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Pope Francis decries attack on Nigerian churchgoers, violence in CAR

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 17:36
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis appealed on Wednesday for an end to “every form of hatred and violence”, especially those “perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray”. He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria. At his General Audience, Pope Francis said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.” At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha. The Pope also decried an incident which occurred on Wednesday in the Central African Republic. “And, unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community.” He expressed his desire that attacks on places of worship should cease. “I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.” After a brief pause, the Holy Father invited all present to think about “our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in the Central African Republic” and to pray for them. He then let the crowd in the recitation of the Hail Mary. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis' catechesis at General Audience: English Summary

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 16:28
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at the Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, reflecting on divine forgiveness as the "driving force of hope". Please find below the official English summary of the Pope's catechesis: In our continuing catechesis, we now consider God’s mercy as the driving force of Christian hope.  When Jesus forgives the sinful woman, his action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of the time.  Instead of rejecting sinners, Jesus embraces them, those who are outcast, “untouchable”.  With a compassion that literally causes him to tremble in his depths, he reveals the merciful heart of God.  This astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy, and gives a sure foundation to our hope.  We who have experienced God’s forgiveness should avoid the danger of forgetting that this mercy was purchased at a great price: Christ’s death on the Cross.  Our Lord died not because he healed the sick, but because he did what only God can do: forgive sins.  This divine mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.  Our Lord, who rejects no one, graciously bestows upon us the mission to proclaim his mercy to the world. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends condolences for Nigeria church attack

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 23:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday sent a message of condolences following an attack at a Church in southeastern Nigeria. At least 11 people were killed and 18 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers who had gathered early on Sunday at St Philip’s Catholic church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha. In the message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the pope says he is “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury”. He extends his “heartfelt condolences” to the local bishop and to “all the faithful of the diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy.” Police said they believe the attack may have been linked to drug trafficking and was carried out following a feud between local residents and member of the community living outside Nigeria. Please see below the full text of the message from Pope Francis to the bishop of the diocese of Nnewi in Nigeria The Right Reverend Hilary Paul Odili Okeke Bishop of Nnewi Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack in Saint Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, His Holiness Pope Francis extends heartfelt condolences to you and to all the faithful of the Diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy. Upon the entire Diocese, His Holiness willingly invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.                                                                  Cardinal Pietro Parolin                                                                 Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends video message to Church in Peru

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 18:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to Catholics in Peru, ahead of his planned pastoral visit there next January . The short video message was published on the website of the archdiocese of Lima by Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne. Listen to our report:  In the message Pope Francis talks about the wealth of human resources that characterize the past and present of the Church in the South American nation. Peru has many great saints, he says, who have contributed to the building up of the Church, helping it to move from fragmentation to unity. Saints work for unity A saint, the pope continues, is someone who always work to create unity, just as Jesus did, and a saint must always follow in his footsteps. In the video the pope invites all Peruvians to follow on this path and to work for unity, looking to the future with hope, rather than with bitterness or skepticism. A Christian always looks ahead with hope, he concludes, because he or she always hopes to see the realization of what the Lord has promised. Pope to visit Chile and Peru Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to Chile and Peru from January 15th to 21st, visiting the Peruvian cities of Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo, as well as the capital Lima. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis prays at tomb of Pope Paul VI

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 16:12
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday prayed at the tomb of Blessed Pope Paul VI on the 39th anniversary of his death. Blessed Paul VI is buried in the Vatican in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica. He was beatified by Pope Francis on 19 October 2014, and his liturgical feast is celebrated on the day of his birth (26 September). Born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini in 1897, he became Pope on 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978.  Upon succeeding Pope St. John XXIII, he reigned over the Second Vatican Council until its close in 1965 and implemented its reforms, also fostering improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians. Click here to find out more about the papacy of Paul VI in our feature programme on his life and legacy. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends message to Asian Youth Day 2017 in Indonesia

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 15:53
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a message to the 7th Asian Youth Day which took place in Indonesia, saying he prays that the young people of Asia "respond with faith and courage to their vocation". In the message, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope greeted the young people of Asia gathered in Yogyakarta with "prayerful best wishes" as the event came to a close on Sunday. Pope Francis invited them "to look to the Mother of the Lord as a model of missionary discipleship, to speak to her as they would to a mother, and to trust always in her loving intercession." "In this way, as they seek to follow Christ Jesus more closely, they too, like the young woman of Nazareth, can truly 'improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history'". Finally, the Holy Father imparted his Apostolic Blessing "as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord." Please find below the full message: His Holiness Pope Francis sends warm greetings and prayerful best wishes to all gathered in Yogyakarta for the seventh Asian Youth Day.  He prays that young people from across Asia will listen ever more attentively to God’s call and respond with faith and courage to their vocation.  As they prepare for the next World Youth Day, His Holiness invites them to look to the Mother of the Lord as a model of missionary discipleship, to speak to her as they would to a mother, and to trust always in her loving intercession.  In this way, as they seek to follow Christ Jesus more closely, they too, like the young woman of Nazareth, can truly “improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history” (Message to Young People, 21 March 2017).  Entrusting all the youth and their families to the maternal intercession of Our Lady, Pope Francis gladly imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord. Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope reflects on Transfiguration, summer vacation at Angelus

Sun, 08/06/2017 - 18:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis focused his Angelus reflection on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which is celebrated each year on 6 August. “The event of the Transfiguration of the Lord,” he said, “offers us a message of hope: it invites us to encounter Jesus, to be at the service of our brothers.” The disciples’ journey to Mount Tabor, he continued, helps us “to reflect on the importance of detaching ourselves from worldly things, in order to complete our journey to the heights and to contemplate Jesus.” This involves conforming ourselves to Christ’s attitude of "attentive listening and prayer,” which allows us to welcome the Word of God into our lives. Summer time, the Pope said, can be a providential moment to grow in our commitment to seek after and encounter the Lord. “In this period, students are free from their scholastic commitments, and many families take their vacations; it is important that in the period of rest and of detachment from daily occupations, the strength of the body and of the spirit can be restored, deepening the spiritual journey.” These spiritual heights, though, are not an end in themselves. Following the experience of the Transfiguration, the disciples came down from the mountain with “eyes and hearts transfigured by the experience of the Lord." Pope Francis said that we too can “come down from the mountain, recharged by the power of the divine Spirit, to decide on new steps of authentic conversion, and to constantly bear witness to charity as the law of daily life.” This transfiguration will allow us to be “sign of the life-giving love of God” for all, especially those who suffer. In the Transfiguration, the Pope said, we hear the voice of the Father saying, “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Pope Francis encouraged us to look to Mary, “the Virgin of Listening,” and pray that she might help us “to enter into symphony with the Word of God, that Christ might become the light and the guide of our lives.” He concluded his reflection by entrusting everyone’s vacations to God, and by praying for all those who are unable to take vacations, that summer may be for them, too, a time of relaxation, “gladdened by the presence of friends and joyful moments.”     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends condolences on death of Card. Tettamanzi

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 21:30
(Vatican Radio) Following the death of Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi , Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolence to A rchbishop Mario Delpini , Archbishop-elect of Milan. “I think with affection and remember with gratitude the intense cultural and pastoral work accomplished by this praiseworthy brother, who in his fruitful life has borne witness with joy to the Gospel, and docilely served the Church,” the Pope said. He remembered Cardinal Tettamanzi’s service “first as a priest of the Archdiocese of Milan, then as Bishop of Ancona-Osimo, secretary of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, and Archbishop of Genoa, later as Archbishop of the beloved Ambrosian Church, and finally as Apostolic Administrator of Vigevano.” Cardinal Tettamanzi, Pope Francis said, “always distinguished himself as a caring pastor, totally dedicated to the needs and well-being” of his priests and people. In particular, he noted the Cardinal’s expertise in the fields of family , marriage , and bioethics . Concluding the telegram, Pope Francis prayed “that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” the Lord “might welcome this His faithful servant, whom I loved so much, into joy and eternal peace.”  (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi dies at age of 83

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 18:08
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi passed away on Saturday at the age of 83 after a long illness. He served as Archbishop of Milan, Italy from 2002 until 2011. Born in the northern Italian town of Renate on 14 March 1934, he entered the Seminary of Venegono Inferiore and received priestly ordination for the Archdiocese of Milan in 1957. He earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Pope St. John Paul II named him Cardinal on 21 February 1998. After serving as the Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo and then of Genova, he was appointed Archbishop of Milan in 2002. With Cardinal Tettamanzi’s death, the College of Cardinals stands at 121 Cardinal-electors and 102 non-electors. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends letter to papal envoy at Oscar Romero centenary

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 17:06
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to his special envoy at the centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, Cardinal Andrello Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago de Chile. Cardinal Ezzati was chosen to represent Pope Francis at the centenary celebrations in San Salvador, El Salvador, which take place on 15 August. He will be accompanied at the event by Msgr. Rafael Edgardo Urrutia Herrera, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, and Don Reinaldo Sorto Martìnez, parish priest of San José de la Montaña. Click here to find out more about Blessed Romero. Please find the full letter (in Latin) below: Venerabili Fratri Nostro RICHARDO S .R.E. Cardinali EZZATI ANDRELLO , S.D.B. Archiepiscopo Metropolitae Sancti Iacobi in Chile Centum mox anni complentur ab ortu beati Ansgarii Arnolfi Romero, episcopi et martyris, illustris pastoris et testis Evangelii, clari defensoris Ecclesiae et dignitatis hominis. Dilectae terrae Salvatoriae filius gentibus aetatis nostrae de salvifica opera Domini nostri Iesu Christi loquitur eiusque amore erga omnes, potissimum pauperes, derelictos et a societate segregatos. Tum in sacerdotali tum in episcopali navitate singularem progressionem spiritalem ostendit atque iustitiam, reconciliationem et pacem propagavit. Nos, qui ei beatorum honores decrevimus, laeto omnino animo notitiam accepimus Episcopos Salvatoriae simul cum clero fidelique populo in urbe Sancti Salvatoris in America die XV proximi mensis Augusti, in Assumptione videlicet Beatae Mariae Virginis, centesimam anniversariam memoriam ortus beati Ansgarii Arnolfi celebraturos esse, ad sibi suisque fidelibus divina dona per intercessionem huius martyris exposcendum. Fausta hac occasione data, sacri Pastores Salvatoriae in Conferentia mense Ianuario huius anni congregati humanissime Nosmet Ipsos invitaverunt ut sollemni huic celebrationi praeessemus. Grati omnino de invitatione, aliquem tamen eminentem decrevimus Virum seligere, qui Nostras vices in dicta urbe gerat. Ad Te quidem, Venerabilis Frater Noster, decurrimus, qui Metropolitanam Sedem Sancti Iacobi in Chile per Evangelii semitas diligenter ducis quique dignus Nobis videris ad id munus fructuose explendum. Te igitur hisce Litteris MISSUM EXTRAORDINARIUM NOSTRUM nominamus ad celebrationem centesimae anniversariae memoriae ortus beati Ansgarii Arnolfi Romero, episcopi et martyris, quae illo die in urbe Sancti Salvatoris in America sollemni modo agetur. De pondere vitae testimoniique beati loquens, omnes adstantes adhortaberis ut praecepta Domini servent, novis viribus novaque diligentia peculiarem dilectionem Christi Ecclesiae et Evangelii, Beata Maria Virgine intercedente, demonstrent atque (idei zelo in vita cotidiana ferveant, iustam et nobilem societatem aedificantes. Rogamus Te etiam ut nomine Nostro omnes ibi congregatos salutes, Archiepiscopum praesertim Sancti Salvatoris in America ceterosque sacros Pastores, sacerdotes, religiosos viros ac mulieres, christifideles laicos, vicissim Nostram cum beati cultoribus necessitudinem significes. Nos autem Te, Venerabilis Frater Noster, in tua missione implenda precibus comitabimur. Denique Benedictionem Nostram Apostolicam libentes Tibi impertimur, signum Nostrae erga te benevolentiae et caelestium donorum pignus, quam omnibus celebrationis participibus velis transmittere; a cunctis vicissim preces expostulamus, ut pergrave Petrinum munus secundum divinam voluntatem diligenter adimpleamus. Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die XVIII mensis Iulii, anno MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto. FRANCISCUS (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis' prayer intention for August: 'For artists'

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 23:09
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released a video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for August. This month’s intention is for artists: "That artists of our time, though their creativity, may help us discover the beauty of creation." The text of the video message reads: The arts give expression to the beauty of the faith and proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation. When we admire a work of art or a marvel of nature, we discover how everything speaks to us of Him and of His love. That artists of our time, though their creativity, may help us discover the beauty of creation. The Pope's  Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed the "Pope Video" initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican calls for suspension of Venezuela's Constituent Assembly

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 20:12
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Friday issued an urgent appeal to Venezuela’s leaders to suspend the new Constituent Assembly which, it says, is threatening the future of the South American nation. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  The strongly worded communique, issued by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, says Pope Francis is following closely the situation in Venezuela , where President Nicolas Maduro is headed towards a showdown with the opposition, as he pushes ahead with the inauguration of his new Assembly. The statement comes as the body's 545 delegates were expected to be installed at the legislative palace in the capital, Caracas, close to the chamber where the opposition-controlled National Assembly meets. Erosion of democracy The new Constituent Assembly has been tasked with rewriting the country's constitution and holds powers that override all other government branches. Opposition leaders have denounced the erosion of democracy and vowed they will only be removed by force. Over a hundred and twenty-five people have already been killed in over three months of violent anti-government protests. Respect rights enshrined in Constitution The Vatican statement expresses “profound concern for the radicalisation and worsening of the crisis”, including the increase in deaths, injuries and arrests of protesters. It calls on all the country’s politicians, in  particular, the government, to guarantee “full respect for human rights and basic freedoms, as well as for the existing Constitution”. Suspend Constituent Assembly It says initiatives such as the new Constituent Assembly should be “avoided or suspended” since they “foment a climate of tension and conflict” which “mortgages the future” of the country, rather than fostering reconciliation and peace. The statement calls for a negotiated solution, along the lines already indicated in a previous letter from the Secretary of State on December 1st 2016. These solutions must take into account “the serious suffering of the people”, due to a lack of security, as well as the shortages of food and medicine. Pray for Venezuela Finally the statement calls on all members of Venezuelan society, in particular the security forces, to avoid violence or an excessive use of force. It says the pope assures all Venezuelans of his prayers and invites people across the globe to pray intensely for the country at this moment of crisis. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends letter to interfaith prayer meeting in Japan

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 23:24
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to the 30th Prayer Meeting on Mount Hiei in Kyoto, Japan, inviting all religions to “pray and work together for peace”. “It is my pleasure to send my cordial greetings to you and to the distinguished representatives of the different religious traditions,” he wrote. The Pope’s letter was delivered and read to participants by Cardinal John Tong Hon, Bishop-emeritus of Hong Kong. It was addressed to Venerable Koei Morikawa, the Supreme Priest of the Tendai Buddhist Denomination, with whom Pope Francis met privately in the Vatican on September 16, 2016. “This annual religious summit contributes in a special way to the building up of that spirit of dialogue and friendship which allows the followers of the world’s religions to work together to open new paths for peace in our human family.” Pope Francis also said prayer “inspires and sustains our efforts for peace, because it helps to deepen our reciprocal respect for each other as persons, strengthens the bonds of love between us, and spurs us to make decisive efforts towards promoting just relations and fraternal solidarity.” The annual prayer meeting closes on 6 August in commemoration of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends greetings to Knights of Columbus

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 20:42
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent greetings to the Knights of Columbus on the occasion of their 135 th Supreme Convention , which concludes on Thursday in St Louis. The Pope’s message, conveyed in letter from the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin , says the theme of the Convention – “ Convinced of God’s Love and Power ” – points “to the secret source of all Christian life and mission: our conviction that God’s saving love, revealed in the death and resurrection of his Son and poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, impels us to share the Good News of salvation with every man and woman.” This conviction, it continues, “underlies all our enthusiasm for evangelization.” It is this experience of God’s love and power, Cardinal Parolin says, that led to the founding of the Knights of Columbus, and to their continued growth. Cardinal Parolin calls on the Knights, in the spirit of their founder, the Servant of God Father Michael McGivney , to respond generously to the call of Pope Francis to reject the mentality of the contemporary “culture of indifference,” and to commit themselves “to their properly lay vocation of striving for the sanctification of the world from within, by carrying out their daily responsibilities in the spirit of the Gospel and revealing Christ to others through the witness of their lives.” In particular, Cardinal Parolin says that Pope Francis “is especially appreciative of the unremitting efforts of the Knights of Columbus to defend and promote the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life,” noting that the Pope, following the lead of the 2015 Synod of Bishops, has linked the health of the family to the health of society as a whole. “The strengthening of sound family values and a renewed vision of our responsibility for the moral health of the greater community will contribute to overcoming the polarization and general coarsening of the social fabric that is an increasing source of concern even in the most prosperous of our societies.” Finally, Cardinal Parolin’s letter expresses the Holy Father’s gratitude for the Knights’ support of Christians in the Middle East who are suffering from violence and persecution. Below, please find the full text of Cardinal Parolin’s letter, addressed to the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Mr Carl A Anderson : Dear Mr. Anderson, His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn that from 1 to 3 August 2017, the 135th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will assemble in St. Louis, Missouri. He has asked me to convey his warm good wishes to all present, together with the assurance of his closeness in prayer. The theme of this year’s Convention – Convinced of God’s Love and Power – points to the secret source of all Christian life and mission: our conviction that God’s saving love, revealed in the death and resurrection of his Son and poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, impels us to share the Good News of salvation with every man and woman. It is precisely this “conviction” that underlies all our enthusiasm for evangelization, for “we have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint” ( Evangelii gaudium , 265). This same experience of God’s love and power, lived in the heart of the Church, led to the founding of the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal and charitable union of Catholic laymen, workers, husbands and fathers. The subsequent history of your Order demonstrates how a spirit of solidarity and mutual concern inspired by God’s love can grow, like the mustard seed in the parable (cf. Lk 13:19), into something immensely greater, contributing to the glory of God, the spread of his Kingdom, and the universal mission of the Church. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). Saint Paul’s question to the Romans expressed his own firm conviction that the infinite power of God’s love, revealed in the cross of Christ, prevails over every form of worldly evil. The Holy Father has often observed that in our own day a new world war is being fought piecemeal, as an ungodly thirst for power and domination, whether economic, political or military, is leading to untold violence, injustice and suffering in our human family. He has asked Christians everywhere, truly convinced of the infinite power of God’s love, to reject this mentality and to combat the growth of a global culture of indifference that discards the least of our brothers and sisters. In fidelity to the vision of the Servant of God Father Michael McGivney, may the Knights, in their families, their parishes and their local Councils, respond generously to this challenge, first and foremost by recommitting themselves to their properly lay vocation of striving for the sanctification of the world from within, by carrying out their daily responsibilities in the spirit of the Gospel and revealing Christ to others through the witness of their lives (cf. Lumen gentium , 31). In this way, they will help to lay solid foundations for the renewal of society as a whole, by working to change hearts and build peace, one person and one community at a time. His Holiness is especially appreciative of the unremitting efforts of the Knights of Columbus to defend and promote the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life. In his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia , echoing the concerns expressed by the 2015 Synod of Bishops, he linked healthy family life to the health of society as a whole, and emphasized the special task of education that, in God’s plan, is entrusted to Christian parents (cf. Nos. 274-279). It is in the family that we come to see that the larger world is also our home, in which we are called to live together, to learn closeness, care and respect for others, and to value the God-given gifts that each of us has to offer for the good of all. The strengthening of sound family values and a renewed vision of our responsibility for the moral health of the greater community will contribute to overcoming the polarization and general coarsening of the social fabric that is an increasing source of concern even in the most prosperous of our societies. Finally, and in a very particular way, Pope Francis has asked me to express his gratitude for the commitment of the Knights to supporting our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East in their witness of fidelity to the Lord, often borne at great personal cost. None of us can be blind to the sufferings of those whom fratricidal violence and religious fanaticism have left homeless or forced to flee their ancient homelands. The Knights of Columbus Refugee Relief Fund is an eloquent sign of your Order’s firm commitment to solidarity and communion with our fellow Christians. The Holy Father once more asks the Knights and their families to pray for those in need, for the conversion of hearts, and for an end to the spiral of violence, hatred and injustice in that region. With these sentiments, His Holiness commends the deliberations of the 135th Supreme Convention to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and assures the Knights and their families of a special remembrance in his prayers. With great affection he imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord. Yours sincerely, [Signature] Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)...

7th Asian Youth Day inaugurated with Mass in Yogyakarta ‎

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 22:28
(Vatican Radio)  The 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7) kicked off with a colourful concelebrated Mass Wednesday evening ‎in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in a colourful and festive show of unity around Christ and his Gospel ‎amidst the continent's diverse cultures and peoples. After four days of the preliminary ‘Days in the Dioceses’ (DID) live-in programme in 11 Indonesian ‎dioceses, July 30- August 2, the over 2000 young Catholics from 21 countries converged in Yogyakarta , the cultural ‎and intellectual heartland of Indonesia.  The 7th Asian Youth Day on the theme “ Joyful Asian Youth! ‎Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia ,” will conclude on Aug. 6. ‎ Youth participants had begun pouring in at Yogyakarta’s government facility, Jogja Expo Centre (JEC), ‎since early morning, August 2.  After lunch the various national contingents began celebrating with ‎songs and performances and shared their DID experiences of living with local families in dioceses, in ‎preparation for the Eucharistic celebration. The inaugural AYD7 Mass , that was streamed live by organizers, was presided over by Bangladeshi ‎ Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, chairman of the Office of Laity and Family of the Federation of ‎Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), under which comes the Youth Desk that organizes the AYD in ‎collaboration with the country’s bishops’ conference body and its youth commission.  Joining Card. ‎D’Rozario at the altar were 52 bishops, including 6 cardinals and 158 priests .  Among the concelebrants ‎were AYD host Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang, Indonesian bishops’ president, ‎Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta and President of Indonesian bishops’ Youth Commission, ‎Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang. ‎ Card. D’Rozario began his homily singing a few lines from the hymn, “Rejoice in the Lord always….” ‎setting the mood of his reflection on the theme of the AYD7– “Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel ‎in Multicultural Asia.”  The young people, many in traditional dress and country t-shirts and holding their ‎country flags, joined in with rhythmic clapping accompanied by the piano.  The cardinal explained that ‎the reason for their joy was that Jesus loves them, despite their unworthiness and sinfulness .   He said ‎when they feel sad or without joy, it is then that Jesus loves them most.  Jesus loves them by calling ‎them, choosing them and sending them out to mission, to proclaim His love,  mercy, compassion and ‎healing to others . Card. D’Rozario compared the AYD gathering to the Pentecost where people of diverse cultures, ‎languages, ethnic groups and nations of Asia were one in the Holy Spirit who manifests Himself in a ‎variety of gifts.   The Holy Spirit was inviting them all to celebrate  their oneness of faith, life and ‎mission at the WYD.  ‎ After dinner, the AYD7 was officially launched with a variety programme in which the participating countries showcased thier cultural richness.    (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to German soccer team: ‘Be athletes for peace’

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 21:55
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis met briefly with the managers and players of the German “Borussia Mönchengladbach” soccer team on Wednesday, inviting them to be “athletes for peace”. The Holy Father met with them ahead of his weekly General Audience . He thanked the team for the “friendly relations” built up through the years between the team and the Vatican Employees’ Athletic Association. The teams sometimes face off on the field in Rome and in Mönchengladbach. The Pope said the club “distinguishes itself by being a team ‘at the human level’, in a manner of speaking, and a team which promotes the family.” Pope Francis said he enjoyed seeing “how families live in your Borussia Park and how many athletic and educative initiatives are held to promote young people, in particular the less fortunate,” he said. Finally, the Pope invited those sportsmen present to “be athletes for good and for peace”. “I entrust you, your families, and all your loved ones to the Lord. May He ever accompany you with His blessing.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis at Audience: Remember the day of your Baptism

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 20:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday resumed his General Audiences, after they were suspended during the month of July for a summer break. The Holy Father once more took up the theme of Christian Hope, focusing on the Sacrament of Baptism, the Gateway of Hope. In his catechesis, Pope Francis spoke about several aspects of the Baptismal liturgy. The older form of Baptism anticipated catechumens making the first part of their profession of faith turned to the west. After rejecting Satan, they turned to the apse, toward the east, where the sun rises, and professed their faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In our times, the Pope said, we have lost our fascination with this rite; we have lost our “sensitivity to the language of the cosmos.” But we have retained the significance of the rite: To be a Christian means “to look to the light, to continue to make the profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped up in the night and in darkness”: Christians, he said, are not exempt from darkness. “They do not live outside the world, but through the grace of Christ received in Baptism, they are men and women who are ‘oriented’: they do not believe in darkness, but in the brightness of the day; they do not succumb to the night, but hope in the dawn; they are not defeated by death, but are yearning to rise again; they are not bent down by evil, because they trust always in the infinite possibilities of goodness. And this is our Christian hope.” The Pope also looked at the symbolism of the gift of a candle during the Baptism ceremony. The candle is lit from the Paschal candle, and recalls the Easter vigil liturgy when the light goes out from the Paschal candle to all the individual candles, and the whole Church is illuminated. The life of the Church, the Pope said – using a strong expression – is a kind of “contamination” by the light of Christ, which is spread from one to another. “The more of the light of Jesus that we have as Christians, the more of the light of Jesus there is in the life of the Church, and the more the Church lives.” Finally Pope Francis gave the faithful a kind of “homework assignment.” He asked those present to remember the day of their Baptism, “which is the date of your rebirth, it is the date of the light, it is the date in which…we were contaminated by the light of Christ.” “What a grace it is,” the Holy Father said in conclusion, “when a Christian truly becomes a ‘Christopher’,” a “bearer of Christ” in the world. “If we would be faithful to our Baptism, we would spread the light of hope – Baptism is the beginning of hope, that hope of God – and we would pass on to future generations reasons for life.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: weekly General Audience summary

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 17:04
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a General Audience on Wednesday, August 2nd, the first of his weekly appointments with pilgrims and tourists after their suspension for the month of July. The Holy Father continued his series of catechetical reflections on Christian hope, this Wednesday focusing on the Sacrament of Baptism, which he described as the “gateway to hope”. Below, please find the full text of the English-language summary of his prepared remarks, which was read after the main catechesis. *********************** Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now consider the sacrament of baptism as the gate to eternal life. In the early Church, those about to be baptized made their profession of faith facing eastward, seeing the rising sun as a symbol of Christ. Even if our modern world has lost contact with such cosmic imagery, this symbolism retains its power. For what does it mean to be Christian, but to confess our faith in the light, a light that casts out gloom and darkness? In putting on Christ at baptism we become children of light. This light gives us new hope, helps us to know God as Father, and enables us to recognize Jesus in the weakest and poorest. When we were baptized we received a candle that was lit from the Paschal Candle, as a sign of Christ’s victory over the darkness of sin and death. This is also a sign of the life of the Church: to be ablaze with this new light! As Christians, let us remind each other that we have been reborn as children of the light, and, faithful to our baptismal calling, let us share the new hope that Jesus brings. Greetings: I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Japan, Nigeria, Iraq and the United States of America. I am especially pleased to welcome the pilgrims from the Chaldean Patriarchate, accompanied by Bishop Shlemon Warduni. Upon all of you, I invoke the grace of the Lord Jesus, that you may be a sign of Christian hope in your homes and communities.  May God bless you! (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican releases message for World Tourism Day 2017

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 22:20
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, has released a message for World Tourism Day 2017, which will be held on 27 September. The theme chosen for this year is: “Sustainable tourism: a tool for development”. We bring you the official English-language version below: “Sustainable Tourism – a tool for development” 1. On the annual occasion of World Tourism Day, celebrated every 27 September 2017, the Church joins civil society in addressing this phenomenon, in the conviction that every genuinely human activity must find its place in the hearts of Christ’s disciples [1]. For the first time, this message is issued by the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, as part of its mission. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Opportunely, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has followed in the same vein by choosing Sustainable Tourism: a tool for development as the theme for this year’s Day. 2. When we say tourism, we are talking about a phenomenon of major importance, both in light of the number of people involved (travellers and workers) and for the many benefits that it can bring to society (economic, cultural and social), but also given the risks and dangers that it can create in many areas. According to the World Tourism Organization’s latest Barometer, for the year 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals is around 1.2 billion. Worldwide, the sector accounts for 10% of GDP and 7% of total exports, also considering that 1 out of 11 jobs are in tourism. It therefore occupies an important place in the economies of individual states and in policies that focus on inclusive development and environmental sustainability globally. 3. Tourism can be an important tool for growth and the fight against poverty. Nevertheless, according to the Church’s social doctrine, true development “cannot be restricted to economic growth alone”. In fact, “to be authentic, it must be well rounded”; that is, “it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man”, as the Encyclical Populorum progressio [2] notes. In this regard, Paul VI stressed the need to promote a “full-bodied humanism”, including the material and spiritual needs for the full development of each person in dignity [3]. Twenty years later, in 1987, the UN introduced the concept of sustainable development as a development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” [4]. For the Church, the concept of integrality, when connected to the expression human development, also includes the United Nations’ idea of sustainability, and embraces all aspects of life: social, economic, political, cultural, and spiritual, making them elements in a single synthesis, the human person. The UNWTO has applied these ideas to promoting sustainable tourism [5]. This means that it must be responsible, and not destructive or detrimental to the environment nor to the socio-cultural context of the locality. Moreover, it must be particularly respectful of the population and their heritage, with a view to safeguarding personal dignity and labour rights, especially those of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Holiday time cannot be a pretext either for irresponsibility or for exploitation: in fact, it is a noble time in which everyone can add value to one’s own life and that of others. Sustainable tourism is also a development tool for economies in difficulty if it becomes a vehicle of new opportunities and not a source of problems. In its 2017 Resolution, the United Nations recognizes “the important role of sustainable tourism as a positive instrument towards the eradication of poverty, the protection of the environment, the improvement of quality of life and the economic empowerment of women and youth and its contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development, especially in developing countries” [6]. In this sense, three dimensions of sustainability are promoted: the ecological, aiming for the maintenance of ecosystems; the social, which develops in harmony with the host community; and the economic, which stimulates inclusive growth. In the context of Agenda 2030, this International Year is therefore an opportunity to encourage governments to adopt appropriate policies, the industry to embrace good practice, and to raise awareness among consumers and local people, highlighting how an integral conception of tourism can contribute to sustainable development. 4. Conscious that “in all her being and actions, the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel” [7], we Christians want to offer our contribution so that tourism can assist in the development of peoples, especially the most disadvantaged. We therefore propose our reflection. We recognize God as the creator of the universe and father of all human beings, and He who makes us brothers. We must put the human person as the focus of our attention; we recognize the dignity of each person and the relationships among persons; we must share the principle of the common destiny of the human family and the universal destination of earthly goods. The human being acts not as a master, but as a “responsible steward” [8]. In acknowledging each other as brothers, we will understand “the principle of gratuitousness and the logic of gift” [9] and our duties of solidarity, justice and universal charity [10]. We now ask ourselves: how can these principles be practically applied to the development of tourism? What are the consequences for tourists, entrepreneurs, workers, governors, and local communities? It is an open reflection. We invite all those involved in the sector to engage in serious discernment and to promote practices towards attaining this, accompanying behaviours and lifestyle changes towards a new way of relating to each other. The Church is making its own contribution, launching initiatives that really place tourism in the service of the integral development of the person. This is why we talk about tourism with a human touch, which is based on projects of community tourism, cooperation, solidarity, and an appreciation of the great artistic heritage which is an authentic way of beauty [11]. In his address to the United Nations, Pope Francis stated: “The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman [...]. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature”[12]. May we live out our commitment in the light of these words and these intentions! Vatican City, 29 June 2017 Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson Prefect ________________________________________ [1] Council II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 7 December 1965, no. 1. [2] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum progressio, 26 March 1967, no. 14. [3] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum progressio, 26 March 1967, no. 42. [4] World Commission On Environment and Development, Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland Report), August 1987. This Commission was created by the UN General Assembly in 1983. [5] World Tourism Organisation, The Hague Declaration on Tourism, 10-14 April 1989, Principle III. [6] United Nations Organization, Resolution A/RES/70/193 approved by the General Assembly on 22 December 2015. [7] Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter Humanam progressionem in the form of a ‘Motu Proprio’, with which the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development was established, 17 August 2016. [8] Pope Francis, Encyclical Laudato si’, 24 May 2015, no. 116. [9] Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 29 June 2009, no. 36. [10] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum progressio, 26 March 1967, no. 44. [11] Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24 November 2013, no. 167. [12] Pope Francis, Address to the members of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 25 September 2015. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends message to Brazilian youth meeting in Aparecida

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 21:43
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a message to the National Youth Meeting at the Sanctuary of Aparecida in Brazil, inviting young people to turn their lives into leaven for a better Brazilian society. His message came at the conclusion of the “Rota” (Way) 300 project, which closed on July 29 with a large celebration at the sanctuary. The initiative celebrated 300 years since the discovery of the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida in the Paraiba do Sul River. Listen to our report: Pope Francis told the young people that Mary is a sign of hope and that she knows the difficulties awaiting young people. He also encouraged them to live with a missionary spirit. “Dear friends, in the midst of daily uncertainties and insecurities and in the midst of the precariousness created by unjust situations, you have one certainty. Mary is a sign of hope who will impel you with a great missionary drive. She knows the difficulties with which you live. Her attention and motherly care help you know that you are not alone.” The Holy Father also recalled the Brazilian story of the poor fishermen, who, after an unfruitful fishing expedition in the Paraiba do Sul River, cast their nets one more time and discovered to their surprise a broken statue of Our Lady, encrusted with mud. They first found the statue's body and then its head. “As I told the Brazilian bishops in 2013, this story holds an important symbolism. What was divided has been reunited, just like the heart of those fishermen and colonial Brazil once divided by slavery, realities which found unity in the faith, which the black statue of Our Lady has inspired.” Pope Francis then invited the young people to let their hearts be transformed by the encounter with the Mother of Aparecida. “May she transform the ‘nets’ of your lives – nets of friendship, social networks, material and virtual nets – realities which are often divided, into something more meaningful. May they become communities! Missionary communities ‘going out into the world’! Communities which are light and leaven for a more just and fraternal society.” The Pope also recalled his message to the CELAM Meeting earlier this year, asking young people “not to be afraid to take risks and to work to build a new society, imbuing social, political, economic, and university environs with the force of the Gospel!” “Do not be afraid to fight corruption, and do not let yourselves be seduced by it! Trusting in the Lord, whose presence is the source of abundant life, and under Mary’s mantle, you can rediscover the creativity and strength of being protagonists for a culture of unity and, therefore, create new paradigms to guide the life of Brazil.” Pope Francis concluded his message with a prayer. “May Our Lady – who in her youth knew how to courageously embrace the call of God for her life and go forth to those most in need – walk ahead of you, guiding you in all her ways!” (from Vatican Radio)...

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