From the Vatican

Pope: Defend Hope

Pope 012019Jan. 19, 2018 (Vatican News) Pope Francis tells authorities in Lima to work to defend hope in the face of environmental degradation and corruption.

The theme for Pope Francis’ visit to Peru is “United by Hope” and he told authorities, civil society and diplomats gathered at Government Palace in Lima on Friday that “seeing this land is itself a reason for hope.”

The Pope continued by saying that Peru was a country steeped in hospitality, solidarity and esteem for others.


He pointed to the youth of the country as the most vital gift the nation possessed, adding that they “encourage us to dream of a hope-filled future”.

But the Pope underlined that “over this hope a shadow is growing, a threat looms”.

He spoke of how humanity “is stripping the earth of its natural resources, without which no forms of life are possible.”  The loss of jungles and forests, he added,  “means not only the loss of species, which could also be extremely important resources for the future, but also the loss of vital relationships that could end up altering the entire ecosystem”.

In this context, Pope Francis stressed “being “united in defense of hope” means promoting and developing an integral ecology as an alternative to “an outdated model of development…”


Working together to defend hope, he said,  “demands that we remain very attentive to that other, often subtle form of environmental degradation that increasingly contaminates the whole system of life: corruption.”


Peru Welcomes Pope Francis

Pope 011918By Linda Bordoni

Jan. 19, 2018 (Vatican News) Pope Francis arrived in Peru’s capital city Lima on Thursday evening beginning the second leg of an apostolic visit that is also scheduled to take him to the Amazon city of Puerto Maldonado and to the northern coastal city of Trujillo.

The Pope will be in Peru from 18 to 21. This is the third papal journey to the nation after Saint Pope John Paul II who visited the nation twice, in 1985 and 1988.

The Amazon climate of Puerto Maldonado has impacted the usual protocol a papal visit is tied to with the official courtesy visit to Peru’s President taking place late Friday afternoon to allow him to travel to Puerto Maldonado in the morning thus avoiding tropical afternoon downpours.

Puerto Maldonado gateway to Peruvian Amazon

In Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon which makes up some 60% of the nation’s territory, Pope Francis will hold a highly anticipated meeting with some 4000 representatives of different indigenous peoples.

During the meeting – which takes place within the “Laudato Sì” framework, Francis’s encyclical “on the care of our common home” will be presented in some of the indigenous languages.

Columban Fr. Peter Hughes, a member of the Executive Committee of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network – REPAM - spoke to Cristiane Murray, the Vatican News correspondent in Puerto Maldonado about the significance of  Pope Francis’ visit to Peru.

Two main themes

Father Hughes reflected on the importance and on the meaning of this visit for the nation and for the world pinpointing two themes in particular: the Pope’s closeness to the marginalized and to the poor, and the fact that he will be meeting with representatives of many indigenous groups in the Amazon region highlighting his concern for the rights of indigenous peoples and for the plight of the rainforest and the need to care for “our common home”.

Peru, Hughes explained, is suffering from huge problems of poverty and marginalization. It’s a multicultural multi ethnic society, there are 42 languages spoken in the country (many in the Amazon region) as well as two major indigenous languages, and many components of its society do not have access even to basic services.

Pope's affinity to major Peruvian concerns

“I think the Pope has a particular affinity with a county like Peru, not only because he is Latin American but because he is a Latin American Pope who has been deeply involved with the whole process of reform fueled by the Conference of Medellin after Vatican 2” he said.

Hughes said Francis is a very good expression and exponent of the whole reform period in the Latin American Church, having been himself an important agent in the Church in this period (Bergoglio played a major role in drawing up the Aparecida document).

“He shares a particularly profound insight from the heart of the Gospel that God’s wish for people is that they are included in life and that they are not supposed to be marginalized for political, economic or cultural reasons” he said.

He said his affinity with the plight of the poor gives him a strong connection to the desperateness of the current situation.

“Peruvians are waiting for him for very deep spiritual reasons” he said.  

Indigenous peoples, the Amazon and 'Laudato Sì'

The second reason this visit is so significant, Hughes continues, is to do with the fact that Francis is arriving in the Amazon region and he will be meeting representatives of many indigenous groups in the town of Maldonado.

“Here, Fr. Hughes said, there is a direct connection between his visit and his encyclical Laudato Sì”.

Hughes described the Amazon as the place where the common home of humanity and of the world is perhaps best expressed.

He said the destruction and the depredation of the Amazon is terrible and is taking place at an increasingly accelerated rate.

He explained that in the town of Puerto Maldonado the great trans-oceanic highway that connects the Amazon to the Pacific coast passes through and that this is the subject of much debate because of all the scandals and corruption connected to its construction.

“A major highway is always considered as progress” he said, but it must not be ignored that it also brings with it a lot of problems: “There are human, social and political consideration to be made”.

Puerto Maldonado, he continued, is also a center of major drug-trafficking and human trafficking of young women for prostitution; it’s where small boys are exploited as workers in the gold mines with no consideration for their rights or their health; it’s where the major problems of the Amazon take place like deforestation and the destruction of land because of how the extractive industries operate”.

He spoke of the taking of lands and livelihoods from the indigenous peoples who have been connected to this land for millennia and of how they are being used for multinational agri-business for production with no regard for the consequences this will have on biodiversity, water access and the rotation that the lands need.

Hughes pointed out that the question of climate is ‘in question’ in the Amazon: “if the Amazon and the Congo, the two major river basins of the world continue to be destroyed, 20% of drinking water that is available to people in the world will be gone; 20% of the oxygen that people in the world need to breathe will be gone. These are huge levels of destruction that we don’t hear about every day and these are exactly the concerns Francis has been writing about in Laudato Sì”.

Francis will be speaking to the whole human family

So, Hughes concluded,  he won’t be speaking just to the people of the Amazon but to the world, to the human family across the globe, to Christians, Catholics, believers and non-believers and he will be “drawing a line and shining a light to alert us all about the need to change, on every level; that life on earth has to be respected and that we have to become serious about the Paris Climate Treaty and about how to defend the world, its beauty, its resources and its climate from destruction”.  


Pope Tells Youth: Stay “Connected” to Christ to be Protagonists of ‎Change

Pope 011818By Robin Gomes

Jan. 17, 2018 (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Wednesday urged young Chileans to be “protagonists of change” in the nation and in the Church by staying “connected” to Christ and doing what He would do in their place.

Speaking to them at the National Shrine of Maipu dedicated to Our Lady of Carmel, in Santiago, the Argentinian Pope improvised amply in his native Spanish, underscoring the importance and experience of young people, saying he wants them to help the Church “to be more faithful to the Gospel,” and “draw closer to Jesus.”

Mobile phone

Pope Francis used the analogy of a mobile phone with battery running down and losing internet connection, to hit home his message of how to stay connected to Christ when faith begins to waver.

“Without a connection, a connection to Jesus,” the Pope said, “we end up drowning our thoughts and ideas, our dreams and our faith, and so we get frustrated and annoyed,” and our hearts begin to falter. But the Pope cautioned, “Never think that you have nothing to offer or that nobody cares about you.”  Citing Chilean St. Albert Hurtado, he said it is the devil who makes us feel worthless.

Pope Francis pointed out that the disciples of John the Baptist followed Jesus, because they wanted the ‎‎“connection” to help them keep the flame alive in their hearts.  They ‎wanted to know how to charge the power cells of their heart.  They were looking for the password to ‎connect with the one who is “the way, and the truth and the life”. ‎

Jesus - password and power source

Pope Francis offered the young people the words of Hurtado as the password to log on: “What would Christ do in my place?”  This they can ask themselves at school, at university, outdoors, at home, among friends, at work, when taunted, the Pope said, “He is the password, the power source that charges our hearts, ignites our faith and makes our eyes sparkle.  And the only way not to forget the password, the Pope said, is by using it over and over, day after day. A time will come, he said, when without realizing it, your heart will beat like Jesus’ heart and live the way Jesus lived.  Time and again, in his talk, Pope asked the young people their password.

Gospel models

Pope Francis offered young Chileans several Gospel models to follow.  He urged them to be young Samaritans, who never walk past someone lying on the roadside.  He told them to be young Simons of Cyrene who help Christ carry his cross and help alleviate the sufferings of their brothers and sisters.  “Be like Zacchaeus, who turns his heart from materialism to solidarity.  Be like young Mary Magdalene, passionately seeking love, who finds in Jesus alone the answers she needs.  Have the heart of Peter, so that you can abandon your nets beside the lake.  Have the love of John, so that you can rest all your concerns in him.  Have the openness of Mary, so that you can sing for joy and do God’s will,” the Pope said.

Before concluding, Pope Francis once more reminded the young men and women not to forget their password.


Pope Francis' Homily: Make Us Artisans of Unity

Pope 011718Jan. 17, 2018 (Vatican News) This is the full text of Pope Francis' homily during the Mass celebrated at Maquehue Airport in Temuco

“Mari, Mari” [Good morning!]

“Küme tünngün ta niemün” [“Peace be with you!” (Lk 24:36)]

I thank God for allowing me to visit this beautiful part of our continent, the Araucanía.  It is a land blessed by the Creator with immense and fertile green fields, with forests full of impressive araucarias – the fifth “praise” offered by Gabriela Mistral to this Chilean land [1] – and with its majestic snow-capped volcanoes, its lakes and rivers full of life.  This landscape lifts us up to God, and it is easy to see his hand in every creature.  Many generations of men and women have loved this land with fervent gratitude.  Here I would like to pause and greet in a special way the members of the Mapuche people, as well as the other indigenous peoples who dwell in these southern lands: the Rapanui (from Easter Island), the Aymara, the Quechua and the Atacameños, and many others.

Seen through the eyes of tourists, this land will thrill us as we pass through it, but if we put our ear to the ground, we will hear it sing: “Arauco has a sorrow that cannot be silenced, the injustices of centuries that everyone sees taking place”.[2]

In the context of thanksgiving for this land and its people, but also of sorrow and pain, we celebrate this Eucharist.  We do so in this Maqueue aerodrome, which was the site of grave violations of human rights.  We offer this Mass for all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross bears all the sin and pain of our peoples, in order to redeem it.

In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus prays to the Father “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).  At a crucial moment in his own life, he stops to plea for unity.  In his heart, he knows that one of the greatest threats for his disciples and for all mankind will be division and confrontation, the oppression of some by others.  How many tears would be spilled!  Today we want to cling to this prayer of Jesus, to enter with him into this garden of sorrows with those sorrows of our own, and to ask the Father, with Jesus, that we too may be one.  May confrontation and division never gain the upper hand among us.

This unity implored by Jesus is a gift that must be persistently sought, for the good of our land and its children.  We need to be on our watch against temptations that may arise to “poison the roots” of this gift that God wants to give us, and with which he invites us to play a genuine role in history.

False synonyms

One of the main temptations we need to resist is that of confusing unity with uniformity.  Jesus does not ask his Father that all may be equal, identical, for unity is not meant to neutralize or silence differences.  Unity is not an idol or the result of forced integration; it is not a harmony bought at the price of leaving some people on the fringes.  The richness of a land is born precisely from the desire of each of its parts to share its wisdom with others.  Unity can never be a stifling uniformity imposed by the powerful, or a segregation that does not value the goodness of others.  The unity sought and offered by Jesus acknowledges what each people and each culture are called to contribute to this land of blessings.  Unity is a reconciled diversity, for it will not allow personal or community wrongs to be perpetrated in its name.  We need the riches that each people has to offer, and we must abandon the notion that there are higher or lower cultures.  A beautiful “chamal” requires weavers who know the art of blending the different materials and colors, who spend time with each element and each stage of the work.  That process can be imitated industrially, but everyone will recognize a machine-made garment.  The art of unity requires true artisans who know how to harmonize differences in the “design” of towns, roads, squares and landscapes.  It is not “desk art”, or paperwork; it is a craft demanding attention and understanding.  That is the source of its beauty, but also of its resistance to the passage of time and to whatever storms may come its way.

The unity that our people need requires that we listen to one another, but even more importantly, that we esteem one another.  “This is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them”.[3]  This sets us on the path of solidarity as a means of weaving unity, a means of building history.  The solidarity that makes us say: We need one another, and our differences so that this land can remain beautiful!  It is the only weapon we have against the “deforestation” of hope.  That is why we pray: Lord, make us artisans of unity.

The weapons of unity.

If unity is to be built on esteem and solidarity, then we cannot accept any means of attaining it.  There are two kinds of violence that, rather than encouraging the growth of unity and reconciliation, actually threaten them.  First, we have to be on our guard against coming up with “elegant” agreements that will never be put into practice.  Nice words, detailed plans – necessary as these are – but, when unimplemented, end up “erasing with the elbow, what was written by the hand”.  This is one kind of violence, because it frustrates hope.

In the second place, we have to insist that a culture of mutual esteem may not be based on acts of violence and destruction that end up taking human lives.  You cannot assert yourself by destroying others, because this only leads to more violence and division.  Violence begets violence, destruction increases fragmentation and separation.  Violence eventually makes a most just cause into a lie.  That is why we say “no to destructive violence” in either of its two forms.

Those two approaches are like the lava of a volcano that wipes out and burns everything in its path, leaving in its wake only barrenness and desolation.  Let us instead seek the path of active non-violence, “as a style of politics for peace”.[4]  Let us seek, and never tire of seeking, dialogue for the sake of unity.  That is why we cry out: Lord, make us artisans of your unity.

All of us, to a certain extent, are people of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7).  All of us are called to “the good life” (Küme Mongen), as the ancestral wisdom of the Mapuche people reminds us.  How far we have to go, and how much we still have to learn!  Küme Mongen, a deep yearning that not only rises up from our hearts, but resounds like a loud cry, like a song, in all creation.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, for the children of this earth, for the children of their children, let us say with Jesus to the Father: may we too be one; make us artisans of unity.


Pope Francis Shares Fears For a Return to Use of Nuclear Weapons

Pope 011618By Philippa Hitchen

Jan. 15, 2018 (Vatican News) As he boarded the plane for Chile on Monday, Pope Francis spoke of his fears in the face of threats of nuclear war. Talking to journalists on the papal plane, he also commented on the image of a young Japanese boy carrying the body of his baby brother on his back as he waited in line at a crematorium in the city of Nagasaki.

The Pope had ordered cards to be printed and distributed to journalists with the photo on one side and the words: ‘the fruits of war’ printed on the other, alongside his signature. The shot was captured by American Marine photographer Joe O’Donnell in the days following the U.S. nuclear attack on the city in August 1945.

'The fruits of war'

The Holy Father said he was very moved by the image and wanted to share it, because of his fears that the world was moving once again towards the use of nuclear weapons.

His comments came two days after residents of Hawaii received text messages warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack. The false alarm from Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, which was also broadcast on radio and television, was withdrawn 38 minutes later. 

Pope condemns possession of nuclear weapons

Last November, the Pope addressed a Vatican conference on disarmament, saying the possession of nuclear weapons is to be “firmly condemned” because “they exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict, but the entire human race.

The Pope told participants, including a dozen Nobel peace laureates that "International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms..”  Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, he went on “create nothing but a false sense of security.  They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family.”


Pope Departs for Apostolic Visit to Chile and Peru

Pope 011518By Christopher Wells

Jan. 15, 2018 (Vatican News) Pope Francis began his 22nd papal voyage outside of Italy on Monday, when his flight departed Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for the 15 hour journey to Santiago, Chile.

Pope sends message to Chileans and Peruvians before apostolic visit

The Pope’s Apostolic Visit to Chile and neighboring Peru will take him to six different cities in the space of just under a week. His journey begins in the Chilean capital of Santiago, where, in addition to saying Mass for the faithful, the Holy Father will meet with civil and religious leaders and visit a women’s prison. On Wednesday, the Pope will go to Temuco, a city with a large indigenous population, before returning to Santiago for a meeting with young people. Pope Francis will spend his final day in Chile in the northern port city of Iqique.

Telegram for Italy

As is customary, the Holy Father will send telegrams to the various nations he will be flying over as he travels to South America. His first telegram, in Italian, to the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, reads:

"As I leave Rome to travel to Chile and Peru in order to support the mission of the local Church, and to bring a message of hope, it is important to me to offer my respectful greetings to you, Mr. President, to which I add my fervent best wishes for the spiritual, civil, and social well-being of the Italian people, upon whom I willingly bestow my Apostolic Blessing."


Pope at Angelus: ‘Seek Out Where Jesus Lives’

Pope 011418By Devin Watkins

Jan. 14, 2018 (Vatican News)  Pope Francis prayed the Angelus on Sunday with pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square, reflecting on the day’s readings at Mass and the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The Holy Father said the Gospel reading “introduces us perfectly into Ordinary liturgical time” because it reminds us of our call to follow Jesus in everyday life.

He said Ordinary Time “serves to animate and confirm our journey of faith in our everyday life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and discipleship, between manifestation and vocation.”

'Come and see'

A guide, the Pope said, is essential for this daily journey towards Jesus. John the Baptist plays this role for Andrew and the other disciple, pointing out for them “the Lamb of God”.

When they ask Jesus where he lives, he tells them to “Come and see” and their lives are never the same.

“We can have many experiences, accomplish many things, establish relationships with many people, but only the appointment with Jesus, at the hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our lives and make our projects and efforts fruitful,” he said.

‘Where do you live?’

Pope Francis went on to say that hearsay is never enough to find and encounter Jesus. “We must go in search of the Divine Master and discover where He lives.”

The disciples’ question: “Where do you live”, he said, holds a strong spiritual sense. “[I]t expresses the desire to know where the Master resides, to be with Him. The life of faith consists in a burning desire to be with the Lord and, therefore, in a continuous search for the place where He lives.”

The Pope said the Sacraments, prayer, and meditation on the Word of God are the keys to living well that life of faith.

World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis called to mind the celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, celebrated on Sunday.

Quoting his message for the Day, he said, “Every stranger who knocks on our door is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the foreigner who has been accepted or rejected in every age.”

He said four verbs should express the Church’s response to migration: “welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating”.

The Holy Father also said the Day’s commemoration would be pushed back to the Second Sunday in September “for pastoral reasons”.

Finally, Pope Francis recalled his departure on Monday for his Apostolic Journey to Chile and Peru.

“I ask you to accompany me with your prayers,” the Pope said, wishing everyone a blessed Sunday.


Pope: Christian Prayer is Courageous

Pope 011218Jan. 12, 2018 (Vatican News) Faith in Jesus and courage to go beyond difficulties as many saints have done, this characterizes Christian prayer. Those were the Pope’s words during his homily at Mass on Friday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, inspired by the healings narrated in the Gospel.

Prayer in faith and from faith

The Pope recalled that the Gospel readings from Mark tell of two healings, that of the leper and the paralytic. Both pray to receive, both do it with faith: the leper, underlined the Holy Father, also challenged Jesus with courage, saying: "If you want you can purify me!"  And the Lord's answer is immediate: "I want to". Thus everything is, as the Gospel teaches, "possible for those who believe":

Always, when we approach the Lord to ask for something, we must start from faith and do it in faith: "I have faith that you can heal me, I believe you can do this" and have the courage to challenge you, like this leper, this paralytic. Pray in faith.

We do not pray like parrots

Pope Francis went on to say that, the Gospel therefore leads us to question ourselves on our way of praying. We do not do this as "parrots" and without "interest" in what we ask for,  if anything, suggests the Pope, we beg the Lord to "help our little faith" even in the face of difficulties. In fact, there are many episodes in the Gospel in which to approach the Lord is difficult for those in need and this serves as an example to each of us. The Holy Father continued, the paralytic, in today's Gospel of Mark, for example, is even lowered from the roof because his stretcher reaches the Lord who is preaching among the immense crowd. "One’s will finds a solution", underlined the Pope, and "goes beyond the difficulties":

Courage to fight to get to the Lord. Courage to have faith, at the beginning: "If you want you can heal me If you want, I believe '" And courage to get closer to the Lord, when there are difficulties. That courage ... Many times, it takes patience and knowing how to wait for the moment, but do not give up, always go forward. But if I go with faith to the Lord and say: "But if you want, you can give me this grace", and then but ... as the grace after three days has not arrived, another thing ... and I forget.

If prayer is not courageous it is not Christian

Saint Monica, the mother of Augustine, said Pope Francis, prayed and "cried a lot" for the conversion of her son, and managed obtain it.  The Pope quoted her among the many saints who have had great courage in their faith. Courage "to challenge the Lord", courage to "get involved", even if you do not immediately get what you ask, because in "prayer you play hard" and "if prayer is not courageous is not Christian":

Christian prayer is born of faith in Jesus and always goes with faith beyond difficulties. A phrase to carry in our hearts today will help us, from our father Abraham, to whom the inheritance was promised, that is, to have a child at the age of 100. The apostle Paul says: "Believe" and with this he was justified. Faith and to "set out" in faith and do everything to get to that grace that I am asking for. The Lord told us: "Ask and it will be given to you". We also take this Word and we trust, but always with faith and putting ourselves at stake. This is the courage that Christian prayer has. If a prayer is not courageous it is not Christian.