Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis meets members of Swiss Guard foundations

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday with members of two foundations which offer economic, technical and material support to the Swiss Guards. The papal audience marked the official inauguration of a new operative centre for the corps which has been guarding the Vatican for over 500 years.

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In his words to the two groups, Pope Francis thanked them for their support and for the fruitful collaboration established with its commanders and with the competent Vatican authorities.

Spirit of fraternity and sharing

In carrying out your activity, he said, you express the community and fraternal spirit typical of the presence of Catholics in society. This attitude, he continued, is rooted in the Gospel call to love one’s neighbour, helping to overcome tensions and become an example of fraternity and sharing.

Spiritual points of reference

Love for one’s neighbour, the pope said, corresponds to the mandate and example of Christ, if it is based on true love for God. To give love to our brothers and sisters, he said, it is necessary to draw it from the source of divine charity, through prayer, by listening to the Word of God and from the nourishment of the Eucharist. With these spiritual points of reference, he said, it is possible to work in the logic of gratuitousness and service.

Discreet, professional, generous presence

In conclusion, Pope Francis reiterated his heartfelt thanks to the many young Swiss men who decide to dedicate a few years of their lives to the guards in the service of the Church and the Holy See. He praised them for their discreet, professional and generous presence, that is greatly appreciated and essential for the smooth running of activities here at the Vatican.

Pope at Mass: ‘God’s consolation leads to peace’

(Vatican Radio)  Let us ask the Lord to help us recognize true consolation and to conserve it. That was Pope Francis’ message at morning Mass on Monday in the Casa Santa Marta.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

Reflecting on the First Reading in his homily, Pope Francis said the Lord “visited His people and returned them to Jerusalem.” The word “visited”, he explained, is important in salvation history, because “every act of redemption by God is a visitation.”

“When the Lord visits us He gives us joy, that is, He places us in a state of consolation… You have seeded in tears, but now the Lord consoles us and gives us spiritual consolation. Consolation happens not only in a certain moment in time but is a state in the spiritual life of every Christian. The entire Bible teaches us this.”

The Holy Father went on to exhort those present “to wait” for the Lord’s visitation. Some moments are stronger than others, but the Lord “will help us to sense His presence” with spiritual consolation.

He said the Christian must recognize consolation, because there are false prophets who seem to console us but are, in fact, tricking us.

“The Lord’s consolation moves you and makes you increase in charity, love, and hope, also making you weep for your sins. When we observe Jesus and his Passion, we weep with Jesus… You elevate your soul to the things of Heaven and of God, and your soul is quieted in the peace of God. This is true consolation.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis reminded all to thank the Lord in prayer, that He may “pass by” to visit us, helping us to go forward, in hope, to carry our Cross.

“Conserve these traces of consolation in your memory, just as God’s people remembered its liberation… Wait for consolation, recognize it, and conserve it. And, what remains from this passing moment? Peace, for peace is the highest level of consolation.”

Pope Francis says Mass for Vatican City's Corps of Gendarmes

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass for the Corps of Gendarmes – the Vatican police force – in the Lourdes Grotto of the Vatican on Sunday to mark the 201st anniversary of the founding of the Corps.

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In remarks following the Readings of the Day, Pope Francis focused especially on the 1st Reading, from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, saying, “In the first Reading, the prophet Isaiah urges us to seek the Lord, to convert: ‘Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts.’ (55: 6-7).

Conversion and God's search for us

Conversion,” he went on to say, “is a [real] thing: [Isaiah] tells us that this is the way: to seek the Lord, to change one’s life, to convert – and that is true. Nevertheless, Jesus changes the logic and goes beyond, with a logic that no one could understand: it is the logic of God’s love. True, you must seek the Lord and do everything to find Him; but the important thing is that He is looking for you. More important than seeking the Lord, is to realize that He is looking for [you and] me.”

The Father always ready to embrace us

Reflecting then on the Gospel parable of the Prodigal Son, Pope Francis said, “[God] goes out of Himself to look for us, so much has he gone out of Himself, that He has sent His Son to find us. Our God always has His gaze fixed on us. We think of the father of the prodigal son: the Gospel says that he saw him coming from far (cf. Lk 15:20). But why did he see him? Because every day, and perhaps several times a day, he went up to the terrace to see whether the son was approaching, whether the son was coming back. This is the heart of our God: it always waits for us – and when someone says, ‘I've found God,’ he is mistaken. God finally found you and has carried you with Him. It is He who makes the first step. He does not tire of going out, ever out [in search] ... He respects the freedom of every man, but there He is, waiting for us to open a door to Him.”

Open the door to God's merciful love

The Holy Father concluded his reflections with an expression of hope and an exhortation.

“May the Lord, in this day that is so joyful for you, grant you this grace – to me, as well, and to everyone: the grace of being sure that He is always at the door, awaiting that I should open it [even] a little bit, in order that he should enter. Also, have no fear: when the prodigal son met the father, the father descended from the terrace and went to meet his son. That old man hurried, and the Gospel tells us that, when the son began to say, ‘Father, I have sinned,” the father did not let him speak; he embraced him, he kissed him. (Lk 15:20-21)”

“This,” said Pope Francis, “is what awaits us if only we should open the door a little bit: the embrace of the Father.”

Pope Francis at Angelus: embrace the logic of God's Kingdom

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday – the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – focusing his remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion on the Parable of the Landowner and the Wage-earners, proclaimed as the Gospel reading of the day (Mt. 20:1-16).

The Gospel at a glance

In that story, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a landowner, who hires day-labourers in the early morning, and again at successive hours of the day, at the end of which he instructs his paymaster to give the full day’s wage to all the workers, beginning with those hired at the 11th hour.

The labourers of the first hour complain of this treatment, to which the Landowner replies, “I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”

Jesus then explains the lesson, “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Pope Francis reflects

Reflecting on the passage, Pope Francis said, “In reality, the ‘injustice’ of the Landowner serves to provoke, in those who hear the parable, an increase in understanding (It. salto di livello), because Jesus does not want to speak of the problem of labour and of just wages, but of the Kingdom of God.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “The message is this: in the Kingdom of God there are no idle hands, all are called to do their part; and for all, at the end, the recompense shall be what comes from divine justice – not human justice, happily – i.e. the salvation that Jesus Christ has acquired with His death and resurrection. This is a salvation that is not merited, but given, for which, ‘The last shall be first, and the first shall be last’.”

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Pope Francis: Bl Stanley Rother model of heroic witness

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis praised the virtue and example of Blessed Stanley Francis Rother on Sunday, one day after the secular missionary priest originally of Oklahoma in the United States was beatified as a martyr.

Bl. Stanley was killed on July 28th, 1981, after returning to Guatemala to minister to his flock, despite several death threats and warnings his life would be in danger. “Well, a shepherd cannot run from his flock,” he is quoted as saying in explanation of his decision to return in the face of such danger.

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In remarks to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square following the traditional Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis said, “[Saturday], in Oklahoma City, the missionary priest, Stanley Francis Rother, killed in hatred of the faith for his work of evangelization and work to promote the human dignity of the poorest people in Guatemala, was proclaimed Blessed. May his heroic example help us to be courageous witnesses to the Gospel, committed to working in behalf of the dignity of man.”

Pope Francis' 2015 speech to US Congress: still a challenge

(Vatican Radio) Two years ago this Sunday (September 24th), Pope Francis made history by delivering the first-ever address by a reigning Pope to the U.S. Congress.

In his wide-ranging address, the Holy Father touched on issues ranging from the need for politics to serve the common good and the importance of cooperation and solidarity, to the dangers of fundamentalism, the refugee crisis, abolition of the death penalty, the need for courageous acts to avert environmental deterioration, the evils of the arms trade, and threats to the family from within and without.

Pope Francis focused especially on four great figures from US history: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton, saying that each of them helped build a better future for the people of the U.S.

Veteran Vatican reporter Cindy Wooden, who covered the historic event for Catholic News Service, told Vatican Radio that, two years on, the speech remains a challenge to lawmakers and citizens in the United States.

Click below to hear the extended conversation

“I wouldn’t say that his points were completely accepted and acted on,” Wooden told Vatican Radio, “but I think they are as much a challenge today – maybe even more so – than they were two years ago.”

Wooden also said the Pope’s speech continues to be important in the current climate of discourse in the United States.

“It’s an important reminder of the vocation of the politician,” she said. “The Pope use[d] in this speech, the same kind of vocational language that he would use for [the] priesthood or religious life: politics as a calling of service – and I think that, if politicians paid a little more attention to that right now, perhaps we’d be in a better spot.”

Click below to hear Ciny Wooden’s extended conversation with Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti 

Pope Francis to Trappists: courageous witness to charism

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Cistertians of the Strict Observance – the Trappists – which is taking place in Assisi from the 6th to the 27th of September.

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The OCSO at a glance

Part of the larger Cistercian family, which traces its origin to 1098, the OCSO follow the Rule of St. Benedict, dedicating their lives to the search for union with God through Jesus Christ, in a community of sisters or brothers.

All Cistercian monasteries are dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, and the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother is the Order’s patronal feast.

The OCSO General Chapter is the supreme authority in the Order, and is prepared by a Central Commission elected by the previous Chapter and whose members are chosen by the various regions of the Order.

There are formally two separate Chapters: one for monks and one for nuns – though they meet together every three years, “to foster peace and charity among themselves and to make appropriate decisions for maintaining the patrimony and unity of the Order.”

Pope to Trappists: courageous witness to permanent truths

In remarks prepared for the occasion of the special audience with participants in the current General Chapter, and delivered Saturday morning in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said, “From the outset, the Cistercians of Strict Observance have made themselves known for their great sobriety of life, convinced that to concentrate on the essence and [thus] to reach more easily the joy of the spousal encounter with Christ, should be a valid help.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “This element of spiritual and existential simplicity preserves all its value as a [mode of] witness in today’s cultural context, which too often leads to the desire for ephemeral goods and illusory artificial paradises.”

“Throughout its history,” said Pope Francis, “your Order has known times of grace and moments of difficulty; but it has always persevered in fidelity to the sequela Christi, having as its purpose the glory of God and the good of the people.” He went on to say, “Continuing in the way of your spiritual tradition, may your read the present state of the Order in its shadows and lights, and in the novelty of the Spirit, identify with courage new possibilities and occasions to witness your charism in the present of the Church and of Society.”

Bishops recommit to dealing with Africa’s challenges

The second continental meeting of Bishops - President of African Episcopal Conferences and Presidents of Caritas in Africa which ended recently in Dakar, Senegal has been described, by the Bishops themselves, as consisting of serious sessions aimed at finding relevant strategies designed to respond to the pastoral and social needs of the Church in Africa.  The Bishops say they appreciated periods of reflection, liturgical celebrations, and even cultural events during the three days of the Conference.

In their final message and declaration, the Bishops expressed solidarity with Pope Francis’ message, recently, that Africa is not a land to be exploited but a friend to be loved.

“We take the thought of Pope Francis on the plane that brought him back from Colombia, on 10 September 2017, according to which Africa is not a land to be exploited but a friend to love, to help to grow. We are grateful to the organisations of the sister churches that accompany us and reiterate our willingness to walk with them in Christian hope, fraternal communion, support and mutual reinforcement without substituting ourselves for the service of the most disadvantaged who are our brothers and sisters, letting us evangelize them,” the declaration reads in part.

The Bishops reiterate their conviction that only the poor can truly develop themselves. They criticise some of Africa’s leaders for conniving with foreign powers at the expense of their own people. The prelates decry poor governance and misguided politics that stoke flames of ethnic and religious divisions on the continent.

“Our hearts are bleeding to see that the misery of our people is often caused by some of our own leaders, in collaboration with foreign powers, while these very ones are supposed to fight poverty and stem it out. In the end, they force us to act as extinguishers of the hotbeds of tension which they light and feed, thus pushing our young people into exile or turning them into militants of political or religious extremism,” the Bishops say.

The gathering of African Bishops from 17 to 21 September in Dakar, Senegal, brought together Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, international partners as well as national staff from various Caritas Africa offices under the auspices of Caritas Internationalis. In all, forty-three countries were represented making it a gathering of over 200 local and international delegates.

The Archbishop of Manila and President of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle opened the Assembly while Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Congregation for the Promotion of Integral Human Development closed the assembly. Present at the meeting was Caritas Africa President, Gabriel Anokye of Ghana.

During the opening Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle spoke of the interconnectedness of all human beings. 

“We are one humanity. What happens in one part of the world affects others for good or for ill… - We affect one another. Imagine the power of praying for one another!” the Cardinal said.

Cardinal Tagle invited the Assembly to pray for the Rohingya people and the visit of Pope Francis to Myanmar and Bangladesh in November.

The theme of the continental meeting was,  "Organising charity service in Africa: the role of Bishops." The conference comes five years after the first assembly of African Bishops on Caritas held in Kinshasa (RDC) in November 2012.   

(Fr. Paul Samasumo)

(below is the full statement of the Bishops' declaration)

 

CARITAS AFRICA - FINAL DECLARATION

"ORGANISING THE SERVICE OF CHARITY IN AFRICA: THE ROLE OF THE BISHOPS"

 

OUR MEETING

1. We Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, Presidents of Episcopal Conferences and National Caritas from 43 countries of the Caritas Internationalis Africa Region, thank God for having gathered us in Dakar from 18 to 20 September 2017 on the theme ’’Organizing the Service of Charity in Africa: the role of the Bishops’’. This meeting took place five years after the one in Kinshasa in November 2012 on the “Identity and the mission of Caritas in the light of the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est”, sanctioned by a strong final declaration, insisting on the ecclesial nature of Caritas and its specific mission to the light of the Gospel and the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.

2. We reaffirm the content of this declaration and invite those who engage in the Church's pastoral social action to continue to act and act as credible witnesses of Christ (Act 1, 8).

3. We express our gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope Francis for the message addressed to us through H.E. Archbishop Michael W. BANACH, the Apostolic Nuncio in Senegal; this message is a sign of Pope Francis paternal solicitude towards our Churches.

4. We thank the Church Family of God in Senegal for welcoming us and for its hospitality.

5. Our gratitude and appreciation, with the assurance of our prayers, go to His Excellency Macky SALL, President of the Republic of Senegal 2 and to his Government for the exceptional facilities provided for us to hold our meeting.

6. We have had the joy of rereading the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est and the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, as well as the Motu Proprio Intima Ecclesiae Natura and Humanam Progressionem, and to understand more fully how much the charity service is central to the mission of the Church as a community of faith and love (Jn 4, 7-11).

7. The presence of His Eminence Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio TAGLE, President of Caritas Internationalis, has been an encouragement to us and their interventions, inspiration in our responsibility as fathers of charity in our particular Churches. We welcome the creation of the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and encourage the start of its structuring and its approaches that we will take into account in our pastoral mission and organization.

 

OUR FAITH

8. We share the faith of all those who, in the small cells of the Christian life in parishes and local communities, to the more global structures contribute to the effectiveness of charity and the presence of the Church and of Christ in the world. The enriching positive experiences shared during this gathering give the image of a Church on the move, resolutely committed to the service of every person and humanity as a whole (Populorum Progressio, 14) despite many challenges and which call for more and more imagination and creativity in our pastoral mission.

9. We take the thought of Pope Francis on the plane that brought him back from Colombia, on 10 September 2017, according to which Africa is not a land to be exploited but a friend to love, to help to grow. We are grateful to the organizations of the sister churches that accompany us and reiterate our willingness to walk with them in Christian hope, fraternal communion, support and mutual reinforcement without substituting ourselves for the service of the most disadvantaged who are our brothers and sisters, letting us evangelize them.

10. Our limited means of action must not be an excuse for a wait-andsee attitude, for the development of the poor can only be achieved by the poor themselves. That is why we strongly encourage South-South 3 as well as North-South exchanges within our Churches, the capitalization of experiences and pooling of expertise and resources, harmonization at all levels of the guidelines that guide our collective commitment.

11. Our hearts are bleeding to see that the misery of our people is often caused by some of our own leaders, in collaboration with foreign powers, while these very ones are supposed to fight poverty and stem it out. In the end, they force us to act as extinguishers of the hotbeds of tension which they light and feed, thus pushing our young people into exile or turning them into militants of political or religious extremism.

 

OUR COMMITMENT

12. We implore the assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to be in our churches the first craftsmen and the good guardians of the service of charity (Mt 24, 45; Tt 1,7).

13. Hence we commit ourselves to:

 1) stand on the side of the communities and individuals, whose God given resources and means of livelihood, including their land, are under threat of exploitation by both internal and external interests;

2) pay more attention to migration and refugee problems, to the consequences of political crises and natural disasters and, where appropriate, to work proactively upstream in order to better contribute to the eradication of the causes of poverty on a continent that is rich in its populations, especially its young people, its cultures and its natural resources;

3) involve ourselves in the preparation and participation in the next synod of the young people who are the wealth of the Church and of the nation and to do everything possible to make them feel at home in the Church;

4) create with our partners opportunities for these young people to contribute to their integral formation and to their Christian and citizenship growth;

5) strengthen the participation of women and make visible their contribution to the development of our families and communities;

6) encourage responsible leaders and elites who serve the common good and constantly denounce those who are corrupt and who maintain the 4 impoverishment of the masses as a strategy for the maintenance or conquest of power;

7) progressively adapt our socio-pastoral structures to those of the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, according to the contexts of our particular Churches;

8) contribute to the improvement of governance in our socio-charitable works, by adopting appropriate constitutive texts and by appointing competent and appropriate persons;

9) integrate into the religious and priestly formation the systems of the social teaching of the Church and the minima of the principles of transparent management of the property of the Church belonging to the poor;

10) develop a genuine synergy of action at the level of the continent, subregions (zones), Episcopal Conferences and dioceses with a view to productive ecclesial communion in the service of integral human promotion;

11) strengthen fraternal solidarity with Sister Churches, interfaith collaboration and cooperation with civil society organizations for peace building and development in our regions, while respecting our Catholic identity and avoiding us to be guided by contemporary ideologies.

 

May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa, intercede for us.

Dakar, 20 September 2017

Bishop Kussala laments South Sudan’ senseless violence

The Bishop of Tombura-Yambio and President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala has made a passionate appeal to the youth of South Sudan and Sudan to embrace peace and become part of networks for peace

The Bishop made the call in a recent pastoral statement addressed to young people in the two Sudans. The letter titled, “Young people: YES we can make Peace but let us do it together in respect, compassion, and justice!” The document comes at a time when Pope Francis has dedicated the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to young people. The October 2018 Synod to be held in the Vatican, will have as a theme, "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment."

In his pastoral statement, Bishop Kussala says,  “For us, in the two SUDANS it is quite necessary for us to stop awhile… and invite peace into our hearts, because we have lost everything to wars,”  the Bishop states in the letter.

He laments the high price of the “senseless violence” being witnessed in his country of South Sudan and recommends that young people become part of networks of peace.

“Indeed, now and only networks of peace must increase – that we must reach to all with whom peace can become a reality,” Bishop Kussala said.

The President of the Bishops’ Conference adds in his message to the to the youth. “You can set an example for all of us through your dedication, resourcefulness, and sincerity in promoting peaceful co-existence and building a nation, rich in resources that can stand as a symbol of achievement.”

The Bishop is confident that the youth in South Sudan and Sudan can have a positive impact on peace in the two countries.

 (Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla, CANAA, Nairobi)

Pope Francis sends Message to Invictus Games participants

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, which is the host city of the 2017 Invictus Games – an initiative of Prince Harry of England, in support of combat veterans with the purpose of demonstrating soldiers’ and veterans’ indefatigable drive to overcome and the power of sport on their journey to recovery.

Signed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Message says, “His Holiness encourages all the competitors to offer the world a further witness of the indomitable human spirit which, through God’s grace, is capable of meeting every challenge with determination and courage.”

The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in the fall of 2014 and attracted more than 400 competitors from 13 nations. The second Invictus Games took place in May 2016 in Orlando, Florida, and built on the excitement of the London Games with more than 500 competitors from 14 nations.

This year, competitors from 17 nations are gathering in Toronto to compete in events across 11 sporting categories from September 23rd-30th.

The full text of the Holy Father’s message can be found here