Pope Francis: Address to Italo-Latin American Organization

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Friday morning with representatives of the Italo-Latin American Organization, an institution dedicated to promoting development and coordination, as well as identifying possibilities for reciprocal assistance and for common action among the member countries.

The Holy Father’s address to the members of the organization focused precisely on three aspects of those goals: identifying potential, coordinating action, and moving forward.

Pope Francis noted that the countries of Latin America are “rich in history, culture, and natural resources; that their people are good, and committed to solidarity with others. Such values must be appreciated and strengthened. But, he said, in spite of these goods, the people of Latin America are experiencing an economic and social crisis that has led to increased poverty, unemployment, and social inequality, as well as abuse and exploitation of our common home. Any analysis of the situation must recognize the real needs and potentials of the people of these countries.

The second point, the Pope said, is “to coordinate efforts to offer concrete answers, to meet the demands and the necessities of the sons and daughters of our countries.” This does not mean leaving the work to others, and signaling our approval afterwards, he said, but requires time and effort on our part. He focused especially on the phenomenon of migration, which has grown steadily in recent years. In this area, the Pope said, we must not seek to place blame and avoid responsibility, but must rather work together in a coordinate manner.

Finally, among the many things that can be done, Pope Francis identified the promotion of a culture of dialogue as fundamentally important. Many countries, he said, are going through social, political, and economic crises; and it is the poor who are the first to note the corruption that exists between different social classes, and the “wicked” distribution of wealth. Dialogue, he said, is essential to facing these crises. But dialogue, the Pope said, must not be a “dialogue between the deaf.” Rather, “it requires a receptive attitude that welcomes suggestions and shares aspirations.”

Pope Francis concluded his remarks by encouraging the representatives of the Italo-Latin American Organization in their commitment to work “for the common good of the American continent”; and he expressed his hope that “collaboration among all can favour the construction of an ever more human and more just world.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope at Angelus prays for city and people of Rome

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday prayed for the city and people of Rome, as he gave an Angelus address for the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Italian capital.

Listen to our report:

Speaking from his study window to the crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled how both of these two apostles suffered persecution and gave their lives in service to the first Christian communities.

The liturgical readings of the day, the Pope continued, remind us that even in the most difficult moments of persecution, the Lord remained close to Peter and Paul, just as he remains by our side today. Especially in our times of trial, he said, God holds out his hand and comes to help us, liberating us from the threats of our enemies.

Our real enemy, Pope Francis, said, is sin, but when we are reconciled with God, through the Sacrament of Confession, we are liberated from evil and the burden of sin is lifted from us.

The Pope welcomed especially the members of an Orthodox delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as the five new cardinals, who received their red hats at Wednesday’s consistory, and the Metropolitan Archbishops who were named over the past year.

Greeting visitors from across the globe, the Pope said he prayed especially for all the people of Rome as they celebrate their feast day through traditional flower and firework displays. May they live in peace, he said, witnessing to the Christian faith with the same fervor as the apostles Peter and Paul. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis: homily for feast of Saints Peter and Paul

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday morning celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Square to mark the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

In his homily the Pope focused on three words, confession, persecution and prayer, which he said are essential for the life of an apostle today.

Please see below the full text of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass for the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

The liturgy today offers us three words essential for the life of an apostle: confession, persecution and prayer.

Confession.  Peter makes his confession of faith in the Gospel, when the Lord’s question turns from the general to the specific.  At first, Jesus asks: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” (Mt 16:13).  The results of this “survey” show that Jesus is widely considered a prophet.  Then the Master puts the decisive question to his disciples: “But you, who do you say that I am?” (v. 15).  At this point, Peter alone replies: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).  To confess the faith means this: to acknowledge in Jesus the long-awaited Messiah, the living God, the Lord of our lives.

Today Jesus puts this crucial question to us, to each of us, and particularly to those of us who are pastors.  It is the decisive question.  It does not allow for a non-committal answer, because it brings into play our entire life.  The question of life demands a response of life.  For it counts little to know the articles of faith if we do not confess Jesus as the Lord of our lives.  Today he looks straight at us and asks, “Who am I for you?”  As if to say: “Am I still the Lord of your life, the longing of your heart, the reason for your hope, the source of your unfailing trust?”  Along with Saint Peter, we too renew today our life choice to be Jesus’ disciples and apostles.  May we too pass from Jesus’ first question to his second, so as to be “his own” not merely in words, but in our actions and our very lives. 

Let us ask ourselves if we are parlour Christians, who love to chat about how things are going in the Church and the world, or apostles on the go, who confess Jesus with their lives because they hold him in their hearts.  Those who confess Jesus know that they are not simply to offer opinions but to offer their very lives.  They know that they are not to believe half-heartedly but to “be on fire” with love.  They know that they cannot just “tread water” or take the easy way out, but have to risk putting out into the deep, daily renewing their self-offering.  Those who confess their faith in Jesus do as Peter and Paul did: they follow him to the end – not just part of the way, but to the very end.  They also follow the Lord along his way, not our own ways.  His way is that of new life, of joy and resurrection; it is also the way that passes through the cross and persecution.

Here, then, is the second word: persecution.  Peter and Paul shed their blood for Christ, but the early community as a whole also experienced persecution, as the Book of Acts has reminded us (cf. 12:1).  Today too, in various parts of the world, sometimes in silence – often a complicit silence – great numbers of Christians are marginalized, vilified, discriminated against, subjected to violence and even death, not infrequently without due intervention on the part of those who could defend their sacrosanct rights.

Here I would especially emphasize something that the Apostle Paul says before, in his words, “being poured out as a libation” (2 Tim 4:6).  For him, to live was Christ (cf. Phil 1:21), Christ crucified (cf. 1 Cor 2:2), who gave his life for him (cf. Gal 2:20).  As a faithful disciple, Paul thus followed the Master and offered his own life too.  Apart from the cross, there is no Christ, but apart from the cross, there can be no Christian either.  For “Christian virtue is not only a matter of doing good, but of tolerating evil as well” (Augustine, Serm. 46,13), even as Jesus did.  Tolerating evil does not have to do simply with patience and resignation; it means imitating Jesus, carrying our burden, shouldering it for his sake and that of others.  It means accepting the cross, pressing on in the confident knowledge that we are not alone: the crucified and risen Lord is at our side.  So, with Paul, we can say that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken” (2 Cor 4:8-9).

Tolerating evil means overcoming it with Jesus, and in Jesus’ own way, which is not the way of the world.  This is why Paul – as we heard – considered himself a victor about to receive his crown (cf. 2 Tim 4:8).  He writes: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7).  The essence of his “good fight” was living for: he lived not for himself, but for Jesus and for others.  He spent his life “running the race”, not holding back but giving his all.   He tells us that there is only one thing that he “kept”: not his health, but his faith, his confession of Christ.  Out of love, he experienced trials, humiliations and suffering, which are never to be sought but always accepted.  In the mystery of suffering offered up in love, in this mystery, embodied in our own day by so many of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, impoverished and infirm, the saving power of Jesus’ cross shines forth. 

 The third word is prayer.  The life of an apostle, which flows from confession and becomes self-offering, is one of constant prayer.  Prayer is the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity.  Prayer makes us feel loved and it enables us to love in turn.  It makes us press forward in moments of darkness because it brings God’s light.  In the Church, it is prayer that sustains us and helps us to overcome difficulties.  We see this too in the first reading: “Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5).  A Church that prays is watched over and cared for by the Lord.  When we pray, we entrust our lives to him and to his loving care.  Prayer is the power and strength that unite and sustain us, the remedy for the isolation and self-sufficiency that lead to spiritual death.  The Spirit of life does not breathe unless we pray; without prayer, the interior prisons that hold us captive cannot be unlocked.

May the blessed Apostles obtain for us a heart like theirs, wearied yet at peace, thanks to prayer.  Wearied, because constantly asking, knocking and interceding, weighed down by so many people and situations needing to be handed over to the Lord; yet also at peace, because the Holy Spirit brings consolation and strength when we pray.  How urgent it is for the Church to have teachers of prayer, but even more so for us to be men and women of prayer, whose entire life is prayer!

The Lord answers our prayers.  He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial.  He accompanied the journey of the Apostles, and he will do the same for you, dear brother Cardinals, gathered here in the charity of the Apostles who confessed their faith by the shedding of their blood.  He will remain close to you too, dear brother Archbishops who, in receiving the pallium, will be strengthened to spend your lives for the flock, imitating the Good Shepherd who bears you on his shoulders.  May the same Lord, who longs to see his flock gathered together, also bless and protect the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with my dear brother Bartholomew, who has sent them here as a sign of our apostolic communion. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis: Allocution at Consistory for Creation of Cardinals

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered an allocution on Wednesday at the Ordinary Public Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The prelates to be created Cardinals during the Consistory are: Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako, Mali; Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden; Luis Marie-Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Paksé, Laos; Gregorio Rosa Chávez, Bishop of Mulli, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Savador. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks, in their official English translation…

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

“Jesus was walking ahead of them”.  This is the picture that the Gospel we have just read (Mk 10:32-45) presents to us.  It serves as a backdrop to the act now taking place: this Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals.

Jesus walks resolutely towards Jerusalem.  He knows fully what awaits him there; on more than one occasion, he spoke of it to his disciples.  But there is a distance between the heart of Jesus and the hearts of the disciples, which only the Holy Spirit can bridge.  Jesus knows this, and so he is patient with them.  He speaks to them frankly and, above all, he goes before them.  He walks ahead of them.

Along the way, the disciples themselves are distracted by concerns that have nothing to do with the “direction” taken by Jesus, with his will, which is completely one with that of the Father”.  So it is that, as we heard, the two brothers James and John think of how great it would be to take their seats at the right and at the left of the King of Israel (cf. v. 37).  They are not facing reality!  They think they see, but they don’t.  They think they know, but they don’t.  They think they understand better than the others, but they don’t…

For the reality is completely different.  It is what Jesus sees and what directs his steps.  The reality is the cross.  It is the sin of the world that he came to take upon himself, and to uproot from the world of men and women.  It is the innocent who suffer and die as victims of war and terrorism; the forms of enslavement that continue to violate human dignity even in the age of human rights; the refugee camps which at times seem more like a hell than a purgatory; the systematic discarding of all that is no longer useful, people included.

This is what Jesus sees as he walks towards Jerusalem.  During his public ministry he made known the Father’s tender love by healing all who were oppressed by the evil one (cf. Acts 10:38).  Now he realizes that the moment has come to press on to the very end, to eliminate evil at its root.  And so, he walks resolutely towards the cross.

We too, brothers and sisters, are journeying with Jesus along this path.  I speak above all to you, dear new Cardinals.  Jesus “is walking ahead of you”, and he asks you to follow him resolutely on his way.  He calls you to look at reality, not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects.  He has not called you to become “princes” of the Church, to “sit at his right or at his left”.  He calls you to serve like him and with him.  To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters.  He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity.  Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection.

And now, with faith and through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bridge every gap between our hearts and the heart of Christ, so that our lives may be completely at the service of God and all our brothers and sisters.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis calls for new social contract for labour

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged companies and businesses to bring more young people into the workplace saying it is both “foolish and short-sighted” to force workers to carry on working in old-age.

The Pope’s words came as he addressed representatives and members of Italy’s CISLConfederation of Trade Unions – whom he received in the Vatican.

Francis  described work as a “form of civil love” that allows men and women not only to earn their livings and flourish as persons, but also to keep the world going. 

But, he pointed out that work is not everything and no one must work all the time. He also said that there are people who must not work – like children – who must be safeguarded from child labour – sick people whose right it is not to work, and elderly people who have a right to a “just pension”.

And on the topic of pensions, the Pope denounced both the “golden retirements” given to some pensioners and the meager ones given to others and said that both are an offense to the dignity of work.

He also made a strong appeal to employers and policy-makers saying that “a society that forces its workers to work for too long, thus keeping an entire generation of young people from taking their places, is foolish and short-sighted”.

“There is an urgent need – the Pope said – for a new social contract for labour” in order to bring more young people into the workforce.

Highlighting the “epochal challenges” faced by trade unions at this time in history, he urged them to be the prophetic face of society, to continue to give voice to the voiceless and to defend the rights of the most fragile and vulnerable workers.

“In our advanced capitalistic societies, trade unions risk losing their prophetic nature and becoming too similar to the institutions and the powers they should be criticizing. With the passing of time Unions have ended up looking too much like political parties” he said.

The other fundamental challenge for Unions Pope Francis pinpointed is that of the capacity to be renewed and updated.

Not only, he explained, must Unions protect those who are within the system, it must also look to and protect those who have no rights, because those who are excluded from the world of work are deprived of their rights and excluded from democracy.

Pope Francis concluded his address with a reflection on how capitalism seems to have forgotten the social nature of economy.

“Let us think, he said, of the 40% of young people in Italy who have no work. That is the existential periphery where you have to take action.”

“And women, he said, are still considered second class workers; they earn less and they are more easily exploited” he said: “Do something!”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope: Strength of the martyrs is hope

(Vatican Radio) Continuing his catechesis on “Christian Hope,” Pope Francis spoke Wednesday on “Hope, Strength of the Martyrs” at his General Audience in St Peter’s Square.

The Holy Father reflected on the words of Jesus: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves… You will be hated by all because of My Name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

When Jesus sent His disciples on mission, the Pope said, He did not fill them with illusions about easy successes; rather, he warned them that “the proclamation of the Kingdom of God always involves opposition.” Christians love, he said, but they are not always loved; and in a greater or lesser degree, “the confession of faith always takes place in a climate of hostility.”

Because the world is marked by sin, Pope Francis continued, Christians are men and women who are constantly “going against the tide.” This is not because of a polemical or argumentative spirit, he explained, but because of the “Gospel logic,” which is a logic of hope, and which leads to a way of life marked out by the teachings of Jesus.

Christians, then, live their lives filled with love. As “sheep among wolves,” they must be prudent, “and even at times cunning,” according to the Pope. But they must never resort to violence. “To overcome evil, one cannot share the methods of evil.”

“The unique strength of the Christian is the Gospel,” he continued. In times of difficulty, Christians must remember that God is always with them; and God is “stronger than evil, stronger than the mafias, the hidden plots, those who enrich themselves on the backs of the desperate, those who crush others with arrogance.” God “always hears the voice of the blood of Abel that cries from the earth.”

And so Christians always find themselves “on the other side” with regard to the world. They find themselves on the side chosen by God: “not persecutors, but persecuted, not arrogant but meek; not ‘sellers of smoke,’ but submissive to the truth; not imposters, but honest men.”

This following of Jesus, the Pope said, was called “martyrdom” by the early Christians, a word that means witness. “The martyrs do not live for themselves, they do not fight to affirm their own ideas; they accept the duty to die solely on account of fidelity to the Gospel.” But even giving up one’s life, he said, echoing Saint Paul, is of no value without charity.

Pope Francis said the strength of the martyrs – of whom there are more in our day then there were in the past – is a sign of the “great hope that animated them: the certain hope that nothing and no one could separate them from the love of God given them in Christ Jesus.”

The Holy Father concluded his catechesis with the prayer that God might “always give us the strength to be His witnesses” and might “grant that we might live Christian hope, above all in the hidden martyrdom of doing our daily duty well and with love.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis General Audience: English summary

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, reflecting on the example of the Martyrs.

Please find below the official English-language summary:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now look to the example of the martyrs.  Their hope gave them the strength even to die for their faith in Christ.  The Lord himself warned his followers that, in proclaiming the Kingdom of God, they would encounter opposition and hostility in this world of sin and injustice.  Jesus asks his disciples to proclaim the Gospel by their lives of detachment from wealth and power, by their rejection of the spiral of hatred, violence and retaliation, and by their trust in his triumph over the power of sin and death.  As his followers, we know that the Lord will never abandon us.  By imitating the example of his own self-sacrifice and love, we demonstrate our faith and hope in him and we become his witnesses before the world.  In this sense, every Christian is a “martyr”, a witness to the sure hope that faith inspires.  The martyrs who even today lay down their lives for the faith do so out of love.  By their example and intercession, may we become ever more convincing witnesses, above all in the events of our daily lives, to our undying hope in the promises of Christ.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis marks 25 years as a bishop

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, together with the members of the College of Cardinals present in the city, in roder to mark the 25th jubilee of his ordination to the episcopacy.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals offered greetings and best wishes to Pope Francis on the occasion, recalling the words of St. Paul the Apostle in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “Make room for us in your hearts,” Cardinal Sodano said. “Holy Father, you need not tell us to make room for you in our hearts,” he continued, pledging him all the love and reverence due the Successor to Peter.

In remarks following the Readings of the Day, the first of which was taken from the Book of Genesis, recounting the episode in which Abraham and Lot part ways, Pope Francis focused on the three imperatives that God gives the Father of Faith: “Arise!” “Look out!” “Be hopeful!”

“When Abraham was called, he was more or less our age,” Pope Francis said to the elder statesmen of the Church. “He was going to retire, to go into retirement for some rest – he started out at that age.”

“An old man,” the Pope continued, “with the weight of old age, old age that brings pain, illness – but [God said to him], as if he were a young man, ‘Get up, go, go! As if he were a scout: go! Look and hope!’”

The Holy Father went on to say that the message God gave to Abraham in that day, He also gives to each of those present in this day: to be on the way, about the journey; to look toward the ever-retreating horizon, and to hope without stint, despite it all.

“There are those, who do not love us, who say that we are the ‘Gerontocracy’ of the Church. This is mere mockery. Whoever says so knows not what he says. We are not tired old fools [It. geronti]: we are grandfathers. And if we do not feel this, we must ask the grace to feel that it is so. We are grandfathers, to whom our grandchildren look – grandparents who, with our experience, must share with those grandchildren a sense of what life is really about – grandparents not closed off in melancholy over our salad days, but open to give this [gift] of meaning, of sense. For us, then, this threefold imperative: ‘Arise! Look outward! Hope!” is called ‘dreaming’. We are grandfathers called to dream and to pass on our dream to today’s youth: they need it, that they might take from our dreams the power to prophesy and carry on their work.”

After the Mass, the Holy Father greeted the Cardinal-concelebrants one-by-one.

He also greeted members of the household staff and the professional staff of the Secretariat for Communications, who had done the live Vatican Radio commentary for the liturgy in several languages, including English.

(from Vatican Radio)

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