Pope Francis: greetings for AFC Chapecoense

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis had special greetings on Wednesday for the players, coaches, and staff of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer club, who were present at the weekly General Audience.

“My desire for you is that you grow in the wisdom that comes from God,” said Pope Francis in greetings to Potruguese-speaking pilgrims, which included the soccer club-members, “in order that, having been made experts in the things of God, you might be able to communicate to others the sweetness of His love.”

Air tragedy

Chapecoense suffered tragedy on November 28th, 2016, when the LaMia Flight 2933 carrying the  club’s first team crashed en route from Bolivia to Colombia, killing all but three members of the squad. Two of the survivors, Jackson Follman and Alan Ruschel, were in attendance, and met with Pope Francis along with the other members of the club on the sidelines of the Audience on Wednesday.

Friendly match in spirit of solidarity

Chapecoense is in Rome for a friendly against A.S. Roma at Olympic Stadium on Friday, organized to raise funds for the Brazilian club.

“This is a friendly organized for purposes of solidarity,” A.S. Roma’s ticketing manager, Carlo Feliziani, explained earlier this week to Radio Roma. “We hope our fans will come to the stadium, both to see the match and to help Chapecoense get back on their feet,” he continued. “Ticket prices will be very low,” he explained, “€10 for end-zone seats and €25 for more central seats.”

Kick-off is scheduled for 20:45 on Friday, September 1st.

(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 in St Peter’s Square.

Please find below the official English-language summary:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: I wish to reflect again on the relationship between hope and memory.  In the Gospel passage we have heard, Saint John shares with us the precious memory of when Jesus called the first disciples and asked them: “What do you seek?”  It is a question that he asks each of us in our own time.  Jesus recognizes that a young heart, and a healthy one at that, is a searching heart, full of a desire for life and happiness.  For the first disciples, this encounter was only the beginning of their relationship with Jesus and the living out of their vocation; it ignited a flame in their hearts, which transformed them into missionaries who always treasured the memory of that first encounter with Christ.  Their story reminds us how we discover our vocation.  Whether we are called to marriage, consecrated life or priesthood, our vocation finds its origin in our first encounter with Jesus.  It is that first spark which, even in the midst of trials, leads to an ever-deeper relationship with the Lord and which brings us hope and joy.  Let us treasure this flame of love that burns in our hearts, by recalling our first encounter with Christ.  May we be joyful disciples, who dream with God of a better world, and who share the reason for our hope with all whom we meet.


(from Vatican Radio)

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Vatican releases logos for Pope Francis’ visit to Bangladesh, Myanmar

(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican on Monday released the official logos for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The Pope travels to Myanmar (also known as Burma) on 27-30 November and to Bangladesh on 30 November-2 December 2017.

Myanmar logo

The logo for his visit to Myanmar depicts Pope Francis releasing a white dove from within a heart drawn in the colors of Myanmar’s flag: yellow, green, and red.

An outline of Myanmar’s landmass sits beside the Pope within the heart, while the motto for his journey is shown above: “Love & Peace”.

Bangladesh logo

The logo for Pope Francis’ visit to Bangladesh has colored streamers in the shape of a dove, with a cross raised over a water lily (Bangladesh’s national flower) within it.

Above, the official motto for the Apostolic Journey, “Harmony and Peace”, is written in red.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh in November

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Myanmar from 27 to 30 November 2017 and to Bangladesh from 30 November to 2 December 2017.

Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, made the official announcement in a statement on Monday. 

He said the Pope had welcomed “the invitation of the respective heads of state and bishops”.

Whilst in Myanmar (also known as Burma), Pope Francis will visit the cities of Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw. In Bangladesh the Pope will visit Dhaka.

The programme for the Pope’s Apostolic Journey will be published shortly.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope to Catholic lawmakers: heed Church’s moral, social teaching

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received a group of lawmakers on Sunday, who are in Rome for a meeting of the International Catholic Legislators Network.

ICLN origins

Founded in 2010 by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and British parliamentarian Lord David Alton, the ICLN brings together Catholic legislators to discuss issues of common concern and share ideas about how best to bring their common faith to bear on their work in favor of the common good.

Pope Francis to ICLN: be guided by Church’s moral and social doctrine

In his remarks to the legislators, Pope Francis noted the broad spectrum of political opinion represented by the legislators taking part, as well as their increased number with respect to previous years.

“As long as the contribution of the Church to the great questions of society in our time can be put into discussion,” said Pope Francis, “it is vital that your commitment be constantly pervaded by her moral and social teachings, in order to build a more humane and just society.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “The laws that you promulgate and apply ought to build bridges between different political perspectives: even when they respond to precise ends ordered to the promotion of greater care for the defenseless and the marginalized, especially the many who are constrained to leave their countries; and when they are in order to favor a correct human and natural ecology.”

Participants encouraged by experience

“We have an opportunity to meet here with other Catholic legislators and elected officials from other parts of the world, and to discuss common concerns – problems, opportunities – for our faith, and how to work together and support each other,” Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) of the United States Congress, who is one of the participants in this year’s meeting of the ICLN, told Vatican Media in an exclusive interview ahead of the meeting with Pope Francis.

Mooney went on to say that the ICLN gathering has been for him a heartening experience.

“It’s very inspiration to see how people are fighting for family values,” he said, “it’s just more encouraging to see faithful Catholics from every country promoting the values of the Church.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis at Angelus: all have role in building Church

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.

Gospel episode

Ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father reflected on the day’s reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, in which the Lord asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus said to Peter in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Pope: Christ build Church on firm foundations

Pope Francis said the Lord continues to build His Church in our present day. “Even with us today,” he said, “Christ desires to build His Church, this house solid foundations, which nevertheless does not want for cracks, and which always needs to be reformed, repaired, as in the time of St. Francis of Assisi.”

No “stone” is useless

In this ongoing task of building and maintenance, Pope Francis stressed that no person – which he likened to the little stones that often cause us the most trouble when we feel them underfoot, or that appear ill-suited to use in the edification of grand structures – is without some part to play, some role to fill as building material.

“No stone is useless,” he said.

“Rather,” the Pope went on to say, “in the hands of Jesus [the littlest stone] becomes precious, because he picks it up, looks at it with tenderness, works it with his Spirit and puts it in the right place, where He had ever a mind to put it, and where it can be most useful to the whole building.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis: prayers for flood victims in Bangladesh, India, Nepal

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of massive flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal, and northern India over the past several days. “I express my closeness to all the [affected] populations, and pray for the victims and for all who suffer because of this calamity,” Pope Francis said.

The Holy Father was speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer.

Annual monsoon rains have caused the flooding, which has claimed the lives of more than 1200 people, and disrupted the lives of some 24 million others. Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing, with international aid agencies thousands of villages cut off. People in remote and isolated areas have been without food and clean water for many days.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis: appeal for end to violence against Rohingya

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for an end to the violent persecution of the minority Rohingya population in Burma.

Speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square following the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father said, “Sad news has reached us of the persecution of our Rohingya brothers and sisters, a religious minority. I would like to express my full closeness to them – and let all of us ask the Lord to save them, and to raise up men and women of good will to help them, who shall give them their full rights.”

Pope Francis went on to say, “Let us pray for our Rohingya brethren.”

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are an ethnic minority who live mostly in Rakhine State – sometimes styled Arakan – on the western coast of Burma, and practice Islam. The government of Burma – also known as Myanmar – does not recognize the citizenship or the ethnic minority status of the Rohingya.

After several years of fighting with the majority Buddhist population in the state, Rohingya began fleeing their native land en masse, precipitating a refugee crisis.

Organized violence against the Rohingya, with the participation of government forces, has been underway since at least 2015, with spikes of intensity in 2016 and 2017.

Rohingya flee to Bangladesh 

Nearly 100 thousand Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the past year, though the Bangladeshi government has yet to recognize the refugee status of the displaced minority.

Most recent violence

Pope Francis’ appeal Sunday follows fighting between the Rohingya and the regular Burmese army on Friday in the city of Maungdaw, which are reported to be the worst since October of last year, and have prompted evacuations from the area of government personnel and of non-Muslims. Nearly 100 people are officially reported dead in the ongoing clashes, including 80 Rohingya insurgents and 12 members of the Burmese security forces deployed in the theatre.

(from Vatican Radio)

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