Thu, 21 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of "zero tolerance" toward all members of the church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults. Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon. "Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness," he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president -- Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston -- were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly. Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said he wanted to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection. The Catholic Church has been "late" in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members, the pope said, and the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to "swim against the tide" because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem. "When consciousness comes late, the means for resolving the problem comes late," he said. "I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality: We have arrived late." "Perhaps," he said, "the old practice of moving people" from one place to another and not fully facing the problem "lulled consciences to sleep." But, he said, "prophets in the church," including Cardinal O'Malley, have, with the help of God, come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it. Typically when the church has had to deal with new or newly emerging problems, it has turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue, he said. And then, only when the problem has been dealt with adequately does the process for dealing with future cases get handed over to another dicastery, he added. Because the problem of cases and allegations of abuse are "grave" -- and because it also is grave that some have not adequately taken stock of the problem -- it is important the doctrinal congregation continue to handle the cases, rather than turning them over directly to Vatican tribunals, as some have suggested. However, he said, the doctrinal congregation will need more personnel to work on cases of abuse in order to expedite the "many cases that do not proceed" with the backlog. Pope Francis told commission members he wants to better balance the membership of the doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He said the majority of members are canon lawyers, and he would like to balance out their more legalistic approach with more members who are diocesan bishops and have had to deal with abuse in their diocese. He also said proof that an ordained minister has abused a minor "is sufficient (reason) to receive no recourse" for an appeal. "If there is proof. End of story," the pope said; the sentence "is definitive." And, he added, he has never and would never grant a papal pardon to a proven perpetrator. The reasoning has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, but because an abuser is sick and is suffering from "a sickness." The pope told the commission he has been learning "on the job" better ways to handle priests found guilty of abuse, and he recounted a decision he has now come to regret: that of agreeing to a more lenient sanction against an Italian priest, rather than laicizing him as the doctrinal team recommended. Two years later, the priest abused again, and Pope Francis said he has since learned "it's a terrible sickness" that requires a different approach.
Thu, 21 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young people should love, believe and follow their dreams, never despairing because Jesus is always with them, Pope Francis said. When life hits hard, they should try to get up again, letting others help them, and if they are bored, they should concentrate on doing good things for others, the pope said Sept. 20 during his weekly general audience. Continuing his series of audience talks on Christian hope, the pope gave extensive advice on how to teach people, especially young people, to remain full of hope. No matter "where God has planted you, hope. Always hope," he said, explaining: -- Enemy No. 1 is not out there somewhere, but inside oneself. "Don't make room for bitter or dark thoughts." -- "Believe in the existence of the most noble and beautiful truths" and trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, is ushering everything toward the good, toward "Christ's embrace." -- Believers are not alone in their faith. There are others who hope, too. "The world goes on thanks to the vision of many people who created an opening, who built bridges, who dreamed and believed, even when they heard words of derision around them." -- Never believe the struggles here on earth are "useless." God never disappoints and he wants that seed he planted in everyone to bloom. "God made us to flower, too." -- "Wherever you are, build!" -- When life gets hard, and "you have fallen, get up. Never stay down. Get up and let people help you to your feet." -- "If you're sitting, start walking!" Start the journey. -- "If you're bored stiff, crush (boredom) with good works." -- "If you feel empty and demoralized, ask if the Holy Spirit may newly replenish" that void. -- Work for peace among people. -- Don't listen to those "who spread hatred and division." -- No matter how different people are from one another, human beings "were created to live together. With disputes, wait patiently. One day you will discover that a sliver of truth has been entrusted to everyone." -- Love people. Respect everyone's journey -- whether it be troubled or down the straight and narrow because everyone has a story behind them. -- Every baby born is "the promise of a life that once again shows it is stronger than death." -- "Jesus has given us a light that shines in the darkness; defend it, protect it. This unique light is the greatest richness entrusted to your life." -- Dream of a world still not seen, but will certainly come one day. Think of those who sailed oceans, scaled mountains, conquered slavery or made life better for people on earth. -- Be responsible: "Every injustice against someone poor is an open wound" and countless generations will come after you have lived. -- Ask God for courage every day. "Remember Jesus conquered fear for us" and "not even our most treacherous enemy can do anything against faith." -- If fear or evil looms so large it seems insurmountable, remember "that Jesus lives in you. And, through you, it is he, who, with his meekness, wants to subdue all enemies of humanity: sin, hatred, crime and violence." -- Be courageous in speaking the truth, but never forget, "you are not above anyone." Even if one feels certain that he or she is the last person on earth who holds to the truth, "do not spurn the company of human beings for this" reason. -- Hold onto ideals and live for something greater than yourself, even if it comes at a high price. -- "Nothing is more human than making mistakes and these mistakes must not become a prison for you." The son of God came "not for the healthy, but the sick" so people should not be afraid to get up again and start over when they fall, "because God is your friend." -- "If bitterness strikes, firmly believe in all those people who still work for the good; the seed of a new world is in their humility." -- Spend time with people who have kept a child-like heart. "Learn from splendor, nurture amazement." -- "Live, love, believe, and with God's grace, never despair."
Mon, 18 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Those who govern or are in positions of authority are called to be humble and serve the good of the people God entrusts to them rather than the interests of their party or themselves, Pope Francis said. Without prayer, a leader risks serving his own selfish desires or political party, closing himself or herself in a "circle from which there is no escape," the pope said Sept. 18 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. "Who has more power than a ruler? The people, who have given him the power, and God, from whom power comes through the people," the pope said. "When he has this awareness of being subordinate, he prays." In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading from St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy in which he asks that "supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority." The pope also spoke about the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke, which recounted Jesus' healing of a slave at the behest of his master, a Roman centurion. "This man felt the need for prayer" not because it was a last resort but because he knew that "there was someone above him, there is another who is in charge," the pope said. Praying for politicians and those who lead, the pope continued, is important "because it is the prayer for the common good of the people who are entrusted to him." Leaders also must pray and ask the Lord for wisdom so that they find their true strength in God and in the people and not "in small groups or in myself," he said. And leaders who claim they cannot pray because they are agnostic or atheist, he said, at least must examine their consciences and seek counsel from those their people consider wise. Christians "cannot leave rulers alone, we must accompany them with prayer," the pope said. And when a leader does "awful things," he added, they need even more prayers. "Pray, do penance for those who govern," the pope said. "The prayer of intercession -- it is beautiful what Paul says -- is for all leaders, for all those in power. Why? So 'that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life.' When a leader is free and can govern in peace, all people benefit from this."
Fri, 15 Sep 2017
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The process of "journeying together" during the Catholic Church's synods of bishops examining contemporary challenges on marriage and family life offers a map for the church's outreach, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said Sept. 12. This process reflects not only the pontiff's pastoral approach, but also offers a template for how priests and laypeople can accompany others to help them understand and live the faith, he said. Cardinal Wuerl made the remarks at Georgetown University in an address on "Pope Francis: Fresh Perspectives on Synodality" as part of the university's Dahlgren Chapel Sacred Lecture series. He explained that "synodality" refers to coming together or journeying together, which he said is how those gatherings of the world's bishops tackled issues facing married couples and families. The cardinal noted that Pope Francis emphasized the importance of dialogue as those discussions unfolded. "We can recall his advices to the bishops ... to speak with openness and clarity, to listen with humility and be open to the Holy Spirit." Cardinal Wuerl said that the pope's understanding of synodality, that journeying together, involved not only dialogue with bishops who teach and transmit the faith, but also drew upon insights from married couples and families in dioceses around the world. The proceedings formed the basis for Pope Francis' 2016 apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"). "We have to listen to people living the faith," the cardinal said, who added that journeying together toward the love and truth of Christ then involves all members of the Catholic Church -- clergy, religious and laity. The two synods on marriage and family, the cardinal added, were preceded by consultations of local churches throughout the world on the lived situation of families, their challenges and experiences. That approach, he said, resulted in "Amoris Laetitia" being a "consensus exhortation," with its elements drawn from the bishops' discussion and the worldwide consultation of Catholics receiving approval from a significant majority of the participating bishops. "I have been present in some capacity for 11 synods and as a bishop member for seven. The last two, the 2014 and 2015 gatherings, were, in my opinion, the most open, engaging and reflective of episcopal collaboration and consultation," Cardinal Wuerl said. That same approach, he said, has marked the preparation for the upcoming 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. In the Archdiocese of Washington, a "Share With Francis" initiative preparing for that synod involved gathering feedback from 661 participants in listening sessions at parishes, in young adult groups and on college campuses, and nearly 1,000 online responses from young people. "Pope Francis understands the process of listening to the faithful and to his brother bishops to be a key part of his own teaching and pastoral ministry," the cardinal said. "It is a part of the 'synodality' or 'journeying together,' which he sees as essential to the very life of the church." He also noted that Pope Francis demonstrates that witnessing to the faith involves not just words, but actions. Cardinal Wuerl said "Amoris Laetitia" reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on marriage and family life and highlighted the teaching of recent popes on those subjects. The document also underscored the importance of discernment and helping people form consciences guided by church teaching, he said. The journey of faith, he said, also requires support and accompaniment from pastors and other members of the church, so those having difficulty understanding or following that teaching can be helped to accept and live the faith. That effort to go out, encounter and accompany others is at the heart of Pope Francis' call for today's Catholics to be evangelizing disciples, journeying with others to draw closer to Christ on the path to heaven, Cardinal Wuerl said. "Just as Jesus said to his ...
Thu, 14 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- One day after his release from captivity, Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil met with Pope Francis. According to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, the pope welcomed Father Uzhunnalil at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Sept. 13. Arriving before Pope Francis, the Salesian knelt before him and kissed his feet. Visibly moved by the gesture, the pope helped him up and kissed his hands, the Vatican newspaper said. Before blessing Father Uzhunnalil, the pope embraced him and said he would continue to pray for him as he had done during his imprisonment. Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped March 4, 2016, from a home for the aged and disabled run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen. Four Missionaries of Charity and 12 others were murdered in the attack. According to Oman's state-run news agency ONA, Father Uzhunnalil was "rescued" Sept. 12 by Oman authorities "in coordination with the Yemeni parties." Father Uzhunnalil thanked the pope, telling him that "he prayed every day for him, offering his suffering for his mission and the good of the church." Recalling his time in captivity, the Salesian told the pope that although he was unable to celebrate Mass, "every day, I would repeat to myself, in my heart, all the words of the celebration." Father Uzhunnalil said he continues to pray for all those who have been spiritually close to him, particularly for the four nuns and 12 people murdered when he was abducted. Also present at the meeting was Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, who told L'Osservatore Romano that "after this terrible experience, the essential message Father Tom wants to convey is that 'Jesus is great and he loves us.'" "Truly, every day, I felt Jesus close to me," Father Uzhunnalil said. "I always knew and felt in my heart that I was never alone."
Thu, 14 Sep 2017
The Sept. 9 announcement of the motu proprio Magnum Principium , changing canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, has not generated a shortage of comments and commentaries, not in the least on social media. Some bluntly said that the new English translation of the Roman Missal can simply be substituted with the old translation. That is not how the new canon 838 reads. Others believed that Pope Francis moved the authority to approve translations of liturgical texts into the vernacular completely to episcopal conferences. That too is incorrect. It is therefore important to clarify a few elementary points to avoid further confusion. Of course the text of the motu proprio is the first point of reference. However, a letter by Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, gives some background to understand the revision, and another unsigned text — probably also from Archbishop Roche — sheds some further light on the canon. Not a revolution First of all, the new or revised canon does not have the force of law yet: such will happen on Oct. 1. Until such moment, the current version of the canon still applies. That is a basic principle of law. Moreover, when the new canon obtains the force of law, it is a utopia to think that we would see a new English translation of the Roman Missal. From a merely economic point of view, such is simply not realistic. Canon 838 has four paragraphs. Only two of them are changed. Some have interpreted these changes as a decentralization of Church authority, moving some authority in liturgical matters away from the Apostolic See and entrusting that to episcopal conferences. But is that truly the case? And is the process now becoming much easier? Let us be clear: The intervention of the Apostolic See on translations of liturgical books in the vernacular does not disappear. That would have been a revolution. What happens instead is this. In the second paragraph of the original canon, the reference to translations of liturgical books into the vernacular disappears. The revised second paragraph still holds that the Apostolic See orders the sacred liturgy and publishes liturgical books. Any adaptations approved by episcopal conferences according to the norm of law still require recognitio of the Apostolic See. In other words, nothing changes with regard to that point, and the same standard of review continues to apply for these actions. In addition, the Apostolic See is to continue to exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere. Roles and responsibilities The third paragraph of the revised canon deals now exclusively with translations of liturgical books into the vernacular. The changes go both ways. Episcopal conferences are to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books into the vernacular. The addition of the word “faithfully” is new, and is a clear reference to the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (the 2001 Vatican document guiding liturgical translations), as was confirmed by Archbishop Roche. That requirement was not included in the earlier version of canon 838 §3. How then does the role of the Apostolic See in the process of realizing translations of liturgical books into the vernacular change? The wording “review of the Apostolic See” is now replaced with “approval of the Apostolic See.” The document signed by Archbishop Roche attempts to clarify this: the role of the Apostolic See is not to be considered as an alternative in the process of translation, but it is an act by which the competent dicastery, having positively evaluated the fidelity and congruence of the texts that are produced in the vernacular. In plain language: the role of the Apostolic See is not to intervene during the translation process and to impose translations, but to evaluate the work after it is done and to intervene if necessary by not giving the approval. Realistic expectations Can we just go back to the old ...
Mon, 11 Sep 2017
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM COLOMBIA (CNS) -- Politicians who call themselves pro-life must be pro-family and not enact policies that divide families and rob young people of a future, Pope Francis said. Flying from Colombia back to Rome late Sept. 10, Pope Francis was asked about U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed some 800,000 young people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country, working or going to school. Trump announced Sept. 5 that he was phasing out the program; his decision was strongly criticized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pope Francis said he had heard of Trump's decision, but had not had time to study the details of the issue. However, he said, "uprooting young people from their families is not something that will bear fruit." "This law, which I think comes not from the legislature, but from the executive (branch) -- if that's right, I'm not sure -- I hope he rethinks it a bit," the pope said, "because I've heard the president of the United States speak; he presents himself as a man who is pro-life, a good pro-lifer. "If he is a good pro-lifer, he understands that the family is the cradle of life and its unity must be defended," the pope said. Pope Francis said people must be very careful not to dash the hopes and dreams of young people or make them feel "a bit exploited," because the results can be disastrous, leading some to turn to drugs or even suicide. Pope Francis spent only about 35 minutes answering journalists' questions and commenting on his five-day trip to Colombia. After he had answered eight questions, Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, told the pope it was time to sit down because the plane was approaching an area of turbulence. The pope went to the journalists' section of the plane still wearing a small bandage on his left eyebrow and sporting a large bump, which had turned black and blue, on his cheek. Rather than joking with reporters, he told them that he had been reaching out of the popemobile to greet people and turned. "I didn't see the glass." While his trip back to Rome did not have to change flight plans like the flight to Colombia Sept. 6 did because of Hurricane Irma, Pope Francis was asked about the apparently increasing intensity of hurricanes and other storms and what he thinks of political leaders who doubt climate change is real. "Anyone who denies this must go to the scientists and ask," he said. "They speak very clearly. Scientists are precise." Pope Francis said he read a report citing a university study that asserted humanity has only three years to reduce the pace of climate change before it's too late. "I don't know if three years is right or not, but if we don't turn back, we'll go down, that's true." "Climate change -- you can see the effects," Pope Francis said. "And the scientists have told us clearly what the paths to follow are." Everyone has a moral responsibility to act, he said. "And we must take it seriously." "It's not something to play with," the pope said. "It's very serious." Politicians who doubt climate change is real or that human activity contributes to it should speak to the scientists and "then decide. And history will judge their decisions." Asked why he thinks governments have been so slow to act, Pope Francis said he thinks it's partly because, as the Old Testament says, "Man is stupid, a stubborn one who does not see." But the other reason, he said, is almost always money. Talking about his five-day stay in Colombia, Pope Francis said he was "really moved by the joy, the tenderness" and the expressiveness of the people. In the end, they are the ones who will determine whether Colombia truly has peace after 52 years of civil war. Politicians and diplomats can do all the right things to negotiate peace deals, he said, but if the nation's people aren't on board, peace will not be lasting. In Colombia, he said, the ...
Mon, 11 Sep 2017
CARTAGENA, Colombia (CNS) -- Pope Francis capped a five-day trip to Colombia with a call for culture change in a country attempting to pursue a path of peace and reconciliation after decades of armed conflict and centuries of social exclusion. The pope issued his call in Cartagena, on Colombia's Caribbean Coast, where he remembered St. Peter Claver and urged the country to follow the example set centuries earlier by the priest, who tended to slaves arriving on ships by showing kind gestures and dignity. "We are required to generate 'from below' a change in culture, so we respond to the culture of death and violence with the culture of life and encounter," Pope Francis said Sept. 10, prior to returning to Rome. "How many times have we 'normalized' the logic of violence and social exclusion, without prophetically raising our hands or voices?" Pope Francis asked. "Alongside St. Peter Claver were thousands of Christians, many of them consecrated, but only a handful started a countercultural movement of encounter." The final Mass, celebrated at the docks and full of up-tempo music and worship, reiterated many of the themes Pope Francis raised throughout his trip to Colombia: peace, reconciliation and social inclusion, to name but three. He also invoked the motto for his trip, "Let's take the first step." The motto speaks to the collective action needed pull together a country polarized by class divisions, social inequality and how to implement a recently approved peace accord. The accord between the government and guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is not universally popular, though the pursuit of peace is. But Pope Francis pleaded with Colombians to play their personal part in achieving peace and for Catholics to set the example by living their Christian values. "We pray to fulfil the theme of this visit: 'Let us take the first step!' And may this first step be in a common direction. To 'take the first step' is, above all, to go out and meet others, with Christ the Lord," Pope Francis said. "If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands," he continued. "Only if we help to untie the knots of violence will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements. The Lord is able to untie that which seems impossible to us, and he has promised to accompany us to the end of time and will bring to fruition all our efforts." During his Sept. 6-10 visit, Pope Francis heard the voice of victims and victimizers. At the Mass in Cartagena, he departed from his prepared remarks to denounce the illegal drug business, which has spurred violence in the Andean region -- where coca is grown -- and beyond. "I strongly condemn this scourge which has put an end to so many lives and is sustained by unscrupulous men," Pope Francis said. "I'm making a call so that we explore all ways to end narcotics trafficking. The only thing it has done is sow death all over the place, truncating so many hopes and destroying so many families." Pope Francis titled his homily, "Dignity of the person and human rights," and he listed a litany of indignities harming the country and much of the region: money laundering and financial speculation, resource exploitation and destruction of the environment, along with "The overlooked tragedy of migrants." He again spoke of the necessity of seeking truth and providing justice for those wronged in Colombia to reconcile its recent past, which is marred by an armed conflict leaving 220,000 dead and millions more displaced. "Deep historic wounds necessarily require moments where justice is done, where victims are given the opportunity to know the truth, where damage is adequately repaired and clear commitments are made to avoid repeating those crimes," he said. "No collective process excuses us from the challenge of meeting, clarifying, forgiving."
Sat, 09 Sep 2017
MEDELLIN, Colombia (CNS) -- In changes to the Code of Canon Law regarding translations of the Mass and other liturgical texts, Pope Francis highlighted respect for the responsibility of national and regional bishops' conferences. The changes, released by the Vatican Sept. 9 as Pope Francis was traveling in Colombia, noted the sometimes tense relationship between bishops' conferences and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments over translations of texts from Latin to the bishops' local languages. The heart of the document, which applies only to the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, changes two clauses in Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law. The Vatican no longer will "review" translations submitted by bishops' conferences, but will "recognize" them. And rather than being called to "prepare and publish" the translations, the bishops are to "approve and publish" them. Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the worship congregation, said under the new rules, the Vatican's "confirmatio" of a translation is "ordinarily granted based on trust and confidence," and "supposes a positive evaluation of the faithfulness and congruence of the texts produced with respect to the typical Latin text." Pope Francis made no announcement of immediate changes to the translations currently in use. The document is titled "Magnum Principium" ("The Great Principle") and refers to what Pope Francis called the "great principle" of the Second Vatican Council that the liturgy should be understood by the people at prayer, and therefore bishops were asked to prepare and approve translations of the texts. Pope Francis did not overturn previous norms and documents on the principles that should inspire the various translations, but said they were "general guidelines," which should continue to be followed to ensure "integrity and accurate faithfulness, especially in translating some texts of major importance in each liturgical book." However, the pope seemed to indicate a willingness to allow some space for the translation principle known as "dynamic equivalence," which focuses on faithfully rendering the sense of a phrase rather than translating each individual word and even maintaining the original language's syntax. "While fidelity cannot always be judged by individual words but must be sought in the context of the whole communicative act and according to its literary genre," the pope wrote, "nevertheless some particular terms must also be considered in the context of the entire Catholic faith, because each translation of texts must be congruent with sound doctrine." The pope said the changes would go into effect Oct. 1, and he ordered the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments to "modify its own 'Regulations' on the basis of the new discipline and help the episcopal conferences to fulfill their task as well as working to promote ever more the liturgical life of the Latin church." The greater oversight provided earlier by the Vatican was understandable, Pope Francis said, given the supreme importance of the Mass and other liturgies in the life of the church. The main concerns, he said, were to preserve "the substantial unity of the Roman rite," even without universal celebrations in Latin, but also to recognize that vernacular languages themselves could "become liturgical languages, standing out in a not-dissimilar way to liturgical Latin for their elegance of style and the profundity of their concepts with the aim of nourishing the faith." Another teaching of the Second Vatican Council that needed to be strengthened, he said, was a recognition of "the right and duty of episcopal conferences," which are called to collaborate with the Vatican.
Fri, 08 Sep 2017
Consolidating peace in Colombia will mean overcoming "the darkness" of inequality and a lack of respect for human life, Pope Francis said. "Here, as in other places, there is a thick darkness which threatens and destroys life," the pope said in his homily at a late-afternoon Mass Sept. 7 in Bogota's Simon Bolivar Park. Colombian authorities said more than 1.1 million people gathered in the park for the Mass. Many of them were soaked in a rainstorm before the pope arrived, but as Mass began, bits of blue sky began to appear. Still, preaching about the Gospel story of Jesus' first encountering Simon Peter after the fishermen had fished all night without luck, Pope Francis spoke about the "turmoil and darkness" of the sea as a symbol for "everything that threatens human existence and that has the power to destroy it." For Colombia, just starting to recover from more than 50 years of civil war, and for many other nations as well, the pope said, the threats come from "the darkness of injustice and social inequality; (and) the corrupting darkness of personal and group interests that consume in a selfish and uncontrolled way what is destined for the good of all." The threats include "the darkness of disrespect for human life which daily destroys the life of many innocents, whose blood cries out to heaven; the darkness of thirst for vengeance and the hatred which stains the hands of those who would right wrongs on their own authority; the darkness of those who become numb to the pain of so many victims," he said. But "Jesus scatters and destroys all this darkness." In society, in politics and in the church, Pope Francis said, people can get "tangled up in endless discussions" about what went wrong and whose fault it is. But the only way forward is to follow Jesus, obeying his command to cast out the nets, which means taking responsibility for personal conversion and changing the world. "Jesus invites us to put out into the deep, he prompts us to take shared risks, to leave behind our selfishness and to follow him," Pope Francis told the crowd, which included Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife. Jesus wants people to leave behind their fears, "which paralyze us and prevent us (from) becoming artisans of peace, promoters of life." The people of Colombia, he said, are called to continue their conversion to peace and respect for all the nation's people. That can happen only by promoting unity, "working for the defense and care of human life, especially when it is most fragile and vulnerable: in a mother's womb, in infancy, in old age, in conditions of incapacity and in situations of social marginalization." Jesus calls people "out of darkness and bring us to light and to life," the pope said. "He calls everyone, so that no one is left to the mercy of the storms," asking the strong "to carry the most fragile and promote their rights." After the Mass, Pope Francis was scheduled to greet bishops from neighboring countries, including from Venezuela, which is in the midst of a social, political and economic crisis. Venezuelan Cardinals Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas and Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida told reporters Pope Francis also invited them to discuss the crisis with him. "We have the highest inflation in the world, an inflation of 700,000-800,000 percent," Cardinal Urosa said. It is "a truly desperate situation. There are people who eat the garbage; yes, there are people who eat garbage, and there are people who die because there is no medicine." He said the bishops also wanted to tell the pope more about "the serious political situation, because the government is doing everything possible to establish a state system, totalitarian and Marxist." Cardinal Porras added, "I think that this meeting is a real gift that the pope is giving to all of the Venezuelan people through the bishops who are here."
Thu, 07 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Quoting celebrated Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pope Francis told the country's bishops he knows "it is easier to begin a war than to end one" and that, to succeed, Colombia needs bishops who are pastors, not politicians. "All of us know that peace calls for a distinct kind of moral courage," the pope told the bishops Sept. 7. "War follows the basest instincts of our heart, whereas peace forces us to rise above ourselves." Welcoming Pope Francis to the meeting, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota told the pope, "Our homeland is struggling to put behind it a history of violence that has plunged it into death for decades," but the process of building peace "has become a source of political polarization that every day sows division, confrontation and disorientation. We are a country marked by deep inequalities and inequities that demand radical changes in all fields of social life. But it does not seem we are willing to pay the price required." One temptation, the pope said, is for the bishops and priests to get involved in the country's heated partisan political debate. Resist, the pope told them. The country needs pastors. It needs ministers who know firsthand "how marred is the face of this country," how deep are the wounds and how intensely it needs to experience healing and forgiveness. "Colombia has need of you so that it can show its true face, filled with hope despite its imperfections," he said. It needs the church's help "so that it can engage in mutual forgiveness despite wounds not yet completely healed, so that it can believe that another path can be taken, even when force of habit causes the same mistakes to be constantly repeated." Finding a magic formula to fix problems is a temptation, Pope Francis said. But the church's ministers "are not mechanics or politicians, but pastors." The church does not need special favors from politicians, he said. It only needs the freedom to speak and to minister. But it also needs internal unity, the pope told the bishops. "So continue to seek communion among yourselves. Never tire of building it through frank and fraternal dialogue, avoiding hidden agendas like the plague." Although he said he had "no recipes" and would not "leave you a list of things to do," Pope Francis made two specific requests of the bishops: Pay more attention to "the Afro-Colombian roots of your people," and show more concern for the church, the people and the environment in southern Colombia's Amazon region. The region holds "an essential part of the remarkable biodiversity of this country," and protecting it is "a decisive test of whether our society, all too often prey to materialism and pragmatism, is capable of preserving what it freely received, not to exploit it but to make it bear fruit." In a speech that included several references to the duty to defend human life, Pope Francis said he wondered if society could learn from the indigenous people of the Amazon "the sacredness of life, respect for nature and the recognition that technology alone is insufficient to bring fulfillment to our lives and to respond to our most troubling questions." "I am told that in some native Amazon languages the idea of 'friend' is translated by the words, 'my other arm.' May you be the other arm of the Amazon," he said. "Colombia cannot amputate that arm without disfiguring its face and its soul."
Thu, 07 Sep 2017
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) -- As Colombia strives to build a lasting peace, the country's elders need the encouragement and insistence of young people, who believe with all their hearts that forgiveness is possible and grudges don't have to last for decades, Pope Francis said. The pope turned what was originally described as the "blessing of the faithful" Sept. 7 into a rallying cry to an estimated 22,000 young Colombians gathered in Plaza Bolivar outside the cathedral and cardinal's residence. "Dream big," he told them. "Help us, your elders, not grow accustomed to pain and death." Pope Francis not only described the youths as the "hope of Colombia and of the church," but he said that when they walk the path of empathy, understanding, encounter, forgiveness and hope, people can see in them the actions of Jesus, "the messenger of peace, the one who brings us good news." "Do not let anyone rob you of your joy," the pope told the youths, who were singing, dancing and waving flags and homemade, oversized foam gloves. "Keep joy alive," he told them. "It is a sign of a young heart, of a heart that has encountered the Lord." Fueled by joy, he said, young people can spread hope and confidence in a new future for Colombia, one that finally and definitively turns the corner after more than 50 years of civil war, death and destruction. "Do not be afraid of the future," the pope said. "Dare to dream big." Young people almost naturally are sensitive to the suffering of others, he said. That's why so many volunteer organizations all over the world rely on the young to carry out their work. It is possible, he added, that "death, pain and division have impacted you so deeply that they have left you half-dazed, as if numb," but he pleaded with them to open their hearts to the suffering of others and mobilize to respond. Living in a country at war, experiences of poverty or of broken homes, seeing peers give into drug addiction -- all those things make young people see that "not everything is black and white," the pope said. Some people react by falling into relativism, thinking that nothing is clearly right or wrong -- but "wrong is always wrong and cannot just be smoothed over," he said. Another reaction, a better reaction, Pope Francis said, is that of "perceiving the pain of those who suffered," not only judging actions, but understanding the individuals involved and the "endless number of causes, of mitigating factors." That understanding, the pope said, must be extended to the youths' parents and grandparents, who "could not or did not know how" to come to an understanding and to end the civil war sooner. Young people are experts at not getting "entangled in old stories" and grudges, he said. "You help us in the desire to leave behind what has hurt us, to look to the future without the burden of hatred." "Precisely for this reason you are facing the enormous challenge of helping us to heal our hearts; of passing on to us the youthful hope which is always ready to give others a second chance," Pope Francis said. He ended with a plea and prayer for all the nation's people: "Do not let difficulties weigh you down; may violence not break you; may evil not overwhelm you."
Thu, 07 Sep 2017
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) -- Pope Francis urged Colombians to put aside prejudice and pursue peace through social inclusion, fighting inequality and paying attention to the plight of the country's most marginalized populations, such as campesinos, Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples. Speaking alongside President Juan Manuel Santos, the pope called on Colombians to recognize that "real wealth is diversity" and to pursue a "culture of encounter," in which people are at the center of all political, social and economic activity. Promoting such a culture would "help us flee from the temptation of revenge and the satisfaction of short-term partisan interests." "I encourage you to look to all those who today are excluded and marginalized by society, those who have no value in the eyes of the majority, who are held back, cast aside. Everyone is needed in the work of creating and shaping society. This is not achieved simply with those of 'pure blood,' but by all," the pope told Santos and government officials Sept. 7 outside the Casa de Narino, Colombia's presidential palace. "Please ... listen to the poor, to those who suffer," he added. "Look them in the eye and let yourselves be continually questioned by their faces racked with pain and by their pleading hands. From them we learn true lessons about life, humanity and dignity." The speech -- invoking St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit who fought discrimination and the slave trade in Colombia -- was Pope Francis' first official event on his five-day visit to the South American country. Pope Francis arrived in Colombia as the country pursues peace after five decades of armed conflict. That conflict has claimed 220,000 lives and left millions more victimized and displaced. Many of those victims came from the poorest strata of Colombian society. "Our gaze fixes upon the weakest, the oppressed and maltreated, those who have no voice, either because it has been taken from them, or was never given to them, or because they are ignored," the pope said, as children sat behind on a platform in front of the presidential palace columns. The pope also emphasized the importance of family -- "envisioned by God to be the fruit of spousal love" -- as a source of social cohesion and "that place where we learn to live with others despite our difference and to belong to one another." Colombia's government and a Marxist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, reached a peace accord last year. The FARC is demobilizing and recently formed a political party. Another Marxist group, the National Liberation Army, is in talks with the government and agreed to a four-month cease-fire in the days before the pope's arrival. The peace accord with the FARC has proved polemic; some in Colombia disapprove of FARC leaders receiving reduced punishments for committing atrocities and fear the presence of former guerrillas in the country's political process. Pope Francis has not specifically endorsed the peace accord, but he saluted the process of bringing peace to Colombia. "Over the past year, significant progress has been made. The steps taken give rise to hope, in the conviction that seeking peace is an open-ended endeavor, a task which does not relent, which demands the commitment of everyone," Pope Francis said. "It is an endeavor challenging us not to weaken our efforts to build the unity of the nation." Santos, who has promoted the peace accord in the face of stiff opposition, called the pope's visit a "push" to take the first steps toward peace and reconciliation. "It's no use silencing our weapons if we continue armed in our hearts," the president said. "It's no use ending a war if we still pursue each other as enemies. That's why were need to reconcile. "We trust your visit will open the hearts and minds of Colombians to the peace that comes from God and inhabits the souls of men. This is the peace we are constructing," he told the pope. Pope Francis ended by telling the country, "you have ...
Thu, 07 Sep 2017
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) -- Pope Francis arrived in Colombia Sept. 6 for a five-day visit to promote reconciliation in a deeply Catholic country scarred and reticent to offer forgiveness after decades of war. The pope was greeted was welcomed by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez Munera. Children in traditional costumes presented him with flowers, and the pope greeted members of the Colombian military, including soldiers injured in the line of duty. In a gesture to promote the themes of peace and reconciliation, he was given a dove by a boy named Emmanuel, who was born in a guerrilla camp to Colombian politician Clara Rojas, kidnapped in 2002 and released nearly six years later. Related Reading Pursue peace through social inclusion, pope tells Colombian officials Colombia youths must teach elders to forgive, to move on, pope says Pope urges bishops to contribute to peace as pastors, not politicians On the 12-hour flight from Rome, Pope Francis told reporters that the trip was "to help Colombia go forward in its journey of peace." Expectations for Pope Francis' visit are running high among Colombian Catholics. It's the first papal trip to Colombia since 1986, when St. John Paul II visited. But he arrived after the signing of a peace accord promising to put Colombia on a path of ending more than 50 years of armed conflict. Just days before the visit, the National Liberation Army, a Marxist organization carrying out crimes like kidnap and bombings, and the government agreed to a four-month cease-fire. Challenges remain, especially as many Colombians -- including Catholics and those of conservative persuasions -- object to the idea of demobilized Marxist guerrillas accused of atrocities receiving reduced punishments and even participating in politics. Those persecuted by paramilitaries voice similar misgivings. "We are expecting that the pope brings a lot of hope," said Msgr. Hector Fabio Henao, director of Caritas Colombia. "The pope arrives at a time when reconciliation is the greatest challenge. We hope that his message touches the hearts of those who have suffered due to this conflict." The papal trip carries the motto: "Let's take the first step," purposely chosen to convey a sense of collective involvement in the country's peace process. "The motto of the apostolic trip says exactly what we are expecting: Let's take the first step," said Auxiliary Bishop Juan Carlos Cardenas Toro of Cali. "This first step by the pope, stepping off the flight to come closer to this nation, which has suffered, is something for us that opens the door to hope." The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym as FARC, reached a peace accord in 2016, in which the FARC agreed to demobilize. The agreement has proved polemic, even though violence perpetrated by guerrilla groups, government soldiers and paramilitaries has left an estimated 220,000 dead and millions more displaced. Catholics are divided on the peace accord, and Colombian bishops have stayed on the sidelines, while encouraging the laity to voice their opinions. Many conservative Catholics, along with evangelicals, argued the deal included provisions harmful to the traditional family -- a charge denied by peace accord proponents; opponents turned out to defeat the deal in a plebiscite. The accord later was reworked and approved in Congress. People say they want peace, but disagree -- often strongly -- on how to pursue it "The church itself reflects the divisions in Colombian society," said Jesuit Father Mauricio Garcia Duran. "The pope comes to Colombia in a context of polarization." The papal visit touches on themes important to the country and church. In the capital, Bogota, Sept. 7, the pope will celebrate a Mass focused on young people, expected to attract more than 1 million attendees. He travels Sept. 8 to Villavicencio -- gateway to the at-times neglected southern half of Colombia -- ...
Tue, 05 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- English Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, a longtime leader in Catholic-Anglican relations and former archbishop of Westminster, died Sept. 1 at the age of 85. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster issued a statement saying his predecessor "died peacefully this afternoon, surrounded by his family and friends." Cardinal Murphy O'Connor had been hospitalized in mid-August. His funeral was scheduled for Sept. 13 at Westminster Cathedral in London. Early Sept. 1, the Westminster diocese tweeted a link to a letter from Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, which said, "At this time, the words I pray every night are never far from my thoughts: 'Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.'" He asked Cardinal Nichols to tell the people of the diocese "I am at peace and have no fear of what is to come." Pope Francis, in a condolence message to Cardinal Nichols, recalled "with immense gratitude the late cardinal's distinguished service to the church in England and Wales, his unwavering devotion to the preaching of the Gospel and the care of the poor, and his far-sighted commitment to the advancement of ecumenical and interreligious understanding." Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was once described by The Tablet, a Catholic weekly, as "everyone's favorite bishop: human, genial, collaborative, imposing.'' A leader in ecumenical relations, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor served as Catholic chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission for two decades. At a lecture in Salford, England, just a month before he was made a cardinal in 2001, he said that "unity must be our constant goal and at the heart of all that we do.'' Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, reacting to the cardinal's death, said that "in Cormac, people saw something of Christ." The Anglican leader said that, as Catholic chairman of ARCIC, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor lent both his customary good humor and his theological acumen to the production of some of the most influential of ecumenical agreed texts of the 20th century. At a time when others bemoaned the lack of instant progress in ecumenical relations, Cormac saw the work of ARCIC as an investment and a building block for future closer relations." Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was born Aug. 24, 1932, in Reading, England, the fifth son of Irish parents, Dr. George Murphy-O'Connor and his wife, Ellen. Two of his brothers also became priests. He was educated at Presentation College, Reading, and Prior Park College, Bath. He trained for the priesthood at the English College in Rome and earned degrees in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest in Rome Oct. 28, 1956, and was appointed bishop of Arundel and Brighton in 1977. Prior to his ordination as a bishop he was rector of the English College. He also was private secretary and chaplain to the then-Bishop Derek Worlock of Portsmouth, later archbishop of Liverpool. St. John Paul II inducted him into the College of Cardinals in February 2001 and he retired eight years later. After retiring as archbishop of Westminster, he moved to a house in Chiswick and continued his work in Rome, taking up new posts on the congregations for Bishops and for the Evangelization of Peoples. On several occasions, he acted as papal representative to places such as Stockholm, India, Bangladesh and Trondheim, Norway. In June 2010, he was named as the apostolic visitor to the Archdiocese of Armagh, Northern Ireland, in the aftermath of the Ryan and Murphy Reports on clergy abuse of children. After he turned 80, many of his Vatican commitments ceased, and he participated in the conclave of 2013 as a nonvoter. Throughout his life, the cardinal remained interested in music and sports, especially rugby and golf. He occasionally performed on the piano at charity events and celebrations. His publications include "The Family of the Church" (1984), "At the Heart of the World" (2004) and a volume of memoirs, "An English Spring" (2015). His ...
Tue, 05 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After leading thousands of pilgrims in praying the Angelus, Pope Francis offered prayers for flood victims in Texas and Louisiana following a devastating hurricane that caused massive flooding. He also prayed for flood victims in Asia where monsoon rains have killed thousands in Bangladesh, India and Nepal and displaced millions of people. "While I renew my spiritual closeness to the people of southern Asia, who still suffer the consequences of the floods, I want to express my heartfelt participation in the sufferings of the inhabitants of Texas and Louisiana struck by a hurricane and by exceptional rains that have caused victims, thousands of displaced and considerable material damage," the pope said Sept. 3. Hundreds of thousands were displaced in Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 26. In the same week, floods and landslides in southern Asia killed more than 1,000 people and affected an estimated 41 million people, the United Nations reported. Invoking the intercession of Mary, "consoler of the afflicted," the pope prayed that she would "obtain from the Lord the grace of comfort for our brothers and sisters" affected by the floods. In his address before reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew in which Jesus rebukes Peter for opposing his death on the cross. "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do," Jesus said to Peter. Peter, the pope explained, turned from the rock upon which Christ wanted to build his church to "a stumbling block on the path of the Messiah." Christians today face the same temptation of "wanting to follow Christ without the cross, or even of wanting to teach God the right path." "Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love and there is no true love without self-sacrifice," the pope said. "We are called to not allow ourselves to be absorbed by the vision of this world but to always be more aware of the need and effort for us Christians to walk uphill and against the current." The wisdom of Jesus' call to gain life by losing it, the pope continued, challenges the "egocentric mentality and behaviors" that lead men and women to a "sad and sterile existence" that comes from only protecting and fulfilling themselves. "May Mary Most Holy, who followed Jesus to Calvary, accompany us also and help us not to be afraid of the cross," he said. May all accept "the cross of suffering for love of God and of our brothers and sisters because this suffering, by the grace of Christ, is fruitful with the resurrection."
Fri, 01 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- By virtue of its very definition, marriage can only be between a man and a woman, Pope Francis said in a new book-length interview. "We cannot change it. This is the nature of things," not just in the church, but in human history, he said in a series of interviews with Dominique Wolton, a 70-year-old French sociologist and expert in media and political communication. Published in French, the 417-page book, "Politique et Societe" ("Politics and Society") was to be released Sept. 6. Catholic News Service obtained an advance copy, and excerpts appeared online. When it comes to the true nature of marriage as well as gender, there is "critical confusion at the moment," the pope said. When asked about marriage for same-sex couples, the pope said, "Let's call this 'civil unions.' We do not joke around with truth." Teaching children that they can choose their gender, he said, also plays a part in fostering such mistakes about the truth or facts of nature. The pope said he wondered whether these new ideas about gender and marriage were somehow based on a fear of differences, and he encouraged researchers to study the subject. Pope Francis also said his decision to give all priests permanent permission to grant absolution to those who confess to having procured an abortion was not mean to trivialize this serious and grave sin. Abortion continues to be "murder of an innocent person. But if there is sin, forgiveness must be facilitated," he said. So often a woman who never forgets her aborted child "cries for years without having the courage to go see a priest." "Do you have any idea the number of people who can finally breathe?" he asked, adding how important it was these women can find the Lord's forgiveness and never commit this sin again. Pope Francis said the biggest threat in the world is money. In St. Matthew's Gospel, when Jesus talked about people's love and loyalty being torn between two things, he didn't say it was between "your wife or God," it was choosing between God or money. "It's clear. They are two things opposed to each other," he said. When asked why people do not listen to this message even though it has been clearly condemned by the church since the time of the Gospels, the pope said it is because some people prefer to speak only about morality. "There is a great danger for preachers, lecturers, to fall into mediocrity," which is condemning only those forms of immorality that fall "below the belt," he said. "But the other sins that are the most serious: hatred, envy, pride, vanity, killing another, taking away a life ... these are really not talked about that much," he said. "The most minor sins are the sins of the flesh," he said, because the flesh is weak. "The most dangerous sins are those of the mind," and confessors should spend more time asking if a person prays, reads the Gospel and seeks the Lord. One temptation the church has always been vulnerable to, the pope said, is being defensive because it is scared. "Where in the Gospels does the Lord say that we need to seek security? Instead he said, 'Risk, go ahead, forgive and evangelize.'" Another temptation, he said, is to seek uniformity with rules, for example, in the debate concerning his apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia." "When I talk about families in difficulty, I say, 'Welcome, accompany, discern, integrate ...' and then everyone will see the doors open. In reality, what happens is you hear people say, 'They cannot receive Communion.' 'They cannot do this and that.'" That temptation of the church to emphasize "no, no and no" and what is prohibited is the same "drama Jesus (experienced) with the Pharisees." This closed, fundamentalist mindset like Jesus faced is "the battle I lead today with the exhortation." Jesus followed "another logic" that went beyond prohibitions as he did not adhere to customs -- like not touching lepers and stoning adulterers -- that had become like commandments, he said. Church leaders ...
Fri, 01 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Environmental destruction is a sign of a "morally decaying scenario" in which too many people ignore or deny that, from the beginning, "God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment," said the leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Marking the Sept. 1 World Day of Prayer for Creation, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople issued a joint message. They urged government and business leaders "to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation." Prayer to Care for Our Common Home Father of all, Creator and ruler of the universe, You entrusted your world to us as a gift. Help us to care for it and all people, that we may live in right relationship-- with You, with ourselves, with one another, and with creation. Christ our Lord, both divine and human, You lived among us and died for our sins. Help us to imitate your love for the human family by recognizing that we are all connected— to our brothers and sisters around the world, to those in poverty impacted by environmental devastation, and to future generations. Holy Spirit, giver of wisdom and love, You breathe life in us and guide us. Help us to live according to your vision, stirring to action the hearts of all— individuals and families, communities of faith, and civil and political leaders. Triune God, help us to hear the cry of those in poverty, and the cry of the earth, so that we may together care for our common home. Amen. This prayer from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is based on Pope Francis' Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home Courtesy of USCCB.org Looking at the description of the Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis, the pope and patriarch said, "The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy." But, they said, "our propensity to interrupt the world's delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet's limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets -- all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation." "We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession," the two leaders said. "We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs." Ignoring God's plan for creation has "tragic and lasting" consequences on both "the human environment and the natural environment," they wrote. "Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation." The pope and the patriarch said prayer is not incidental to ecology, because "an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world." The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople established the World Day of Prayer for Creation in 1989. In 2015, shortly after publishing his encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si'," Pope Francis established the day of prayer for Catholics as well. The object of Christian prayer and action for the safeguarding of creation, the two leaders wrote, is to encourage all Christians "to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives." Echoing remarks Pope Francis made Aug. 30 when the pontiff announced he and the patriarch were issuing a joint message, the text included a plea to world leaders. "We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized," they wrote. No enduring solution can be found "to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service." Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew also highlighted how "this ...
Thu, 31 Aug 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis offered his prayers for the people of Texas and Louisiana struggling to cope with the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey and he praised all those engaged in rescuing and caring for the thousands of people forced out of their homes. In a message to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Pope Francis asked that his "spiritual closeness and pastoral concern" be relayed to all those affected by the hurricane and flooding. The message was sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and released by the Vatican Aug. 31. "Deeply moved by the tragic loss of life and the immense material devastation that this natural catastrophe has left in its wake, he prays for the victims and their families, and for all those engaged in the vital work of relief, recovery and rebuilding," Cardinal Parolin said. Pope Francis, he said, "trusts that the immense and immediate needs of so many individuals and communities will continue to inspire a vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation."
Thu, 24 Aug 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must continue to work to understand the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and why they were made, rather than rethinking them, Pope Francis said. "After this magisterium, after this long journey, we can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible," Pope Francis told participants in Italy's National Liturgical Week. The pope's speech to the 800 participants Aug. 24 was the longest and most systematic talk he has given as pope on the theme of the liturgy since Vatican II. Instead of reconsidering the council's reforms, he said, priests and liturgists should work on "rediscovering the decisions made" in reforming the liturgy, "internalizing its inspirational principles and observing the discipline that governs it." The National Liturgical Week is sponsored by the Liturgical Action Center, which organizes liturgical training as well as national, regional and diocesan conventions to "disseminate and promote liturgical pastoral guidelines proposed by the Italian bishops' conference," according to its website. After congratulating the organization on its 70th anniversary, Pope Francis said the church has lived through "substantial and not superficial" events throughout its history, including with the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent liturgical reform. Citing the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," the pope said the reform responded to "real needs and the concrete hope for a renewal," which would offer a living liturgy where the faithful were no longer "strangers or silent spectators." For this reason, he added, the church must continue to rediscover the reasons for the reform and "overcome unfounded and superficial readings, partial revelations, and practices that disfigure it." Reflecting on the week's theme -- "A living liturgy for a living church" -- Pope Francis said the liturgy is "alive" through the living presence of Jesus. Liturgical signs, including the altar, direct the gaze of the priest and the faithful to "Christ, the living stone, who was discarded by men but has become the cornerstone of the spiritual edifice in which we worship." "The liturgy is life for the entire people of the church," he said. "By its nature, the liturgy is 'popular' and not clerical, because it is -- as the etymology teaches us -- an action for the people, but also of the people." The liturgy, he continued, unites church members through prayer, and it "gathers in prayer all those who seek to listen to the Gospel without discarding anyone; it summons the great and small, rich and poor, children and elderly people, healthy and sick, just ones and sinners." "In the image of the 'immense multitude' celebrating the liturgy in the sanctuary of heaven," Pope Francis said, "the liturgical assembly overcomes through Christ every boundary of age, race, language and nation." The liturgy is "not an idea to understand," but rather a "source of life and light for our journey of faith," he said. Therefore, the rites and prayers become "a school of Christian life" for the faithful "by what they are and not by the explanations we give them." "This is still the commitment I ask of you today: to help ordained ministers as well as other ministers -- cantors, artists, musicians -- cooperate so that the liturgy may be the source and culmination of the vitality of the church," the pope said.