your presence, by your encounter with others. Jesus invites us to step out of ourselves and to risk a face-to-face encounter with others. It is true that believing in Jesus can often demand taking a leap of blind faith, and this can be frightening. At other times, it can make us question ourselves, and force us to abandon our preconceptions. That can involve anguish and we can be tempted to discouragement. But stand firm! Following Jesus is a passionate adventure that gives meaning to our lives and makes us feel part of a community that encourages and accompanies us, and commits us to the service of others. Dear young people, following Christ is something worthwhile! Do not be afraid to take part in the revolution to which he invites us: the revolution of tenderness (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 88).

If life were a theatre piece or a video game, it would be limited to a precise time, and have a beginning and an end, when the curtain falls or one team wins the game. But life measures time differently; it follows God’s heartbeat. Sometimes it passes quickly, while at other times it goes slowly. We are challenged to take new paths; things change. We grow indecisive mostly out of fear that the curtain will fall, or that the stopwatch will eliminate us from the game or prevent us from advancing. But life always involves moving forward, seeking the right way without being afraid to retrace our steps if we make a mistake. The most dangerous thing is to confuse the path with a maze that keeps us wandering in circles without ever making real progress. As young people, don’t let yourselves get trapped in a maze but follow a path that leads to the future.

Don’t ever be afraid to put your trust in Jesus, to embrace his cause, the cause of the Gospel. Because he never jumps off the ship of our life; he is always there at life’s crossroads. Even when our lives go up in flame, he is always there to rebuild them. Jesus gives us plenty of time, lots of room for failure. Nobody has to emigrate from him; he has a place for everyone. There are many people out there who want to capture your hearts. They want to sow weeds in your field, but if, in the end, we entrust our lives to the Lord, the good grain will always prevail.

[01432-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

The post Pope Francis Encourages Lithuanian Youth appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

Catholic Telegraph - 09/22/2018 - 1:42pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Wu Hong, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) — For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced.

Pope Francis lifted the excommunications or irregular status of seven bishops who had been ordained with government approval, but not the Vatican’s consent, the Vatican announced Sept. 22. A few hours earlier, representatives of the Vatican and the Chinese government signed what they described as a “provisional agreement” on the appointment of bishops.

“With a view to sustaining the proclamation of the Gospel in China, the Holy Father Pope Francis has decided to readmit to full ecclesial communion the remaining ‘official’ bishops ordained without pontifical mandate,” the Vatican said, listing their names.

The pope also included in the list Bishop Anthony Tu Shihua, who, before dying Jan. 4, 2017, “had expressed the desire to be reconciled with the Apostolic See,” the Vatican said.

Regularizing the bishops’ status, the Vatican said, Pope Francis hopes “a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics,” some of whom steadfastly have refused to participate in activities or parishes under the leadership of bishops not recognized by Rome.

In recent years, most bishops chosen by the government-related Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association have sought and received Vatican recognition before their ordinations.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said in a statement that “the objective of the Holy See is a pastoral one: the Holy See intends just to create the condition, or to help to create the condition, of a greater freedom, autonomy and organization, in order that the Catholic Church can dedicate itself to the mission of announcing the Gospel and also to contribute to the well-being and to the spiritual and material prosperity and harmony of the country, of every person and of the world as a whole.”

“What is required now is unity, trust and a new impetus,” Cardinal Parolin said in a video message recorded before he left Rome to join the pope in Vilnius. “To the Catholic community in China — the bishops, priests, religious and faithful — the pope entrusts, above all, the commitment to make concrete fraternal gestures of reconciliation among themselves, and so to overcome past misunderstandings, past tensions, even the recent ones.”

The nomination and assignment of bishops has been a key sticking point in Vatican-Chinese relations for decades; the Catholic Church has insisted that bishops be appointed by the pope and the Chinese government has maintained that would amount to foreign interference in China’s internal affairs.

Catholic communities that have refused to register with the government and refused to follow government-appointed bishops commonly are referred to as the underground church. Many communities, though, have bishops who were elected locally but who pledged their unity with and fidelity to the pope, which in effect meant they were recognized by both the government and the Vatican.

Vatican officials always have said that giving up full control over the nomination of bishops would not be what it hopes for, but could be a good first step toward ensuring greater freedom and security for the Catholic community there.

The Vatican announcement said the agreement was signed Sept. 22 in Beijing by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, undersecretary for foreign relations in the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Wang Chao, Chinese deputy foreign minister.

The provisional agreement, the Vatican said, “is the fruit of a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement, has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application. It concerns the nomination of bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the church, and creates the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level.”

“The shared hope,” the statement said, “is that this agreement may favor a fruitful and forward-looking process of institutional dialogue and may contribute positively to the life of the Catholic Church in China, to the common good of the Chinese people and to peace in the world.”

The Vatican did not release the text of the agreement nor provide details about what it entailed.

News reports in mid-September, like earlier in the year, said the provisional agreement would outline precise procedures for ensuring Catholic bishops are elected by the Catholic community in China and approved by the pope before their ordinations and installations.

Media reports in the days before the announcement said future candidates for the office of bishop will be chosen at the diocesan level through a democratic election system, and the results of the elections will be sent to Beijing for government authorities to examine. The government would then submit a name via diplomatic channels to the Holy See.

The Holy See will carry out its own investigation of the candidate before the pope either approves or exercises his veto, according to the Jesuit-run America magazine. If the pope approves the candidate, the process will continue. If not, “both sides will engage in a dialogue, and Beijing would eventually be expected to submit the name of another candidate.”

The pope will have the final word on the appointment of bishops in China, the report said.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the 76-year-old retired archbishop of Hong Kong, has been one of the rumored agreement’s strongest critics.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency in Hong Kong Sept. 20, Cardinal Zen said Cardinal Parolin should resign.

“I don’t think he has faith. He is just a good diplomat in a very secular, mundane meaning,” Cardinal Zen told Reuters. “They’re giving the flock into the mouths of the wolves. It’s an incredible betrayal.”

Cardinal Parolin, meanwhile, told reporters Sept. 20 the Vatican is “convinced that this is a step forward. We are not so naive as to think that from now on everything is going to go well, but it seems to us that this is the right direction.” 

Although Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said the agreement is pastoral, not political, it is seen as a step in the long efforts to re-establish full diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China. The two have not had formal diplomatic ties since shortly after China’s 1949 communist revolution.

– – –

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BALTIC SPECIAL: Pope Begins Baltic Visit Telling Young Lithuanians: It Is Worth It to Follow Christ; Jesus Fills Our Lives

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 12:47pm
Pope Francis has kicked off his 25th Apostolic Visit abroad to the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Zenit’s Deborah Castellano Lubov is following the trip again from the Papal Flight. The Holy Father took a 7:30 a.m. AZ400 Alitalia flight from Rome—which for those of us on the Papal flight meant a 3 a.m. alarm. We arrived by 10:30 a.m. local time. When greeting journalists, including Zenit, during the flight, the Holy Father thanked journalists for their work and encouraged them to recognize and appreciate how these three countries have a lot in common, but still are diverse from one another. Moments after a joyous and music-filled welcome ceremony outside the flight, despite the rain and ominous clouds, the Pope and papal entourage headed toward the center of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where Francis was received by the nation’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė. As is customary, they exchanged gifts and the Pope signed the book of honor. During the Supreme Pontiff’s address to authorities, he reminded: “It is a source of joy and hope to begin this pilgrimage to the Baltic countries in Lithuania, which is, in the words of Saint John Paul II, ‘a silent witness of a passionate love for religious freedom.'” “Each generation is challenged to make its own the struggles and achievements of the past, and to honor in the present the memory of all those who have gone before. We do not know what tomorrow bring,” he said, “but we do know that each age has a duty.” That duty, he explained, is to “cherish the ‘soul’ that created it and helped it to turn every situation of sorrow and injustice into opportunity, preserving alive and healthy the roots that nurtured the fruits we enjoy today.” “Truly,” he affirmed, “this people has a strong “soul” that enables it to hold fast and to keep building!” Lithuanians, he acknowledged, should be applauded on their “welcoming differences.” “Through dialogue, openness and understanding,” he said, “you can become a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe. This is the fruit of a mature history, which you as a people can offer to the international community and to the European Community.” Following that encounter, the Pope headed toward lunch, which took place at the nunciature. Despite news published today about China and the Holy See taking many’s attention, the Pope’s trip seemed to be truly pastoral. The Pope’s stop in the afternoon was to pray and speak at the famous Shrine of Mater Misericordiae (Shrine of the Mother of Mercy), where there is the beloved image of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn,  much venerated, which many believe to be a source of cures and healing. There, The Holy Father underscored that Mary, the Virgin Mary “Mother of Mercy,” is the holy Mother of God who is always ready to help us, to come to our aid. “As we contemplate the mysteries of the Rosary, let us ask Mary that we may be a community capable of proclaiming Jesus Christ our hope,” he said, praying: “May Mary always be the Gate of Dawn for this whole blessed land.” “The Mother of Mercy, like every good mother,” the Argentine Pope observed, “tries to bring her family together. She whispers in our ear: ‘Look for your brother, look for your sister.’ In this way, she opens to us the door to a new dawn, a new day.” On the way to the youth gathering, Pope Francis unexpectedly stopped at a hospice in Vilnius to greet and blessed terminally ill patients who were waiting outside under a tent along his popemobile route.

During his subsequent youth meeting, he was met with much enthusiasm. Some young people performed and expressed to him their concerns, to which he responded with practical advice.

“Jesus fills our lives,” he underscored, stressing: ‘Young people, it is worth it to follow Christ!’

‘We are Christians, we are working toward holiness,’ the Holy Father reminded, urging: ‘Don’t be afraid to go against the current!’

***

Pope’s Address to Authorities: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-authorities-in-lithuania/

Pope’s Words at Shrine: https://zenit.org/articles/holy-fathers-remarks-at-shrine-of-the-mother-of-mercy-vilnius-lithuania/

The post BALTIC SPECIAL: Pope Begins Baltic Visit Telling Young Lithuanians: It Is Worth It to Follow Christ; Jesus Fills Our Lives appeared first on ZENIT - English.

FEATURE: Pope Begins Baltic Visit Telling Young Lithuanians: It Is Worth It to Follow Christ; Jesus Fills Our Lives

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 12:31pm
Pope Francis has kicked off his 25th Apostolic Visit abroad to the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Zenit’s Deborah Castellano Lubov is following the trip again from the Papal Flight. The Holy Father took a 7:30 am flight from Rome—which for those of us on the Papal flight meant a 3 a.m. alarm, but early on when greeting journalists, including Zenit, on the Papal Flight, he noted that this trip was one worthy of particular attention. Moments after a welcome ceremony outside the flight, with music and joy, despite the rain and clouds, the Pope and papal entourage headed toward the center of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where the Pope was received by the President. They exchanged gifts and the Pope signed the book of honor. During his address to authorities, the Pope reminded: ‘It is a source of joy and hope to begin this pilgrimage to the Baltic countries in Lithuania, which is, in the words of Saint John Paul II, “a silent witness of a passionate love for religious freedom.’ “Each generation is challenged to make its own the struggles and achievements of the past, and to honor in the present the memory of all those who have gone before. We do not know what tomorrow bring,” he said, “but we do know that each age has a duty.” That duty, he noted, is to “cherish the ‘soul’ that created it and helped it to turn every situation of sorrow and injustice into opportunity, preserving alive and healthy the roots that nurtured the fruits we enjoy today.” Truly, this people has a strong “soul” that enables it to hold fast and to keep building! Lithuanians, he acknowledged, contribute the characteristic of “welcoming differences.” “Through dialogue, openness and understanding,” he said, “you can become a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe. This is the fruit of a mature history, which you as a people can offer to the international community and to the European Community.” Following that encounter, the Pope headed toward lunch at the nunciature. Despite the news about China taking everyone’s attention, the Pope’s trip seemed in the following moments achieve its pastoral intention. He would pray and speak at the famous Shrine of Mater Misericordiae (Shrine of the Mother of Mercy), where there is the beloved image of Our Lady of Dawn at the Gate, which is also believed by many to be a source of cures. There, The Holy Father noted that Mary, the Virgin Mary “Mother of Mercy,” is the holy Mother of God who is always ready to help us, to come to our aid. “As we contemplate the mysteries of the Rosary, let us ask Mary that we may be a community capable of proclaiming Jesus Christ our hope,” he said, praying: “May Mary always be the Gate of Dawn for this whole blessed land.” “The Mother of Mercy, like every good mother, tries to bring her family together. She whispers in our ear: “Look for your brother, look for your sister”. In this way, she opens to us the door to a new dawn, a new day.” On the way to the youth gathering, Pope Francis unexpectedly stopped at a hospice in Vilnius to greet and blessed terminally ill patients who were waiting outside under a tent along his popemobile route.

During his youth meeting, met much enthusiasm, some young people performed and expressed to him some of their concerns, to which he responded with practical advice.

“Jesus fills our lives,” he underscored, ‘Young people, it is worth it to follow Christ!’

‘We are Christians, we are working toward holiness,’ the Holy Father also reminded, urging: ‘Don’t be afraid to go against the current!’

***

Pope’s Address to Authorities: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-authorities-in-lithuania/

Pope’s Words at Shrine: https://zenit.org/articles/holy-fathers-remarks-at-shrine-of-the-mother-of-mercy-vilnius-lithuania/

The post FEATURE: Pope Begins Baltic Visit Telling Young Lithuanians: It Is Worth It to Follow Christ; Jesus Fills Our Lives appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

Catholic Telegraph - 09/22/2018 - 12:19pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) — In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to break down walls of suspicion and fear.

“If we look at the world scene in our time, more and more voices are sowing division and confrontation — often by exploiting insecurity or situations of conflict — and proclaiming that the only way possible to guarantee security and the continued existence of a culture is to try to eliminate, cancel or expel others,” the pope said Sept. 22.

Going directly from the airport to the Lithuania’s presidential palace, Pope Francis’ first appointment was with the president, government authorities and civic leaders.

He acknowledged the country’s painful past, which included “numerous trials and sufferings: detentions, deportations and even martyrdom.” But he also praised the country’s culture and people for tenaciously resisting attacks on its freedom.

The pope’s visit Sept. 22-25 to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia comes in the year the three Baltic nations are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their declarations of independence after World War I. While declared Soviet republics in 1940, the countries were occupied by the Nazis during World War II and then lived under Soviet rule from 1944 to 1990.

Pope Francis, addressing national leaders, said that until the Nazis and Soviets arrived, people of a variety of national backgrounds and religions lived peacefully in Lithuania.

The “totalitarian ideologies,” though, “by sowing violence and lack of trust, undermined this ability to accept and harmonize differences,” he said. As Lithuanians consolidate their independence and democracy, they must return to those earlier cultural values of “tolerance, hospitality, respect and solidarity.”

Lithuanians, the pope said, know firsthand what happens when a political ideology tries “to impose a single model that would annul differences under the pretense of believing that the privileges of a few are more important than the dignity of others or the common good.”

– – –

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Holy Father’s Remarks at Shrine of the Mother of Mercy, Vilnius, Lithuania

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 11:37am

Here is the Vatican-provided text of the remarks delivered by Pope Francis on September 22, 2018, at the Shrine of the Mother of Mercy, Vilnius, Lithuania.

******

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are standing before the Gate of Dawn, the only remnant of the defensive walls of this city, which served to defend it from all danger and threat. In 1799, the invading forces razed that wall, leaving only this gate. Even then, it sheltered the image of the Virgin Mary “Mother of Mercy”, the holy Mother of God who is always ready to help us, to come to our aid.

From that time forward, Mary has sought to teach us that we can defend without attacking, that we can keep safe without the unhealthy need to distrust others. This Mother without Child, radiant with gold, is the Mother of everyone. She sees in every person who comes here what we ourselves fail so often to see: the face of her Son Jesus impressed on our heart.

Because the image of Jesus is impressed on every human heart, every man and every woman make it possible for us to encounter God. When we close our hearts for fear of others, when we build walls and barricades, we end up depriving ourselves of the Good News of Jesus, who shares in the history and the lives of others. In the past, we built all too many fortresses, but today we feel the need to look one another in the face and acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters, to walk side by side, and to discover and experience with joy and peace the value of fraternity (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 87).

Here each day crowds of people from numerous countries come to visit the Mother of Mercy: Lithuanians, Poles, Belarusians and Russians; Catholics and Orthodox. Today this is possible, thanks to ready communications and the freedom of circulation between our countries. How good it would be if this ease in moving from one place to another could be accompanied by ease in establishing points of encounter and solidarity, so that we can share generously the gifts we have freely received. So that we can go out and give ourselves to one another, receiving in turn the presence and the diversity of others as a gift and a source of enrichment in our lives.

At times it might seem that openness to the world draws us into the ring of competition, where, “man is a wolf to man”, and there is room only for conflict that divides us, tensions that exhaust us, hatred and enmity that get us nowhere (cf. Gaudete et Exsultate, 71-72).

The Mother of Mercy, like every good mother, tries to bring her family together. She whispers in our ear: “Look for your brother, look for your sister”. In this way, she opens to us the door to a new dawn, a new day. She brings us to its very doorstep, like that of the rich man in the Gospel (cf. Lk 16:19-31), where today children and families with bleeding wounds await us. Their wounds are not the wounds of Lazarus in the parable; they are the wounds of Jesus, and they are altogether real. In their pain and darkness, they cry out for us to bring to them the healing light of charity. For charity is the key that opens to us the door of heaven.

Dear brothers and sisters, in crossing this doorstep, may we experience the power that purifies our way of dealing with our neighbours. May Mary our Mother grant that we may regard their limits and faults with mercy and humility, thinking ourselves superior to no one (cf. Phil 2:3). As we contemplate the mysteries of the Rosary, let us ask Mary that we may be a community capable of proclaiming Jesus Christ our hope. And that, in this way, we can build a country capable of accepting everyone, of receiving from the Virgin Mother the gifts of dialogue and patience, of closeness and welcome, a country that loves, pardons and does not condemn (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 165). May we be a country that chooses to build bridges not walls, that prefers mercy not judgment.

May Mary always be the Gate of Dawn for this whole blessed land.

Allowing ourselves to guided by Mary, let us now pray a decade of the Rosary, contemplating the third joyful mystery.

The post Holy Father’s Remarks at Shrine of the Mother of Mercy, Vilnius, Lithuania appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Pope Francis Creates Diocese of Chengde in China

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 10:31am

The Vatican on September 22, 2018, said Pope Francis has constituted in China the Diocese of Chengde.  The creation of the diocese comes as the Holy See and Republic of China announced the signing of a Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops.

Here is the statement as published on Vatican News:

******

Desiring to promote the pastoral care of the Lord’s flock and to attend with greater efficacy to its spiritual good, the Supreme Pontiff Pope Francis has decided to constitute in China the Diocese of Chengde, which will be suffragan to the See of Beijing, with the church of Jesus the Good Shepherd, situated in the Administrative Division of Shuangluan, “Chengde City”, as its Cathedral.

A significant part of the territory of the new Diocese belonged historically to the Apostolic Vicariate of Eastern Mongolia, erected on the 21st December 1883 and elevated to the Diocese of Jehol/Jinzhou with the Bull Quotidie Nosof Pope Pius XII on the 11th April 1946.

The new ecclesiastical circumscription is found in the province of Hebei. Its territory is defined by the current civil boundaries of “Chengde City” and thus includes eight rural Districts (Chengde, Xinglong, Pingquan, Luanping, Longhua, Fengning, Kuancheng and Weichang) and three Administrative Divisions (Shuangqiao, Shuangluan and Yingshouyingzikuang).

As a result, the ecclesiastical boundaries of the Dioceses of Jehol/Jinzhou and of Chifeng are being modified, in that a portion of the territory of each now becomes part of the new Diocese of Chengde. This latter has an area of 39,519 km2 with a population of about 3.7 million inhabitants, of whom, according to recent estimates, about 25,000 are Catholics, living in 12 parishes and served by 7 priests, a dozen religious women and some seminarians.

 

The post Pope Francis Creates Diocese of Chengde in China appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Cardinal Parolin Comments on Holy See – Republic of China Agreement

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 10:21am

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on September 22, 2018, issued a video statement on the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops signed by the Holy See and the Republic of China.

Statement by Card. Parolin on the signing of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China concerning the nomination of Bishops

The signing of a Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China concerning the appointment of Bishops is of great importance, especially for the life of the Church in China, for the dialogue between the Holy See and the Authorities of that country and also for the promotion of a horizon of peace in this present times in which we experience so many tensions at the international level.

The objective of the Holy See is a pastoral one: the Holy See intends just to create the condition, or to help to create the condition, of a greater freedom, autonomy and organization, in order that the Catholic Church can dedicate itself to the mission of announcing the Gospel and also to contribute to the wellbeing and to the spiritual and material prosperity and harmony of the country, of every person and of the world as a whole.

And today, for the first time all the Bishops in China are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, with the Successor of Peter. And Pope Francis, like his immediate Predecessors, looks with particular care to the Chinese People. What is required now is unity, is trust and a new impetus; to have good Pastors, recognized by the Successor of Peter – by the Pope – and by the legitimate civil Authorities. And we believe – we hope, we hope – that the Agreement will be an instrument just for these objectives, for these aims, with the cooperation of all.

To the Catholic Community in China – the Bishops, priests, religious and faithful – the Pope entrusts, above all, the commitment to make concrete fraternal gestures of reconciliation among themselves, and so to overcome past misunderstandings, past tensions, even the recent ones. In this way, they can really contribute, and they will be able to perform the duty of the Church which is the announcement of the Gospel and, at the same time, to contribute to the growth, the spiritual and material growth, of their country and to peace and reconciliation in the world.

The post Cardinal Parolin Comments on Holy See – Republic of China Agreement appeared first on ZENIT - English.

China: Holy See, Republic of China, Reach Provisional Agreement on Appointment of Bishops

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 10:12am

The Holy See and Republic of China on September 22, 2018, announced the signing of a Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops.

The agreement comes within the framework of the contacts between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China that have been underway for some time in order to discuss Church matters of common interest and to promote further understanding, a meeting was held in Beijing between Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Undersecretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, and H.E. Mr. Wang Chao, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, respectively heads of the Vatican and Chinese delegations.

“This is not the end of a process. It’s the beginning,” said Greg Burke, Director of the Vatican Press Office. “This has been about dialogue, patient listening on both sides even when people come from very different standpoints. The objective of the accord is not political but pastoral, allowing the faithful to have bishops who are in communion with Rome but at the same time recognized by Chinese authorities.”

The Provisional Agreement, which is the fruit of a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement, has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application, according to the Vatican. It concerns the nomination of Bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the Church, and creates the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level.

The shared hope is that this agreement may favor a fruitful and forward-looking process of institutional dialogue and may contribute positively to the life of the Catholic Church in China, to the common good of the Chinese people and to peace in the world, the Vatican said.

“Pope Francis hopes that, with these decisions, a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics,” according to a statement released by the Vatican. “The Catholic Community in China is called to live a more fraternal collaboration, in order to promote with renewed commitment the proclamation of the Gospel. In fact, the Church exists to give witness to Jesus Christ and to the forgiving and salvific love of the Father.”

In that context, Pope Francis has decided to readmit to full ecclesial communion the remaining “official” Bishops, ordained without Pontifical Mandate: H.E. Mgr Joseph Guo Jincai, H.E. Mgr Joseph Huang Bingzhang, H.E. Mgr Paul Lei Shiyin, H.E. Mgr Joseph Liu Xinhong, H.E. Mgr Joseph Ma Yinglin, H.E. Mgr Joseph Yue Fusheng, H.E. Mgr Vincent Zhan Silu and H.E. Mgr Anthony Tu Shihua, OFM (who, before his death on 4th January 2017, had expressed the desire to be reconciled with the Apostolic See).

 

 

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‘It’s a Source of Joy & Hope to Begin This Pilgrimage to the Baltic Countries in Lithuania,’ Says Pope

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 09/22/2018 - 9:01am

Pope Francis arrived in Lithuania this morning, beginning his four-day trip to the Baltic Nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, with an address to government authorities and other leaders of society.

Here is the Vatican translation of his address:

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Madam President,
Members of Government and of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives of Civil Society,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a source of joy and hope to begin this pilgrimage to the Baltic countries in Lithuania, which is, in the words of Saint John Paul II, “a silent witness of a passionate love for religious freedom” (Welcome Ceremony, Vilnius, 4 September 1993).

I thank you, Madam President, for your cordial words of welcome in your own name and that of your people. In addressing you, I wish to greet in the first place the entire Lithuanian people, who today open to me the doors of their homes and of their homeland. To all of you I express my affection and sincere gratitude.

This visit takes place at a particularly important moment in your life as a nation, for you celebrate this year the centenary of your declaration of independence.

It has been a century marked by your bearing numerous trials and sufferings: detentions, deportations, even martyrdom. Celebrating the hundredth anniversary of independence means taking time to stop and revive the memory of all those experiences. In this way, you will be in touch with everything that forged you as a nation, and thus find the key to assessing present challenges and looking to the future in a spirit of dialogue and unity with all those who dwell here, careful to ensure that no one remains excluded. Each generation is challenged to make its own the struggles and achievements of the past, and to honour in the present the memory of all those who have gone before. We do not know what tomorrow bring, yet we do know that each age has the duty to cherish the “soul” that created it and helped it to turn every situation of sorrow and injustice into opportunity, preserving alive and healthy the roots that nurtured the fruits we enjoy today. Truly, this people has a strong “soul” that enables it to hold fast and to keep building! This is the prayer voiced in your national hymn: “May your sons draw strength and vigour from your past experience”, so as to face the present with courage.

“May your sons draw strength and vigour from your past experience”

Throughout its history, Lithuania was able to shelter, receive and accept peoples of various ethnic groups and religions. All found a place to live in this land – Lithuanians, Tartars, Poles, Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Germans … Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Old Catholics, Muslims, Jews – lived together in peace until the arrival of totalitarian ideologies that, by sowing violence and lack of trust, undermined its ability to accept and harmonize differences. To draw strength from the past is to recover those roots and keep alive all that continues to be most authentic and distinctive about you, everything that enabled you to grow and not succumb as a nation: tolerance, hospitality, respect and solidarity.

If we look at the world scene in our time, more and more voices are sowing division and confrontation – often by exploiting insecurity or situations of conflict – and proclaiming that the only way possible to guarantee security and the continued existence of a culture is to try to eliminate, cancel or expel others. Here you Lithuanians have a word of your own to contribute: “welcoming differences”. Through dialogue, openness and understanding, you can become a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe. This is the fruit of a mature history, which you as a people can offer to the international community and to the European Community in particular. You have suffered “in the flesh” those efforts to impose a single model that would annul differences under the pretence of believing that the privileges of a few are more important than the dignity of others or the common good. As Benedict XVI rightly pointed out: “to desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity … The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them” (Caritas in Veritate, 7). All conflicts presently emerging will find lasting solutions only if those solutions are grounded in the concrete recognition of [the dignity of] persons, especially the most vulnerable, and in the realization that all of us are challenged “to broaden our horizons and see the greater good which will benefit us all” (Evangelii Gaudium, 235).

In this sense, to draw strength from the past is to pay attention to the young, who are not only the future but also the present of this nation, if they can remain attached to the roots of the people. A people in which young persons can find room for growth and for employment, will help them feel that they have a leading role to play in building up the social and communitarian fabric. This will make it possible for all to lift their gaze with hope to the future. The Lithuania of which they dream will depend on tireless efforts to promote policies that encourage the active participation of young people in society. Doubtless, this will prove a seed of hope, for it will lead to a dynamic process in which the “soul” of this people will continue to generate hospitality: hospitality towards the stranger, hospitality towards the young, towards the elderly, who are the living memory, towards the poor, and, ultimately, hospitality towards the future.

I assure you, Madam President, that you can continue to count on the efforts and the cooperation of the Catholic Church, so that this land can fulfil its vocation as land that serves as bridge of communion and hope.

[Original: Italian]

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Pope recognizes illicitly ordained Chinese bishops

EWTN News - Vatican News - 09/22/2018 - 8:22am
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2018 / 07:22 am (EWTN News/CNA).- After the signing Saturday of a provisional Vatican-China deal on the nomination of bishops, the Vatican announced Pope Francis' recognition of seven illicitly ordained Chinese bishops.

Vatican signs deal with China on bishop appointments

EWTN News - Vatican News - 09/22/2018 - 6:39am
Beijing, China, Sep 22, 2018 / 05:39 am (EWTN News/CNA).- An expected agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China on the appointment of bishops was signed Saturday in Beijing, the Vatican announced.

Court strikes down Hawaii law requiring pregnancy centers to advertise abortion

EWTN Latest Catholic News - 09/22/2018 - 6:31am
Honolulu, Hawaii, Sep 22, 2018 / 05:31 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- A Hawaii law requiring pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion was struck down by a federal district court Thursday.
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