Pope Francis gives interview to ‘homeless’ magazine

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has given a wide-ranging interview to an Italian magazine run by homeless persons. The interview was published on 28 February in the magazine called “Scarp de’ tenis” (“Sneakers”).

The magazine also functions as a social project, as most of the staff is homeless, suffers difficult personal situations or forms of social exclusion. For most contributors, the magazine is an important source of income. “Scarp de’ tenis” entered into partnership with the Italian arm of the Vatican’s charity organization, Caritas, in 2008.

In the interview, Pope Francis was asked to explain his recent initiatives for refugees, such as providing accommodation in the Vatican. In his reply, the Pope explained how the initiative to welcome the homeless had inspired parishes throughout Rome to join the effort.

“Here in the Vatican there are two parishes, and both are housing Syrian families. Many parishes in Rome have also opened their doors and others, which don’t have a house for priests, have offered to pay rent for families in need, for a full year” he said. 

Throughout the interview the Pope often referred to the idea of walking in each others shoes. According to the Pope, to walk in the other’s shoes is a way to escape our own egoism: “In the shoes of the other, we learn to have a great capacity for understanding, for getting to know difficult situations.” 

The Pope maintains that words alone are not enough, what is needed, he said, is the “Greatness” to walk in the shoes of the other: “How often I have met a person who, after having searched for Christian comfort, be they a layman, a priest, a sister or a bishop, they tell me ‘they listened to me, but didn’t understand me.’”

During the interview, the Pope also joked about people’s attitudes concerning giving money to those who live on the streets. “There are many arguments which justify why we should not give these alms: ‘I give money and he just spends it on a glass of wine!’ A glass of wine is his only happiness in life!” joked Pope Francis. 

There was also a lesson in generosity within the interview. The Pope told a story from his time in Buenos Aires, of a mother with five children. While the father was at work and the rest of the family ate lunch, a homeless man called in to ask for food. Rather than letting the children give away their father’s dinner for that evening, the mother taught the children to give away some of their own food: “If we wish to give, we must give what is ours!” insisted the Pope. 

Regarding the question of limiting numbers of refugee and migrants who arrive in a particular place, the Pope first reminded his readers that many of those arriving are fleeing from war or hunger. All of us in this world, says the Pope, are part of this situation and need to find ways to help and benefit those around us. According to him, this responsibility is especially true of governments and the Pope used the example of the work of the Saint Egidio community (that has established humanitarian corridors for groups of vulnerable migrants) in order to make his point. Regarding the 13 refugees who arrived from Lesbos, the Pope pointed out that the families have integrated well into society, with the children being enrolled in schools and their parents having found work. This, according to Pope Francis, is an example of immigrants wanting to fit into and contribute to a new country, and achieving that desire. 

To further underline his point, the Pope highlighted the case of Sweden, where almost 10% of the population, including the Minister for Culture, are immigrants. During his own life, in the difficult years of the military dictatorship in Argentina, the Pope often looked to the Swedish as a positive example of integration.  

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope: ‘true Christians have cheerful faces and eyes full of joy’

(Vatican Radio)  As we head into the Lenten season, Pope Francis has invited the faithful to reflect on the relationship between God and money.He was speaking on Tuesday during morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.

We cannot serve two masters so we must choose between God and money. Speaking about the message of the Gospel readings in these days leading up to the beginning of Lent, Pope Francis said we are called to reflect on the relationship between God and money. In Monday’s reading, he noted, the rich young man wanted to follow the Lord, but his wealth led him to follow money instead.

Jesus’ words in this story worry the disciples, as he tells them it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In today’s reading from St Mark’s Gospel, the Pope said, we see Peter asking the Lord what will happen to them as they have given up everything to follow him. “It’s almost as if Peter is passing Jesus the bill,” Pope Francis exclaimed.

Peter didn’t know what to say: the young man has gone his way, but what about us? Pope Francis said Jesus’ reply is clear: I tell you there is no-one who has given up everything and has not received everything. You will receive everything, with that overflowing measure with which God gives his gifts.

The Pope repeats the Gospel words: “there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come”.

The Lord is incapable of giving less than everything, the Pope said: when he gives us something, he gives all of himself.

Yet there is a word in this reading, he continued, which gives us cause for reflection: in this present age we receive a hundred times more houses and brothers, together with persecutions. The Pope said this means entering into a different way of thinking, a different way of behaving. Jesus gives everything of himself, because the fullness of God is a fullness emptied out on the Cross.

This is the gift of God, the Pope insisted, a fullness which is emptied out. This is also the Christian’s way of being, to seek and receive a fullness which is emptied out and to follow on that path, which is not easy, he stressed. How to we recognize that we are following this path of giving everything in order to receive everything, he asked? The words of the first reading of the day tell us to “pay homage to the Lord, and do not spare your freewill gifts. With each contribution show a cheerful countenance, and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy”. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means.

A cheerful face and eyes full of joy, the Pope said, these are the signs that we’re following this path of all and nothing, of fullness emptied out. The rich young man’s face fell and he became very sad, because he was not capable of receiving and welcoming this fullness emptied out, but the saints and Peter were able to receive it. Amid all their trials and difficulties, they had cheerful faces and hearts full of joy.

Pope concluded by recalling the Chilean saint Alberto Hurtado who worked with the poor amidst such difficulty, persecution and suffering, yet his words were ’I’m happy, Lord, I’m happy’. May he teach us to follow this difficult path of all and nothing, of Christ’s fullness emptied out and to be able to say at all times ’I’m happy, Lord, I’m happy’

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

On Monday, Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:

MARTYRDOM

– Servant of God Tito Zeman, Slovakian professed priest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco (1915-1969).

HEROIC VIRTUES

– Servant of God Octavio Ortiz Arrieta, Peruvian bishop, of the Salesians of St. John Bosco (1878-1958);

– Servant of God Antonio Provolo, Italian diocesan priest, founder of the Society of Mary for the Education of the Deaf-Mutes, and the Sisters of the Society of Mary for the Education of the Deaf-Mute (1801-1842);

– Servant of God Antonio Repiso Martínez de Orbe, Mexican professed priest of the Society of Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Shepherd (1856-1929);

– Servant of God María de las Mercedes Cabezas Terrera, Spanish founder of the Missionary Workers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1911-1993);

– Servant of God Lucia of the Immaculate Conception (née Maria Ripamonti), Italian professed religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity (1909-1954);

– Servant of God Pedro Herrero Rubio, Spanish layperson (1904-1978);

– Servant of God Vittorio Trancanelli, Italian layperson and father (1944-1998).

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope: Catholics and Anglicans, brothers and sisters in Christ

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday visited the Anglican Parish of All Saints in Rome. Speaking at the Church the Pope said, “today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.  As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together.”

Find below the English translation of the Pope’s words.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

            I wish to thank you for your gracious invitation to celebrate this parish anniversary with you.  More than two hundred years have passed since the first public Anglican liturgy was held in Rome for a group of English residents in this part of the city.  A great deal has changed in Rome and in the world since then.  In the course of these two centuries, much has also changed between Anglicans and Catholics, who in the past viewed each other with suspicion and hostility.  Today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.  As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together. 

            You have invited me to bless the new icon of Christ the Saviour.  Christ looks at us, and his gaze upon us is one of salvation, of love and compassion.  It is the same merciful gaze which pierced the hearts of the Apostles, who left the past behind and began a journey of new life, in order to follow and proclaim the Lord.  In this sacred image, as Jesus looks upon us, he seems also to call out to us, to make an appeal to us: “Are you ready to leave everything from your past for me?  Do you want to make my love known, my mercy?”

            His gaze of divine mercy is the source of the whole Christian ministry.  The Apostle Paul says this to us, through his words to the Corinthians which we have just heard.  He writes: “Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor 4:1).  Our ministry flows forth from the mercy of God, which sustains our ministry and prevents it losing its vigour.

            Saint Paul did not always have an easy relationship with the community at Corinth, as his letters show.  There was also a painful visit to this community, with heated words exchanged in writing.  But this passage shows Paul overcoming past differences.  By living his ministry in the light of mercy received, he does not give up in the face of divisions, but devotes himself to reconciliation.  When we, the community of baptized Christians, find ourselves confronted with disagreements and turn towards the merciful face of Christ to overcome it, it is reassuring to know that we are doing as Saint Paul did in one of the very first Christian communities.

            How does Saint Paul grapple with this task, where does he begin?  With humility, which is not only a beautiful virtue, but a question of identity.  Paul sees himself as a servant, proclaiming not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord (v. 5).  And he carries out this service, this ministry according to the mercy shown him (v. 1): not on the basis of his ability, nor by relying on his own strength, but by trusting that God is watching over him and sustaining his weakness with mercy.  Becoming humble means drawing attention away from oneself, recognizing one’s dependence on God as a beggar of mercy: this is the starting point so that God may work in us.  A past president of the World Council of Churches described Christian evangelization as “a beggar telling another beggar where he can find bread”.  I believe Saint Paul would approve.  He grasped the fact that he was “fed by mercy” and that his priority was to share his bread with others: the joy of being loved by the Lord, and of loving him. 

            This is our most precious good, our treasure, and it is in this context that Paul introduces one of his most famous images, one we can all apply to ourselves:  “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (v. 7).  We are but earthen vessels, yet we keep within us the greatest treasure in the world.  The Corinthians knew well that it was foolish to preserve something precious in earthen vessels, which were inexpensive but cracked easily.  Keeping something valuable in them meant running the risk of losing it.  Paul, a graced sinner, humbly recognized that he was fragile, just like an earthen vessel.  But he experienced and knew that it was precisely there that human misery opens itself to God’s merciful action; the Lord performs wonders.  That is how the “extraordinary power” of God works (v. 7).

          Trusting in this humble power, Paul serves the Gospel.  Speaking of some of his adversaries in Corinth, he calls them “super apostles” (2 Cor 12:11), perhaps, and with a certain irony, because they had criticized him for his weaknesses even as they considered themselves observant, even perfect.  Paul, on the other hand, teaches that only in realizing we are weak earthen vessels, sinners always in need of mercy, can the treasure of God be poured into us and through us upon others.  Otherwise, we will merely be full of our treasures, which are corrupted and spoiled in seemingly beautiful vessels.  If we recognize our weakness and ask for forgiveness, then the healing mercy of God will shine in us and will be visible to those outside; others will notice in some way, through us, the gentle beauty of Christ’s face.

            At a certain point, perhaps in the most difficult moment with the community in Corinth, the Apostle Paul cancelled a visit he had planned to make there, also foregoing the offerings he would have received from them (2 Cor 1:15-24).  Though tensions existed in their fellowship, these did not have the final word.  The relationship was restored and Paul received the offering for the care of the Church in Jerusalem.  The Christians in Corinth once again took up their work, together with the other communities which Paul visited, to sustain those in need.  This is a powerful sign of renewed communion.  The work that your community is carrying out together with other English-speaking communities here in Rome can be viewed in this light.  True, solid communion grows and is built up when people work together for those in need.  Through a united witness to charity, the merciful face of Jesus is made visible in our city.

            As Catholics and Anglicans, we are humbly grateful that, after centuries of mutual mistrust, we are now able to recognize that the fruitful grace of Christ is at work also in others.  We thank the Lord that among Christians the desire has grown for greater closeness, which is manifested in our praying together and in our common witness to the Gospel, above all in our various forms of service.  At times, progress on our journey towards full communion may seem slow and uncertain, but today we can be encouraged by our gathering.  For the first time, a Bishop of Rome is visiting your community.  It is a grace and also a responsibility: the responsibility of strengthening our ties, to the praise of Christ, in service of the Gospel and of this city.

            Let us encourage one another to become ever more faithful disciples of Jesus, always more liberated from our respective prejudices from the past and ever more desirous to pray for and with others.  A good sign of this desire is the “twinning” taking place today between your parish of All Saints and All Saints Catholic parish.  May the saints of every Christian confession, fully united in the Jerusalem above, open for us here below the way to all the possible paths of a fraternal and shared Christian journey.  Where we are united in the name of Jesus, he is there (cf. Mt 18:20), and turning his merciful gaze towards us, he calls us to devote ourselves fully in the cause of unity and love.  May the face of God shine upon you, your families and this entire community! 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis ‘studying possibility’ of South Sudan visit

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has said his staff is “studying the possibility” of a visit to South Sudan.

He said the reason was that “the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic” bishops of South Sudan had come to ask him: “Please, come to South Sudan, even for a day, but don’t come alone, come with Justin Welby”, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

“We are looking at whether it is possible, or if the situation down there is too dangerous. But we have to do it, because they – the three [Christian communities] – together desire peace, and they are working together for peace.”

The Holy Father’s words came during his Sunday visit to Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church in a question-and-answer session.

He was responding to a question from an Anglican seminarian from Nigeria, who had asked the Pope about the vitality of churches in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pope Francis said those churches are young and therefore have a certain vitality due to their youthfulness.

He also told an anecdote about Blessed Paul VI to show that “ecumenism is often easier in young churches”.

“When Blessed Paul VI beatified the Ugandan martyrs – a young Church – among the martyrs were catechists, all were young, while some were Catholics and others Anglican, and all were martyred by the same king in hate for the faith, because they refused to follow the dirty proposals of the king. And Paul VI was embarrassed, saying: ‘I should beatify both groups; they are both martyrs.’ But in that moment of the Catholic Church, such a thing was not possible.”

Responding to another question about ecumenical relations between the churches, Pope Francis said, “The relationship between Catholics and Anglicans today is good; we care for each other like brothers!”

He then gave two examples of common ground: saints and the monastic life.

“We have a common tradition of the saints… Never, never in the two Churches, have the two traditions renounced the saints: Christians who lived the Christian witness until that point. This is important.”

“There is another thing that has kept up a strong connection between our religious traditions: [male and female] monks, monasteries. And monks, both Catholic and Anglican, are a great spiritual strength of our traditions.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope to French volunteers: promote a culture of mercy

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received in audience on Saturday the French voluntary service agency, “the Catholic Delegation for Cooperation”, which is marking the 50th anniversary of its foundation.

Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report

The Catholic Delegation for Cooperation is the international voluntary service agency run by the Church in France and has volunteers on missions in over 50 countries who work in solidarity with local Churches and communities on development projects.

Culture of Mercy

To mark its 50th anniversary the delegation on Saturday was received by Pope Francis in the Vatican where he told them to promote a culture of mercy.

He said this culture needed to be one where “no one looks to the other with indifference or runs away when he sees the suffering of brothers “. Do not be afraid, the Pope told those gathered “to walk the streets of fraternity and to build bridges between peoples…”

Through your initiatives, your plans and your actions, he added, you render a poor Church visible, one that empathizes with those who are suffering, marginalized and excluded.

Solidarity

The Holy Father pointed out that the word “solidarity” is at times over used to such an extent that its meaning is lost, and is in fact more than just an act of generosity. He explained that what was required was a new mindset that thinks in terms of the community where everyone is respected. Thinking in this way, underlined Pope Francis also contributes to a genuine ecological conversion which recognizes the eminent dignity of every person, their value, their creativity and their ability to seek and promote the common good.

The Pope encouraged the delegation to be at the service of a Church which allows everyone to recognize the amazing closeness of God, his compassion, his love and to welcome the strength that he gives us in Jesus Christ.

(from Vatican Radio)

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