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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 47 min 30 sec ago

Cardinal Turkson Sends Message on Day Against Abuse and Drug Trafficking

2 hours 34 min ago

On the occasion of the International Day against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs, June 26, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, released the following message. Here is the Vatican-provided text:

***

The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs, established by the United Nations, is an important opportunity for drawing attention to the fact that narcotics continue to “rage in impressive forms and dimensions”.[1] It is a phenomenon that is fuelled – not without concessions and compromises on the part of institutions – by “a shameful market that crosses national and continental borders”,[2] intertwined with mafias and drug trafficking.

Nowadays we are faced with a scenario of profoundly changed dependencies, compared to the recent past.[3] Drugs have become a consumer product made compatible with everyday life, with leisure activity and even with the pursuit of well-being.

Cocaine consumption is associated with a greater spread of heroin, which “still represents the highest percentage (80%) of new requests for opioid-related treatment in Europe”.[4] In addition, new intoxicating, psychoactive substances, available at low cost and anonymously on the market via the internet, also find their way into places of detention and mobilize in trafficking many people recruited from peripheral areas of hardship where they also find new consumers.

The most commonly consumed recreational drug, however, is cannabis, about which there is an international debate which tends to overlook the ethical judgment of the substance, by definition negative as with any other drug,[5] focusing on possible therapeutic uses, a field in which we await scientific data to be validated by monitoring periods, as for any experiment worthy of public consideration.

Before deciding on these issues, starting from various kinds of prejudices, it would be better to understand trends in the use of cannabis, related damages and the consequences of regulatory policies in the various countries, that push the illegal market to develop products intended to affect patterns of consumption and to reaffirm the primacy of the desire that is compulsively satisfied by the substance.

Pathological gambling or ludopathy has for some time been a rampant scourge that further diversifies addictions. The legalization of gambling, even when it is supported by the intention of unmasking its criminal management, exponentially increases the number of pathological players; moreover, taxation by the state is to be considered incompatible from an ethical standpoint and contradictory in terms of prevention. The definition of models of intervention and adequate monitoring systems, associated with the allocation of funds, is highly desirable to tackle the phenomenon.

As the landscape of addictions diversifies, indifference and at times indirect complicity in this phenomenon contributes to diverting the attention of public opinion and governments, focused on other emergencies. But faced with surprising events, which require unexpected efforts, resources and responses, it is often the emergency solution that prevails over a serious culture of prevention capable of being equipped with goals, tools and resources to ensure consistency and durability in addressing the problems.

This is confirmed in many countries by the collapse of planned efforts, institutional services and resources; the offering that has for decades seen the advancement of addictions has, in many cases, been reduced to a marginal bulwark, invested in the task of curbing in solitude the desertification caused by years of inattention.

The present-day picture of addictions shows, in many cases, gaps in planning, policies and prospects, the sign of sluggish progress, inadequate faced with the drug market, which is highly competitive and flexible to demand, and always open to novelties such as recently-created, extremely powerful synthetic opiates, ecstasy and amphetamines. It is precisely the growing and widespread consumption of ecstasy that may serve as an indicator of how the use of illicit substances has now spread into everyday areas of life, and how the user no longer identifies with the heroin addict, but rather with the new profile of the user of multiple substances and alcohol.

As a result, intervention strategies can not solely specialist or directed at damage reduction, nor can drugs still be considered as a phenomenon that is collusive with social disorder and deviance. Damage reduction must necessarily involve taking on board both the toxicological aspect and integration with personalized therapeutic programs of a psycho-social nature, without giving rise to forms of chronic use, which are harmful to the person and ethically reprehensible. Designed to avoid the collateral damage of addiction, risk reduction instead expresses a more epidemiological rather than therapeutic approach, taking the form of a strategy of social control strategy and hygienic prophylaxis. The real risk is that this can lead in a more aseptic and less visible way to the psychological and social death of the addict, by differentiating it from the physical one.

Considering people as irrecoverable is an act of capitulation that denies the psychological dynamics of change and offers an alibi for disengagement from the addict and the institutions that have the task of preventing and treating. In other words, it can not be accepted that society metabolizes drug use as a chronic epochal trait, similar to alcoholism and tobacco, withdrawing from exchange on the margins of freedom of the state and the citizen in relation to substance use.

Naturally, one must not minimize the addictions that arise and develop with complex characteristics related to existing clinical evidence or that which is consequent to the use of psychoactive substances: it is the case of the so-called “double diagnosis”, in the field of psychiatric disorders, which is very demanding during treatment.

“Clearly there is no single cause of drug addiction. Rather, there are many factors that contribute to it, among which are the absence of a family, social pressures, the propaganda of drug dealers, and the desire for new experiences. Every drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified. We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed”.[6]

“Good practices” against resigned standardization, or delegation to the few with good will, require us to assume the duty of prevention, an attitude of concern oriented towards taking care, in terms of promoting health in its broader and more comprehensive sense. Broad policies and strategies, based on primary prevention, cannot but invoke all social actors, starting from the commitment to education.

The scenario which we must all face is marked by the loss of the ancient primacy of the family and the school, the emptying of authority of adult figures and the difficulties that arise in terms of parenting; this proves that this is not time for “protagonism”, but rather for “networks” capable of reactivating social educational synergies by overcoming unnecessary competition, delegation and forms of dereliction. To prevent young people from growing up without “care”, bred rather than educated, attracted by “healing prosthetics”, as drugs appear to them, all social actors must connect and invest in the shared ground of basic and indispensable education values aiming at the integral formation of the person. In this regard, the commitment and perseverance of private social workers and volunteers is to be noted; since the emergence of the drug problem they have provided the first responses. Their work, often undervalued, deserves concrete support and careful attention. From the therapeutic communities, among other things, there come signs of change of high educational value, useful in rehabilitation paths and even more so in the field of prevention.

Educational aspects are crucial, especially in the vulnerable and incomplete time of adolescence, when there is an alternation of intense moments of discovery and curiosity, but also of depression, apathy and behaviour that may symbolically or genuinely endanger life. These forms of conduct, deliberately transgressive, are aimed at overcoming the suffering caused by the sensation of being in front of the insurmountable wall of a never-ending present and an unseen future. They are appeals to live, but also appeals for help and support addressed to adults who are able to convey the taste of life and the sense of how precious it is.[7]

Young people, as Pope Francis has said, “They look for that “vertigo” that makes them feel alive. So, let us give it to them! Let us stimulate all that which helps them transform their dreams into plans, and that can reveal that all the potential they have is a bridge, a passage towards a vocation (in the broadest sense of the word). Let us propose broad aims to them, great challenges, and let us help them achieve them, to reach their targets. Let us not leave them alone. So, challenge them more than they challenge us. Let us not allow that “vertigo” to reach them from others, those which only put their lives at risk; let us give this to them. But the right vertigo, which satisfies that desire to move, to go ahead”.[8]

To combat the ephemeral happiness of addictions requires creative love and adults capable of teaching and practising healthy self-care. A spiritual vision of existence, projected towards the search for meaning, open to the encounter with others, constitutes the greatest educational legacy that must be handed down between generations, today more than ever.

Otherwise, addictions will contribute to killing humanity, as we are well aware that he who does not love himself is not capable of loving his neighbour.

_____________________________________

[1] Pope Francis, Address to participants in the 31st Drug Enforcement Conference, 20 June 2014.

[2] Ibidem

[3] Department for Anti-Drug policies, Annual Report to Parliament on the use of illicit substances and drug dependency in Italy for the year 2016.

[4] European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, European Report on Drugs, 2017.

[5] The “No to any type of drug” has been reiterated several times by Pope Francis. Cf, for example, the General Audience of 7 May 2014.

[6] Pope Francis, Address to participants in the meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Narcotics: Problems and Solutions of this Global Issue, 24 November 2016.

[7] Cf. David Le Breton, Shedding one’s skin in adolescence, Bologna, EDB, 2016.

[8] Pope Francis, Address at the Diocesan Pastoral Convention on the theme: “Let’s not leave them alone! Accompanying parents in the education of teenage children”, 19 June 2017.

[Courtesy of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development]

‘Be Open to God’s Surprises,’ Pope Says in Last Morning Homily Before Summer Break

2 hours 44 min ago

‘The journey of a Christian starts anew every morning, trusting in the Lord and open to his many surprises.’

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, today, June 26, 2017, marking his last daily Mass until after the summer break and his Sept. 6-11 Apostolic Trip to Colombia.

Drawing inspiration from today’s readings, the Holy Father focused on when God asks a 75-year-old Abraham to leave his country, his homeland, his father’s house and go forth where to Lord directed him.

The Bible and the Gospels, the Jesuit Pope said, are full of stories and episodes in which the prophets and the disciples are called to go forth.

Don’t be “too settled, stationary, fixed,” the Pope noted, saying the lifestyle of a Christian is based on three dimensions: renouncing and going forth, trusting in G0d’s promises and receiving His blessing.

“To be a Christian always implies this dimension of stripping oneself of something,” the Pope said, noting this dimension reflects Jesus’s renunciation on the Cross. “There is always the need to ‘go forth,’ to take a first step.”

If Christians do not have the “capacity” to be “stripped and to renounce,” the Pope warned, they are not “authentic Christians.”

Abraham did not build a house, the Jesuit Pope observed, but only pitched a tent, showing “he was on a journey and trusted God.” Every morning, a Christian’s journey and trust in God’s surprises, he noted, starts anew.

At times, the Pope recognized, these surprises are good and bad, “such as illness or of a death,” but, he encouraged: “We must always be open because we know that He will take us to a safe place, to a land that has been prepared especially for us.”

“A Christian,” he noted, “does not read the horoscope to foresee the future; a Christian does not consult a fortune teller who looks into a crystal ball or reads your palm…” the Pope said.

Like Abraham, we walk toward a new land, the Pope stressed, noting Christians allow themselves to be guided by God who takes them on the path toward fulfilling His promises.

Pope Francis concluded, noting, “Deep down, Christian life is so simple!”

‘Peace Is Possible – Peace Is the Only Way,’ by Cardinal Charles Bo

3 hours 40 min ago

‘Peace is possible – Peace is the only way.’ This is at the heart of the message of Salesian Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon (Myanmar), which His Eminence has provided to ZENIT on June 26, 2017. In the message, found below, Burma’s first cardinal appeals for an end to crimes against the Rohingyas minority.

Myanmar is emerging from decades of military rule after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the 2015 elections and took office in April last year.

The Muslim minority of the Rohingyas is considered by the UN to be one of the most persecuted. According to data from the Arakan Project, a humanitarian organization defending Rohingyas rights, since 2010, some 100,000 members of the minority have fled Burma (Myanmar) by sea. Violence between radical Buddhists and Rohingyas has left, since 2012, more than 200 dead and 140,000 displaced.

A few days before Christmas, Burma’s first cardinal in history recognized how his nation suffers from war and violence, and appealed: ‘It is time for all Burmese people to be united so that 2017 may really be the year of peace.” He proposed that “all those who flock to our monasteries, churches, temples and mosques bring signs and banners with the phrase ‘Stop all wars!'” ***

Dear-Friends,                                                                        26 June 2017

Greetings.

I am a pastor.  I am not a professional in politics or international law. The terms and laws discussed by the international community are beyond my mandate. I am moved by human suffering.   Moved by my faith vision of justice with compassion,  I have been raising voice against all kinds of oppression in this country.

This nation has a great potential to provide a great future to her sons and daughters. But  millions are  now in poverty,  millions in  unsafe migration, forced into modern forms of slavery. Conflicts and displacements. I have never compromised on the rights of any people to their  dignity.    My faith has inspired me to raise my voice at a great personal risk.   Even when many voices were muted, I have raised my voices against religious extremism,  the plight of IDPs, treatment of  minorities.  I have opposed all the anti minority laws.

The sad and the pestering suffering of the people in Rakhine state has been one of my great concerns.  This concern is shared by Pope Francis who has raised his voice on behalf of the Muslims known as ‘Rohingyas’ .

We continue to raise our voice on behalf of them.  When as boat people they were perishing in the seas,  I have pointed out the inhuman root causes of this tragedy.   At the UN in March 2016 and again in the British Parliament in May 2016 I described the horrific persecution of ‘Rohingyas’ as : an appalling scar on the conscience of my  country. Recently when the report of the UN on the treatment of  ‘Rohingyas’  we have appealed to the government to ‘ Let the devastating  report serve as a wake up call for all”

Again, it is for legal scholars, and human rights experts, to determine how to categories egregious human rights violations in Rakhine State, Kachin State and northern Shan State, and indeed throughout Myanmar.  Even experts like Mr. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary general  advised all groups to be careful in use of terms.  Allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing’, war crimes and crimes against humanity should be fully and independently investigated. The warnings of potential genocide need to be heeded.  Therefore, I called “on the government of Myanmar to work with the international community to investigate the crimes reported by the United Nations, in a truly independent way that results in justice and accountability.”

Myanmar as a nation faces many challenges.   We are anxious that all parties pursue the path of peace. Democracy is not perfect but we are eager that extreme positions and words do not force a relapse into days when no one had any rights.  Myanmar cannot live through another such spell.

The world  is increasingly judging the government on how the IDPs and the minorities are treated in Rakhine.  Myanmar government must move away from positions that are not conducive to peace and its good name in the international community.  Those who support ‘Rohingyas’ are right in condemning all human rights violations but they too need to  move forward  maximizing peace based on justice at every opportunity.   Intransigent  positions and words may not further the cause of the victims for whom all of us continue to raise our voice.  Continued pressure coupled with an openness to engage all parties is the way forward.

Myanmar is moving, not fast as the international community and human rights groups wish but changes are happening. Peace Conferences are held  where all stakeholders sit for dialogue.   Inter religious peace  gatherings are gaining strength, sidelining the extremist elements.   These steps are not perfect but encouraging signs.   Let not words and categories stall the rebuilding process.

We need to bring all parties together in unity, not divide at this moment.

Let our actions and words help to strengthen the consensus building  processes without sacrificing our commitment to  the refugees, IDPs and  persecuted people like known as ‘Rohingyas’.

Peace is possible – Peace is the only way

With great joy we greet our Muslim brothers and sister  “joyous  Ramadan”.

The holy month has given way to celebration of fraternity. Ramadan is the joyous occasion of our hope of peace and generosity.  You have fasted, you have prayed and you have given help to the poor.

The Muslim community has served the poor and vulnerable in this country through commendable generosity.

Ramadan reaffirms our commitment to contribute towards peace.   There are areas in our country some of our brothers and sisters find life challenged through war and displacement.

May our prayers bring peace and joy to such brothers and sisters

Ramadan wishes and prayers to all

+ Charles Cardinal Bo

Archbishop of Yangon.

[Text of Message provided to ZENIT by Cardinal Bo]

China: Holy See Appeals for the Release of Bishop Shao of Wenzhou

7 hours 42 min ago

The Holy See expressed its “grave concern” after the disappearance of Msgr. Pierre Shao Zhumin, Bishop of Wenzhou, in the coastal province of Zhejiang (Continental China). A statement released by Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, on June 26, 2017, pleads for his return, stressing the need to foster “ways of understanding.” The Chinese diocese has had no news regarding the Bishop since May 18.

“The Holy See is observing with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago,” reads the statement. At age 54, he has been bishop of his diocese since the death of his predecessor in September 2016.

“The diocesan Catholic community and his relatives have no news or reasons for his removal, nor do they know where he is being held,” specifies Burke. “In this respect, the Holy See, profoundly saddened for this and other similar episodes that unfortunately do not facilitate ways of understanding, expresses the hope that Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin may return as soon as possible to the diocese and that he can be assured the possibility of serenely exercising his episcopal ministry.”

“We are all invited to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and for the path of the Catholic Church in China,” concluded the message.

According to the Churches of Asia Agency (EDA) of the Foreign Missions of Paris, Bishop Wenzhou disappeared from circulation after having been “invited” last May 18 to an interview with functionaries of the local Office of Religious Affairs. Since then, the Bishop has not reappeared in public. On May 22, he made it know that he was in need of wine for Mass, but no one was able to contact him on his mobile phone. According to local sources, Monsignor Shao is in Wenzhou, retained in a police residence.

EDA offered an analysis of the situation, estimating that the diocese of Wenzhou “could be described as emblematic of the efforts the Holy See deploys to foster the unity of the ‘underground’ communities and the ‘official’ local Church.” Efforts, notes the agency, that evidently do not satisfy the Chinese authorities. “

In view of fostering the unity of the two communities, in 2007 Rome appointed Father Vincent Zhu Weifang, member of the “official” clergy, Bishop of Wenzhou, with Father Shao Zhumin, member of the “underground” clergy as Co-adjutor. However, after the death of Monsignor Zhu on September 7, 2016 his successor Monsignor Shao came up against “permanent manoeuvres of interference by the civil authorities in the life of the Church.” He never stopped “being subjected to the harassment of the authorities.”

“With this new ‘incommunicado’ episode that is prolonged, one could think that the young Bishop is facing renewed pressures by the authorities to lead him to come to terms with the religious policy of the government in place,” concludes EDA.

Pope’s Address to Italian League for Fight Against Tumors

7 hours 52 min ago
Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Italian League for the Fight against Tumors (LILT) at midday today, June 26, 2017 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. Here is the Vatican Press Office-provided translation of the Pope’s address:

***
Holy Father’s Address

Dear friends,

I welcome you and thank the president for the kind words he has addressed to me on behalf of you all.

The commitment of your Institution constitutes a dual richness for society. On the one hand, your many services contribute to shaping in people and in families a style of prevention: or rather, it promotes a mentality that oncological prevention is above all a lifestyle. At the same time, along with the very many and diverse situations in Italy, you nurture voluntary work, an emblematic expression of that gratuity that should increasingly have an impact on our daily life.

Your work represents a very useful tool for raising awareness and for formation. There is a great need to spread a culture of life, made up of attitudes and behaviours. A true popular culture, serious, accessible to all, and not based on commercial interests. More specifically, families need to be accompanied on a path of prevention: a path that involves the different generations in a fraternal “pact”, a path that values the experience of those who have lived, along with their relatives, the arduous path of oncological pathology.

Equally valuable is the collaboration of the volunteers of the Italian League for the Fight against Tumours with the healthcare structures, both public and private, as well as the help offered to families in ensuring assistance, especially in the often tiring and relentless continuity of everyday life.

This latter aspect constitutes a witness with which the ecclesial community is particularly in harmony and sharing, as it is called by vocation and mission to live in service to those who suffer and to live this in accordance to the typically Christian duality of humility and silence. Indeed, good is accomplished and is effective especially when it is done without seeking recompense and visibility, in the concrete situations of daily life.

In this service of yours, there is also a continuous decentralization towards the peripheries. Indeed, “periphery” refers to every man and woman who lives in a condition of marginalization; the periphery is every person confined to the margins of society and relationships, especially when disease infringes upon the usual rhythms of life, as is the case with oncological pathologies. It is the periphery that calls to the responsibility of each one of us, since every Christian, along with every many inspired by the desire for truth and goodness, constitutes a conscious instrument of grace.

Caring for others, as witnessed in everyday life with many people who are sick, is an inestimable wealth for society: it reminds the entire civil and ecclesial community not to be afraid of closeness, not to be afraid of tenderness, not to be afraid of “spending time” with bonds that offer and welcome mutual support and comfort, spaces for authentic rather than formal solidarity.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize that since health is a primary and fundamental common good for every person, it is to be hoped that oncological prevention be extended to all, thanks to collaboration between public and private services, civil and charitable initiatives. In this way, with your specific contribution, in this sector too we can try to ensure that our societies become ever more inclusive.

Thank you for this meeting. I entrust your effort and that of the volunteers, along with all the sick people you encounter, to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, Salus infirmorum , and I bless you from my heart. Thank you.

‘Our Christian Life Begins with the ‘Sign of Water,” Pope Reminds Swimmers

11 hours 28 min ago
‘Our Christian life begins with the sign of water, with Baptism.’ Pope Francis gave this reminder to participants in the 54th “Sette Colli” Swimming Trophy competition in Rome, June 23-25, 2017, when he received them in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace at noon on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recognizing their familiarity with water, the Argentine Pontiff, remembered the words of St. Francis of Assisi, after whom he chose his name as Pope: ‘Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.’

Their challenge to themselves, in competing and living in contact with water, Pope Francis noted, can also be a contribution to a different culture of water.

“Water is life, without water life does not exist.”

“Talking about life means talking about God, origin and wellspring of life,” he said, underscoring, “our Christian life begins with the sign of water, with Baptism.”

The water in which they swim, dive, play, and compete, the Pope noted, requires several forms of attention: “the value of the body, which must be cared for and not idolized; the need for interiority and the search for meaning in what you do; the strength and courage to resist fatigue; the clear vision of which port to look for in life and how to reach it; and the value of authenticity, which means transparency, clarity, inner cleanliness.”

In contact with water, he observed, swimmers learn to be repelled by anything that is “polluting,” in sport and in life.

Pope Francis concluded, thanking the managers and athletes for their visit, wishing them the best, and imparting upon them his blessing.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-words-to-sette-colli-swimming-trophy

Pope Francis Extends “Ecclesiastica Communio” to New Patriarch

12 hours 7 min ago

In accordance with Canon 76 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Pope Francis has granted the “Ecclesiastica Communio” to His Beatitude Youssef Absi.

On June 21, 2017, the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchal Church canonically elected His Beatitude Absi as Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Melkites

Pope Francis sent to the new Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Melkites the following Vatican-provided text for the concession of the “Ecclesiastica Communio”:

***

Message of the Holy Father
To His Beatitude YOUSSEF
Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Melkites

It is with great joy that I received the letter in which you informed me of your election as Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Melkites by the Synod of Bishops, requesting the Ecclesiastica Communio.

I wish to congratulate you and assure you from now on of my prayer that Christ, Good Shepherd, will support you in the fulfilment of the mission entrusted to you and for the service required of you.

The election of Your Beatitude comes at the time of a delicate situation for the venerable Greco-Melkite Church and when many Christian communities in the Middle East are called to bear witness in a special way to their faith in the dead and risen Christ. In this particularly difficult time, Pastors are called upon to manifest communion, unity, closeness, solidarity and transparency before the suffering people of God.

I am certain that your Beatitude, in fraternal harmony with all the Synod Fathers, will know, in all evangelical wisdom, how to be not only “Pater et Caput” in the service of the faithful of the Greco-Melkite Church, but also a faithful and authentic witness to the Risen One.

Therefore, Beatitude, as the Successor of Peter called by Jesus to preserve in unity His one Church, I grant you with deep joy the Ecclesiastical Communion solicited in accordance with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

By commending you to the maternal protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, I willingly grant you the Apostolic Blessing which I extend to bishops, priests, religious and to all the faithful of the Greek Melkite Church.

From the Vatican, 22 June 2017

Francis

[Vatican-provided text]

Pope’s Address to the Resurrectionists

12 hours 20 min ago
Pope Francis received the participants in the 32nd General Chapter of the Congregation of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Resurrectionists) the morning of Saturday, June 24, 2017. The General Chapter took place in Rome, June 11-25, 2017, on the theme: “ Witnesses of the Presence of the Risen Lord: from Community to the World.” Below is a Vatican Press Office – provided translation of Pope Francis’ address to those present: *** Dear Brothers, I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of your General Chapter. I thank the Superior General for his kind words, and through you, I greet all your confrères present in fifteen countries on four continents. As spiritual sons of Bogdan Jański, the apostle of Polish émigrés in France in the nineteenth century, you were founded in order to testify that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the basis of the Christian life, to proclaim the need for personal resurrection, and to support the community in its mission of service to the Kingdom of God. In close connection to the charism of the Institute, you have chosen as the theme of this Chapter: Witnesses of the Presence of the Risen Lord: from Community to the World. I would like to reflect with you on three particular phrases.1. Witnesses of the Presence of the Risen Lord. In a word, missionaries, apostles of the Living One. In this regard, I would propose to you as an icon Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles. On Easter morn, having encountered the risen Jesus, she proclaimed him to the other disciples. She sought Jesus dead and found him alive. This is the joyful Good News she brought to the others: Christ is alive and he has the power to conquer death and bestow eternal life.This brings us to a first reflection. Nostalgia for a past that was rich in vocations and impressive achievements must not prevent you from seeing the life that the Lord is causing to blossom, today too, in your midst. Do not yield to nostalgia, but be men who, moved by faith in the God of history and of life, proclaim the coming of the dawn amid the darkness of the night (cf. Is 21:11-12). Men of contemplation, who, with the eyes of the heart fixed on the Lord, can see what others, caught up in the concerns of this world, cannot. Men capable of proclaiming, with the boldness born of the Spirit, that Jesus Christ is alive and is Lord.

A second reflection is this. Mary Magdalene and the other women who went to the tomb that morning (cf. Lk 24:1-8) were women “on the move”: they abandoned their “nest” and set out; they took a risk. The Spirit is calling you too, Brothers of the Resurrection, to be men who set out, to be an Institute “on the move” towards every human periphery, wherever the light of the Gospel needs to be brought. The Spirit is calling you to be seekers of the face of God wherever it is to be found: not in the tombs – “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (v. 5) – but where it lives: in the community and in mission.

2. From Community to the World. Like the disciples of Emmaus, allow the Risen One to walk at your side, both as individuals and in community, especially along the path of disappointment and abandonment (cf. Lk 24:11ff.). This encounter will make you run once more, filled with joy and without delay, to the community, and from the community to the entire world, in order to tell others that “The Lord is risen indeed!” (v. 34).

Those who believe in the Risen One have the courage to “go forth” and bring to others the Good News of the Resurrection, embracing the risks of testimony, even as the Apostles did. How many people are waiting for this joyful proclamation! It is not right for us to deprive them of it. If the resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty and our most precious treasure, how can we not run to proclaim it to others?

A concrete way of showing this is fraternal life in community. It entails accepting the brothers the Lord has given us: not those whom we choose, but those the Lord has given us. As the Apostle Paul tells us, now that Christ has risen from the dead, we can no longer look at others from a human point of view (cf. 2 Cor 5:16). We view them and we accept them as a gift from the Lord. Others are a gift not to be taken for granted or looked down upon, but a gift to be received with respect, because in our brothers, especially if they are weak and frail, Christ comes to meet us.

I urge you to be builders of evangelical communities and not merely their “consumers”. I ask you to make fraternal life in community your primary form of evangelization. May communities be open to mission and flee every form of self-absorption, which leads to death. Do not let problems – for problems will always be there – overwhelm you. Instead, cultivate the mysticism of encounter and, together with the brothers the Lord has given you, as you dwell “in the light of the loving relationship of the three divine Persons”, seek ways and means to move forward (cf. Apostolic Letter To All Consecrated People, 21 November 2014, I, 2). In a society that tends to reduce everything to flat uniformity, where injustice gives rise to divisions and hostility, in a world torn and aggressive, ensure that the witness of fraternal life and community will never be lacking!

3. Prophets of joy and of Easter hope. The Risen Lord poured out upon his disciples two forms of consolation: interior joy and the light of the paschal mystery. The joy of recognizing the presence of the Risen Jesus draws you into his Person and his will: for this very reason, it leads to mission. The light of the paschal mystery brings new hope, a “trustworthy hope”, as Pope Benedict XVI has said (Spe Salvi, 2). Risen in order to enable others to rise, set free in order to bring freedom to others, born to new life in order to bring new life to birth in everyone who crosses our path: this is your vocation and mission as Brothers of the Resurrection.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). May these words continually resound in your hearts. They will help you to overcome moments of sadness and will open before you horizons of joy and hope. They will enable you to shatter tombstones, and give you the strength to proclaim the Good News in this culture so often marked by death. If we have the courage to descend to our personal and community tombs, we will see how Jesus can make us rise from them. This will enable us to rediscover the joy, the happiness and the passion of those moments when we first made of our lives a gift to God and others.

Dear brothers, I conclude by repeating something I have often said to consecrated persons, especially during the Year of Consecrated Life: remember the past with gratitude, live the present with passion, and embrace the future with hope. A grateful memory of the past: not archaeology, because charism is always a wellspring of living water, not a bottle of distilled water. A passion for maintaining ever alive and young our first love, who is Jesus. Hope, in the knowledge that Jesus is with us and guides our steps, even as he guided the steps of our founders.

May Mary, who in a singular way experienced and continues to experience the mystery of her Son’s Resurrection, watch over your journey with a Mother’s love. I give all of you my blessing. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you!

[Original text: Italian] [Courtesy of the Vatican Press Office]

Pope’s Words to Participants in “Sette Colli” Swimming Trophy Competition

14 hours 10 min ago
Pope Francis received the participants in the 54th “Sette Colli” Swimming Trophy competition in Rome, June 23-25, 2017, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace at noon on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Below is a Vatican Press Office – provided translation of the Pope’s address to those present: *** Dear friends of the Italian Swimming Federation and athletes competing for the “Sette Colli” Swimming Trophy in Rome.

I thank the president of the Federation for his words introducing our meeting.
These are days of joy and enthusiasm for you and for the sports fans who support you, because sport is also a celebration. A celebration not without content, as it transmits values that are increasingly necessary in a society like ours, which is defined as “fluid”, without firm points of reference. Your sport is performed in water, but it is not “fluid”; rather, it is very “solid” as it requires constant commitment and fortitude.

For this familiarity that you have with water, I like to remember the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste”.

Your challenge to yourselves, competing, living in contact with water, can also be a contribution to a different culture of water: water is life, without water life does not exist. And talking about life means talking about God, origin and wellspring of life, and also our Christian life begins with the sign of water, with Baptism.

The water in which you swim, dive, play, and compete, requires several forms of attention: the value of the body, which must be cared for and not idolized; the need for interiority and the search for meaning in what you do; the strength and courage to resist fatigue; the clear vision of which port to look for in life and how to reach it; and the value of authenticity, which means transparency, clarity, inner cleanliness.

In contact with water, you learn to be repelled by anything that is polluting, in sport and in life.

Dear managers and athletes, I thank you for your visit. I wish you every good to your activity, your families, and your plans. May the Lord bless you and always give you the joy of participating in sport together in a brotherly spirit.

[Original Text: Italian] [Courtesy of the Vatican Press Office]

Pope’s Program for Colombia Visit

14 hours 47 min ago

The Holy See Press Office announced Pope Francis’ itinerary for his Sept. 6-11 visit to the South American country of Colombia. Below is the Vatican Radio – provided program of his apostolic trip:

***

The full program of the Pope’s visit is below:

Wednesday 6 September 2017

ROME-BOGOTÁ

11:00  Departure by air from Rome Fiumicino airport for Bogotá

16:30  Arrival in the military area (CATAM) of Bogotá airport

WELCOME CEREMONY

Thursday 7 September 2017

BOGOTÁ

09:00  ENCOUNTER WITH THE AUTHORITIES in Plaza de Armas de la Casa de Nariño

09:30  COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT in the Protocol Hall of the Casa de Nariño

10:20  VISIT TO THE CATHEDRAL

10:50  BLESSING OF THE FAITHFUL from the balcony of the Cardinal’s Palace

11:00  MEETING WITH BISHOPS in the Hall of the Cardinal’s Palace

15:00  MEETING WITH THE DIRECTIVE COMMITTEE OF CELAM in the Apostolic Nunciature

16:30  HOLY MASS in the Simon Bolivar Park

Friday 8 September 2017

BOGOTÁ-VILLAVICENCIO-BOGOTÁ

07:50  Departure from the military area (CATAM) of Bogotá airport for Villavicencio

08:30  Arrival at the Apiay air base in Villavicencio

09:30  HOLY MASS in the CATAMA area

15:40 GREAT PRAYER MEETING FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION in the Parque Las Malocas

17:20  PAUSE AT THE CROSS OF THE RECONCILIATION in the Parque de los Fundadores

18:00  Departure by air per Bogotá

18:45  Arrival in the military area (CATAM) of Bogotá airport.

Saturday 9 September 2017

BOGOTÁ-MEDELLIN-BOGOTÁ

08:20  Departure by air from the military area (CATAM) of Bogotá airport for Rionegro

09:10  Arrival at the Rionegro air base.

09:15  Helicopter transfer to Medellin airport

10:15  HOLY MASS at the Enrique Olaya Herrera airport of Medellin

15:00  MEETING IN THE HOGAR SAN JOSE’

16:00  ENCOUNTER with PRIESTS, MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS, CONSECRATED PERSONS, SEMINARIANS and their FAMILIES in the La Macarena indoor stadium

Helicopter transfer to the Rionegro air base

17:30  Departure by air for Bogotá

18:25  Arrival in the military area (CATAM) of Bogotá airport

Sunday 10 September 2017

BOGOTÁ-CARTAGENA-ROME

08:30 Departure by air for Cartagena

10:00  Arrival at Cartagena airport

10:30  BLESSING of the FIRST STONE of the HOUSES for the HOMELESS and the work of TALITHA QUM in St. Francis of Assisi Square

12:00  ANGELUS in front of the Church of St. Peter Claver

12:15  VISIT TO THE SHRINE HOUSE OF ST. PETER CLAVER

15:45  Helicopter transfer from the naval base to the port area of Contecar

16:30  HOLY MASS in the port area of Contecar

18:30  Helicopter transfer to Cartagena airport

18:45  FAREWELL CEREMONY

19:00  Departure by air for Rome Ciampino airport

Monday 11 September 2017

ROME

12:40  Arrival at Rome Ciampino airport

[Courtesy of Vatican Radio]

Angelus Address: On the Life of the Missionary Disciple

06/25/2017 - 8:05am

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

* * *

Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Witnesses of Providence

06/23/2017 - 12:09pm

Roman Rite

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

Ambrosian Rite

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

III Sunday after Pentecost

1) Evangelism and compassion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) The consecrated virgins: witnesses of Providence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facing a GOODBYE …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMEN! INCHALLAH!

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

***

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

don Franco

@DonFrancoFollo

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

06/23/2017 - 10:16am

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing

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

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

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

Smallness

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

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

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

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

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

The mystery of the Heart of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

06/23/2017 - 6:54am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

On Zenit’s Web page:

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

 

Pope’s Words on Friendship to ‘Serra International’

06/23/2017 - 6:54am

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

** *

Your Eminence, Your Excellency,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Academy of Sciences: A President Expert in Food Security

06/23/2017 - 6:41am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

06/23/2017 - 6:29am

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

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

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

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

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

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

06/23/2017 - 6:23am

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

06/22/2017 - 1:17pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

On Zenit’s Web page:

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

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

06/22/2017 - 10:50am

A Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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