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Parents and God

06/24/2018 - 3:42pm
‘In Generating Children, Parents Are Collaborators of God,’ Says Pope

Says This Is a Truly Sublime Mission Which Makes Families Sanctuaries of Life

ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Feast of St John the Baptist’s Birth, Pope Reminds ‘Nothing Is Impossible for God’

‘In the generating of a child, parents act as collaborators of God’

Former Holy See Diplomat Convicted of Child Pornography

Served as Councilor at Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC

Former Holy See Diplomat Convicted of Child Pornography

Served as Councilor at Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC

Holy Father: Interreligious Dialogue Built on Openness

“You show that dialogue between believers of different religions is a necessary condition for contributing to peace in the world.”

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‘In Generating Children, Parents Are Collaborators of God,’ Says Pope

06/24/2018 - 9:13am

In generating children, parents are collaborators of God.

Pope Francis stressed this during his Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, as he recalled that today marks the Feast Day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

St. John’s birth, the Jesuit Pope reminded, is the event that illuminates the lives of his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, which they never expected and assumed had become impossible, due to their advanced age.

“These elderly parents had dreamed and even prepared that day, but now they no longer expected it: they felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed: they had no children,” Francis said.

“But God does not depend on our logic and our limited human capacities,” the Pope continued, urging: “We must learn to trust and to be silent in the face of the mystery of God and to contemplate in humility and silence his work, which is revealed in history and which so often exceeds our imagination.”

With their baby’s birth, Elizabeth and Zechariah experience that “nothing is impossible to God” and are overjoyed. The Pontiff called on faithful to remember those who discussed joyously this miraculous birth of John, and they did so with joy, happily, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude.

Looking at this, the Pope called on all faithful to ask themselves some questions: “how is my faith? Is it a joyful faith, or is it always the same faith, a “flat” faith? I have a sense of amazement when I see the works of the Lord, when I hear about the evangelization or the life of a saint, or when I see many good people: do I feel grace inside, or is there nothing moving in my heart? Can I feel the consolations of the Spirit or am I closed?”

“Let us ask each of us, in an examination of conscience: How is my faith? Is it joyous? Is it open to God’s surprises? Because God is the God of surprises.

The Holy Father prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to understand that in every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life.

“She, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us more and more aware that in generating a child, parents act as collaborators of God, a truly sublime mission that makes each family a sanctuary of life and awakens – every birth of a child – joy, amazement, gratitude.”

***

Zenit’s Translation: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-feast-of-st-john-the-baptists-birth-francis-reminds-nothing-is-impossible-for-god/

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‘In Having Children, Parents Are Collaborators of God,’ Says Pope

06/24/2018 - 9:02am

In having children, parents are collaborators of God.

Pope Francis stressed this during his Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, as he recalled that today marks the Feast Day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

St. John’s birth, the Jesuit Pope reminded, is the event that illuminates the lives of his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, which they never expected and assumed had become impossible, due to their advanced age.

“These elderly parents had dreamed and even prepared that day, but now they no longer expected it: they felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed: they had no children,” Francis said.

“But God does not depend on our logic and our limited human capacities,” the Pope continued, urging: “We must learn to trust and to be silent in the face of the mystery of God and to contemplate in humility and silence his work, which is revealed in history and which so often exceeds our imagination.”

With their baby’s birth, Elizabeth and Zechariah experience that “nothing is impossible to God” and are overjoyed. The Pontiff called on faithful to remember those who discussed joyously this miraculous birth of John, and they did so with joy, happily, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude.

Looking at this, the Pope called on all faithful to ask themselves some questions: “how is my faith? Is it a joyful faith, or is it always the same faith, a “flat” faith? I have a sense of amazement when I see the works of the Lord, when I hear about the evangelization or the life of a saint, or when I see many good people: do I feel grace inside, or is there nothing moving in my heart? Can I feel the consolations of the Spirit or am I closed?”

“Let us ask each of us, in an examination of conscience: How is my faith? Is it joyous? Is it open to God’s surprises? Because God is the God of surprises.

The Holy Father prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to understand that in every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life.

“She, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us more and more aware that in generating a child, parents act as collaborators of God. A truly sublime mission that makes each family a sanctuary of life and awakens – every birth of a child – joy, amazement, gratitude.”

***

Zenit’s Translation: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-feast-of-st-john-the-baptists-birth-francis-reminds-nothing-is-impossible-for-god/

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ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Feast of St John the Baptist’s Birth, Pope Reminds ‘Nothing Is Impossible for God’

06/24/2018 - 7:48am

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square:

****

Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today the Liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. His birth is the event that illuminates the lives of his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and involves, in its joy and amazement, relatives and neighbors. These elderly parents had dreamed and even prepared that day, but now they no longer expected it: they felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed: they had no children. Faced with the announcement of the birth of a child (Lk 1:13), Zechariah could not believe it, because the laws of nature did not allow it: they were old, they were elderly; as a result, the Lord made him speechless and unable to talk for the whole term of the pregnancy (see v. 20). It is a sign. But God does not depend on our logic and our limited human capacities. We must learn to trust and to be silent in the face of the mystery of God and to contemplate in humility and silence his work, which is revealed in history and which so often exceeds our imagination.

And now that the event takes place, now that Elizabeth and Zechariah experience that “nothing is impossible to God” ( Lk 1:37), their joy is great. Today’s Gospel page ( Lk 1:57-66.80) announces the birth and then focuses on the imposition of the name on the child. Elizabeth chooses a name foreign to the family tradition and says: “He will be called John” (v. 60), a gratuitous and by now unexpected gift, because John (‘Giovanni’) means “God has been gracious.” And this child will be a herald, witness of God’s grace for the poor who wait with humble faith for His salvation. Zechariah unexpectedly confirms the choice of that name, writing it on a tablet – because he couldn’t speak – and “at once his mouth opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” (v. 64)

The whole event of the birth of John the Baptist is surrounded by a joyful sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. Amazement, surprise, gratitude. People are gripped by a holy fear of God “and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea” (v. 65). Brothers and sisters, the faithful people realized that even if in a humble and hidden way, something great happened, and ask: “What, then, will this child be?” (V. 66). The faithful people of God are able to live the faith with joy, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. We look at those people who discussed this wonderful event, about this miracle of the birth of John, and they did so with joy, happily, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude.

May the Blessed Virgin help us to understand that in every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life. She, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us more and more aware that in the generating of a child the parents act as collaborators of God. This is a truly sublime mission that makes each family a sanctuary of life and awakens – every birth of a child – joy, amazement, gratitude.

[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday, in Asunción (Paraguay), Blessed Maria Felicia of the Blessed Sacrament was proclaimed, Maria Felicia Guggiari Echeverría, a sister of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, called by her father, and also today by the Paraguayan people, the “Chiquitunga”. Having lived in the first half of the 20th Century, she enthusiastically joined the Catholic Action and took care of the elderly, sick and prisoners. This fruitful experience of apostolate, supported by the daily Eucharist, resulted in consecration to the Lord. She died at age 34, accepting the disease with serenity. The testimony of this young Blessed is an invitation for all young people, especially Paraguayans, to live life with generosity, meekness and joy. We salute Chiquitunga with applause, and all the Paraguayan people!

I address my greeting to all of you, Romans and pilgrims! In particular, those from Hannover and Osnabrück, Germany, and those from Slovakia.

I greet the Romanian community in Italy; the faithful of Enna, Paternò, Rosolini and San Cataldo; and the Sesto San Giovanni group of cyclists.

I wish you all a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

The post ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Feast of St John the Baptist’s Birth, Pope Reminds ‘Nothing Is Impossible for God’ appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Holy Father: Interreligious Dialogue Built on Openness

06/23/2018 - 2:50pm

Pope Francis on June 23, 2018, stressed the importance of openness in interreligious dialogue.

His comments came in an audience at the Vatican with a delegation of the Emouna Fraternité Alumni Association.

“You also witness, in a spirit of openness, the ability of religions to take part in public debate in a secularized society,” the Holy Father said. “You know, in fact, that true fraternity cannot be lived other than with this attitude of openness to others, which never seeks a conciliatory syncretism; on the contrary, it always seeks sincerely to enrich itself with differences, with the will to understand them in order to respect them better, because the good of each resides in the good of all.”

Address of the Holy Father

Dear friends,

I welcome you with joy on the occasion of your trip to Rome. I thank the Co-Presidents for the presentation of the Association and I extend my cordial greeting to all of its members, as well as to the people of different religions and spiritualities with whom you are in relation.

I give thanks to God for the existence of your Association, which was established within the context of the “Emouna – L’Amphi des religions” programme, proposed and initiated by the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, with the participation of the great religions present in France. Indeed, I rejoice in the shared aspiration within your Association, which aims to strengthen the bonds of fraternity among the members of different religions, by furthering research work. In fact, within your course of study, whose initiators and participants I greet with gratitude, you demonstrate the possibility of living a healthy pluralism, respectful of the differences and values each of you brings.

You also witness, in a spirit of openness, the ability of religions to take part in public debate in a secularized society (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 183; 255). And, moreover, thanks to the fraternal bonds established between you, you show that dialogue between believers of different religions is a necessary condition for contributing to peace in the world. I, therefore, encourage you to persevere on your path, taking care to combine three fundamental attitudes to foster dialogue: the duty of identity, the courage of otherness and the sincerity of intentions (cf. Address to participants in the International Peace Conference, Cairo, 28 April 2017).

You know, in fact, that true fraternity cannot be lived other than with this attitude of openness to others, which never seeks a conciliatory syncretism; on the contrary, it always seeks sincerely to enrich itself with differences, with the will to understand them in order to respect them better, because the good of each resides in the good of all. I invite you, therefore, to demonstrate with the quality of your relationships that “religion is not a problem but part of the solution: […] it reminds us that it is necessary to raise the soul on High to learn to build the city of men” (Ibid.).

Thus, you can support each other to be like well-planted trees, rooted in the terrain of history and of your respective traditions; and, by doing so, contribute, with men and women of good will, to transform “every day the air polluted by hatred in the oxygen of fraternity” (ibid.). I encourage you to nurture a culture of meeting and dialogue, to promote peace and to defend, with gentleness and respect, the sacredness of every human life against any form of physical, social, educational or psychological violence. Urging you to pray for one another, I ask God for the gift of peace for each one of you. And I invoke the Father of all men to help you to walk as brothers on the path of encounter, dialogue, and harmony in a spirit of collaboration and friendship.

With this hope, I invoke divine blessings on each of you and on the members of the “Emouna Fraternité Alumni” Association, as well as on all those participating in the “Emouna – L’Amphi des religions” programme. And do not forget, please, to pray for me too. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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African Churches: Pope Urges Fostering of Coexistence

06/23/2018 - 2:31pm

Pope Francis on June 23, 2018, encouraged representatives of the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) during an audience at the Vatican.

The OAIC represents 60 million members of various Christian denominations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“A particular task of Christians in African societies is that of fostering the coexistence of differing ethnic groups, traditions, languages, and religions, a task that often meets with obstacles due to grave mutual antagonisms,” the Holy Father said. “For this reason too, I would like to encourage greater encounter and ecumenical dialogue between ourselves and with all the other Churches. May the Holy Spirit shed his light upon us, so that we may succeed in discovering how best to promote cooperation between all – Christians, traditional religions, Muslims – for the sake of a better future for Africa.”

The Holy Father’s Address:

Dear friends,

I greet you warmly in the peace of Christ! I am pleased to welcome, for the first time, a delegation of the Organization of African Instituted Churches. I thank you for your visit and for your willingness to seek closer ties to the Catholic Church.

Your communities, in their relatively short history, have been marked by the struggle for independence on the African continent, and by subsequent efforts to shape societies of justice and peace, capable of defending the dignity of the great variety of African peoples. Sad to say, the promise of progress and justice held out in that process of liberation was not always fulfilled; many countries are still far from peace and from an overall economic, social and political development that can ensure suitable living conditions and opportunities for all their citizens. You are well aware of the challenges that Africa as a whole faces, as well as those faced by the different Churches in carrying out their mission of evangelization, reconciliation and humanitarian assistance. In particular, you are conscious of the enormous challenge of providing stability, education and employment opportunities to the young people who form such an important part of African societies.

Africa today has been compared to the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers who stripped him, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead (cf. Lk 10:30-37). The basic question facing us is how the Christian message is good news for the people of Africa. As a response to the desperation of the poor, the frustration of young people and the cry of pain of the elderly and the suffering, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, passed on and lived out, translates into experiences of hope, peace, joy, harmony, love, and unity.

If we are truly convinced that Africa’s problems can be more easily resolved by drawing upon the continent’s human, cultural and material resources, it is clear that our Christian duty is to accompany every effort to favor a wise and ethical use of those resources. In particular, what is urgently demanded is a shared commitment to promoting peace processes in the various areas of conflict, as well as to concrete forms of solidarity towards those in need. It is the duty of church leaders to help individuals to pool their energies and put them at the service of the common good while defending the dignity, freedom, and rights of all. More than ever, all Christians need to learn to work together for the common good. Although significant disagreements may exist between us on theological and ecclesiological issues, there are many areas where the leaders and members of the various communities of the Christian family can set common goals and work together for the benefit of all. Especially for the most underprivileged and vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.

The African peoples possess a profound religiosity, a sense of the existence of a Creator God and a spiritual world, the importance of the family, love for life, children as God’s gift, respect for elders, duties towards others, near and far… Do these religious values and these principles of life not belong to all of us as Christians? On the basis of them, then, let us express our solidarity in interpersonal and social relationships.

A particular task of Christians in African societies is that of fostering the coexistence of differing ethnic groups, traditions, languages, and religions, a task that often meets with obstacles due to grave mutual antagonisms. For this reason, too, I would like to encourage greater encounter and ecumenical dialogue between ourselves and with all the other Churches. May the Holy Spirit shed his light upon us, so that we may succeed in discovering how best to promote cooperation between all – Christians, traditional religions, Muslims – for the sake of a better future for Africa.

Dear friends, I thank you once more for your visit. It is my prayerful hope that these days spent in Rome, the city of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, will help strengthen your conviction of the firm will of the Catholic Church to do everything possible, together with her ecumenical partners, to promote the Kingdom of justice, peace and fraternity that God desires for all humanity. May he look with love upon you, your families and your nations. I ask you too, please, to pray for me, for I have great need of it. Thank you!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Former Holy See Diplomat Convicted of Child Pornography

06/23/2018 - 1:47pm

Monsignor Carlo Capella who served as a councilor at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, US, was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined €5,000 by the Vatican tribunal on June 23, 2018, reported Vatican News.

He was convicted of the tribunal for the “possession and distribution of child pornography with the aggravating circumstance of its large quantity,” in what is the first trial of its kind inside the Vatican.

Italian Monsignor Capella admitted to viewing the images during what he called a period of “fragility” and interior crisis.

Msgr. Capella, 50, was ordained a priest of Milan Archdiocese in 1993. He will serve the sentence in the Vatican barracks, where he has been held since his arrest on April 7 after his recall from Washington. Capella’s trial was the first known enforcement of a 2013 Vatican City law that specifically criminalized possession and distribution of child pornography, punishing it with up to a maximum of five years in prison and a €50,000 fine.

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Talking with the Pope

06/22/2018 - 3:52pm
SPECIAL FEATURE: Pope Francis Speaks to ZENIT – An Inside Look Into Pope’s Landmark Trip to Geneva

On the Papal Flight, Zenit Follows Pope’s Ecumenical Journey of ‘Encounter’ and ‘Unity’

Holy Father’s In-Flight Press Conference on Return from Geneva (Full Text)

‘It was rather a heavy day, at least for me. But I am happy.’

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Address to Participants of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO)

Pope to Verbites: Renew Trust in Divine Providence

General Chapter: ‘The Love of Christ impels us’

Archbishop Follo: The Birth that Prepares the Birth

With the invitation to imitate Saint John Baptiste and to be the voice of Christ today.

South Sudan: Bring Peace so Refugees can Return Home

Bishop’s Appeal After Start of Talks Aimed at Ending Conflict

US: New Edition of Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

Includes a Revision that Implements Modifications Regarding Collaborating with Non-Catholic Partners.

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SPECIAL FEATURE: Pope Francis Speaks to ZENIT – An Inside Look Into Pope’s Landmark Trip to Geneva

06/22/2018 - 1:47pm

Pope Francis has made a landmark ecumenical day trip to Geneva on June 21, 2018 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches.

Zenit’s Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov covering trip on the papal flight

Zenit was on the papal flight, traveling with Pope Francis, and was present at various events, and getting voices on the ground. During the return trip to Rome, Zenit represented the English-speaking journalists aboard to ask the Pope a question, along with the French, German and Spanish representatives.

The journalists, many of whom had woken up by 3:30 in the morning made their way to Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport, to go through security, get a special sticker on their passport, and follow various other steps of protocol, including a necessary caffè at the bar, once they reached the gate. Given the brevity of the flight, they were able to hold on to their passports; for longer trips, they are taken in the beginning and returned at the end.

When it was time to board the journalists got on a bus, which brought them to the flight. Then there was the mad rush for getting good seats, given that basically only photographers and some others have assigned seats. Then orange juice, iced tea, and snacks with nutella were distributed. Then breakfast boxes. Many chowed down. Others may not have had much appetite as they knew their one on one moment with the Pope was moments away. After taking off, the Pope would said hello to journalists, thanked them for their work, and expressed his sincere hope that this June 21 visit be one of unity. Then he would personally greeted each journalist.

The theme of the visit is an “Ecumenical Pilgrimage – Walking, Praying and Working Together” and the meeting began with a prayer service at the Ecumenical Center chapel.

He then visited the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, which is connected to the World Council of Churches and is involved with theological formation. There, 30 men and women of different countries study and share everyday life. After followed an ‘ecumenical lunch,’ which, during the papal flight press conference, the Pope told journalists that they spoke about human rights and against ‘proselytism.’

Copyright -Vatican Media

At this lunch, we can inform our readers was the following menu (though we were not present): vegetable tartare served with salad; Grilled fish & rice and sautéed vegetables. For dessert, there was lemon tart, fruit and maracuja. Bishop Swensen had blessed the meal and the lunch was in English, but the Pope’s translator was present.

Unimaginable Beauty of Knowing Jesus

During the ecumenical meeting yesterday at the WCC headquarters, the Pope reminded: “We are called to be a people that experiences and shares the joy of the Gospel, praises the Lord and serves our brothers and sisters with hearts burning with a desire to open up horizons of goodness and beauty unimaginable to those who have not been blessed truly to know Jesus.”

“What is really needed is a new evangelical outreach,” Francis stressed. Reflecting on the day’s motto of walking, praying and working together, the Holy Father also gave some advice: “Let us ask ourselves: How much do we pray for one another? The Lord prayed that we would be one: do we imitate him in this regard?”

Cardinal on Pope’s Desire for Ecumenism

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told ZENIT:

“According to Pope Francis, to be open to other churches means first of all brotherhood and closeness. After his election as Pope, I remember, I met him and asked what he would desire for the ecumenism.”

“He replied with only one word, ‘brotherhood.’”

Friendly and fraternal relationship between different churches, the Swiss Cardinal explained, is the foundation for ecumenism. Once this is established, he added, the practical ecumenism can follow, in which churches can work together on cultural, political and social issues.   

Meeting for Dinner Once a Year Isn’t Authentic Ecumenism

Nigerian priest, Father Lawrence Iwuamadi, is the dean of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey. Before Father Lawrence, the institute had never had a Catholic dean.

“The fact that I am the first Catholic dean of the Institute,” he shared, “I think has to do with the

Copyright -Vatican Media

Spirit that Francis brought, a spirit that is difficult to explain with just one word: it is a spirit of trust, thanks to which I live and I work here, among 90% of non-Catholics, I have seen over the years how the attitude towards the Catholic Church has changed: now they appreciate what the Catholic Church does and says.”

The Catholic priest noted that even if the Christians all get along pretty well, but they do not interact much, other than ‘maybe a dinner once a year’ that doesn’t constitute much ecumenism.

“What is the main novelty that Francis brought?” he said, “As I always say, Pope Francis has a way of speaking that reaches everyone’s heart, whether they are Protestant, Orthodox or Pentecostal, so as to make them say: ‘”With this Pope, I could also associate myself with what he says.'”

“For example, when the encyclical Laudato si‘ on protecting Creation was published, the World Council of Churches held several conferences on the encyclical of a Catholic Pope. In addition to this, Pope Francis is cited very frequently in the WCC documents.”

“We must take more seriously what the Pope says, have the courage to go out and meet, is what I also understood as a professor of this institution, with 30-35 people from 25 countries and 20 Christian churches represented.”

“When people sit in front of each other, they walk together, they can understand who the other really is, then ecumenism becomes easier. First, however, there are prejudices, that is so, that other is so, but when we live together they no longer exist.”

We Will Not Stop Here

In the afternoon, Pope Francis again visited the Ecumenical Center, where the WCC does much of its work. The Catholic Church and the WCC work together for joint peace initiatives in many areas and concretely work together in projects to help the poor, counter injustices, help migrants, and so on.

Copyright -Vatican Media

The Pope cited the active Catholic presence in the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism; collaboration with the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, most recently on the important theme of education for peace; and the joint preparation of texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

General secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “This day is a landmark. We will not stop here. We will continue, we can do much more together for those who need us.”

During the Holy Father’s Mass to some 40,000 faithful of all races and ages, who were so eager to see him that they were standing on their benches to catch a glance, the Pope reflected on the words ‘Father,’ ‘Bread’ and ‘Forgiveness.’

Speaking on prayer, he said: “Every time we make the sign of the cross at the start of the day or before any other important activity, every time we say “Our Father”, we reclaim our roots. We need those roots in our often rootless societies.”

“Let us never tire of saying “Our Father”. It will remind us that just as there are no sons or daughters without a Father, so none of us is ever alone in this world.”

Turning to bread, he stressed: “Our “daily bread”, we must not forget, is Jesus himself. Without him, we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5). He is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes, however, we treat Jesus as a side dish.”

Copyright -Vatican Media

“God frees our hearts of all sin, he forgives every last thing. Yet he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving,” he said, speaking on forgiveness, adding: “We should take a good x-ray of our heart, to find out if there are blockages within us, obstacles to forgiveness, stones needing to be removed. Then we can say to the Father: “You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it.’”

“Forgiveness renews, it works miracles,” he said.

The Pope trip shortly thereafter came to an end, and before we knew it, we were back on the flight. And it was time for the flight, where the Holy Father noted his satisfaction for the ecumenical fruits of the visit and answered four questions to journalists for different speaking language groups.

In 2017, Roman Catholic and Protestant Lutherans jointly commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Pope Francis’ Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016, visit to the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund. Zenit’s Deborah Castellano Lubov had covered the Pope’s trip to Sweden.

On the flight to Geneva, Deborah Castellano Lubov also had a moment to greet the Holy Father where she gave him a personal momento tied to a family in Buenos Aires very close to the Holy Father’s heart, which upon seeing, he stopped a moment, closed his eyes and blessed, and her recent book ‘The Other Francis’ (L’Altro Francesco) currently in Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian, and in English in 2018 and possibly in German.

Then, during the return flight, Deborah Castellano Lubov asked the Pope the following question. Here is the Vatican-provided translation of the question and answer in Italian:

***

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Your Holiness, in your address today at the ecumenical meeting, you referred to the enormous power of the Gospel. We know that some of the Churches of the World Council of Churches are so-called “Churches of peace”, who believe that a Christian cannot use violence. Let us recall that two years ago, in the Vatican, there was a conference organized to reconsider the doctrine of the “righteous war”. So, Your Holiness, my question is, do you think it would be right for the Catholic Church to join with these so-called “Churches of peace” and to set aside the theory of the “righteous war”? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

A clarification: why do you say that they are “Churches of peace”?

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

They are considered “Churches of peace” because they have this concept, that a person who uses violence can no longer be considered Christian.

Pope Francis:

Thank you, I understand. You have put your finger in the wound … Today, at lunch, a Pastor said that perhaps the first human right is the right to hope, and I liked this, and it relates a little to this theme. We talked about the human rights crisis today. I think I have to start with this to arrive at your question. The human rights crisis appears clear. We speak a little of human rights, but many groups or some countries keep their distance. Yes, we have human rights but … there is not the strength, the enthusiasm, the conviction of, I do not say 70 years ago, but 20 years ago. And this is serious because we must see the causes. What are the causes for which we have arrived at this? That today human rights are relative. The right to peace is also relative. It is a human rights crisis. This I think we have to think about it thoroughly.

Then, the so-called “Churches of Peace”. I believe that all the Churches that have this spirit of peace must come together and work together, as we said in the speeches today, both I and the other people who spoke, and at lunch, it was discussed. Unity for peace. Today peace is a need because there is a risk of war … Someone said: this third world war, if it takes place, we know what weapons will be used, but if there were to be a fourth, it would be with sticks because humanity will be destroyed. The commitment to peace is a serious matter. When you think about the money that is spent on armaments! For this reason, they are “Churches of Peace”: but it is God’s mandate! Peace, brotherhood, united humanity … And all conflicts, we must not resolve them like Cain, but resolve them through negotiation, dialogue, and mediation. For example, we are in crisis of mediations! Mediation, which is a very precious legal tool, is in crisis today. Crisis of hope, crisis of human rights, crisis of mediations, crisis of peace. But then, if you say that there are “Churches of Peace”, I ask myself: are there “Churches of War”? It is difficult to understand this, it is difficult, but there are certainly some groups, and I would say in almost all religions, small groups, I will say simplifying somewhat, “fundamentalist”, who seek wars. We Catholics also have some, who always seek destruction. And it is very important to keep this in view. I do not know if I answered …

They tell me that people are asking for their dinner, that it is the right time to arrive with a full stomach …

I would like to say only one word clearly: that today was an ecumenical day, truly ecumenical. And at lunch, we said something very nice, that I will leave to you to think about and reflect upon, and to consider well: in the ecumenical movement we must remove a word from the dictionary: proselytism. Is that clear? There can be no ecumenism with proselytism, we need to choose: either you are of an ecumenical spirit, or you are a “proselyte”.

***

ZENIT:

On-flight Press Conference (Full Text): https://zenit.org/articles/holy-fathers-in-flight-press-conference-on-return-from-geneva-full-text/

Pope’s Address to WCC Ecumenical Meeting (Full Text): https://zenit.org/articles/geneva-holy-fathers-address-to-wcc-ecumenical-meeting-full-text/

Pope’s Homily at Mass in Geneva: https://zenit.org/articles/the-popes-homily-at-mass-in-geneva-full-text/

Copyright -Vatican Media

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US: New Edition of Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

06/22/2018 - 12:40pm

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is publishing the sixth edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a revision that implements modifications regarding collaborating with non-Catholic partners.

The health care system in the United States is marked by both extraordinary challenges and immense possibilities for good, according to the release issued by the USCCB.

In these revised directives, approved by majority vote during the USCCB Spring General Assembly 2018, the bishops reaffirm the Church’s commitment to Catholic health care ministry, in faithful imitation of Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician. The Directives aim to reaffirm ethical standards of behavior and provide authoritative guidance on moral issues that face healthcare today.

This new edition offers a helpful update of Part Six, “Collaborative Arrangements with Other Health Care Organizations and Providers.” This section offers background and guidelines for collaborative arrangements between Catholic and non-Catholic health care institutions.

The Directives are especially relevant to institutionally based Catholic health care services, and they are directly addressed to “sponsors, trustees, administrators, chaplains, physicians, healthcare personnel, and patients or residents” of Catholic health care institutions. The Directives are also useful as a teaching tool to give sound guidance to students and faculty at Catholic medical schools, Catholic medical associations, Catholic hospitals and medical facilities, and to all pastors, administrators, doctors, nurses, and staff involved in the health care ministry and related pastoral care.

CONTENTS:

″           Preamble

″           General Introduction

″           Part One: The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services

″           Part Two: The Pastoral and Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Health Care

″           Part Three: The Professional-Patient Relationship

″           Part Four: Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life

″           Part Five: Issues in Care for the Seriously Ill and Dying

″           Part Six: Collaborative Arrangements with Other Health Care Organizations and Providers

″           Conclusion

The USCCB has made the book available for order online 

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South Sudan: Bring Peace so Refugees can Return Home

06/22/2018 - 12:12pm

The “greatest gift” that could come from the long-awaited meetings between the President of South Sudan and the country’s rebel leader would be a lasting peace so huge numbers of refugees can, at last, go home – so says a bishop who cares for migrants.

Amid reports that four million people have been displaced by the conflict in South Sudan, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur of Khartoum spelled out the privations of refugees desperate for food, shelter, and medicine.

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Adwok described providing pastoral care in the Kosti region of neighboring Sudan, where up to 200,000 people are living spread out across nine refugee camps.

He said that the refugees in Sudan and other neighboring countries were closely following events this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where South Sudan President Salva Kiir is meeting rebel leader Riek Machar in a bid to bring lasting peace to the fledgling African nation.

When relations between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Riek broke down in late 2013, violence erupted in South Sudan, claiming at least 50,000 lives, with four million displaced and famine, declared in several regions.

The talks this week in Addis were the first time the men had met in two years and afterward, a South Sudan government representative indicated that little progress had been made but another meeting is due early next week in Khartoum, Sudan.

Speaking just as the peace talks got underway, Bishop Adwok said: “The people in the refugee camps need to go back and rebuild their broken homes.

“They look at the meeting taking place in Addis and they say that the greatest gift that could come from all this would be the gift of peace.

“This peace would allow them to go back to their homes and live in a dignified way, not as they do in the camps where there are so many difficulties.”

The bishop said the refugees he helps support in the White Nile region of Kosti, south of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, black plastic sheeting for shelter and food supplies are rationed resulting in malnutrition for many people.

He said: “The food they have in these camps is not enough. Some of them get only one meal a day.”

The bishop added that some refugees were able to support themselves after being given permission from the Sudanese government to work in the fields.

He said humanitarian support for the camps in his area was coming from the Government of Sudan, which was continuing to stop international aid agencies accessing the refugees in the country.

The bishop stressed the plight of up to 16,000 people who have come to the camps within the last few years and who he said: “are not properly settled and especially need help”.

Bishop Adwok thanked Aid to the Church in Need for helping the three Sisters and two priests who regularly carry out pastoral work in the camps where there are numerous Christians of many denominations.

The charity also provides Christian education programmes, training in ethics and some emergency help for those most in need, including food items.

 

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Archbishop Follo: The Birth that Prepares the Birth

06/22/2018 - 11:51am

Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

XII Sunday Ordinary Time – Year B – June 24, 2018
Roman Rite
Is 49.1-6; Ps 139; Acts 13.22-26; Lk 1,57-66.80

Ambrosian Rite
V Sunday after Pentecost
Jan. 17b-16; Ps 105; Rm 4,3-12; Jn 12.35-50
V Sunday after Pentecost

1) The birth of John: the precursor, the prophet, the martyr, the baptizer.

Today, June 24, just a few days away from the summer solstice, the Church solemnly celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist. Within six months, a few days before the winter solstice, the Liturgy will make us celebrate the birth of the Savior with even more solemnity. On December 25 the hours of daylight begin to lengthen, on June 24 they begin to shorten.

Referring to Jesus, John says: “He must increase and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). The logic is that when the sun shines the lamps are turned off because they are no longer necessary to see people and things. In any case, St. John, even if he is not the light, is “the lamp that burns and shines” (Jn 5:35) to witness the light.

Even in the astronomical data there is an evident parallelism between the Christmas of Christ and the feast of the birth of Saint John, the precursor, whose father Zacharias at his birth, proclaims: “And you, who are now little, you will be called the prophet of the Most High, you will walk before the Lord “(Lk 1:76). In this way, came to the world “the one who is the greatest among those born of women … more than a prophet” (Lk 7,26.28).

Therefore, St. John is not only the precursor, he is also a special prophet. The prophets before him spoke of Christ, announcing his coming, John indicated him, present among us, saying “Behold the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world”. He is the last (in order of time) of the prophets but the greatest and closest to the Savior. He was also the first witness of Christ that gave his life for him, so he can and must be called a martyr.

This prophet and martyr was given the name “John”, which indicates his task: “God gives mercy”. In fact, in Hebrew, John means “God is merciful”. Already in the name, it is expressed the fact that one day this newborn will announce God’s plan of salvation.

The noun Baptist is almost always linked to this name of “John”, because this Saint, who has shown to the world the incarnated mercy, has preached and given “the baptism of conversion” in the Jordan where he baptized Christ himself. In doing so, he allowed the Redeemer to unveil two aspects of His mystery: humility and charity the humble God of mercy and the Son, the Beloved, the anointed by the Lord.

2) God of mercy.

As I mentioned above, the Gospel passage also speaks of the name given to the newborn: John. It is also important what we read in the first reading and in the responsorial psalm of today’s feast.

The first reading, taken from the book of Isaiah, says: “The Lord has called me from the womb, from the mother’s womb he has pronounced my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, he hid me in the shadow of his hand, he made me a sharp arrow, he put me in his quiver. ” The responsorial psalm returns to the concept that God knows us from our mother’s womb: “You created my entrails and you have woven me in the womb of my mother … Your eyes saw me unformed ” (Ps 139).

Commonly, we have a very reductive and legal idea of a person that generates a lot of confusion in the debate on abortion. It seems that a child acquires the dignity of a person from the moment he is recognized as so by the human authorities. For the Bible, a person is the one who is known by God, the one whom God calls by name; and God knows us from the womb, his eyes saw us when we were “still unformed” in our mother’s womb. Science tells us that in the embryo there is, in becoming, the future man designed in every particular detail; faith adds that it is not just an unconscious project of nature, but a project of love by the Creator.

The figure of John is really a special figure and the name he receives indicates an action of the God of mercy, the “bending over” of God, and the radiating of God over his people.

He is the man whom the Provident Mercy has chosen to prepare the entrance in history of the Eternal One.

If it should also be remembered that John is not only the baptizer, the martyr, the prophet and the precursor of Jesus only with regard to birth, mission, and death. He is also the friend of the groom who, after having introduced the bride to the groom and organized the wedding party, disappears from the scene of this world. It should not be forgotten that John the Baptist says of himself: “I am the voice of one crying in the desert: Make the way of the Lord straight, as the prophet Isaiah said” (Jn 1: 23).

If I had to give a definition of John the Baptist, I would have to do nothing but repeat what I have just written. If I should give a broader sense to the question: “Who is the Baptist?”, I would write that the baptizer is each of us. Having become children of God through Baptism, unwanted by us but wanted by the Above, we are called to keep the words of our parents, pledging ourselves to truly live as children of God, resurrected, and  obedient to the will of the Father that will not ask us for things superior to our strength, but who is on our right to defend us.

We are like the Baptist when we obey the will of God, when we meet one another, when we make ourselves little so that Christ may grow great in the heart of everyone we meet.

The life of every human being is the fulfillment of a design of God. As the Baptist was pre-announced, every birth is a pre-announcement. God has a design about us like he says: “I have drawn you on the palm of my hand” (Is 49, 16).

From the womb of my mother, you said my name, even before I was born you knew me (Id) and Psalm 139 says: “You have woven me in my mother’s womb, that is, you are more mother than my mother. In your eyes, I am a prodigy because God sees me with a mother’s eye”.

To understand that our birth is the fulfillment of a plan of love means a very precise thing. It means that our life comes from love that is its source and its source is also what it contains. If our source is poison, death, nothingness or hate, our life will be either one or the other. If, on the other hand, at its beginning there is the design of love that has thought of me, has cured me, has woven me: “All my days were counted even before there was one; they are written in your book and not only the days but also all my tears pour, Lord, into your wineskin “.

Nothing is lost of the human being; everything is seen, foreseen, loved and welcomed or forgiven by God.

Seeing birth means seeing the person in a different way. Every birth is an aspect of this tenderness of God that expands over all of creation and it is a source of joy. This joy is there not only when there is a natural birth, but also, and above all, when there is a spiritual birth. The consecrated Virgins are special witnesses of this spiritual fruitfulness.

Pope Francis teaches: “Even today, the Church receives a great benefit from the exercise of the spiritual motherhood of many consecrated women … who nourish the thought for God in souls, strengthen the faith of the people and orient the Christian life towards ever higher peaks”.

And St. John Paul II wrote: ” Virginity according to the Gospel means renouncing marriage and thus physical motherhood. Nevertheless, the renunciation of this kind of motherhood, a renunciation that can involve great sacrifice for a woman, makes possible a different kind of motherhood: motherhood “according to the Spirit” (cf. Rom 8:4). For virginity does not deprive a woman of her prerogatives. Spiritual motherhood takes on many different forms. In the life of consecrated women, for example, who live according to the charism and the rules of the various apostolic Institutes, it can express itself as concern for people, especially the most needy: the sick, the handicapped, the abandoned, orphans, the elderly, children, young people, the imprisoned and, in general, people on the edges of society. In this way, a consecrated woman finds her Spouse, different and the same in each and every person, according to his very words: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Spousal love always involves a special readiness to be poured out for the sake of those who come within one’s range of activity. In marriage this readiness, even though open to all, consists mainly in the love that parents give to their children. In virginity, this readiness is open to all people, who are embraced by the love of Christ the Spouse. “(Mulieris dignitatis, 21).

Finally, the consecrated Virgins bear witness to the fact that virginity, as a woman’s vocation, is always the vocation of a person, of a concrete and unrepeatable person. Therefore, spiritual motherhood is also profoundly personal, a maternity of grace that makes itself felt in their vocation. With their yes (fiat) docile, generous and faithful to Christ, these women “allow” God to keep his promise of fruitful and sanctifying love.

 

Patristic reading

Saint Augustin of Hippo (354 -430)


THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

  1. At that time: The time was fulfilled for Elizabeth to give birth, and she brought forth a son(Lc 1,57). In this Gospel two things are noted: the birth of the Forerunner, and his naming.

(THE BIRTH OF THE FORERUNNER)

  1. The birth of the Forerunner: The time was fulfilled for Elizabeth. Mary remained three months in the house of Zacharias, ministering to her kinswoman until she should give birth; and “It is read in the book of the Just that the Blessed Virgin was the first to pick up the new-born John.”1 The time was fulfilled: the word ‘fulfil’ is frequently used in Holy Scripture in connection with the birth, death or activity of good men, signifying that their life has the fullness of perfection. Thus:It came to pass that Mary’s days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. (Lc 2,6Abraham died, being full of days. (Gn 25,8)

    On the contrary, the days of the wicked are empty and vacant. So, The time was fulfilled for Elizabeth to give birth. Zacharias, as Luke tells, went into the Lord’s temple to offer incense, when Gabriel appeared to him and said, ‘Elizabeth your wife will bear you a son’ (cf. Lc 1 . What was told him in the month of September, when the solemn feast was celebrated which is called the ‘Day of Expiation, or Propitiation’, was fulfilled today. Let us see the moral significance of Zacharias (‘remembrance of the Lord’ or ‘remembering the Lord’) and Elizabeth (‘the seventh of my God’).

    3. Elizabeth is the faithful soul, who is well-named ‘seventh of my God’ on account of three ‘sevens’ which belong to her especially: of gifts, petitions, and blessings. The first ‘seven’ justifies the second moves on from good to better, the third perfects. Alternatively, ‘seven’ refers to the Sabbath (or ‘rest’), in which God rested (cf. Ex 31,15 Ex 31,17); since she rested from all servile work. “The soul of the just is the seat of wisdom.”2 His place is in peace (cf. Ps 75,3), that is, in the peaceful soul. Of this sabbath Isaiah 58 says:

    Thou shalt call the sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious. (Is 58,13)

    ‘Delightful’ suggests pleasurable experience; the ‘delights’ are those three ‘sevens’ mentioned above, with which the soul is fed, so as to make a delightful Sabbath, fed with holiness of life and glory of conscience.

    This Elizabeth conceives by Zacharias; so that the Psalm says:

    I remembered God, and was delighted,

    and was exercised, and my spirit swooned away. (Ps 76,4)

    A woman conceives with pleasure, and the soul conceives in great delight, from the remembrance of the Lord. So the Psalm says:

    I have been delighted in the way of thy testimonies, as in all riches, (Ps 118,14)

    that is, ‘in the way of your martyrdoms’, your sufferings. The crown of thorns, the Cross, the nails, the lance and the other instruments of Christ’s Passion, are the delight of the just man, in which he takes more pleasure than in all the riches of this world, saying, I remembered God, and was delighted. Two things come from this delight, the exercise of works of charity, and a failure of self-confidence in spirit; or else the two things the Psalm mentions:

    My flesh (my carnality) and my heart (the pride of my heart) hath fainted away: thou art the God of my heart, and God is my portion for ever., (Ps 72,26) from whom I may conceive and bear the child of eternal life.

    Note that Elizabeth conceived in the seventh month, September, and gave birth in June. Even so, the soul conceives in the ‘seventh’ (the Sabbath), that is, in stillness, by devotion of mind; and she bears her son, good work, in June, called ‘Siban’ in Hebrew, meaning ‘rightness of gift’. The gift of grace which she conceives in her mind, she brings forth in rightness of action.

    4. Now Elizabeth’s full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and the congratulated her.(Lc 1,57-58)

    The Gloss says, “The coming forth or birth of saints brings joy to many because it is a common good. Saints are born for the common benefit. Justice is a common virtue, that is, for the common profit of all, and so in the birth of a just man signs of his future life are given beforehand, and the grace of the virtue which is to follow is shown in the prefiguring joy of the neighbors.”

    Morally. The ‘neighbours’ are the angels, the ‘kinsfolk’ are just men, who congratulate the soul on the birth of good works. So Gabriel said:

    And many shall rejoice in his nativity; for he shall be great before the Lord and shall drink no wine nor strong drink. (Lc 1,14)

    Truly, many rejoice: Christ, angel, and neighbor. Christ, because as Luke 15 says,

    When he hath found the sheep, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. (Lc 15,5)

    The Gloss says, ” The ‘shoulders’ of Christ are the arms of the Cross. There he carried my sins, on that neck of a noble gibbet he rested.” The angel, because:

    I say to you, there shall be joy before the angels of God upon one sinner doing penance. (Lc 15,10)

    The Gloss says, “The angels, being rational, rejoice that man is reconciled to them; which should motivate us to goodness of life, to do what is pleasing to them whose patronage we should desire, and to offend whom we should fear. The neighbor, as the Apostle says in II Corinthians 7:

    I rejoice because you were made sorrowful unto penance. (2Co 7,9)

    He will be great. Note that ‘great’ is used in reference to mind, ‘largeness’ to the body. If your work be small in your own eyes, it will be great before God. I must decrease, he must increase (cf. Jn 3,30), he says. When you lessen yourself by humility, grace grows in you by virtue of soul. Before the Lord, not before men, who deceive and are deceived, who call evil good, and good evil. What a man is before God, that he is, and no more.3 If you want to consecrate your good work to God, beware, lest you drink the wine of vainglory and the strong drink of unsuitable mirth. So the Lord says to Aaron, in Leviticus 10:

    You shall not drink wine nor anything that may make drunk, thou nor thy sons, when you enter into the tabernacle of the testimony, lest you die. (Lv 10,9)

    And Numbers 6:

    When a man or woman shall make a vow to be sanctified, and will consecrate themselves to the Lord, they shall abstain from wine and everything that may make drunk. (Nb 6,2-3)

    Whoever wants to consecrate his work to the Lord, and be received into the tabernacle of the heavenly Jerusalem, should beware the drunkenness of vainglory and foolish mirth.

 

 

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Pope to Verbites: Renew Trust in Divine Providence

06/22/2018 - 11:19am

Pope Francis on June 22, 2018, encouraged the Society of the Divine Word (SVD to renew their trust in Divine Providence and proclaim the word of God without fear.

His comments came to members of the order – commonly known as Services – participating in their General Chapter, with the theme “The Love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14). The event was reported in Vatican News.

The Pope said their theme has a “clear Pauline and missionary flavor” and urged the Verbites to return to their roots and origins as envisioned by their founder Saint Arnold Janssen.  He encouraged them to trust in Divine Providence, to proclaim the Word of God and to be a community of brothers.

The Holy Father reminded the participants that proclaiming the Word of God to all people, in every time, place and culture, using every possible means, is their charism.  Besides being a legacy it is also a challenge that awaits them today, especially in their mission to those who don’t know Christ as yet as envisioned by their founder.

He told the Verbites that going back to their origins is not an abstract spirituality but are roots that give life, for which they must be cared for and loved. And he said they should do this as a community of brothers united in their mission.

“The world, like the Church,” he said, “needs to feel this fraternal love despite its diversity and interculturality,” where “everyone is at the service of others and no one more than the other.”

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Pope Francis: Christian Witness in Middle East Severely Tested

06/22/2018 - 10:42am

Pope Francis on June 22, 2018, expressed his gratitude to participants of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), for their Christian witness in the Middle East, while lamenting the threats inherent in that work. He spoke to the group in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

“The study of various projects and their financing, made possible by the generosity of so many of the faithful worldwide, has enabled the Oriental Catholic Churches, both in their native lands and in the diaspora, to carry forward their witness to the Gospel,” the Holy Father said. “That witness has been severely tested, often amid sufferings and persecution, first by the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and then, more recently, by forms of allegedly religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, to say nothing of apparently interminable conflicts, especially in the Middle East.

The Holy Father’s Address

I am pleased to meet you at the conclusion of your Plenary Assembly, which this year coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of ROACO. I offer a cordial greeting to Cardinal Sandri and I thank him for his words of introduction. My greetings and my appreciation go likewise to the Papal Representatives of the countries of the Middle East, who daily accompany the aspirations of Christians and people of other religious traditions in lands tragically marked by conflict and suffering. I also greet with gratitude the representatives of the Catholic agencies and the benefactors of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as well as all those who in the past have offered their services and are present for this important anniversary.

In the wake of the recent celebrations marking the centenary of the Congregation, ROACO now celebrates its own jubilee year. According to the Scriptures, every fiftieth year was heralded by the shofar, the horn that proclaimed the year of freedom for slaves, the cancellation of debt, the restitution of land, all based on the people’s acknowledgment of God’s gracious gift of the Covenant and of the land that was its sign. I invite you to think back with gratitude on the years that have passed, and especially on the faces of so many people – some of whom have already ended their earthly pilgrimage – that have worked in the Congregation and in your various agencies in support of their works of charity and assistance. The study of various projects and their financing, made possible by the generosity of so many of the faithful worldwide, has enabled the Oriental Catholic Churches, both in their native lands and in the diaspora, to carry forward their witness to the Gospel. That witness has been severely tested, often amid sufferings and persecution, first by the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and then, more recently, by forms of allegedly religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, to say nothing of apparently interminable conflicts, especially in the Middle East. The concrete solidarity that you have shown has helped meet emergency situations resulting from wars and movements of migration, but above all, it has helped ensure the very existence of the Churches, their activities of pastoral care and evangelization, and their social and charitable works. All these make manifest the face of Christ’s Church, which proclaims the Gospel in action and in word, thus making present God’s charity for mankind. Indeed, the “year of grace” of the Lord is always marked by liberation, both within the heart of sinful human beings and without, in the new life of the redeemed, which prefigures the new heavens and that new earth where justice will dwell.

Saint Peter, on the day of Pentecost, recalled the prophecy, so dear to me, of Joel: “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Joel 2:17). The Oriental Catholic Churches, as living witnesses to their apostolic origins, are called in a special way to protect and pass on a spark of Pentecostal fire. They are called daily to discover anew their own prophetic presence in all those places where they dwell as pilgrims. Beginning with Jerusalem, the Holy City, whose identity and particular vocation needs to be safeguarded beyond different tensions and political disputes, Christians, even though present as a small flock, draw strength from the Spirit for their mission of witness. Today that mission is more urgent than ever before. From the holy places, where God’s plan was fulfilled in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, may there come about a renewed spirit of strength to inspire Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East to embrace their special vocation and to offer an account of their faith and their hope. May the sons and daughters of the Oriental Catholic Churches cherish their prophetic charge to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, even in settings that are often even more secularized than in the West, where they come as immigrants or refugees. May they find a welcome, both on the practical level and in the Church’s life, as they seek to preserve and enrich the patrimony of their various traditions. These men and women, thanks also to your help, can bear witness to us, whose hearts are often dulled, that it is still worth living and suffering for the Gospel, even as a minority, or the object of persecution, for the Gospel is the joy and the life of men and women of every age.

Allow me to offer a final word of thanks and encouragement. Because of the work of ROACO, through the attentiveness and the acts of charity that sustain the life of the Oriental Churches, the Successor of Peter is able also to continue his mission of pursuing possible paths to the visible unity of all Christians. In the effort to extend a cordial and sincere hand to our most distant brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters are no less loved, and certainly not forgotten. With your help, they are always listened to and helped to continue their journey as the Church of the Risen Christ, amid every challenge, and every spiritual and material suffering, in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.

Dear brothers and sisters, may God’s constant assistance always accompany you in your activities. To all of you, I impart my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the agencies you represent, your families and the communities to which you belong. And I ask you, please, to please pray for me. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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FEATURE: An Inside Look at the Pope’s Landmark Trip to Geneva

06/22/2018 - 10:24am

Pope Francis has made a landmark ecumenical day trip to Geneva on June 21, 2018 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches.

Zenit’s Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov covering trip on the papal flight

Zenit was on the papal flight, traveling with Pope Francis, and was present at various events, and getting voices on the ground. During the return trip to Rome, Zenit represented the English-speaking journalists aboard to ask the Pope a question, along with the French, German and Spanish representatives.

The theme of the visit is an “Ecumenical Pilgrimage – Walking, Praying and Working Together” and the meeting began with a prayer service at the Ecumenical Centre chapel.

What is really needed is a new evangelical outreach,’ the Pope stressed during an ecumenical meeting yesterday.

Cardinal on Pope’s Desire for Ecumenism

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told ZENIT:

“According to Pope Francis, to be open to other churches means first of all brotherhood and closeness. After his election as Pope, I remember, I met him and asked what he would desire for the ecumenism.”

“He replied with only one word, ‘brotherhood.’”

Friendly and fraternal relationship between different churches, the Swiss Cardinal explained, is the foundation for ecumenism. Once this is established, he added, the practical ecumenism can follow in which churches can work together on culture, political and social issues.                

Meeting for Dinner Once a Year Isn’t Authentic Ecumenism

Nigerian priest, Father Lawrence Iwuamadi, is the dean of the Bossy ecumenical institute, linked to the World Council of Churches, where 30 men and women of different countries study and share everyday life. Before Father Lawrence, the Institute had never had a Catholic dean.

“The fact that I am the first Catholic dean of the Institute,” he shared, “I think has to do with the

Spirit that Francis brought, a spirit that is difficult to explain with just one word: it is a spirit of trust, thanks to which I live and I work here, among 90% of non-Catholics, I have seen over the years how the attitude towards the Catholic Church has changed: now they appreciate what the Catholic Church does and says.”

“What is the main novelty that Francis brought?” he said, “As I always say, Pope Francis has a way of speaking that reaches everyone’s heart, whether they are Protestant, Orthodox or Pentecostal, so as to make them say: ‘with this Pope, I could also associate myself with what he says.’

For example, when the encyclical Laudato si‘ was published, on the protection of creation, at the Ecumenical Council of the Churches several conferences were held, on the encyclical of a Catholic Pope. In addition to this, Pope Francis is cited very frequently in the WCC documents.

“We must take more seriously what the Pope says, have the courage to go out and meet, is what I also understood as a professor of this institution, with 30-35 people from 25 countries and 20 Christian churches represented.”

“When people sit in front of each other, they walk together, they can understand who the other really is, then ecumenism becomes easier. First, however, there are prejudices, that is so, that other is so, but when we live together no longer.”

We Will Not Stop Here

The Pope began the visit by joining in prayers in the chapel of the Ecumenical Center in Geneva after flying in from Rome and then visiting the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, which is involved with theological formation.

In the afternoon, Pope Francis again visited the Ecumenical Center, where the WCC does much of its work.

The Pope cited the active Catholic presence in the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism; collaboration with the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, most recently on the important theme of education for peace; and the joint preparation of texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

General secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “This day is a landmark. We will not stop here. We will continue, we can do much more together for those who need us.”

In 2017, Roman Catholic and Protestant Lutherans jointly commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Pope Francis’ Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2017, visit to the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund.

The Catholic Church and the WCC work together for joint peace initiatives in many areas and concretely work together in projects to help the poor, counter injustices, help migrants, and so on.

On the flight to Geneva, Deborah Castellano Lubov also had a moment to greet the Holy Father where she gave him a memoria of a family in Buenos Aires very close to the Holy Father’s heart and her recent book ‘The Other Francis’ (L’Altro Francesco) currently in Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian, and soon in English and perhaps German.

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ZENIT:

On-flight Press Conference (Full Text): https://zenit.org/articles/holy-fathers-in-flight-press-conference-on-return-from-geneva-full-text/

 

 

 

 

 

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Holy Father’s In-Flight Press Conference on Return from Geneva (Full Text)

06/22/2018 - 10:11am

Following is the Vatican-provided transcript of the in-flight press conference Pope Francis held on his flight from Geneva to Rome, at the end of his ecumenical pilgrimage to observe the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Church.

ZENIT’s Vatican and Rome correspondent, Deborah Castellano Lubov, was one of the reporter’s engaged in the session with the Holy Father.

The Press Conference Transcript:

Greg Burke:

Thanks, in the meantime. “Walking, praying, working together” [theme of the trip]. We walked, we prayed, several times, and now we have to work a bit – and even eat, afterward. However, we see that walking together brings fruit: today, acceptance. We have seen that, after so many years of dialogue, there is mutual respect and something more: there is also friendship. But there is still a lot of work to do and many challenges, and this is of interest to us normally: the challenges.

Maybe you want to say something first …

Pope Francis:

Thank you for your work! It was rather a heavy day, at least for me. But I am happy. I am happy because the different things we have done, both the prayer at the beginning, then the dialogue during lunch, which was beautiful, and then the Mass; these are things that made me happy. Tired, but they are good things. Thank you very much. And now, I am at your disposal.

Greg Burke:

Good. Let us begin with the Swiss: Arnaud Bédat, from the journal “L’Illustre”:

Arnaud Bédat:

Holy Father, you have been to Geneva, but also to Switzerland. What images, what important and powerful moments, struck you during this day?

Pope Francis:

Thank you. I believe that – I would say – there is a common word: encounter. It was a day of encounters. Variegated. The right word of the day is encounter, and when one person meets another and feels the pleasure of the encounter, this always touches the heart. These were positive, even beautiful, encounters, starting with the dialogue with the President [of the Swiss Confederation], at the beginning, which was not only a dialogue of courtesy, normal but a profound dialogue, on deep world issues and with an intelligence that impressed me. Starting from this. Then, the meetings that you have all seen … And what you have not seen is the meeting at lunch, which was very profound in terms of touching on so many topics. Perhaps the topic on which we spent the most time was the young, also because all the Confessions are concerned, in a good sense, about the young. And the pre-Synod that took place in Rome, from 19 March onwards, attracted some attention because they were young people of all Confessions, even agnostics, and of all countries. Think about it: 315 young people present and 15 thousand connected online who “came and went”. This perhaps inspired a special interest. But the word that perhaps for me sums up the whole trip is that it was a journey of encounter. The experience of encounter. Not mere courtesy, nothing purely formal, but human encounter. And this, between Protestants and Catholics, means everything … Thank you.

Greg Burke:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Now from the German group, there is Roland Juchem, from the German Catholic agency CIC.

Roland Juchem:

Thank you, Holy Father. You often speak about concrete steps to be taken in ecumenism. Today, for example, you referred to it again, saying “Let us see what we can do concretely, rather than grow discouraged about what we cannot”. So, the German bishops recently decided to take a step [on the so-called “inter-communion”], and so we ask how come Archbishop Ladaria [prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] has written a letter that seems somewhat like an emergency brake. After the meeting of 3 May last, it was affirmed that the German bishops would have found a solution, possibly unanimously. What will the next steps be? Will intervention on the part of the Vatican be necessary to clarify, or must the German bishops find an agreement?

Pope Francis:

Good. This is not new, because the Code of Canon Law provides for what the German bishops were talking about: Communion in special cases. And they looked at the problem of mixed marriages: whether it is possible or not possible. However, the Code says that the particular bishop of the Church – this word is important: particular, if it is from a diocese – must manage the issue: it is in his hands. This is in the Code. The German bishops, because they had seen that the case was not clear, and also that some priests did things not in agreement with the bishop, they wanted to study this theme and they carried out this study that – I do not want to exaggerate – was a study of more than a year, I do not know precisely, but more than a year, done well, done well. And the study is restrictive: what the bishops wanted is to clearly say what is in the Code. And I, too, read it, I say: this is a restrictive document. It was not “open to everyone”. No. It was well thought out, with an ecclesial spirit. And they wanted to do it for the local Church: not the particular one. They did not want to. The thing has slipped up to there, that is, saying it is for the German Episcopal Conference. And there is a problem because the Code does not provide for this. It foresees the competence of the diocesan bishop, but not of the Episcopal Conference. Why? Because something approved in an Episcopal Conference immediately becomes universal. And this was the difficulty of the discussion: not so much the content, but this. They sent the document; then there were two or three meetings for dialogue and clarification; and Archbishop Ladaria sent that letter, but with my permission, he did not do it alone. I told him: “Yes, it is better to take a step forward and say that the document is not yet mature – this was what the letter said – and that we have to study the matter more”. Then there was another meeting, and eventually, they will study the thing. I believe this will be a guiding document so that each of the diocesan bishops can manage what canon law already permits. There was no brake, no. It was a matter of managing the thing to get on the right track. When I visited the Lutheran Church in Rome, a question of this type was asked and I responded according to the spirit of the Code of Canon Law, the spirit that they [the bishops] are now seeking. Maybe there was not the right information at the right time, there is a bit of confusion, but that is the issue. In the particular Church, the Code permits it; in the local Church, it cannot, because it would be universal. That is the issue.

Roland Juchem:

The local Church is the Conference?

Pope Francis:

… It is the Conference. But the Conference can study and give guidelines to help bishops in managing particular cases. Thank you.

Greg Burke:

Now, from the Spanish group, there is Eva Fernández of Cope, the Spanish radio.

Eva Fernández:

Thank you, Holy Father. We have seen that even the general secretary of the World Council of Churches has spoken about aid to refugees. Recently we have seen the incident of the ship “Aquarius” and other cases, such as the separation of families in the United States. Do you think that some governments exploit the drama of refugees? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

I have spoken a lot about refugees and the criteria are in what I said: “welcome, protect, promote, integrate”. These are criteria for all refugees. Then I said that every country must do this with the virtue of governance that is prudence because a country must welcome as many refugees as it can, and as many, as it can integrate: integrate, that is, educate, give work … This, I would say, is the quiet and peaceful plan of refugees. Here we are experiencing a wave of refugees fleeing war and hunger. War and hunger in many countries of Africa, wars, and persecution in the Middle East. Italy and Greece have been very generous in welcoming them. For the Middle East – regarding Syria – Turkey has received so many; Lebanon, many: Lebanon has as many Syrians as there are Lebanese; and then Jordan, and other countries. Spain too has welcomed them. There is the problem of trafficking in migrants. And there is also the problem of cases in which they return because they have to return: there is this case … I do not know the terms of the agreement well, but if they are in Libyan waters they have to return … And there I saw the photographs of the prisons of traffickers. Traffickers immediately separate women from men: women and children go God knows where … This is what the traffickers do. There is also a case, I know, in which the traffickers approached a ship that had received refugees from the boats and said: “Give us women and children and take the males away”. These are traffickers. And the prisons of the traffickers, for those who have returned, are terrible, they are terrible. These things were seen in the lager of World War II. Even mutilations, torture … And then they throw them into the mass graves, the men. This is why governments worry that they will come back and fall into the hands of these people. There is worldwide concern. I know that governments are talking about this and they want to find an agreement, even to amend the Dublin Agreement. In Spain, you have had the case of this ship that arrived in Valencia. But all this phenomenon is a disorder. The problem of wars is difficult to solve; the problem of the persecution of Christians also, in the Middle East and also in Nigeria. But the problem of hunger can be solved. And many European governments are thinking of an urgent plan to invest in those countries, to invest intelligently, to provide work and education, these two things. In the countries from which these people come. Because – without wishing to offend, but it is the truth – in the collective subconscious there is an ugly motto: “Africa must be exploited” – Africa es para ser explotada. This is in the subconscious: “Eh, they are Africans! …”. Land of slaves. And this must change with this plan of investment, education, development because the African people have so many cultural riches. And they have a great intelligence: the children are very intelligent and can, with a good education, go further. This will be the medium-term road. But at the moment governments must agree to move forward with this emergency. This, here in Europe.

Let us go to America. In America, there is a big migration problem in Latin America, and there is also the internal migration problem. In my homeland there is a migration problem from the north to the south; people leave the countryside because there is no work and they go to big cities, and there are these megalopolises, slums, and all these things … But there is also an external migration to other countries that give jobs. Speaking concretely, towards the United States. I agree with what the bishops of that country say. I support them. Thank you.

Greg Burke:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Now, the English group: Deborah Castellano Lubov, from the Zenit agency.

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

Thank you, Your Holiness. Your Holiness, in your address today at the ecumenical meeting, you referred to the enormous power of the Gospel. We know that some of the Churches of the World Council of Churches are so-called “Churches of peace”, who believe that a Christian cannot use violence. Let us recall that two years ago, in the Vatican, there was a conference organized to reconsider the doctrine of the “righteous war”. So, Your Holiness, my question is, do you think it would be right for the Catholic Church to join with these so-called “Churches of peace” and to set aside the theory of the “righteous war”? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

A clarification: why do you say that they are “Churches of peace”?

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

They are considered “Churches of peace” because they have this concept, that a person who uses violence can no longer be considered Christian.

Pope Francis:

Thank you, I understand. You have put your finger in the wound … Today, at lunch, a Pastor said that perhaps the first human right is the right to hope, and I liked this, and it relates a little to this theme. We talked about the human rights crisis today. I think I have to start with this to arrive at your question. The human rights crisis appears clear. We speak a little of human rights, but many groups or some countries keep their distance. Yes, we have human rights but … there is not the strength, the enthusiasm, the conviction of, I do not say 70 years ago, but 20 years ago. And this is serious because we must see the causes. What are the causes for which we have arrived at this? That today human rights are relative. The right to peace is also relative. It is a human rights crisis. This I think we have to think about it thoroughly.

Then, the so-called “Churches of Peace”. I believe that all the Churches that have this spirit of peace must come together and work together, as we said in the speeches today, both I and the other people who spoke, and at lunch, it was discussed. Unity for peace. Today peace is a need because there is a risk of war … Someone said: this third world war, if it takes place, we know what weapons will be used, but if there were to be a fourth, it would be with sticks because humanity will be destroyed. The commitment to peace is a serious matter. When you think about the money that is spent on armaments! For this reason, they are “Churches of Peace”: but it is God’s mandate! Peace, brotherhood, united humanity … And all conflicts, we must not resolve them like Cain, but resolve them through negotiation, dialogue, and mediation. For example, we are in crisis of mediations! Mediation, which is a very precious legal tool, is in crisis today. Crisis of hope, crisis of human rights, crisis of mediations, crisis of peace. But then, if you say that there are “Churches of Peace”, I ask myself: are there “Churches of War”? It is difficult to understand this, it is difficult, but there are certainly some groups, and I would say in almost all religions, small groups, I will say simplifying somewhat, “fundamentalist”, who seek wars. We Catholics also have some, who always seek destruction. And it is very important to keep this in view. I do not know if I answered …

They tell me that people are asking for their dinner, that it is the right time to arrive with a full stomach …

I would like to say only one word clearly: that today was an ecumenical day, truly ecumenical. And at lunch, we said something very nice, that I will leave to you to think about and reflect upon, and to consider well: in the ecumenical movement we must remove a word from the dictionary: proselytism. Is that clear? There can be no ecumenism with proselytism, we need to choose: either you are of an ecumenical spirit, or you are a “proselyte”.

Thank you, I would continue to speak as I like to, but …

Now, let us ask the Substitute [of the Secretary of State] to come forward, because it is the last trip he will make with us, as now he is “changing color” [becoming a cardinal]: but not from shame! We would like to wish him well, and there will be a Sardinian cake to celebrate.

H.E. Msgr. Giovanni Angelo Becciu:

Thank you! It is a dual surprise, to call me here and thank me in front of all of you. And then a Sardinian cake … good! We will taste it with pleasure. I truly thank the Holy Father for this occasion, but for everything, for everything, because he has given me this wonderful experience of traveling with him frequently. At the beginning, he frightened me, he said: “No, I make only a few trips”, do you remember? And then, after one he added another, and another, and we said: “Thank goodness he said they would only be a few!”. And they were many. A magnificent experience: to see the Holy Father courageously spread the Word of God. My service was only this: to help him in this. Thanks to all of you and to those who have helped us. Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Enjoy your meal, and many thanks. And pray for me, please. Thank you.

 

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Geneva Journey

06/21/2018 - 3:53pm
Pope in Geneva Urges New Evangelical Outreach at WCC Conference

‘We are called to be a people that experiences and shares the joy of the Gospel.’

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Geneva: Pope Francis Cites Three Simple Words: Father, Bread, Forgiveness

Ask Only for What is Truly Needed, Live a Simpler Life

Pope Francis in Geneva: Address at WCC Ecumenical Center (Full Text)

‘Walking in the Spirit means rejecting worldliness.’

Geneva: Holy Father’s Address to WCC Ecumenical Meeting (Full Text)

‘What is really needed is a new evangelical outreach.’

The Pope’s Homily at Mass in Geneva (Full Text)

Let us Never Tire of Saying ‘Our Father’

Scotland’s Live Link of Faith with Aleppo

More than 700 Young People have Live Link with Students in Syrian City

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Geneva: Pope Francis Cites Three Simple Words: Father, Bread, Forgiveness

06/21/2018 - 12:20pm

Using simple words and the “Our Father”, Pope Francis on June 21, 2018, urged the faithful to ask only for what they truly need, to lead a simpler life. His reflections came in his homily at the Geneva Palexpo, the last major event of his one-day ecumenical pilgrimage to Geneva to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the WCC.

“Father, bread, forgiveness,” the Pope began. “Three words that the Gospel offers us today. Three words that take us to the very heart of our faith.”

Father: The Pope stressed that this is where the central prayer of our faith begins. Before being powerful and infinite, God is father.

Bread: In the “Our Father” the Pope notes that we ask for our needs for just that day. This is our call to a simpler life.

Forgiveness: The Holy Father reminded the congregation that God never tires of forgiving our sins.  For us, forgiveness is not easy – but that is what God expects, that we forgive others as he forgives us.

The Holy Father urged the faithful to never tire of saying “Our Father”.  It holds many vital reminders.

“It will remind us that just as there are no sons or daughters without a Father, so none of us is ever alone in this world,” the Pope said. “It will also remind us that there is no Father without sons or daughters, so none of us is an only child. Each of us must care for our brothers and sisters in the one human family.

“When we say ‘Our Father’, we are saying that every human being is part of us, and that, in the face of all the wrongs that offend our Father, we, as his sons and daughters, are called to react as brothers and sisters. We are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference towards our brothers or sisters, towards any of our brothers or sisters. This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast. This is what the Father asks us, indeed commands us, to do: to love one another from the heart, as sons and daughters in the midst of their brothers and sisters.”

Pope Francis concluded with a reminder that forgiveness “renews and works miracles”:

“Forgiven by our Father, each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and sisters. Only then do we bring true newness to our world, for there is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good.

Full Text of Pope’s Homily

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The Pope’s Homily at Mass in Geneva (Full Text)

06/21/2018 - 11:46am

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on June 21, 2018, at the Geneva Palexpo, the last major event of his one-day ecumenical pilgrimage to Geneva to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the WCC.

Following is the text of his homily, provided by the Vatican:

Father, bread, forgiveness. Three words that the Gospel offers us today. Three words that take us to the very heart of our faith.

“Father”. The prayer begins with this. We can continue with other words, but we cannot forget this first one, for the word “Father” is the key to opening God’s heart. Simply by saying Father, we are already praying in the language of Christianity. As Christians, we do not pray to some generic deity, but to God who is, before all else, our Father. Jesus told us to say “Our Father, who are in heaven”, not “God of heaven, who are Father”. Before all else, even before his being infinite and eternal, God is Father.

All fatherhood and motherhood are derived from him (cf. Eph 3:15). In him is the origin of all goodness and life itself. The words “Our Father” reveal our identity, our life’s meaning: we are God’s beloved sons and daughters. Those words solve the problem of our isolation, our sense of being orphans. They show us what we have to do: love God, our Father, and others, our brothers and sisters. The “Our Father” is the prayer of us, of the Church. It says nothing about me and mine; everything is caught up in the you of God (“your name”, “your kingdom”, “your will”). It speaks in the first person plural. “Our Father”: these two simple words offer us a roadmap for the spiritual life.

Every time we make the sign of the cross at the start of the day or before any other important activity, every time we say “Our Father”, we reclaim our roots. We need those roots in our often rootless societies. The “Our Father” strengthens our roots. Where the Father is present, no one is excluded; fear and uncertainty cannot gain the upper hand. Suddenly we remember all the good things because in the Father’s heart we are not strangers but his beloved sons and daughters. He does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and makes us one large family.

Let us never tire of saying “Our Father”. It will remind us that just as there are no sons or daughters without a Father, so none of us is ever alone in this world. It will also remind us that there is no Father without sons or daughters, so none of us is an only child. Each of us must care for our brothers and sisters in the one human family. When we say “Our Father”, we are saying that every human being is part of us, and that, in the face of all the wrongs that offend our Father, we, as his sons and daughters, are called to react as brothers and sisters. We are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference towards our brothers or sisters, towards any of our brothers or sisters. This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast. This is what the Father asks us, indeed commands us, to do: to love one another from the heart, as sons and daughters in the midst of their brothers and sisters.

Bread. Jesus tells to ask our Father for bread each day. Nothing else: just bread, in other words, what is essential for life. Before all else, bread is what we need this day to be healthy and to do our work; tragically, so many of our brothers and sisters do not have it. Here I would say: Woe to those who speculate on bread! The basic food that people need for their daily lives must be accessible to everyone.

To ask for our daily bread is also to say: “Father, help me lead a simpler life”. Life has become so complicated. Nowadays many people seem “pumped up”, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts, with no time to see other people’s faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems. We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles. One that goes against the tide, like that of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast we celebrate today. It would involve giving up all those things that fill our lives but empty our hearts. Let us choose the simplicity of bread and so rediscover the courage of silence and of prayer, the leaven of a truly human life. Let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual, relationships may flourish. Let us learn once more to love the familiar smell of life all around us. When I was a child at home, if a piece of bread fell from the table, we were taught to pick it up and kiss it. Let us value the simple things of everyday life: not using them and throwing them away, but appreciating them and caring for them.

Our “daily bread”, we must not forget, is Jesus himself. Without him, we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5). He is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes, however, we treat Jesus as a side dish. Yet if he is not our daily bread, the center of our days, the very air we breathe, then everything else is meaningless. Each day, when we pray for our daily bread, let us ask the Father, and keep reminding ourselves: simplicity of life, care for what is all around us, Jesus in everything and before everything.

Forgiveness. It is not easy to forgive. We always retain a dram of bitterness or resentment, and whenever those we have forgiven annoy us, it rises to the surface once again. Yet the Lord wants our forgiveness to be a gift. It is significant that the only really original commentary on the Our Father is Jesus’ own. He tells us simply: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). Forgiveness is the catchphrase of the Our Father. God frees our hearts of all sin, he forgives every last thing. Yet he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving. He wants us to issue a general amnesty for the sins of others. We should take a good x-ray of our heart, to find out if there are blockages within us, obstacles to forgiveness, stones needing to be removed. Then we can say to the Father: “You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it”.

Forgiveness renews, it works miracles. Peter experienced Jesus’ forgiveness and became the shepherd of his flock. Saul became Paul after the forgiveness he received from Stephen. Forgiven by our Father, each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and sisters. Only then do we bring true newness to our world, for there is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good. We see it in the history of Christianity. Forgiving one another, rediscovering after centuries of disagreements and conflicts that we are brothers and sisters, how much good this has done us and continues to do! The Father is pleased when we love one another and we forgive each other from the heart (cf. Mt 18:35). Then, he gives us his Spirit. Let us ask for the grace not to be entrenched and hard of heart, constantly demanding things of others. Instead, let us take the first step, in prayer, in fraternal encounter, in concrete charity. In this way, we will be more like the Father, who loves without counting the cost. And he will pour out upon us the Spirit of unity.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Pope in Geneva Urges New Evangelical Outreach at WCC Conference

06/21/2018 - 10:40am

Pope Francis on June 21, 2018, urged the World Council of Churches (WCC) to embrace a “new evangelical outreach”. His remarks came during the ecumenical meeting to mark the 70thanniversary of the foundation of the WCC at the WCC Ecumenical Center in Geneva.

“We are called to be a people that experiences and shares the joy of the Gospel, praises the Lord and serves our brothers and sisters with hearts burning with a desire to open up horizons of goodness and beauty unimaginable to those who have not been blessed truly to know Jesus,” the Holy Father stressed. “I am convinced that an increased missionary impulse will lead us to greater unity.

“Just as in the early days, preaching marked the springtime of the Church, so evangelization will mark the flowering of a new ecumenical spring. As in those days, let us gather in fellowship around the Master, not without a certain embarrassment about our constant vacillations, and, together with Peter, let us say to him: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life (Jn 6:68).”

The Pope was joined by the General Secretary, the Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, and the Moderator, Dr. Agnes Abuom.

“Today, with this visit, we show that it is possible to overcome divisions and distance, as well as deep conflicts caused by different traditions and convictions of faith. There are several ways from conflict to communion,” said WCC General Secretary the Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit “And of course, we have not yet overcome all differences and divisions. Therefore, we pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us and unite us as we move on. I was deeply moved the first time I saw this tapestry and sensed its call of Christ to me. I am deeply moved by being here today together.”

“It is more than just a coincidence that today’s Gospel reading is taken from Matthew 6:7-15, the passage about prayer that includes the text of the Lord’s Prayer.,” said WCC Moderator, Dr. Agnes Abuom, “There can hardly be a more basic text for our pilgrimage of justice and peace than this. Praising God’s holy name, praying for God’s kingdom to come that includes God’s care for the daily bread, the forgiveness of debts and the rescue from evil, we are reminded of the daily practice of mercy and care that Jesus wanted to be the hallmarks of Christian life.”

Pope Francis embraced the theme for his one-day ecumenical pilgrimage: Walking, Praying and Working Together.

Walking: “I would suggest a two-fold movement: in and out. In, so as to move constantly to the center, to acknowledge that we are branches grafted onto the one vine who is Jesus (cf. Jn 15:1-8). We will not bear fruit unless we help one another to remain united to him. Out, towards the many existential peripheries of today’s world, in order to join in bringing the healing grace of the Gospel to our suffering brothers and sisters.”

Praying: “we cannot move forward by ourselves because God’s grace is not so much tailored to fit each individual as spread harmoniously among believers who love one another. Whenever we say “Our Father”, we feel an echo within us of our being sons and daughters, but also of our being brothers and sisters. Prayer is the oxygen of ecumenism.”

Working Together: “Here I would like to reaffirm that the Catholic Church acknowledges the special importance of the work carried out by the Faith and Order Commission and desires to keep contributing to that work through the participation of highly qualified theologians. The quest of Faith and Order for a common vision of the Church, together with its work of studying moral and ethical issues, touch areas crucial for the future of ecumenism.”

The Pope cited the Good Samaritan, calling on churches to work together on projects to help others.  He reminded those listening that we will be judged by how we love one another.

The Full Address of the Holy Father

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