Pope Francis: ‘I don’t know whether I will be in Panama’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has told young people that he doesn’t know whether he will still be around for the next World Youth Day, “but Peter certainly will”.

In the last address of his 5-day visit to Poland as he thanked World Youth Day volunteers for their hard work, the Pope handed over his prepared remarks and spoke off-the-cuff, touching on a number of questions.

He reminded the young people that if they want to represent hope for the future they must remember their origins.

“I must ask myself where I come from… the memory of my people, the memory of my family, and the memory of my history. […] The memory of a path that has already been trodden and all that we have received from adults. A young person with no memory cannot be a beacon of hope for the future” he said.

And the Pope invited all young people to speak and to listen to their parents,  to their grandparents and to elderly people in general whom – he said – represent the wisdom of a people.

Another necessary condition if you want to be a beacon of hope for the future, the Pope said, is to live the present with courage, ‘not to be afraid’.

He said these two requisites: ‘memory and courage’ are necessary for your presence at the next World Youth Day in Panama.

“I don’t know whether I will be in Panama, but I can assure you that Peter will be!” he said.

And, the Pope concluded: “Peter will ask you if you have conversed with your grandparents and with elder people to acquire memory; he will ask you if you have had the courage and the audacity to live the present; he will want to know whether you have sown seeds for the future”.

           

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis says a surprise ‘Do Widzenia’ before leaving

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said a ‘surprise’ goodbye to the people of Poland on Sunday evening before departing from Krakow at the end of his 5-day apostolic journey.

Appearing unexpectedly at the balcony of the Archbishop’s House for the fourth time in the past five days, the Pope had words of thanks and farewell to the many, especially young people, gathered in the Square below.

Speaking Spanish, Pope Francis thanked everyone for the ‘warm welcome’ received and for the ‘good company’!

He asked those present not to forget to pray for him and recited Our Lady’s prayer before blessing the crowd which he left with a final “Do Widzenia!”.

Pope Francis then travelled to Krakow International Airport where he met privately for a short while with the President of Poland before boarding Poland’s LOT Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane bringing him home at the end of an official farewell ceremony.

The Pope arrives back in the Vatican on Sunday evening at the conclusion of his 15th Apostolic Journey abroad.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis thanks WYD volunteers: full text of prepared remarks

(Vatican Radio) As World Youth Day 2016 drew to a close, Pope Francis greeted volunteers whose hard work made the event such a resounding success.

“Before returning to Rome,” he said, “I wanted to meet you and to thank each of you for your commitment, generosity and dedication in guiding, helping and serving the thousands of young pilgrims. Thank you too for your witness of faith that, together with that of so many young people from every part of the world, is a great sign of hope for the Church and the world.”

Pope Francis read only the first few lines of his speech, before speaking to the volunteers “off-the-cuff”. The full text of the Pope’s prepared remarks, which was made available to the volunteers in translation, can be found below: 

 

Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis
to the World Youth Day Volunteers

Krakow, 31 July 2016

 

Before returning to Rome, I wanted to meet you and to thank each of you for your commitment, generosity and dedication in guiding, helping and serving the thousands of young pilgrims. Thank you too for your witness of faith that, together with that of so many young people from every part of the world, is a great sign of hope for the Church and the world.  By giving of yourselves for love of Christ, you have experienced the beauty of commitment to a noble cause.  You have also seen how enriching it is to join with so many friends of both sexes in a project that, while tiring, repays your efforts with joy and a wealth of new knowledge and openness to Jesus, to our neighbours, and to important life decisions.

As an expression of my gratitude, I would like to share with you a gift offered us by the Virgin Mary, who has today come to visit us in the miraculous image of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, so dear to the heart of Saint John Paul II.  In the Gospel mystery of the Visitation (cf. Lk 1:39-45), we can see an icon of all Christian volunteer work.  I would take three attitudes shown by Mary and leave them to you as an aid to interpreting the experience of these days and an inspiration for your future commitment to service.  These three attitudes are listening, deciding and acting.

First, listening.  Mary sets out after hearing the word of the angel: “Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son…” (Lk 1:36).  Mary knows how to listen to God.  It is not simply about hearing, but about listening attentively and receptively, and being ready to help.  Think of how many times we come before the Lord or other people, but fail to really listen.  Mary also listens to events, to things that happen in life.  She is attentive to practical realities; she does not stop at the surface, but seeks to grasp their meaning.  Mary knew that Elizabeth, now elderly, was expecting a child.  She saw in this the hand of God, a sign of his mercy. The same thing also happens in our own lives.  The Lord stands at the door and knocks in any number of ways; he posts signs along our path and he calls us to read them in the light of the Gospel.

The second attitude we see in Mary is deciding.  Mary listens and reflects, but she also knows how to take a step forward: she is decisive.  This was the case with the fundamental decision of her life: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).  So too, at the wedding feast of Cana, when Mary sees the problem, she decides to speak to Jesus and ask him to do something: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).  In life, it is often hard to make decisions.  We tend to postpone them, even allowing others decide in our place, or else we let ourselves be dragged along by the course of events and to follow the “trend” of the moment.  At times, we know well what we have to do, but we lack the courage to do it, since we think it is too difficult to go against the grain…  Mary is not afraid to go against the grain.  With a steadfast heart she listens and decides, accepting the risks, never on her own, but with God!

Finally, acting.  Mary set out on her journey and “went with haste…” (Lk 1:39).  Despite the hardships and the criticisms she may have heard, she didn’t hesitate or delay, but “went with haste”, because she had the strength of God’s Word within her.  Her way of acting was full of charity, full of love: this is the mark of God.  Mary went to Elizabeth not to have other people praise her, but to be helpful, useful, in her service.  And in setting out from her home, from herself, with love, she brought along the most precious thing she possessed: Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord.  Elizabeth realizes this immediately: “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (Lk 1:43).  The Holy Spirit awakens faith and joy within her: “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk 1:44).

In volunteer work too, every act of service we provide, even the most simple, is important.  Ultimately, it is an expression of openness to the presence of Jesus.  It makes us experience the love from on high that set us on our way and fills us with joy.  World Youth Day volunteers are not only a “workers”, but evangelizers, because the Church exists and serves to evangelize.

Once Mary had finished assisting Elizabeth, she went back home to Nazareth.  Quietly and with no fuss, she left in the same way that she came.  You too, dear volunteers, will not see all the fruits of your work here in Krakow or during the “twinnings”.  Your brothers and sisters whom you served will see them in their lives and rejoice in them.  That is the “gratuitousness” of love!  Yet God knows your dedication, your commitment and your generosity.  You can be sure that he will not fail to repay you for everything you have done for this Church of the young assembled in these days in Krakow with the Successor of Peter.  I commend you to God and to the word of his grace (cf. Acts 20:32).  I entrust you to Mary, our Mother, model of all Christian volunteer service.  And I ask you, please, to remember to pray for me.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis at Angelus: Panama to host WYD 2019

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday announced that Panama is to host the 2019 edition of World Youth Day. He made the announcement at the conclusion of the closing Mass for WYD Krakow 2016, just ahead of the Angelus prayer.

The full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks, including the announcement, can be found below

******************************************************

At the conclusion of this celebration, I join all of you in thanking God, the Father of infinite mercy, for allowing us to experience this World Youth Day.  I thank Cardinal Dziwisz and Cardinal Ryłko for their kind words and especially for the work and prayer with which they have prepared for this event.  I also thank all those who have contributed to its successful outcome.  Also, a big word of thanks goes to you, dear young people!  You filled Krakow with the contagious enthusiasm of your faith.  Saint John Paul II has rejoiced from heaven, and he will help you spread the joy of the Gospel everywhere.

In these days, we have experienced the beauty of our universal fraternity in Christ, the centre and hope of our lives.  We have heard his voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd who dwells in our midst.  He has spoken to each of you in your heart.  He has renewed you by his love and he has shown you the light of his forgiveness, the power of his grace.  He has made you experience the reality of prayer.  These days have given you a spiritual “breath of fresh air” that will help you live lives of mercy once you return to your own countries and communities.

Here, beside the altar, is the image of the Virgin Mary venerated by Saint John Paul II in the shrine of Kalwaria.  Mary, our Mother, teaches us how we can make our experience here in Poland be productive.  She tells us to do what she did: not to squander the gift you have received, but to treasure it in your heart so it can grow and bear fruit, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  In this way, each of you, for all your limitations and failings, can be a witness to Christ wherever you live: at home, in your parishes, in your associations and groups, and your places of study, work, service, entertainment… wherever God’s providence will lead you.

 God’s providence is always one step ahead of us.  Think: it has already determined the next stop in this great pilgrimage begun in 1985 by Saint John Paul II!  So now I am happy to announce that the next World Youth Day – after the two that will be held on the diocesan level – will take place in 2019 in Panama.

Trusting in the intercession of Mary, let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and sustain the journey of young people in the Church and in the world, and make you disciples and witnesses to God’s mercy.

           

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis: WYD Krakow 2016 final Mass homily (full text)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday – World Youth Day – for a crowd of pilgrim faithful estimated at upward of one million people. The theme of the Holy Father’s remarks to the gathered youth was how to overcome obstacles to building a real relationship with Jesus – whether they be obstacles that arise in one’s own soul or obstacles one will inevitably encounter in the world and in society. 

Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks
**********************************************************
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass for World Youth Day
Krakow, Campus Misericordiae, 31 July 2016

Dear young people, you have come to Krakow to meet Jesus. Today’s Gospel speaks to us of just such a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jericho (cf. Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, he passed through the city (v. 1).  In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that his life and our life can truly meet.

An amazing encounter then takes place, with Zacchaeus, the chief “publican” or tax collector. Zacchaeus was thus a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, someone who exploited his own people, someone who, because of his ill repute, could not even approach the Master. His encounter with Jesus changed his life, just as it has changed, and can daily still change, each of our lives.  But Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus. At least three of these can also say something to us.

The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn’t see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself.  For faith tells us that we are “children of God… that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God! 

That is our real “stature”, our spiritual identity: we are God’s beloved children, always. So you can see that not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me. God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you!  In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.

At times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher. At those times, it is good to realize that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love for us. The fact is, he loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always “cheering us on”; he is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries. But such brooding is unworthy of our spiritual stature! It is a kind of virus infecting and blocking everything; it closes doors and prevents us from getting up and starting over.  God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful!  He believes that we can always get up, and he hates to see us glum and gloomy. Because we are always his beloved sons and daughters. Let us be mindful of this at the dawn of each new day.  It will do us good to pray every morning: “Lord, I thank you for loving me; help me to be in love with my own life!” Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.

Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle – on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was public figure, a man of power. He knew that, in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughingstock to all.  Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing. Something similar took place in the heart of Zacchaeus, when he realized that Jesus was so important that he would do anything for him, since Jesus alone could pull him out of the mire of sin and discontent. The paralysis of shame did not have the upper hand. The Gospel tells us that Zacchaeus “ran ahead”, “climbed” the tree, and then, when Jesus called him, he “hurried down” (vv. 4, 6). He took a risk, he put his life on the line. For us too, this is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life – we can’t respond by thinking about it or “texting” a few words!

Dear young friends, don’t be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him! Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm “no” to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.

After his small stature and the paralysis of shame, there was a third obstacle that Zacchaeus had to face.  It was no longer an interior one, but was all around him. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticized him: How could Jesus have entered his house, the house of a sinner!  How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a “God who is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4)! People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!

That day the crowd judged Zacchaeus; they looked him over, up and down. But Jesus did otherwise: he gazed up at him (v. 5). Jesus looks beyond the faults and sees the person. He does not halt before bygone evil, but sees future good. His gaze remains constant, even when it is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion.  In no case does it halt at appearances, but looks to the heart. With this gaze of Jesus, you can help bring about another humanity, without looking for acknowledgement but seeking goodness for its own sake, content to maintain a pure heart and to fight peaceably for honesty and justice. Don’t stop at the surface of things; distrust the worldly cult of appearances, cosmetic attempts to improve our looks. Instead, “download” the best “link” of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary. The joy that you have freely received from God, freely give away (cf. Mt 10:8): so many people are waiting for it!

Finally let us listen to the words that Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, which to be seem meant for us today: “Come down, for I must stay at your house today” (v. 5).  Jesus extends the same invitation to you: “I must stay at your house today”. We can say that World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on. The Lord doesn’t want to remain in this beautiful city, or in cherished memories alone. He wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams. How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer! How much he hopes that, in all the “contacts” and “chats” of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer! How much he wants his word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life!

In asking to come to your house, Jesus calls you, as he did Zacchaeus, by name. Your name is precious to him. The name “Zacchaeus” would have made people back the think of the remembrance of God. Trust the memory of God: his memory is not a “hard disk” that “saves” and “archives” all our data, but a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in “erasing” in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days. In silence, let us remember this encounter, let us preserve the memory of the presence of God and his word, and let us listen once more to the voice of Jesus as he calls us by name. So let us now pray silently, remembering and thanking the Lord wanted us to be here and has come here to meet us.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope WYD Vigil: Leave your mark on the world

(Vatican Radio) From early on Saturday morning, World Youth Day pilgrims caught trams and buses from central Krakow to bring them as close as possible to the Campus Misericordiae. From there, they walked a further four kilometres to get to these grounds in order to be with the Holy Father at this ever popular vigil. Some of them carried mats to lie on for the long evening ahead, while others made sure they had food supplies to the ready. Under the searing heat of the sun pilgrims protected themselves with hats and sunglasses. There were also sprinkler systems dousing the young people with water and the voice of a loud speaker advised the mass of youth to take advantage of the zones for bottled water.

Once inside, the many thousands of young people in the camp joyously waved flags and sang songs, and when the Pope arrived, this field of pilgrims erupted with cheers.

One of the highlights of this vigil was when the Holy Father walked hand in hand with young representatives from 5 continents through an especially constructed Holy Door made from ribbons and wood which read, Jesus, I trust in You.

Then to their delight and their surprise the group joined Pope Francis in the Pope mobile making their way to the especially constructed alter, a replica of that in Blonia Park.

In the second of 5 themed scenes, a video entitled, “hope to those discouraged” showed different images of suffering in the world, beginning with the bombing of the twin towers on 9/11.

Also, during this scene a girl from Aleppo in Syria spoke just yards away from Pope Francis about the suffering in her country and the pain of her Christian compatriots. But she said, she and her colleagues at the Don Bosco centre in the city saw the presence of God in those who came there.

In another scene, “to forgive those who have done wrong”, the Holy Father and pilgrims watched a re-enactment of St John Paul’s prison visit to forgive the man who had made an attempt on his life.

When the Pope took to the podium, he told the over 1 million young people present, “we have no desire to conquer hatred with more hatred, violence with more violence, terror with more terror.  We are here today because the Lord has called us together.  Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, its name is family.”

He also encouraged them to place before the Lord their own “battles”, “the interior struggles that each of you carries in his or her heart” and to build bridges of brotherhood.

Reinforcing the remarks of earlier this week, the Pope said to the pilgrims, “we didn’t come into this world to “vegetate”, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on.  No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark.” 

God comes to break down all our fences, the Pope said.  He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams…”

After a long period of reflection and prayer in front of the Blessed Eucharist, Pope Francis departed Campus Misericordiae in candlelight, leaving the youth of the world to continue that experience of fraternity and communion with music and song well into the night.

With Pope Francis in Krakow, I’m Lydia O’Kane

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis visits Jesuit House in Krakow

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis paid a previously unannounced visit to the Jesuit House in Krakow on Saturday and urged them to look outwards and not just be concerned with abstract ideas. The Pope spent about 40 minutes with the Jesuits in an informal encounter where they chatted and he answered a number of question but said he had no desire to make a speech. Around 30 Jesuits were present for the encounter including the Provincials.  

The visit was not included in the Pope’s official programme during his stay in Krakow.  However, Father Antonio Spadaro, Director of the Jesuit magazine Civilita Cattolica who was present for the meeting, said such visits have become almost a regular habit during the Pope’s pastoral journeys abroad.

Father Spadaro described the encounter as very cheerful, relaxed and informal.  Asked about the Jesuits’ work with the world of culture especially at universities, Pope Francis said their work in this field “must be outward looking” and not only concerned with abstract concepts and ideas. He urged them to be very close to all those “who are marginalized” and stay far away from “a libertarian ideology that puts money at the centre rather than the human person.” 

Turning to the work of priests, Pope Francis said that nowadays “there is a risk that a priest who has not received a good formation is either ‘too white or too black’ and acts by simply applying the rules in a mechanical fashion.”  Instead, he stressed, “discernment is important” and should be at the heart of pastoral life. The Pope said for this reason it is necessary to help priests and seminarians with their spiritual discernment and this should be “one of the main tasks of the Society of Jesus nowadays.”  

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis venerates relics of martyrs in Franciscan church

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the Church of St. Francis in Krakow on Saturday to venerate the relics housed there of two Polish Franciscan martyrs, Zbigniew Strzalkowski and Michal Tomaszek. They were killed by the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas in Peru in 1991 and were beatified in 2015, together with the Italian priest Don Alessandro Dordi from the diocese of Bergamo. Several relatives of the martyrs were present together with the Superior General of the Franciscans and the Superior of the Franciscan House in Peru where the two martyrs lived.

During his visit to the church, Pope Francis said the following prayer (in Italian).   

 

Please find below a translation into English of the Pope’s prayer:

 

“Prayer for peace and protection from violence and from terrorism”

O almighty and merciful God, Lord of the universe and of history. All that You have created is good and your compassion for the mistakes of mankind knows no limits.

We come to You today to ask You to keep in peace the world and its people, to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism, to restore friendship and instill in the hearts of your creatures the gift of trust and of readiness to forgive.

O Giver of life, we pray to You also for all those who have died as victims of brutal terrorist attacks. Grant them their eternal reward. May they intercede for the world that is torn apart by conflicts and disagreements.

O Jesus, Prince of Peace, we pray to You for the ones who have been wounded in these acts of inhuman violence: children and young people, old people and innocent people accidentally involved in evil. Heal their bodies and hearts; console them with Your strength and, at the same time, take away any hatred and a desire for revenge.

Holy Spirit Consoler, visit the families of the victims of terrorism, families that suffer through no fault of their own. Wrap them in the mantle of Your divine mercy. Make them find again in You and in themselves the strength and courage to continue to be brothers and sisters for others, above all for immigrants, giving witness to Your love by their lives.

Touch the hearts of terrorists so that they may recognize the evil of their actions and may turn to the way of peace and goodness, of respect for the life and for the dignity of every human being, regardless of religion, origin, wealth or poverty.

O God, Eternal Father, in Your mercy hear our prayer which we raise up to You amidst the deafening noise and desperation of the world. We turn to You with great hope, full of trust in Your infinite Mercy. Made strong by the examples of the blessed martyrs of Perú, Zbigniew and Michael, who have rendered courageous testimony to the Gospel, to the point of offering their blood, we entrust ourselves to the intercession of Your Most Holy Mother. We ask for the gift of peace and of the elimination from our midst of the sore of terrorism.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis has lunch with young pilgrims in Krakow

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday had lunch with a dozen young people serving as volunteers for World Youth Day in the Polish city of Krakow.

The private encounter took place in the residence of the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, following a morning Mass for priests and religious in the shrine dedicated to the Polish pope, Saint John Paul II.

The young men and women invited to join the Pope for lunch came from all the different continents and included representatives from New Zealand, Italy, Columbia, as well as the host nation, Poland. After the meal, they invited him to pose for a selfie with them as a souvenir of this very special occasion.

Each one of them was able to ask Pope Francis a question, to which he replied with the help of an interpreter. Speaking at a press conference after the meal, one of the volunteers said she asked him how he felt following his election to the pontificate in March 2013, to which he replied: “I felt a bit of peace, and I haven’t lost this peace.” Another young woman asked Francis for some advice and his answer was: “Don’t give up hope”, adding that it’s important for young people to be themselves “in these times, these crucial moments.”

After lunch, the Pope took some time to rest at the residence, ahead of a prayer vigil with young people in the Campus Misericordiae or Field of Mercy venue on the outskirts of Krakow. The venue contains two new charitable centres, a day care for the elderly and a storage building for food parcels donated by local parishes for those most in need. Both buildings were constructed as a permanent reminder of the theme for this year’s World Youth Day, taken from St Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’.

(from Vatican Radio)

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